Hello all ye demented! Happy 2019! Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder here kicking off a brand-new year of extreme metal recommendations. 2018 was such an intensely rich year for the underground that even I got buried in the endless onslaught of killer releases.
Hopefully you guys are still enjoying the fruits of my year end list and the many other great ones out there. I definitely learned a lot by poaching other people’s lists. In this way, January is one of my favorite times of the year. It seems like I’ll never be able to hear everything sick that a year in music has to offer, but it’s still fun to try! For now, we’ve got a fresh start and totally have the jump on what’s coming out right now. Have a look and show some support!
Altarage – The Approaching Roar
What’s heavier than black matter and more dense than extra chunky peanut butter? Spain’s indomitable black metal space cadets Altarage! This mysterious and futuristic group have been turning heads since their debut, getting tons of praise from press and fans alike. These dudes weave a very artful and textured sound that is insanely dark and massively oppressive. It’s part Deathspell Omega, part Our Place of Worship is Silence with a small dash from the low tuned playbook of angular progressive masters Meshuggah. Rich atmosphere and thoughtful dynamics are the name of the game here, folks. It’s music not to be merely listened to, but experienced. Press play now and see what the hype is all about!
Grab it here
Contrarian – Their Worm Never Dies
Now THAT is an album cover! I’ll always have a place in my heart for dragons. Cool to see one on something other than a cheesy ass power metal record. The aptly-named Contrarian play technically inclined progressive death metal for the thinking-man that will dazzle you into a stupor. They channel the creative jazz fusion injected songcraft of Athiest, Cynic and Human-era Death with a lasting, memorable result. The drumming by Nile’s George Kollias is mind blowingly good. It’s very cool to hear him playing so colorfully as opposed to the full on assault of the Nile catalog. As the name would imply, Contrarian play challenging music that will keep your brain on its toes. True depth metal of the highest order!
Grab it here
Desecravity – Anathema
Japan’s Desecravity are back this year with their mind-bending brand of post-Cryptopsy technical and brutal death metal madness! Anathema will make your feeble mortal brain explode! I dig the old school mix by Dan Swano. Even though the playing is very extreme and ridiculously technical, the result is quite real sounding. I included the video version just so you could get a look at this dude’s fucking drum kit. Ridiculous! Like Yngwie always said: “More is more!”
Grab it here
Electrocution – Psychonolatry
Through my travels with The Black Dahlia Murder, I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of sick death metal heads of the older generation, one of them being the happy go lucky Mick Montaguti of Italy’s Electrocution. Nick has been the glue holding one of the world’s most underrated death metal forces together since their first demo in 1990. I happened upon them through internet whispers of their oft overlooked 1993 gem entitled Inside the Unreal several years back, before it became readily available again to the public and I happily shelled out some serious coin for the disc, which became one of the crowned jewels in my collection. Years later I was wearing one of their shirts when I came to Italy, Mick somehow caught wind of it, and the rest is history. 2019 sees a rejuvenated Electrocution that is out for blood and intent on making their mark on the scene this time around. Psychonolatry is a punchy, dynamic ride of an album that straddles the line between the old and new. It’s 1990’s death metal at heart, but with some modern post-djent low-stringed accoutrements to spice things up and a crushing production to match. Also, I may or may not be featured on one of the songs (hint: definitely not this one). Grab this now from Aural Music and get the living bejeebers shocked out of you!
Grab it here
Equipoise – Demiurgus
By now you avid readers of The Obituarist know about my love for all things Phil “Pat” Tougas (Serocs, Zealotry, Eternity’s End, Chthe'ilist, Cosmic Atrophy). He is simply one of the brightest young stars in the entire metal scene, and every project he touches with his insane guitar wizardry turns to gold! Equipoise is no exception to this rule. Demiurgus is a wall-to-wall shred fest. Spearheaded by Pittsburgh-based composer/guitarist Nick Padovani, the line up here he has managed to assemble is something of a super group. Aside from himself and Phil, this recording is touting a pretty stacked line up of players including Chason Westmoreland (ex-Hate Eternal) on drums, Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole) on guitar, Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation) on bass, and Stevie Boiser (Inferi, ex-Vale of Pnath) on vocals. Obscura, First Fragment, Beyond Creation, and Necophagist fans will absolutely love this. Pre-order it now from The Artisan Era and support one of the best new labels in the game.
Grab it here
Guttural Secrete – Stains of Debridement (Single)
It’s been a relatively quiet handful of years in the Guttural Secrete camp, I for one wasn’t expecting this new single to drop out of nowhere and mutilate me as it has. Even though it’s just one song, I can’t not mention this here. It’s just too good. Along with Defeated Sanity, Guttural Secrete are absolutely one of the leaders of the brutal death genre as it stands today and this song is a firm reminder of just why that is. Like Defeated Sanity and unlike many of their faceless peers, Guttural Secrete offer up insanely technical riffs that are both legible and memorable in a world of tacked together thoughtless drivel. Every instrument is on point in this fashion. This is chaos controlled; an utter clinic of precision brutality. The vocal performance of the ridiculously toady Blue Jensen is as iconic as ever and the cherry-on-top that makes Guttural Secrete such a laugh-out-loud good band. Buy this now and cackle in disbelief!
Grab it here
Kataplexia – The Rise of the Unknown
Really really stoked to see some activity from this camp after a long bout of silence. Kataplexia are one of the best Suffocation worshipping acts around and more people need to know about them. Finnish brutal death metal by way of El Salvador and Brazil with links to the very underrated Kabak. Some of you might find the drumming approach to be a little too old school for your tastes but not me. SO much Suffo blasting! Get this now and Frank Mullen Death Chop your way to victory this Winter.
Grab it here
Meathook – Crypts, Coffins, Corpses
Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse once told me that he believed Brutal Death Metal as a genre to be a wholly Suffocation-influenced phenomenon. I had to disagree! While he is largely correct in this assertion, there has been a certain corner of brutality that owes a lot to the catchy blood-soaked riff fests that embodied the Chris Barnes era of the band, particularly their Tomb of the Mutilated and The Bleeding albums. Outfits like Meathook, Severe Torture, Burial (US), Skulmagot, Vile, Prostitute Disfigurement, and Mutilated (RIP) have all come into their gore-fueled existences by taking a page from the Cannibal Corpse playbook. If you like your death metal brutal, gory, and rife with hooks (no pun intended), Crypts, Coffins, Corpses is the album for you!
Grab it here
Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious
Musmahhu is the death metal foray of mysterious Swedish black metal scene veteran Swartadauþuz, better known as the head of Ancient Records and main brain behind Mystik, Bekëth Nexëhmü, Azelisassath and countless other vital projects that only the super true kvlt dudes know about. Like each of those harrowing projects, atmosphere is the strongest suit here. Reign of the Odious is downright scary to behold, one of the most intensely frightening and humorless albums I’ve encountered in some time. It’s pitch black, dense as fuck and swirling with vitriol. A formless shimmering black blob floating in a starless space. Grab this now from Iron Bonehead and have a real brush with death!
Grab it here
Ossuarium – Living Tomb
I’ve been following these Portland-based death/doom denizens since their stench ridden Calcified Trophies Of Violence demo dropped in 2017. Ossuarium play a slow and low brand of crawling funereal old school death metal that is definitely in line with a lot of what label 20 Buck Spin spews forth. High quality death metal from one of the best labels out there right now! At times, I get a nice Runemagick vibe from this… it’s grisly but at the same time majestic. They’ll even drag things out into an almost ethereal disembowelment type of way with some ghostly effects. Ossuarium also know how to groove it out when the time is right. When they pick up the speed (from really slow to moderately slow), it sounds like a giant lumbering beast trudging toward you with malicious intent in mind. Imagine the giddyup of Celtic Frost through a slow-motion filter. At their absolute most brutish, neanderthalic Finnish deathsters Slugathor are channeled. In layman’s terms, Ossuarium play Death Metal for the cave man deep inside of you. The pacing and variety throughout Living Tomb is completely addictive. These guys aren’t in a hurry to kill you. They would prefer to drag it out as long as mortally possible. I love the bone-rattling bass and overall massive low end! Fucking crushing! The vocals are largely indecipherable and have a cavern-esque type echo to them which helps ramp up the old school feel. Too sick! I’ve been seeing a lot of hype for this already and rightly so. The art itself has definitely had my jeans tight since moment one. I love when Seagrave goes for a one-color piece. It takes me back to his finest works as a young lad in the 90s. Get this now and get killed in the best way possible! Grab it here
Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation
Pissgrave rule hard! They occupy a unique space in the extreme spectrum that owes both to the goregrind scene that Carcass birthed long ago as well as the humorless black/death fury of a band like Blasphemy or Conqueror. Gore and gaskmasks, all around! These dudes are legitimately frightening. It simply doesn’t get more extreme! I’ve seen a lot of people bitching about this album cover, as if the more extreme corners of the underground haven’t been churning out this kind of shock-value since God knows when. If you’ve seen any album art from Last Days of Humanity, Sarcastic, Oxidised Razor, Pathologist or Flesh Grinder, you’ve probably seen something on par with this. Having this real-life dead guy on the front of their album is in fact a brand of posthumous humiliation, know what I’m sayin? If you had your head blown off, would you want a bunch of weird black shirt wearing kids gawking at it? My guess is probably not. This poor guy really did a number on himself, that’s for sure. I actually found the last album cover to be more disturbing. The bathtub of dissolving human filth was nauseating in way I had never known before. Grisly imagery for a grisly band in these grisly times. Grisly! Grab it here
Relics of Humanity – Obscuration
Brutal death bruisers Relics of Humanity from Belarus have been on my radar for a while now, since their last full length outing Ominously Reigning upon the Intangible kicked my ass in 2014. I found it to be a vast improvement from their debut, so it’s no surprise to hear them continuing on that trajectory and being even sicker and tighter in 2019. So much so that they’ve managed to attract the attention of one of brutal death’s most legendary vocalists in the form of AJ Magana, who has done time in both Disgorge and Defeated Sanity, as well as the newly-resurrected pre-Decrepit Birth outfit Deprecated. The vocals he offers here on Obscuration are as vital and savage as ever. It remains easy to see why he’s one of the genre’s most respected gutturalists. As if that weren’t enough firepower to attract all you gore hounds out there, Derek Boyer from Suffocation (ex-Disgorge, Deprecated) again joins his long-time pal AJ to provide the session bass for this monster of an ep, lending his patented brand of crushing low end swagger. If you like decimating, labyrinthine brutal death metal, look no further! Grab it here
Sekkusu – Satyrömania
Mother of pearl! Detroit’s Sekkusu is back and gnarlier than ever! I can’t believe how good these guys have gotten in so little time. They’ve been working really hard since I moved out to NYC. Sekkusu unfurl a blistering combination of hellish metal/punk with a flair for all things Japanese. Imagine the riffy thrash of early Onslaught and Sodom in a blender with the volcanic d-beating energy of Japanese hardcore classics like Death Side and Bastard. The fire that these dudes play with is inspiring. I mean, just imagine seeing this live and NOT losing your shit! Raging, tight as balls, and downright filthy… Sekkusu is the sound of the streets in 2019! Grab it here
Thanks for stopping by, be sure to tell you friends. Also, follow me on Instagram for more recommendations than you can wag your ween at. Don’t forget to comment below, I am always open to recommendations. If there’s a band you’d like to see getting some exposure, don’t hesitate to point me in their direction. Word of mouth is the most powerful tool we have to spread the underground love. Thanks for reading! See ya next month, mutants!
Read previous editions of The Obituarist here.