HELL-O to all my fellow Necrosexuals of the world. The GRIM1 has returned, as another year has cum and gone. Time sure flies when I guzzle Franzia Dark Red Blend and listen to Yanni in Grandma's basement. This year, I've listened to a whole lot more music than just the Greek master of Sensuous Chill. 2019 has been blessed with thoroughly BRVTAL metal records, and it's my morbid pleasure to share my top picks for album of the year.
Before you go whining all BVTTHVRT in the comment section that I didn't include Tool, I'm placing special emphasis on the new breed of KVLT classics for this list. Read on, and curse me later!
Screamer – Highway Of Heroes
Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion
Savage Master – Myth Magic And Steel
Toxic Holocaust – Primal Future: 2019
Atomic Cretins – Spiritual Cancer
Exhumed – Horror
Polemicist – Zarathrustian Impressions
Leathurbitch – In The Night
10. TARTARUS HORDE Tartarus Horde
This year has seen a big resurgence of death metal, particularly of the old school variety. Many recent death metal outfits have obsessed with recreating the soothing savagery of bands like Dismember, Bolt Thrower and Obituary, but Tartarus Horde is in a deranged class of their own. The debut cassette from these death metal dungeoneers attacks with spastic insanity. It's got flickers of Morbid Angel and Incantation, but with a much more unhinged approach. The horde unload riff after riff, often flanked by lightning-quick blast beats, while the bass lines pop and slap, like a cross between Victor Wooten and Alex Webster. To hear this cassette is like battling an undead wizard as he unleashes the whole damn book of spells on your ass. They even have the audacity to end this EP with a nine-minute spoken word track, narrated by a raspy dungeon master. The production on this record boasts of a do-it-yourself, basement fidelity, but those who can stomach the rough mix are in for a treat.
9. BLOOD SPORE Fungal Warfare On All Life
The debut EP from Philadelphia's Blood Spore is a declaration of warfare on a microbial level. It's a tale as old as time. In the end, all life will be consumed by tiny organisms who feast on decay. Blood Spore transform the circle of life into a work of apocalyptic proportions: Our fungal overlords have risen to devour the earth once and for all. They tell this story with a pulverizing style of death metal, played at a crawling, doom metal pace, like a microscope slowly magnifying a piece of mold, to reveal the carnage on the cellular level. The vocals are shrieked with a bizarre malevolence, the guitar hooks are plentiful, chunky and tight, and the drums sound like they're played by a Sasquatch. This is caveman death metal for science nerds.
8. WARSENAL Feast Your Eyes
How does a band play a pointedly classic style of thrash metal and still sound fresh? With riffs. And lots of 'em. Warsenal goes back to basics with Feast Your Eyes. This record is a tenacious maelstrom of shredding. Frontman Mathieu Rondeau wields his guitar with the same manic mastery of a young Dave Mustaine, or Tony Portaro from Whiplash.
Feast Your Eyes is a feast for the ears, too. Their nine songs dazzle with quick little hammer-ons and up bends in the blink of an eye. Even the "rhythm guitar" parts sound like they're miniature solos.
Their style of thrash is bluesy, and heavy on the rock n roll grooves. And of course, it's all played at ludicrous moshpit speed. Rondeau's vocals trade-off between screeches and falsettos right out of Destruction's playbook. It's the optimum tempo to pump your fist and slam dance till you drop.
7. CRYPT SERMON The Ruins Of Fading Light
(Dark Descent Records)
Crypt Sermon made me feel a way I haven't felt since the first time I listened to Candlemass. The sense of a grand journey. Life and death, loss and redemption, darkness and light, with all roads inevitably leading to doom. The hooks and vocal harmonies of "The Ninth Templar (Black Templar Flame)" will sink into the brain, and stroke one's imagination, until the eerie closure of its title track. This album unfolds with the epic scale of a Cormac McCarthy novel. It's sort of like Blood Meridian, with less run-on sentences. Prepare to doom dance all night long!
6. OATH OF CRUELTY Summary Execution At Dawn
(Dark Descent Records)
Now, this is what war metal should sound like. Oath Of Cruelty's full-length debut album will trample the listener like a legion of sword-wielding barbarians on horseback. These heathens from Houston, Texas are heavily inspired by the ferocity of German thrash metal. What follows is a relentless assault, fired off with the devastating accuracy of a Gatling gun. Summary Execution At Dawn is a bombastic barrage of riffs and maniac drumming, tempered by soaring guitar solos. This new dose of extreme aggression hits like a needle of adrenaline, straight to the vein. Chris Witchhunter would surely approve.
5. SLASHERS Slashers
Warning: Even if you've never touched a skateboard in your life, Slashers might compel you to drop into the biggest half pipe you can find with no regard for your safety. You'll be grinning all the way, as you spit out teeth. Slashers' full-length debut is packed with youthful rowdiness. It's a love letter to gnarly thrash metal riffage and all things skateboarding, with the in-your-face attitude of hardcore music. The guitars solo stand right alongside the greats like Exodus and Vio-Lence in the shredding department. If this doesn't scream to your inner 14-year-old, you're probably already a corpse.
4. DARKTHRONE Old Star
Darkthrone reinvent themselves once again. Old Star is a reminder of the potency of the classic eighties sound, which remains just as nasty today, in contrast to their extreme counterparts and contemporaries. Songs like "I Muffle Your Inner Choir" rumble with signature Motörhead double bass drums, while "Alp Man" creeps with a Tony Iommi sense of menace. The guitar tone shimmers with frosty treble and pops like… a blaze in the northern sky. The Darkthrone duo combine doom metal, NWOBHM and proto-thrash styles, and patiently stay in the pocket to deal it out. Nothing is wasted and nothing seems rushed. The cult is alive and stronger than ever.
3. INFERNAL STRONGHOLD Down The Black Tube
The sole post-humous release of this list is from the defunct project Infernal Stronghold, which features members of Woe and Daeva. Recorded in their rehearsal space in 2015, this one is as cult as it gets. It's a blackthrash blitzkrieg wrought with primitive fury and filth. The vocals bellow like a sewer-dwelling mutant – such as its title track, or "Witching Hour Grows Louder." Infernal Stronghold strike the unholy balance of evil atmosphere with street metal attitude. Their invocations are spewed at a breakneck pace, with the rabid frenzy of radioactive wolves out for the blood of punks.
2. SUFFERING HOUR Dwell
An 18-minute masterpiece that paints a bleak landscape of misery. Suffering Hour's guitar work is like a cross between King Crimson and Morbid Angel, with maybe a touch of Mayhem and Nile. If that sounds confusing, that's the point. Suffering Hour's magnum opus is a feverish assembly of dissonant dread with virtuosic riffs. The guitar tone has a bit of a chorus effect, which adds an air of evil surf rock to the extremity of this ambitious composition. The perfect soundtrack to surf a tidal wave of poser's blood in the coldest circle of hell.
1. TRAGEDY: THE ALL METAL TRIBUTE TO THE BEEGEES & BEYOND Tragedy Goes To The Movies
Only two things are certain in this life. One is death. And the other is the special spot in my dark heart reserved for The BeeGees. Tragedy's latest focuses more on the "Beyond" part of their name, but it's still hot buttery goodness for the hard-rockin' soul. Tragedy Goes To The Movies spins heavy metal renditions of famous songs that have appeared in famous film scores. It's the rock n roll equivalent to pulling off the popcorn trick in a movie theater, and actually getting that happy Hollywood ending, long before the credits rolls. Their versions of "Age Of Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In" and "9 To 5" possess the sexy appeal to captivate the normies who might be uninitiated to metal, or to disco-era music, and win them over all the same.