Darkthrone Old Star
Darkthrone are immaculate and triumphant as ever on Old Star. This is a record that seems to perfectly capture so much of what I have loved about the band since I was 13 years old. Fusing a variety of elements from throughout the band's career, this is one of their most vibrant releases to date. You can sense the heavy metal thunder roaring and the sheer swagger Darkthrone bring to the table. This is a record that in many ways sums up the last few releases from the Norwegians and points at where the masters are going to go next.
Downfall of Gaia Ethic Of Radical Finitude
I maintain that Downfall of Gaia are one of the best black metal bands of the last decade. Their approach to the genre is iconoclastic, fusing both the incredible darkness at the roots of black metal with prettier modern frills. Ethic Of Radical Finitude is a potent statement, routinely balancing between two separate sides of the genre. There is an intensity here—especially with regards to the drumming—that makes the band one of my favorites to really dig into. It’s been nearly five years since I’ve seen them last, but these new songs speak to the sheer talent that the group brings to the table.
Elizabeth Colour Wheel Nocebo
Read Matt's review of Nocebo here.
This is the band who I think can break out of the weirdo heavy underground and become the true legends of their time. When I first saw this band last year I could hardly believe my ears. Since then, Elizabeth Colour Wheel have become one of the hippest bands in the underground. Nocebo is a masterful offering, balancing dark and light with stunning precision. It’s an incredibly mature work for a band whose average age is south of 25 and who only recently graduated from Berklee. Nocebo is in my estimation only a hint of what more is to come.
Salem’s Bend Supercluster
Salem’s Bend have been one of my favorite bands on San Francisco’s Ripple Music for a good long while now. After three years of hard touring the group is back with their sophomore offering, Supercluster. Whereas their self-titled debut was entirely written and recorded by frontman Bobby Parker, Supercluster is a more collaborative work and it shows. Hardened by countless shows across the west coast, Supercluster is tighter and more explosive than anything the band has done before.
Un & Coltsblood Split
This record is a monster. Two of my favorite doom metal bands united on a split that perfectly reflects their respective strengths. This is an offering that seems to very nicely showcase the state of crushing doom metal today. This split is one of those that will function as a sort of document to the scene. It perfectly captures what has made modern doom metal so compelling and seems to drag the listener to hell. At the end of the day, I don’t think you’re going to find two doom bands as focused on songcraft as these two. Sure, their contributions are long, but they are never meandering. Instead, this is a split that showcases two up and coming groups leaping nimbly from peak to peak.