Best of 2015: 40-31

Dalla Nebbia cover40. DALLA NEBBIA, “Felix Culpa” (Razed Soul): South Carolina’s adventurous black metal band Dalla Nebbia registered way under the radar with their excellent second record “Felix Culpa,” a progressive, riveting collection that really needs to be on the tip of more tongues. From smearing the warped death cries of Jim Jones before he and his cult died at their own hands (“Paradise in Flames”) to a song about Japan’s Suicide Forest (“Lament of Aokigahara”), this band examined and unearthed some of the darkest subject matter on Earth. Yet, they did in a way that gets your brain cells moving and your secret terrors nearly bubbling to the surface. If you haven’t heard this, change that now. (Sept. 18)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dallanebbiamusic

To buy the album, go here: http://razedsoul.ipower.com/rzd/095.htm

Or here: https://dallanebbia.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://razedsoul.com/

Pyramids cover39. PYRAMIDS, “A Northern Meadow” (Profound Lore): Of all the records on this entire list, this may be the dreamiest. Pyramids’ amazing second record mixes black metal and doom tendencies along with gothic rock and shoegaze so seamlessly, it practically has carved out its own section of the world. Joined on the album by notable guests such as Vindsval (Blut Aus Nord) and Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts), these eight songs put your mind into some kind of trance state as the guitars cut deep, the melodies flood the senses, and the vocals swelter in sky-high register, lathering you with intense melody. You’re left guessing over song titles such as “The Earth Melts Into Red Gashes Like the Mouths of Whales” and “I Have Four Sons, All Named for Men We Lost to War,” but you’ll be too busy trancing out to mind. (March 17)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pyramidstx

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}38. LOCRIAN, “Infinite Dissolution” (Relapse): The spacey transmissions of Chicago’s Locrian never cease to amaze, and on their tremendous new album “Infinite Dissolution” (follow-up to 2013’s “Return to Annihilation”), they push their universe even further and continue to morph into a completely different beast. Their synth-stewed, black metal-leaning style takes deeper bends toward the cosmos, while the harsh shrieks and otherworldly adventures entrance on tracks such as “Dark Shales”; the cold sparks of “The Future of Death” (I hear a nice wave of 1980s Rush here); psyche storm “Heavy Water”; and murky “The Great Dying.” This record signaled that Locrian’s journeys could go anywhere, and “Infinite Dissolution” is the stuff of fever dream. (July 24)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LocrianOfficial

To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html

For more on the label, go here: www.relapse.com/

Magic Circle cover37. MAGIC CIRCLE, “Journey Blind” (20 Buck Spin): So many bands try to take stabs at the classic heavy metal route, but few get it as right as Boston’s Magic Circle. Comprised of members of hardcore bands from that region, this group churns out fiery songs that could make one pine for the days of old Candlemass, Dio-era Sabbath, and others of that ilk. Their playing is so natural and full of life, and each second of this record is a joy to behold, from the awesome, fantasy-filled title cut (just gaze at the album cover and you can imagine the imagery you’ll dream here); “A Ballad of Vultures,” which takes a heavy breath of doom winds; “Lightning Cage” that rips a hole in anything that gets in its way; and “Grand Deceivers” that trudges and has some electric guitar work. This might sound cliched, but this record’s going to sound even better late spring, early summer with 75 strong beers.  (Nov. 20)

For more on the band, go here: http://www.magiccircleheavymetal.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/collections/music

For more on the label, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/

MGLA36. MGLA, “Exercises in Futility” (Northern Heritage/No Solace): Polish black metal power MGLA did something practically unheard of these days. They made a highly anticipated album that wasn’t sent to the press and first got play when the band finally relented and posted the whole thing to YouTube. It was worth the wait, as this riff-packed, monstrous affair blazes by over six cuts, all named “Exercises in Futility” and given a Roman numeral to keep them sequenced. Just a few visits with this album makes it easy to see why this band is so heavily discussed and admired, as they keep smashing and crushing over these 42 minutes. There practically is no room to breathe or catch your footing, so you might as well give into this all-out assault. (Sept. 4)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/mglaofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://www.cfprod.com/nh/index6.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.cfprod.com/nh/

Pissgrave cover35. PISSGRAVE, “Suicide Euphoria” (Profound Lore): There are few album covers as gross as Pissgrave’s “Suicide Euphoria,” what with its thick brown goop sitting in a bathtub of bones. It looks just how the record from these Philly maniacs sounds, which is disgusting and relentless and full of terror. This infernally vile death metal gurgles and bubbles under the surface, almost as if the songs are trying to choke through whatever it is in that tub, and over cuts including “Impaled Vibration”; vicious and blunt “Pain Enchantment”; caustic and violent “Prevail in Hell”; and horribly evil “Blood Fog.” This is one of those things that is not for everyone, but those who get it are going to love rolling in this pig shit. (Aug. 7)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Pissgrave/timeline

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Dendritic Arbor cover34. DENDRITIC ARBOR, “Romantic Love” (Grimoire): Pittsburgh’s Dendritic Arbor don’t do things the conventional way, whether that’s in a live setting or on their recorded material. On their tornadic, warped debut record “Romantic Love,” this band unleashes a wave of confusing terror that’s a wave of black metal fury and dramatic flourishes. The music stymies and dizzies, while the vocals sometimes have a caustic low to them, sometimes a Brian Johnson-style screech. As the record flows over its seven tracks and nearly 33 minutes, it gets more confounding and punishing, smashing into “Blooming Amygdala” and its noise squalls; through to blinding burst “Giallo”; and on into doomy and thrashy “Ceremony of Dust.” This band is only starting to realize their terrible power, and whatever they do in the future is sure to be full of terrors.  (May 5)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DendriticArbor

To buy the album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/romantic-love

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords

Horrendous cover33. HORRENDOUS, “Anareta” (Dark Descent): Apparently Horrendous went out to record their latest record “Anareta” with an absolutely insane idea in their heads: make a fun death metal album. Imagine that! OK, yeah, it’s plenty heavy and aggressive and dwells in darkness, but it’s impossible not to listen to this thing and be overcome with just how explosive and dynamic it is. As an old guy, I totally remember buying old Megadeth, Anthrax, and Testament records and just getting lost in the power of metal. These eight tracks spread over 44 minutes are packed with power, death metal glory, and guitars that will rule your life. There’s nothing wrong with grim and dark (and Horrendous deliver that, too), but a good jolt down the spine can do wonders as well. (Oct. 30)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HorrendousDeathMetal

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

Aevangelist cover32. ÆVANGELIST “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” (20 Buck Spin): Every time I take on a new Ævangelist record, I feel like I’m in the midst of a massive temp elevation. Walls squirm like jello, my head goes numb, and pain jolts through every region as I take on some of the most inventive, bizarre black metal anywhere in the world. You can just read song titles such as “Cloisters of the Temple of Death,” “Gatekeeper’s Scroll,” “Levitating Souls,” and “Meditation of Transcendental Evil” and know you’re in for it, but then the band’s hypnotic, swelling noises hit you. The riffs quake and disorient, the vocals sound like they originated in hell, and the heavy presence of the harps ensure you’re taking on a journey you never intended to make but are in the midst of nonetheless. Easily, Ævangelist are one of the most creative bands in the world, and “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” provides all the evidence you need. (Oct. 9)

For more on the band, go here: http://www.newobliviongospelmusic.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/collections/music

For more on the label, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/

Windhand cover31. WINDHAND, “Grief’s Infernal Flower” (Relapse): Rising like a wounded spirit from their Virginia home, Windhand returned with another slowly delivered, sultry, fiery dose of doom metal on their third record “Grief’s Infernal Flower.” All the tenets from the band you’ve come to expect–swarming guitars, calculated rhythms, skull-blasting power, and Dorthia Cottrell’s thick, rich vocals–are here and served plentifully. The record doesn’t head too far off the path they established on “Soma,” with the exception being some slimmer songs and a more straightforward sound, and there are a ton of highlights on this thing, from the awesome “Two Urns”: to smoldering “Forest Clouds” (good luck scraping the chorus from your brain); to blistering “Tanngrisnir”; to Cottrell’s two haunting acoustic pieces “Sparrow” and “Aition.” This band keeps adding to their power, and “Grief’s Infernal Flower” has their cauldrons still blazing.  (Sept. 18)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA

To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com

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