Best of 2015: 30-21

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}30. KHEMMIS, “Absolution” (20 Buck Spin): “Absolution” landed in the middle of the summer, and it was the ideal time for Khemmis to surface with their killer debut record. A mix of traditional doom and newer strains (like St. Vitus meeting up with Pallbearer), this band quickly made a name for themselves with underground audiences with these six cuts. There is an epic element to these tracks, and when they get into more guttural territory, they come out the other side with glimmering, melodic passages. This is one that’s bound to unite those who grew up with Sabbath and younger audiences who cut their teeth on newer bands. That should be one peaceful, smoke-filled, beer-soaked ritual. (July 5)

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

To buy the album, go here: http://20buckspinshop.com/

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

Bismith cover29. BISMUTH, “Unavailing” (Dry Cough): If slow is your tempo, you’re bound to love the hell out of UK-based doom duo Bismuth. This wrenching, four-track, 56-minute beast pounds, simmers, and broods, really grounding your face into the gravel and making you taste each bit. Bassist/vocalist Tanya Byrne reaches deep within her guts to deliver her growls, while the riffs pile on top of riffs, the mud gets thicker and more deliberate, and it feels like planets are colliding. Through the massive opener “Tethys,” into the guts of “Of the Weak Willed,” and through the finisher “Solitude and Emptiness,” the band takes its bloody time, paces out its devastating blows, and puts on a dark, morbid, smothering show from beginning to end. (Nov. 25)

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.drycoughrecords.com/products

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

Krallice cover28. KRALLICE, “Ygg Huur” (self-released): We all know the story, but like an asteroid barreling to Earth unannounced, Krallice’s awesome fifth record “Ygg Huur” landed unexpectedly on a late July day to the surprise of everyone except the band and those close to them. And what a release it was! We know the score when it comes to this band, in that we’re getting bendy, rubbery, space-smashed black metal that sounds like no one else’s creations. What was different for the band on this record is the songs are shorter and more immediate, and the album feels like a blast that goes flying past before you know what hit you. It’s another twist of innovation from a band that has changed US black metal and continues to do so to this day. (July 30)

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

To buy the album digitally or on CD, go here: https://krallice.bandcamp.com/album/ygg-huur

To buy the album on vinyl, go here: www.erodingwinds.com

Vhol cover27. VHOL, “Deeper Than Sky” (Profound Lore): Combining four major forces from the underground metal world into one band isn’t a guarantee of success or quality, but Vhöl’s debut record indicated the future was bright. We get that payoff on their amazing, mind-blowing second record “Deeper Than Sky,” a collection of heavy metal force so great that it’s sometimes overwhelming. From the explosive opener “The Desolate Damned,” the assault is on and blazes out of control. There’s no telling where they’re going to go from there either as they delve into punk and hardcore on scornful “3 a.m.”; deliver a riveting epic on the tremendous 12-minute title track; dream up the craziest instrumental you will hear on a metal album this year (or any!) with “Paino”; and even visit graveyards planted by King Diamond on the horrific closer “The Tomb.” This record kills, and Vhöl’s creative insanity knows no bounds. (Oct. 23)

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

To buy the album, go here (CD): https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Or here (vinyl): http://www.erodingwinds.com/

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

Protolith cover26. PROTOLITH, “Dark” (self-released): I am assuming winter eventually will arrive here on the East Coast. And when it does, Protolith’s excellent second album “Dark” will be a perfect soundtrack to play when heavy snows lightly pad the ground. This underrated, not-talked-about-enough release is thought-provoking and visceral, bringing with it elements of black metal, sludge, post-metal, you name it. This is a collection of epic tracks (eight in all) that perfectly unfurl before you including dark and lapping “The Construct”; “The Oath” that has some dreamy, jazzy melodies intertwined into the murk; and amazing closer “Swansong” that has lines from “The Silver Swan” worked into its DNA. This is a cold, frosty adventure you’re bound to take over and over again. (Oct. 1)

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

To buy the album, go here: https://protolith.bandcamp.com/album/dark

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}25. PINKISH BLACK, “Bottom of the Morning” (Relapse): Everything about Pinkish Black is disturbing, from the origin of their name to their chilling synth-driven sound to the personal tragedy and misfortune that dresses their great third record “Bottom of the Morning.” These eight cuts feel like they belong to a velvety bygone era. Or maybe from a post-Apocalyptic one yet to come. Daron Beck’s rich baritone singing and whirring, alien synth could make you feel like you’re suffering in freezing isolation, and their songs crawl up your spine and into your bloodstream. “Brown Rainbow” has the repeated, almost defeated wail of, “The end is here to stay,” while “Burn My Body” is disorienting and claustrophobic, and the title cut starts cooly jazzy before deteriorating into complete panic. If you’re a fairly anxious person, this thing won’t help. (Oct. 30)

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

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

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

KWC cover24. KOWLOON WALLED CITY, “Grievances” (Gilead Media): Work can be shitty and weird. That’s just kind of how it is. It also can become the most important part of our existence, a place that becomes something of a second home for many people, as much as that may make you want to shudder. On their third record “Grievances,” Kowloon Walled City bring their noisy, agitated sound to the woes of the workplace, poking at the ways we all act and work and what that does to us as people. When Scott Evans barks, “Count off the days, write on the walls, who wants to live this way?” from punchy opener “Your Best Years,” the angst sticks into your belly. That continues over to drubbing “Backlit,” scathing “The Grift,” and blistering and angry “True Believer.” Kowloon Walled City keep getting better and more cynical, and that’s great for all of us who live vicariously through them.  (Oct. 9)

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

To buy the album (CD), go here: https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com

Or here (vinyl): http://www.erodingwinds.com/

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

And here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

Amber Asylu cover23. AMBER ASYLUM, “Sin Eater” (Prophecy): Typically it’s a given that records are dropped in December for a reason, in that they’re the ones you want to have slip under the radar. Well, forget that nonsense, because Amber Asylum’s unreal seventh record “Sin Eater” arrived mere days into the final month of the year, and it’s an earthquaker. This band, long led by Kris T. Force, brings together doom, neo-folk, and classical elements on this, their darkest, most morbid album to date. The music is centered around the concept of a sin-eating ritual, and the gorgeous, jarring, haunting music, including a show-stopping cover of the Candlemass classic “TOT” that very much plays into the foundation. This may not be the heaviest record of the year from a sonic standpoint, but it will crush you under its thematic weight. (Dec. 4)

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?

Or here (Europe): http://en.prophecy.de/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.prophecy.de/

Maiden22. IRON MAIDEN, “The Book of Souls” (Universal): There are legends of heavy metal, and there is Iron Maiden. We’re a little (OK, a lot) biased here, seeing as we hail Maiden as the greatest metal band of all time, but it’s not like they haven’t been without faults. Also, hearing the band had a mega double album (triple if you snag vinyl) seemed a little much, especially with Bruce Dickinson battling mouth cancer. Yet, when that 90-minute, 11-track beast arrived, all fears dissipated as the band sounded alive, well, relevant, and powerful, showing the rest of the world how to age gracefully and do whatever the hell you want to do. There are smashers such as “If Eternity Should Fail,” “Speed of Light,” and “Death or Glory” to keep the blood rushing, while epics “The Red and the Black” and 18-minute album closer “Empire of the Clouds” show their ambition and creativity never have been stronger. Up and hail the Irons! (Sept. 4)

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.ironmaiden.com/shop-landing-page.html

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

Pale Chalice cover21. PALE CHALICE, “Negate the Infamous and Miraculous” (Gilead Media): Pale Chalice is one of those bands that made a massive impact on my brain years ago and then seemed to vanish into thin air. I still visit “Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation” EP that came out in 2011, but the arrival of debut full-length “Negate the Infamous and Miraculous” reminded me how awesome these guys are and how much they have to contribute to modern black metal. This record is a beast! Chilling, heavy, full of massive riffs, and downright dark, the band rips your world apart on these seven tracks. From sweltering opener “Through Vexed Veil” into “Bound Intransigent Flight” and through “Bent by Carapace Chain” (where the riffs flood), the band reminds the world why they are so deadly and that their brand of black metal easily can set the entire sub-genre ablaze. (June 16)

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.erodingwinds.com/product-category/music/gilead-media-releases/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

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