It’s been a few months since I’ve cobbled together a list of recent metal releases that deserved your attention. 2017 is shaping up to be another year full of stellar releases, and to be perfectly honest it would take multiple posts for me to play a complete round of catch-up. With that said here’s a look at some of the recently-released metal albums getting constant airplay at the home office:
Woe – Hope Attrition
After a four-year hiatus Woe return with another crushing slab of American black metal. Mixing influences from across the storied second wave of black metal with doom and death metal aesthetics, Woe deliver a truly unique take on the genre without compromising any of black metal’s raw, primal aggression. It’s the type of album that requires multiple listens to pick up on all the intricacies woven into a scorched, blackened tapestry. Easily one of Woe’s best efforts to date and well worth the wait.
Sloth Herder – No Pity, No Sunrise
One of the more pleasant, and violent, surprises of the first half of 2017 comes from Maryland’s Sloth Herder. No Pity, No Sunrise is an absolutely unrelenting melding of grindcore with various pieces of blackened metal that lay scattered across the sonic floor like broken shards of glass after an explosion. Where it lacks the continual non-stop barrage that the average grindcore band emits, it gains in grim, frost-bitten elements that seemingly offer both respite and punishment simultaneously. It’s a wholly effective and brutal concoction.
Orm – Blood of your Blood
You may not find a more accomplished debut this calendar year than the one Denmark’s Orm has delivered us. Epic is a word that has been thrown around way, way too much over the last decade or so, yet ‘epic’ is exactly what you get here. Orm deliver five tracks of nasty, yet grandiose blackened death metal, not unlike many of their fellow Scandinavian contemporaries. The blasting and shredding is cut with sweeping, majestic passages that give off images of the serpentine beast the band is named after cresting the icy waters, awaiting its prey. This is a truly mesmerizing album at certain points and one that demands as many repeat listens as you’re willing to give it.
All Hell – The Grave Alchemist
Taking thrash metal, first wave black metal, and Gothic-tinged rock, and pushing it through a filter of eerie literature and haunting visuals, North Carolina’s All Hell have put together one of the most deliciously headbanging affairs you’ll set your ears to this year. Unafraid to take death rock to the land of battle vests, All Hell meld what would seem to be an unwieldy mixture of influences on paper into a potent and addictive brew. Arguably their best effort to date, All Hell are poised to convert the metal masses to their ritualistic brand of death n’ roll.
The Obsessed – Sacred
It’s somewhat hard to believe that it’s been 23 years since The Obsessed last graced us with a full-length album’s worth of new material. Part of that has to due with Wino’s constant activity in various projects, and part of it is because even after all this time The Obsessed’s albums still seem so fresh and groundbreaking. Yet here we are with our first new album from these doom pioneers in well over two decades. To say that Wino and the boys have returned to reclaim their rightful place atop the doom metal heap would be an understatement of massive proportions. Sacred is not only an album that does this band’s immense legacy justice, but one that will carry it on to an entirely new generation of metal fans. Shifting effortlessly from mid-paced thumping to hard-driving rock, The Obsessed have written an album’s worth of material that can simply not be fucked with. Period.
Isenordal – Shores of Mourning
There is absolutely nothing better than when a band comes out of absolutely nowhere to blindside you with an album you just weren’t expecting. Such is the case with the debut full-length from Seattle’s Isenordal. This band plays a gorgeous and emotive brand of neo-folk drenched in doom and black metal aesthetics. Tortured screams and monolithic doom is tempered by piano, violin, and ethereal female vocals, and completely washed away at times in soothing, ambient interludes. This band can be as equally serene as they can be brutally heavy. It’s an absolutely stellar juxtaposition and one that beckons for fans of various forms of sonic darkness to come get their fix over and over again. This album is hopefully just the beginning of a long and fruitful career.
Pallbearer – Heartless
Watching a band’s natural progression from album to album can sometimes be a fascinating journey. Take Arkansas doomsters, Pallbearer for instance. With each album they’ve moved further and further from their doom roots, yet at the same time have seemingly strengthened their ties to some of the great proto-metal and prog rock that gave birth to the genre in the first place. Heartless is an album that seems to take an exploratory journey to even more spacious and sleek territory as they allow their sound to continually crisscross back and forth between various metal and non-metal influences. Whether they no longer want their music to be considered “metal” is honestly neither here nor there. While their prog and alt leanings on this record may attract new fans, their original metalhead fan base will still find enough meditative doom to immerse themselves with.
Longhouse – II: Vanishing
I am somewhat ashamed to say aloud that I simply missed the 2015 debut album from Ottawa’s Longhouse. After hearing their 2017 follow-up, I won’t be making that mistake again. The quickest and easiest comparisons to the Longhouse sound would be somewhere in the Cult of Luna ballpark, but rest assured that this is not some CoL rip-off we are dealing with here. Longhouse have carved out their own piece of the post-metal pie with an overpowering, and at times fascinating array of sounds. Mixing in twinges of blackened doom with more ethereal elements, Longhouse create a dreamlike atmosphere that can quickly turn nightmarish within a few notes time.
Godhunter – The Codex Narco
Godhunter play music that’s as mysterious and dangerous as the deserts that surround their hometown of Tucson, Arizona. There’s a sort of desolation and despair that rides under each song like an electrical current, and sucks the listener into this sort of depressive, swirling vortex. The dual vocals, both soaring and scorching, play back and forth atop a post-metal-infused landscape of experimental doom. There’s something addictive about this record – addictive in the way a bad acid trip might be. You know you probably shouldn’t do it again but when you woke up with more answers than questions you knew another trip was required.