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The Underground Above and Metal Deep Within

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Since Thanksgiving has successfully welcomed a six-week season of unsolicited advice, racist uncles, and kitty-cat tree-tipping, the world of music blogs is beginning to embark on its favorite holiday ritual: inundating you with more album lists than you could ever possibly need.

While year-end lists can truly run the gamut, some are bound to be laden with obligatory industry favorites that you’ve already seen splattered across feeds and dashboards. Others, however, can help rectify any glaring oversights to your music collection before we stumble into yet another painfully long trip around the sun.

It is with some integrity that dynamic sounds from the underground are presented: albums that might just get lost in the cranberry sauce if you try hiding out in the bathroom for too long. Whether you need to drown out the sounds of your parents fighting or your gut making Gorgoroth noises inside of your stretchy pants, the grit, gore, and grandeur of these picks have you covered.

Thank you for your cooperation in this time-honored tradition.

StardustFragmente Eines Gebrochenen Lebens
October 26, 2018

Having first emerged on the scene in 2011, Germany’s Stardust showed off their early knack for acoustic breaks, demonic forces, and forest sounds with Von Trauer, Zorn Und Vergangenen Zeiten. After a few years of producing demos and splits, the three-piece has proven that practice makes polished with this year’s first-ever full-length. The odyssey of unrelenting celestial bliss holds the potential to transcend divisions among metal fans. As symphony gives way to chaos and chaos gives way to meditation, Stardust remains true to their name, leaving bits of luster on every style they touch.

Apathetic GriefYouth
April 13, 2018

Despite releasing a staggering 16 full-lengths for his project Inner Suffering since 2014, Ukrainian solo practitioner SadVoice has miraculously found time to launch Apathetic Grief, an offshoot of the dearly departed Cycle of Life. While all of SadVoice’s many ventures manage to merge at melancholy, Apathetic Grief shows off his skills as a smooth and steady drone artist – a distinction from the more menacing crunch of Inner Suffering. Youth and the waning daylight surrounding its Ferris wheel personifies the bittersweet death of the wonder years. The process proves to be a graceful decline as rumblings from below meet the heavens from above. Perhaps another trip around the sun isn’t the more torturous thing to happen after all.

LiphobiaGloomfall
October 20, 2018

While China’s Liphobia hasn’t left much of a footprint when it comes to their five W’s, the four tracks of their presumably inaugural album Gloomfall speak for themselves. If hypnosis via unrelenting sound-walls is a concept that can be mastered, then Liphobia has certainly achieved it. In the absence of greater information, a default to Urban Dictionary is in order, whose unchallenged definition of liphobia consists of “the fear of having one betray or lie to you during an important situation in one’s life.”

As upper-range vocals run one-in-the-same with the heavy distortion of instrumentals, Gloomfall does indeed confront swift shattering reality. Counteracting the risk of monotony, we’re met with a well-placed acoustic moment in “Autumnshadow” before marching into the slower dirge of remastered single “Stained.” While Liphobia moves through the fog at an unpredictable pace, hope prevails that more from the project is in store.

CloudsDor
November 16, 2018

Despite their status as a prolific international conglomerate, Clouds manages to float above any spoils associated with the mainstream by gluing death metal vocals onto the body of funeral doom. The glorious fiend that remains certainly does lumber — not toward self-indulgence, but brutality achieved through patience and minimalism. This year, the mournful troop offered their third full-length since 2014. With touches of clean singing to cleanse the palate, Dor is a tear-jerking stylistic survey. As violinist Irina Movileanu welcomes the dissipation of overcast layers in the album’s last measure, Clouds proves that being light doesn’t make you any less lacking in substance (or soul-crushing attitude).

Apothecary / Magic IncenseNot How Wounds Work, the Tide Alone
November 15, 2018

Casting a spell might seem all fine and well until you end up conjuring something that you can’t easily keep in a box. Such is the thesis for Not How Wounds Work, the Tide Alone — cryptic words from the unholy spawn of mystery USBM projects Apothecary and Magic Incense. Abandon any of hoping of a conclusive journey before entering. Much like a haunted house, chaotic shocks to the system hold much of this album’s appeal. A dizzying walk in the woods becomes full on panic-laden as the nightfall of butt-ugly (in the best way) vocals mark the fall of darkness. Layers of chilling sounds creep over the horizon, yet still onward you move out of fear of standing still. The futures of Apothecary and Magic Incense are unclear, but it would perhaps be inappropriate to have any visions showing anything other than smoke.

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