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I’ll be on a plane when this gets published (and hopefully on valium, as I hate heights). Do you guys only comment when you have something to complain about? Be constructive.

Metal. The week? October 11th thru 17th. The place? Your ears and the internet galore. Have something to say? Leave a comment. And be nice.

RIP Jim Sadist. Listen to a fucking Nunslaughter record.

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Ad Nauseum - Ad Nauseum | Broken Limbs Recordings | Sludge/Doom Metal/Noise | United States
I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Ad Nauseum last year at Southern Darkness Fest in Florida and these guys really caught me off guard. I guess I wasn’t really expecting such grimy, grating sludge from such a young band, and yet Ad Nauseum managed to pull off a really solid kind of noisy The Rita-meets-Grief-meets-Discordance Axis sludgegrind which just about torqued my neck. I excitedly picked up a copy of their debut EP (which was already on its third pressing), and with their latest effort, to be released on Broken Limbs Recordings, we see Ad Nauseum diving deeper into the rawest sewage Tampa has to offer. You might emerge coated in a slight film.

Aosoth/Order of Orias - Aosoth/Order of Orias | W.T.C. Productions | Black Metal/Black Metal | France/Australia
I’ve grown rather tired of the new wave of "orthodox" black metal which seems to have emerged over the last year or so. Odd that people were so willing to poke fun at Panzer Division Marduk and make majestic, melodic black metal, only to completely revert to that style (but with strong occult leanings, you guys) just a few years later. Luckily, we have Aosoth. I suppose Aosoth’s own metaphysical leanings, or lack thereof, might lead some to mindlessly attribute the "orthodox black metal" tag, but people couldn’t be more wrong. In what is quite possibly their finest hour (yes, even better than IV - Arrow In Heart), Aosoth’s "Appendix B" shows this French duo at their most fearless, heavy, and frightening. BST’s propensity for heavy, dense, discordant black metal has been known, and yet the very loose structure found on "Appendix B" is Aosoth at their most reckless, delving into formless chaos, extremely heavy rhythms, and overall putrid disgust.

Aosoth’s own genre bastardization pairs perfectly with the much more conservative, though still adventurous Order of Orias. Parts of this make me think of a more drawn out, atmosphere-driven Purity-era Hate Forest, though Order of Orias is much more in tune with their own Luciferian metaphysics than the aforementioned Ukrainians’, uh, politics (I still like Hate Forest, albeit begrudgingly). What really sets Order of Orias apart from the rest of the droning, atmospheric pack is the amount of punch they put into their music, which really complements their A-side partners well.

Both bands also feature some extremely intricate drum machine work. And, yes, Aosoth uses a drum machine. Nothing wrong with that.

No streaming link. Suffer.

Panopticon - Autumn Eternal | Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktionen | Atmospheric Black/Dark Metal | United States
Another year, another Panopticon album, am I right? I kid, I kid. We all know A. Lundr is a multi-faceted genius in his own right, though Panopticon definitely has had its issues of "finding home base," as each album seems to vary in style to a great degree. In the years leading up to Autumn Eternal, Lundr had been making threats of creating a "dark metal" (see: first two Katatonia records, Daylight Dies, et cetera) album, and, as it turns out, he had been quietly writing one the whole time. Though the dark metal sound is very, very apparent, the lilting, folksy sound of Panopticon’s previous albums prevails.

Thy Catafalque - Sgùrr | Season of Mist Records | Avant-garde Metal | Scotland (Hungary)
Oh man, what a weird band. I’ve always liked Thy Catafalque, though solo musician Tamas Katai’s idiosyncratic sound always takes...a bit to get used to. With every new album, Thy Catafalque delves deeper into the two extremes of its sound - strange electronica and extreme metal. With Sgùrr, the two sounds become more separate, breakbeats separating more traditional metal riffs and extended instrumentation heralding more morose sections. The separation is an interesting twist in Thy Catafalque’s body of work, which managed to keep the two at least partially entwined, but the more digestible route of separating trance-inducing electronics (though Katai isn’t afraid to get frantic - electronics do wonders for those who favor inhuman sounds) makes Sgùrr a nice entry point to a very dense discography.

Drohtnung - In Dolorous Sights | Seance Records | Raw/Atmospheric Black Metal | Australia
So this one was technically released a month ago. Sue me.

Drohtnung is a bit of an anomaly for this section of my column, mostly because their discography tends to lean towards the "unlistenably raw" end of the spectrum. That being said, beneath the harsh, eardrum-grating hiss lies extremely emotive, powerful music. Drohtnung’s brand of "depressive black metal" definitely leans toward the early Katatonia end of things - resolved goth-rock melodies and slow tempo, but retaining black metal’s tinny atmosphere and raw power. If you listen closely, you might recognize frontman Old’s hoarse scream from another Australian black metal masterpiece.

Yautja - Songs of Lament | Forcefield Records | Death Metal/Metalcore | United States
I definitely slept on Yautja. What the hell should I even classify them as? Sludgy, atonal death metal? Low-end grind? Who knows. What I can tell you is that Yautja is heavy...and mad. I wasn’t prepared for this. Neither was my neck.

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OF NOTE

Protolith - Dark | Independent/Digital | Atmospheric/Progressive Metal | United States
Protolith might just be a dark horse this year. Their aggressive, yet still tastefully atmospheric approach to progressive, post-hardcore-tinged metal definitely has a staying power, especially on Dark. Armed with a strong sense of melody, unique songwriting approach, and general anthemic sound, the future looks bright for Dark.

Saxon - Battering Ram | UDR Music | NWOBHM/Heavy Metal | United Kingdom
Wait, there’s a new Saxon album? Is it 1987? Apparently, because these guys can lay down a mean song. Between these guys and Maiden’s new album, who can really compete?

Cape of Bats - Violent Occultism | Broken Limbs Recordings | Black Metal/Punk | United States/Ireland
Wow, this is neat. I guess there are a few deathrock inspired black metal bands like Raspberry Bulbs, who are literally just a Rudimentary Peni cover band featuring a dude from Bone Awl, but Cape of Bats definitely has the "Siouxie Sioux in corpse paint" sound down. I don’t expect many of you to "goth out" to this one as much as I have been, but I do expect there to be unanimous praise nonetheless. This is great.

Cult of Occult - Five Degrees of Insanity | Deadlight Entertainment | Sludge/Doom Metal | France
Sometimes bands with bad names are actually good. I slept on Cult of Occult for a long time because, I mean, come on. Look at that name. I half expected yet another Electric Wizard worship band, but Cult of Occult is actually...good. On the heavier side of the Grief-inspired-sludge spectrum, Five Degrees of Insanity is the soundtrack to eternal withdrawal. Pull out your hair and tear at your flesh, it doesn’t matter.

Dead to a Dying World - Litany | Gilead Media | Progressive/Atmospheric Metal | United States
Delays at the pressing plant means I’ve had this one for a while, and I still can’t really wrap my head around it. It’s kind of black metal, kind of dreampop, kind of crusty, kind of sludgy...but in a cohesive way. It’s almost like there’s too much going on. I feel like I still need more time with Litany to fully appreciate the complexity of the music. Be sure to take time with this one, yourself. It isn’t very often such a challenging album hits the shelves.

Pneuma Hagion - Trinity I | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Black/Death Metal | United States
I’m generally pretty burned out on "war metal." As far as I can tell, the genre started and stopped with Ryan Förster and the Ross Bay Cult scene and its many, many incarnations. Pneuma Hagion proved me wrong. I like being proven wrong. This short EP has the traditional "war metal" approach - fast, heavy, and punishing, but Trinity I contains a strong sense of clarity and variation that most bands in the largely emulative genre tends to forego. Progression is key, and all it took was noisegrind legend Ryan Wilson’s (of Intestinal Disgorge and The Howling Void fame) unique, perfectionist’s voice to make that happen.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Zombi - Shape Shift | Relapse Records | Krautrock/Lucio Fulci Worship | United States
I really wish Italian gore master Lucio Fulci was still making movies, because Zombi would be the perfect soundtrack. Zombi has always been an interesting band, almost krautrock, almost post-rock, definitely progressive rock, but always existing on the fringe. Get ready to bob your head and envision your own special laser light show, because this is a fun one.

In Gowan Ring - The Serpent and the Dove | Les Disques du 7eme Ciel | Psychedelic Folk/Neofolk | United States
It’s really hard to believe In Gowan Ring is back. Main songwriter and chief musician B’ee has spent the past decade or so concentrating on his more stripped down Americana-folk project Birch Book, which is amazing in its own right, and with ten years separated from the apparent abandonment of his former chief project In Gowan Ring, I had essentially resigned myself to a future of lovely, minimal folk. Apparently I was wrong, and with The Serpent and the Dove B’ee picks right up where he left off. Armed with an arsenal of handmade instruments and his trademark delicate touch, In Gowan Ring has reclaimed its rightful throne as king of all autumnal lullabyes. Welcome back.

Ekstasis - The Book of Longing | Independent/Digital | Neofolk | United States
After all the hints at an album and shows on the opposite side of the country I obviously couldn’t attend, it’s about damn time Ekstasis released an album. Why should you care about Ekstasis? Do the bands Fauna, Vradiazei, and Skagos mean anything to you (If not, please do a little research)? Essentially a "Cascadian" (gag) supergroup, Ekstasis’s long-form, lush approach to oddly aggressive neofolk is a welcome new addition to what happens to be my most listened style of music from September to March of the following year.

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OTHER RELEASES

Krieg - Rise of the Imperial Hordes | Broken Limbs Recordings | Black Metal | United States
Krieg - Sono lo Scherno | Broken Limbs Recordings | Black Metal | United States
Krieg - Destruction Ritual | Broken Limbs Recordings | Black Metal | United States
Krieg is undoubtedly the strongest example of "USBM" in the genre’s short, highly argued history. With these early albums, N Imperial (who now goes by his birth name Neill Jameson), matched and transcended the perceived levels of "hatred" and "aggression" which were apparently set by the high-throned European scene. These were sloppy, poorly tuned hymns to pure misanthropic hatred. It’s amazing to see how much this band has changed and stayed relevant/enjoyable. Here’s to another twenty years, Krieg. I’ll still listen, and to the rest of you: know your roots. Krieg is important.

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OTHER RELEASES

Gorod - A Maze of Recycled Creeds | Listenable Records | Progressive/Technical Death Metal | France
It’s hard to believe Gorod is still at it after all these years. Shoot, I still remember when they still went as Gorgasm (before changing it out of deference to the now-defunct Chicago death metal band). Technical death metal in 2015 doesn’t quite hold the magic it did ten years ago.

So Hideous - Laurestine | Prosthetic | "Post-Black Metal" (it’s just screamo, guys) | United States
I honestly can’t make it through this. I didn’t like this band when they were called "So Hideous, My Love", and the excision of the more hokey half of their already very hokey name doesn’t change anything. Go listen to Envy (not the new album) - you will feel much more fulfilled. [On the other hand, I think it’s a rewarding listen! -Ed.]

Corpspazm - Corpspazm | Broken Limbs Recordings | Black Metal/Crust Punk | United States
Kind of halfway between G.I.S.M. and Conqueror, though definitely leaning more toward the latter. This is definitely an interesting pick for the oft melodically-bent Broken Limbs Recordings, and I really can’t see Corpspazm progressing beyond this, but it was a fun listen while it lasted.

Zuriaake - Gu Yan | Pest Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal | China
The masters of melodramatic, slightly folky (but not traditionally) Chinese black metal return.

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