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Hey friends, I’m going to be out of commission with the ol’ Upcoming Metal Releases column until January 4. Yes, even writers need a break sometimes, you know? (Though I certainly didn’t get much of a break from my day job.) You’ll hear from me again in a different capacity tomorrow, don’t worry. In the meantime, I hope you guys have a safe holiday season, and don’t get too rowdy on New Year’s. I’ll see you in 2016.

Below are a list of releases slated for release between December 20, 2015 and January 2, 2016 (though I might have fudged the dates with some surprises from last week that I wanted to throw in). As always, feel free to let me know of anything I missed, any horrendously conflicting opinions you might have, any cool upcoming releases you might know (or are a part) of, and, finally, if you know any cool bear facts. Just leave a comment below. Don’t get lost!

—Jon Rosenthal
send Jon your promos at jon@invisibleoranges.com

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Amphisbaena - Amphisbaena | Independent/Digital | Blackened Death Metal | Canada
Canadian death metal bands, especially those which surround the enigmatic, primitive Antediluvian and the completely twisted Rites of Thy Degringolade, have always been favorites of mine. There is something entrancing, maybe even comforting, about their completely anti-musical, oppressive walls of dissonance. Though the "war"-y sound is definitely not Canada-local anymore, These interchangeable cast of characters remind the world that the United States’ neighbor to the North is the genre’s Alpha and Omega. Though more known for his work with the aforementioned bands (and my favorite Weapon album), multi-instrumentalist NKLH showcases incredible musical force with (what I can only imagine to be) his new solo project, Amphisbaena. The Amphisbaena EP’s crisp, sharp sound highlights an extremely technical, frantic performance which carries just as much of the disgust of NKLH’s more bludgeoning, murky peers; a refreshing departure from a quickly homogenizing sound. Apparently his longest-running project, and the intricacies in composition, jarring rhythmic juxtapositions and technical flourishes, highlight the amount of time NKLH put into his pet project, and it shows. If this is just Amphisbaena’s debut EP, I fear the intensity of the full-length to follow.

Grafvitnir - Necrosophia | Daemon Worship Productions | Black Metal | Sweden
I’ve had one hell of a craving to listen to Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane as of late. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s because we’ve just passed the two decade anniversary of its release, but, either way, my desire for strong, cold, melodic Swedish metal struck me to my very core. While satiating myself, I began to wonder if anyone was truly carrying Jon Nodtveidt’s torch. If you had asked me maybe 12 years ago, I would have excitedly pondered Watain’s future (remember how promising they were?), but, alas, no one really got what Dissection had set out to do with those first two full-length albums . . . which is what makes Sweden’s Grafvitnir so special. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to Grafvitnir’s sound, especially on Necropophia, but there really doesn’t have to be a lot of flair to the meat-and-potatoes style of aggressive, melodic, riffy black metal, does there? Though definitely an emulation of a style which passed long ago—often a point I view as a negative—Necrosophia is such a convincing argument in Grafvitnir’s own favor that it warrants future listens beyond my initial scrutiny.

Rebel Wizard - Invocation of the miserable ones | Independent/Digital | "Heavy Negative Wizard Metal"
(Blackened Heavy Metal) | Australia

A couple weeks ago I lauded the return of Nekrasov, but, as it turns out, Bob has been pretty busy this year already. Performing an overwhelmingly fun mix of black metal, classic, Preist-y heavy metal, and, dare I say, cock rock, Rebel Wizard’s "Heavy Negative Wizard Metal" is quite the departure from Bob Nekrasov’s depressing, harsh pedigree, but it works! It works really, really well!

Confrontation - Aggregat 4 | Independent/Digital | Death/Doom Metal | Netherlands
I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more World War II-themed doom metal bands. The advent of tanks, though powerful, seemed to make things move so much slower, and, much like the tanks, Confrontation takes traditional death/doom metal, slaps on some treads, and unstoppably trudges forward. This is some heavy doom metal, almost confusingly so, the birth of Bandcamp making music much more of a crapshoot than MySpace ever was, and the "doom metal" tag becoming filled with every band who decided playing slow was cool, but I don’t think Confrontation are capable of playing at any speed faster than "crushingly slow." Emphasis on crushing. Wear a helmet.

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OF NOTE

Gravewurm - Doomed To Eternity | Hells Headbangers Records | Black/Death Metal | United States
Primitive American old school death metal has never sounded so good. Don’t expect any melodies or atmospherics, just worship at the altar of the riff, which has always been Gravewurm’s strong suit. Doomed to Eternity is also Jim "Sadist" Konya’s final recording (his final performance with Gravewurm at Hells Headbash 2 was great), and this is definitely a fitting epitaph. RIP Jim.

Akatechism - Dripping Flames | Invictus Productions | Black/Doom/Death Metal | Germany
Murky, asymmetrical, haunting, completely cacophonous doom metal. Though the Akatechism’s stripped down instrumental tracks are pretty par for the course when it comes to the newer school of dissonant, doomed metal murk, they do create a compelling atmosphere. There are so many layers of organ, distortion, and croaked vocals that instead of the usual "cavernous" sound, Dripping Flames sounds like it was performed in a cathedral. Though definitely not religious by any means, there is a liturgical aspect to Akatechism’s music, like they’re preaching some fire-and-brimstone blasphemy, and it is terrifying.

Strange Rites of Evil | Terror from Hell Records | Doom Metal | Italy
Oh whoa, this is great. Abysmal Grief’s theatrics always kept me from listening to them, but their unique brand of organ-driven, driving, creepy doom metal is exactly what I should have been listening to this past Halloween. Yes, it’s campy, but isn’t most metal campy?

Heathen - Heathen | Independent/Digital | Black Metal | "Norway" (Unknown)

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FROM THE GRAVE

Matricide - Morning Star | Daemon Worship Productions | Black Metal | Sweden
Matricide is dead. The first physical manifestation of this now-decade old EP of eerie, orthodox black metal from a now-member of Nightbringer.

Black Cilice - Summoning the Night | Altare Productions | Black Metal | Portugal
I appear to be the black sheep of the music writing world when it comes to Black Cilice, but, in the many years I’ve spent attempting to listen to this mysterious Portuguese project, I could not find any extraordinary or redeeming qualities to what is a rather unremarkable "raw black metal" project.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Common Eider, King Eider - Unhuulda | Independent/Digital (cassette incoming via Black Horizons) | Ambient/Drone | United States
"Unique" packaging and presentation always catches my eye, and Common Eider, King Eider never fails to impress. Unhuulda, the latest collection of works by this California ensemble, is a voice-centric work, often playing to a certain location’s resonant qualities in conjunction with lengthy vocal drones, resulting in deep, relaxing drones. Their most minimal, haunting work to date is (at least for now) bound to the digital sphere, courtesy of their Bandcamp, but comes paired with a beautifully printed book of poems meant as a companion piece to Unhuulda’s recordings.

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OTHER RELEASES

Dendritic Arbor - Sentient Village / Obsolescent Garden | Independent/Digital | Black Metal/Grindcore/Noise | United States
Did Jon Chang start another grind project or something? No? This sounds remarkably like a black metal approximation of Discordance Axis’s The Inalienable Dreamless.

Serpents Athrist - Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration | Invictus Productions | Black Metal | Sri Lanka
Welp, this sounds like Beherit. Not that sounding like Beherit is a bad thing, by any means, but...

Ego Depths - Dyrtangle | Dusktone | Ambient/Funeral Doom Metal | Canada
Ego Depths always existed in my peripherals - I think I had an album of his downloaded when I was still in high school and he was still based out of Ukraine - and the project always seemed like one of the many lost in the endless legion of "internet funeral doom bands" . . . which makes Dyrtangle all the more surprising. Performing a lush mix of tribal, world-music inspired ambiance and, of course, thick, atmospheric funeral doom, it would appear that Ego Depths finally found his niche.

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WHAT WE MISSED

Orthodox - Axis | Independent/Digital | Experimental Doom Metal | Spain
Spain’s biggest avant-jazz/chamber doom weirdos made a quiet return and I had no idea. For shame. The ironically-named Orthodox has always been a dichotomous headbanging/head-scratching affair, especially their Sentencia album, but Axis is by far their most fluid fusion of modern chamber music, avant-jazz, and suffocatingly heavy doom metal to date.

Annexia - Egress | Holy Roar Records | Blackened Sludge/Post-Metal | England
Beautiful, despondent post-metal expanse from my old friend Stephen Trepak, who you might recognize as the guitarist from fellow Holy Roar band Human Future.

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