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MetalBite's Top 10 Albums of the Month - March 2024

Welcome back to MetalBite's top 10 albums of the month! As you might expect, now that spring is here, the floodgates are open and we're back to desperately trying to give shout-outs to all the music worth listening to out there. Some seriously good shit missed the cut for the Top 10. Make sure you dig into the honorable mentions too, because a lot of the time there's very little separating them from the albums that "made the list" in terms of quality. Let's get freaky!

-Nate

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Rites Of Regress - Dust
Third Eye Temple

Norwegian/Polish band Rites Of Regress displays a very somber but also teeth-grinding heavy blackened doom metal with a heavily distorted aura surrounding it, expressed through its doomy guitar riffs, slow but commanding and banging drums, and heavily distorted harsh vocals. The songs really have that ominous vibe which dictates the forthcoming darkest hour where nothing is real but death and horror, and only true fear knows what it awaits. It's hard to summarize how I feel about this album, because on the one hand I liked it very much, but on the other hand I wished that we could have gotten a bit more out of it, with maybe just a couple more tracks that could have expanded the tracklist. However, despite all that I have just said, that doesn't mean that this album isn't great on its own, because it certainly did a very good job at presenting an attractive piece of work that should definitely be carried over to the band's future releases that could potentially offer more.
-Vlad


 

Pestilential Shadows - Devil's Hammer
Northern Silence

I'll admit I didn't spend as much time with this as I wanted to (I've been in more of a tech death and death/doom mood than a black metal mood lately) but this is worth a mention given how I fell in love with Revenant, the preceding album to this one. This is a bit more active and aggressive, almost feeling like a different band at times, but I get the sense that this Aussie group tries their best to never write the same album twice while still keeping the base sound they've developed over the years. They've still got a keen ear for melody and a sense of how to generate atmosphere through great riffwork as opposed to forcing ethereal synths on top of mediocrity.
-Nate


 

Haunt - Dreamers
Independent

Haunt yet again rides and dominates with some incredibly catchy bangers full of heaviness, melody and strength of steel, with powerful and emotional vocals by Trevor William Church which add a lot of emotion and more dimension to the music. The songs express so many personal feelings which are mixed with themes of supernatural and fantasy, while keeping constant track on rocking out with all heavy metal power and glory. Interesting thing about Haunt and how Trevor writes every new material is that it feels like each track on the album was meant to be a hit song or a heavy metal anthem, mostly due to the uplifting spirit that flows through every chorus and every riff. Haunt's overall musical simplicity truly manages to remain expressive and effective throughout the entirety of the album, while also leaving plenty of space for new ideas that have not been used before or not to a certain extent. If one could ever find anything to fault about their work, it is only because they just can't enjoy simple things and are probably looking for a needle in a haystack. I think I enjoyed Dreamers more than Golden Arm, mostly due to the fact that it has plenty of likeable stuff on here and then some, but I still think that it's not really worth comparing their albums because they are mostly staying faithful to their oldschool heavy metal songwriting formula. I feel like Haunt only wishes to expand their story by adding new chapters with every album that comes out, without leaving the fans feeling empty or unimpressed in the end, which I think deserves immense support and respect from those who swear in the name of "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal".
-Vlad


 

Skeletal Remains - Fragments Of The Ageless
Century Media Records

Skeletal Remains evolved in a very interesting way. Their early material had Asphyx and early Death written all over it, and gradually fine-tuned their material to be even more hateful and aggressive. This has culminated in this, their 5th full-length album, a relentless and brutal beast that leaves no room for breath. Gone are the Death references, gone are the Dutch trademarks now there is only super heavy riffing and lots of late Vincent/early Steve Tucker era Morbid Angel worship. The guitar solos also call to these influences, and the result is a very unpleasant and uncompromising album that is heavy as fuck and relentlessly beats you down without mercy.
-Michael


 

Fathomless Ritual - Hymns For The Lesser Gods
Transcending Obscurity Records

Brendan Dean is turning into the weirdo Canadian version of Rogga Johansson real quick. Besides this project, which he did everything except for the artwork for (drum programming, mixing/mastering, you name it), he also has Gutvoid, Pukewraith and Fumes as current creative outlets (among a handful of others), and also had brief stints in Pronostic and Brought by Pain on bass in the early 2010s. Unlike Rogga, he's more selective and diverse with his creative outlets - although it definitely seems like his preferred go-to nowadays is old-school death metal with hints of doomy, psychedelic atmospheres.

Fathomless Ritual has a couple things that make it stand out from Dean's other work, even on cursory listens - the general vibe is noticeably more uptempo, with less deliberate crawling, and the Demilich vibes are a distinct and definitive part of this album. It's got that delicious bounce that we've come to know and love. Cryptworm and Dead and Dripping are good comparisons - it's good to see that bands taking influence from Nespithe are now common enough that there's almost a new sub-subgenre of death metal forming. It's fun, but always maintains enough obtuse weirdness to keep it from becoming too hokey.

There's not a ton of variety - Hymns For The Lesser Gods finds a niche and sticks to it for the entire duration. It will be interesting to see if there's enough ideas behind Fathomless Ritual to expand and develop further on a second album, or if Dean will just get bored and move onto another project. Regardless, it executes well, does what it needs to and if you're a fan of any of the bands I mentioned above you'll almost certainly enjoy this.
-Nate


 

Severoth - Шляхом Світла
Avantgarde Music

One of my favorite newer one man atmoblack projects. This one is a bit more dreamy and a bit less soul-crushing than the previous album, with the drums buried more in the mix this time around. I do prefer Vsesvit (the album that got me into the project) a bit more, but this is still a fine piece of work that's great for studying, chilling, being carried off into alternate realms etc.
-Nate


 

Coffin Storm - Arcana Rising
Peaceville Records

Coffin Storm does indeed provide a lot of wicked heavy and doom metal elements consisted of solid catchy riffing enriched with guitar melodies, with drums in a slower tempo and epic singing vocals by Fenriz that were often incorporated in Isengard and also a couple of Darkthrone songs in the later era, particularly The Underground Resistance. Although on first-hand it may sound a bit too familiar, with there being a strong resemblance to Darkthrone's recent works with the heavy and doom-laden style since Old Star, regardless of the fact you will manage to hear hear a lot of influences throughout the entire album, coming from bands such as Manilla Road, Pentagram, Candlemass, Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, mid-tempo elements of Celtic Frost, Metallica and Kreator, as well as musical nods to early Paradise Lost & Cathedral. There is a strong emphasis on simplicity in the band's songwriting, but still quite dynamic with all the tempo changes and transitions between each section. All of the songs stand out in their own way thanks to the incredibly heavy riffing that is without a doubt the biggest highlight of this album. Overall, Arcana Rising is very enjoyable and very pleasant to listen to from start to finish, presenting itself as a nice and charming love letter to the 80's classics. The three Norwegian metal titans have proven successful in their mission to unite their forces and create one powerful spell that will bewitch the excited fans, and I am very glad to see Coffin Storm proving itself to be a one nasty son of a bitch.
-Vlad


 

Apogean - Cyberstrictive
The Artisan Era

Nice Zenith Passage style grooves, always love it when bands have some of those, and this at least has a bit more chonk than some of the more recent Artisan Era releases. Mac Smith is a monster vocalist and adds a bit of flair to anything he's a part of. I do wish this was like 10-20bpm faster a lot of the time, but it's nonetheless solid enough to get a passing grade from this tech-head.
Bonus points for these dudes being local to my home province, hopefully I can play a show with em at some point!
-Nate


 

Volcandra - The Way Of Ancients
Prosthetic Records

Really solid melodic black metal with hints of death metal and thrash scattered about, sort of like Skeletonwitch but with more "elegant sword'n'sorcery" instead of "thrash nerd after six beers" vibes. They've always had enough surface appeal in their riffs, that's why Prosthetic took notice, but sometimes it felt a little disjointed - like they were including every good idea that they had. The Way Of Ancients feels more like a full album, they trimmed the fat without getting any less riffy and it helps to highlight the individual talents of each member. The guitarists are tight and have a wider range of motion, and drummer Mike Hargrave and vocalist Dave Palenske are seriously underrated given what they bring to the table. They'll never dominate a song, but always do exactly what it needs to. The faster skinwork is tight and tasty, and Palenske's diction and enunciation has always been incredibly sharp, and it's only underscored more here.

I'm still waiting for that moment where this hits me right in my soul and forces me to sing the praises of Volcandra to everyone I know, but that being said, they're doing everything right. It's going to come. I'll keep following this band diligently because I know they're on the verge of a true breakout - it took Artificial Brain a few albums before I finally felt like they hit that point, even though they were always very good.
-Nate


 

Civerous - Maze Envy
20 Buck Spin

There's been a lot of really good death/doom this year. Where Spectral Voice slow drips a cubic mile of lead until it completely crushes and disintegrates you, Civerous is much more of a "meat grinder" style of death/doom - more actively churning, can stop on a dime to go from the speedy moments into a crushing breakdown and then back again, and don't take as long to get to the point, but lead you on into listening to the full song through a series of interesting garnishes. The album title is fitting, the songs are constructed in a very maze-like manner - confounding yet cohesive and with a lot of attention to detail. Above all, they have that flavour to their riffing that's just impossibly heavy, eschewing all melodiousness during the more active moments to underscore the beauty in the clean breaks like 'Endless Symmetry' or the emotive surge in 'Labyrinth Charm'.
-Nate


 

Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project
BMG

From the get-go, the album already starts out pretty strong with 'Afterglow Of Ragnarok' that has already served its purpose as a fine album teaser, but the following 'Many Doors To Hell' and 'Rain On The Graves' is where you truly start to feel like this album is going somewhere and you don't know where to exactly, because each of these songs has its own identity and sort of surprise factor that really makes you wonder what comes next. There is a big sense of storytelling and chapter progression as the album goes, presented in this turbulent ride to the strange and alien world created by the visionary mastermind within Bruce himself. This album has a lot of various ideas that enriched the songwriting and made it feel quite dynamic and unexpecting, bouncing back and forth with themes of mythology, occultism and personal subjects, making every song shine on its own while also transforming the album into a big turbulent rollercoaster. This joyride certainly has a lot of interesting moments that a listener can embrace with all their heart, which goes far out from what one could expect after hearing the singles 'Afterglow Of Ragnarok' and 'Rain On The Graves'. Those singles have done a pretty good job as album teasers, but they didn't exactly give away what the album sounds like because of the stylistic differences between songs, and that has often been the case of Bruce Dickinson's solo work with a lot of variety and experimenting. Overall, The Mandrake Project turned out to be a very interesting and enjoyable output that exceeded all my expectations. Looking back at the album catalog of Bruce Dickinson's solo work, I have to say that I never ended up feeling disappointed or unamused, and so comes this new album to rightfully take its place among his predecessors.
-Vlad


 

Gottmaschine - Kyberneth
Independent

Gottmaschine once again unloads all the cannons with commanding blackened death metal in a strong military fashion which burst into flame with rapid-fire blast beats with frequent double-bass drumming, tremolo picking riffs and harsh growling vocals that altogether form a great symphony of destruction on the battlefields. Their songwriting remains mostly similar to that of their previous self-titled debut album, however by expanding it further with a couple of these interesting inclusions they did a good job at making everything just a bit more dynamic and engaging. All the songs are very enjoyable to listen to, with each song feeling like a dangerous weapon or a call to arms that is filled with marching and stomping, altogether leaving no prisoners behind. Surprised to say, this EP does feel like a standalone expansion to their self-titled debut that sticks to the musical and thematic formula of its predecessor, showing a great deal of potential for things that may come in the future. It is very much a "Panzer Division Marduk" driven experience but in a much more contemporary direction that takes its work seriously without ridiculing and without pretentiousness. If you haven't yet heard the band Gottmaschine, I suggest that you check out their self-titled debut album and then jump straight into Kyberneth.
-Vlad


 

Hideous Divinity - Unextinct
Century Media Records

The speed of this album is pummeling and blistering, as you have likely come to expect from Hideous Divinity, but on Unextinct there's a wider scope and range of motion which highlights the band's growth as songwriters, all the while retaining their vicious, intense core. It's an overwhelming album with a lot of little quirks and rabbit holes that are going to take some more time for me to explore. I missed their last North American tour, these dudes need to come back very very soon!!!
-Nate


 

Dodsrit - Nocturnal Will
Wolves Of Hades / Argento Records

A little-known fact about my taste is that the album Imperivm by Ictus is one of my all time favorites, and one of maybe four or five albums I would be comfortable giving a perfect 10/10 score. That melodic black/death/crust sound is so uniquely riffy and invigorating, and I find myself gravitating to anything that comes anywhere close to it. Cue Dodsrit.

Their sound is more rooted in black metal, but still has that same triumphant, call-to-action feeling that makes you want to gather all the homies and start a revolution. There's an underlining of positivity that emanates through this, in a way that is antithetic to the way black meal typically presents itself, but the extremity of the music doesn't suffer for it. It's just heaviness used to achieve a different end goal, underscoring its power. Sometimes when bands go this route, the major key moments muffle the impact, but Nocturnal Will doesn't have this problem.
-Nate


 

Midnight - Hellish Expectations
Metal Blade Records

Without warning and without hesitation, all hell breaks loose from the very get-go as the d-beat and devilish rock 'n roll driven energy bursts out the wall with fucking speed and darkness. Midnight strikes hard from the very start as the first couple of tracks already show that this means business and that business is good, especially with the badass and hellfire fueled bangers like the third and fourth track, with such simple titles that speak out loud that Athenar's game is indeed 'Masked And Deadly' and that you are nothing but a 'Slave Of The Blade'. The simple but solid songwriting of Athenar on this album has proven to be incredibly effective from start to finish, providing tons of enjoyable moments with a lot of punk rock, heavy metal, rock and roll, black and speed metal that mercilessly sets the stage on fire. All of the songs shine with consistent energy and aggression that wastes no time for any fancy tricks or antics that bands waste their time and effort to please the audience, because Midnight keeps things straight to the point with every song banging left and right. Despite the album being just over 25 minutes long, it is simply impossible not to get immersed into it because there is just way too many fun and enjoyable stuff here that can't go unnoticed and ignored, especially if you are a one hellish rock and roll soldier that the devil himself enlisted with every right in his army. Midnight has triumphed and fulfilled everything that we've come to expect from the beast that is Hellish Expectations. Straight to the point, blasphemous, fucking speed and darkness, all the way through! There is nothing more that I can say other than the fact that Hellish Expectations is yet another worthy entry in the band's discography.
-Vlad


 

Brodequin - Harbinger Of Woe
Season Of Mist

This might be the best production job Brodequin's ever had. Not that the "death by snare ping" didn't have its charm, but man, when everything is properly and professionally balanced, it just highlights how nasty these brutal speedfreaks really are. New drummer Brennan Shackleford is an absolute monster, and it sounds like the Bailey brothers haven't missed a beat despite the 20-year gap between full-lengths.
-Nate


 

Black Absinthe - On Earth Or In Hell
Independent

I try not to plug local metal bands unless they actually turn my crank. Between playing in metal bands and booking shows myself, I come into contact with a lot of them, and most of them are swell dudes with solid tunes - but for the purposes of reviewing, I need to be a little bit pickier. There are tons of bands that are passable and don't do anything wrong, but the style just isn't something I'd go out of my way to listen to. As such, I focus my writing energy on things that objectively tickle my fancy, personal connections or not - that way, if I AM hyping something up, you can trust my word that it's actually legit.

This is definitely the case with this Toronto-based group, which is extra impressive because they inhabit a genre (modern trad metal) that I'm choosy about on the best of days even when it comes to the heavy hitters. I need some solid hooks, a little bit of bite, and the occasional dash of extreme metal sensibility so it can compete with all the uber-heavy junk that takes up most of my brainspace. That's a rare combination, but Black Absinthe checks all those boxes with aplomb.

The clean vocals delivered with grit and punch, with a solid natural timbre and great production values helping to staple them into memory. The songs don't really follow traditional structures and stray away from repeating choruses and motifs, but I still wouldn't call it prog metal because there's a spirited, punkish attitude that bleeds through each riff . It's kind of like Skull Fist got a bit heavier and thrashier. There's a dash of Maiden minus the falsettos and overt theatrics, a dash of Testament without fully plunging into being thrash. The solos have a jammy 70s vibe to them, the verses feel decidedly 80s - but On Earth Or In Hell still has enough unique twists and turns to have it keep up with modern heavy metal without sounding dated.

Seriously impressive and hella underrated - with a little more press and exposure, these guys could be touring with Spirit Adrift or something.
-Nate


 

Khold – Du Dømmes Til Død
Soulseller Records

In a surprising turn of events, Khold really hits the note with a strong groove in their doom-laden black metal that sets the mood straight for the entire album. Just like with the other band Tulus, Khold's music dominates primarily with groovy black 'n roll that is quite dynamic with its tempo changes and styles that vary between songs, at times getting heavier and more unsettling as the album slowly progresses. For people who say that slow can't be heavy or that these bands need to play faster if they are gonna play black metal, the fifth track 'Lædel' throws in some in your face d-beats that just add more flavor to the ominous doomy moments on the album, alongside with the atmospheric/industrial synths in the chorus that give an additional layer to the band's sound. Khold's performance has always been much more intense than that of Tulus, more oriented towards pure aggression and punchiness than catchiness and simplicity. The songwriting contains a lot of dynamic tempo changes that fluently switch between fast and slow throughout the entirety, with a lot of grooves in the riffs and drums that are even more amped up with Gard's tight harsh vocals. The highlight of this album is that you can really just sit back and enjoy the ride, where you can just get entirely immersed in the band's performance while still paying close attention as to what comes next. The stylistic consistency all throughout gives plenty of space to follow along without losing focus on the music, and as a black metal band they truly manage to keep you on edge as the tradition requires. This album has a lot of anger and frustration expressed through black metal, as well as excellence in the band's performance that gradually becomes heavier and heavier each time a new song comes up. Truly an awesome album that should not be overlooked if you are into groovy and rock and roll driven black metal.
-Vlad


 

METALBITE'S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

 

Vorga - Beyond The Palest Star

10: Vorga - Beyond The Palest Star
Transcending Obscurity

One of my favorite TO exports for sure - it's hard to find black metal that toes the line between catchiness and atmosphere the way that Vorga can. They love midpaced, driving riffs, which just so happen to be my favorite as well. Striving Towards Oblivion was pretty close to a top 10 album the year that came out - it still has that je ne sais quois that keeps me coming back for the occasional go-around, so I was especially excited for the new one.

The only problem with a band releasing a stellar, addictive album is that they have to follow it up with one as equally stellar and addictive. Thing is, Beyond The Palest Star is more of a slow burn - it's only by the third or fourth listen that I've started to appreciate it more. The songs take a bit longer to develop, and Vorga plays more with the space they create by doing that, making for a more immersive, entrancing sound - but it forces you to pay attention to it. They've always had the modern cosmic theme, and I find this release digs into that a bit more fully - to put it one way, it sounds more like the album cover looks this time around. Whether you like that more than the previous album is mostly up to personal preference, but either way, it sounds like Vorag have settled into their own niche of riffy space black metal, developing a sound that is all their own.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.3/10


 

Verwoed - The Mother

9: Verwoed - The Mother
Wolves Of Hades /Argento

Verwoed, like many of the best contemporary black metal acts, hail from The Netherlands, whose combination of relaxed liberal democracy and drug decriminalisation has strangely produced a seemingly endless production line of weird and extreme music. The Mother is the band's fourth official release, and second full-length, and offers the listener a powerful and immersive experience, a little heavier on atmosphere than riffs, but compelling in its post-industrial darkness. The insistent melodies that layer themselves, brick by brick, upon the propulsive foundations of droning minor chords have the same kind of hypnotic effect that Akhlys achieve, and the mesmeric nature of their music, most obvious on the superb title track pulls us closer than we might like to the eldritch abyss that confronts us unbidden. As the record progresses, 'The Child' provides a richer harmonic palate, expanding the bands horizons into almost Opethian territories, and this approach finds an excellent accommodation with the chunky Funeral Mist-like riffs that run through the excellent 'The Madman's Dance'. The variety found on the record might be confusing to some listeners, as Verwoed alternate between oppressive dissonance and progressive majesty, but for this one, at least, The Mother is a benevolent parent indeed.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 8.3/10 (for now)


 

Messiah - Christus Hypercubus

8: Messiah - Christus Hypercubus
High Roller Records

This surprised me a bit - I like Messiah, but this is killer. The songwriting is much tighter and catchier than their last album Mont Fracmont and in my opinion this is one of the best albums in their career.
'Once Upon A Time…Nothing' is one of the fastest songs they've ever written and it's a real brutal death-thrash bastard with super aggressive vocals. With the Slayer vibes, this is probably one of the best songs they've done since Rotten Perish. 'Soul Observatory' is pure thrash with the only death metal influence being in the vocals. The riffing is simple but very effective and this is one of the catchiest tracks with some atmospheric twists and turns. There is an acoustic part that suddenly drops the thrash, providing a great contrasting effect. Last but not least 'Venus Baroness I' and 'Venus Baroness II' are some really groovy closers. Rousing melodies with great hooks, they mix up some heavy thrash and death elements to a galloping tempo and so these two tracks feel much shorter than their 11 minute runtime - a hallmark of a great album. Lots of great tracks to explore here – check out Christus Hypercubus and you won't be disappointed!
-Michael

MetalBite's Rating: 8.3/10


 

Carrion Vael - Cannibals Anonymous

7: Carrion Vael - Cannibals Anonymous
Unique Leader

I'll try to be as objective as possible in my assessment of this - forgive me for the self-indulgent masturbation that is to follow, but Carrion Vael will forever have a special place in my heart - I was literally their vocalist for four days. Right before their Canadian tour with Aepoch (who are all good friends of mine), their main guy Travis had some health concerns and had to bow out of the tour less than a week before it would begin, and as such I was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I learned the lyrics to six songs in four days (it helped that I was a big fan of Abhorrent Obsessions, since the entire set was off that album) and played some of the coolest shows I've ever played in my life with some of the sickest musicians I've ever shared a stage with. One of those shows was a double set (with my own band opening the show) in a sold out room of 200+ people. I hope that isn't my musical peak, but it wouldn't be so bad if it was because holy fuck that was some next level shit.

Anyways, enough with the personal anecdote. Wonderful dudes, phenomenal musicians, it's near impossible for me to not have a bit of bias when I listen to this but I'll try my best.

As you might imagine, I was excited to see the homies were droppin some of that brand new sauce. On previous albums, they could be considered something of a Black Dahlia Murder worship band with a few more notes, but as time goes on they've added a great deal more nuance and identity to their music - it was starting to develop on Abhorrent Obsessions, and it's evolving even more on Cannibals Anonymous. I particularly notice a bit of a blackened edge coming out more on this record - 'Augusta's Dead' has a chorus riff that brings it to mind, and the garnishes of clean vocals and synths - more prevalent and blended into the fabric this time around - only accent that vibe. I don't think Cradle of Filth was an influence because this sounds nothing like them, but the atmosphere that comes out of it has some parallels, if that makes sense.

Travis has augmented his vocal delivery accordingly - he still has the fast, choppy lines that I loved from the previous record (I have a huge soft spot for fast vocalists in general), but they're a bit more spaced out and there's a lot more emphasis on his highs, only adding to the blackened edge. While this doesn't have the same immediate appeal that Abhorrent Obsessions does, I do find that the more I listen to this, the more I hear the Carrion Vael I know and love - just more mature, fleshed out and multifaceted.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.4/10


 

Necrophobic - In The Twilight Grey

6: Necrophobic - In The Twilight Grey
Century Media Records

Necrophobic have diversified even more on their tenth album. They've always had their fair share of melody since Darkside but on In The Twilight Grey there's a lot more traditional heavy metal influences. The skeleton is still death/black metal, but the innards of the guitarwork are calling to the 80s. The limited edition of this album even has a W.A.S.P. cover.

Although it is hard to name standout tracks because it's all so good, my personal faves are 'Clavis Inferni' (which is a typical Necrophobic song), 'Shadow Of The Darkest Night' because of its gloomy atmosphere and guitar work and 'Stormcrow' with a super epic part in it. If you like the aforementioned Darkside, this will be an easy one to get into.
-Michael

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


 

Early Moods - A Sinner's Past

5: Early Moods - A Sinner's Past
RidingEasy Records

Rarely do I take a chance to check out newer metal bands, especially that of the doom metal branch, however my friend Zmaj from Pustoš recently recommended checking out the US band Early Moods. Once I finally decided to give it a listen, I was not remotely ready to face what awaits me. From the get-go, the shadows slowly arise as the somber mood is set with the oldschool doom metal output that Early Moods incorporates. Their songs consist of traditional elements that include heavy catchy riffs, mid-tempo drums and melodic singing vocals that are like preachings of a true doomsayer or a crazed madman. Aside from the standard riff ideas and doom metal song templates, there are a handful of exceptional moments on this album that provide a nice element of surprise to the music, going from superb melodic guitar work to the harsh and almost black metal-like vocals on the second track 'Blood Offerings'. Throughout the entire album, you will hear a lot of musical influences coming from various genre-defining bands such as 70's Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus, along with many significant others that played a crucial role in the development of doom metal. The driving force of the music isn't just the solid riff work, but it's also the strong suspenseful atmosphere created through the music, very much like in a 70's horror movie where something frightening is about to happen and you are just not ready to face it. As the album progresses from one track to another, you truly feel like this is just moving one step closer towards an apocalyptic event with each song, as the riffs get heavier and the tone of the album gradually darker. Even though doom metal is considered to be less dynamic than other metal subgenres, Early Moods surpasses that limit with the strong use of dynamic arrangements where songs consist of smooth transitions between every section, all the while building up the anticipation of the current song, as well as the next one. This is perhaps the biggest highlight, as I was quite often left on the edge of my seat wondering what may come next and I was not disappointed. The best example I could give you regarding these build-ups is the third self-titled track 'A Sinner's Past' which has a slow section that prepares you for the heavy and catchy galloping finale of the song. Their songs are certainly packed with heavy doomy riffs, but the inclusion of melodies, bluesy guitar solos and clean guitar sections, really make the songs feel rich and powerful. Each time a new song comes up, I always think to myself that there is no way that it's going to get heavier, but yet it always manages to outsmart me once it comes to play. This album turned out to be such a big and pleasant surprise that surpassed all my expectations and simply left me without words. A Sinner's Past is an exemplary album which proves that doom metal albums can still be catchy, heavy, and incredibly imaginative at the same time. It's simple yet effective, slow yet heavy, but most importantly, dark and foreboding throughout its entirety. I consider this album as a spiritual grandchild of Black Sabbath's Vol 4. that rocks out in all its glory, and you should definitely check it out. Big thanks to my friend Zmaj for recommending this album, because it was indeed worth it!
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


 

Givre - Le Cloitre

4: Givre - Le Cloitre
Eisenwald

I don't always include albums in this column that autoplay when I'm listening to albums on YouTube - it's very infrequent that something catches my attention like this did. Leave it to the fertile QCBM scene to impress me time and time again.

This is simultaneously delicate and beautiful, harrowing and despondent, and even a little bit groovy at times. It cycles through a wide range of modern black metal textures, but songs are not a haphazard mishmash of ideas, they're full of direction and purpose. The lyrical topic is really cool - it seems we've reached that point where Catholicism is metal now? To quote their bandcamp -

"the lyrics are taken from the hagiographies of six saint women and explores freely their relation to god through suffering, from the symbolic poetry of Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179) to the disturbing and factual depictions of Marthe Robin (1902-1981)".

I suppose it's still about pain and suffering, but through a very unique lens. Granted, I can't understand what they're saying, but the music is lined with a certain poetic mystique that feels guided by the lyrical content. In other words - this is true fuckin' black metal. It has that rich fantasy and aura of boundless expression that reminds me why I fell in love with the genre in the first place.

How the hell does this band have less than 1,000 followers on each of their socials? This is astounding, and might be my favourite black metal album of the year so far.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


 

Wounds - Ruin

3: Wounds - Ruin
Everlasting Spew Records

Oh me oh my these riffs are tasty. Bits of Zenith Passage and Spawn of Possession line the fabric of this guitarwork, and even though there's a high level of skill and intricacy, the band works in tandem to make sure the songs are easy to remember and gives you enough tasty licks to keep coming back. 'Doom Incarnate' and 'In The Maw Of The Beast' is the catchiest one-two punch I've heard in tech death since Datalysium. Arkaik and Soreption are good comparisons to make, because Wounds' riffs also sound easy to play but any guitarist will tell you otherwise.

I can't say a ton about this even though it's probably been my most listened to album of the month - the riffs are just really fucking good, this is exactly what I want to hear in my tech-death, and if you know me you know i'm on that shit like a kid on ice cream. It's perfect bread and butter listening for me - when I don't know what to put on, I go with this.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


 

Devastatiӧn - Rise Of The Dead

2: Devastatiӧn - Rise Of The Dead
Empire Records

Devastatiӧn's Rise Of The Dead, the band's third album, is basic, primitive and totally unoriginal. It's also the most fun I've had this month, as eleven tracks of riotous black-thrash fly by, a dark blur of leather, studs, and bullet belts. The Belgians are taking things a tiny bit more seriously this time round, judging by an album title that, as generic as it is, shows a modicum of maturity not present on the release of 2015's Pussy Juice Blues (this writer feels slightly unclean just typing that), but thankfully their music remains a sloppy mix of Abigail, Merciless, early Destruction and pretty much no low end whatsoever. It would be easy to dismiss Devastatiӧn as pointless throwbacks, were it not for the fact that hitting the optimum point between first-wave black metal and thrash requires a surprising precision of calibration, and on this point at least, Devastatiӧn's collective IQ is somewhere between Hawking and Einstein. Virtually every track, the savage 'Necronomicon' being a prime example, is built around a thrilling speed-metal riff, with a judicious use of tremolo passages and NWOBHM inflections seamlessly merging into an exhilarating blast of adrenaline. Although snatches of keyboard add sinister atmosphere, and a dash of early Enslaved to the mix, there is little in the way of sophistication to be found here. Instead, Devastatiӧn plough through 40 minutes of mayhem with total conviction and true belief in the might of heavy metal, standing triumphant amid the ruins of good taste.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


 

Devastator - Conjurers Of Cruelty

1: Devastator - Conjurers Of Cruelty
Listenable Records

Devastator's Conjurers Of Cruelty is simply put an uncompromising and merciless black/thrash attack with headbanging heavy tremolo riffs with some black rock and roll here and there, dynamic drumming that incorporates standard thrash metal beats and walk breaking double-bass drumming, along with some sick harsh singing vocals. Instances of some punk rock energy are evident on the third track 'Black Witchery', combined with the predominant black-thrashing that is the centerfold of this album. This album really does not take a break from ultra headbanging moments, as it really starts ripping on 'Walpurgisnacht' with d-beat drumming and riffing that's ripping it all the way through like hot knife through steel, while also throwing in some amazing guitar solos. Beside the established musical formula, they also found some space to use a bit of eerie atmospheric black metal with open string chords, evident on 'Deathspell Defloration', which on the first half breaks away from the overall album template by incorporating a slower tempo, until it decides to kick the chair and go back into action on the other half of the song. Other great banger tunes on this album that will really get your blood boiling and quench your bloodthirst is the eight track 'Bestial Rites', 'Sharpen The Blade', 'Rabid Morbid Death' and 'Ritual Abuse (Evil Never Dies)' which has some amazing acoustic guitar parts in a very flamenco-like fashion. The songwriting on this album is quite dynamic, pushing the black/thrash metal performance beyond its limits and making every second count, down to every last riff that leaves no prisoners breathing. During my listening, I often felt that this album is like a love child of Watain and Aura Noir in terms of the overall execution and the atmosphere, or perhaps a perfect combination of album such as "Lawless Darkness", "Envoy of Lucifer", "With Primeval Force", "Power from Hell" and "Black Thrash Attack", with some icing on the cake and cherry on the top to spice things up even more. As a friend of mine would say out loud from his guts "METAL PIZDA TI MATERINA", this is exactly how I would sum up this album as a whole. From the moment I pressed play, I knew there was no turning back and it instantly hit me with the title track, headbanging like a bloody maniac hungry for some speed and fucking darkness. This was one of my most highly anticipated albums that I couldn't wait to give it a listen, and I am so glad that I did. While I was listening to this album, I often felt like I was taken back in time when I first heard other black/thrash metal masterpieces like Nifelheim's self-titled debut, Aura Noir's "Black Thrash Attack", Ketzer's "Satan's Boundaries Unchained' and Desaster's "Tyrants Of The Netherworld", and I would definitely say Conjurers Of Cruelty deserves to share a spot with those aforementioned albums. Devastator made one beast of an album that will be very difficult to top by any other album within the same subgenre, especially since this one went all in by saying "give them hell" and so they did. I always said that in the black/thrash metal movement, there is simply no space for pretentiousness and hipster mentality in this kind of subgenre, because it is all about pure aggression, hate and destruction. Be sure to check out Conjurers Of Cruelty, this album is an "all killer no filler", and just a superb work of extreme metal art.
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 8.8/10


Thank you as always for stopping by. No, I didn't intentionally put Devastation and Devastator next to each other as the top two albums of the month, but it's pretty funny that it turned out that way.

Check out past lists from this year here:

February 2024

January 2024

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Entered: 4/16/2024 1:29:05 PM
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