News


MetalBite's Top 10 Albums of the Month - January 2023

Welcome back to MetalBite's Top 10 Albums of the Month, first one of 2023! Despite some delays, hiccups and growing pains, we are entering our third year of completing these month-end lists for your enjoyment and new listening needs.

Is that significant? Maybe. Do you care? Probably not. You're just here for the music and don't even read my intro paragraphs. That makes me sad. At least you finished this one.

Oh, and we have a new writer on board, so this is gonna be one of the biggest and baddest AOTM lists yet! Everyone give a warm welcome to Vladimir who covered a boatload of great stuff the rest of us missed for this month.

-Nate

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Re-Buried - Repulsive Nature
Translation Loss Records

This doesn't reinvent much, it's new-school old-school death, but it gets straight to the point and most of the riffs hit. Seems like it's getting some buzz. Kind of reminds me of Mortiferum in some ways, but maybe a little bit more straightforward, especially in the rhythm section.
-Nate


 

Wolfpath - Wolfpath
Independent

Poland has always had a rich black metal scene, be it mainstream or underground, and Wolfpath is another great addition to its finest bands. Wolfpath is a two-piece band consisted of Marcello (drums) and Void (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) and their self-titled EP is a brilliant work which combines modern and oldschool black metal, while still successfully managing to express ambience and emotion in its cold riffs and double-bass drumming. This EP doesn't sound overdone or lackluster, and it's definitely a great start for a newborn band.
-Vladimir


 

Prognan - Naši Životi Više Ne Postoje
Independent

Croatian black metal veterans Prognan have returned after 11 years with a full-length album titled Naši Životi Više Ne Postoje. This album has a very grand musical songwriting with violins, choirs, trumpets, pianos and aggressive black metal, dealing with themes about the terrors of war. The entire album is like one big soundtrack for a Hollywood war movie, considering that each song has its own leitmotif and the fact that their member Kob composed trailer music for various Hollywood movies. Anyone who is a longtime fan and follower of Croatia's black metal scene knows that Prognan is one of its most respected bands, and their new album marks an epic return you definitely don't want to miss out on.
-Vladimir


 

Oak Pantheon - The Absence
Unsigned/Independent

This project has blossomed from mere Agalloch worship into a much more expansive, proggy folk/black group with a ton of different sounds and themes. No longer can the considered a mere clone the same way In Pieces could - this is very much its own thing, with a lot more parallels to Nechochwen (who put out one of my favorite albums of last year) and Panopticon, with less earthy bite and more luminous stargazing. There's a lotto unpack here, and I didn't give it quite enough time for it to get anything more than an honorable mention for now, but I can see this working its way up my list in the coming months.
-Nate


 

…And Oceans - As In Gardens, So In Tombs
Season Of Mist

I have to admit that the Finnish black-industrial guys from ...And Oceans have passed me by until now. Unfortunately I can't give a good reason for that, because their new work As In Gardens, So In Tombs is very convincing. Very atmospheric black metal, somewhere between old Emperor, Satyricon and Covenant, without copying them in any way. Particularly noticeable is the rather aggressive tremolo picking - the Finns balance between frenzy and atmosphere, making for a wonderful winter trip.

There are no new innovations, no modern production values - and as a black metal traditionalist, that's just right for me.
-Michael


 

Høstsol - Länge Leve Döden
Avantgarde Music

My morbid curiosity led me here with no obvious clue of what I was getting myself into, but what piqued my interest was the fact that this is an international band with members from Norway, Sweden and Finland, including Shining's Niklas Kvarforth, Rainer Tuomikanto and Kalmos (both members of bands Ajattara, Decomposter, Woland), and Cernunnus. Although I am not a big fan of Shining or any of the mentioned bands, I actually managed to find something to suit my taste during my first listening of Høstsol and their debut full-length album Länge Leve Döden. This is dark, misanthropic and cold black metal with a somewhat gothic horror atmosphere of lurking death that will surely please your ears.
-Vladimir


 

Leper Colony - Leper Colony
Transcending Obscurity Records

This album is like a journey through diverse, groundbreaking death metal albums. Starting with 'The Human Paradox', you can smell the early 90s vibe that Morgoth spread back then. The riffing and vocals remind me very much of their debut. 'The Surgical Undeadvors' sounds like Death's Leprosy and 'Tar And Feathers' is just pure Hell Awaits Slayer worship. There's even the occasional nod to Fleshcrawl or more technical death metal.
-Michael


 

Inherits The Void - The Impending Fall Of The Stars
Avantgarde Music

It's not an unusual thing to see black metal bands with themes of stars, space or anything cosmos-related, if anything it's far more interesting than coming across multiple bands with overblown and generic lyrics about occultism or satanism and just "style over substance" musical approach. As an example of black metal with "stellar aesthetics", we have Inherits The Void from France and their second full-length album The Impending Fall Of The Stars. The album production feels like a mixture of 90's Swedish death metal in a similar vein as Dismember and modern melodic/atmospheric black metal with keyboards. The music has a modern black metal approach but without sounding overproduced or sterile, keeping every inch of musical performance on a proper level. Simply put, the overall experience is mesmerizing and transcendental, I have no doubt you will enjoy this album and adore its beauty.
-Vladimir


 

Atrocity - Okkult III
Massacre Records

Atrocity has had an interesting career, going from technical death metal to groovy, folky music, to 80s pop songs and then back to death metal again - but for those that are still paying attention, they've just released the last of a solid 3-part trilogy.

Full review by Michael here


 

Crom - The Era of Darkness
From The Vaults

German epic power metal legends Crom make a return 6 years after the release of When Northmen Die, with a new full-length album on the horizon, The Era Of Darkness. If you are a longtime fan of Crom, you will surely enjoy this journey blessed with power metal riffs, melodic and neoclassical guitar solos, beautiful acoustic interludes, epic high singing vocals and double-bass drumming that will shake the earth. It's just impossible to find anything bad about this album, there is no lack of quality in its songwriting and sound production, the execution is just superb and I consider The Era Of Darkness to be pure steel and strength of metal that will surely please the god of the Cimmerians.
-Vladimir


 

Superterrestrial - The Fathomless Decay
Green Flaw Productions

There seems to be something of a critical mass building of black metal bands coalescing around cosmological concepts, with even Darkthrone's latest album looking to the skies as much as it did Satan and the Scandinavian landscape. Starting with the cold brilliance of Darkspace, and moving on through more recent bands such as Palus Somni and Crown Of Ascension, as death metal has generally chosen the sci-fi path, the black metal that takes inspiration from the astral realms unsurprisingly tends to opt for sound that evokes the fathomless and infinite depths of the universe. The almost nihilistic nature of pondering the infinite expanse of the cosmos has brought some fantastic black metal into this particular world, and Superterrestrial's third album The Fathomless Decay is no exception. Not quite as other-worldly or psychedelic as some of their peers, the UK band's more grounded take on the genre nevertheless utilises mesmerising repetition and an almost mechanical coldness to great effect across seven excellent tracks. Superterrestrial play mostly at a trance-inducing mid-tempo, so when the penultimate track 'Planetismal' launches into a vicious and breakneck blast, it serves to demonstrate a grasp of tension and release that the band could explore a little more frequently. Still, as the ambient / black metal of 'Heliacal Rising' concludes this listener's trip into the outer limits in epic style, one can only conclude that it is a journey worth repeating, even if we might encourage Superterrestrial to travel a little deeper next time.
-Benjamin


 

Obituary - Dying Of Everything
Relapse Records

No surprises here, another solid Obituary album. If I had to compare it to past albums, I would say that it has some similarities to The End Complete or the 94 follow-up World Demise - you can notice it in the opener 'Barely Alive' with the typical Obituary staccato riffs and trademark mid-tempo grooving.

Full review by Michael here


 

Azgaroth - Kohti Unholaa
Independent

I remember first hearing about Azgaroth from Finland some years back, which might have been around 2018/2019. I was really impressed with their modern black metal sound which was heavy, melodic and transcendental as well, and to see their second full-length album Kohti Unholaa come out this year was a special treat I would gladly enjoy for what it is. It comes as no surprise to me that this album sounds just as beautiful as the rest of their discography, because it's melodic, refreshing and emotional music to my ears. Fans of Finnish black metal might opt for something more raw, misanthropic, dark and satanic to suit their taste, but I assure you that Azgaroth might be worth your attention despite not possessing any of the mentioned traits, in case you get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. In a world where many modern black metal bands sound absolutely dull, pretentious, overproduced and uninspiring, Azgaroth is not one of them, and if I were you, I would certainly give them a chance and listen to their latest album Kohti Unholaa.
-Vladimir


 

Screamer - Kingmaker
Steamhammer

Up for some catchy oldschool heavy metal? Good thing that in this day and age, we have "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal" around for some good old-fashioned entertainment to defend the faith. If there is one thing I know when it comes to heavy metal maniacs, it's that they won't ask for much other than for good music to blast on their speakers and enjoy the ride. Luckily, we have Screamer from Sweden and their fifth full-length album Kingmaker, here to deliver all of the goods you've been asking for: catchiness, heaviness, rock and roll and a good dose of action, adventure, mythology and battles. This album gives all you'll ever need, good melodic heavy metal and epic fantasy, something that the teenage geek within me still craves for after all these years.
-Vladimir


 

The Lightbringer Of Sweden - The New World Order
Independent

I usually avoid power metal releases of the modern age, but I will admit that I have come across some great examples over time. The Lightbringer Of Sweden is a band I have never heard before, but a band I was glad to come across. They've been around for 5 years now, and have released their second full-length album The New World Order on January 18th 2023. Badass epic melodic power metal with pure muscle and strength, and unusual vocals that sound like Jack Black, but do no harm to the overall musical performance that this band carries out wonderfully. Besides the majestic songwriting, the sound production done by none other than Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman, does the job quite well in pushing the music to its maximum power.
-Vladimir


 

METALBITE'S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

 

Malice Divine - Everlasting Ascendancy

10: Malice Divine - Everlasting Ascendancy
Self-released/Independent

I've been following this group since their debut, which you might recall I reviewed and followed that up with an interview from the head honcho himself. My main qualm with the previous release was the overall mix - the guitar tone needed some beef, and the drums needed more of a "wooden" feel. That's been rectified here, as the hyperfast kicks and blast sections feel like they have much more of a natural ebb and flow.

The Dissection vibes are still heavy on this one, as that was clearly the foundation for the sound, and the vocals seal the deal in that regard with a raspy, high tone, but something that was always understated in Jon Nodtveldt's riffing was the speed metal bravado, and it feels like Everlasting Ascendancy is drawing more from that well of influence. The virtuosic, uplifting solos give much more of that 80s shred vibe than they do a grim, frostbitten landscape. It's not incompatible with the black metal by any means, though - when you combine it with the prominent melody in the tremolo, it feels very triumphant and epic, almost like a power metal album. The title track is a really good example of what happens when it really gets going - a constant stream of riffing garnished with wild, dextrous guitar leads and a healthy amount of galloping speed driving it forward.

The only quibble I have with this group now - and this is probably just a quirk of my own personal taste - is that I feel like they need to let the atmosphere breathe. The riffs are always actively doing something to catch your attention somewhere, and when you combine the busy vocal lines and the inherent fullness of extreme metal drumming, I start to yearn for a couple of long, slow builds. There is the occasional delicate acoustic break to bridge between riff storms, but as soon as you start to feel relaxed, they kick back up again. It's not that the riffs aren't really good - if anything, it's more that they're excellent, but I want to hear them for longer and hear them develop more. Again, that might just be because of my predisposition towards more minimal and atmospheric tenets of black metal - that's not really what this is supposed to be about. All things considered, this is a marked improvement on an already solid and intriguing debut, and I'll be continuing to follow this project to see how this sound continues to grow and develop.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.1/10


 

Ominous Scriptures - Rituals Of Mass Self-Ignition

9: Ominous Scriptures - Rituals Of Mass Self-Ignition
Willowtip Records

This checks all my brutal death metal boxes - lots of tremolo garnished with active low-end palm-muting? Blastbeats almost constantly unless there's a slam? A cryptic, almost ritualistic atmosphere that seeps out of the edges of the intricate guitarwork? A vocalist who just grunts super low with little to no variation? Get this fucker in my collection already.

Being one of the only other Belarusian death metal bands of this style, Eximperitus is a good comparable, only with more nods to traditional brutal death metal: Disgorge's overwhelming speed, Malignancy's fondness for pinch harmonics, and a thinner, more organic production that helps to capture more of the raw, visceral intensity. Willowtip, as usual, cranks outs a steady stream of incredible techy music that you should get into your ears immediately.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.2/10


 

Ahab - The Coral Tombs

8: Ahab - The Coral Tombs
Napalm Records

Jesus, I'm writing about not one, not two, but three Napalm Records releases this month? I should just turn in my True Underground Badge right now. To be fair, Ahab is probably one of Napalm's longer-standing artists, having been signed to them since their first album - which is pretty wild, considering they're a funeral doom band. To be fair, though, even when that was an intriguing, burgeoning genre in the wake of the one-man band explosion of the mid-00s, Ahab never really sounded like any other funeral doom - despite being far and away one of the most popular artists you could reasonably attribute the tag to. They've always had more colorful depth to their music as opposed to the pure, drudging despair of Catacombs or the haunting, truly funereal sounds of Skepticism (which I guess is the whole "nautical" influence showing).

I respect how this band has grown under the radar all these years - quietly, consistently releasing albums that evolve in different directions but stay true to the seafaring doom vibes, slowly refining their craft for the needs of no one but themselves. They've got a lot more clean tones and adventurous, involved movements than the turgid, harrowing waves of The Call Of The Wretched Sea nowadays, but it only serves to keep fans engaged and give a little something new with each go-around. I'm particularly taken aback by how conceptual and story-like The Coral Tomb feels - I'm not sure if it's a concept album lyrically, but the music suggests as much with how necessary it is to listen to this from front to back - it transitions just as well between songs as between riffs sometimes. There's a lot more surges of double-kick and blasting than I remember this band having, being used as the stark contrast to the vacuous melodies that give the feeling of exploring a deep, dark ocean with only a dim lantern to light your view.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.4/10


 

Imperium Dekadenz - Into Sorrow Nevermore

7: Imperium Dekadenz - Into Sorrow Nevermore
Napalm Records

I try not to feature a ton of bigger label bands/heavy hitters on this list, so when I do, you know there's a really good reason. That being said, I will admit this is the first time I've really given this group a fair shot - they had been recommended to me in passing a couple of times, so I knew they were something I might like, but I never got around to listening to them until now for whatever reason. You know how it is, right?

I definitely should have given them a shot sooner. Like all great German metal, this creates atmosphere via powerful simplicity and efficient, well-rounded execution. It's reminiscent of an anthemic, gothic version of Winterfylleth - still earthy and warm, but with a touch of the esoteric. There isn't a single note that feels out of place, and the underlying melody gives everything a very anthemic feel. It's got tons of those driving rock beats over tremolo riffs that I love in my black metal, lots of long, repetitive motifs to really let those riffs sink in. You can tell the core of this band is two guys who have been playing together for 20 years, their chemistry is insane. Each one knows exactly how to complement the other and create a grandiose, enveloping sound with sparse elements.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


 

Tribunal - The Weight Of Remembrance

6: Tribunal - The Weight Of Remembrance
20 Buck Spin

This album caught me unexpectedly and boy was I impressed. Tribunal is a gothic/doom metal duo from Canada, and they present themselves with their debut album The Weight Of Remembrance, which I am sure will definitely be one of the top albums of 2023. It's hard to tell what I love more about this album, it's either the music or the cover art, they're both just perfect. What you can expect from this band are wonderful tragic serenades with melodies, cellos, keyboards, pianos, clean and harsh vocals, all quite atmospheric and reminiscent of My Dying Bride's later era. For fans of gothic/doom metal, check this band out, you will definitely not be disappointed, not by a longshot. This is fine heavy, somber gothic doom metal.
-Vladimir

Death-doom, and 20 Buck Spin. A sub-genre tag and label combination that promises music of significant calibre, and this Vancouver-based duo absolutely do not disappoint. The listener is cast instantly into an almost ecstatic pit of despondency by an album of lush and viscous gloom, which draws from across the extreme metal spectrum to create an astonishingly fully-formed work of enthralling magnificence. Where some avant-doom practitioners may mislay the metal altogether in the pursuit of frequencies transcendent, Tribunal lean heavily into mournful twin guitar leads, and slow-motion chugging, integrating heavily-orchestrated arrangements with deeply sonorous doom, and perfectly balancing atmosphere with aggression. When the clean gothic vocals are added to the mix, as they are on the terrific 'Of Creeping Moss And Crumbled Stone', the band easily stand comparison with the best that the sub-genre has produced in recent years, including labelmates Dream Unending, and the outstanding Atramentus. The intriguing cello lines provide a point of difference for a band that might otherwise fit a little too snugly into an already well-populated scene, fulfilling a similar role to Skepticism's pipe organ, and add a unique flavour to an already intoxicating brew, as well as anchoring their music in some kind of pre-modern time period, lending their sound an elemental feel that can't always be achieved by guitars and drums alone. Tribunal's captivating opening gambit is likely to bewitch most who hear it, this year and in all the years yet to come.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


 

Katatonia - Sky Void Of Stars

5: Katatonia - Sky Void Of Stars
Napalm Records

I don't even care that they haven't even been a metal band for 20 years at this point, Katatonia fucks and you bet your ass I'm putting their new album up on this list when it drops. They're one of those bands where I can't describe why I adore them so much. I don't go for Tool, Porcupine Tree, or any of the metalloid rock bands that these Swedes often get compared to, but they have a sound that is honestly all their own. I have no idea why they keep me coming back time and time again, but I honestly always end up going on an extensive binge every time I dig into another album. There's always a couple tracks with that perfect melancholy, a delicate nostalgia mixed with a mid-tempo heaviness that become staples, and a handful of other songs and moments that circle around the mark. Not every track lands, but the variety in their song structures is kind of understated, and you're bound to have a couple that don't flatter a given listener's personal sensibilities with that approach. At this point I've been listening to Katatonia for 10 years and they've never fully dropped out of my rotation in that time. I love this band so much. Forgive me if I'm a tad biased.

Sky Void of Stars is just another reason to dive into one of my all-time favorite bands - I will say that the mid-period of Tonight's Decision up to and including Night Is The New Day (my personal favorite of theirs) is my most listened to era of the band, and their most recent albums haven't pulled me in quite the same way this one has. The upbeat 'Birds' and 'Colossal Shade' have big hit single vibes, and there's a vivacious, proggy underlining to 'Drab Moon' and a handful of the back half tracks. It feels like their most balanced album in a while, and more of the hooks are hitting for me on this one. This is making me question my evaluation of a lot of their later-era albums and making me want to give them a closer look.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.7/10


 

Conjureth - The Parasitic Chambers

4: Conjureth - The Parasitic Chambers
Memento Mori

Barely a year on from their excellent debut Majestic Dissolve, Californian death-metallers Conjureth are ready once again to take on all-comers with their second album The Parasitic Chambers. This listener praised Majestic Dissolve as one of 2021's best albums for its unrelenting barrage of 90s death metal riffs and more modern technicality, and those elements are still present and correct on another superb effort. This time, however, Conjureth seem to have poured all of their collective experience, into sharpening the hooks embedded into each song so that they attach themselves that little bit more tightly to the listener's subconscious. Nothing is lost in terms of aggression or brutality, but now their relentless assault is imbued with a host of more memorable passages, which is likely to guarantee a little more staying power in comparison to their debut. Indeed, the main criticism of Conjureth's first full-length was the absence of the occasional vocal or musical motif that would ensure each song stands alone and endures for the ages, and it is gratifying to see that minor flaw rectified on The Parasitic Chambers, which showcases everything good about its predecessor, but just more so. This album is simply an endless parade of Altars Of Madness-style slaloming riffs, many of which utilise deft and unconventional rhythms, as demonic tremolo runs scythe unforgiving through blocks of warp-speed chords to create a controlled chaos that allows each song to thrill in a slightly different way. 'Cremated Dominion' is the perfect embodiment of this approach, but it is difficult to single out highlights across an album that rarely dips below a setting of ferocious exhilaration. The Parasitic Chambers is about as strong a second album as we could have wished for, consolidating Conjureth's position as one of death metal's most proficient new bands, while at the same time hinting at ever greater triumphs to come.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 8.8/10


 

Nothingness - Supraliminal

3: Nothingness - Supraliminal
Everlasting Spew Records

These riffs are so fucking good. I know, I'm a metal reviewer, I'm supposed to say stuff like that, but man, they just have all the tasty little things that keep me coming back to new metal albums. Big, chonky grooves are present, an off-kilter sense of melody that seems to be unique to the band, all garnished with moments of cathartic tremolo releases. You can tell they listen to OSDM, but this doesn't have that kind of feel to it. The guitar tone in particular is sleek and modern - it's got a big, fuzzy quality to it that gives the necessary heaviness, but it's rounded with a glossy sheen that pumps every motif into your gut. The drums help a lot with that, as they have a great sense of space and pacing - very deliberate, never adding too much garnish to the fills and faster parts, but always doing what they need to fill the room. There's a chemistry to the band's distinct identity, with all of them seeming to have the exact same ideas of different sub-styles to splice into their superliminal soup. It's kind of got that same "meshing of the eclectic" feel that Worm has minus the funeral doom.

Gorgeous cover art on top of it being an incredibly tasty album with a sweet riff in basically every track. Another home run from the fellas at Everlasting Spew!
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.8/10


 

Schavot - Kronieken Uit De Nevel

2: Schavot - Kronieken Uit De Nevel
Void Wanderer Productions / War Productions

The first moments of this bring Ulver to mind - A gentle female voice sings over some soft guitar lines. But this is just a mirage to lull you into the foggy surroundings. Soon you'll find yourself cloaked in harsh-yet melodic black metal similar to the earlier works of Ulver, Satyricon and Enslaved.

There are some changes and evolutions from the first album of this solo project, Mastermind Floris has laid his focus on more melody and the vocals aren't as one-dimensional, with some double-layering and grunting like Bal-Sagoth. In some parts the music is also more frantic and faster than on Galgenbrok and keyboards play a major role. 'Niet Alleen De Avond Walt' and 'De Laatste Dans Gedanst' try some things that seem outside of the band's comfort zone, but are done very well and leave you with uncomfortable, unsettled feelings.

Musically it may take some time to grow, but the attention to detail is there - just look at the cover to see how much attention Floris pays to the little things.
-Michael

Schavot are the solo project of Asgrauw drummer Floris, and not unlike his compatriot Maurice De Jong's Hagetisse project, Schavot exist primarily to pay tribute to classic 1990s Scandinavian black metal. While some might legitimately criticise such a narrow objective, as well as the inherently conservative nature of recreating a strain of black metal that has already been endlessly emulated, this listener simply revels in the undeniable quality of an album that so unerringly delivers everything that made second wave black metal so captivating in the first place. For, regardless of its raison d'etre, Kronieken Uit De Nevel barely puts a foot wrong through forty minutes of savage, but gloriously melodic, black metal. Each track positively reeks of early Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved and Dawn in the way in which the folkish melodies gradually unfurl over a relentless battery of high-velocity blasts, subtle keyboards adding atmosphere without curdling what could be an overly cloying mix in the wrong hands. By the magnificent 'Zwart Water', this listener is utterly swept away by the total majesty of what Floris has created here, and by the time that the labyrinthine 'Niet Alleen De Avond Valt' bleeds into the wonderful closing track, the eyes are wide, and the jaw is slack. The realisation dawns that Schavot do not in fact succeed because they sound reminiscent of something that was once great, but because they conjure the same authentic magic in the here and now. Some things will never die.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 8.9/10


 

Thy Darkened Shade – Liber Lvcifer II - Mahapralaya

1: Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lvcifer II - Mahapralaya
W.T.C. Productions

Hellenic black metal duo Thy Darkened Shade finally make a comeback with their third full-length album Liber Lvcifer II – Mahapralaya, marking the official continuation to their previous album Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet, released 9 years ago. It sounds just as it looks, chaotic, apocalyptic and anti-cosmic satanic black metal with blast beats, aggressive tremolo picking riffs with 'choirs of damnation' as well, that just perfectly add to the epic atmosphere of this album. I believe that those 9 years of waiting were worth it for many of their fans, because this is one epic and badass release you don't want to miss.
-Vladimir

If January has been a good month for orthodox black metal releases, Thy Darkened Shade are flying the flag for a more progressive and esoteric take on the genre, equally valid of course, and equally high in quality. While there is no doubt that the Scandinavian masters have surely inspired the Greek duo (there is a distinct Thorns influence at play in the discordant strains of 'Sacrosanct Pyre' at the very least), there is at least as much Svartidaudi and Deathspell Omega to be found in the rhythmic complexities of the impressively varied riffing, which moves effortlessly between legato displays of technical prowess that wouldn't be out of place on a Cryptopsy album, to passages of the kind of white-hot blasting that you would expect from Marduk, or Gorgoroth. One should not overplay the avant-garde influences, however – while the album is far from simple in its composition and arrangement, at its heart is a core of solid metal, and each song positively bristles with infernal ingenuity, as raging riffs and cascading melodies seemingly battle with each other for supremacy, each one better and more intriguing than the last. As the tempos continually oscillate, and each track moves through numerous sections, all of which miraculously hang together coherently, the overall effect is of an album that is overwhelming in its scope and spellbinding in its execution. There might be better black metal albums released in 2023, but Thy Darkened Shade have set the bar at a daunting height.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 9.4/10


Thanks for checking us out! Be sure to support the bands if you like em, and insert strange objects into your anus if you like that too. Wait, what?

Here's December 2022's list, which links to all that past year's releases, which will lead into a neverending rabbit hole of new albums to check out. Have fun!

And, of course, Follow MetalBite on Facebook and Instagram so you can be there right when the next Top 10 list drops!

Entered: 2/7/2023 1:10:01 PM
   1.33k