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

Welcome back to MetalBite's Top 10 albums of the month! This list marks the three year anniversary of this column, when I (Nate) had a bunch of short reviews written for 10 bands in January 2021, stricken by boredom with the ongoing pandemic, and wanted to lump them all together and rank them because it's fun to nerd out like that.

Life got busier, but nonetheless we haven't missed a month in three years yet. Our lists are bigger than ever before - it used to be a struggle to think of 10 albums worth hearing in a given month all on my own, but now it's not uncommon for 20-30 albums per month to get write-ups, relegating tons of gems into the Honorable Mentions section. That's in no small part to our growing cabal of writers - we now have three additional regulars in Michael, Benjamin and Vlad feeding you the goods, all with different specialty genres and little overlap in taste, despite being obsessive metal freaks through and through. We've also had a handful of sporadic contributors fade in and out through the years, including TheOneNeverSeen and Felix among others i'm probably forgetting.

We've gotten thanks and gratitude from countless bands, both those well-known and dwelling in obscurity, and lots of label and media shout-out as well. We don't do this for the accolades, though, and we're definitely not doing it for the money - it's all for the love of the music and our desire to make the bands we adore more known and heard.

Thank you for being here and joining us for the ride, wherever or whoever you are. Heavy metal reigns supreme!!!



Resin Tomb - Cerebral Purgatory
Transcending Obscurity

This is heavy, viscous and abrasive all at once, owing to drawing from multiple wells of dissonant death metal, sludge and even a bit of grind/crust. Early Wake is not a terrible comparison, any Australian band that plays with dissonance is gonna have a bit of Ulcerate in there, and it's got that meaty, amelodic weight that Transcending Obscurity has a fondness for, as evidenced by bands like Warcrab, Jupiterian and Lurk on their roster. This sounds raw, but only in emotion, not in tone - the drum production in particular is thick as shit and beats every gnashing, buzzing riff into your brain with incomparable force.


Fantasma - Abomination Of Human Pestilence
Narbentage Produktionen

If you like German black metal bands like Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, then you might like the new coming two-piece band Fantasma as well. Fantasma returned 2 years after its debut with a new demo Abomination Of Human Pestilence that provides very misanthropic but atmospheric black metal that conveys a very macabre plague-infested vibe with an ominous feeling of evil presence. When a new coming black metal band comes out with a demo such as this, one could only wonder what awaits us when the time comes for a full-length album, which will definitely continue to incorporate songwriting that will once again call upon the reaper from the gloomy heavens.


Abhoria - Depths
Prosthetic Records

Good modern melodic black metal. I could use a few more earworm riffs to solidify these in my memory, but there's nothing that feels shoehorned in or out of place. Not much I can say about this beyond that, worth a listen if you bump Dissection or other Prosthetic meloblack/death like Volcandra, Fires in the Distance, Nixil or Tomarum.


Knoll - As Spoken

This feels like the first band that has managed to capture the same essence as Full of Hell - the vocalist is a dead ringer for Dylan Walker, with a similar wet, prickly tone to his high, and the band takes a similar approach of adding heavier death metal and noise elements to a grindcore base to make their music sound claustrophobic, violent, and with a certain esoteric, evil undertone that both groups seem to relish in.

The perfect opener for a cryptic dissodeath band live, which is why it's no surprise Thanitfaxath tapped them for a run of shows happening as we speak (mid-February). This sounds lik a nightmare in all the best ways.


Vipassi - Lightless
Season Of Mist

Some really nice bass tones on this. Covers a lot of ground, kind of like an instrumental version of later Fallujah if you removed the deathcore tendencies. Ne Obliviscaris fans will get a good amount of mileage out of this, too (and not just because the two bands share a guitarist). It's got some heavier tendencies than Scale the Summit, but should still satisfy people who go for that type of sound, if that makes sense. If you like the idea of extreme metal but hate the vocals, this is probably right up your alley.


Savaged - Night Stealer
No Remorse Records

I guess there is just no escaping from traditional heavy metal excellence, is there? In the case of the Spanish band Savaged and their debut album Night Stealer, we have yet another very enjoyable heavy metal album with hints of speed metal here and there, providing a powerful and melodic work all throughout. Just like with the band Show N Tell, all the songs on this album scream 80's, and this is something made for the fans who just want some good old-fashioned heavy metal that will steal your soul the moment you press play.


Saevus Finis - Facilis Descensus Averno
Transcending Obscurity

Dissonant death combines with Deathspell Omega -esque black metal to create a layered, weighty album that will take a few good listens to full peel back the layers. If you're looking for the chasm-styled hole that Abyssal leaves in you mixed with the tense tightrope walk that Nightmarer pulls off, this will check both boxes with aplomb. Full track premiere here.


Carnal Savagery - Into The Abysmal Void
Moribund Records

One of Sweden's most prolific exports, Carnal Savagery are back with their fifth album since April 2020. Again they offer us a lot of traditional HM-2 sounds without any compromise. Groovy riffs in the vein of Dismember, Entombed or Unleashed are in abundance and make for some good old fashioned chainsaw fun. Of course the lyrics aren't talking about flowers (unless they're decaying and maggot-infested, I suppose), but did you expect anything else? Into The Abysmal Void also features some tasty guest solos by Sebastian Ramstedt (Necrophobic) in 'Stench Of Burnt Decay' and 'Limb By Limb'.

If "Like An Everflowing Stream" or "Clandestine" are the death metal bibles to you, Into The Abysmal Void will be a good supplementary sermon. Amen!


Xion - Between Shadows And Gods

Although I doubt that I will once again experience the kind of warm feeling I had towards thrash metal, that still doesn't mean that I can't enjoy what it has to offer. Thanks to my friend Andjela, she introduced me to the Swedish thrashers Xion, who have released their debut full-length album Between Shadows And Gods that is all about the pumped adrenaline aggression and headbanging from start to finish. With an album such as this, I believe that the band Xion deserves to be in the ranks of modern thrash metal names such as Havok or Warbringer.


Upon Stone - Dead Mother Moon
Century Media Records

If you still swear upon the first two releases by In Flames or 90s-era At The Gates, this is a must-have for you. Upon Stone resurrect the old spirit of these two albums perfectly. Harsh death metal vocals paired with catchy riffs and some folk-ish melodies make the album a very interesting one for those who miss the classic Gothenburg melodeath days. Some songs are a bit more straightforward, but that just leaves room to expand on future albums. For a debut, Dead Mother Moon is very solid.


Engulf - The Dying Planet Weeps
Everlasting Spew

One-man death metal with a nice helping of atmosphere, capable drum programming that's barely noticeable as such, and a nice John Tardy inflection to the vocals. You should know better than to doubt anything that comes out of Everlasting Spew at this point.


Deconsekrated - Ascension In The Altar Of Condemned
Iron, Blood And Death Corporation

The South American metal scene always tends to provide some of the most extreme death and black metal bands, and in the case of very extreme and brooding death metal, Deconsekrated from Chile is no exception. Their debut album Ascension In The Altar Of Condemned is an offspring of an eldritch being that was conceived from the foulest semen, proving that death metal in the modern world can still sound morbid, intimidating and evil. Modern day brutal death metal bands who like to flex their muscles should not mess with South American death metal bands, because these ones are natural born killers.


Stuporous - Asylum's Lament
Void Wanderer Productions / War Production

Blackened-doom can be a tough beast to tame. Attempting to capture the sinister evil at the heart of black metal, with limited recourse to the visceral thrill of the speeding guitars and drums, it can easily descend into background music. Perhaps due to the deep black metal history of prime mover Floris Velthuis, the man at the helm of the good ship Stuporous, the Dutch trio never threaten to fall into this trap, their debut instead bringing a lush depth and complex harmonic approach to extreme doom, transporting the listener into eldritch, sylvan realms of glorious misery. The use of brass isn't totally novel in metal, but the addition of a French horn to the instrumentation here certainly sets them apart from other bands, and is deftly incorporated into the layers of guitars in a way that never seems forced, reminiscent of Tribunal's cello lines, or Skepticism's pipe organ, and both of those bands, in addition to the obvious influence of My Dying Bride, are good reference points for Stuporous. Like the famously jovial UK crew, Stuporous are equally as adept when they dial-up the velocity, which they do with great skill on the superb 'Never Let Me Go', and sparingly and effectively elsewhere. The jarringly upbeat 'Distorted Echoes' is perhaps a misstep, but overall, Asylum's Lament is a fine debut that promises much, and mostly delivers.


Drowned - Procul His
Sepulchral Voice

Out of nowhere, this low-key but highly regarded death/doom act releases their first album in 10 years. I haven't seen much buzz about this (not nearly as much as Spectral Voice, anyways) but there's a lot of the same key elements at play that make this good. There's a rigid adherence to the old ways of death metal reimagined in a modern lens - not reinventing the wheel, but Drowned still add their own touch to things that keeps the style moving forward. I've always thought that if you want high-caliber underground metal, Germany is your best stop. Even the third and fourth-stringers in the style are worth your attention - doubly so when the band has been active for over 30 years and has connections to Necros Christos, The Ruins of Beverast and Sijjin.

Their quality over quantity approach works well and is evident in the atmosphere that drips forth - every riff, drumbeat and vocal line seems to be carefully cultivated to maintain the occult atmosphere. The musicianship is far from mindblowing - the blastbeats are never overly speedy and rely on traditional drumming techniques, the leads and solos are more of the slow, feelsy kind rather than the shreddy kind - but this doesn't have to be flashy to get its message across. The chemistry and shared vision between the members serves these songs well enough to get by. You get the sense that every single one of these exclusively listen to the dankest OSDM and absolutely nothing else, lest they spoil their musical broth.


Show N Tell - The Ritual Has Begun
No Remorse Records

If there is a fact about me and traditional heavy metal music, it's that I just simply can't get enough of it. Show N Tell's debut album The Ritual Has Begun gave us plenty of heavy bangers and catchy tunes, that vary between pure speed metal and rocking out heavy metal. This album is pretty simple in its structure, yet that simplicity is highly effective, showing that its execution is not a misfire, not by a longshot.


Madder Mortem - Old Eyes, New Heart
Dark Essence Records

Madder Mortem return in 2024, with their seventh full-length, and are presumably wondering as they must with every release, whether this will be the one that sees them finally grow their cult following into the kind of wider success that the quality of their progressive metal surely deserves. In Old Eyes, New Heart, the Norwegians have authored another excellent entry into a stellar back catalogue, and their existing audience will no doubt clutch the band even closer to their heart, safe in the knowledge that they, at least, have acknowledged the ongoing brilliance of Madder Mortem in good time. Once more, the band continue their gradual refinement of a sound that has allowed them to carve an ever deeper niche since at least 2003's Deadlands. Juddering djent-adjacent riffs share space with gargantuan choruses that soar eternally on the wings of Agnete Kirkevaag's never less then bewitching voice, and often, Madder Mortem are the spellbinding equal of The Gathering, or Amorphis's more gentle moments. It is reassuring indeed to find the band maintaining their customary high standard, which they do effortlessly with another set of unforgettable songs. The eyes may be old, but this heart now beats just a little bit harder.


Master - Saints Dispelled
Hammerheart Records

Paul Speckmann is back with his 15th Master album. Can we expect anything new? No, not really. Saints Dispelled mixes up death, thrash and heavy metal with a healthy dose of D-beats, making for an entertaining listen with those old school vibes. Not every Master album is a home run, admittedly, but I can confidently say this is one of the band's best albums. Right from the start you have that straight-to-the-face, punchy immediacy, and the songs being punkish at their core makes for a very catchy listen. Mr. Speckmann turned 60 last year, but he still sounds as pissed and aggressive as he was in 1990. To quote an Accept song from 93 – 'Sick, Dirty And Mean'!


Saxon - Hell, Fire And Damnation
Silver Lining Music

Heavy metal legends Saxon return with a strong album that can be shortly summarized with the song 'Fire And Steel'. Hell, Fire And Damnation is a very monstrous and awesome album from start to finish, in my opinion it is miles better than Carpe Diem, which is no surprise considering the fact that the band's lineup was updated when Brian Tatler stepped in the shoes of longtime guitarist Paul Quinn. This album reminded me why I loved Saxon so much in my teenage days when I would do nothing but blast NWOBHM classics at full volume, and I think that I'll be coming back to Hell, Fire And Damnation more often throughout this year, and many years to come.


Cognizance - Phantazein

These English-based folks have steadily been putting out some of the nastier technical melodeath in recent years. They're not flashy at the level of Inferi, nor technical at the level of Archspire, but they live in the same ballpark, executing well and always writing to serve the song. The verse riffs and solos are incredibly tasty, but they don't lean on them too hard, instead keeping your chops primed for the next one while smoothly transitioning between those themes with relatively simple bridges. Metal-archives suggests a deathcore influence, but I think that's just because their sound is firmly planted in modern death metal archetypes - maybe their earlier stuff had a bit more of a Faceless thing going on? There's also a heavier bites to the less techy grooves that hints at that - but it's little more than a mere hint. As a whole, this is definitely a band you marvel at more than mosh to live. It helps having Obscura's current drummer adding that proggy flavour to the mix as well. Willowtip is starting off the year strong!




Into The Ashes - Consumed By The Negative Dimension

10: Into The Ashes - Consumed By The Negative Dimension
Pathologically Explicit Recordings

Old school brutal death metal is becoming more and more codified as a sound as the early releases of bands like Deeds of Flesh, Gorgasm and Disavowed fade further into the rearview mirror. We're now at the point where these late 90s-early 2000s albums could be considered "retro" (feel old yet?) and as such it seems like niche boutique labels like Comatose, New Standard Elite and Pathologically Explicit are rolling out another wave of bands in this style. There's a lot of bands in this general realm of sound - the members of Into The Ashes alone have like two dozen current and former projects between them - but few of them are able to stand out and properly recreate the essence of what made the blastbeat-saturated hyper-brutality so groovy and tasty.

As you might guess based on its inclusion on this AOTM list, Consumed by the Negative Dimension has exactly the qualities it needs to separate itself from the pack. Snaking low end riffs, drumming that's fast and blast heavy but never overwhelming and impossible to follow, a healthy, throaty low rasp - it's almost like the folks involved have decades of experience making this music behind them or something. Oscar Ortega has a keen ear for brutal death metal and even though each member of the band is in a different country, they're all seasoned enough musicians and understand the end goal well enough that it sounds like they're in the same room. 2023 was stacked with brutal death metal: Nithing, Molested Divinity, Dead and Dripping, Paroxysm Unit and Wormhole were all comfortably within my top 20 for the year, and 2024 is already well on its way to be right there with it.

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


Exocrine - Legend

9: Exocrine - Legend
Season Of Mist

Everyone knows it takes tech-death bands forever to write and release new music, so the fact that Exocrine has put out six albums in nine years is stupefying and absolutely unfair. There's no way a band this prolific should consistently be putting out material this high quality.

I'll admit I glossed over the past couple works, but they just keep announcing new albums and now they've got me doing a whole deep dive and wondering why I overlooked them before. This is extremely tasty and groovy - the riffing reminds me a lot of Archspire (they do a lot of those stuttering dual guitar trade-offs that Dean and Tobi love), while the catchiness and memorability is bringing Gorod to mind, but as much as I can make those comparisons, this has a flavour all its own, with garnishes of gritty cleans and brass instruments giving a little extra something to mull over. It's amazing how quickly 38 minutes go by when this is on, with not a second wasted but also careful attention paid to emphasize different layers at different times so as to not completely overstimulate.

Exocrine have firmly cemented themselves in the upper class of French death metal right in the midst of their creative apex, and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Get these dudes on a North American tour pronto!

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


Vemod - The Deepening

8: Vemod - The Deepening
Prophecy Productions

With The Deepening, Vemod are awarded the trophy that definitely exists for the most Prophecy album ever to be released on Prophecy. It is no criticism of the utter majesty that it contains, but the Norwegian's second full-length sounds exactly as one would expect. It is a testament to the enduring nature of their atmospheric take on black metal, that twelve years after their similarly excellent debut, they have not dated in any way. The Deepening looks and sounds totally contemporary, and maintains Vemod's supremacy within a crowded scene. From its first moments, the album envelops the listener in a cocoon of tragic beauty, waves of ringing chords inducing a melancholic joy and yearning in the heart of the listener, a feeling that remains for the entirety of a wonderful record. Less accomplished practitioners of this brand of black metal, which certainly approaches the borderlands of post-, and on occasion encroaches on its territory, are often adept at conjuring beauty, but little else. Vemod, on the other hand, not unlike Afsky, access a wider and more primal emotional range, and utilise greater dynamic extremes, which makes for a significantly more profound listening experience. The coup de grace is applied by the stunning title track, which closes the album via sixteen minutes of dramatic and sweeping minor chords, huge swells of sound rising from the depths, before dissipating back into the void from whence it came. Magical.

At long last, Norwegian black metal band Vemod has finally released their new album The Deepening, 12 years since the release of their debut Venter På Stormene. It's a very mesmerizing work of black metal that will hypnotize you from the first track and make you transcend into the fog, possibly wandering on a cold mountain in a lonely midday, gazing at the grey skies. It is a very deep album in terms of its musical output, with many songs conveying emotions that reflect on man's instinct of escapism, fleeing into mother nature, and this the kind of vibe that you will get from The Deepening.

MetalBite's Rating: 8.9/10


Sacrofuck - Święta Krew

7: Sacrofuck - Święta Krew
Godz Ov War Productions

Polish death metal Sacrofuck came in with their second full-length album Święta Krew like a reaper with the scythe, striking hard with full force. This album is raw, primitive and absolutely insane from start to finish, with every song annihilating, leaving no man walking nor breathing. Everything about this album screams musical brutality, and what it has to offer is just the kind of death metal that I've always been a big fan of. Should you decide to check out this beast of an album, be prepared, because you are about to witness some merciless death metal annihilation.

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


Soulcarrion - Enthrone Death

6: Soulcarrion - Enthrone Death
Godz Ov War Productions

Another polish death metal album by Godz ov War Productions to make it on this list? I guess I must have been craving this sort of death metal for so many years. Soulcarrion's second full-length Enthrone Death is an incredibly brutal, satanic and atmospheric death metal album that has a handful of diabolic and morbid songs that possess some form of Lovecraftian feel to them. From one song to another, it's like an eldritch being that slowly evolves into becoming a great beast that will devour the earth to the last man walking. What people call brutal death metal these days, should really reconsider by giving this album a listen, because they will discover something truly horrifying, grotesque and yet so beautiful.

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


Prognan - Sjene Nad Balkanom

5: Prognan - Sjene Nad Balkanom

Last year, Prognan had a successful return with their first full-length Naši životi Više ne postoje, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans and critics in the Balkans and across the globe. However, the band would once again prove triumphant with their follow-up album Sjene Nad Balkanom, that not only takes everything that was great about the previous album, but they also manage to elevate it and surpass it in every way possible. The album has a heavy emotional rollercoaster with a powerful but gloomy storytelling from start to finish, with a dynamic curve that has a strong grasp that doesn't let go. This time, their cinematic elements blended with black metal are executed wonderfully, and you will also experience a couple of surprising moments on this album which you should witness for yourself.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.1/10


Vitriol - Suffer & Become

4: Vitriol - Suffer & Become
Century Media Records

This has been getting praised pretty incessantly by most metal media outlets, and I'm here today to tell you why that hype is completely justified and then some.

Vitriol was already a group that was becoming increasingly notorious for their intense live performances, devastatingly crushing extreme metal, and Kyle Rasmussen's guitarface in playthrough videos, and now they have a new album that takes all of those qualities and expands on them, creating an album that's more multifaceted than to Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice - yet somehow Suffer & Become is no less extreme, despite more leaning on higher-register melody. It's even more intense because of the increasing number of avenues this Portland-based group uses to pummel you. That no is accomplished with no small thanks to Matt Kilner, whose solo project Nithing was a top-5 AOTY in 2023 - this guy is the real deal, and one of my favorite current blasturbators, with an incredible groove and texture to his playing while still being focused on fuckin' SPEED above everything else. His impossibly skilled work is a huge part of why this is able to capture so many different textures and themes.

The main reason why Suffer & Become is going to get a lot of praise from a really long time, though, is that it somehow pushes the envelope of extremity in an era where it often feels like death/black metal had said everything it possibly can. There is something so…pure about the anger and emotion displayed on this - a visceral intensity you feel much more accurately than it can be described. The tremolo riffing feels like it's lifting your organs out of your body, the production's added clarity giving more weight to the intentional bends, solos and pinch harmonics while the venomous snarls and throaty growls urge the riffs forward in a warlike fashion.

It's rare that an album gives me that same giddy feeling I had when I was first getting into death and black metal - you know, when you first "got it" and unlocked a whole new map of musical ideas that expressed those intense teenage emotions you never had a proper outlet for. It felt like there were no limits to what death metal could do - much like it feels like there's no true ceiling to how far Vitriol can take the unmistakably powerful essence they've tapped into. This is an early AOTY candidate for sure, and something you need to check out if you're even remotely interested in extreme music. Believe the hype.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.1/10


Dissimulator - Lower Form Resistance

3: Dissimulator - Lower Form Resistance
20 Buck Spin

Dissimulator are the new band from Chthe'ilist and Atramentus members Antoine Daigenault and Claude Leduc, and impressively, they are the equal of these phenomenal acts, without sounding anything like them. Dissimulator's chosen form of metal is a furious take on technical thrash – Vektor with the lysergic psychedelic edge replaced by a biomechanical concept - and their debut, Lower Form Resistance manages to achieve what many bands in the genre grapple with, but fail to master, creating music that is a catchy and memorable as it is warped. They unselfconsciously celebrate a form of metal that evokes serious nostalgia in anyone that bemoans the lack of weird progressive thrash and tech-death of the type that seemed to abound during a short stretch of the early 1990s. The chunky low-E chugging, dizzying flurries of fleet-fingered modal runs, and stabs of jazzy dissonance cannot help but recall Voivod, Coroner and Atheist, but the most appealing aspect of Dissimulator's debut is the way in way the band's technical flair at no point becomes the dominating element of their attack, with the visceral thrill and excitement of thrash sacrificed at the altar of self-indulgent experimentation. Lower Form Resistance is not groundbreaking, but it is an almost flawless, and ingeniously addictive, take on technical thrash, breathing new life into a niche sub-genre, and immediately places the band within the exalted company that they clearly revere.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.3/10


Oathbringer - Tales Of Valor

2: Oathbringer - Tales Of Valor
RTR Records

Oathbringer's debut Tales Of Glory was one of the biggest and highly anticipated albums in the Serbian metal scene, and that was met with very positive feedback from the NWOTHM fanbase, as well as music critics. Now the time has come to once again witness the epic saga, with their second full-length album Tales Of Valor. Whilst the last album hinted more towards melody and epic tunes, this one has a bit more of an aggressive output with even heavier bangers that strike like a Warhammer to your skull. Fans often debate whether Tales Of Valor is better than Tales Of Glory, and I think it is simply impossible to conclude that discussion, however I think we can all agree that Oathbringer started out strong and are still going strong, especially now since they expanded to a five-piece. Like I said already, Tales Of Valor to me is like the video game Diablo 2, it has a lot of the same things as its predecessor, but it is a sequel that is much sharper around the edges.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.4/10


Lucifer - V

1: Lucifer - V
Nuclear Blast Records

Kicking off with a sweet lick that brings "Children Of The Grave" to mind, Lucifer introduce their 5th full-length album. This group is the brainchild of Johanna Andersson (The Oath, Vinterkrieg), and her partner in crime Nicke Andersson, whom you might recognize as the classic Entombed drummer. Apart from the great, catchy riffs, Johanna's siren vocals grip you immediately. On V you can feel the 70s hard rock / heavy metal vibe everywhere, especially in the more rousing tracks like 'At The Mortuary', but each song comes with a healthy dose of morbidity and sadness. Like Sabbath, Lucifer are often influenced by a more bluesy sound (like in 'The Dead Don't Speak'). When all is said and done I feel pretty confident calling this the hard rock/heavy metal AOTY, even though we're only in January - this is that flawless and timeless.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.5/10

As always, thanks for stopping by. Comment to let us know what we missed, check out December 2023's AOTM list to get sucked into a rabbit hole of monthly choice cuts, and never stop supporting metal!!

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Entered: 2/14/2024 7:07:14 PM
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