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

Welcome back to MetalBite's Top 10 Albums of the Month! Thankfully, I was able to have this one out a bit faster, so we're back to our somewhat regular schedule of being about two weeks late. We do try to take some time and actually process the albums we cover here, y'know. Shit doesn't happen overnight.

Anyways, we've got 27 albums to cover, so best to just get right to it.

-Nate

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The Last Of Lucy - Godform
Transcending Obscurity

There's a Brain Drill-esque flavour to the fretboard wizardry, but it's couched in technical restraint and a more aggressive delivery. Godform has a wide range of motion, with ethereal, spiritual clean transitions separating bursts of mathcore and stupid fast drumwork, all the while retaining a certain amount of cohesion. Moksha was a solid release in its own right but they've expanded in every way. They've had a consistent lineup between two releases for the first time in their history, and that really seems to show in how they go deeper in each facet of their sound, got even more techy, and generally just sound more comfortable feeding off each other. It's borderline overstimulating and there's a lot more to dive into, but that just means that I'll be more comfortable listening over and over again.
-Nate


 

Swampbeast - Offering of Chaos, Lamenting In The Blood Of Man
Translation Loss

I've been eager to hear the follow up to Seven Evils Spawned Of Seven Heads ever since I covered it in the more primitive February 2021 version of these lists - back when it was just me, a shitload of time thanks to COVID, and no other writers helping me (yet). Sure enough, they haven't changed a bit in these three years, offering a dose of blackened, sludgy, hardcore-tinged death metal. This is perhaps a little more ferocious and dissonant, with grooves that get you nodding for a bit, but it rarely gives you the chance to settle into one motif for too long before it turns on a dime. I like this a little better, but I still feel like there's a lot more potential than they've discovered, and it's hard to articulate why. All I can really say at this point is to check this out because they have a really intriguing style, and that I will continue to follow how this band develops because I do believe the best is yet to come.
-Nate


 

Terminal Nation - Echoes Of The Devil's Den
20 Buck Spin

Perfect death mixed with hardcore. Huge + for the leftist lyrics.
-Raphael


 

Sentiment Dissolve - The Orwellian Dream
CDN Records

Incredible Canadian tech death! (considering bad Canadian tech death is usually phenomenal, it tells you how good The Orwellian Dream is) Thing is, it's waaay to short! Also, unrelated, but yes, I'm French Canadian, so I know what I'm talking about!
-Raphael

(Nate's note: I'm the vocalist in this band, and no, I didn't pay Raphael to write this. Also, this should obviously be the #1 album of the month, but I've relegated it to honorable mentions so that no one can accuse me of bias.) - Nate


 

Valfreya - Dawn Of Reckoning
Independent

Starting their career in 09, they played epic melodic black and folk metal. Now, for their third album, they are more epic than ever but play more on the blackened, symphonic death metal end of the spectrum, retaining very little folk metal influences. Grandiose melodies, aggressive metal and a singer doing both angelic and demonic vocals (with a emphasis on the demonic parts) awaits you.
-Raphael


 

Dodsferd - Wrath
Hypnotic Dirge Records

When you want pissed off black metal, look no further than this Greek group. Since the early 2000s they've had a steady barrage of aggressive, melodic riffing with a spiteful, punkish edge - not in a way that detracts from the "true black metal vibes", though. It's just angry and intense. It brings me back to my teenage days when every black metal band was a new and exciting discovery, a time when every artist in the genre appeared to be a recluse with pure contempt and hatred for the entirety of civilization - and that was still a novel and cool thing to witness.

Though it's a little cleaner than the earlier works that drew me to this band and there's never going to be anything quite as vitrolic as "Hypocritic Shitfuckers Still Breathing" (goated song title, by the way), the added melodic refinement to the guitars and the push and pull between stomping rock beats, d-beats and blasting makes things as good as ever, with perhaps some additional replay value added as a result of the more professional qualities of this release. Through a singular focus and a commitment to writing pissed-off, riffy music every day, Dodsferd has maintained their staying power and relevance over the years.
-Nate


 

Crawl - Altar Of Disgust
Transcending Obscurity Records

Old school Swedish death with a good dose of crust punk.
-Raphael


 

From Dying Suns - Calamity
Independent

Vaguely proggy, vaguely techy Quebecois death metal with members who have ties to bands such as Augury, Obliveon, First Fragment and Aeternam. What more do I need to tell you? Bonus points if you like old video games because this has that going on as an underlying theme.
-Nate


 

Rotting Christ - Pro Xristou
Season Of Mist

When Varathron released their new album The Crimson Temple in December 2023, I had very high hopes that the new album by Rotting Christ would also perform very well, possibly exceeding all the initial expectations. I will admit that I was a bit worried at first, wondering whether they would really provide something that could also be considered as a strong contestant, or perhaps just another generic entry in their discography. Well, come May 24th 2024, the wait was finally put to rest, as the fourteenth full-length album Pro Xristou was finally released via the label Season of Mist, with so much anticipation and excitement coming from the fanbase worldwide. Rotting Christ returns with their epic and melodic Hellenic metal, represented in such a grandiose and cinematic way with a lot of emotions and strong expressionism that flows through the spiritual vocals of Sakis Tolis, epic choirs, simple but heavy riffs, spartan-like drumming and powerful melodies. From the very get-go, this album already starts off so strongly with such a huge introduction that instantly throws you into the scenery of Thomas Cole's painting. Rather than being just your usual collection of songs, this album also feels like an epic poem as well, with a heavily pronounced approach of storytelling through music, where the album's progression feels like transitioning from one chapter to another. Speaking of storytelling through music, judging by the title of each track I'd say that this album is consisted Biblical, mythological and historical themes, which has been a staple of Rotting Christ's music for sometime now, and here they seem to have shown a much more elevated performance in comparison to some of its predecessors like The Heretics from 2019. Stylistically, this album is various in terms of its ideas, ranging from their latest works from Theogonia to The Heretics, but with a touch of some earlier works like A Dead Poem, Sleep Of The Angels and Khronos, showcasing that melodic and extreme gothic-style Hellenic metal with frequent mid-tempo rhythm, alongside the guttural shouting vocals of Sakis Tolis. Some examples like the seventh track 'Pix Lax Dax' and 'Pretty World, Pretty Dies' incorporate a bit of Triarchy of the Lost Lovers elements as well, whilst including some awesome epic choir vocals during the choruses and still staying on track with the overall album template. Aside from the heavy expressionism and storytelling that dictate the musical flow of the album, it is also very atmospheric, which essentially plays a key role in every song and it really makes you picture the event of Goths sacking Rome, just like the painting itself. There is an immense sense of build-up as the album progresses, especially when the songs start off with a short introduction narration by Sakis Tolis that opens up a new chapter in the album's storyline. This element of build-up is very frequent throughout the entire album, and it's essentially preparing you for the climax of the album that awaits towards the very end, especially once you reach the ninth track 'ᛦᚵᛑᚱᛆᛋᛁᛚ (Yggdrasil)' that is like the calm before the storm. As for the album's grand finale with the last track 'Saoirse' (unless you count the bonus tracks 'Primal Resurrection' and 'All For One'), it really is done in such a manner like a major event in this album's chapter that gives this powerful sense of closure before Rome is finally burned down to ashes, presented as a pure cinematic moment that occurs before the credits roll. Songwriting-wise, Rotting Christ always took a very simplistic approach, which stylistically speaking doesn't have too much dynamics or variety, but for the most part it was very effectively carried out and this album is no exception in that regard. Rotting Christ discography has mostly managed to leave me moderately satisfied with the musical approach, but a lot of the times it felt like it was a bit empty or somewhat too much similar by following the same stylistic pattern, however in the case of Pro Xristou, it feels much less like a "template-based" album, and it certainly breaks away from that general issue that has been bugging me quite some time. When Sakis Tolis released the album The Seven Seals of the Apocalypse - (Revelation 6:5-7) of his side project χ ξ ς' in November last year, it had left me concerned that the new Rotting Christ album was going to be along the same line because it sounded way too similar to what had already been done before and heard multiple times over the last 10 or so years. Luckily, my curiosity always gets the best of me and it manages to crush all the doubts I may have, so it's safe to say that I am actually satisfied that Pro Xristou is its own entity that separates itself from the field of lazy and "template-based songwriting, where many of his predecessors would fall victim to that issue. This album really feels like a strong presentation that captures the essence of various events learned through history and mythology, which contributes to the overall dynamic and the essence of the album. The general flow with its narrative style, simple riffing and frequent melodies succeeded at keeping constant attention as to what will happen next, and it certainly gives a grand pay-off at one point where you will definitely come across some intense headbanging moments that are totally worth it. In some ways, Pro Xristou feels like a very well-crafted cinematic soundtrack made by a very respected Hollywood composer that could probably give Hans Zimmer a run for his money, with each song dictating emotions and the general feeling of a certain scene in a movie. Personally, I have to say that Pro Xristou is an overall very solid and strong album that stands out in the band's catalog thanks to its powerful and outstanding band performance. I am very glad that all my initial doubts were put to rest once I finally got the chance to check out this grand and epic album that captures the essence of Hellenic metal and encompasses everything that Rotting Christ is best known for. Over the last few years, we were very lucky to get some awesome albums by the respected Greek bands, with The Crimson Temple by Varathron, Βυσσοδομώντας by The Magus and Pro Xristou by Rotting Christ being some of the key examples that perfectly show that this scene still stands strong with its founding fathers.
-Vlad


 

Unleash The Archers - Phantoma
Napalm Records

Highly melodic power metal with hints of extremity towards the end. Catchy as fuck!
-Raphael


 

Ufomammut - Hidden
Neurot Recordings

I eagerly await new Ufomammut albums like no other band in this style - they're a unique mix of consistent and varied, with a different focus on each album that gives you something new to pick apart while immersing yourself in their trademark heavy, trippy abyss.

For a while, they had a very consistent lineup, but they're now a few releases in with a new drummer after the departure of founding member and longtime skin-pounder Vita. It felt as though the band and Levre were still getting used to each other on Fenice - that album explored much more of their psych rock side in a way that they hadn't really done since the Godlike Snake era, and the results were a tad underwhelming. If it was any other band it would have been a fine release, but this is the gods of psychedelic doom metal we're talking about here - I know what they're capable of.

They sound more comfortable on Hidden. The heaviness is back in full force, which combines with their Hawkwind influences to create a thick, intriguing soup. This is Ufomammut at their most versatile and varied in quite a while, simultaneously getting more crushing while keeping it accessible. After a couple of bumps in the road, this is the most inspired they've sounded in almost a decade, and it's got me craving another big psych-doom binge.
-Nate


 

SIG:AR:TYR - Citadel Of Stars
Hammerheart Records

One of the best things to ever come out of my hometown of London, Ontario - SIG:AR:TYR has, as their label's name suggests, always been a band with strong ties to mid-era Bathory. The musicianship is stronger (let's be real, part of the appeal with Quorthon was that he was able to get a lot of mileage out of a limited skillset ). Citadel Of Stars features intricate shredding solos and more layered, grandiose compositions. Along the way Daemonskald never forgets that less is more when it comes to this stuff. The slow build hooks you in more and more as time goes along, and the folk metal influence feels more serious and Viking-esque as opposed to a Finntroll/Korpiklaani type jig. A very pleasant surprise that came out of the blue with little to no promo behind it - sometimes it's the more understated albums that draw your attention.
-Nate


 

Dusk - Industrie
Self-Released

Beyond Mysticum, Dodheimsgard, and Aborym, industrial-black metal has rarely been done well, despite the obvious appeal of pairing the despondent gloom of the more horrifying end of the black metal spectrum with the clanging noise of modern, urban alienation. Dusk, perhaps surprisingly from Costa Rica, can be added to the above rollcall, with the release of their fifth full-length, Industrie. The band remain unsigned, although this possibly speaks to the remote nature of the Costa Rican underground metal scene, rather than the quality of an output which would likely see them snapped up by a label such as Scarlet, were they to hail from more European climes. Their isolation is perhaps a good thing when it comes to their music though, adding an intangible otherness to a sound that amorphously moves through passages of ambient noise, to snatches of chugging guitars and disembodied vocals, in a truly unsettling fashion. The plunging bass, and stuttering electronics that punctuate the album betray a synthwave influence, but this doesn't overwhelm an album that is significantly more extreme than Perturbator et al, and Dusk use these influences to create something subtly different, rather than in thrall to those who have come before. The album is completed by a spectacular cover of Mayhem's 'Freezing Moon', possibly the most iconic black metal track of all, which serves to root the band right back into the sub-genre that they periodically stray from, making their allegiance to the cause utterly clear. A fascinating, and intriguing record.
-Benjamin


 

Necht - The Prophecy Of Karnifor
Independent

Pretty cool symphonic black/death metal. Getting some Anorexia Nervosa vibes - has a haunting, desolate atmosphere while still being pretty riffy. Lots of traditional black metal vibes thrown in there, fans of Emperor and Limbonic Art will likely want to take a look.
-Nate


 

Riot - Mean Streets
Atomic Fire Records

Riot, one of the highly influential and crucial US heavy metal bands which left a big mark on my life and various other oldschool metalheads around the world. Despite the fact that the band has been around for donkey's years, they are still hungry for swords and tequila like there is no tomorrow. Well, it seems that their seal headed warrior, the mighty Tior, is about to strike once again. Starting out pretty strong with the opening track 'Hail To The Warriors', we are instantly welcomed with powerful heavy metal filled with thunder and steel, striking hard with full force and it promises right from the get-go that there will be plenty of wonderful things to come. Throughout this thrilling joyride, we get a couple of nice tracks worth checking out such as the uplifting heavy banger 'Love Beyond The Grave', the faster killers like 'High Noon' and 'Higher', the epic melodic mid-tempo tune 'Before This Time'. When the turn comes for tracks such as 'Feel The Fire' and 'Open Road', we get a couple of easy rockers that are going for a more catchy and smooth direction, which is a slight stylistic departure from the rest, but nevertheless still welcome additions on this album. An interesting exception on this album comes in the form of the thrashy heavy and somewhat Judas Priest-like 'Mortal Eyes', the ninth track on the album, a very tight and strong song that turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, and it should not be skipped under any circumstances. Overall, you have plenty of stuff here to find where a couple of songs leave a very strong mark, while others still perform quite well despite not leaving that big of a mark in the end. As the journey comes to an end with the final track 'No More', you truly feel like you've reached the point where you just look back at everything and think "I wish I could do it all again". The songwriting on this album is quite simple yet still dynamic in terms of styles and ideas that Riot incorporated, and it's just really difficult not to experience the might and energy of each song as the album goes on. During the entire album, this pretty much feels like one big journey where you experience a turbulent life on the road, driving through the mean streets where you face a lot of peril, while the songs dictate your point of view as a protagonist in this story. The only small issue that I had with this album is that it's a little bit too long, with a total of 12 songs which are all good individually, but a couple of them do feel a bit redundant and just stacked to prolong the album's runtime which really wasn't all that necessary. However, all can be forgiven if you really let go of your mind and just let the songs speak for themselves, constantly pushing you forward to feel the power rising from within. Riot's delivery on this album is very simple yet so on point that it's so difficult to believe that this is an album coming from a band that is turning 50 next year. Mean Streets is a nice album that offers plenty to enjoy and it certainly did manage to make me happy like I was when I heard the band for the first time more than 10 years ago. You can hear that the album comes from the band's motivation to continue going forward, whilst still committing themselves fully to get the best out of their passion and dedication as experienced musicians and artists.
-Vlad


 

Cognitive - Abhorrence
Metal Blade Records

Did the label tell them they had to amplify the Cattle Decapitation influences or something? That clean singing is downright Travis Ryan-esque. I'd be mad at the ham-fistedness of it if they weren't so god damn effective. Fuck me, Shane Jost is a monster vocalist.

Cognitive has always been a band that's bounced around a bit trying to find their identity. They're a bit techy sometimes, a bit breakdown-y sometimes, existing in that nebulous realm between modern death metal and deathcore while having a bit of crossover appeal for anyone within those fanbases. They've mostly made their name off of being a touring workhorse as opposed to cultivating online hype - not to say they're any less legitimate on record, just something interesting to note, there's more than one way to grow your band after all.

All this is to say that Abhorrence is the first time that they've really got me picking through the layers and discovering the influences within. There's some nods to the aforementioned Cattle Decap, a few moments that are reminiscent of the mighty Ulcerate (check out the closing track), and some flashes of an Archspire styled technical influence with maybe a bit of Hath in there (they do share a drummer, after all). But for the first time perhaps ever, this is more than the sum of its influences - it feels like a Cognitive album, not just a mishmash of other bands. They've finally figured out what they want to be, and this feels like the start of a new musical era for this New Jersey clan.
-Nate


 

Tzompantli - Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force
20 Buck Spin

Amazing, phenomenal, unique death/doom filled with indigenous, pre-hispanic Mexican sounds.
-Raphael


 

METALBITE'S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

 

Nächtlich - Exaltation Of Evil

10: Nächtlich - Exaltation Of Evil
Deathful Lust Productions

This Toronto-based group first caught my attention when I stumbled on a video of their live performance on youtube. It felt like I was watching a bootleg clip of some forgotten second wave black metal band, and I was surprised I hadn't heard of them before. Then I checked out the full-length that came before this one, and sure enough, they somehow managed to recreate that fertile creative ground of mid-90s raw black metal.

Exaltation Of Evil is a bit more polished and musical, but the production is still absolutely perfect - a hollow-tinny guitar tone barely cuts through over the cymbal-heavy drums, and washed-out, haunting synths add a beautiful texture to the mix. It's got that cult mystique that you can liken to Mutiilation or Grausamkeit - a diamond in the rough of thousands of forgettable raw black metal bands. All simply because they understand what makes the music appealing to so many and are skilled enough to craft something that sucks you into its vortex.

I imagine most hardcore fans of the style are familiar with this band at this point, but even for those who normally don't find much to get out of the style, this will pleasantly surprise you.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.5/10


 

Lucifuge - Hexensabbat

9: Lucifuge - Hexensabbat
Dying Victims Productions

If you've been paying keen attention to the metal newswires, it may not have escaped your attention that apparently Slayer are back, although how permanent this arrangement is remains to be seen. Whatever the future does bring for King, Araya and co, it is doubtful that they will produce any new music as downright evil and entertaining as this slab of thrashing madness from Germany's Lucifuge. Nominally black-thrash, although they lean much more heavily on the latter part of that combination, a little like Abigail or Sabbat (Japan), they elevate their heads-down tremolo abuse with snatches of bright NWOBHM chords, ultimately delivering an exhilarating blend of very early Metallica, Saxon, and Kreator. Fans of Midnight and Hellripper (AKA all discerning metal fans) will drink this down like a cold beer on a summer afternoon, and although it may be slightly lacking in the grim layers of filth that might attract a larger black metal crowd, it still contains considerable cross-genre appeal. Highlights abound, but 'No Sun Shall Rise' contains the most addictive riffage to be found on Hexensabbat, taking the crown among stiff competition. Cutting the final two tracks would sharpen its edge even further, but regardless, Hexensabbat is an absolute blast, and the best album of its type released so far in 2024.
-Benjamin

Last year I was tasked to write an announcement for a new single that teased the release of Monoliths Of Wrath, the fifth full-length album by the German black/thrash metal band Lucifuge. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to check it out because it was one hell of a year that just kept spawning numerous awesome releases from all corners of the world. However, a year after its release, Lucifuge would announce its return once again, this time with the sixth full-length album Hexensabbat, with the release date of May 24th, 2024, once again published by Dying Victims Productions. I saw this as a good opportunity to redeem myself with all I've got, so I figured that it would be wise of me to take a look at Hexensabbat and see what devilish delights it has to offer. Relentless, blasphemous, barbaric and bewitching, those four words exactly describe how this album kicks off so strongly, without mercy and without hesitation. From the very first second, it is blackened thrashing and bashing in pure and raw German thrash metal fashion, ripping everything apart with wicked and heavy guitar riffs, banging drumming and harsh guttural vocals. As the album progresses, the riffs get heavier and more intense, and the drumming gets even crazier when fast double-bass drumming and blast beats come to play, wrecking everything apart and setting the whole world of fire. Along the way you are in for a nice thrill-ride, where you come to realize that there are nice moments that showcase something more than meets the eye. Those examples are the fourth track 'The Court Of The Profane' which incorporates a bit of heavy metal before jumping back into action with black-thrashing, alongside the Judas Priest style lead on the start of the fifth track 'Into Eternal Sleep'. The intense power and the unholy aggression of Hexensabbat guarantees that all those self-pleasuring witches will be bathing in goat sperm and priest's blood, under the great demon's footstep. It's very clear that the album keeps that constant flow, but the more undeniable fact is that the material gets stronger and more engaging around the second half, showcasing more punk and rock 'n roll driven moments that amp it up to 10. The songwriting on Hexensabbat is moderately dynamic with its tempo changes and simple yet effective ideas thrown in to rock it out even harder. Although the album relies heavily on one template that is used all-throughout, the stylistic consistency works pretty well in my opinion, keeping that even flow going from one song to another without you ever losing interest or shifting attention. I liked the fact that it always keeps you on edge for what is to come next, while still hungry for more power and violence in the music, and it certainly doesn't fail to deliver all of that. Although for the most part it is instrumentally on the thrash and speed metal part, along with a couple of heavy metal moments, there were some moments where it went more towards the classic black metal direction like on the tracks 'They Come In Legions' and 'Cursed To Eternity'. Like many people know, I am a sucker for very simple but powerful black/thrash metal albums who have a simple goal to crush, kill and destroy, and Hexensabbat does all of it. It's an awesome album of its kind that certainly pleases the basic needs of oldschool maniacs, leaving you satisfied for a good ol' headbanging journey without pretentiousness and without bullshit. If you are a fan of bands like Ketzer, Bewitcher and Barbarian, you should definitely check out Hexensabbat by Lucifuge.
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


 

Gatecreeper - Dark Superstition

8: Gatecreeper - Dark Superstition
Nuclear Blast

A friend of mine disparagingly referred to Gatecreeper as "Fisher Price death metal" which I…do understand, in a way. Starting with Deserted, they've leaned into their "stadium death metal" approach, trimming the fat and using death metal's simplest elements to get the point across. Mid-tempo is the name of the game - there are blasting sections, but they're mostly during transitory moments. The majority of this album is centered around chest-pumping, old-fashioned, four-on-the-floor rock beats. Dark Superstition adds an extra dollop of melody, too, and it all makes for something that still sounds big and thick, but is perhaps unusually accessible for the genre. Defeated Sanity this is definitely not. Hell, even when you compare this to something a little closer like Entombed, this is definitely streamlined.

But here's the thing - straightforward as this album is, it nonetheless delivers a really effective punch. This is the first time I can really say that, too. Deserted was underwhelming, as they were still figuring out how to mesh the stadium vibe with their Swedeath ripoff roots and a touch of hardcore. Who would have thought that adding in a splash of Edge of Sanity/Amorphis would be the glue that held it all together? It reminds me of the best moments of the Danish thrash/melodeath/power metal band Mercenary. Both bands have this big dick swagger to their music where every chord, every drumbeat drives its way into your brain with confidence and impact. Even though they don't sound similar at all - although they're not as far off as you might think, either especially when you take out the vocals - the energy is hard to deny. Don't be a coward, just admit you like dumb stadium death metal and bang your head!
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 8.7/10


 

Esodic - De Facto De Jure

7: Esodic - De Facto De Jure
Independent

The fact that this is only a 4-song ep, is a crime against humanity! In the sense that it leaves me wanting SO much more. Their blend of death/thrash and traditional middle eastern music is so unbelievably well done, it's mind-blowingly. I cannot wait for the full album and, by that, I mean it's going to be physically draining to wait!
-Raphael

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


 

Coldborn - The Unwritten Pages Of Death

6: Coldborn - The Unwritten Pages Of Death
Final Sacrifice Records

Somewhere around last year, an acquaintance of mine had bought an LP of a black metal band that neither of us had heard before, while he was on his trip to Belgium, where the band originates from. The LP that he held in his hands was Lingering Voidwards by Coldborn from Flanders, a one-man band formed by Norgaath of bands like Enthroned, Grimfaug and Nightbringer. Eventually, I decided to check out Colborn, and to my surprise it was actually a nice discovery, although my interest in the band still wasn't that big afterwards. Some time has passed and I had initially forgotten about Coldborn, especially since the band's first album Lingering Voidwards was released back in 2016 and nothing really came out since, but come Spring of 2024, everything would change. Coldborn has returned with the second full-length album The Unwritten Pages Of Death, with the release date of May 10th, 2024 via the label Final Sacrifice Records. Although I was surprised to see the band come back with a new album after a while, I still wasn't that excited to check it out, but I figured that it would be nice to give it a chance regardless. Little did I know what awaits me, and I have to say that nothing could closely prepare me for this nocturnal odyssey that stood amidst the cold dark. If you are willing to know what it is that I have stumbled upon, be sure to stay awhile and listen. The opening of this album is truly, like the title suggests, 'Foreboding', setting the stage for the nocturnal horror that will swallow the world in cobalt colored darkness. As the opening introduction ends, ghoulish black metal emerges from the death-defying halls of the underworld on the second track 'Silenced Is The Choir Of Euphoria', devouring at full speed. The atmospheric output of Coldborn is filled with dread and horror, expressed through symphonic keyboards, pianos, relentless riffs and occasional somber melodies, which along with the dynamic drums and blood-curdling harsh vocals manage to convey more than just chaos and death. What will definitely manage to sink in your head is the fact that there is a strong sense of musical crescendo with a powerful build-up that prepares you for something grand and important that's about to happen. In the case of this album, never does this musical build-up give you a sense of false hope or an incredibly lackluster delivery, because every next section that comes to turn truly represents a big event or crucial chapter in the album's journey. Every song is guilty of this carry-over formula, and I absolutely adore it because it really keeps you on edge and wanting to follow along as the album progresses. People would often argue that contemporary black metal simply cannot have moments of musical exposition, but the examples like the fourth track 'The Antechamber Of Eternal Sleep' and 'Harps Of Death Chiming Reverberant' showcase exactly that, proving that what was once lost can be regained, while also proving wrong all those who constantly doubt and moan. The album progression is so strong and effective that you just always end up surprised with all that you've just experienced, going on this strong emotional and mesmerizing rollercoaster that snatches you instantly. Once the music crawls right underneath your skin, you will be possessed by black metal all the way through, holding your attention up until the epic finale of the last track on the album, 'A Spectral Dance Of Midnight Sorrow', a lycanthropic serenade that presents such a powerful yet bittersweet conclusion that leaves you simultaneously satisfied and a bit sad to realize that this wonderful journey came to an end. Coldborn's dynamic songwriting contains a variety of ideas in the riffs, each conveying a different set of emotions and unique form of atmosphere. A lot of the times it feels quite nocturnal and gothic, at times incredibly epic and grand, or emotional and melancholic, with each song being fulfilling and exceptional in some way, and leaving no room for empty, soulless and uninspiring moments. I really like a lot of the somber and suspenseful moments on this album, especially on 'Cornucopia Hungers For More', that gives this feeling of an epic odyssey covered in black and shrouded in mystery. The fact that this entire album was written by one person is truly amazing, because a lot of the time it felt like the ideas that were incorporated were brainstormed by at least 4 to 5 people who were equally passionate and dedicated to achieve a great purpose. Norgaath obviously knows what works best in black metal and how to use every aspect of that subgenre properly and effectively, to the point where you just can't fault him for doing anything he does, especially the way he does things. During my listening, a lot of the times I felt as if some elements of Coldborn's music have a lot of common with bands such as Enthroned, Emperor, Dissection, Diabolic Masquerade, Odium, Limbonic Art, Obtained Enslavement, and various notable 90's black metal bands, and it's not just in terms of influence, but also in the way of expressing emotions and the overall songwriting execution. I must admit that The Unwritten Pages Of Death turned out much better than I initially expected, because the final result managed to leave me without words and pleasantly surprised. Sure, it is a black metal album like any other, but at the same time, it is a wonderfully master crafted work that checks all the marks for me, and I am sure it will do the same for any other fan of 90's black metal. It is hard to express what this album does to you and it's simply not enough to say that it's great, because it took you on this whole journey unexpectedly and brought you back thinking "I want to do it all over again, again and again". For fans of Enthroned, Odium and Limbonic Art, you must check out this album, because you are in for a real treat.
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


 

Svneatr - Never Return

5: Svneatr - Never Return
Prosthetic Records

B. C. black metal that is atmospheric, melodic and progressive. Jampacked with influences from death to classic heavy metal.
-Raphael

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


 

Hemotoxin - When Time Becomes Loss

4: Hemotoxin - When Time Becomes Loss
Pulverised Records

If, like this writer, you were left a little cold by the last Horrendous album, but still crave that old-school technical death metal feeling, you could do a whole lot worse than throwing your attention in the direction of the new Hemotoxin album. The Pittsburgh ragers' fourth full-length is a relentless onslaught of dextrous melodic runs and pummelling rhythms, crowned by the excellent Schuldiner-style rasp of the domineering Michael Chavez. While it would be disingenuous to suggest that there is anything particularly new happening here, what really counts is the universally high calibre of music made by a band who have been in the game for long enough to know exactly how to expertly inject dynamics and satisfying details into their intricate mix of beauty and brutality. Tracks such as the wondrous 'Call From The Abyss' instinctively seem to judge the right moment to double a lead guitar line with a celestial harmony, or transition the drum part from a quicksilver blast to a two-step mosh for optimum effect, and it is these touches that elevate a superb album to the heights that it reaches. As the fretless bass of 'Conscious Descent' snakes its way sinuously around the guitars, the cosmic death-heads that have previously gorged themselves immobile on a diet of Cynic, Sadist and the more contemporary joys of Revocation are undoubtedly grinning, sated once more, even before the courageously jazzy guitar solo leads us willingly into another dimension altogether. When Time Become Loss is utterly outstanding, and the dizzying array of ideas promises enough longevity to keep listeners satisfied until the next glorious hit.
-Benjamin

MetalBite's Rating: 9.1/10


 

Nadsvest - Slovo Meseca I Krvi

3: Nadsvest - Slovo Meseca I Krvi
Soulseller Records

In the Serbian black metal scene, one band that came out of nowhere and became a very pleasant surprise, was none other than Nadsvest. Back in 2019, when the band released their debut EP Kolo Ognja I Železa, they presented their music that is very much along the same line as Malokarpatan and Negative Plane, that brought back the elements of oldschool European black metal before the second wave template. Nadsvest's arrival was a very pleasant welcome, and the feedback they got from the EP was overwhelmingly positive, but a while has passed since then, and for 5 years there were no talks of a new album. However, things would change once the band would finally resurface out of nowhere when the first new single 'Vihori Boja' was uploaded on Soulseller Records' official YouTube channel, teasing their brand-new output in the form of their first full-length album Slovo Meseca I Krvi, with the release date of May 17th, 2024. With so much anticipation and excitement from the local fanbase, as well as black metal fans worldwide, they had much to live up to, especially since they had recently signed to a very respected label such as Soulseller Records, which has a roster of so many great black metal bands. And now without further ado, it's time to explore the letter of moon and blood that foretold the return of the lycanthropic beast, as I take a look at their debut full-length album Slovo Meseca I Krvi. As the drums begin dictating a heavy marching rhythm, harsh guttural uttering and aggressive riffs join in to unite their rusty blades and raise all hell. The first track 'Vihori Boja' sets up the mood perfectly by building such a strong and ominous foundation, filled with atmosphere, bestial energy and dark Gregorian chants that summon the shadows of the abyss. Fast drumming and synthesizers finally come to play on the second track 'Ponori Adski', adding an extra devilish flavor to the already merciless destruction, and as the riffs become more interesting, you know for sure that this is where the fun really begins. As the album progresses from one track to another, it manages to get gradually darker and more intense, keeping the listener on the edge of his seat, especially with the clean guitar intro and drum buildup of the third track 'Vaznesenje Zveri', where the witching hour strikes as the bells begin to toll. There is a strong ominous presence in the music of Nadsvest, that manages to convey a death-defying and almost lycanthropic atmosphere with their tight riffing, which is constantly being carried over from one song to another, all until the very end. The smooth flow of the album is so superb that it builds up to the big moment at the end, and it totally delivers once it reaches the conclusion with the finale of the last track 'Trijumf Silnika - Smrt Sveta'. The finale of the song has a very gothic vibe thanks to the particular use of synthesizers that are very reminiscent of Popol Vuh's Brüder des Schattens that was used for Werner Herzog's Nosferatu. The songwriting is dynamic as hell, with frequent tempo changes and different ideas thrown in this mixture to expand it and spice things up. Some of those ideas include occasional guitar melodies, epic chant vocals and various drum patterns that altogether make the song more outstanding. Their performance is so bestial and full of rage that the bloody vocal performance of S. just makes the instrumentation even more intense and enraged that it's borderline "war metal" at times. I like that this album takes the already strong foundation of their first EP Kolo Ognja I Železa and reshapes it completely by giving more edge to the riffs, while still maintaining that dark age atmosphere which was a strong element of their music. They continue their tradition of incorporating Serbian dark folklore elements in their music and lyrics, as the lyrical themes deal with the black arts through the lens of the darker aspects of Serbian folklore, whereas the album's concept is an epic poem exploring the stages in the process of awakening the primal werewolf force in the warrior, the triumph of the spirit and the ultimate sacrifice of the flesh. Throughout this album, you will a lot of influences coming from bands such as Tormentor, Master's Hammer, Root, Malokarpatan, Negative Plane, Bathory, Mortuary Drape, with a little bit of Sarcofago, Beherit and Blasphemy thrown in for good measure. Ever since their debut with the Kolo Ognja I Železa EP from 2019, it was obvious that Nadsvest's songs were predominantly influenced by Master's Hammer early material, ranging from their demos to their studio albums Ritual and Jilemnický okultista, and you can still hear a lot of those elements, especially on the fifth track 'Od Meseca I Krvi'. I like the fact that there is not a single bit of generic "norsecore" black metal, or any predominantly second wave black metal instances at all, because a lot of it focuses on that overlooked aspect of black metal music that had an entirely different atmosphere, heavily inspired by dark European folklore, with lots of other esoteric and occult elements to raise the intensity in the overall band performance. While still on the subject of their pre-second wave elements, they even incorporate those "reverse blast beats" that a lot of 80's Brazilian extreme metal bands used in their cult classic albums, very much in the style of Sarcofago's ex-drummer D.D. Crazy. I was very surprised with this album how it turned out in the end, because after purchasing their Kolo Ognja I Železa EP and listening it on repeat two years ago, I was not sure what to expect as a follow-up to that and I wasn't even certain if it would ever come to happen. Luckily, the final result that is Slovo Meseca I Krvi is a wonderful black metal product that is faithful to their musical roots, which also succeeds in strengthening the foundation that Nadsvest successfully built back in 2019. I am not sure what I expected, but this one mean badass werewolf of an album certainly managed to exceed all my expectations. If you still haven't taken the time to check out Nadsvest, then what the hell are you waiting for? Go check out their EP first and then make sure to immediately jump into this horrific thrill-ride that will sink its fangs in your neck on a full-moon night.
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 9.1/10


 

Adversarial - Solitude With The Eternal

2: Adversarial - Solitude With The Eternal...
Dark Descent Records

Without question one of Ontario's finest exports. Without fail, this power trio strikes the perfect balance between delicate artistry and total chaos, all whole having some of the sickest riffwork in the business. They're too elegant and composed to be war metal, too visceral and menacing to be black metal, and a bit too melodic and blast-beat heavy to be straight-up death metal, but somehow sit in a tasty niche between those three that is all their own, and that they have refined over time. Whereas previous releases had the clear potential and maintained some of the strongest riffwork in the business, their albums usually had an achilles heel - maybe the snare was just too overpowering, maybe the songs themselves were a bit too inconsistent, or in the case of their Prophetic Plain EP and the split with Antediluvian, there just wasn't enough material to sink your teeth into.

Solitude With The Eternal is the first album that truly does not have a caveat. It's 31 minutes of pure blastbeat porn and masterful riffwork with no breaks in between. It goes just long enough to keep you satiated and it ends right before it would start to get exhausting. Normally, bands that just hammer away at one motif for a whole album get tiring, but Adversarial has finally mastered the art of creating a push-and-pull within the riffs themselves while maintaining the onslaught, and the drumwork rotates between triplets and hammer blasts in a way that varies up the feel. The little pauses and count-ins before they start shredding your face with speed are delicious. There have been very few albums this year that get me going to the point where I want to listen over and over again, but this is definitely one of them and I'll be damned if this isn't in my top 5 albums of the year when all is said and done.
-Nate

MetalBite's Rating: 9.2/10


 

Hellbutcher - Hellbutcher

1: Hellbutcher - Hellbutcher
Metal Blade Records

When the news broke out back in 2022 that the legendary Swedish black/thrash metal band Nifelheim was going on an indefinite break, it really made a lot of people very sad about the fact, including myself. Nifelheim has been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and to this day it is still one of my favorite black/thrash metal bands that fuel the teenage anger within. However, come 2024, the tides would turn when Hellbutcher, the band of Nifelheim vocalist and founding member Per "Hellbutcher" Gustavsson, announced the release of the self-titled debut album Hellbutcher on May 31st, 2024 via Metal Blade Records. When the music video for the first single 'The Sword Of Wrath' was released on YouTube, this came out like a lightning bolt out of the blue, highly unexpected but most welcome, and if you ask me, the anticipation for this one could not have been higher. This brought back hope to all the loyal and crazed fans worldwide, with many of them saying "Nifelheim Lives On!", and rightfully so. Now that the Servants of Darkness have returned, with an even more diabolical Devil's Force, it's time to take a look at the debut album of Hellbutcher! Coming down at you with all the might and glory, Hellbutcher strikes with its Sword of Wrath at such incredibly devilish and cruel force, hitting you harder and heavier than a hammer on the anvil. The album has barely begun and we are already in for some insane action filled with black-thrashing madness, especially with the second track 'Perdition' which is very much in the spirit of 90's Nifelheim, 1985/1986 era Kreator and early Bathory, and fucking hell this is one unholy and diabolical song that would certainly give bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral a run for their money. A track with a title that perfectly summarizes the essence of this album is definitely 'Violent Destruction', and this album definitely gives you plenty of that and then some, never failing to deliver on the absolute bloodbath and merciless death-ripping. Inferno and mayhem rise even more as the album progresses, going even stronger with pedal to the metal, providing excellent examples such as 'Hordes Of A Horned God' which introduces some wicked 80's heavy metal elements blended in with the black-thrashing extravaganza, and a bit of some devilish rock and roll on 'Death's Rider', which carries a bit of Motörhead and Venom in its overdriven and distorted DNA. This album means serious business all the way through, it's simply impossible not to get 'Possessed By The Devil's Flames' as the title of the sixth track suggests, and no matter if you are more than halfway through the album, it just does not slow down at any given moment, because it's fueled with 'Satan's Power' from start to finish and all you experience is the pure essence of 'Inferno's Rage'. The more this album gives in, the deeper it sinks its fangs into your neck like a vampire in the deep hearts of Transylvania, taking you even further through the bowels of darkness, all the way to the deep tracts of hell to meet the Envoy of Lucifer. Although the most dominant factor on this album is the black/thrash metal aspect, amped up with Hellbutcher's harsh shrieking vocals, but even more spiced up with nice additions that lean towards a heavy/speed metal-oriented direction, which does not break away from the established template in the slightest bit. The great thing about this album is that it keeps you on edge all the way through, with your attention and curiosity high at all levels, wondering what delight may come next and then burst out of the wall with a complete "in your face" fashion. The songwriting of Hellbutcher is similar to that of Nifelheim in terms of its simplistic approach of oldschool black/thrash metal, handing out a variety of awesome ideas that will keep the listener entertained, but also leave a room for something more engaging like a powerful guitar solo or a nice melody for example. I think that you would have to be a complete jackass to think that this album cannot deliver great riffs from beginning to end, because it really does, and I was actually surprised a couple of times as well, especially with 'Perdition' which was a killer from the moment it began. Although bands in this branch would often entertain me, rarely do any newer bands manage to really amaze or surprise me with their riffs and songs, but in the case of Hellbutcher, they really did it and they do it well, because every riff and every song on here sounds so fresh, that you just can't even think to call it generic, repetitive, boring or one-dimensional. There is just way too many headbanging moments on this album that it's simply impossible to choose your favorite one or the ones that stand out the most, because every song is great in its own way and you don't even know where to look when you are so hyped up and bloodthirsty. For real, is there anything about this album that I don't like? Well, that would be a bit of a hard guess I suppose, and probably unfair of me to say, but the only thing that I can really criticize this album is the fact that it isn't a bit longer. Don't get me wrong, it does manage to deliver all the goods in its total of 33 minutes of runtime and it surely pleases the appetite of every black/thrash maniac out there, but when it was all over, I was left craving for more and I just couldn't help it but listen to the entire thing again. It's great for an album to have such a strong comeback quality to it that it makes you want to instantly listen to it again, and it definitely shows just how strong the entire journey is. After listening to Hellbutcher's self-titled debut, I can say with absolute certainty and no regret whatsoever, that this album proves that Nifelheim indeed lives on! It's an ultimate "all killer no filler" experience that brings out everything I came looking for, and even more to what one would expect. I think that this album made me remember what it was like hearing Nifelheim for the first time 10 years ago when I was in my early teens, slowly diving into the black/thrash territory where you are guaranteed to find some good old fashioned musical violence, and I have never looked back since. As a Nifelheim fan looking for nothing more than some blood, fire and death, this album provides all of it, and I am sure that all the other fans feel the same way as I do. If you still haven't checked it out yet, what the bloody hell are you waiting for you muppet?! Stop whatever you are doing right now and jump straight into this delightfully devilish black/thrash metal masterpiece of 2024.
-Vlad

MetalBite's Rating: 9.8/10


Thanks for stopping by. View all the previous year's lists here:

April 2024

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February 2024

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Entered: 6/19/2024 10:06:33 AM
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