Are you in need of a good ol’-fashioned kick up the backside? Perhaps you’ve been spending the past six months hibernating in some burrow whilst the rest of the world moves ever closer to the brink of annihilation; wrapping your woolen sleeves across your ever-expanding waistline with a smirk on your face which reads “fools, I’ll outlive you all and rule supremely with an iron fist upon my almighty return.” Well tough luck boyo because the following bombardment of riffs, licks and downtrodden dirges will drag you out of your hidey-hole by the ankles to face the inevitable hellfire from the skies with the rest of us puny souls. You have no preferential treatment here, now shut up and grin’n’bare the apocalypse whilst thrashin’ out to the sonic chaos unleashed by this volume’s harbingers of flames, chains, and debauchery.
New year new me? Fuck off! But here are five albums released or rereleased in the second half of January to whip you into fiery pits of some kind of otherworldly domain, courtesy of those fine heathens in Bütcher, Impiety, Proscrito, Reaper, and Worm.
Who here is ready for skullfucking armageddon? For nigh on 30 years under the Impiety moniker Shyaithan and his desecrating horde of warmongers have beckoned forth the end of days with their delightful brand of rainbow-tinted happiness by the tank-load. Pfft, there’s nothing colourful about anything this Singaporean outfit have ever done and if so much as a smidgen of gumdrop conviviality penetrated their music then we might as well just give up living. Thankfully ninth offering Versus All Gods proves to be business as usual for the unholy trio, offering up one cacophonous bombardment after another with little concern for your ears. It is a significant step up from 2012’s Ravage & Conquer for sure – the mix is spot on for one thing – but its rampant ferocity is mired only by its trigger-happy repetition. This is still Impiety doing what they do best so who cares if bludgeoning rituals like ‘Djinn Of All Djinns’, ‘Terror Occult Dominion’ and ‘Magickal Wrath’ sound all too similar? If you do then remove that rod from up yer ass and decimate your enemies with it! Originally a digital release last through Shivadarshana Records November, the good guys at Evil Dead Production have since given it the handsome physical treatment which you can purchase here.
Should you crave an album where its namesake delivers precisely what it says on its rusty tin then look no further than this diabolical swing of the axe by Swedish duo Reaper, for Unholy Nordic Noise reaps exactly what it sows. 10 tracks of filthy, evil carnage (bookended by an intro and outro of course) ravage at your cantankerous flesh with a heavily-corroded arsenal of chainsaws, hooks, and blades the likes of which haven’t been seen since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The end result of a loving threesome between Abigail, Bathory, and Venom, Reaper‘s debut boasts diabolical promise for grim things to come, and though the production isn’t quite as nasty as last year’s glorious Ravenous Storm Of Piss demo (also out on Iron Bonehead) it is everything a leatherclad metalpunk could ever want: a gnarly and bloodsoaked offering of rabid, primitive speed and aggression. Completing this ravenous riff-fest along with the aforementioned three-track demo are ‘Severing Tentacles Of Faith’, ‘The Birth Of War’, and ‘This Crystal Hell’, the likes of which will leave more than a meaty grin smeared across your torn face. It won’t exactly blow the genre out of the water but it’s one hell of a salivating party of underground heathenism you’d never want to end.
Down in the land of Ataraxy and Teitanblood there is always evil afoot in some form or another, and the latest morbid entity churning out the kind of downtuned smog you’d expect the nineties to have drowned in are the trio of outlaws making up Proscrito. A titanic wrecking ball of primeval low-end and glacially unravelling dirges, their debut longplayer Llagas Y Estigmas (or Sores and Stigmatas) snarled its way into record stores only yesterday (at the time of publication) courtesy of the fine fellows at Memento Mori to addle your brain with endless suffering and sinister melancholia. Staggering through the punishingly labyrinthine hall of smoke is enough to leave even the more die-hard deathdoom-hound disoriented, for if it isn’t the sloth-like pace of crushing opener ‘Persistiendo’ it is the immediate whiplash of total death from follow-up ‘Tronos De Oprobio’ rupturing your arteries that’ll leave you worse for wear. By the end of the record’s menacing climax all that shall be left of you is a hollow, unrecognisable shell. You’d do well to find some kind of safespace to convalesce those withered remains. Nonetheless, this is as triumphantly crafted a slab o’wax one could ask for this time of year.
Seriously, could an album possibly look and sound any more metal than this glorious artwork courtesy of Kurt Verwimp? Could it even be more metal than the name 666 Goats Carry My Chariot would suggest? If the second album from Belgium’s up-and-coming purveyors of old-school speed metal Bütcher is anything to go by then abso-fucking-lutely. Well, more or less anyway. Sure, this frenetic assault of perpetually face-melting licks is enough to tear even Dave Carlo a new asshole, what with the likes of ‘Iron Bitch’ and the rapidfire ’45RPM’ cleaving at your body with whips and chains a’plenty; but after the near heroism of the epic title-track the record loses enough of its steam to not go unnoticed. It might only be less than 10 minutes of even wilder mania but the bombastic ‘Viking Funeral’ and its follow-up ‘Brazen Serpent’ lack the same flare the rest of the record is dowsed in, despite being jampacked with more riffs than your best friend’s band could ever muster. This aside, this is still precisely what speed metal of this evil calibre ought to be, and us leatherclad denizens wouldn’t have it any other way. You can get this via Osmose Productions or as a cool-as-hell tape/pin package through Dying Victims Productions.
So what could possibly top every other release on this list but an intense trudge through the swamps of America…released last year? Iron Bonehead might have released this digitally just before Christmas but now Gloomlord can be yours physically to take its rightful place upon the throne of utter funereal cavern-dwelling doom everybody clearly has in their home. Kidding aside, the transformation of Florida’s Worm has done nothing but work fully in their favour; a gurgling heap of rotten flesh from where life now dwells, Gloomlord delves so deep into the blackened depths any resurfacing results in drastic alterations of the flesh and mind. Everything here is drenched within this murky quagmire from the vocals to the riffs and melodies, oozing out miasmic atmospheres and unquenchable gloom – funnily enough best found in ‘Apparitions Of Gloom’. There isn’t a single dull moment to be found here, just nothing put potent evil, the kind Evoken and Disembowelment used to lather themselves with, dripping from their vessels onto the floor as a pool where no light can possibly enter. This is as portentous a manifestation of hell could possibly be, so be sure to enter at your own peril: you won’t return the same human afterwards.
Although the time has come to close yet another tome on this allegedly endless pursuit of the most hellbound sounds, you’ll probably leave thinking this will be it for another year. Well, if it needed being spelled out the prologue’s little analogy was aimed at yours truly. Ahem. If there was any excuse to end this period of hibernation it is these five records. So keep them eyes peeled out of your face for the coming volumes. Do or die. I’ve made my bloody choice. Have you?