Another trip around the sun, another stellar year for metal, with a wealth of riveting riffage, pulverizing beats, blood-curdling growls and blazing tremolos. Verily, this is an era of abundance, where it is impossible to stay on top of the deluge of top-shelf metal released every week. Best of all, quality seems to go hand in hand with quantity. If there ever was an antithesis to the contemporary temptation for instant gratification and disposability, every album I included in my mid-year stocktaking exercise ended up on my end-of-year list, having continued to impress and astonish me as time went by, testament to the spectacular songwriting, boundless creativity and killer riff delivery of the bands that conjured up these stunning works of art. And just when I thought things could not get any better, both seasoned veterans and hungry newcomers arrived, bearing gifts of seismic impact. I hope the following releases enrich your life, even if only with a fraction of the effect they had on me. Now, dig in! Continue reading →
Thanks to the demands, deadlines and drudgery of my day job, this stocktaking listicle was delayed two weeks past its intended publication date at the half-way point of the year. In the intervening time, additional waves of releases were unleashed, a reminder of the golden era of quantity and quality we are currently living in. It has become increasingly challenging to stay on top of must-hear releases, even with obsessive research and vigilance, but the untold satisfaction of unearthing new records that hit you like a brick in the face, make being a metalhead in this day and age such a thrilling glory ride.
I had a difficult time narrowing the following list (in alphabetical order) down to only ten releases (ultimately, the aforementioned day job dictated its final length) that have made a lasting impact in my heart of hearts during the first six months of this year, thanks to their creativity, vision, emotion, pummeling ferocity, gripping melody, riff mastery, headbangability, confident musicianship and that certain je ne sais quoi that elevates some albums and the whole genre to dizzying artistic heights. Continue reading →
Personally, it has been a slow start to 2017. The first month and a half of the year brought exactly zero concerts and subsequently zero contributions to this particular media. Fortunately, momentum has picked up over the last two weeks and I’m hoping to ride that out the rest of the year. Or until I die. Preferably the latter. Despite the delay in getting out of the gates, I don’t think I could have picked a better show to initiate my 2017 concert (mis)adventure. I was fortunate to not only attend, but also photograph the black metal forefathers/legends/pioneers known as Mayhem as they performed their quintessential debut full-length album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas at the Royale in Boston. So let’s talk about it and look at it. Continue reading →
What a week. It started out with snow and ice but now — shorts weather again. You’ll never, ever hear me complain about shorts weather. Well, except for having to hang up the hoodies again. Anyway, we’re halfway through January already and the new releases here on Initial Descent are stacking up. And, for a neat surprise, quality is still taking front and center so my early bets are on 2017 being another stellar year for metal. Yea, yea I know it’s way early for that talk but I’m optimistic. This week we’ve got Black Anvil‘s fourth full length As Was and honestly I’m of the belief this is their best and most forward thinking black metal yet — so good. Moving on, it only took ten years but The Drip offer up their debut full length The Haunting Fear of Inevitability; a multi-pronged approach of grindcore, death metal and groove that is as fun as it is well produced. Finally, Shaarimoth return with their long awaited second full length of extremely well executed blackened death metal Temple of the Adversarial Fireand it is absolutely worth your time to check out. Three quality albums and we’ve barely scratched the surface of this week’s offerings. So see what else awaits, after the jump. Continue reading →
As the snow falls and the temperature drops it feels like a natural response to lay buried, hiding away from the pain that was 2016 and numbing the days away with the cold buzzing embrace of black metal. But in 2017 what is black metal? I can’t think of another genre that ignites the same level of ire over its definition, tenants, and practitioners. To corpsepaint, or not to corpsepaint? That is the question: whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of “KVLT” fanboys, or to take arms against a sea of Norwegian imitators, and by opposing, end them.
Thankfully we have Black Anvil to ring in the new year with As Was, another step in their continuous evolution and the next phase in their mission to broaden the definition of black metal and take arms against that same sea of metal oppression. Continue reading →