An unbelievable week of music, personally speaking, with glimpses of some of the releases I've been really looking forward to this year, as well as more than a few very pleasant surprises. As always, please consider following the blog on Facebook // Instagram // Spotify // Patreon. And be sure to check the offspring of a manic mind in my Best of 2019 and Best of Decade lists, as well this weeks installment of the Albums of the Decade interview projectan in-depth conversation with the incomparable Neige of Alcest about their 2010 masterpiece, Écailles de Lune.

1. Temple of Void – "Casket of Shame," from The World That Was (Death-Doom – Shadow Kingdom Records). Temple of Void's humongous riffs and incredibly tight performances first dawn on my radar with their beautiful Lords of Death. And even though they've kept themselves relatively with the odd split I was very much looking forward for another album. And if the first single is anything to go by (which is always a good question) the wait will be more than worth it. Epic-sounding, almost "power" death doom garnished with some of the nastiest riffing this side of Sepultura. And that breakdown at around the five-minute mark, my god. Also worth to note: The band has also released a single in Deciblel's Flexi series, you can hear it here. FFO: Mortiferum, Necrot, Phrenelith.

2. Witchbones – "Goddess of Black Magick," from Goety (Black Metal – Independent). Talk about "now you see me, now you don't." Witchbones is the excellent one-man project from Portland that kind burst onto the scene last year, put out some wonderful, non-cliche, aggressive, and melancholy black metal, issued at least one side project (Conduit of Chaos, which I recommended in the past, here), released this one last album last month, and called it quits. I have to respect that, I think, that laser-focused attempt to banish demons via music, and then to do want to do it anymore once whatever it was that was played out was indeed played out. A shame though, but I'm sure he'll be back doing some other cool shit in the very near future. In the meantime, listen to this and admire what just might be one of the most striking cover illustrations I have seen in a long while (ANIMVS). FFO: Abstracter, HAR, Abyssal).

3. Lifetaker – "Colony," from Night Intruder (Grindcore/Hardcore/Death – Independent). I really didn't want to like this debut from German chaos-instigators Lifetaker, mostly because of that horrible cover that looks like a mildly fascist metal bouncer's idea of porn. HOWEVER, and I do mean "however," there was really not much choice in the matter. Violent riffing, that rarely achieved "teetering on the edge" atmosphere, and just great, succinct, and powerful songs. So, there you go, mister strange person with a phallically erect knife, you win. FFO: Leeched, Wake, Geist.

4. Raat – "Leaves," from Fog (Atmospheric Black Metal – Independent). Indian one-man atmospheric black metal project Raat stormed into my withering heart with its fantastic EP Déraciné late last year. Now the tender, almost airy atmosphere, post-rock sensibility, and otherworldly vocals and dynamics are back with twin EPs released one week apart from each other. And as much as I loved Déraciné these are a bold step forward, one that is making me very, very excited for the possibility of a full album from Raat. Wonderful, life-affirming, scary music. FFO: Windswept, Fen, Deha. *NOTE: Early demos have been uploaded to Google Drive, here.

5. Malokarpatan – "V brezových hájech poblíž Babinej zjavoval sa nám podsvetný velmož," from Krupinské Ohne (Black Metal – Invictus Productions). Look, I'd be super scared I was in Malokarpatan's shoes, terrified. I thought their 2017 debut Nordkarpatenland was pretty much a perfect black metal album – dark, well-written, shimmering with glam and excess, and fun, and, to my credit, I said it early, right when it dropped. So, all's well. However, the stuff coming out of their new album, due to be released March 20, is so good, so miles ahead of anything that I can't see them doing this any better. It's taking all the quirks and personality that made Nordkarpatenland such a unique thing and building layers of nastiness, proggy-ness, pretentiousness, and songwriting while not losing any of the energy or the fun. That seems impossible to me, just impossible. A sure-fire AOTY candidate. Get on this, now. FFO: Departure Chandelier, Funereal Presence, Wolves in the Throne Room. The new song is streaming via Invisible Oranges for now, will ad it once it is posted on their Bandcamp.

6. Ulver – "Russian Doll" (Synth-Pop – House of Mythology). I'm not going to be coy about this shit, a new Ulver song, especially one such as this that builds on much of the sheen of their masterful The Assassination of Julius Caesar (the subject of my recent interview with them, which you can read here) is going to make me very, very happy. And not only is "Russian Doll," along with its beautiful video, in the vein of Assassination it would be one of the better songs on that album – catchy, somber, and perfect. Give me another album, wolf people, do it. FFO:

7. Cineastre – "Ozean," from Auwald (Acoustic/Atmospheric Black Metal – Independent). A beautiful gem I happened on in my Bandcamp crusades – a German one-man black metal/folk project that shifts seamlessly from melody to harshness, a from almost droning moments to moments of sudden catharsis. Whoever's behind this is a very, very talented musician. One of the projects that I have been adoring for the last year or so is Brazil's Kaatayra, who mixes folk and electronic elements with a Panopticon-like black metal emotiveness. And while Cineastre and Kaatayra sound nothing alike I fink a general similarity in attitude, an affinity to a localized folk tradition, and a kind of shared fearlessness in mixing whatever it is they feel might work. Just wonderful. FFO: Panopticon, Kaatayra, Agalloch.

8. Omnikinetic – "Absolutakinesis," from Omnikinetic (Death/Black Metal – Independent). A fascinating death metal demo, just packed with eerie atmosphere, unusual riffing, and pretty stellar, bestial drumming. Best of all, it's just so freakin' weird and just honestly scary. If you're into the "oh shit I think this music is about to kill me" brand of nightmare metal, this is just pitch perfect. FFO: Tchornobog, Ulcerate, Vassafor.

9. Dysemblem – "Lava Prayer," from Autonomy (Doom/Death – Immortal Bytes). For this week's final offering we have U.K.-based band Dysemblem, two veterans of the Greek metal scene, who released a massive sophomore full length late last year. Not unlike other contemporaries, notably American Weeping Sores, there seems to be more than a bit of Peaceville Three worship here, with an emphasis on the earlier, more death-oriented version of those bands (so more Lost Paradise, less Icon). But like Weeping Sores the worship is in the service of ushering something new, and the songs on this album are all as heavy, reflexive, and just phenomenal as they come. Just great death-doom, great. FFO: Lycus, Mournful Congregation, Un.


ONE – I may have failed to mention this, but the amazing Svart Records are reissuing Winter's singular death-doom masterpiece Into Darkness on double CD and double LP, in a special edition that also includes a few demos. Get it.

TWO – Cara Neir, the amazing grind/black outfit from Dallas, have remastered their III/IV album from last year specifically for tape. Get it.

THREE – Dance Club Massacre are reissuing their math/grind weirdo masterpiece Feast of the Blood Monsters on vinyl. Get it.

FOUR – My son is peaking whole sentences and can already draw better than I can.

FIVE – I'll be talking about the new Psalm Zero album much more next week, when it's officially out, but please take care to go check it out here. The collaboration with Lingua Ignota is pure gold.

ONE LAST THING, PROMISE: After one intriguing single last year, cosmic rapper and overall genius Kool Keith has announced a full album with Nashville powerviolence crew Thetan, and there's a first single out. Not relly the rock-rap collab a-la Judgement Night you would expect, but a utilization of metal instrumentation to create that signature Kool Keith sound. In other words – it's pretty fucking great.

ONE LAST THING, I SWEAR ON MY GRANDMOTHER'S GRAVE: If you're one of those people who like to keep abreast of all that's good, annihilating, and crushing in contemporary scremo then two pieces of wonderful news: 1) Portrayal of Guilt has a new song, from a split with Slow Fire Pistol, here it is; and 2) Israeli screamo/emo crew Atameo just released their first recording, an amazing single called "Marbles." You need it, now (here it is).