Another week of existential, financial, and political dread, but also another week of incredible music. You can head out to Twitter and see my picks for albums of the month and sleeper of the month for February, and you can check out the deranged new track from mathgrind band Cave Moth that premiered on this decrepit site earlier this week. Keep safe and eternal hails to all you lovely and extremely handsome readers and Patreon supporters.

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1. Spectral Lore – "Moloch," from 11 Days (Atmospheric Black Metal – Independent). I am on record saying that my favorite mode of Spectral Lore is the "ringing, reverb-bitten quarter-note melodies that sound like Eastern Mediterranean music on evil crack." And seeing that that is my favorite, I haven't always "vibed," as you kids say, with the more direct stuff, all considering, naturally, that these were all great and that Ayloss has failed to write a single bad riff in his life. HOWEVER, this new Spectral Lore EP is basically on par with the best he's ever done, in my book, and manages very beautifully to marry the atmosphere those jangly riffs had with a more straightforward black-metal approach. There are a bunch of black metal songs already this year I have called "the best black metal I've heard thus far." You can throw this track to the top of that heap. FFO: Mare Cogitum, Fen, A Forest of Stars.

2. Until Death Overtakes Me – "Other Days," from Decay into Irrelevance (Funeral Doom – Independent). It's been so very long since I've last managed to bring myself to enjoy some actual doom. I'm talking doom doom, not just "doom elements," but the real, slow, depressive thing itself. This album, or collection of singles, has done that, in spades. Tastefully done, melancholic, beautiful doom pieces, with, to me, the obvious highlights being this track as well as the following, "Wretch." Magnificent and majestic stuff. FFO: My Dying Bride, Evoken, Mournful Congregation.

3. Street Tombs – "Diseased Existence," from Reclusive Decay (Death Metal – Carbonized Records). I've been sitting on this one for a couple of weeks now. Listening to it from time to time, thinking to myself "This is so cool," and yet never writing about it. So, now I write. What is it? Just d-beating death metal that sounds exactly what you would like it to sound like. It's fun, it's loose, it's rockin' (YEAH I SAID IT), and it's just a high-energy boost of awesome shit. That's it. It's not that it's not more than that, it obviously is, it's great. It's just that the way I enjoy it seems to be a very primal, non-verbal way. So: Hailz! FFO: Autopsy, Conjureth, early Morbid Chron.

4. Yakuza – "Alice," from Sutra (Sludge / Alt Metal – Svart Records). How long has it been since we've heard new music from Yakuza? Well, 11 years, that's how. One of the most fascinating, brilliant bands of the experimental metal Chicago scene is back, and with this first single seem less invested in the experimental, almost improv aspect of their past work and much more in rockin' the fuck out. This may or may not be related to Bruce Lamont's alter ego as Robert Planet in his very successful Led Zeppelin 2 cover band, but this screams 90s alt rock. I dig it (but really hope there's sax on the album). FFO: Inter Arma, Stone Temple Pilots, Big Business).

5. Enslaved – "Forest Dweller," from Heimdal (Prog/Post-Black – Nuclear Blast Records). The GOATs are back with another fine album made up, really, by some stuff we've head from them from the past few years since Utgard, and some stuff we haven't. Truth is, it's all amazing. They are incapable, to me, of making bad music, it's just a question if you're into the proggier version of Enslaved of the last few years, or you're not. If you're not, that's fine. If you are: This is as good as music gets. FFO: Who are we kidding here, huh?

6. Wretched Fate – "Cry From Beyond," from Carnal Heresy (Death Metal – Redefining Darkness Records). It doesn't get more Swedish death metal than this, now does it? The hammering HM-2 riffs, the relentless drumming, and those quirky melodies here and there. But this is so fucking tight, and so well done, it's almost as if air can't escape it or something. Like a claustrophobic cupboard of riffs and just direct-attack death metal. And some really nice touches here in there, like those cascading leads and the atmospheric dynamics here and there. Super great. FFO: Encryptment, Vrenth, Acephalix.

7. IER – "犬神佐清," from 犬神佐清 (Avant-garde Black/Death Metal – Independent). The genius who is, in fact, IER is back with another track of every imaginable genre of music clumped into one very tight space and endowing it with joy, beauty, and terrifying horror. It is way beyond my feeble forces of cognition why this dude isn't releasing via a label somewhere, but then again what label on earth could even begin to deal with this shit? Crazy, inspiring metal to expand your mind and kill your family. FFO: Mr. Bungle, Kaatayra, Swarrrm.

8. Alpha du Centaure – "Unknown Fault – Symptom," from Careless (Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze – Stellar Frequencies, Araki Records, Pyrrhic Victory Recordings, Anesthetize Production & Label Jade). Alpha du Centaure's 2020 album Paralysis was very memorable record in an otherwise unmemorable genre. There was a time where it seemed every other band was in the post-black game, and that mode of making music, to me, kind of wore itself out. But Alpha du Centaure do it the right way, relying on suspenseful melodies and progressions, nice electronic touches, and THAT AMAZING VOICE. Beautiful stuff, can't wait for the record to release. FFO: Alcest, Spotlights, Explosions in the Sky.

9. Necrovation – "Storm the Void," from Storm the Void / Starving Grave (Death Metal – Blood Harvest Records). Well, this post has included Swedish death metal as well as bands who haven't released in over a decade, so it's only fitting to end it with a band that combines both. These two new Necrovation tracks are basically why, at times, I stare out the window and wonder to myself whether Swedes are just better at death metal than anyone else. Not because they write the best songs or whatever, maybe that too, but because they both understand the very strict limits of the genre as well as know when to fuck with it, when to inject it with melody, and when to let the fucking drums fly like a rabid bull. All of which is to say: Magic. FFO: Life.


ONE: Void Wanderer released a label sampler that serves as a pretty good widow in the great work they do.

TWO: The upcoming Usnea albums is insane. You are now on notice. Also: Don't miss out on the new Spirit Possession single.

THREE: Cam of the brilliant Cicada the Burrower posted this gargantuan piece by V/Vm and I think I might take a break from life and just live in it. I guess the unedited version of this wasn't available or something, but I'm pretty sure I've never listened to this anyhow, so yay for me.

FOUR: I hate neighbors, I wish they were all dead.

FIVE: Will I ever write about the new Enisum album? Who knows.

ONE LAST THING, PROMISE: Woe is recording a new album! YES!