The Chasm – A Conscious Creation from
the Isolated Domain: Phase One
by Nathan Hare
It has been a long eight years since The Chasm last released a full-length album. Never one to jump on any trends, the band decided to return from this hiatus with a fully instrumental album entitled A Conscious Creation from the Isolated Domain: Phase One. Despite my fondness for Daniel Corchado’s vocals on previous albums, the record is every bit as creative and twisted as we’ve come to expect from The Chasm. The combination of layered, weaving riffs (perhaps a touch more melodic and less trad influenced than in the past) and Antonio Leon’s creative drumming produces an album that is a darkly alluring, sublime experience steeped in mysticism and a dreamlike aura. The Chasm has been pushing the boundaries of death metal on every release, and this one is no different.
The King is Blind – We are the Parasite,
We are the Cancer
by Joshua Bulleid
Do you like metal? Because The King is Blind like metal, and if you like metal as much as The King is Blind like metal then you’ll probably like The King is Blind. …because of how metal they are. There’s Bolt Thrower worship, and then there’s getting Karl Willetts to guest the most Bolt Thrower-worshiping Bolt Thrower worship track outside of Memoriam (that would be: “Mantra XIII (Plague: Avaritia)”) and dropping a big, sexy, fuck-off, Monotheist-era Celtic Frost-style riff right in the middle of it and then dropping it in the middle of an album full of other big, sexy, fuck-off Monotheist-era Celtic Frost-style riffs and Bolt Thrower-isms, sprinkled with sludgy sections and all out heavy metal charges that put the most recent efforts from Crowbar and Amon Amarth to shame. Look, what I’m trying to say is that The King is Blind are metal as fuck, and if you’re metal as fuck then you should listen to The King is Blind. In a month that saw three other releases that are currently sitting in my top 10–15 of the year (Enslaved, Trivum and August Burns Red if you must know), We are the Parasite, We are the Cancer takes the cake. It’s just so fucking METAL!!
Temnein – White Stained Inferno
by James Bushnell
Death metal fans may be forgiven for not knowing Temnein, a relatively new French metal band whose debut album 404 B.C. was greeted with mixed reviews. There is good reason, though, to hope that the follow-up album White Stained Inferno doesn’t sneak under the radar in the same way. Temnein lean towards melodic death metal with some progressive touches, but the focus here is not on fitting into any particular sub-genre or developing an innovative new sound. This is not in any way to the detriment of the band, because what they have focussed on is the songwriting. More specifically, writing bloody good songs. The highlights comes thick and fast; the enormously memorable, melodic chorus of insanely catchy “Denying The Threat”, the immense chorus and marvellous guitar solo of the utterly marvellous title track and the generally wonderful “The Seal” to name just a few. Temnein barely put a foot wrong on White Stained Inferno—a death metal masterclass and one of the finest releases yielded by the genre in 2017.
Ningen-Isu (人間椅子) – Ijigen no Houkou
by Shawn Miller
Fabled full-length number twenty. Not many bands achieve that milestone and even fewer achieve it with no duds in their back catalog. Long known as Japan’s answer to Black Sabbath, Ningen-Isu has carved a niche-career out of playing progressively tinged doom metal with tons of hard rock vibes flowing through their sound, all with an extremely unhinging dedication to high quality music and extremely tight performances. With Ijigen no Houkou, Ijigen no Houkou, Ningen-Isu show no signs of slowing down.
Moving away from the heavier, doom-laden riffing of 2016’s Kaidan Soshite Shi to Erosu, Ningen-Isu’s latest offering sees the trio moving back towards the hard rock-tinged sounds of their mid ’00s albums San Akudouchuu Hizukurige and Hoochie Koo, yet clearly not forgetting to bring the heavy riffing when warranted. With incredibly tight performances all around, the album fuses Sabbathian groove, Japanese mysticism, and straight up rocking out, with the band’s catchiest track in ages closing out the album. It’s unfortunate that Ningen-Isu is so isolated in a niche market, because they are one of the most consistent metal bands in history.
Malum – Night of the Luciferian Light
by Hans Rot
No single country has turned out more high quality black metal this year than Finland, and when it comes to the traditional sort that recalls Horna and Sargeist, Malum has the formula figured out. Their sophomore album, Night of the Luciferian Light, demonstrates a superb understanding of their source material without being derivative; rather, they are clearly proud to wear these influences on their sleeves and the riffs, as a result, will cut you down in an instant yet melt your heart under the same breath. It’s this type of mastery that separates this release from another strong contender this month, Aegrus – Thy Numinous Darkness, which goes outside its Finnish borders for a considerably more hybridized approach. Either way, one can’t go wrong by picking up either of these two releases, but I tip my hat to Malum for the #1 spot.
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
by Neil Bird
Bell Witch has long been a massive force in the funeral doom scene. Since their debut demo, the band has garnered the attention of many, and their output has been met with great praise. Mirror Reaper takes the band’s sound to the next level in terms of creativity and exercising the listeners ability to pay attention. At 83 minutes, this single track album goes through a wide range of emotions and captures each one perfectly. The track flows beautifully and is one of the most daunting but rewarding listens of the year. Bell Witch are synonymous with consistency and this new release is no different.
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King
by Alex Melzer
There must be something in the Swedish water and epic doom metal, with the legends Candlemass and also other bands such as Memory Garden, Neocori, Forlorn, Isole (before they discovered black metal influences) or Below all hailing from the northern nation. Sorcerer are a bit of a slightly different story, having released an outstanding compilation of the same name in 1995, then disappearing for ten years to finally come back without having missed a beat with In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. Now their second album since the surprising comeback has hit the shelves and given the quality of The Crowning of the Fire King, it should fly off the same like hot cakes. While not revolutionizing anything (something that doom metal isn’t exactly known for anyways), Sorcerer hit all the right buttons with their epic slowness, borne by Anders Engberg’s powerful voice, standing fully in line with the genre greats. More traditional than Below, they continue the spirit of the mighty Candlemass (until they finally decide that they still have at least another album in them), channeling this unique vibe through songs like “Abandoned by the Gods”, “Crimson Cross” or the title track. The Crowning of the Fire King is a definitive must for any connoisseur of the finest epic melancholy.
Power Quest – The Sixth Dimension
by Larry Best
After using the phrase “comeback of the year” multiple times, the Brits of Power Quest managed to actually justify my usage. Following an awkward period of abandonment between 2013 and 2016 Steve Williams resurrected the Quest, and made a fully-fledged comeback in the form of The Sixth Dimension. The overall formula hasn’t changed much, but it really didn’t need to. This is proof that the spirit of the band never really left us. Everything us fans need in a PQ record is there: flowery melodies, blazing synth, modern melodic power metal with a slight ’80s pop vibe. Aided by the vocal talents of Dendera frontman Ashley Edison, the emphasis on catchy hooks is more than ever. This isn’t game-changing: it’s simply 9 tracks of amazingly well-executed, energetic and vibrant British power metal guaranteed to stick in your head and make you smile.