Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora
by Joshua Bulleid
Albums like this are why I just can’t get excited about a(nother) new Overkill record. The amount of vital aggression, and passion, displayed on Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora simply makes other albums/bands sound lame and disinterested.
It’s not like Darkest Hour are a “young” band at this point either; nine albums deep into a near-flawless back catalogue, and this band aren’t only outdoing everyone else, they’re even outdoing themselves. Godless Prophets is easily one of the best records the Washington quintet have ever put their name to, and—in a month that’s been jam-packed with some of the best records I’ve heard this year or in any other—it is they who stand tallest among the pack.
Svart Crown – Abreaction
by Matej Makovický
This French extreme metal outfit will throw you in for a loop in almost every song. Mixing many death metal tempos with dissonant black metal riffs (á la Deathspell Omega) and thundering doom sections, Svart Crown create a suffocating, yet engaging atmosphere.
While the band’s riff- and songwriting craft is undeniable, the power is also in Abreaction‘s perfectionist attention to detail. Kévin Paradis’s great technical drumming adds a lot to the an album already compact, crushing, and clever; while the chanting in “Khimba Rites” and other little touches make this a strong contender in the fight to reach the end of year list.
Ascended Dead – Abhorrent Manifestation
by Nathan Hare
It’s always satisfying to see a band deliver the goods after a promising start, and San Diego’s Ascended Dead have done just that with Abhorrent Manifestation. They’re definitely a part of the Californian death metal scene that has taken a dissonant turn of late and produced bands like Ghoulgotha and Voidceremony. Ascended Dead share certain characteristics with these bands (along with members and former members) including a deranged, almost technical approach and a sickeningly raw guitar tone.
Abhorrent Manifestation is essentially a blend of Incantation worship and the early, blast-heavy South American scene. It’s primitive as hell and doesn’t have a whole lot of melody (although it does have some thrashy moments, owing to the South American influences) but it makes up for it with sheer aggression. Between this and Tomb Mold death metal had an incredibly ugly, albeit excellent, first quarter of 2017.
Damnation Plan – Reality Illusion
by Larry Best
It’s rare that an album of this genre satisfies me so much. But Reality Illusion is such a coherent journey, it’s difficult to fault it. Bridging the gap between melodic death and progressive metal, Damnation Plan features ex-members of My Grain and Kiuas, and use their talents to full effect.
The choruses are grand, solos are executed perfectly, and the riffs are noble but also downright vicious where they need to be. It’s also pleasing to hear a band of this ilk be unafraid of breakdowns in this day and age. Although I would describe Damnation Plan as an up-and-coming act, these Finns write mammoth albums like they’ve been doing it since they were born.
Black Cilice – Banished From Time
by Neil Bird
With this new release, Black Cilice have created a raw, and intense collection of songs that also manage to be introspective and encapsulating.
While the year has had some great releases thus far, Banished From Time is one of the more haunting and sticks with you long after it’s done spinning.
Demonic Resurrection – Dashavatar
by Alex Melzer
Drawing inspiration from the bombastic side of black and death metal, India’s Demonic Resurrection have taken it to the next level on Dashavatar—incorporating some folk influences into its, at times, almost progressive approach to the genre.
Effortlessly weaving influences from Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Dark Tranquillity and more into a whole that is definitely larger than just their inspirations glued together. With this album, Demonstealer and his crew once more prove why they are widely considered one of India’s prime metal exports.
Lunar Shadow – Far From Light
by Dave Hodges
Cruz del Sur strikes again with this fantastic full-length. Far From Light is a magnificent and epic journey, loaded with adventurous melodies and brilliant composition. Whatever might be lacking due to the thinned-out vocals is more than compensated by the meaty and Maidenesque riffs and uncanny chemistry cast by Lunar Shadow.
Fans of Dark Forest and Tarot who appreciate the stylistic leanings of early Rush will not be disappointed with this hour-long foray into the realms of might and magic.
Condor – Unstoppable Power
by Shawn Miller
With Unstoppable Power, Norwegian black thrash brigands, Condor take their place as the rightful heirs to a throne left vacant by Aura Noir’s five year absence. This album rips on a ton of different levels, with the roaring blackened thrashing riffing taking the lead.
Blend equal parts Deathhammer, Dark Throne, and Aura Noir and you’ll begin to comprehend the style at play. From start to finish, Unstoppable Power does not let up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.