Necronomicon – Unus (Blackened Death Metal)

Formed the same year I was born 1988 we have Canadian band Necronomicon. The name is taken from the book by H.P. Lovecraft and their music, as expected, has a lot to do with the occult, magic, death and mythology. Even though the band was formed back in 88 their debut full-length didn’t come out until 1999 and have since released five more albums with Unus being their latest work of art. Originally Necronomicon played a rather direct death metal style in the veins of especially Morbid Angel and Nile. Later on their symphonic elements (who were somewhat there from the start too) took more place and blackend/symphonic death metal became the identity. There has been some changes in the ranks as the founder Rob “The Witch” Tremblay is the only one left from their 2016 album Advent of the Human God. Instead we have the two new members Raum (ex-Dawn of Ashes) on bass and Jean-Philippe Bouchard (Magister Dixit and Necroticgorebeast) on drums coming in for Unus.

Let me start with saying wow, Unus shows a band that knows how to use their heritage well with the new. Every fan of Necronomicon will come to devour this and just want more. The pinnacle of this album is reached almost halfway in as “Singularis Dominus”, “The Thousand Masks” and “Ascending the Throne of Baator” totally annihilates everything with perfect symphonic elements, atmosphere and blackened death metal fused into one. Truly making the name Necronomicon justice and you’ll need a breather after this supreme showing. They even end the album with classic Morbid Angel death metal approach (actually could say classic Necronomicon music too) on “Cursed MMXIX” and “Vox Draconis” just to give you some sheer hard hitting metal with an onslaught of riffs. “Vox Draconis” then ends as you expect an album like this to do, in an epic scale with orchestral and choirs! What better way to close out this absolute behemoth of an album. The beautiful part is it’s produced so well. Unus gives the listener so much value, diversity and, of course, wicked metal it’s hard not to fall in love with Unus and wanting to experience this again and again. Unus is in many ways a perfect follow-up to Advent of the Human God, where they still continue in the symphonic steps they took then but yet keeps much of what made their first albums great.

One of the best albums I’ve heard this year and the best Necronomicon has done to this date where the Necronomicon of old and new fuse together seamlessly, creating some of the best music of 2019 over 30 years into their career. Even bands such as Behemoth, Hate, Dimmu Borgir, SepticFlesh and Belphegor would be jealous of an incredible album like Unus in their discography. While it’s not groundbreaking Necronomicon are still going strong and pushing themselves forward, who knows where there limit is or if there is any?

Written by J.B.

Artist: Necronomicon
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Behemoth & SepticFlesh
Release date: October 18th, 2019
Favorite song: The Thousand Masks
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Worship the Pestilence – Arriving to Spread Misery (Brutal Death Metal)

From Bolivia there is a band named Worship the Pestilence who formed in 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 their first demo came out though titled Condemned to Chaos and since then the band has also released two split records. None have really caught the eyes of the scene though and it’s with the full-length debut album Arriving to Spread Misery there is now hope that Worship the Pestilence will be a future name for the scene.

Here is some really great guitar- and drum-work that’s really punishing and hitting the right spots pushing the album forward along with your classic devilish growling that does the job. Except on the track “We Hear You” where I think some of the guitar play is holding the song back and the song is in my opinion the worst track on the album by quite a mile. When on songs like “Death Fetus Collection” and “Emerge From The Essence Of Our Consciousness” the difference is reversed, where here the guitar stands out and the song is absolute killer because of it. I know it’s a debut album but I would hope the quality throughout the album was a lot more even that it is.

In the end it’s a good album considering it’s a debut album, they’ve laid some solid groundwork for the future but right now it’s not memorable enough and have a few too many wrong turns to be close on making any kind of dents into my album of the year list. I had a good time with it for what it was, might even put a tune or two on it for my gym sessions but I doubt I will revisit this album much more than that. The playing field is simply too good this year and I doubt this will draw new listeners into the genre but might very much be of liking to the hardcore fans of it.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Worship the Pestilence
Label: Rotten Music
For fans of: Disfigurement of Flesh & Decomposition of Entrails
Release date: September 28th, 2019
Favorite song: Emerge From The Essence Of Our Consciousness
Score: 2.5/5 Decent

Arallu – En Olam (Black/Death Metal)

Israel’s, probably, most famous black/death band Arallu have been going since 1997 and now have two EP’s, three demo’s and, counting En Olam, seven full-length albums to their name. Not a bad discography at all and when you take into the fact that all of these releases have been of good quality, while always improving and evolving for the next release you can understand why you could expect great things from En Olam.

Good thing is En Olam is just that, a great album and what you’ve come to expect from Arallu. They have their niche in the metal world and execute it well album after album and with more experience they’ve done it even better with their past two albums Geniewar and Six being their best two in my opinion. Up until now that is.

En Olam is a well-rounded album that showcase some of the best music Arallu has done to this date with the song “Prophet’s Path” being the pinacle of their songwriting when the middle eastern music, black and death metal clash together in perfect symphony. “The Center of the Unknown” and the title track “En Olam” are other candiates I love and among the best Arallu has produced. For the couple of weeks I’ve had time with this album I dare say this is on par with the two excellent releases Geniewar and Six. They all have their ups and downs, stenght and weaknesses so which ones of those three I think is the best differs from time to time (right now I would say it’s Six leading the pack by a small margin). If you like Arallu then this is for you, more of the same candy you’ve come to like. If you’ve never listened to them before then this is a great place to start!

Written by J.B.

Artist: Arallu
Label: Satanath Records
For fans of: Al-Namrood & Melechesh
Release date: September 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Prophet’s Path
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Entrails – Rise of the Reaper (Death Metal)

It’s swedeath time! One of the juggernauts of the sound has today released their sixth album which is titled Rise of the Reaper, namely the band Entrails. Founded in 1990 Entrails is considered a veteran in the scene where Jimmy Lundqvist is the last original member standing in a band that’s had a few changes along the way since the resurrection in 2008 after originally disbanding in 1998. One thing that hasn’t change though is their straight forward approach to swedeath, keeping the HM-2 volume to the max all the way and never looking back. Entrails have always been very solid on doing this too and every single album they’ve released have to be considered a most have for those who even remotely enjoy the old school swedeath scene.

Rise of the Reaper does just that too, makes the late 80’s, early 90’s death metal sound come very much to life (or death) in the year 2019 in a way few can like them. The buzz-saw guitars from Jimmy are as killer as ever, they never stop giving you a sour neck from all the headbanging material. The two latest additions since the last album Arvid Borg on drums and Markus Svensson on guitar does a stellar job too and you couldn’t really tell a lineup change had been made. What you can tell though is the change of direction Entrails have done since World Inferno came out in 2017. It’s leaning more toward melodic death metal this time around and even a more heavy metal approach as Rise of the Reaper is a more mixed bag that their past more direct pedal to the metal death releases. I’ll be honest it took me a few listens to fully dig into this as it wasn’t really what I expected, with that said though there is no denying it’s a band with class musicians who can do this type of death metal well.

Even with a few spins of Rise of the Reaper under my belt I can’t shake the fact that I enjoy their previous releases more though. I mean my personal favorite songs from the album like “In the Shape of the Dead” and “Crawl in Your Guts” are those which sounds the most like what they did on World Inferno. Change can both be good or bad for a band, obviously when it comes to music it’s what the band feel like doing and I’ll always respect that but as a listener it can sometimes feel like a wrong step. In this case I think it’s a bit of both, I think this can be the change Entrails needed marching forward and there is definitely most left of their core sound still here. Don’t get me wrong Rise of the Reaper is a great album, it just wasn’t what I expected and sometimes that can just hit you the wrong way. I don’t think it’s executed well enough at all times just yet but coming next album we might see a much more crisp album where they’ve walked further down their road of the, somewhat, new Entrails.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Entrails
Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Entombed and Grave
Release date: October 11th , 2019
Favorite song: Crawl in Your Guts
Score: 3/5 Good

In Mourning – Garden of Storms (Progressive Melodic Death Metal)

Not long ago I reviewed the latest Netherbird album and stated they were one of the most underrated bands in Swedish metal. Along with those comes now another band I feel doesn’t get enough praise, In Mourning. They’ve been going for 19 years now (20 year anniversary tour next year please?) and every single album has been wicked with their crown jewel Monolith being one of the best albums in its genre to drop this past decade, if not the best. It’s obviously been hard to beat that when the bar has been set so ridiculously high but despise that both The Wright of Oceans and Afterglow have been killer records who both were high on my list for the best of 2012 and 2016 respectively. With a slight line-up change for Garden of Storms I still had very high hopes In Mourning would keep their level of excellence just like before.

Kicking of Garden of Storms are the two previously released singles “Black Storm” and “Yields of Sand”. Both beings songs I’ve had on my playlist since they came out, proving the line-up changes hasn’t done anything negative to In Mourning at all. Top quality tracks from a band I expect nothing else from and this is the type of quality only a few bands such as Be’lakor, Insomnium and Opeth could deliver apart from In Mourning in this progressive melodic death metal style. Each song got their own standout quirk to it but always keeping that red thin line of In Mourning signature sound to it, perfectly executed and makes it very easy to have this album on repeat for weeks onwards while always finding a new favorite track along the way.

I really enjoyed Afterglow when that came out but Garden of Storms has taken it one step further with just about every aspect. The only track I can’t really stand behind here is “Hierophant”, which I find being weaker than the rest of the album. However when I say that it’s just nitpicking as for most bands out there that would probably be a standout track, just that when In Mourning has such a high quality stamp even good songs can feel a bit flawed compared to the rest. October is only a week old and already we got two album of the year contenders in our hands with In Mourning and Insomnium leading the pack. This is In Mourning’s best album since Monolith, hell I’m even close to saying this is their best album but I’m just not ready for that statement yet seeing this album is still really new and I’m all hyped up and I was close on setting that 5/5 score. What I do know now though is that you need this album!

Written by J.B.

Artist: In Mourning
Label: Agonia Records
For fans of: Be’lakor & Insomnium
Release date: October 4th, 2019
Favorite song: Black Storm
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Sempiternal Dusk – Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation (Death Metal)

These past weeks have been absolute killer, not only have I had a couple of reviews ready for the albums release date (which I’ve been very bad at doing all year), but I’ve also had the luck to get promos of some fantastic death metal albums, yet in completely different realms within the genre. For those unfamiliar Sempiternal Dusk is one of the best underground death metal bands USA have produced this last decade. Their self-titled debut in 2014 was a thing of beauty and the wait for a follow-up album has been long, even with three splits in-between to somewhat make the wait shorter. Now the time has come for one of my personal most hyped releases of the year to be unleashed upon the world, I can only hope it lives up to my high expectations.

Would Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation turn out to be in a slump or not? Fact is they blow it out of the park and the five years in the making has only made it even more rotten and deadly. It’s starts of really sinister and slow-paced doom death sounding which eventually goes up a notch to the mid-paced death metal that I’ve come to adore over the last years. There are many bands who does this style well but there are only a few who does it close to perfection, in my personal opinion Sempiternal Dusk is one of those few bands that can and this album is one of the best in its genre you will hear not only this year but overall. If you enjoyed their first offering then I can tell you everything is even better here. From songwriting and production to how tight the band sounds, all of it has improved. Which tells a lot coming from a band who had already set the bar very high on their debut. They simply took that challenge as one would of hoped, they improved. Just give the intro “Caverns of Aural Decay” together with “Excavated Filth from Dimensional Incarnations” a listen and if that doesn’t blow you away then this style of death metal which bands such as Incantation, Funebrarum and Disma have made famous isn’t for you.

A must have in your collection and if it hadn’t been for Mgła dropping what I think is the best black metal album of the year so far then this album right here would of been my pick for album of the month. A strong death metal album of the year contender and Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation only cements Sempiternal Dusk’s place as a top tier death metal band.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Sempiternal Dusk
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Incantation and Disma
Release date: September 27th, 2019
Favorite song: Excavated Filth from Dimensional Incarnations
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Haunted By Silhouettes – The Last Day on Earth (Melodic Death Metal)

Funny enough I’ve got a few promos from the beautiful country of Norway this past month and none of them have been black metal! From Blood Red Throne to Chase the Dead now it’s time to look into a band named Haunted By Silhouettes, a melodic death metal band who’s about to release their sophomore album The Last Day on Earth.

It becomes quite apparent that Haunted By Silhouettes takes a lot of influences from the Swedish and especially Finnish melodeath scene as the albums title track “The Last Day on Eath” starts the album. Insomnium and Dark Tranquillity levels of melodeath. On “Pyroclast” they upp the level a bit on the heaviness which later on “Deadlock” goes even higher on the absolute brutal intro, here they even use cleans and I see the songs as a mix of As I Lay Dying and Atreyu styled metal. Not going to lie though I wasn’t a big fan of the cleans used here, I’ve heard it done a lot better but also a lot worse. Decent but doesn’t do the trick and I would like the song a lot more without them to be fair. “Death of Janus” does a lot better job, switching the cleans to screamo and here it works as a charm together with the growls, making the track one of my favorites on the album together with “Jakta” which just has superb melodies throughout the whole song and much emotions. Also has to mention the song “Undertow” which has a great guest appearance by an female vocalist I couldn’t find the name of but it was definitely a standout track.

I do respect how Haunted By Silhouettes tries to incorporate many different styles into their music, with different ones standing out on different songs especially on the first half of The Last Day on Earth. You can hear hardcore, metalcore, deathcore and even progressive elements alongside the melodic death metal. I sometimes feel they are grasping at too many styles though and it’s a bit all over the place at times. The second part of the album is a lot more straight forward melancholic sounding melodeath though and this is where they shine as I found everything from “Jakta” and onwards being a more consistent level.

I’ve heard quite a few say that 2019 is a revival year for melodeath and I can only jump on that train and go cho cho! It might not hit the insanely high quality that Eternal Storm came thundering upon us in August but Haunted By Silhouettes presents a varied album but also along with a mixed bag of quality. When it’s good it’s really good but it has a few too many bumps on the road to make it stand out in what’s turning out to be a stellar year for melodeath.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Haunted By Silhouettes
Label: Rob Mules Records
For fans of: Insomnium & Atreyu
Release date: October 4th, 2019
Favorite song: Jakta
Score: 3/5 Good