Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram (Death/Black Metal)

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What’s that sound? It’s the sound of a black metal tank coming in full speed. I’m not going to lie Necrophobic has been one of my favorite bands last years (I honestly didn’t listen to them much until a couple years ago) and Mark of the Necrogram was my most anticipated album for 2018. Thing is with having really high hopes it can crush your expectations completely leaving you unsatisfied and probably give the album more backlash than it might deserve (as I did with Origins album last year). However with the case of Necrophobic and Mark of the Necrogram it’s done something hardly any albums do. They live up to my high expectations and more! Hell here I am halfway into the album when I start writing this and I am ready to say this is the best album Necrophobic ever released. I will let that one sink in for me a bit first though since this album needs to grow on me a few months, let the hype die down a bit, before I go and say something crazy like that. Because you know what? Necrophobic got a discography worth dying for. Their full-length debut The Nocturnal Silence is considered one of the best extreme metal albums ever and even their “weaker” (I still think they freaking rocks) albums such as Womb of Lilithu and Bloodhymns would demand huge sacrifices to pull off.

From the self-titled opening track Mark of the Necrogram to Undergången this album never stops delivering. Be it guitar riffs, blasting drums or Anders incredible vocals nothing is left to chance as they all perform as if possessed throughout. This is almost 50 minutes of pure dark magic. I just need to add that the news of Unanimated making a return and releasing a new album later this year is the only album within the black/death mixed realm I can see being as good as this. That’s a big maybe too as I got no clue how well Unanimated will perform in 2018. We are only two months into this year but I hereby set my first perfect score of the year. This one will be hard to beat and we already got a strong candidate for album of the year. Hell I am quite sure Mark of the Necrogram will be an album the metal community talks about years from now. Sweden are off to one of the best black metal starts ever with Watain, Tribulation and now Necrophobic putting out some of their best releases ever. The black king that is Necrophobic is back and there will be no prisoners.

Label: Century Media Records
For fans of: Dissection and Unanimated
Release date: February 23rd, 2018
Favorite song: Tsar Bomba
Score: 5/5

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Grafvitnir – Keys to the Mysteries Beyond (Melodic Black Metal)

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Boy oh boy do I like Grafvitnir’s latest offering Keys to the Mysteries Beyond. I’ve honestly not heard of the band before but a quick look at their discography I could see they’ve been very active, releasing albums almost yearly (counting the demo in 2013 they have even done it yearly) since the debut NâHásh in 2012. Not listening to them before I can sadly not understand how the band has developed over time. To give you an idea on why I really enjoy Keys to the Mysteries Beyond it’s due to my love for another Swedish black metal act, namely Naglfar. Naglfar was the band (together with Dimmu Borgir) that got me into black metal for real due to their melodic take and was a gateway into a whole new genre. Grafvitnir’s sound resemble Naglfar and early Dissection quite a bit, adding a touch of Uada and Ofermod into the mix makes this an offering to the darkness you shouldn’t miss out on.

The fine line between chaos and melodic black metal is met superbly and song after song you are left wanting more of this beautiful darkness. Some might think Keys to the Mysteries Beyond is a generic melodic black metal album however I say it gives the listener a well written album of quality occult music. It’s evil and cold as black metal should be. A good album doesn’t always need to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to be really well made. Oh and I am a sucker for black metal written in Swedish. Personally that gives me a lot of joy to hear lyrics like “I primordiala lågors sken skall uråldriga ögon blänka” (from Vargavinter). That’s an added bonus for me and I always respect bands who makes good songs in their mother tongue.

If you worship Naglfar and early Dissection like me then Grafvitnir is a band you need to check out today.

Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Dissection and Naglfar
Favorite song: Vargavinter
Score: 4/5

Throne of Heresy – Decameron (Blackened Death Metal)

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Throne of Heresy is a band I’ve always thought it very underrated. Since their formation in 2009 they’ve released killer music with last years Antioch being one of my favorite death metal albums coming out (which I sadly didn’t review) that year. Sure they have their ups and downs, good and bad songs but who doesn’t? When Throne of Heresy are on point I would say they are one of the best blackened death metal bands going at the moment.

Decameron is the bands latest offering and The Shores of Issyk-Kul starts off the album insanely well. Classic death metal riffs with a touch of black metal aggressiveness that makes me think of the mighty Firespawn. With Decameron being a concept album based on the old book with the same name I had a rough idea on what to expect, a dark album with tales of the black death (the plague). 10 tales into 10 songs of death, brutality and utter horror. The essence of this is captured really well in Decameron, as I said before The Shores of Issyk-Kul sets the tone with it’s aggression, atmosphere of doom and death. Which sets the pace for the rest of the album. Every song have a eerie feeling to it and is very dark, from lyrics to the whole overall performance. In that sense Decameron is almost a perfect concept album for what Throne of Heresy want to broadcast, one of the darkest eras of mankind.

Musically this is an album on par with Antioch, even if they are quite hard to put against each other seeing as they are very different. While Decameron offers an even more atmospheric feeling and blackened death metal take, which I can see as a mix of Naglfar, Dissection and Firespawn at times, Antioch was a more head-on death metal approach in my opinion. I think this is Throne of Heresy’s best work yet and they keep evolving with each release, honing that blackened sound. I hope that soon their plague will spread among the metal community to make more people give into their darkness.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/throneofheresy
Label: The Sign Records
For fans of: Firespawn and Dissection
Favorite song: Siege of Caffa
Score: 4/5

El Camino – Cursed Congregation (Black/Trash Metal)

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El Camino is an interesting act from Sweden. Their music draws a lot of influences from the great Dissection but they have their own unique touch to it with adding trash, doom elements and some H.P. Lovecraft into the mix. What comes out is nothing short but freaking awesome. I haven’t listened to El Camino before, actually I hadn’t heard about them until they were announced for this years Mörkaste Småland so all of this comes as a surprise to me. Formed in 2003 from the ashes of death metal act Vermin the band do have some Swedish veterans within their ranks and have already released a couple of full-length albums (along with EP’s and splits).

What I really enjoy with El Camino and Cursed Congregation is how it flirts with the old school sound of different genres and just feels really authentic all around. I can see this being a band that sounds just as good live as on cd. The riffs and old school atmosphere is sweet and grabs you hook line and sinker. IOMH, Cursed Congregation, Vengeance and the Häxkraft songs are really freaking great! Some songs doesn’t quite catch my attention though (Stars and Silence for example) which lowers the score a bit from this otherwise awesome first experience with the band.

Want to try something new with an old school feeling to it then El Camino’s third album Cursed Congregation is for you! Cursed Congregation is out now through Night Tripper Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elCaminocvlt
Label: Night Tripper Records
For fans of: Dissection and Vampire
Favorite song: Cursed Congregation
Score: 3.5/5

Enfold Darkness – Adversary Omnipotent (Technical Black/Death Metal)

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It’s been eight years since Enfold Darkness released their debut Our Cursed Rapture. A debut which was quite well received by the metal community. The wait has been long but now they are finally releasing their sophomore album Adversary Omnipotent. So who are Enfold Darkness? Hailing from Nashville, United States, the band was formed in 2005 and plays a technical black/death hybrid. To my ears this isn’t something I usually come across so I’ve been quite interested in hearing what Adversary Omnipotent has to offer.

What’s also interesting is that Adversary Omnipotent is a concept album, made of a story the band themselves have written. Having this in mind while listening to the album makes you see it in a different light. Or darkness as it would be because this is a tale filled with magic, death and destruction. As a fan of music and fantasy it is no secret I dwell in stories being told through metal music. Just as I enjoyed Amon Amarth’s Jomsviking and Siegelord’s Ascent of the Fallen last year I am a fan of what Enfold Darkness is all about. The music in itself differs quite a bit from those bands though. These guys have more in common with Inferi, The Black Dahlia Murder and even Dissection. A hybrid not often seen, a Chimera.

Like technical crushing riffs, mixture of various genres and wrapped up in a dark story? Then Enfold Darkness sophomore release Adversary Omnipotent is for you! Adversary Omnipotent comes out July 14th through The Artisan Era.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EnfoldDarkness
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/enfolddarkness
Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: The Black Dahlia Murder and Inferi
Favorite song: Banishment

Sarcasm – Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds (Death Metal)

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For those unfamiliar (I have to confess I was) with Sarcasm their career goes all the way back to 1990 but after six demos the band disbanded in 1994. A few years ago, 2015 to be precise, the band re-merged from the shadows though with most of the members all having a past in Sarcasm from the 90’s. Sadly the sudden death of Oscar Karlsson (Defleshed, Gates of Ishtar) struck the band but they never wanted to give up, they wanted to keep on going and honour his memory. Matte Modin (Firespawn, Usurpress, ex-Dark Funeral, ex-Defleashed) took over the drums as Sarcasm were getting ready to work on Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds. However both Fredrik Wallenberg and Henrik Forslund left the band and Sarcasm had to assemble a new line-up once again. Eventually they did and Sarcasm now consist of Anders Eriksson, Jonas Söder, Matte Modin, Peter Laitinen and Heval Bozarslan.

This stormy past has probably influenced the band a lot in creating music. Raging speed and hard as a rock death metal, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when listening to Sarcasm’s opener Bloodsoaked Sunrise from their latest album Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds. Sarcasm delivers a great mix of melodic death, your classic Swedish old school death and even some black metal elements in there. It’s like At the Gates, Dissection and Necrophobic joined forces. Some of the best from the Swedish metal scene that is. There is a track here for fans of any these bands as the songs do differ a bit in sound and that’s also what makes this a great album. There is variety and a sweet old school feeling to Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds that a metalhead who loves this sound will find right at home with.

If you haven’t heard Sarcasm before now is the time! Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds is an ode to the Swedish metal scene of old and even with all the hardship Sarcasm has suffered they’re back in form. If you only want a sample then I suggest listening to Scars of a Land Forgotten or the epic A Black Veil for Earth. Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds is out now through Dark Descent Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarcasmsweden
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Necrophobic and At the Gates
Favorite song: A Black Veil for Earth

Deity – Deity (Technical Death Metal)

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Deity were formed by the duo and long time friends Danny Alessandro and John Massey about 15 years ago (!). They have since then worked on material, letting it grow until they felt it was good enough to be released to the world. Personally I am glad they did as they seem to have unleashed the Deity in a pure form of metal.

The intro is a sweet symphony that doesn’t make you think about death metal at all, since it’s simply beautiful, and I was wondering if I really did listen to death metal act Deity. Beginning of Extinction brings the chaos right to my ears though on song number two and now I feel right at home. Take a bit of Suffocation, smidge of Gorguts and top it off with Death then you got the main influences in the sound of Deity. Lovers of technical riffs, no clean singing and shredding beware as this is an album made for you, the way Deity themselves would like it to sound. The album is filled with great solos and riffs that you can’t stand still on and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this Canadian (again a great techdeath band from Canada) duo live on stage as a supporting act to the likes of Gorguts, Cryptopsy or Archspire. Or why not even do it with other up and coming bands like Samskaras and Fractal Generator. Would be sweet lineups!

I think this album rocks. Anything from the instrumental songs From Which We Came, We Now Return, the acoustic In Time to the shredding tunes of Rituals is a joy for my ears. Favorite tracks on the album being Beginning of Extinction, Rituals and Illuminate the Unwilling.

Deity’s self-titled debut is out June 2nd as a independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeityMetalCA
For fans of: Suffocation and Gorguts
Favorite song: Beginning of Extinction