The year starts heavy for The Metal Gamer as the first review of the year comes from the brutal tech-death band Wormhole and their sophomore release titled The Weakest Among Us. Their debut album Genesis was a sleeper hit that came out late 2016, which I personally didn’t find out about until around a year after but it was definitely one of the better brutal tech-death albums for its time where I enjoyed the hints of slam and deathcore. Fast forward to 2020 and the Kumar brothers now got a drummer in Matt Tillett (Greylotus, ex-Cognitive (live)) and Anshuman Goswami (Perihelion, Cognitive (live)) on vocals joining them on The Weakest Among Us after Goswami having been doing vocals live for Wormhole. He got some big shoes to fill as both Calum Forrest and, the almost legendary, Duncan Bentley were doing solid work prior. Will The Weakest Among Us solidify Wormhole as a giant within the genre or will it prove to be the weakest among us, seeing the band take a step backwards with the member changes?
To start of with The Weakest Among Us got a whole different feel to it than their debut, the deathcore vibe is completely gone and it’s a lot more technical. The title-track “The Weakest Among Us” showcase that right from the start and shows a new side of the Wormhole that sounds more mature, heavier and vastly improved songwriting. With “rA9_myth” bringing way more slam bits into the giant hole I’m just about ready to be devoured by this worm as it is surely going for the kill by now. “D-S3” slows it down a notch, walking on the progressive path for a while, where you can hear some similarities to Sanjay Kumar’s other band Equipoise at times.
With more heavy slam in “The Gas System” putting the….gas back in the tank…. and the mouthful “Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon” we quickly go back into full gear again. The album closer “Ingswarm” is a wicked way to start your 2020 with some filthy breakdowns and the highlight of the album for me together with the opener, and title-track, “The Weakest Among Us” has been my two most played songs at the beginning of this year. Those two songs I think capture perfectly who Wormhole are in 2020.
One thing is certain The Weakest Among Us is a completely different beast than their debut Genesis and a much more varied effort. While Genesis was solid it might have lacked some bits to make it stand out and be a long lasting album in my playlists I find The Weakest Among Us bringing all the right stuff. As far as technical brutal death metal goes this is definitely one of the more experimental albums I’ve heard in the genre. Or as the promo said “prepare yourself for a new generation of Slam and Technical Death Metal!”. It might be a bit too nice and a bit too little brutality at times, while going too hard on the progressive/technical side but at the same time that’s a thing I like with the album. The Vulvodynia resemblances are basically all gone in my opinion, welcome the lovechild of Wormed, Decimated Humans and Equipoise in all its glory. A band that says “fuck it lets go nuts on our sophomore album”, try breaking some boundaries and the result is a good fucking album that makes 2020 have a flying start. Oh and did I mention they base their music on not only common sci-fi but Metroid lore (which you can see through the cover art)!? Metal gamers better dig this!
Written by J.B.
Artist: Wormhole Label: Lacerated Enemy Records For fans of: Wormed & Decimated Humans Release date: January 14th, 2020 Favorite song: Ingswarm Score: 4/5 Excellent
Holy moly what a year! When I started this list a few weeks ago I had over 150 albums written down on albums that I really enjoyed, more than any other year since I started this blog. Which is why I am doing a top 50 this time (and years onwards). Even with a limit on 50 it was bloody hard to cut the list down! That speaks volumes on how good year 2019 has been for metal, in my opinion the best in many years with every genre putting out killer albums. 2019 was a quite wild ride for me personally too as I became a father of a beautiful daughter we’ve named Hilde in December. With that it also means The Metal Gamer will slow down some in productivity for a while, as you might have already noticed. The Metal Gamer Community also got created in 2019 and has reached over 400 members in only a few months. Started doing interviews seem to have been a hit too as most of them got a lot of interaction where I got to interview bands such as Visceral Bleeding, Deranged, Enthroned and The Great Old Ones to name a few. Last but not least the first ever The Metal Gamer fanzine got published digitally (hopefully will manage to do one more this year), which was read by over 200 people within the first 48h! Major thanks for the support metal gamers and I hope to bring you more content for many years to come!
The Metal Gamer best of 2019
One of my favorite bands of all time Moonsorrow hasn’t released an album since 2016 but what does that even matter when Finsterforst release their best album to date and in all honesty one of the best albums in the genre ever! Became a clear album of the year for me, no doubt about it. Released August 2nd via Napalm Records.
Wow what beast this turned out to be! I wasn’t all in on Wormwood before but with Nattarvet they really knocked it out of the park and has released the best black metal album of the year. They even topped it off with a great live performance at Månegarm Open Air in August which solidified my love for this band. Very big surprise to me. Released July 26th via Black Lodge Records.
Wow what a journey Vale of Pnath has had! They’ve always been of my favorite techdeath bands, much do to their black metal influences, but they really knocked this one out of the park! A perfect five in my book and a crown jewel in their already great, and growing, discography. Released May 17th via Willowtip Records.
The best album I heard first quarter of the year was Demiurgus by Equipoise. They’ve done everything right, it’s technical death metal at its peak and it’s not only good but also fun! I mean who just adds in a acoustic flamenco track for the sake of it? Equipoise does and it pays off! The first 5/5 of the year went to Demiurgus. Released March 8th via The Artisan Era.
The Great Old Ones are back with yet another stunning Lovecraftian atmospheric black metal album. They seem to be able to do no wrong and the band has only strengthen what is already a very strong discography. Grown on me throughout the year to eventually land in the top 5! Released October 22nd via Season of Mist.
Album of the year: Finsterforst – Zerfall Deathcore album of the year: Shadow of Intent – Melancholy Technical death metal album of the year: Vale of Pnath – Accursed Death metal album of the year: Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave Brutal death metal album of the year: Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound Atmospheric black metal album of the year: The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism Black metal album of the year: Wormwood – Nattarvet Folk metal album of the year: Finsterforst – Zerfall Debut full-length album of the year: Equipoise – Demiurgus Song of the year: Finsterforst – Ecce Homo Best concert I went to in 2019: Svartidauði, Sinmara and Grand Harvest (Plan B, Malmö, September 27th) Biggest disappointment: Carnifex – World War X Most anticipated album of 2020: Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger
The Metal Gamer Community Best of 2019
1. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance 2. Wormwood – Nattarvet 3. Mgła – Age of Excuse 4. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race 5. Equipoise – Demiurgus 6. In Mourning – Garden of Storms 7. Månegarm – Fornaldarsagor 8. Saor – Forgotten Paths 9. Killswitch Engage – Atonement 10. Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion
Vale of Pnath is an interesting band, even with quite a few member changes during the years I personally think all their albums are great. They somehow seem to be immune to it leading towards a bad album every now and then. Maybe that is exactly why the band is always up for experimenting, while making it work is due to the strong glue and vision Vance Valenzuela (guitar) has who keeps it together (I should interview him one day to find out).
“Shadow and Agony” strikes me first and it’s such a scary, horror movie like intro fitting the Lovecraft techdeath masters! Banger after banger Vale of Pnath is hitting me with, they simply don’t want me to go anywhere as I give this album a spin. There is such a great flow throughout the album, time just flies by and your neck is sore after all the headbanging yet there is enough room to breathe at just the right times so it doesn’t break. Even with a great flow, a red thin line, every song sticks out on its own. It isn’t just a simple rinse and repeat for seven songs straight. Something I find hard to find albums which does great on both areas, making the album have a wicked flow and be great end to end but at the same time letting the songs speak for itself so I can just choose one at random and enjoy it. Very well done, it’s certainly not something I take for granted!
“So Jimmy what song do you recommend I listen to first?” Fact is I choose “The Darkest Gate” only due to it being the single I’ve heard so many times before this album dropped it’s just stuck in my head, and rightfully so as it is a killer track. You could definitely take any pick and you would be pleased, they have different elements to their songs that works good on the tracks they are meant for. Both “Obsidian Realm” and “Spectre of Bone” are epic finishers with a more atmospheric and techdeath side to them than the first half of the album for example (Vale of Pnath seems to have a patter to end with the longest, most epic track).
What a year for the technical side of death metal it’s been so far! First we got the riff feast from Equipoise, followed with a phenomenal experience in Warforged (which also brings a lot of black metal influences into the mix) and now Vale of Pnath shows they don’t want to be any worse with their strongest album yet. What do these three bands have in common? They have been experimenting with their sound and executed it well! The path Vale of Pnath has walked has led them to this sound, album after album has drawn them close and close to what finally became Accursed. This is a big change for the band who are now closer to being called a technical black metal band than ever before. I welcome this change with open arms with Accursed being the best I’ve heard from Vale of Pnath so far and an album of the year contender in my book! This makes all my metal sensors tingle the right way and fans of extreme metal have to give this a listen.
Written by J.B.
Label: Willowtip Records For fans of: Enfold Darkness and The Black Dahlia Murder Release date: May 17th, 2019 Favorite song: The Darkest Gate Score: 5/5 Masterpiece
March is over and with that a quarter of the year is too. So far 2019 has given us some fine metal with a few surprises like Malist and Wretched Fate along the way. While my picks for January were filled with death metal, February had a varied selection and that keeps being the way the cookie crumbles for March too! March has been the hardest month yet to make my choice for the top 5, and while I write this I’ve already changed it like ten times in a few days (truth be told a few of these albums came out very late) and dammit I will probably change it again if you ask me in a week! Meaning the honorable mentions this month are extra strong mind you so don’t sleep on them. Here it is though, The Metal Gamer top 5 picks for March!
Album of the month
The best album I heard all year is Demiurgus by Equipoise. They’ve done everything right, it’s technical death metal at its peak and it’s not only good but also fun! I mean who just adds in a acoustic flamenco track for the sake of it? Equipoise does and it pays off! The first 5/5 of the year went to Demiurgus and it will be interesting to see if an album can top it this year. Released March 8th via The Artisan Era.
The Norwegian army is back with a vengeance! While their debut was stunning Necrogenesis will blow your mind with riffs Beelzebub himself has crafted and Satan be praised isn’t this Doedsadmiral best performance so far!? Released March 29th via Osmose Productions.
Angry, Undead is well angry death metal, who would of thought? The Flaying unleashes the most aggressive and utterly mind melting death metal I’ve heard all year. This is an album that will pump you up for your gym session! Released March 22nd as an independent release.
This is nothing short but the best deathcore release in the first quarter of 2019, probably even the best you will hear all year. Released March 29th via Outerloop Records.
Having basically had this album on repeat for days it’s easy to say it has me in a trance. A cosmic black metal journey that will make you miss a new Mgła or Uada album way less. Released March 29th via Inferna Profundus Records.
Misery Index – Rituals of Power Týr – Hel Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna Prostitute Disfigurement – Prostitute Disfigurement Children of Bodom – Hexed Bleeding Utopia – Where the Light Comes to Die Whitechapel – The Valley Truth Corroded – Bloodlands Vltimas – Something Wicked Marches In Brymir – Wings of Fire Wraithborn – The Testament of the Infernal Gomorrah – Gomorrah Aoratos – Gods Without Name
I interviewed vocalist Steve Boiser not long ago and now it’s finally time to review the album Demiurgus from the super group Equipoise. Or what about a group that boasts a line-up consisting of past and current members from Inferi, Beyond Creation, First Fragment, Virulent Depravity, NYN and Hate Eternal? Now that’s what I call a great CV! With those names in mind it is pretty obvious that Equipoise is all about the progressive and technical aspect of death metal.
Many of you reading probably know that one of my favorite bands is Beyond Creation, they definitely made me a tech/prog death metal fan and I’ve loved every release with them. Equipoise are in many ways very influenced by then (as are many prog death bands) but they’ve actually managed to take some of the best parts from Beyond Creation while adding their own unique elements into the mix. Other bands that comes to mind are Gorod, Augury, The Ritual Aura and Inferi, all fine examples being compared to.
As I start my first of what would be many listenings on Demiurgus the first word that stuck me was “wow what is this!?” as the opening tack “Illborn Augury” hits me hard. The prowess of the musicians in Equipoise gets known straight away as every single note is thoughtfully played out. There is so much going on on Demiurgus that at first it might catch you by surprise and overwhelm you, but give it time and you will be rewarded. You get so much from Demiurgus, spin after spin I find new elements on the tracks that I like and it keeps on growing and giving to me each and every time. Hell just for the sake of it there is some awesome acoustic flamenco music as intermission tracks that just works and sounds great in a weird way. There is simply nothing Equipoise seems to do wrong on this album and their onslaught of top tier riffs, super drumming and crushing bass accompanied with Steve Boiser’s wicked vocals will get to you too, I can promise you that.
Is this the best album of the year so far? Yes, yes it is. This is a masterpiece in all its glory, a complete album well deserving the top score (one I don’t give out lightly), that I will get back to for years to come. Demiurgus is an album you will find in the best of the year single digits, maybe even be the album of the year at The Metal Gamer. What a stunning piece of art!
Written by J.B.
Label: The Artisan Era For fans of: Beyond Creation and Gorod Release date: March 8th, 2019 Favorite song: Sovereign Sacrifices Score: 5/5 Masterpiece
Equipoise is one of the new forces in technical death metal. Despite being that their EP did so well and the band is already seen as one for the furture, without even having released a full-length yet! That time is soon upon us though so what better time to interview the vocalist Stevie Boiser on the bands history, how the new album has been going and, of course, what’s Stevie’s favorite game of all time?
First thing first, who does what in Equipoise? Does everyone take part in writing the music?
Oh boy, well this could take a second because we’re like the Slipknot of tech death haha. By that I mean we have a lot of moving parts. Equipoise is composed of Seven members. Nick Padovani (Kossuth, Virulent Depravity) Guitar / Classical Guitar Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain) Fretless Bass Chason Westmoreland (Burning The Masses, Ex-The Faceless, Ex-Hate Eternal) Drums Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole, Perihelion) Guitar Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Chthe’ilist, Zealotry, Eternity’s End, Serocs, Cosmic Atrophy) Guitar / Classical Guitar Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Pitts/Minneminn Project, The Fractured Dimension, North Tale) Keys and Myself, Stevie Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Ashen Horde) Vocals.
As far as writing music goes, Nick handled the majority of writing for the album. A few things here changed here and there by various members. Every solo on the record was written by its performer. In terms of lyrics and vocals, thats 100% my department. Now that we have a footing and a clear direction for Equipoise I’m hopeful that everyone will be contributing more for the next record.
Equipoise is somewhat of a supergroup with members from acts like Inferi, Chthe’ilist, Beyond Creation and Virulent Depravity just to name a few. How do did you all get together?
The origin of the band starts back in 2015 with Nick Padovani and Zach Hohn. They started jamming that summer and things quickly evolved from just playing riffs to writing and arranging songs. Once they had a few tracks completed Nick began reaching out to musicians he admired to see if they would be interested in joining the project. Hugo and I were both tapped and joined the band. I remember that Equipoise didn’t actually have anything recorded when Nick first reached out to me. He just sent me a GuitarPro file for what became Alchemic Web of Deceit haha. It worked though, I was hooked!
Fast forward a few moths and we were able to complete our first offering as a band, our EP Birthing Homunculi. Much to our surprise the EP did pretty well, and we had a very warm reception. Not too long after that Zach left the band so we recruited Sanjay to fill the void. Sanjay had performed a guest solo on the EP and in addition to that Mixed and Mastered it as well so it was great to have him working with us again. I reached out to my good friend Chason Westmoreland to see if he’d be interested in playing drums. The two of us had been talking about being in a band together for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Shortly after that Jimmy and Phil joined our ranks as well. I guess you could say that Equipoise was made possible by the power of the internet haha. We’re all pretty spaced out geographically so we didn’t really have the option of approaching this band in a traditional manor.
Stevie you’ve been a really hard worker with many projects ongoing and you’re a great talent. As such you’ve already been apart of bands such as Vale of Pnath, Tethys and recently even joined Inferi. How has the ride been? Got any secrets to become a wicked vocalist?
Thank you very much Jimmy! I really appreciate that. Its been crazy man haha. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be in a number of really killer bands and as a result play shows for people in a number of different places. Im very grateful for that. Truth be told im just following my passion. I absolutely love it. Joining Inferi is probably one of the most surreal things thats happened to me. I’ve been a huge fan of their music since about 2007, so this is kind of a dream come true.
As far as vocal tips go I really only have a few. -Practice, practice, practice! Listen to the way your body responds to your vocal approach and then cater to it. You don’t want to burn your pipes out. – Develop your own voice. Learning a bunch of different techniques or expanding your range is great. Id definitely encourage people to do that, but be conscious of how you can make these things your own. You are an individual and thus have your own voice. Find it, and own it. – Lastly, if you can. Invest in a quality way to record your own voice. While its not absolutely necessarily, its a great way to be able to experiment with your voice and listen back abjectivly. This can also save you money in the long run. Last year I recorded vocals for three separate albums (Equipoise, Ashen Horde, and Inferi) and demoed things out for Tethys. All of this was done at home and on my own time. Also, if you’re looking for a band you can use this as a means to audition for bands you’re interested in or at the very least, a way to get your voice out there.
The upcoming album Demiurgus will be Equipoise full-length debut. For how long has it been in progress?
Technically this album has been in the works since 2015. By the end of the year Nick had skeletons for the majority of the album. Although, we didn’t really spend time fully flushing out those ideas until a short while after Birthing Homunculi was released. Once we completed our line up we started the process of combing over each track and revising our work. Due to the face that we’re all so spread out we couldn’t really take the traditional approach of just jamming the songs together in a live room so we had a lot of guitar pro files and scratch tracks flying back and forth between members.
You signed with one of the best new labels The Artisan Era not too long ago. How did it happen?
After we released the EP we wanted to find a way to reach a bigger audience. Honestly, we really didn’t even consider another label. It was evident that what Mike and Malcolm were building with The Artisan Era was special. Every band the label represented released amazing music. We submitted the EP and informed them that we had a new album in the works. Luckily for us they really enjoyed what we did, and now they’re about to release our first full length record.
How do you guys find the time in your schedule between all your other bands to rehearse, write new material and especially go on tour?
As of now we are not an active touring band. However, Nick and I have been discussing the logistics of it all and if theres a large enough demand for it in the future we would love to make it happen! As for balancing writing, rehearsing, and recording equipoise material it all boils down to time management. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I tracked all of my vocals for the album a few weeks before the last Inferi tour. Personally, I try to approach my projects by order deadlines. I make sure to shift my focus from band to band so that I can stay fresh and up to date on each of them. I’ll typically spend my time working on whichever band has new material prepped and ready or a show / tour coming up.
Since the release of the EP Birthing Homunculi the band has not only had a lineup change but also added another guitarist. How has that changed the sound of Equipoise?
Having both Sanjay and Phil join Equipoise was a huge deal for all of use. Both are absolute monsters with a crazy amount of skill and an uncanny ability to navigate their instrument. I think the best examples of this occur in the interplay of their solos. They both have such different styles, but they compliment each other wonderfully. I think that above all else having them on board really helped texture songs.
There are a lot of guests on Demiurgus, especially on the last track Ouroboric. What was the decision behind having ten different session musicians on the album?
Our goal overall was to really push ourselves to create something special with Demiurgus. When it came to selecting guests for the album we set aside sections we thought would allow the to shine while simultaneously bringing a new flavor to the music. As a result we were able to work with a number of stellar musicians who would broaden our musical pallet.
From what I see on Facebook I believe you’re a bit of a gamer. If I am right what’s your favorite game of all time and what do you play now?
Oh man… Thats a tough one! My answer is kind of cheating but I’ve got a threeway split for this one. Its a tie between Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 3 (SNES), and Majora’s Mask. I can’t tell you how many hours Ive spent with these games. Each has so much depth, incredible character development, and really fun gameplay. Right now I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon Go. I’m trying to catch up on all the stuff thats happens since I stopped playing in 2016. Currently Im doing some post game stuff in Pokemon Ultra Moon, playing the new Smash Bros, and Breath of the Wild/ I will be taking on Gannon almost immediately after this interview haha.
That was all I had! Thanks for taking your time Stevie, got any final words?
No problem at all Jimmy, thanks again for having me. Its been a pleasure! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Demiurgus! It drops on March 8th via The Artisan Era. The New Ashen Horde record Fallen Cathedrals will be out on March 22nd, and New Inferi is right around the corner as well! For anyone who would like to keep up to date with what im working on for Inferi, Equipoise, Tethys, Ashen Horde, or my snakes feel free to follow my on Instagram @Mc_Screamy or on Twitter @ScreamyMc, See you next time folks!