Selections of noteworthy metal.
Hello! We made it to the end of the year! No more years after this one, friends . . . thank goodness, right? In the spirit of List Season, which raps its bony fingers at the door of every hungry culture critic come November 30th, I decided to make this final 2018 installment of the Usurper a roundup of records I missed over the course of the year. No space to waste this month, so let’s get to it!
Creeping Death – Specter of War
From January – Texas death metal five-piece. Fully headbangable, beautifully composed songs that cycle tempos and patterns just enough to maintain the necessary intensity.
Aura Noir – Aura Noire
From April – Longrunning “blackened thrash” act Aura Noir have a seemingly endless supply of needling, trebly Darkthrone-meets-power-metal riffs at their disposal, and thank god. Aura Noire boasts some of the best, most angular riffage of any record this year.
Funeral Chic – Superstition
From November – Raging crust smeared with Tom G. Warrior grunts and propelled by a filthy-sounding rhythm section. Ended up on my best-of list.
Portrayal of Guilt – Let Pain Be Your Guide
From November – This record got a lot of buzz on like Stereogum and NPR, but it is very good, sonically textured screamo. Reminds me of the Code Orange Kids debut before they grew up and went full-on blockhead hardcore – lots of layers of gauzy, torn noise drifting around in the mix.
Superstition – Surging Throng of Evil’s Might
From January – I never have that much to say about death metal records because they work on a gut level. Either the sound hits you or it doesn’t. Superstition hits, with a dirty, muffled mix that melts the band into a singular gnashing machine.
Sepulcher – Panoptic Horror
From September – Death metal with a hardcore edge, which means shouted, desperate vocals and a clangorous, booming drum sound. One of the grimiest, hardest metal records of the year. Incredible cover art too; this was also on my best-of list.
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
From July – Immortal’s first post-Abbath record is a breathless black metal ripper. Demonaz must have been fucking thirsty after getting benched as the band’s guitarist for two decades (tendonitis) because Northern Chaos Gods is as blistering and incomprehensibly fast as Battles in the North or Pure Holocaust. I like At the Heart of Winter as much as the next no-taste metal bitch, but it’s good to hear some unalloyed necro madness from this band again. Famously stupid motherfucker Peter Tägtgren fills in on bass.
Outre-Tombe – Nécrovortex
From October – Maniacal, grotesque death metal with a bit of bassy, melodic Finnish style. Outre-Tombe have a tremendously loud, frantic sound, with guitars cranked until they swallow like three-quarters of the mix with grinding decaying noise. Great/nasty Putrid cover art.
Deceased – Ghostly White
From November – Ghostly White sounds like Mercyful Fate if the King had settled on a gravely, throaty bark. Double-time thrash riffs and dick-out guitar leads are on the menu, all given a clattering, noisy, sort of shitty production job that fits perfectly.
Hooded Menace – Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed
From January – I’m 90% sure I didn’t write about this already, which is nuts because I’ve always rooted for Hooded Menace. Until 2015’s Darkness Drips Forth I think I liked their affectations more than their music, all the Eurohorror lifts and Hammer horror samples. Ossuarium is a massive leap forward, finely crafted, dense death-doom that sounds like it was recorded live to tape in some fucking dank crypt. The main riff in “Charnel Reflections” is the kind of quintessential lachrymose Gothic melody My Dying Bride made their name on, executed to utter perfection. My dramatic puffy-shirt-era-doom heart can’t possibly resist the allure.
Astrid Budgor is a writer and editor living in Florida.