This is a monthly post where I share some love for new underground metal albums. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
I try to focus on recordings from the past two to three months, but I'll add ones that are older if I've just come across them and feel they're particularly worthwhile.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts on these and let me know which new albums you’re currently listening to.
(And be sure to check out last month's list here.)
(Discover more in my Death Metal / Brutal Death Metal playlist on Spotify)
Sentient Horror - Rites of Gore
Pretty much a perfect album top to bottom, this well-crafted collection of high-energy OSDM tracks really nails what I love about death metal. It often leans brutal but doesn’t forget to balance that with some groovy shit, memorable melodies, and a general sense of musicality that makes it really satisfying to just sit and listen to.
If you enjoy one song on here chances are you’ll enjoy ‘em all, but my personal favorites include “Obliteration of Souls,” “Rites of Gore,” “The Grave Is My Home,” and most of all, “Splitting Skulls.” I have no plans to do year-end lists, but if I did, this one would be on there.
Demonical - Mass Destroyer
My favorite death metal band going at the moment, Demonical manage to balance thrash underpinnings with touches of melodic death metal and still feel absolutely brutal. It's high-energy, epic music with some of the best production of any releases in the genre, and Mass Destroyer is among the best from the band to date.
This album rips open with one of the most explosive opening tracks ever conceived in "We Conquer the Throne" and never loses a step from there. And unlike many of their death metal contemporaries, Demonical isn't content to write the same song a dozen times and call it an album. The blistering speed and all-out aggression of tracks like "Dödsmarch" contrast perfectly with the carefully paced, epic songwriting of "Fallen Mountain" for an album that flows perfectly and invites numerous repeat listens.
200 Stab Wounds - Slave to the Scalpel
I stumbled across 200 Stab Wounds' Slave to the Scalpel this month and was instantly hooked. Totally savage, gore-themed death metal with inspired little touches that add a ton of personality. Unpredictable interludes and transitions along with production bits like the singer’s voice at the end of a verse suddenly descending into a digitized portal to hell really add nice flavor to this one. I get the sense the band approached this recording with a “fuck it, we do what we want” attitude, and the songs are all the better for it.
Slave to the Scalpel is a lot of fun to put on and let it rip all the way through, but I‘m particularly fond of “Tow Rope Around the Throat,” “Itty Bitty Pieces,” “Slave to the Scalpel,” and “Drilling Your Head.”
Fetal Blood Eagle - Indoctrinate
Sven De Caluwé, frontman for Aborted, launched not one but two new projects this year: Coffin Feeder and Fetal Blood Eagle. I'm sure the fellas in Fetal Blood Eagle would hate to hear this, but if you like Aborted, there's an extremely high chance you'll like Fetal Blood Eagle. Indoctrinate's style of brutal death metal pulls in elements of deathcore and tech-death, and though this album is generally less frenetic than Aborted's recent releases, it's still fully capable of double-bass beating you to death.
As always, Sven is immediately recognizable, and he delivers a terrific range of shrieks, grunts, and growls to keep the music feeling exciting over the course of a full album. Production quality is top notch, and there's enough meat on the bone to keep repeat listens engaging. Favorites for me include "Necromorphic Illumination," Devoid of Corrosive Form," and "Abortion Dumpster Overload."
(Discover more in my Thrash Metal / Speed Metal From the Depths playlist on Spotify)
Midnight - Let There Be Witchery
There is an extremely healthy realm of old school, underground thrash metal right now that isn't afraid to play with genre mashups, and Midnight is one of the best of the bunch at merging thrash and speed with distinctive other flavors – in this case black metal, rock and roll, and hardcore punk. The band's latest concoction is Let There Be Witchery, a rollicking, blasphemous listening experience that's stylistically aligned with its predecessors in the best possible way. It's evil and humorous in a self-knowing way that brings a ton of personality to the songs, and it sounds especially great at night.
My favorites include "Telepathic Nightmare," "In Sinful Secrecy," "Let There Be Sodomy," "Devil Virgin," and "Szex Witchery."
Tymo - The Art of a Maniac
There are some things I'll simply never get tired of in life. Vicious, old school thrash metal is one of those things, especially when it’s as good as Tymo’s The Art of a Maniac. This album is a relentless attack of throwback speed and thrash metal with a perfectly harsh vocal style and deeply satisfying production grit. The result sounds mean as hell and is the perfect go-to album any time I need a shot of metal adrenaline.
"Sanity Clause," "Estrogenocide," "Age of Deception," and "The Art of a Maniac" are among the solid slate of outstanding tracks on this one.
(Discover more in my NWOTHM playlist on Spotify)
Iron Fate - Crimson Messiah
Iron Fate’s first and previously only album, 2010’s Cast In Iron, was unlikely to land on anyone's radar as a great recording. But to the surprise of probably everyone who heard that release, the band has returned with a follow-up in Crimson Messiah that has all the creative spark, production polish, and songwriting sensibilities needed to separate itself from the pack.
And man, I'm hooked.
Crimson Messiah has so much old school authenticity behind it, it just feels like vintage heavy/power metal. I listen to “Malleus Maleficarum” and get serious King Diamond vibes, or play “Hellish Queen” and feel reminded of early Queensryche. Iron Fate is perfectly clear-headed about the intent and character of their music on this release, and the band has the technical chops to back it up.
There’s something special about seeing a group come back after such a long hiatus and deliver a totally unexpected hidden gem like this. Cheers to Iron Fate, here’s hoping this is the start of a new era for the band.
White Wizzard - Over the Top
Wait, didn't this album come out over a decade ago? Yes, but until recently, White Wizzard's early discography had completely vanished from the digital realm. So when it appeared on Spotify again recently for the first time in years I took it for a spin, and man, it felt just like hearing it for the first time.
White Wizzard has always had more of a lighthearted, feel-good vibe than many other NWOTHM bands and they were never at the top of my list of favorites. Maybe because it's springtime here or else my tastes have widened a bit, but revisiting the band's early releases has hit the sweet spot for me lately. Over the Top is rightfully beloved by fans, and with its release date all the back in 2010, it's one of the first polished and truly well-made contributions to the traditional metal revival.
"Over the Top," "40 Deuces," "High Roller," and "White Wizzard" are the standouts for me on this one. Word is the band is back together for the Nth time and working on new material, let's see if they can pull off an Iron-Fate-like comeback.
(Discover more in my Dungeon Synth / Medieval Fantasy playlist on Spotify)
Erang - Kingdom of Erang
Erang dropped a series of somewhat experimental, season-themed EPs this past month, and it compelled me to revisit the artist's burgeoning discography in hopes of finding more music in the style of the albums I love: 2014's Within the Land of My Imagination I Am the Only God and 2017's King of Nothing, Slave to No One . In doing so, I pulled up Kingdom of Erang and discovered a recording I enjoy not only as much as my other favorites from Erang, but as much as any other dungeon synth, period.
Kingdom of Erang often feels like the lost soundtrack to a '90s-era Squaresoft RPG, and it hits me with some insane nostalgia every time I play it. Even some of the song titles like "The Underwater Zeppelin Whale" seem to specifically recall elements of those games (ie flying a whale on the moon in Final Fantasy IV). This is such an incredibly varied and surprising release, and much like Ulk's new album I mentioned last month, it manages to be beautiful and tragically sad all at once.
The music is perfectly subtle and rewards repeat listens as much as any album I can remember. I've been playing Kingdom of Erang in the mornings this past month while I work on my art, and it just gets better each time I hear it.
I'm especially fond of "My Mother Moon," "The Underwater Zeppelin Whale," "Then the Mocked Price Became a Drunken Tyrant," "Where the Grey Legion Fell," and "Thirteen Runes Over the Gate of Kolm." A rare and precious gem of medieval fantasy music.
Buy Kingdom of Erang on Bandcamp
I'll be back next month with more new underground metal music. In the meantime, read full descriptions of my metal playlists and check out my other metal blog posts like the History of Heavy Metal. You can also follow me on Spotify to see what I'm currently listening to.