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 or three months, but I'll add ones that are older if I've just come across them and I'm particularly excited about them.
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.)
Protector - Excessive Outburst of Depravity
Protector put out their first lo-fi blackened thrash offering all the way back in 1987, and more recently, they've kept the fire burning with a series of new albums since 2013. Releases in this style from veteran bands tend to be missing a certain spark for me, but Excessive Outburst of Depravity completely defied my expectations with a sound that's fresh, inspired, and mean as hell. It's been a joy to dive into this one since its release at the start of the month, as it is loaded with gritty, high-energy black-thrash with distinctly ominous overtones.
The quality of this one is consistently high from start to finish, though I actually feel the album hits many of its best moments in the back half. I almost literally have every song on the album favorited, but "Pandemic Misery," "Open Skies and Endless Seas," "Perpetual Blood Oath," "Cleithrobia," "Shackled by Control Control," and "Morse Mania," are among the nearly wall-to-wall highlights for me on this one.
Traitor - Exiled to the Surface
Traitor proudly continues the legacy of Teutonic thrash with a vicious, relentlessly fast old school approach, and their latest album, Exiled to the Surface, is easily my favorite release from them to date. This is a polished production loaded with technically exceptional tracks, and it's impressive to hear how the band's skill and songwriting continues to progress on each new recording.
Much like the new Destruction album I mentioned last month, Exiled to the Surface likely won't win awards for innovation, but if you love this stuff as much as I do, you won't care. Favorites for me include "Zordrak," "Metroid," "Space Seed," and the collaboration with Sodom on "Total Thrash." Oh, bonus points for tackling a thrash cover of George Michael's "Careless Whisper."
Vicious Blade - Siege of Cruelty
It took a decade, but Spotify's algorithm has finally begun to give me accurate metal recommendations. So, cheers to the platform for suggesting I listen to Vicious Blade's ear-shredding new EP, Siege of Cruelty. Creatively, this one falls into a niche but surprisingly vast camp of lo-fi thrash blended with black metal and hardcore punk that I've been obsessed with in recent years. I love how raw and ferocious this EP sounds, and the singer shifting out of her guttural snarls into shouted, punk-style vocals adds some excellent flavor to the band's genre stew.
No favorites for me on this one, this whole EP kicks ass.
(Discover more in my Death Metal / Brutal Death Metal playlist on Spotify)
Paganizer - Beyond the Macabre
Paganizer is low-key one of the best OSDM bands in the world right now. Their music is such a pure expression and celebration of classic death metal, and it's infused with exactly the right amount of doom-flavored, crypt-like atmosphere for me. The band disregards the trend toward highly polished, technical offerings popular in modern death metal, and Beyond the Macabre instead delivers 10 gritty tracks of wall-to-wall audio gore, balancing high-energy assaults and blazing guitar solos with punishing breakdowns. The vocals also strike a perfect balance between deep, guttural growls and shrieks that sound like they're stretching out across The Void.
Favorites for me include "Left Behind to Rot," "Sleepwalker," "Raving Rhymes of Rot," and "You Are What You Devour." That said, it's really worth lighting a torch and venturing deep into the depths of this one to hear everything it has to offer.
Organectomy - Nail Below Nail
It's still a little hard for me to understand what I love so much about slamming brutal death metal, as it strips out most of the melody in the instrumentation and nuance in the vocals, things I normally love about death metal. And yet there's something incredibly addictive about letting this music pulverize my brain for a couple hours. Organectomy's Nail Below Nail is my latest go-to favorite for audio lobotomization, and its 45-minute running time is packed with satisfyingly hefty creations that work equally well for workouts or concentrated listening sessions.
"Cult of Excess," "The Third Mutation," "Entrapped Savagery" and "Coerced through Submersion" are among the many highlights for me here.
Buy Nail Below Nail on Bandcamp
Blizzard Hunter - The Path of Triumph
Happily disregarding the modern trend of releasing a million singles before an album drop, Blizzard Hunter just unveiled a gorgeous full-length album with only one advance single, and I have been absolutely blissed out exploring it this past week. Blizzard Hunter's held a place in my heart since their debut Heavy Metal to the Vein back in 2015 (seven years ago?!) and The Path to Triumph reflects an amazing amount of growth on the part of the band, both creatively and in terms of their technical skills.
Surprisingly, this album shifts away from NWOTHM and tacks a bit closer to old school European power metal with plenty of high-speed verse sections and big, melodic choruses, all wrapped in a notably grand sense of songwriting. On "The Last Time," the band even packed in a true ballad, an oddly persistent staple of classic Euro power metal.
The Path of Triumph is a remarkably well written album with plenty of deep, enjoyable tracks that get better across repeat listens. I don't even want to play favorites, this album is such a joy to put on and play all the way through. If you're a fan of '80s heavy metal or especially European power metal circa late '80s to early '00s, The Path of Triumph should really hit the sweet spot for you. It certainly has for me.
(Discover more in my Dungeon Synth / Medieval Fantasy playlist on Spotify)
Sequestered Keep - Sorcerous Steel
Sequestered Keep's latest effort somehow slipped past me when it was released back in mid-March, and I'm just now catching up on the glory that is Sorcerous Steel. It is absolutely stunning to hear how much this artist has progressed from the project's early, lo-fi creations. The intricate melodies, wonderfully diverse instrument choices, and inspired songwriting touches on Sorcerous Steel are light years from the project's beginnings, but they're even a remarkable evolution from the more recent, highly enjoyable offerings on Might of an Ancient Tale or Wandering Far.
Gone is the dedication to old school dungeon synth ensconced in a persistent synth drone. Sequestered Keep has transformed the music into a rich assortment of medieval folk-flavored creations, each with its own personality and unique moments with no parallels elsewhere on the album. That commitment to making each song special represents a real time commitment and thoughtfulness to the craft that is nearly nonexistent within dungeon synth and its various subgenres (and honestly, music in general.)
The uniqueness of each track makes it easy to revel in the lead on "The Parapet Rambler" or the medieval chiptune interludes on "Lord of Baubles" and "Morningstar Juggler Troupe." These unrepeated production choices combined with consistently beautiful melodies and cerebral songwriting shifts make Sorcerous Steel a rare and valuable treasure of medieval fantasy music.
Spellbound Mire - Spellbound Mire
The debut album from Spellbound Mire took a few spins for me to fully appreciate, as there's a distinct subtlety and minimalist approach to the songwriting that provides more of a slow burn over instant gratification. Patience, however, revealed a positively mystical album with a real sense of world-building, wrapped up and presented with some beautifully lo-fi production choices.
It's remarkable how much my enjoyment of dungeon synth music often distills down to vibe and atmosphere, and Spellbound Mire excels in crafting immersive audio environments to sink into. By the nature of this album, it's difficult to recommend single tracks to dive into, but if you're looking for an entry point, I'm particularly fond of "Dryad of the Great Revel," "Mildew and Decay," and "Arboreal Medlodies."
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.