Astrophobos – ‘Remnants Of Forgotten Horrors’ (Triumvirate)
Genre: Melodic Black Metala
Sweden’s Astrophobos play a mildly symphonic, melodic form of black metal. With the obvious exception of Watain, most of the other top tier bands in this genre, such as Naglfar or Necrophobic, have fallen out of favor recently as melodic black metal descended from Dissection has been creatively spent.
Astrophobos do nothing to reinvigorate a tired genre. Harsh vocals, fast riffs, and blastbeats combine with melody appearing in guitar solos and in slower passages, but the songwriting is typical and Remnants Of Forgotten Horrors becomes boring rather quickly.
Descend – ‘Wither’ (Inverse)
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Death metal with a progressive flair, Descend’s second album Witherrises high thanks to great musicianship and an unpredictable style. The drums don’t stick to one beat for long and the guitars twist their riffs and harmonize on solos. The band has no issues breaking into an acoustic jam in the middle of a song like “From Grace to Grave,” but these breaks never feel forced in.
That’s not to minimize how heavy most of this music is, though melody is usually not far away. Wither keeps the listener wondering what will come next, and that excitement is sustained throughout the hour-long running length.
Demilich – ’20th Adversary of Emptiness’ (Svart)
Genre: Technical Death Metal
The Finnish band Demilich only released one studio album back in 1993, but that record has been very influential. Now, everything the band has ever recorded has been collected as 20th Adversary of Emptiness.
Demilich combined technical death metal with progressive influences and deep gurgling vocals from Antti Boman. The seminal Nespithe has been remastered from newly discovered higher quality masters. The 2 CD, 29 song collection also includes four demos and three songs Demilich recorded during their 2006 comeback. This is a must own for fans of the band, and anyone interested in the history of tech death.
Descend Into Despair – ‘The Bearer Of All Storms’ (Domestic Genocide)
Domestic Genocide Records
Genre: Funeral Doom
With a band name like Descend Into Despair and a genre like funeral doom, you know there’s not going to be anything shiny or happy on the Romanian band’s full-length debut The Bearer Of All Storms.
As you’d expect, it’s bleak and atmsopheric, with tortured growling (and some melodic) vocals. The songs plod along at a glacial pace, but the production lacks the heft and bottom end to really pack a punch. The double disc is also really long, with the shortest of the 7 songs clocking in at over 8 minutes, and the longest nearly 18.