29 Jan 2014

Apocryfal - Ravens [Demo] (2012, Self-released)

In regards to death metal Finland is primarily known for the filthy, doom-laden kind, but Apocryfal from Jyväskylä go in the opposite direction. Featuring the classic lineup of 5 people - you guess their respective roles - 2012 saw the release of the band's first demo, one that had been underway for 3 years. The result? 3 songs that add up to 12 minutes all in all of full-throttle death metal.

The style on Ravens is hard to pinpoint. It's somewhere in the grim borderlands between decisively old school and shamelessly modern without leaning to heavily on either. Their sound is centered around heavy guitars and bass forming the core with sprawling 6-string melodies changing things up a bit every so often, once or twice leaning on some technical and blackened elements giving the demo a few ounces of variation. The rhythm section itself feels well-rehearsed with the drums forming a laudable basis for the rest of the instrumentation through a fast and modern approach. The guitars have the spirit of the early-to-mid 90's about them while at the same time augmenting the modernized sound of the vocals.

This brings me to my next point. When the vocals work and the singer is creaming his lungs out it sounds fine, but once or twice his superficial growls made me physically cringe because they sounded like weird groans painfully wrenched from the vocalist's throat. The vocals aren't as such bad, but they're just bland. Some more definition and vocal variation could really bring some depth to the Apocryfal demo that the smooth transitions that otherwise permeate the music can't do by themselves.

In the end Apocryfal sound like a band with lots to offer and a band that are sure of themselves. A certain feel of confidence imbues the demo and with good reason - The songs are well-crafted and it is a first effort worth being proud of compared to those of countless other bands. The production is a bit too compressed and as a result lacks the kind of punch and definition a wider sound spectrum would give, but in the grand scheme of things it's a small thing. 7/10 guitars.

1. Dark Matter
2. Ravens
3. The Script

Visit APOCRYFAL on Facebook

23 Jan 2014

Apocryphal - Embrace of Death [Demo] (2013, Hammer of Death)

Self-proclaimed death/doom duo Apocryphal hail from Arizona in the US. Spayd and Polingyowma, the band's driving forces, have undertaken a task of making doom-laden death metal in a simple, back to the roots way. This has produced one demo, Embrace of Death, released in March 2013. Right off the bat the artwork looks killer, with some hapless zombie-victim puking gore and rip and tearing his own guts. The cover is pretty simple and gets the message across.

The music reflects the cover's concept in the way that it's elementary with absolutely nothing but the most fundamental and necessary present within it. The basic needs of death metal are met with a simple compound of growled vocals, d-beats and guitars ranging from slowly paced chugs to deep tremolos. However, this is where the similarities between Apocryphal and the old school of death metal end.

I don't think anyone would claim that death metal has to be a cornucopia of technicality or progressive ideas. It began as something simple in the 80's, and many bands have since kept it that way to great effect. Hell, some would claim there are entire regional scenes built around simplicity and going back to basics. But these bands always have something else to make their music interesting; Atmosphere, heaviness, melody, sound, whatever. But Apocryphal's first demo does not have anything. It's completely undistinguishable death metal. The songs are simply too lacklustre and dull to justify being so simple. There are definitely some really cool deep tremolos on there, but it's like they never amount to anything, with the effects just kind of dying out before anything else happens. The duo seem to not fully grasp how to utilize built up momentum in no small part due to the poorly timed drums, and as such the tame drum rolls just sort of becomes the instrument of the melody's demise.

There is an obvious lack of musical foresight - Everyone knows the feeling when you're listening to a great song and you can almost feel how the track is going to progress, but Embrace of Death is either much too obvious or not obvious enough. When they switch from one part to the next it doesn't quite have that feeling of natural progression. It's shoehorned into the death/doom tag to try to justify its lack of pacing, but death/doom doesn't necessarily have to be slow and boring. Another thing I don't get is the half-time cymbal hits that permeate the drumming of Apocryphal. Apparently this is becoming a thing, and it can bring some much needed variation to bands that only do blastbeats or d-beats, but when it's all the time I lose interest FAST. 4/10 guitars.

1. Oxidized Flesh
2. Bane of Essence
3. Dissolution in the Midst of Solitude

Visit APOCRYPHAL on Facebook
Visit their Bandcamp and download the demo HERE

18 Jan 2014

Sathanas Urine - Everything You Need To Know About Witchcraft [Demo] (2013, Dipsomaniac Records)

From the very beginning of black metal the quest for the ultimate rush of aggression, pugnacity and offense has always been a driving force within the scene. From the scenic Veneto region in northeastern Italy comes Sathanas Urine, a group supposedly consisting of 5 members, true to that offensive nature of black metal, taking the style to the outmost reaches of "music" with their anarchic, cacophonous approach to the genre on their latest demo release, "Everything You Need To Know About Witchcraft".

The Italian band greets you with a friendly punch in the dick. Droning noise, riffs distorted beyond recognition and vocals screamed from beyond the grave assail your ears at every twist and turn as you mentally fight your way through the demo. By now they've established that the harsh discord of Sathanas Urine is their main attribute and characteristic, and the pursuit of music as jarringly horrid as possible seems to take precedence over the actual enjoyment of the music.

Black metal can absolutely be offensive and abrassively hideous and still be enjoyable. Void Meditation Cult and Culte des Ghoules have it down to an art form to make it as repetitive and groaning as humanly possible, but they do it with taste. The riffing and composure of their material is sufficiently original and innovative to support that form, but to hold Sathanas Urine to the standards of the afforementioned bands seems just embarrassing. Ever listened to obscure live rehearsal 90's bootleg recordings of Gorgoroth? This is kind of like that, only infinitely worse. 

On some tracks, Dead Men Bones Devourer in particular, their ideas shine through the irksome cacophony of their droning sound, and once in a while there's a thing or two that under other circumstances would be okay, but Everything You Need To Know About Witchcraft doesn't meet any of the criteria for listenable music. It's loathsome and repetitive to the extreme. I would consider the ability to find this to be good music a superpower.

Judging from the cover art I can't imagine that Sathanas Urine can possibly be serious, but then again they might be, and that almost frightens me. According to the band's profile on Metal Archives Sathanas Urine consists of 5 members, which I find very hard to believe. For one person to find pleasure in sucking this much is one thing, but for 5 people to get together and circle jerk around this abomination? Count me out. 1/10 guitars.

1. Starkblast
2. The Goblin Spell
3. The Frozen Wizard
4. Dead Men Bones Devourer
5. A New Horizon
6. An Ode to the Side of Darkness

Should you choose to torment yourself, listening for yourself would be a great place to start. The demo can be downloaded for free HERE

14 Jan 2014

Tormentstorm - Into the Ominous Door [Full length] (2013, No Sleep Till Megiddo Records)

Up From the Grave was released in 2012 as the first demo from one-man black-thrash project Tormentstorm, paying tribute to the greats of the genre through a misbegotten mess of guitars, vocals, bass and drums. The demo was poorly received because it was poorly conceived. In mid 2013 the second release was ready, entitled Into the Ominous Door.

When I reviewed Up From the Grave I thought to myself that surely Malice could not be serious. He was. And on Into the Ominous Door he shows us why. If nothing else, this second release is at least a tremendous improvement over the first demo. The riffs have structure and the production and songwriting is infinitely better, and better still is the musicianship of Malice. The melodies and arrangements is kept simple, and several bands have proven this to be as good an approach as any, and truly it feels like this is where Tormentstorm is at home.

The rhythm department is where things take a turn for the worse. Unfortunately the drums and bass (if there is any) are nothing but a faint whisper in the shadow of the shredding guitars, and the vocals too are overpowered by the sound of the strings. The full length still holds little merrit because the drums aren't loud enough to properly drive the songs forward and the vocals are too inaudible to create the sense of recognition, depth and variation that the album so desperately craves. The riffs themselves are pretty varied for a black-thrash album, but can't in themselves justify having multiple songs in excess of 6 minutes.

The thing is that it seems like a lot of wasted effort and potential. The riffs and compositions are good enough to warrant more attention and a higher quality. This album could actually be really good if the drums and vocals were held to the same standard that the guitars are. The simple style fits Tormentstorm well, but if you're gonna go simple you have to go all the way and get all the details right. 5/10 guitars

1. Bestial Storm
2. The Elder Seal
3. Morbid Rites
4. Barbaric Overthrow
5. Onslaught of Steel
6. Plunging the Dagger
7. Throne of Sadism
8. Nocturnal Mistress

Visit Tormentstorm on Facebook
Visit No Sleep Till Megiddo Records' website

Please leave a comment here on the blog - Tell me what you're thinking, and feel free to share if you want to support underground metal!

11 Jan 2014

2013, Part V: Honorable Mentions and Runner-Ups

For the past couple of years I've done top 10's as well as some other stuff in one long post. This form just isn't very easy on the eyes, so this year I've decided to split the end-year post into 5 parts, which are as follows:

Part I: Stuff I Missed in 2012
Part II: Disappointments of 2013
Part III: Top 10 - Non-metal
Part IV: Top 10 - Metal
Part V: Honorable Mentions & Runner-Ups

Part V: Honorable Mentions and Runner-Ups
These are the albums that were hardest for me to exclude from the 2013 top 10. All these bands and albums represent something that many other groups lack, and these albums - like the ones on the top 10 - are noteworthy in their own right.

Abyssous - ...Smouldering
If Cannibal Corpse had made Pleasure to Kill, this is what it would've sounded like. ...Smouldering is a spectrum of old school death metal with the expression and aesthetics of teutonic thrash metal. Centered around the thrashiness of the riffs, the album is set in both fast and slower paces, allowing both the thrashiest and the most death metal-infused parts to become prominent. This ambiguity is one of the strongest points of the young German band and goes to show that the Germans have become a vital part of the international death metal scene these last couple of years. Though ...Smouldering isn't an album as such, it feels like one. The release compiles the demo of the same name from 2012 and four new tracks in the same style. The fact that the songs were likely written and recorded at different times doesn't show, and this in itself is a feat. Abyssous captures the feeling of old school extreme metal without its sloppiness and has impressive production values to go with it. A band well worth keeping an eye on.

Altars - Paramnesia
I mentioned in my review of Abyssal's new album in the Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013 that Portal must yield to the force of newer bands. Altars is such a band. Hailing from the same country as their lovecraftian brethren, Altars' sound is predominantly death metal with trips to the edges of experimental territory, much like Portal. But Paramnesia, Altars'debut album, is a variant of the Portal sound, focusing more on old school death metal song structures. You easily become engulfed in the fiery, hellish sound of Altars' cavernously grizzly vocals and the powerful guitar sound underlined by the kicks and hisses of the drums. Paramnesia is as immersive as you could possibly want for a dark, experimental death metal album such as this, and it practically drips with abundant corruption and decay. The vocal department is wonderfully articulate, forming each word in perfect conjunction with the ponderous roars of the guitar. The sounds of Paramnesia fill every gap and void with forceful tones of death.

Argus - Beyond the Martyrs
I had been looking forward to another Argus album since I heard Boldly Stride the Doomed from 2011, and out of nowhere dropped Beyond the Martyrs, which - true to the Argus way - delivers a number of powerful doom-laden modern heavy metal anthems, courtesy of the guitarist's innovative riffing and the vocalist's epic vocals. It seems every singer in metal nowadays does growls, grunts, shrieks, screams or something to that effect, and as such the powerful vocals on Beyond the Martyrs is a breath of fresh air. Like the previous album Beyond the Martyrs provides varied songwriting with lots of detailed work which speaks volumes of the band's musicianship, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The band is by any standard at the top of their game three albums into their carreer. Fans of Slough Feg, Dawnbringer and Grand Magus, heed the call of Argus.

Cultes des Ghoules - Henbane
Some would say Henbane is a product of poor musicianship, but I would rather see it as a comment on modern metal. Cultes des Ghoules go back to the very roots of the genre and create an abomination, any sound engineer's worst nightmare, with galling strings, battery from hell and vocals gargled forth with nothing but contempt driving it forward. This is not art, and nor does it pretend to be. The Polish band takes delight in a wonderfully unceremonious approach to the genre, which in their pursuit to be as abrassive and offensive to all five senses as possible ends up with a grizzly cavalcade of several highly original riffs. They will drag you through the mud, chastise you and leave you to rot.

Denouncement Pyre - Almighty Arcanum
The Australian formula for thrashing, gritty extreme metal is really something. Denouncement Pyre is closely related to Nocturnal Graves and other prominent Oz bands, and indeed the two bands have been around for an equal amount of time. 2013 saw the release of both bands' second album, and both are ferocious in their own right. You want to slow down? Too bad. Almighty Arcanum isn't quite as staccato as From the Bloodline of Cain, and the riffs are centered more around atmosphere rather than catchiness with the black metal influence weighing in more heavily, but they are equals in terms of speed and brutality.

Impalers - Power Behind the Throne
Remember when Kreator was fast as fuck? Impalers remember. With German thrash classics in mind the Danish group have created a thrashing mammoth of an album with riffs and d-beats at break-neck speeds and the crispiest production this side of the Equator. Power Behind the Throne is as well-crafted as they come. In terms of musicianship the band's debut album may not be virtuosic or completely avant-garde, but there can be no doubt of their skills in handling their instruments at commendable speeds or their ability to forge enjoyable thrash songs. Memorability is at the very core of Power Behind the Throne and as such the album doesn't need to be enjoyed in its entirety. Tracks such as Nuclear Nights and Army of Darkness stand well on their own, and in fact the only thing I could wish for in any future Impalers albums would be for them to mix things up a bit. True, When the World Hungers is a bit out of the usual Impalers tune, but there is room for more variation in composition without compromising their easily distinguishable sound.

Inter Arma - Sky Burial
The band from Richmond has been compared to Neurosis and other notable groups, but they are entirely their own. I had come upon them by accident whilst looking for a band called Sky Burial, the same as their newest album. Though I didn't get what I was looking for, I wasn't disappointed. Inter Arma's latest album presents a force of sludgey riffs dragging through towering black metal blast beats and bleak ambience to go with it. Sky Burial is an enveloping, all-consuming trip through blackened metal landscapes with a number of detours into vast expanses of southern-tinged stonery sludge metal. The album is a bit long at about 1 hour and 7 minutes, but it's an hour well spent.

Intöxicated - Rock n Roll Hellpatrol
Engaging and enthusiastic songwriting in the name of sex, drugs and speed metal is the essence of German newcomers Intöxicated. It might not come as a surprise, but Rock n Roll Hellpatröl essentially sounds like Motörhead engaging in fisticuffs with Gehennah under the influence of hard liquor. Intöxicated isn't gifted with the deepest of lyrics, nor is the music particularly original in that way. But they're not trying to reinvent anything, and the result is a liberating, enjoyable speed metal album with balls. So lock up your daughters, put on some slutanic speedmetal and crush your local disco to the sounds of Intöxicated.

Satan - Life Sentence
1983's Court in the Act is by many considered a NWOBHM gem, and the later albums of Satan are also held in high regard. But non but the best may be compared to Life Sentence from 2013, 30 years from the band's album debut. A comeback album of sorts, Life Sentence ranks up there with the best of its kind. For a 2013 heavy metal album it's completely ingenious. It's got everything you could ever want, from crispy, catchy guitars, andpowerfully soaring vocals to noteworthy choruses. Life Sentence has the same weird songwriting style that Satan has always had, and it serves to underline that Satan are unique. They have aged significantly better than many of their fellow NWOBHM bands, and time has honed their skills. Life Sentence is a cornucopia of awesome heavy metal, and I mean awesome in the literal sense of the word.

Spektr - Cypher
I first got acquainted with Spektr through their debut "Et Fugit Intera Fugit Irreparabile Tempus" and then kind of forgot about the French band until they released Cypher in 2013. Et Fugit wasn't exactly a gem of industrial black metal, but moderately enjoyable in some aspects. With Cypher, Spektr have returned after a 5 year recordless stretch, and they return victorious. The latest album is strangely bizarre and much more well-written than their previous efforts with its alien, paranoid atmosphere achieved through excessive programming and sampling as well as aggressive blackened metal riffs. The album is primarily instrumental, which fits the style very well. The ambient parts of Cypher are the weakest points but serves well for bringing focus to the cold glory of the black metal elements.

2 Jan 2014

2013, Part IV: Top 10 - Metal

For the past couple of years I've done top 10's as well as some other stuff in one long post. This form just isn't very easy on the eyes, so this year I've decided to split the end-year post into 5 parts, which are as follows:

Part I: Stuff I Missed in 2012
Part II: Disappointments of 2013
Part III: Top 10 - Non-metal
Part IV: Top 10 - Metal
Part V: Honorable Mentions & Runner-Ups

Part IV: Top 10 - Metal
2013 has been an incredible year for metal. The previous years it was at times almost a struggle to come up with the most worthwhile albums, and many established bands ended up disappointing with their latest efforts. This year I found it incredibly tough to narrow my choices down to 10 of the best albums. Quebec surprised with a ton of awesome new black metal releases from bands like Gris, Neige Éternelle, Monarque and Sombres Fôrets, and several old timers in metal marked their return to the scene with albums of surprising quality - Most notable of which are, of course, Carcass, Gorguts and Black Sabbath. Suffice it to say there's something for everyone.

10: Slaughtbbath - Hail to Fire
When a Chilean band like Slaughtbbath slave ever onward, working on new black metal material to wreck your ears, and it culminates in one album 10 years after the first offering, you should know you're in for a treat. The Chilean trio bid you to open your eyes so that you may see the true face of Satan with unhinged black metal that chaotically encompasses the feelings and atmospheres of both the Scandinavian and the South American scenes, and is the product of decades of musical evolution, ruled by bands like Bestial Mockery, Angelcorpse, Blasphemy and Bestial Warlust. True to the blasting temperaments of bestial black metal bands, Slaughtbbath is a tempestuous acquaintance with the fierce drumming almost getting out of hand while the dense guitar tone threatens to blow your speakers in a torrent of black metal of death. A convincing and surprising effort indeed!

9: Defeated Sanity - Passages Into Deformity
Defeated Sanity have steadily released album upon album of great brutal death metal. With the band's fourth album they deliver exactly what you have come to expect from them: The heaviest of brutal death metal. And with Passages Into Deformity they cement their place among the heaviest of todays bands. It's about gurgling vocals, guitars tuned lower than low, blast beats and wicked bass-lines, and that's what Defeated Sanity have always been about. The newest album epitomizes their earlier efforts, and that's exactly why it's so great. Catchy songwriting and brutal death metal are often seen as direct opposites (though originators like Suffocation or Dying Fetus have always had their fair share of hooks), but on Passages Into Deformity there's only malformed, misshapen and grotesque guitars and bass-lines, all of which make the album a memorable experience of magnitude barely contained within the confines of vinyl or CD.

8: Enforcer - Death By Fire
This last decade or so heavy and speed metal have once again taken control of the black masses with many Swedish groups leading the assault with Exciter and Judas Priest worship. Enforcer have since the release of the hugely successful Into the Night debut in 2008 been one of the most prominent bands within the movement, and with good reason. Every album so far has featured several incredibly memorable songs from the hands of the Wikstrand brothers, and with Death By Fire they aren't about to break traditions. There's nothing new under the sun, and Enforcer are sticking with what works, for better or worse. Into the Night brought us Black Angel, Diamonds gave us Nightmares, and like those modern classics Death By Fire has spawned an instant classics, namely Take Me Out of This Nightmare, as well as several other memorable songs. Unlike the bands Enforcer worship their music has taken on a more clear sound which, I admit, fits really well and provides the album with a measure of power that makes it a towering monolith of 9 speed metal tracks that many similar bands can't quite procure.

7: Abyssal - Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius
Portal arguably stands at the very forefront of the recent wave of Incantation-inspired death metal bands relying on a cavernous, esoteric sound, and while Vexovoid (Portal's newest album for those of you living under a rock) did deliver just that, they must now give way to newer bands. Abyssal arguably have a much more black metal-oriented sound, but the music calls forth the same awful feelings of dread and panic. On Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius, the band's second album, we are treated to blackened metal chords segueing into droning, funeralesque doom riffs, once or twice embarking on an adventurous journey into yet more experimental territories, exploring fusionesque time signatures. Even when Abyssal are feeling adventurous the music itself is filled with purpose and a sense of direction that is indeed laudable for a band in this niche of a genre. The British band know how to express themselves in shuddersome phrases aided by an incredibly focussed and powerful execution.

6: Katalepsy - Autopsychosis
Russia is home to a whole lot of slam bands, most well known of which is probably Abominable Putridity who reinvented themselves with a more technical approach to an otherwise simple genre last year with their sophomore album "The Anomalies of Artificial Origin". This year their countrymen in Katalepsy ditto Abominable Putridity's move and have evolved from simplistic brutal death metal to technically apt death metal with an intrinsic amount of well-placed and daring slams. Katalepsy have undergone several vital line-up changes over the years - So many, in fact, that no original members remain - and this has resulted in the new blood taking the band to the next step, and they have finally found a sound and style that is definitely KATALEPSY. They're obviously a tight-knit group of musicians resulting in some seriously thrilling and electrifying songs. I have often seen bands within the genre succumb to boring and repetitive songwriting, simply because their style don't hold up all that well on an entire album, but the Russians have gotten it down to an art form to keep things fresh by switching from traditional brutal death, to slam, to tech-death and back again in a fashion that doesn't come off as forced.

5: Inquisition - Obscure Verses of the Multiverse
The Colombian band has distilled and refined their songwriting to create a black metal album very close to absolute perfection with their trademark songwriting and sound. Some may even argue that the fact that Inquisition delivered a stupendous album was a given, and on the Colombian (now based in Seattle, USA) band's sixth album there is no sketching and no vagueness. Obscure Verses of the Multiverse shows a band sure of themselves and their songwriting formular, and as a result thereof the album feels like a seamless whole, a finished product with amazing depth. When the dark chords transition into sinister tremolos, thereafter progressing into their mutated take on traditional black metal, one can clearly hear that this is where Inquisition's songwriting comes into its own. Focusing on an empyrean and cosmic aspects has always been one of the main strengths of Inquisition, and the latest album is a product of their sound being the hands down most recognizable in modern black metal.

4: Beyond - Fatal Power of Death
In my experience top 10s often end up having a large number of new releases by older, or at the very least previously known, bands. But we must not forget that new bands joining the field of battle often brings to the tabel the freshest ideas! The keyword with Beyond from Germany is intensity. You take equal amounts of Possessed and Morbid Angel, then add an unhealthy amount of European filth and a dash of black metal, and you get Fatal Power of Death. Beyond is death metal to the core, covered with a layer of black metal aesthetics, and vice versa. The German band's debut moves from the realms of high-speed blast beats and dense blackened death metal riffing with raw, reverbed vocals Fatal Power of Death into slowed down thrashier interludes with deeper growls and back again. These paces are what power the album, and the whole thing boils over from pure energy and enthusiasm, just as I do whilst listening. All the parts that make up Beyond's sound are there to underline the ruthlessness of the rest, and this is exactly why debuts are often more exciting.

3: Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness
The last couple of years have been turbulent for TH mastermind Joel Grind with him having several releases reissued, touring the world with Toxic Holocaust, and writing new material for his solo project. Presumably this means there's a lot of hit and miss involved, and it seems funny that the same man can produce one of the most disappointing and one of the best albums the same year. The new Toxic Holocaust is a true return to form - Chemistry of Consciousness has the balls that Conjure & Command lacked and sounds more like a follow up to An Overdose of Death, expanding on the expression and sound of that album like An Overdose did with Hell On Earth. Chemistry of Consciousness is raw, fast paced, powerful, balls to the wall, crispy, filthy, punked up thrash metal, just the way we like it.

2: Nocturnal Graves - From the Bloodline of Cain
Connoisseurs of the fine arts of blackened thrash metal will nod appreciatively at the mention of Nocturnal Grave's 2007 album "Satan's Cross". Since 2004 they've been giving Desaster and Deströyer 666 a run for their figurative money (because everyone should know that playing in a black/thrash band is the shittiest get-rich-quick schemes in existence). Naysayers will judgmentally call them a "super group" because of their shared members from Denouncement Pyre (who also released a worthwhile album in 2013), Razor of Occam and Deströyer 666 among others, and the return of Nocturnal Graves does indeed see Shrapnel, previously of D666 fame, added to the line-up. From the Bloodline of Cain has the band focusing on brutal songwriting instead of trying to be different or innovative. The Conqueror's Flame features some of the most ruthless riffing in modern metal, the guitars have edge, the production has balls. Nocturnal Graves' new album is barely a half an hour of confrontational attitude, and it's fucking great.

1: Devil - Gather the Sinners

The time has come to gathe the sinners and to repent yet again. Go nuts or sit back and relax to the warm 70's sound of Devil's fuzzy doom melodies. Forsake the antics of modern metal and let yourself become bewitched by their occult tunes. Gather the Sinners is a refreshingly unpretentious, unceremonious mix of traditional heavy metal and old school doom metal - Straight back to the very roots of metal with equal parts Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Lucifer's Friend, Sir Lord Baltimore, Black Sabbath and Pentagram! With riffs so traditional it's almost innovative, Devil's newest album is a worthy follow up to the equally timeless debut Time to Repent. The album is equal parts awkward vocal melodies and voluptuous guitars and bass and is as self-indulgent as it is expressional. An album of the year if I ever heard one, Gather the Sinners will live on forever as a masterpiece of mesmerizing doom.

Which albums were your favourites this year? Leave your choices in the comment section below