Eritherium – If You Feel It’s Presence

This is absolutely a masterpiece that never was. The album itself is just fantastic early Opeth worship, done better than Opeth themselves. It’s not a riff cereal, every song is constructed beautifully, the length isn’t overbearing because of how enjoyable every song is, the math rocky guitars are a superb add on, everything about this is absolutely wonderful and in most circumstances would be an AOTY contender. The problem is the production is an absolutely disaster that is hard to overlook. It’s just a simple matter of the equipment used to record this was utter trash, so everything is muddled and the music has 1/3rd of the impact it should have. Prog death like this NEEDS to be clean in order to work, and these guys simply weren’t able to deliver on that front. This could be a fucking amazing band if they just get good equipment, because that is actually all they need to be one of the top notch prog death bands around. They have all the tools to be great, except the ones needed to record the music.


Beldam – Still the Wretched Linger

This is absolutely the heaviest, rawest, most punishing sludge album I’ve heard this year. This isn’t purely heavy like Sumac, this has a kind of sloppiness (sometimes to a fault), chaotic, and evil kind of heaviness that you just don’t see out of sludge in the modern day. But it maintains enough different textures to keep you interested with tracks like Her Unbearing Abyss. It gives you these somber, yet ominous soft textures that constantly have you guessing as to where the album is going to go next. If Inter Arma didn’t release a near masterpiece, this would be sludge AOTY easily. It’s certainly the best non atmo sluge album this year however, and I hope other bands follow in it’s footsteps of bringin back nasty, aggressive sludge, that also has a bit of a brain to it.


Eneferens – The Inward Cold

Supremely beautiful. This is one of the rare times where elements of romanticized blackgaze helps the music rather than ruins it. The floating beauty of the blackgaze riffs is grounded by the harsh vocaled doom metal (not quite death doom). It’s like natural beauty being thrown to the ground by crushing reality. It’s a great mix that I was very skeptical of, but it’s pulled off well here. This is way too damn short, but what you do get is a unique bit of atmo black from an area not known for any kind of extreme metal at all (Montana). Awesome work, hope this solo project produces more.


Mass Deception – Revelations

Really solid thrash metal debut. Mass Deception uses this heavy, slower, and at times almost atmospheric style of thrash where the riffs don’t go as fast, but they hit much harder. The various samples throughout the album add some flavor of governmental paranoia, as well as lots of humor (LOVED the chew bubble gum and kick ass sample, got a big kick out of that). I feel like it unnecessarily trades some of it’s sticking power for heaviness. I think a bit more speed would’ve gotten me more in that thrashy mood. Unslaved is a fantastic track, and fitting of the longest track on the album. Though it’s disappointing that Criminally Insane (basically a throwaway track) follows, and Ancient Days (an almost entirely acoustic track) feels just out of place and pointless. Really, you could’ve just removed Ancient Days and this would’ve been an 8 easily. This is still very well done however, these guys should be proud they put together such a solid debut in a genre lacking solid music.


Sumac – What One Becomes

They’re back and better than ever. Sumac got heavier and added more nuance to their music, creating this mathy sludge monster with a truly unique guitar tone and atmosphere that separates themselves from any other atmo sludge band around. I have to take points off for how much of a massive disappointment Blackout was. Didn’t go anywhere, felt like a long waste of my time, especially compared to how awesome the rest of the tracks were. Other than that, this was a step up from their last effort, which I also loved. Gonna be interesting to see where this band goes, I have a feeling these guys could change the game.


Divine Weep – Tears of Ages

Really nice balance between being melodic, and rhythmically moving. A lot of power metal albums seem to just focus so much on one or the other, instead of doing both well. You’ll either have something like Galneryus (though I wouldn’t say that’s really a bad thing) or you’ll have some random chug prog band that gets praised because they use folk instruments one time on the album. This has a nice mix of both. You can hear the influences of when this band used to be a black metal band on tracks like The Mentor. The type of riffs they use sound a bit like slowed down black-thrash riffs in a way. This is nothing absolutely amazing, but still very decent power metal without a single bad track on the album, if nothing really spectacular.


Donggripper – Immeasurably Bummed

If you ever just want to have heavy, fuzzy, riffy metal, with none of the other bullshit that comes with it, this is the album for you. Donggripper doesn’t do anything fancy, or add anything necessarily unique, or create anything you haven’t heard before. But damn they know how to make some good heavy fuzz. I wouldn’t even say it’s that riffy honestly, the riffs themselves are not amazing, but those dirty, fuzzy chugs get me every time. This band has got their sound down, and I hope they keep it up. If they can maybe add some vocals (not too much, just enough to add some textural variety) this’ll be a band to look out for. I can’t really score this super high because of how one dimensional it is, but I’ve always said that I’m fine with one dimensional if you’re one dimensionally superb.