A lot of good death metal came out this year. In the last six months, it has become an outright deluge, and Ferrous Beuller and I have doggy-paddled through it, coughing and sputtering and generally being overwhelmed. But even if great albums were few, enough good albums came out—and got passed over—that we’re in dire need of a recap. In fact, the need is so dire that we can’t hope to cover it all ourselves. So Ferrous and I extended an offer to the less brutal members of the staff to contribute to this unholy, scraped-together parade of putridity.1 Their recommendations, found here, have been edited for basic decency. –Kronos


De Profundis - The Blinding Light of FaithDe Profundis // The Blinding Light of Faith — I never fail to biff on De Profundis records. I loved, but didn’t review, 2012’s The Emptiness Within. In 2015, I missed on the solid Kingdom of the Blind, but it at least got onto my list. Now in 2018, May came and went without The Blinding Light of Faith receiving a review or the Record o’ the Month spot that it deserved. Yet unheralded, these British melodic and/or blackened death metallers continue to knock out high quality releases. From start to finish, The Blinding Light of Faith grinds along with sharp riffs, catchy hooks and a driven sound that reminds me of a mix between classic Floridian and Gothenburg death metal. This album is written about fundamentalism and as such the Deathy feel and progressive touches—like the jazzy fretless solo in “Opiate for the Masses”—feels both like an homage and somehow fresh. The Blinding Light of Faith stands out for being littered with stellar tracks—especially “Obsidian Spires,”2 “Opiate for the Masses,” and “Beyond Judgement”—and is easily De Profundis‘ best album to-date. –Angry Metal Guy

The Aftermath // Vermine – Combining the complexity of tech death with the sheer abomination of grindcore, The Aftermath summoned a conflagration beneath the already unbearable summer with their debut Vermine. These Canadians stumbled upon a formula that embodies the chaotic nature of grindcore but accentuates the discipline of technical death metal, and the results are monstrous. Ugly guitar flurries and unhinged blasts collide with strangely prevalent moments of musicality to give awful life to this mutant menace. Vermine somehow manages to be anarchic yet focused in its riffing frenzy, while the lead guitar acrobatics never lose their grotesque grip on the attention span. Mathematical, industrial and absolutely vicious, The Aftermath don’t just hold a blade to the throat, they press it against the frontal lobe. This is an album traditionalists fear to hear, but one you must not miss. –Ferrous Beuller

Scorched // Ecliptic Butchery – From the same stylistic ooze as Outer Heaven and Gatecreeper comes Delaware’s Scorched. Much like their brethren, the quintet achieve a sense of primal brutality through lurching rhythms, monstrous vocals, and big slimy riffs. Yet with sophomore album Ecliptic Butchery, the band set themselves apart with an alien abduction theme that’s conveyed just as well through the music as the lyrics. The melodies wriggle like extraterrestrial medical devices being jostled around inside one’s body, the leads stretch themselves like the tendrils of some horrid foreign organism, and the riffs writhe with the horror of being shackled to an alien operating table. One can only imagine a poor abductee convulsing in agony with the grotesque yet catchy melody of “Bodies Collect,” while songs like “Disfiguring Operations” and “Darkness Infests” use commanding slam-esque riffs to make it perfectly clear that these interstellar beings don’t give a fuck who they’re ripping out of bed tonight. If you ever wondered what Incantation would sound like if they’d watched too much X-Files growing up, look no further. –Mark Z.

Obsolete Mankind - Dystopian HeuristicsObsolete Mankind // Dystopian Heuristics – Some people ask for “more” from their death metal. Quebec’s Obsolete Mankind is not a band for those greedy ingrates. If you want death metal that eschews just about all adjectives—“progressive,” “cavernous,” “serpentine,” “technical,” etc.— you’re getting warmer. If you want death metal that just gets brutal all the time, then Dystopian Heuristics is fire. Obsolete Mankind is brutal in a way that isn’t deathcore, slam, or old-school. It’s fresh, perhaps even timeless. It’s aggression incarnate. Two-thirds of Phobocosm are involved, and Sebastien Croteau from the stellar Necrotic Mutation provides vocals on two tracks. How can you go wrong? –Diabolus in Muzaka

Clavicus Vile - The Nightspirit's CallClavicus Vile // The Nightspirit’s Call – When is too much not enough? When it’s Clavicus Vile. Simply put, their debut, The Nightspirit’s Call, is everything you could ever want in long-form death metal. Plummeting from the extraterrestrial cosmos of Æpoch and Obscura into the punishing ground-and-pound of Suffocation and Cryptopsy before barreling into a furious froth blurring Nile and Dissection might whiplash your tiny poser brain to goo, but you’d hardly notice at these breakneck speeds. Though the album can feel a bit loose at times, Clavicus Vile ensure constant cohesion on monster winners like “Journey Toward Ancient Kadath” and SotY candidate “Dream Molestation,” but only so far as it allows these fighting Illini to smash even more clowns into sixty minutes that feel like the world’s smallest VW Beetle. Funny what breathless virtuosity and unyielding ambition will do. –Dr. Wvrm

Soreption // Monument of the End – I think we can all agree, 2018 was a mighty year for progressive and technical death metal. For instance, Sweden’s underrated Soreption made a welcome and long-awaited return with their third LP and first since 2014’s impressive Engineering the Void. I’ve long enjoyed Soreption’s hyperactive, ultra-modern brand of tightly knotted tech death and Monument of the End certainly doesn’t change my high opinion of the band. Although some tech death can be accused of sounding too clinical and mechanical, Soreption manage to craft slick, futuristic and impeccably tight death metal songs, while retaining a highly listenable and human element into their complicated barrage of tricky rhythms and heavily groove and riff-based sound. “Architects of the Apocalypse” is a rugged, riff-packed beast, encapsulating many of Soreption’s finer qualities, anchored by its endlessly complex and catchy grooves, coiling through a shifting, unpredictable structure. It’s one of numerous highlights and solid tunes on offer. Other killer cuts include the relentless blast, thrash and groove of “Virulent Well” and daring experimental flourishes of closer “The Entity.” Even amongst stiff competition from their peers in an action-packed year, Soreption’s Monument of the End remains a standout entry in the crowded realms of 2018 tech death. –L. Saunders

The Beast of Nod // Vampira: Disciple of Chaos – I am a sucker for sci-fi metal. Wormed, Dire Peril, Hoth, you name it. 2018 has been good to me in that category, but prog-death newcomers The Beast of Nod materialized the most unique sci-fi album of all with debut Vampira: Disciple of Chaos. The lore behind this album is entirely too deep to explain in one little blurb.3 Suffice it to say their brand of what they dub “Intergalactic Death Metal” is firmly backed by an entire universe manifested by the endless imagination wells possessed by the band members. Listen to “PotRoast the Rhinoman,” “Ripped Off Face II: The Cape of Faces” or “T.C.T.W.A.D.M.L.C. (The Cybernetic Tiger with a Dorsal-Mounted Laser Cannon)” and you will note the incredible oscillating riffs, undulating guitar leads and alien expulsions, all backed by a thrumming rhythm section and tasteful synths. That a debut possesses everything ranging from melody to complexity to brutality while also remaining a cohesive whole—and sounding like nobody else to boot—is nothing short of astounding. Get your ass on that ice-train thingy. The ride is unreal. –TheKenWord

Dysphoria // Foul Ashes of Deceit – Frozen in a block of ice since 1995, reactivated Midwest death metallers Dysphoria return with their first official full-length, Foul Ashes of Deceit. Built mostly upon new recordings of tracks from the band’s early ’90s demos, this disc captures all the gleeful brutality of the genre’s early years. These guys have vicious riffs, demented vocals, and most importantly, grooves for miles. Oh, and someone from Jungle Rot is in the band, for those who keep track of that sort of thing. –Dr. Fisting

Uncreation // Overwhelming Chaos – A song entitled “No One Gives a Fuck”—and its eponymous lyric—shouldn’t find much foothold in the lyrically circumlocutious and self-serious world of death metal, and yet it’s a sticking point for Uncreation’s debut, Overwhelming Chaos. The Italian band’s first full length does what it says on the tin, and between the din of indecipherable drumming and speaker-blowing, face shattering riffing, it’s clear that they don’t give a fuck about your expectations or safety. This is death metal in its most uncivilized, oafish, and ill-tempered, and that’s exactly what makes it exciting. While thousands of death metal bands try to be more sinister, eldritch, and overwhelming than the others, Uncreation earned my love by just sounding stupid, loutish, and dangerous. –Kronos

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Please note both the rank hubris of this claim and its lacking veracity. Quite early on I had several recommendations for this list as did others. Kronos may think that because he’s avoided reporting to HR this long he can do as he pleases—stealing my Sigh review…—but oh no, he will pay. AMG
  2. Which, it should be noted, has one of the most disturbing and infuriating samples I’ve heard. Where a woman—possibly from Westboro Baptist—says “There are no innocent people. Thank God for 9/11. Thank God for dead soldiers. Thank God for IEDs. I thank God for every single one of his righteous judgments.” Holy fuck these people are insane.
  3. Visit their website to get learnt. There’s even a damned comic book!