The Ridiculous Year o’ Death Metal, Part 1 [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

We can all agree it has been a horrific year. Fortunately for the metal community, our lexicon is inverted. Rest assured that, when I say death metal has been absolutely disgusting in 2020, it can only be a good thing. While we at Angry Metal Guy have done our best to cover as much calamity as possible, it was inevitable that some releases would go unrecognized. To that end, this round-up exists solely to shed unholy light on those atrocities that didn’t quite make the cut, but still warrant your attention. I’ll make no apologies for the profanity that follows. Just know that discretion is advised and immorality encouraged. – Ferrous Beuller

Invictus // Catacombs of Fear – Do you want to be “Lord of the Pit”? Of course you do. That’s the ultimate goal of anybody who loves old school death metal. Invictus know that, so they wrote a fucking pit-demolishing ode to the cause. And it fucking rules, featuring not one, not two, but three candidates for Riff o’ the Year. You’ll know exactly which one because your body will start flailing without warning when it drops. As hard as it is to stop replaying that song, which is the first proper track on this thrashing monster, you’d better. Otherwise, you miss out on stone cold knockouts like “Bizarre Dreams,” “Devouring Room,” “Necrocrypt,” and “The Catacombs of Fear.” I can’t wait to hear what Invictus disinter next! – TheKenWord

Caustic Wound // Death PostureCaustic Wound is comprised of members of, among others, Cerebral Rot and Mortiferum. This fact explains why the deathgrind on Death Posture sounds the way it does: it takes the swampy, pummeling death metal of those two bands and puts it on a 45RPM instead of 33½. This is death metal played at the speed of grindcore, but like Terrorizer’s indispensable World Downfall the material here leaves enough space for slower riffs that pummel instead of blast. At a crisp twenty-six minutes, Death Posture is concise and all the better for it. It’s not to be taken a la carte, as the whole record is organized like a great live show with pacing and structure happening more on the full-length level than in individual songs. That’s not to say Caustic Wound are cavalier with their writing, because each song here is good n’ brutal; rather, Death Posture is simply best enjoyed as a full record. – Diabolus in Muzaka

Slave One // Omega Disciples – I love some dissonance in my death metal but, unless executed properly, it can sacrifice substance for style, which simply won’t do. France’s Slave One love to twist and turn with the best of them but absolutely never at the expense of the almighty riff. Omega Disciples has a lot of tech sensibility but it remains fundamentally propulsive in a very old school way. Subtly melodic leads lilt over big nasty riffs that echo in the memory long after they’re gone. I’ve had a great time with this album all year and whenever I’ve returned to it, I’ve enjoyed it all over again. I’ve you’re looking for dark and angular structures but just can’t shake that addiction to killer riffs then you, my friend, may count yourself among the Omega Disciples. – Ferrous Beuller

Thecodontion // Supercontinent Creating a black/death album is already hit-or-miss in the best of times, but doing it without guitar seems even more difficult. But that’s exactly what Italian duo Thecodontion has accomplished in debut full-length Supercontinent. Don’t expect razor-sharp precision, but the bass-forwardness is surprisingly effective in creating prehistoric atmosphere with lumbering songwriting punctuated by punishing percussion. By nature, the album drags periodically, but longer tracks like “Ur,” “Nuna,” and “Pangaea” showcase the best of the band’s incomprehensibly dense style in slow-burning riffs, vicious vocals, and ritualistic percussion, while “Kenorland” and “Rodinia” fly by at a grinding, rusty speed. Supercontinent is an incredibly unique, rewarding exercise in dread, filled to the brim with potential. – Dear Hollow

Pharmacist // Medical Renditions of Grinding DecompositionI love the smell of rancid death metal in the morning. It reeks of…putrefaction. The symphony of sickness before us here is, predictably, inspired by the mighty Carcass. If we’re being technical, Pharmacist’s Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition drinks most heavily from the seeping font of Pathologist’s Grinding Opus of Forensic Medical Problems (even the title and cover are clear homages), but Pathologist took much from CarcassSymphonies of Sickness, so Carcass is a safe and better-known referential bet. I have few words left after all that, so if you want blood (and entrails, decomposition, and all sorts of other grotesquery), you’ve got it with Pharmacist. Plus, they’re Japanese, and the Japanese know gore – remember Guinea Pig? Hopefully not, but if you’re hankering for some great tunes in that old Carcass/Pathologist vein, don’t skip this. – Diabolus in Muzaka

Question // Reflections of the Void – You may be asking yourself the Question, “what even is Question?” It’s a dangerous Question to ask, since every possible outcome raises further Questions. But, for your sanity’s sake, Question in this application refers to one of Mexico’s best progressive old school death metal entities. While their previous proper full length Doomed Passages smelt of Incantation’s Tomb Mold, this latest creation freshens up and conjures notes of Blood Incantation. Question’s sound is still very well preserved, but the songwriting is more fluid and flowing than ever before, a thoughtful stream which intrigues the mind as much as it pummels the skull. Still unsure? Try album highlights “The Process of Dehumanization,” “First Fragmentation,” “Alone With Everybody” and “Vacuous Thoughts” – TheKenWord

Sepulchral Curse // Only Ashes Remain – We all know how suffocating Finnish death metal is. Sepulchral Curse are no exception, but they are in no way content to rest on their rotten laurels. Only Ashes Remain is a veritable cornucopia of extreme metal rhythms. The requisite bone-soup riffs are present and correct but they are accentuated with a blackened icy gale and occasionally even veer into straight melodeath. This is a band who are keen to create. From the vocal variation to the genre interplay, Only Ashes Remain exists in a constant state of flux. Traditional death metal has enjoyed a qualitative peak in 2020 and bands like Sepulchral Curse are responsible. – Ferrous Beuller

Abyssal Ascendant // Chronicles of the Doomed Worlds, Pt. II. Deacons of Abhorrence Lovecraftian death metal is a match made in heaven, and while too often dominated by the likes of Sulphur Aeon or Ulthar, the unsung heroes creep in liked the horror at Innsmouth: France’s Abyssal Ascendant. After a somewhat uneventful DIY debut aptly titled Chronicles of the Doomed Worlds, Pt. I. Enlightenment from Beyond, they’ve tightened up their performance and cleaned up their performance for the devastating and dynamic sequel, Deacons of Abhorrence. It features classic no-holds-barred death metal chugs, brutal vocals, and touches of symphonic flourishes in all the right amount, resulting in an album that pays homage to its chthonic concept. It may not be the most original death metal album out there but pays its dues to the Great Old Ones while gleefully frolicking in pure death metal fun. – Dear Hollow

Angerot // The Divine Apostate – The sophomore album from South Dakota’s Angerot packs a wallop. Shedding the more overt buzzsawing Scandinavian influences from the debut, Angerot return with a sharper focus and refinement of their sound, leading to a tight batch of modern blackened death tunes. Replete with well integrated use of keyboards and occasional choirs, lending an epic touch to otherwise robust songs that blast, groove and bludgeon. Angerot’s controlled firestorm does not completely dispense of the Swedeath influences, though the album feels like a more full realized vision of where the band is heading, channeling Morbid Angel and Necrophobic, while heading down an increasingly atmospheric, symphonic path (“Below the Deep and Dreamless Sleep,” “Coalesced with Wickedness”). Other standouts include the crushing “Vestiments of Cancer” and dynamic closer “Thy Kingdom Burned.” Despite the embellishments, Angerot do not skimp on the beef, the riffs are massive, growls suitably burly, and overall impact heavy as fuck.  L. Saunders

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