The Ridiculous Year o’ Death Metal, Part 2 [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 absolutely warrant your attention. I’ll make no apologies for the profanity that follows. Just know that discretion is advised and immorality encouraged… again. – Ferrous Beuller

Heads for the Dead // Into the Red – Swedeath seemed a little under-represented in 2020, but this European supergroup arguably released the genre’s best effort at the very end of the year. This follow-up to 2017’s fantastic debut aims to improve on all facets of their prior success. The riffs are huge, the vocals still expertly vile and the songs are still excellent. Where Into the Red surpasses its predecessor is in those snippets of retro horror movie atmosphere. Now, the trailing leads and eerie synths are more present than ever. As a result, the rhythm work is slightly more complex and less immediate, which just emphasizes the album’s psychology. Throw a cover of Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger” into the mix, and this material is as chilling as it is bloody. Although I fractionally prefer Serpent’s Curse, Into the Red is expertly wrought and never fails to find its mark. Do not forget to include this one on your festive flagellation. – Ferrous Beuller

Foul // Of SerpentsGrime and gristle is the name of the game for Seattle’s festering death-doom swamp-thing Foul. Much like Devourment’s Obscene Majesty, Of Serpents easily qualifies as the most disgusting, vile and pressurizing record of its genre. Lumbering along its tight forty-one minutes, this muscular beast drags you into the depths of despair to beat you into a thick, pink paste of woe. But don’t think for a second that you can’t distinguish between riffs, because tracks like “Sybil of Serpents (a) Destructratrix” and highlight “PaedoSadisMiasma” will have you banging your head even as it inevitably submerges beneath the tar. – TheKenWord

Stoned God // IncorporealIt’s super easy to write off Stoned God as another Gojira rip-off. While comparisons are fair, these Germans’ second full-length blends groove and death metal with hints of progressive and deathcore for an extremely dynamic listen. From the one-two punches of “Dethrone the Traitors” or “Alive” to the meditative dissonant melodies of “Illusion” or “The Decadent Blind,” it sums up all its flavors in stunning closer “Glowworms.” Clocking in at a tidy forty-three minutes, Incorporeal is an album with a little something for everyone, incorporating bone-crushing riffs with contemplative plucking and a vocal attack just as dynamic. It’s a punishing album with just enough progressive flourishes to tantalize your earholes. Dear Hollow

Warp Chamber // Implements of ExcruciationWarp Chamber is my kind of crazy. Four songs in thirty minutes, replete with labyrinthine twists and turns and vocals which are less intelligible than Lord Worm at his insane best telling cosmic horror stories? Pretty easy sell, I’d say. If Blood Incantation was the more Florida-leaning and organized version of Timeghoul-core, Warp Chamber is the feral sibling drunk on the ooze from the Finncantation well. Where Blood Incantation is more progressive and exploratory in their death metal, Warp Chamber is aggressive, uncompromising, steadfastly brutal. They’re two sides of the same coin in a sense — Hidden History of the Human Race is the curiosity of what’s out there and whether we’re alone or ever have been, while Implements of Excruciation is the terror of finding the extraterrestrials and realizing they do not come in peace. This close encounter is not for the weak. – Diabolus in Muzaka

Darkened // Kingdom of Decay – It is no secret around these parts that Bolt Thrower is among my very favorite bands. It so happens that Darkened features none other than original BT drummer Andy Whale. As a result, Kingdom of Decay knows no shortage of that familiar locomotion. Darkened are all about the advance. To this end, they utilize their idol’s famed forward motion with more than a hint of blackened melody. These are big riffs, flavored with a little Swedish seasoning for good measure and plenty of great leads. It’s overtly clear where Darkened gleans their influence, but they do a much better job of cementing their own identity than the disappointing Memoriam. Kingdom of Decay is great fucking fun. If your bolt throwing arm is a little rusty, then allow Darkened to blow out the years. – Ferrous Beuller

Cabal // Drag Me Down While debut Mark of Rot’s blend of deathcore, djent, and black metal just came across as painfully derivative downtempo Black Tongue fare, these Danes find the right blend of its elements in follow-up Drag Me Down. Injecting unrelenting energy into its trademark sound, it’s a vicious affair barbarized by a denser and murkier production and weaponizing its black metal influence. From furious shredders “Gift Givers,” “The Hangman’s Song,” and “Demagogue,” to climactic beatdowns in “Tongues” and “Unbound,” its variety of guest vocals furthermore keep the dense palette from getting stuck in its own muck. While it changes no minds regarding deathcore, djent, or whether or not “blackened deathcore” is a thing, Cabal’s balance of kickass energy and megaton heaviness elevates Drag Me Down above its -core counterparts. – Dear Hollow

Nexorum // Death Unchained – If you thought Vredehammer was the only blackened death metal packing the most relentless riffs of the year, think a-fuckin’-gain! Norway’s blackened death juggernaut Nexorum bogarted all of the goodest riffs 2020 had and stuffed them into a tight tight tight forty-minute debut masterpiece. The only reason this record isn’t a proper Thing You Might Have Missed is because I didn’t have enough slots. I also don’t have enough holes into which I can stuff the sheer number of ragers this album possesses (hint: it’s all of them). Considering I’m a sponge, well, that just makes Death Unchained that much more impressive. – TheKenWord

Omegavortex // Black Abomination Spawn – Rarely do bands summarize their album title as succinctly as Omegavortex. These Germans trade in ugly, disjointed blackened death metal and Black Abomination Spawn is as nasty as they come. Wild, aberrant riffs come thick and fast for a feral assault on the senses. Plenty of metal bands boast themes of cosmic horror, but this debut seems to have been stitched together by some malign entity that barely comprehends decency. These execrable emanations are volatile by nature but possess an efficacy that many more established bands would kill for. In a year drowning in soul-smashing quality death metal, Black Abomination Spawn is not to be missed. Its volatile compound promises nothing less than perdition and I love every second. – Ferrous Beuller

Encystment // Egregious Treatment of Cloacal Extrophy Malformation Encystment’s debut may be the most over-the-top extreme thing I’ve heard in death metal this year. The drums spend more time gravity blasting than any record I’ve ever heard, and you’d better believe this snare goes “pong” with aplomb. It takes a rarefied sensibility to tolerate, let alone enjoy, what Encystment is doing here. If you want the extremity of Orchidectomy taken up a notch, Encystment has you covered. If you think Last Days of Humanity needs to be faster but have more slams and vocals more like old Wormed, Encystment has your back there too. I’ve had so much fun with this utterly relentless, half-hour brutal assault this year that I’d be remiss not to mention it. – Diabolus in Muzaka

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