Early releases in a band’s career can really show you where they are going, and sometimes can show you just how good they are going to be. Here’s my favourites from this year, and why a demo is still as important as ever.

10. Funerary Bell – Graveyard Seance: in a year where black metal didn’t strike me as often as I’d like, Funerary Bell’s EP gave me hope that the genre still has a lot of merit. Injected with menace, and a ghostly shriek pushes them onto my list.

9. Gaijin – Gaijin: Technical death metal carnage from a band who will be very interesting to keep an eye on.

8. Heathen Beast – The Carnage of Godhra: What would become the last third of ‘Trident’, ‘The Carnage at Godhra’ is a brutal piece of quality, chunky black metal that benefits from dashes of ethnic instrumentation and socio-political lyrics.

7. Exenemy – Overture: One of the finer bits of traditional and power metal I’ve come across this year, Exenemy rip some high quality riffs with oodles of melody. Killer stuff.

6. Heaven Abhorred – Opening the Gate: Raw, malevolent black metal goodness. Channeling second wave black metal legends, Heaven Abhorred are another to keep an eye on.

5. Severe Lacerations – Incantation of Sorrow: Killer North West death metal with a ruthless streak a mile long, this will be a band to keep an eye on. Brutality plain and simple.

4. Mist – Inan: What a beautiful piece of doom this is. Reminding me of my favourite record from last year, Mount Salem’s ‘Endless’, Mist have perfected this kind of Sabbathian groove. I love it

3. Hellripper – The Manifestation of Evil: Oh my fucking christ this slays. It slays so hard I bought the tape, and I don’t have a tape player! ‘Total Mayhem’ could be my favourite song of the year, although it has some stiff competition.

2. Runemaster-  Futhark Dawning: This is prime heavy metal. This is metal at it’s beating, stone heavy heart. Each anthem is catchy, each riff is killer, and the simple fact that it channels such a primal feeling of joy means that its a favourite.

1. Plague Rider – Paroxysm: This is one of the weirdest death metal mindfucks I’ve heard in ages, and that simple fact puts it to number one. Plague Rider are in no way afraid to do anything they need to create something truly special. ‘Paroxysm’ is my number one for its fearless invention and its brutality.

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