Depravity are Australian, so sadly it isn’t the much awaited return of the ghostly Finnish legends BUT that is no bad thing, as these toxic Australians are bringing death metal to new realms of savagery, punishing us all with their debut full length ‘Evil Upheaval’. Due out at the end of April on Transcending Obscurity, this is another gem of a record unearthed from Down Under.

Is Australia so hot because it’s closer to Hell? Because this goddamn album comes roaring from the underworld with precision, insane riffing frenetics and some absolutely beastly vocals. Opening tracks ‘Manic Onslaught’ and particularly the crushing ‘Insanity Reality’ smash forth with unholy fire and murderous intent. Imagine if Morbid Angel had dropped ‘Altars of Madness’ today, and you’d be on the way to imagining the serpentine brutality of Depravity. Maddening solos stab outward from hurricanes of blastbeats, while swirling dark melodies wreathe dense growls in atmospheric glee. The malignant loom of ‘Repugnant’ is monstrous, while the chaotic sensibilities of ‘The Great Divide’ provides the merest hint that this record could descend further into madness if provoked. Depravity channel the greats of modern death metal like Hour of Penance while also conjuring the uneasy atmosphere of the likes of Immolation.

Not often can a death metal band capture both the essences of old school and modern death metal in one record. ‘Evil Upheaval’ is a new benchmark in soul destroying death metal this year. It is so heavy, so brutal and yet so accessible. Instantly gratifying and unrelenting, labyrinthine song structures begin to unfold with multiple listens, while it never loses any of its hard hitting impact. You’d struggle to top this for pure death metal fury this year.


‘The Secret Art’ is the sixth full length from Metamorphosis, a long running German atmospheric black/death metal band that has been going since 1994. ‘The Secret Art’ is the latest in a series of solid records by this one man set up, and they take much influence from Marduk, early Amorphis and even some early Paradise Lost. It is out now through Devil’s Ground Productions.

The opening title track builds with cold melody, while rough tremolo riffing cascades over harsh vocals and a more mid paced drumming. This isn’t your standard one man bedroom black metal set up; a beefy production injects body into the clattering carnage, but not so much as to lose that ‘kvlt’ edge that this genre so highly praises. Entwining ambient, instrumental passages in songs helps to set Metamorphosis apart, but the glorious savagery help them stand out. ‘Night on Bare Mountain’ is a striding icon of blackness, capturing a very early 90s European feel that continues throughout. The spoken word occultisms are also very cool, giving it a truly old school blackened death feeling.

The eerie tinkling chimes running through ‘God of the Dead’ is enough to make even the hardest of us feel uneasy and it is a trait that Metamorphosis keep running all the way through. Instrumentation and sounds appear and disappear, flickering throughout a black metal album of great songs and riffs. Simply doing these little cool things helps to make sure you won’t forget ‘The Secret Art’ any time soon.

A black metal duo from both Shanghai and Prague, Kosmogyr spans both continents and worlds with their enthralling debut record ‘Eviternity’. A self released record, their take on black metal’s shape shifting form is both interesting and exciting. It is due out on March 9th and can be preordered through their Bandcamp page.

The first thing I noticed on the torrential ‘The Wane’ was the quality of the production. This is no tin thin, rattly black metal album. These are songs that are thick, dense with power and crisp with evil intentions. Soaring melodies weave in amongst harsh vocals and blistering drums. This is an album full of stark, bleak beauty, where waves of riffing flow past you like icy rivers but you are tethered in the maelstrom by a superhuman bottom line. Vocals tear at you like a ragged wind, but you are mesmerised into staying put. Feeling the storm of ‘Frailty’ is invigorating, powerful even. ‘Eviternity’ demands little but your attention, but it will take much more from you.

Relentless, remorseless and yet almost fragile in its position. Like an ancient, cracked obelisk, timeless and strong but ready to fall at any moment. Weakened by cold melody but held firm by pure black metal fury. ‘Eviternity’ is a staggering piece of work as a debut record, and Kosmogyr should be proud. It is my new benchmark for black metal this year.

Boethiah worship at the bloodstained altars of Dismember, Asphyx and Grave, and their new record ‘Invocation of the Xenolith’ is testament to the dedication to that sound that they have. An entirely self produced and self released record, these Californians have created something very nasty and rampant. It is out now!

The opening title track contains all the hallmarks of Swedish death that we all love; chainsawing riffs, throat shredding roars and chaotic drumming. Stabbed by some wild soloing, it is instantly appealing. Grinding death metal continues to assault the senses throughout the battering ‘Creation’ and the crushing carnage of ‘Impending Dread’. Boethiah are keeping the spirit of savage Swedeath alive, with riffs and particularly vocals soaking in that classic swampy filth of the early 90s. Combining that with the relentless surge of ‘Voices Beyond’ which feels soooo Bolt Thrower-y, this is a record that will flatten you.

‘Invocation of the Xenolith’ is a beast of a record; keeping the flames of classic death metal burning while taking a firm grasp on their own destiny and their own sound. Yeah, you could argue that you’ve heard everything that Boethiah do before, but you haven’t probably heard it executed this well in years. ‘Invocation of the Xenolith’ is killer, and well worth the listen.


Australian funeral doom legends (yeah, I said it, LEGENDS!) Mournful Congregation are here to present their latest full length record, almost 6 years since the staggering ‘Book of Kings’. ‘The Incubus of Karma’ is yet another pillar on their majestic palace of misery and crushing depression, and reasserts them as the kings of funereal doom and sadness. It is out on the 23rd March through Osmose Productions.

I’ve never really been sure what pushes Mournful Congregation out in front when it comes to this genre. Yeah of course they have the massive riffs, dirging melodies and throat destroying growls. They also can handle acoustic sombreness, as the title track to their new record attests. But they have this intangible something that makes them so special. Shivers will run through you during the cyclopean ‘Whispering Spiritscapes’, which oozes with classic My Dying Bride-isms, while the ‘oncoming storm’ feeling of the titanic ‘Scripture of Exaltation and Punishment’ is both exhilarating and terrifying. Mournful Congregation have perfected the art of truly massive music; each riff is glacial in its icy vastness, each roar is voidspeak, each song is a journey.

At an hour and twenty minutes, this is not a record that flits past quickly. This is monstrous, addictive and utterly spellbinding. Mournful Congregation continue to build upon a legacy of essential albums; a gloomy shadow that covers all bands who seek to follow. They will forever remain atop this mountain, for they are the deathless kings of funeral doom.

The longest running death metal band in Italy, Horrid’s fifth full length ‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is another step out of the shadows of European underground death metal. Crushing the opposition since 1989, Horrid dropped this early last year on Dunkelheit Productions, but don’t let it pass you by. This is a dynamic, traditional death metal record that pulls no punches and builds upon a timeless sound.

Opener ‘The Black March’ is a thick, crunchy riff machine that rumbles with devastating power. You can sense the underlying Bolt Thrower influences, but there’s also a lot of subtle pieces of melody that really strike me, such as the eastern parts of ‘Cursed Dunes’ that evoke Nile’s more straightforward moments. Echoes of Celtic Frost resound throughout the full record, and other European death metal styles are equally present in places, such as the Demigod-esque ‘The Statement’. The songwriting is solid, the performance is flawless and the atmospheres are morbid without being overbearing in murk.

‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is a record that will help you fall in love with old fashioned death metal once more. A love letter to the finer, simpler days of early 90s death, when riffs were heavy, vocals were brutal and death was death. Awesome shit.

To put it out there that you are influenced by the likes of Mayhem, Joy Division, Pink Floyd and Morbid Angel is to invite a curious glance or two. But Morvigor are approaching their black/death metal a little differently obviously, and that should be applauded. Their new record, ‘Tyrant’ isn’t your average extreme metal record. Come with me on a journey through time and space…

First track proper ‘No Repentance’ kicks us off after a gloomy intro with building clean guitar then a crusty black metal riff kicks in hard. It is instantly catchy, and loses nothing of its necro charm in the process. Massive melody aches to burst through the blackened exterior, while ‘The Martyr’s Ascension’ builds to this crescendo where dashes of post metal appear too. Morvigor seem to be capturing extremity in its modern form, where the old fashioned ‘rawness’ of black metal competes with more progressive influences to create something invigorating.

Pushing through the doors opened by the likes of Enslaved, Morvigor take the traditions of black metal, beef it up with the power of death metal but then take it into uncharted territory, where the melody and the space is as important as the heaviness or the savagery. The delicate strums of ‘Interlude’ lead us to the magnificent, galaxial movements of ‘Blood of the Pelican’, which ascends beyond our comprehension through glacial melody, galloping black metal grandiosity and soaring atmospheric black metal space.

This record is huge. Vast swathes of black space are combed in search of that elusive quality that Morvigor possess in spades. By the time the Primordial worship of the title track comes to its piano laden end, you’ll have witnessed some of the finest music put to tape in the past year. ‘Tyrant’ is wondrous.