After submitting my 150th article for The Moshville Times, the time has come for the end of year list for 2018. As I cast my memory back to 2017, that was a breeze compared to this year with Evocation and The Shadow Archetype being my album of the year. What I did not expect was the strength and depth of extreme metal releases this year, with particularly death metal rising from the ashes and devouring everything in its path. What a way for extreme metal to start the year with the return to form of Watain and their crushing Trident Wolf Eclipse and ending with my recent review with Kam Lee and Jonny Petterson’s Nattravnen. There were a host of albums that I have listened to, purchased and listened to again throughout this year, making this is definitely the most challenging article I have delivered to The Moshville Times and you. I have asked if I can do a joint album of the year and have twenty albums on there, but alas there can only be one winner. Without further ado, lets recap on the year 2018 with the recordings and experiences that meant most to me.
Highlights of the year
For the last year, I wanted to see and interview people within the music business, to understand the roles that they play and how they make things happen so that we, the fans, can listen to our favourite band or see them live at a gig at a place near you. I started off the year interviewing a record producer who has either played in a band or mastered, mixed or and produced an album that will be in every metal fan’s collection, none other than Dan Swano. I could not believe a man of this stature was more than happy to talk about his Unisound Studios and his projects and this is still an interview that I revisit to this day.
Interviewing fans of music that in turn led to promoting their own festival, John Badger of Badgerfest was again only too happy to talk about his now annual event in Manchester. I am also letting you know, John, that I guarantee you that I will be there in 2019. Underground record companies like Raul and Memento Mori or Victor and Death In Pieces Records show that no matter how tough it is, there will always be the hardcore fan that will buy the physical product rather than fucking download it. Promotion companies like Neil Simpson’s Black Isle Management and band management companies like Rachael Harrison’s Enso Music Management all gave a fascinating insight into the music business as a whole.
Having my words put into a promo video for an album for one of the most popular extreme metal bands in the world today, namely Bloodbath with The Arrow of Satan is Drawn was mind-blowing for me. This truly was a first for me and I cannot deny that I may have contributed numerous times to the youtube count with that one! My highlight, though, has to be talking to a man that has been on over 200 record covers and was pivotal in the movement within the death metal scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s with his artistic prowess and stunning artwork. Again somebody that I would never have thought would be glad to be interviewed and can I just say, Dan Seagrave, it was a pleasure talking to you and we shall talk again soon.
EP of 2018
This is where it begins to get tricky as picking an EP out of the numbers that I had listened to and reviewed this year, while not as many as I wanted to review, were all top quality acts. So without further ado and in no particular order….
Local Glaswegian act Burning the Dream finally getting an official release after a number of years was a relief for us fans as it was for the band itself with their devastating mix of metalcore, thrash and elements of death metal. 2018 also saw them release their first official video for “Who are we to Judge”. Burning the Dream deserve to play to bigger audiences and I feel that 2019 is going to be a good one for them.
UK based band Frozen in Shadows only formed this year but also released a stunning self-titled EP that promises so much for the band and has already got people talking and desperate for more material. Melodic death metal was the order of the day but the band, consisting of members from all genres of metal, made this EP so refreshing. Frozen in Shadows are certainly one to keep your eye on.
Just when you think that there is no way further in metal for a band to sound original and stand out from the masses than a band called Etienne Pelesoff come along and turn everything on its head. Black metal mixed with jazz sounds horrible but after many repeated listens, you have to accept the originality and bravery of the band to forge ahead with this. I eagerly await to see what they do next.
From originality to bands who know how to worship old school death metal. Greece have Abyssus Unleash the Storm with their Obituary influenced down-tuned death metal getting this old head banging. The Frozen Casket by Russian band Cist reminded me of a sound that I had not heard in many years with Leprosy-era Death and Consuming Impulse-era Pestilence being the order of the day. My neck is still sore from the experience and highly recommend both bands to you.
But it’s Sentient Horror and their EP The Crypts Below with a sound reminiscent of the early days of Swedish death metal that made this my EP of the year. Moving slightly away from their Entombed-influenced debut Ungodly Forms, this EP is heavily influenced by Dismember and Grave but shows their love of the band Edge of Sanity more than anything. Stunning musicianship throughout and with Matt Moliti and his classic guitar solos slaying those before him, this EP was a pleasure to review. Having Dan Swano master it at his legendary Unisound studios and being signed by Redefining Darkness in America and Testimony Records in Germany for Europe, it’s easy to see why and there can only be good things ahead for this band.
Album of the Year: LIK – Carnage
I have to go with the album that I have listened to most this year for my album of the year and it goes to these pesky Swedes from Stockholm. Lik play Swedish death metal the old school way but are one of the few bands of this genre that can actually play and write songs where the listener just loses it. At the same time though, Lik like to have fun and they do this with their lyrics, I mean they cannot be serious with my song of the year, “Dr Dusanka”, with “Sinister thoughts of destruction, penis savagery, foreskin torn off, she wears it as a trophy on her index finger”. This just brings me back to thirty years ago and it’s why I love death metal. This is not noise, this is art of the highest order and I cannot wait to see what they bring in 2019. You also better come to Scotland, my friends.
Other albums worthy of a mention
Transcending Obscurity records in India have had a monstrous year in finding bands that release top quality material, and De Profundis most certainly add to this roster with The Blinding Light of Faith. De Profundis reinvented themselves right to their very core, changing their band logo and incorporating a sound that I said “will put them at the front of the UK extreme metal scene” and I still stand by that. Since my review in April, they have gone onto bigger supporting tours as well as headlining tours of their own. Things are very promising for this band, so you should keep an eye out.
UK/Australian based four-piece The Antichrist Imperium released Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan which is an astonishing album from beginning to end, and was certainly in the running to be my album of the year. The musicianship on this release is so strong, it is as close to perfection as you can get. With members from Akercocke and The Bezerker amongst a host of others, you should not expect anything less. Hopefully one day, they will be able to showcase the album in the live setting.
I heard probably the scariest album of my life with Autokrator and Hammer of the Heretic. With the most beautiful of front covers which, if it doesn’t scare the living daylights out of you, the music within certainly will. That guitar tone, blast beats and the haunting demonic vocals along with the torture samplings will make you hide behind your sofa while listening to this.
Night In Gales with their sixth album The Last Sunsets was a masterclass in melodic death metal and was a true return to form for the band. It was seven years from their previous album and it sounded like they have perfected their sound and this was the album that they have wanted throughout their career. This really will be a tough act to follow and I wish them the best of luck.
I mentioned in my review of Demonical with Chaos Manifesto that this will be in my end of the year list and here it has stayed. A massive slice of old-school Swedish death metal is the order of the day here but Demonical have had a huge year in terms of getting their name out there and playing numerous gigs throughout Europe and beyond. I hope that this success for the band continues in 2019 and that they come for more dates in the UK.
Angerot hail from South Dakota, but you would think it would be Stockholm with the sound that they display on their debut album The Splendid Iniquity. Crushing riffs, punishing double bass and the deepest of growls broke my neck with the amount of moshing I did to this album. I hope they are writing new material as this sets a very high standard for them to follow. Best of luck chaps!
I have to mention a number of albums from Transcending Obscurity records as they are all of outstanding quality and musicianship. Down Among the Dead Men with And You Will Obey Me, Sathanas’ Necrohymns and one of my favourite releases from this label and of this year, Nattravnen and Kult of the Raven. 2018 has been a huge year for the label who have an uncanny knack of signing quantity with an abundance of quality. This is surely a label to watch and with regular offers, you would be stupid to ignore.
Gigs of the year
I have to say that I never got to anywhere near the number of gigs that I wanted to this year, however, things will change with 2019. Glasgow does have a huge metal scene and caters for all tastes, so I urge all promoters and bands looking for gigs north of the border to forego the fact that we are a smaller country and see that what you will have is a dedicated and loyal following when you play. A personal highlight has to be crowd surfing from a bar (that I will not name as the owner may read this!). A sold-out gig with Aborted, Cryptopsy, Ingested and Unfathomable Ruination was a huge personal highlight for me as it shows that there is an extreme metal following for the more underground bands.
What was most pleasing though was to see a band like Obituary play on stage to 13000 metalheads and gaining new fans. Having been a fan of the band since the late 80s and having the best death metal album of all time, in my opinion of course, in their back catalogue with Cause of Death it was incredible to see them play the Hydro as opening act for the last ever Slayer tour. To be given this honour must have been huge for the band and I was honoured to be there. Next time, I will be getting to interview you!
So many bands have new material to come out in 2019, it’s so hard to name just a few. Vorgok with their death infused thrash metal from Brazil is an album with huge potential and I urge you all to obtain a copy of Assorted Evils to give you a taste as to where they are heading. There are also times where I require something heavy and non-forgiving and that is where Imperium come in with their Nile and Hate Eternal infused death metal. Words That Burn will be releasing a new album, and hopefully new things coming from Bloodthread, Scordatura, Vacivus and Burning the Dream to keep things alive for the underground bands in the scene.
I have to say that the state of the UK and Irish extreme metal scene is more alive than ever before. With huge albums from previously mentioned De Profundis but also with my boyhood heroes in Cancer releasing a stunning comeback album and playing death metal old school style with Shadow Gripped. What also pleased me was that Cancer were signed to legendary label Peaceville which always have their place solidified in extreme metal history. Again having my review released by the band and this legendary label was huge for me. This truly is the album they should have released after Death Shall Rise but after so many years, its a case of better late than never. Bands like Ingested are fucking huge and their last album The Level Above Human is a stunning release which has never stopped playing in the car as loud as possible and clearing the traffic in front of me.
Therefore, with new releases coming from the above aforementioned bands, the world should take notice that the UK still has a part to play in the extreme metal market. This is clearly shown with festivals such as Lords of the Land, Damnation Fest, Bloodstock and North of the Wall to name a few where we show international bands that we still have a huge influence and long may this continue.
It goes without saying that I have to thank The Moshville Times for the opportunity to do things that I never thought were possible. Contacting my idols and interviewing them is the utmost pleasure and thrill any music fan can have and once again, I urge and recommend each and every one of you to join our roster and try this. I thank Iain Purdie for your patience when it comes to reading my 10,000-word album reviews, Ross Green for keeping the editorial comments to a minimum where you really want to kick my ass, and to the team for keeping this fabulous webzine alive when times were tough for me and I couldn’t contribute. Katie Frost, Rachel Hasnip, John Higham and Jim Costin have been a valuable source of inspiration as well as each and every team member that we have – so my sincerest thanks.
Most of all, my thanks go to you the fans who keep this music scene alive, who read not just my reviews but every album review by The Moshville Times. Fans who comment on our reviews and help spread the word for both the band and The Moshville Times are hugely appreciated by us all. For the bands that have commented and said thank you for our review, giving up their time for interviews or posting your latest video, that is why we do this. We help you as much as you help us and that is what we envisage here at The Moshville Times.
This has been a major dilemma for me in writing this and I am sure I have missed somebody or a band out with this article. Rest assured though that every review, interview or gig review I wrote this year was positive because every band moved me in such a way. I haven’t got a clue what I am going to do next year but I am looking forward to finding out. I leave you with my song of the year from my album of the year from my band of the year.