Venom – From the Very Depths (Spinefarm, 2015)

Layout 1Yes friends, I realize that hating on any Venom album that isn’t Welcome to Hell, Black Metal or At War with Satan is the cool kid thing to do.  But, I’ve never been one of the cool kids, and as such I’ve found much to enjoy amidst Venom’s latter-day discography; even if those albums aren’t as ground-breaking as the first three, that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining.  From the Very Depths is Cronos and Co.’s thirteenth full length, and although it’s by no means perfect, it’s certainly as enjoyable a slab of throwback heavy metal as you’re likely to encounter in 2015.

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Archgoat – The Apocalyptic Triumphator (Debemur Morti, 2015)

DMP0117_1000x1000-150dpiFinland’s Archgoat have been spewing their patently barbaric brand of blackness since 1989 and are the very definition of a “cult band;” they’ve put out only three full length albums in their two-plus decades of existence including 2015’s The Apocalyptic Triumphator, which makes its release feel like a special event. But it’s not just special because it’s a rare occurrence; the simple fact of the matter is that Archgoat do this style of bestial black/death metal better than just about any other band in existence.

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Weeping Rat – Tar (Handmade Birds, 2015)

1526659_825951394136465_8729640222783617169_nSacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend.  The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat.  The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.

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Barren Harvest – Subtle Cruelties (Handmade Birds, 2014)

zzbhDarkness comes in many forms.  A band doesn’t necessarily have to scream about Satan or pile on the distortion in order to take listeners to pitch-black places.  Subtle Cruelties, the debut album from West Coast duo Barren Harvest, is an exquisite example of this.  A collaboration between Jessica Way of Worm Ouroboros and Atriarch’s Lenny Smith, Barren Harvest’s sound is rooted in the subtle tones and textures of ambient and neofolk, yet somehow manages to be darker and more sorrowful than even the most depressive of black metal bands.

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Malsanctum – Metamorbid Fetishization (Iron Bonehead, 2015)

malsanctum - coverOf all the trends that have to come to prominence within the metal underground over the last several years, the murky/cavernous death metal thing is surely the least interesting (pro tip: if you really want to piss some people off, refer to this junk as “caverncore”).  In fact, I’d say my interest in bands shitting out non-riffs from underneath a pile of wet blankets is exactly zero.  But there are exceptions to every rule, and the mysterious Canadians known as Malsanctum have proven that there is something to be said for this sub sub genre with Metamorbid Fetishization, their debut(?) release on Germany’s ever-prolific Iron Bonehead Productions.

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White Spot – Father Songs. (self-released, 2015)

a1772135258_10I’ve been listening to various forms of heavy music for a long time, and as the years go on, my attention span gets shorter and shorter, especially when it comes to choosing bands to write about.  Basically, if your band can’t pique my interest within the first thirty seconds of the first song (excluding intros), consider yourselves SOL.  This has made it increasingly difficult to discover new acts to cover, as it seems that much of the scene is currently plagued by a complete and total lack of ability to self-edit.

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy (Martha’s Music/BMG, 2014)

smashing-pumpkins-monuments-to-an-elegy-1024x1024During my misspent youth, I obsessed over so-called “alternative rock” almost as much as I did heavy metal.  Among my favorites was The Smashing Pumpkins; the band’s swirling and spacey yet surprisingly metallic hard rock was like nothing I’d heard before at that point, and I found it much easier to identify with main man Billy Corgan’s nerd/asshole/hopeless romantic shtick than Kurt Cobain’s junkie poet.  I might have had more Nirvana posters on my wall, but I listened to Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness way more than I did Nevermind.

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