Heathen – s/t (Caligari Records, 2015)

a2755489943_10Not to be confused with the long-running Bay Area thrash/speed metal band of the same name, Norway’s Heathen is an obscure black metal entity that recently released its debut full length via the mighty Caligari Records.  The first thing that struck me about Heathen is that there is literally no information on them to be found; nothing is known about the band’s lineup, their online presence is meager to say the very least, and they’ve already developed a penchant for self-titling multiple releases. Indeed, there is an air of mystery that surrounds Heathen, but if this excellent tape is anything to go by, rest assured that they have much more than an esoteric image going for them.

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Bretwaldas of Heathen of Doom – Seven Bloodied Ramparts (Caligari Records, 2015)

a1537650385_10It’s been a few months since we last heard from the increasingly prolific Caligari Records, but fear not, because the label has recently released yet another slew of great tapes, the greatest of which just might be Seven Bloodied Ramparts, a reissue of the third album from obscure UK metallers Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom. Originally seeing an extremely limited physical release back in 2010, Seven Bloodied Ramparts might be a bit of an oldie at this point, but make no mistake, this is an album that deserves to be heard well beyond the handful of diehards that picked up on it the first time around.

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Bloodscribe – Prologue to the Apocalypse (Gore House Productions, 2015)

a3067037122_10It’s been a quiet year so far on the slam/brutal death metal front here at THKD.  I get a serious hankering for this shit every so often, and due to the lack of promos I have to admit I’ve been jonesing hardcore for the right band to come along and crush my skull with some ignorant slams.  Just when I was about give up hope, my friends at Gore House Productions hit me upside the head with Prologue to the Apocalypse, the debut full length from Los Angeles’ Bloodscribe.  Although the album clocks in at a mere twenty-six minutes, it has managed to more than satisfy my craving for a hefty dose of brutality.

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Satanic Warmaster – Fimbulwinter (Hells Headbangers, 2015)

satanic warmaster - fimbulwinter coverAlthough Satanic Warmaster has long been one of my favorite black metal bands due to their unwavering commitment to genre traditionalism, I found myself rather underwhelmed by their last full length, 2010’s Nachzehrer.  The production was atrocious (and not in a good way) and to be blunt the songs simply weren’t there; the goofy looking werewolf on the cover and the less than insightful interview SW ringleader Satanic Tyrant Werwolf granted me that year did little to improve my opinion.

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Dodheimsgard – A Umbra Omega (Peaceville, 2015)

DHG_A Umbra Omega_frontcover_original_080115Beginning life as a traditional-sounding Norwegian black metal outfit, Oslo’s Dodheimsgard have evolved drastically with every release, to the point that if you were to play each of their full-length recordings to someone who was completely unfamiliar, they’d likely attribute them to several different bands.  This near-constant state of progression and reinvention has made DHG into one of the most exciting groups to emerge from the Scandinavian second wave, the lengthy periods of inactivity between albums doing nothing whatsoever to dull my anticipation of their next move.

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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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