• Hell? Yes! Midnight's 'No Mercy for Mayhem' Is Majestically Satanic

    Hell? Yes! Midnight's 'No Mercy for Mayhem' Is Majestically Satanic

    Midnight is one of the best metal bands going, period. Whether you're a sucker for the classics, partial to dirty old punk rock, or hooked on speed metal, this Cleveland institution delivers what you need in near-lethal doses and has a hell of a good time doing it. It may have taken them eight years to deliver a proper full-length and three more to record its follow-up, but thankfully No Mercy for Mayhem spells relief for those who got hooked on 2011's Satanic Royalty and haven't been lucky enough to see one of Midnight's raucous blood-on-black-leather live gigs.This sophomore LP captures the manic intensity of their live shows without sacrificing sound quality, serving up 10 satisfying new songs, plus a bonus track on the CD version culled from the tsunami benefit split they recorded with Japan's Abigail.

  • Death Metal Darklords Drowned Return With 'Idola Specus'

    Death Metal Darklords Drowned Return With 'Idola Specus'

    The first few murky, ominous moments of "Die niederen Weihen" set the tone for the rest of this eight-song, 37-minute comeback-slash-debut full-length from German death cult Drowned, whose last proper recording was 2006's Viscera Terrae. The production here is miles ahead of that record, but retains its warm, organic sound, and the songs themselves are more dynamic and interesting than their predecessors.Many things have changed in the eight years since we heard an honest-to-hell new release from Drowned (not counting the pair of rehearsal demos 2013 brought). The band has tweaked its lineup quite a bit, bidding farewell to Mors Dalos Ra (also of Necros Christos) and adding two members of like-minded German death metallers Essenz, G.ST (bass, vocals) and T.E. (drums).

  • Bleed The Pigs

    Nashville's Bleed the Pigs Grind Against the Grain

    Kayla Philips has a lot on her mind. Last October, the Nashville transplant hit upon the perfect outlet when she and guitarist David Hobbs were driving along listening to monolithic doom titans Neurosis and spontaneously decided to start a "spooky, sludgy" band. They soon recruited bassist Christian Smith and drummer Taylor Carpenter, and, fittingly, named their loud, harsh, and unapologetically heavy new creation Bleed the Pigs, after a Neurosis song.Philips and her partners wasted no time in launching their offensive. In a few weeks' time, the foursome had come up with a handful of songs for their raw, bruising debut EP, Mortis Fatum, and started playing live. Fast-forward a few months and they’re already on their second EP, the just-released Overcompensations for Misery, and are planning a West Coast tour in their spankin' new van.They play even faster than they move.

  • Death Becomes Tombs on 'Savage Gold,' A Lean Grind of Dark Metal

    Death Becomes Tombs on 'Savage Gold,' A Lean Grind of Dark Metal

    In writing, as with all art forms, it's important to know when to kill your darlings, to abandon your beloved bon mots for the greater good of the work. On their third album, Tombs do exactly that, slashing and burning everything we thought we knew of them: Savage Gold is a slaughterhouse. The mostly-Brooklynite band have evolved yet again both sonically and within their own ranks (this marks the first album for new bassist Ben Brand and guitarist Garrett Bussanick of Flourishing), and the result is leaner and more direct than anything Tombs have done. Their moody post-punk leanings are even more pronounced, as is their affinity for burly death metal riffs and black metal's more atmospheric, cyclical incarnations.

  • Supergroup Serpentine Path Drops Gale-Force Crusher 'Emanations'

    Supergroup Serpentine Path Drops Gale-Force Crusher 'Emanations'

    For anyone who's ever wondered what a super-group featuring members of Electric Wizard, Winter, Unearthly Trance, and Ramesses would sound like, Serpentine Path would be happy to show you -- by force, if necessary.Though the band may be a bit unfamiliar to anyone besides dyed-in-denim doom heads, the NYC quintet's latest release for Relapse makes for one hell of an introduction. The recent addition of Winter guitarist Stephen Flam beefs up an already intimidating original lineup that featured former Electric Wizard and Ramesses riffer Tim Bagshaw, as well as a devastating rhythm section (Jay Newman and Darren Verni) and vocalist (Ryan Lipynsky) culled from now-defunct extreme doom toughs Unearthly Trance.

  • Agalloch's Blackened Folk Metal Soothes the Soul on 'The Serpent & the Sphere'

    Agalloch's Blackened Folk Metal Soothes the Soul on 'The Serpent & the Sphere'

    Agalloch are one of the best bands in modern metal. This isn't a question; it's a fact, one corroborated by a world-class discography that stretches back nearly 20 years. After building momentum via doomy black metal-via-folk classics like The Mantle (2002) and Ashes Against the Grain (2006), the Portland-based quartet won wide acclaim for 2010's Marrow of the Spirit. That album's follow up, The Serpent & the Sphere, is even more ambitious, yet less showy about its brilliance.The album starts off slow, with the somber epic "Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation" followed by an acoustic interlude. But "The Astral Dialogue" is utterly engrossing, and downright catchy as its folky melodies bound and skip merrily atop Don Anderson's gossamer guitars.

  • Pilgrim Worship All That is Dark, Evil, Nerdy on 'II: Void Worship'

    Pilgrim Worship All That is Dark, Evil, Nerdy on 'II: Void Worship'

    Pilgrim's only been on the doom metal scene for four years, but their music already sounds ancient: the soundtrack to a crumbling heathen monolith. II: Void Worship is steeped in mythical lore and stately, grandiose songwriting. Even more impressively, it's the work of just two dudes, forceful drummer "Krolg Splinterfist, Destroyer of Men," and "The Wizard," who handles guitars, bass and vocals. As the pseudonyms suggest, Pilgrim are unabashed worshippers of all that is dark and nerdy, whether it be D&D, Lord of the Rings, or just evil itself -- their last record was called Misery Wizard.

  • Polish Metal Gods Behemoth Come Back Haunted on Sinister, Thrilling Apex 'The Satanist'

    The return of Polish metal lifers Behemoth is nothing short of miraculous when you consider the hand they've been dealt: The Satanist is the band's first new studio album since charismatic frontman Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2010. Thanks to a successful bone-marrow transplant, he's in full recovery, but his brush with death makes this album feels like a rebirth.In fact, Behemoth's tenth full-length sounds fresher and more interesting than anything they've done in years.

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