1. Dismalimerence (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Album: Tome: 1
Release Date: June 26th, 2020 (Transcending Records)
Genre: Atmospheric/Post Black
Contemporaries: Vukari, L’Homme Absurde, Fluisteraars, Sleeping Ancient, Gloosh
Making a name for themselves lately in the Chicago metal underground are Dismalimerence, whose debut full-length Tome: 1 is available now from Transcending Records. Ethereal, introspective, chilling, and alluring, this collection of eight spellbinding tunes ranges from sprawling, epic compositions to short, creatively charged bursts, but across all of Tome: 1, one thing that never changes is the overwhelming exploration of atmospheric dynamics and their interplays with modern, melodic black metal. Overall, Tome: 1 is a stunningly satisfying debut from Dismalimerence, and this act is certainly one to keep an eye and an ear on as they move forward!
2. Inexorum (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Album: Moonlit Navigation
Release Date: June 26th, 2020 (Gilead Media)
Genre: Melodic Blackened Death
Contemporaries: Wolfheart, Aspherium, Battlesword, Abeyance, Everdying
Only two years formed and already becoming prolific, Minnesota’s Inexorum craft a unique blend of death and black metals with a folky melodicism to excellent effect on their sophomore full-length, Moonlit Navigation, out now via Gilead Media. Never wholly death or black or melodic or folk, the music of Inexorum exists in all four of these realms simultaneously, and it is wonderful to behold. Moonlit Navigation’s choicest cuts include the title-track, “Moonlit Navigation”, the punishing-yet-pleasing “Chains of Loss”, and the swirling mellifluousness of “Signal Fires” (Hated One’s fave). This is one of those albums that seems to get better every time you listen to it, so get on it posthaste!
3. Sickening Horror (Athens, Greece, EUR)
Album: Chaos Revamped
Release Date: June 29th, 2020 (Pathologically Explicit Records)
Genre: Technical/Progressive Death
Contemporaries: Demilich, Roman Ring, Sutrah, Shadow in the Darkness
Taking their sweet time between almost every release since their inception way back in 2002, Greece’s technical/progressive death mainstays Sickening Horror have returned with their fourth full-length, Chaos Revamped. Although prolific isn’t a word most would use to describe this death quartet from Athens, the music they put out is quality, and that’s what counts. Nothing about this album screams that it is overly special in any way, but then again, nothing about this album screams that it is overly underwhelming, either. To summate, Chaos Revamped by Sickening Horror is simply a good listen. ‘Nuff said.
4. Enshadowed (Athens, Greece, EUR)
Album: Stare into the Abyss
Release Date: June 30th, 2020 (Odium Records)
Genre: Modern Black
Contemporaries: Empire of the Moon, Katavasia, Aegrus, Avslut
Not new, no, but still underground is the psychedelically spun black metal of another Athens act, Enshadowed. Originally formed in 1998, this Greek trio has always embraced the methodology of mesmerizing their audiences with a swirling cauldron of melodic mayhem, and on their fourth full-length (and first album in seven years), Stare into the Abyss, this approach has been taken to the absolute hilt. With plenty of sweeping, hypnotic blasts full of tuneful black metal, Enshadowed have indeed invoked the abyss for all to stare into and despair... Not a bad way to spend a warm, summer’s evening, eh?
5. Torrefy (Victoria, British Columbia, CAN)
Album: Life is Bad
Release Date: July 1st, 2020 (Independent)
Genre: Blackened Thrash/Speed
Contemporaries: Dismemberment, Black Pestilence, Beyond Deth, Primeval Mass
Reaching for the heavens are Victoria, British Columbia’s Torrefy, who’s third full studio effort, Life is Bad, has just been independently released. A little overambitious in scope and execution, unfortunately, Torrefy’s Life is Bad suffers from “Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be a Bad Thing” in that while, yes, even blackened thrash acts are allowed the room to experiment with longer compositions, but including seven thrash tracks that are longer than six minutes all on the same album? Hmmm... seeing as most thrash albums are full of three-to-five minute long songs, with maybe one or two longer cuts sprinkled in for effect, attempting to listen to over an hour’s worth of epically long thrash tracks can be a little unnerving - especially when just the opener is over nine minutes. Still, Torrefy show a lot of promise. Next time, though, it would be nice to see them reign it in a little more, as the modern attention span of most people can only be measured in nanoseconds, and extremely long blackened thrash song after extremely blackened long thrash song can often cause brains to tune out; and that's a pity because there's some real talent here. A solid - if still lengthy - album.
6. Ignea (Kyiv, Ukraine, EUR)
Album: The Realms of Fire and Death
Release Date: July 3rd, 2020 (Kadabra Music)
Genre: Progressive/Melodic Metal
Contemporaries: BTBAM, Isle of the Cross, Apotheus, Black Passage
Hailing from Ukraine, Ignea are one sweet surprise. Amorphous and groovy in dynamics and delivery, digitally charged, and filled to the brim with the beautifully unpretentious cleans and viciously potent growls of vocalist Helle Bogdanova is the Kyiv quintet’s sophomore full-length, The Realms of Fire and Death. Well-known in their own corner of the globe, but still relatively unheard of here in North America, the release of The Realms of Fire and Death should change all of that, and quickly, for this album is nothing but astounding song after astounding song. Possessing all the qualities that major labels look for, Hated One promises that the strength of The Realms of Fire and Death will be the catalyst to Ignea's soon-to-be meteoric rise.
Thank you for reading, for listening, for supporting this site and the bands, and for staying safe, healthy, and most importantly, metal! \m/