BEST OF 2019: 30-21

30. WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, “Syntheosis” (Svart): What started as a one-time collaboration for Roadburn in 2018 pitting members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising instead ballooned into something even bigger, that being a project that rounded into their imaginative and thunderous debut album “Syntheosis.” What resulted is a nine-track, 64-minute opus that feels like a psychedelic head rush, with the songs focused on the Shaman, the Seeker, and the Possessor, all voiced by different vocalists on a record that definitely will take a few visits to fully absorb. It’s a massive undertaking by some of the world’s most ambitious musicians, and hopefully it has a next chapter.  (April 4)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wasteofspaceorchestra/

To buy the album, go here: https://svartrecords.com/?show=all_items

For more on the label, go here: https://svartrecords.com/

29. PELICAN, “Nighttime Stories” (Southern Lord): Instrumental beasts Pelican had left us waiting six long years for new music, and with the arrival of “Nighttime Stories,” we got just what we wanted. This is as aggressive as the band has sounded in some time, as these songs rage from their instruments as they take you down on this 8-track, 44-minute album. Actually, if you caught the band at Migration Fest in 2018, you got an early preview of these songs that sound just as volcanic and volatile as they did on that night. Tracks such as “Midnight and Mescaline,” “Abyssal Plain,” “Full Moon, Black Water,” and the riveting title track punch a blow back against a society that is ill and need of repair. (June 7)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pelicansong

To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://southernlord.com/

28. DEAD TO A DYING WORLD, “Elegy” (Profound Lore): Dallas-based apocalyptic metal band Dead to a Dying World didn’t just claim that moniker because it sounded good. There’s far more to it, as they’ve demonstrated over a trio of records that leads us to “Elegy.” This album draws closed a triptych of albums that would cover the sixth extinction of the Anthropocene, the one that would claim us all. On this chapter, we see a post-human world and a story that revolves around loss and grief as a new ecological system takes form and life begins again. That story plays out over six tracks and 49 minutes, with the plot unraveling over “The Seer’s Embrace,” “Empty Hands, Hollow Hymns,” and closer “Of Moss and Stone.” This is a sweeping, dramatic stunner.  (April 19)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DeadToADyingWorld

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

27. CAINA, “Gentle Illness” (Apocalyptic Witchcraft): Andrew Curtis-Brignell seemed content to leave Caina behind him, with a strong back catalog he could put up and be proud of any day he wanted. But that itch returned, which was immense pain and the heaviness of psychological pressure, which resulted in “Gentle Illness,” a bleak, crushing statement that brings the band into a new era. This also is one of the most diverse records in the Caina catalog as this eight-track, nearly 38-minute album still simmers in black metal, but it adds more abrasive noise, jazz, and spacey visions to its palate, which adds interesting textures to a collection that’s steeped in pain. The bleakness of suffering has ways of constantly beating you down, but Curtis-Brignell used his misery to fuel his creative fires. (Nov. 1)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cainaband

To buy the album, go here: https://apocalypticwitchcraft.bandcamp.com/album/gentle-illness

For more on the label, go here: https://apocalypticwitchcraft.co.uk/

26. BIG ‡ BRAVE, “A Gaze Among Them” (Southern Lord): Montreal trio Big ‡ Brave has mastered the power of delivering quaking noise with minimalist compositions, their latest display being “A Gaze Among Them.” The band has been on a fairly prolific clip the past few years, and as new music has arrived, they have morphed into a stronger, more confident machine that travels the edges of the metal world, looking in ominously. The band sets moods in which they mix themselves, while guitarist Robin Wattie’s singing floats through the atmosphere, charging, sometimes letting you dream as she and the band push through “Muted Shifting of Space,” “Holding Pattern,” and “Sibling,” letting their drone and doom soak in their own juices.  (May 10)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/bigbravemusic/

To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://southernlord.com/

25. THE GREAT OLD ONES, “Cosmicism” (Season of Mist): HP Lovecraft was a master of morbid horrors (as well as a world-league piece of shit), and his terrible creations live long past his death, where he never knew that his work took on such a huge life of its own. The French black metal ghouls The Great Old Ones (deities in the author’s bizarre universe of characters) have latched themselves into these stories and used them to inform their horrific music ever since forming a decade ago. “Cosmicism” is the band’s fourth record and second for Season of Mist, and it’s a total beast, battering you over “Cosmic Deaths,” “The Omniscient,” “A Thousand Young,” and “Dreams of the Nuclear Chaos.” This band keeps getting darker and more aggressive, which makes the album such a monster. (Oct. 22)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thegreatoldones

To buy the album, go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

24. BRUTUS, “Nest” (Sargent House): Belgian trio Brutus served a useful reminder that music can be heavy and catchy without compromising a thing, which they proved on second record “Nest.” Energy and passion overflow on this follow-up to 2017’s “Burst” as the band tears though 11 songs that’ll demand their way into your head and never leave again. Drummer Stefanie Mannaerts does the singer behind the kit thing as well as anyone, as her booming voice creates surges, while the rest of the band backs her up as they wail you on “Fire,” “Django,” epic, heartfelt closer “Sugar Dragon,” and impossibly catchy “Techno.” This album is still exciting nine months later. (March 29)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wearebrutus/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/sargent-house

For more on the label, go here: https://sargenthouse.com/

23. DAWN RAY’D, “Behold Sedition Plainsong” (Prosthetic): Despite the views of some people who choose to keep their heads buried in the ground permanently, heavy metal does have an issue with dangerous right-wing ideologies, so any group that can battle back is always appreciated. When that band is UK black metal titans Dawn Ray’d, who can bring the heavy lumber with both music and message, it’s not just resistance, it’s a full-blown punch in the mouth to anti-fascist poisons. Their music is undeniably heavy and passionate, and with the violin playing of vocalist Simon B., it adds a churning texture to their music that stands up for the downtrodden with a goddamn huge fiery torch. (Oct. 25)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dawnrayd

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

22. FALLS OF RAUROS, “Patterns in Mythology” (Gilead Media): Hailing from Maine, Falls of Rauros have spent a career making majestic black metal about their home state and the wondrous dose of nature one can enjoy in mass quantities when making a visit there. “Patterns in Mythology” is the band’s first record for Gilead Media, and it finds a perfect home there (not that Bindrune wasn’t a great setting) as they unleash six tracks over 42 minutes on their fifth album overall. There is a lot in which to bathe your soul and mind as they batter you with atmosphere on “Weapons of Refusal,” “New Inertia,” and swelling closer “Memory at Night” that puts a cap on another rousing record from this thought-provoking band. These guys never offer up anything but crushers, and this record is no different. (July 19)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/fallsofraurosOfficial/

To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/patterns-in-mythology

For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

21. DREADNOUGHT, “Emergence” (Profound Lore): There has been a nice helping of bands lately that have pushed the understanding and possibilities of heavy metal, and one of those is Colorado-based progressive unit Dreadnought, who returned with one hell of a record with “Emergence.” The word prog gets thrown around a lot, and we’re not innocent in that regard, but this band makes you feel like going and digging out Kansas and Yes records as their strings and flutes spiral different textures into this music that truly sets it apart from pretty much every heavy music band. “Emergence” is their “fire album,” and they unleash plenty of adventurous heat on “Besieged,” “Pestilent,” and awesome closing epic “The Waking Realm.” This band continues to remain one of our favorites for very good reason.  (May 10)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dreadnoughtband/

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

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