BEST OF 2019: 15-11

15. LINGUA IGNOTA, “CALIGULA” (Profound Lore): Kristin Hayter’s art has reflected some of the abuse and pain she has experienced in her life and has become a torch of sorts for those who has experienced sexual assault and abuse and refuse to shut up about it. That was the focus of her debut full-length “All Bitches Die,” but on her second record under the Lingua Ignota name, “Caligula,” she takes on that idea of power. On these 11 tracks that span about 66 minutes, Hayter pours her rage, disgust, sorrow, and fire into every ounce of this album, and it’s impossible to turn away. This is a declaration of war, one Hayter will wage with words and fire, and while it’s not as abrasive from a noise standpoint as her debut, it’s a scathing shot to the top.

“DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR” has keys dropping and Hayter asking, “How can you doubt me now?” The corrosion comes fast, as she wails, “Every vein of every leaf of every tree is slaked with poison,” as the bloodbath flows, and the psyche of the song is damaged further, with Hayter insisting, “I don’t eat, I don’t sleep,” as a way of breaking down. “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD” continues her aim to melt power, as out of eeriness Hayter cries, “Rise up, and I’ll cut you down.” “FRAGRANT IS MY MANY FLOWER’D CROWN” has keys pounding, as Hayter examines the compassion shown by men toward each other and wonders why that doesn’t carry over elsewhere. “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” is ominous and scary from the start, as it is influenced by Jim Jones’ death tape, and the journey is harrowing as expected. Piano quivers, as Hayter sings, “If you lay your life down, no man can take it, will you join me?” This is a mere taste of this psychological test this record encourages you to endure, and for those abusing their power, she knows where you sleep. (July 19)

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/lingua-ignota?fbclid=IwAR2xdNgH3XPbeQ676LgMFUz3QGM17kkqrgoZRDQ2lS9E_4AbhELOZ2bgag8

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

14. YELLOW EYES, “Rare Field Ceiling” (Gilead Media): “Rare Field Ceiling,” the fifth full-length record from Yellow Eyes, is one of the most perplexing, alluring, and truly unique entities in the entire sub-genre this year, which isn’t a shock. No one sounds like Yellow Eyes, and they sound like no one else, even if you can touch upon some influences, and buried in this six-track album is a journey that feels like one you’ve had before. But when you look closer, this is altogether new to you. You’ll recognize some of the colors, but they’re distributed far differently than before.

“Warmth Trance Revival” starts with the windy chimes slowly bleeding in, synth rising, and a piercing shriek breaking into the night sky with sounds swirling and the elements forming a tornado. Guitars cut down into a proggy burst, wild cries erupt, and melodies roll into a powerful bassline. “Light Delusion Curtain” and its swelling riffs attack as the guitars release random colors as shrieks scrape skin, and a volcanic explosion spits out the earth. “Nutrient Painting” is a total swarm before the song erupts, and tricky guitars twist the brain wiring before echoed screaming bounces off cave walls. Fierce chaos strips away flesh, while disorienting guitars play tricks with your mind, and the track keeps driving downward with emotional waves before ringing out into a thick haze. Final cut “Maritime Flame” that has the choral section returning and haunting, with shrieks and drone stepping in and overwhelming, and bizarre ambiance flooding the senses. Feral howls combine with cleanly dripping guitars, disarming solemnity floats like a ghost, and static chews as the song trails away. (July 1)

For more on the band, go here: https://yelloweyes.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

13. BLOOD INCANTATION, “Hidden History of the Human Race” (Dark Descent): Denver death metal alchemists Blood Incantation have had the cosmos in their DNA, and I’m not talking about the physical makeup as humans. Their music is consumed with and powered by what lies in the great unknown beyond our world, and they unravel even more of those mysteries on their mind-tangling second record “Hidden History of the Human Race.” Their debut “Starspawn” was a high-water mark in forward-thinking death metal, an album that established them as one of the sub-genre’s mightiest acts. That and their powerful live show led to a lathering of delirium for “Hidden History…” based largely on wondering where they’d go next and how their sound would expand. We have our answer.

“Slave Species of the Gods” starts the record by tearing the lid off everything with massive riffs sweeping, the growls setting in, and everything coming to a splatter. The guitars shift and crush as the vocals continue to rage, and delirious leads light everything on fire. The soloing ignites and explores while raspy wails strike, and the track spirals out into echo. “The Giza Power Plant” lathers with loopy guitar squeals and a mauling bass leaving facial bruising. The track then shifts to thrashiness before a Middle Eastern-style melody calms and sweeps, mentally stimulating the darkest regions of your mind, as the drums proceed to powder bones. “Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is the mammoth closer, an 18:02-long smasher that takes up half the album’s running time. Cymbals crash before the track begins to trudge, the guitars twist and confound, and the growls dice flesh. The guitars go off as the tempo gets more aggressive, spitting speedy trickery that turns into savage chaos. This is the future of death metal, and like our potential seeds, it comes from the stars. (Nov. 22)

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

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

12. SPIRIT ADRIFT, “Divided By Darkness” (20 Buck Spin): We’re not going to lie; we have our favorites around here. One of those is Spirit Adrift, who delivered “Divided By Darkness,” their excellent third platter of doom-influenced classic metal. This is another impressive display by this band and one that pulls them mostly out of doom metal waters and safely lands them in classic metal territory, the place it always seemed they were headed. At eight tracks and 41 minutes, it’s the leanest Spirit Adrift record yet, but it’s also the one that’s bound to break them to more people.

“We Will Not Die” gets the record off to a ripping start as the track builds up majestically, with drums erupting and the fire beginning to rage. Things finally kick into high gear and we’re off, and the chorus just swells with Nate Garrett wailing, “Shatter reality, sever our ties, invisible war being waged in our minds.” Angel and Abyss” is a goddamn treat. It’s a soft-loud ballad that pulls on metal’s roots, while the verses are icier and the chorus thunders up. “Losing sight of what I’m searching for, is this the end or the beginning?” Garrett calls, as the emotions run high. Later, the track goes off, the guitars chug like a monster, and an echoed cackle that just reeks of Ozzy (in the best way possible) sends a chill up your spine before stampeding out. “Tortured By Time” has solid singing, riffs that spiral, and an approach that sets you up for being trampled. Closer “The Way of Return” is a spacey instrumental that ends the record, built by cosmic keys, guitars that light up the night sky, and an ascension into the stratosphere closing the album on a breath-taking note. There’s a reason we adore this band, and a record like “Divided By Darkness” is why. (May 10)

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

11. CLOUD RAT, “Pollinator” (Artoffact): Michigan grind beasts Cloud Rat have been one of those bands that have fought for the oppressed and those who need a scene with which to align, and over the past decade, they’ve backed that up with some of the most volcanic creations in heavy music. Now comes their explosive new full-length “Pollinator,” a 14-track barrage that isn’t just brutality for the sake of it. Their music never is that way. Hidden beneath all the trauma are messages of hope in a world full of hell.

Losing Weight” starts the record as a blast that lasts less than 2 minutes and is a volcanic burst as Madison Marshall’s vocals strip away at muscle, with the song grinding you down into “Delayed Grief // Farmhouse Red” that utterly goes off. Murky synth gives off clouds while the vocals snarl and crush, the band hits a thrashy fury, and shrapnel piles up at a sludgy end. “Wonder” has guitars flush with color and mangling vocals as Marshall admits, “My brain never shuts off!” That continues to pile into fury, rushing into “The Mad”  that opens into slowly mauling anguish and emotional leads before the song opens up. Webspinner” is a piledriver, bending your neck, smearing soot in your face as Marshall accuses, “You would do anything,” as the music swims into hell. “Luminescent Cellar” slows things down, allowing reflection, slowly buzzing into your brain. The dreamy sequence is then torn to shreds as guitars gurgle, with everything ending in guttural wails. “Marionettes” has a melodic open before Armageddon lands and blackens the earth. The storm rips through, sending mud and trees flying before things drip into dreams. Their passion is undeniable, and the fact that they’re fighting the good fight makes them all the more worthy of your heart. (Sept. 13)

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

To buy the album, go here: https://cloudrat.bandcamp.com/

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