BEST OF 2020: Splits and EPs

KHEMMIS, “Doomed Heavy Metal” (20 Buck Spin): You’ve got to be a real son of a bitch to cover Dio’s all-time classic “Rainbow in the Dark” and think you’re going to do it justice, but damnit if Khemmis didn’t pull it off expertly. That’s just the opening track on their Record Store Day release “Doomed Heavy Metal” (which was pushed back due to you know what), and elsewhere they add their own glorious fingertips to “A Conversation With Death” and include their Decibel flexi single “Empty Throne” as well as three great live cuts on their 20 Buck Spin swan song. (April 17)

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ANHEDONIST/SPECTRAL VOICE, split (Dark Descent): Combining a band we lost too soon with one of the best death metal bands on the planet, this split brought together sinister power and unrelenting darkness. Anhedonist bowed out in 2014 after one record, and sadly, guitarist Kim Harrington passed away this year, but they left us “Abject Darkness” that reminded of their coal-black power. Spectral Voice take you right into the heart of cosmic violence on “Ineffable Winds,” a reminder that they remain one of the sub-genre’s heaviest hitters. (Feb. 12)

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VULGARITE, “Fear Not the Dark Nor the Sun’s Return” (self-released): Margaret Killjoy had quite the productive year, first with this pitch-black nightmare “Fear Not the Dark…,” as well as her work with Feminazgul, who we’ll visit again in a few days. But this EP that struck at the turn of the year actually ideally encapsulated the hell we were about to endure with tracks such as ghostly opener “What Curse Comes This Way,” the strange miasma of “His Words Are a Void,” and atmospheric closer “A Decade, a Prophecy” that’ll chill you to the bone. (Jan. 6)

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MORTIFERUM/HYPERDONTIA, split (Carbonized Records/Me Saco Un Ojo): This destroyer is still fresh in our memories as we just talked about this devastating split pitting Washington’s Mortiferum against international destroyers Hyperdontia. The bands bring their best, splattering you with relentless death that simmers in doomy waters as far as Mortiferum is concerned and absolute hell when it comes to Hyperdontia. Two tracks and a little more than 13 minutes are all you need to have your face bruised and your psyche permanently scarred. (Dec. 7)

For more on Hyperdontia, go here:

For more on Mortiferum, go here:

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Or here:

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And here:

LYCHGATE, “Also Sprach Futura” (Debemur Morti): Taking breaks between full-length efforts, the strange and enigmatic Lychgate pulled into Debemur Morti’s shores and delivered this spellbinding four-track EP that’s equal mix black metal horror and organ-driven insanity. Nothing this band does ever comes free of musical drama, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. They chill and splatter on imaginative songs such as deadly opener “Incarnate,” mind-bending “Simulacrum,” and rushing closer “Vanity Ablaze” that might as well soundtrack a real-life haunted house. (March 13)

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album (North America), go here:

Or here (Europe):

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Other EPs and splits we loved: Auroch, “Stolen Angelic Tongues”; Body Void/Keeper split; Carcass, “Despicable”; High Command, “Everlasting Torment”; Old Nick, “Witch of the Northern Vill” and “No Solace in Sunlight”; Putrescine, “Devourer of Gods” and “Reek of Putrescine”; Throane, “Une Balle Dans le Pied”

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