Tag Archives: Portal

The Best Metal Albums of 2018

best-metal-2018It’s a bit trite to say that 2018 was a good year for metal; every year is a good year for metal, if you’re willing to put in the legwork. Yet the range of this year’s crop of great albums is particularly impressive. Metalheads were fortunate enough to get multiple new entrants to the canons of funeral doom, atmospheric black metal, old-school death metal, Euro-style power metal, and more. Each one of the albums below (listed alphabetically) is worth spending the rest of your life getting to know.

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The Best Albums of Winter 2018

quarterly report

The first three months of the year have already given us an abundance of great records—arguably more than one roundup can possibly include. The 25 albums on this list contain a whole universe of sounds, from pummelling drone to rollicking indie rock, from thought-provoking hip-hop to Spanish synthwave. These are the Best Albums of Winter 2018.

Read last year’s edition of “Best Albums of the Winter”

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The Best Metal on Bandcamp: January 2018

Best Metal

2018 is already shaping up to be a great year for metal, but before we dive in to the year’s first batch of new releases, let’s quickly turn our attention back to 2006. Watching from a Distance, the second LP by the U.K. doom band Warning, is in a class of its own for its combination of regality, melody, heaviness, and sheer emotion. It shares some of the lugubrious motion of funeral doom, but it also transcends that genre, with Patrick Walker’s soaring, despairing vocals leading the way. Watching from a Distance is also the final Warning release—though the band did recently reunite for a series of brilliant live shows where they played the album in full. Despite its hallowed status, the album has had a tumultuous afterlife, spending much of the last decade out-of-print and unavailable digitally, as rights have changed hands between labels. It’s finally back on Bandcamp, along with the rest of the Warning discography, via new label Cappio Records. If you haven’t spent time with Watching from a Distance yet, don’t let it escape you any longer. Now, onward to January’s best metal releases.

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Album of the Day: Portal, “ION”

On their previous album, 2013’s Vexovoid, the cultish Australian band Portal offered a decidedly contemporary take on death metal. Although ION, the band’s latest and fifth full-length album, retains its predecessor’s unorthodoxy, it also derives seething energy from looking backward. On ION, Portal trade Vexovoid’s richness for a messier, DIY sound that recalls early death metal groups like Morbid Angel and Death, who, in their infancy, kept their compositions comparatively simple and their production lo-fi. Never imitative, though, Portal access the foundational simplicity of their forebears in order to, across ION’s tight 37 minutes, articulate a distinct language steeped in their own mythology. Continue reading

Death Metal Bands in the Sonic Lineage of Incantation

Incantation

Incantation by Scott Kinkade.

By 1992, just about every major band from American death metal’s first wave had released at least one legendary album. Death, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy, Immolation, Atheist, Suffocation, and Deicide all had future classics on record store shelves when Incantation unleashed Onward to Golgotha on May 5th of that year. Despite being late to the party—and far from the biggest name on the guest list—guitarist and vocalist John McEntee’s band ended up having a delayed Velvet Underground effect; everyone who bought Golgotha seems to have started a band in the last decade.

Onward to Golgotha’s chief innovation was pushing death metal’s sound beyond the cartoonish, splatter-flick realm favored by much of the first wave, and into the genuinely unsettling. By cross-pollinating early USDM’s punishing low end and pinch-harmonic riffing with the atmospheric lurch of funeral doom and black metal’s dead-serious sense of evil, Incantation made death metal darker and more decrepit than it had been up to that point. They’ve been doubling down on that sound ever since, on masterpieces like Diabolical Conquest and the upcoming Profane Nexus, another vital entry in the catalogue of a band who has steadfastly refused to rest on its laurels for 25 years.

It’s remarkable to have Incantation themselves making great music in the midst of a creatively fertile old-school death metal revival that has given the genre some all-time great records over the past five years or so. Onward to Golgotha, Mortal Throne of Nazarene, and Diabolical Conquest are the biggest influences on this scene, but bands all over the world have found ways to corrupt and recombine the Incantation genotype to create almost unimaginable permutations.


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