Some may say it’s silly to list ten albums you may have missed in the first half of 2018. After all, come the fuck on Joseph, you just did this six months ago. Do you really need to round up more Bandcamp embeds?
Yes, yes I do. And here’s why: There is just too much good material out there for a publication of any size to cover. Literally, I discover an album that I think someone could enjoy on a weekly basis, just by looking at what my friends are buying on Bandcamp, what they’re posting about on Twitter, or even just looking at the ‘People Also Like” tab on Spotify. A fair portion of those records gets essentially zero ink in the pages of Decibel or here on the website. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t Decibel readers who will flip over some of these songs.
I can’t even restrict this list to mico-sized labels. One of these albums was put out by a label with relatively large pockets, but like the rest, it received no mention on the Deciblog.
Now to be fair, I didn’t cross-check this list against the reviews section of the magazine. In fact, I know at least one of these records got a review—because I reviewed it! Still, a numerical score next to two hundred-ish words is not sufficient coverage for these releases. The internet can’t hold them, nor can it hold my enthusiasm.
Black Moth –Anatomical Venus
UK’s Black Moth are better than they have any right to be. Maybe the band’s title, a reference to the 1921 novel by Georgette Heyer, ought to have been a tip-off that they’ve got more sophistication up their sleeves than the typical witchy doom band (though for sure there are some obscure incantations in the mix). Harriet Bevan’s voice almost makes me forget The Devil’s Blood isn’t a thing anymore, and production by Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds makes sure the murder ballads on Anatomical Venus sound appropriately gothic.
Bullet – Dust to Gold
Frontiers, a label that specializes in arena-capacity dad rock, put out this little Swedish gem, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in the United States ever mention Bullet. First things first, they sound an awful lot like Accept, albeit with an even more eccentric vocalist. And like Accept, every tune is a hard rock anthem par excellence.
Dead Wretch – Hug Division Dead Wretch
“So Grim. So true. So What? Fuck you!” Ah yes. Grind and D-beat bands making fun of the fashy wing of black metal never gets old, it’s just usually the songs aren’t there. On his first full-length, however, Daniel Jackson’s Dead Wretch brings riffs to match the lyrical vitriol (maybe it’s because he likes Witchery as much as I do), plus a healthy sense of humor. not to mention, all proceeds from the sale of the record will be donated to the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.
Eigenlicht – Self-Annihilating Consciousness
Something of a Cascadian black metal supergroup, Eigenlicht shares membership with Fauna, Sadhaka and Skagos. Together, these musicians craft a black metal album with none of the hypnotic melody and hippie pagan posturings that stereotypes much similar music from the Pacific Northwest. Eigenlicht is knotty, dissonant and energetic in a way that reminds me of Krallice’s best moments.
Locust Point – Locust Point
Two members of Michigan’s acclaimed deep underground—veterans of proggy death metal upstarts Satyrasis and US power metal revival forerunners Harbinger—unite to create… stately dad rock. What else can you expect from the state that brought you, Bob Seger? Locust Point doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but songs like Bad Ideas” scratch that four-door sedan and Coors Light itch so, so well.
Messa – Feast for Water
Italy’s Messa first came up on my radar via their last album, the excellently-named Belfry, a washed out take on crushing doom that gave me pleasant memories of Mazzy Star and early Yob. Their follow-up Feast for Water is, on the contrary very much its own beast. A pervasive thread of jazz percussion and atmosphere takes what could be a derivative sound a whole new life (after death).
Panegyrist – Hierurgy
It takes an awful lot for me to so much as hit the play button once on any “Christian black metal” release. Panegyrist, though, keep warranting repeat listens, maybe because “black metal” here means the strangest and proggiest offshoots of the Norwegian old guard’s attack. Who let Arcturus and Ved Buens Ende do dabs in the recording studio?
Panphage – Jord
One-man folk-black metal act Panphage released this, their final record very early in the year. And while most one-man folk-black metal acts sound like bees trapped in a jar with shitty fiddle accompaniment, Jord rips like Dissection after listening to most of the Panopticon discography.
Red Lama – Motions
Not expressly metal, but deserving of more ears nonetheless, Red Lama play an especially percussive brand of prog rock. On paper, I’m a fan of this stuff, but in practice bands like The Pineapple Thief and Spock’s Beard usually, come across histrionic and obnoxious. Red Lama keeps it low key and lets the grooves speak for themselves.
Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology
Before it was released, I reviewed Esoteric Malacology in the pages of Decibel and gave it a 6/10. I haven’t ever wanted to retract a review score before now. I knew this record was good, but Slugdge’s blend of techy melodeath and mollusk puns hides clever social commentary and raw passion that grows with continuing listens. Maybe that six should be a seven or eight…