COVID-19—better known as coronavirus—has wreaked havoc on the music industry over the last few weeks, leading to a staggering amount of cancellations, postponements, international strandings and general disruption in the name of public health. Decibel is no exception, having been forced to cancel the Decibel Magazine Tour 2020 (pick up tour merch from those artists here) and postpone Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philadelphia.
If there’s a silver lining to these stressful and uncertain times, it’s the outpouring of love and support to artists and labels from extreme metal fans around the world. Online music platform Bandcamp is waiving their cut of the revenue today (Friday, March 20) so that artists can put more money in their pocket.
Decibel staff have put together a list of some of our favorite albums from artists who were affected by cancellations due to COVID-19’s pandemic status. Use this guide as a starting point to check out (or revisit) some great music, or just grab those albums that have been on your wishlist forever. If you currently have access to the means to support, this is undoubtedly a crucially-important time to buy from artists and labels.
Today is the Day — Animal Mother
First things first. You should absolutely purchase Today is the Day’s fantastic just-released full-length No Good to Anyone and/or other sick TITD gear from the band’s Big Cartel shop. But I wanted to include the visionary outfit’s Bandcamp-available 2014 effort Animal Mother here for a few reasons: One, it is a gorgeous, harrowing and supremely affecting album. Second, Today is the Day was just forced off the road in the middle of what by all accounts was one of the best tours in the band’s storied history. And finally, Steve Austin—the prime mover since day one and an inspiration, both musically and philosophically, for more than a quarter century—wrote one of the only genuinely uplifting and heartening things to come out of this disaster. Which I highly recommend you read here after smashing that “Buy” button on Animal Mother. —Shawn Macomber
Power Trip — Opening Fire: 2008-2014 and “Hornet’s Nest”
Let’s be real: Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale working to goad milquetoast alt-rockers Trapt into showdown for charity is reason enough to throw a bit of support the band’s way in the wake of the postponement of the Lamb of God/Kreator/Power Trip European tour. Happily, it’s not the only reason. As Decibel laid out in a cover story last year, this Texas quintet has been a uniquely powerful, cathartic, life-affirming force in dark thrash since virtually the very beginning of its existence. Here’s your chance to catch up on the Texas quintet’s past and future with one swing of the (metaphorical) axe. First up, Opening Fire: 2008-2014, a spectacular, enlivening collection of “Power Trip’s earliest non-LP output” that reveals a band almost eerily actualized and potent from the first riff. And then there’s the killer latest single, “Hornet’s Nest,” offering a taste of the direction this dynamic, crucial heavy metal powerhouse is likely headed on its highly anticipated third LP. —Shawn Macomber
If anything is going to lift your spirits and key up your resolve in the middle of this dismal crisis, “stadium death metal” is good bet. This Arizonan anchor of the tragically cancelled 2020 Decibel tour put out what is widely acknowledged to be one of the absolute best extremely-extreme releases of 2019. If you slept on it, now’s your chance to wake the fuck up. And once you’ve been converted—as surely ye shall be—pick up some sick merch printed for the Decibel tour. And do it fast: Gatecreeper vocalist Chase Mason recently tweeted he was “growing out a self-quarantine beard so I can look as deranged as possible,” which means he very well may not be allowed into the post office to ship your order a week from now. —Shawn Macomber
Midnight—Rebirth by Blasphemy
“Warning from the Reaper.” “Escape the Grave.” Devil’s Excrement.” “Cursed Possessions.” “Fucking Speed and Darkness.” Hard to argue blackened speed metallers Midnight didn’t call this shit on the wild, career-defining album Rebirth by Blasphemy. (Check out our review here.) Alas, man cannot live on blasphemy alone, so throw these proud violators a bone as they face a series of postponed and cancelled shows—including a much-anticipated date at the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest 2020. It’s no substitute, but while there’s no other option might as well have your mind desecrated in the comfort of your own quarantined home. —Shawn Macomber
Traveler – Termination Shock
Rippikoulu – Musta seremonia
SEA – Impermanence
Boston post-metal project SEA released their debut LP Impermanence just two weeks into the year, and I’m still reeling from its power. Despite the album’s funereal presence, there’s warmth and empathy abound as they sway from Neurosis’ earthy doom to passages of star-scorched shoegaze. Highly recommended for fans of SubRosa and emotional intelligence.—Sean Frasier
Smoulder – Dream Quest Ends
It looks like Canadian power-doom rogues Smoulder weren’t done converting fans during their 2019 campaign: their new Dream Quest Ends EP offers two triumphant new songs and a Manilla Road cover. After the head-turning call to adventure represented by their Times of Obscene Evil & Wild Daring debut, some more sword ‘n’ sorcery escapism is what we need to keep us sky-punching during quarantine .—Sean Frasier
Sunrot – Sunnata
Sunrot is some of the nastiest sludge/punk you ever did hear!—Blake Harrison
Sex Prisoner – Tannhauser Gate
Brainpan – Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead
Canyon of the Skull – Sins of the Past
Well, I was actually on that Origin/Beneath the Massacre/Defeated Sanity tour slinging merch when the plague struck forcing us to pack up, go home, lick our wounds and stare at our empty wallets. I see that one of my esteemed colleagues has already jumped on mentioning the bands from that package (that lasted a four whole days), so thanks for that Mr. Andrew. However, as everyone and every band that had tours cancelled and/or dates booked in the near-future is suffering, I decided to give mention to good buddy of mine who had a chunk of life’s rug pulled out from under him with this whole mess.
Mike Miczek plays drums in a number of bands—The Atlas Moth, Broken Hope, Canyon of the Skull, Earthburner, a hippie jam band with work colleagues and a couple others I’m probably forgetting about. When the cancellations started, Broken Hope’s scheduled showing at the upcoming Dark Lord Day was snuffed out, as was a short run run doom/sludge/Americana instrumentalists and former Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone superstars, Canyon of the Skull were scheduled to do in support of their most recent release, Sins of the Past.—Kevin Stewart-Panko
Sadie and the Wives – Sadie and the Wives
So, if you’re shelling out on Bandcamp today, why not give Canyon of the Skull a look-see. And while you’re at it, check out a Canadian punk band called Sadie and the Wives who just released a self-titled 7” a week or two ago. They’re raucous, loud and noisy, fiercely independent, are likely going to have to cancel their first tour which was planned for April/May and feature some kid named Sam Stewart-Panko as vocalist and main songwriter.—Kevin Stewart-Panko
Origin – Abiogenesis – A Coming into Existence
Defeated Sanity – Chapters of Repugnance
As for Defeated Sanity, the German ragers have re-issued their classic Chapters of Repugnance, which is one of the most extreme things I’ve ever heard. The song titles along are glorious! They have one called “Engulfed in Excruciation”! Dude!
So if you’re into the BR00TAL side of things, support these two bands, and let’s hope they can return to bash our souls in later this year!—J. Andrew
Malevich – Our Hollow
Atlanta blackened angst outfit Malevich were set to tear up the east coast on a tour supporting last year’s exceptional, criminally-underrated full-length, Our Hollow, before the coronavirus dismantled everyone’s plans. There is something for everyone here: death and black metal, grindcore, sludge, screamo, even post-metal. Coupled with the band’s thoughtful lyrics and knack for combining different influences, Our Hollow was one of 2019’s best independent releases, but it was also just one of 2019’s best releases in general.—Vince Bellino
Wake – Devouring Ruin
Decibel hailed WAKE‘s Misery Rites debut as the kind of debut on par with Scum or World Downfall—no small feat when you consider the reverence this magazine holds for those artists. Their follow-up, Devouring Ruin, is due out later this month and rips equally hard, if not harder. WAKE were slated to support Origin and Defeated Sanity on their North American trek, so throw them a pre-order or score some merch.—Vince Bellino
Velnias – Scion of Aether
Velnias‘s music is the might of the Rockies incarnate. Burly, doomed riffing, black metal might, and folk atmospheres have fueled their music since 2007, and Scion of Aether is no different. However, this new album has the power of eight years of planning, composing, and touring behind it, resulting in a much more mature album than is predecessors (not to discredit the mighty RuneEater and Sovereign Nocturnal). However powerful Velnias may be, they, too, have fallen victim to the Coronavirus, having lost two US shows and an entire European tour to the sickness. Scion of Aether releases March 27th on Eisenwald.—Jon Rosenthal
Varaha – A Passage for Lost Years
Varaha might have released a new album, A Passage for Lost Years, last year, but it may as well be a time capsule to the early 1990s. Drawing from the classic “Peaceville 3” sound, but with flairs all their own, Varaha’s emotive, post-rock inflicted doom metal places itself at a more cinematic end of the genre’s spectrum. Due to the virus, Varaha had to cancel a handful of yet-to-be-announced shows.—Jon Rosenthal