Five For Friday: March 3, 2023

Greetings, Decibel readers!

I’m calling it early, 2023 is going to be a great year for metal. I mean, with so many releases coming out every week, we’re guaranteed to get a lot of decent music. But the albums below show that within that storm of sound, there’s a few bolts of lightening especially worth catching. In particular, the new ones from Calderum, Majesties, and Plague Bearer have all shot up to my working list of albums of the year. Enslaved might make their way up there, too, though they’re post-Eld work is kind of a slow burn for me.

Anyway, don’t sleep on this week, get these albums on your 2023 playlist (or shelf, or whatever) and play them again and again!

Calderum – Lord Cramridor

I’m about a month late including this album, but I’m such a huge fan of it that I wanted to make sure you all heard it too! Pure, raw black metal at its absolute finest! Calderum has been active for awhile now, with some albums and splits already in its back catalog. However, those previous efforts don’t touch the excellence captured here. Everything from the foggy atmosphere, the wretched vocals, and the entrancing riffs comes together here. It’s an old cliche that great art should take you places. On this album, you’ll want to stay there.

Stream: Apple Music

Enslaved – Heimdal

It’s fitting that this album comes out the same week I’m listening to The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion by Daniel McCoy. I took a course on Celtic and Norse mythology in college, but still have lots of gaps in my knowledge. Mostly because, well, it was college. Anyway, fans of Enslaved‘s last few albums will enjoy this, as the band expertly strikes the balance between their early work and their more progressive output. Also, it’s funny they now have a song named for Heimdal both in it’s modern rendering, and another one in old Norse (the Yggdrasill version remaining my favorite Enslaved track).

Stream: Apple Music

Majesties – Vast Reaches Unclaimed

The masterminds behind Obsequiae and Inexorum unite to summon the spirit of Swedish melodic death metal, specifically in the raw and unpolished shape it took in the mid-90s. This was a sound that still had the fire and grit of death metal, and hadn’t yet taken on the slick production and predictability that eventually ran it into the ditch. And it’s not a simple retread either, as you can hear the stylistic hallmarks of Tanner’s regular work, from the “shiny” guitar harmonies and his unmistakable vocal snarl. 20 Buck Spin has done it again!

Stream: Apple Music

Plague Bearer – Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation

Speaking of bands that bear the mark of the member’s primary work. Have you ever wished Drawn and Quartered had a sharper, more black-metal inspired sound? And have you ever wished they would talk a little less about dying from diseases and more about chopping angels’ heads off. Well, I agree! I’m a giant fan of Drawn and Quartered, but I have wondered what they could do with their original Plague Bearer project if they focused it on a proper album. Ponder the question no longer, the guys have delivered an absolute body blow to the faint-of-heart here.

Phantom Fire – Eminente Lucifer Libertad

Razor-sharp black metal blasphemy with an added fistful of classic speed metal. It’s a cool combination of sounds that sets the band apart from the now countless black-and-roll and blackended-death metal acts out there. The standard elements are all in place, but Phantom Fire has their own way of setting them ablaze.

Stream: Apple Music