[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Cardinals Folly - Our Cult Continues! (Shadow Kingdom)
The second full-length release from the Finnish doom trio starts off strong with a creepy intro track that hits on all the doom essentials: slow, fuzzed out riffs, creepy atmosphere, droning vocal chants and doesn't let up for the next hour. The title track is particularly impressive, with its massive riffs and killer bass propelling the listener into the waiting arms of the Cult.
Crucifyre - Black Magic Fire (Pulverised)
The Swedish deah metal quintet returns with their first album in 4 years and lay down the Swedish death formula that we've all come to enjoy over the past couple decades. The guitar work is fantastic and the songs are actually pretty catchy. If "Apocalypse Whore" doesn't get stuck in your head for the rest of the day, you need to reevaluate your life.
Johnny Touch - Inner City Wolves (Shadow Kingdom)
The debut album from this Australian classic metal group has one of the best album covers of the year and the tunes to back it up. Solid, lightning-fast grooves and killer vocals harken back to the wonderful time when metal was just fun. This stuff would've been perfect for the Heavy Metal soundtrack back in 1981 but it somehow sounds fresh in 2014. If you're looking for a break from the doom and death scenes this week, this might be your best bet.
Karma to Burn - Arch Stanton (Faba/ Deepdive)
The West Virginia riff masters return with their seventh full length album. I'm always amazed at how these dudes can keep an instrumental album interesting from start to finish and they achieve the goal once more this time around. The 8 new tracks fly by in under 40 minutes, leaving this guy wanting more every time I spin the album. Check out the tasty riff around 2:23 on Track 5 ("Fifty Five"). Stoner metal doesn't get much better than that.
Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)
I can't imagine the burden this Arkansas outfit felt when writing material to follow up the unparalleled Sorrow and Extinction from 2012. How do you top a masterpiece like that? Perhaps that's where the album title came from; total speculation there. Somehow the doom quartet managed to put together an album on par with their debut, which is certainly saying something. The riffs and harmonies are again fantastic and the vocals crush everything else in the doom scene. These dudes must have some serious shit going on in order to come up with this much incredible doom in just two years. Foundations of Burden immediately moved into my top 3 albums for the year and I imagine it will stay there for the next few months. Outstanding.
Principality of Hell - Fire & Brimstone (W.T.C. Productions)
The debut album from the Greek trio takes us back to the first wave of black metal, when Venom ruled the scene. This is no-frills black/thrash with plenty of tongue-in-cheek Satanic references and other cheese, with raw production to boot. There's nothing revolutionary going on here, but it's pretty damn awesome regardless. Gnarly riffs, pounding drums, fuzzy bass and snarled vocals. "Black fucking metal like a fist" is one of the best lines of the year.
Take Over and Destroy - Vacant Face (Comfort Point)
Very solid blackened sludge metal on this Phoenix six-piece's second album. There's a lot more melody here than on your average sludge release and the blackened vocals add a nice touch. The guitar harmonies add an eerie atmosphere to the proceedings and when the sludge kicks in, there's plenty of heaviness to keep the bottom feeders interested.