[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Istapp - Frostbiten (Trollzorn)
Here’s a rare Black Metal inclusion in my recommendations, the second album from the Swedish duo Istapp, which translates to “icicle” in Swedish. This is definitely an icy affair, with razor sharp tremolo riffs punctuated by balls to the wall drumming and raspy vocals. However, the beauty of this album reveals itself through the melodic interludes, harmonized leads and monk-like chanting. There is absolutely a Gothenburg influence or two throughout the record and that elevates this one above the heap of Black Metal releases that gets pumped out every week. This is a nice, frosty reprieve from the Summer heatwave.
Majestic Downfall - ...When Dead (Pulverised)
The fourth release from this Mexican duo follows and expands on the blueprint established by the classic Doom/Death bands. After a somewhat tranquil 2 minute intro, the remaining 4 tracks clock in at over 50 minutes, with enough massive riffage to keep your head banging throughout. The vocals are as punishing as they need to be and the single-note guitar melody lines are brilliant and serve as a grounding point when the songs begin to wander a bit. It’s a lot to digest in one sitting, but the payoff is worthwhile.
Sweat Lodge - Talismana (Ripple)
After a couple of solid EP releases, the Austin, TX 5-piece has finally delivered a full-length album. Combining the delicious fuzz of 90s Stoner Metal with the crunch of Proto-Metal, these dudes swagger their way through 9 tracks like seasoned veterans. While comparisons to fellow Austin stoner rockers The Sword are sure to plague the band, these guys have a little more Fu Manchu in their sound and a little less obvious Sabbath worship. I wouldn’t exactly call this a party album though. There’s plenty of ominous atmosphere to go around, separating these guys from the rest of the “Hey, man…let’s pretend we live in the 70s” crowd.