[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Abyssic - A Winter's Tale (Osmose)
Gorgeous Doom/Death Metal with symphonic/keyboard touches from this Norwegian quartet on their debut album. The album clocks in at nearly an hour and twenty minutes, although there are only four tracks. So yeah, it takes some patience, but it’s worth it. I wish the wierdo keyboard parts were toned down a bit because they are a tad distracting and repetitive. However, when the keys cut out, it’s pure Doom/Death delight with crushing riffs and massive drums and near vocal perfection. They do pick up the tempos here and there, but it’s mostly a solid Doom slog throughout. You can almost feel the icy Norwegian winter seeping through the speakers.
Droids Attack - Sci-Fi or Die (Riff Reaper)
I’ve become pretty reticent to give more than a cursory listen to Stoner Metal albums recently, but this one forced its way through. The 4th album from the Madison, WI trio is pretty relentless and hard driving, kind of like Lo-Pan with harsher vocals. They keep the tempos up, almost to thrash levels on several tracks, and the standard Stoner tone is in full effect. They also manage to avoid the “trippy, psychedelic interlude” curse that derails most Stoner bands these days. It’s always nice to hear someone breath life back into a stale genre and these guys do that and more with the latest release.
Frozen Ocean - The Prowess of Dormition EP (Apocalyptic Witchcraft)
This is the 17th release, counting full-lengths and EPs, from this Moscow solo artist, including a staggering 5 full-length albums in 2011. He obviously has a lot to say and I’m surprised I didn’t get the memo until now. He deals in Atmospheric Black Metal, relying heavily on synth parts to compliment the standard Black Metal tremolo progressions and the result is pure beauty. I can’t comment on the massive back catalog, but I’m assuming that he didn’t just suddenly figure things out this year, so if you dig melody in your Black Metal, it probably can’t hurt to check out the older stuff.
Greenleaf - Rise Above the Meadow (Napalm)
Two Stoner albums in one week? Maybe the boycott has been lifted. The 6th album from these Swedish vets makes the cut based on the monster riff from the first track alone. The album peters out a bit after that, drifting into more rock than metal and coming dangerously close to pysch rock territory. That being said, it’s actually very enjoyable and the dudes obviously know how to write a riff and a hook. Kudos to the guys for separating themselves from their Dozer past and trying something besides ripping off Kyuss for 40 minutes, but they’re actually at their apex when they channel Kyuss and I wouldn’t advise drifting too far from that core competency. Regardless, listen to that riff a few times and enjoy.
Spirit Adrift - Behind - Beyond EP (Prosthetic)
The debut release from the newest righteous Doom Metal band on the block comes to us from the Arizona desert and slays everything in its path. The mysterious trio comes out of the gate with two tracks clocking in at 12 and 16 minutes, wasting no ones’ time with trifling standard formats and filler. They rarely ride out a riff longer than a few bars before moving on to something just as gnarly and the majestic vocals are some of the best I’ve heard in the Doom world in quite some time. The guitars are incredibly emotive and there’s no shortage of headbanger riffage. I can’t say enough good things about this one. Hopefully it’s a harbinger of great things to come from this band.
When Nothing Remains - In Memoriam (Solitude)
When I was listening to this one in the car, I thought to myself that it has to be a Solitude Productions release and lo and behold, I was correct. This is just a breathtaking, high quality Doom/Death album from the absolute best label for that sort of thing. The third album from the Swedish quartet is a lesson in morose beauty at its finest, weaving in mournful guitars with throbbing riffs and a nice mix of clean and growled vocals. After you get done picking your jaw up off the floor, don’t forget to add this masterpiece to the early list of contenders for Album of the Year. Yes, it's that good.