Heads up! We may be very early into 2020 but some shit-hot metal was released in January.
That’s right, it’s Worship Metal’s 10 metal albums you had to hear in January 2020…..
Agvirre – Silence
Silence, the debut EP from UK post-black metal collective Agvirre, manages to convey more wrought emotion over just three tracks than most bands can impart over an entire album and is all the more rewarding, and surprising, when you consider this is their debut release!
Beautifully barbaric, Agvirre have ably amalgamated black metal, shoegaze, post-metal, noise and electronics to deliver an unsettling and, ultimately, discordant expression of living with mental illness. A fever dream made flesh, Agvirre’s tangents into both terror and sublimity are an experience in themselves; an unpredictable ride into otherworldly strings and ferocious black metal which fully absorb and engulf the listener.
Stick on some headphones and absorb this fucker in all of its solemn, confrontational beauty. It’s well worth the challenge. 8/10
Label: Trepanation Recordings / Surviving Sounds
Genre: Experimental Post-Black Metal
Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic
It’s highly, highly unlikely that Jeff Waters will ever release an album to rival the magnificence of Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland but, as Annihilator albums go, Ballistic, Sadistic is as fine a modern melodic thrash album from these thrash legends as you could ask for!
Jeff’s never been the greatest vocalist but his performance here is perfectly serviceable (even if the lyrics are as lightweight as ever) and he’s surrounded by a sea of technical riffs which will please all thrash fans who love Annihilator for their first two albums.
Upping the ante when it comes to speed, shred, sickle-sharp riffs and ear-pleasing solos this is the most aggressive Annihilator have sounded in years.
Annihilator; as reliable and as enjoyable as ever! 8/10
Big Scenic Nowhere – Vision Beyond Horizon
Anyone familiar with the terms ‘stoner rock’ and ‘desert rock’ have heard the names Fu Manchu and Yawning Man. While stylistically different, both bands occupy legendary status and the two entities have now combined, with Big Scenic Nowhere guitarists Gary Arce (Yawning Man) and Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) joining forces to thrilling effect!
They’ve also roped in a few famous mates for good measure with the likes of Tony Reed (Mos Generator), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man), Per Wiberg (Spiritual Beggars, ex-Opeth), Bill Stinson (Yawning Man), Nick Oliveri (Mondo Generator, ex-Kyuss, etc.), Lisa Alley and Ian Graham (both of The Well) and Alain Johannes (Them Crooked Vultures, Chris Cornell, Eleven), adding their considerable skill and expertise to Arce & Balch’s already considerable songs.
Super-group tag aside, the thrill in Vision Beyond Horizon is discovering the sheer number of surprises that are in store. No sooner are you lulled into a false sense of security by the caress of opener “The Glim”, than the fuzzy punk of the short and decidedly sweet “The Paranoid” kicks you in the cock and wakes you out of your fuggy haze. What follows is then back to a Fu Manchu meets early doors QOTSA meets Kylesa-esque lullaby that is both decidedly heavy and blissfully ethereal. This pattern continues throughout, with Vision Beyond Horizon encapsulating the free-thinking and organic spirit that has always provided stoner rock’s solid backbone.
You simply won’t see any of these tracks coming and the best part is, they’re all (all!) fuckin’ brilliant!
From the blissfully laid back charms of “”Hidden Wall” to the up-tempo bounce of “Shadows From The Altar”, the surprises just keep on coming. This is the sound of like-minded individuals simply coming together and jamming until something sticks, freely tossing ideas around and organically composing a series of inter-connected but unpredictable songs which traverse the entirety of stoner rock’s spectrum.
The fact is, it may only be mid-January but we reckon you’d be hard pressed to find a better stoner rock / desert rock album this year! 8/10
BIG SCENIC NOWHERE is
Bob Balch (Guitar, Bass)
Gary Arce (Guitar)
Tony Reed (Vocals, Keys, Drums)
Mario Lalli (Bass)
Per Wiberg (Keys)
Bill Stinson (Drums)
Nick Oliveri (Bass)
Lisa Alley (Vocals)
Ian Graham (Vocals)
Alain Johannes (Vocals, Guitar
Brothers of Metal – Emblas’ Saga
It may only be early January, but we’d be surprised if we stumble upon a release this year that competes with the all-conquering, chest-beating power metal prowess of this 100% monster of an album from Sweden’s Brothers Of Metal!
Hailing from Falun, Sweden, Brothers Of Metal are an extraordinary 8-piece who have been taking the metal world by (lightning) storm. With a flair for the theatrical and a complete disregard for giving two shits about cliched metal credibility, these brothers in arms should appeal to anyone who has ever said they love heavy fuckin’ metal.
And frankly, what’s not to like?
The riffs are as powerful, expressive and as stirring as you’d expect. The beauty and the beast vocals work extremely well throughout and, in particular, the vocal hooks on “Chainbreaker” are exquisite. Moments of folk whimsy amidst Norse mythology are effectively employed and perfectly balanced by Emblas Saga‘s heavier moments and wicked wordplay, both humorous and educational, thrives as these storytellers weave tales of god-like grandeur….with their tongue set firmly in their cheek for the most part!
Each song is an absolute fucking winner but our highlights would be “Powersnake” – which sounds like a nickname given to Ron Jeremy’s massive appendage and is just as intimidating – and “Theft of the Hammer”, which is every bit as cheesy and bombastic as its title would suggest; it’s nonsense but it’s brilliant nonsense. Even the syrupy ballad that is “Weaver Of Fate” has its place, an immaculately composed and performed track which adds another level of fragile beauty to an album overflowing with gouda and godliness.
Heavy enough to appease the hardened metallers and melodic enough to rope in a new generation of fans who don’t even know what power metal is, Brothers Of Metal have huge crossover appeal and their distinctive brand of brazen metal is ridiculously enjoyable; from first track to last. In fact, such is the magnitude of this fantastic album, our only conclusion is that Brothers Of Metal are aiming for the big leagues….and they’ve the fist-pumping, cheesy-grin-prompting songs to achieve it! 8/10
Brothers Of Metal
10th January 2020
Garganjua – Toward The Sun
Yet another outstanding UK metal act who call Holy Roar Records home, Leicester’s Garganjua are a fast-rising doom band with far, far more than just doom on their mind.
With stoner comparisons failing to even remotely do them justice, Garganjua’s paradoxical sound combines an ethereal air with the heaviest of death / doom, an experience that is both suffocatingly oppressive and eerily beautiful.
Stunning artistry and a 100% grasp of craft is the kind of statement us reviewers wish we could use to describe every promo that lands in our lap but, unsurprisingly, that is seldom the case. Originality is just as hard to come by but Garganjua are such an act and one who can live up to such hyperbole.
Sounding massive, even at their quietest moments, this band are rich in inspiration and have taken doom, death/doom, post-metal and prog metal and fashioned something distinctly sorrowful, surprisingly melodic and unnervingly brutal out of them.
Whether it’s the ferocity of “Mire” – which reaches unexpected levels of primal rage – or the more delicate refrains of the aptly titled “Transcendence”, Garganjua have found a way to offer you everything……and it’s an offer you should ensure you take them up on! 9/10
Haunt – Mind Freeze
Shitting hell, these guys are prolific! No sooner had we gotten to grips with 2018’s rather spirited If Icarus Could Fly than Haunt’s third full length of trad metal goodness has hit us square in our metal lovin’ knackers!
As kicks to the nether-regions go, this is an unusually welcome one as Haunt continue their winning streak and commit to the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Sticking to their admittedly rather rigid formula of aping the cream of 80’s American heavy metal and NWOBHM bands, with a little bit of Deep Purple-esque organ-tinkling thrown in for good measure, Haunt know what they like, and they appear to like what they do.
Fortunately, so do we!
Catchy as fuck opener “Light The Beacon” is a damn fine intro – if not a little predictable – and packs a powerful earworm of a chorus while “Hearts Of Fire” is speed metal incarnate. Sure, each song on Mind Freeze reminds you of a dozen other classic 80’s metal tracks but when the songs are this catchy, this hooky and this downright re-playable who gives a fuck, right?!
Mind Freeze may be top-heavy when it comes to quality with “Hearts On Fire“ and Divide and Conquer” outclassing the latter tracks but, in fairness, there’s not really a duffer on here and considering this is Haunt’s third album in just under 17 months, that’s some considerable feat.
We’ll look forward to another stonking release later this year then, shall we lads! 8/10
Jordablod – The Cabinet of Numinous Song
You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. To an alternative universe where black metal was conceived in the 70’s and embraced by a legion of psych-addled progressive metal warriors intent on wielding their wares in as many ways as possible. Yes, you’ve entered….the Jordablod zone!
The follow up to 2017’s equally enjoyable Upon My Cremation Pyre picks up where that experimental slice of black metal tastiness left off and Jordablod have upped the ante in considerable style. “The Two Wings Of Becoming” plays out like a blackened sea-shanty, as jaunty as it is daunting and is a fine example of Jordablod’s strange brew of disparate elements. “Hin Onders Mystar” then begins life as a warming 70’s proto-doom track before all hell breaks loose and Jordablod again blur the lines between the past and the present. At times psychedelic but mostly hypnotically brutal, “Hin Onders Mystar” is an alarming indication of how esoteric this band really is.
The alluring piano-led intro to “The Beauty Of Every Wound” again offers warmth before a seismic riff straight out of the 70’s heavy metal rule book kicks you in the kidneys and positively demands you bob along to its insistent catchiness. Of course, blackened death metal vocals remind you that you’re actually listening to an extreme metal album but damn, if this is isn’t a catchy little fucker!
Finishing with the 8 minutes of “To Bleed Gold” is also a masterstroke, a contemplative yet devastatingly visceral experience which closes proceedings perfectly. The Cabinet of Numinous Song may be a black metal album at heart….but it has more than its fair share of surprises up its billowing sleeve! 8/10
The Cabinet of Numinous Song
Iron Bonehead Productions
Released: 24th January, 2020
Mindless Sinner – Poltergeist
Mindless Sinner are Swedish heavy metal royalty, a band who made a cult name for themselves in the 1980’s with the revered Master Of Evil EP and who made a somewhat surprising, yet welcome, comeback in 2015 with The New Messiah…..their first album in 26 years!
Fast forward to 2020 and Mindless Sinner are back with Poltergeist, an album containing another batch of hard and fast heavy metal tracks.
It’s a rarity in this game to stumble across a band from the 80’s with ostensibly the same line-up from the glory days but Mindless Sinner are one such band and their instinctual understanding of one another shines through. These guys have played metal together for over three decades (off and on) and while the music on Poltergeist is somewhat confined to the 80’s that doesn’t stop the band from competing in the trad metal stakes in 2020.
Too clean to be true sinners and far too adept to be mindless, Poltergeist is ample proof that Mindless Sinner are still worthy of your time, 38 years after their inception. 7/10
Odious Mortem – Synesthesia
After more than a decade since the band’s previous album, California tech death giants ODIOUS MORTEM finally return with their new release, the stunningly aggressive Synesthesia. Exactly what these tech-death-savvy gents have been up to for the best of a decade is beyond us but it appears that the time off has served them well, as they’re back and sounding as deadly as ever!
Incidentally, the term ‘Synesthesia’ relates to a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived by one or more additional senses, such as sight. Another form of Synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names with a sensory perception such as smell, colour or flavour.
Mind blown, right! It’s a goddamn perceptual phenomenon!
Imagine, if you will, being introduced to death metal for the first time and not just hearing a mind-blowing array of riffs and guttural growls but also tasting the muthafucker!
Which got us to thinking, what would death metal even taste like?
We are, of course, going to avoid going down the route of, for example, experiencing Cannibal Corpse’s distinct flavour (although a particularly overripe wheel of brie, left to bake in the Californian sun for a couple of weeks whilst dogs and vagrants use it as a urinal does spring to mind) but we would imagine that Odious Mortem’s brand of clinical tech death would taste as crisp and as fresh as a Chardonnay.
These guys are as heavy as fuck but they’re also clinically efficient and each track on Synesthesia is a surgically precise expression of tech death at its best. There’s nothing groundbreaking to analyse here but there’s a joy in hearing a tech death band simply achieving what they so obviously set out to achieve. In particular, instrumental “Synchronicity” is a blinding piece of progressive, technical brilliance….or it certainly smelt like it anyway (see what we did there!).
Synesthesia will tantalise all your goddamn senses proving that Odious Mortem’s return is indeed a welcome one. First and foremost, Synesthesia is a tasty wee morsel…or, at least, that’s what we heard (see, we did it again!). 8/10
Unbounded Terror – Faith In Chaos
UNBOUNDED TERROR originally formed in Mallorca back in 1991 and were one of the first Spanish death metal bands in existence. However, since the release of their well received 1992 full length debut album, Nest of Affliction, Unbounded Terror have been silent….until now!
In April 2019, original guitarist Vicente J. Payá, resurrected his baby, recruited new members – remaining the only original member in the process – and set about recording a sophomore album that was 28 years in the making.
Masters of the mid-paced bludgeoning, Unbounded Terror have wound back the clock to death metal’s heyday and released an old-school sounding death metal album of considerable skill. With age certainly not dampening the spirit of Vicente J. Payá, it’s notable how his riffs are built on an intrinsic knowledge of what made death metal so damn appealing back in the day…..and there’s shit loads of the catchy buggers!
Varied and as tight as fuck, the tracks on Faith In Chaos are custom built to please fans of Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Benediction and their ilk but, first and foremost, in an era of unwavering deathbore brutality, it’s refreshing to hear a death metal album filled with indistinguishable and memorable songs.
Unbounded Terror were highly unlikely to release a ‘classic’ this late in the game but what they have done is gift the world a solid death metal album, replete with the old-school touches you’d demand from a band whose debut came out in 1992! 7/10
Unbounded Terror – Faith in Chaos
2nd January 2020
DIGITAL | CD | LP
These were our favourite releases of January 2020. You will undoubtedly have like others. If that’s the case, pop your favourites gently in the comment section below…..