Friday, October 14, 2016

A sampling of places you can still buy metal records in the United States

I’ve been way too lazy with this blog, to the point it’s almost completely faded into obscurity. That wasn’t meant to be a Dehumanized reference. Alas. Something that I’ve been meaning to document because it might be useful to someone else, or merely a reminder to myself, is the names of great record shops that I’ve come across in my journeys. M and I are rather avid roadtrippers, vacation for us doesn’t really mean a formal plan as much as “how much time do we have” and “how far from home can we go?” We try to estimate a turn around point, then pass thru as many cities, national parks, and other points of interest as we can. This past summer, we managed to travel from our Mid-Atlantic residence to the Pacific Northwest and back. Our 2 ½ week journey obviously required a soundtrack, so I made a point to google up and visit some record stores along the way. In the process, I discovered some serious gems out there still retailing all kinds of killer underground metal in a variety of formats and figure that it’s worth putting the information out there for those who still enjoy the old school record shopping experience.

These aren’t listed in order of preference or quality, but in the order that I recalled them when I scribbled down a list of the noteworthy shops I’ve come across. Future entries will document other places worth checking out.

Zion’s Gate Records
1100 E Pike St
Seattle, Washington

This place is incredible. It’s located in Seattle in what I assume is the historic arts district/gay district of downtown. Their focus on METAL, with an enormous collection of vinyl and band shirts. LOTS OF RARITIES. They’ve got an impressive collection of CDs along the wall as well…I’m a CD shopper mostly because the number 1 place I listen to music is in the car. Some of their CDs can be on the pricey side…rarer and imported items are probably going to go 20 bucks each. I did manage to pick up 3 Count Raven records here, which was pretty awesome.

2nd Avenue Records
400 SW 2nd Ave
Portland, Oregon

A labyrinth of punk and metal as well as some other stuff. Tons of vinyl but they carry extensive CD stock as well. It’s a bit confusing as you basically have to ask the counter people to see the CDs, which they have kept in somewhat alphabetized but not particularly organized boxes; they’re more used to dealing with people that know what they want than the intrepid hunter. That said, while there’s a little bit of hassle in having to ask periodically for more boxes to search thru, they have an impressively large and varied selection of metal for sale in basically every subgenre. Their vinyl collection isn’t quite what Zion’s Gate is, but it’s massive as well. Lots of shirts and merch too. Really fair prices as well which as a good thing; I dropped almost $200 bucks in one visit. 

The Record Exchange
1105 W Idaho St
Boise, Idaho

Most college towns have a Record Exchange and Boise, Idaho is no exception. Kinda at the edge of downtown not too far from Boise State University’s campus; they’ve got a fair amount of everything here and their metal assortment isn’t too shabby. I picked up albums by Solstifir, Scour, and Unmerciful here if that gives you an idea. This was the first record store I visited in the Pacific Northwest and I was a bit surprised to discover just how big metal was out there.

Twist & Shout Records
2508 E Colfax Ave
Denver, Colorado.

This shop reminded me of what Tower Records was back in the day. You aren’t going to find super obscure stuff, but you will find everything you could want that’s on Relapse, Century Media, Metal Blade, Season of Mist, Unique Leader, etc along with a few oddball items. It’s not a metal specific store, but the metal section there is pretty large. I didn’t actually see a whole lot of vinyl there, but it did have a really decent sized CD section. Good prices. There's even amazing bookstore next door worth your time as well!

Bull Moose Records
151 Middle Street
Portland, Maine


82-86 Congress Street
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

This is a local chain of record stores in Maine and New Hampshire that’s a must visit when M and I are adventuring northward. Not a metal specific shop, but lots of great prices and a great selection of both new and used metal CDs. There's more locations than just these two, but I can't vouch for them. What I will say is that both the Portland and Portsmouth locations are located in really scenic tourist friendly spots so if your significant other isn't interested in waiting an hour while you comb thru used records to find that hidden gem there's other stuff to keep them busy. Also: the Portland location is kinda located downstairs across from a DVD's a bit of a goofy spot to find.

Generation Records
210 Thompson Street
New York, New York

I don’t know my way around NYC so well that I can tell you exactly where it is, other than it’s by Washington Square and NYU and it’s about a 10 minute walk from any of the Subway stations I usually use to get there. Decent selection of shirts and records…solid selection of new records upstairs that basically covers your recently released essentials. But if you go downstairs, you’ll find an ENOURMOUS selection of used CDs. It's a must stop every time M and I are in the city; there's also a really good Italian spot next door called Porto Bello and a neat little store dedicated to The Big Lebowski called "The Little Lebowski" that's right across the street. If you're not broke after stopping here, or are looking for other offerings beyond metal and punk, Bleeker Street and it's several shops are right near by as well.

Criminal Records
1154 Euclid Ave NE #A
Atlanta, Georgia

A really decent shop in the Five Points Neighborhood of Atlanta. I was able to basically buy GWAR and Rwake’s entire back catalogues on CD here for really cheap. It’s not the biggest shop in the world but if you’re in the area it’s worth a visit. They carry a lot more than just metal, but the metal is kept in it's own section if you look for it. 

Eides Entertainment
1121 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This is a comic book shop/horror movie shop/record store. A lot of people in Pittsburgh seem partial to Dave’s Music Mine over in South Side, but this has always been the place I’d spend more money at when I’m in Pittsburgh. You can usually find a few gems here when browsing around. 

The Sound Garden
1616 Thames St
Baltimore, Maryland

I just recently figured out this place has free parking behind the store. Of the places on this list, it's the one I go to the most. If you’re in the DC/MD/NOVA area…this shop is probably worth the drive if you’re looking for death/doom/black metal. You aren’t going to find super deep underground albums, but if they’re a band that’s played MDF, you’ll find their stuff here.

Static Age Records
110 N Lexington Ave
Asheville North Carolina

No CDs to be found here. I do think they sell cassettes. But there’s a healthy selection of underground punk and metal vinyl; I picked up vinyl by Acid Bath and Saint Vitus here. And fuck, Asheville is just a cool place to visit anyway; there's more shops that also sell vinyl nearby.

Places You Can Skip.

In my adventures, I've managed to find a lot of great shops to pick up obscure records. And sometimes, Google Search and Facebook has led me to disappointments...and M shaking her head because I've wasted time she could be eating gourmet cheese or something...

The Heavy Metal Shop
63 E Exchange Place
Salt Lake City Utah.

They’ve got those sweet shirts, so you expect that finding this store that it would sell a lot of CDs or at least Vinyls. Yeah….no. This place looks way more awesome from the outside than inside. There’s a TINY section for CDs, almost all of which are the same old shit by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and other 80’s dad rock. Shit you can find at any FYE or Best Buy. Vinyl selection is basically the same, but even more limited! There is an okay assortment of classic heavy metal shirts, but over half of the merchandise for sale at this place was “The Heavy Metal Shop” branded t shirts, magnets, coffee mugs, cock rings, etc. Okay, maybe not cock rings but the guy who owns this shop isn’t actually selling very much heavy metal out of his tiny cubicle, just products branded with his shop’s logo. Quite a letdown, especially since you don’t have to be in Salt Lake City for very long to pick up on the fact there’s a very healthy subculture scene there.  

On the upside, I did rescue a Metallucifer record that accidentally found its way there.


Chain Reaction Records
8739 W Colfax Ave
Lakewood, Colorado.

Mostly used crap CDs. Maybe the punk selection is better, but I found the metal offerings to be remarkable underwhelming and limited, especially compared to Twist & Shout. Vinyl wasn’t anything to write home about either. I guess they sell skateboards and shit too, but I’m too old for that crap. On the upside it's in the part of Denver where you'll find dead hookers and meth.

The Underground Rock Shop
617 Euclid Ave
Des Moines, Iowa

Juggalo hell. Their available CDs are used nu-metal garbage. Vinyl selection was moderately better, but it’s stuff most people into underground metal already own. A modest handful of Emperor and Darkthrone…I did stumble upon a vinyl copy of Celtic Frost’s "Into The Pandemonium" here…but they wanted way too much for it so I passed. I guess if you wanna buy bongs and drug paraphernalia they can help you out though.

Obviously there's places I haven't made it to yet. Embarrassingly, I haven't been to Vinyl Conflict in Richmond, Virginia. I should have been there already simply as a matter of proximity. Same could be said for Vienna Music Exchange, though based on the wares they sell at MDF each year I feel like I already own everything of interest they might carry. More ambitiously, I haven't been to Extreme Noise in Minneapolis, Amoeba Records in Los Angeles/San Francisco, Long In the Tooth Records in Philadelphia, or Armageddon Music in Providence/Boston. So more to come. Someday...

Monday, May 30, 2016

LET THEM EAT CAKE! A rant about Maryland Deathfest XIV

The tone of the title of this post probably indicates where I’m heading here, so let me try to ramble on about some context first. I’ve been to more than a handful of festivals besides MDF, which I’ve attended each year since 2003 when it was held at a dump called the Thunderdome and the headliners were Devourment, Suffocation, and Sublime Cadaver Decomposition. I remember the year where they tried to have the fest in White Marsh at the House of Rock and how that venue wasn’t very good. I remember watching Baltimore City Curfew cutting off Dismember the first year at Sonar. I also remember the headaches that resulted from the fest growing to two venues, then outside stages, years of “security” that was more dangerous than drunk festival attendees, including the near riot that happened when Venom had their set cut by city curfew. I’ve also been to each edition that has taken place at the Edison Lot (literally, a parking lot just beyond the Inner Harbor of Baltimore) as well as the two other venues a solid hike away.

Other festivals I’ve gone to include those large and corporate (Ozzfest, Mayhem) and those smaller and more DIY (Ohio Deathfest, New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, etc.) It’s basically a guarantee that when organizing a festival, with so many moving parts and expenses that concert goers don’t even consider (imagine hiring a lawyer to process visas so your favorite international bands can come play or having to pay for liability insurance in case something crazy happens at your festival; that’s just tip of the iceberg!) you can pretty much expect Murphy’s Law (not the punk band…) to manifest itself. Someone you wanted to see will cancel at the last minute. A band you really looked forward to will just have a terrible sound mix and you’ll be completely let down. Beer vendors will charge too fucking much for a can of fermented piss drippings and you’ll discover that nearby parking options cost an arm and a leg (festivals usually do happen in a city, after all.)

Underground metal festivals have a way of seducing fans. They promise lots of great bands, often obscure bands you’ll never see on tour or otherwise see unless you attend. You get lured in, forgetting all of the headaches that come with attending a festival; once you’re there you bitch the entire time about the assorted first world inconveniences like port-a-johns and unanticipated expenses and Mother Nature. Yet if the lineup of bands mostly delivers, and you get to run into enough friends, you tend to forget that and when it’s all over you’re all too excited to do it again next year.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Of course, sometimes promoters have a habit of using social media irresponsibly and showing fans what they really think:

The neat thing about the internet is that with a simple screen shot, stupid yet enlightening comments publicly made on social media live forever even after the comment thread is deleted by the poster who a few hours later realized it was a bad idea and makes them look bad.

Important note: that wasn’t directed at me personally but at group of festival goers who were initially just complaining about beer prices. I have worked my way thru university as a manager for a company where I engage in sales and customer service. I have felt frustrations with complaining customers countless times. You don’t condescend them publicly. That usually gets you fired, or at least tells people who are buying your product or service that you don’t give a fuck about them or their experience with said product or service. As someone sells stuff for a living, I can tell you if you let people know you don’t give a fuck, they will look someplace else for that product or service. If you need to vent, at least do it behind closed doors to a coworker or friend… or if you’re going to use social media at least use a personal account and keep it private and vague.

If you really care about the product or service you produce, you present a good face to the public no matter how pissed off you are at them sometimes.

The organizers of MDF can set whatever price they deem to be fair for the festival they’re providing the public. Though M and I often grumble at the fact a 3 day weekend will set us back as much as a grand (tickets, beer, merch, parking, food, gas…remember it’s for 2 people) it’s more of an annoyance than an actual hardship and we end up begrudgingly paying for all of it. After that comment from the promoters, M decided she’d only buy a ticket off of someone who was selling theirs to prevent MDF from getting additional ticket sales. I can’t say that I blame her; I ended up attending 2 days solo. Which was fine; my ticket was already previously paid for so I was going to make the most of it.

So about that...

Disgorge (from California, not Mexico or whereever else, though they are fronted by the most swole hispanic dude ever.)

Thursday I decided to see the caveman death metal show at the Baltimore Soundstage. Highlights were basically every band that played (Infernal Revulsion dropped, then Malignancy cancelled at the last minute) but Visceral Disgorge, Waco Jesus, Dehumanized, Disgorge (USA) and Severe Torture all delivered great sets. I skipped on Putrid Pile (aka one lonely man and his drum machine) for dinner, but I did have the misfortune of coming back in time to see Jungle Rot, who complained about the backline they were provided by the organizers and the festival itself…it came across as they thought they were rockstars that should be praised for playing “old school” death metal. Fact: Jungle Rot sucks. Not because they’re “old school”, but because they play boring-as-fuck music. You wanna hear good “old school” death metal; I picked up records by Blood Freak and Embalmer while at the fest. That’s good “old school” death metal. Jungle Rot is just a bunch of boring lunkheaded garbage performed by entitled old men. Overall though, it was my first time at Soundstage, and I thought it was an enjoyable experience.

Friday was the day M was interested in, so we managed to get to the Edison Lot in time for the very end of Centinex’s set. November’s Doom was an odd choice for a 4pm slot, but they sounded pretty solid. Unfortunately Sinister cancelled because of flight/immigration issues, and Gruesome filled in their set. Highlights this day included everything about Wormed, hearing Paradise Lost play an old school (re: mostly death/doom) set (they played “Pity the Sadness”, holy shit!) and catching The Haunted with Marco back on vocals. Truth is, nothing about any of the bands that played this day disappointed.

The unfortunate social media post by the organizers came Friday night, so M was adamant she would only buy a ticket second hand for dirt cheap because she rightfully decided the organizers didn’t deserve her hard earned money. Something about it not being worth the asking price relative to the marginal rate of substitution or meeting her personal utility function or blah…I dunno. That’s what happens when you cohabitate with an Economics major =D

Deranged being all brutal and shit.

Anyhow, that meant that since I wasn’t being forced to operate on Brazilian time, I was able to arrive early enough to catch Demonical, a second set by Gruesome, and most importantly, Deranged. I’ve been a fan since some chick I used to hang out with told me to buy their “Plainfield Cemetery” album from the old Tower Records in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Yeah, that long ago. Anyhow, those guys put on an astoundingly brutal set of raw Swedish death metal that made standing outside roasting under a 90 degree sun in a black asphalt covered parking lot entirely worthwhile. Atrophy and Tulus I could give or take; Hirax was pretty good energetic thrash, but the highlight of the day was witnessing Hail of Bullets with their new vocalist, the legendary Dave Ingram. With all due respect to Martin Van Druen, their previous vocalist, Ingram takes that band to another level. His growl is a tremendous fit for the Hail of Bullets sound and his stage presence is off the charts.
Yet another band where Dave Ingram replaces the original vocalist.

After witnessing Impaled Nazarene’s set, I decided that since I didn’t give a shit about Exciter and I honestly never listen to Nuclear Assault (I have a copy of “Handle With Care” sitting on my shelf…collecting dust…); I ventured over to the Baltimore Soundstage to see General Surgery and Haemorrhage instead.

That walk sucks; the walk between Soundstage and Edison Lot is just about 20 minutes, which means you have to miss part a band’s set in order to traverse between venues. So in order to see the headliner at Edison Lot, Testament, I was obliged to walk out of Haemorrhage’s set a few songs early. Which was a huge mistake; Haemorrhage was brilliant in their goregrinding glory. By contrast, Testament suffered from an awful mix that sounded thin and “tinny.” Chuck Billy, the fat man with skinny bird legs, sounded okay but his generic, rehearsed stage banter was annoying to me in the same David Vincent of Morbid Angel was a few years earlier. When I realized I could’ve just walked to Rams Head Live and saw Grave Miasma instead; I felt like a total fucking tool. The craziest thing about Testament being such a letdown beyond their awful sound is that the sheer amount of talent on that stage…Gene Hoglan, Steve DiGorgio, and Alex Skolnick are all in that band in 2016. Those are ace fucking players. What the hell?

Wombbath. I don't really have anything clever to say about them but their vocalist liked to go on LOOOOOONNNNGGG rants in between songs.

The guitarist from Desaster might have had the most impressive skullet at MDF.

M found “someone willing to sell his ticket cheap in exchange for crack money” so on Sunday she returned with me. Sunday featured Wombbath (great when they just played instead of the on-stage chitchat), Desaster (dirty blackened thrash; my first time hearing them…good stuff) and Bongzilla (replace Eyehategod’s heroin and I guess that’s what you get?) I could have done without Interment…they suffered from just being a bit boring live. Incantation played a unique set as a three piece for most of it; one of their guitar players had a family emergency. In a cool moment, old vocalist Mike Saez (played on The Infernal Storm) joined them on stage for a few songs, which all sounded awesome as fuck. Incantation took lemons and made lemonade on a miserable, rainy day. The reunited Demolition Hammer followed with a brutal, ferocious set.

Incantation and friends!
Demolition Hammer wasn't a band I ever thought I'd get to see live, and to think MDF only booked them after Destroyer 666 cancelled....probably should have headlined instead of Testament!
I didn’t hate Satan or Venom, but presented with the alternative of seeing two bands I like a lot more in Phobocosm and Mitochondrion, the decision was obvious so I went to Rams Head Live (at this point, M decided she’d rather buy a ribeye and a margarita at Cheesecake Factory than buy a $40 dollar ticket for 2 bands…) Phobocosm played an intense set of doom/death that fans of Disembowlment and Incantation could get into. Mitochondrion followed that with the best set that I witnessed all weekend. Just absolutely vicious and breathtakingly brutal yet atmospheric death metal. If Mitochondrion comes to your town, you stop what you’re doing, donate blood if you have to so you can buy your ticket, and you go.

You could go see a cartoon band like Venom who sings about being in league with satan, or you could see Mitochondrion, the band that wrote the actual soundtrack to hell. The choice was obvious.

With nothing else that could follow that, I tracked down M and called it a weekend.

My final observations were that I managed to see almost nothing but great bands all weekend (Jungle Rot and Testament excluded.) The merch tables, particularly Sevared and Deepsend Records, had quality items for purchase. The beer in the cooler in the trunk of my car stayed sufficiently cold enough that the excessive beer prices and poor selection inside of the Edison Lot complex were a nonfactor for me personally. The rain on Sunday was a welcome respite from the scorching heat of Friday and Saturday, which left me a bit red. That was the good part. 

The bad part was the sheer expense of attending so many days of the festival, and the price/value calculation of what I was seeing for what I got. Truth said, only a handful of the bands I saw were bands I hadn’t seen before (Mitochondrion, Phobocosm, Demolition Hammer, Deranged, Desaster.) Between tickets, parking fees, beer, and food, the festival has grown to a ridiculous scale in its cost. To suggest that the organizers are doing what they can to control costs ($68 bucks a day plus $20 bucks to park your car got you into just the Edison Lot; the 4 day all venues pass I was fortunate to acquire from a friend who couldn’t go retailed at a whopping $302 bucks) is laughable. Even after accounting for the exchange rate, tickets for the gold standard of metal festivals, Wacken Open Air, are cheaper. Of course, European festivals have advantages in logistics and border controls; international bands playing the United States have to deal with expensive airfares and USCIS. Still, the point is that MDF is charging a lot for their product relative to other festivals that also compete to attract attendees. Other US festivals may lack the sheer number of high profile bands of the level of Mayhem and Venom; but festivals like the Las Vegas Deathfest are delivering bands like Disavowed that are significant within their niche genre (which incidentally, is the subgenre of metal I spend the most time listening to in 2016.) That’s what MDF is competing against. What MDF has had to its advantage for me personally was geography; it’s about an hour drive from my door step to the fest. 

However, when the promotors appear to have such a cavalier “take it or leave it” attitude towards fans who WANT to support their festival and who WANT it to succeed each year….maybe it’s not surprising that at least to my eyes, this was the least attended MDF in several years, even going back to when they held the fest at the old Sonar complex. It seems certain that just like in previous years, next year’s tickets will increase again another 5-10% for a lineup that’s more or less the same as this year in terms of profile and name recognition. That’s faster than the rate of inflation. If the promotors don’t respect their patrons any more than that, and can’t discipline themselves on controlling their ticket prices, then this will be the last time I make the effort to take the weekend off or drop the coin. I’m not going to say I’ll never, ever go again, or anything like that. But unless I see a “holy shit” band like say, a reformed Acid Bath, on the bill, I’m not going to make an effort to be there either. There’s just too many other festivals that want my money too

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Best Of...

Wow. A whole fucking year. You’d think I just abandoned this or something. The truth is that I’ve had ideas and motivation to write from time to time, but real life stuff like work, grad school, and internships sucked up most of my time. What little free time I had this past year wasn’t time I really felt like spending in front of a computer. I’d like to think that I’ll update a little more frequently in the next year, but who knows?

With that said, here’s my best of list for 2015…

Biggest Disappointment:

RIP Lemmy. Nothing else even comes close. Metal will survive post-Lemmy, but it just isn’t going to be the same without the genre’s most revered figure around. There are countless people who have already eulogized him and done so far better than I ever could, so instead of writing my own lame attempt at paying tribute to a truly one of a kind man, I will just say that starting at Ozzfest in 1998 through many shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC that every single time, Motorhead delivered and lived up to the motto of “Everything Louder Than Everyone Else.” It sure the fuck changed my life. Godspeed.

Honorable Mentions:

Amorphis Under The Red Cloud 
Enslaved In Times 
Ghost Ship Octavius Ghost Ship Octavius 
Glaciation Sur Les Falaises De Marbre 
Gruesome Savage Land 
Hanging Garden Blackout Whiteout 
Ingested The Architect of Extinction 
Nile What Should Not Be Unearthed 
Panopticon Autumn Eternal 
Shape of Despair Monotony Fields 
Sulphur Aeon Gateway To The Atmosphere 
The Man Eating Tree In The Absence of Light 
Torturous Inception Headfirst into Oblivion 
Vattnet Viskar Settler 
Vehemence Forward Without Motion 
Year Of The Goat The Unspeakable

Top 10:

10.) Napalm Death Apex Predator- Easy Meat

This album came out really early in 2015 so it was an easy one to forget about, but as Napalm Death’s members reach into their 50’s, they haven’t lost any of their aggression or venom. This one has a few moments that I wouldn’t say are “experimental”, but on songs such as the industrial nature of the opening title track, they don’t mind exploring the unconventional. The vocals mix it up a bit, perhaps a reminder of their late 90’s era, but for the most part it sounds consistent with their turn of the century output. It makes you want to floor punch and shit. 


9.) Motorhead Bad Magic

I’m sure with Lemmy’s death and the recent release effect Bad Magic that some people may be tempted to elevate this album higher than it deserves or otherwise put it on their list if they’re doing it late as I am. Truth is, on its merits this album belongs on any top 10 for 2015. It’s nasty, gritty, and snarling rock n roll and represents Motorhead’s best effort since 1995’s Sacrifice. One hell of an epitaph for the band. Given how undervalued I personally believe Mickey Dee and Phil Campbell have been to Motorhead’s success (they were vital to not just the longest but also BEST lineup Motorhead ever had), hopefully they find a new musical venture and keep the metal coming for a few more years at least.

8.) Iniquitous Deeds Incessant Hallucinations

Brutal. As. Fuck. New Standard Elite is becoming the sort of label where if you love brutal death metal, that the NSE imprint means quality. 


7.) Abhorrent  Instransigence

Ex-members of The Faceless and Spawn of Possession form a band better than either of the aforementioned acts. Grisly vocals, plenty of clangy doodly-doo but also sufficiently raw and honest to satan death metal. Hopefully they don’t prog out too much on future releases, because this formula works.


6.) So Hideous Laurestine

Post-black metal from a band I had never heard of before. I was sure this was going to be some sort of Deafheaven garbage or Shining-style proggy bullshit but for the most part it’s like, non-stop epic majestic parts of black metal songs all strung together. Plenty of symphonic keys and soundtrackish elements but it’s tasteful, cohesive, and gets repeat listens. 

5.) Goatsnake Black Age Blues

That tone. Soooo heavy and sludgy. I happen to love Pete Stahl’s voice…perhaps no other band has ever so effortlessly combined the gloom of Black Sabbath with southern rock swagger so effectively. 

4.) Lost Soul Atlantis

Polish as fuck. For fans of Vader and Behemoth. I hear a lot of death metal-era Behemoth on Atlantis, actually, but Lost Soul was playing this style of death metal back when Behemoth was still more authentically black metal. 

3.) Heaving Earth Denouncing The Holy Throne

These Czechs deliver in a style best comparable to Immolation, though there’s a bit of that dark Incantation worship that’s been a trend in the scene for the last few years. Superior songcraft and outstanding production make Denouncing The Holy Throne stand out, and they could be the next band to break out in the same way that Dead Congregation has in recent years. It LIVED in my car stereo for pretty much all of 2015.

2.) Ghost Meliora

Their breakthrough album. Ghost seems to piss off a lot of people who don’t quite “get it”, while others who happen to be into Blue Oyster Cult, UFO, Deep Purple, and such want to write them off as missing “something.” I can’t imagine how anyone who sat down and actually listened to Meliora could reach that conclusion, with such a catchy batch of songs. Yes, there is a certain tongue in cheek nature to their gimmick but to me, that’s part of the fun. Music is supposed to be fun, right?

1.) My Dying Bride Feel The Misery
Not genre defining, but what it happens to be is one of the founding fathers of doom metal delivering one of their best albums. When Calvin Robertshaw left the band in the late 90’s, MDB seemed to become an inconsistent band that never was bad, but only occasionally reached the level of greatness that their early albums achieved (most notably on The Dreadful Hours.) With Robertshaw’s return, it becomes obvious just how important he was to their sound as Feel The Misery features some monolithic, crushing riffage, somber moods, and a healthy dose of macabre. Considering that MDB has been a band I award considerable sentimental value to as my gateway to the underground so many years ago, I feel quite comfortable saying this was my favorite album of 2015.