Did You Miss These Death Doom Releases?

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Death metal can colloquially be divided into 3 types: fast, mid-paced, and slow. As I was discovering more and more death metal growing up, the fast varietal was my flavor of choice. Then I started delving into OSDM and discovering a love for that mid-paced grime that is the staple of the style. However, it took me considerably longer to fully come on board with the slowed down sibling that is death/doom. I do not know or remember when the switch flipped for me or what album was the progenitor for my love that has blossomed. However, slow and methodical death metal has firmly become one of my favorites and I have come to you now to ensure you do not miss out on the gems that have released during the first half of this year.


Apparition – Disgraced Emanations from a Tranquil State (March 22)

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I was unaware of this Los Angeles troupe prior to this release, but my goodness, Disgraced Emanations form a Tranquil State has left quite the impression on me. Effortlessly blending punishing death metal riffs and grooves along with harrowing sections of sloth-paced heaviness that feels like the weight of the world compressing on your body. Each track contains at least one moment of ripping fretwork that makes them stand out in the ever-growing crowd of slow and low death metal. Combining crushing and chunky guitar work with pummeling drumming, only to add a surprising lead riff that most other peers would not be able to pull off. With the likes of Slimelord receiving heaps of praise (and rightfully so) Apparition flew under the radar, but I feel this release can easily go blow for blow with the best of them.

A good example of everything this release has to offer comes from the track “Imminent Expanse of Silence and Not (or Not)”. You should be prepared for at least a little funkiness with an absurd song title like this, so let me direct you to the 4:35 mark where the track shifts from a standard death metal barrage to a soaring guitar lead that still drips with decay. The drum work underneath this riffing and solo section adds to the bounciness and grime before the dumbest riff you have ever heard comes in at 5:17 to bring you back down. Is there any better feeling than doing something that is simultaneously smart and dumb? This I do not know the answer to, but I will gladly continue to bask in this release while I continue to ponder.


Hamferð- Men Guðs hond er sterk (March 22)

It has been surprising how little coverage and fervor I have come across for the new release by the Faroe Island stalwarts Hamferð. 6 long years have passed since their previous release, T​á​msins Likam, which launched the group into the hearts of listeners with its sorrow-tinged brand of beautiful death/doom. Well, I am happy to say that Men Guðs hond er sterk marks a brilliant return that will leave you feeling sorrowful and morose, just as the band intended. Back are the masterful vocals of Jón Aldará, who gurgles, belts, and soars with the best that metal has to offer. His performance alone is worth the time invested into this release, as is to be expected, but the rest of the lineup also leaves their marks with wondrous performances that truly drive home the somber feelings of death and loss.

I am not exaggerating when I state that I have listened to the lead track “Ábær” more times than any other song this year, and by a considerable margin. It starts off with a near dissonant (me likey that) start-stop riffing idea that instantly fills me with the depressing reality that this will not be a joyous ride, but rather a journey of perseverance. The intimidating death growls enter to drive home the message of despair being portrayed, only to switch to the beautiful, soaring, operatic cleans that have have become the band’s calling card. I have no idea what the lyrics entail, but when the material is executed in such harrowing fashion, mere words would simply fall short of the experience of existential dread. No other album has left me with such feelings of emptiness as this one, and it calls me back constantly to bask in its beauty.


Funeral Leech- The Illusion of Time (April 5)

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While attempting to create a short yet apt descriptor for Funeral Leech‘s second LP, I decided upon using the acronym K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid), and by doing so, I have landed upon what I feel bears justice; pure fucking filth. What is presented in The Illusion of Time will not carry the genre into new and unforeseen territory, but it will drag you across filthy concrete and leave you wanting even more punishment. Meat and potatoes death/doom has been done ad nauseam, but it is impossible to simply sweep under the rug when it is done so well. This New York quartet have added little to their repertoire since their debut LP Death Meditation, but that isn’t really a negative when the results are so killer. Echoing guitar shrieks over low riffs and guttural secretions are only part of what has brought me back to this release multiple times.

Though each track has much to highlight, my personal favorite moment of the album comes during the 11 minute closing track “The Tower.” It opens with a neck hair-tingling synth line soon accompanied by a slow crawling march (of the funeral variety), but then it happens. The most beautifully disgusting BLEGH I have heard all year right at 5:07. Straight perfection that then leads to a double-time feel of the recurring riff. Just some moist seepage that taints all in its wake. The album closes with a similar synth and chime motif that it opened with, wrapping up everything in a nice filthy bow. Can you even ask for more?


Tzompantli – Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force (May 17)

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Before you read any further, do me a quick favor. Push play on the opening track “Tetzahuitl.” Go ahead, I’ll wait. See what I mean? Is it possible there exists a more perfect album opening moment than that? Just a nasty drum fill straight to a harmonized death shriek and traditional wooden flute barrage paired with blasts and unrelenting guitars. If a better opening exists, I know not of it and at this point we are only 5 seconds deep into this experience. Crushingly heavy throughout the entire runtime, Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force boasts a staggering line up of 10 members from Pomona, California’s Tzompantli. Everything you could want from a devastating death/doom ceremony is here: impossibly crunchy guitars, pummeling drumming, and lower than low vocals. But it’s the extra components that make this one stand above with such aspects as the inclusion of traditional Mesoamerican instruments, lyrics, and appearance. I mean just look at this band photo:

I do not think it is possible to be any more fucking metal than this. All this does not take away from the most important thing, which is the music that is presented. Slow, crushing, and occasionally heartbreaking as the feelings of a people whose culture was nearly completely erased from the world comes out in both aggressive and sorrowful passages. All I need now is to catch this band live to add to the already near-transcendent experience the music alone delivers.

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