Editor’s note: To that one reader and the other reader that was bamboozled in to checking us out, we barely made it in 2019. We are well aware that we haven’t been keeping up as we had originally hoped, but there are things beyond our control. Despite that, we hadn’t stopped listening to albums and due to a popular streaming service, we have listened and have attempted to keep up with as many new releases as possible. Thanks in advance for bearing with us and continuing to do so! Now onward and forward to 2020, we hope to be better by then! But first…

Honorable mentions: Hanzel und Gretel Hexennacht, Rotting Christ The Heretics, The Waste Aways (self titled), The Occult Necropolis (US/re-release version), Prison Still Alive, King Satan I Want You to Worship Satan, Death Angel Humanicide, Abbath Outstrider, 1349 The Infernal Pathway, Gaahls WYRD Gastir – Ghosts Invited, Mo’ynoq Dreaming in a Dead Language, Morokh клятва, Defy The Tyrants Asylum EP, Necrochamber Ceremonies for the Dead, Carnifex World War X, Death Angel Humanicide, Despised Icon Purgatory, Agnostic Front Get Loud!, Mgła – Age of Excuse, The 69 Eyes – West End, Wednesday 13 – Necrophaze, Eluveitie – Ategnatos

  1. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas (Metal Blade Records, November 29, 2019)

Funny enough, the choice for the number 6 spot was not easy to choose for the Klown. There were some on the Klown’s honorable mentions that were perhaps more deserving but he digresses. The entran was not only a late release, BUT it was a good one. It was so good, the Klown awarded the record this spot. The Klown is well aware that no one really takes a good look at the honorable mentions but, as a San Diegan, Cattle Decap was the biggest name on his list next to Carnifex. With that said, please check out Necrochamber, Defy The Tyrants and The Waste Aways for an SD, independent/“small name,” variety. 

The Klown has been a Cattle Decap fan for a long time. Ever since he bought Karma.Bloody.Karma on good faith years back, he was hooked. With that in mind and no formal review, the Klown will explain why he chose this album. 4 years after The Anthropocene Extinction, the Klown wondered how the collective would top it. As you can see from the current entry, they managed to not only top it but prove that time really can reward those who wait patiently. From the intro “Anthropogenic: End Transmission” to the final track,“Death Atlas,” Ryan Travis and crew pulled out all the stops. The intro is used as a catalyst to thrust the power driven “The Geocide.”

“Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts” continues off what “The Geocide” left behind but adds to it! The same can be said about the majority of the album. There’s only one thing that the Klown could have done without. Unlike previous albums, Death Atlas contains four intros. The Klown could have done without them but thankfully they didn’t take away from the album and its concept. Ultimately, he simply thought of them as markers to indicate how far along he was in the album (eg. “The Unerasable Past” [fourth intro] and “Death Atlas” [final track]).

  1. Overkill – The Wings of War (Nuclear Blast, February 22, 2019)

The underrated kings of Jersey thrash metal have made the Klown’s list. And as luck has it, this album was reviewed. Thank Pennywise. So, on that note, read that when you can here. When the Klown first heard this album, he expected it to be just another Overkill album. The Klown knows that didn’t come out right, so bare with the Klown. No matter the experience or presence of a band, there is usually an epic album (in some cases, strings of them) and then either a slump or decent string of album releases. Metallica fans can definitely relate to this.

Their previous release, The Grinding Wheel, was a good album but as harsh as this will be read, it wasn’t great. Whether they planned on sticking it to the Klown or they mustered a certain… Je ne sais quoi, this album definitely went all in. The Wings of War give you some speedy and aggressive thrash metal like their older sound. “Last Man Standing” has a slow build up in the beginning but starts the album strongly, which then unleashes a plethora of guitar shredding, bass and drums.

“Believe in the Fight” and “Out on the Road-Kill” support it and keeps the momentum going. While “Distortion” slows down, the slow down isn’t too drastic that it derails the album‘s sound and feel. “Batshitcrazy,” however, goes all out and gives the listener a full dose of speedy thrash metal.

Although Overkill mostly sticks to its aggressive speedy thrash formula, they also incorporate humor in “Welcome to the Garden State,” which doesn’t take away from the “serious” tone of the album or the band. After listening to this album, you will want to hear it again and may even motivate you to revisit this quintet’s discography. This record will make you appreciate their contribution to our beloved genre and this record shows no signs of them slowing down anytime soon. 

  1. Rammstein  (Self-titled, Universal Music, May 17, 2019)

Before the Klown talks about these infamous Germans and gives his explanation, allow the Klown to admit something to you all. The Klown and Jenny-Oh are big Rammstein fans. While the Klown is in this act of admission, the Klown shall also share this funny bit with you all. Last year, when the Teutonic quintet announced their album, this gruesome twosome agreed to not include this album in the interest of fairness. In our defense, we expected the album to be like Liebe Ist Fur Alles Da, Reise, Reise or anything close to Mutter.

Obviously, that wasn’t the case! Although the album was not what the Klown expected, he clearly didn’t hate the album either. After all, why would the Klown bother putting it in his list if he didn’t like it? The album grew on the Klown, as he appreciated it for what it was. Hits aside, the Klown’s favorite songs were “Diamant,”“Tattoo” and “Weit Weg.” “Zeig Dich” and “Hallomann,” brought back the sounds of Rammstein past, the one that made the quintet the must-hear-and-see act the world over. 

The song that has had peeps talking and clamoring since its release, especially the lucky ducks who attended the stadium shows, “Puppe.” The aforementioned track showed an even darker and aggressive side more so than “Mein Teil.” It may not be classic Rammstein but understandably, showcases the shock rockers’ ability and willingness to evolve musically. Yes, it’s toned down by comparison but it is an album that grows on an established fan and has the ability to make new ones. 

  1. Besta – Eterno Rancor (Lifeforce Records, March 15, 2019)

This one came outta left field and probably beyond that as well. It also happened to slide into the Klown’s DM couple of months back. The Klown has heard of Besta before. In fact, his first exposure to them happened to be Thanatology vs. Besta split EP. Beyond that, he hasn’t heard too much of their material. Unless you’re knee deep in grind, one of Portugal’s best kept secrets should be no strangers to you. 

When you listen to Eterno Rancor, it will blow your mind and get you instantly hooked. From the moment “Diamorte” kicks off, vim and vigor surge through your ear drums and into your veins. This track opens with 5 seconds of guitar distortion that are then followed by an explosive melody of guitar, bass and drums and Paulo Rui’s screaming Portugese vocals. Yes, Rui sings in his native tongue. The quartet slows down a bit for “Sincronismo do Mal,” but not much take notice of it and to highlight the chorus for a brief moment. 

“Sangue Morto ” works off of the previous and briefly slows down towards the end. But “Repúdio Alarmante ” returns the album to the aggressive style that Besta is best known for. The collective even did a great cover of Bad Brains’ “The Regulator” and kept it punk. Personally, the Klown wishes that the album would have finished with “Porco Azul” or would have kept the dynamic as is but sprinkle “Saco Azul” and “Amigo Tóxico” somewhere in between or prior to the previous tracks. The Klown’s reason is that “Porco Azul”’s incredibly slow paced ending sounds like the perfect finale to this fast paced album. Other than that, the Klown enjoyed this record a little too much. He found himself coming back to it repeatedly because he simply couldn’t get enough of it. The Klown is now keeping a close eye on this Portuguese powerhouse and their next project in the future.

  1. Lindemann – F&M (Universal Music and Vertigo Berlin, November 22, 2019)

Since Rammstein was on the list, let the Klown continue on the common denominator. Let it be known that 2019 was and forever will be the year of the prolific Till Lindemann.This release also marks an even stronger musical presence for Peter Tägtgren which he’s had these last 4 years. The latest album, F & M, shows off a whole new range of sounds and musical depth. Lindemann sticks to German as opposed to a full length English album like Skills in Pills. If you happen to be a huge fan of PAIN or Industrial music, this album is much more lax than the previous release much like PAIN.

The album kicks off with the hit “Steh Auf” which the Klown ate up, he enjoyed the video but loved the song more. It is then followed by the other hit single “Ich Weiß Es Nicht,” which had a bit more of a Rammstein or rather Skills and Pills  feel, in terms of sound. “Allesfresser” reverts back to a balance of soft and hard, however, the Klown’s favorite pieces of the album comes in the middle of the album. First, “Knebel” presents an acoustic rendition of the duo’s versatility and gives a feel of a showdown or a very dramatic and crucial part in a narrative which then bursts with aggression right before closing off. 

Admittedly, the Klown’s absolute favorite is  “Ach so gern.” It was something outta left field and shows a new side from these two artists. Why? The Klown presumptuously thinks you may be asking. For one, it introduces you to the intimate and sensual sounds of tango all the while, Lindemann chimes in with albeit crass but appropriate lyrics and intimate vocals to match the tone of the song. The Klown doesn’t seem to be the only one who loved the song either, the superduo even made a PAIN version of the song for the deluxe edition and Till’s only rapping masterpiece, “Mathematik.” However, if you got the Mathematik single EP or listened to that album, then you’ll recognize that version as the “sture mix.” 

  1. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno (Nuclear Blast, May 24, 2019)

Huzzah! After some non-reviewed placeholders #1 was, indeed, reviewed. So on that note, the Klown won’t have to go too much in depth. You can check that review out anytime. Don’t want to? Fine. Be that way. You’ll have to settle for a summary of that. Why has Fleshgod earned the #1 spot? It starts with the fact that it was just simply that good of an album. 

A lot of bands have a hard time playing up after a bandmates depart and “lose their touch.” Not the Apocalypse, no sir. The album is a testament of Francesco Paoli’s lack of inhibitions with the support of Paolo Rossi, Francesco Ferrini and Veronica Bordacchin. Rather than laying back and accepting defeat, he did something that the Klown hadn’t seen from most musical groups in a very long minute, retracing back to their original sounds and combining them with the new.

From the moment the album began with “Fury,” which sounded like a track that came from King, and followed up with “Carnivorous Lamb” and “Sugar,” he knew that this album was going to be one for the decade. In fact, the last time the Klown became instantly hooked to Fleshgod Apocalypse was for their 2011 sophomore breakthrough, Agony. It was then the Klown became an instant fan and now with Veleno, he remains a fan. If you happen to be as big of a fan, you would also appreciate the mashup that this album has.

 For those unaware of what this tubs is talking about, in Veleno, you get the ambition of Labyrinth, the aggression along with Paoli’s harsh vocals from Oracles and Mafia EP, and the elegance and production of King and Agony. The cherry on top was these Italians’ rendition of “Reise, Reise,” they made it their own. This album still has the Klown clamoring for more and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them and us next.