Editor’s Note: 2018… well… let’s face it, it has not necessarily been our year. We are aware that unlike the previous year, we haven’t laid out enough material. Nevertheless, even though we lagged on documenting reviews, we still listened to all the anticipated albums. With that said, 2019 will be different, and we’ll try our damnedest to keep up. Who will be taking the coveted Ugh Metal album of the year prize? So… *drum rolls* without further ado…
The Klown’s Top 6
The honorable mentions: Helsott – Slaves And Gods, Thanatology – Un Legado de Negligencia Medicas (Capitulo 1ro), Ghostblood – Honey, I Raised The Dead, Uada – Cult of a Dying Sun, Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins, Requiem – And The Earth Grew Dark, Ruthless Inhumanity – The Act of a Demigod EP, Sergulath – Massokisst, Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods, The Casualties – Written In Blood, Pennywise – Never Gonna Die, Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog, Lords of Acid – Pretty In Kink, Lord of the Lost – Thornstar, Night Club – Scary World, Thy Antichrist – Wrath of the Beast, Wolvhammer – The Monuments of Ash and Bone and Neckbeard Deathcamp – White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers
- Sparrows – Mark of the Beast: Extinction (Independent; 10/28)
It’s funny that the Klown’s number 6 pick is an album that has yet to be reviewed. Will the Klown ever give Sparrows a proper review? The Klown has yet to see, if Pennywise (the dancing clown) and St. Lemmy permits it. If he doesn’t, why not give you reasons to as of why this latest one from the quartet of the Lone Star State made it to the Klown’s top 6? Alright. Alright. If you’ve never heard of this band prior, the Klown recommends that you should lend them your ears. After all, they have a Bandcamp and a YouTube channel where you can check out all their stuff.
Right from the start, “Astral Sorcery” begins rather slowly in the first minute, picks up the tempo right after, and starts showing some shades of, one of the Klown’s favorite band, Melechesh. The Klown can say the same about “Extinction,” Melechesh comparison excluded. It is then followed up with “Ritual of Burning Leaves” which starts rather groovy and proggy, and is kept heavy by guitarists Ryan Trent and Matt Fiddes. The two guitarists continue to show off their stand out riffs and dynamic in“Archimedes.” The album, as a whole, gives you multiple subgenres packaged into one with death metal at the root of it all. So, on that note, check these gents out especially if you love death metal of every and any variety.
- Vontrov – Through a Once Closed Passage (Independent; 10/24)
Just like a proud papa, another first impressions alumni bagged an album of the year slot. Don’t get the Klown wrong, he calls it how he hears it! As it is, the one-man black metal project known as Vontrov has made various appearances in our glorious site . Ugh Metal first followed the multi-instrumentalist’s, Arevera, journey since his involvement with our first video segment. Because we couldn’t get enough of Vontrov, we snagged the first two EPs and felt compelled to spread the word on these bitchin’ EP’s. His debut LP, Through a Once Closed Passage, wasn’t rated by El Pallaso but was reviewed by his troll-like sister, the J’Ohkah which you can read here!
The Klown’s take is short and to the point, it was good. The moment the first chord in “Wicked in the Eyes of God”was struck, you realized Norway isn’t the only place representing the black metal scene but it’s a lot closer. Somewhere in San Diego to be exact! Arevera also throws shades of Marduk into the mix with “Omniscient Pt. 1,” just to name a few. The bonus treat of the album is Vontrov’s cover of Dark Funeral’s “Open the Gates” which not only does justice to the original song but sounds pretty cool and raw. For the most part, if you enjoy early Satyricon and Darkthrone, this album is definitely one to get and its available in bandcamp!
- Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway – Dictator (Scarred For Life; 7/20)
The Klown has confessed before that he is a System Of A Down fan. In fact, as he stated for his review on this album, he was ecstatic for this release. Yes, the Klown is aware that this is Daron Malakian’s side project with the same type of bravado and style. Another thing that changed was the project being rebranded as Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway. For those unaware, the rebranding made sense considering that there was a major change in the line up with the exception of Malakian. New crew plus new material, equaled a new, and long-awaited record.
The album wisely opens with the hit and the song that kickstarted the intrigue, “Lives.” Then it followed up strongly with “Angry Guru” and “Dictator.” It slows down briefly with “Gun Loaded” which picks up immediately. The Klown was also fond of “Till The End” because of the combination of rough and soft. This album not only came out at the right time, given the present political climate. It’s also the closest thing we’ve all gotten to a new System Of A Down album, it even has the same style and bravado as SOAD. The Klown is still hoping for a new SOAD album or another Scars On Broadway. Let’s just hope that it isn’t another ten years before we hear of another one.
- Bomber – Sommation (Independent; 2/2)
Remember how the foreword mentioned discovery and surprises? Well, kiddies, Bomber is a living testament of this. If you recall (or don’t) the Klown reviewed this up-and-coming thrash band from France back in February. The Klown didn’t know what to expect before he heard this album. The Klown’s interest piqued when he saw Bomber and “thrash/crossover” on the Encyclopedia Metallum’s album release list. The cherries on top came after the Klown saw “unsigned/independent” on their profile’s current label status.
The Klown was ecstatic as hell to know that his gamble paid off and got the album right after! Yes, it was love at first sound. The moment “Bombarded” picked up after the slow build up, the Klown was taken back to the time when Thrash and crossover were at their peak. In fact, the group really tapped into their inner-Metallica but with a better drummer… or, if you prefer, Flotsam & Jetsam. Did the Klown mention that it is their debut LP? They say the sky’s the limit, the Klown, however, says that they’re gonna make it to the moon if they keep this momentum up! With that in mind, keep your eyes and ears opened and check out their bandcamp.
- Soulfly – Ritual (Nuclear Blast; 10/19)
Where does the Klown begin? Rather where can he begin? Before you correct the Klown, let’s make this about Ritual and not about the Klown’s attempt at being witty. For starters, the album begins strongly with “Ritual” giving the record that said sound. One of the real treats of this album is Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe in “Dead Behind The Eyes.” The other biggest surprise was that of Immolation’s vox/bassist Ross Dolan in “Under Rapture.”
This album was definitely one that did not relent nor hold back any punches. Two of the Klown’s favorite tracks are “The Summoning” and “Demonized” which had great lyrical content and sounds. In the case of “The Summoning,” semblances of Nailbomb. Plus, in true Soulfly fashion, the album came to a soft instrumental close with the aptly titled “Soulfly XI.” The Klown already had his set of favorite Max Cavalera albums which consist of Roots, Chaos A.D., Point Blank and continues on with Inflikted, Prophecy and Conquer. As you can see, the Klown just added one more towards the top of his list.
- Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest (Metal Blade Records; 10/5)
Unlike last year, the man known as Adam Nergal Darski has officially bumped his place to the top of the Klown’s list. Much like every member of the Behemoth legion, the Klown anticipated this album. The Klown will confess that he was hoping it wouldn’t be another The Satanist, the Klown was not a real fan of it even though it was good. From the moment the Klown heard “Wolves ov Siberia” live at last year’s Slayer farewell tour, he sensed that this album was gonna be their biggest comeback of the year. Flash forward to five months after that and this masterpiece came up like a seductive incubus from the depths of hell.
From the moment “Solve (Intro)” began, the Klown felt immediate intrigue. The Klown enjoyed the fact that a children’s choir sang loudly, and in unison “Living God, I shall not forgive. Jesus Christ, I forgive thee not.” It was brilliantly executed and reverberated tainted innocence’s resentment and disenchantment towards Christianity. At least that’s what the Klown thinks.
Of course, as is sometimes the case with album’s track order versus music videos, the follow up wasn’t “God=Dog” but rather the “Wolves ov Siberia” which still transitioned well. As much as the Klown loved “God=Dog,” the songs the Klown felt that solidified the album were “Ecclesia Diabolkica Catholica,” “Angelvs XIII,” “Sabbath Mater” and “ROM 5:8.” The final track, “Coagula (Outro),” was an instrumental with a major dramatic flair, giving the album the grandiose ending. The outro was the right fit for a film’s end credit or a movie trailer. Although, the Klown would say to start from the beginning to really appreciate the evolution of Behemoth, starting from reverse would be good too. The Klown can’t wait to see how Nergal will top this.
Jenny Oh’s Top 6 Albums
Editor’s Note: This was HARD and they all fought bravely.
Honorable mentions: Malison (self titled), Helsott- Slaves and Gods, Primordial- Exile, Bomber- Sommation, Shining- x varg utan flock, Gruesome- Twisted Prayers, Lords of Acid- Pretty in Kink, Andrew W.K.- You’re Not Alone, Emigrate- A Million Pieces, Sergulath- Massokisst, Micawber- Beyond The Reach Of Flame, Behemoth- I Loved You At Your Darkest , Watain- Trident Wolf Eclipse, Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods, Valkyrja- Throne Ablaze, Craft- white noise and black metal
- At the Gates- To Drink From the Night Itself (Century Media Records, May 18)
These legendary gents had me drinking out of the palm of their hands…because I am the night! Okay, mediocre “jokes” aside, the steady and subtle ferocity of this album was an immediate attention grabber. At The Gates has a gift of executing these steady build ups that reel you in deeper into the subterranean levels of any record they produce. This album was no exception of course.
After taking a sip the first time, it will leave you intoxicated but thirsty for more. Soon enough, you will find yourself chugging this album down and discovering new details you missed on the first round of this audible journey. Oh and they will be watching you because baby can’t you see, this album belongs to me. Batman and Dracula would approve of this album and have it on repeat and so will I.
- Vontrov- ‘Through A Once Closed Passage’ (Independent, Oct. 24)
This First Impressions alumni and local one man black metal project, Vontrov, never seizes to amaze yours truly. Vontrov’s full length debut is a crescendo of non stop black metal grit, Satan will most definitely be playing this record in his next company party. The elusive Vontrov doesn’t beat around the bush, each track invades and conquers its listeners.
Okay, there are some tracks that have a tactic in place. Some songs will have a steadier intro with plenty of intoxicating and smooth riffs to ease you into the dark side, while others gallop faster than a tardy Sleepy Hollow rushing to his hat fitting! All of these climactic rhythms will accomplish their end goal, which is to lure you Through A Once Closed Passage that you will not want to stray away from, my little lamb. Black metal aficionados and dabblers will find this record intriguing, and will entice you to check out the rest of the other two gems Vontrov has in his bandcamp.
- Amorphis- Queen of time (Nuclear Blast Records, May 18)
Yours truly is not an Amorphis aficionado but this album stood out like the prettiest lads in the pit. This album worked its magic and enticed me to invest my time in this record, and well look at where we are! Although yours truly and this album are not sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, Amorphis did work some kind of magic. The sextet sprinkled some of their fairy dust on yours truly and also on those who dare to join them on this saga. And what can I say, it was the adventure of a lifetime.
Queen of Time showed us the world per se, and gave us different samples of other musical elements much like they’ve done so before. The cherry on top? Amorphis heightened the cinematic overtone which was beautifully done. This record will make listeners feel like they are touching the stars and gliding above a set of whole new worlds. Yes, I is sober, and it’s just the wanderlust talking…ok sort of. Listen to the record in all major streaming platforms and see what I mean!
- Soulfly- Ritual (Nuclear Blast Records, Oct. 19)
Max Cavalera may have been staying busy with other endeavors but he was not too busy to conjure up this baby. Cavalera and company used their magic touch to create a powerful and highly addictive record called Ritual. The dabblers that decide to pop in this Soulfly album will definitely find their heads turning for all the right reasons. Next thing they know, they are replaying this album over and over again. They’re in deep!
What made this album so mesmerizing? Was it because two high profile special guests such as Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Immolation’s Ross Dolan magnificently lent their vocals? Not quite but that can certainly be one reason, we’re getting warmer though. Was it because the Brazilian maestro did what he does best, and put different musical elements in the forefront while staying heavy? BINGO. Sure this isn’t Soulfly’s first rodeo with different musical styles but Ritual was eccentrically heavy because it was not of this realm. Well played Soulfly, well played!
- Trenches (self titled, independent/ Blind Idiot Recordings(?), March 31)
Special Note:I’ll point out the elephant in the room, the record label portion is funky because Blind Idiots Recordings is MIA in the interwebs! That’s right, they’re so kvlt, they are in the next level of underground and are too trve for public consumption. So whether Trenches is signed or not is up for debate. Now on to my ode!
This was a release that had me feeling all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings in my tum tum the first time I heard its call. Well, not much has changed because look at where it ended up! The quartet’s self titled debut is one rabid and hellish beast that is dripping with grit, and is not afraid to get in your face. It is the monster that your grandmother warned you about that dwells in the forest or outback… and it will swallow you whole.
Since its March release, it is still held in high regard … even though it was so close to being forgotten! Hellwitch’s guttural growls paired with the band’s calculated cacophony are an unholy union that will appease trves and casuals alike. Trenches also shows the world that the Australian black metal scene is still thriving and doing just fine. What other deviant delights will this band concoct? Only time will tell because they have just begun! I don’t want to bore you with a lengthier ode daahling, so click check it for yourself and get it on Trenches Bandcamp.
- Ihsahn- Àmr (Candlelight Records, May 4)
The Norwegian maestro came back to show us the way in to the future, in to Santa’s sack, and in to the great beyond! Okay, it was a little too early to peek in to Santa’s sack but this album certainly possessed the same magick. The multi instrumentalist reminded us, mortals, why he is still THE emperor and catapulted us in to a transcendence after one hit of this record. What can I say? The man’s still got it!
Ihsahn’s latest was perfectly weaved with his signature darkened prog elements that made you want to hold on till the enigmatic end. Àmr is not simply another great album, it is a clandestine journey into the unknown that is teeming with all sorts of emotions and plot lines, and we are all for it. Enough about me going on and on about this and listen to it on Spotify.