|Notrap's First Half 2019|
It's been a great year so far. These are my first semester highlights.
The Furnaces of Palingenesia
Behold creatures of the night, behold the colossal return of chaos, darkness and pain. Behold, hear and bow. Album of the year, so far.
Highlights: Ad Arma! Ad Arma! and 1523
Del amor y otros demonios
Passionate, theatrical and captivating neoclassical symphonic metal from Spain, whose main virtue is the use of the Castilian / Spanish language. Highly recommended.
Highlights: Por un Corazón de Piedra, La Herida, Para Siempre and La Trampa del Tiempo
Of Rot And Ruin
If someone asks me how extreme metal will sound like in the next decade, the answer will be something like "it will take a more hybrid approach, obviously." Of Rot and Ruin is more than a product of its time, it's a taste of what's to come and as the wise man said, we're living great times, the best of times.
Highlights: Currents, Rituals and Worlds Within
Awesome ritualistic ancestral experience.
Highlights: Traust and Othan
There is enough energy in this album to feed Iceland's cold nights for a couple of years.
Highlights: Orgia and Alsæla
Gods Without Name
Can someone please tell me where the light is? I need to get the HELL out of here.
Highlights: Of Harvest, Scythe and Sickle Moon, Gods Without Name and The Watcher on the Threshold
There's music that explores new frontiers; music that explores diverse styles and influences, and there's simply good music, which expresses the feeling, energy and artistic value of a group of musicians at a certain moment in time. You don't have to be an Einstein to figure out where Hvisl Stjarnanna fits. Great album.
Highlights: Apparitions, Crimson Stars and Úr kaleik martraða
Dense, without being too oppressive. Heavy, without being overly aggressive. Diverse, without ever losing focus. Sulfur English is a product of restraint and maturity.
Highlights: Citadel and The Atavist’s Meridian
Highlights: The Drift and Taciturn
Eclectic, fresh, technical, progressive, I: Voice mirrors the modern extreme metal sound of the late 10s.
Highlights: Eat Them While They Sleep and Nightfall Came
Ofidians manifest is one of those albums that due to its diversity and intrinsic quality, makes us instinctively press the repeat button. Mandatory listening.
Highlights: Dominans, Eremitt and Det Sorte
Quite interesting balance between aggressiveness and melody. These guys deserve a lot more recognition.
Highlights: Killing Spree, Gallery of Pandemonium and Dualis Flamel
This band has the recurring habit of creating good songs and, as expected, Lotus keeps the tradition alive. It’s true that they rarely get out of their comfort zone, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Highlights: Lascivious, Martyrs and Rival
|14||Ceremony Of Silence|
Unmerciful and intense death metal, which proudly carries the tradition of bands like Immolation into a new era.
Highlights: Invocation of the Silent Eye and Ceremony of a Thousand Stars
The Approaching Roar
Highlights: Sighting and Cyclopean Clash
With a more diverse and less conservative approach than previous releases, Veleno is one of the band's most catchy and inspired albums to date, where songs follow each other fluidly, intelligently avoiding moments of greater saturation typical of this frenetic symphonic style. Bel lavoro ragazzi.
Highlights: Sugar, Fury and Prisoner of Time
Atmospheres of Desolation
Massive sleepwalking dissonance.
Highlights: Atmospheres of Desolation and Habitual Falsehood
Cavernous death metal album of the year so far.
Highlights: Sinking Transient Waters and The Reek of Loss
Deutschland is easily one of my favorite songs of the year.
Highlights: Deutschland, Radio, Was Ich Liebe and Tattoo
Music that smells like 2019. Relentless metal / hard-core hybrid.
Highlights: Matriphagy, Uterine Industrialisation and Asura's Realm
Gaahls' new project will certainly not be consensual, since its more gothic and clean approach will not please everyone. I personally find Ghosts Invited's atmosphere quite emotional and engaging, presenting a rather interesting diversity. The drumming is definitely one of the highlights, great performance.
Highlights: Ek Erilar, From the Spear and Carving the Voices
|22||Beast In Black|
From Hell With Love
So this how neo-pop metal sounds like.
Highlights: Cry Out for a Hero, Repentless, Unlimited Sin, Killed by Death (cover) and No Easy Way Out (cover)
The Language of Injury
Great Joe Haley-esque riffs.
Highlights: New Covenant, Impulse Crush and The Language of Injury
Englund takes us on a journey through the Atlantic currents into familiarly melancholic shores. We will not find anything truly adventurous along the way, but the ride is quite enjoyable.
Highlights: Weightless, Currents and The Beacon
As expected, The Heretics doesn't hold many surprises since the band has been in a loop mode for some time now, nevertheless, the album has a handful of good songs, with an interesting ecclesiastical approach.
Highlights: Fire God and Fear, Vetry Zlye and The Raven
Stalfager will most certainly be among the best songs of the year. Quite catchy release.
Highlights: Arrival, The Nurturing Glance and Stalfager
How do we say tech feast in Japanese?
Highlights: Impure Confrontation, Deprivation of Liberty and Devoured The Psyche
The Temple Is Burning
Welcome to the dark side, my young padawan, here you can find the eclectic brutality you've been looking for.
Highlights: The Temple is Burning and All Hail to Vader
|29||Brand of Sacrifice|
Highlights: Charlotte and Divinity
Apoptosis is all that can be expected from Allegaeon, a tech grooving death metal assault, which rests on the same rather distinctive well-known formula of the band's previous albums, and although the band never really get out of their comfort zone, Apoptosis is more stimulating and less exhausting than Proponent For Sentience, despite having 11 songs and more than 55 minutes, revealing a more focused and effective songwriting. Personal highlights: Extremophiles (B and A), Metaphobia, Stellar Tidal Disruption and the title track.
Highlights: Extremophiles (B) and Stellar Tidal Disruption
Requiem For Mankind
Karl Willetts & Co return with their strongest album to date. No filler here, just damn good old-school UK death metal, that reminds us how great Bolt Thrower were.
Highlights: Undefeated, The Veteran and In the Midst of Desolation
Auric Gates of Veles
With Auric Gates of Veles, Hate ends the decade on a high note, and even if it's not enough to achieve the notoriety or success of their omnipresent countrymates, it will surely be remembered as one of the band's most interesting albums to date.
Highlights: The Volga's Vein and Sovereign Sanctity
Shem Ha Mephorash
Shem Ha Mephorash is that kind of album that takes some patience and the right mood to fully enjoy, preferably at night.
Highlights: Sanguinem and King of Kings, Lord of Lords
Divina Autem et Aniles
Captivating Paradise Lost-esque death doom, which despite not presenting anything new, has the ability to engage us throughout the album through a collection of good old-school songs, reminiscent of the early 90's.
Highlights: Black Ritual and Fire and Storm
Cease To Exist
A ferocious and vicious thrash assault that makes some genre veterans blush.
Highlights: Putrid Decadence and Eyes Pried Open
The Suns of Perdition - Chapter I: War, Horrid War
Kampfar fans should check this out. Good stuff.
Highlights: The Day After 'Trinity' and The Decapitator's Prayer
Pantheon of the Nightside Gods
Sometimes there's no need to invent the wheel, sometimes making good music and having some fun is more than enough, and yes, the Belzebubes sound as if they were having the time of their lives. Don't let the fictional concept or the band's funny videos fool you, Pantheon of the Nightside Gods is a captivating slab of high quality blackened melodic death metal, which will certainly not go unnoticed.
Highlights: Cathedrals of Mourning and Dark Mother
The Insidious Star
More melodic and folksy than Frostbiten, The Insidious Star is a product of a band in full creative maturity. Personal highlights: Natten da gud blundade, Muspelheim and Orrekulle.
Highlights: Natten då Gud blundade and Muspelheim
High quality blackened hybrid that efficiently explores various textures and influences throughout the album, and even though we can't find anything truly original, the sum of all parts is still quite interesting.
Highlights: Portrait of Pieces, Horizon, Coma and Adore
|40||Rhapsody of Fire|
The Eighth Mountain
What strikes me most about the album is the combination of the ultra-polished sound and gentle vocals. Yes, it's the same old song within the genre, but I like the velvet package.
Highlights: Master of Peace, White Wizard, The Legend Goes On and Tales of a Hero's Fate
Rise of the Dragon Empire
With notably rare exceptions, power metal is not a genre that offers freshness, adventurism or originality, its main goal is to give the listener some epic fun and the chance to fight dragons along the way, and this album accomplishes that purpose quite well.
Highlights: Rise of the Dragon Empire, Magical Eye and Balerion
I don't know Eluveitie, so I can't tell if the album is a copy paste from the past, however it seems obvious we're dealing with musicians who know how to write good music.
Highlights: Death, The Spell and Freeze
Less melancholic and introspective than Cellar Darling's The Spell, Ategnatos takes us on pleasant journey through the Swiss Alps and its Celtic Helvetian pagan metal melodies. Personal highlights: Ategnatos, A Cry in the Wilderness and Threefold Death.
Highlights: Ategnatos, A Cry in the Wilderness and Threefold Death
While Europeans fight dragons and plunder villages with medieval armours, Syu shreds near the stars. Quite entertaining and frantic neoclassical power metal.
Highlights: ここで区切れと天使は歌う, 暁 And Euphoria
Quite enjoyable symphonic melodic death metal from France.
Highlights: Origins, Nemesis and Ishassara
The Dutch brutal death metal scene, reminiscent of Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse, has always been my favorite, and even though the overall concept of the band is highly debatable, Prostitute Disfigurement's self-titled is a full-grown, well executed slab of fierce brutality, being a strong contender for the best brutal death metal album of the year.
Highlights: Fight a Transvestite, Happily To The Gallows and Every Woman Lives in Fear
Here's a good example of an interesting mainstream approach to music, On My Side, The Negative or Ash are great jams. As a side note, the mixing and mastering leaves a lot to be desired.
Highlights: On My Side, The Negative and Ash
I hope the Bloodbath lads don't sue these guys, because this is damn fun.
Highlights: Fear Expulsion and Epitaph
Something Wicked Marches In
A David Vincent / Flo Mounier collaboration is mandatory listening and even though the album doesn't present anything new, its blackened approach is nevertheless quite interesting.
Highlights: Praevalidus, Total Destroy and Everlasting
Interesting melodic death metal from Italy. Mandatory listening for all Kalmah and Be'lakor fans.
Highlights: Her Frantic Call, Divide et Impera and The Age of Treason
Across The Acheron
There's something fresh and engaging in Across the Acheron that's hard to identify. I don't know if it's the contrast between the Duran Duran-esque cleans and metal background or whether it's the diversity of influences we find on the album, but one thing seems clear to me, with the right support and some luck, this band will find its place in the sun.
Highlights: Burning Paradise, Eye of the Storm, Cutthroat Game and Across the Acheron
I've always admired bands that are a product of their time, acts with a fresh sound, that aren't afraid to take risks and explore new territories, while maintaining a connection with their influences. Gomorrah, with its modern approach, fits into this niche. I hope this album helps the band to get the recognition it deserves.
Highlights: Frailty and For Those of Eld
More melodic and direct than its predecessor, Apophenia is the accomplished result of a musician who seeks to simplify his creative process without losing neither his identity nor his strong technical component.
Highlights: Reeks Insidious and The War of Intelligence
Wings of Fire
Catchy symphonic melodic death metal with strong highlights, especially in the first half of the album, such as Wings of Fire, Ride on, Spirit or And So We Age.
Highlights: Wings of Fire, Ride on Spirit and And so We Age
Challenging progressive music that explores diverse textures with a strong attitude and refreshing approach. Quite interesting release.
Highlights: Exteriors and Folie Noire
"Headbanging: Violent rhythmic shaking of the head by fans of heavy metal music when jamming Inculter's Fatal Visions." 2019 Oxford University Dictionaries.
Highlights: Open the Tombs and Final Darkness
Modern and relevant stuff, great track.
Highlights: the great track
The Triclavian Advent
Raw, relentless and uncompromising blackened thrash, reminiscent of the old school blasphemers of the mid 80's. The Triclavian Advent will surely be among my favorite albums of the year, within the genre.
Highlights: Bloodstained, Armoured Angel and Unheeded Warnings
Epic melodic death metal that take us to the magical and legendary lands of southern France. Mandatory listening for fans of Kalmah-esque melodic metal.
Highlights: The Sovereign, Dissonance Within and Snowblind
The Chosen One
The Chosen One is one of those albums that dispenses extensive arguments, it's a well-crafted, all killer no filler collection of core-ish metal jams.
Highlights: The Chosen One, About That, Hey Stranger!, The Gifted One
Kalmah meets power, speed and thrash is what you get from Paladin's debut, take it or leave it.
Highlights: Awakening, Call of the Night and Vagrant
Their Worm Never Dies
Good old school tech, reminiscent of 90's Chuck Schuldiner.
Highlights: Exorcism and The Petition
Into Cascades of Blood and Burning Soil
Highly focused and appealing German deathgrind with influences ranging from UK's 80s extreme metal to Suffocation. Mandatory listening for fans of the genre.
Highlights: Seed of Evil
|64||After the Burial|
All killer, no filler release which certainly will not disappoint fans who like their metalcore / deathcore catchy, highly focused and with a mainstream approach.
Highlights: Exit Exit, 11/26 and In Flux
Insane drumming & blasphemous riffs. Rules
Who would have guessed that such a pleasant and fresh progressive metal would come from Puerto Rico?
Highlights: Beyond the Threshold: Part 1 - Helios Awakens and A Decision Must Be Made
Smells of Death
Interesting balance between melody and early Entombed-esque death metal.
Highlights: Smells of Death and The Dead Laught
In your face straightforward Misery Index-esque metal.
Highlights: Victims Left Lepers and To the Carnal Earth
Interesting blackened hybrid that mixes several influences and genres, such as Enslaved / Emperor / early Ihsahn-esque black metal, tech death and even some brutal death metal, without forgetting Voivod.
Highlights: Parity Lost and Face of the Enmity
|70||Applaud The Impaler|
Ov Apocalypse Incarnate
Punishing modern brutal deathcore. Good stuff.
Highlights: Ov Apocalypse Incarnate
Return of the Arsonist
If I were a high school teen I'd probably have a shirt of these guys. Cool jam.
Highlights: Don't Strike a Match, Use the Lighter and s01e02.return.of.the.arsonist.720p.hdtv.x264
Rituals of Power
Rituals of Power lacks the quality and consistency of the band's latest albums, but hey, it's Misery Index, headbanging guaranteed.
Highlights: New Salem, I Disavow and Naysayer
Title track and Red Dawn will certainly be among my favorite songs of 2019. Accept and Priest fans should check these riffs out.
Highlights: Afterburner and Red Dawn
Bury The Pain
Bury the Pain is an enjoyable comeback, nothing overly exciting or innovative, as expected, just friends saying "it's been a while, lads" and that's enough for me.
Highlights: Bleeding Out and Let the World Burn
A Beacon In The Husk
Good underproduced cavern.
The Coffin Train
Except for the debut I never paid much attention to these guys, so The Coffin Train took me by surprise. Unlike many revivals, which only try to emulate the glory days long gone, the band tries, in its own way, to do something more representative of what they are nowadays, with a much greater focus in the 90s than in their earlier NWOBHM sound signature. Old school fans probably will not like this less heavy, more polished and mainstream approach, I personally find it quite unpretentious and fun.
Highlights: Belly of the Beast and The Coffin Train
|77||Full of Hell|
It's all about Armory of Obsidian Glass.
Highlights: Armory of Obsidian Glass
Cameron Porras & Co return with yet another solid tech, which despite some predictability, always presents interesting harmony hooks.
Highlights: Ocean and Liberation
Nothing new under the moon, nevertheless Kosmicide shouldn't be ignored since it features an interesting straightforward approach, mostly influenced by the Swedish black metal scene.
Highlights: The Soul of the Worlds, Sinister Lava and Ceremony of Reversion p.2
Best 2019 slam, so far.
Highlights: Matriarchal Devirgination and Delirium