When it comes to extreme metal, the Scandinavians have a long and rich history. Quite often, their extremes are rooted in the black metal sphere, but sometimes a more gothic approach will rear its head with interesting results. In the hands of Iceland’s Vofa, the latter definitely applies since their debut album comprises of three very lengthy, title-less pieces that explore the heaviest end of the funeral doom subgenre. In many ways, it sounds almost exactly how its sleeve art looks.
In terms of twenty first century black metal, few bands create intense and dark atmospheres better than the UK’s Necronautical. Far more sophisticated than a pneumatic din with some casual church burning thrown in, their 2019 album ‘Apotheosis’ features seven tracks that show how – when well played – such extreme sounds can be carry a lot of weight in the progressive stakes. This album, although largely created from classic black metal roots, also takes in intensive folk metal and battle metal influences, to create something that ranks among the year’s most interesting extreme metal discs.
Featuring previously unreleased material from four Chilean bands, the bulk of the material on ‘4Ways To Die’ would possibly seem fairly ordinary if approached individually. However, by taking bands that each approach a doom and blackened doom riffs in a different ways and placing their DIY works together, for doom metal buffs, this compilation could be the mother of all split releases.
It took New York’s sludge metal heroes False Gods a full two years to release a follow up for their ‘Reports From Oblivion’ EP. In that time, fans probably suspected the band to re-emerge, all guns blazing with a devastatingly heavy full length album…but it wasn’t to be. It may still verge upon being devastatingly heavy in a few places, but their 2019 EP ‘The Serpent & The Ladder’ presents just two new songs.
Whether this is an EP – as advertised – or a single that unleashes two lengthy workouts is something very much up for debate. The band’s commitment to a riff, on the other hand goes without question. A concept piece, of sorts, the two numbers concern both of the titular objects, but a gruff vocal and very intense sound means that the finer points of the narrative are lost behind some weighty riffs. Let’s be fair, though, if you’re drawn to a band like False Gods for anything other than those riffs, you’ve sort of missed the point.
Ewigkeit’s eighth album ‘DISclose’ drew heavily on themes of other worlds and UF-ology. Quite removed from their black metal origins, its seven songs straddled a wide range of heavy influences, taking in some old school rock and a fair amount of melodic and symphonic black metal, as well as a touch of drone and a little alternative along the way. It was a hugely accessible record considering multi-instrumentalist James Fogarty had first come to prominence as a member of In The Woods and provided you could make it past a semi-abrasive vocal, it was an album with a lot to give.