With their 2019 EP ‘Ruins Upon Ruins’, Daxma really put themselves on the map in terms of inventive metal. Presenting just two tracks across a sprawling twenty one minutes, the release weaved a musical tapestry that took a doomy core and dressed it with strong gothic and post metal undertones, allowing Jessica T’s haunting vocal style to really work its dark magic. On the self-penned ‘Minima Moralia’, the band showed a real gift for a sprawling arrangement, and on an unexpected cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’ – redressed as a gothic post metal tour de force, pulled across ten unmerciful minutes – they demonstrated a sense of fearlessness that seemed almost unparalleled. As far as covers go, it really shouldn’t have worked, but the fact that it did, more than proved that sheer audacity can pay off if a band has the right combination of talent and self belief.
On their debut album ‘1823’, US metal band EMBR wasted no time in introducing their talents with a heavy riff. Across its seven songs, there were strong callbacks to doom and sludge greats like Crowbar jostling with flourishes that suggested a love of the darker side of the grunge and goth movements. Unlike so many other similar releases was a strong melodic core, helped no end by some great vocal performances from Crystal Bigelow. The band closed the year with a surprise covers EP, ‘Idolatory’, which further showcased their natural abilities for heavy sounds, as well as a love for some of Seattle’s finest exports. After that release, there was no doubt that this would be a band to watch out for in the future.
Indiana death metal/extreme metal band Death On Fire cover a wide musical ground on the follow up to their 2020 long player ‘Ghost Songs’. The ‘Six Foot Box’ EP only features three tracks, but by taking elements of old school thrash metal, a pinch of black metal coldness and broad strokes of doom, the material almost feels as if it crams in a full album’s worth of ideas into a little under fifteen minutes.
Polish doom blues trio Weird Tales laid down some pretty heavy vibes on their 2019 long player ‘Hell Services Cost a Lot’. Bookended by two lengthy workouts absolutely laden with distortion, it cared not for giving first time listeners anything easily digestible. Lurching through various slow and heavy moods, and with each track seemingly as oppressive as the last, it eventually blurred into a near hour’s worth of sludge. While those riffs were impressive – at least to begin with – a disregard for actual songs meant it was an album for the most committed doom fiends only.
An extreme metal act from Miami, Frank’s Enemy have been making intensive noises since 1992. Often combining grindcore, death metal and doom elements, the band’s sound has never been for the faint of heart. Their 2020 album ‘Abnormalized’ was scheduled for release in September, but as of January 2021, it’s still “under construction” with new tracks being added sporadically via their Bandcamp site.