ZHORA – Mortals

Since their arrival on the metal scene, zhOra have worked hard in forging a sound that takes sludge metal into more adventurous places than most. Armed with a relentless sound that mixes a hardcore crunch with the pure technicalities of progressive metal, the smatterings of death metal and a crushing doom element, their work isn’t for those who seek instant gratification. Their fourth album, ‘Mortals’ really reinforces any ideas that the band often values weight and heaviness over any genuine accessibility, yet at the same time, it is a truly impressive release.

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VOFA – Vofa

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.

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BYZANTHIAN NECKBEARD – Minaton

Byzanthian Neckbeard broke a five year hiatus at the beginning of summer 2019 when they re-emerged with ‘Extinxtion’, a heavy as hell three tracker that raised the bar for uncompromising sludge metal sounds. Expecting the band to go back into hibernation after wearing everyone down with a set of absolutely crushing riffs, it came as a surprise when the Guernsey based trio released a full length album just a couple of months later.

‘Minaton’ is everything ‘Extinction’ promised…and more. The band’s trademark heavy, sludgebeast of a sound is firmly in place throughout. This is an album that starts somewhere around 8/11 on the heaviness scale, but somehow manages to increase its sledgehammer-like presence as it goes. Some of the material seems a little more intensive on the death metal inflected vocals than before, but for lovers of a sludgy riff or six, it’s the kind of album that’ll tick so many of the right boxes.

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BYZANTHIAN NECKBEARD – Extinction EP

It took Byzanthian Neckbeard five years to follow up their 2014 ‘From The Clutches of Oblivion’ long player, but for fans of that record, the three tracks that make up their 2019 EP ‘Extinction’ will certainly impress. In just fifteen minutes, Guernsey’s loudest band churn, grind and chug their way through a trio of incredibly heavy numbers, drawing influence from greats like Conan and Crowbar to help them in their quest for the ultimate riff.

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MNRVA – Black Sky EP

Formed in South Carolina in 2018, MNRVA brings together the talents of Arcane vocalist/guitarist Byron Hawk and Iron Fist’s Gina Ercoli and Kevin Jennings (drums and bass, respectively) to create an uncompromising sludge metal power trio. Often showing an unhealthy early Melvins and Electric Wizard obsession, their main concern on this debut EP is taking some really heavy riffs and slowly bludgeoning their audience. As heavy as a very heavy thing, of course, that results in a timeless doomy, sludgy and sometimes uncompromising sound that fans of the style will love.

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