NECRONAUTICAL – Apotheosis

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.

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THE WORLD WITHOUT US – Incarnate

Although only together for around eighteen months at the close of 2019, Pennsylvania’s The World Without Us have gigged intensively and already shared a stage with the mighty Soulfly. It takes some bands years to gain that kind of attention, but one listen to their ‘Incarnate’ EP is pretty much all you’ll need to be convinced that these guys are one hell of a metal band.

Taking huge swathes of metalcore, a pinch of prog-metal and a couple of other influences, this EP is a giant melting pot of riffs. Riffs big enough to take on the very best; something helped no end by a heavy production style that is streets ahead of so many bands’ first DIY releases.

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THE LAST REIGN – Prelude EP

The Last Reign’s overall style and approach to metal is unmistakably Scandinavian. Taking hefty cues from Soilwork and In Flames, their sound has a constant push and pull between the pneumatic and aggressive sounds of hardcore metal while still clinging on to various melodic approaches that flaunt a shameless love of the past. Their second release, ‘Prelude’ is a stop-gap, but its three songs go a long way to showing off a superb band – one that really should be on the radar of almost all fans of Scandinavian metal sounds.

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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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