2020 was a busy year for progressive/melodic death metal act Ewigkeit. Their critically acclaimed 2019 album ‘Disclose’ basically set multi-instrumentalist James Fogarty on a roll of creativity and he filled the following year with a wide array of works. The follow up album ‘Scarscape 2.019’ fused Ewigkeit’s distinctive progressive death traits with a science fiction concept that was far less uptight than Arjen Lucassen’s works, before a follow up EP (‘XXIII’) flipped all expectations by dumping the aggression and indulging more of Fogerty’s classic metal influences on a far more melodic disc. He then closed the year by recording some of his angriest sounds to date – material scheduled for release in January ’21 as the ‘Depopulate’ EP.
Norwegian black metal band Mork return in March 2021 with their fifth full lrngth album, ‘Katedralen’. Ahead of the album, the band have shared a new video clip for the lead single ‘ARV’, which contrasts fairly typical scratchy vocals with a Sabbathy doom riff to create an intense slab of extreme Scandinavian metal.
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.
Alabaman riff merchants Embr have been cranking out heavy grooves since 2015, but the release of their ‘1823’ full length on the New Heavy Sounds label really helped to elevate their profile. The album’s selection of intense riffs combined with a clean-ish female vocal presented a brilliant contrast between pure doom and great melodies, suggesting talents that could not only rival the UK’s own Witch Charmer, but possibly even help fill the massive void left by the much missed Black Moth. A filler free forty minutes, ‘1823’ is the kind of metal album that deserves to be heard by everyone.
The close of 2020 brought something of a surprise when, completely out of the blue, Embr shared a covers EP via Bandcamp. ‘Idolatry’ brings together four classic tracks from four classic 90s bands – a couple of which can be heard with new ears once redressed in Embr’s heavier clothes.
The simple and heavy approach of doom metal often lends itself to a “live in the studio” sound. When you consider how many doom and sludge bands have taken their cues from the first two Black Sabbath albums and Rodger Bain’s pioneering but minimalistic production style, it sort of makes sense that many working within these often insanely heavy subgenres would take a quick, no-frills approach to recording. That’s not always the case with Evangelist. The mysterious and Lovecraft obsessed Polish doom merchants took two years to record their debut album across various sessions, and although later releases came together in a more streamlined way, nothing was ever completed on the quick and the cheap.