On their self titled album from 2020, London’s Cult Burial served up an interesting mix of extreme metal sounds. Tracks like ‘Abyss’ and ‘Chaos’ assaulted the audience with a take on doom metal that injected the slowness with elements of blackened death and thrash, whilst the (relatively speaking) more melodic ‘Forever’ presented an ambitious hybrid of post-hardcore, thrash and black metal which pretty much sounded like no-one else. It seemed to be the kind of album where – assuming you could brace yourself for its onslaught and manage to absorb more than two songs at a time – it was possible to actually pick out different musical flourishes with each listen. Impressive, considering that on first hearing the whole thing seemed like a relentless outpouring of anger. One thing was for certain: their arrival had challenged Allfather and Kurokuma for the crown of “Britain’s Heaviest Band”.

Barely nine months on, the band began to hint at a follow up. It was to be a timely return; the UK had started to make their way out of a pandemic hell and the live music scene had started to gain some tentative traction. Massive riffs were certainly needed, and although their new EP would arrive too late to soundtrack the summer for a Bloodstock Festival crowd, Cult Burial were in time to hammer a new season into the advertised ‘Oblivion’.

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TURN COLD – Break Your Faith EP

Turn Cold’s blend of thrash and hardcore draws a heavy influence from the both styles’ late eighties and early nineties glory years, creating a sound that has a timeless appeal. Their debut EP ‘Break Your Faith’ is by no means an easy nostalgia trip, though: its core sound also carries more of a contemporary edge through even heavier breakdowns and a socially conscious set of lyrics. During three intense numbers, the Atlanta based band share themes of inner strength and dealing with mental health issues, spurred on by the ongoing pandemic lockdown in which the demo material was recorded. The end result is an uncompromising musical statement.

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Watch: Metallica – Live @ Slane Castle, Meath, Ireland 6/8/2019

In the summer of 2019, massive gigs were commonplace, to the point of almost being taken for granted. Aside from the scientists who’d warned that a global pandemic might be a possibility in the near future – a warning that fell on governments’ deaf ears – people weren’t concerned about any health related disasters.

Metallica had reached the British Isles on the European leg of their ‘Hardwired’ tour and were delivering their typically lengthy set. Various shows were filmed for posterity, but their stopover in Ireland is potentially the most interesting, with the band surrounded by the historic grounds of Slane Castle.

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Ever since the release of their debut LP in 2017, Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf have been committed to taking doom metal in a more experimental direction, but none of their work has ever felt quite as important as their 2021 release, ‘Doomsday Deferred’. The origins of the album date back as far as 2018, at which time the world looked very different, but as the material began to take shape, a global pandemic swept the world, allowing Stewart even more time to get creative during a time of isolation. The resulting album is heavy, but it’s also a cut above the obvious sludgy tones of the debut. In fact, with a minimalist set up of just bass, drums and occasional cello, combined with a willingness to experiment, the final release could be the crowning achievement of Stewart’s career to date.

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EMBR – 1021 EP

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.

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