Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches (Nuclear Blast, 2015)

CoF HammerAfter years of listening to mainstream metal, Cradle of Filth were one of the first “extreme” bands I latched onto as a wee lad.  As such, it has pained me to watch them slowly but surely become a shadow of their former selves.  I’m not entirely sure what went wrong after Nymphetamine (some fans would argue that CoF went to pot well before that) but it seemed that Dani and the boys were damned to linger in the limbo of mediocrity forevermore following that last gasp of greatness, as evidenced by a lengthy string of tepid albums such as Thornography and The Manticore and Other Horrors.  The music was uninspired and Herr Filth’s voice sounded shot, leading me to largely turn my back on this once well-regarded symphonic/gothic/black metal institution.

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White Spot – Everything Changes, Nothing Disappears (self-released, 2015)

a0749226604_10Those of you that read IG on the regular or follow me on social media know that I’m always up for some good noise rock.  As such, White Spot’s Father Songs proved to be one of 2015’s most pleasant surprises so far, a noise rock album that showcased mainman/madman Marcus Lemoine’s knack for concise yet devastating songwriting and an attention to craftsmanship not often seen within the genre.

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Kafirun – Death Worship and Essene – demo (Sol y Nieve, 2014)

KAFIRUNOf the handful of cassette-centric labels I’ve developed relationships with over the past few years, Sol y Nieve is surely one of the most exciting.  While they aren’t the most prolific, they stress quality over quantity, and their passion is evident in every aspect of every release, from the music itself on down to the often elaborate packaging.  The label was recently gracious enough to send me a parcel overflowing with releases including the debut demos from Kafirun and Essene.

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Church – Unanswered Hymns (Transylvanian Tapes, 2015)

coverMy first exposure to Sacramento’s Church came back in September of last year, when I witnessed them nearly level the Starlite Lounge while opening for the mighty Dispirit.  Like a complete idiot, I didn’t write about them at the time in spite of being thoroughly impressed with their set, largely due to the fact that they didn’t have much of a web presence or any recordings to point IG readers in the direction of (I did however post some footage to my YouTube channel).  But much has changed since that early show; Church have finally released their debut album in the form of Unanswered Hymns and rest assured friends, this three track, forty-five minute long beast is every bit worth the wait.

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Melt-Banana’s joyful noise.

035It’s been a few weeks since I saw Melt-Banana at Harlow’s, and for some reason I just can’t get their set out of my mind.  Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that I actually got to see Melt-Banana; sure, they’ve toured the states many times, but keep in mind that I was living in the middle of Iowa up until a year ago, not exactly a hotbed for extreme and/or experimental music.  Since we’ve moved to Sacramento, I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing a handful of bands I never imagined I’d get the opportunity to see without traveling great distances (Sargeist and Ufomammut immediately spring to mind), and the Japanese duo are probably number one on the “holy shit, I can’t believe they’re actually playing where I live” list so far.

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Abjvration – The Unquenchable Pyre (Caligari Records, 2015)

a2554957507_10Caligari Records has proven itself capable of releasing excellent recordings from just about any metallic subgenre they see fit, but some of their very best stuff of late has come from the realm of slow ‘n’ low. Whether it be the Pentagram-esque trad of Denmark’s Demon Head, or the uh, heavy death of Sweden’s Heavydeath, this is a label that knows its doom.  But The Unquenchable Pyre, the debut recording from Abjvration, just might be Caligari’s most debilitatingly heavy offering to date.

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