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I guess I’ll eat my own words this time. I’m a vocal fan of Omnium Gatherum, one of Finland’s more seasoned and refined melodic death metal bands. Last I saw them, they were opening for Sonata Arctica in New Jersey, and flash forward nearly two years later and they’re opening up a hell of a line-up: Other than themselves, they shared a stage with Moonspell, Dark Tranquillity, and Amorphis. They worked perfectly with Sonata Arctica last time, and the likes of Omnium being paired up with Dark Tranquillity isn’t unheard of. But Moonspell and Amorphis? A dream line-up if I’ve ever seen it.  

A horror cinematic universe is not unheard of, but in this day and age of comic book movies it seems like a fresh initiative among all the superhero attempts we’re seeing every few months. With 2013’s The Conjuring, the world shook in fear as the Warrens took down a demon terrorizing a family, but spawning a sequel and two spin-offs under the Annabelle line, Warner Bros. decided to venture out and greenlight more films to expand upon other demons in the universe. Enter Valak, the Nun from The Conjuring 2, in its own spin-off. An antagonizing figure that struck fear into many, no doubt a movie focusing exclusively on the Nun as an antagonist would be a safe bet at the box office.  

2018 is the year of death metal, make no mistake. Be it the bands who stick to tradition or the new up-and-coming bands that are trying something new, this year has been one of the best for the genre in a little while. Take a look at some of the smaller bands that are working to make their name:  

What a year for the genre. With the likes of Tomb Mold and Of Feather & Bone keeping the traditional style alive, you’ve got the more polished and technical side flourishing in a creative boom. The Artisan Era is doing a stellar job of unifying a plethora of skilled and insightful tech death acts that do more than just showcase musicianship, and with 2018 going into its second half, we’re seeing the label continue to drop heavy-hitting albums one after another. Aethereus’ debut album Absentia is just an extra layer in the cake at this point. With the obvious musicianship and slick production, Aethereus manage to keep their work interesting and exciting, rather than let it fall into a cesspool of technical... 

In today’s progressive landscape, it’s rare for spectacle and wonder to take a backseat to the artistic merits of music. Prog was founded in the late 60’s and early 70’s using both of these aspects, but acts like King Crimson exploited the more experimental and art-inspired side of the genre almost immediately out of the womb. Today, the modern math rock/proggy noodling community of internet-famous bands who, in a constantly changing environment, work even harder to get noticed by the general public, is a constant fight to differentiate one’s self. Covet is an interesting one, in that they are artistic by nature, but also rather than bore their listener with wordless displays of their superior musicianship,... 

We’ve come to the point with tech death where it’s diversify or succumb to irrelevancy. When Beyond Creation released Earthborn Evolution back in 2014, it was a big deal seeing a band with 8 string guitars utilizing melodic and digestible passages, married to the unique sound of a fretless bass that was just as complicated as their guitar parts. At the time everyone was trying to ape Meshuggah, and now flashforward and the technical wankery that comes with being a tech-oriented band is practically a joke. Yet bands still manage to diversify, to find unique sound avenues, and come out on top. Mordant Rapture are starting on that path with their debut EP, they’re trying to let everyone out of the gate know what’s... 

It was about one minute and thirty-eight seconds into this Oubliette album that I said “Oh boy.” Not in the condescending tone of “I can’t believe I’m gonna sit through this thing,” but rather “I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of this.” There’s something about the cutaway from melodic black metal to Alcest-like dreamscape guitars that says a lot about a band in the opening moments of their sophomore album, and it’s a hopeful plea that this intro isn’t all flash while the rest of the album is uninspired.  

We don’t hear much metal from the Eastern European countries all that often. Coming out of Turkey, Burial Invocation is one of the rare instances where we do hear something. And guess what? It’s death metal. Tried and true, shredding death metal, it just goes to show that even in the most extreme of metal genres, we can get over the hurdle of language barriers with blast beats and tremolo picking.  

Taking creative risks tend to be a thing bands are afraid to make. They’re called “risks,” after all, but why not keep your fans on your toes? That’s not to say your local black metal band needs to incorporate 80’s synthwave into their sound, but breaking the norm is always worth a try. Oklahoma’s Dischordia are willing to take some sort of risk with their newest release, Binge/Purge, as the technical death metal act break the formula a bit and aim for something different by their own standards.  

The 80’s were a magical time for the growth of heavy metal, but I believe Operation: Mindcrime is one of the prime examples of why that era still is fondly remembered. Alongside Melissa by Mercyful Fate and Ride the Lightning by Metallica, Operation: Mindcrime made waves for the bands that followed, creating a waves of influence felt through the next few decades. It was also imperative to progressive metal as a whole, and while being a conceptual album and debatably what we call “prog metal” today, it still remains the middle ground between traditional heavy metal and what Dream Theater would solidify in the following year. So with Geoff Tate and friends getting together to celebrate 30 years of this timeless... 

Sheesh, are we already seven albums deep into Wisdom In Chains’ discography? So long as I’ve enjoyed hardcore punk, the Pennsylvania band has been a steady and reliable force in the genre for putting out a constant stream of tried and true hardcore, epitomizing it for the modern landscape. Nothing In Nature Respects Weakness keeps the band going into 2018, following up 2015’s The God Rhythm, and while bands typically fall into a groove of comfort by this point, Wisdom In Chains are still playing in the full spectrum of their respective genre instead of pigeon-holing themselves into a corner. Refreshing? Enjoyable? You bet.  

There’s seldom an album I listen to where I immediately love it. Granted, I like a lot of music. “Like” being the emphasis;  I like At the Gates. I love Insomnium, I like Darkthrone. I love Emperor. Even then, I’m generally only listening to the album that I love in my spare time the artist rather than trying to convince myself to love a different album by them. I’m picky about what I love. With that logic in mind, Yob’s Our Raw Heart is a stupendous, if not transcendent album that I loved from the get-go. Three minutes into the ten minute minute opening track and it was immediatey obvious that this album was on another level, entirely separate from the rest of the pack. There’s a lot of hype... 

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