Carcass – Torn Arteries (2021)

The Carcass guys never wanted to be grindcore; they wanted to be guitar fireworks speed metal, and on this album, they stick to roughly where they were on Heartwork: fast and intricate speed metal and power metal riffs based on established patterns with an ear for melody but linear development.

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Interview with Jan Kruitwagen of Kaeck (2021)

Already gaining a lead on all other contenders for the most compelling underground metal album of the year, Kaeck has on Het Zwarte Dictaat made the masterpiece of violent rhythm riffs and melodies that much of the underground wishes it could, combining black metal and war metal with doom metal and death metal to create a constantly changing mood within a fluid style. Fortunately, guitarist/composer Jan Kruitwagen had a few moments to give us his take on the band and state of the metal genre.

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Smoking Outside the Box

They always tell you to “think outside the box,” as if having everyone focused on non-conformity will result in anything but a new variety of conformity. So much of life comes back to the mirror image, where we are staring at a representation of ourselves, and trying to change how it looks, despite everything happening in reverse since left is right and right left.

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Kaeck – Het Zwarte Dictaat (2021)

Easily a candidate for album of the year, Het Zwarte Dictaat from Kaeck makes a form of war metal that incorporates the subtle melodies of black metal and the longer atmospheric riffs of later death metal, melding a primitive assault along the lines of Zyklon-B and Blasphemy with the type of elaborate construction we might expect from Emperor or Demigod.

With use of precise riffs, this album creates atmosphere in the classic underground metal style that contrasts loping hypnotic riffs with bursts of fury, allowing the song to emerge from a smoldering inner conflict like a car shooting out of a darkened tunnel into the light, looking for clarity within a shifting landscape of ambiguity and violence.

In its blend of war metal, doom-death, and black metal, Kaeck runs the gamut of tempi and rhythms over the course of this album, transitioning from the primitive to the almost reverentially mood-driven. By blending current methods with the most ancient of metal traditions, Het Zwarte Dictaat keeps a foot in the past while stepping into the future.

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