Best Underground Metal of 2019

While 2019 has shown that home studios are only getting better with the release of better emulators and cheaper “ready to record” prepackaged setups, the increase of quantity has not shown a proportionate increase in quality across the music spectrum. Metal has been in a particular weak state despite the best releases of the year being better than those of previous years, the overall quality was so low that even the present editor had to explore non-metal underground music in hopes of finding something of great quality. While such “expeditions” have been for the most part fruitless, the best of the year can only leave the metal listener with a sense optimism of what the new decade has to offer. Without any further ado, here is the best underground metal of 2019.

Mefitis – Emberdawn
Taking from the best of metal and adding their own sense of aesthetics, Mefitis hint at new paths of evolution with their superposed sense of melody and the ability to seamlessly combine their multiple influences. Stunning in both its immense ambition and impressive sense of grandeur, it does occasionally falter due to the transparency of its influences and its tendency to avoid agression in the second half. An incredibly powerful album by a young band that proves the genre is still alive.

Atlantean Kodex The Course of Empire
Consolidating all of their previous works into this, the band have come to the limit of what is capable within these stylistic parameters. The faults are starting to show but there is still much to be cherished here as the band combine their bombastic form of Doom metal with an even stronger bardic sense of melody.

Sadistic Drive – Street Cannibal Gluttony/rehearsal 05/2019
A good combination of Grindcore and Finnish Death metal with a healthy dose of Autopsy for the slower passages. While such a mix should theoretically sound idiotic or half baked, Sadistic Drive do it with panache and excellent arrangements with songs reaching powerful climaxes. It should be safe to assume that the band are planning a full length that should develop on the tremendous potential found here.

Sammath – Across the Rhine the Rhine is only death
While the middle songs are the dullest moments in this band’s career “All Lay Dead in the Slit Trenches of Calcar” and “Across the Rhine is only death” are possibly the best songs in this band’s history. Having taken the previous idea of having a handful of lightning paced riffs and have expanded on that by expanding on these melodies in much richer and denser arrangements without sacrificing any of the urgency from Godless Arrogance. Aspiring bands take note.

Polemicist – Zarathustrian Impressions
Mixing Black and Death metal homogeneously with a base of simple tremolo picked riffs that eschew the lead/rhythm dichotomy in favour of melodies that are built around in the registers of the guitar. While this approach allows the band to easily develop their riffs and to explore related ideas, it has the negative consequence of removing a solid base that gives the music an occasional errant and sometimes confused quality. With some thicker riffs in conjunction to what is being shown here, the band could accomplish great things.

Trench Warfare – Hatred Prayer
War metal done right with doses of Floridian Death metal elevate this band above the typical angry noise that has invaded this style. While a bit too direct in its bellicose method and often failing because of it, there are some great ideas for the band to expand on the sophomore album.

Angel Witch – Angel of Light
Fun record that pays tribute to the best of the band’s best material while toning down the quirkiness that defined this band. While offering nothing new, Kevin Heybourne finally understands what made his music so powerful and plays to those strengths. The veterans are still beating the younger generation despite being slower and less agressive.

Diplodocus – Slow and Heavy
Composed entirely in the style created by the Burzum “prison releases”. Diplodocus opts for a dinorsaur themed EP which works well within the bare bones style as each song is built around around a simple pulsing thud which mimics the steps of these gargantuan beasts while a singular synthline floats on top opting for a mixture of the solemn and the majestic. Multiple timbres are explored in this simple record that has just the necessary amount of ideas to work in this short format. The melodies slowly progress and decay naturally before giving way to a different set of ideas that slowly develop and state their intentions before slowly fading away. A great listen in this genre which hasn’t shown much except for “Black metal but with only keyboards”.

Infamous – Muttos Pro S’Aristocratzia
Disappointing at times with its forays into vapid melodies and endless static arpeggios but managing to create the best traditional Black metal album of the year with the excellent interplay between the guitars and the keyboards in the Burzum style. While there is nothing special here, it is well done and a good listen for its combination of atmosphere and composition.

Honourable Mention:

Tangerine Dream – Oedipus Tyrannus
A hidden gem that has finally been released for all to hear. Another incredible album by a legendary group.

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28 thoughts on “Best Underground Metal of 2019”

  1. Thewaters says:

    – Desecresy
    – Ripper
    – Profanatica
    – Obsequiae
    – Lord Wind

    Reissues

    – Anacrusis

    Worth a mention?

    – Imprecation

    1. LordKrumb says:

      The Desecresy album is certainly good enough to be listed as a highlight of 2019. It’s his best album since “Chasmic Transcendence”. Unlike the previous two albums, “Towards Nebulae” firmly builds on past strengths and adds new ideas that elevate the music to a grander setting.

      I haven’t heard the new Lord Wind album yet. The concept of the band is appealing, especially as Rob Darken is involved, but whenever I delve into their past albums the music mostly seems too repetitive. I’ll give the new album a try though.

      My initial impression of the new Obsequiae album is that it seems better than the previous failed attempt, although again the production is an obstacle to immersion because it feels too modern/digital for the atmosphere and themes they’re trying to evoke. Some enjoyable melodies and harmonised clean vocals, but the best bits (so far) are the acoustic compositions played on period string instruments. Maybe they should focus more on that, and intertwine those ideas fully with the songs instead of placing them in isolation as ‘mood music’.

      The Imprecation/Black Blood Invocation split album seems pretty good. Some parts of the Imprecation half made me wonder if they’ve been listening to Pan-Thy-Monium recently (especially when they were writing the second song).

  2. Slent of the Argho says:

    Why the fuck did you not review Diplodocus earlier? This shit is slammin’. I need more music like this.

  3. Mythic Imagination says:

    Good list.

    Mefitis easily claimed album of the year. I do not think at all that their influences are ‘transparaent’ however. sure there are At the Gates references and some riffs that are reminiscent of Necrophobic but these are only mere stepping stones for them to reach the zenith of their own musical language which is easily one of the most unique(yet quality) in metal in years. Nothing sounds like it. I agree that there is some loss of direction in the second half, some more direct and powerful sections would have done wonders there.

    Sammath released probably their worst album ever, still better than 99% of black metal this year however and yes those two songs are the best.

    Polemicist was amazing. A very, very complete work. Not quite as strong as Emberdawn but damn close. The Dissection/Sacramentum style done with more influence from Western classical theory, true polyphony and grand sweeping melodies that are composed in a non random fashion make this record incredibly satisfying.

    I enjoyed the Infamous album but it’s his weakest. The new Vothana album easily eclipses it in terms of traditional black metal. Vothana is a master of melody, even if on his current work the riffs don’t always align well, when they do however it’s among the best of black metal. The new Cenotaphe EP is also an inspiring work of classic black metal.

    1. I’m incredibly straight says:

      you’re incredibly gay

  4. revenant says:

    Best metal albums of the decade 2010-2019 is also due. I’ve put together a list below for some that should be considered. Might help to make sure none of the obvious picks get forgotten.

    Note that some of these bands have had more than one good release over the decade but I’ve just kept it to one per band.

    Avzhia – In My Domains
    Divine Eve – Vengeful and Obstinate
    Desecresy – Arches of Entropy
    Krieg – The Isolationist
    Morbus 666 – Mortuus Cultus
    Beherit – At the Devil’s Studio 1990
    War Master – Pyramid of the Necropolis
    Blashperian – Infernal Warriors of Death
    Blotted Science – The Animation of Entomology
    Heresiarch – Hammer of Intransigence
    Bahimiron – Rebel Hymns Of Left Handed Terror
    Demoncy – Enthroned is the Night
    Lord Wind – Ales Stenar
    Derkéta – In Death We Meet
    Timeghoul – 1992-1994
    Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar
    Birth A.D. – I Blame You
    Cóndor – Nadia
    Graveland – Thunderbolts of the Gods
    Profanatica – Thy Kingdom Cum
    Satan – Life Sentence
    Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
    Imprecation – Satanae Tenebris Infinita
    Black Sabbath – 13
    Sinistrous Diabolus – Total Doom Desecration
    Pentagram – The Malefice
    Blood Urn – …of Gory Sorcery and Death
    Nausea – Condemned to the System
    Burzum – The Ways Of Yore
    Kjeld – Skym
    Kaeck – Stormkult
    Motörhead – Bad Magic
    Ripper – Experiment of Existence
    Serpent Ascending – Ananku
    Tarnkappe – Winterwaker
    Blood – Inferno
    Kever – Primordial Offerings
    Deceased – Ghostly White
    Condemner – Burning The Decadent
    Judas Priest – Firepower
    Retortion Terror – Retortion Terror
    Sorcier Des Glaces – Sorcier Des Glaces
    Master – Vindictive Miscreant
    Sammath – Across the Rhine Is Only Death
    Infamous – Muttos Pro S’Aristocratzia

    1. canadaspaceman says:

      Black Sabbath – 13 sucks. Unmemorable cash grab…
      Unless you like any of the solo OZZY albums after “No Rest for the Wicked”, his last good album.
      The singles/video hits from each album since then are ok, but still are sucky.
      You couldeven make a “worst of Ozzy” compilation album with those hits since 1991.

  5. Julian Sands says:

    MEFTITIS DUDES LOOK LIKE THE WARLOCK, THE TRUE BLOND MESSIAH BORN UNDER THE FULL MOON.

  6. doomknute says:

    Concrete Winds, posers

    1. whatever says:

      whatever

  7. canadaspaceman says:

    meh
    I will peruse these recommended albums from the article and the comments, but doubt much of it will be spectacular.
    I grabbed a bunch of them already as downloads and stuck them on a drive to listen to when reading books, but never got around to checking out all of it just yet.

  8. Bark says:

    Havohej?

  9. maelstrrom says:

    Best metal albums of the decade, strict, one album per band

    Abyssum- Cum Foeda Sanie Ex Ore
    Infamous- Tempesta
    Kaeck- Stormkult
    Mastema- The Grand Holocaust of Flesh
    Sammath- Godless Arrogance
    Serpent Ascending- Ananku
    Serpent ov Old- Withering Hope

    1. Lee says:

      The Enigma Unsettled > Ananku

  10. LordKrumb says:

    Having given the Mefitis album enough listens to become completely familiar with it, I agree that it’s an album of two asymmetric halves: the first four songs are definitely the strongest.

    —-

    Gevurahel’s “Un nuevo amanecer satánico” thoroughly deserves to be on the list. Surprised to not see it included after the high praise it received in D.A.R.G.’s recent review here.

    —-

    One other 2019 release that caught my attention is Flamen “Furor Lunae”, an Italian folk metal album that at first struck me as rather twee, but gradually grew to become a keeper, mostly because of the infectiously well-honed melodies. Nothing ground-breaking or genre-shifting here, except to say that it’s a pretty rare example of folk metal that actually works.

    The music strikes its optimal balance of folk and metal by leaning heavily towards the former of these styles. More specifically, it uses overtly folkish melodies to continually lead the way, and the ‘metallic’ elements to serve more like accompaniment. Flamen’s approach can thus be compared to that of Summoning (and this arguably being the opposite of the flawed compositional approach taken by Obsequiae).

    Perhaps an album for Johan Pettersson to consider reviewing if he ever feels inclined to write Part III of his 2016 “The Difficulties of Folk Metal” series of articles? (http://www.deathmetal.org/article/the-difficulties-of-folk-metal-part-ii/ )

  11. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

    Mefitis is really coherent, but halfway through it’s boring, don’t want to hear it again.

    How Sammath’s that two songs are possibly the best songs in this band’s history? Since Godless Arrogance, their music has a lot of incoherent, spliced parts, the new album is worse and boring, like “Across The Rhine Is Only Death” godamn plz just fuck me. A bunch of stupid warmetal riffs, and the sudden appearance of the lovely black metal melody, makes me wonder if I’m becoming an angry fag. The Morbid Angel’s style riff in this album is cool, enough to excite the stubborn oldschool fans. Yep, there are some true underground metal qualities here, but not good enough music creation, worth sinking into.

    I would rather listen to kind of Wrath of the Tyrant, truly raw, primitive and simple metalcraft, or Blotted Science.

    Very much hope there are more somekind like the Texas glory band Averse Sefira, not famous but really wonderful truly underground metal with their own style.

    Tired to complain. True underground is good, compared with those “metal” which is degrade into rock or pop music.

    But here’s a counterexample. Cult of Luna’s 2 albums in recent years, through a fusion of metal’s symbolic theme(just like the beginning of Raining Blood) based on a devoted to the minimalist/simpleness elements of rock music.

    Fuck all the shit musics, let’s see who’s real FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIENs.

    1. autist grinder says:

      blotted science has the same problem as the new (and previous) sammath. riff salad at least entails inclusion of ingredients that harmonize against your palate but that stuff is more like mouthfuls of completely random materials, not even guaranteed to be edible. the writing is riddled with the same problems that dmu has always leveled against metalcore: no temporal organization, no real development of ideas, just a quick ride around a ferris wheel that at least has the saving grace of ending before you go out of your mind with boredom.

      I’d rather listen to the new municipal waste which makes no pretension about its hierarchy in the canon of human art, giving it an automatic leg up on all this other shit.

      1. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

        I won’t go along with you, bro. In my opinion Blotted Science is one of the most consistent and creative of metal music, just like Atheist – Unquestionable Presence (1991).

        You want to use the salad metaphor, but salad means fruit with a variety of different flavors, each new fragment produces a very different change.

        Some people think that every song in Incantation’s first album is the same, becouse they are deaf, they not really following the music changing. Incantation has many speed/groove changing, into complete different “picture”, just like movie soundtrack. That not meaning inconsistent, Onward to Golgotha is one of the most consistent work of metal too.

        But kind of “Across The Rhine Is Only Death”, it was embarrassingly handled.. I think DMU guys would not really think it is good work. Only because Sammath is true underground band, worthy of respect.

        On the contrary, every note in Blotted Science song are traceable, they were just influenced by jazz and tried to be more progressive by diversifying their phrase patterns. It’s professional music writing.

        It is difficult to put into words an absolutely complete overview of good music and bad music, we should take the initiative to listen to more types of music, and strengthen our own music literacy, and understanding of the world, find the roots of what you follow and identify with. You like the new municipal waste, you’d better have a deeper and broader understanding of this and its opposite. Instead of being Brett’s dick sucker, follow his ideas and preferences completely. I respect Brett or other guys in DMU, but still don’t be a sucker. Thinking or yelling for yourself.

        PS: but don’t be a ygo master, suck yourself too :p

        1. autist grinder says:

          you’ve misunderstood my criticism – of course municipal waste is gay, but they are better than blotted science for being consistent, for all the reasons you brought up regarding incantation.

          BS (nice acronym, hmm) is the worst of post-dream theater prog metal and djent made into a chunky slurry with no consistency. there’s no hint at a higher meaning in the music, it’s the definition of musical masturbation. atheist is nearly the same but at least they have songs *about* things. BS is just about the songs, which only sound like an overweight ego.

          as for sucking dick, you’ll look back and see that brett praised BS’ last album, while I’m saying it’s terrible, so take the dick out of your own mouth and maybe your reading comprehension will improve without a prickly jew bush rhythmically slapping your schnoz.

          1. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

            Yep, my IQ is limited, oop. When you approvalor or oppose one thing, you can find unlimited explanations, like left and right will fight each other forever.

            Well, you’re right, I may not have realized that I used to suck dick, truly terrible analogy make me works seem to have no credibility. I will surrender on this subject, and hold back my wrath. You can dont listen bs anymore, my love.

            “there’s no hint at a higher meaning in the music” I know what you want to say, such is the case. I said that in the comments section of another article about “symbolic” thing of metal music(even though is seem like I’m ignored), bs doesn’t have that part for sure, but that is not the only criterion of music. You can see the confrontation between analytic philosophy and phenomenology, bs is from analytic philosophy camp.

            1. Creed Braddock says:

              Blotted Science is one of my least favorite Jarzombek projects, but anyone familiar with anything he does knows that his records are ALWAYS constructed with a concept first and then painstakingly assembled to flesh out that concept. Whether it’s using the twelve tone system or musically creating the backdrop for a pre-existing movie scene or using the literal note values to spell out words, he is compositionally creating something that is true to a theme, unlike djent or whatever else you are comparing him to. The key difference, and the reason why you can not compare him to something like Municipal Waste, is that his records are forewarded with the message that they are EXERCISES to prove what can be communicated through music coming from an educated background of what music theory is, and other forms of metal try to depict a visceral image of an innate urge or understanding of reality without regard of the actual construction of the mathematical musical language behind it. Comparing what Jarzombek does to any other metal band, whether you like what he does or not, proves that you just don’t want to understand what he is doing or are missing the point entirely.

              1. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

                I think you’ve just expanded on what I’m saying in more detail, our views don’t seem to differ to some extent, maybe the problem is that my poor English hinders your understanding.

                For me, The Animation of Entomology is a good album, Whatever the original intention of its creator. Well, you can unlike it. You and Mr. autist grinder all pointed out that this band is different from our beloved underground metal, I realized what you guys want to say. I just don’t think the standard of good music/art is that it’s have fantastical, abstraction or not.

                Didn’t you notice that I mentioned Emepror’s EP and BS at the same time? I fully understand the difference between the two.

                I thought I will be called fag because Cult of Luna, this topic will be more interesting. Little does one think BS is worse in you guys opinion.

                1. Creed Braddock says:

                  That was mainly directed at autist grinder, apologies.

                  1. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

                    “and other forms of metal try to depict a visceral image of an innate urge or understanding of reality without regard of the actual construction of the mathematical musical language behind it.”

                    and autist grinder:”there’s no hint at a higher meaning in the music”

                    I actually agree with both of you, that’s what I want to point out, I think underground metal is very “symbolic” music depend on some ideology. But BS is the other way round, as you and Mr. ag said. Sometimes I get upset about it too, which is metal music “without regard of the actual construction of the mathematical musical language behind it.” But maybe that’s not the way underground metal works as art. Like the content in another article “The Meaning of Desecresy” by D.A.R.G., that’s the artistic value and charm of metal music. And that why ag dont like BS too.

                    But the strange thing is, actually DSO is really “metal” from this perspective, I don’t know why discredit DSO like political correctness in this site. The riffcraft of DSO2019 is great. In addition to macro aesthetics metal music is symbolic, sometime riffs itself are very symbolic too, like Desecresy works or the begining of Raining Blood etc. In my opinion, DSO is very creative in this respect.

                    Death metal is deconstructed, so the style of its riff are usually obscure and halftone, especially the American bands, they are in the aggressiveness of nihilism. Every riff is equal and replaceable, at the same time, it has the unity of music structure. Morbid Angel, Deicied, Suffocation.

                    Death metal in Sweden/Finland, and black metal in Norway I think are started to reconstruction, so they have some melodic like finding meaning in “the world of deconstruction”. I think it has something to do with Continental philosophy wave. It seems that European philosophy first went out of postmodern dilemma. Or I am wrong, in this respect, I need more research on the history of Philosophy in the future.

                    I don’t know what the shit they doing on previous albums, but two albums in recent years, DSO works it seems to represent the maturity of metal music after reconstruction. The Synarchy of.. is a bit of a mess, and a lot of breakdowns to fill in the music. But new album in 2019 is better, for me, every riff is very symbolic in that album. It’s actually not the traditional death metal or the black metal, and the history of the band is really bad too. But I think this album still has some artistic value for metal music.

                    Like some guys dont like BS, just because it’s different from what they’re familiar with, doesn’t mean they’re bad music.

                    We can think that Deathmetal is deconstruction, black metal trying to reconsitution. Kind of DSO2019 works is represents what after reconstructed things, no need to destroy or build. I used to make a metaphor said DSO “Like the offspring of devil, has a strong dark power and temperament as the capital of its narcissism, but it doesn’t know where these forces come from.” Maybe this is the aesthetic situation of their music. Like after God died, evil took over the world again, and now there are descendants of devil.

                    But in The Furnaces of Palingenesia, their style is more oldschool a litte bit, maybe they know where their strength and temperament come from now.

                  2. Wrath of the FAGNIGGAHONKCHINGCHONGALIEN says:

                    Seem like we talking shit more and more right and narrow.. lol

  12. richard roma says:

    The Vargrav “Reign in Supreme Darkness” album was worth mentioning on these lists, too

  13. Desmond Steele says:

    My decade list so far :

    Heavy Metal
    *Satan – Life Sentence (2013)

    Hardcore – Punk
    *Harley Flanagan – Cro-Mags (2016)

    Black Metal
    *Demoncy – Enthroned is the Night (2012)
    *Graveland – Thunderbolts of the Gods (2013)
    *Kaeck – Stormkult (2015)
    *Sammath – Godless Arrogance (2014)

    Death Metal
    *Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death (2011)
    *Imprecation – Satanae Tenebris Infinita (2013)
    *Serpent Ascending – Anan’ku (2016)

    Other:
    *Lord Wind – Ales Stenar

  14. Jesu Tod says:

    Apart from Mefitis and Polemicist there’s really nothing else to see here. I’m just wondering why everyone seems to have forgotten that Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult also released an album last year. It’s miles better than that vapid war metal circus that you guys are peddling in Trench Warfare.

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