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.
Tangerine Dream – Oedipus Tyrannus
A hidden gem that has finally been released for all to hear. Another incredible album by a legendary group.
Tags: across the rhine is only death, angel of light, Angel Witch, Atlantean Kodex, best of 2019, course of empire, diplodocus, emberdawn, hatred prayer, mefitis, polemicist, sadistic drive, sammath, slow and heavy, street cannibal gluttony: rehearsal 05/2019, trench warfare, zarathrustrian impressions