It’s only February, which means most labels are just starting to trickle out what will eventually become an unstoppable avalanche of new releases.  Not so for Nuclear War Now! Productions; the California-based label is in the process of unleashing a fifty megaton payload of heavy hitters that are poised to set the bar for underground black and death metal for the remainder of 2018.  Read on for THKD’s breakdown of this quartet of poser-slaughtering platters…

Rites of Thy Degringolade – The Blade Philosophical
It’s been a little over a decade since Rites of Thy Degringolade cursed us with a full length, but it will come as no surprise to the faithful that their “comeback” album The Blade Philosophical absolutely rips.  Lead by former Sacramentary Abolishment and Weapon drummer Paulus Kressman, ROTD were poised to become one of Canada’s deadliest musical exports with 2005’s an Ode to Sin and fortunately The Blade Philosophical picks up right where that album left off, unleashing torrent upon torrent of grim and dissonant yet catchy black metal.  Many of the songs here stretch past the seven-minute mark, but they’re so dynamic, well-written and goddamn evil-sounding that they fly by in what feels like half the time, jammed-packed with neck-snapping riffage and Kressman’s inhuman drumming.  The Blade Philosophical is going to go down as one of the best black metal releases of 2018; a bold statement to be sure, but it’s hard to imagine that there are many bands out there equipped to equal, let alone surpass the endlessly twisted creativity that flows out of every nook and cranny of this wonderful album.

Grave Upheaval – untitled
Back in 2013, Grave Upheaval took murky, Incantation-worshiping death metal to its frighteningly illogical extreme with their untitled debut full-length.  After five years of silence, they’re back with a second untitled full-length, and thankfully not much has changed for the mysterious Australian band.  Although this album does sound a bit clearer than the near-indecipherable down-tuned rumbling of their 2013 album, it is still for the most part slower and heavier than the shifting of tectonic plates.  The album also feels slightly more dynamic than their previous release, which often came off like Sunn O))) with a drummer, but there is still more suffocating atmosphere spread across these eight (untitled, of course) tracks than you can shake a stick at.  For those looking to be crushed up against an almost impenetrable wall of sound, Grave Upheaval is still making some of the ugliest, gnarliest, least accessible death metal on the planet.  Dive in if you dare.

Morbosidad – Corona de Epidemia
Man, this one is bittersweet. Word has it that the mighty Morbosidad are calling it a day in 2018 and Corona de Epidemia will be their final full length.  It seems only fitting that the band should end their career with what is arguably their best-produced and most musically accomplished album to date; indeed, Corona de Epidemia finds Morbosidad at the top of their sadistic game, unleashing all-out rippers such as “Cordero de Cristo” “Transtorno Mental” and the title track upon the unsuspecting masses.  Frontman Tomas Stench is to be commended for keeping the band going for the better part of two-and-a-half decades and Corona de Epidemia is a more than fitting epitaph for one of the underground’s foulest and filthiest; the album goes a long way towards softening the blow of losing an underground powerhouse like Morbosidad to the sands of time.

Knelt Rote – Alterity
On their fourth album, Portland, OR’s Knelt Rote conjure up a mix of black metal, grindcore and noise that’s every bit as punishing and pulverizing as one would expect from such a combination of abrasive sounds; in fact, of the four albums reviewed in this feature, Alterity might be the most utterly corrosive, which is saying something when one considers the competition.  Clocking in at just over twenty-one minutes, the quartet pack as much devastation into as little space as possible on Alterity, rarely letting off the gas or allowing the listener anything even remotely resembling a chance to catch their breath.  Yet surprisingly, each of the album’s seven tracks has its own unique character, rather than bleeding into one another.  Alterity feels like a refinement and sharpening of Knelt Rote’s multitude of strengths, ultimately making it their strongest and most memorable offering to date.

Purchase Nuclear War Now! releases at these links:

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