Belzebubs – Pantheon of the Nightside Gods (Century Media, 2019)

When I first saw the animated music video for “Blackened Call” I was not aware of Finnish artist J.P. Ahonen or his popular web comic Belzebubs.  As such, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of a cartoon black metal band romping about the woods, “Call of the Wintermoon” style.  I’m more than a bit ashamed to admit that my first thought was “Oh great, a corpse-painted version of Gorillaz,” yet there was something about the combination of quirky comic book visuals and frostbitten yet catchy and melodic black metal that made me want to see/hear more.

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Clicks, Lies and Black Metal

On November 16th, 2016, the online metal tabloid known as Metalsucks published their “manifesto” in which they very publicly announced “We will not tolerate racism, misogyny or any form of bigotry or hate speech” (because apparently it took them ten years of running a website, not to mention a good chunk of their adult lives to figure out these things are shitty).

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Merzbow – Venereology reissue/remaster bonus tracks (Relapse Records, 2019)

A few years back, I wrote a piece about Release Entertainment, the long lost sub-label of Relapse Records dedicated to experimental sounds of all kinds, from dark ambient to noise to death industrial.  One of the the most extreme albums to come out under the Release banner was Merzbow’s Venereology, a salvo of pure, corrosive sound that would serve as a gateway for many metalheads (including yours truly) into the world of harsh noise.  I previously bemoaned the fact that Relapse seems to have no interest in preserving the legacy of Release Entertainment, but perhaps they’ve come to their senses at least somewhat, because in honor of Venereology‘s twenty-fifth anniversary, they’re giving the album a rather lavish-looking vinyl reissue, replete with remastered sound and re-touched artwork, as well as three previously unreleased bonus tracks.

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Gorepot – Asian Stoned Effect (Brutal Mind, 2018)

Slam is one of the most over-the-top subgenres of metal and they don’t come any more absurdly OTT than Taipei City, Taiwan’s Gorepot.  The brainchild of ubiquitous slam god Larry Wang (Facelift Deformation, Fatuous Rump, Guttural Corpora Cavernosa, Maggot Colony, Umbilical Asphyxia, Coprocephalic, Fat Tub of Lard Records), Asian Stoned Effect is the band’s seventh album and it’s also one of the most ri-goddamn-diculous slamming death metal albums you’re ever going to hear.

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Butcher ABC – North of Hell (Selfmadegod, 2018) and Butchery Workshop 2002 – 2009 (Bizarre Leprous Production, 2018)

North of Hell has been a long time coming for Japanese goregrinders Butcher ABC.  Formed in 1994 and leaving a bloody trail of demos, EPs and splits in their wake, it took the band over twenty years to finally release a full length.  But was it worth the wait?  Thankfully, it only takes a few listens to North of Hell to determine that the answer is a resounding “yes.”

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Fetor / Crepitation – Onset of Horrendosity (Deformeathing Production, 2019)

Split releases can be difficult to review due to the competitive vibe they give off.  Although it’s likely not the intention, it always feels like a battle between the bands involved.  Indeed, Onset of Horrendosity is a slamming brutal death metal death match between two up-and-coming acts, Fetor and Crepitation, and both are young, hungry contenders.  Which band will put the slam smackdown on the other and come out on top?

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Whiskey & Funeral – Jesus is Guilty (Tribulacion Productions / Sevared Records, 2018)

From Hour of Penance to Devangelic and beyond, Italy is one of those countries that’s just ridiculously good at brutal death metal.  Perhaps it has something to do with having the Vatican skulking around in their collective backyard, but whatever the case, the country shaped like a boot continues to kill it year in and year out.

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