Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees…

I’ve had a lot of problems with 2012, but they weren’t music related. So yes, seeing this year fade away into obscurity was a good thing. A highlight for me was seeing Worm Gear return with an energy and passion that once rotted on the vine so to speak. Many thanks to Jim for rekindling that fire. It has been a blast and I’m eager to see where this goes from here.

Unlike so many other critics out there, we waited until 2012 was over before presenting to you our lists. You’d think this wouldn’t be this difficult to accomplish… think about all you have appreciated and make a list. Go ahead…. give it a try! I bet most of the things you select came out last year. Either way, it has been a pleasure bringing all of you our thoughts on this and we are eager to get some feedback from all of you and see what your lists are for the year.

Thank you for putting up with our 2 week hiatus. It’s good to be back and 2013 will see us hitting the ground running. Look for interviews with Evoken and Canis Diris soon! So that’s it. Enjoy the Indesinence interview, our lists, a handful of reviews, and Zahler’s extensive essay on slamming death metal.

Jim Clifton top 10 of 2012
As most of us that take our music seriously do, I have a love/hate relationship with End of Year / Best of Year Lists, as ultimately, even with writers that are informed, intelligent, and that I trust, disagreements remain inevitable, “What the hell? Bullshit!” will be uttered, and ultimately, it always comes down to personal taste. Still, I think EoY and BoY lists are helpful to the seekers amongst us, so my humble offering follows; feel free to offer up your own lists in the Comments, as I know Worm Gear’s readership are no less skilled than myself in uncovering and disseminating the best of the best. Into the fray:

1. Panopticon – Kentucky
The originality and power of what may be the world’s first “blackgrass” album hit me like a ton of bricks, with a combination of bold musicianship and equally bold message centering on coal mining, labor and the history of both in the state that is the record’s title and bluegrass-ed soul. Sadly, it is difficult to find (where’s our CD version, Austin?) 😉 but if you like your Black Metal boundary-pushing, it’s worth the search.

2. Weapon – Embers and Revelations
Weapon’s latest – a tour-de-force of classic Thrash and Death Metal – has a Satanic twist so sincere you’ll be lighting candles and chanting Babylonian texts before you know it. Riffs once-familiar are imbued with subtle Eastern sensibilities, elevating them to Metal mastery, and Vetis Monarch’s catchy vocal lines stick in your mind with the effectiveness of super-glue. Embers and Revelations is for those Death Metal fans who remember -and still enjoy – the genre’s older siblings.

3. Binah – Hallucinating In Resurrecture
A perfect counterpoint to the avante-garde listen of Kentucky, Binah’s head-crushing white noise of Bolt-Thrower/Swede guitars will have you oscillating between drooling-trances and fevered head nods with each passing track. This album may seem like a simple monument to rage at first, but trust me, it is anything but. Let Hallucinating in Resurrecture ‘s intensity sink in, and it will surprise and reward you with its elegance.

4. Evoken – Atra Mors
Evoken’s heralded return grabbed me late in the year, but when it finally finished sinking it’s grimy claws and excellent guitar lines into my skull, I was hooked. Agonizingly well-crafted Doom that doesn’t trade memorability for complexity, Atra Mors will have you weeping in a way only records this melancholy can.

5. Desolation Shrine – The Sanctum of Human Darkness
To those of you wondering what Death Metal has left to say, I submit Desolation Shrine. The Sanctum of Human Darkness is a cavern leading to Hell, with blackness oozing from the walls, giving you no handholds as you descend, no light to give you hope. Riffs and drums that lead everywhere and nowhere. A game-changer, period.

6. Wodensthrone – Curse
Need musical accompaniment for a Winter drive or walk in the woods? Curse is your answer. Every note on this album exudes the cold, but with a celebratory, majestic angle that is altogether unique and the furthest thing from being trite or unnecessarily hyperbolic. I explore my Northern Michigan surroundings often, and when the snow is on the ground, Wodensthrone is in the player.

7. Indesinence – Vessels of Light and Decay
As the resurgence of Doom/Death rolls on, Indesinence return to the scene after six years with an album that decimates. By incorporating winning atmospheric elements with a balanced riff-writing attack eluding most of their peers, these UK-commandos have stepped to the forefront of the movement with constructions that crush lyrically and sonically. A journey of energy and depth in equal measure.

8. Agalloch – Faustian Echoes
Agalloch continue extending of the palette of Black Metal with exemplary lyrical content, neo-folk infusions and intricate arrangements that are interestingly indulgent and – unlike others that borrow from a plethora of genres – relatable. Only a band with their talent level could tackle the expansive myth and meaning of Faust and succeed.

9. Maveth – Coils of the Black Earth
The template for blackened Death Metal has been remade with Maveth’s masterpiece, Coils of the Black Earth. The pummeling is there, but it’s the haunting, atonal Black Metal chordings that force your eyes back into your head, possessing you with everything dismal that Finland has to offer. Absolutely sinister heaviness, built to scour the Sun from the sky.

10. Azaghal – Nemesis
Prolific orthodox Black Metal bands can be an iffy prospect, often an exercise in quantity over quality. Not so with Azaghal. Nemesisshows the band doing what they’ve always done, providing listeners with straight-up BM lightly peppered with varying melody, tempo, riff, and vocalization types that give each track its own distinct hue, defying the ‘all-sounds-the-same- approach’ employed by others in the ‘kvlt’ realm.

Honorable mentions:
Nominon – The Cleansing
Father Befouled – Revulsion of Seraphic Grace
Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God
Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
Incantation – Vanquish in Vengeance
Pseudogod – Deathwomb Catechesis

Label of the year:
Dark Descent Records

Marty Rytkonen top 10 of 2012
2012 has been another great year for metal, though I admittedly had a really hard time compiling this list. Most of the items I initially selected to be here, turned out to be 2011, so my pact to document releases that I like throughout the year as they happen, once again didn’t happen. In this case, hindsight is piss poor, so I began digging through the piles of CDs and digital files sent in for review to rekindle some memories on what I have been listening to. A lot of the releases listed below, are surprisingly STILL in heavy rotation on my work Ipod and in my vehicle which says a lot. To keep new releases this active in favor of the older stuff I typically listen to says a lot. Looking forward to 2013 now that Worm Gear is back in full swing, and once again having the opportunity to hear new music as it happens. Maybe this time I’ll keep better track of the new stuff…

1. Nechochwen – Oto (Bindrune Recordings)
I initially considered not including this and the Blood of the Black Owl releases to the list since I did after all release both, but to deny this slab of vinyl as being my album of the year would be criminal. I release music not as a business decision, for we all know many of you are drifting away from tangible media, but because I truly connect with the artist and their art. Having said that, OtO is magnificent. So much passion for the subject matter and musical creativity/atmosphere, every time I spin this release, I am mystified and enchanted. Folk. Metal. Native American subject matter. Brilliant and endlessly unique. OtO is a very welcoming listening experience and I can’t stop spinning it.

2. Tempestuous Fall – The Stars Would Not Awake You (I, Voidhanger)
I just recently got this album after reviewing the digital files for you guys and I have been blown away/listen to it often. Highly emotive doom with crawling funeral characteristics. What sets T.F. apart from so many others in the genre is the organic gothic strand of music spun deep within the distortion and guttural vocals. The melodies that arise from this material are simplistic, highly memorable, and suffocating with a depressed feeling of loneliness. This is an Australian mans attempt to emulate an English style of doom, all the way down to the violins, but instead arrived at something that is definitely influenced by old My Dying Bride and Anathema, though fiercely unique. This will be a tough album for Dis Pater to follow-up.

3. Borknagar – Urd (Century Media)
I did not expect to be this impressed with a Borknagar release ever again. In many ways, I have given up on caring for this band after Quintessence and Votrex’s initial departure. I’ve never loved Vintersorg’s vocal style over the years, but he shines on Urd and is perfectly offset by Vortex’s mighty harmonies. Also the song Frostrite, written by and sung by Vortex, is an amazing track that demands repeated listens and offers such an unfaltering melody for the bulk of this album to rest upon. Borknagar really needed this album, and the amazing songwriting could have easily been the proper follow-up to The Archaic Course. If you too have fallen off of Borknagar’s trail, Urd is an album that will lead you back in line for the band sounds utterly revitalized and firmly back on track.

4. Wodensthrone – Curse (Candlelight)
Changing singers didn’t detract anything away from the brilliance that is Wodensthrone. If anything, the now shared vocal attack opens up another dimension to an already colorful palette of sound to expand and flourish. Curse sounds like an album created by a band that has 4 other influential albums behind them, for the maturity of this material feels very comfortable with itself and every note screams a vitality/urgency rarely heard in newer bands these days. The Name of the Wind closes this album out with one of WT’s most impressive and striking tracks in their already amazing catalog. Don’t let this album pass you by.

5. Weapon – Embers and Revelations (Relapse Records)
Behold! The best death metal album you likely heard in 2012. Embers and Revelations is superiorly produced with a clean, though wicked/cutting tone and it allows the memorable/mighty riff work to hail the ancient years of the death genre (Altars era Morbid Angel anyone?), while sending a sonic “fuck off” to the modern age. Not only is this album a well written and eternally memorable strike of important and dedicated death, it is the culmination of Weapon’s impressive catalog to reach a higher plateau of deadly artistic vision.

6. Blood of the Black Owl – Light the Fires (Bindrune Recordings/Glass Throat Recordings)
For those of you who have followed the career of Chet Scott and Blood of the Black Owl, it has been one of personal growth and exploration. Light the Fires! Is Scott’s most personal offering yet and this passion is not lost on the listener. It is rare for me to get choked up over material on an album, but there have been several moments in several tracks on this release that really spoke to me, even summing several tears. There isn’t a lot of metal on this one, but the intention in the music, swirling in ritualistic elements, 70’s inspired prog, feels very rustic, possessing an edge that is haunted by metal thoughts. Light the Fires! is a long, though very rewarding experience. And the packaging is also killer.

7. Finsterforst – Rastlos (Napalm Records)
Having never heard of this band before, Rastlos, Finsterforst’s 3rd full-length album, came as a huge surprise. Subtle folk elements empower the metal (black) foundation on this album. The feel, atmosphere, vocal choirs, and overall mid tempo push of the music puts one in mind of the Viking era of Bathory. Finsterforst had me there, but they also go one step further by actually putting their own fresh stamp on this impressive and emotive album.

8. Panopticon – Kentucky (Handmade Birds/Pagan Flames)
Evolution has been the law in the Panopticon camp since the prolific beginning and sole proprietor Austin Lunn has reached new heights on Kentucky. The political/socially charged black metal unleashed by Panopticon has always been lethal, but on this album, the sound production offers a level of clarity to the metal attack, allowing the riffs and layers to strike much deeper than before. The bold addition of bluegrass/country to exist within the metal, and on its own, just feels like a brave step forward for not only Panopticon, but the whole genre.

9. Maveth – Coils of the Black Earth (Dark Descent Records)
Completely evil sounding death metal, from the production, all the way down to the riffs. Dark and nightmarish, but not so much so that it alienates the listener. This is a long album, but never grows tiring thanks to the superior songwriting. Dark Descent has had a great year, as Horrendous and Desolate Shrine also deserved to dwell on this list…

10. Hellwell – Beyond The Boundaries of Sin (High Roller/Shadow Kingdom Records)
Manilla Road meets Deep Purple? Yes. And it works. Mark Shelton and several old MR alumni have reunited for this project that definitely sounds like Mark’s main band, but the subject material is far darker, as is the aggression at times. The accompanying organ offers a different kind of atmosphere that works quite well. Amazing solos. Bizarre though great vocal lines. Fans of MR will eat this one up as I have.

Honorable mentions:
Horrendous – The Chills (Dark Descent)
My dying bride – A Map of all our Failures (Peaceville)
Desolate Shrine – The Sanctum of Human Darkness (Dark Descent)
Incantation – Vanquish In Vengeance

Overrated album of the year:
Enslaved RIItIIR
I think that Enslaved’s years of trying to find themselves are a hell of a lot more hungry and worshipable than this collection of progged out and boring to the core songs. Yes their journey has been long, but let’s not sacrifice energy and inventive song structure for hopelessly wandering, go nowhere drivel. Just thinking about this makes me yawn.

Best label in 2012:
Dark Descent Records (Matt Nailed it this past year. Cheers!)

S. Craig Zahler Top 10 of 2012
Below are my favorite albums of the year. 2012 yielded nothing historic, but a lot of good, solid albums.

I will not put my band Realmbuilder’s second album Fortifications of the Pale Architect on the list, since that would be rather biased, but yeah, of course I think it’s good enough to be on there. Judge our new tunes for yourself—

1. Sabaton – Carolus Rex
Sabaton = Chorus masters. Their best album.

2. Hellwell – Beyond the Boundaries of Sin
One of the most consistent Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton releases ever.

3. Urogenital Macrophage — Perversion and Sickness Destroy the Human Race
Curious about slamming brutal death metal? Start here.

4. Wrathblade – Into the Netherworld’s Realm
Quirky epic metal that grows on you.

5. No One Gets Out Alive – Like a Lamb to the Slaughter
Behold the death metal cricket.

6. Kraanium — Post Mortal Coital Fixation
Raunchy slamming death metal covered in phlegm.

7. Dexter Ward – Neon Lights
This is the new band from former Battleroar vocalist Marco. Although nowhere near as good as Battleroar’s To Death and Beyond… [which is one of the 25 best metal albums EVER], this is a cool mix of NWOBHM with some forays into epic and power metal. I imagine 99.9% of the people who like Trespass, Red Lights and Bashful Alley will dig blue collar metal tunes like Metal Rites & Ghost Rider

8. Horrendous – The Chills
Dismember + Bolt Thrower with singing like Van Drunen. I want these guys to play in Marty’s house. Highlight cut: Fatal Dreams

9. Begging for Incest – Orgasmic Selfmutilation

10. Abominable Putridity – Anomalies of an Artificial Origin/Nile – At the Gates of Sethu/Manowar – Lord of Steel 3 way tie

~ by martyworm on January 1, 2013.

44 Responses to “Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees…”

  1. Dexter Ward – Neon Lights is from 2011.

  2. Very interesting and good article on ‘Slamming Death Metal’. I have never heard of this sub genre. And it explains a band I recently heard (and an album I purchased) called Fugax. It sounds like total ass, but it is so funny, I actually like and enjoy it. Does this style have enough of its own characteristics to delineate a sub-genre? I don’t know.I haven’t heard enough of these bands, nor do I want to. Seems like too many meathead Death Metal guys trying to push boundaries that honestly do not have the mental creativity / wherewithal to do it.

    2012 was a fucking brilliant year for music in general. I discovered a lot of great old stuff like Manilla Road, and also new 2012 releases. It has been hell on the wallet, but I am too obsessed with music to let that stop me. I remember in 2010 and 2011 complaining about not having enough music to digest through my oh so hungry and finicky pallet, but man, did someone answer my prayers in 2012. Jesus Lord oh might mercy me…

    What I thought was amazing in 2012:

    First – Just bought this album yesterday, so maybe premature to put this on the list, but it is so fucking shockingly amazing and stunning, I don’t have any qualms doing it:

    That would be Xanthochroid’s ‘Blessed He with Boils’ – check this out man! I can’t believe these young guys can put out such an astonginshinly high quality album out on their first release. The are independent too. Support!

    Balance would be:

    Weapon – Embers and Revelation
    Diskord – Dystopics
    Binah – Hallucinating in Resurrecture
    Indesinence – Vessels of Light and Decay
    0Xist – Nil
    Steve Wilson – Get all you Deserve (live Release)
    I Saw the Deep – Astronavigation
    A Forest of Stars – A Shadowplay of Yesterdays
    Nekromantheon – Rise, Vulcan, Spectre
    Dor De Duh – Dar De Duh
    Angel Witch – As Above, So Below

  3. Great now I have some more stuff to track down lol. Here is my list which was really hard to nail down. I could have replaced most of this list with other releases and still have been satisfied with it:

    My favorite 12(ish) albums of 2012:

    Panopticon – Kentucky
    Propaghandi – Failed States
    Allegaeon – Formshifter
    Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity
    Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
    Anathema – Weather Systems
    Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
    (3 Way Tie) Royal Thunder – CVI, Witch Mountain – Cauldron of the Wild, Christian Mistress – Possession
    Germ – Loss
    Mgla – With Hearts Toward None
    Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God
    Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas

  4. 2012 for me was mostly a year of (re)discovering old classics; I’ve been re-evaluating 80’s metal listening to a lot of Manilla Road, Maiden, Manowar, Overkill, Sodom, Kreator, Destruction and loads more 80’s thrash. As a result I haven’t been absorbing 2012’s metal as much as I should (although I did buy plenty of new stuff).

    Still, his would be my top 10:

    Hellwell – Beyond the Boundaries of Sin
    Mark The Shark just keeps on growing; this one’s as epic as it is eeevil.

    Rush – Clockwork Angels
    Unbelievable. Going since the early 70’s and still relevant. I’d even say Clockwork Angels is a late-career masterpiece.

    Asphyx – Deathhammer

    Weapon – Embers and Revelations
    Like mentioned earlier; Altars. Of. Madness. And I mean that as the biggest compliment possible.

    Incantation – Vanquish in Vengeance
    I’ve heard and liked many brutal death metal releases this year, but Incantation slaughters them all.

    Marduk – Serpent Sermon
    Pitch black, ice cold evil with memorable songwriting that puts its hooks in you.

    Burzum – Umskiptar
    I cannot praise this album enough. It transcends black metal and everything Varg has done before. Ancient. Monolithic. Deeply personal and original.

    Samothrace – Reverence to Stone
    Two epic doom tracks that drip with woe and sorrow. Cathartic. And those guitar leads…

    Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
    More epic doom. This one stands out because of the (clean, and very soulful) vocals, the amazing songwriting and the crushing sound.

    Enslaved – RIITIIR
    What can I say, I like my aimless noodling hehehe. No seriously; Enslaved strikes a perfect balance between prog and blackness. Love it.

    Honorable mentions:

    Soundgarden – King Animal
    For making a great album when everybody thought they would suck ass.

    Motorpsycho – The Death Defying Unicorn
    For making an epic rock opera that is as pretentious as it is ambitious and getting away with it. Plus they rattled my ribcage live.

    Overkill – The Electric Age
    For still being around, doing what they do and doing it well. Blitz and DD are heroes.

    Crepitus – The Vile Vortex
    Sophicide – Perdition of the Sublime
    Fisthammer – Devour All You See
    For being incredible debut albums. Fresh death metal for the future.

    Corsair – Corsair (selfreleased)
    For bringing a beatiful mix of progressive rock and Thin Lizzy with a touch of power metal. Shadow Kingdom will re-release it soon, the demo is available from Corsair’s website and bandcamp:

  5. Freek, I am glad you love Umskiptar. I 100% agree with you. The only reason it didn’t make my list is because I just don’t play it that often, but when I do, man its really special, especially the 2nd half the album. This is Varg’s deepest moments in music. It is very touching and dark. Amazing. Cool list. I have Corsairs stuff too. The handmade Digipaks are really cool aren’t they?

  6. Patrick, indeed; Varg’s deepest moments in music. The fact that Varg the man is so enigmatic, unapologetic and radical in his deeds and thoughts onlu makes his music more intriguing. And yes; handmade screen-printed cartboard digipacks rule! Get them folks, before they’re sold out!

  7. I don’t agree with much of Varg’s general thought process or ideals, but man, I admire his conviction! hahah.. A very intriguing guy, true to his cause (no matter how right or wrong it may be)..I think he is fascinating. And the music matches that sentiment. I honestly think, if he caught me in around his cabin wondering around, he would probably stab my ass.

  8. I found this interesting. This is what Invisible Oranges says about itself:

    “There are very few web sites that command the deserved respect of the mighty Invisible Oranges, not only for its near perfect curation but for its stellar writing. Since inception, IO has proven to be the rightful powerhouse and an authority on all things heavy. We feel humbled and honored to not only be a part of such a prestigious zine, but to be helping ensure its long-term survival.”

    Now, I don’t want to get Marty and Jim in trouble here, but what a fucking bunch of pretentious bullshit that is. Humorously, right before this comment, the Editor in Chief was mentioning how pretentious some other Indie Rocker site was. teeheehee..Invisible just ain’t that good. I am glad he is stepping down. Bloated…

  9. Well… I’ll be honest. I look over the IO blog once in a while and there is rarely content on there I care about. Look at the current front page. Not one article on there that matters as they seem to cater to the more popular, or “Decibel” side of metal. Brooklyn Vegan. I scan it on occasion and I don’t get it. It’s like they are resonating at a different frequency than I am and I find it scattered and difficult to read. I take this music very personally and when I see a “scene” attached to it, like BV portrays, I feel happy not to be part of that “cool school”. Ultimately, I don’t care. Sure I would love for this site to have their readership numbers, but this rebuild is going to take some time and word of mouth. Jim and myself know that. We’re just thrilled where it has gone in the short time we’ve been back. WG isn’t all bout this “Look at us and how important we are” chest thumping as demonstrated by the new ed for IO… this isn’t a business. Jim and I just want to do a good job in sharing our thoughts and informing a wider audience of new music. Entertain people! Because let’s face it, with the Internet, one really doesn’t need reviews anymore, or to relate to a collection of writers. They can point and click on anything they want and hear the music themselves before they buy or steal it. That is a whole separate topic to vent about….

  10. Quickie playlist for the past day or so…

    Bolt Thrower – …For Victory (I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this album since the day it came out. The riffs are eternal and there isn’t one bad one on the entire album)

    Dark Tranquility – Skydancer (Thanks Tanner for making me give this one another chance. The production is still a bit too dry, but great music)

    Realmbuilder – Fortifications of the Pale Architect (this album is like the sonic personification of Mr. Zahler. I hear it and can perfectly imagine him singing the words to me. Quirky, but really unique and times moving epic metal. “The Stars Disappeared from the Sky When We Uncovered the Bones of the First Gods” is such a pure and patient classic.)

    The Grotesquery – Tales of the Coffin Born (Spun it for the first time today. Features Kam Lee on vokills. Perhaps a bit too modern for my tastes, but it is good, hard hitting death metal for car trips)

    Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction (my first time listening to this largely heralded doom release. I tend to shy away from the hype, but the album “sounds” amazing (production). Like the guitar tone a lot. It’s too early to tell where I’m going to stand with this one. Gonna have to seep in.)

    One last thing… I’d like to get it out of the way right now and send a huge “Fuck off” to the band Ghost for putting out a second album, and would ask for the mysterious marketing dream of a lead singer to pass my little message along to nearly every magazine/webzine out there there lining up to get his picture on the cover of their magazine. Highly overrated band that get’s more coverage than Devin Townsend. Wait!!!!! Maybe Terrorizer will put both guys on the same cover?!?!?!?! MIND BLOWN!

  11. 25 new 2012 releases heard to date

    BEST NEW ALBUMS (in no order)
    Anathema- Weather Systems
    Candlemass- Psalms for the Dead
    Dragonforce- The Power Within

    Kamelot- Silverthorn
    Evoken- Atra Mors
    Saint Vitus- Lillie F-65
    Seven Kingdoms- The Fire Is Mine

    -I passed on some big ones (Desolation Angels, Pagan Altar, etc) ’cause I don’t really need ’em, having the originals
    Armoured Angel- Hymns of Hate
    Solitude Aeturnus- In Times of Solitude
    Big Daisy- s/t

    -Nothing really sucked or was a huge let-down. Main complaint has been shitty CD packaging, especially from bigger labels like Nuclear Blast (Graveyard Witchcraft) and Century Media (Nachtmystium). If you can’t offer better packaging that these, seriously, just sell mp3s on iTunes and quit pretending to release CDs at all.

    Aerian Rage fist of steel- good demo collection of obscure 80s band
    Altar of Oblivion grand gesture of defiance- not bad, but short and not as enchanting as the debut LP
    Anathema weather systems- very nice, varied, interesting, and some beautiful tunes, best since Judgement
    Armoured Angel hymns of hate- great anthology
    Assemblage 23 bruise- eh, pretty average on 1st impression
    Bedemon symphony of shadows- not great TBH, but a nice historical document, amazing it even exists
    Big Daisy s/t- nice collection, cool NWOBHM band
    Candlemass psalms for the dead- great doom, their best with Lowe
    Dawnbringer into the lair of the sun god- decent but doesn’t wow me like it does others
    Deathspell Omega drought- just arrived, haven’t heard
    Dragonforce the power within- surprisingly good
    Evoken atra mors- nice return to form after 2 somewhat boring albums
    Genghis Khan killers- nice collection of pre-Tokyo Blade material
    Graveyard lights out- eh, not too impressed on first impression
    Hibria blinded by tokyo- decent live set
    Kamelot silverthorn- nice return to form w/ new vocalist
    My Dying Bride a map of all our failures- haven’t played much yet
    Nachtmystium silencing machine- starting to click
    Nightwish imaginarium- actually not bad
    Pentagram when the screams come live- ok live album
    Saint Vitus lillie: F-65- really nice slab of doom
    Scarab rolling like thunder- another good NWOBHM anthology
    Seven Kingdoms the fire is mine- nice Blind Guardian worship w/ good female vocals
    Solitude Aeturnus in times of solitude- really nice collection of early tunes and great booklet
    Sword apocryphon- not bad, has its moments
    Witchcraft legendary- eh, ok but not great
    Woods of Ypres 5: grey skies & electric light- cool at times, blase at others, decent goth rock

  12. Marty, I disagree we don’t need reviews anymore. In fact, I would have glossed over many bands this year had it not been for guys like you and Jim or reviews of certain bands on Metalstorm or even (god help me I hate Metalreview or lastrites now) that kept mentioning bands like Maveth, Manilla Road, or a host of other new bands I find incredible now. I actually only find a small percentage of the bands I like now via surfing the web. I dont try to rely on reviewers, but the truth is I find a good majority of the stuff I like through blog/review sites. I spend a great deal of time searching for great new music, and it all means something very deep to me as well. The difference between your site and others, is that I don’t find your writing pretentious and you both are equally knowledgeable, so I actually read the review and respect it. Take Metal Review or LastRites as an example, they are a bunch of young hipster-esque super pretentious writers that have a pack of ratty stupid zombie followers. They only know their metal history via wikipedia (or the like) and so have no firm grasp on what they are actually writing or saying. But still, I look at what they are covering. I don’t read the review so much as just go to the site and check the band out myself. So it all depends.

    I think IO is totally a redundant lousy content site like Cvltnation (the most hipster and pretentious of them all)

    Anyways, don’t go away for a long hiatus again guys.

  13. Yes! FUCK GHOST! Dude, thank you! That is the biggest hype and nonsense propaganda I have ever seen in a long time. His voice fucking sucks ass, weak as shit, no where close to the great King Diamond, and the music, at best is entertaining for about 10 minutes, and then I am ready for some real fucking meat after that little dainty vegan appetizer.

    I myself just starting giving Pall Bearer a chance a couple of days ago. I keep walking away from it. I personally think that album is overhyped as well. Doom is getting way to trendy and abused. But as some of you may already know, most Doom bands bore the fuck out of me, albeit the creme-dela-creme (Monolithe, Evoken, Mournful King etc..) Its too linear of a sub-genre to branch off into so many bands and albums. Stylistically, it just overlaps on so many levels. But, the US is indeed, to this point, the King of quality Doom. How about a little nationalism to finish that scattered point of mine!

  14. Actually, while I am on a rant here with the “fuck you’s” (you got me going Marty, so I’ll blame this all on you : )

    Here are a list of genres that are good and relevant, but are being pushed to far to their extremes in trendiness and overstate their usefulness in way of relevancy in the grand scheme of things:

    Most Doom Bands (although I have more affection for this than any of the below listed)

    Slam Death Metal

    Retro Thrash (Fuck what Fenriz likes and what his Norwegian buddies are doing. They are all followers of each other and have never started any trends I have liked) Why the fuck does Fenriz’s opinion matter so much? Most Darkthrone albums suck ass. ‘A Blaze’, yes a classic amazing album, but the rest is ideological shit black metal then mixed with his ideological hardcore. How about we just all try and make the best music we can to inspire ourselves and others, and not worry so much about what fucking genre is cool or if it is necro enough? Fucking despise that guy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Aura Noir, Nekromantheon and the like, but Retro Thrash is going a too far because of douches like Fenriz.

    Mustache Retro Dark Rock – Again, the fucking Scandinavians are going to far with this. Take Graveyard as a perfect example. Every motherfucker in that band has a fucking mustache. I never realized how seemingly conformist those cultures are up in the north until recently. I thought Korea and Japan were bad, but damn…At least the chicks are hot there…(yes in both Korea, Japan, and Scandinavia.) ANyways, there doesn’t need to be a zillion of these fucking bands. This is a good segue into Doom Black Sabbath type of bands that are modeling the Electric Wizard/Sleep thing. For fucks sake, how many bands are gonna tune their guitars down to A, have a flubby production, and churn out dark heavy black sabbath-esque riffs. with a winny chick or guy fucking going on and on about naked chick sacrifices? Fucking christ. DIE!

    Ah, I feel better now.

  15. I’m with ya on a lot of those points Patrick. Especially this occult rock stuff. Sabbath Assembly, The Devil’s Blood and all the bands these 2 have inspired, can (and will) go away soon. I greatly dislike the Jefferson Starship aesthetic, and that is what these bands remind me of… White Rabbit with metallic edge. Boring boutique rock/metal that summons the yawns and demonstrates that not only are men visual creatures, they also LOVE an evil lady fronted marketing scheme. It’s like the metal following is getting more and more predictable.

    And Ghost…. it isn’t horrible music, but reminds me of a so-so band trying to emulate the darker side of Blue Oyster Cult. They’re certainly not that effective at it and this allows their image to take center stage.

    Fenriz and Darkthrone… I’m not super psyched with this bands shift into the world of cooky NWOBHM/punk/black metal, but they remain one of my favorite bands. Really love everything they have done through “Hate Them”. And I also don’t know why Fenriz has become this larger than life judge/jury/executioner of extreme metal. Perhaps since he has had a hand in shaping a specific genre, that people look up to him for guidance, but really, who cares. He does approve of some great stuff (Zemial!), but really I find his tastes to sometimes be a bit too enamored by bands who possess an old school, though not always that great sound. Soulside Journey forever!

    And than k you for you comments regarding the efforts of Worm Gear. It means a lot and we’re glad to have been some sort of an aid on your metal seeker quest.

  16. Bolt Thrower – …For Victory: ’nuff said. Always has been, and always will be, one of my all-time favorite albums and favorite bands. Every time I hear the beginning of ‘When Glory Beckons’, I feel like I’m rising up, bloodied from battle, weapon in hand …
    Pallbearer – Too weird, man! I also checked it out for the first time this morning, and had waited to do so for the same reasons you did \m/ The guitar tone is great, verdict is still out on the vocals, but I’m still listening right now, so that’s a good sign \m/

  17. Thanks for the belief in the cause, Brother. After meeting Marty and the discussion to revive Worm Gear came about, we were concerned about the ability to make any real impact with the plethora of similar sites providing, and in some cases polluting, glimpses into Extreme Metal. But I felt, and still do, that if we stay removed ourselves from the trend of flashy sitemaking and focus on the writing – which is what put Marty and Worm Gear zine on the map in the first place – that we’d find our niche, and I think we have. We’re a couple of oldsters/extreme music nerdsters focused only on listening and writing and, if interest continues as it has, our dream of resurrecting Worm Gear in print may see the light. We’re not Luddites – I’ve even thought about doing a Kickstarter campaign at some point to aid in making that dream a reality – but a reverence for the old and having something to hold in your hands is a part of who we, and other like minds, are, and so that larger step of ink and page will remain in our subconsciousness. But whatever what may or may not be, Worm Gear lives, due in large part to intelligent disseminators of the underground such as yourself that believe in what we’re doing, and for that – we thank you, nightsblood, UA, kevingentilcore, ikbenfreek, and all the others that continue to stop by and making it worth all the while. Hails. -Jim

  18. Speaking of print mags, I am currently reading ‘Metalion’-the slayer mag diaries. Fascinating and very enjoyable to relive. I myself never got his magazine, my older friends at the time from Order From Chaos did and whatever demos and tapes they received they would copy for me. But to see how a lot of the discoveries disseminated from Slayer Mag and the like is just so fascinating, particularly the world of writing, trading etc…I was apart of it, but more so indirectly. I have that lineage of passion, camaraderie, and conviction to thank deeply. Amazing shit…It very much shaped the music I like, create today.

  19. I’ll have to put that on my wish list; I’d been wondering if it’d be worth plunking down the $35. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bazillion Points’ ‘Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Early Celtic Frost and Hellhammer’. I wonder if ‘Hellbent for Cooking’ cookbook is worth a look … I need help overcoming my fear of making my own food \m/

  20. Amen on the the whole occult metal hipster shit. Metalsucks refers to it as ‘Vest Metal’ (although speaking of hipster bullshit; They are funny sometimes though). BUT: mustaches are cool (I sport one from time to time)! They should not be affiliated with Vest Metal but with 80’s thrash! Speaking of 80’s thrash; love it (of course). If Fenriz manages to create more interest in Agent Steel, I don’t blame him. If Fenriz’ opinion matters so much it is because of all the sheep that are following him, THEY are the ones creating the hype. As far as I’m concerned Fenriz is just promoting music he loves, nothing wrong with that. And call me a BIG Darkthrone fan too.

    Considering funeral Doom; it’s been on the rise last year and like with every (sub)genre on the rise there’s some good bands and a lot of shite bandwagon-jumpers (is that a word?). And apart from that; funeral doom is simply not a very lovable genre by nature. Give the Pallbearer time, I think it’s great. On the other hand, if you don’t dig it that’s also cool… But you won’t be part of the hipster crowd! 😉 Liturgy or Deafheaven anyone???

    Bolt Thrower; to my enormous shame they passed me by in the early 90’s BUT I’ve ordered Realm/Warmaster/Victory/Crusade awhile ago, waiting for them to arrive. Expectations are high…

    Oh and yes, definitely keep it up guys. Wormgear is the only blog I follow and feel involved with. By chance I stumbled upon Bindrune records (huge fan of Falls of Rauros) and then suddenly there was the rebirth of this blog and I’m very happy with it!
    \m/ \m/

  21. Ah yesss the Slayer Mag Diaries landed on my doormat too today, can’t wait to spend some time with it!

  22. Jim – Yes, METALION is worth every penny. It might have an impact on your thoughts of actually doing a print mag again. The photos, interviews, reviews, and more key, Metalion’s take on his life and others at the time between each mag (a bio of sorts) makes it really worth it. I thought ‘Only Death is Real’ was an intense exciting read, but man, the ending FUCKING SUCKED. There was no end. IT was if Tom was too embarrassed to move a little further. I understand why, but fuck, it was a huge let down at the end. Martin also didn’t mention that Tom made him break up with Lilith which really impacted their relationship. Tom never mentioned that love of this life he found that impacted this music (i.e. Cherry Orchard). I know, the book says ‘early celtic frost’, but just fell short.

    I don’t understand how anyone can like the other Darkthrone albums, but respect it. So I don’t slam anyone at all for liking them. Believe me, I have tried to like them. But what I hear is an intentional bad necrosound with redundant and repetitive boring Norwegian icey black metal riffs with really only blast beats. It bores me to all hell. ‘ A Blaze’ is a fucking masterpiece that can’t be topped. I just think Darkthrone made the following albums too contrived, i.e. threw the ideology of ‘fuck you, we are true black metal, so lets make something that sounds even shittier, simplier and singular’.” To me, that is writing music for the sake of ideology and rebellion alone, being the priority, rather than the music FIRST being the priority. Anyways, I really don’t mean to piss any one of you off, including you Freek. I respect you like their other albums, I do. I’ll stop there.

    Oh yeah, I actually have a mustache myself right now. Hehe. I don’t mind it, but I think you know what I meant by the above.

    Bolt Thrower forever,,,ahhH!!!! In Battle There is No Law up to For Victory. They got to samey thereafter. My favorite, ‘REALM OF CHAOS’. Sludgy, nasty, fast, heavy, fucking amazing riffs. For Victory is my next favorite, but that album is so etched in my head, I just don’t listen to it anymore. Actually my all time favorite from BT is the Peel Sessions. Fucking amazing live sound on In Battle, Realm of Chaos and particularly War Master.

  23. Patrick> Don’t worry about it. You hear “music for the sake of ideology and rebellion alone”, I hear majestic black filth. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc…
    The necro sound of the unholy trinity Blaze/Funeral/Transilvanian was indeed intentional and as far as I’m concerned it’s a big part of the evil charm of those records. After Transilvanian Hunger they upped the production values though but they did make it a point to keep their music “singular and simple” as you say. Again, that is a big part of why I like ´em so much. No compromise. But again, to each his own. One caveat though; you are ASSUMING that Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have a certain ideology about creating music, and you judge them based on YOUR assumption. My assumption is that they just make the music they want to make, that’s it. Judge the music, not the persons making it. How else can we enjoy Burzum?

  24. Ah, no I do not hear music for the sake of ideology and rebellion. Very much the opposite. I listen for music. I do not assume with Fenriz, and Nocturno. Read what they have said in the past. I was there reading the mags, hearing about the letters being written. I was in a group of guys that had a tight network. It was very much about an ideology. Varg embraces the necrosound, but the big distinction I think you are missing is that he writes from the heart, not from his head. You can just tell the difference when listening to the two. So my assumptions are largely based on fact and what I understand to be true.

  25. Also, i would like to state that when writing letters to guys in Impaled Nazarene, Beherit etc… at that time, I grew to despise guys like Darkthrone because they were running around declaring their version of Black Metal was the only true version and sending death threats to guys in Impaled Nazarene. It was fucking childish and really idiotic. Lastly, you cannot even compare ‘A Blaze in the Northern SKy’ with ‘Under a Fool Moon’. Under a Full Moon is a shittier and simplier breakdown of ‘A Blaze..’. It really is. I therefore can’t appreciate it. The next album has to be at least as good or better. A step down doesn’t warrant any adulation from me.

  26. and if i judged the music by the man (or men in this case), I wouldn’t like ‘A Blaze’ which to me is one of the top 5 Black Metal albums, if not the #1 of all time. So, I judge the music before anything else. And usually stop there.

  27. Patrick, you’ve made your opinion very clear but I just don’t agree with you on the quality of Darkthrone’s records. And as far as the attitude of Fenriz and Culto towards other bands goes; I wasn’t there, I don’t have inside information and frankly I don’t care. I listen to Emperor, Gorgoroth and Marduk as well and as far as I’m concerned all those kvlt guys were behaving a bit silly in those days, burning and raping and assaulting and trying to out-trve each other but (that didn’t stop them creating great music though). Luckily maturity and, in some cases, detention time cleared that up. The focus seems to be on the music these days. And that’s where we do seem to agree; judge the music and stop there.

  28. That’s right, and fair enough. Guess I couldn’t convince you. Maybe a seed planted? Hehe .
    You almost want me to go back and give those albums a try again.

  29. Neh, leave those crappy necro records be 😉 and start reading The Slayer Mag Diaries like I’m doing now, brilliant! So much atmosphere and nostalgia (the good kind)… Made me put on Mayhem Live in Leipzig (“come on leipzig!”). It’s past midnight here, girlfriend’s gone to bed and I’ve got some great red wine, Mayhem and Metalion. It’s gonna be a late night…

  30. where you live Freek? Night night….. : )

    I have been reading the slayer mag diaries. its hella exciting!

  31. Nijmegen, Netherlands. Just read some hilarious interviews with Slayer and Bathory (“…Whimphammer/Celtic Compost is the biggest load of horse shit I ever heard…”). Seems like Fenriz wasn’t the only one badmouthing other bands…

  32. For some odd reason, I have been enjoying Morbid Angels albums after Domination: Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateway to Annihilation, and just a little of Heretic. Oddly, I think Formulas is a very fun and decent album. And there is some fucking cool riffs on Gateway. Am I insane? Something wrong with me? What is everyone’s take on Morbid Angel albums after Blessed are the Sick? I used to be a purist and only like up to Blessed, but I pretty much like it all (except the new one). Obviously, Blessed and Alters are King, but, just wondering what you all thought about albums thereafter up to Heretic?

  33. I just ordered the Slayer Mag Diaries. Been meaning to check it out, but have honestly forgotten about this book. I have never laid eyes on Slayer, but have been aware of Jon’s historic relevance. Looking forward to digging in to some of those classic interviews finally. Thanks guys!!

    Regarding Darkthrone…. their grim era was an acquired taste for me as well. I worshiped Soulside when it came out and bought A blaze on cassette when it arrived to the shop that used to be here in Traverse City (Camelot Music was amazing). I didn’t get it and hated it. Finally it clicked and I got it, but it took a while. Same with Funeral Moon and Trans Hunger…. they were even more of a shock to the nervous system than A Blaze was. I think I even slammed them in Worm Gear. But once I got past the crap production and affinity for repetition, I ended up loving those albums and again, been a fan through all of their transformations. Their latest phase has been rough though. I do like the campy Fenriz songs, but they don’t have a lot of staying power. The biggest thing for me to get over has been Culto’s new vocal style. I really dislike it and I used to consider him as being one of my favorite BM singers. Having said that, I guess I’m in for the long haul with them and I have hope for a bit of the old spark to return for their upcoming album. We shall see.

  34. Formulas was ok, Gateways was a grower, but these days I think it’s great. Heretic never clicked with me either. The new one…. I was so excited for Vincent to return that I probably blew my enthusiasm way out of proportion so that no matter what it ended up being, it could never live up to my standards. Who would have thought there would be Manson/Rob Zombie styled techno garbage on it. The thing that does piss me off though is, a few of those tracks are super catchy even though they turn my heathen guts. Blades to Baal and a few other tracks on there were ok, but nowhere near the quality that a band like Morbid Angel should be churning out at this stage in their career.

  35. Covenant, Domination & Gateways are my favorites.

    I like most Morbid Angel music, but the older I become (and as my sense of tempo gets more precise, like it or not), the harder time I have listening to songs like Fall From Grace where every blastbeat is unconnected to the music and just a sloppy fast jumbled mess.

    Sloppy fast noise when a band plays live and together is cool (I like Revenge & Conqueror & Infested Blood), but when the guitars are set to a metronomically perfect click track, as they are on Blessed, a drummer playing fast jumbles sounds like he’s in a different room and not part of the song. The fast parts on Blessed make Lars sound perfect on Dyers Eve by comparison.

    Morbid is a lot more locked in from Covenant forward and the arrangements are better. Also, I think Trey writes great slow and midtempo riffs, but so-so fast stuff.

    Favorite tunes: Dawn of the Angry, Eyes to Hear, Hatework, Ageless, Still I Am, Opening the Gates, Sworn to Black and the disregarded highlight— The Lions Den.

    And I have no idea what the hype situation is with Ghost, but the first album is a fun, diet soda version of Blue Oyster Cult, who are the greatest. I don’t really care about the hype either way— the tunes are pretty good.
    I remember when I was the main metal writer shitting on Hammerfall & Children of Bodom back in the day, but that music deserved every fecal bit I gave it, whereas that Ghost album is pleasing lemonade that gets about a 6.25 out ot 10.

  36. I’ve tried Morbid Angel’s post-Domination albums but they just wouldn’t click. I feel tempted to give Gateways another try though. Concerning their latest; what the FUCK? So incredibly lame… Vincent’s status had already become a bit dubious with his Genitorturers phase but Azagtoth was still pretty untouchable in my book. Another hero bites the dust. Fair is fair though; they always showed an interest in electronics with their short instrumentals and Laibach remixes.
    For the record; I’d rate Covenant almost as high as Altars and Blessed. At the time it was criticised as a step back in progression from Blessed but that’s exactly why I like it; no-frills, undiluted, primal evil. And that thick sound… Domination is hit and miss I think. Some great songs (Dawn of the Angry! Hatework!) but some crappy as well (Where the Slime Live) and some shameless reworking of older riffs (Caesar’s Palace vs. Blessed are the Sick).

    Alright, I’ve just woken up with a quadruple espresso and Sign of the Hammer. Now seems the right time for more Metalion and some Darkthrone to disturb the sunday peace… \m/

  37. Quadruple espresso? Damn man. You trying to get it up for the girlfriend? : )-

    I am on my first cup of coffee listening to Maveth’s Coils of the Black Earth. Since Jim put this on his list and called it a masterpiece I just decided to buy the CD from Dark Descent. Just got it in the mail yesterday. I’ll have to say, the guitar sound is fucking great. Enjoying so far…..

    Okay, I need to actually listen to the Blue Oyster Cult now that Zahler mentioned them as well as I think Marty. And thanks for the Morbid feedback. Interesting…I am just gonna sit back and just soak these later Morbid albums in and let my subconscious make the decision later…

  38. actually, which Blue Oyster Cult album is the best? I am checking out their 1st album on youtube. pretty cool. i know the classics already like Reaper…Not a fan of that

  39. On Blue Öyster Cult…

    First off, here’s an irrefutable fact—
    The best guitar solo EVER recorded in the history of the human race:

    (Blue Öyster Cult: Veteran of the Psychic Wars)

    Marvel at the playing and also how the solo is a gorgeous composition.
    All bow down before Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser who stands alone on the peak of Guitar Solo Mountain (though Schenker and the Lizzy Guys visit there too…)

    The best BOC album to begin with is Secret Treaties. You get two masterpieces with Astronomy and Dominance and Submission, and the latter is how it should be with Albert Bouchard’s cracking voice in the lead (he is the drummer, singer, songwriter, co-founder of the band). Astronomy is lush and gorgeous and probably better than anything discussed on this site outside of this post (unless somebody already mentioned Rainbow’s Stargazer, Emperor’s Anthems, Floyd’s Animals or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace). A quirky album and with a lot of drive.

    My favorite BOC album is Spectres, but this is moody and a bit ethereal, a grower, and more about harmonies, layers and atmosphere than the harder Secret Treaties. It has three masterpieces— Nosferatu, I Love the Night and The Golden Age of Leather, and that last tune is a great and complex arrangement to marvel at.

    The easiest album for most people to “get” and like is Fire of Unknown Origin. This was to be the soundtrack for the movie Heavy Metal, and they were committed to modern metal at this period in their career. The Black and Blue tour with Black Sabbath and BOC was around this time. You get Vengeance: The Pact and a tame studio version of Veterans and overall, a solid album produced by Martin Birch.

    The self-titled debut and Cultosaurus should follow these three. The debut is better than Fire & Cultosaurus, but eerie and remote and a bit closer to an eclectic version of the first Sabbath album as performed by the Doors underwater.

  40. Buck Dharma rules and that solo is completely amazing. Though I don’t listen to BOC often, I own 5 or 6 LPs of theirs and love their uniqueness and quirky flair. Secret Treaties, the debut and Cultasuarus are my 3 faves, but Fire of Unknown Origin is also great. And come on Patrick!! Reaper is probably one of the most atmospheric songs and productions I’ve ever heard. Sure it is overplayed on classic rock radio, but still a monstrous song! Don’t get me started on Anthems and Rust in Peace!! Classics!! Never get old.

  41. Nice comments, interesting to peruse. Few quick comments:

    GHOST is all image & hype to me, the music does nothing for me at all. Bands will never go broke catering to the ‘evil christian’ imagery schtick. I wonder how many of their fans used to “do the W” for WITCHERY? 🙂

    The only 2 ‘occult rock’ bands that have clicked with me are THE DEVIL’S BLOOD and JEX THOTH. Yes, both use the ‘spooky front lady’ gimmick, but TDB are very good at writing simple, catchy tunes, and I like the heavy, fuzzy edge JT employs.

    Funeral doom: it can be really good or really boring. I’ve really liked several of EVOKEN’s albums, but beyond that I’ve only found an album here and there that clicked (e.g., SKEPTECISM’s ‘Lead & Aether’).

    PALLBEARER didn’t impress me on first listen, neither did PILGRIM (another much talked about doom release this year). Neither sounded bad, but they sounded rather generic; been here, heard this. My tolerance for soundalike bands has dwindled over the years; I just don’t have any interest in another doom band trying to ape REVEREND BIZARRE.

  42. For the record, Reverend Bizarre rules. I listen to them often. They are unique, heavy as hell, and super quirky.

  43. Reverend Bizarre is my favorite doom band ever. So Long…Suckers is my all time doom favorite, just above Minotauri’s amazing second album, II. When my band (Realmbuilder) received a compliment from from Albert Witchfinder, it made me very, very proud.

  44. Well thanks guys. I am going to dig into Blue Oyster Cult . Appreciate the info. I am going to give Realmbuilder a spin too! Looking forward to 2013…

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