UK

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Following a 5 year break after their debut release, Slabdragger have concocted a follow up that is worth the long wait. For the uninitiated, the band name gives away the style pursued by this UK based power trio; slow, heavy music that trudges at a measured pace. ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ comes off as a well rounded affair that makes use of the best elements of bluesy stoner metal, doom metal and sludge. The lines differentiating these styles are blurred on this record and the result is giant monolithic album that spans over an hour long, which manages to keep the listener tuned in without imparting a sense of fatigue.

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Recent death metal releases from the likes of Horrendous, Tribulation and Morbus Chron (R.I.P) have done a solid ob of taking inspirations from the old school while adding their own unique and often progressive touches. Another band that follows a similar approach to their music is the UK based De Profundis. Starting out as a doom metal band, De Profundis have been shedding their doom influences over the course of their releases and on their latest release ‘Kingdom of the Blind’ the band comes off as a pure progressive death metal band that has influences stemming from the early days of the style.

De Profundis Kingdom of the Blind

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Black metal’s fascination with grim forests is well known and bands like Drudkh and Raventale have perfected the art of creating atmospheric black metal that resonates the whispers in the woods. Perhaps it’s the nihilistic outlook of the genre in general which causes it to be a perfect fit as a theme for old, desolate forests. Old Forest from the UK keep no secrets about their love for the woods, with the band name inspired by a primordial forest from Tolkien’s middle earth. ‘Dagian’ is the band’s third full length (their second after they regrouped in 2007) that consists of four atmospheric black metal tracks that would serve as the ideal music for trekking through the wilderness on a cold winter day.

Old Forest Dagian

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It’s not often that one comes across some progressive black metal. While the progressive term often finds itself attached to genres like death metal, heavy metal, power metal etc, black metal is usually prefixed with terms like avant-garde and experimental. While one might argue that progressive black metal does exist in stuff like the later Emperor records, the early Ihsahn albums and the early albums of bands like Deathspell Omega, these albums are never credited as progressive black metal. It is understandable as progressive metal and black metal are polar opposites in terms of their themes and execution. While progressive metal relies on complex structuring and technical playing, black metal emphasises on nihilism which is reflected in the music and production aspects as well. Glasgow based Maelstrom attempt to combine these two on their latest full length ‘Sunlight’, leading to some interesting results

Maelstrom Sunlight

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There used to be a time when blackened metal music actually striked fear in the hearts of the listeners. As years passed however, having Satanic lyrics just doesn’t cut it anymore and more often than not, one can easily tell if the band in question is using occult theme as just a gimmick. When it comes to the debut album ‘Genesis’, from Scotland based Lunar Mantra, the music sounds genuinely dark and mystic. The shrouded image of the band members only adds more intrigue to the band, leading me to wonder if the esoteric and occult topics presented on the album are more than just a show.

Lunar Mantra Genesis

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