Nine times out of ten, when faced with the option to listen to a band I enjoy’s brand-spankin’ new album or to their shitty old demos from six years ago, I’ll go with the latter.  Don’t get me wrong — metal in 2011 is a many-headed, constantly evolving beast whose progress is fascinating to observe; I’m into tons of newer bands, and love discovering killer new releases. However, at the end of the day, when I’ve finally got a few minutes to myself, I’m going to be listening to Necros Christos’ Black Mass Desecration demo from 2003 or my battered old Celtic Frost records, not whatever new jam is buzzing its way through the blogosphere that week (no matter how awesome it may prove itself to be). There’s no place like home.

I also spent a helluva lot of time listening to my friends’/boyfriend’s bands, so color me a bit biased (though honestly, what writer isn’t?).

These basic truths about my listening habits make compiling year-end lists an absolute shitshow, so I suppose Axl’s asking me to haul one out mid-year will serve as a good trial run for the inevitable horrors ahead.

That being said, here are the albums I’ve been listening to the most. I’ve already written about a few of them, so no big surprises await. Read ‘em and weep.


40 WATT SUN – The Inside Room (Cyclone Empire/Metal Blade)
I’ve already waxed romantic about the power of 40 Watt Sun’s music here and here. Can’t wait to catch them on tour in September!

ALTAR OF PLAGUES – Mammal (Profound Lore/Candlelight)
Witnessing this album evolve from rough demos into glorious finality was an amazing experience. AOP continue and improve upon their record of creating mesmerizing, meticulously-crafted black metal imbued with the spirit of the land and steeped in ancient lore. Call it “post-black metal” if you like; I’m just going to keep on calling it “perfect.”

WRECK OF THE HESPERUS – Light Rotting Out (Aesthetic Death)
Disgusting, bludgeoning Irish funeral doom. More words on ‘em here.

NEGATIVE PLANE – Stained Glass Revelations (Invictus Productions/AJNA Offensive)
NYC’s best black metal band. And again.

ABSU – Abzu (Candlelight)
Absu exemplify USBM’s old school, the traditional and the esoteric, and stay true to their bloody roots. They worship the old gods, and have been around long enough to call them peers. Their latest album, Abzu, is an exercise in black thrash supremacy. Proscriptor’s still got it — not like that comes as any surprise.

BARGHEST – s/t (Gilead Media)
Cold, orthodox-minded black metal from Baton Rouge. This is, simply put, a fucking great black metal record. Nothing less, and quite a bit more. Follow the freezing moon.

THE ATLAS MOTH – An Ache for the Distance (Profound Lore)
My favorite Chicagoans are back with another heaping helping of mind-melting, genre-bending doomantia. Psychedelic in a we-actually-take-drugs kind of way, worshipful of the almighty riff yet more than willing to go out on a limb and get weird. This record is going to turn some heads.

WOLVHAMMER – The Obsidian Plains (Profound Lore)
Bleak, moody blackened metal from a bunch of tattooed Midwestern miscreants that chose to bury their filthy rock’n’roll swagger beneath layers of grim distortion and desolate doom. The swampy sludge of their older material has crystallized into sharp, deadly black ice.

FALLS OF RAUROS – The Light That Dwells in Rotton Wood (Bindrune)
I am a sucker for bands like this – melancholy, delicate, blissfully intense. Post-black metal is one of my favorite newer permutations of the genre, and Falls of Rauros have got it down to a T. Think more Panopticon than ‘Panzerfaust’ here.

FALSE – s/t (Gilead Media/Howling Mine)
Chaotic, jagged, yet unabashedly atmospheric black metal that embraces an almost classical approach to ritual butchery without sacrificing the savagery or betraying their orthodox roots. A joint release between impeccably turned-out wax fiends Gilead Media and Bryan Funck (Thou)’s new effort, Howling Mine – you know it’s gotta be good.

AKSUMITE – The Gleam of Wetted Lips (Colloquial Sound Recordings)
Raw, lo fi, merciless black metal. Punk as fuck, ugly as sin, anti-human, anti-life. Fans of Bone Awl, Ash Borer, and Infernal Stronghold, this is your shit.

NECROS CHRISTOS – Doom of the Occult (Sepulchral Voice/Ván/AJNA Offensive)
The old stuff is better (seriously listen to Trivne Impvrity Rites – it’s a masterwork ov death) but this German horde’s latest offering is still a totally solid effort. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and the lads didn’t disappoint.

Aside from the ten listed above, I’ve also been really enjoying the new (and final) Caina record, as well as new/upcoming releases from Witch Mountain, Seidr, Morbus Chron, Batillus, USX, Nux Vomica, Peste Noire, Cormorant, Battlefields, Cannabis Corpse, Avichi, The Gates of Slumber, On Pain of Death, Wolves in the Throne Room, Balaclava, and Conqueror (who haven’t actually put out a new album at all, but just reissued their classic War Cult Supremacy album in a super-sweet Nuclear War Now! diehard edition). And no, I haven’t heard the Mitochondrion or Sonne Adam records yet (I dug the latter’s Armed With Hammers 7”, but haven’t gotten around to checking out the full-length) so don’t start. Also, recommend me some things (and for the love of all things unholy, please don’t suggest All Shall Perish or anything djenty).


Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) scribbles for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Brooklyn Vegan, Invisible Oranges, Hails & Horns, and tons more), promotes wicked records with Catharsis PR, and road dogs for your favorite bands. Keep up with her exploits & numerous band recommendations on Twitter, or peep her blog Ravishing Grimness.

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