ONE: BLACK MONOLITH – Passenger
What Gary Bettencourt has accomplished on his first full-length (essentially a solo album, since he is the only member of this one man band), is the shit that leaves you in total awe and wonder. Black Monolith is the best blackened crust band in the world right now, and the fact that the project never has live shows and that the man behind it is a shy and timid person who never steps into the spotlight just makes this project so much more fascinating and captivating. The songs on this debut LP are pure fury, and the atmosphere, songwriting and imagination shown in the album are just pure fucking magic. Not only BY FAR, the best release the Bay has seen this year, but Passenger is one of the best releases of the year PERIOD. Read the full review here.
TWO: LARVAE – Grave Descent
Best blackened death-doom release in the Bay and beyond this year, hands down, with out a shadow of a doubt. Larvae have worked for some two years on this release and the final result, their debut album appropriately titled Grave Descent is a monolith of towering darkness and surging hate. Fans of Early Katatonia and Paradise Lost, Asphyx, early My Dying Bride and Disembowelment are gonna lose their shit over this LP that is coming soon on Parasitic Records. Read the full album review here.
THREE: CARDINAL WYRM – Black Hole Gods
Weird, dark, twisted, surreal and suffocating, Oakland’s Cardinal Wyrm have disfigured doom metal with this amazing second album and taken the genre just fucking beyond. Blending ancient doom in the vein of Cathedral, Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre and Pentagram and blending it with surreal baroque elements, filthy sludge and a really fucked up sense of humor akin to the Melvins, but even more fucking weird, Cardinal Wyrm have crafted a doom album that stands completely on its own, and that you will not be able to fully grasp or categorize for the life of you. This album is so amazing it got the band signed to none other than Svart Records straight out the gate, and the label will have physical copies of it for sale sometime in 2015. Read the full album review here.
FOUR: NECROT – The Abyss
Punishing, vile, filthy, winding and out of control old school death metal from this stellar trio formed by current and past members of Acephalix, Lawless, Vastum, Caffa, Bruxers and Saviours. Necrot takes the power and intensity of Dead Congregation, Incantation, Autopsy and Nihilist and blends it with the brutality and dirt of crust punk to materialize something that is so pulverizing and filthy, but groovy and memorable, that it is almost impossible to resist its devastating grasp. Read the full album review here.
FIVE: GLOAM – Vanquished
Gloam hail from Santa Cruz, and their music is the opposite of the sunny shores it was birthed upon – it is just a complete overload of misery and desolation, with Vanquished being the best cassette release in the Bay this year. Their blackened doom is miserable, withdrawn and plague-ridden, life and light are chased away by this band’s music, and in their place shadows and loss reign unchallenged, filling your ears with the sound of a million howling graves. If you like black metal to be epic, shape-shifting, desolate and slowed down to a hallucinating coma, then this band is for you. Read the full album review here.
SIX: FEMACOFFIN - Self-titled EP
Pillaging, belligerent war-injected crust for fans of Hellshock, Totalitar, Antisect, Skitsystem, Napalm Raid, Dystopia and Skaven. Femacoffin are the Bay’s #1 crust band, hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, and it could not be any way different considering that this band rose from the ashes of the mighty Stormcrow and features two of its members plus another member of the Bay’s notorious death metal skull bashers Scolex. What’s cool about Femacoffin is that their filthy, rat-infested, putrefied punk-metal sounds both memorably traditional and timeless and modern, fresh, engaging and extremely captivating. This band has just begun, and we already can not wait to see what the fuck they will unleash next.