I have liked the beats and I have liked the yelling: end of year roundup

The initial motiviation for taking a look at back at 2010 recently was part personal retropsect, part aversion to the relentless best-of lists we are pounded with at the end of the year. The sense of finality they encourage not only limits our horizons, but discourages deeper dives into recent history. Tens years is not a long time, but it’s long enough to get a better sense of an album’s lasting impact. But the argument could be made that rather than retreading old ground and fannying about with lofty notions of endurance over time, efforts would be better spent shining a brighter light on recent gems. This is especially true after the shocking year music scenes across the world have had to endure.

I have a great deal of sympathy with this point. For that reason I’ve put together this list of top quality releases I have come across since I started Hate Meditations in 2017. I’ve included links to the full write-ups from the ‘I Like the Beats and I Like the Yelling’ review page, and links to the indivudal artist’s Bandcamp pages as ever.

But first a couple of cents on end of the year best of lists in general. Hate Meditations – however clunkily – attempts to treat recorded music as cultural artefacts, not commodites. It’s true that artists live and work in the real (or rather the capitalist) world. Money is a function of that reality. There’s no escaping it. But there’s a difference between acknowledging that reality, and contending that all works are worthy of a baseline level of respect as a result. Criticism should not be a charity, nor a mouthpiece for major record labels with financial clout.

But modernity demands her tributes. The end of the year is no longer defined by ancient festivals to mark the passage of time. Instead it’s a monument to humanity as a consumptive animal. Many large publications throw out lists two months before the year has ended. Invariably made up of acts whose record labels shouted the loudest, whose PR campaign gained the most traction, or simply by older, well known artists phoning in another formulaic set of songs and riding on reputation alone; nothing more than shopping lists for the incurious and acquisitive.

Amidst the noise and band wagon jumping, it’s harder for truly underground offerings to gain traction, to raise their head above ground. So here’s a small (and far from comprehensive) monument to culture worthy of your time, garnered from the music we’ve been enjoying in recent years.

And as ever, thanks to this small band of fellow travellers :

Hate Meditations is dedicated to the global community of underground metal

Ancient Gate: Empire Beyond Dusk

Combines early symphonic black metal with Greek sense of melody, sorrowful yet hopeful epic

AthanaTheos: Prophetic Era (or how Yahveh became the one)

Grand and complex death metal in the tradition of The Chasm or early Septic Flesh

Atvm: Out of Chaotic Waters

A tour of the more ambitious pillars of old school death metal

Boreal: The Battle of VOSAD

Musical journeys, made up of various moods and colours guiding us through landscapes of epic scope

Bovary: Mes Racines dans le Désert

Sparse and sentimental black metal with defiant undertones

Cardiac Arrest: The Day That Death Prevailed

Places the best of old school death metal under the microscope

Condemner: Burning the Decadent

Hard hitting old school death metal that leans heavily on traditional speed metal for its cues, early Slayer through the blender of Sarcofago and Incantation

Condor: El Valle del Condor

A cohesive melting pot of styles, neoclassical doom metal informed by baroque and folk music as much as thrash or black metal

Conjureth: The Levitation Manifest

Dark romanticism in micro firm. Operates somewhere between the chromatic chaos of Deicide’s ‘Legion’ and Northern European output of the early 1990s

Cryptic Shift: Visitations From Enceladus

Like watching an incredibly complex jigsaw puzzle gradually assemble before your eyes. Insanely frantic, yet patient, logical, and intuitive progressive death metal

Damim: A Fine Game of Nil

Atmospheric death metal, leaning toward the technical

Deathmace: Bleeding Frenzy

Surpassing old school death metal worship

Dragkhar: At the Crossroads of Infinity

Death metal founded in traditional heavy metal, informed by a pronounced sense of melody

Felgrave: A Waning Light

Melodic death/doom with a massive attention span

Funereal Presence: Achatius

The original spirit of metal reaches its full potential in Funereal Presence

Goatcraft: Mephistophelian Exordium

Dense and heavy compositions unfold through a dazzling array of classical piano techniques, at once musically sophisticated, achieves oppressive, suffocating atmospheres of gothic horror common to metal styles

Grievance: Em Lucefecit

Channels the spirit of early Burzum

Hexagon: I

Classic thrash riffs put through the morbid blender of a black metal aesthetic

Hor: Exitium

A mesmerising blast of hypnotic, repetitive black metal that squeezes every ounce of tension and drama from simple shifts in riff patterns or tempo

Horrified: Sentinal

A graceful funeral march of mournful death metal supplemented by a Gothenburg bounce

Irillion: Fatanyu

Upbeat yet mournful black metal, invoking both joy and pathos

Insurgency: Militant Death Cult

Old school blackened thrash, absolute bedlam

Into Oblivion: Winds of Serpentine Ascending

Music of epic scope and ambition, patiently stitches together motifs built from highly traditional death metal phrasing and conventional melodic flourishes ripped straight from the playbook of the romantic era in music

Khand: The Sage of Witherthorn

Technically competent and emotionally developed dungeon synth that transcends genre

The Kryptik: Behold Fortress Inferno

Rich, carefully balanced sweeping narratives of cold, melodic black metal

Marthe: Sisters of Darkness

Viking era Bathory reimagined through the lens of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Mefitis: Emberdawn

Some of the most mature and enduring extreme metal of the 21st Century

Megalith Lavitation: Acid Doom

A wholesome slab of murky doom metal

Oath of Cruelty: Summary Execution at Dawn

Old school black/death worship that easily stands out in a crowded field

Of Wounds.: Of Wounds

Atmospheric black metal with unique mastery of diverse inflences

OND: Brutal Skeleton Fist Fight

Subversive and humourous thrash at its finest

Pallas Athena: The Awakening

Symphonic metal with pronounced progressive and Septic Flesh influences

Polemecisit: Zarathustrian Impressions

Frenetic black metal that articulates a finely crafted balance of intellect and will, of Apollo and Dionysus

Sadistic Drive: Anthropophagy

Death metal emanating from Autopsy’s worst fever dreams; absurdity competes with orthodoxy at every turn

Sawticide: The 11th Plague

Fluid and intuitive thrash metal packed with surprises

Siete Lagunas: I & II

Black metal in its rawest form, emerges from the very primordial soup of metallic noise

Slimelord: The Death Delta Sirens

Death/doom with an unorthodox relationship to rhythm and structure

Sombre Heritage: Alpha Ursae Minoris

Balances the riff based and atmospheric approaches to black metal, refreshes styles many swore off twenty years ago

Sometime the Wolf.: From Here and Earth

Epic progressive goth metal in the tradition of Fields of the Nephilim

Sorcier Des Glaces: Un Monde de Glace et de Sang

The beacon of Canadian black metal offers up yet another complex and mature work of pure sonic immersion

Sorta Magora: Nic

Applies a degree of entropy to the funeral doom framework, leaves one floating in a brume of abyssal ambience

Sorgelig: We, the Oblivious

Offers a rich, intuitive, and ultimately more rewarding interpretation of early Darkthrone than the vast majority of their contemporaries

Suhnopfer: Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes

Swedish style blackened death metal, chaotic, unconventionally structured music, with many layers to unpack

Sufferer: Black Metal Warhead

Riff based black metal that plays on melodrama and tension

Tempestarii: Chaos at Feast

Sentimental yet stirring black, life affirming, powerful, and ultimately celebrates the world beyond the individual perspective

Temple of Abraxas: Temples Forlorn

Masterpiece of modern black with unique atmospheres that refuse to be verbally bottled

Thecodontion: Supercontinent

Bass guitar driven grindcore cum free-jazz that collides against idiosyncratic melodies and harmonies, with a unique approach to concept and theme

Transcendence: Towards Obscurities Beyond

Blends Necrophobic with Necromantia, and in the process transcends works of sincere homage into quality and original death metal

Tristwood: Black Crowned Majesty

Industiral blackened grindcore with a unique augmentation of the artificial qualities inherent in each genre

Ultra Silvam: The Spearwound Salvation

An intense melting pot of riff based black metal fusion

Vengeful Spectre: Vengeful Spectre

Intense symphonic black metal with an impressive technical prowess

Widziadlo: Void

Ambient black metal that calls into question the conventional wisdom of the genre to date

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