On The Underground Resistance, punk rock takes the passenger seat, with NWOBHM, proto-metal and European and U.S. power metal wrestling for control of the wheel. As soon as the hurtling first track "Dead Early" kicks off, it's clear Darkthrone have returned with a steely vengeance.
The Underground Resistance is exactly the kind of album you can point non-metal fans toward to explain why we love this genre. It strengthens Darkthrone’s already considerable legacy, and their continuing quest to satisfy their artistic vision while ignoring all external pressures underscores the album’s uproarious appeal.
Vexovoid's primordial torrents are a genuine test of your mettle. That’s why Portal are an acquired taste, which is as it should be; they aren't safe fodder for the dull-eyed masses. It opens with "Kilter" and "Black Wards" crawling from the abyss, and it's immediately apparent that Portal's technicality is buried even deeper in a cavernous swarm of deranged noise.
Being frightened by things that go bump in the night is inherent in all of us, a fact Portal exploits to full effect. Vexovoid leaves you clutching at the last vestiges of your sanity. It's an album that takes you on a torturous, labyrinthine journey, eventually dragging you howling into pits of rotting despair. It’s about as deathly as death metal can get. It is, of course, outstanding, and a hellishly effective purgative.
Pinnacle Of Bedlam contains several bona fide classics. Songs such as the monstrous opener “Cycles Of Suffering,” “As Grace Descends” and the title track have the potential to become live set mainstays that could rival the stature of “Liege Of Inveracity” and “Infecting The Crypts.”
It would be hard to characterize an album released by a band that has been around for decades as a landmark. Nonetheless, Pinnacle Of Bedlam is already going to be hard to top in death metal this year, and I would fully expect the album to land in numerous “Best Of 2013” lists.
Youngblood is a startling surprise. Gone are Audrey Horne's quasi-metal meanderings and post-grunge gloom, and rushing to the fore is a collection of triumphant anthems that recall the monsters of rock that stalked stadiums around the world during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Each of Youngblood’s 10 songs are worthy of wide-eyed adoration, and through immense songwriting, killer hooks and heroic musicianship, Audrey Horne have re-imagined themselves as one of this century’s few essential hard rock bands. Youngblood is a revelation; believe this hype.
Like a newborn Great White shark, Devourment’s Conceived In Sewage swims into the world an immediate danger, proving to be even more aggressive and predatory than their crushing 2009 release Unleash the Carnivore.
Migrating beyond the call of their guttural-slam stomping grounds, Conceived In Sewage bears witness to an informed Devourment, a truly wolfish and veteran death metal outfit. Gorged with punishing hooks and a wide and devastating production, record standouts include the inexorable “50 Ton War Machine” and the ultra-heavy “Parasitic Eruption,” hard evidence in proving that Devourment’s fourth full-length progeny is a Texas-sized serial killer.