Although they have been around since the turn of the millennium, the past few years have been incredible for Polish label Agonia Records. A staggering amount of unhinged black and death metal acts have recently joined their ranks and rocketed them to be among the elite European labels. Their releases are no stranger to the annals of Metal Bandcamp, but there’s simply too many great albums to cover in depth, so I thought I would detail a few of my favorites.
|Cover art by Necromantic Art|
Stench was the side-project of Tribulation members Jonathan and Johannes, and it really shows. Their spaced-out take on death metal clearly carries over here, but it’s a bit more to the point than in their other gig. Nowhere near as proggy or psychedelic, Ventures still uses the similar eerie guitar tones and focus on intrigue to result in a sound that’s more ethereal than deadly. And at 38-minutes, it’s a relatively easy romp through the fucked up minds of these dastardly Swedes. There may be fewer memorable melodies and drug-induced bridges, but their unique songwriting still made Stench one of the more interesting death metal projects around.
|Cover art by Benjamin A. Vierling|
I’ll admit, I completely skipped over this one when it was released in 2013. Despite the phenomenal reviews, I was simply too overwhelmed by the band's back catalog, reputation, and the length of IV: Arrow in Heart to take the dive. But now that the dust has settled and I've had some time to reflect, it becomes clear why Aosoth is lauded as one of the top French black metal acts. Maybe not quite as out there or experimental as some of their other countrymen, they are still a force to be reckoned with. The song lengths lend themselves to atmospheric black metal, while the beefy production parts of the songwriting are death metal through and through. The result is a staggering onslaught of never-ending twists and turns through a journey of devilish proportions. Epic in scope and execution, IV is wrapped in a miasma of poisonous fog that’s addicting as it is sinister.
|Cover art by Kjetil Nystuen|
This Norwegian Black Thrash band has flown largely under the radar since they formed almost twenty years ago. The war-obsessed old schoolers throw in everything you want out of the genre; fun riffs, ridiculous solos, songs of battle, and a never-ending feeling that they need to pay constant homage to Venom and Motorhead. Galloping through Fields of Rot is a joy as S.A. Destroyer pummels you with his classic 80s screams. Equal parts Slayer and Marduk, the songs aren’t exactly diverse, but their ripping power is undeniable. This style can be very hit and miss and this 2007 album was likely the high point of the band’s career, but Fields of Rot goes to show that when done right, worshipping the first wave of black metal is a battle worth fighting.