January 10, 2020

Big riffs. Big smiles. The Riff Spreader Best of 2019

[Riff Spreader is a Twitter account run by a friend of Metal Bandcamp (he wrote a few reviews for us years ago). Riff Spreader is "Music recs for the discerning metalhead. No fash trash. Just righteous riffs", which is a purpose we can get behind.
[Riff Spreader is a Twitter account run by a friend of Metal Bandcamp (he wrote a few reviews for us years ago). Riff Spreader is "Music recs for the discerning metalhead. No fash trash. Just righteous riffs", which is a purpose we can get behind. Here's his massive best of 2019 list, look for more Riff Spreader related posts in the future.]

Artwork by Sludgework

2019 was the year of “Caveman Shit,” 20 Buck Spin finally realizing its potential as the best death metal label on the planet, discovering a bunch of artists you loved dearly are Nazis, Mariusz Lewandowski, cosmic death metal, Déhà, and – perhaps most importantly – Riff Spreader.

We made it, y’all. With a whole fucking ass load of incredible music. I tried to make this a small curated list, but 2019 was a year of so many great albums, it almost made it impossible for anything to stand out and break away from the pack. Ignore the rankings and LET'S GO!

50. Hagetisse - De Reis Van Vernielde Zielen
Low key Mories' best black metal endeavor.

49. Misertus - Coil
3 albums in 4 months, but this was my fave. Another prolific force in blackgaze.

48. Green Lung - Woodland Rites
This was the best stoner album of the year, hands down. So much groove. So ear-wormy.

47. Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance
Listened again and this is probably too low on my list. Tons of killer riffs. I just liked Manor of Infinite Forms way more.

46. Acathexis - Acathexis
Technically released at the end of December 2018, but this is too good not to recognize. Incredible black metal from Déhà and Jacob Buczarski (Mare Cognitum).

45. Haunter - Sacramental Death Qualia
Nobody did weirdo blackened death metal better in 2019. I haven't spinned this one as much as I wanted to, so I suspect this ranking will only go up.

44. Nekroí Theoí - Dead Gods
As a former Evangelical Christian, I relate so hard to JJ Polachek's spiritual journey. It also doesn't hurt that his gutturals bend space/time and the band fucking destroys.

43. Musmahhu - Reign of the Odious
An overlooked death metal gem in the over-crowded sweaty throngs of OSDM bands crawling out of their swampy caves this year. Technically a 2017 release re-issued in December 2018, but I'm counting it. I make the rules.

42. Renounced - Beauty Is A Destructive Angel
My little Poison The Well loving heart couldn't believe what it was hearing. A potent distillation of everything I loved about late 90s/early 00s melodic hardcore/metalcore.

41. Blut Aus Nord - Hallucinogen
Blut Aus Nord is good at everything they do. Full stop.

40. Kaatayra - Nascido Sob o Signo Incivilizatório
Antifascist, atmospheric black metal from Brazil that deftly sidesteps the pit falls of this increasingly dull sub genre. This one never gets boring.

39. Déhà - Cruel Words
Déhà had quite a productive year, but nothing else of his made my head swim like this one. Perhaps that's why he used his namesake and not another pseudonym. A breathtaking combo of funeral doom, DSBM, and ambience.

38. Nucleus - Entity
I've been slow to warm up to Nucleus, but the mind-bending cosmic riffs driving Entity beyond the stratosphere cannot be denied for long. I came around quickly, speakers blasting.

37. Vale of Pnath - Accursed
It's a testament to their immense talent that they were able to convincingly make a hard turn from the pure tech death of their first 2 albums and steer directly into the waters of black metal without losing who they are.

36. Dawn Ray'd - Behold Sedition Plainsong
The darlings of antifascist black metal, and for good reason. They're not the best in the game, but no one is more inspirational to the movement.

35. Marsh Dweller - Wanderer
Quite a surprising change in direction - from melodic death metal to a daring post-metal opus. The craftsmanship on display from the monster riffs to the atmospheric passages to even the guitar tone is evident.

34. Creeping Death - Wretched Illusions
This was the crossover album of the year. No one else except maybe Witch Vomit was able to lift my spirits and get my head banging after a shitty day at work. Big riffs. Big smiles.

Speaking of Witch Vomit...

33. Witch Vomit - Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave
The award for most fun death metal album of 2019 goes to Witch Vomit. It's nothing new, but it doesn't need to be if you're able to do the old with this much charisma.

32. Zealotry - At The Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds
It took me a long time to "get" this album, but it kept drawing me back with each listen and became part of my routine listening habit without me even realizing it. It's alive.

31. Have A Nice Life - Sea of Worry
Dan Barrett is a genius. I have intensely loved every piece of music he's ever touched. I haven't spent a lot of time with Sea of Worry, but each spin reveals more and more to love.

30. Wishfield - Wishfield
The album starts out as post-black metal and then suddenly evolves into a heavy alt-rock/shoegaze concoction. There's a lot of aggression and beauty to be found here. A truly unique album that I've come back to a lot.

29. Falls of Rauros - Patterns In Mythology
Falls of Rauros just know how to do the damn thing. They get better with each release, though it's hard to imagine topping the atmospheric black metal perfection of Patterns in Mythology.

28. Mystagogue - And The Darkness Was Cast Out Into The Wilderness
Featuring members of Laster and Gnaw Their Tongues, Mystagogue creates visceral, aggressive black metal wrapped in the sheen of blackgaze. A rapturously hammering experience.

27. Beastwars - IV
It is an injustice that Beastwars has not blown up by now. Meaty, sludgy stoner doom that rivals any of the bigger bands today hawking that sound. But alas, they are only headlining in my car.

26. Wounds of Recollection - You Were A Garden of Empyrean Light
I've been following Wounds of Recollection for a few years, but never expected this. Conjuring early Deafheaven but with a songwriting maturity not found in those releases, this is top shelf blackgaze.

25. Ghostwriter - Burial Grounds
This album is so beautiful. It reminds me of the first time I heard Mazzy Star or "Heaven or Las Vegas" by Cocteau Twins. Plus the artwork is stunning.

24. Caїna - Gentle Illness
An album so personal it feels like trespassing at times. Gentle Illness is a post black metal journey through mental anguishes as diverse as the instruments, noises, and soundscapes that bring them to life.

23. Smoulder - Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring
Trad/epic doom that crawled into my brain and lodged itself there like a parasite on horseback. I played the hell out of this album in the shower for some reason.

22. Epectase - Astres
Astres initially presents itself as a jaunty 2nd wave black metal album, but then things get very interesting. Sure, it's black metal. But it's also 70's prog rock. And it fucking works.

21. Hath - Of Rot and Ruin
Another stellar death metal release in the vein of Where Owls Know My Name and Esoteric Malacology, and very much on the same level as those two juggernauts. I'm very much enjoying this trend in tech death.

20. Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze - Offerings of Flesh and Gold
Antifascist, anticapitalist black metal that means fucking business. Relentlessly driving black metal riffs and blast beats that wash away into dark ambient passages. Let this one soak.

19. Organectomy - Existential Disconnect
A masterclass in slamming brutal death metal. This one came out in June and it's still in almost daily rotation. Most of the slam I get into fizzles after a couple of weeks. This one has staying power.

18. None - Damp Chill of Life
There was a noticeable lack of DSBM in my diet this year. Blackgaze sort of took over everything. But None makes the case for quality over quantity. Even if I only listened to one DSBM album all year, this was enough.

17. Vukari - Aevum
Imagine how high this album would be on my list if it wasn't so uneven. Even with its flaws, it remains one of my favorite black metal albums of 2019. When it's on, it's fucking ON.

16. Storm of Sedition - Howl of Dynamite
Crusty anarchist black metal that stomps on the gas and does not let up. This shit gives me life and makes me feel invincible. Anarchy and total fucking destruction!

15. Horror God - Cursed Seeds
No other tech death album in 2019 bent my brain quite like this one. There are so many good things going on here it demands spin after spin after spin, and you will happily oblige.

14. Spirit Adrift - Divided by Darkness
After Curse of Conception, I was slightly disappointed by what I believed to be a sophomore slump for Spirit Adrift. Turns out I was hilariously wrong. Seeing the band play this live was a religious experience.

13. Iapetus - The Body Cosmic
This will surely go down in history as a progressive death metal classic, if only within the small circle of the fortunate few who have discovered and loved them so far. Spread the good news, ye faithful.

12. Superstition - The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
I think it's perhaps the most underappreciated release among a slew of incredible releases from 20 Buck Spin this year. I love these goddamn riffs.

11. Devourment - Obscene Majesty
These pioneers of brutal death metal have not lost a single step in their 20 years of existence. I hope detailed notes are being taken by the younguns in the back.

10. Fit For An Autopsy - The Sea of Tragic Beasts
If you're surprised that a deathcore album is in my top 10, it's because you haven't listened to this one. But I have. Over and over and over and over again. It's powerful, thrilling, and massive.

9. Violet Cold - Kosmik
Violet Cold just keeps getting better and soaring higher. I feel like I've been strapped to a rocket every time I hit play on this album.

8. Cloud Rat - Kosmik
Cloud Rat are grindcore heroes in that even people who don't like grindcore love Cloud Rat. Pollinator is their best effort yet, and that's saying a whole fucking lot. Just stellar in every way.

7. Cosmic Putrefaction - At The Threshold of the Greatest Chasm
Pure cosmic brutality from an artist who mainly traffics in atmosphere yielded probably the most eerie death metal album of the year. No other death metal I heard this year felt like this.

6. Venom Prison - Samsara
Venom Prison has been honing their craft for 4 years, growing more potent with each release until they finally blew the doors off with Samsara. Pummeling, relentless, dense, hostile, and 100% unfuckwithable death metal.

5. Trespasser - Чому не вийшло?
This is, hands down, the best anarchist black metal - pure black metal - I've ever heard. A new bar has been set for this burgeoning sub genre - one that must be cleared by all comers if the genre hopes to thrive.

4. Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race
This would've been number 1 if there was more there there. Still, Blood Incantation is one of the great hopes for the future of death metal, and the hype is warranted.

3. Funereal Presence - Achatius
Funereal Presence crafts metal - not just black metal, even if that is the dominant genre expressed here - teeming with creativity and bold songwriting. It's impossible to distill into a tweet. It must be experienced.

2. Vastum - Orificial Purge
Vastum is on another plane right now. Their brutally dark death/doom is at once familiar and horrifyingly strange. Their influence is widely heard but impossible to imitate because the essence of the music is inextricably entwined with its singularly-minded creators. No one else is doing this because no one else CAN do this.

1. Sadness - I Want To Be There

Sadness is impossibly prolific. If you stop keeping up with his Bandcamp page for more than a couple of months you'll likely find you've missed 2 full length albums. Most artists who release music at this speed suffer from a common malady - an inability to edit. The patently false notion that everything they create deserves to be shared with an audience.

Sadness, however, does not fall into that category. Everything this motherfucker puts out is worth listening to, and the majority of it is as good or better than most post-black/DSBM on Bandcamp. With this in mind, imagine how good one of those releases would have to be to rise so far above its stellar companions as to merit a number one ranking on a 50 album list.

These songs ooze an aesthetic quality that starts the listener out on a frighteningly high plane. The songwriting does the rest. The compositions swell and heave their way upward to dizzying heights, take a moment to acknowledge the view, and then launch into an almost disorienting and exhausting crescendo that completely wrings every ounce of beauty and pain out of a song that a mere mortal can bear.

It's good, is what I'm trying to say.

And that's the end! Phew! I hope you discover something here that you love. And, as always, please support the artists.
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