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The land of extreme metal is vast and without a guiding path it is easy to get lost in the endless sea of new releases and bands. Especially if you are only interested in the sounds that could be Into the Coven (meaning, extreme metal with a prevalent traditional metal structure underneath), finding upcoming artists might look like a daunting task. We thought that highlighting some contemporary bands who have yet to release their debut full-length albums might help readers find a new artist to follow, revisit a band whose first demo they heard a while ago, or just collect the young and new bands they are familiar with in one place.
Firstly, we will look at two bands that could not make the cut for this if the article would come out a few months later. These two bands are on the verge of having their first full-length album released and personally I am very hopeful that both those albums will be even better than what they had to offer so far. After those two, we will list 10 underground bands with various black/heavy metal sounds that you might want to keep an eye on for the future.
Apprentices in the Coven
There is a church on Rhode Island. In the church is a lone man worshiping Mortuary Drape. Going deep into the bass-heavy occult sound of Italian weird black metal masters, while also including some indirect Hellenic black metal in the mix, Cemetery Lights is a solo project of an individual aptly named The Corpse. In 2018, he released two demos and Nuclear War Now! was quick to get him on board. He was joined by Witch King members to play live, too. Cemetery Lights’ debut full-length, The Underworld, is coming out on NWN! this month and you can hear the full album premiere here. It looks like the band will keep being one of the most promising contemporary bass-heavy occult black metal bands for fans of Mortuary Drape and Necromantia.
German black/speed metal bands still keep going with full force as they have ever been in the past. Diabolic Night are one of the contemporary ones carrying that banner. Existing in the same circles with other young German heavy metal bands like Luzifer or Vulture, while also owning the underground label Mortal Rite Records who released early tapes of bands like Lunar Shadow or Outlaw, Diabolic Night definitely have a strong underground presence and their demo and EP have been getting quite a bit of interest. Just like Cemetery Lights, this is the last time they can be featured in such an article as this because their debut full-length album, Beyond the Realm, is coming this November from High Roller and it is possibly going to be one of the best black/speed metal releases of the year.
Future Apostles of the Occult
With an album cover that definitely stands out and catches the eye, Hexenbrett from Germany take the bouncy, galloping black/heavy sound of Master’s Hammer and run it through their own filter to come up with a sharper and more minimalistic structure. Small synth touches and non-English lyrics wrap up the heavy metal riffage and solos to complete the package. If they increase the presence of bass guitar for a potential full-length, they might perfectly nail that old school occult black metal atmosphere. Their only output so far, Erste Beschwörung, is one of the most promising demos of recent times. Ending of the second track, “Toter Schrei” is the most unexpected part of the demo for the initial listen.
Listening: Erste Beschwörung
If you are familiar with Chevalier already, it should come as no surprise that these people can write pure old school heavy metal. Demon’s Gate from Finland has two Chevalier members, Mikko and Tommi, in its roster and this time they are following the path of old school black / heavy metal. After several songs on demos they released a split 7” with Malokarpatan, which was naturally one of the best pairings in recent metal history.
I am actually not sure if they will write more material for this band, but I only wish that including them here in this list will hopefully somehow magically push them into writing more. Because their material is a necessary listen for fans of “dark” metal like Master’s Hammer and we all could do with more in that vein.
If “underground metal from Chile” does not immediately grab your attention, let me try this: “Judas Priest by way of black metal”. Gonza Riquelme Esquivel, also known as Baal, was not kidding when he named his project Demonized Priest. This EP has the evil energy of early Slayer and tempo and guitar leads of Judas Priest. “Impure and blasphemous speed black metal” that reminds me of early Kat, too.
Listening: Sadistic Torture
Cult of Eibon
From the contemporary Hellenic black metal bands, Cult of Eibon are possibly the one staying most true to the origins of the sound. Consisting of people well into the local scene with extensive experience, the band does not try to reinvent the Hellenic wheel. Even though they had an EP that is short of a regular full-length album with its over 30 minutes runtime, they technically haven’t debuted their first album yet. Their EPs with heavy use of werewolf and other horror themes are followed by a 7″ split with their countrymen Caedes Cruenta (a match made in Elysian Fields). One of the most promising new bands for fans of old stalwarts of the sound like Varathron or old Rotting Christ.
Malleus drink from the chalice of Hellhammer directly, and unsurprisingly that chalice smells of old coffins, rusty dungeons, and old school black metal. One of the best modern Hellhammer worship acts, Malleus from US make sure to add their own identity into the sound. They are also not afraid of writing longer songs (7-8 minutes) and it works just perfectly even though their style is very primitive and barebones old school black metal. If they do not also follow the footsteps of Hellhammer to the point of “disbanding into another band” before releasing a full-length, their new material will be something to keep an eye on.
It is well established that Hellenic black metal overall is directly of interest for heavy metal listeners. The sound has been on the rise again lately, and some of the modern bands have their own take of the classic sound. Goat Synagogue take the formula just a bit away from the heavy metal influences to the lands of lo-fi black metal from around ’91. The underlying structure is still traditional metal infused black metal of Greece if you can get used to the production.
Similar to Goat Synagogue mentioned above, Ithaqua take Hellenic black metal sound to the raw side of things. Their main band, Caedes Cruenta, is one of the most important torchbearers of the old school sound. While their side project Ithaqua does not have as much material, it is still very promising on its own and it definitely deserves at least one full-length in their style of very early archaic Hellenic black metal.
You like Midnight, burning guitars on stage, throwing your cup of beer around, and that general direction of sleazy black/heavy/speed metal. You might also wonder what it would be like if Midnight were rawer / more lo-fi. Bleeder have the answer for you. Even though the main member of the band has been busy with her solo medieval black metal project Hulder lately (also very promising, albeit out of the scope here), I can only hope that they will have more energetic, angry lo-fi black/heavy metal with Bleeder.
Listening: Time to Die…
Plaguestorm from Sweden released one of the most overlooked EPs in 2018. Their style is admittedly somewhat more aggressive than the others mentioned in this article. Plaguestorm build their speed metal edge on top of a Katharsis-like frantic black metal foundation. Their sharp but smooth leads keep the aggression in check with small flourishes of melody throughout their releases.
Listening: Eternal Throne
Following the dark, melodic, and necromantic path of Hellenic black metal from overseas; Tartarus Gate is the solo project of one of the US occult black metal band Apochryphal Revelation members. Apochryphal Revelation walk on the steps of Hellenic forefathers of occult black metal from ’90s with a healthy dose of Mortuary Drape added into the mix and they already had their debut full-length in 2017. Whereas Tartarus Gate keeps things just a bit rawer and aims to catch the mystic of early demos of Rotting Christ or Varathron. The first and only demo was released by cult underground label Barbarian Wrath.
Listening: Night of the Goat