** Our February 2015 (HERE) issue features a fantastic expose on the upcoming releases of 2015. Here's five crucial releases by killer bands that weren't part of our list. 5. Hate - Crusade:Zero Hate are viewed as underlings to the kingdom Vader built, but over recent years the Warsaw-based trio have come into their own. There's still plenty of "Polish" in their sound---overly tight rhythm sections, guitar tone, riff architecture---but from Morphosis through new album Crvsade:Zero that little bit of coldness (let's not call it "Industrial") has edged Hate from imitaors to originators. From what we've heard already in Crvsade:Zero, clearly Hate aren't settling for second best, regardless of press interest or sways in music trends.
4. Callisto - Secret Youth Callisto waited four thousand years to release the follow-up to widely acclaimed Providence. The, uh, metalgaze Finns made an absolute gem in Providence. It might've been a little long in the proverbial tooth, but the songs---as verbose as they were---kept interest high and Jani Ala-Hukkala's reserved harmonies---though some cringe-worthy---stuck hard to the forefront of the mind. "Rule the Blood" and "New Canaan" were simply awesome. On new album, Secret Youth, the newly crowned Svart Records group have taken some of the "pretty" out. There's a bit more clang and bang and, as a result, Secret Youth takes a bit longer to sink it. Can't wait to hear what it sounds like in November.
3. Necrowretch - With Serpents Scourge French throwback death metallers have almost nobody waiting for the follow-up to Putrid Death Sorcery. The Century Media-signed trio have a cult following but not the gravitas of, say, Evocation or Tribulation (no relation in sound, actually). They sort of exist on an isolated French-speaking island, where daily rituals of beheading goats, soiling crypts, defiling sacrality (is this a word?) are carried out with no real care from the locals. This no man's land has, however, afforded Necrowretch a bit of originality. The group's new album, With Serpents Scourge, is as violent and (moderately) catchy as death metal can be. It's like the ancient gods of Death and Grotesque blessed them with Schuldiner's hand and Wåhlin's vicious vision.
2. Melechesh - Enki Levantine metal! From the most ancient of lands with its storied and sordid histories comes Melechesh. New album, Enki, with lineup changes to boot, sounds massive. It might not be as whipcrackingly smart as Emissaries or The Epigenesis, but it has an aura to it. Like it was meant for a higher purpose. Perhaps it's all the blood, sweat, and ritualistic fire head chief Ashmedi put into his "comeback" album. Songs have already premiered to great applause. But the whole album is positively charming; it's an eye into what it would be like if the Middle East was focused on its musical heritage (and merged with black metal/heavy metal) instead of whatever inane thing it thinks is important to itself and, well, itself.
1. Dødheimsgard - A Umbra Omega There's no question Dødheimsgard lost their minds ages ago. Well, the Norwegians have enough power to piece together their brain puzzle and write another album in A Umbra Omega. The cover art alone looks like it was from the Hydrahead stable. Musically, there's no expectations of Dødheimsgard. It could be (ironically, speaking) off-the-wall normal. Meaning: Dødheimsgard could pull a fast one and write a "normal" album, one without all the hairbrained zaniness and wanton experimentation that's defined the group since mindfuck, 666 International. Not a note has been whispered by either Dødheimsgard or their label, Peaceville, yet. The wait continues...