The less talked about band of Ofermod's frontman (and Serpent Noir's drummer) Belfagor is called Nefandus, an entity I only found out about last year when pottering around on Daemon Worship Prod's Bandcamp looking for new music. Having released one (apparently brilliant) album in '96 and eventually followed it up in 2009, Nefandus are now crafting music of a noticeably more thoughtful and esoteric fashion.
Barshasketh have been toiling and simmering in the underground for some time now, and I've been sort of aware that they're doing my kind of thing but never made a move to confirm it. Their new split with Void Ritual seems as good an opportunity as any, adorned as it is in some pretty irresistible artwork. The two bands have put together a half hour split comprising fresh and exclusive music, in other words the sort of thing that's definitely worth your while if you're already into them as opposed to checking them out for the first time like me. No rehearsal nonsense and what have you.
Exhumation are far from your typical Indonesian death metal band. There's a lot of decent bands in Indonesia and the scene there probably gets a bad rep thanks to the vast number of Suffocation clones (of greatly varying quality). But there's a change in that tropical air - soon after Hellucinate's seminal debut Destroy left a smouldering dent in the archipelagic nation late last year, Exhumation drop a record that's more in line with the likes of Tribulation and Stench.
The Sri Lankans in Serpents Athirst, aside from having a superb band name, are responsible for one of my more anticipated Asian metal releases this year. Somehow they have boiled the ferocity of Impiety and Surrender of Divinity with the wrathful fires of Genocide Shrines and their progenitors, and it is punishing indeed.
Wrathage are a name I've heard here and there for years, probably due to their connection with Kalmah and various other bands in the Finnish underground. However I had no idea just what these guys are capable of; had I heard their last couple of EPs chances are I would have anticipated this album hugely. Discipline is a very tight record, but expansive and towering at the same time. As much as the band fulfill their bio's mission statement of black and death metal in the vein of Emperor and Morbid Angel, the resonance of Arcturus can be detected, as can Wrathage's own unique creative stamp.
I remember quite enjoying Devouring Star's demo just over a year ago, and they couldn't have found a more fitting record label than Daemon Worship to bring their debut album into being. I'm not usually given to talking about labels, especially with underground bands, but Daemon Worship Prod. just has it nailed where it comes to strange and unearthly black metal acts. Through Lung and Heart sucks the light from the room and fills the mind with shadows and inverted tones in much the same manner as its superb cover art. It's a ferocious record that, a bit like the demo, would probably appeal equally to those into Aosoth, and those into Antaeus - an all-round treat for lovers of metal noir Francais, basically. From Finland! This is a far cry from the nation's much-loved and prolific traditional black metal underground.
Katavasia are a new band from Greece with some veteran members, and as their first offering unto the altar of early '90s classic albums by themselves and their contemporaries they have created easily the best album out yet this year. Sacrilegious Testament is an absolute masterpiece of tense riffs and all-consuming atmospheres, sounding as fresh and attainable as it does reminiscent of glories past.
Bloodbath went and changed their whole thing up, and Vomitory done split up followed soon after by Torture Division, and fuck knows where Sanctification have got to. If Carnation are going to keep putting out stuff that sounds like this though then it looks like everything is going to be OK. I don't pretend to be any sort of expert in it, but this is by far and away the best death metal band I've ever heard from Belgium, and they would be even if I had heard other Belgian death metal bands I can remember.
Among those who know and keenly follow the hoary and preternatural Icelandic force that is Svartidauði, The Synthesis of Whore and Beast has been hotly anticipated, with the song 'Venus Illegitima' available for streaming for some time on Bandcamp. The full two-song EP is now out, finally, as either an epilogue to their acclaimed album Flesh Cathedral or a foul omen of what is to come.
Helig, Helig, Helig is the oddly named resurrective casting from Chalice of Blood, orthodox black metal monstrosities out of, unsurprisingly, Sweden. After a fairly quiet beginning to their life they've found themselves amongst the ranks of Daemon Worship Productions' roster, one of the most reliable record labels out there when it comes to twisted and ever darker forms of black metal.