December 23, 2018

Trevor Proctor's Top 25 Albums of 2018.

Year end listings are a regular feature here at The Lair of Filth and whether or not you're a fan of them they make for compulsive reading as no two lists are ever the same and I feel they are an excellent way to check any releases you may have missed during the year.
This is now my fifth album listing and as ever this year has been very productive in terms of extreme music releases, which has made it as difficult as ever for me to keep my list to 25. As always I've tied three releases for the number one spot as they are impossible to separate with regards to the standard of music.
As with all articles here, if there's red text it's a link to the relevant band or label and this year if the album title is highlighted in red the applicable link will bring you straight to where you can purchase it - I have also included streams from EVERY release so there's plenty of listening for you in the article below. 

2018 was the third consecutive year I've been wholly responsible for selecting, creating and publishing all articles and I've enjoyed it more than ever. I had the pleasure of creating a huge artist profile with the legend that is Mark Riddick, who was also generous enough to design a logo and Facebook profile picture for The Lair of Filth. We also had a number of exclusive track and album streams during the year which were both a pleasure and privilege to host - huge thanks and appreciation to the labels and promoters who helped arrange them.

I'd like to take this chance to thank every band, label and promoter that has supported The Lair of Filth during the year - as with previous years existing ties have been strengthened whilst new ties and alliances have been formed, all of which are massively appreciated. I would also like to thank Jude for continuing to trust me with the site.

I would also like to thank my fiancee, Audrey - not only for sticking the abuse I constantly subject her ears to during the year but also for being there for me, no matter what, through thick and thin - you've got my back and you're my rock, and always will be...

Finally, and most importantly, I'd like to thank you, the reader, for your unending support. Our audience continues to grow at a very satisfying rate, as does our Facebook presence and whether you're new to the site or have been reading it for years your presence and support are very much appreciated.
Every view on the site means a lot to me and without your support there wouldn't be a site - so THANK YOU ALL very, very much - I'm eternally grateful!

A band whose pedigree of membership speaks for itself - some of the best musicians from our underground combine to bring us one of the year's essential listens...

From one of Ireland's finest bands - 'The Futile Fires of Man' by Slidhr is the follow up to 2013's debut album, 'Deluge.'

Denmark's Taphos is a band I've been following since their first release, 'Demo MMXVI,' - a band whose music is of a high enough standard that it landed the number four place in my EP listing for 2017 with only their second physical release - 'EP MMXVII.' 

When it comes to this style of Black Metal A Forest of Stars is unbeaten. Theatrical tales from a band that's one of the greatest storytellers of recent times - a journey from start to finish, 'Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes' is another unique tale from A Forest of Stars.

Debut album from one of the finest bands to ever emerge from Norway, an album that was a long time in coming as the band formed in 2006. 'Worlds Open, Worlds Collide' is a Black Metal album that must not slip your attention.

Despite a period of twelve years since the release of their debut recording, 'The Temple of Deformation,' this is only Svartidauði's second studio album. Yet with Svartidauði it's definitely been a case of quality over quantity as each release has seen the band move from strength to strength with ' 'Revelations of the Red Sword' being their harshest yet strongest release yet. Another release that came very late in the year but couldn't be omitted from any year end listing.

A band that should need no introduction, as for over twenty years Vomitor has brought us a steady stream of releases - all of which feature their recognizable, trademark sound. 'Pestilent Death' is their fourth studio album and features the combination of riffs and chaos that we've come to love, and expect, from one of the underground's greatest bands.

Ascension's third album was summed up by the press release, "After the suitably stage-setting intro, each of these seven sins rushes onward with an almost-disarming ease, Ascension within the churning maelstrom directing its every malevolent move and sulfurous shudder. Further, they've expanded their melodic arsenal here, with evocative leads often taking center stage; other times, riffs are colored by cleaner tones that are nothing less than soul-searing. Completing the totality of Under Ether is stalwart production, courtesy of Michael Zech and V. Santura: warm and feverish and totally analog, but possessing a palatable clarity that allows every detail to ring true."

The digital promo hit my inbox last December and since then I've given this impressive album a fair few listens. 'Poisoned Atonement' features an intro and six original tracks as well as the unbeatable 'Archaic Remnants of the Numinous ' which first appeared on the 2016 EP ' Archaic Remnants of the Numinous / At the Diabolus Hour' split which they shared with Finland's Witchcraft. A vicious and confident second album which was recorded, mixed and mastered by Demonomancy's guitarist and vocalist at The Devil's Mark Studio.

Although initially released by Nuclear War Now! Productions in April a double tape box-set was also released by Iron Bonehead Productions at Never Surrender Festival in November. A truly immersive  yet oppressive experience this second album from Australia's Grave Upheaval sees the band seemingly create atmosphere at will, taking the listener on a unique and devastating journey.

Since the release of their debut demo, 'In Tuo Honori Preparatum' in 1998 Abhor has brought us a very impressive number of releases and 'Occulta Religio' is their seventh album. During their career Abhor has crafted a distinct, occult sound that's all their own. I instantly loved this album and have since bought as many of their previous releases as possible.

The fifth album from Greek legends Embrace of Thorns, 'Scorn Aesthetics' was summed up by the press release, "Across the album's generous-yet-concise 43 minutes, each of these seven tracks builds with patience and poise, but somehow elusively convey a sense of explosion, detonation, immolation. The effect is one of vortextural churn 'n' spun, slipstreaming the listener into a roiling, ceaselessly humid mass but offering no hope nor reprieve. More generally, Scorn Aesthetics is built upon walls of RIFFS - be they "death metal," "black metal," or just pure METAL - all coalescing into an occult fury, immediately engaging every step of the way and memorable to the very end."

Released in February, 'Antimoshiach' is Spite's debut album and follow up to 2015's lethal EP, 'Trapped in the Pentagram.' 'Antimoshiach' was described in the press release, "A work of sanctimonious austerity, unquenchable desire, and irascible hysteria, Antimoshiach is black heavy metal filtered through the inscrutable, idiosyncratic prism of Spite. Cauldron-born and cantankerous, the riffs flow fast and freely, stacking upon each other like devilish arsenal but woven together in a manner most narrative. Blustery aggression remains at the fore - it is Heavy Metal, after all, albeit blackened to a crisp - whilst a blind eye is never turned to nuance nor dynamics. As such, the recording's completely analog and breathes a sort of aromatic mustiness that's both aeons old and utterly fresh; you simply feel this, everywhere, within and without..."

Autokrator is another band I've been a fan of for quite a while and this, their third album, takes their music to a higher level than previous. Perfectly summed up by the press release, "Hammer of  the Heretics, the third full length is a demonstration that Autokrator is neither intending to stop their notorious militancy nor going to limit their capabilities. The five track (includes one interlude) unearthly death metal album, infused with pulverizing doom metal and earsplitting noise and cadaverous dark experimentation, is egregious in terms of superiority and fraught with danger in terms of ambience..."

Another debut album, 'Thermogravimetry Warp Continuum'  by Jyotiṣavedāṅga was reviewed here in May, "During the course of this album Jyotiṣavedāṅga moves from strength to strength and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed their previous release, ‘Cannibal Coronal Mass Ejections,’ with this album they have taken a significant evolutionary step forward and album closer, ‘Imploding Linear Fusion Propulsion System,’ cements this improvement. At eight and a half minutes long this is Jyotiṣavedāṅga’s most ambitious track to date, and is also the slowest on the album as it keeps an almost doom like pace for most of its duration - herein lies the track’s beauty as it shows Jyotiṣavedāṅga are more than capable of capturing and holding our attention without the sheer violence we’ve came to expect from them. Even the most hardened war metal veteran should, and will, be impressed by the music of Jyotiṣavedāṅga – and rightly so!

It was a huge privilege for me to interview Veiled for a second time and host the premiere stream of the album 'Black Celestial Orbs' in March - the full interview can be accessed here.

Another debut album 'Black Celestial Orbs' was described in the press release as, "H ypnotic and atmospheric in all the ancient ways, pulsing with a regalness far removed from modernity, Black Celestial Orbs weaves undulating spells that slowly and ever-so-patiently encase and then entrance the listener in a formless fog of sumptuous splendor. Pure devotion to the shadows is Veiled, and ever so magickally do they navigate through reverberating echoes from the beyond. Listening to Black Celestial Orbs, then, is much like an immersion rite: an intrepid 'n' fortified constitution is required, but myriad secrets are subsequently revealed to the true devotee; nowhere is this played out more poignantly than on the album's two-part title track."

Yet another debut album, this time from one of Ireland's best underground bands, Malthusian
The band's last release was the exceptional, 'Below the Hengiform' which was my top EP in 2015 and it took around three and a half years for them to release 'Across Deaths' which was described by the press release, " both short-length predecessors seemed massive at the time (and still are) - but the sheer fact (not to mention the sheer audacity) that a band can so effortlessly take angular, largely atonal Death Metal and make it a seemingly cinematic experience should compel naysayers to finally investigate this malodorous of artforms..."

Despite a seemingly endless touring schedule UADA released their second album 'Cult of a Dying Sun' in May.
The album was reviewed here, "Make no mistake about it; UADA is one of the most important bands of recent times – when we combine song writing as good as this with their hard working ethic and ability on stage we can see they are easily one of the hardest working bands currently in existence - the members of UADA have worked their asses of and thoroughly deserve the rapid rise to prominence they continue to enjoy. Difficult second album? Not a chance, UADA has taken the positive elements from their debut and enhanced and improved them further. An exceptional album..."

One of the masters of Experimental Death Metal, Portal should need no introduction - some may feel their music is at times inaccessible, especially on Ion, but I feel this album is one of their best yet. With the experimental level of their music higher than ever, Portal released their fifth album which is definitely well worth the five year wait since their last album. From the horrific atmosphere of 'Olde Guarde' to the sheer intensity of 'Phreqs,' Portal brought us an exceptional album that continues to impress with every subsequent listen.

Devouring Star treated us to two releases this year. Released in April 'Apostasis' was a split shared with Caecus that was very well received by both media and fans, including the number three spot on my EP listing for 2018. Released in October, 'The Arteries of Heresy' is Devouring Star's second album and is easily their best release to date - available to stream in full below.

Corpsessed is another band I'm a huge fan of and as a result they have featured a number of times here at The Lair of Filth, including the top spot on my album listing for 2014.  
A worthy successor to 'Abysmal Thresholds,' 'Impetus of Death' was summarised by the press release, "Simply put, the second full-length from Corpsessed is brutal; although it doesn't feel the need to break the 250 BPM barrier to show how tough it is. Still rooted in the classic sound of the early 90's yet with its own doomy touch, it's really Impetus of Death's uncanny ability to bring forth a quite unique form of creepiness, almost cinematic in places and quite claustrophobic that sets them apart. As Matti puts it best, "What can I say? We like to keep things evil and ominous."

I make no secret of the fact I'm a huge fan of Abyssal, a band that has featured a number of times at The Lair of Filth, including the top spot in my album listing for 2015
I had the pleasure of interviewing both bands about this split ahead of it's release in March and the interview can be read in full here.
During the interview Abyssal succinctly summed up this release, "The tracks on 'Apanthropinization' are consciously a much more stripped back, punishing and old school sound. As a result, I would suggest that these are probably the most enjoyable Abyssal tracks to listen to. This was a deliberate choice in terms of songwriting, as an old school sound that I have always wanted to explore, being a big fan of bands like Incantation, Disma, Cruciamentum etc. The Carcinoma tracks are an excellent companion to this sound, as they typically explore a more frantic, chaotic style. It is always challenging when releasing a split album to avoid the two sides sounding either too alike, or too different, but I think we have definitely achieved a successful balance here."

There are very few bands that release albums with minimal publicity and Cultes des Ghoules is one such band. Cultes des Ghoules announced the release of 'Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths' with less than 2 weeks to the albums' launch yet this announcement generated more fervor and anticipation during this short period than some achieve in a lifetime. The album easily lived up to my expectations and is a very worthy successor to  their last album, 'Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love' which was the top spot on my album listing for 2016.  

Released in July, 'Whirlwinds of Fathomless Chaos' is the debut full length by Temple Desecration and was reviewed here.
"On Whirlwinds of Fathomless Chaos Temple Desecration have experimented and explored different soundscapes and tempos than previous to create a more immersive and hypnotic sound whilst remaining anchored to their Black/Death roots. No more is this exploration exemplified than on the penultimate track, ‘Covenant,’ which lasts over twelve and a half minutes. Easily their slowest track ever Temple Desecration drops the pace from the start yet do so without losing any of the potency and atmosphere already created, giving the album a more ritualistic and hypnotic feel whilst steeping it in even more atmosphere. Their ability on this track to create music so destructive yet so hypnotic is exemplary. ‘Covenant’ grasps your attention from the first beat, dragging you into this truly hypnotic world from which there is no escape – it's difficult for bands in this sub-genre of music to capture and hold your attention for so long yet Temple Desecration do so easily."

Recondemnation was a number of releases launched at the inaugural Never Surrender Festival hosted by Iron Bonehead Productions and Nuclear War Now! Productions in Germany at the start of November. Temple Nightside performed at the festival and delivered what was easily one of the best performances from three days of the best music the underground has to offer. Recondemnation is an album that's a "re-imagining" of  Temple Nightside's 2013 release, 'Condemnation,'  and takes what was already a fantastic release and improves on it even further. 
'Recondemnation' was summed up by the press release, "Descent and re-initiation: a corpse reborn through the womb of its own extinction. The veins cut and re-tethered, bloodthirst paralleled only by the emptiness... The beast rears its face once again, to sup and gnaw, and this is how the limbless move... The crypt is reopened, the dead Recondemned."

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