25 Best Metal Albums of 2024 So Far

We’re halfway through 2024 and just posted a list of our 40 favorite albums of 2024 so far, which includes multiple genres of music, including metal. For even more metal, we’ve now put together a list of our 25 favorite metal albums of 2042 so far (technically 26; there’s one honorable mention), and it ranges from death to black to doom to post- to -core, with lots of other line-toeing records in between. Read on for the list, in alphabetical order.

200 Stab Wounds – Manual Manic Procedures
Metal Blade

In case the name 200 Stab Wounds doesn’t give it away, these Ohioans are into making gnarly, gruesome death metal created in the image of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Dying Fetus (both of whom they’ve toured with). Since releasing their 2021 debut LP Slave to the Scalpel on the trusty Maggot Stomp Records, they made the leap to Metal Blade and their first album for their new label home is Manual Manic Procedures. Produced and mixed by Andy Nelson, the album sounds a little bigger and more crisp than its predecessor, but 200 Stab Wounds aren’t toning anything down. It’s brutal, meat-and-potatoes, blood-and-guts death metal done really well.

Alcest Les Chants De L'Aurore

Alcest – Les Chants De L’Aurore
Nuclear Blast

As the French band’s first album since 2019’s excellent Spiritual Instinct and first since COVID lockdown, Alcest leader Neige wanted to “bring a little bit of light into this world” to counteract the dark times we’ve been living in since the last Alcest album. To do so, he looked inwards instead of outwards, mirroring the approach he says he took on the first Alcest album in 2007. “My inner world is very bright and uplifting,” he says, and adds that the new album is “really about exploring this other world, in the same way that I wrote about it on the first album. The music should be a key to open the door to this other world.” As intended, it’s escapist, surrealist, otherworldly, and heartwrenchingly beautiful. It’s as bright and uplifting as watching the sun come up after pulling an all-nighter, and Neige only raises his voice when the song really calls for it, when it really adds emotional depth. Especially since Alcest’s pioneering style of heavy shoegaze helped pave the way for a lot of what’s going on in the current shoegaze resurgence in the first place, the timing couldn’t be better for them to come back with one of the most purely gorgeous records of their career.

Bongripper Empty

Bongripper – Empty
The Great Barrier Records

Their name and old song titles may have left an impression that this band is not serious, but their almost-20 years of serious crushing doom riffs prove otherwise. Released one day before 4/20, Empty offers up four lengthy tracks of instrumental doom that are perfect for that day’s activities and Bongripper remain some of the best to ever to do it.

Candy It's Inside You

Candy – It’s Inside You

Candy got a little industrial in their hardcore on 2022’s Heaven Is Here, but now they’re all in. Highlights of their new guest-filled album It’s Inside You include “You Will Never Get Me” (with Trapped Under Ice/Angel Du$t vocalist Justice Tripp), “Love Like Snow” (with Fleshwater vocalist MIRSY and LA electronic musician mmph), and perfectly named songs like “Dancing to the Infinite Beat” and “Hypercore,” all of which sound like they could’ve been minor hits during the ’90s industrial boom–especially the strangely infectious “Love Like Snow.” But Candy is still a hardcore band, and even on those songs (two of which get assists from Integrity’s Aaron Melnick and Trash Talk’s David Gagliardi), they sound like one. It’s Inside You makes more of a seamless evolution than a drastic pivot, and it’s got plenty of straight-up metallic hardcore mosh fuel to balance out the more electronics-assisted moments. I compared the genre-blurring on the last album to Full of Hell, but now Candy are starting to remind me more of Ceremony or the aforementioned Angel Du$t, bands with fearless ambition who will always be hardcore even when they’re navigating “non-hardcore” waters.

Civerous Maze Envy

Civerous – Maze Envy
20 Buck Spin


Couch Slut – You Could Do It Tonight
Brutal Panda

Four albums in, NYC’s Couch Slut are as venomous as ever. Recorded with Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and featuring members of fellow NYC bands Imperial Triumphant and Pyrrhon, You Could Do It Tonight is a truly caustic blend of noise rock, post-hardcore, and sludge, topped off with both real-life and exaggerated social commentary that’s more horrific than a slasher flick. It’s an album of armed robbery, assault, self-harm, and a lengthy closing track inspired by an urban legend about an abandoned juvenile detention facility. In an era where NYC’s rock scene has less of an identity than ever, Couch Slut bring the kind of filth that only this city can inspire. The heyday of Unsane, Swans, and Cop Shoot Cop is alive and well on this LP.

Frail Body Artificial Bouquet

Frail Body – Artificial Bouquet

It’s been a long five years since Frail Body took the screamo world by storm with their back-to-back 2019 releases–their debut LP A Brief Memoriam and a four-way split with Infant Island, Massa Nera, and dianacrawls–during which time guitarist/vocalist Lowell Shaffer was also busy with Crowning, but now Frail Body are finally back with their sophomore album and it’s a very clear step up. Like Infant Island did on this year’s Obsidian Wreath, Frail Body are really leaning into the black metal side of screamo with Artificial Bouquet, and these songs are the heaviest, most beautiful, and most jaw-dropping this band has ever sounded.

Full of Hell Coagulated Bliss

Full of Hell – Coagulated Bliss
Closed Casket Activities

Full of Hell’s new album follows collaborative LPs with Nothing and The Body, and guitarist Spencer Hazard has said that making those albums helped the band “[learn] how to find what actually services a song” and “recognize that there was value in pop music,” respectively. As a result, Coagulated Bliss, the first proper Full of Hell album since 2021’s Garden of Burning Apparitions, takes more cues from pop music and traditional songcraft than any Full of Hell album before it. Even the bright, colorful artwork suggests something more welcoming than the band’s usual black and white. It’s still Full of Hell though, so this is all relative. Coagulated Bliss is still informed by grindcore, powerviolence, death metal, sludge metal, noise, and other extreme forms of metal and punk, but presented in a way that goes down just a little smoother than usual, like a shot of 100 proof with a little something sweet thrown in. Like the last few Full of Hell albums, it’s a total sensory overload and it’s really in a lane of its own. There are other bands that are this heavy, this genre-agnostic, or this chaotic, but not many who do all of those things at once the way Full of Hell does.

Gatecreeper Dark Superstition

Gatecreeper – Dark Superstition
Nuclear Blast

Change was in the water on Gatecreeper’s 2021 project An Unexpected Reality, a My War-inspired record that explored the band’s short, fast, grindy side with seven songs on side A and their death-doom side with one 11-minute song on side B, but Gatecreeper considered that more of a detour and not the proper followup to the old school-style death metal of 2019’s Deserted. With Dark Superstition, Gatecreeper have released the album that fully begins a new chapter of their career. This is the first album with the band’s current lineup and band leader Chase Mason says it was the first time that Gatecreeper wrote an album collaboratively as an entire band, and they also made a clear break from “old school-style death metal.” The influence of Swedish melodic death metal has crept into their music before, but on Dark Superstition, it’s a driving force. They brought in an actual Swedish death metal veteran, Fred Estby of Dismember, for some assistance, and they’ve got an arsenal of melodic riffs that have been working perfectly on their ongoing tour with In Flames. (Frequent collaborator Kurt Ballou of Converge returned to engineer and mix.) But Dark Superstition isn’t just a jump from reviving one brand of death metal to another; it’s a seamless fusion of all of Gatecreeper’s influences with a whole lot of originality in the mix too. It’s a melodic death metal album that doesn’t sound like a stereotypical melodic death metal album, and it’s got some of the strongest and most memorable songs of Gatecreeper’s career. The bands of death metal’s latest wave can start to feel interchangeable as more and more emerge with similar takes on the same set of influences, but I can’t imagine listening to Dark Superstition and mistaking Gatecreeper for one of their peers. These songs really hook you and stand out in a way that this already-great band never has before.

High on Fire - Cometh the Storm

High On Fire – Cometh the Storm
MNRK Heavy

High On Fire are back with their first album in six years, first since bandleader Matt Pike’s debut solo album, and first with new drummer Coady Willis (Murder City Devils, Big Business, Melvins), and they sound totally re-energized. Matt Pike doesn’t stray far from his usual Motorhead-infused sludge formula, and he doesn’t need to; there’s both a satisfying familiarity and a fiery freshness to his monster riffs and throat-shredding roars. Coady not only fits right in, he meets Matt Pike and bassist Jeff Matz’s fuzzed-out riffage with pulverizing rhythms that put a new hop in HoF’s step. Jeff also learned to play the bağlama before the writing of this LP, and he helps bring a greater emphasis on Middle Eastern music which works perfectly with HoF’s psychedelic side, most notably on the album’s one instrumental track. It’s the band’s fourth consecutive album produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, who they’ve clearly developed a lot of chemistry with, and who really helps HoF open up their sound on this album, which sounds warmer and more spacious than the previous three. Don’t call it a comeback, though. High On Fire have been consistently great for nine albums and 25+ years straight, making it all the more miraculous that they’ve just added a record this crucial to their rock-solid catalog.

Hulder Verses In Oath

Hulder – Verses In Oath
20 Buck Spin

To quote Invisible Oranges‘ Colin Dempsey: Washington-based black metal musician Hulder’s progress revolves around collecting more tools to better actualize her vision as she still holds the creative reins. Sonically, that vision now has a chunkier, more tangible sound that she revealed late last year with “Vessel of Suffering.” There’s more bite and grit on her tongue without foregoing the synths that cradled her. The best way to describe it is that her new work is bigger without overinflating—It’s powerful and domineering, as if Riesterer ate a Senzu bean.

While it’d be easy to assume this direction is because she signed with 20 Buck Spin or because she’s placing more emphasis on her live shows, she assures us that isn’t the case. Though she has more resources at her disposal, her vision remains solitary. She’s chasing a perceived darkness borne from the spirit of her forebearers, nostalgia, and the physical world. This darkness isn’t evil, and, much like nature, is beyond morals. It’s not terrifying, but its might is to be treated with respect and admiration. The secret sauce in Hulder’s brew is that she accomplishes this amorphous goal effortlessly. There’s nothing performative about her. It all feels intentional and necessary as her black metal, conventional and mid-paced as it is, is unencumbered by flourishes, solos, or diversions. It’s cool kid metal in the sense that it’s so confident in itself and what it’s doing and has such a specific vision that you can’t help but respect it. Read Colin’s interview with Hulder for more.

Huntsmen The Dry Land

Huntsmen – The Dry Land

Released in March of 2020, Chicago band Huntsmen’s sophomore album Mandala of Fear became one of those breakthrough albums whose momentum was unfortunately affected by the world shutting down for 18 months, and the four years since have only seen the band play a few shows and release a three-song EP (two originals and a CSNY cover). But now, they break their relative silence with a new album that lands with as much of an impact as Mandala of Fear did four years ago. It’s their their first album written entirely collaboratively with co-vocalist Aimee Bueno-Knipe (who joined in 2019), whose soaring, earthy voice makes for an alluring blend with guitarist/vocalist Chris Kang, and it finds the band pushing themselves in a handful of new directions. Their folk rock parts would sit nicely next to Fairport Convention and their increasingly blackened style of sludge metal would sit nicely next to last week’s Thou album, and Huntsmen sound just as intense at their lightest as they do at their heaviest. Bands have been proving that folk rock and heavy metal go very well together since the early ’70s, so it’s not exactly a novel idea, but there’s still something so satisfying about how natural Huntsmen make it sound. You can hear The Dry Land as a great folk rock album, or as a great metal album, because it really is both of those things at once. And if you’ve got a taste for both, you might find that this album scratches an itch that really needs to be scratched more often.

Infant Island Obsidian Wreath

Infant Island – Obsidian Wreath
Secret Voice

Infant Island have been a little less prolific since putting out two releases during 2020 lockdown, the Beneath LP and the Sepulcher mini LP, and since the world opened back up, the band finally got to support those albums on tour as members put out music with their other projects. But as far back as 2020, they were already writing their next album, Obsidian Wreath, and now it’s finally here. It follows their contribution to Touché Amoré vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s 2023 screamo compilation Balladeers, Redefined, and it’s also their first for Jeremy’s label Secret Voice. And it was worth the wait–it might just be their very best album yet.

Produced by hometown screamo legend and past collaborator Matt Michel (of Majority Rule and Nø Man), it’s the band’s most seamless fusion of OG-style screamo and atmospheric black metal yet. Comparisons are still warranted to Majority Rule and other Virginia screamo pioneers like pageninetynine and City of Caterpillar, but it also sounds like if Deafheaven’s Sunbather was condensed into two-minute songs. And like that album, Obsidian Wreath sounds majestic; it perfectly walks that line between heavy and beautiful. Andrew Schwartz of fellow Virginia band .gif from god lends screams to the attention-grabbing album opener “Another Cycle” and “Clawing, Still”; the climactic gang vocals on “Veil” include members of Unearth, For Your Health, King Yosef, Senza, Malevich, Mikau, and more; and Infant Island really stretch their wings when Harper Boyhtari and Logan Gaval of past tourmates Greet Death add clean vocals to the shoegazy penultimate track “Kindling.” The whole thing just sounds massive and full of intention. It feels like it was built to stand out from the pack and that’s exactly what it does.

Inter Arma New Heaven

Inter Arma – New Heaven

A nice foil to the Full of Hell album that’s out today is the long-awaited return of FOH’s former Relapse labelmates Inter Arma. Inter Arma’s fifth proper LP New Heaven is also in a lane of its own within heavy music–a lane that’s slower-paced, more sprawled-out, and at least as transcendent. New Heaven is the Richmond band’s first album in five years, following delays and lineup changes, and they’ve come out on the other side of some roadblocks sounding stronger than ever. Like past Inter Arma records, New Heaven never gets caught up in trying to fit within one metal subgenre or another. Black, death, doom, prog, psych, and more fill this towering record, and all the extremity is balanced out by some brooding, baritone-sung Swans/Nick Cave-type moments. It’s overwhelming, intense, adventurous music by a band with a fuck ton of range. Ever since severely leveling up on their 2013 sophomore album (and Relapse debut) Sky Burial, Inter Arma have only made records that sound larger than life, that send you on journeys that pre-release singles only hint at. New Heaven is no exception.

Julie Christmas Ridiculous and Full of Blood

Julie Christmas – Ridiculous and Full of Blood
Red Crk

Julie Christmas’ output pace has slowed down since her days fronting Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice in the 2000s, but her quality control has never weakened. Since releasing her 2010 debut solo album The Bad Wife, the Brooklyn native teamed up with Swedish post-metal greats Cult of Luna for the 2016 collaborative album Mariner, and now she releases her second solo album and first project since Mariner, Ridiculous and Full of Blood. Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson is again involved (he’s on guitar and contributes some piercing screams), and her band also features bassist/producer Andrew Schneider (KEN mode, Unsane), guitarist John LaMacchia (Candiria), drummer Chris Enriquez (Spotlights, On the Might of Princes), and keyboardist Tom Tierney. The band delivers sludgy, hard-hitting instrumentals, and Julie tops it off with some of the most haunting, soaring, attention-grabbing wails of her career. She’s been doing this for about 20 years, and as she said in a press release, “Right now I’m stronger and LOUDER than I have ever been… Time doesn’t make you softer, it makes you harder.” That’s very true in Julie Christmas’ case; she bucks against any expectation that she’d soften over time, and she sounds hungrier than ever. Her mix of heavy guitars and powerfully ethereal vocals has been echoed by a handful of prominent artists over the years, and with Ridiculous and Full of Blood, she once again sounds like she’s leading the charge.

Knocked Loose You Won't Go

Knocked Loose – You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To
Pure Noise

You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To is only Knocked Loose’s third album in a 10+ year career, and it’s their first in five years (though it does also follow 2021’s A Tear in the Fabric of Life, a 21-minute EP that feels as monstrous as plenty of full-length albums), so I get the sense that Knocked Loose are the type of band who only want to drop an album if they know it’s a step forward, and You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To absolutely is. They made it with producer Drek Fulk, who works with massive heavy bands like Papa Roach, Disturbed, and (past Knocked Loose tourmates) Motionless In White and A Day To Remember, and the album also features two mainstream-metal-friendly guests: Poppy and Motionless In White’s Chris Motionless. Guitarist/backing vocalist Isaac Hale also promised when the album was announced that the album goes “the fastest we’ve ever gone” and “the scariest we’ve ever gone,” as well as “the catchiest and the most melodic that we’ve ever gone,” and vocalist Bryan Garris spoke in a recent interview with New Noise about Knocked Loose being “heavy music for normal people” and feeling that it was “very important for all of us to maintain accessibility.” So, with that producer, those guests, and promises of catchy melodies and accessibility, it might look on paper like Knocked Loose are finally making the radio-friendly jump that so many heavy bands have made before them, but that isn’t the case at all. Drew Fulk’s production has a definite shine to it, but in a way that somehow makes Knocked Loose sound even more abrasive, and the guest appearances from Poppy and Chris Motionless are just as brutal as Bryan’s shrieks and Isaac’s death growls. It’s not that the album goes from being catchy to being scary; it’s the catchiest Knocked Loose album and the scariest Knocked Loose album at the exact same time. They’ve funneled all of their brutality into the leanest, most concise songs they’ve ever written. It’s catchy just in how it’s structured, not because it has even a single clean, singalong chorus. “Heavy music for normal people” is a good way of putting it, and I’d also just add that it’s heavy music for everyone. You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To is the dose of brutality you need in your life, even if you’d never identify as a metalhead or a hardcore kid, and it’s also music for metalheads and hardcore kids. If you think you’re too evil or too punk for Knocked Loose, you’ve got it backwards.

Porcupine All Is Vapor

Porcupine – All Is Vapor
New Morality Zine

Chicago/Pittsburgh’s Porcupine follow up a string of EPs, splits, demos, and singles that date back to 2017 with their debut album All Is Vapor, and it already feels safe to say that this is their best release yet. Their chaotic music toes the line between metal and hardcore in a way that brings to mind bands like Converge, Portrayal of Guilt, Full of Hell, and the above-mentioned Candy, and All Is Vapor also finds them exploring some gothy Swans/Daughters-like territory. One of the best songs (“I Am Bound”) is an eight-minute, shapeshifting song that deserves to be called an epic. It’s an intense, towering album that feels so much more ambitious than you might expect from the DIY hardcore scene that Porcupine exist within, and they never let their ambitions get the best of them. It’s not everyday that you hear a debut album in this vein that sounds like it could be the work of seasoned veterans, but Porcupine have done it.


Slimelord – Chytridiomycosis
20 Buck Spin

One of our favorite death metal albums of the year so far is the riff-filled, soul-permeating debut full length from Leeds, UK five-piece Slimelord (whose skilled members also make up 3/4 of Cryptic Shift). Out on the always reliable 20 Buck Spin, and mixed & mastered by Horrendous’ Damian Herring, it’s a 47-minute crushing, atmospheric death doom journey full of dark twists and turns that still feel fresh after countless recent listens, despite being so dirty. The amphibian-themed psychedelic and occasionally headbanging album includes chants (moments remind me of Type O Negative) and field recordings that help suck you into the depths of the swamp on a supernatural journey to try and save the world from rapidly spreading “Chytridiomycosis” (a rapidly-spreading infectious disease that affects frogs and other amphibians), or something like that. The colorful cover art comes courtesy of Brad Moore whose work you might recognize from like-minded filth by Gatecreeper, Worm, and Tomb Mold.

Spectral Voice Sparagmos

Spectral Voice – Sparagmos
Dark Descent

Blood Incantation said that 2024 will finally see the release of their first proper album since 2019’s Hidden History of the Human Race, but first, 3/4 of that band will release the first Spectral Voice album since their 2017 debut LP Eroded Corridors of Unbeing. Spectral Voice’s death metal leans much more overtly doom than Blood Incantation’s, but both bands are clearly very interested in bending genres and minds. Sparagmos is made up of four lengthy tracks of slow-paced death-doom, covered in a foggy haze and injected with the occasional burst of blastbeat-driven black metal. It’s a total sensory overload that’s as evil and abrasive as it is ethereal and trippy.

Terminal Nation Echoes of the Devil's Den

Terminal Nation- Echoes Of The Devil’s Den
20 Buck Spin

As I write this, we’re in the midst of witnessing widely-shared footage of police attacking unarmed protesters who stand in firm opposition to our own government funding the Israeli government as the latter terrorizes innocent Palestinians. Our country looks a lot more like an authoritarian, fascist state right now than any of our nation’s leaders will admit, and Terminal Nation is a band of five musicians from Little Rock, Arkansas who have been calling this spade a spade for years. They’re a hardcore-laced death metal band who march in the footsteps of political death metal OGs like Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death, and Carcass, and their sophomore LP Echoes of the Devil’s Den does not mince words when it comes to the state of modern America. “There is no form for the murder of children,” they scream on “No Reform (New Age Slave Patrol),” and if that’s not clear enough for you, try the songs coda: “Fuck every cop that’s ever fucking lived.” On “Empire of Decay,” they lament that we’ve been “born into a hellscape that’s beyond repair.” War profiteering, the climate crisis, the prison industrial complex, and religion-fueled violence are just a few of the other themes that permeate this album, and Terminal Nation deliver all of this with as much brute force as a great death metal album should have. They also get some help from some very talented guests–Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach, Integrity’s Dwid Hellion, Nails/Terror’s Todd Jones, Sex Prisoner’s K. Kennedy, and Elysia’s Zak Vargas–and it’s easy to see why established veterans like these would all want a piece of Terminal Nation’s pie. They’re doing something that death metal really needs more of right now, and they’re kicking so much ass in the process.

Thou Umbilical

Thou – Umbilical
Sacred Bones

For close to 20 years, Thou have defied easy categorization, railed against conventions, and done the unexpected. Depending on the day, you can find them making full-blown collaborative albums or touring with metal bands, punk bands, singer/songwriters, and other likeminded weirdos that fall in between. They’re just as likely to cover melodic grunge songs by Alice In Chains or Soundgarden or release an entire album of Nirvana covers as they are to make something harsh and abrasive enough to scare off the ones who like all Kurt’s pretty songs. You can accurately call them a metal band but they operate more like a punk band, which puts them in a space shared by the likes of Converge and Napalm Death. And on Umbilical–the first proper Thou album since 2018’s remarkable Magus–they’ve made an album that will make longtime fans fall in love with them all over again, and probably rope in some new ones too. It’s an unrelenting offering of caustic sludge riffs, blackened shrieks, and an unsettling atmosphere that overwhelms the senses and stands out from just about everything else happening in heavy music right now. Like most great heavy music, it’s not for everyone, but it’s for anyone who needs it. As the band themselves say: “This record is for the radicals, the crackpots, the exiles who have escaped the wasteland of capitulation. This record is for the militants and zealots refusing to surrender to comforts, to practicalities, to thirty pieces of silver. And this record is most especially for the weaklings and malingerers, burdened by capricious indulgence, hunched by the deep wounds of compromise, shuffling in limp approximation, desperately reaching back towards integrity and conviction.”

Tzompantli Beating the Drums

Tzompantli – Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force
20 Buck Spin

Tzompantli, the indigenous death/doom metal led by Xibalba member Brian “Itztlakamayeh” Ortiz, have just released their sophomore album Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force on 20 Buck Spin. Fleshed out by members of members of Civerous, Dead Heat, Teeth, and more, the album was recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Erol Ulug, and it’s 42 minutes of near-total brutality with lyrical themes inspired by the undertold stories of the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica and the effects of the Spanish conquest of that area. For a deeper dive into the specific themes, Brian has given us a track-by-track breakdown of the full LP.

Ulcerate Cutting the Throat of God

Ulcerate – Cutting the Throat of God
Debemur Morti Productions

Ulcerate simply do not miss. If you’re already on the Ulcerate train, you can probably skip reading about this album and jump straight to listening to it, because Cutting the Throat of God gives you everything you’ve always wanted from an Ulcerate album. For the uninitiated, the New Zealand band are long-running makers of experimental death metal that defies easy categorization and has so much widespread appeal that I’d recommend it even if you don’t really listen to death metal. The hyper-specific world of metal subgenres will have you know that Ulcerate’s death metal is “technical,” “dissonant,” and “atmospheric,” and it’s definitely all of those things, but trying to fit Ulcerate into narrow boxes doesn’t do them any favors. It’s mind-bending, mesmerizing heavy music with a real transportive quality to it, and I think it’d be pretty difficult to listen to this album and not feel moved by it.

Sumac The Healer

SUMAC – The Healer
Thrill Jockey

SUMAC had a penchant for freeform improvisation since their first record, but that side of them has become more and more prominent over the years, especially since first collaborating with Japanese artist Keiji Haino in 2018. On their fifth album The Healer, every composition is a lengthy one–two songs hover around the 13-minute mark and the other two are around 25 minutes each–and band leader Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, etc) mixes his sludge metal riffs and throat-shredding screams with an approach to noise and improvisation that’s closer to Sonic Youth and Swans than it is to most metal bands. The rhythm section of Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch, These Arms Are Snakes) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, ex-The Armed) is pulverizing when it needs to be, but everyone in the band knows how and when to tone down the heaviness too. There are long stretches on this album that aren’t “metal” at all, and those moments only make the heavy parts sound even heavier. It’s a hypnotizing, teeth-clenching, 76-minute trip that’s built to get lost in, and it’s so transportive that it almost comes as a shock when that last bit of static finally cuts out.

vemod deepening

Vemod – The Deepening
Prophecy Productions

In atmospheric black metal circles, Vemod’s sophomore LP has been one of the most anticipated albums for years. It comes 12 years after the Norwegian band’s beloved debut, Venter på stormene, and as many agree, it was worth the wait. Like the debut, it’s dark, beautiful, and hauntingly ethereal, and it’s also not just a retread of the debut. It’s still raw, but a little cleaner, less rough around the edges, and bandleader Jan Even Åsli’s songwriting has clearly evolved over the years. He aimed to expand the band’s horizons, while still capturing the spirit that made Venter på stormene so unique, as he discusses in great detail in a recent interview with Invisible Oranges.

Judas Priest Invincible Shield

Honorable Mention: Judas Priest – Invincible Shield

We’d be remiss not to mention that heavy metal gods/legends/pioneers Judas Priest are still kicking ass 55 years after their formation and still churning out galloping epics that channel the style of metal that Priest helped invent in the late ’70s and early ’80s and stand tall next to those classic records. Rob Halford’s wail is as piercing as ever, and he, Ian Hill and Glenn Tipton are all still superheroes. Drummer Scott Travis has been pumping blood into Judas Priest since Painkiller, and while K.K. Downing is irreplaceable, there’s no denying that young gun guitarist Richie Faulkner has been holding his own in the band for over a decade.


* Our 40 Favorite Albums of 2024 So Far

Top photo: Gatecreeper at Psycho Las Vegas 2022 by The Tinfoil Biter. More here.

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