Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Buyer's Guide (Extreme Metal)

Other Sections:

-Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal
-Accessible Metal
-Classic Metal
-Mainstream Rock
-Extreme Metal

Extreme Metal

Fans of death, black, and hardcore thrash metal should find a lot to love with the crop of quality extreme metal albums released in 2007. Although none of these titles are recommended starting points, the few who can tolerate one of the most misunderstood and controversial genres of music have a ton of great albums to chose from.

The Apostasy

The Apostasy isn’t going to convince anyone that isn’t already into Behemoth, but that’s to be expected. Unlike their last album, Demigod, which could almost be called a revolutionary album for the genre, The Apostasy is rather traditional death metal album. It doesn’t do anything all that unique, but instead contains some of the best pure death metal released all year. Unless you’re a black metal purist that will only be satisfied by the band’s return to a pure black metal sound, this album should be on your list if you’re a death metal fan. From the perspective of creativity, it’s not spectacular, but the refined and polished sound allows The Apostasy to be both one of the year’s best and most recommendable death metal albums.

Blood Red Throne
Come Death

In all honesty, it’s hard to critique Blood Red Throne the same way you would a typical death metal band, and it’s very simple to explain why this album is recommend. It all comes down to brutality. It seems that the point of Blood Red Throne is to be as completely brutal as possible. If that sounds good to you, you won’t be disappointed with Come Death. If you want more, then this isn’t an album for you, and some may even argue that simply being brutal isn’t enough to be warrant praise. However, brutality is almost exclusively what Blood Red Throne is striving for, and they achieve that better than almost any other band in existence. Fans of the band understand why that’s significant, and that’s who this record was made for.

Ordo Ad Chao

Ordo Ad Chao is not only one of the best black metal albums released in 2007, but it’s also one of the best modern black metal albums period. You don’t have to be a Mayhem fan to appreciate what they have done here, and really anyone that likes black metal should give Ordo Ad Chao a look. Despite all of the controversy Mayhem has brought themselves over the years, they still remain an exceptional band that can still release quality black metal albums without relying on a formulaic sound. Whether you’re a long time Mayhem fan or just a casual fan of black metal, Ordo Ad Chao is a great experience that is worthy of a spot in any metal fan’s collection.


Naglfar’s exact genre is debatable, but they are certainly extreme. Mixing elements of black, death, and melodic death metal, Naglfar’s newest release is a very solid metal album throughout. Naglfar doesn’t make any drastic changes to their sound, but like many other 2007 death metal albums, it contains some very solid death metal with impressive instrumentals. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Naglfar one of the more unique bands in the genre, and despite a lack of innovation, they’ve crafted one of the better death metal albums of 2007.


Just like Behemoth’s The Apostasy, Nile’s Ithyphallic doesn’t do anything particularly unique, but instead features some extremely high quality death metal. The appeal of the album is very simple. If you like Nile, you’ll likely love the album, as Nile’s sound is just as fast and brutal as ever. If you aren’t a Nile fan, chances are you won’t start now. There are subtle differences between Ithyphallic and Nile’s past albums, such as vocals that are easier to understand than on past albums, but Nile remains the same as ever for the most part. Fans of Nile or simply death metal in general will probably get a lot of out it though, and it’s hard not to recommend an album that has as much polished brutality as Ithyphallic.

Betwixt and Between

Most black metal fans have probably never heard of Oakhelm, but that’s no excuse to pass up one of the most impressive debuts of 2007. This folk black metal band from Oregon is a perfect example of the incredible black metal movement in the Northwest underground, and fans of black metal should almost certainly considering picking up a copy of this album if they can find it. Betwixt and Between is brutal throughout, and it features some extremely impressive instrumentals. They may not have the church-burning intensity of many Norwegian black metal bands, but their combination of black and folk creates one of the most effective and unique sounds that has come from that combination. If you’re a fan of black metal, do yourself a favor and give Oakhelm a listen.

Xecutioner’s Return

Fans of Obituary will almost certainly like Xecutioner’s Return. Non-fans of the band almost certainly won’t. Xecutioner’s Return is not accessible, not unique, and has absolutely not appeal outside of death metal. That being said, this is probably one of the best death metal albums of 2007. Obituary knows how to play death metal better than maybe any other band that is still recording. They also know how to please their fans. Xecutioner’s Return contains some exceptionally high quality death metal, as well as everything an Obituary fan could want from a modern Obituary album. Obituary has no desire to please anyone that isn’t already a fan, and that’s the way fans want it. If you’re an Obituary fan, this is your album.

Pig Destroyer
Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb is the only grindcore album on this list, but to say simply say it’s the best grindcore album of 2007 would be undermining its quality. Phantom Limb is one of the best albums of the year, grindcore or not, and any fan of heavy metal can enjoy it. Modern grindcore is unfortunately full of formulaic trends, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find an exceptional album. Phantom Limb is without a doubt an exceptional album, and all fans of extreme metal should give it a chance. Pig Destroyer avoids all of the generic traps that have plagued their peers, and fans of grindcore should be thankful for that. It’s only flaw is its short length, but if you’re a metal fan that prefers quality over quantity, Phantom Limb is for you.

Beyond the Permafrost

Although it might be a stretch to call Skeletonwitch an extreme metal band, Beyond the Permafrost is not an album for anyone expecting an old-school thrash release. This is modern sounding brutal thrash metal, and it sounds as good as that style can possibly sound. Skeletonwitch mixes impressive thrash metal instrumentals with some fairly unpolished black metal vocals. The lack of polish in the vocals is certainly a flaw that can and should be improved upon over time, but the amount of energy found in such a heavy package is a rarity that separates Skeletonwitch from most other young metal bands. This is thrash metal that sounds relevant and modern in today’s world of excessively heavy metal music, and it’s an album that fans of heavier thrash and black metal will almost certainly enjoy.

Wolves in the Throne Room
Two Hunters

Although it only has four songs, Two Hunters is one of the most complete and epic albums of the year. On top of that, Wolves of the Throne Room have improved their already unique sound, and have created something truly spectacular in the process. “Unique” and “epic” are not qualities that are often associated with modern black metal, particularly from the United States, but Wolves in the Throne Room are not your usual black metal band. Just like Oakhlem, they come from the Northwest underground, and the story behind this album’s creation is fascinating. There are very little digital effects, and some may complain about the intentionally poor recording quality, but the incredible atmospheric sound of the band is something every metal fan should experience. Two Hunters is almost certainly the best black metal album of the year, and Wolves in the Throne Room have emerged as one of the best bands in the genre today.

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