The Best Debut Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018





WHOA. Was that a freight train that just struck you in the temple? Nay, my dearly departed friend - that was Erdve. Heavier than a speeding bullet; more pissed-off than a locomotive; able to level tall buildings in a single massive slab of merciless, chugging noisecore: that's Erdve, Lithuania's latest contribution to the steady demise of our planet. Vaitojimas explodes with violence at every angle, from the strangulated hardcore screams to the crashing waves of percussion to the megalithic riffs that abound with distortion and malevolent force. This album is so brutal it's disgusting, and, frankly, we won't stand for it. Hurry up and listen before our morals get the better of us and we hide it somewhere safe.

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If you want your black metal to be good, its sound should make people think the world is ending. Gaerea are doing exactly that while presenting their sludgy, melancholic, melodic and sometimes even post-metal- or hardcore-ish version of black metal in a thoroughly artistic way. On Unsettling Whispers, the story of a lost society is told in the third person and the listener is a wanderer, someone who watches, feels, and touches the pale streets he roams but is never seen by others. What this voyeur discovers is the shy will of dying from others as the repeated line "Suicide is part of your life" of the second track suggests. Totally immersive stuff.

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The sky is crashing down and Heaven itself is rent asunder. The latest creation from the shadowy collective known as Mystískaos, Guðveiki is a vile beast of blackened death metal displaying nothing less than the sound of demons clawing their way up from some grotesque, ethereal underworld. Featuring HV Lyngdal and Alex Poole of Wormlust and Skáphe note, as well as some other madmen of extreme metal weirdness, Vængför may very well be the most aurally intense album from this bunch yet: dense, suffocating, and downright bludgeoning.

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Sure, a lot of doom bands (stoner types, mostly) are into the Middle Eastern aesthetic, but Lowen goes far beyond just snagging an acoustic guitar to play some harmonic minor scales on the intro track. The crackling guitars and shimmering keys radiate melancholy like the heat of the desert sun; these plodding, interminable passages create the drone of vast, desolate space, causing the sounds to vibrate and distort as if you were witnessing a mirage. Nina Saeidi's unearthly voice stays mostly within the same narrow range, contributing to the unsettling, hypnotic buzz. Lowen sounds so haunted for such a young band - but you might be a little off, too, if you had just spent an eternity wandering featureless wastes of sand.

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Yes, Jord is hugely influenced by Deafheaven and An Autumn For Crippled Children. It's easy to see why on the surface Møl's debut would be just another Sunbather clone album. Moving away from the surface, there are plenty of really sharp riffs and more extreme metal structures, most of which can be attributed to the Nordic sound that Møl have likely formed around. On the other end of the spectrum, the lighter touches are given an instrumental song of their own, so, while following a lot of genre tropes, they do manage to add to an already existing and saturated sound, while also boasting some great musicianship along the line. The genre's saturation will not stop Jord from being absolutely mesmerizing.

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Spawned out of Norway's Nidriosian scene, Mare certainly didn't rush out Ebony Tower, as they've gone 15 active years without releasing a full-length. Their latest EP release was eight years ago. And with the cult following they've made since, they made sure Ebony Tower would be a grandiose album. With most of the songs breaking the 8-minute mark, it's quite obvious that the album leans more towards creating atmosphere, mostly revolving the songs around a few mid-paced riffs. The vocals are less of the shrieky kind and more of the cleaner and chant-y kind, which, along with the occasional supporting keyboard and the punchy bass, really helps build the esoteric and ritualistic feel of the album.

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One look at the cover of Hierurgy and you'd probably guess you're in for a pretty intense, transcendent listen. This assumption would be correct, as Panegyrist's proggy take on black metal brings majestic, intertwining melodies, a very impressive rhythm section, and a dazzling usage of clean, almost operatic vocals to boot. Bright, uplifting, and quite catchy despite its technical complexity, Hierurgy makes for a very cohesive, immersive listen, both through its tight compositions and the interesting theological themes woven into the lyrics and artwork.

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Towards Atlantis Lights is one of the few supergroups that actually justifies the title with some splendid musical output. The combined talent of members of acclaimed acts such as Pantheist, Aphonic Threnody, and Void Of Silence resulted in Dust Of Aeons, a funeral doom record filled with nostalgic grief and immersed in a dreamlike and mesmerizing ambiance. It is an enchanting debut and a crushing soundtrack of a story inspired by ancient civilizations.

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There's a little of break- in Vein's -core as a result of their mathematical precision and occasionally electronic-sounding percussion, plus some really Korny and groove-conscious throwing down in between the belligerent hardcore noise. When it's not throwing out the sick slams, Errorzone also reminds us what we could have had if nu metal had not stagnated and eaten itself to death back in the early 2000s; some of these funky rhythms are pure Ozzfest - but with totally aboveboard abrasive metalcore instead of nauseating fashion sense and really bad poetry. Errorzone is so called because it combines sounds that really shouldn't work together, some that we'd forgotten about, but there's no getting in the way of the album's ferocity.

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Standing just at the blurry edges of thrash metal and tech death and with some slight sprinkles of black metal for good taste, the debut from these Danish madmen (and one madwoman, obviously on vocals) is quite hard to be lumped into a single category. But Xenoblight make the best of both worlds, with Procreation being some of the most technical and progressive thrash metal, as well as some of the most thrashy and moshable tech death, you'll ever hear. It's intricate, but it still hits hard.

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