[Best of 2020] Death Metal Round-Up Vol. 1

Cover: Infiltration - Point Blank Termination

Author’s Note: I, for one, hate best-of lists. You can’t make me narrow down the myriad releases of the year into a top ten, a top twenty, or a top one hundred. What I will do, however, is break down a handful of the great EPs and full-lengths that have been released this year, and recommend a handful of them based on their genre. Everybody’s looking for something, as the Annie Lennox line goes, and thus, I bring you these genre round-ups.

For this installment, I’ll be dishing on some of the best death metal of this year. Is the prospect of music which breaks down the gruesome dismemberment and torture of a nameless subject a bit much for 2020? Or is it just the catharsis we need? I like to think the latter, and anyhow, it’s the perfect material for breaking down what some would like to do to their bosses, politicians, or the people they’ve been quarantined with.

Noxis - Expanse of Hellish Black Mire (Pulverized Records / Rotten Life)

This Cleveland-based trio goes for low-tuned guitars and a deafening snare drum for the accoutrements of apathetic death. The guitar work of Grant Mastropieri is stellar here, especially on the pinch harmonic-heavy opener “Dream Infested” and the fancy fretwork of “Incubated Disgust." It’s a solid marriage of classic and modern death metal, with plenty of faith-keeping all the while. For a first release, this EP has some serious promise, and has some neck-breaking sections that will brutalize live crowds when it’s time.

Disrupted - Pure Death (Memento Mori / De:Nihil)

The third release from this Swedish group of psychopaths is absolutely as advertised. Disrupted waste little time inducting the listener into a suicide cult, the only way out being a violent and gruesome death. There are flavors of doom in tracks like “Carve” and D-beat in the opening “Blood Worship.” “Born in a Corpse” sounds like a motherfucker to play live on all fronts, and the twisting dual leads in “Pestilential Vomit” jockey for position in such a way where everyone listening is a winner.

Infiltration - Point Blank Termination (Time to Kill Records)

If you listen to one track from this album, make it count and pick “Sniper’s Creed.” It’s a crushing, brutal track full of all sorts of classic death metal goodness. This album is a cornucopia of carnage, ranging from the sludgy “Collateral Damage” to the grinding short sharp shock that is “Rabid Bloodshed.” This is essential for fans of older death, such as Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse, and Six Feet Under (just not their newest album… yikes on a bike). Clocking in at around thirty minutes, this is a dense meal of flesh and blood that is one of my low-key favorite front-to-back listens this year, especially the aforementioned “Sniper’s Creed.”

Writhing - Eternalised in Rot (Blood Harvest)

The only complaint that I have about this dual single is that it’s only a dual single. These two tracks are a blast to listen to, with rattling gutturals and some great guitar work. Both tracks have some great lead breaks as well, with triplets galore underneath the dual lead in “Void of Derision,” with tapping sending the title track of the single on its merry way. For a first foray, this Australian trio has given us a damn fine double-barrel release.

Heaven Shall Burn - Of Truth and Sacrifice (Century Media Records)

This double album from Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn is over an hour and a half of triumphant melodeath, with highlights including the ripping intro “Thoughts and Prayers” and the skull-busting “What War Means.” The second disc sees a track that almost feels like industrial metal in “La Resistance,” as well as a cover of the Nuclear Assault track “Critical Mass.” It’s a long haul, sure, but there’s plenty of awesome, epic melodeath to masticate if you’re up to it.


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