I’ve got no idea how January 11 crept up on us already. I’m still reeling from the final days of 2018 (and, like, all the other days of 2018) and am still trying to get back into the swing of things. Meanwhile, by now, many other music publications have already published their “most anticipated of 2019 round-ups,” and most people who pay attention to such things have already earmarked at least a few releases that just might make this next hell year bearable.
This is all extremely convenient for a slacker like me, because I can scour those lists for the stuff that seems like it’ll actually be worth my while, and share it with you!
You’d think, anyway. Sites like Loudwire and Revolver ticked most of the expected hard rock/nu-metal boxes (I guess people are very excited about Tool, Slipknot, and Rammstein). The latter also name-checked warhorses like Amon Amarth, Carcass, and Crowbar while nodding to fresher meat like Gatecreeper and Full of Hell, as well as Noisey faves King Woman and Lingua Ignota. Brooklyn Vegan picked some winners—new Tomb Mold and Triptykon!— and Last Rites kept it weird with a multi-part list that thankfully reminded me that Darkthrone has a new jawn due out this year. Even Yahoo Sports (???) by way of Consequence of Sound got in on the game. While their list isn’t doing much for me personally, I appreciate the cross-pollination (and at least now I know that Baroness has a new album coming out).
Venom Prison and Devil Master are my big two “fuck yes” records of 2019 thus far, and I’m also very interested in what Martyrdod, Spirit Adrift, Crypt Sermon, and Tau Cross get up to. Same goes for Sabbat, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Blue Hummingbird on the Left, Oozing Wound, Downfall of Gaia, Tribulation’s upcoming Melancholia EP, and the forthcoming split from HELL and Primitive Man. Apparently Brazilian black/death gods Mystifier will be unleashing a new full-length this year, too, which is reason enough to keep grinding through the pain of existence.
I have a lot of faith in King Diamond (the only head of state I voluntarily recognize), to whip up something satisfyingly spooky and ear-shattering, and of course whatever Inter Arma comes up with will be spectacular, because that’s what they fuckin’ do. The new one from Hexvessel is going to be stunning, of course, as will Coltsblood’s split with Un. I’m sure there are a billion other releases from more underground artists that I’ll eventually discover and fall in love with, too, but feel free to tell me about them in advance: my email is kim.kelly at vice dot com.
All that is to say that, as burned out and jaded as a lot of us are, 2019 is already shaping up to be a solid year for heavy music, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else y’all throw at me. Here are a couple other things I'm excited about right now, plus a new Devil Master track—believe me, the hype is warranted. (I'd also like to wish a speedy recovery to High on Fire's Matt Pike, who is currently dealing with a medical emergency—you've got the entire metal community's full love and support!).
The only three constants that have defined genre-bending heavy sound lifers Jucifer since their 1993 inception have been their lineup (Gazelle Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood, partners in life as well as riffs), their righteous fury, and their commitment to being completely and utterly hard-to-pin down (both musically and geographically). Their latest release, the Futility EP, mixes brutal grind and pounding, contorted noise rock with Valentine's half-feral snarls and guttural invocations. Obviously, it rips.
I've previously described Philly's Devil Master as a sort of arcane, eyeliner-smeared mixture of Mortuary Drape, Tribulation, and Judas Priest, and am sticking with that here. Their upcoming Relapse debut, Satan Spits on Children of Light, is already one of early 2019's most talked-about releases, and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon. This shit is just so weird, and so good.
Over the past few years, Brooklyn, NY has given rise to a spirited little trad metal scene, and Sanhedrin's vintage-minded heavy metal thunder is a definite standout. The trio—given its soaring voice and a hefty low end by former Amber Asylum bassist/vocalist Erica Stolz—will release its sophomore full-length next month via Cruz del Sur, and the teaser track they've put up on Bandcamp is an absolute romp. I'm not usually a big trad metal person, but Sanhedrin's promise is undeniable.
I've been a fan of Providence doom/sludge doom duo Mar for awhile now, and was delighted to find out that they're releasing a brand-new album, Pressed in the Earth, later this month. The one track they've made available, "Needed Me," uses tension as an essential tool, and often, as a weapon, drawing upon the brutal catharsis that serves as a linchpin for the band's crushing doom and is outlined in blood by a vicious vocal performance from vocalist, guitarist, and drummer Kay Belardinelli.
Vanishing Kids hails from Madison, WI, feature members of Jex Thoth, Wartorn, Deathwish, and Tenement, and most importantly, conjure up truly compelling, dreamy blend of unexpected sounds. They nestle at the bewitched nexus of doom, psychedelia, shoegaze, and 70s rock (I get a real Purson vibe, which is a very good thing) and are honestly just a joy to listen to on a chilly day. They're more trippy than heavy, but, hey— check them out, I bet you'll like them.
Sacred Spells Compilation
Attention, goths and good folks of all stripes: Sacred Spells is a darkwave, dark electronics, and experimental compilation, all proceeds of which will go to benefit the TGI Justice Project, which they describe as, "a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people—inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom." Remember, until we are all free, we are none of us free.
Kim Kelly is Noisey's resident rabble-rousing heavy metal nerd; you can also find her on Twitter.