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  • Writer's pictureThe Metal Mayan

The Metal Mayan Mixtape - 23 February, 2024

Updated: Mar 13

Borknagar - Fall (Century Media Records)

"Behold the might of the north winds; powerful and inspiring."

Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary in 2024, Norway's Borknagar needs little introduction among fans of Viking, folk, or black metal. Born at the height of the True Norwegian Black Metal scene, when bands like Immortal, Emperor, Satyricon and Gorgoroth ruled the land, Borknagar aimed to push beyond the boundaries of the genre into something greater.

Three decades later, the band's twelfth album, Fall, continues the work the band set out to do by encasing progressive metal passages in layers of ice deep in a forgotten fjord. Though starting with tear bared in "Summits", "Nordic Anthem" ramps up the aforementioned Viking influences with deep drums leading a legion to battle.

Bringing the spirit of the Norwegian wilderness to life, "The Wild Lingers" paints pictures of roaring pine trees cloaked in snow. Likewise, "Stars Ablaze" captures the essence of night fall over the land as the Aurora Borealis dances with the pale moon.

Whether on a romp in the woods or at home near a fire, Fall is a perfect album to enjoy and reflect on ones self in tandem with nature around us.

Darkest Hour - Perpetual | Terminal (MNRK Music Group)

"A melodic metal masterclass."

Pioneering the sound of melodic death metal crossed with hardcore roots, Darkest Hour was among the first of the metalcore titans that took the heavy music world by storm in the new millennium. Influencing bands such as As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage, the Washington D.C. quintet returns after a seven year gap with their tenth album, Perpetual | Terminal.

Forged in the stylings of At The Gates and In Flames, the album starts with the tremendous title track before descending into the all out war of "Societal Bile". As one of records conceived in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, more somber passages, such as in "One With the Void" and "Mausoleum", reflect the difficult and uncertainty felt over the last few years.

Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary next year, Darkest Hour has once again brought forth a masterclass for younger bands to study and for fans to count among their favorites.

Hand Of Kalliach - Corryvreckan (Prosthetic Records)

"A brilliant meeting of melodic folk metal and Celtic mythology."

Scottish Celtic legend speaks of the bringer of winter, named Cailleach, who comes forth at Samhainn (today known as Halloween) to cover the land with her cloak of white, which here means snow. Channeled into the music of Edinburgh's own Hand Of Kalliach, the snow queen's tale is told through beautiful metal over the nine tracks of Corryvreckan.

Drawing icy influences from Winterfylleth and simmering tones from Primordial, Sophie Fraser's soothing voice contrasts but pairs perfectly with the bark of her husband, John Fraser. Handling all instruments in addition to vocals, the duo weave pummeling drums, crunching guitars, and folk influences in songs such as "Fell Reigns" and "Cirein-cròin".

As Cailleach's reign spans from late autumn to mid spring, ending in May according to legend, Corryvreckan is a perfect companion album throughout the year. Even in the heart of summer, it's worthy of a listen along with a hike through the forest; consider it a time to prepare yourself for the inevitable return of frost ahead.

Hypoxia - Defiance (Selfmadegod Records)

"Eleven servings of immense 718 style slams."

From punk to hardcore to death metal, you can recognize a New York City based band just by the delivery of the punishing music. Hailing from Queens, Hypoxia brings exactly the pummeling expected of any top notch NYC slugger with a side of howyadoin'.

Coming in as album number three, Defiance is chock full of crowd churning riffs in "Correlated Embolism" and face smashing breakdowns in "Drowning In Darkness". Welding these elements together on "Scorched and Skinned", and adding in a head spinning solo in "Agonized Asphyxia", fans of Suffocation and Vader are sure to bask in the brutality.

With members that bear a combined resume of work with Monstrosity, Imperial Crystalline Entombment, Castrator and Rumpelstiltskin Grinder to name a few, Defiance was set to be a stellar death metal opus from the start, and each of the album's eleven tracks certainly show this to be true.

Job For A Cowboy - Moon Healer (Metal Blade Records)

"The triumphant return of one of metal's biggest sensations."

Already considered to be the most anticipated album of 2024, some outlets are even predicting that Job For A Cowboy might have just released the metal album of the year. While there are still many months to go, there is no question that Moon Healer is a powerful contender for that title.

Making their name as a champion of the then emerging deathcore movement of the 2000s, JFAC drastically changed their style with the release of Sun Eater in 2014, an album that brought more progressive and technical sound to the band. Now ten years and an extended hiatus later, the long awaited follow up has arrived at last.

Backed by drummer extraordinare, Navene Kopweis (Entheos, ex-Animals As Leaders, ex-Animosity), the Arizona quartet deliver abstract grooves and tension filled passages. With bass work standing out in "Into the Crystalline Crypts", ambient vibes in "The Forever Rot" and leg snapping polyrhythms on "Etched In Oblivion", Moon Healer is not just an album, it is an experience.

In an era when bands like Rivers of Nihil, Cattle Decapitation, Archspire and Entheos lay waste to stages with abstract concepts woven into technical death metal, there couldn't be a better time for Job For A Cowboy to return. Welcome home, brothers.

Morta Skuld - Creation Undone (Peaceville Records)

"A lethal dose of brutality from Milwaukee's metal masters."

With a career spanning over three decades, Milwaukee's Morta Skuld is among the most revered bands of the Midwest death metal scene. It is no surprise then that their seventh album, Creation Undone, is packed to the brim with slams, shreds and blast beats backing the rasp of vocalist/guitarist Dave Gregor.

Delivering circle pit into mosh worthy riffs, tracks like "The End Of Reason" and "Perfect Prey", the album is sure to be a favorite for fans of Monstrosity and Autopsy. At the same time, dense build ups of songs like "Into Temptation" and "Self Destructive Emtions" are also certain to appeal to Immolation and Incantation legions.

Whereas traditional death metal is arguably a 'box of riffs' formula, Morta Skuld saw to it that hooks and grooves were baked into every track. Having taken their time to write each song one by one, the end result is ten exceptionally crafted offerings in one incredible album.

Advanced copies courtesy of Atom Splitter PR, Earsplit PR, Prosthetic Records and Secret Service PR.


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