6 Of The Best Self-Released Extreme Metal Albums Of 2019
Back in the day, if your band didn’t have label support, you were doomed to obscurity. At the height of the music industry’s largesse, record labels could basically decide who (and to a certain extent what) talent and excitement were, marketing the bands they thought best fit their (often limited) understanding. Then, Mother Internet arrived, and suddenly bands were amassing millions of fans while music industry heads were stuck promoting the last big trend.
Today, it’s easy to promote your own band online, instantly share your music with an international audience, or create a free music artist website. But while the tools are now at everyone’s fingertips, the effort to write, record, and get the word out about an album is still palpable. Nowhere is this truer than extreme metal, where the levels of brutality and weirdness most bands want to achieve almost guarantee them a lack of radio or label interest. These artists are living the purest form of the metal dream: creating their own music and releasing it themselves, for the sake of it getting heard.
Here are 6 of 2019’s self-released albums that give us hope for the future of DIY music:
Sigils - You Built The Altar, You Lit The Leaves
The debut full-length by New York City’s Sigils — whose ranks feature former members of Shai Hulud, Bomb The Music Industry, and Hollow Earth — is a beautifully resonant piece of witchy doom. But the fact that the band creates this giant, sprawling sound without the help of label support makes their effort and atmosphere all the cooler. One wonders if an album this heavy could have come about if the band hadn’t been in total control.
The Last Ten Seconds Of Life - Machina Non Grata
We usually think of self-produced albums as icy black metal or vast freeform doom, but Pennsylvania’s The Last Ten Seconds Of Life take things in a heavier direction. The band play gnarly, kinetic deathcore that has a significant chip on its shoulder, but doesn’t devolve into monotonous pig squeals or listless breakdowns. The incorporation of groove and thrash elements makes this album an especially tasty one.
Beastmaker - Eye Of The Storm EP
You might know Beastmaker frontman Trevor William Church from his work with modern shredders Haunt. But while Beastmaker definitely have a lot of old-school metal influence, they’re definitely more mid-paced and atmospheric than Trevor’s other band. Eye Of The Storm, their 13th (!) EP, focuses on the slower, chuggier aspects of classic metal, but it’ll still have you raising a clawed hand to the sky. Who needs a label to make your band sound huge and old-school?
Violet Cold - Kosmik
Already featured as one of this year’s underground releases we think even mainstream fans should know, Kosmik by Azerbaijanian black metaller Violet Cold is an awesome hurricane of gorgeous atmospheric black metal that needs to be mentioned again. Though the album eventually got distributed by Italian label Avantgarde Records, it was initially released independently, proving that even a band doing it themselves can create a sound that’s vast and harrowing.
Pickwick Commons - Weak Bones
Indianapolis’ Pickwick Commons do something fascinating with their brand of hard-hitting metalcore: they give it space. Instead of overwhelming the listener with distortion and nonstop double-bass, the band show off the moments between riffs with stark bass lines and shrieks that seem to hang in the middle of open air. This isn’t a genre one normally associates with less-is-more, but these guys nail it.
Wizzerd - Wizzerd
You gotta love a band that has songs named ‘Wizard’ and ‘Wizzerd’ on the same self-titled album. Montana stoner riff summoners Wizzerd definitely take a hilarious approach to their smoke-enshrouded doom, with plenty of room in their vocals and psychedelic howl behind their thrumming bass. Showcasing their DIY ethos, these guys do an awesome job of sounding like the greatest band you’ve ever seen in a basement.
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