Been thinking a lot about thos cleans lately. TEMPLE OF VOID released their latest Summoning The Slayer on June 3, and this is my honest, live reaction video to their closing song, “Dissolution”.

And last week, I was doing my routine sampling of the week’s new releases when the cleans hit me in a REAL WAY that completely disrupted my equilibrium. The following is a dramatic reenactment based on true life events.


Hello there! Should go without saying, but these are my FAVORITES. They are the ones that hold my highest replayability for now & years to come. Also I’m starting with #1 because this isn’t a goddamn christmas present that everyone is screaming and losing their shit about. But hey, thanks for visiting and riffling through my picks of 2020! Let’s GOOOOOO.

#1) Beltez – A Grey Chill And A Whisper (Avantgarde Music)
I’ve been anticipating this one a while as their 2017 release was my damn-near #1. Their USBM-style sound is dialed in FULL and THICK. And the quickest way to my loins are the mid-tempo double kick “rock” beats widely featured here. Second track alone is one of those jaw-dropping complete songs that makes everything else following feel like a bonus treat. Their arrangements are crafted to moody perfection, as the penultimate song flat wipes you out before the closing number calmly glazes over, reaching peak tingles. This is the complete package, front to back, and that’s why it’s my favorite album of 2020!

#2) Funeral Leech – Death Meditation (Carbonized)
So many great debuts this year! This death doom monster from NYC bulldozed the loins and ran it up full mast for me. It’s an absolute stunner start to finish. The second track breakdowns are the stuff of legends, and I also so love all the creepy-crawly vocal whispers (wait till to hear this shit, it’s lit). If there is another record with as much stank as this one, I have yet to hear it.

#3) Autonoesis – Autonoesis (unsigned)
Here’s a truly a perfect death metal album, performed flawlessly, where every riff is memorable and causes uncontrollable hand motions and air guitars galore. A blistering experience that I cannot recommend enough, and please just bury me to the closing track – the theatrical, delicate, and levitating song does it all in its 12-minutes. It’s a standout 2020 moment. A stunning debut that has me excited for everything about this talented band’s future!

#4) Lykotonon – Only Our Eyes Are Alive (unsigned)
Such a brief introduction with a 21min debut, but a side project with Blood Incantation and Wayfarer members makes it easy to wanna sample. The overall dense atmosphere and psychedelic nuances is a perfect “USBM avantgarde Krallice / Ash Borer” mash. The tricks and stops within each song still get me even after repeated listens, and the blackened death intensity felt from every strained vocal cry is very palatable.

#5) Void Rot – Descending Pillars (Sentient Ruin / Everlasting Spew)
I’ve got the death doom fever HARD, and with production like Void Rot’s, it’s easy to fall prey. I just love the way it SOUNDS. It’s big, thunderous, full, and rich with the vocals looming ever so passerby and dark. That guitar tone is clearly a product of hard research, chunky as hell but also sneaking those unnerving high-pitched digs. They may wear their influences on their sleeves, but they’ve perfected the formula. And what can I say, IT MOVES ME (it my fanboy video).

#6) Black Curse – Endless Wound (Sepulchral Voice)
Give me all of the blackened fury, hellish blasts, and gasping-for-air screams, but also give me some mind-boggling outros (“Enraptured By Decay” just GOES for it), tense tribal interludes (“Lifeless Sanctum”), and repetitive, beat-it-till-it-stops-moving closing tracks. Featuring members of THAT Denver collective of bands, these ambitious, creative song arrangements should come as no surprise.

#7) Heretical Sect – Rapturous Flesh Consumed (Gilead Media)
Their 2019 EP was sooo good, and the blackened death-doom full length really goes the distance too! When it hits the gas around 4min on 2nd track, I’m like YES ALLLL IN. As haunting as it is rockin’, it’s a hot 37 minutes for me. The chants are SCARY and give the heebies but probably not as much as their wacky ass video. Wooooo and that jarring guitar line opens the closing track? TAKE ME AWAY.

#8) Temple Of Void – The World That Was (Shadow Kingdom)
DEVOUR THE HOURS pretty much sums up this year! Look, I’m a big ToV fanboy (another video of mine), and while metal usually doesn’t boil down to HOT SINGLES OF 2020, “Self-Schism” and “Casket Of Shame” are certified rippers! The rest of the album brings the crushing death doom heat like always. This is essential 2020 listening for ANY metal fan.

#9) Solothus – Realm Of Ash And Blood (20 Buck Spin)
Monstrous death doom that does it all! Super slow head draggers, mid tempo grooves, and deathly somber waves. I especially love vocalist Kari Kankaanpää’s range (BOWWWWW growls to banshees) and hot damn that second track “The Watcher” got so many replays alone. Another solid 2BS release!

#10) Undergang – Aldrig i livet (Dark Descent)
Filthy death metal wasting no time gritting teeth with a lovely “entrance music” opening track. From there, it’s one perfect gnarly riff after the next. And while I enjoyed many an EP in this style (seriously so many great Bandcamp finds), I’m happy UG put out a complete and proper full-length to envelop. Also, Tomb Mold can’t put out an album EVERY year! And bonus points for ending their album with an isolated UGHHH!

HM) Siege Column – Darkside Legions (Nuclear War Now!)
Hot damn this a funnnnn album. Sleazy death metal that is so danceable! Opener “Devil’s Nights Of Hell” is METAL SONG OF THE YEAR with its teasing eerie synths before breaking into a full-on SHIMMY STRUT ATTACK. Featuring the muffled-fart vocalist of Death Fortress (love them too), SC brings the riff party and the lo-fi evil!

HM) Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kynski (Nuclear Blast)
Mystery Science Nadblasters Theatre 8000, what more can you really say? Completely out of this world good. ‘Back and forth in your rocking chair questioning reality and your existence’ good.


HM) Atramentus – Stygian (20 Buck Spin)
Impressive debut really making the case for me liking funeral doom. It sounds SO large, and I’m feeling it deep in the plums (especially those gargle and bowel choir vocals). Instead of putting me to sleep like its genre contemporaries, I kept coming back for that thundering hum.

HM) Noroth – It Dwells Amongst Us (unsigned)
Sinister death debut that can pummel nads and steamroll loins with the likes of Tomb Mold and Noose Rot. Served as the perfect soundtrack for angrily washing dishes during Covid.

HM) Phthisis – Embodiment Of Decay (unsigned)
Yeah I’ll some more knuckle-dragging death doom please! ANOTHER debut, and Denver is a goldmine for the metals. Hooooweeee, that third track is uncomfortable AF, sign of promising things to come!


King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – K.G.
I’ve caught the band’s bug fairly recently but I’ve got it bad and this one is full of earworms that I couldn’t help but latch on immediately. Rats’ Nest was a 2019 personal yearender with their dirty thrash, and K.G. continues that high energy while tossing out an endless amount of psychedelic microtonal delights. “Some Of Us” –> “Ontology” –> “Intrasport” is TRACK TRANSITION PERFECTION with the latter being the middle eastern disco dub song I didn’t know I needed, SO GOOD!


My group of friends held our annual listening party, affectionately called METAL MASS. We reveal our favorite albums, and then our coding-proficient friend then runs his script, calculating votes with weight, to determine the consensus #1. Oranssi Pazuzu took that prize this year!



Thank you so much for reading! Send any feedback below or at my Twitter and Facebook pages. But more importantly, follow me on Bandcamp (and buy the albums on it too!) so I can follow back and hear what you’re enjoying!



[me on left w/friends, moments after seeing Blood Incantation @ Walker’s Point Music Hall, Milwaukee WI 10/21/2019]
Hello there! Ahh listseason, my favorite time of year! I’ll spare you an exhausting introduction since there is an endless sea of these right now. But thanks for visiting and riffling through my picks of 2019!

#20) Desecresy – Towards Nebulae (Xtreem Music)
Death metal with vast production and simple, relatively short song structures clear the path for those repeating lead riffs to really stick.

#19) Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling (Gilead Media)
I love the Siberian field sounds, unorthodox instruments, and even the muffled production, but I think it’s the searing lead (only appearing twice) on “No Dust” that really catapulted this one for me.

#18) Heretical Sect – Rotting Cosmic Grief (Vendetta)
This New Mexico anonymous blackened collective’s super solid 21min EP latched on instantly. Vocals are very SCAAaAaRY. They’re focused on the physical and spiritual genocides of the Southwest, and the music definitely showcases that dark consciousness.

#17) Acathexis – S/T (Fallen Empire)
An absolute stunner of a black metal album: visceral, passionate, and powerful. Features member of Mare Cognitum so it’s no slouch. The immersive atmosphere cannot be touched. The sound is massive, the screams are perfect, and the blasts will tear thy loins asunder.

#16) Bull Of Apis Bull Of Bronze – Offerings Of Flesh And Gold (Tridroid)
Feeling the same pitted feels when I listen to transcending bands like (and personal favs) Ultha, Ludicra, and Ash Borer. May this captivating debut hit you deep in the plums like it did me and all the repeated hits to follow.

#15) Verwoed – De Val (Sentient Ruin)
Spiraling blackened doom chaos; one of those albums where it all builds to the final two minutes. I’m not spoiling anything because it needs to be experienced firsthand, but when those guest vocals emerge to drive the final nails down, it’s a super special moment.

#14) Vastum – Orificial Purge (20 Buck Spin)
Super psych-horror (save that blasé gore!) death metal with awesome dual vocalist action. That artwork is so on point, and the looming spoken word over catchy opener “Dispossessed In Rapture (First Wound)” will forever give me the shivering creeps.

#13) Suspiral – Chasm (Sentient Ruin)
Blackened cavernous chaos with a nightmare vision, extreme music like this and Sentient Ruin go hand in hand. The hypnotic back-and-forth riffs on opener “Crown Of Chaos” is a highlight, but the real star of the show is the production mix, painting that dark void without letting it devolve into absolute mud.

#12) Death Fortress – Reign Of The Unending (Fallen Empire)
So yeah, another perfect play of dual death metal vocalists (one goes UNGHH, the other HIIIIIEEEE) and track 3 “Monolith Winter” is one of the hottest singles, with those delightful, rupturing double kicks CALLING OUT MY NAME until a blissful fade out.

#11) Inter Arma – Sulphur English (Relapse)
One of those all-encompassing, wash-me-over albums that spins, hangs, and hits hard (and I’m a sucker for their signature chugga chugga chugga chugga ROOOOOOOAAAAAAR chugga chugga chugga chugga formula).

#10) Vacivus – Annihilism (Profound Lore)
Top honors for best intro/walkup music belongs to the “Post Templum/Of Ruinous Essence” on Annihilism. It’s so soft, spooky, eerie, with tingly piano touches and delicate guitar rings only to violently EXPLOOOODE, much to your dream’s (and your dream audience’s) delight. Imaginary scenarios aside, the production on this killer death metal release lets every tom and barking growl hit square in the chest.

#9) Unknown Artist – A Pig’s Head On A Stick (Standalone Complex)
Blackened crust and grind blender with nothing else known about them other than a single 28min track on a French label. One of those “this part is great and next part is even better” sort of listening experiences that barely takes a breath during its pummeling, nightmarish song. Share this with anyone boasting too hard on their sophisticated tastes in “extreme metal”.

#8) ORM – Ir (Indisciplinarian)
Danish atmospheric black metal with two 25-min tracks. Why not split them up further? Why not just let it be one 50-min song? The articulate cohesiveness displayed on Ir leaves nothing up for debate re: their arrangement decisions. The contradicting lush and harsh compositions is a major step up from their 2017 release, which I also enjoyed.

#7) Ossuary – Supreme Degradation (Maggot Stomp)
Cavernous is a word that gets tossed around with many death metal releases, but this is the kind of muck that can hang with any band on Dark Descent or 20 Buck Spin. Guitarist Izzi Plunkett’s growls are some of my favorites, and keeping things steady with a trio really pays off, letting the echoing riffs speak for themselves. Madison’s own really hit hard this year!

#6) Vukari – Aevum (Vendetta)
Chicago’s Vukari has been a staple USBM act for some time now, but they really upped it with this latest. Combining desperate atmosphere with aggressive tones (with help of bassist Spensor Morris’s perfect production), Vukari’s biggest strength is shaking the entire mood/vibe of a song at the magical 2/3 point (hear “Abrasive Hallucinations” and “The True King Is Death” for further reference).

#5) Shabti – Trembling And Shorn (self-released)
This is the USBM / technical death hybrid I never knew I needed. Relentless ferocity with tight drumming, bass acrobatics, and an especially impressive growl/shriek attack (courtesy of guitarist Rob Cook) combine for a neatly-wrapped, 42min-dizzying package. The are-you-kidding outro of “Seven Billion Souls” is one of my fav moments this year.

#4) Crypt Sermon – The Ruins Of Fading Light (Dark Descent)
This is one where the hype train really paid off, as I normally don’t pay much attention to a traditional doom release because it’s usually a case of “pretty good but thos cleans ruin it”. Not having listening to previous albums, I found myself celebrating the typecasted gallops, sword clacks, and countless ‘raise your chalice’ commands. Feelin’ that black candle flame!

#3) King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest (Flightless/ATO)
The most fun I’ve had with an album this year, bar none. Stu’s gnarly-ass guitar tone, thrash riffs for days, and catchy-as-hell songs all make this apocalyptic-themed 35min record easy to throw on. They do thrash better than most thrash bands. Thanks to this album and a friend’s insistence, I’ve had a deep dive with the insane King Gizz discography in 2019.

#2) Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race (Dark Descent)
Nothing needed here, because it’s all been written already. And that’s neither a slight nor annoyance at the heap of praise and press this death metal masterpiece received.


#1) Ultha – belong
Is it okay to pen a love letter to your favorite band here? They released my favorite albums of 2016 and 2018 (and would have been 2015 too but I missed it), only to drop this surprise 38-min “EP” in October. And it’s just as powerful, intense, searing, and gripping as ever. As a mere fan, I can only hope anyone reading could feel even just 10% of the reeling excitement I get from this magnificent band.


And it’s not even on …Rats’ Nest! Press play and smile. You won’t regret it.



For the fifth time running now, I hosted my year-end listening party, affectionately called “METAL MASS”. Everyone takes a turn playing their favorite songs of 2019 and then WE REVEAL our fav albums. Our coding-proficient friend then runs his script, calculating votes with weight, to determine the consensus #1, and Blood Incantation took that prize this year!


To the list nerds or anyone wondering how to keep all that shit together, I’m going to plug Trello for managing that obsessiveness. It’s easy and free. I cataloged over 500 albums this year so if there was a noteworthy metal release, chances are I gave it a shot (not bragging if it’s true).



Thank you so much for reading! Send any feedback below or at my Twitter and Facebook pages. But more importantly, follow me on Bandcamp (and if you dig, buy the albums on it too!) so I can follow back and hear what you’re enjoying!

Also, for those albums on Spotify: HERE
And for my HOT SINGLES OF 2019: HERE

Happy 2020!


constantly sorting through new releases in my native habitat

Oh hey! Just a quick little recap of the year to date. Here are 10 of my fav albums of 2019 so far! So screw the foreward, let’s get to it! And you’re damn right I wore the same shirt of an album I’m going to be discussing in 5 seconds! Exclamation points!!!

Continue reading “JUSTIN’S MID YEAR RIPPERS 2019”


revealing my favorite albums at my annual year end party METAL MASS (and wearing comfy slippers is the best part of hosting, fyi)

[insert reflective diatribe re: 2017’s dismal climate and express gratitude for heavy metal here]

In all seriousness, it is and thankfully, it was another great year for metal. After the countless hours spent on Bandcamp, Twitter, and my friends’ Slack channel, 2017 boiled down to the following 20 albums (EPs count if they’re ~20mins long = my rules). They hold the highest personal replay value. Of course, some got neglected due to time, length, and the sheer magnitude of releases.

So give these a whirl and let me know what sticks with you. Hang ’til the very bottom if you want to see my crabbypants rant re: the albums that caused extreme irritation.

As always, thank you for reading!



Hey! I moved my site from goodshakes.com (RIP) to here. This is unimportant as I only post twice a year. So I’ll get right to it! You are here to read my digest of 2017 rippers (so far).

Woe – Hope Attrition (Vendetta)
Woe is one of my favorite bands, period, and this new batch of pissed-off, hardcore/aggro USBM songs properly rips some shit. Chris Grigg’s screams are more vicious than ever on topical tracks “No Blood Has Honor” and “Drown Us With Greatness” (iseewhatyoudidthere), and this is one of the finest drum performances in recent memory (Lev Weinstein, also of Krallice). The bright, large, and crisp production makes it so easy to spin again, and the 3-minute instrumental intro of “Unending Call of Woe” might be my walk-out song of 2017.

Below The Sun – Alien World (ToT Records)
I slept on their 2015 album Envoy, and I’m trying to make up for it with newly released Alien World. I was instantly hooked with “Mirrors” (above), a crushing doom number that boasts an intriguing atmospheric mid-section that doesn’t get soft or boring. They jump genres gracefully, and “Black Wave” (my personal fav) even has a Soundgarden vibe to it, made especially chilling given recent events. Their sound and image are not to be ignored, even if the bass player wearing the mask on his head gives me the gd willies.

Continue reading “JUSTIN’S MID-YEAR RIPPERS 2017”