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10 Highly Recommended Metal Albums Of 2023 (#1-5)

Nice to see that life has basically returned to normal and so many quality releases came across my desk this year. Out of the few hundred I got a chance to listen to, the following 10 were the ones played the most. 

Albums #6-10 here.

Check out this Spotify playlist for the full list, honourable mentions, singles and a few not-metal releases.

5 – CREPUSCULE NATURA – UADA (USA) September 8th, 2023

UADA packs a punch of black metal aggression, punk rhythms and drawn out frenetic riffs making them a treat to listen to both live and on record. Highly memorable riffs intertwine with spacey choruses in an album that insists on being experienced in its entirety. Whether it is the deep guttural chants on “The Dark” making the hair on the back of your neck stand up or the fist pumping riff in “Retraversing the Void” or the wild guitar solo “Crepuscule Natura”, there is something on this album for everyone.

Favourite Track: The Abyss Gazing Back

FFO: Mgla, 1914, Батюшка

4 – HAIL THE ABYSS – THULCANDRA (Germany) May 19th, 2023

THULCANDRA has been around since 2010 and as disappointing as it is to only find out about them now, I’m glad I did. With members including vocalist/guitarist Steffen Kummerer (OBSCURA) and drummer Alessandro Delastik (ex-NAGORATH) it’s pretty easy to see the direction the music is going to take. It’s heavy, galloping black metal but with more attention paid to grandiose riffs and catchy patterns than what is normally found in the genre. Through destructive arpeggios, and progressive harmonies, they offer a tightly woven tapestry of memorable black metal and melodic death metal that doesn’t relent, from the start, it’s one deadly riff after another.

Favourite Track: In the Eye of Heaven

FFO: Necrophobic, Naglfar, Dissection


From the git go in “Terrasitic Adaptation”, CATTLE DECAPITATION returns with another out of control, brutal and gruesome look at humanity and the destruction it causes through signature gnawing vocals, blistering drums, caustic arpeggios and coarse bass lines. My favourite thing about the band are the melodic “clean” goblin vocals and as usual they don’t disappoint in this record. Layered perfectly to administer the most impactful dose of horror and misanthropy they complete each song adding a melodic break in between devastation grinds that makes the album that much more satisfying.

Favourite Track: Scourge of the Offspring

FFO: Aborted, Dying Fetus, Benighted

2 – WARLOCKS GRIM & WITHERED HAGS – HELLRIPPER (Scotland) February 17, 2023

Anyone who has been following along, should know that thrash and speed metal are not in my most loved genres. So colour me surprised when HELLRIPPER came across my desk and FUCKING BLEW ME AWAY. Maybe it’s the blackened touches that do it for me, but regardless this one clamped on and didn’t let go. A blistering fever of an album, this is by far the most fun you’ll have getting whiplash for the foreseeable future. It has all the best parts of speed metal – fervent riffs that pierce through you, gang vocals that make you want to sing along and it has the best parts of black metal – chaotic vicious guitar passages but with high production and heavy metal gallops. Bold, varied and a true showcasing of talent, this is a must listen.

Favourite Track: The Aisle Of Fire

FFO: Midnight, Venom, Sodom

1 – ANNO 1696 INSOMNIUM (Finland) February 24th, 2023

Not only did INSOMNIUM release the eagerly anticipated “ANNO 1696” in February but they also gave us an EP “Songs of the Dusk” in November for a whopping 80 minutes of new music this year. They both exemplify the consistently good music that the band has been creating since the late 90s. They aren’t out to reinvent the wheel, there isn’t anything groundbreaking or experimental in these releases, it’s refined, high quality Finnish melodic death metal that guides through love, loss, contemplation, anger and sorrow. In this record, there is the comfort that you are not alone while a cold wind rages through you. Once again, we are given gloomy and poignant riffs, steady, meticulous drums and brooding vocals which echo existentialism and wonder. The inclusion of soprano JOHANNA KURKELA on “Godforsaken” adds a wash of delicate melodies that enhances the emotional depth of the track and creates a captivating auditory experience.

Favourite Track: Godforsaken

FFO: Dark Tranquility, Be’lakor, Omnium Gatherum

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