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2023 Underground Releases You Probably Missed But Should Check Out

There were a huge amount of good releases this year, especially among the lesser known, more underground bands. In an effort not to have these smaller acts fall to the wayside, I figured it would be appropriate to highlight them on their own list.

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


From Finland, this melodic death metal trio was founded back in 2020 and have a handful of singles. 2021’s “Ov Behest” was the track that grabbed my attention and after reviewing their succinct discography, I was overall impressed with what I heard. No surprise considering the members are in bands I also enjoy: drummer Teppo Ristola plays in WHERE’S MY BIBLE, among many others; and guitarist/backing vocalist Taneli Jämsä is in FROSTTIDE. Of course being Finnish there is a healthy dose of keyboard added to the guttural growling and melodic riffs and blast beats. Even with no clean vocals this is an impressive record and future releases will likely come with even more prowess. 

FFO: Vorna, Marianas Rest, Dawn of Solace

Favourite Track: Kraken

9. THE RITUAL – TRYGLAV (Croatia) February 17 2023

The one man melodic black metal band of TRYGLAV, gives us something fast, unrelenting and vicious with his second album “The Ritual”. There’s an equal amount of focus put into the production as there is with the musicianship. As the album goes on, the it gets more and more melodic, taking a page from the Swedish style of black metal. Dropping in piercing guitar solos that are met with furious riffs and devilish howls this record is non stop headbanging from beginning to end.

FFO: Dark Funeral, Necrophobic, Enslaved

Favourite Track: The Vision

8. OF EXISTENTIAL DISTORTION – ÚLFÚÐ (Iceland) March 17, 2023

This is the first full-length from the band, and it’s an onslaught of blackened death metal with all the classical fixins. Clearly inspired by the desolate beauty of their homeland, the fusion of blistering death metal aggression and the dark, melodic undertones of black metal, creates a musical experience that is both relentless and haunting. Comprised of seasoned musicians who are known for other death and black metal acts in the country, there is no shortage of talent here. This one will definitely give you whiplash. 

FFO: Belphegor, Behemoth, Goatwhore

Favourite Track: Where Strange Lights Dance


Take one part sinister black metal vocals, one part exhilarating symphonies and combine with a heavy helping of crazy power metal solos in a spooky castle and you have a recipe for an absolute hypnotising album. This is the first full-length for the band who formed in 2022. Fast, fantastical, ferocious, its high speed, dragon fighting, black metal which is infinitely less cheesy than I am making it sound. Leave it to the Finns to take two completely different genres, mash them together and have it work out.

FFO: Stormkeep, Emperor, Bal-Sagoth

Favourite Track: The Secret of Streaming Blood

6. WHITE FROST AND ELDER BLOOD – FIRIENHOLT (England) January 27, 2023

FIRIENHOLT offers a Mesmerizing and eerie take on black metal/dungeon synth with “White Frost and Elder Blood” with dances expertly between lamenting guitar riffs, chilling clean choruses, despondent synths and gritty growls taking you on a masterfully planned journey through the world of The Witcher that is dotted with adventure, monsters, self-reliance and sadness. Whether it is the lyrical content, the delicate synth or the memorable riffs, this one is sure to satisfy a wide variety of nerds.

FFO: Summoning, Caladan Brood, Sojourner

Favourite Track: Tedd Deireádh

5. LEGACY – NON EST DEUS (Germany) May 12, 2023

Germany’s one man project NON EST DEUS have been on a rampage since their inception in 2017. Since then, they have released four full-length blasphemic albums, the most recent one being “Legacy” which is a blast beat infused descent into hell, guided by gritty yet clear vocals that resonate within your thoughts. With just the right amount of melody coming through in the guitar work, it’s easy to get into this band and just as easy to keep playing them over and over. Clean production, infectious scales, and drums that keep a quick but not frantic pace solidify this as a gateway album to this band.

FFO: Misþyrming, Panzerfaust, Blaze of Perdition

Favourite Track: Hiob

4. REUE – LEIÞA (Germany) January 13, 2023

It wasn’t until I was looking up the details on these new-to-me bands that I found out that the man behind LEIÞA, is the same person behind NON EST DEUS and has another solo project KANONENFIEBER that also released an EP this year – this guy has been very busy making deadly music. The predominantly German language “Reue” has all the hallmarks of a quintessential black metal album, the drums are frantic, the vocals are pained, this a cacophony of despair, anger, and the tribulation of contending with the sinister face of depression. Pained shrieks drive home hopelessness while soft guitar passages briefly offer a release until you are once again plunged into relentless agony conveyed by shattering drums and desperate vocals.

FFO: Watain, Marduk, Ascension

Favourite Track: “Rauch”

3. MAZZAROTH – SODOMISERY (Sweden) September 8, 2023

SODOMISERY’s second full length “Mazzaroth” immediately throws the listener into the fray and this energy and tempo is maintained throughout much of the album. We are talking about Swedish melodic death metal though so there is still room for clean sing-along spots amidst the growls, and nerdy guitar work that shows off the influences and passion of founder/vocalist/guitarist Harris Sopovic. Many big names in both the Swedish scene and from abroad have contributed to this project and the variation in styles really rounds out the overall sound.

FFO: Unanimated, Hypocrisy, Mors Principium Est

Favourite Track: Mazzaroth

2. THIS MOURNFUL DAWN – NORDICWINTER (Canada) August 25, 2023

The seventh album (and sixth since 2020) by this one man project, “This Mournful Dawn” starts off calm before descending into abrasive, clawing raspy vocals of agony. The misery meanders through chilly, desperate guitars; gravelly, agitated bass lines and vicious vocals that are marched together at a steady and depressive pace. Closing with a piano focused instrumental in a similarly sullen tempo as was opened with, NORDICWINTER proves there is another, more delicate and mysterious layer to his music.

FFO: Tardigrada, Ante-Inferno, Aara

Favourite Track: As Twilight Fades

1. INEVITABLE – NONE (USA) June 30 2023

There was a bit of a pause for NONE through the pandemic, but that silence has been  shattered with the bleak and forlorn “Inevitable”. Another frostbitten, depressive album, it brings together hazy distortion, chilling soundscapes and pained howls. At times it is tumultuous and gritty, vocals and discordant guitars rip you to shreds; and at other times it is almost comforting and soothing, meditative melancholic hymns providing a haunting ambience. As each song seamlessly melds with the next, “Inevitable” ultimately leaves you in a state of wandering emptiness, suspended somewhere between the realms of satisfaction and longing. 

FFO: Totalselfhatred, Austere, ColdWorld

Favourite Track: A Reason to Be

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