NILE Ithyphallic (Relapse) Easily one of American death metal's most unique and inventive bands, the Egyptian revivalists continue to play circles around everyone's expectations with an album that actually improves on their previous work. Relying on blistering, guttural, stomach-churning metal influenced by ancient Egyptian instrumentation and myth, Ithyphallic is kinda like the most brutal history lesson, like, ever.
BEHEMOTH The Apostasy (Century) Poland's Behemoth are one of extreme metal's most popular acts. They deliver an absolutely terrifying approach on songs like Pazuzu, with brilliant work from lead singer Nergal on guitar as well as from Inferno, arguably one of the best drummers in the genre.
DARKTHRONE F.O.A.D. (Peaceville) Black metal pioneers and idols to amateur misanthropes, Darkthrone have morphed from building the lo-fi Norwegian black metal aesthetic to their current blend of blackened punk metal. It's a no-frills, all-out thrash, with cheery numbers like Fuck Off And Die and a nod to our frosty shores on the track Canadian Metal. Uncompromising and vicious.
FINNTROLL Ur Jordens Djup (Spikefarm) Although many try to describe this Finnish band as "polka metal," that just sounds silly. While they do use plenty of "oompa-oompa"-type rhythms, the music is heavy as fuck. On their latest, the band continues to incorporate traditional folk melodies and instruments in numbers that all end up sounding like really mean drinking songs.
MOONSORROW V: Hvitetty (Spikefarm) With only two songs, both over 25 minutes long, Moonsorrow uses lots of traditional Finnish folk as well as black-metal-style riffs and drumming to create a monster album that slowly but surely builds to swirling climaxes.