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Aldebaran - Embracing the Lightless Depths (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Aldebaran - Embracing the Lightless Depths (IMPORT) (CD)

Produced by Billy Anderson.

“Embracing The Lightless Depths” is the height of ALDEBARAN’s musical oeuvre, easily the heaviest and most searing work they’ve delivered. It is the most powerful monument in their repertoire that will seal ALDEBARAN’s fate as one of the mightiest and most important death/doom metal bands today. Emerging from their beginnings which leaned more towards a sludgier and more vitriolic breed of volatile doom, “Embracing The Lightless Depths” is the result of a threatening culmination that the Portland, Oregon cult have been building towards. One that has revealed itself as a monstrosity of apocalyptic proportions.

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Price: $13.99
Altar of Plagues - Mammal (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Altar of Plagues - Mammal (IMPORT) (CD)



In what will be seen as the band’s darkest, bleakest, and most gut-wrenching release out of their illustrious repertoire, “Mammal” is a surging and absorbing musical journey that focuses on our quest to explore further our state of mortality and what lies beyond the mortal coil.

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Apostle of Solitude - Last Sunrise (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Apostle of Solitude - Last Sunrise (IMPORT) (CD)

Features the covers of The Obsessed's "Streetside", The Misfits' "Astro Zombies" and Born Against's "Mary and Child".

It's hard to say if they topped Sincerest Misery, because they didn't try to out-do that album, they came in with a fresh approach and vision, added some new elements, and made an album that stands on its own as undoubtedly one of the finest that will be released in 2010.

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Price: $6.66
Atriarch - Ritual of Passing (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Atriarch - Ritual of Passing (IMPORT) (CD)



Atriarch’s Ritual of Passing is a bleak and foreboding journey into the very core of what defines authenticity by way of aesthetic. This is a metal record only by terminology or categorization. Sure, there’s the low growls mixed with the punk-tinged, somewhat spoken word vocalizations of Lenny Smith. There’s the obvious metal sound, but Ritual of Passing is no mere exercise in the exploring the oft-traversed pathways of doom or black metal. Rarely have albums with the imagery of Luciferianism and enlightenment combined with spiritual consciousness awareness been able to exude the authenticity that Atriarch does here. There is a desperation present not on an introspective level here, but on a level that is purely peripheral.

Ritual of Passing never unleashes. Rather, it simmers below the surface of the listener’s awareness. The word “ritual” will be thrown around to the point of exhaustion in the black or doom metal genre. It’s used as a method for schtick and a selling point for mindless drones who see the word and subconsciously associate it with the Satanism of their parents - an idealism rather than a conceptualization of what enlightenment truly is and, more importantly, what it is not. Ritual of Passing, however, is an absolute exercise in conjuring an equilibrium of light and dark - a sort of balance achieved even in the aesthetic of their sound.

The album is a task for the listener. It is as ominous as it is accessible on the lyrical and compositional levels. Ritual of Passing is a brilliant foray into the sinister pathways that come with self actualization. The difference here is that instead of letting themselves guide the lyrics and composition, it would appear that their subject matter guided them and this album as well. There’s an eerie quality to Atriarch’s Ritual of Passing - a quality that is as unsettling as it is an exercise in intellectual irritancy. Ritual of Passing is a stunning success not because it sounds utterly unlike any other metal album you’re likely to hear this year or perhaps have ever heard but because it’s a ritual of authenticity - passing the listener’s expectations through the veil of musical catharsis and into something much darker and, at the same time, wholly enlightening.

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Price: $13.99
Bell Witch - Four Phantoms (IMPORT) (2LP) Cover Art Bell Witch - Four Phantoms (IMPORT) (2LP)

Limited edition on black vinyl. Deluxe gatefold sleeve and download code included.

The much-anticipated 'Four Phantoms', recorded and engineered by the legendary and respected BILLY ANDERSON (Agalloch, Pallbearer, Leviathan, Neurosis, Melvins, a.o.), is Bell Witch's most crushing work yet. The band takes its sound further into the realms of soul-destroying heaviness, with intricate song structures that display finely honed compositional skills. This doom metal triumph for the ages dates from 2012 and at last sees its first ever vinyl issue

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Price: $27.99
Bloody Panda - Summon (with Bonus DVD) (IMPORT) (2CD) Cover Art Bloody Panda - Summon (with Bonus DVD) (IMPORT) (2CD)

Includes the bonus "Misere" DVD.

Fronted by Japanese siren and accomplished visual artist Yoshiko Ohara, whose death defying wails have at once drawn comparison to Diamanda Galas, Björk and Jarboe, Bloody Panda creates unique, affecting heavy music that combines visceral power, pained beauty and devastating emotion. Bloody Panda has skillfully combined the brutal with the entrancing. Summon is a nightmarish, cryptic trip that boosts Bloody Panda's disturbing cinematic vision of terror and frightening ferocity to altogether new spheres.

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Price: $13.99
Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun God (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun God (IMPORT) (CD)



Dawnbringer, the somewhat offbeat project band helmed by Chris Black (Pharaoh, Nachtmystium, High Spirits), is back for the attack after 2010's stellar Nucleus. This time out, it’s more in a classic metal framework, borrowing liberally from NWOBHM luminaries like Iron Maiden, Diamondhead and Saxon, while also taking tons of influence from American acts like Cirith Ungol, Hallow’s Eve, Slough Feg and Pharaoh. It has a more “epic” vibe than before and it adds a cool twist to the sound. It lacks the all-over-the-place chaotic charm of Nucleus, but has a lot going for it and a ton of wild guitar work and interesting riff/harmony ideas. It’s a freaking winner.

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Price: $11.99
Disma - Towards the Megalith (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Disma - Towards the Megalith (IMPORT) (CD)



Featuring death metal legend Craig Pillard (ex-Incantation/Disciples of Mockery), one of the most influential death metal vocalists of all time, and members of current U.S. death metal gods Funebrarum, Citizen's Arrest, and other Incantation alumni, DISMA’s towering debut album is a monolith of down-tuned doomy death metal terror that just seethes of old-school death metal glory. Like the ominous tomb of humanity in which it represents, “Towards The Megalith” is a crawling and lurking monster, a suffocating yet epic vision of death metal horror and doom that will solidify this as one of the most prominent death metal albums of the year.

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Price: $11.99
Evoken - Atra Mors (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Evoken - Atra Mors (IMPORT) (CD)



Maybe it has something to do with apocalyptic musings given to the year, but 2012 has already seen a lions share of bellowing, doom riddled goodness. Thankfully, too, that club is joined by funeral doom masters Evoken with their long awaited Atra Mors. Being Evoken’s first album in five years, it should come as no surprise that there’s a clear progression in their sound; more fluid, though not “polished”. That said, there’s no need to fear a loss of grittiness to any given track. There’s still the newly unearthed, weighty rawness that the band evokes so well. The breadth of the sound on Mors is undeniably vast, at times caked with moss, soaked in melancholy and at others commanding and assertive in its aggression. The ebb and flow in this regard, as well as the smartly placed and arguably integral segue way tracks, keep the listener entranced from start to finish.

Evoken have helped pave the way for many in the realm of doom metal, and it’s refreshing to see them not only coming out with new music, but doing so while giving newcomers a run for their money. While there may be no shortage of funeral doom out today, it takes an articulate ensemble to stand out and do justice to the genre and in that, there are no qualms that Evoken are champions. Time and again they’ve proven that funeral doom can be just as eclectic and varied as any other metal niche; the gorgeously crafted Atra Mors is clearly an attest to that.

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Price: $13.99
Grayceon - All We Destroy (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Grayceon - All We Destroy (IMPORT) (CD)



Comprised of cello (Jackie Perez Gratz), guitars (Max Doyle), drums (Zack Farwell), and vocals (Perez Gratz and Doyle), GRAYCEON are a band unlike anything that has been procured in heavy music. Known to create elongated time-stretching odes by combining progressive metal, neo-classical/chamber music, and down-tuned baroque-esque sludge doom, “All We Destroy” is already being heralded as the band’s masterpiece. Heavier, more ferocious, yet more elegant and beautiful, “All We Destroy” is the musical soundtrack to a frantic journey filled with tales of deceit, revenge, and broken hearts, all weaved through the scope of modern-day tragedy.

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Price: $6.66
   
 
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