Samoht’s albums of the year 2023

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2023 has been one hell of a year again. In more ways than one, of course. With many highs and lows. My personal high being that I got married in September, in full Country & Western style to boot, which no doubt influenced some of my musical pickings this year.

10. Frozen Soul - Glacial Domination

Century Media

Kicking the countdown off in suitably arctic style, at number 10 comes Frozen Soul’s ‘Glacial Domination’.   Old school death metal in the vein of Bolt Thrower or Asphyx that is such massive iceberg it could sink an ocean liner.  I’ll weather the freezing cold for that anytime of the day. They’ll be doing a European tour in February. Can’t wait to see them again after that short stop at Alcatraz festival over Summer.

Read the full review here.

9. Dorthia Cottrell - Death Folk Country

Relapse Records

Next up is the first curveball, being Dorthia Cottrell’s sophomore solo record ‘Death Folk Country’. While nowhere near anything doom metal or even metal in general, the mesmerizing siren from Windhand brought an aptly called gloomy mixture of folk, country and death.

Read the full review here.

8. Osi and the Jupiter - Cedar and Sage- Riders of the Gallow’s Vol.1


Continuing in that vein comes Osi and the Jupiter’s ‘Cedar and Sage- Riders of the Gallow’s Vol.1’. Being a long time fan of Sean Kratz’s work, the records he makes alongside Kakaphonix’s cello is a unique Appallachian take on minimalistic pagan folk.

7. Serpents Oath - Revelation

Odium Records

Two of the records on this list are homegrown. First up is one of the last releases to come out, ‘Revelation’ from rising stars in the Belgian black metal scene, Serpents Oath. This is one of the most promising newcomers in black metal to come out of our small country in years, and very likely to only become bigger and bolder in the future.

Read the full review here.

6. SLOW - Abîmes I

Code666 Records

And then you have funeral duo SLOW’s latest record ‘Abîmes I’, the first instalment in a new cycle of their awe-inspiring, majestic funeral doom. A true work of art. Déhà and Lore take you deep into the abyss, a bottomless cavern built on ancient pillars of rumbling bass and pounding percussion.  This abyss, however, is not the gaping void of emptiness you might think it to be. Minimalistic, for sure, but not without attention to detail. And that is what imbues this record with magic. It does not just prod along on an endless, inert dirge. Drifting in and out of focus, in between the black nothingness unfolds a story told in gentle piano lines and progressive, melodic guitars.

Read the full review here.

5. Smoulder - Violent Creed of Vengeance

Cruz Del Sur

You may think it’s all doom and gloom musically for me, but I’m a huge sucker for epic heavy metal as well. We’ve had a bunch of really good records there like Megaton Sword or The Night Eternal for instance, but one record that stands out specifically there is  Smoulder’s ‘Violent Creed of Vengeance’, balancing on the edge of a broadsword between epic doom and full on heavy metal. From the title track onwards, it very quickly becomes apparent that the band has stepped up their game considerably since their previous outing. While some may have considered Sarah Kitteringham’s voice as an acquired taste, she really soars on this record from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Read the full review here.

4. OAK - Disintegrate

Season of Mist

OAK has the honour of being the year’s revelation to me. Sporting members from sublime Portuguese black metal outfit Gaerea, their sophomore album ‘Disintegrate’ is a prime example of where funeral doom can go, going further on the path opened up by the like of Bell Witch.

Read the full review here.

3. Wayfarer - American Gothic

Century Media

I’ve mentioned it at the beginning, this year I’ve ridden wide and far into the Wild West, and the next two entries reflect that. Far from Vikings and church burnings, the cowboys from hell from Wayfarer’s spurs epic black metal right into the Old Frontier. Unique in its approach, ‘American Gothic’ is as epic and captivating as anything from their less Americana tinged peers in Primordial or Agalloch have conjured up.

Read the full review here.

2. The Coffinshakers - Graves, Release Your Dead

Svart Records

Swedish hillbillies The Coffinshakers prove you can come for anywhere to play Weird Western music in ‘Graves, Release Your Dead’. Old country, bluegrass, rockabilly and spaghetti western soundtracks still form the musical backbone with Rob Coffinshaker’s voice being more and more a dead ringer for Johnny Cash’s famed baritone as he spins yarns of vampires, ghouls and every other manner of creatures you could find lurking about the graveyard.

Read the full review here.

1. Bell Witch - Future's Shadow Part 1 The Clandestine Gate

Profound Lore Records

Last year’s crowning musical achievement, however, comes from Bell Witch. After the mind-blowing 82 minute funereal tour de force that is ‘Mirror Reaper’, these masters of misery came up with an even more ambitious new trilogy, of which they unveiled the first triptych ‘Future’s Shadow Part 1 The Clandestine Gate’.

That was it. My rundown of last year’s top ten most impressive albums. Now it’s time to bid our adieu to 2023 and gallop straight into that great unexplored country we call the future.

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