It’s my favourite time of the year where I get to spend hours trawling back through all the records I’ve listened to that were released this year and let me tell you, it’s quite the pile and quite the job! 2023 has again been another year of incredible music releases that have piled so high, I’ve likely missed some great records and hopefully, I’ll get to the end of my list by the close of play… next year! However, the massive pile I did get through, threw out the below ten beauties that make up my 2023 end of year list, plus a cheeky few honourable mentions at the end.
Personally, 2023 has been made wonderful by unleashing my new best pal Larry the Labrador upon the world whom, alongside my other bestie Susan the Cat, make the long days of toil and drudgery much more bearable. These two and my wonderful wife make the world much more tolerable as I’ve much love for them!
So, have a read of my end of year list and give me the best present ever by checking out some of these glorious records which runs from ten down to one, with one being my illustrious top spot! Here’s to 2023, and to 2024 being another great year of music for us all to enjoy and for me to gush over as I wile away the precious few hours until my tubby and bloated ol’ corpse inevitably leaves this here mortal coil.
10. Serpent Corpse ‘Blood Sabbath’
A debut record of raw and rotten death metal from Serpent Corpse which ghoulishly blends the savagery of Dismember with the crusty goodness of Autopsy, sounds good? Well, it is! What’s also great about this record is that it has enough about it to stand out from the incredibly bloated pack, it’s dynamic, well put together and hyper infectious. The production is just right, everything sounds clear but coated in a murky ol’ grime to give it that abrasive edge! Also that Shoggoth Kinetic’s artwork… so good!
Label: Temple Of Mystery Records
9. Grotesqueries ‘Vile Ceremony’
Sludgy, stomping and raging death from Boston’s Grotesqueries that’s oozing with doom-laden goodness and festering atmospheres, it’s utterly virulent and not left my rotation since it’s June release. This putrid slab is well paced, well organised and deliciously heavy. It deserves your attention and excitingly for us Brit’s, we can catch it live at Necropolis Festival at the New Cross Inn in London next year!
Label: Caligari Records
8. Tomb Mold ‘The Enduring Spirit’
Tomb Mold are back! After releasing three full lengths one after another over three years, these modern death metal trailblazers took a four year break before releasing The Enduring Spirit, an album that’s more progressive, more explorative and more alien than ever before! Was the break worth it? Hell yeah it was! You can really hear the influence from guitarist Derrick Vella’s other project Dream Unending seeping through, the death metal is as grizzly as ever but with this dreamy over tone that really compliments the sci-fi heavy themes being spewed out by these Toronto heavies! Don’t miss this!
Label: 20 Buck Spin
7. Spirit Possession ‘Of The Sign…’
The wild, unabashed second full-length from this bizarre speed/black/death duo Spirit Possession does not disappoint. I loved their self-titled debut and Of The Sign… is even better! The razor-sharp stabbing riffs unrelentingly flail whilst the howling vocals spread all of their demonic vows across the unsuspecting listener, from the riffs, the infectious drumbeats, the Tom G Warrior ‘Ughs’ and hellish atmospheres all make for a killer listen. Also, these guys may, or may not, appear later with their other project in Ulthar! Some year they have had!
Label: Profound Lore Records
6. Dying Remains ‘Entombed In Putrefaction’
As you can probably tell, I’m partial to a good ol’ slab of death metal and if it’s released by a record label like Maggot Stomp then you know it’s going to be good! Step up Dying Remains and their debut record Entombed In Putrefecation sporting yet more killer artwork from Shoggoth Kinetics and this crushing riff-fest is an ode to all things neck-breakingly heavy! I can’t wait to hear what’s next from this Calgary four-piece.
Label: Maggot Stomp
5. Majesties ‘Vast Reaches Unclaimed’
Man, as I get older, I get more nostalgic, especially with my music, and I often yearn for something new that harkens back to the styles that formed my tastes. I know we have a boat load of old school death but not much like this glorious ode to that ‘90s Gothenburg melo-death scene in Majesties and their album Vast Reaches Unclaimed. Think Slaughter Of The Soul by At The Gates, The Gallery by Dark Tranquillity or Colony era In Flames then put it in the capable hands of members from Inexorum, Obsequiae and Antiverse and you’re in for a treat as this is brilliant.
Label: 20 Buck Spin
4. Disguised Malignance ‘Entering The Gateways’
Welp! Surprise of the year for me is this one. After a pretty cool demo that came out back in 2021, this group of young Fins have returned with one of the best records of the year, absolutely killer death metal of the highest order. Everything screams that it’s been produced by a band who have been at it for decades, but nope, this is Disguised Malignance debut full-length, and it absolutely rips. Huge riffs, crushing drums, pounding bass and murderous vocals… this one should not be ignored, absolute belter.
Label: Prosthetic Records
3. Ulthar ‘Anthronomicon/Helionomicon’
This gargantuan sized two record project just blew me away and continues to ten months after its initial release. Anthronomicon is eight tracks of unhinged and demonic death metal that is utterly terrifying, chock full of maddening atmospheres that draw you in and never let you leave! Helionomicon is much more sprawling and long-form, the two tracks, totalling forty minutes, tear at reality as Ulthar present a more experimental take on their sound but still just as mind-bendingly heavy. This is Ulthar at their very best, a really stunning double album.
Label: 20 Buck Spin
2. Cruciamentum ‘Obsidian Refractions’
Cruciamentum finally return after eight years and produce an incredible slab of blackened death metal that is broiling over with mephistophelian atmospheres, oppressive riffs and spiteful aggression like the perfect mix of Incantation, Immolation and Morbid Angel… just glorious. The writing and pacing on here is just perfect which all aids in allowing the group to spew out their ghoulish and pulverising sound. So was the wait worth it…? 100%, I haven’t stopped listening to this. I loved their last album Charnel Passages, but I think they’ve gone one better with Obsidian Refractions.
Label: Profound Lore Records
1. Horrendous ‘Ontological Mysterium’
Another future classic and my favourite record of the year from Horrendous, one of the most consistent and forward-thinking groups in death metal, the perfect blend of melody, technical precision and twisted heaviness which all come together with nods to nineties trailblazers Death, Atheist, Cynic and Pestilence to form the groups distinctive and diverse sound that is the most complete here on Ontological Mysterium. From the production to the performance everything is perfect and could be a future classic of the genre, all I know is that I love this record and can’t wait for what comes next.
Label: Season Of Mist
Any of these could easily have made the top ten, alas it’s been a super strong year but all of the below are stellar records and deserve a listen!
Nuclear Remains ‘Dawn Of Eternal Suffering’
Asphodelus ‘Sculpting From Time’
Thantifaxath ‘Hive Mind Narcosis’
Panopticon ‘The Rime Of Memory’
Scribed by: Matt Alexander