1) Chelsea Wolfe — “Birth of Violence” (Sargent House, USA)
Although this album is a throwback to Wolfe’s coffeehouse dark folk genesis, a conscious effort to back away from the more metallic heft of her last couple of records, in every way it’s even heavier. Birth of Violence is sparse, allowing the listener to fill in the expanses, as she reclaims not only her past but her present and future as well.
6) Lingua Ignota — “Caligula” (Profound Lore Recordings, USA)
Her show that I reviewed earlier this year was performance art unlike any show I have ever seen, but all of the drama comes from Caligula. Song titles such as “If the poison won’t take you my dogs will,” sentiments such as “Who will love you if I don’t? Who will fuck you if I won’t,” and bloodcurdling screams during “Do you doubt me Traitor” all add up to an intensity that could kill at 20 paces.
8) Brutus — “Nest” (Sargent House, Belgium)
The second album from the band that began life as a Refused cover band lacks the immediacy and overwhelming charm of their debut, but Nest makes up for that with a more sophisticated sound. Fortunately this growth does nothing to mute the band’s penchant for furious pop-infused songcraft while it helps drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts deliver her most confident performance to date.