Three months, twenty-five artists, ranked by heaviness
by Ryan A Vasquez
Ah yes, the summer! Wasn’t it finally a breath of fresh air for the most part?
At this point in 2021, businesses are open, people are a lot more comfortable going out post-vaccinations and the music scene in Texas is, once again, up and running and gaining some speed.
During the months of June, July and August, I tallied 25 Texas metal artists with either an album drop or track unveiling—no disrespect to the artists that I didn’t discover that fit the time requirement. After much deliberation, all 25 artists’ new releases were ranked. See the entire list at the end of the Top 10 or scroll down now.
THE HEAVIEST TX TOP 10 OF SUMMER 2021
[RANKED BY HOW BRUTAL THEY BROUGHT IT]
10. I AM HEIR (Brownsville) “Legacy of Death” EP
released: August 21, 2021
This is a deathcore band that crosses over into much heavier territory and walks a fine line toward leaving this genre all together. If it’s not for the devilish vocals that separates this band from others under their umbrella, then it would be the drum tracks with surprise blast beats and exceptionally fast double pedal footwork.
Those of you that are deathcore fans, you may find this band to be among the heavier variety, granted you still get the traditional fight riffs and slow breakdowns. Breaking free from the norm, you will not find any high-pitch screaming vocals or clean vocals talking through some lyrics like hardcore allows. The vocalist keeps this unit plenty pissed-off with his dark-toned deep gutterals to keep that crowd kill vibe consistent.
For those of us that crave a little more carnivore in our musical diet, the Editor’s Pick goes to “One Nation Under Perversion” for the surprise deathly techniques on the drums and basically getting me out of my chair ready to fight when listening.
To check out the official music video for “One Nation Under Perversion,” click here.
9. DORZIA (Houston) “Blood Portrait,” “Deity’s Grasp,” & “Looking In”
released: June 3 / June 18 / August 27, 2021
Since all three tracks dropped during the summer months, I listened as if it was collectively their debut EP but I can’t wait for that banger to drop. This is death metal with a speed metal design in the blueprints, fronted with a vocalist who sounds like what could be a demon witch—ready to terrify all who wander into the woods and force them to start a circle pit, as the tale goes.
Vocalist Haley Roughton divides her voice into four octaves or styles, depending how you perceive it. Her highs are executed like an evil witch scream, the mids are a much lower octave but not yet at full grind, and then the demon grind that sounds like a possessed witch. Then in a surprise twist, clean singing can also be found in a very small part at the very end of “Looking In”—not enough to curveball the song but just enough to know Roughton is a singer that knows how to execute all.
Even though “Blood Portrait” is a defining track for this outfit and “Looking In” shows versatility in vocal execution, Editor’s Pick goes to “Deity’s Grasp” for laying down a furious death metal track that had me pumped for more.
To check out the track “Deity’s Grasp,” click the YouTube link here.
8. CATHEXIS (Austin) “Untethered Abyss” album
released: June 25, 2021
Is it death? Is it doom? Or should we just consider them the “Newest Badass on the Block” in the Austin metal scene? By combining two signature influences from these parts (the Texas brand of death metal plus Austin’s “doom capital” vibe of the state) we get this relentless eight-song album that places itself among the best Texas releases of the summer and of the year.
To dissect this album and examine what constitutes said badassness, first we have a pissed-off drummer that will create opportunities to semi-blast beat and keep it “death” in each track, including the slower tempo songs. As for the guitar work, this album has riffs upon riffs, which is the beauty of combining a doom-like dynamic to death writing. And with this brand of vocals, the entire tone of the album is a rainy day during an evil funeral as we slip into a black abyss.
“Library of Babel” is one of the slower-paced tracks that’s a 20 lb. sledgehammer right to the face. And even though this is one of those albums that’s a banger from beginning to end, Editor’s Pick goes to “Isolated Malevolence” for being the most deathliest track on the album.
To check out the official track stream of “Mortuus In Perpetuum,” the first single of the album, click here.
7. ASYLUM (Ft. Worth) “Sharpen” album
released: July 22, 2021
If anyone is interested in opening their third eye and truly appreciating the artwork of Salvia Droid, I invite you to take your hit of whatever, set it to tracks “To Define and Divide” going right into “Sharpen” and stare at this beautiful masterpiece as you journey into this incredible temple.
This north Texas tech death unit far surpassed their own creative bar, originally set by the 2017 debut release “Psalms of Paralysis,” with an even busier drum track, mind-bending guitar and bass riffs, and creating an audio-alter reality to which the audience is taken to with every track. Each song works cohesively to support the grand theme of the deterioration of our own existence as our dependence for technology grows—and brilliantly created.
I’ve always been a fan of tracks just give you the fury right away before the twists and turns of tech, such as “Hard Times Ahead,” “In Ossein Ecstacy,” and “Ave Lamentum.” But tracks like “Flouride Stare,” “Without Question,” and Editor’s Pick, “Peripheral Inklings” show a level of musical discipline that intertwines art, spiritual awakening and death metal.
To check out the official lyric video for “Bite the Guiding Hand,” click here.
6. CESSPOOL OF CORRUPTION (Dallas) “Requiems of the Ignominious” album
released: August 6, 2021
This is tech death that goes directly for the throat. This entire album was written with such mathematical precision, they took it to a surgical level of lethal. They also managed to include some very impressive melodic guitar solos as well as razor-sharp drum tracks that could very well be utilized as a study guide or part of a curriculum for advanced percussion courses around the nation. The level of professionalism in this unit is inspirational and their talents seem limitless.
The opening riff to “Breeding Our Demise” is an excellent example of just how technically advanced they are willing to create and push toward. A fast four count on the snare to start a song, like in “Consuming the Diminished,” has always been a huge warning sign that Hell is about to be unleashed, to which they definitely kept that promise.
Editor’s Pick, however, goes to “Apparitions of Malevolence” for demanding your attention with such an explosive start and a deep gutteral behind the mic, then for the rest of the track it goes back and forth with their advanced guitar showmanship and rudimental-patterned hand and foot-work on the drum set. It becomes a real “talent alpha” party I can’t help but to put on repeat.
To check out the official lyric video to the opening track “Insidious Inheritance,” click here.
5. ASTYANAX (Ft. Worth) “Extreme Antinatalist Design” album
released: June 21, 2021
As you can see in this illustration made by the infamous Rudi Gorgingsuicide Art Yanto, the décor, as well as the added structure to this dwelling is almost entirely made with the bones and rotting remains of human feti. When this album needed a visual interpretation for what the audience was about to hear and in what tone, this illustration makes a clear statement.
So was it accurate? Well, this album wasn’t necessarily going for speed or to display an array of complex riff patterns. Instead, they slowed the tempo down somewhat and added this “disgusting” element to each track by way of guitar tone and vocal gutterals. Several tracks, especially the beginning of the album, have a groove to it but doesn’t skip out on brutal death drumming. In other words, this album is absolutely sick and now because of it, I have a fever.
As to accurately matching the music with the artwork, about 30 seconds into the opening title track the brutality truly begins. I still like how tracks “Autoerotic Exsanguination” and “Gruesome Spontaneous Conflagration” sort of toy with the audience with this slow, deep and dark groove, but tracks like “Stillborn Goddess,” and “Cyst Licker” to the end accurately suits the depiction chosen as the cover art.
Editor’s Pick goes to “Sanguine Baptism” for being the most sickest track on the album, which to me the best was saved for last since it’s the album closer.
To check out the official lyric video to track two, “Crucifysterectomy,” and hear for yourself if you agree or not, click here.
4. FLESH HOARDER (San Antonio) “Relic of Putrescent Filth” album
released: August 10, 2021
One of the major elements that stood out in this album, that took it to an even sicker level was the way the gutterals were executed by vocalist Nicholas Moreno. His organic brand of vocals projects with such evil and disgust, whether it be brutal death or gore, this man’s voice will automatically blacken it. This album speaks to the dark of our souls, and as you may have guessed by the cover art, we are all doomed from the very start.
“Another Form of Evil Has Conjured” is one of the meanest songs this band have ever created, dating back to their 2018 debut full-length, “Homicidal Necrophile” track list. The drum track to this song is damn furious, on both the hands and feet, right along with “Dwelling With Hatred” and the title track “Relic of Putrescent Filth”—again another example of how this album is leveled up from the last.
Editor’s Pick goes to “Vacant Blue Eyes” for creating a banger so demented and so perverse, let’s just say the riffs match the carpet that matches the drapes but unfortunately, the carpet and drapes have been lying there dead. Good tunes!
To check out the video for “Gratification Through Mutilation” and witness the sickness for yourself, click here.
3. DEVOUR THE UNBORN (El Paso) “Excruciating Malformations of Abhorrent Descent” 4 WAY SPLIT
released: August 27, 2021
We have now entered savage slam territory where survivalist instincts take over and solos, dynamics or clean technical riffing doesn’t exist. These tracks are the absence of humanity, reasoning and honorable warfare. This EP portion may only be four tracks long, but in reality this is 16 minutes and 27 seconds of bloodthirsty cave beings ripping flesh from bone, leaving nothing behind.
This drummer shows an excellent display of transitioning from a simple chomping groove to blast-beating the holy hell out of it while exercising amazing fast footwork. Combine this with guitars that are tuned low and gritty with monstrous gutterals from the vocalist and you have the zombie apocalypse as soon as you press play.
“Machete To The Neck” is one brutal yet groovy tune that deserves a mention, even though every track is carnivorous. Editor’s Pick has to go to “Totempole of Dismembered Bodies” for the sick-ass riff in the beginning and for the drum track displaying every deadly technique in his arsenal.
To check out the official album stream of their first track, “Beg For Death,” via YouTube, click here.
2. STABBING (Austin / Houston) “Demo 2021” EP
released: June 12, 2021
This is one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever heard in my life. When it comes to writing brutal death metal material, they decided brutal wasn’t fully interpreting their inner demons to it’s fullest potential. It still wasn’t enough to scare the living sh*t out of their audience. So they combined all of their sickest, most murderous thoughts and created this inhuman audio serial killer that gets unleashed once you hit play.
Vocalist Bridget Lynch has this unbelievable animalistic gutteral that will have you question whether she’s human or something else. The drum track is definitely on an advanced level with those fast transitions and amazing finger/stick control techniques through those sharp start and finish blast beat patterns. And what adds to the potency of this venom that much more is the unpolished, no bells and whistles-style of recording they did to really capture the horror element to it all.
“Rabid Savagery” is probably the deadliest banger on the demo but Editor’s Pick goes to “Impulsive Autophagy” for that killer guitar riff making a slight groove to it but returning to the serial killer mindset and committing multiple counts of audio murder.
To check out the audio stream to “Impulsive Autophagy,” hit the YouTube link here.
1. DEFLESHED AND GUTTED (El Paso) “Excruciating Malformations of Abhorrent Descent” 4 WAY SPLIT
released: August 27, 2021
I must have listened to this portion of this amazing split a thousand times to properly determine their rightful place on my countdown. I would listen to a track, and in the middle of the song I would switch over to another band to see if the heaviness over powered this band or lay victim. And after hours and hours of play back, I felt this El Paso unit is unstoppable.
The very first track seems like it hits you with just about everything they have right in your face. Except it was not everything they had within their talents, it was just what they chose to kill everybody with at first. Just when I thought I heard what they have to offer, the next track makes my jaw hit the floor again.
What really captured my interest in this outfit were the abilities of this drummer. I love the snare in this kit for the loud and sharp sound it produces, especially during the many machine gun blast beat patterns that are exhibited throughout all four tracks. Also, the bass drum footwork is incredibly vicious for testing the capacity of the human anatomy of the foot to race that fast.
Everything written from this band was not an accident. The insane gutterals from the vocalist and the wicked low-tuned gritty guitar tone, all the elements involved to achieve this incredibly savage sound was included with the intention to kill. This may sound embellished a tad, but after listening over and over, they had to have a certain mindset (pre-meditated* if you will) in order to create the most brutal sound ever heard this summer.
Editor’s Pick goes to “Baptized In Bile” for being one the heaviest songs ever created in this or any generation. There’s an absolute wicked breakdown about four minutes in that will forcefully get you out of your seat and make you destroy everything in reaching distance. And if that part doesn’t get you, keep your head on a swivel because those around you may react for you.
To hear for yourself how “Baptized In Bile” throws down, click the official audio stream here.
As we wave goodbye to another year and a kick-ass summer, let’s keep in mind:
METAL IS NOT A COMPETITION. THESE ARE JUST ARTISTS EXPRESSING THEMSELVES IN MANY WAYS. AND I LOVE IT ALL. WE GATHER TO SHARE OUR APPRECIATION FOR THIS INCREDIBLE ART AND IN NO WAY IS ONE ARTIST BETTER THAN THE OTHER. METAL HEADS STICK TOGETHER WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD IS DIVIDED.
MY FULL LIST RANKINGS:
11. PROTEST – “Realities of War” single 6/4/21
12. LACERATE THY MAKER – “Submergence” EP 7/23/21
13. SNAKE FATHER – “Pathways of Corruption” album 6/25/21
14. GODHAND – “A Pain That I’ll Always Carry With Me” EP 6/10/21
15. UNDER MY KNIFE – “Get Back Up” single 7/15/21
16. BRIGHT BURN – “Nameless Grave” single 7/9/21
17. KNOW//SUFFER – “The Great Dying” EP 7/31/21
18. LIFE CYCLES – “Blistered Earth” EP 6/18/21
19. BLACK JACKAL – “Forever War” album 6/30/21
20. FOREBODE – “The Metal Slug” single 8/27/21
21. TO WITNESS A MURDER – “Useless By 4” EP 8/13/21
22. LOST IN SEPARATION – “Chasing Apparitions” single 7/16/21
23. IN THE TRENCH – “The Fall” single 6/4/21 & “The Cycle” single 7/30/21
24. DEADMOUTH – “Monster” single 8/17/21
25. UnityTX – “Hellway”EP 6/17/21