The coin toss goes to Beneath! This is a band I must admit I had never heard of, not being too well versed in Icelandic death metal (shame on me, I know!) We get a calm before the storm with an overlong acoustic intro before being pummeled in the balls with that Icelandic fury for the next 50-odd minutes. This is the heavy shit, my friends! Singer is in the Bill Steer gargling with Drano mold, which isn't my personal favorite style, to be honest. That being said, this is a solid slab of death metal, mixing some straight ahead old school stylings with occasional blackened and tech elements. [I have to make a special comment on the drummer, Ingver Jorgemundssensdottir (yes, I just made that up, but I bet his actual name is probably even better): my god this guy is fast! He makes Inferno from Behemoth sound like Charlie Watts.] They throw in enough curve balls (especially in Iron Jaw and Sky Burial) to make this an interesting and enjoyable DM experience.
Next, we kick it way old school with Rigor Mortis. These guys are so metal that their lead guitarist died on stage during a gig—now that is metal, my friends. It's been >20 years since their last album, but it is entirely possible the whole band has been in some sort of cryogenic freeze since that time, thawed just for your pleasure. With Slaves to the Grave, prepare to be transported back to 1985—if you dig Pleasure to Kill or Hell Awaits, or for that matter any thrash metal at all (and if you don't, why are you even reading this), I think it would be impossible not to enjoy this. The song topics range all the way from ghosts (Poltergeist) to serial killers (Blood Bath) to doing unpleasant acts to corpses (most of the rest of the songs). Let's be honest, this is some truly ridiculous shit to be sung by a man who is undoubtedly in his 50s, and for that matter to be sung along to by a man in his 40s! Trust me, this album delivers the goods in a big way. One actual criticism: the epic length album ender Ludus Magnus is really long and really bad, undoubtedly the worst song ever written about gladiators. So please, do yourself a favor and stop the album right after the instrumental.
In conclusion: I was bringing my daughter to swim lessons today and she was being a real pain in the ass, I mean driving me insane, to the brink of mental explosion. She went into the class, I sat down twitching and grumbling inside, and I popped on Rigor Mortis' Ancient Horror through my headphones. In an instant, I was calm and more content than a rat in a cage who had finally gotten their hit of cocaine. So I want to thank you, Rigor Mortis, and I am awarding you tonight's victory!
Tomorrow morning, Arse judges as Hark battles Monuments.