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Legion of the Damned - Slaves of the Shadow Realm (2019)

4 out of 5 stars. Primarily mid- and up-tempo thrash riffing, with the neck-snapping riff and tempo changes you expect from good thrash, played against the occasional tremolo-picked death metal passage. The drumming follows suit, again being primarily drawn from thrash, with double-bass runs and other death metal bits as needed. The song structures, importantly, have more in common with death metal than they do the verse/chorus/verse/chorus simplicity of thrash. Production aesthetics are blackish.

Standout tracks: Slaves of the Southern Cross, Warhounds of Hades, Black Banners in Flames.

Gods Forsaken - Smells of Death (2019)

4 out of 5 stars. Musically, this is largely old-school Swedish death metal with lots of double-bass and tremolo picking. Mostly mid- and upper-mid-tempo with some down-tempo sections for contrast, and some nice thrashy riffs used for feel changes. Dirtyish Sunlight production, especially the guitar tone, though the drums sound more modern.

Standout tracks: They Crawl, In the Pit We Shall Gather, The Dead Laughed.

Ares Kingdom - By the Light of Their Destruction (2019)

4 out of 5 stars. Another solid one from Ares Kingdom; as always, mid-to-uptempo death metal with a definitional use of melody and thematics, and compelling use of crushing/thrashy sections and dirgey/downtempo interludes for contrast. Unmistakable for anyone else.

Standout tracks: Eighteen Degrees Beneath, The Bones of All Men.

Fetid - Steeping Corporeal Mess (2019)

4 out of 5 stars. High-caliber Autopsy worship with sick subcavernous vocals. Shit-tons of riff and tempo changes; macabre riff progressions punctuated by crushing double-bass/chug passages, sweet Autopsy death/doom and the occasional lethal tremolo-torture lead.

Standout tracks: Reeking Within, Cranial Liquescent, Consumed Periphery.

Goregäng - Neon Graves (2019)

4 out of 5 stars. Well-done multi-genre blend of thrash, old-school Swedish death metal, hardcore and crust. Short songs with very straightforward construction, heavily d-beat-driven; predominately mid-tempo thrash, hardcore and crust riffs with some OSSDM-style tremolo-picked riffing and OSSDM-style leads and leadettes. Production is dirtyish and somewhat claustrophobic with buzzsaw guitars and lower-than-normal record levels; fits the material well. Death metal influence shows on these aesthetics as well as in the vocals, which are a fluid blend of death metal growl and hardcore shout.

Standout tracks: Cathedral of Chemicals, Neon Graves, Goregäng.

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