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Mining Metal: The Best Underground Albums We Missed in 2021

Aethereus, Aquilus, Ethereal Shroud, First Fragment, Hyperdontia, Mur, Phrenelith, and Reveal!

Mining Metal
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    Mining Metal is a monthly column from Heavy Consequence writers Joseph Schafer and Langdon Hickman. The focus is on noteworthy new music emerging from the non-mainstream metal scene, highlighting releases from small and independent labels — or even releases from unsigned acts.

    Inevitably, we come across albums that we’d like to cover but don’t. More than eight good underground metal albums come out during most months, even when the scope of “underground” is narrowed to labels without dedicated distribution.

    But not every month. January is typically a fallow season for metal records, as people recuperate from the holiday season and begin planning their upcoming year. Because we dedicated December to our annual best-of list, we decided to spend this column covering a few bits and bobs we missed in 2021.

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    Rest assured, we’ll be back to our normal cadence in February. Until then, happy digging. – Joseph Schafer

    Aethereus – Leiden

    The collaborator list, featuring members from Flub, Equipose, Vitriol and Inferi, give a sense of precisely what kind of progressive and technical metal this will be, not to mention the cover art and titling ethos. On paper, this might read as a slight, a band that plays safely within the idiom of their genre, but again, the point of music isn’t merely in novelty and breaking new ground but also executing well the forms that have already been made. This is the weight of Leiden; these players know this style as well as they know their instruments and, thank god, use that power to steer their songs away from the cliches and shapes that can sometimes make this stuff boring. No mindless, endless sweeps, no hyper-robotic playing, and even an ear for mixing that treasures the bottom end and a sense of highlighting the grooves and rhythmic patterns of these songs over a high pitched tak tak tak of the strings and drums. This is simply good death metal, and that will forever be my catnip. Buy it on Bandcamp. – Langdon Hickman

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