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Best Underground Metal Albums of February 2024

Mining Metal is a monthly column from Heavy Consequence contributing writers Langdon Hickman and Colin Dempsey. 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.


A few weeks ago, I saw Thantifaxath and Knoll perform at a local bar familiar to anyone enamored with Scott Pilgrim. Thantifaxath have played so much in the past year, at least in my area, that one could justify skipping their show by saying they’ll catch the group when they come back around. Let me say this; anyone thinking they can “catch Thantifaxath when they come back around” are mouth breeders because Thantifaxath are astounding live. Occasionally, they cover TLC’s “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” during soundcheck. Almost always, they flaunt their technicality while brooding — two contrasting goals that coalesce under their spell. Knoll, meanwhile, are insidious in a live venue. They blend atmosphere and music in a manner that earns them their mantle of “funeral grind.” (Also, their third album, As Spoken, was released at the tail end of last month and thus slipped through our grasp. Please rectify our mistake by listening to it as soon as possible). For $20, you could not have found better entertainment that night.

Or, maybe you could, because the venue is not just a concert venue but a bar that regularly hosts Y2K-themed dance parties, emo nights, and Friends trivia. It’s not far from student residences and sits across the street from cheap clubs with multiple floors. On weekend nights, it’s common to see a dozen young and well-dressed undergraduates lining up while awaiting the warm embrace of alcohol and sweat-lined walls, even in the middle of winter. All of this is to say that the crowd at the concert that night was not the typical metal one, which, honestly, was cool. Some concert-goers were dressed as if this was emo night or that the closest they’d come to black metal was thinking Metallica’s self-titled coined the phrase due to its cover. I want these people at concerts. I want metal shows to convert those who have never dove into metal or to reshape their opinion on what’s going on in the genre in 2024. I want noobs as badly as I want trucker dads who have listened to more death metal demos than I’ve listened to albums.

Sadly, not all who bravely entered the domain that night survived. Some quickly vacated after Knoll plunged into their act or, if they arrived later and didn’t catch Knoll’s trumpet and theremin witchery, only made it two minutes into Thantifaxath’s first track. Their ambitions (or assumption that “metal night” meant Deftones cover band) were commendable, but their patience was thinner than their bloodstreams, so they ventured elsewhere to drink. Fortunately, the majority of the crowd stayed and were rewarded with a phenomenal night. So, while I could disparage those who left early as not being tough enough, I’d rather analyze it as a sign that metal is still heavy and weird to those not accustomed to it. Thank god.

February’s finest underground metal albums exist on this axis of heavy and weird, with our picks charting all across the spectrum. Read about the month’s best black metal, blackgaze, and atmospheric black metal (I’ll try not to stretch myself thin with so much diversity). There’s also a heaping of death metal, some of which harkens to oddity’s extremities while others are more blood and guts and meat and potatoes. Proceed onwards and treat yourself to something new.

Colin Dempsey


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