Territory’s Edge: The Best New Metal and Hardcore of March 2023

Invent Animate

What does it take for a small band to break through to a wider audience?  The factors will vary, and often involve timing and being heard by the right people.  For Necropanther – a death-thrash metal band from Denver, Colorado – it came from a review.  The band may not be a household name but has received plenty of respect within the death metal scene and the broader metal community.  Their latest album Betrayal received plenty of coverage and made it onto multiple ‘best-of’ monthly lists.   A recent post from Necropanther shared their first review, five years ago, and gave away some Bandcamp download codes of their self-titled debut.  This quote below from the post illustrates the impact that coverage can give a small artist.

“When we released our first album (self titled) we quickly learned how difficult it is for unknown/underground bands to get listened to, reviewed or played. We sent hundreds of press releases, and remained hopeful that someone – anyone – would listen to our music. We got some local attention, but nothing beyond that. Then one day, a miracle happened. Marcus “Big Daddy” Garcia at Metal Temple sat down and really listened to our album. He got what we were doing, and he liked it. We got our first (and only) national/international review for that album.”

If you find a new, lesser-known band you enjoy, take the time to share their music with someone!  Never underestimate the impact one person can make helping out an artist.  Below are seven recent releases in heavy music that caught my attention.



Invent Animate – Heavener

The atmospheric and beautiful Heavener is Invent Animate’s first album on the Australian label UNFD, and their second with vocalist Marcus Vik.  The band has added more ambience and melody to their progressive metalcore/post-hardcore sound.  Their 2021 EP The Sun Sleeps, As If It Never Was showed a significant leap in songwriting from 2020’s Greyview, and showed signs of what was to come.  Drummer and songwriter Trey Celaya (who has also recently joined fellow metalcore band Fit For a King) wrote the lyrics about the aftermath of addiction from dual, interconnected perspectives.  Heavener explores similar personal themes of loss, suppressed grief, and acceptance.

Released back in 2022, the early singles “Shade Astray” and closer “Elysium” are powerful, cathartic tracks with plenty of dynamics. Invent Animate builds these songs around Marcus Vik’s vocals, allowing the technical guitars to amplify the hooks.  “Without a Whisper”, which has been added to multiple major Spotify playlists, is a strong example, with an especially memorable chorus.  Another standout is the tenth track “Emberglow”, an atmospheric deep cut reminiscent of Loathe at times.  Heavener‘s sequencing is a strong point as well.  The softest song, “Reverie” is placed directly in between “False Meridian” and “Immolation of Night” the two heaviest tracks on the album, allowing a greater contrast to the temporary calm.


Downfall of Gaia – Silhouettes of Disgust

Now on their sixth full-length since their first demo in 2008, this German post-black metal band (though one current member is from New York) continues to blend genres.  Downfall of Gaia began in the crust punk scene, soon adding in influences of post metal on their debut and later incorporating post-hardcore, black metal and gothic metal.  As with the band’s previous two albums Atrophy and Ethic of Radical Finitudethe sound progresses between atmospheric calm and abrasive ferocity.  Remnants of Downfall of Gaia’s crust punk roots remain present in the drums and rhythm throughout the album.

Silhouettes of Disgust is a loose concept record.  In an interview, lead vocalist Dominick Goncalves Dos Reis explained that the eight songs represent the stories of eight different people in a fictional city, while the themes and lyrics are also informed by his own experiences and those of people close to him.  In contrast to their previous albums, which often had multiple songs spanning nine minutes or more, the material on Silhouettes of Disgust is relatively concise.  The longest track is the standout post-metal cut “Where Bloodsprings Become Rivers” at seven minutes.  The initial single “Bodies as Driftwood” is another strong track, blending post-rock and black metal in a way that should appeal to fans of the Arizona band Holy Fawn.


Ocean of Grief – Pale Existence

On the album artwork for Pale Existence, a majestic white stag stands in the woods, his surroundings shrouded by mist.  Take a closer look, and more details come into view – the desolate ruins of a tower, mossy stones, and silhouettes of trees in the background.  It’s a good representation of this record, which reveals more nuances with subsequent listens.  With each track running around six minutes or more, the second album from this Greek melodic death/doom metal band takes the listener on a journey.

While the low guttural growls remain consistent throughout Pale Existence, the instrumentation offers plenty of dynamics and calculated pacing.  In particular, the atmospheric “Cryptic Constellations” is a standout with the opening faster melodeath guitar riff providing contrast and reappearing at just the right moments. From the gradual progression of opener “Poetry for the Dead” to the stately, somber closing track “Undeserving”, the tone of the album is alternately graceful and melancholic.


Ignominy – Imminent Collapse

Coming from Quebec, Canada, Ignominy is a recent addition to extreme metal label/pet shelter Transcending Obscurity Records.   (The record label office also shelters and feeds about 30 adopted stray cats and dogs!) This band plays an experimental style of dissonant death metal.  Each track is chaotic, yet measured in its attack, and the album never overstays its welcome, clocking in at a brisk 35 minutes in length.

From the catchy lead riff of “Defaulting Genetics” to the sinister crawl of “Nightmare Bacteria”, Ignominy includes plenty of twists and turns within their sound.  While Imminent Collapse is not a djent record (and djent is not a genre…see the last entry below), the strong closer “Visuals” has a dark cold and calculated atmosphere that reminded me of the experimental Meshuggah song “In Death – Is Death” off their CatchThirtythree album.  Despite the often abstract, meandering nature of dissonant death metal, Imminent Collapse nevertheless provides the listener plenty of moments to latch on to.


Entheos – Time Will Take Us All

This Californian progressive metal band was initially started by former members of Animosity. (Specifically, the 2000s deathcore group from San Francisco, as Metal Archives lists no less than twelve different bands using the Animosity name).  Entheos is now the project of two of the founding members – the metal power couple of vocalist Chaney Crabb and multi-instrumentalist Navene Koperweis.   Adventurous and technical, the nine tracks of Time Will Take Us All flow together and function as a single continuous piece of music, with the second half more melodic than the first.

Navene Koperweis incorporates acoustic guitar for the first time on an Entheos record – most notably on the closing title track.  His rhythmic guitar work keeps the album’s sound consistent, and Chaney Crabb puts her impressive vocal range to full effect here.  Throughout the record, her vocals vary from pitched screams to lower register growls to melodic singing.  “I Am the Void” is a nice example of this duality, as she quickly alternates between at least two distinct styles.  She wrote the lyrics centered around her recovery from a serious 2021 injury that left her unable to record vocals for three months, as well as the uncertainty she felt during the time.  The overall result is a cohesive, ambitious album with the potential to appeal to fans of bands ranging from the progressive-leaning technical death metal of Obscura and Freedom of Fear to the alt-metalcore of Spiritbox.


Worm Shepherd – “The Frozen Lake, Pt. II (The Ruined)”

Following the success of Lorna Shore’s Pain Remains, black metal influence in deathcore has a chance to take off.  While the genre fusion has seen its share of copycats, other bands are taking the two styles and creating a sound all their own.  Worm Shepherd’s style of deathcore is heavily influenced by symphonic black metal bands such as Dimmu Borgir,  while forging their own path.  Since their formation in 2020, this Massachussetts-based band has had a prolific output with two full-length albums and a third project on the way.

“The Frozen Lake Pt. II” is the sequel to a track of their debut album In the Wake ov SolLyrics explore the theme of forgiveness of self and the importance of not running from our own imperfections and mistakes.  Vocalist Devin Duarte’s feral snarls contrast with atmospheric instrumentation and a backing choir.  Deathcore may be a saturated scene these days, but Worm Shepherd stands out with their vicious, yet calculated approach.


Periphery – Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre

Periphery is a band at the forefront of progressive metal for a good reason.  Their use of unconvential time signatures, complex song structures and impressively technical instrumentation is a winning formula paired with Spencer Sotelo’s anthemic vocals and an occasional pop sensibility.   They are a band that truly does whatever they want.  Periphery can be brutal when they want to, as tracks like “Blood Eagle” and “Masamune” will attest, while also having a few songs like “Alpha” and “The Parade of Ashes” cross over onto SiriusXM Octane.  Guitarist and founder Misha Mansoor titled “Zagreus” after the protagonist in Hades, a video game inspired by Greek mythology.  It’s not Periphery’s first track title inspired by a video game, as several songs off the band’s second album are Final Fantasy references – “Muramasa”, “Ragnarok”, and “Masamune”.

Above all else, this is an album characterized by dynamics.  Several tracks include a transitional instrumental interlude.  “Atropos” incorporates blastbeats into a track with melodic hooks.  The hard riff of “Wildfire” eventually gives way to a jazz breakdown.  The crushing “Everything is Fine!” ranks among Periphery’s heaviest songs to date – and is immediately followed by the ethereal electro-pop of “Silhouette”.  Similar to Jake Bowen’s solo electronic material, “Silhouette” sounds a bit out of place given how much of a sonic departure it is for the band, but still fits within the context of the album, and its melody is reprised later on in the album.  Periphery displays an eclectic, carefree attitude with their material, and continues to defy easy classification.

March Release Tracker


Cradle of Filth – “She Is a Fire” (Mar 1, black metal)

Void of Vision/PhaseOne – “Eyes Wide Shut” (Mar 1, electronic/metalcore)

Underoath – “Let Go” (Mar 3, metalcore/post-hardcore)

Kingdom of Giants – “Wasted Space” (Mar 3, metalcore)

Unearth – “Mother Betrayal” (Mar 3, hardcore)

DevilDriver – “Through the Depths” (Mar 7, groove metal)

Bad Blood – “Apology Denied” (Mar 8, hardcore)

Project: Vengeance – “Cut. Bleed. Repeat.” (Mar 8, deathcore)

Veil of Maya – “Red Fur” (Mar 8, progressive metalcore)

Fit for an Autopsy – “Hellions” (Mar 10, deathcore)

Grieve FL – “Hollow” (Mar 10, metalcore)

The Devil Wears Prada – “Reaching” (Mar 15, metalcore)

Frozen Soul/Reece Alavi – “Arsenal of War” (Mar 15, death metal)

Jesus Piece – “Silver Lining” (Mar 15, hardcore)

Necrofier – “Burnt by the Sacred Flame” (Mar 15, melodic black metal) – 3 members of Oceans of Slumber

Sylosis – “Deadwood” (Mar 16, melodic death metal)

Sermon – “Departure” (Mar 17, doom metal)

The Ocean – “Sea of Reeds” (Mar 20, progressive metal)

The Amity Affliction – “It’s Hell Down Here” (Mar 22, metalcore)

Of Virtue – “Cannibals” (Mar 23, alternative metal)

Earth Caller – “Graphic” (Mar 24, metalcore/nu metal)

Everyone Dies in Utah – “Detox” (Mar 24, metalcore)

Fallstar – “Timebender and the Jet Engine” (Mar 24, metalcore/nu metal)

Linkin Park – “Fighting Myself” (Mar 24, nu metal)

Spirit Adrift – “Death Won’t Stop Me” (Mar 24, heavy metal)

Thy Art is Murder – “Until There Is No Longer” (Mar 24, deathcore)

Worm Shepherd – “The Frozen Lake, Pt. II (The Ruined)” (Mar 28, symphonic deathcore)

After the Burial – “Nothing Gold” (Mar 29, progressive metalcore)

Currents – “So Alone” (Mar 29, metalcore)

Metallica – “72 Seasons” (Mar 29, heavy metal)

Shadow of Intent – “The Migrant” (Mar 30, symphonic deathcore)



Earth Groans – Tongue Tied EP (Mar 2, metalcore)

Acres – Burning Throne (Mar 3, alternative metal)

Enslaved – Heimdal (Mar 3, black metal)

Entheos – Time Will Take Us All (Mar 3, progressive metal)

Full of Hell/Primitive Man – Suffocating Hallucination (Mar 3, death doom/grindcore)

Majesties – Vast Reaches Unclaimed (Mar 3, melodic death metal)

Necropanther – Betrayal (Mar 3, thrash/death metal)

Ocean of Grief – Pale Existence (Mar 3, doom metal/melodic death doom)

Viscera – Carcinogenesis (Mar 3, deathcore)

Zulu – A New Tomorrow (Mar 3, powerviolence)

Wes Borland – Mutiny on the Starbarge (Mar 9)

For the Fallen Dreams – For the Fallen Dreams (Mar 10, metalcore)

Ignominy – Imminent Collapse (Mar 10, dissonant death metal)

Judiciary – Flesh & Blood (Mar 10, hardcore)

Periphery – Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre (Mar 10, progressive metal)

Chelsea Grin – Suffer in Heaven (Mar 17, metalcore)

Invent Animate – Heavener (Mar 17, progressive metalcore)

Downfall of Gaia – Silhouettes of Disgust (Mar 17, post-black metal/crust)

Foretoken – Triumphs (Mar 17, melodic death metal)

Gideon – More Power. More Pain (Mar 17, metalcore)

Kruelty – Untopia (Mar 17, grindcore/doom)

Pop Evil – Skeletons (Mar 17, alternative metal)

Spectral Lore – 11 Days (Mar 21, black metal/dark ambient)

Dawn Ray’d – To Know the Light (Mar 24, symphonic black metal)

August Burns Red – Death Below (Mar 24, progressive metalcore)

Gatekeeper – From Western Shores (Mar 24, power metal)

Isataii – In Vein of the Ancestors (Mar 24, war metal/indigenous black metal)

Marianas Rest – Auer (Mar 24, melodic doom/death metal)

Ov Sulfur – Skeletons (Mar 24, deathcore)

Bury Tomorrow – The Seventh Sun (Mar 31, metalcore)

Kommand – Death Age (Mar 31, death metal)

nothing, nowhere – Void Eternal (Mar 31, emo rap/post-hardcore)

The Ongoing Concept – Again (Mar 31, post-hardcore)

Sunscourge – Wraith (Mar 31, deathcore)


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