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I’ve always wanted to do a series on the more underground albums in the world of extreme metal, but doing it on a schedule always seemed to bring about the same issue – sometimes there’s a lot of great stuff, sometime it’s a bit of a dry spell. So I’d like to introduce a completely informal, whenever-there’s-something-good series called Notes From The Underground. It’s just me, some headphones, a keyboard, and some albums I think deserve attention.

So let’s get to what I really wanna talk about here – Australia, and what the fuck is happening down there. Cave Sermon, Chapel Perilous, and Convulsing are all from the country and have all released three of (so far) my favorite records of the year. All three bands also start with the letter “C” and have white/white-ish album covers. The latter has nothing to do with the former, it’s just a weird coincidence. But let’s get back to the music.

Cave Sermon – Divine Laughter

Cave Sermon went from an alright instrumental black metal band to being arguably one of the most interesting projects of 2024. Divine Laughter recruits Miguel Méndez for vocals and – much like its cover – throws everything at the wall to create something unique, mystifying, and insanely intriguing. Stomping death metal? Divine Laughter has it. Paint-peeling black metal? Divine Laughter, right here. Soundscapes and broken-sounding choirs that morph into metallic chaos? You know it’s Divine Laughter, baby. Listen to Divine Laughter right here and tell me this isn’t gonna be one of the best records of the year.

Chapel Perilous – The Tower Of Silence

The Tower Of Silence is melodic black metal done right. Rather than use atmospheres and keyboards as a break from the brutality, or as a vehicle to get from one section to another in a meandering way, everything Chapel Perilous does feels composed. The dissonant sections feel cohesive, the Mellotron and organs always seem to be placed well, and the writing is extremely well aware of when to change things up. That, and “Holy Fire” is such a triumphantly dark way to close everything out with its repeating piano arpeggio atop all the chaos. Get The Tower Of Silence here.

Convulsing – Perdurance

Convulsing is back for the first time in six years and they clearly took the entirety of that break writing Perdurance. That, or Convulsing‘s Brendan Sloan is an actual genius that can simply rattle off some god-tier death metal whenever he feels like it. Perdurance is the type of death metal record that makes you wonder how nobody has strung sounds together like this before. I mean really, the last third of “Shattered Temples” might be one of the coolest riffs I have ever heard. Get Perdurance here.

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