However, there are bright spots on the increasingly bleak metal horizon, and I'd like to share some of my recent discoveries with you. As an aside, I don't endorse any particular band's message or beliefs; I'm just commenting on their style and sound.
Powerwolf - Blood of the Saints
I would describe this as epic Catholic mass metal. Yep, you read that right. Very tight, energetic heavy/power metal, not too pretentious or virtuosic, and absolutely dripping with choirs, organs, operatic vocals, and medieval liturgical atmosphere. If there ever was a band that would qualify to rock the Gothic off the Notre-Dame Cathedral, this is that band.
Blood Stain Child - Epsilon
Melodic death/trance metal from futuristic Japanese cyborgs! Seriously, if you want to mosh, shake your booty, swing your hair like a maniac, or slither and gyrate like a KTV temptress, this is your drug. Super-synthesized and effects-heavy female vocals, alongside death growls, soaring solos, blazing double bass, and enough rock and roll coolness to make a schoolgirl squeal with delight.
Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony
Mozart Metal. This is the definitive orchestral death metal album. This isn't death metal with symphonic/orchestral bits sprinkled here and there for atmosphere; no, my friend, the orchestra never stops. It's part of the band, and every song is epic beyond belief. Regular death metal will seem flimsy and decaffeinated after your ears are ravaged by this masterpiece.
Skindred - Union Black
Skindred was one of the last bands I saw in concert before I left the USA and came to China. I'd been a fan since their debut and their reggae/dancehall/funk/punk/nu metal atomic bomb decimated the crowd. Their latest offering is even more chock full of bounce, swagger, riddims, riffs, and mayhem. You'll think it's 2004 all over again as you find your dreads swinging and your voice roaring in a Jamaican accent.