It is my distinct pleasure to wrap up our week of year-end list decadence with some excellent suggestions from Autokrator, Chthe’ilist, Ævangelist, and Slugdge. Let us romp and cavort like the Greeks of Olde as we revel in some great music with our pantheon selects.
Loic – Autokrator/NKVD
10 – Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones
NoEvDia | November 8th, 2016
The legend is back. I’m not their greatest fan, but every time they release something it’s solid.
9 – Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom
Martyrdoom Productions | October 20th, 2016
Even if there is no innovation, nor any change in their style and sound, Dead Congregation delivered a solid EP, in the vein of what they did on Promulgation of the Fall.
8 – Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign
Century Media | June 3rd, 2016
To be honest, I didn’t like their previous release Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus. Too overproduced, too many “mids” in the mix and mastering. I found it boring. But Dark Funeral came back to their old style, with more acoustic drums, more natural guitar sound, and a cover similar to the Secrets of the Black Arts. At the end, they delivered a really good album.
7 – Nordjevel – Nordjevel
Osmose Productions | May 31, 2016
For their first album, Nordjevel has hit very hard. They play a melodic but brutal and fast black metal, between Dark Funeral, Setherial and Sacramentum, but sometimes better than what those bands recently recorded.
6 – Cognizant – Cognizant
Independent | August 24th, 2016
Cognizant is a band from Dallas, formerly known as Amygdala. They play grindcore with strong black and death influences, as if Deathspell Omega played grindcore. Excellent riffs, excellent production and amazing drumming performance. The EP is digital only; I wanted to sign them on my label Krucyator Productions, but it was easier for them to be on an American label.
5 – Paroxsihzem – Abyss of Excruciating Vexes
Hellthrasher Productions | March 11th, 2016
A quite underestimated band who has a strong aesthetic taste with covers made by their own singer Krag. They plays an excellent cavernous death metal. Furthermore, their cover of on this EP of Arkhon Infaustus‘s “Dead Cunt Maniac” is killer.
4 – Aluk Todolo – Voix
The Ajna Offensive | February 5th, 2016
I really liked Occult Rock when it came out, and haven’t been disappointed by Voix. This unique french trio masters this style.
3 – Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Profound Lore | January 29th, 2016
This album shows that you can be very versatile, varied and technical, in a genre where it’s hard to be. Killer riffs, killer solos, killer ambiances.
2 – Altarage – NIHL
Sentient Ruin | February 27th, 2016
After a 7″ EP on Iron Bonehead, Altarage released this year their first full-length. Some good death/black metal, with a murky but powerful production which highlights the low end of their downtuned guitars.
1 – Antaeus – Condemnation
NoEvDia | November 18, 2016
10 years after the excellent Blood Libels, Antaeus is back, and the guys didn’t slow the pace down. Featuring Menthor, the excellent drummer of Nightbringer, Lvcifyre and Enthroned, this album is a fucking blasting war machine. I would have preferred a less “compact” sound, but as long it’s Antaeus playing Antaeus, it rocks.
Antoine – Chthe’ilist
Scorched – Echoes of Dismemberment
Unspeakable Axe | November 25th, 2016
Let’s start this list with a very good release from Unspeakable Axe records. I know it’s only been out for a couple of days now, but so far, this record is absolutely glorious. It’s heavy, brutal and catchy. While listening to this, you will probably feel trapped in the middle of an 80s sci-fi horror movie. And that’s totally awesome. Oh and you’ll also have the strange impression of being chased by mutant space zombies. You simply cannot go wrong with that one.
Blood Incantation – Starspawn
Dark Descent | August 19th, 2016
Interdimensional Extinction being pretty much my favorite thing last year, I had a hard time getting into this release at first. It took some time to grew on me. But something kept me going back to this album, until it became completely addictive. It’s much more mature sounding than its predecessor, and it shows great talent and musicianship. I also had the chance to see these guys live, and I must admit that they destroy everything. A flawless performance that made me believe that Blood Incantation is becoming one of the elite bands in terms of death metal.
Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Profound Lore | January 29th, 2016
Why would I choose the band that I’m currently playing with, I hear you say? Because when it came out, I had no idea who they were and what to expect at all from this release. This record was perfect in every way for the avid death metal fan that I am: Demilich‘s grooves, Timegoulish vocals, Catacomb‘s morbid vibe, you name it. But that’s not it. Crazy 80’s style shredding? Popping bass? I’m sold.
Vektor – Terminal Redux
Earache | May 6th, 2016
Not much to say here. This album is good and you know it. Everyone can agree that it is fantastic in every way.
Irkallian Oracle – Apollyon
Nuclear War Now | February 22nd, 2016
Another extremely weird metal release of the year. This album takes you literally on a trip. The aura that exudes from the music is extremely disturbing but oddly satisfying. The production makes you believe that the drummer is playing right next to you wich is something I’ve never really heard before. And that outro! I have no words for it.
Imperial Triumphant – Inceste
Redefining Darkness | April 15th, 2016
I’m not gonna lie, this EP kind of scares me. It’s the kind of music that makes you uncomfortable, but for whatever reason, it’s still strangely, oddly enjoyable and satisfying. Probably one of the most disturbing, conceptually and musically, pieces of music on this list. They’ve proven to me again that they are still able to reinvent their sound even after the really good Abyssal Gods.
Watchtower – Concepts of Math: Book One
Prosethetic Records | October 7th, 2016
Are you sad because the last Dream Theater album sucked? Your desire for brain-frying prog metal has not been fulfilled this year? Well I’ve got something for you. Although it is not as good as the untouchable Control and resistance, Watchtower is back with a top-notch release. Once again Mr. Jarzombek puts every guitarist to shame with his nonsense guitar playing. But it’s not only about him. The whole thing is absolutely brilliant.
Defeated Sanity – Disposal of the Dead/Dharmata
Willowtip | July 22nd, 2016
What can I say about this one? It is simply brutal and full of surprises. While Disposal of the Dead is a very good brutal death metal piece, Dharmata rises on top. The songs are beautifully written and every track flows one after another. A true breath of fresh air in the death metal scene. It’s a great homage to the Cynic/Atheist/Death/Alarums of this world, and I think that Defeated Sanity now deserves a place with the masters. Oh and +1 for the wood blocks.
Gevurah – Hallelujah!
Profound Lore | June 3rd, 2016
Aaahh here is one of my favorite bands from my hometown Montréal. They’ve put out one of the best black metal albums of this year without a doubt. They managed to push their music further even after the more that good Necheshirion. Really good riffs and atmoshpere.
Funebrarum – Exhumation of the Ancient
Doomentia Records | February 27th, 2016
If you think the old school DM sound is dead, then you’re wrong. Not only will Funebrarum prove the opposite but this EP also will act on you like a time travel machine that will drive you back to the early 90’s in Scandinavia. It’s raw, organic, filthy and most of all, brutal!
Ascaris – Ævangelist
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Svart | February 26th, 2016
I actually got into Oranssi Pazuzu properly this year after reading Jun-His mention Ævangelist as one of the influences on this album in a Decibel interview. Don’t give me that look! They’d been on my mental list of “things I really like and would like to spend time listening to” since somewhere in the first couple albums. I’m really glad something pushed me to finally get there.
Värähtelijä truly cements its place in my sound world with with elements that reflect Jun-His’ interest in Ævangelist–an atmospheric lead style reminiscent of Thorn’s and more frequent clouds of dissonant synthesizer perfectly suit Oranssi Pazuzu’s psychedelic and jazz leanings, and this album really does feel like it embraces the dark and heavy side of their music in a new way. I’ll be waiting hopefully for the saxophone on the next album.
Gnaw Their Tongues – Hymns for the Broken, Swollen, and Silent
Crucial Blast | December 16th, 2016
On the other side, Gnaw Their Tongues has been a significant influence on me since before I ever released an album. His evocation of Christian fanatacism, worship of the filthy and tortuous, and disregard for musical conventions earned a place at the center of my heart immediately and have only cut deeper in the intervening decade or so.Mories has become a master of Gnaw Their Tongues’ unique processes of composition and the songs on Hymns, even more than last year’s Abyss of Longing Throats, are each really songs in their own right. The array of strange outside instrumentation and heavy elements that evoke the best parts of big-name
Mories has become a master of Gnaw Their Tongues’ unique processes of composition and the songs on Hymns, even more than last year’s Abyss of Longing Throats, are each really songs in their own right. The array of strange outside instrumentation and heavy elements that evoke the best parts of big-name hip-hop and electronic music sit in the noise and evil in a way that keeps surprising and captivating. I have rarely if ever emitted as many sounds of glee as I did while listening to each new song as they became available, beginning with Mories’ soundcloud link for “Hold High the Banners of Truth Among the Swollen Dead” in early September.
I think Hymns and Abyss are both of the last two albums I preordered.
Kinit Her – The Blooming World
Pesanta | September 22, 2016
Since I didn’t manage to overcome my intimidation and make it onto “Key Granting Key” as a guest in the time I had, I do get to include the Midwest’s best 2016 release. I hate the old “what’s your favorite band” cliché, but Kinit Her has been my official answer for years.
The Blooming World is possibly the most meditative Kinit Her release to date, bringing it closer oddly to the first album I made with Kinit Her members as guests, but it’s still a brilliant work of combining neofolk with the strange, immense atmosphere, and mind-trapping medieval melodies that seem first nature to Ritter and Schafer. Wrap yourself in the softest ritual of sadness.
Haunter – Thrinodía
Independent | May 30, 2016
Start where we left off with Oranssi Pazuzu and push the slider most of the way to “death metal.” These relatively unknown (though I know I’m not the only one to mention them) Texans are doing our collective music some honor with their work. For the people like me who had to miss their recent touring, we’ll have to enjoy the record and hope it happens again soon. Word from the Haunter camp is that more releases are rapidly in the works. Everything is good. I promise.
Rempis/Harnick/Zerang – Wistfully
Aerophonic | January 12, 2016
Saxophonist Dave Rempis has been a “household” name in my head since I finally found the younger Chicago free jazz scene (just TRY searching for the name of your city and “free jazz.” Go ahead.) in 2012. His personal label Aerophonic Records has been a big part, for me, of the explosion of new experimental jazz labels with a presence on Bandcamp (see other locals Utech Records and Relay Recordings, along with Raw Tonk, Norwegianism, Gaffer, and the like) that has the potential to really open up the underground scenes to new listeners.
Wistfully is a special trio performance of Rempis’ along with Chicago percussion veteran and wizard Michael Zerang, whose extended sounds on this album I occasionally mistook for howling saxophone at first, and Austrian recipient of my rare full endorsement of a jazz pianist (alongside Chicago’s Jim Baker) Elisabeth Harnik. Not only does the album cover the range from chaos to the exploration of tiny sounds that I love from this world, the technical powers and rapid innovation all three musicians pour out should be enough to both entrance the mind and convince your asshole friends that free jazz isn’t just a bunch of idiots banging on things.
Diapsiquir – 180°
Necrocosm | November 21st, 2016
Another of my new obsessions for 2016, I encountered Diapsiquir through their 2014 split with Peste Noire. Anyone familiar with the Ævangelist discography should have no doubt of my love for hip hop, French black metal, and the French language, and Diapsiquir immediately sucked me in with heavy doses of all three. A helping of the absurd and occasional references to taboo subjects (if it’s like Woods of Infinity, it must be good!) didn’t hurt, either.
This extremely new record has pushed Diapsiquir further not only into perfection but into embracing both their hip hop side and their exploration of “classical” music, with heavy use of strings and clean singing injected into their world of society-hatred and bound dichotomies.
Andrew Cheetham/Colin Webster/Otto Willberg – The Small Departs, The Great Approaches
Raw Tonk | October 3rd, 2016
Into the stranger sounds of the improvisation world! I’ve raved in previous written moments about my love for Colin Webster’s solo saxophone albums and the meticulous scattering of tiny sounds he’s developed into a unique musical expression. They’ve rarely made it full-fledged into the higher-volume demands of his ensemble work, and I couldn’t be happier than I am hearing them among the shifting time grids and perfectly matched tiny sounds of Cheetham’s drums and Willberg’s scraping arco contrabass. YES. It’s taking all my will not to just become one with the floor as I listen to this again.
Or take a break to go work on my own records. Chain . . . typewriter.
Skullfuck – Fireflies and Mosquitoes
Raw Tonk | October 31st, 2016
Another Raw Tonk Records release to go with The Small Departs . . . , the, uh, gracefully-named Skullfuck have now become true heirs to duo Dead Neanderthals (who released Skullfuck’s first record on Norwegianism) and Dead Neanderthals’ Utech Records mates Burning Tree. In the vein of Burning Tree’s 2013 album Lammergyer‘s extreme emulation of harsh noise feedback and Dead Neanderthal’s blasting punk takes, Fireflies and Mosquitos has to be one of the most brutal records it is possible for a sax/drums duo to create. Even if Aki Pó is using electronics to get ahead. Late 80’s John Zorn would be proud that it all came to this.
Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones
NoEvDia | November 8th, 2016
I know this is no surprise. I discovered Deathspell Omega thanks to AJS of Velnias when Fas: Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Æternum came out, and the fact that I remember the full title says what I thought of it.
The Synarchy of Molten Bones is the most impressed I’ve been with a Deathspell Omega release since then–which is not to say anything against those other releases, which are at least some distance into the “astounding” category. Deathspell Omega’s conceptual work in the realm of religion never ceases to encourage my delving into the deeply significant and the sort of apotheosis they’ve given to the kind of complexity that Rune Eriksen’s work in Mayhem first hinted at almost twenty years ago have helped create the metal world I am not ashamed to be connected to today.
Ehnahre – Douve
Kathexis | January 22nd, 2016
For symmetry, I’ll end with the first release I said would be on this list before the year even started. Ehnahre is an “avant-garde” metal band with members the metal world will know from Kayo Dot‘s Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue–but while Kayo Dot has been relatively content only being at the front guard of “metal,” Ehnahre have been at the front guard of music.Ehnahre function as not only a third stream ensemble (combining the cutting edges of jazz and “classical” music), but a metal-meets-third-stream ensemble. Their use of in-depth composition and improvisation to realize the work of poets in an altogether new way has reached a new pinnacle with the inclusion of composer/pianist Jared Redmond. This is everything my teenage self never dreamed to hope for when alternating Schoenberg’s “Book of the Hanging Gardens” (and I swear a motif from that made it into Douve) with Khanate and Suffocation.
Matt – Slugdge
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
Party Smasher Inc. | October 14, 2016
Vektor – Terminal Redux
Earache | May 6th, 2016
Blood Incantation – Starspawn
Dark Descent | August 19th, 2016
Wormrot – Voices
Earache | October 14th, 2016
Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law
Metal Blade | October 28th, 2016
Wormed – Krighsu
Season of Mist | March 18th, 2016
Nucleus – Sentient
Unspeakable Axe | April 15th, 2016
Virvum – Illuminance
Indepdenent | September 16th, 2016
Many thanks to Loic, Antoine, Ascaris, and Matt for these excellent lists!