AOTY 2016 as chosen by our CELEBRITY GUESTS

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We’ve got the top 10 picks for albums of the year from our very metal guest stars Turbid North, Wastëland Riders, Barshasketh, Lachlan from Art of Catharsis, and Eric from Unspeakable Axe!

Jono – Turbid North

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10. ZippoAfter Us Apocalyptic Witchcraft

9. Venomous ConceptKick Me Silly Season of Mist

8. GadgetThe Great Destroyer Relapse Records

7. Mos GeneratorAbyssinia Listenable Records

6. Brujeria Pocho Aztlan Nuclear Blast

5. Kaliya MMXVI Burning Dogma Records

4. Ancient WarlocksII STB

3. SourveinAquatic Occult Metal Blade

2. SumacWhat One Becomes Thrill Jockey

1. MotorpyschoHere be The Monsters Rune Grammofon


Nick Forkel – Turbid North

5. Khemmis Hunted 20 Buck Spin

Caught wind of this band and album recently. Riffs are solid. Vocal melodies are catchy as hell. Hope to catch ’em live.

4. SumacWhat One Becomes Thrill Jockey

Straight up riff pummeling. A true album in terms of flow. Very cinematic. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to get heavier than this.

3. Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows Relapse Records

Hadn’t heard these guys until this album. Another well thought out record that flows from start to finish. Vocalist has a hint of Jim Morrison at times, I dig it.

2. NailsYou Will Never Be One Of Us Nuclear Blast

Songs are short and absolutely crushing. This one hit me right away. The sheer aggression of it is something I haven’t heard in a while and badly needed to hear this year.

1. MotorpyschoHere be The Monsters Rune Grammofon

If you’ve never heard this band before, take a breather from all things metal and listen to these guys. This one has everything for me. Amazing vocals, (those goddamn harmonies!) and stellar musicianship. This is a quality fucking band and album. Jam it while driving late at night.


Wastëland Riders

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10. CruzCulto Abismal Independent

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9. RavencultForce of Profanation Metal Blade Records

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8. VektorTerminal Redux Earache Records

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7. ManzerBeyond The Iron Portal Armee De La Mort Records

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6. HexecutorPoison, Lust and Damnation Armee De La Mort Records

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5. HellbringerAwakened From The Abyss High Roller Records

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4. VultureVictim To The Blade High Roller Records

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3. InquisitionBloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith Season of Mist

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2. UrfaustEmpty Space Meditation Ván Records

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1. Whipstriker – Only Filth Will Prevail PRC Music


G.M. (Barshasketh)

Zhrine Unortheta
Season of Mist | April 8th, 2016

This album probably constitutes the most successful fusion of post rock and black/death metal to date in my estimation. Unortheta presents an unusually large dynamic range and includes a wide and diverse set of elements, which Zhrine combine together with a laudable focus on tight songwriting and memorable passages. (TovH review here)


Antaeus Condemnation
Norma Evangelium Diaboli | November 18th, 2016

Antaeus are probably one of the first names that come to mind when thinking of fast and aggressive black metal for any fan of underground black metal. Few bands manage to convey such a visceral sense of aggression and hatred. Condemnation was a welcome surprise, since I was under the impression that the band had split late last year. Collaborating with Menthor (Nightbringer, Lvcifyre) this time around, this album does not really deviate from the established sonic hallmarks of the band, but that’s no bad thing when the result is this good.


Blood Incantation Starspawn
Dark Descent | August 19th, 2016

Dark Descent is known for putting out quality ‘old school’ death metal, what this usually equates to is death metal in the vein of Incantation, Immolation or early Morbid Angel, however, with Starspawn, we have an album that is closer to the earlier tech death pioneers of the 90s, such as Atheist, Pestilence or Nocturnus. It’s quite refreshing to hear this style revisited and reimagined in 2016, especially when it’s done with such aplomb! Superb. (TovH review here)


Urfaust Empty Space Meditation
Ván Records | October 28th, 2016

This latest offering from Urfaust might well be their best to date, in my humble estimation. Empty Space Meditation is full of captivating riffs, well incorporated atmospheric elements and perfectly crafted songs. There really isn’t a dull moment on this album- highly recommended!

 


Irkallian Oracle Apollyon
Nuclear War Now! Productions | February 22nd, 2016

Sweden’s Irkallian Oracle have really hit it out of the park with their latest full-length. While Grave Ekstasis was an interesting proposition, Apollyon shows a marked progression. The songwriting is more dynamic and memorable and is well complimented by a cavernous production that feels truly suffocating. (TovH mini-review here)


Convulsing Errata
Independent | November 26th, 2016

This one man project by an Australian multi-instrumentalist called Brendan Sloan (Dumbsaint) came out of nowhere to offer up one of the very best albums of the year. Errata boasts an impressible range of sounds, which run the gamut from abyssal Portal-influenced riffing to ominous and haunting down tempo post-rock. There’s even a Porcupine Tree cover in there! Convulsing may be the least well-known name of this selection, but Errata is not a lesser album for it and I would loosely place it in the top half of the list.


Defeated Sanity Disposal of the Dead/Dharmata
Willowtip | July 22nd, 2016

Defeated Sanity are a band that have always set themselves apart from other brutal death metal bands with their unique signature sound that fuses the brutality of early Suffocation and Disgorge with a very pronounced jazz influence. The result is death metal that sounds highly structured, but also feels on the verge of collapsing in on itself due to an unusual rhythmic emphasis. With this release, they took a different approach, separating their two main stylistic influences into two halves of a split release (with themselves). This is quite a novel approach and I can’t say I can think of any comparable examples. What you are left with is the best EP that Cynic never made and the best EP that Disgorge never made, with an even-more over the top and abrasive production. Result!


Chthe’ilist Le Dernier Crépuscule
Profound Lore | January 29th, 2016

After the well-received Amechth’ntaas’m’rriacht demo, I was more than just a little curious to check out Chthe’ilist’s debut album. What we have here is a continuation of the aesthetic first presented on the demo, but more fleshed out and with a higher production value. I personally can’t get enough of this Demilich/Demigod influenced death metal, so this was probably the album that I listened to the most in 2016. (TovH review here)


Behexen The Poisonous Path
Debemur Morti Productions | May 27th, 2016

Every Behexen album is a little different, and The Poisonous Path was no exception. This album features quite an abrasive production, combined with the melodic riffing which Shatraug (Horna, Sargeist) is known for. Combining more primitive, almost punkish ideas with some more triumphant moments, there is enough variation to keep us interested from start to finish on this well balanced full-length.


Void Meditation Cult Utter the Tongue of the Dead
Hells Headbangers | October 31st, 2016

Featuring what is probably the most disturbing vocal performance of 2016, Utter the Tongue of the Dead is a relatively straightforward (and short) album whose strength is built upon simple, but effective riffs and an exceptional atmosphere, helped along with a production that is just on the right side of raw. Recommended to fans of black metal in the style of Demoncy, Beherit, Archgoat etc… It isn’t the most refined release, but it does offer up a palpable sense of evil and menace!


Adaestuo Tacent Simitae
W.T.C Productions | November 11th, 2016

Fantastic dark and atmospheric MLP from Adaestuo, which is a side project of VJS (Nightbringer, Sargeist). Not a million miles away from Nightbringer stylistically, but incorporating some interesting and genuinely haunting clean female vocals. I’ve been addicted to this little release since it was put out not long ago and I look forward to hearing more from the band. (TovH mini-Review here)


Almyrkvi Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom
Ván Records | May 18th, 2016

I first found out about Almyrkvi at Oration Festival in Iceland in February, where they performed as part of a rare live appearance. Their approach to black metal could be said to incorporate some industrial elements, with the inclusion of a conspicuous and unapologetic drum machine sound. Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom harkens back to some of the first Blut Aus Nord releases, which is no bad thing. It’s a style that is hard to get right, but Almyrkvi have nailed it with ease here. (TovH review here)


ÚIR Tein-Eigen
Eldritch Lunar Miasma | December 1st, 2016

Úir is a new atmospheric black metal project, and Tein Eigen is their very first release. While atmospheric black metal is not a style that’s particularly in vogue at present, Úir have produced one of the best releases in this style for quite some time. Their style is juxtaposes a more romantic, melancholic style of riffing with a glacial atmosphere that communicates a real sense of dread and foreboding. One to watch for the future!


Lachlan (Art As Catharsis)

Tangents Stateless
Temporary Residence | July 8th, 2016

Another local group. Tangents have taken the hypnotic improvisation of The Necks’ more uptempo work like Hanging Gardens to a new level, incorporating washes of reverb-drenched live sampling alongside glitchy electronica. Stateless is a beautiful marriage of acoustic jazz and electronica. I look forward to the next stage of their development.


Julia Jacklin Don’t Let The Kids Win
Polyvinyl Records | October 7th, 2016

This debut record from Julia Jacklin has been on high rotation this year. Raw, melancholic alt-country that sinks into your heart and stays there.

 

 


Solange A Seat at the Table
Columbia | September 30th, 2016

Beautiful, organic hip hop and soul with powerful themes.

 

 


Animals As LeadersThe Madness Of Many
Sumerian Records | November 11th, 20Y16

While Animals As Leaders are near-untouchable live, I’ve never quite been convinced of their compositional skills. The Madness Of Many changes all of that. They’re drawing from a broader sonic palette than ever before, and piecing together songs that escape the feeling that they’re just a collection of disjointed and highly technical riffs.

 


Kendrick Lamar untitled unmastered
Aftermath Records | March 4th, 2016

Look, I didn’t love To Pimp A Butterfly. I thought it was interesting and ambitious, but patchy. good kid, m.A.A.d city on the other hand is still on regular rotation. For me, untitled unmastered nicely straddles Kendrick’s more classic Compton rap and his increasingly experimental live hip hop influence.

 


David Bowie Blackstar
ISO RCA Columbia Song | January 8th, 2016

This makes the list for the title track alone. For Bowie to reinvent himself so perfectly in his final years is astounding. Drawing on experimental hiphop, electro jazz, ambience and ‘art rock’ – and featuring the excellent Donny McCaslin and Mark Guiliana in his backing band – Blackstar is an awesome final effort.

 


Oranssi Pazuzu Värähtelijä
Svart Records | February 26th, 2016

I need more time with this record, but the few listens I’ve had have been captivating. Psychedelic black metal with delicious noise rock and post-metal influences. Värähtelijä is bound to echo through anything I write in 2017.

 


3. Radiohead Moon Shaped Pool
XL | May 8th, 2016

While hardly ostentatious – or even a departure from their previous work – Radiohead’s latest slowly grew on me. Their attention to detail in both composition and sonic texturing is masterful.

 


2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
Bad Seed Ltd. | September 9th, 2016

It would be fair to say this release shares some similarities with Frank Ocean. Skeleton Tree is a psychic mess, brimming with fragility and trauma. In lieu of an clearly articulated structure, the songs swirl and pulse and lurch, almost collapsing under their own weight. It’s a powerful aesthetic achievement that could have easily gone awry.

 


1. Frank Ocean Blonde
Boys Don’t Cry | August 20th, 2016

For me, no other record comes even close. The breadth and depth of emotion expressed is simply unapproachable. On Blonde, Frank Ocean deconstructs hip hop and soul, leaving the elements to float by on an ethereal stream of consciousness. The result is an album that is somehow both fragmented and unified; druggy yet intensely articulate.

 

Eric (Unspeakable Axe Records)

I’ll preface this list by saying that a lot of my time and cash these days goes into stuff I’m releasing myself, so I have less of both to spend on anything else. Not to mention I get Dark Descent releases for free, and I’m leaving them all off of this list! But I still managed to hear a decent pile of other good music in 2016, so here is some of it:

Wretch Wretch

The last album from Gates of Slumber was one of my favorite modern doom records, full of big fat riffs and smoky vocals, and above all memorable songs. They’re from the same city (Indianapolis) that I lived in for many years too. I was crushed to hear about the tragedy that hit the band and ended the band. So their quasi-return as Wretch – a more personal, darker take on the same core musical ideas as Gates – was welcome. Great album, stays in my rotation.


Voivod Post Society

Voivod’s comeback was a shock to me. I love their early records – especially the three starting with Killing Technology and ending with Nothingface, all are classics. After that… eh. Angel Rat is OK, Outer Limits pushed the outer limits of my patience, and then there were all those years without Snake, or without Blacky, and they just made a lot of records that didn’t scratch that itch for assorted reasons. After Piggy died I assumed they were done. Then Target Earth happened and against all odds, Chewy was the perfect fill-in and seemed to even revitalize the band. Post Society continued the good work started with Target Earth, and now I hope they keep plugging away as long as they can.


Chthe’ilist Le Dernier Crepuscule

This feels slightly dodgy since Dark Descent (UAR’s parent label) released the vinyl, but I seem to recall that Profound Lore signed them first and put out the CD, so I’m rolling with it. This is just great, weird death metal in the never-trendy style pioneered by Timeghoul, Demilich, etc. Between this and a couple of other releases I am leaving off this list for conflict-of-interest reasons (parenthetical plug: they’re “Sentient” by Nucleus and “Starspawn” by Blood Incantation), this was a good year for metal from other worlds. Or other dimensions.


Degial Savage Mutiny

More cheating, since Metal Archives tells me this came out at the very end of 2015 (actually on Christmas day – thanks, Jesus!). But, you know, fuck it. Degial’s label Sepulchral Voice has a stunning batting average; you can basically buy everything they put out blind. They don’t release very much or very often but you can’t argue with the results. And this band is one of the best going, just nasty and evil death metal as it was meant to be played.


Parasit A Proud Tradition of Stupidity

Not metal but d-beat crust punk from Sweden. I have a huge weakness for this style (other favorites being Hellshock, Driller Killer, and Instinct of Survival), and Parasit did it exactly right on this album.

 

 


Sauron Conquest Through Attrition

This will fly under most radars since it was more or less self-released by the band, but these dudes continue making raging underground black/thrash at their own pace – which on the one hand means “many years between releases,” but on the other hand means “so fast it will melt your fucking head.”

 


Cultes des Ghoules Coven

This band has gained some serious underground buzz somehow, which I’m not complaining about – they absolutely deserve it. I was on the fence about their beloved-in-some-circles debut Haxan, which was very raw and barbaric. Since then they have refined their approach without losing their dark atmosphere and it just works for me. One of those bands I just blind-buy their releases now.


Gorguts Pleiades’ Dust

This will be on a lot of lists and I imagine I don’t need to say much about it. So I won’t.

 

 

 


Ulcerate Shrines of Paralysis

This feels like it needs to come right after Gorguts, doesn’t it? These guys clearly have listened to Luc Lemay’s string-warping dissonance and tried to make it their own. It’s curious given the kind of metal I usually listen to, but I really enjoy this shit. The Voidspawn EP released in mid-2016 probably was the first time I let my interest in this style spill over to the label. Anyway, Ulcerate is great, this album is great.


Bestial Raids Master Satan’s Witchery

I have not kept up as much in the last couple years with Nuclear War Now’s stable of intense black/death metal, and truthfully it’s not my go-to style – I tend to like discernible riffs and songs too much to fully submit to formless chaos. But as purveyors of chaos go, Bestial Raids is one of the best and this album is another black stab in the gut from them. I think this is one of the best bands (along with the defunct Blasphemophagher and Prosanctus Inferi) that I identify solely with Nuclear War Now.

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  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    These lists are lists that are good.

  • Dark Descent / Unspeakable Axe for best bromance of 2016

    • Unspeakable Axe

      I touch Matt in secret places. Shhh.

      • You both sign/support so many of my friends bands too, so you can do whatever yall want when you’re alone 😛

        • Unspeakable Axe

          We’re consenting adults! Well, I am.

          • W.

            Turns out Dark Descent is a euphemism for the butt.

    • I’ve been hooked since Sadistic Ritual!

  • Joaquin Stick

    Oh great. 20 more new things I have to check out. Had to start with the Motorpsycho though, and it’s really good chill psychedelic rock! With their giant discography, I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I was really surprised to see that album atop the Turbid North list.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Hail Celebrity Guests!

  • Jack Rabbit

    Ugh, I miss so much stuff throughout the year, December-January is just gonna be me rapidly moving through all this stuff.

    Also, Frank Ocean <3

  • W.

    I still need to check out that Sauran album.

    • Stockhausen

      What about that Sauron album?

      • W.

        Never met the guy.

  • Brock Samson

    This year was especially tough to narrow down my top ten but alas I have done it.

    10: Morgue Supplier- Morgue Supplier
    9: Skaphe- Skaphe2
    8: Vektor- Terminal Redux
    7: Plebian Grandstand- False Highs, True Lows
    6: Ulcerate- Shrines of Paralysis
    5: Torri- Gates of Paradise
    4: Chthe’ilist- Le Dernier Crepuscule
    3: Ctulu- Untitled Album
    2: Anaal Nathrakh- The Whole of Law
    1: Zhrine- Unortheta

  • mother☆shabubu

    I didn’t know Motorpsycho was still around. I found this album back in 2015 and it’s a very interesting and good one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXKFy2hwnv0

  • Unspeakable Axe

    I am pretty sure I’m not any kind of celebrity. But thanks for inviting me to do this.

    • W.

      We can force you into the limelight, if you’d like. I think Boss is already stalking you like a crazed fan.

      • Unspeakable Axe

        Restraining orders mean absolutely nothing to that man.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          I haven’t received any official notice, sooooo I’m not stopping anything anytime soo.

    • Stockhausen

      There are maybe 1.5 actual celebrities in the underground metal world, so we’ll take schlumps like you.

      • Unspeakable Axe

        AOTY 2016 As Chosen By Some Schlumps sounds about right.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH DEFEATED SANITY

  • Turbid North – nice selections from the grind side. I haven’t gotten around to Brujeria yet but I liked the few tracks I heard.
    Lachlan – Solange and Frank Ocean sound like something I’d be interested in.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Uir – Tein-Éigin is sounding really great so far!

    • Lacertilian

      I gave it a listen yesterday after GM sent me that list yesterday, enjoyed what I heard, shame there was no purchase option yet tho.

  • Nice to see Inquisition on here…I think I let some parties convince me it was not a good, but it really does riff with STEEL!

  • Howard Dean
  • Simon PhoenixKing Rising

    Vulture and Sauron were woefully passed over by everyone, myself included, for the exact same reason. Both albums are a pain in the ass to find. Do what you need to do and find those albums.

    • Seriously, without YouTube and/or Spotify, some of these albums aren’t even on bandcamp (LOOKING AT YOU VULTURE).

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      Sauron’s available from Dystopian Dogs rn.

    • Unspeakable Axe

      FWIW, I’ve got copies of Sauron in my distro. Always dug those guys.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I freaking love that Vulture EP.

  • Owlswald

    There seems to be a severe lack of Car Bomb on these year end lists thus far.

  • Nails sound like the music itself is literally going to bust out of the speakers and fucking strangle you. It’s a sense of aggression I get out of classic Slayer (RiB and the fast songs on SoH and SitA) and very few other bands.

  • JWEG

    That Whipstriker art basically just makes me want to play Metal Slug.

    http://i.imgur.com/dwoD43P.gif

  • Leif Bearikson

    That Solange album is great. For serious.

  • Leif Bearikson

    Also, I stand by that Nails album looking better with Chiller font

  • Major Zim

    Can we please get like, maybe a monthly column thats one or two suggestions of the albums that are really sticking out to each of the writers here so we don’t have to spend the entirety of December playing catchup with all these great albums we missed? http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/52/523e063332ab76b05359072f39c93ce7089b8f30e6fb83090d0a1bac2bca1895.jpg

  • Waynecro

    Many thanks to these esteemed guestbros for the excellent lists!

  • Brendan Sloan

    Thanks for the shout out re: Convulsing. Unworthy of the company in which I’ve been placed ?
    Unortheta was a fucking mammoth.