So, the year is done. I revealed my top 30 and had some honorable mentions (if you follow me on Twitter) and now is the time to wrap shit up for now, so you can go hang out with your annoying, nagging, psychotic family for a couple days and then get piss-shit drunk a week later. Woooo holidays (obvious sarcasm). Well during this last couple weeks of freedom, I listened to my final batch of interesting albums for this absolute shitpile of a year (what year do I not say that about though?). So, here they are, those very albums and my thoughts on them. The last of 2016. Enjoy.
After breaking up for a while after their excellent last album Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, one of my favorite bands in the entire Black Metal genre return in a new form, and by that I mean physically AND musically, and by a new form, I mean a return to form to the Bethlehem I came to love. This album sees the debut of Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult fame on vocals, and Russian guitarist Karzov, joining founding member Jürgen Bartsch and long-time drummer Wolz in creating what I can only call a psychotic masterpiece, just as I would call Bethlehem’s early material. This album is an absolute return to form, harkening back to the days of Dictius te Necare & Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen Irreligiöser Darbietung. The two albums that made me a Bethlehem fan of about 8 years now. This album is a rejuvination of the darker, sicker, more manic, old school Bethlehem and Onielar really helps capture the essence of it with her style of vocal savagery. There’s also a throwback to slow, ambient, sometimes piano-ridden, psychotic shriek-laced passages within songs that old Bethlehem is known for, which is also very well done. I couldn’t be more pleased with this album and had I gotten to put this one on my list, it would be high up there on it. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of the old, darker style of Bethlehem!
Ash Borer: The Irrepassable Gate
Next we have some more Atmospheric Black Metal, this time from one of California’s finest within the multitude of Black Metal that resides there. Ash Borer play a very unique and hypnotic style of Atmospheric BM not often pulled off by others. Their sound is a blend of Blackened Doom, as evident especially in the second track of this album Lacerated Spirit, and Wolves in the Throne Room or Agalloch style hazey, low-fi Black Metal, coated in a dreary, almost rainy like atmosphere. Much like the aforementioned fellow bands of this sub-genre, Ash Borer blend these different styles in a very unique way without using too much of any of them, making for a pretty damn interesting experience. Very well done. Highly recommended for fans of this style, especially the ones looking for something different and more hypnotic.
Lost Society: Braindead
Now for some more Thrash. Not much to say about this one that I haven’t already said about Exumer & Sodom in my last albums post. Just a short and sweet, fun little modern Thrash album. Fast, heavy, straight up and no fancy bullshit. Reminded me a little of Havok. An overall, pretty decent album that will please the average Thrash fan, or disappoint if you’re looking for something different. Either way, this isn’t too bad. Far from the best, but definitely not the worst that the genre has to offer. Recommended!
Judiciary: The Axis of Equality (EP)
This is an EP I was meaning to listen to since the beginning of the year and i’m glad I finally did. This one is a fucking banger. Judiciary play the Forced Order style of Hardcore-infused Thrash and they do it just as good, if not better. 4 tracks and 11 minutes of furious, heavy, ripping, riff-driven Thrashy Hardcore at it’s ruthless finest. A little bit ‘fancier’ than your average Thrash offering, but still aggressive and bullshit-free. The way Thrash AND Hardcore should be done. Highly recommended for fans of either or both genres! Well worth the procrastination.
I found these guys through Bandcamp, as I do most obscure bands nowadays, and I dug the artwork and aesthetic. But what really intrigued me about this band, is that it features the drummer from Fall Out Boy of all fucking bands. So this was quite a curious listen. Now, this is definitely not Fall Out Boy or even in their league, this is some legit, straight up, aggressive as fuck Hardcore that would make 13 year-old FOB fans piss themselves. Nothing too much to say about it, just a simple, no bs, sorta Crusty Hardcore album, but it’s not bad at all. I recommend for straight up Hardcore fans. Give a listen. Teeny bopper FOB fans, however, steer clear.
This band has generated a lot of buzz lately. I first discovered these guys about a year ago when I heard their last EP. Pretty damn good stuff. Now, with the release of their debut full-length album, they have made their presence felt even more, and man, what a banger this one is. Withdrawal are another part of the Blackened Hardcore movement of the last couple years and now they’re an even bigger part of it. They play a very primitive and atmospheric but loud and vicious style of Black Metal-flavored Hardcore and they do it damn well. It’s a whorlwind of chunky, heavy guitars, blastey, bassey drums and extra angry, shrieky vocals to complete the package. Not exactly Young and in the Way or Trap Them level-stuff, but it doesn’t really need to be. This is an insanely creative and substantial piece of Blackened Hardcore that can easily put these guys at the top of my list for albums to come. I think this is only the beginning for these guys and they’re only going to get better… more miserable, more furious and better. I look forward to it. Highly recommended!
Gnaw Their Tongues: Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent
If you’re a long-time Black Metal fan, chances are you do know about the infamous Gnaw Their Tongues. If you’re a fan of him, you know what he’s about. He’s the creator of some of, if not THE most terrifying, brooding, chaotic, filthiest, grossest, uncomfortable Experimental, Industrial & Noise/Ambient influenced Black Metal in the history of SOUND. Mories, the man behind the act is able to blend these different elements together in such a unique way and create something not only frighting and almost incomprehensible, but also unpredictable. Once you think a song is going to go one route, it takes a hard left and goes another, and you rarely see it coming. That, to me is the hallmark of a great artist, especially in this genre of music. This album, however, is a little different. It is still as scary, fucked up and ‘what the fuck’ inducing as ever, but in a bit of a different way. For this album, instead of the usual Black Metal coated in Industrial Noise/Ambient fuckery, we’re met with a more Industrial & Noise/Ambient-driven sound that outweighs the Black Metal element, almost in a T.O.M.B. kind of way. Not what I was expecting, then again, what CAN you expect from this dude? He’s a very creative guy, as evident in this and his many side-projects and he’s a madman. So you can’t really have expectations when it comes to this. Once you’re expecting one thing you get a whole other, and that’s a good thing. The unpredictability is what makes it even scarier. That’s what I look for in Experimental Black Metal. Creativity and absolute freakish fukery. Overall, not my favorite offering from Gnaw Their Tongues, but still a pretty damn good one. Recommended!
The resurgence of Raw, filthy and dissonant Black Metal continues with this 51-minute slab of ugly, dismal, and ruthless Raw BM courtesy of these maniacs from Portland, Oregon. American Black Metal gets a lot of shit, which I don’t really get. I think there is plenty of credit due to the USBM scene, especially in recent years and this is one example why. If you’re looking for something raw, brutal and old school but not satisfied with this album then I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. This album perfectly embodies that description. This is an excellent offering of old fashioned, harsh, grimey Black Metal done with little production needed and done well. From start to finish, this album ravages you with a ferocity that can only be pulled off using the kind of abyss-like atmosphere that’s created by the production value these guys use and it certainly works in their favor. This is definitely a band of this variety that I put up there with the likes of Orgy of Carrion & Bone Awl. Very brooding, very nasty and a fine example of the way vile, dissonant Black Metal should be done. Give a listen!
Torturous Inception: Void (EP)
This is the second EP and third overall release by fellow New York Death Metallers and friends of mine, Torturous Inception. They are known for playing a super heavy and crushing form of Technical Brutal Death Metal, similar to the likes of Ingested or Internal Bleeding, but still maintaining a certain level of uniqueness. This is a short and sweet slab of that exact style. Crushing, chunky, bassey and all-around ruthless and ear-cell desecrating Brutal Tech-Death that is done very well. This isn’t a biased review either. Friend or foe, I will be honest, and my honest assessment of this EP is exactly what I said here. This is a really damn good EP and a really good example of what these guys are capable of. I look forward to their next album and highly recommend this and their last EP and album. If you’re a fan of this genre, then give them a shot! I’m proud of where they’re going.
Dawn of Disease: Worship the Grave
On to more Death Metal, this time hailing from Germany and in the form of more straight-up, old school, but with a little tinge of melodic Death Metal. This is a band I was introduced to via YouTuber InfidelAmsterdam. He played a sample of them and I liked what I heard, so I decided to give them a shot. I certainly don’t regret doing so, because this is quite good. The only gripe I may have is that it reminds me a little bit of Kataklysm. Yuck. Still, this is a very decent Death Metal album that I still recommend. Similar to bands like Tombstalker or Against the Plagues, very old-school but with a hint of melodic mixed in, but not too overused in the way Kataklysm does it. They’re basically what Kataklysm wishes they were. If you’re into either of those bands I mentioned before Kataklysm, you’ll enjoy this one. Again, not one of my favorites, but still very decent. Still recommended. Give it a try.
Ghoul: Dungeon Bastards
Ghoul is a band that i’m usually on and off with. I think the main reason for that is the whole gimmicky tongue-in-cheek humor deal. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, I love me some Anal Cunt. I think it has more to do with the members of the band, who are also members of a band that i’m not a fan of: Impaled. I understand though that this is a different style and they do it much better than the lackluster Death Metal style they do in Impaled, so clearly i’m gonna gravitate more towards Ghoul. Anyway, this album is no different. It’s a fun little slab of The Accüsed style Crossover Thrash mixed with Impaled or early Exhumed style Death Metal. Nothing mind-blowing or great, just decent and fun, which is just fine for a humor band like this. So overall, not bad. If you’re a fan of either of the aforementioned genres, give this a listen.
Desaster: The Oath of an Iron Ritual
This is an album I was going to listen to earlier in the year when it came out. At the time, however, my interest in Blackened Thrash kind of fizzled out for a while and I just put it on the back-burner. Boy oh fucking boy do I regret that decision now. Recently, my interest in this sub-genre has re-surged and I finally gave this one a shot and I was immediately floored. This album is a furious, super-aggressive, fast, heavy, dirty and evil as fuck offering of Thrash-splattered Black Metal, done by one of the best doing it. Very similar to the likes of Destroyer 666 & Cruel Force, but still a force on their own, Desaster unleash a flurry of thick, thrashing grooves, harsh, angry vocals that range from shrieks to growls and dirty as all hell production. This is an excellent slab of Thrashy Black Metal that I highly recommend to fans of such. If you like Destroyer 666 or Cruel Force or even Sarcofago or Nifelheim, this is the album and band for you. Thoroughly pleased with this one!
Unfathomable Ruination: Fintitude
These next 4 albums are of the Slam/Brutal Death Metal variety, but are all unique in their own way. Starting with this one. This is a band i’ve known about for a few months now and really liked their last EP and album. Very vicious and super aggressive Slamming Brutal Death Metal, so I was quite exited to give this one a listen. Well this album, however, goes in a bit of a different direction. Instead of the vicious, super blasty Slam Death Metal style that got me into these guys, this one takes things down a notch to a more Gorgasm or Devourment type style of straight up Brutal Death Metal. Is it disappointing? Maybe a little, but is it bad? No. This is still a pretty damn good offering, despite what I was expecting. If you’re a Brutal Death fan or a fan of those two other bands I just mentioned, you will definitely like it. So I still say give this one a listen. Not as furious and aggressive, but still no slouch.
This is the second of the 4 Slam albums at hand… and this one is by far the best of the group. This album is everything I thought the previous one was going to be and more. This is my first real good listen of Wormed an I now fully regret sleeping on them for so long. This is an absolutely crushing Brutal Death Metal album and a pretty surprising change from the Cryptopsy-esque weird, guttural style of their 2003 debut album Planisphaerium. For this album, they take things way up a notch and take on a more aggressive and technical style on par with the likes of Kraanium or Abominable Putridity and they do it very fucking well. Well produced but not overly-produced and while not too innovative or wheel-reinventing, still very creative and out there. I can only use so many words to describe this banger, so just give it a listen if you’re a fan of Brutal Death Metal an have yet to give Wormed a shot. Don’t make the same mistake I did and sleep on them for too long! This is not only the best album of this batch but also one of the best Death Metal albums I heard all year. Highly recommended!
Katalepsy: Gravenous Hour
In the third of this brutal batch, we have another band that has evolved greatly as they’ve gone on, and this album is no exception. Katalepsy have carved their own unique nitch in the Brutal Death style. They play a more groove-oriented brand of the genre, sort of similar in sound to Obituary or Internal Bleeding. Again, nothing ground-breaking or anything that has been done before, but still sonically unique in it’s own right. Aside from that, nothing too much to say about this one that I haven’t already said about the previous 2. Still as blasty and aggressive as the others, still guttural and growly. Again, nothing ground breaking, but still unique on it’s own. Give it a listen. You’ll see what I mean.
Pestilent: Purgatory of Punishment
Now on to the 4th and honestly, my least favorite of the bunch. This is the debut album by the band Pestilent, who at first listen, was pretty damn good. Then I gave the album a full-on listen, headphones and all and I got a full-on taste of what this really is. Now, is this a terrible album? Or even a bad album? No. My main gripe with this one is the constant chug-a-chug slam slam thing. This album is indeed a Slam album, no doubt. The thing is, that’s all it really is. I feel like they rely far too much on the chugging and breakdown-ish riffs. I don’t have much of a problem with chug-a-chug stuff, just as long as it isn’t over-done. In this case, it is. Again, not a bad album, I do like it sonically, just a little too heavy on the breakdown-ish stuff. Hopefully they’ll evolve and add more elements to their sound as they go on, but this one just kinda falls flat to me.
Invocation Spells: The Flame of Hate
Now down to the final 2. Both of which are of the same style, so i’ll just tie these two in. Starting with this Satanic beauty. Invocation Spells plays a style of Blackened Thrash that even the likes of Venom and Hellhammer would be proud of. This is a style that will bring in even the most jaded of old-school fans… except maybe the stubborn ones. This is a bullshitless, frill-less slab of raw, dirty and evil as all shit old school style Thrashy Black Metal that doesn’t have to be fancy to be noticed. If you’re an old school Black or Thrash fan, this one should please you greatly. Give it a shot!
Rust: Raw Shredding Death
Now on to the last one. This album again, is in the same vein as Invocation Spells. Rust play a similar style of raw, filthy Blackened Thrash and they do it just as well. Slightly more on the modern side, kind of similar to Aura Noir, but just as effective and savage. Very relentless throughout it’s very short 26-minute running time and just like the previous album, doesn’t have to be fancy. Again, give it a shot if you’re a fan of either Rust or Invocation Spells… or Aura Noir or Venom or Hellhammer or even Desaster. Awesome album and great way to close out the year!
And that’s all folks. With that concludes 2016. It’s been a pretty damn good year musically. I wish I could say that for the year personally, socially & globally, but I can’t. Whatever. Anyway, i’ll be back in January with more albums I find the time to listen to. A lot to look forward to in that regard. I do have more rants coming. Those will be here sooner. As far as albums go, those will be here around mid-January. I need a break. So anyway, endure the holidays as best you can, end the year on a shit-faced high note, and come back next year for more tuneage to check out. Peace.
Until next time.