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Best Of 2018: Metal

I’m incredibly late with this Best Of list, but no one really cares, so let’s just get on with it.

Best Metal Album of 2018

Thou - Magus
From 'Magus,' out now: Directed By: Bryan Funck & Mitch Wells Lighting Design: Michael Moises Edited By: Mitch Wells

Thou has had an incredible year. They released 3 EPs leading up to the release of this full-length album. And they didn’t stop there, teaming up with Ragana for a split album a couple months later. The album, of course, is the centerpiece, and one of my most listened-to albums of the year.

At over 75 minutes, it’s a lot to take in. It’s also more patience-testing than their previous full-length, Heathen, which colored their aural misery with acoustic interludes, as well as some strings, horns, and clean vocals. It also featured faster, black metal-inspired passages. Magus offers less reprieve. There are three interlude tracks, one of which does feature clean vocal passages like you might hear on Heathen, but two of which are dark ambient/noise, along the lines of the Inconsolable EP.

Thou rejects the categorization as being a metal band, and this is reflected in both their lyrical themes (which get about as far from the standard metal tropes as possible), as well as the company they keep (their collaborations and touring partners often either exist on the same trope-rejecting metal fringe as themselves, our outside the sphere of metal entirely). That said, there’s no other accurate genre label for music that is as heavy and extreme as this, so metal it is.

It was a tough battle for the top of my list this year. The kicker for Thou was that I simply never got tired of listening to this album or their other releases that make this list. Because the moment-to-moment experience of this album connected so well with me, the length of the album worked to its benefit, keeping it from ever wearing on me. It still sounds fresh to me, with parts I don’t feel like I’ve fully explored.

The Rest of the Best

Oryx - Stolen Absolution
Stolen Absolution

This album released in February, yet I nearly missed it completely, discovering it very very late. Within a week, I was debating whether or not this was going to unseat Thou for my top spot. It won me over that quickly and completely.

Similar to Thou, Oryx is blackened sludge, blending that slower, crushing instrumental approach of doom with harsh, searing vocals. Also like Thou, the vocal themes stray far from metal tropes and instead are rooted in real-world concerns, both of the sociopolitical variety as well as the kind of fury at ecological destruction that would make Gojira proud.

Oryx on this album is a duo, a husband-and-wife team (husband on vocals and guitar, wife on drums), though the group has since added a third member on bass.

This album has the best flow and sequencing of any album this year. At 34 minutes long, it’s practically bite-sized compared to the Thou album, but the flow is so amazingly good and the album ends on such a high note that it demands hitting the Play button again as soon as it ends. It was probably my most immediately repeat-played album of any on this list.

Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology
Esoteric Malacology
Off the new album "Esoteric Malacology" Delve into the the mephitic melodies of Molluscas malodorous minions once more with Esoteric Malacology, the latest gastropodean gospel from Slugdge. Journey through the annuls of Slishic history; through the death and rebirth of the supreme cosmic overlord, and unlock mental gateways to even more horrendous and nonsensical realities than ever before. Pre-order via Willowtip: Pre-order via Bandcamp: Available worldwide March 2, 2018

This was penciled into my top spot for most of the year, until Thou came along and unseated it.

Esoteric Malacology is one the most “fun” tech-death metal albums you’re likely to ever hear. The album is just an amazing collection of riffs, which the band flies through in songs that are much more melodic and approachable than other tech-death bands. It almost seems wrong to label them tech-death, just because it all moves so effortlessly and goes down so easy for something that’s actually as intricate and heavy as it is.

In keeping with my first two albums on this list, Slugdge doesn’t exactly stick with standard metal lyrical themes either. Or, rather, they take those tropes and make them all about, well, intergalactic space slugs. Except the humorous, tongue-in-cheek tales of space slugs are metaphors for much more real-world social and geopolitical concerns.

“The Spectral Burrows” is also my pick for the best single song of the year.

YOB - Our Raw Heart
Our Raw Heart
Our Raw Heart is out now on CD/2xLP/CS/Digital Digital Downloads / Stream: Order via Relapse Records Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Directed by Frank Huang Additional Video by Drew Kaufman Special Thanks to (Le) Poisson Rouge Official Links: YOB Official Website: YOB on Facebook: YOB on Twitter: YOB on Instagram: Lyrics: A drum of unrest Beating in my chest Within raging days Pounding at the gate Skin stretched too tight Under fading light Shapeless failing view I must see it through Must see it through See it through Sounding unto a greater life Bring the devils Seraphim Bring the sorrow That feeds on my skin Sounding unto a greater sight See the seer The original face There is nothing else This is all there is There is nothing else The original face Blister to the flame Bared teeth within names One beast brings its strength One beast brings hunger One beast topples mountains Rigpa swallows them whole Emergent rising view I must see it through Must see it through Sounding unto a greater life Bring the devils Seraphim Bring the leeches Bleed the leeches Sounding unto a greater sight See the seer The original face Skin stretched too tight Under fading light Shapeless failing view Must see it through Blister to the flame Bared teeth within names Clear sight, Rigpa’s view I must see it through Must see it through

Easily the most emotionally draining album of the year.

It’s impossible for me to listen to this album without relating it to bandleader Mike Scheidt’s life-threatening health problems, the experience which reverberates deeply throughout this album. A lot of metal albums I like have a “gazing into the void” quality, but this one is more like one about a man that gazed into that void, and came back from it, fundamentally affected and permanently changed.

YOB albums have always had a significant emotional component - there’s a reason their website is “”. Whereas many stoner/doom bands have long tapped into the sounds of ‘60s/'70s psychedelia, YOB has always drawn from that hippie love spirit that inspired that music in the first place.

The fundamental elements of YOB’s sound have not changed here. It’s still long-form “cosmic doom”, which delivers massive, powerful sounds. There’s no anger here, but there are echoes of pain. Listening to a man who returned from near-death howling the vocal lines “there is nothing else / this is all there is” is profoundly affecting.

Anachronism - Orogeny
Provided to YouTube by Fandalism Cryptobiosis · Anachronism Orogeny ℗ 890186 Records DK Released on: 2018-07-05 Auto-generated by YouTube.

My most listened to album of 2018, according to This album was criminally overlooked, no doubt owing much to being an independent release from a Switzerland-based band. Not a whole lot of profile or marketing push behind this one. This album is technical death metal that is grounded in a brutal death approach, colored with some prog-rock and fusion tendencies added in. They contrast brighter, jazzier chord progressions alongside the downtuned chugging, giving them a subtly unique sound within this space.

Fister - No Spirit Within
No Spirit Within
St. Louis doom outfit Fister join forces with Doomed Asylum Productions to unleash "I AM KURU". I AM KURU is off of their 2018 album, No Spirit Within, released on Listenable Records. Subscribe for future videos! Contact Doomed Asylum Productions: [email protected]

Fister and CHRCH both killed it on their split album in 2017, and they both killed it in 2018 with their subsequent full-lengths.

Fister is unyieldingly dark and crushing. There’s no mourning and certainly no rays of light, just misery and annihilation. The top of my list already has a lot of sludge/doom going on. There were just so many good releases, and even more than I could squeeze onto this list (like the Churchburn I had to relegate to my Bonus Picks). What sets Fister apart is that they don’t just rely on a slow, crushing wall of sound. The tempo shifts, and suddenly there’s some blazing guitar lead, yet it still sounds just as dark and hopeless as the slower dirges. Some indecipherable samples and guitar atmospherics provide some space and separation between the assaults. Everything just stands out more than some of the similar releases I also enjoyed this year.

CHRCH - Light Will Consume Us All
Light Will Consume Us All
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Aether · CHRCH Light Will Consume Us All ℗ 2018 Neurot Recordings Released on: 2018-05-11 Auto-generated by YouTube.

And here’s the group from the other half of that split. CHRCH became an instant favorite of mine with their 2015 debut, Unanswered Hymns. Between that, seeing them put on a great set at Psycho Las Vegas, and the Fister split, this was one of my most anticipated albums of the year.

This album leans harder into epic doom, away from the fuzzier stoner-doom stylings that were more prevalent in their debut. The harsher sounds and vocals are used a bit more judiciously this time around. The vocals of Eva Rose weave between Windhand-like ethereal croons and demonic screams, and she’s become one of my absolute favorite doom vocalists.

Funeral doom can be hit or miss with me. CHRCH isn’t extremely sparse like Bell Witch, and avoids the ham-fisted theatrical approach that turns me off from groups like Warning. For me at least, they hit a sweet spot in the style. I do miss some of the harsh fuzz of the debut album, but this is too damn good for me to possibly complain.

Ails - The Unraveling
The Unraveling
Pre-order:, Artist: Ails Track: Mare Weighs Down Release: The Unraveling Release date: 4.20.18 Label: The Flenser

Ails' debut release of melodic blackened death metal might not be a revelation to anyone that has heard releases from the previous band the two leading ladies were in (Ludica). Vocalist Laurie Sue Shanaman still juxtaposes clean chant-like vocals with lacerated, tortured screams. Guitarist Christy Cather is still a one-woman riff machine.

Compared to Ludicra, there’s a bit less of an overt punk influence. The tempos are more varied, less sustained breakneck pacing. The material gets some time to breathe, and is all the better for it, in my opinion. The frenzies are broken up with slower paced sections, which may feature more catchy melodic passages and vocals, or may just play host to lengthy screams. The production is raw, perhaps a little rawer and scratchier than I prefer, but definitely is in keeping with the black metal influence.

Gaerea - Unsettling Whispers
Unsettling Whispers
Taken from the latest full length 'Unsettling Whispers' released on Transcending Obscurity Records. OFFICIAL BANDCAMP - OFFICIAL STORE - US STORE - EUROPE STORE - LABEL FACEBOOK - GAEREA FACEBOOK - Info - Gaerea have turned the genre of black metal on its head. While most rehash the classic sound, this Portuguese band take it forward and seamlessly integrate influences from other genres like hardcore and sludge. Sonically defiant and cohesive, Gaerea smash preconceived notions and deliver music they can call their own. 'Unsettling Whispers' is the much awaited full length album coming after their universally lauded self-titled EP. Transcending Obscurity Records will be putting it out on multiple formats with excellent packaging that includes gatefold LP, alternate artwork box set and 8-panel digipak with a 20-page booklet. Artful, stirring and deeply immersive, Gaerea are a band to watch out for. Their treatment of the music is not only meticulous but also unforgettable. Line up - (unknown)

This is the one album that Angry Metal Guy named their Record of the Month last year to which I agreed profusely.

Gaerea play a kind of melodic atmospheric black metal that brings to mind groups like Mgla and Celeste. They bring both the moody, depressive side of atmospheric black metal along with the hate-spewing fury of black metal proper. Like Celeste, the vocals perhaps should be described more as blackened hardcore than black metal. The tone is permanent bleakness, but the instrumental work often has an amazing ugly-beauty quality to it.

Maybe this should have been Album of the Year. Listening to it again while I write this, it’s just so goddamn good.

Horizon Ablaze - The Weight of a Thousand Suns
Horizon Ablaze
The Weight of a Thousand Suns

If you like Gojira, listen to these guys now.

A lot of groups play blackened death metal, or death metal with black metal influences. Horizon Ablaze play a kind of Thanos-approved perfect balance of the two, which sounds like it would be odd or derivative. But in practice, they move so smoothly from blast-beat trem-picked sections to meaty, riffy sections that you hardly recognize that any change has happened. The progressive-death elements bring Gojira to mind (hence the first sentence of this writeup), while the black metal elements compare to later Emperor albums.

I think what makes me reference Gojira so directly is that this feels like a group that could have that wider appeal that a group like Gojira has developed over the years. I’m really surprised this release hasn’t garnered more attention than it has.

The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
The Ocean
Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
Buy Here: The Ocean "Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence" from the album "Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic." Built, shot and edited by Craig Murray. tour dates: THE OCEAN + ROSETTA + ARABROT 31/10/18 DE - Karlsruhe - Dudefest 01/11/18 FR - Paris - Backstage 02/11/18 UK - London - The Dome 03/11/18 UK - Leeds - Damnation Festival 04/11/18 NL - Eindhoven - Effenaar 05/11/18 DE - Münster - Sputnikhalle 06/11/18 DE - Wiesbaden - Schlachthof 07/11/18 CH - Sion - Le Port France 08/11/18 IT - Milan - Santeria Social Club 09/11/18 DE - München - Strom 11/11/18 SK - Bratislava - Randal 12/11/18 RO - Cluj-Napoca - Form Space 14/11/18 RO - Bucharest - Control Club 15/11/18 RO - Timisoara - Reflektor 16/11/18 HU - Budapest - Blue Hell 17/11/18 CR - Zagreb - Mochvara 18/11/18 PL - Krakow - Zet Pe Te 19/11/18 PL - Warsaw - Proxima THE OCEAN + LLNN+ BRIQUEVILLE 27/12/18 DE - Rostock - Mau Club 28/12/18 DE - Jena - Kassablanca 29/12/18 DE - Nürnberg - Club Stereo 30/12/18 DE - Berlin - Lido #TheOcean #Phanerozoic

When the album began with a piano reprise of the melody that ended The Ocaen’s 2007 album Precambrian, I got chills. The album’s named after the Phanerozoic eon, which is the eon that followed Precambrian. As if it’s not obvious from that, this album is a continuation of Precambrian, which for my money is the best Ocean album. It also resembled the group’s most recent album, Pelagial, which in my opinion is their second best album.

My biggest frustration with the album is that it’s only half of the overall Phanerozoic album, and the second part won’t arrive until 2020. It’s nearly 48 minutes long, but it just feels like a halfway point when it ends.

Like with Pelagial, the group released an instrumental-only version of the album, though it was a separate release this time around. I did not end up listening to it as much as I did Pelagial’s instrumental version. The vocals are too well done on the album, and losing the guest appearance from Katatonia’s singer (a collaboration that was intended to happen on Precambrian) is too much a step down for me.

Honorable Mentions

Sleep - The Sciences
The Sciences

It says something about how much I love the above albums that I had to push Sleep down into the Honorable Mentions. A surprise release on 4/20 (of course), The Sciences is both one of the most and least surprising albums of the year in terms of quality. An album this far removed from a group’s previous one has no business being that good. It’s right there alongside My Bloody Valentine’s “mbv” in terms of defying all reasonable expectations of a reunion effort.

At the same time, having heard the reformed Sleep live twice before this album, as well as having heard their 2014 single The Clarity, it’s really no surprise. They are this good live. They were this good on The Clarity. And these three musicians have not exactly been sitting on their hands since the last Sleep album. Nothing these guys put out separately in High on Fire, Om, Neurosis, or Shrinebuilder suggests they’ve run out of ideas.

The surprise, though, is that it came together this well. The album is flawless in execution; there’s never a feeling that they didn’t achieve exactly what they were aiming to. The biggest delight is how good the album sounds. I’ve wished that the group would re-record the Holy Mountain album, because as good as it is, the sound does not live up to the massive sound they have performing the material live. The Sciences does a much better job of recreating that huge sound in a studio recording. It’s thick and fulfilling.

Ævangelist - Matricide in the Temple of Omega
Matricide in the Temple of Omega
A direct link is provided to purchase 'Matricide in the Temple of Omega' on CD and digital format. Additional links are given for Ævangelist and I, Voidhanger Records. "Æon Death Knell" is the second song on the album. 'Matricide in the Temple of Omega' release date - November 10th, 2018. Ævangelist: Ascaris - wicked goddess tongue Matron Thorn - sword of desolating - All music recorded by Ævangelist at the Parish. - Mixed by Matron Thorn. Mastered by Jeremie Bezier (Emptiness, ex-Enthroned) in Blackout Studio, Belgium. - Cover painting by Haley Deanna Johnstone. - Art direction and layout by Francesco Gemelli. "One of today's most revered and original black/death metal bands, ÆVANGELIST were officially baptized by I, Voidhanger Records in 2012: the band's first full-length album, “De Masticatione Mortuorum In Tumulis” conquered the most demanding lovers of avant-garde extreme metal thanks to a visionary blend of psychotic riffs, inhuman growls, crushing rhythms, and asphyxiating – yet trance-inducing – atmospheres. Six years and many albums after that promising work, ÆVANGELIST rejoin I, Voidhanger Records and release their most sinister and inventive work to date, “Matricide In The Temple Of Omega”. Now, as then, ÆVANGELIST play dark death metal to end all death metal, but it's a matter of fact that they never sounded so bleak, cryptic and derailed. “Matricide In The Temple Of Omega” constantly struggles to gain a shape, to find an intelligible form and escape the painful vice of non-existence. It doesn't have a beginning, and it doesn't have an end. It resembles one of those Lovecraftian creatures too abstruse and abominable to comprehend: eager to born into our dimension, but forever consigned to a chaotic realm of mean, suicidal psychedelia. The monumental closing number, “Ascending Into The Pantheon”, sublimates it all by hammering the listener with razor-like guitars and putrid melodies before a final incantation that sounds like a dedication to Lilith. No fake spirituality, here; no light at the end of the tunnel; this is the definitive and most uncomfortable drug-trip into utter blackness... into the death beyond death. 'Matricide In The Temple Of Omega' is the culmination of all that we have do far sought through ÆVANGELIST, our elite devilwork,” synthetically remarks guitarist Matron Thorn, with singer/lyricist Ascaris one of the two grand architects behind the band. Therefore, rejoice! The true masters of apocalyptic black/death metal have returned to blight the earth with music of the dark neverending"! CD/digital format (I, Voidhanger Records, Bandcamp) Ævangelist Facebook - Bandcamp - Metal Archives - I, Voidhanger Records Homepage - Facebook - SoundCloud - YouTube - Promotional purposes sanctioned by I, Voidhanger Records.

Ævangelist got on my radar with their 2016 split with Blut Aus Nord, a group with whom they share more than a passing similarity in terms of sound and spirit. Their last full-length release, 2015’s Enthrall to the Void of Bliss, was an immediate favorite of mine. Then this year, they released not one, but two full-lengths. The first was Heralds of Nightmare Descending, which doubles down on the lo-fi production that was characteristic of Ævangelist’s pre-Enthrall releases. Lo-fi production is my least favorite black metal trope, and it kept me from really embracing Heralds.

Matricide, however, goes the other direction. It providing the cleanest production on an Ævangelist release to date, and in doing so, shows just how unnecessary such production was to create the sonic effect Ævangelist angles for.

Mantar - The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

Mantar kick ass. That’s really all you need to know.

Mantar’s sludgey crust-punk groove is a well established formula from their first two albums, and they don’t make any great deviations here. They make a hell of a racket for being a guitar-and-drums duo. There’s precious little studio layering of additional instruments here, as that’s never been their style.

Their previous album, Ode to the Flame, remains my favorite of the duo’s work, but this is another welcome blast of aggression.

LLNN - Deads
Directed, filmed and edited by Ketil G. Sejersen & Rasmus G. Sejersen. Order here: Europe: N. America: Australia: Digital: // Copenhagen's LLNN burst onto the international scene with 2016's critically acclaimed debut album „Loss“, a sheer display of „absolute raging rawness“, as Terrorizer put it. But there is more to LLNN's sound than that: „the wavering drone synths that are effortlessly merged with a raw hardcore-driven darkness define the subtle idiosycratic nuances of LLNN's very unsubtle, painfully overwhelming sound.“ (The Sludgelord). After a split EP with LA's WOVOKA in the summer of 2017, LLNN now return with their sophomore album, „Deads“, which evades all the pitfalls of the sophomore slump. Produced by Jacob Bredahl and mastered by Tue Madsen, „Deads“ is an erosive, abrasive, dystopian, apocalyptic monolith of monstrous dimensions. Compared to its predecessor, „Deads“ is more compact, yet more complex and organic all at the same time. The band has now perfectionized the amalgamization of the stringed instruments section (bass, guitar) with keys player Ketil Sejersen's very dominant 80's Sci- Fi movie-esque synth layers, which are inspired by composers like Brad Fiedel, Vangalis, John Carpenter and Stanley Kubrick as much as by Sci-Fi / horror games like Silent Hill, Dead Space, Halo and Limbo. „Some of the synth sounds on the album consists of recordings from everyday sounds transformed into eerie soundscapes, for instance the sounds of boiling water“, drummer Rasmus G. Sejersen comments. „We wanted the soundscapes to be a persistent and dynamic underlay of sounds that influence the music's core and soul throughout the entire album, together with all the riffs, rhythms and vocals“. It doesn't come as a surprise that this band triggers the interest of movie soundtrack designers like the award-winning Peter Albrechtsen, known for his work on movies like „Dunkirk”, “Antichrist” or “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”: ”As a sound designer for movies, I love when music feels like a sonic adventure. I’m obsessed with music that explores what sound can do to our body, to our mind, to our imagination. LLNN's new album is one of the most overwhelmingly intense records I’ve heard in quite a while and the way it blends abstract ambient sounds, shattering rhythms and extreme noise is both hypnotic and powerful. The sense of sonic detail is staggering and for each spin I hear new elements, echoes, textures and my mind gets new visual associations. Sometimes it feels like the soundtracks of Apocalypse Now and Eraserhead has been melted together and blasted through a ferocious guitar amp - these songs have both a sense of impending doom and an extraordinary combination of raw energy and gritty beauty.“ Not much else to say, except this: LLNN will be unleashing their custom take on contemporary post metal supporting Vancouver's BISON on their April European headline tour, including performances at ROADBURN, DESERT FEST (London) and PELAGIC FEST.

This one very nearly ended up in the Best of the Rest section above.

LLNN is sludgey post-metal with post-hardcore elements (particularly in the vocals) that bring to mind Cult of Luna and The Ocean (unsurprisingly, LLNN is on The Ocean bandleader’s record label, Pelagic Records). The more straightforward jaw-busting hardcore sections are wrapped up in dark ambience and post-metal instrumental passages. The album’s short, just under 38 minutes, and it’s packed with some of the most memorable riffs and sections of the year. I never forget what this one sounds like.

SUMAC - Love in Shadow
Love in Shadow
Provided to YouTube by Thrill Jockey, Inc. The Task · SUMAC Love In Shadow ℗ Thrill Jockey Records Released on: 2018-09-21 Artist: SUMAC Auto-generated by YouTube.

Aaron Turner can do no wrong by me. Especially this year, where he and his fellow ISIS members reunited (under the name Celestial) for a one night benefit concert in Los Angeles, and I got to be there. Compared to that, a new SUMAC record could only hope to be a distant second for my favorite Aaron Turner things of the year. Second as it may be, it’s still an excellent album. Compared to the first two SUMAC albums, this one goes off on improvisational tangents, inspired no doubt by their collaboration album with Keiji Haino.

Horrendous - Idol
Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Taken from the forthcoming album "Idol". Release Date: September 28, 2018. Order here: Follow HORRENDOUS: Follow Season Of Mist:

I loved the band’s 2015 album, Anareta. I was excited for this to come out. It did not disappoint.

This is progressive death metal that’s just packed to the walls with great riffs. The band manages to go off in different directions, while remaining rooted in raw death metal. For all of the impressive guitar work here, none of it comes across as wankery, instead remaining in service to the songwriting at all times. It greatly rewards repeat listens, there’s so much here to unpack. It released in late September, but still had enough time to be one of my most listened-to albums of the year.

Portal - ION
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Husk · Portal Ion ℗ 2018 Profound Lore Released on: 2018-01-26 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Portal dropped this one in January, giving me some nice sonic terror for the post-holidays back-to-work period.

ION is the sound of the universe being ripped apart at the seams. Portal’s previous album, 2013’s Vexovoid, became an instant favorite of mine when I first heard it. Whereas Vexovoid’s thick, murky production envoked a darkness from which light cannot escape, ION’s clearer, sharper production makes every rip and tear observable. The result is a sound that is just as impenetrable.

Imperialist - Cipher
Taken from the album 'Cipher' on Transcending Obscurity Records. OFFICIAL STORE - OFFICIAL BANDCAMP - LABEL FACEBOOK - BAND FACEBOOK - Info - US black metal band IMPERIALIST have conjured up a brilliant sci-fi themed album that stands out both conceptually as well as musically. Rooted in the early Swedish black metal sound of luminaries like NECROPHOBIC, DISSECTION and SACRAMENTUM, IMPERIALIST hone it up further to suit their futuristic theme by adding touches of thrash metal without diluting the rich aura. 'Cipher' is backed by a visually stunning artwork by Adam Burke (VEKTOR, LURK) that extends into a continuous two-panel work depicting the grand theme. It's rare to find bands that have a bold vision and at the same time creating the perfect blend for music that is at once atavistic and forward-thinking. This is one of the finest examples of meticulously written black metal counterbalancing aggression with melodies and thrashy sections. Line up - Sergio Soto - Guitar & Vocals Rod Quinones - Drums Bryant Quinones - Guitar Joshua Alvarez - Bass Album artwork - Adam Burke (LURK, VEKTOR, LOSS) Art design and LP layout - Francesco Gemelli (MASTER, TOWARDS ATLANTIS LIGHTS)

Imperialist hails from the far-off black metal hotbed known as … Los Angeles. I’ve come to the conclusion that I like US black metal much more than its more traditional Scandinavian counterpart. I usually don’t know where the band is actually from until I’ve already listened to them for a while, but USBM bands consistently rank highly with me. Maybe it’s their rejection of certain black metal tropes. And the lack of corpse paint. Does corpse paint make a sound?

Imperialist play sci-fi themed black metal that hits hard. There are trem-picked riffs all over, but rather than attempting to create atmosphere, they add in some thrash and death bits and make the whole thing punch you in the gut. Take Immortal, add in some death metal heft, and sprinkle in Vektor’s thrash and sci-fi bits, and that’s about what you’ll find in Imperialist.

Author & Punisher - Beastland
Author & Punisher
Order 'Beastland' Here: Digital Downloads/Streaming: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Directed by Augie Arredondo Art Direction by Marilia Maschion Official Links: Author & Punisher Official Website: Author & Punisher on Facebook: Author & Punisher on Instagram: Author & Punisher on Twitter: Author & Punisher Youtube Channel:

Author & Punisher’s one-man industrial doom scores with both my love of drone as well as harsh-as-hell noise. I enjoyed his previous album, 2015’s Melk En Honing,

I love some of the clean vocals that get worked in among the noise, particularly the chorus lines in “The Speaker is Systematically Broken”.

The album’s varying swings between haunting sounds and complete sonic annihilation, as well as the brief 36 minute runtime, keep any one element from overstaying its welcome. That helps a lot, as the sonic palette, while incredibly distinct, is also somewhat narrow. (Not that I’m averse to wallowing in the same sonic misery for 90 minutes

Burial Invocation - Abiogenesis
Burial Invocation
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Revival · Burial Invocation Abiogenesis ℗ 2018 Dark Descent Records Released on: 2018-08-17 Auto-generated by YouTube.

An incredible debut album. Largely gone is the Finnish-style death/doom of their debut EP (way back in 2011), and in its place is more Immolation style death metal, albeit with a more long-form, progressive bent. Keeping the long tracks interesting is a murderer’s row of killer riffs, along with atmosphere that brings in a little bit of the band’s original doom styling. This is one of those albums whose OSDM influences are laid bare, yet tied together into something much more forward-thinking.

Wayfarer - World's Blood
World's Blood
Taken from the album "World's Blood" out 05.25.18 Pre-order "World's Blood": CD/Digital: CD/LP: iTunes: Wayfarer on FB: Wayfarer on Instagram: @wayfarercolorado Profound Lore Records online: Profound Lore Records on FB: Profound Lore Records on Twitter: @profound_lore Profound Lore Records on Instagram: @profoundlorerecords Wayfarer on tour: 04/28 – Denver, CO @ Hi Dive (w/Of Feather And Bone, Suffering Hour, Many Blessings) 06/08-10 – Colorado Springs, CO @ 71Grind Fest 06/11 Wichita, KS @ Barleycorns* (w/Primitive Man) 06/12 Wichita Falls, TX @ Iron Horse* (w/Primitive Man) 06/13 San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger* (w/Primitive Man) 06/14 New Orleans, LA @ Santos (w/Primitive Man, Forn) 06/15 Hattiesburg, MS @ Tavern (w/Primitive Man, Forn) 06/16 Houston. TX @ White Oak Music Hall (w/Primitive Man, Forn) (w/Krallice) 06/17 Austin, TX @ Austin Terrorfest 06/18 Dallas, TX @ Reno’s (w/Primitive Man, Forn) 6/19 Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th St (w/Primitive Man, Forn) 6/20 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister 6/22 Denver, CO @ TRVE Anniversary Fest 6/23 Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records 6/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Los Angeles Strikefest 6/25 Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull 6/27 Portland, OR @ Tonic 6/28 Seattle, WA @ Highline 6/29 Boise, ID @ The Shredder 7/01 Jackson, WY @ Fire in the Mountains

Wayfarer is US black metal that seeks to invoke the American West. From the album cover to promo pictures of the band standing around what looks like an 1800s mining town, the band really leans into their intended theme.

I saw a lot of middling-to-mediocre review for this one, and I can’t comprehend why. It was one of my most played albums this year. Every track on this album worked for me. Replacing the stereotypical frozen tundras of atmospheric black metal with something less played out (and, for me, something a bit closer to home) works in execution as well as it does in concept. The theme never feels forced, but rather like an intrinsic part of the group’s sound.

Zeal & Ardor - Strange Fruit
Zeal & Ardor
Strange Fruit

Zeal & Ardor’s debut EP, self-released in 2016 and picked up by a label for re-release last year, won me over completely. Every song worked for me, including the interlude pieces that some reviewers complained about. The whole release left me wanting more.

More came this year, in Z&A’s debut full-length. And at first… I was slightly disappointed by it. The EP had set such a high watermark for me that the album had a difficult time living up to it. And to be honest, the album never did hit those same heights with me. But measured on its own, rather than up against my sky-high opinion of the EP, it grades out fairly well. It has a few tracks that do live up to the EP. My biggest complaint is that it treads the same ground too much. Those spurned interludes from the EP have been reworked, reduced, and spread out, and aren’t as effective palette cleansers as last time. Zeal & Ardor needs to dabble in some contrasting sounds and styles to keep their bread and butter approach from sounding stale.

In the end, Stranger Fruit is still a strong album. It’s just not the great album that hopefully is still in Z&A’s future.

Beyond Creation - Algorythm
Beyond Creation
Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Taken from the forthcoming album "Algorythm". Release Date: October 12th, 2018. Order here: Lyrics: Awakening from a profound slumber Cognitive motions strive to the same encounter Slowly vanishing from the same beholder Once again you are facing these fences In these vast lands you must strive Climb the barriers to evolve and thrive We definitely need to expand the possibilities to become the heirs of what is surrounding us Complex variations, multiple designs Let the nature collide Transmitting its unique way through Find the inversion from the breach Visualise the absence of time Complex variations, multiple designs Let the nature collide Transmitting its unique way through Awakening from a profound slumber Cognitive motions strive to the same encounter Slowly vanishing from the same beholder You will return to the earth From the ground you were born Music & Lyrics by Simon Girard Guest vocals by Youri Raymond (Unhuman) Credits: Production: Rubicon Pictures & Media ( Director: Akena Co-Director: Yannick Lemos Producer: Mike Raymond Director Of Photography: Andrew Main Oster Art Director & Costume Designer: Logan Fulford Makeup & Hair: Samantha Lamothe Assistant Camera & Gaffer: François Herquel Production Assistant: Vincent Bourgon Fire Performers: Lucifire Art & Rockyval Cyberfire Safety: Julian Macias Special Thanks: Cinepool, Studio Base Bin, Le Sanctuaire De Lourdes De Rigaud, Les Serres De Vaudreuil Beyond Creation is: Simon Girard: Vocals / Guitars Kevin Chartré: Guitars / Back Vocals Hugo Doyon-Karout: Bass Philippe Boucher: Drums Follow Beyond Creation: Follow Season Of Mist:

When I first heard Algorythm, I was disappointed. The first two Beyond Creation albums were great, especially the second one. This album opens with a grandiose instrumental track that sounds like it’s about to kick off a heavy-handed concept album. And while the first real track kicks in and eases those concerns, the album eventually explores territory less biting than the searing tech-death I knew the group for. And while these progressive forays weren’t what I was expecting, I warmed to them significantly upon repeated listens. The Beyond Creation that I knew was still there, ready to rip at a moment’s notice. While overall I could do with fewer of the more pretentious flourishes, there are way too many high points here to be able to stay mad at it.

Nightmarer - Cacophony of Terror
Cacophony of Terror
Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Taken from the forthcoming album "Cacophony of Terror". Release Date: Mar 23rd, 2018. Order here: Follow Nightmarer: Follow Season Of Mist:

This group first got my attention thanks to having the drummer from The Ocean. Little did I realize what I was in for, as The Ocean provides no useful reference point here. Nightmarer comes at the technical death metal genre from a brutal death angle. In doing so, they hit a sweet spot that avoids the worst traits of both styles, making this one of the most powerful technical death albums of the year. It hits hard, and it’s absolutely one of the year’s best albums.

Bongripper - Terminal

Track listing:


I love Bongripper. There are few bands as consistent as them. Everything they release is amazing.

In recent years, I’ve found myself less captivated by purely instrumental doom/post-rock/etc than I have in the past. I used to love the stuff groups like Pelican and Russian Circles did, and I still do, but it’s not the same home-run for me as it was in the past. Bongripper, though, craft such great, memorable sections that they haven’t lost my attention one bit.

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare - I See What I Became
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
I See What I Became
Mirrors For Psychic Warfare ‘I See What I Became’ LP/CD Neurot Recordings Release date - September 28th, 2018 Mirrors For Psychic Warfare

The first Mirrors for Psychic Warfare album was interesting, but didn’t quite pull me in. This time around, they got me.

Mirrors is an industrial/dark-ambient/doom duo, one of Scott Kelly’s many side projects away from Neurosis. Here he’s joined with Sanford Parker, member of Buried at Sea (as well as Corrections House, another Scott Kelly side project). Whereas Corrections House is industrial that’s more rooted in metal, Mirrors almost gets away from metal entirely, making it an open question whether it belongs on this list, or should be classified as more of an electronic album. Whatever, my list, my rules. The mood is very doom-like. I saw one writeup describe the album as “sludge-step”.

The elements that make up the sound here are pulled from industrial and dark ambient, and are quite noisy, but with mroe conventional song structures. Scott Kelly’s whisper-groan vocals cut the harshness, adding to the dark tone but also making the whole thing much more approachable.

Mesarthim - The Density Parameter
The Density Parameter
The Density Parameter (2018) BandCamp:

This is not for black metal purists. Self-described as “cosmic atmospheric black metal”, Mesarthim is as much space rock and synthpop as it is black metal. Shrieks and trem-picked guitar compete with synth beds and sequenced melodies, then they all take a back seat to ambient passages. Similar in tone to Progenie Terrestre Pura (psst, scroll down a few spots), but with an even greater emphasis on atmospherics and electronics. Some of the sequenced electronic bits resemble dance music more than anything, pulling from ‘90s trance. It works, and nobody else is doing it, or at least not as well.

Mesarthim are, as far as I can tell, an anonymous Australian duo that operate primarily on Bandcamp (in credits, the members are each identified only as a single dot, possibly intended as Morse Code given the pair’s 2016 album, – .- -… … . -. -.-. . ). Italian label Avantgarde Music has given them some CD releases, but this is primarily a self-released affair.

Imperial Triumphant - Vile Luxury
Imperial Triumphant
Vile Luxury
Official 2018 music video for 'Swarming Opulence' from the album 'Vile Luxury' via Gilead Media and Throatruiner Records. Follow IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT: Merch: Directed by Brendan McGowan Director of Photography: Christopher Raymond 1st AC: Dan Brosman Editor: Brendan McGowan Movi Technician: Marco Silva Photographer: Alex Krauss Electric: Ittai Eshed Flying Cam: Alex Rad Flying Cam Asst: Tony Latorre Gaffer: John Kesl 2nd AD: Andi Broffman Church Liason: Carrie Quarquesso Line Prod: John C. Taylor Starring: Joshua Bess Natasha Elkington Leslie Barany Masha Stroganova Timothy Anna Jenna Carson Ludwig Colindres Makenzie Darah Jon Gomez Gilbert Molina Mijail Salazar

The last couple of years have given me lots of dissonant, atonal, avant-garde metal to enjoy. This year, not as much, but this is the exception that stepped in to fill that void.

Imperial Triumphant lives in the Gorguts neighborhood of avant-garde metal, with an even stronger jazz influence than most. We’re not talking Dave Brubeck “Take Five” jazz, though. We’re talking Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman free jazz. We’re talking John Zorn’s most dark and noisy stuff. Heavy Blog called this “The Shape of Skronk to Come”, and that’s completely on the mark.

Everything about this album is made to feel unsettling and off-kilter. Lots of odd time signatures, atonal scales, and shifts without warning. There’s a bunch of guests on this album. One track sees Bloody Panda’s Yoshiko Ohara providing her tortured screams, while another has Andromeda Anarchia providing operatic vocals that only make the quiet parts even creepier.

Best EPs/singles

Thou - Rhea Sylvia
Rhea Sylvia
From the album "Rhea Sylvia" | In stores: now A simple choice made the angels fall, a simple lie now believed by all. The sky is blue when the sun is shining, but by the light of the moon, the truth ain't hiding. As the child I'm the son of man. As the mother, clothed in the sun I am. Sanctuary for the weary soul. The life giving word that no one knows. Man is the god of earth, the answer to every question. Given to generation and birth by a God who is the man of heaven. Once there was a sun above. The only law we knew was love. Once there was a moon to glow. Once there was a way to know. Once there was a sun above.

Leading up to their full-length album, Thou released three (!) EPs, each exploring different musical influences on the band’s overall sound. The first, Inconsolable, was drone and dark ambient. The next was acoustic (FILL THIS OUT BETTER). The last and best of the three is this one, Rhea Sylvia, in which Thou channels Alice in Chains through their own sludgey filter.

If you dialed back the vocal harshness, the material could easily shine as an acoustic set played in front of a crowd of ‘90s MTV fans.

Progenie Terrestre Pura - starCross
Progenie Terrestre Pura
Toward a Distant Moon · Progenie Terrestre Pura Starcross ℗ 2018 avantgarde music Released on: 2018-06-11 Auto-generated by YouTube.

PTP’s oltreLuna was one of my favorite full-lengths of last year, and they came right back with an excellent EP.

I surmised that the lack of attention that oltraLuna received might have been from the album being entirely in Italian. Well, PTP went fully in English for this EP. Not certain if that’s going to be what they do going forward or not, but it was interesting to make that speculation a year ago and see them change that exact thing on their next release. I’m not sure it helped, as I haven’t seen a lot of attention given to starCross, but EPs always get less in the way of reviews and article coverage than full-lengths.

Progenie Terrestre Pura play spacey electronic/industrial influenced black metal. This EP isn’t as coherent and focused as oltraLuna, rather, it finds the band experimenting a bit with their approach (and not just with their language of choice).

Sleep - Leagues Beneath
Leagues Beneath
A new song by Sleep for the Adult Swim singles program. released May 23, 2018 Enjoy and support the band! I do not own any rights, all rights reserved by the band or the record company. I do not make any profit. Use adblock to avoid ads. Please support the band by buying the album. If the band or the record company wants the video to be removed please inform me to delete it.

Sleep’s comeback album has gotten all the attention, and deservedly so. But as if that wasn’t enough, Sleep snuck back onto the release calendar with a single a month later. Much like the re-formed group’s first release, The Clarity, this was released through Adult Swim’s Singles program.

At 16:48, this single is longer than anything on The Sciences. It’s slower, more drawn out than anything on The Sciences, instead recalling Dopesmoker. Highly recommended to Sleep fans, especially ones that dig Dopesmoker.

This should be combined with The Clarity for an EP release, maybe along with a third track. Both of these tracks are too good to just be floating out there as singles.

Best splits and collaborations

Thou / Ragana - Let Our Names be Forgotten
Thou / Ragana
Let Our Names be Forgotten

That’s right, more Thou. If 3 EPs and a massive full-length wasn’t enough, they finished their 2018 output with this split album with Ragana.

As good as the Thou tracks are, Ragana is the star here. “The Void” is one of the best songs of the year, despite how simple it is. All 3 of Ragana’s tracks here are winners though, continuing what they laid out on last year’s You Take Nothing. It really seems like material worth saving for their next album.

Primitive Man / Unearthly Trance - Split
Primitive Man / Unearthly Trance
Split LP w/ UNEARTHLY TRANCE is due out August 17th Pre-Order via Relapse Records Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Official Links: Primitive Man Official Website: Primitive Man on Facebook: Primitive Man on Twitter: Primitive Man on Instagram:

Two great sludge/doom groups bring their “A” game to this split.

There’s really only one bad thing about this album: Unearthly Trance’s tracks should have gone first. Primitive Man’s material ends with a very long, quiet, drawn-out part, which really brings the album to a halt before Unearthly Trance’s tracks kick in. I imagine on vinyl, this isn’t much of a problem, but vinyl is dumb and archaic (don’t @ me) and the full album flow would have worked better if Primitive Man’s tracks closed out the entire album. I eventually got fed up and edited the track order in my Google Play account to rearrange them as such, and the album worked much better.

Flow issues aside, this is a nice bite-sized appetizer of both groups.

Stuff I Missed in 2017

Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading as Matter
Void Masquerading as Matter
First track off "Void Masquerading as Matter", to be released on November 24th through Dark Descent Records.

Google Play Music lists this as a 2018 release, and I was tempted to treat it as one, but it acually dropped in late November 2017.

Decibel Magazine called this “Toronto’s best blackened Mr. Bungle worship band”, which is a description I won’t even try to compete with. The surface style elements are all straight black metal, as is the overall tone. But musically, they take that starting point and just sprint off into different directions.

The amount of ideas packed into this 4-song, 36-minute album is dizzying.

Hell - Hell
OneManBandFuneralDoomSludgeDrone_Salem, OR. Lyrics Silence the words of warning Take your plague and drown with it Lyer, dogs of the sea remain in filth Set fire to the lamb, walk into the flames Your god will not be there Crumbling tsunami of destruction

Hell is a one-man project by a dude in Oregon that calls himself M.S.W.. The first three EPs released under this name were titled Hell I, Hell II, and Hell III. Now we get a full-length, and it is simply titled Hell. M.S.W. does not give one crap about your ability to Google search for this stuff (pro tip: “Hell MSW” will generally find it).

M.S.W. describes the theme of this project as relating to a “personal Hell”, rather than having any religious or anti-religious basis. It’s incredibly bleak, suffocating doom, living up to the imagery of the album cover. Hell will share a split LP with Primitive Man in 2019, and that’s a decent comparable band in terms of the kind of tone Hell achieves here, though with some stylistic differences. Hell achieves a more otherworldly sound, incorporating wailing vocals, violins, and a lot of sampled audio that is usually incomprehensible and unsettling. Whereas Primitive Man reminds me of human suffering in audio form, Hell is more like a scary place. Which makes the name appropriate.

Bonus Picks

Best Of 2017: Metal

This will be the only “best of” list I have for 2017. Last year I managed lists for metal, electronic music, as well as “other genres”. This year, I have an extra-long metal list, but I did not listen to enough of anything else to make lists, really.

It’s not clear to me what made me exceptionally receptive to extreme music in 2017, virtually to the complete exclusion of everything else. In personal terms, it was a good year. Not much to complain about, and some good progression in the work life has set up 2018 to see some of the logjam of life “to-dos” get un-jammed and moving forward.

In terms of my perspective of the outside world, however, 2017 exceeded my most pessimistic expectations, even as I entered the year rebuking “thank god 2016 is over” sentiments. I recognized worse was to come, but I did not comprehend just how many distasteful, ignorant, and inhospitable things our country had in store. It has been heartbreaking to watch otherwise intelligent people turn off all critical thinking and embrace a world view that is mean-spirited at best, and open hatred at its worst. It is crushing to see people adopt bumper sticker slogans in place of critical thought, and the abject abandonment of intellectual honesty in the name of tribalism.

So, yeah, I guess I can see why I felt an unusually strong need for cathartic release.

Best Metal Album of 2017

Woe - Hope Attrition

Provided to YouTube by TuneCore Abject in Defeat · Woe Hope Attrition ℗ 2017 Vendetta Released on: 2017-03-17 Auto-generated by YouTube.

No album will symbolize 2017 for me like Hope Attrition. In a year of turmoil, unrest, and disbelief at the breakdown of social and political norms, Hope Attrition brilliantly (and often pointedly and directly) expresses the resentment and disgust at fascism’s crawl out of the shadows.

And it does it with some of the most captivating riffs and melodies I have heard on an extreme metal album, bar none. The bookending tracks, “Unending Call of Woe” and “Abject in Defeat” stand as pillars of the form, and nearly threaten to overshadow the rest of the album. Fortunately, the middle of the album holds its own, particularly “The Ones We Lost” and “Drown Us With Greatness”, the latter clearly inspired by a certain red capped movement.

Chris Grigg’s dynamic vocals are expressive and emotive, and are the element that takes the music beyond just sounding angry and into more complex emotions: frustration, contravention, disbelief, resignation, and defiance. And while Grigg is center stage as vocalist and lead guitar, attention also must be given to drummer Lev Weinstein (of Krallice and so many other bands that, in December, he actually performed a marathon night drumming for 5 different bands, including Woe, called “Levizalooza”.) Weinstein propels the charges forward, then deftly resets the pace in sudden tempo shifts.

Even without the backdrop of the current social landscape, Hope Attrition would be an incredible and impactful album. With it, it’s Album of the Year.

and i relent to power
and i relent to fear
and i relent to every force
that tramples without care
and i regret the meaning
ascribed to every life
the loss compounds completely
abject in defeat

The Rest of the Best

Primitive Man - Caustic

'Caustic' is Out Now on CD/2xLP/CS/Digital Order via Relapse Records Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Denver’s nihilistic trio PRIMITIVE MAN return with Caustic, their second full-length offering of soul-crushing blackened doom and noise-ridden claustrophobia. Recorded and produced at Flatline Audio by Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation), Caustic is 12 songs and 75+ minutes of bloodcurdling howls, abysmal tones and dense, unsettling feedback spewing forth a cesspool of utter misery. With lyrical themes ranging from political corruption, personal struggle and the crumbling social climate facing the world today, Caustic serves as a cataclysmic soundtrack for a world gone awry. Video by Frank Huang (Max Volume Silence) Official Links: Primitive Man Official Website: Primitive Man on Facebook: Primitive Man on Twitter: Primitive Man on Instagram: Lyrics: Cold Shackled to The bottom Of the bottle Of the socio economic slavery That rules And runs my life Combust Let smoke fill my lungs Taught lies Work to ruin Infected with poverty Left in the gutter Over worked Under paid From a system meant to fail us Nothing left But to hang our hopes out to try Hell comes home From the time clock to the death bed When death grips your hands And kisses them goodbye Remember None of your work days mattered A lifetime spent tonguing The asshole of all your superiors Nothing is real But the inevitability of your cold fucking death And your heart being ripped from your chest Placed into the cavity of another worker bee Another fucking wage slave Paycheck to paycheck Your essence is dead but slavery is forever

Oh Jesus. This album is pure human misery distilled into 75 minutes of music. Caustic is probably the most aptly named album ever. It’s intense and suffocating, and perfectly content to slowly gut-punch you repeatedly over its lengthy run time. It does not offer the kind of artful release from someone like YOB, it does not sound like a tribal force of nature being conjured like Neurosis. It sounds like Hell, like you’ve walked through a door and into a nebulous formless place with incessant, indiscriminate howls, unidentifiable as anything but raw misery.

As a rabid fan of this kind of music, this is one of those sorts of releases that makes me step back and ask myself, “should I be enjoying this so much?” That I find this sort of torturous assault so aesthetically pleasing is disturbing in its own right.

Nothing is real
but the inevitability of your cold fucking death
and your heart being ripped from your chest
placed into the cavity of another worker bee
another fucking wage slave
paycheck to paycheck
your essence is dead but slavery is forever

Celeste - Infidèle(s)

Direct links are provided to purchase 'Infidèle(s)' on CD, vinyl and digital format. Links are also given for Celeste, Denovali and Tokyo Jupiter Records. "Sombres sont tes déboires" is the fourth song on the album. 'Infidèle(s)' release date - September 29th, 2017. CD/vinyl/merchandise (Denovali webstore) CD (Tokyo Jupiter Records) Digital format (Denovali digital store) Digital format (Celeste/Denovali, Bandcamp) Celeste (Facebook) Denovali (Homepage) Denovali (Facebook) Denovali (YouTube) Denovali (SoundCloud) Tokyo Jupiter Records (Homepage) Tokyo Jupiter Records (Facebook) Promotional purposes sanctioned by Denovali.

I didn’t discover Celeste until earlier this year, and their (at the time) most recent album, 2013’s Animale(s), would be my Album of the Year if it had released in 2017. So, since I did not put Infidèle(s) as Album of the Year, does that mean I think it’s a lesser album? I don’t think I do believe that. Rather, I think my ranking is more a function of hearing this after having absorbed two very similar albums in the months prior (Animale(s) as well as 2010’s Morte(s) Née(s)).

“Similar” is an appropriate word, because Celeste is not a band with a huge amount of range. They are, however, distinct, not easily mistooken for anyone else. They play a ferocious brand of blackened sludge, easily among the very heaviest and most intense albums on this list. The guitar tones are abrasive and dissonant, the tremolo picking creating a persistent howl, over which the raging vocals pierce and stab at the listener.

Celeste are masters at gnawing at the listener with rapid-fire blast beats and those searing vocals, and then dropping the vocals and dialing back the drum tempo for instrumental stretches which are still wall-of-sound loud, but feel like absolute relief in comparison. The back-and-forth pattern of abuse and rest pretty much defines the structure of a typical Celeste album, this one included. It’s a challenging, exhausting listen, not something put on in the background. But the beatings are delightful.

Despite the relentless and punishing nature of the band’s sound, it’s the amount of melody that they work in that pushes their work into a special class. Woven through the blankets of sound are sneaky hooks that call out through the noise. This is very much in line with their lyrical content, which although generally lost on me due to being completely French (so much for high school language class), reviews and translated readings have revealed that their themes trend towards real-world themes of sorrow and abuse survival, with faint strands of hope that shine through the misery. Morte(s) Née(s) was a concept album about the kind of abuse women are subjected to in modern society, while Animale(s) was a “bleak story of a boy and a girl, a kind of love story with a tragic ending”, quoting the band’s Bandcamp page. Infidèle(s) does not seem to be a concept album like those two, but explores similar themes in a more individual manner.

This group has rocketed up onto my list of favorite bands, and this album should be on a lot more year-end lists than it is.

Progenie Terrestre Pura - oltreLuna

Provided to YouTube by Catapult Reservatory, LLC Deus Est Machina · Progenie Terrestre Pura OltreLuna ℗ 2017 avantgarde music Released on: 2017-05-31 Auto-generated by YouTube.

This is an incredible album, and I do not for the life of me understand why this album has not earned more attention. PTP blend progressive and industrial metal with atmospheric black metal flourishes. The mix is a unique sound of metal instrumentation interwoven with electronics that shape and color the sound, rather than existing as separate elements. The album deftly moves between brilliant sequences of progressive riffs, grindy blast-beat sections, calmed atmospheric lulls, and back again.

The atmospherics bring to mind some of the things Bear McCreary did on the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack, with flute, didgeridoo, female vocals, and hand drum sections building up to an explosion back into the main event.

One of the real stars here is the pristine production that is packed with detail. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t garnered more attention in a genre that seems to think sounding like you’re playing inside of a tin can is a virtue. Actually, it seems more likely that it’s just because the album is in Italian, and the English language coverage of it has been relatively limited.

Variabile inattesa,
con data di scadenza,
l'universo è l'uscita.
La grande luna mi guida
attraverso un ultimo viaggio
Un ultimo viaggio, oltreLuna

Dodecahedron - kwintessens

Taken from the forthcoming album "kwintessens". Release date: March 17th, 2017 Pre-order here: Follow Dodecahedron: Follow Season of Mist:

The most mind-bending, brain-breaking album in a year full of challenging avant-garde metal. Kwintessens is a staggering, swirling, disorienting ride. The riffs come from every direction, angular and dissonant, simultaneously memorable and incomprehensible. For an album with so many twists and turns, it’s shocking just how cohesive it is. The dark, hazy sonic palette serves as the backbone from which the winding sonic excursions spring. This is truly one of the most meticulously crafted albums of the year, and it is completely captivating for its entire 41 minute runtime.

This is what will start the cure
Man’s wisdom, either through god’s revelation,
or through the service of the angels and the spirits,
or through the sharpness and the depth of understanding

Ufomammut - 8

PRE ORDER WARSHEEP 7" on FOR AMERICAN CUSTOMERS PLEASE PRE ORDER VIA NEUROT RECORDINGS Prior to the album's release, the trio delight fans with an early extract from the record in the form of a video for the song "Warsheep" The band describe their intentions of the video..."it is inspired by the lyrics of the song which in itself is a play on the words "Worship". The protagonist takes a symbolic journey from the natural human condition to the trappings of the dogmas of society, religion etc. The principle idea being that thought is blind and is caged into the illusion of being free." Adding to the video's eerie atmosphere, the setting is in an abandoned villa in Italy, and the surrounding woodland.

In a year where Electric Wizard came out and disappointed (scroll down), Ufomammut was there to step in with an especially fuzzy, filthy version of their psychedelic stoner doom. Whereas their last (brilliant) album, Ecate, leaned in a spacier direction, 8 comes down to earth and ratchets up the power an extra notch.

The album is deceptively complex. Fuzzy doom metal isn’t usually the home of tricky time signature changes, but Ufomammut takes their fuzzed-out guitar chugging and throws things off-kilter with some unexpected changes, adding an additional disorienting factor to the blanketing haze.

This is also perhaps Ufomammut’s best songwriting to date. As delightful as Ufomammut’s chugging has always been, and still is here, the melodies and compositions change up and take left turns a bit sooner than on previous efforts, avoiding staying locked into the same general patterns for as long as they might have in the past.

All the thoughts I have are wandering
All the things I see are so unreal
All I ever touch just disappear
All feelings are crumbling in my maze

Ingurgitating Oblivion - Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Amid The Offal, Abide With Me · Ingurgitating Oblivion Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light ℗ ℗ 2017 Willowtip Records Released on: 2017-05-12 Producer: Florian Engelke Producer: Adrian Bojarowski Author, Composer: Florian Engelke Author, Composer: Adrian Bojarowski Auto-generated by YouTube.

That band name though. This was a great year for avant-garde death and black metal in the Gorguts and Deathspell Omega traditions. Ingurgitating Oblivion is very hard to describe, outside of saying that fans of Gorguts and similar bands must check it out. It’s heavy, atonal, and odd, but never gets lost in its own oddness. The rhythm section is just amazing - this is some of the most amazing drumming you’re gonna hear on a metal album all year. And woven throughout all of the brain-bending left turns and buildups are some surprisingly sticky melodies. I’d like to rave about the album, but I lack the words to describe it. At first glance, it’s simply another (great) angular technical death metal album, but it opens up so much as you dive deeper into it.

King Woman - Created in the Image of Suffering

KING WOMAN - "Deny" (Official Music Video) From the new album 'Created in the Image of Suffering,' out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Official Links: King Woman on Facebook: King Woman on Twitter: King Woman on Instagram: King Woman on Bandcamp: Lyrics: I know the spirit Etiquette I'd wash your feet with My dirty hair Jesus I love you With all my heart But I feel like an angel I'm lacking the star I'm lacking the spirit I'm losing the heart I'm lacking the spirit I pray my mother Won't you ever find a cure? Throw back odd pill Find euphoria I once knew Am I so dulled down? Am I a whitewashed wall? So dirty on The inside? I know the spirit Etiquette I'd wash your feet with My dirty hair And you know I love you With all my heart But I feel like an angel I'm lacking the star I pray my mother Won't you ever find a cure? Throw back odd pill Find euphoria I once knew Am I so dulled down? Am I a whitewashed wall? So dirty on The inside? I pray my mother won't you ever find a cure? Throw back odd pill find euphoria I once Am I so dulled down? Am I a whitewashed wall? So dirty on The inside?

Created in the Image of Suffering is vocalist Kristina Esfandiari’s takedown of her Coptic Christian cult-like upbringing. Far from a rebuke of religion in general, though, Esfandiari’s sights seem set on hypocritical practitioners, and trying to make sense of her treatment within that environment. The lyrics are deeply personal, and the vocals evoke the dulled pain of a survivor reflecting on their past trauma.

The instruments here largely create a thick haze, shoegazey take on doom. The riffs are occasionally powerful but rarely crushing, opting instead to paint an ethereal soundscape for Esfandiari’s vocals to call out from behind. The effect it creates is like the aural version of the desaturated “flashback” scenes in a movie - some of the details lost to time, but the gist of it still clear as day.

Also, unrelated to this album, but Esfandiari took stage with Thou earlier this year, and helped them kick off their set with a cover of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way”, and it just makes me wish for a whole album of Esfandiari singing Cobain’s most mumbley Nirvana songs.

I wish somebody would have told me
Cuz the past you can’t get back
Feels like somebody wore me
There’s a deliverance I lack

I can’t remember everything
You break the bread you drink the wine
You were a bad man
You break the bread you drink the wine

Fister / CHRCH - Split

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Temples · CHRCH Fister/CHRCH Split ℗ 2017 Crown and Throne Ltd. / Battleground Released on: 2017-11-17 Auto-generated by YouTube.

CHRCH’s Unanswered Hymns was one of my absolute favorite albums of 2015. It was an immensely thick, sludgy take on doom, splashing around the same mucky pool as obvious influence Bell Witch. In lieu of a new album (make one already!), here we get a split with kindred spirits Fister, each group contributing a single 16+ minute track to the collaboration. CHRCH’s track feels like a direct continuation of the work on Unanswered Hymns: tension builds and releases between crushing wall of sound segments and quieter funeral passages, and vocalist Eva Rose’s tortured shrieks giving the whole thing an edge.

But whereas CHRCH exhibits a bit of artfulness that shines through the ugliness, Fister steps in and amplifies the bludgeoning with a howling, unforgiving dirge. Vocalist Kenny Snarzyk sets the tone here - whereas CHRCH’s Eva deploys her shrieks tactically, Snarzyk makes his the central bricks of the band’s wall of sound. The assault lasts the first 7 minutes of the 20 minute track, before a frenetic psychedelic section gives way to quiet, hypnotic guitar picking that eventually builds back up to a second Snarzyk vocal pummeling that closes out the track.

Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun


Chelsea Wolfe got on my radar with her previous album, Abyss, but nothing she’s done before holds a candle to Hiss Spun. Wolfe occupies a sonic area that straddles boundaries between doom metal, goth, industrial, shoegaze, and dream-pop, without ever staking a flag in any one’s territory. Her recent albums have moved the needle slightly more in the doom metal direction, coinciding with her finding a larger audience in that corner of the music world. That said, album opener “Spun” could go right onto My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”. The third track “Vex” is the one that grabbed me first, even before the guest vocals from Aaron Turner came in (and instantly made me wish for an entire collaboration album between the two).

At its core, the music is simple, uncomplicated. But it is so expertly crafted that simple things like a slight change in Wolfe’s vocal tone reverberates through the song. Most importantly, though it sounds like music that takes from a lot of identifiable influences, it doesn’t sound like music you’ve listened to before. It never fails to surprise.

Also, Chelsea has Neurosis’s Through Silver in Blood on her 5 favorite metal albums list.

As a bonus, here’s a mini-documentary produced by Revolver from Chelsea’s tour this year with opener Youth Code. (source)

no turning back
“only god knows what we’re headed for”
the flowers bloom
the sun rises


Bereft - Lands

Order here: BEREFT weave elements of doom and black metal into exhaustive, dynamic songs, creating their own style of powerful metal, unbound to any genre and fully conscious of the impression.

Bereft brings forth the kind of grand, cavernous doom that you might expect from someone like Inter Arma, while sprinkling in some blast-beat black metal excursions to kick the tempo up and keep things from getting bogged down. Not that the album necessarily needs the high tempo changeups, as the spacious, exploratory doom is never really in danger of outstaying its welcome. But the changeups are welcome in that they are brilliantly executed and surprisingly seamless, and give Bereft their own unique fingerprint of the genre they inhabit.

Amenra - Mass VI

Amenra "Children Of The Eye" Director: Wim Reygaert DOP: Maximiliaan Dierickx Sculptures: Isabelle De Vos Art Direction: Najib De Brackenier Styling: Isabelle De Vos Edit: Wim Reygaert Colour grading: Maximiliaan Dierickx "Children of the eye" MASS VI Preorder now on Lyrics: no one ever will leave me behind.I cast no shadow. light is too profound.I am the way. All stars align. a new reign. uncrowned. with wounds adorned, we stand in line. river of blood leads to the shrine.hand in hand, side by side. we look our gods dead in the eye. shaved for burial. soul lost inside. anoint my skin, nothing to hide. I take the first step in the funeral pyre. a fire upon me. reside in me. I am the cold. the barren tree. reside in me.I am the fire no one can oversee. truth fire. not unto me. one tear at a time, you are a threat to mine. flood trenches. dredge remnants of my past. wash away my longing for me to be the last. come rain, wash us all away. here come the first wave, nothing will remain. forever more. no more. too cold to drown in. the deep. allowed in. no more. Recorded and mixed by Billy Anderson Mastered by Justin Weiss

This is the kind of album I would have been even more into when bands like Neurosis and ISIS were introducing me to the word of extreme metal - at least, if I were ready for the falsetto vocals at that time. Post-metal was my way in, and this album brings me back to those early discoveries.

As it is, it still is one of my favorites of the year, a deeply affecting album. It’s massive sounding, creating a thick atmosphere that I just want to wrap myself inside of. It builds and builds over the album’s 41 minutes, making it hard to listen to in chunks.

Whereas Primitive Man evokes a sense of neverending misery, Amenra brings forth a sense of looking into oblivion, into nothingness. It brings to mind prayers and rituals going unanswered, doubts about what is really waiting on the other side. The ending seconds of the album, in which the wall of sound sharply gives way to silence, is heart-dropping.

In terms of the basic elements, anyone that has listened to Amenra before, or even the post-metal bands that inspired them, won’t find anything shocking here. But it is an amazing execution of that subgenre, filtered through Amenra’s trademark spiritual bent.

with wounds adorned, we stand in line
river of blood leads to the shrine
hand in hand, side by side
we look our gods dead in the eye

Artificial Brain - Infrared Horizon

Artificial Brain - "Absorbing Black Ignition" Sound Produced by Colin Marston & Artificial Brain Recorded and Engineered by Colin Marston at Menegroth : The Thousand Caves, In Queens NY. Video Director - Tim Mearini Additional Models - Nick Govacko Links Lyrics Gemini – twin of two extremes Symmetry – polarized at the seam The side of dirt – an animal ignited The side of the vacuum – existing in psychic “Flesh is just mud, until tempered with fire Heaving balance, a dimension of fibers” Summoning energy, twins of darkness and light Grey equation, charged with blackness beyond nights “Soil, water, light – temples of the flesh which channel seas of urge.” Gemini – twin of two extremes Symmetry – polarized at the seam “Flesh is just mud, until tempered with fire Heaving balance, a dimension of fibers”

A sci-fi dystopian concept album. Thankfully, one that goes about it in a very different way than The Astonishing. Here, Artificial Brain’s avant-garde death metal evokes bleak landscapes littered with mechanical refuse. In an interview with Noisey, vocalist Will Smith states that he grew up as a huge fan of the Terminator movies, and that clearly informs the tone here. It’s a very direct album - whereas many of the other avant-garde albums on this list lean towards longer pieces, Infrared Horizon features briefer, snappier tracks which nevertheless maintain a very consistent tone throughout, creating a steady album flow. Still, the shorter song lengths make the end result different than an album of 10-20 minute tracks.

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Taken from the album "Mirror Reaper" out Oct 20, 2017 Pre-order "Mirror Reaper" here: twitter: @profound_lore Instagram: BELL WITCH on: Facebook: Instagram: Twitter: @bellwitchdoom BELL WITCH on tour this fall (w/Primitive Man): 10/25 - Denver CO @ Hi Dive 10/26 - Omaha, NE @ The Milk Run 10/27 - Chicago IL @ Cobra Lounge 10/28 - Rock Island IL @ Rock Island Brewery 10/29 - Hamtramck, MI @ The New Dodge 10/30 - Columbus, OH @ Ace Of Cups 10/31 - Pittsburgh ,PA @ Brillobox 11/01 - Toronto, ON @ Coalition 11/02 - Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz 11/03 - Portland, ME @ Geno’s 11/04 - Oneonta, NY @ Cop Frat 11/05 - Boston, MA @ ONCE 11/06 - Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar 11/07 - Philadelphia, PA @Kung Fu Necktie 11/08 - Montclair, NJ @ Meat Locker 11/09 - Baltimore, MD @ Sidebar 11/10 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter 11/11 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn 11/12 - Nashville, TN @ Exit/In 11/13 - Little Rock, AR @ Whitewater 11/14 - Memphis, TN @ Growlers 11/15 - New Orleans, LA @ Santos 11/16 - Austin TX @ Lost Well 11/17 - Forth Worth TX @ Ridgelea Lounge

Bell Witch builds on their minimalistic sonic palette (bass, drums, vocals) and adds in - nope, still not guitar - a Hammond organ. Dylan Desmond’s 6-string bass work has to be heard. It doesn’t sink in at first that it’s not a guitar,

The 83-minute single track album is lengthy, but Bell Witch doesn’t go for “epic”. This is pensive, meditative, personal. It may drone but it rarely turns into an “atmospheric” piece. Rather, it remains firmly rooted in a very human sadness as it patiently descends deeper into its aural abyss. In a way, this is like the yin to Primitive Man’s yang.

dry the waves
anchor ice
mirror reaper
arrowed eyes

Pyrrhon - What Passes For Survival

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group International Goat Mockery Ritual · Pyrrhon What Passes For Survival ℗ ℗ 2017 Willowtip Records Released on: 2017-08-11 Producer: Dylan DiLella Producer: Erik Malave Producer: Steve Schwegler Producer: Doug Moore Author, Composer: Dylan DiLella Composer, Author: Erik Malave Author, Composer: Steve Schwegler Author, Composer: Doug Moore Music Publisher: Doug Moore Music Publisher: Dylan DiLella Music Publisher: Erik Malave Music Publisher: Steve Schwegler Auto-generated by YouTube.

This was absolutely one of the hardest albums to absorb this year. Not that it the journey wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. But this dense, chaotic, angular assault comes from every direction, and changes its heading so frequently that it can be very difficult to get a foothold. It relly resembles a free jazz album being played by a death metal band. If the term “post-rock” was coined to mean non-rock music played using rock sounds and instruments, then it makes sense when people call Pyrrhon “post-death”, as this is a band taking death metal’s vocabulary, deconstructing it, and using it to make something very different from an old-school death metal album. That said, death metal isn’t the only subgenre being pulled from, as there’s clearly a good bit of grindcore and crust punk flowing into the maelstrom here too.

The production is a big part of what makes this album work. Lesser producing efforts could easily have reduced this into indeciperable mud. Instead, each instrument is clear and distinct, and are neither compressed into oblivion nor polished to a shimmer.

It takes quite a few spins to start to figure this one out, but it’s worth it.

He chants the happy victim’s creed:
“Let distraction succor me
and polish all my edges down
‘til I am smooth and blank as stone
to better fill my given role

Make me what I am
Make me the servant I was born to be""

Ex Eye - Ex Eye

EX EYE - "Xenolith; The Anvil" (Official Music Video) 'Ex Eye' is out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records Order Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Directed by Derrick Belcham Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Official Links: Ex Eye on Bandcamp: Ex Eye on Facebook: Debut album from EX EYE, the instrumental, post-everything quartet led by renowned saxophonist Colin Stetson and featuring the otherworldly drumming of Greg Fox. EX EYE seamlessly weave between precise, clockwork intricacy and aggressive, ecstatic abandon while taking the listener on a cathartic, thrilling journey to total transcendence. Recorded live at EX EYE member Shahzad Ismaily's Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn, NY (Blonde Redhead, Damien Rice, Okkervil River, Son Lux, Pussy Riot), the self-titled debut showcases a band that is without question the sum of its parts, as each player contributes not only their own particular technical prowess and expertise but also their signature compositional character. EX EYE make incredibly complex yet beautifully dramatic and emotive music which eclipses usual expectation of style or genre and is sure to be talked about for many years to come.

Saxophone in any non-jazz context has an incredibly high cheese factor potential. Good when you’re recording a solo for a Richard Marx single, less good in a “serious” album. In Colin Stetson’s hands, however, the saxophone becomes the backbone of an incredible instrumental avant-garde metal album.

The interplay between the baritone sax, guitar, electronics, and Greg Fox’s full body drumming has to be heard to be believed, and is so unique that it does not invite easy comparison. The album is simultaneously agile and impossibly dense. The band creates staggering walls of noise, but with a constant motion that propels the listener forward rather than consumes them. The album is just full of sudden sharp turns. After listening to dense screeches, the band will put its foot in the ground and instantly pivot, and suddenly you’re riding this steady groove and don’t even know when it happened.

It doesn’t sound like anything else in the genre. The CD and digital releases include a 12 minute bonus track which should not be missed (sorry vinyl buyers).

Dvne - Asheran

Video by Louis Macera, Just-Aurèle Meissonnier and Paul Thomas. Taken from DVNE's new album, Asheran. LP and Digital available for pre-order here:

Just when it seems like Elder are the clear owners of their niche, a band comes from out of left field to challenge that crown. Dvne (ie. “dune”, spelled in trve kvlt fashion to sidestep any legal entanglement over the name) come along with their debut full-length and, quite frankly, outshine Elder, even as Elder releases their arguably best work. Dvne brings the same progressive stoner metal sensibilities to the table, with equally nimble and frequent lead sequences dancing over the top. But Dvne’s style is such that it will take right turns into harsher, sludgier waters than Elder tends to, with death vocals popping in for accentuation here and there (though not enough that it should turn away anyone whose preferences don’t include harsh vocals).

There’s a lot of Dune-with-a-U inspired sci-fi in the lyrics (which form a concept album of sorts, though I’m not particularly inclined to try and unpack it all), but there’s none of that community-theater-in-music-form that a band like Dream Theater has sunken to. Instead, you can safely ignore any storyline and simply let the absurd number of killer riffs just wash over you for an hour.

For resolution, our time revolves in dark corners
Through exploration, our time revolves
The unseen path
For resolution

Loss - Horizonless

Taken from the album "Horizonless" out May 19, 2017. Pre-order "Horizonless" here: instagram: profoundlorerecords twitter: @profound_lore All Grows On Tears When all the stones are thrown Intentions revealed and secrets known With wounds inflicted and regrets seeds sewn Guilty roots deepen and left alone. I’ve sunken to that place again Where the sun only throws shadows And the stars have all burned out… Bury me in a lonely place And plant thorns on my grave I wonder as to what nourishment those roots must be suckling from that tomb? I’ve sunken to that place again Where the sun only throws shadows In shame, bleeding Bleeding... Cursed and left a failure And the stars …the stars have all burned out… When I leave the trees will shed gold The winds will stand silent and the sun will go to sleep Unease is important now…. chewing at me What if the nightmares wont stop and I have nowhere to go? We are only as sick as out secrets So let the quiet put things where they're supposed to be

Depressing and heavy. Those are the only words that seem to fit Loss’s brand of funeral doom. Calling it funeral doom might be slightly misleading, as it sounds less like a funeral procession, and more like the inside of a depressed mind as they lay in bed: angered, saddened, lethargic, and too drained to move a muscle in response to any of it.

For such an album, Horizonless is surprisingly melodic. Guitar lines that you can easily imagine being played at a faster pace by an Iron Maiden-influenced band dote the otherwise desolate aural landscape. The vocal growls often go so low that they sound like they’re burrowing under the ground, but a collection of guest vocals also provide tonal contrast.

Junius - Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light

Order here: Junius’ anthemic post punk/post metal reaches new levels with Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light featuring stunning packaging by Drew Speziale (Circle Takes The Square). Limited edition LPs avilable here. Prosthetic US Webshop – European Webshop - "Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light.... takes the band's alternately soaring and crashing sound to even more diverse places." - Rolling Stone

I love the absolute crap out of the first half of this album. I like the rest of it, but the first half has stuck with me since the first day I listened to it.

Junius is what we might call a metal band now, but in their previous two albums, they were much more of an art-rock group. This album sees the band embrace the heaviest of their material, make it even heavier, and crank up the goth while they’re at it, to establish a new alternative/goth/post-metal sound that was barely hinted at in their previous work.

The material here stands quite in contrast to most of the rest of this list. None of the tracks are particularly long, with only the last one breaking 6 minutes. Many of these songs would be perfectly at home on an alternative rock radio station. Artists like Tool and Katatonia would be the closest comparisons, both of whom I do like, so perhaps it should not be quite so surprising. Yet I was still blindsided by just how much this resonated with me. The Depeche Mode-like vocals over the thick post-metal guitar tones put to alternative metal song structures just works on every level.

my soul is worn
i’ve been here many times before
i need to breach this place
i’m bound to tempt the fates
i’m marching ‘till they know my name

Krallice - Loüm

Provided to YouTube by CDBaby Rank Mankind · Krallice Loüm ℗ 2017 Krallice Released on: 2017-10-27 Auto-generated by YouTube.

The first of two albums Krallice released in the last quarter of the year. Loüm finds the group in collaboration with Dave Edwardson, bassist and (third) vocalist for Neurosis. Here he takes the lead on vocals, synths, and lyrics.

Like any Krallice album, there’s a ton to absorb here. The band departed from its atmospheric shoegaze-y black metal on 2015’s Ygg Hurr in favor of a more chaotic, kaleidoscopic style, which continued through 2016’s Prelapsarian and into this album. The wildcard on this one is Edwardson, whose presence tethers the sometimes aloof compositions and brings them back down to earth, then kicks them into gear with a hard driving hardcore sensibility - relatively speaking, of course, because this is still Krallice at some of their most technical and spastic.

The genius of Krallice is how they consumed subgenres into a unique style of their own. Ostensibly identified as a black metal band, based in large part to their early releases, the band has evolved the elements of black metal, and now increasingly death metal, into a sound that cannot in good conscience be labeled as either. Whereas the chaotic sounds of a band like Pyrrhon still exhibit strongly identifiable markers of death metal, Krallice’s dialect of these vocabularies have morphed into a language much less easily traced back to its origin. As lazy as a phrase like “Krallice sounds like Krallice” would be, it would also be accurate.

Little man is rank mankind
Common people’s worthless lives

Little man, you’re useless to me
I hate you, you have no value
Here to serve the likes of me

Businesses built on your backs and your toil
Fills the pockets of those with hands too good to touch the soil

Krallice - Go Be Forgotten

Provided to YouTube by CDBaby Go Be Forgotten · Krallice Go Be Forgotten ℗ 2017 Krallice Released on: 2017-11-20 Auto-generated by YouTube.

If Loüm is Krallice continuing to distance themselves from the kind of atmospheric stylings that the band’s earlier work was known for, Go Be Forgotten is a reintroduction of those elements into their approach. Along the way, their Borg-like stylistic assimilation swings around to grab ‘70s space-prog and '80s synths this time, again morphing and reinventing those elements to make them conformant to the “Krallice” sound.

The chaotic, mind-bending attacks are still present here, but rather than dominating the album completely, they give way to atmospherics, and even a drum-less 7 ½ minute ambient space-rock piece 2/3rds of the way through the album.

This is probably the “easiest” Krallice album of the past few years, and should appeal to fans who were turned off by their hard pivot into more aggressive chaos since Ygg Hurr.

Yellow Eyes - Immersion Trench Reverie

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Shrillness in the Heated Grass · Yellow Eyes Immersion Trench Reverie ℗ 2017 Gilead Media Released on: 2017-10-20 Auto-generated by YouTube.

I didn’t listen to this until I was almost done making this list, and it quickly wormed its way on. The two things that come to mind with this album are the use of field recordings, and the absolutely killer black metal riffs that bored their way directly into my core.

Field recordings have always been something I’ve found neat. I’ve been a fan of the Sublime Frequencies label for some time, especially their “Radio” series. I never thought I would hear field recordings featured in a black metal album, but here they’re used as interstitials to separate the different songs.

But what really defines this album for me is just how many of the angular guitar melodies stuck with me after only a few listens. There’s just so many great, memorable, dramatic parts, and the way the compositions bounce back and forth between melodic riffs and straight-up assaults, before giving way to the atmospheric parts layered with those field recordings at the end, is extremely enjoyable.

The day’s lung held full
shrillness in the heated grass
collapsing on his hunting stool
seed shells like a radiance
the oligarch flanks his tent
salted thistle in his throat

Immolation - Atonement

Official lyric video for "Fostering the Divide" from IMMOLATION on the upcoming "Atonement" album. Out now! Order at SUBSCRIBE to Immolation YouTube: SUBSCRIBE to Nuclear Blast YouTube: IMMOLATION "Atonement" is out now on Nuclear Blast Records GET THE ALBUM 'ATONEMENT': Nuclear Blast Records: iTunes: Amazon: GooglePlay: FOLLOW IMMOLATION: Like: Follow: Watch:

There’s a number of non-tech, non-avant-garde death metal albums that I listened to this year that didn’t really stick with me (hi, Necrot!). But one that really did was Immolation’s Atonement. The songwriting here really stuck out to me from the first time I listened to the album. The songs here eschew some of the speed the group explored on recent albums, opting instead for more measured, mid-tempo pacings. It works, extremely well, as they’ve got an incredible collection of riffs, and give them the room to breathe and make their impact.

There’s nothing here that death metal hasn’t seen before. But at a time when a lot of old school death bands seem to be churning out sub-par material and still getting attention for it, Immolation is putting out some of the most expertly crafted work they’ve ever done. Call them the Tom Brady of death metal.

isolate us from one another
contempt for the unknown
hatred tears us apart
foster the great divide

u nsettling the masses,
igniting the flames of hate

Boris - Dear

Boris "Absolutego" from the album "Dear", available everywhere now. Direction & Edit : Fangsanalsatan / Camera : foodunited. & Non CD / LP Store: iTunes: Full list of Tour Dates: BORIS Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - Label site -

Boris’s “Pink” anniversary tour, in which they performed that album in its entirety each night, reignited the group’s interest in the kind of sludgey doom/psych that has been at the heart of most of the group’s best releases, turning away from the more drone/ambient work that has comprised much of the band’s recent work. At the same time, they also incorporate their more “indie pop” songwriting that earned the band crossover attention starting with Pink and a number of following albums. The highlight as always is guitarist Wata, and the novelty of crushing waves of fuzz and distortion being produced by a tiny 4-foot-tall* Japanese woman is one that has never gotten old.

This is far and away the best Boris effort since, well, probably Pink.

(*: an exaggeration, but only very slightly. Seriously, I walked by her at the Psycho Las Vegas pool this year, and could not believe how short she really is)

Big‡Brave - Ardor

BIG|BRAVE's new album ARDOR out now from Southern Lord Records. Video by Mathieu Ball

Ardor is the second album from Montreal-based drone metal band Big‡Brave. Though they’ve toured with Sunn O))), their brand of drone metal isn’t nearly so domineering or impenetrable. Rather, they sound more like a Constellation Records artist (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Silver Mt. Zion) than a typical drone metal act. Unsurprising, perhaps, given that that label is ground zero for Montreal-based instrumental-heavy indie bands.

The sound here is rather minimal and even somewhat inviting, as far as drone goes. Rather than endless drones creating a wall of noise, Big‡Brave uses a lot of space. Their musical phrases tend to incorporate pauses, both for allowing room to breathe as well as creating some off-kilter stop-and-start sequences. It makes for a very different take on “drone” than artists who hold an endless note for 20 minutes.

The trio’s drum and dual guitars (no bass) are joined by one of those Constellation artists, violinst Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra). Moss’s violin sections, both soft and screeching, add a much-needed element to the group’s sonic mix. Robin Wattie’s yelping, piercing vocals, however, are the group’s defining element (and most polarizing). Bjork is the most immediate comparison for Wattie’s strained vocal timbre, and the tightrope they walk between emoting ecstacy and distress. For me, they are absolutely enchanting, as is the whole band’s work on this record.

and it’s not OK
and I do mind
calling you out
every single goddamn time

Best 2017 Albums That Actually Came Out in 2016

Zeal and Ardor - Devil is Fine

Website: Facebook: LP: CD: iTunes: Apple Music: Spotify: Director: Samuel Morris | Director of Photography: Fabio Tozzo | Producer: Samuel Morris, Fabio Tozzo  Co-Producer: Fasnacht & Partner AG | Executive Producer: Radicalis Music GmbH under exclusive license to MVKA Music Ltd. Performer: Reny Quizeidioco Assistant Director: Christian Taro | Gaffer: Oliver Muff Make Up Artist: Angelina Belintani Concept: Samuel Morris, Manuel Gagneux Key Grip: Raoul Huber Best Boy: Manuel Gagneux Location Rigging: Christian Burgunder, Luca Schürch 3D Animation: Color Grading: Fabio Tozzo © 2016 - All rights reserved

Self-released on Bandcamp way back in April 2016, this was picked up by label MVKA and put into print in early 2017, which is when I came into contact with it. This absolutely amazing project crosses slave spirituals with black metal and electronic experimentations. The result is a wholly unique sounding album that presents itself like twisted gospel sung on a plantation, except instead of praising Jesus, the songs carry more nefarious sensibilities.

This sort of genre crossing could have been horrible. It could have been so on-the-nose that it was just a charicature of its influences. Instead, it is so subtlely well done, and a large part of that comes from not being slavishly (sorry) faithful to the album’s core concept. If this was just a straight run of 9 spiritual-sounding black metal songs, it would not be nearly as effective. Instead, the definition of “black metal” used here is kept loose, and a third of the album are pieces that deconstruct the various elements and recombines them into tracks that resemble sound experiments more so than songs. These break up the album nicely, and make it more exciting when it swings back to the straightforward tracks.

I don’t have enough good words for this album. It is far and away one of the most amazing, effecting products of heavy music in 2017, even if it’s technically from 2016.

he gon' forgive my sins (devil is kind)
he promise many things (devil is fine)
i can’t do him no wrong (devil is kind)
i see him before long (devil is fine)

Labirinto - Gehenna

(if this video is blocked to you, access: Track: Mal Sacré | Album: Gehenna (2016/2017) * WORLD pre-order at Pelagic Records (2xLP, CD, digital) * South America - Roteiro e direção / directed by: AMNA

This is another album that was self-released in 2016, then picked up by a label in 2017. In this one’s case, it was The Ocean’s label Pelagic Records that re-released it for worldwide distribution in February.

It’s purely instrumental post-metal, not unlike a darker, more dramatic Russian Circles. The use of strings builds the atmosphere, with tracks like “Locrus” bringing to mind those early Godspeed You! Black Emperor,releases. Here, though, these pieces serve to break up the crunchy guitar assault that dominates the rest of the album.

This one is super under the radar. The group is Brazilian, and I’ve only seen a couple of English language reviews covering the album. Being entirely instrumental, there’s no language barrier to pierce in the music itself, but the fact that the band’s touring has been limited to their home country and a brief stint through central and eastern Europe (largely excluding the English-speaking countries) has done no favors to the group’s profile in America, the UK, or Scandinavia.

Which is too bad, because this should be the group’s breakthrough release. After having put out 8 other releases over their 11 year career (mostly splits and EPs, only one full-length), they went out and got famed sludge/doom producer Billy Anderson to fly out to their Sao Paolo based studio to record this one, and finally gained the attention of a label. Hopefully at some point they will tour some more and get their name out there.

Honorable Mentions

The Great Old Ones - EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

Artist: The Great Old Ones / Album: EOD : A Tale Of Dark Legacy Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Season Of Mist online Shop : Website : Facebook : Twitter : Soundcloud : Independent in thought, sound and vision. Label of Saint Vitus, Atheist, Rotting Christ, Kylesa, Morbid Angel, Deströyer 666, Ghost Brigade, Cynic, Septicflesh, Mayhem, Solstafir and many more!

This one got onto my list early in the year, and just hung around. This album of atmospheric post-black metal revolves around HP Lovecraft’s mythology. The specifics are lost on me, as I have only the most casual of knowledge of Cthulhu, but the themes of an ancient elder god, sunken city, cultist worship, and a looming threat of return are simple enough to follow. The Great Old Ones endeavor to create the sense of scale and madness in musical form, and the really lay down that atmosphere fantastically. The intro to “The Ritual” is a perfect example, with droning guitar wails over church organ, evoking a twisted cultist ceremony within a dark, dilapidated church.

There are brief spoken-word segments which I could do without, but they’re brief. The rest of the time, we’re treated to great black metal riffing with some surprisingly active drumming. The biggest letdown is the overall production, which is more stifled and veiled than it should be. It’s not album killing, but giving the elements here some room to breathe would have made a difference.

Strange sculptures still stand
Ungodly forms in front of me
The remains of a cult which was banned
The cult of Dagon, lord of the sea
The Shadow over Innsmouth!

Elder - Reflections of a Floating World

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Staving off Truth · Elder Reflections of a Floating World ℗ 2017 Armageddon Shop Released on: 2017-06-02 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Elder picks up where they left off with 2015’s Lore and further refine their spacey stoner/prog metal blend. As is their established style, Elder lays down a foundation of fuzzy guitar, and then layers a steady dose of nimble, melodic leads over the top, resulting in an album that is both extremely accessible as well as deeply fulfilling, with plenty of surprise and detail to feast on. Elder brings a greater sonic palette to the table this time around, with two guest musicians joining the trio in studio to add additional guitar and keys to the mix.

Running through the fields
Down the ones you think you need
Throwing off the chains, cursing years in vain
Living in a myth, the boundaries of which lie in decay
The body seeks to convalesce
The earth we deem it’s own redress

Altarage - Endinghent

Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Taken from the forthcoming album "Endinghent". Release Date: Oct 13th, 2017. Order here: Follow Altarage: Follow Season Of Mist:

Altarage hails from Spain and plays thick, noisy blackened death metal. Comparisons to Portal are often made, and are pretty accurate. The guitars create a mucky, compressed wall of noise, as they alternate between tremolo-picked freakouts and heavy death riffs. Vocals are growled from further back in the mix, usually just holding one or two words at a time, as these songs seem to have about 10 words in them on average.

The oppressive atmosphere is well established (with sickening, tar-like guitar tones), but much like the Immolation and Yellow Eyes albums listed above, this one earned an extra amount of time in my rotation thanks to a number of songs that stuck with me. The driving blast-beat sections give way to some excellent death metal riffing that crawls out of that tar and makes itself heard.

(As I’ve said, these are men of few words. The words below are the entirety of the lyrics to the 6-minute opening song, “Incessant Magma”. Pretty much every song is like this.)

Barrier down
Fundations of time
Pillar Rust

Planning for Burial - Below the House

Order: Artist: Planning For Burial Track: Dull Knife Pt. 1 Release: Below the House Label: The Flenser

Below the House is a doomgaze album that very much evokes the kind of snow-blanketed scenes depicted on the album’s cover. It alternates between shoegaze drone like Jesu (circa Conqueror), as well as the icy slowcore of a band like Low - but all coming from more of a doom metal-y perspective. Vocals alternate between blackened wails and shoegazey indie rock dude singing. The alternation between the harsher pieces and the slowcore keeps the noise from being overwhelming. Rather, it’s very much a melancholy affair.

It may be arguable just how “metal” this is, but on the whole, I’m going to keep it in the “doomgaze” category, which is metal enough to count.

This is the place I live
but it’s not my home
this is the place I live
my roots don’t grow

Luminous Vault - Charismata

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Birthblood · Luminous Vault Charismata ℗ 2017 Profound Lore Released on: 2017-03-13 Auto-generated by YouTube.

This one slid under a lot of radars. A duo featuring modern classical composer Mario Diaz de Leon and the bassist from Artificial Brain, Samuel Smith, this EP is the group’s first “major” label debut (Profound Lore), having self-released another EP a couple of years ago. Not even sure how I stumbled on this other than it being on Profound Lore, as there are precious few reviews of it that come up in a Google search. On top of the Godflesh-inspired programmed drums belting out industrial thwak-s, de Leon and Smith grind out some great black and death metal riffs.

Usnea - Portals into Futility

'Portals Into Futility' Out Now on CD/2xLP/Digital Order via Relapse Records Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Directed by Maximum Volume Silence Live Video Credit: Billy Goate/Doomed & Stoned Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Portland doom quartet USNEA return with their third full-length, Portals Into Futility. Inspired by dystopian science-fiction and the painful intersection of today's crushing reality, Portals Into Futility is 5 songs and 56 minutes of expertly crafted and elegantly depressive doom/sludge. With an evolved sound of strength and dynamism, USNEA delve more into the worlds of dissonant death metal, varied vocal structures and cinematic composition, all while maintaining the monumental heaviness, brutality, discord, anger, and mournful melodicism of their previous work. Across dark and brooding peaks and valleys, USNEA remind us that no matter how many doors are opened to the human species, our self-aggrandizement and hubris all lead to futility. Official Links: Usnea on Facebook: Usnea on Instagram:

Usnea is one of the many Portland-based doom metal bands to garner attention in recent years. I enjoyed their second album, 2014’s Random Cosmic Violence, as well as their live set at Psycho Las Vegas this year. On this album, the lyrics are inspired by (largely dystopian) sci-fi novels, of which the band provides a reading list: Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Carl Sagan, Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert. It’s a nice change in theme from the usual trappings of the genre.

The group’s sound has matured somewhat as well, as the group has embraced more death metal elements and varied vocal stylings, giving them a bit more range within which to work. The biggest downside is that it runs out of steam a bit in the final 20-minute long track. And despite a positive evolution of sound, it didn’t land quite as squarely for me as Random Cosmic Violence. That said, still a solid effort worth attention.

Impetuous Ritual - Blight Upon Martyred Sentience

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Intransience · Impetuous Ritual Blight Upon Martyred Sentience ℗ 2017 Profound Lore Released on: 2017-06-16 Auto-generated by YouTube.

This album begins with the creation of a aural whirling abyss by the guitars. It’s this all-encompassing rumble, sounding like what you might imagine a black hole to resemble - a fixed point in space of power and unfeeling consumption. It’s recognizable as guitar tones, but individual notes and chord strikes become imperceptibly blended together in this persistent, unflinching roar.

The first 7 and ¾ minute track is simply the establishment of this abyss, which essentially remains in place throughout the rest of the album, sitting there, whirling and roaring. Once the second track starts, the death metal kicks in, and these elements simply dance around the abyssal roar. Vocal growls and wailing guitar leads leap out to be heard, flashing for brief moments until falling into the abyss themselves.

Converge - The Dusk in Us

Listen to the full album: "A Single Tear" by Converge from the album 'The Dusk In Us,' available now Order at Directed by Max Moore Official Site: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:

I have such a conflicted opinion of Converge. There’s no question you’re listening to masterful musicians, but the metalcore style and, frankly, some of the lyrical expressions both veer into “misunderstood 17-year-old at Hot Topic” territory.

Converge albums deceptively hide their brilliant bits under the surface, so what is always an underwhelming listen at first exposes itself more over time. Kurt Ballou’s guitar work is glorious, as is his production of the album (and everything else he produces). Some of these songs really get under your skin and worm their way past your mental barriers, even when the words sound more like an angsty high schooler’s poetry. (The “cannibals!” scream will never not be cringey, though. The one part of the album that I simply cannot get past.)

They’re also one of those bands where your opinion of them changes (in a positive way) after watching them live. Seeing their live show shouldn’t make the albums sound any differently, but it does. Seeing them at Psycho Las Vegas definitely improved my listening of their previous album, All We Love We Left Behind, and since I am seeing them again in a couple weeks, I don’t doubt that my opinion of The Dusk in Us is going to get a bump.

As a single teardrop fell
And was swallowed by the sea
You outshined the best there was
Rewrote who I could be
When I held you for the first time
I knew I had to survive

Code Orange - Forever

Code Orange's music video for "The Mud" from the album, Forever - available now on Roadrunner Records: Roadrunner Records Store: All In Merch: iTunes: Amazon: Google: Site: iTunes: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Subscribe:

Heavy Blog really teed off on this album in their annual Music Jouralism’s Top 25 list, calling it “one of the most overrated metal albums of the year”, and “nothing more than tough guy metalcore that barely strays into any truly experimental territory.”

I think that’s too harsh. The overrated bit might be true, based on just how high that rating is. They’re right that seemingly every publication has pegged this as one of the top albums of the year, and some have been absolutely effusive with their praise.

But as someone whose take on metalcore is such that I’m permanently stuck in the “bargaining” phase of even embracing a band like Converge (“they’re not really metalcore… right? … Right?”), this album did not strike me as “tough guy metalcore”, but a more varied album that wove in and out of different subgenres, and never seemed to settle into any one style. “The Mud” is a good example, as it moves between metalcore and alternative metal to start, then an ambient interlude acts as a bridge with a largely instrumental second half that firmly channels Meshuggah. The album pulls in different influences from song to song, and the rotation of vocalists between the different tracks ensures that the next song doesn’t sound like the one you just listened to.

Like with Converge, there’s some cringe to some of the lyrics here (“This is real now, motherfucker!” is the “cannibals!” of this record). Originality might not be the album’s strongest suit, as it unabashedly pulls from influences that all congregate in that late ‘90s/early '00s time frame. And it definitely is overrated by the mainstream metal press. But it’s good.

You wanna see it through my eyes?
You don’t
You can’t feel it from the inside
You had the chance. You won’t

Goya - Harvester of Bongloads

Provided to YouTube by TuneCore Misanthropy on High · Goya Harvester of Bongloads ℗ 2017 Opoponax Records Released on: 2017-03-03 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Goya’s subdomain for their URLs on both the merch site BigCartel and music selling site Bandcamp is simply “marijuana”. Stoner metal bands as a rule wear their love of reefer on their sleeve, and while Goya might not be among the many with “bong” in their name, they’ve finally worked it into an album title, and with a Metallica reference to boot. Goya has been prolific of late, and each new release has been an improvement to their formula. Bongloads keeps the pattern, easily being their new best. It’s thick, fuzzy stoner/doom that keeps a foot rooted strongly in psych rock.

misanthropy on high-a-day
no different from any other day
i sit and light the bong
i smoke this world away
i just sit here and waste away

Participation Ribbon

These are albums that aren’t necessarily on my “Best of” list, but that I wanted to talk about for some reason.

Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

"Executioner's Tax (Swing of The Axe)" comes off the brand new Power Trip album "Nightmare Logic." With hooks and tightness rivaling greats like Pantera or Pentagram and production by the esteemed Arthur Rizk, "Nightmare Logic" punishes fans not only sonically but with pure songwriting skill. The sophomore release and second on Southern Lord Records, raises the bar and pushes Power Trip to new extremes. "Executioner's Tax (Swing of The Axe)" (OFFICIAL VIDEO) Director: Andy Capper Director of Photography: Joel Pront Editor: Andrew Betsch Order "Nightmare Logic" Here: "Executioner's Tax (Swing of The Axe)" Go on and look at you, Today is your lucky day The executioner’s here, and he’s ready to make you pay You prayed for so long, and now you have your chance The executioner’s here, and he’s sharpening his axe Swing of the Axe Cry all you want, but the blade soars today Swing of the Axe You buy in the for the privilege, to know what lies beyond Death hides behind veiled faces It only takes one swing, and you’re gone The executioner, The beginning and the end He carries cold hard steel masked with the taste of medicine Blessed with a reaper’s touch, his might cannot be matched It’s time to pay the man, The Executioner’s Tax Swing of the Axe Swing at the World Even a killer has to get paid Swing of the Axe

OK, so I’m not the biggest thrash fan. But I enjoyed this album when it came out, and listened to it quite a bit. I had it penciled in for nothing less than an Honorable Mention all year.

But then, when I got around to finalizing the list, and listening to everything one last time… I found I just didn’t have a lot of desire to listen to this anymore. It was fun back in February, particularly as I was doing a lot of long drives up and down California for work, and it suited my mood for Highway 101 traffic.

But even having not listened to it for months, coming back to it, I found I remembered it all too well, as if I had listened to it all week long already. There wasn’t anything new to discover in revisiting it, just anthemic shouts that I felt like I was already tired of. I realize that’s basically criticizing the music for being exactly what it sets out to be, but I feel like I shouldn’t be this burnt out on it already.

That guitar tone is badass though. I can’t argue with that.

Last generation, an aberration
watching the whole world burn
we have no mouths and we must scream
the void welcomes us again

Pallbearer - Heartless

Track taken from the album 'Heartless'. Out march 24th. SUBSCRIBE to Nuclear Blast YouTube: »Heartless« is also now available for pre-order: Pre-order »Heartless« digitally and receive 'Thorns' immediately or stream the song: FOLLOW PALLBEARER: Profound Lore: twitter: @profound_lore instagram: @profoundlorerecords Copyright 2017 Profound Lore Records

One of my bigger disappointments of the year. Pallbearer had me with their last album, 2014’s Foundations of Burden. But this time around… it doesn’t connect.

There’s obviously some good things here. The vocals are the best they’ve done. The production is pleasingly well done. There’s some memorable guitar lines that stick with you. It’s not particularly crushing or heavy, but Pallbearer was never one to live on doom metal’s harder edges.

Most of the compositions just feel meandering, and lacking in both power and expressiveness. It’s clearly not as heavy as Foundations of Burden, pulling in more of a Pink Floyd influence. But it also doesn’t embrace that kind of Floydian take on space/prog-rock fully either, so what’s left is plodding doom-lite guitars driving songs that never get around to going anywhere interesting. It feels like an album stuck in transition. It’s never unpleasant to listen to, but it never leaves much impression either.

Ignoring signs
We believed that we were blameless
Then the harm could not be undone
We hang ourselves
From any rope put here to save us
And seal our fate
To die as one

Mastodon - Emperor of Sand

New Album 'Emperor of Sand' available now: Album Bundles – Google - Amazon - Spotify - Apple - iTunes - Production Company: Blink Art Executive Producers: Ben Honour, Helen Parker Directors: Essy May & Stevie Gee Producer: Hugo Donkin Cast: Metaller Small: Preston Nyman Metaller Big: Chris Hayward Master Don: Arnab Chanda Hippy Woman: Ellie White Frazzled Teacher: Mark Davison Art Dealer: Emma Sidi Helper Woman & Clown 1: Ruth Syratt Helper Man & Clown 2: Mike May Killer Clown, Bat & Death Hand: Stevie Gee Crew: 1st AD: Ruaidhri Ryan DOP: Ed Tucker Focus Puller: Beau Scott Camera Assistant: Cleo Vogler Gaffers: Ben Skyrme & Max Halstead Electricians: Chris Broomfield, Will Kay & Tina Georgieva Production Design: Essy May, Stevie Gee Art Director: Brin Frost Art Dept: Brin Frost, Alannah Byrne, Stevie Gee, Isobel Irwin, Emma Sheehy, Adeena Grubb Casting: Charlie Perkins Make Up: Roz Gomersall Wardrobe: Brin Frost, Cha Cha Cha Vintage Runners: Ben Tisdall, Lara Baxter Post Production: Visual Effects Director: Theo Nunn Background Artist: Essy May Editor: Jack Williams Animation Directors: Stevie Gee & Essy May 2D Animator: Daniel Britt Compositing: Theo Nunn, Jac Clinch, Joe Eckworth Colour Grade: Smoke & Mirrors Smoke & Mirrors Colourist: Jonny Tully Smoke & Mirrors Producer: Andy Salem Special Thanks: St Mary at Finchley Blinkink Arri Panalux Connect with Mastodon:

After two exceedingly underwhelming albums, I stopped expecting Mastodon to deliver anything that would interest me. However, after they released the single “Sultan’s Curse” alongside the announcement of the new album, I thought, “hmm…. maybe”. The song itself wasn’t spectacular, but did at least hint at some return to the style within which they had produced more interesting material.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Far from a return to heavy and powerful, Emperor of Sand finds the band completing its migration into “crossover” territory, with limited success. Ironic for the band that as recently as 2014 was sniping at Dave Grohl for “making rock n roll safer”. Just three years later, Mastodon finds themself becoming what they claimed to dislike, because this album is filled with Foo Fighters-y dad-rock.

Surprisingly, the song on the album that I most care to listen to again is actually the most Foo Fighters-like of them all: “Show Yourself”. It’s very much “safe” rock and roll, and it was unquestionably recorded with an eye at sneaking into radio rotation (with some success, apparently, peaking at #16 on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart, the band’s highest ranking single). But it’s extremely memorable and enjoyable, which is more than can be said of the material that follows it.

In the end, the album is disappointing in every aspect. It further confirms that the band that created albums like Leviathan is long gone, and even the band that created Crack the Skye seems to be beyond return. At the same time, they only really managed one track that succeeded in the more straightforward rock format that they’ve pivoted to. A collection of songs that lives up to “Show Yourself” would at least be a worthwhile dad-rock album. Sadly, we didn’t get that either. (I picked a song other than “Show Yourself” for the video above, as it’s more representative of how boring the album is.)

You’re not as safe as far as I can tell
And I can tell
Only you can save yourself
Soon this will all be a distant memory
Or could this dream
Be real at all?

Myrkur - Mareidt

'Mareridt' Out Now on CD/LP/DLX 2xLP/Digital Order via Relapse Records Here: Subscribe to Relapse Records Channel: Directed, Photographed, and Edited by Mats Ek. Instagram: @matstxswe Choir Girls: Kari Kvittingen Djukastein, Amalie Hagesæter Gåsvær & Pernille Josefine Smit Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Mareridt (translation: Nightmare) is the highly anticipated sophomore full-length from renowned Danish composer and multi-instrumentalist MYRKUR. Recorded between Copenhagen and Seattle with producer Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Earth, Sunn O))), Boris, Wolves In The Throne Room), Mareridt is a rich juxtaposition of the dark and the light; the moon and the mother earth; the witch and the saint. MYRKUR explores deeper into the mysterious and the feminine with 11 tracks that further progress her visionary blend of metal with gorgeous, stirring melodies, dark folk passages, choral arrangements and superb, horrific beauty. Further taking MYRKUR to new artistic heights are lyrics in multiple languages, an unforgettable collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe and an array of special instrumentation including violin, mandola, folk drums, nyckelharpa (an ancient Swedish key harp), and Kulning (an ancient Scandinavian herding call). Mareridt is a profound manifestation of nightmares that demonstrates MYRKUR as one of the truly exceptional artists of our time. Official Links: Myrkur Official Website: Myrkur on Bandcamp: Myrkur on Facebook: Myrkur on Instagram:

The dislike (and sometimes outright hatred) of Myrkur among sections of the metal community is absurd. The oft-repeated claim that her work is “pop music posing as black metal”, and is “manufactured” for “album sales” is ridiculous enough to dismiss outright (black metal doesn’t exactly sell a lot of albums, and a “blonde girl” pop artist would make far more money selling, you know, pop records). And if that wasn’t enough, the numbers show that her album didn’t exactly sell like hotcakes, not that that’s going to satisfy the black metal truthers that are certain she’s making “poser” money.

That nonsense aside, I enjoyed her last album, and had high hopes for this one, but was let down. There are some good moments, particularly the track she shares with Chelsea Wolfe. Her vocals generally deliver, moving between screeches and breathy ethereal parts. But the sections where she channels Scandinavian folk music fail to make much impact, and the weakest material is right smack in the middle of the album (not counting a cringeworthy closing track that should just have been cut entirely). There’s about an EP worth of good material here, but the dispersion of it is such that the album stumbles and loses momentum as soon as it starts to go somewhere. Not bad, just not fully baked.

Am I adored?
Je suis votre amour
Am I a whore?
Cause you are the drug
Solitary are the things i know
In my garden they leave me alone

Sarin - Darker Lakes

Artist: Sarin Song: "Ocean Burn" Album: "Darker Lakes" Buy "Darker Lakes" on 12" Vinyl: -- Follow / visit Sarin on: Bandcamp: Instagram: Facebook: Bandsintown: Spotify:

Unlike most of the other albums in the Participation Ribbon section, I actually like this one. I listened to it quite a bit. It isn’t a special record that I had to have in my top 40 or so albums, but it’s an underrated one that I wanted to call out.

It’s good, largely instrumental post-metal, with influences worn on their sleeve. But a couple of aspects stand out. First is the contrast between the dark guitar-driven compositions and some of the uplifting synth-driven parts. The second is the clean production. Between those two things, it was an easy listen, and one I often put on in the car this year when I wasn’t necessarily in the mood for absolute punishment.

It isn’t going to win awards and it probably won’t appear on many year-end lists, but it’s an underrated album, and one that listeners who like this sort of music but want something that goes down a little easier should check out.

I don’t know, I listened to this again, and maybe I should have bumped it up into Honorable Mentions.

Dreadnought - A Wake in Sacred Waves

Dreadnought at Hi-Dive Denver, CO 02/09/2017 "A Wake In Sacred Waves" 2x 180g LP/CD/Digital AVAILABLE NOW: Video by Ben Fout:

I feel like I should like this album. There are elements I like, and plenty of moments I like. The dual female vocalists, bringing both beautiful harmony and raspy black metal shrieks to the table, are winners. The folk elements, with flute and mandolin, contrast nicely with the progressive, doom-y metal. At any given moment, it sounds pretty great.

But actually sitting and listening to these four 10+ minute tracks is a bit unsatisfying. There’s a lack of direction, and those good moments seem to peter out and not take the songs anywhere. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll listen to 60 minutes of atonal droning, but that’s not what Dreadnought is trying to be. The songs just sort of drift on, and I just end up drifting away while I’m listening.

I can see what people like, but it’s not getting me there.

(None of this album’s tracks are posted as YouTube videos that I could find, that video is as close as I could get.)

Asira - Efference

Crucible of Light is taken from Asira's debut album 'Efference'. Sunrise, crucible of light Oracular presence, enshrined Golden dawn, blessed by Apollo’s rays Solar beams intertwined Now, claiming our eyes Ablaze, baptise None halt your rise Dawn will claim my eyes Radiant high Ablaze, arise Morning star As its luminescence nears A healing sphere Darkness disappears Helios severs the fading night Aurora incandescent Circadian flight Searing, diurnal light Dawn will claim my eyes Radiant high Ablaze, arise Golden dawn will claim my eyes Radiant high Ablaze, arise Morning star

This is a cool one, which just missed my Honorable Mention list, but I think deserves to be called out regardless because it’s a debut album of a band that is onto something.

Black metal is everywhere, and there are lots of bands playing “blackened” versions of other subgenres of metal. But nobody’s really doing blackened prog-metal, at least not doing it quite like Asira. When I say prog-metal, I’m talking metal that is influenced by Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and other ‘70s symphonic rock bands. If that reminds you a bit of metal-era Opeth, that’s an apt comparison, as Opeth certainly comes to mind more than a few times during this album.

But then there’s that “blackened” part, and that’s where Asira adds a wrinkle that sets them apart. Just listen to the embedded track (the whole thing) to get an idea. Add in some Floyd-ian ambient/atmospheric sections, and some Opeth-like pastoral metal bits, and you’ll have an idea what the album sounds like.

What keeps it off my best-of list is that the entire album doesn’t live up to the peaks of songs like the one above. The band is clearly still figuring out their identity. It’s still a good album, but I am hoping for an even better successor.

Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard

Electric Wizard "See You In Hell" a short film (Directed By Marek Steven ) Witchfinder Productions, Witchfinder Records/Spinefarm Records 2017 Music video by Electric Wizard performing See You In Hell. (C) 2017 Spinefarm Records, a Universal Music Company

Ugh, I had such hopes for this. The last two things Jus Oborn has touched were Cough’s latest album, Still They Pray (as producer), and Wizard’s own most recent album before this one, Time to Die. Both had what I love about Electric Wizard in abundance: impossibly thick fuzz, grimy stoned out riffs, vocal wails and warbles… the stuff that made the Wiz great.

Instead, we get this album, which feels more like a slightly underground ‘70s rock album. The album opener “See You in Hell” is the boring low point, but it doesn’t really get off the launch pad after that either. The Sabbath worship is apparent, as it always has been, but this is less being inspired by Sabbath, and more trying to play a clone of what Sabbath was playing in 1970, without any of the heaviness modern recording permits. Thing is, Sabbath absolutely would have had a bigger, heavier sound if they had the tools for it in 1970 - and what they may have lacked in recording punch, they made up for instead in the riffs themselves. Wizard Bloody Wizard’s riffs never come close to measuring up, leaving the whole thing as a hopelessly tepid affair.

Time to Die was underrated, in part because legal issues with their former drummer saw the album pulled from shelves and from streaming services a few months after release. This meant a lot of listeners who didn’t get in on it at release time missed out, and many did not go back to it after the album quietly became available again, over a year later. If that group includes you, do yourself a favor, and go listen to that instead. It’s got way more of what you want. Here, I’m going to embed a track here for comparison. You listen and decide.

from "time to die" LP 2014 by Electric Wizard

Tchornobog - Tchornobog

Direct links are provided to purchase 'Tchornobog' on digipak CD, vinyl, cassette, and digital format. Additional links are given for Tchornobog, Fallen Empire Records and I, Voidhanger Records. "II: Hallucinatory Black Breath of Possession (Mountain-Eye Amalgamation)" is the second song on the album. 'Tchornobog' release date - July 21st, 2017. Digipak CD (I, Voidhanger Records webshop) Digipak CD/digital format (I, Voidhanger Records, Bandcamp) Vinyl/cassette (Fallen Empire Records webstore) Cassette/digital format (Markov Soroka/Fallen Empire Records, Bandcamp) Tchornobog Facebook - Instagram - Metal Archives - Fallen Empire Records Homepage - Facebook - I, Voidhanger Records Homepage - Facebook - YouTube - Promotional purposes sanctioned by Tchornobog, Fallen Empire Records and I, Voidhanger Records.

There’s a good album in here. I know there is. Other people can hear it. I can almost hear it.

But the reason I can’t hear it is the awful, awful production. To have an album this dynamic and record it like a shitty black metal band playing to a tape recorder in their garage is criminal. All I could do when listening to this was imagine what it should have sounded like.

Get this guy (it’s a one-man project) into a decent studio.

Best Of 2016: Electronic

Best Electronic Album of 2016

Ital Tek - Hollowed

Taken from Hollowed LP Video directed by Clayton Welham and Joseph Lion

I’ve been an Ital Tek fan since his debut, cYCLICAL. That was back when dubstep was the stuff of articles in Wire Magazine, before the wub-wub-wub stereotypes set in. Ital Tek’s dubstep and dance music experimentations never quite fit on the dance floor, though, referencing the club rather than stepping foot in one. But Hollowed finds Ital Tek starting off closer to ambient and drone music, bringing those dance music touch points in as echoes of echoes of the club. The constant remains Ital Tek’s thick, encompassing synth lines, the kind that just envelop you like a fog. There was little doubt that this would be my electronic album of the year once it dropped.

The Rest of the Best

Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley

Perturbator "Sentient (feat. Hayley Stewart)" music video - animated by Valenberg. Co-directed by Valenberg & Blood Music. UNCENSORED VERSION. This is track number 8 on Perturbator's highly-awaited fourth album, "The Uncanny Valley." The album will be released on May 6th, 2016 through Finland/USA label Blood Music. Co-written by Perturbator and Blood Music. Produced by Blood Music.

The black metal guitarist turned cyberpunk synthwave electronic producer, Perturbator is best known by gamers for his contributions to the two Hotline Miami soundtracks. One of the leading names in the synthwave movement that is happening largely on Bandcamp, Peturbator brings a stronger sense of melody to his retro-terror. Drawing strongly from John Carpenter, classic 8-bit video games, Akira, and Vangelis, Perturbator is like a dark neon-soaked version of the ‘80s cranked up to 11. This kind of music could very easily veer off into hopeless cheesiness, but Perturbator’s compositions are a class above the army of bedroom producers also pushing material out onto the Internet.

Tim Hecker - Love Streams Love Streams out now - 4AD/PaperBag Directed by Brett Stabler

Hecker’s last album, the brilliant Virgins, was a haunting delight. Love Streams goes in another direction, less malevolent and more alien. Love Streams’ hazy, quivering tones create music that feels out of reach, a mix of traditional instruments and unrecognizable sounds, including voices from the Icelandic Choir Ensemble which present like unrecognizable alien voices lost behind the maelstrom. The album title confuses, sounding either naively romantic or vaguely lewd, but both fit in the sense that the album brings life forms to mind, and not the trajectories of celestial bodies or the artifice of digital machinery.

Autechre - elseq 1-5

Four hours of new Autechre! This digital-only surprise release is best described as a marathon. For those unaware, Autechre’s live shows are not of the “push-play-button” variety. Rather, they are real-time improvisational performances, new music strung together on the fly. Last year, they dropped a 9 hour set of live recordings as AE_LIVE. On elseq, the duo takes that improv approach into the studio, where they have considerably more toys to play with than in a live setting. What we get is something different from most Autechre studio releases, particularly the early ones upon which the band built its reputation. Pieces are abstract, blurring the line between music and sound design. Oftentimes, a repeating beat is about all that is immediately identifiably “musical”, a sort of life-line which pulls the listener through a kaleidoscope of sound. Repetition will go from relentless in one track to absent in another. It’s often bewildering, and impossible to pin down in easy description.

Loscil - Momument Builders

Music by loscil © 2016 Choreographed and Performed by Vanessa Goodman Video by Scott Morgan New album Monument Builders out Nov 11 on kranky.

This one just give me chills. Loscil has put out a lot of good albums, and on this one, he pulls inspiration from the Philip Glass soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi. It’s not dark ambient like a Lustmord album, but it’s also not whimsical or pensive like a lot of ambient music. It’s vaguely (and sometimes not-so-vaguely) foreboding. PopMatters called it “the sonic equivalent of the scenery in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road”, and that’s a pretty good description. It evokes empty, decaying urban areas under a perpetually gray sky.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS

Director | Dancer: Melanie Lane ( DOP | Editing: Jesper Berg ( Camera assistant: Laimonis Brakss Kaitlyn’s invitation to create and choreograph a video for her track ‘Arthropoda’ was an exciting proposal. Her sound encompasses a unique blend of organic texture, within a futuristic realm which very much resonated with my interest in the potential for dance to take on those qualities and translate them into a visual narrative. The concept for the video was to interpret Kaitlyn’s other-wordly, sonic universe by combining dance with a sculptural, architectural environment. The video embarks upon a surreal narrative that merges nature vs urban, reality vs sci-fi, future vs present. The Stapelbäddsparken (skate park) in Malmö, Sweden was the perfect location, offering a vast concrete landscape of urban textures and elegant, majestic lines that echo our natural world. The choreography is about the excavation of space - designing movement in space to unearth something unique, playful and supernatural. The dance style developed its own anomalous language, exclusively inspired by Kaitlyn’s sound. The image of the dancer is between human and mythical - borrowing from fluid contemporary movement to more graphic, insect-like choreography. The video for ‘Anthropoda’ is a universal story that embodies the curiosity and desire of human nature to transcend our environment. It magnifies texture and form whilst proposing the existence of otherness. Through the dance between a human body and an urban space, the film celebrates the playfulness, power and beauty embedded in Kaitlyn’s sonic universe.

Much like the Tim Hecker album, this is a very “organic electronic” album, incorporating woodwinds and other acoustic instruments, as well as human voices, over her primary instrument of a vintage late ‘60s modular synth (Buchla 100) that evokes that retro-futurism of that era. It’s lush, meditative, and disorienting, like the soundtrack to landing on a rich, hospitable landscape on an alien planet.

Eluvium - False Readings On

Artist: Eluvium Title: Regenerative Being Album: False Readings On Director: Stas Santimov Purchase CD/LP/Digital: ©2017 Temporary Residence Ltd.

Ambient music in the true Brian Eno sense, False Readings On is pretty, but also unsettling. Pieces will fade in with the kind of gentle sonic washes that would be at home on schmaltzy new wave albums with pictures of soft beach tides on their covers, but Matthew Cooper will then play against that by layering sounds and counter-melodies that disrupt and invoke subtle feelings of anxiety.

Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music

Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music February 19, 2016 I made a live album in my house, recorded between July and December 2014! Physical Preorders come with a 10 Track Bonus Album on CD! All Preorders come with an instant download of Magnificent Stumble V2

Aaron Funk sets aside his laptop software synths, and builds a wall. A wall of modular synth modules, that is. Unlike his often-bonkers (and often- brilliant) past work, Funk composed and recorded this album live entirely on modular synthesizer equipment, with no overdubbing or editing. The abrasiveness of typical VS albums is largely absent. Instead, Funk’s tendencies towards abruptness and off-kilter rhythms is restrained, peeking through rather than dominating. In making a less challenging album, though, Funk has made one of the most captivating Venetian Snares releases yet.

(Read an interview with Funk on the album’s production)

Datach'i - System

From the Datach'i album "System" OUT NOW: iTunes - Bandcamp - Planet-Mu Store - Spotify -

This album came to be in large part because of the Venetian Snares album above. Aaron Funk and Joseph Fraioli were friends in the past, who reconnected over their recent shared interest in modular synths. Fraioli had been posting videos of his setup on his Vimeo channel, which led to Funk pestering him into putting Fraioli into putting together an album to release on Funk’s TimeSig label. It’s the first work Fraioli has released under the Datach'i moniker in a decade. Like Funk’s Venetian Snares album, this Datach'i release is a much less experimental album than previous releases. Instead, it’s finely crafted

S U R V I V E - RR7349

Directed by Chris Rusch Edited by Melissa Cha Aerial Cinematography: Sean Krell, Ryan Aylsworth, Willie Rockefeller & Derek Gildersleeve Video Synthesis by Samantha Gibble Produced by Relapse Records & Holodeck Records Special Thanks: T.C. Johnson, Lindsey Reimnitz, Adam Schlender & Match Point Productions Purchase CD/LP: Purchase Digital: ------ SUBSCRIBE to ------ FOLLOW on Twitter: ------ For more videos from Pitchfork TV: Like Pitchfork on Facebook: Check out Pitchfork on Tumblr: S U R V I V E: “Copter” (Official Music Video)

S U R V I V E is a wonderful ‘80s synth extravaganza. The Austin-based group features four synthesizer players, two of whom were responsible for the renowned Stranger Things season 1 soundtrack.

Whereas the Perturbator album is very dark and aggressive, S U R V I V E is more dramatic film score. Giorgio Moroder’s “Tony’s Theme” from Scarface would make a good reference point. S U R V I V E (I already hate typing those spaces) pulls from other synth acts of the era, like Vangelis and (late-‘70s/early-'80s) Tangerine Dream.

Forma - Physicalist

Video by Leigh Silverblatt From the album 'Physicalist' (Kranky Records, 2016)

Slot this one right next to the S U R V I V E album, because that retro ‘80s synthesizer ambient soundscapes theme continues here. While S U R V I V E brings sparse, airy beats, Forma plows forward with driving kosmische beats straight out of Neu! or Kraftwerk… at least for the first half of the album. By the second half of the album, the beats start to show up less often,

Boobs of Doom - (((WHITE NOISE)))

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Liquid Dinosaurs · Boobs of DOOM ( ( (White Noise) ℗ 2016 Boobs of DOOM Released on: 2016-06-06 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Boobs of Doom sits at the corner of doom metal and electronic drone / dark ambient.

Best Electronic EPs

Arca - Entrañas

▸ Artist: Arca ▸ Album: [2016] Entrañas ▸ Track: Entrañas (full album) ▸ Style: Abstract-Post-Industrial-Glitch 1. Pérdida 2. Torero 3. Culebra 4. Vicar 5. Cement Garden interlude 6. Baby Doll / ft. Mica Levi 7. Lulled 8. Think of / ft. Mica Levi & Massacooraman 9. Clocked 10. Pargo 11. Turnt / ft. Total Freedom 12. Girasol 13. Fount 14. Sin Rumbo (removed at the request of the "copyright owner") Alt. link: (Artwork = “Memories of Feeling” by nancekievill Update (04-06-2017): [Merlin] Beggars is satisfied with the edit and has decided to release their copyright claim on this video. Leaving my remarks open to deter other potential take-down attempts. Update (04-04-2017): The claimant aims to take down the video in 7 days. They still maintain "Sin Rumbo" is their property; even though it can still be downloaded free of charge on Arca's SoundCloud page or streamed from Arca's YouTube channel. As expected, there's no way to challenge the copyright claim without a reply from Arca himself. As a result, I've been forced to edit out the last track. It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to satisfy the claimant. Update (03-26-2017): The claimant is disputing my appeal on two grounds: 1) they say XL Recordings has exclusive copyright to "Sin Rumbo" on Arca's upcoming self-titled album and so too retroactively on Entrañas; 2) they also say that because Arca has not explicitly dedicated this work to the public domain it cannot be shared without permission. As such, I've reached out on Arca's Twitter to request clarification over the status of the album. If I can't get confirmation directly from Arca, I'll concede to the claimant and edit out the last track as XL Recordings is not the proper copyright owner of the entire album. Update (03-15-2017): The audio appears to have been restored for the time being. As this may only be a temporary result of the appeal process I have elected to leave my remarks to the claimant here for the purpose of public record and general copyleft education. Update (03-15-2017): The claimant rejected my dispute without any explanation. I have appealed this decision with the following statement: "On Independence Day (2016), Alejandro Ghersi (stage name Arca) self-released a 14-track mixtape entitled "Entrañas" to the public on his SoundCloud page(1-2). This work was released free of charge and without label, legal restriction, or explicit copyright. I have consulted the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) ACE database(3), WorldCat database(4), LastFM database(5), and Discogs database(6) and have yet to discover evidence for the exclusive legal entitlement of the claimant. It is my good faith belief that this work is in the public domain because the author has indicated a desire to release it to the public without legal protection(7). On what grounds does the claimant assume the right to violate the will of the artist and the free creative enrichment of his audience?" "I find the YouTube content ID system is ripe for copyright abuse. In this system, the claimants are granted the benefit of the doubt over the defendant, can block access to public works, and then further reject their disputes without explanation, or third party oversight. Users are simply intimidated through this process and expected to accept the authority of the claimant on pain of copyright strikes against their account. Because of this policy, claimants can use their stature as a bullying tactic against users who lack the desire, knowledge, or ability to protect their rights. I ask those who review my counter-claim to take note of this form of abuse against the public domain." "I request a neutral arbitrator to review this case and render a fair judgment." 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Copyright claim (03-14-2017): Audio on this video has been muted at the request of the copyright claimant, "[Merlin] Beggars". I have filed a dispute against this claim on the grounds that the album was self-released for free and without label by the author. It is my good faith belief, therefore, that this work is in the public domain and as such should not be eligible for copyright claims. The album can still be downloaded for free from the artist's SoundCloud page:

I’m calling this an EP, but in reality it’s a single 25 minute track, released only on SoundCloud and the file downloading site Mediafire. It’s supposed to represent 14 tracks, but as a single music file without many clearly distinguishable breaks, mapping them out is somewhat futile. Like last year’s brilliant album Mutant, it’s hard to adequately describe

Aphex Twin - Cheetah

Taken from Aphex Twin’s ‘Cheetah EP’, out now on Warp Records. Directed by Ryan Wyer, aged 12, of Rush, County Dublin. Buy/Stream:

This is honestly one of my favorite Aphex releases. I feel like post-hiatus Aphex is killing it. On this one, Richard D. James takes the notorious Cheetah MS800 synth (infamous for both its “unique” tone and being so incomprehensible to program that all but a few simply gave up), and coaxes rich sounds from it, in the form of some rather subdued but detailed tracks that beg for headphone listening. Those looking for that high-tempo complexity RDJ is known for won’t find it here, but rather this one goes out to the fans of his brilliant Selected Ambient Works 1985-1992 debut.

Lorn - Vessel

The year 2100. In an effort to combat overpopulation, the postmortem social network "Anvil" is released. A fusion of both Japanese and Belgian comics inspirations and sensibilities, such as Ghost in the Shell, Akira or Peeters & Schuiten's work. "Anvil" invites us on a journey through the eyes of a young woman in her final moments on earth. Artist: Lorn Title: Anvil Label: Wednesday Sound Directed by GERIKO (Hélène Jeudy & Antoine Caëcke) Design, Script & Animation by Antoine Caëcke & Hélène Jeudy Character Animation by Anthony Lejeune & Manddy Wyckens // Links // LORN GERIKO Contact: [email protected] VIMEO LINK : SXSW OFFICIAL SELECTION 2017 BERLIN MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS OFFICIAL SELECTION 2017 SEEYOUSOUND OFFICIAL SELECTION 2017 RSC SHORTFILM FEST OFFICIAL SELECTION 2017 ART FUTURA OFFICIAL SELECTION 2017

This was a quiet, down-low album release on Lorn’s Bandcamp page. I only heard of it because of the Headphone Commute review (and if you’re not familiar with HC, they review electronic/experimental/modern classical, and only write about things they like, so any “review” posted is also a recommendation). It is dense and dystopic, best illustrated by the animated video for the track Anvil. Available for pay-what-you-want on Lorn’s Bandcamp page

Honorable Mentions

Kettel - Wingtip

buy Wingtip here: itunes: ~Music by: Reimer Eising - "POBLESEC"~ Directed by: Peter Corina Produced by: Pier Pictures Mastered by: Benn L. Jordan Cinematographers: T.S. Pfeffer, Peter Corina Artwork by: Jude Corina Butterfly Girl: Erika Harrington Evil Nerd: Peter McKay Special thanks to Brint Genzler, Isabella Corina, and Kaelin Corina Butterflies bred and provided by Jack Little of Little's Greenhouse:

I’ve been a fan of Kettel since the first Myam James album. Before this one, his most recent work was the soundtrack to the co-op PC game Ibb and Obb. Like that game, Kettel’s work on Wingtip is bright and cheerfully melodic. It’s not a hard hitting or particularly forward thinking album, rather, it is a throwback to those ‘90s days of melodic, tuneful IDM. It made a great soundtrack to my Cities: Skyline sessions.

Kassem Mosse - Disclosure

Provided to YouTube by FINETUNES Monomer · Kassem Mosse Disclosure ℗ 2016 Honest Jon's Records Released on: 2016-10-14 Composer: Gunnar Wendel Auto-generated by YouTube.

This one didn’t seem to get much attention outside of a Pitchfork review, despite his full length debut a couple years ago (Workshop 19) earning a lot of praise. Maybe because this album sees Kassem Mosse moving far away from those minimal techno, club beat roots. In its place are a sequence of abstract tracks, which alternate between beatless ambient pieces and mid-tempo beat tracks that hint at his previous work, but glitched and corrupted.

Brad Fiedel - The Terminator (reissue)

“Terminator Theme (Extended)” was written and performed by Brad Fiedel for James Cameron’s 1984 Sci-Fi classic “Terminator”. The Terminator Soundtrack has been made available by Milan records. Buy The Terminator OST on Amazon: Buy The Terminator OST on iTunes: Listen to The Terminator OST on Spotify:

This soundtrack to the 1984 film has been out of print for about 20 years, and its previous releases were of poor quality and cut up sequentially. Recently, Fiedel regained creative control of the material, and with the help of Milan Records, has remastered and sequenced the material into its first true release.

Zomby - Ultra

Provided to YouTube by Redeye Distribution Reflection · Zomby Ultra Released on: 2016-09-02 Composer: J. Moulds Music Publisher: Domino Music Publishing Auto-generated by YouTube.

There’s too many artists with this sort of name. Last year synthwave/space-rock duo Zombi with-an-I released a great album, and played Psycho poolside this year. This year, Zomby with-a-Y, the mask-wearing UK electronic producer, released his best album in a while. It’s grimy and inhospitable, playing at times like the soundtrack to a dim seedy club before making sharp right turns with inexplicable tempo changes that would immediately derail any foolish attempts at dancing to it.

Also honorable mentions:

Rival Consoles - Night Melody

Clark - The Last Panthers

Jubilee - After Hours

Steve Hauschildt - Strands

The Field - Follower

The Range - Potential

Participation Ribbon

John Carpenter - Lost Themes II

'Distant Dream' official live video, directed by John Carpenter. "Lost Themes II" out now. TOUR DATES & TICKETS : Pre-order & download "Distant Dream" instantly: BAND: John Carpenter: Synthesizer Cody Carpenter: Synthesizer Daniel Davies: Guitar John Spiker: Bass John Konesky: Guitar Scott Seiver: Drums Director: John Carpenter Executive Producers: John Carpenter/Cody Carpenter/Daniel Davies Production Company: Brick & Mortar Productions, Inc. Producer: Robert L. Lucas Cinematographer: Eduardo Fierro Editor: Mike Schiff Production Coordinator: John Vulich Color Correction: Mike Schiff/Eduardo Fierro B - Camera Operator: Mike Schiff C - Camera Operator: Gavin Nash / Robert L. Lucas Camera Assistant: Jone Troconis Aldaz Camera Assistant: Kaity Williams Camera DIT: John Vulich Grip/Electric: Patrick McCormick Grip/Electric: Joe Knetter BTS Camera: Kaity Williams/ Patrick McCormick Production Assistant: Sarah French Artist Info: John Carpenter Website: John Carpenter Facebook: John Carpenter Twitter: John Carpenter Instagram: Label Info: Website: Soundcloud: Youtube: Instagram:

Throughout John Carpenter’s long career, one thing he hasn’t done is release standalone albums. That is, until his debut last year, Lost Themes. This year, he returns with Lost Themes II, a continued collaboration with his son Cody and godson Daniel Davies (son of Kinks guitarist Dave Davies). Carpenter’s timing is interesting, given how many artists lately have taken strong inspiration from the styles he defined as composer for the scores of his films. Lost Themes

Best Of 2016: Other Genres

Best Other Genres Album of 2016

Bent Knee - Say So

Our 2016 album "Say So" is available at Music by Bent Knee Starring Jake Brasch Cinematography/Coloring by Eric Freeman Directed by Jessica Kion Editing by Ben Levin Follow Bent Knee Website: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Cuneiform Records: Bent Knee is: Ben Levin - guitar & vocals Chris Baum - violin & vocals Courtney Swain - lead vocals & keyboards Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth - drums Jessica Kion - bass & vocals Vince Welch - production & sound design ----- Lyrics I made myself strong By getting my skin numb And loosening up the thumbs By pumping out the black tar water I made myself real By ripping up magazines And staving off disease By pumping out the black tar water I made my friends leave With tightrope at their knees And laughing when they sneeze I’m throwing up the black tar water I start to tell it wrong While singing in a song Where robbers held up guns They’re shooting out the black tar water Dripping off follicles Seeping out my pores Filling up my lungs Oh my my Dripping off follicles Seeping out my pores Filling up my lungs Oh oh my my My black tar water My black tar water

This avant-pop sextet caught my attention with this release. It’s their third album, and the first on Cuneiform after self-releasing the first two. The band blends pop, chamber, jazz, and prog together, not unlike the bands Carla Kilhstedt is known for (Charming Hostess, Tin Hat, or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum without the metal). The musicians are all graduates of the Berklee College of Music, and their virtuosity shines as they explore avant-garde avenues within pop structures. This is “prog” for people that liked The Beatles' pop experiments more so than the keyboard gymnastics of Emerson or Wakeman. It’s fresh, unique, and should pull audiences from a wide cross-section of musical tastes.

The Rest of the Best

Free Salamander Exhibit - Undestroyed

Free Salamander Exhibit - Undestroyed (2016) 01. Unreliable Varrator

If the band’s name didn’t clue you in, this is a resurrection of sorts of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, featuring 4/5ths of that band’s members (all but Carla Kihlstedt, sadly). FSE had played live shows as early as 2013, but had not released any material until now, just squeezing into 2016 with this mid-December release. What’s here is a slightly paired down version of SGM. They continue to dwell at the intersection of metal, prog, and RIO avant-rock, albeit with a bit less of the pulling-instruments-out-of-every-orifice insanity of SGM. It’s been nearly 10 years since the final Sleepytime Gorilla Museum album, making this a welcome new chapter for that collective of musicians. Also a well timed one, as Sleepytime’s back catalog was re-issued this year on the Blood Music label.

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Taken from A Moon Shaped Pool - here and here Available here and here Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Producers: Sara Murphy, Albert Chi, Erica Frauman Editor: Andy Jurgensen Production Companies: Ghoulardi Film Company, m ss ng p eces Assistant Directors: Adam Somner, Trevor Tavares Gaffer: Michael Bauman Key Grip: Jim Kwiatkowski Steadicam Operator: Ari Robbins Production Designer: Carmen Ruiz de Huidobro Camera: Josh Friz, Aaron Tichenor, Ryan Creasy, Drey Singer, Eric Anderson UPM: Deanna Barillari Telecine Colorist: Gregg Garvin CREW: Anthony Bradshaw, Ben Brady, Bart Dion, Eric Fahy, Clark Gapen, Sean Gossen, Chad Hladki, Se Hoh, Grace Illingworth, Jessica Jazayeri, Jacob Kubabojsza, Micah Minor, Mike Misslin, Adam Morgan, Rene Parras, Jr., Peter Rybchenkov, Charlotte Townsend, Kasia Trojak, Cymbre Walk, David Yoon Written by Radiohead Produced & mixed by Nigel Godrich Engineered by Nigel Godrich and Sam Petts-Davies Assistant engineer at La Fabrique Studio; Maxime LeGuil Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Strings by the London Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Hugh Brunt

Radiohead’s last full length, 2001’s The King of Limbs, didn’t really connect with me. It landed it in the same discard pile that Hail to the Thief ended up in, whereas I loved Kid A, Amnesiac, and In Rainbows. A Moon Shaped Pool fortunately finds itself joining the latter group. It is not Radiohead’s most boundary-pushing album. In fact, lyrically, it’s practically a break-up album, clearly informed by Thom Yorke’s split from his wife a year ago (who passed away from cancer this December). Those lyrics are delivered within perfectly executed hazy art rock, with each song like walking from one dream-state vignette to another.

Wadada Leo Smith - America’s National Parks

Wadada Leo Smith - "New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718" [Excerpt] from 'America's National Parks' (out now on Cuneiform Records) Purchase now @ Amazon: iTunes: Bandcamp: Bandcamp [HD]: Wayside Music: "Smith uses his magisterial instrumental voice, his inspirational leadership and his command of classical, jazz and blues forms to remind us of what has gone down and what's still happening." – DownBeat’s 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today "A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight." – Nate Chinen, The New York Times Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet, director of the ensemble Anthony Davis – piano Ashley Walters – cello John Lindberg – bass Pheeroan akLaff – drums With America’s National Parks, visionary composer and Wadada Leo Smith offers his latest epic collection, a suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Writing for his newly expanded Golden Quintet, Smith crafts six extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved natural resources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. – and some that should be. America’s National Parks was released shortly before Smith’s 75th birthday in December, arriving, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for the centennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916. The spark for the project, however, came from two places: Smith’s own research into the National Park system, beginning with Yellowstone, the world’s first national park; and Ken Burns’ 12-hour documentary series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. trumpeter six-movement"The idea that Ken Burns explored in that documentary was that the grandeur of nature was like a religion or a cathedral," Smith says. "I reject that image because the natural phenomenon in creation, just like man and stars and light and water, is all one thing, just a diffusion of energy. My focus is on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens." His 28-page score for America’s National Parks was penned for his Golden Quintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that’s been a keystone of his expression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affording the composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. "The cello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent," Smith says, "but when you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, the cello, the piano and the bass, that’s paradise for a composer and for a performer." While these preserved landscapes offer the inspiration of powerful natural beauty, Smith’s always open-minded view of the world leads him to find that same inspiration wherever he is. "Every concrete house is from nature," he says. "Every plastic airplane that flies 300 people across the ocean comes out of nature. Every air conditioner conditions a natural piece of air. I think that the human being is constantly enfolded in organic nature and constructed nature, so I’m constantly inspired, inside the house or outside the house." For more information:

It trips me up so much to see such a highly lauded jazz album coming from Steve Feigenbaum’s Cuneiform Records label, one of the guys I used to chat with in prog-rock dork circles. I still associate Cuneiform really strongly with RIO avant-prog, so to see an album that was sandwiched in the release schedule between Richard Pinhas albums make it to the top of jazz end-of-year lists is just amusing. Can’t say that it’s not deserving, though.

Sioum - Yet Further

• Sioum (USA), "And Technological Advancements" from the album "Yet Further" (2016), Instrumental | Progressive | Post rock • Official Sioum band links - - - - • Similar bands / Sounds like / Influences: ------------------------------------------------------ I am no hero, MONO, One Hour Before The Trip, Oh Hiroshima, made by grey, Maybeshewill, Adolf Plays the Jazz, Colaris, Anadelta, Explosions in the Sky, Calf, Mogwai, Quiet Pliz, Nevermind the Name, Icaro,, This Will Destroy You, Hammock, Set Fire to Flames, Joy Wants Eternity, I Hear Sirens, Parhelia, Followed by Ghosts, The Last Sighs Of The Wind, Somewhere Beyond Echoes, Glider, Lakes Of Russia, My Empty Phantom, Awaken The Echoes, Microtonner, Across The Waves, Marché La Void, Dream and I, This Is Your Captain Speaking, Mahùt, For a Minor Reflection, God Is an Astronaut, If These Trees Could Talk, Caspian, El Ten Eleven, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Her Name Is Calla, Jakob, Russian Circles, Set Fire to Flames, The Seven Mile Journey, Sleepmakeswaves • Follow "Winter's Dusk In Mistful Abyss" on facebook • ©Winter's Dusk In Mistful Abyss (wdima Official Channel) (Watch in HD for better video & audio quality*)

For those disappointed by last year’s Liturgy album, but love Greg Fox’s drumming, here’s your chance to hear him play what the album’s label calls “45 minutes of uninterrupted gritty and grinding cyborg thrash”. He’s joined by modular synth player Ryan Soper, and the two

Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions - Until the Hunter

Lead single from Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions featuring Kurt Vile off the third studio album, Until the Hunter. Directed by: Ben Smith (XLVI) & Tendril Tales Digital Art: Ben Smith (XLVI) D.P. / Art Direction: Robert Karns Sculptures by: Ron Sandoval (aka Ronaldo) Concept Development: Barry Bödeker

This is the third album from this duo, featuring the Mazzy Star lead singer and the drummer from My Bloody Valentine, coming 7 years after their last. In the interim, both groups reformed/resumed activity and released well-received new albums. And like the work of those groups, this is an album that is not in a hurry to get anywhere. The opening 9-minute track is a thick dream-pop fog. Other tracks invoke folk as well as Sandoval’s Mazzy Star work. It’s Sandoval’s ethereal voice and some varied instrumentation in the often minimalist accompaniment that elevates this above the run of the mill singer-songwriter-over-fingerpicked-guitar album.

Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit

Massive Attack / Ritual Spirit A film by Medium / Robert Del Naja Edited by Anthony Tombling Jnr for Fantom Films Massive Attack - ‘Ritual Spirit’ feat. Azekel. Taken from the Ritual Spirit EP - iTunes: | Spotify: | Official Store: Ritual Spirit EP Feat: Young Fathers, Azekel, Roots Manuva, Tricky and 3D Written and Produced by Robert Del Naja and Euan Dickinson Live dates:

It’s been 6 years (and counting) since the last Massive Attack full-length release. Back in 2010, “Daddy G” Marshall rejoined the group with a promise to “bring the black back to Massive Attack”. That didn’t fully manifest on that year’s album, Heligoland, but it does here, with each track featuring black rappers and producers, including former bandmember Tricky on the final track. As a result, it’s easily the “blackest” thing Massive Attack has done in nearly 20 years, and is all the better for it.

Best Of 2016: Metal

2016 has ended, to much celebration. In spite of the fact that the worst ramifications of 2016 will manifest themselves in 2017 and beyond, people are looking to the new year in hopes of an upswing.

Not everything in 2016 was terrible, though. Some stuff was great. I am going to make a few Best of 2016 lists. We’ll see how far I get with them.

This list is the first one, and features what I consider to be the best albums (and EPs) in 2016 which fall under the general umbrella of “metal”.

Best Metal Album of 2016

Cobalt - Slow Forever

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Hunt the Buffalo · Cobalt Slow Forever ℗ 2016 Profound Lore Released on: 2016-03-25 Auto-generated by YouTube.

The contest was basically over before it began. Slow Forever came out in March, and nothing else really came close. This is just an amazing melting pot of extreme metal. Cobalt becomes less tethered to black metal on this album, pulling from blues, Americana, hardcore, Tool, psych, prog, and hard rock. And Charlie Fell comes roaring in like he was shot out of a fucking cannon, just spitting fire in what is hands down the best extreme vocal performance of the year.

The Rest of the Best

(in no particular order)

SubRosa - For This We Fought the Battle of Ages

Music from the album "For This We Fought The Battle of Ages" by SubRosa Directed by Danica Vallone and Thomas Dekker For This We Fought the Battle of Ages is Copyright of Profound Lore Records August 26, 2016

I said “in no particular order”, but I put this one at the top because, if not for the Cobalt album, this would have been my #1 metal album of 2016. Doom metal has been enjoying a spike in interest, with a ton of bands churning out excellent but derivative albums. SubRosa is one of the bands moving the style forward, incorporating chamber music elements (similar to a number of post-rock bands) and Americana folk into something far more diverse than the “Praise Iommi” crowd produces. (Although, still, praise Iommi). The expressive, emotive sound they crafted on their earlier albums is perfected here, though really it was perfected on the last album. The atmosphere is simultaneously dark and beautiful, and the band flows from prettiness to harsh catharsis and back. The dual violins sing and then scream. The lyrics are often weighty, best illustrated by “Troubled Cells”, which is essentially a protest piece against the Mormon church’s treatment of LGBT people (frontwoman Rebecca Vernon is a practicing Mormon). This is a band at the top of their game, and the top of whatever subgenre one wants to label them.

Cult of Luna + Julie Christmas - Mariner

MARINER TOUR DATES CULT OF LUNA & JULIE CHRISTMAS: 02/11 - Stockholm - Debaser Medis 03/11 - Lausanne - Les Docks 04/11 - Kortrijk - De Kreun (SOLD OUT) 05/11 - Leeds - Damnation Festival 06/11 - Athens - Iera Odos ▶︎ Stockholm tickets : ▶︎ Lausanne tickets : ▶︎ Kortrijk tickets : ▶︎ Leeds tickets : ▶︎ Athens tickets : Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas out with an absolutely eye bawling rendition in their latest music video of "CHEVRON" from their album "MARINER". Warning: Trippy as hell. (but worth it) This song is from their latest album Mariner, an album they said would never be played live, ever. Luckily, they changed their mind, and so far, 1/5 concerts are sold out. See dates above! Directed by: Javier Longobardo Order the album here: Indie Online Store: iTunes: CDON | EU: Amazon | US: Amazon | UK: Listen/download to the album here: Follow Cult Of Luna: Follow Julie Christmas:

All of my sex dreams involve Julie Christmas screaming at me. She’s not even the one I’m having sex with, she’s just there for ambiance. The queen of my fear boners teams up with excellent Swedish post-metal band Cult of Luna. As much as Julie Christmas’s strangled-cat screaming freak outs make me melt, her level of restraint on this album works in its favor. It’s probably the most subdued I’ve heard her on an album. While she tends to be the focal point on her former bands’ records, here she’s a peer with the band, as Cult of Luna are too strong for her to overpower. Cult of Luna posted something interesting on their Facebook page after touring with Julie in support of this album, referencing how they “had no idea of how Julie and Andrew would be on a personal level” and how touring sometimes “takes out the worst in people”, but that they were happy with how well everyone got on during the tour. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Julie might have a reputation for being difficult, which is something I’ve suspected (Made Out of Babies basically went on to form a new band with all of their members except Julie). Fortunately, that didn’t seem to rear its head for Cult of Luna.

Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä


Another favorite from early in the year. It’s like krautrock black metal, which is awesome if you like krautrock, as I do. Unlike earlier releases from the band, though, the black metal influence isn’t dominant, but is part of an ever-shifting stylistic mix. The band creates melodic ambient grooves, which it then uses as launching pads to go into various freak-out excursions, and then uses them as the landing pads upon which they bring it back down and flow back into the steady groove. Some people (AMG reviewer and commenters mostly) have complained about the production, but it’s a thick boomy sound that brings to mind early Pink Floyd (which works with this material), and not that stereotypical shrill made-for-cassette black metal production. In fact, I would argue that the relative lack of “dynamic range” is part of what keeps the album from falling into that loud-soft-loud post-rock trope.

Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows

INTER ARMA - "The Summer Drones" (Official Music Video) off the new album 'Paradise Gallows,' out now on CD/2XLP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order Here: Co-directed by John Nunn & Mikael Simpson Edited by Mikael Simpson Assistant directed by Katie Hidalgo Live footage shot by Frank Huang Brendan Kennedy as The Wanderer Subscribe to Relapse Records: Order on Bandcamp: Order on Google Play: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Official links: Inter Arma on Bandcamp: Inter Arma on Facebook: Inter Arma on Instagram: Lyrics: “Here, where the sun blooms with no respite, crooked men and vagabonds seek the holiness of silence.” We’ve spent a spell drifting on paths bygone, Where our voices wane against the breath of Gods. The summer drones... “Here, where the spirit is purged of all earthly trespass, crooked men and vagabonds desire a most desolate peace.” But we’ll tread on, through a season unchanged, Across barren expanse to the high desert plain Where we’ll accept our fate and take our rightful place Among the devils and thieves nailed to the Joshua trees. The summer drones on.

This album is just massive, both in sound and in running length (71 minutes, not including the hidden track after ~20 minutes of silence on the digital release). It took me some time to fully absorb, as it’s a difficult one to take in as background music during work. It’s an expansive, encompassing mix of sludge, prog, and doom, just a record to get absolutely lost in. The group consists of a number of multi-instrumentalist musicians, and they put their flexibility to use in creating a wide sonic palette with which to build these staggering, cavernous pieces. The cover art is some of the best of the year, with the collapsing ship being overtaken by the sea, and is befitting of the force-of-nature power conveyed by the music.

Neurosis - Fires Within Fires

I did not know what to expect from a Neurosis album in 2016. The previous album had released right before the last US presidential election, and the members have been so busy with solo projects and side bands. Neurosis remains as powerful as ever, but their sound has taken on a sense of age, of weariness. The shaman leading the rituals has become acutely aware of the fact that he’s an old man. The lyric “we will never, ever get to rest” during the climax of album closer “Reach” always hits me square, as it perfectly encapsulates what Neurosis sounds like today: old, wise, tired, but unbroken.

Ulcerate - Shrines of Paralysis

ULCERATE - "Shrines Of Paralysis," from the new album 'Shrines Of Paralysis, out now on CD/2xLP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order here: Order on Bandcamp: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Official links: Ulcerate Official Site: Ulcerate on Facebook: Ulcerate on Bandcamp: Ulcerate on Spotify:

Although not blessed with the same caliber of album title as 2009’s [i]Everything is Fire[/i], Ulcerate’s avant-garde death metal still burns everything the fuck down. I loathe to refer to Ulcerate as “tech death” for the same reason there’s a number of bands I hate to refer to as “prog metal” - both of those labels bring to mind guitars playing as many notes as possible, like 4 people simultaneously pounding on a Rock Band guitar. Make no mistake, Ulcerate often plays at a breakneck pace, but much of that is in the blistering rhythms more so than any tweedly-deedly-dee shred king wannabe guitar wankery. In fact, it can take a careful listen to recognize the guitars are often holding and sustaining notes longer when the drums kick into full speed.

Sumac - What One Becomes

"Rigid Man" is from the SUMAC album "What One Becomes," out on Thrill Jockey Records. CD/LP: iTunes: Upcoming SUMAC tour dates: Apr. 20 - Prague, CZ - Futurum Music Club Apr. 21 - Leipzig, Germany - Doom Over Leipzig Festival # Apr. 22 - Karlsruhe, Germany - Dude Fest Apr. 23 - Tilburg, Netherlands - Roadburn Festival Apr. 24 - Brussels, Belgium - Magasin 4 Apr. 25 - London, UK - The Dome Apr. 26 - Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club Apr. 27 - Brighton, UK - Patterns Apr. 28 - Paris, France - OTB Night @ Gibus Live Apr. 29 - Creil, France - La Grange A Musique May 1 - Milan, Italy - Magnolia May 2 - Ravenna, Italy - Bronson May 3 - Lausanne, Switzerland - Le Romandie May 4 - Munich, Germany - Feierwerk May 5 - Berlin, Germany - Cassiopeia May 6 - Copenhagen, Denmark - A Colossal Weekend - Vega^ Aug. 18-20 - Las Vegas, NV - Psycho Las Vegas* # w/ Oxbow, Wolves In The Throne Room, Sink, Unearthly Trance, Suma, Oranssi Pazuzu ^w/ Oxbow, Deafheaven *w/ Neurosis, Melvins, Swans, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe, Wolves in the Throne Room SUMAC on Facebook: SUMAC on Twitter: Thrill Jockey on Facebook: Thrill Jockey on Twitter: Thrill Jockey on Instagram: Thrill Jockey on Tumblr:

Aaron Turner’s best will always make my list. This has to make any list of best-produced metal albums of the year - recorded in an empty church, the reverberations feed back into the massive, overwhelming sound. That is, if you call it metal. It’s too heavy to call it anything else, really, but the band tosses traditional song structure aside. It’s just heavy avant-garde music. It’s definitely an album that can try your attention span, as that lack of structure makes it less accessible than a classic ISIS album - it’s more like Turner’s work with Old Man Gloom taken to a new stylistic extreme. The weirdest thing about this album is that it released on Thrill Jockey, which I still associate with post-rock and indie-jazz-rock bands like Tortoise, Isotope 217, and The Sea and Cake.

Lycus - Chasms

LYCUS - "Solar Chamber" from 'Chasms out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order at Relapse: Subscribe to Relapse: Order on Bandcamp: Order at iTunes: Order at Amazon: Order at Google Play: Official links: Lycus on Facebook: Lycus on Bandcamp:

This one just barely released in 2016 (Google Play annoyingly continues to mark it 2015, but it was January 2016). Lycus doesn’t turn the funeral doom formula on its head, so much as they incorporate other elements to avoid predictability. Peppered throughout are trem-picked black metal screech-outs, which nicely break apart and mesh with the slower funeral doom marches, rather than clashing. The addition of cello adds more texture and dimension to the low rumbling sound. It’s the band’s shifts in tone and tempo, which work in service to the relentless doom march rather than derailing it, which make the album. Absolutely delightful, and I am still crushed that I had to choose between seeing Baroness or them at Psycho Las Vegas (and, as fun as Baroness’s set was, I think I may have made the wrong choice).

Mantar - Ode to the Flame

Official MANTAR track "Era Borealis" taken from second album, ODE TO THE FLAME. Available in-stores: / Online: SUBSCRIBE to NUCLEAR BLAST: SUBSCRIBE to MANTAR: ODE TO THE FLAME, out now worldwide via Nuclear Blast Records. GET THE ALBUM HERE: Nuclear Blast: iTunes: Amazon: Amazon Music: Google Play: FOLLOW MANTAR: Website: Like: Follow: Watch: On Tour: Spotify:

Oh yes. Mantar cooks up blackened sludge and delivers it in repeated gut punches. Ode to the Flame is a little less straightforward than the band’s debut album, and that makes all the difference. They pull bits from other genres into their mix, from doom to thrash to crust punk to groove, but with a persistent coat of grime layered on top. This is another one of those albums this year that delivers catchy songs in an extreme metal style, and it got a lot of great reviews but doesn’t seem to have made anyone’s best-of lists the way some of those others have. Well those lists are wrong, Mantar blows those other releases away.

Best Metal EPs of 2016

Gorguts - Pleiades’ Dust

Taken from the forthcoming album "Pleiades' Dust". Release Date: May 13th, 2016 Pre order north america: Pre order rest of the world: Follow GORGUTS: Follow Season of Mist : http://

If there were anything right in this world, Gorguts’ existence would spawn an identifiable new subgenre, a sort of Metal in Opposition update to the Rock in Opposition (RIO) genre of Henry Cow, Univers Zero, etc. On this EP, Gorguts puts avant-garde death metal into a multi-movement modern classical style of composition, culminating in a continuous 33 minute piece of music. And it demands to be listened to in a continuous 33 minutes of time, as it flows between ambient atmospherics and crushing experimental death metal bursts.

Tombs - All Empires Fall

Music video for TOMBS' new track "V", from 'All Empires Fall,' out now on CD/LP/Digital worldwide via Relapse Records. Order at Subscribe to Relapse: Directed by Jaclyn Sheer. Order on iTunes: Order on Bandcamp: Order on Amazon: Order on Google Play: Tombs on Facebook: Tombs on Bandcamp: Tombs on Instagram: Tombs on Twitter: Tombs on YouTube:

Tombs has added synthesizer/electronics player (and second vocalist) Fade Kainer, which brings some new industrial and gothic elements into the mix. This EP is clearly the band experimenting with this new elements. It features sections of ambience that were hinted at with the track “Severed Lives” on 2014’s fabulous album Savage Gold, but Kainer’s presence greatly aids in the execution of these moments, adding the necessary texture to make them interesting. When not exploring these more subdued areas, the band kicks in with the same kind of propulsive metal that made Savage Gold so good.

Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom

DOWNLOAD NOW @ Ohio blackened thrash outfit SKELETONWITCH debut the first single "Well of Despair" featuring new vocalist Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer). Check out a glimpse as the band recorded the single, along with material from their Apothic Gloom EP, due out 08/19, with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations in Baltimore, MD. (DSLR footage courtesy of Josh Sisk) "Well of Despair" is available for digital download via Bandcamp

This one’s so good, and it’s a shame that it isn’t getting more attention, perhaps due to being an EP. The band dismissed their previous frontman due to his alcoholism, and enlisted Wolvhammer’s Adam Clemans to take over. His vocals have more of a presence than the previous vocalist’s, whose voice on the last album tended to get lost a bit in the audio soup with the trem-picked guitars and high hats. Skeletonwitch writes tight pieces that sound bigger and longer than their runtime, and that’s on full display here with what they’ve packed into a 20 minute EP.

Goya - Doomed Planet

Provided to YouTube by TuneCore Doomed Planet · Goya Doomed Planet ℗ 2016 Opoponax Records Released on: 2016-10-30 Auto-generated by YouTube.

This Arizona three-piece has been releasing quite a bit of material of late. This year alone, they released two new EPs, a third EP of early demos, and a two-song single of Nirvana covers. This EP is the best of the bunch, featuring two long heavy tracks of desert-tinged doom, a short instrumental piece, and a Marilyn Manson cover. Great for fans of thick fuzz and clean vocals.

Honorable Mentions

Oh my god. It really hurt to keep the next 3 out of the top 10 albums.

Oathbreaker - Rheia

From The Album "Rheia" | In Stores Now: Video by Jeroen Mylle and Fabrice Parent - Maanlander "Rheia" is the groundbreaking album from Belgium's Oathbreaker. Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Loma Prieta), "Rheia" is a true game changer for the genre. Blurring lines and dissolving the boundaries of heavy music as we know it today. Opener "10:56" begins with a haunting guitar riff and Caro Tanghe's beautifully sung vocal before abruptly soaring to new heights with "Second Son of R". Its blasts of melody mutate into a blackened buzz while waves of tempo changes pound down with intense emotional weight. "Being Able To Feel Nothing" then rolls in like a storm. Chaotically breaking apart to reveal the eye before churning once again. "Stay Here / Accroche-Moi" is an otherworldly reverb drenched acoustic number that leads to "Needles In Your Skin". A deeply personal song that showcases the artistic strength vulnerability brings. It's hard to believe that this is just the half way point of this post everything masterwork. "Immortals" then unfurls as a goose bump inducing monster. This leads to the ambitious "I'm Sorry, This Is", "Where I Live", and "Where I Leave”; A musical triptych that needs to be heard to be believed. All of it comes to an end with mesmerizing closer "Begeerte". Ethereally materializing before vanishing into the beautiful unknown.

Hipster black metal alert! This is a varied album that moves from blast-beat black metal to shoegaze to soft atmospherics, all punctuated by vocalist Caro Tanghe. Tanghe often brings Julie Christmas to mind, both in her clean vocals and shrieking freak-outs. Really, “Deafheaven + Julie Christmas” wouldn’t be the worst way to describe the band, though Oathbreaker comes from a hardcore background that informs their style even as they distance themselves from it. What sets Oathbreaker apart is just the raw emotion that they convey, primarily through those vocals. The band breaks down the opening 8 minutes of the album in an excellent episode of the Song Exploder podcast.

Helms Alee - Stillicide

Helms Alee perform "Meats and Milks" on Audiotree Live, August 12, 2016. Purchase the session! We split profits 50/50 with the band: iTunes: Spotify: Google Play: Amazon: Bandcamp: Topspin (Video included): YouTube playlist: Subscribe to Audiotreetv: Watch more sessions, music videos, and live performances at: Visit the band's website at: For our friends who live in countries where Youtube is blocked, watch the session on Vimeo:

This is one of my most played albums this year, and it hurt to leave it off the 10. I almost wanted to cheat and call it an indie rock album and slip it on my Other Genres list instead. The Sludgelord describes it nicely: imagine Kylesa at their most psychedelic covering Sleater-Kinney. It’s sludge-y indie rock, driven by the vocals of all 3 members (2 female and 1 male). This album should be one of the ones getting the “hipster” indie crossover attention.

Vektor - Terminal Redux

Get the album 'Terminal Redux' now: CD/Vinyl (USA) - CD/Vinyl (Europe) - Spotify: Apple: Deezer: #vektor #terminalredux #cygnusterminal #earacherecords #thrashmetal #scifithrash LYRICS: Through the black, the hull is stacked Taking in the haul from Alshain Growing cracks, but still intact Encroaching on the Cygnus domain Beacon light within my sight The terminal is glowing in space Symbol for the free, but not for me I’m preparing to plead my case Like the moon is silent, consumed by the void All screams from inside are destroyed I was served an injustice as head of the Guard Unbalanced and covetous was my charge I have returned With malice that can’t be unlearned I have arrived Like the rise of a massive tide Cygnus Terminal Iso Subject 5, where were you? Gone for 13 years and only aged 2 We deal with the terminal, we deal with death We are the bringers of balance; we are the lungs of the cosmic breath Iso Subject 5, your tracker was damaged at take-off How could you survive? We thought you were gone Cygnus Terminal Iso Subject 5, you say that’s not your name? Isolation must have twisted your brain We deal with the terminal, we deal with death We are the bringers of balance, we are the lungs of the cosmic breath Iso Subject 5, you’ve strayed from your tests You must have lost your mind Why don’t we just kill you now and put this all to rest? I crossed the Great Divide I now have command over time It’s futile to object Now grant my parole from the Isolation Project All the years trapped in silence All there was to confide in Was my waning sense of worth Now reprieved of the tests My soul is battered at best But I’ve lived to see my rebirth Policies of my decree Once again, are enforced by me Epsilon, Pteropticon Failing now because of my leave LCD, at full capacity This is where I’ll restart my work Take the names of those who caused me shame Be silent, swift, and deft on your search Like the moon is silent, consumed by the void All screams from inside are destroyed I have returned With malice that can’t be unlearned I have arrived Like the rise of a massive tide

The first couple of times I listened to this, I didn’t get very far. It’s a beast at 73 minutes long. After a little warming up, it started to click for me, scratching that same scifi-thrash itch that last year’s VHOL album so brilliantly did. I haven’t paid much attention to the album’s narrative - I don’t get much out of the “concept” part of “concept album” these days - but I get a lot out of the thrashy riffing. It’s a long album, but by the time “Recharging the Void” finishes, I’m ready to hear “Charging the Void” again.

Insomnium - Winter’s Gate

Provided to YouTube by CenturyMedia Winter's Gate · Insomnium Winter's Gate ℗ 2016 Century Media Records, Ltd. Released on: 2016-09-23 Auto-generated by YouTube.

There were a few cold-weather atmospheric black metal albums this year, but Insomnium’s was the one that stood out the most. Written as a single album-length track, but broken up into parts (a la Crimson or A Pleasant Shade of Gray), this 40-minute album is intended to be taken as a whole, but does break down into separate songs much more cleanly than, say, the Gorguts EP. Everything about the compositions on this album screams “winter”. The compositions feed into the album’s winter theme extremely well, from the trem-picked blizzard winds to the soft piano evoking near-silent snowfall in softer moments like the first half of Part 5. It’s too bad I already finished playing through Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, because this would have made a great soundtrack for those play sessions. I’ll break it out again when I play through that expansion content of Pillars of Eternity.

If These Trees Could Talk - The Bones of a Dying World

Buy Here: If These Trees Could Talk "Solstice" from the album "The Bones of a Dying World".

The best instrumental post-metal album this year isn’t the Russian Circles album, it’s this one. The band signed to Metal Blade a year ago, whom promptly reissued their previously self-released first two albums. The band features three guitarists that create layered melodies, making for some mesmerizing passages as the guitars weave in and out of playing separate and interlocked parts. It’s debatable whether they should fall under post-metal or post-rock, much like Russian Circles, but what’s less debatable is that it’s an excellent record, and the band should get some more attention under Metal Blade’s wing.

SUNN O))) - НЕЖИТЬ: живьём в России (NOLIFE: Alive in Moscow

A))) is the lead off track from the new Sunn O))) triple live album "НЕЖИТЬ: живьём в России."

This was a quiet release, as a limited edition triple-vinyl (all sold out) and Bandcamp digital download. This is a recording of the band’s first Moscow performance, with audio pulled both from the soundboard and audience, mixed and mastered together. As quiet as the release of the album was, the audio itself is HUGE. Massive. It makes previous SUNN O))) live albums like Domkirke and Aghartui Live 09-10 (the most recent live album, itself a digital + limited physical release) sound small in comparison. It is probably the closest representation of SUNN’s oppressing live sound put to recording. (Or at least, I assume, based on reputation, as I’ve yet to experience it in person. God, please let SUNN O))) be one of the Psycho headliners this year).

Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason

Official music video (produced by Julius Horsthuis) for "Clockworks" from MESHUGGAH's eighth album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, out worldwide via Nuclear Blast Records. Order the album at Subscribe to Nuclear Blast YouTube: / Subscribe to Meshuggah YouTube: ORDER ALBUM AT Nuclear Blast: iTunes: Amazon Music: Google Play: VISIT MESHUGGAH AT Like: Follow: Watch: Photos: On Tour: Spotify:

Much better than Koloss. So much better. Meshuggah style changes are always subtle movements within a relatively small area, like a quarterback shifting around in the pocket. They’re immediately identifiable as Meshuggah, yet people certainly identify different styles as favorites. For me, the best Meshuggah has been the more hard-charging Meshuggah on Chaosphere and ObZen. The Violent Sleep of Reason doesn’t quite keep pace with those releases, but it’s certainly closer than some of their more deliberately paced recordings. It’s also less repetitive than some of those other albums. It’s probably my third or fourth favorite Meshuggah album (depending on where I feel like putting Destroy Erase Improve), which is a pretty damn good ranking for an album.

Deftones - Gore

Deftones Official Music Video for "Prayers/Triangles" from the new album 'Gore' Get 'Gore' at On tour this summer - Follow Deftones: Directed by Charles Bergquist

This is the first Deftones album that really landed with me. This is what “alternative metal” should be. It’s like an album from an alternate timeline, where the alternative metal of Faith No More, Helmet, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden continued forward, and never took that right turn into nu-metal (which, yes, is an ironic idea given Around the Fur). As if there was a plague that was constrained to only wiping out the Family Values Tour ‘98. Gone is the preening nu-metal Fast and Furious ‘tude, and in its place is a mature, textured album, with some of the best songwriting the genre has seen of late.

Aluk Todolo - Voix

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises I · Aluk Todolo Voix ℗ 2016 Ajna Offensive Released on: 2016-02-19 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Oranssi Pazuzu isn’t the only krautrock black metal I got to enjoy this year. Unlike the Oranssi Pazuzu album, this one is entirely instrumental, and it leans more towards focusing on extended hypnotic grooves a la Neu! or Tago Mago era Can (the best Can). As is a theme of many albums this year, the 43 minute length plays out as a single unbroken piece of music, divided up into six tracks named simply I through VI. Hypnotic really is the best word for this, as it’s very easy to get lost in. One particular late-night coding session of mine this month involved me with headphones on and this on repeat, and repeatedly hitting the end of the album and wondering where the time went. It’s enveloping, and relentlessly forward moving. Even softer parts, like IV, have an undeniable steady forward momentum. This will remain in my rotation for a long time as coding music.

Gojira - Magma

Gojira's official video for 'The Shooting Star' from the album Magma, available now on Roadrunner Records: Directed and animated by Markus Hofko ( Subscribe: Site: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:

People call this Gojira’s “Black Album”. The Grammy nomination seems to lend some credence to that claim. But while Gojira may have turned down their heaviness, that’s in comparison with themselves. There’s no “Unforgiven” or “Nothing Else Matters” here, not unless you count the album’s instrumental outro. This is still a hard hitting metal album, and what they’ve traded down in heaviness and instrumental complexity, they’ve gained as songwriters. It’s not quite my ideal direction for them - I would have loved an album that uses these more song-oriented pieces in-between a couple of longer complex pieces, giving a taste of both worlds. While that’s not the way they went, I am satisfied with their final result. Just as long as the next one isn’t Gojira’s “Load”.

Khemmis - Hunted

Hunted (2016) Doomed rock 'n' roll from Denver, CO. Khemmis Denver, Colorado ================== Khemmis - Hunted (2016) 1. Above The Water 2. Candlelight 3. Three Gates 4. Beyond The Door 5. Hunted Hunted comes just over a year after the release of KHEMMIS’ stunning Absolution debut, which caught the doom world by complete surprise, and set the band up as one of the scene’s favorite new artists. The album slowly but surely steamrolled all that came in contact with its unforgettable heaviness and classic melodicism. Virtually unknown outside Denver upon release, the band gathered acclaim over the ensuing months and by year end had landed in the #9 spot on Decibel Magazine’s annual Top 40 Albums Of The Year, not a small accomplishment for a band on its debut album.

Hunted is a sublime mix of traditional doom metal, jumpstarted with some Iron Maiden energy and guitar noodling. It’s another band that’s not satisfied to just slug out some slow riffs and wallow. (Although, again, praise Iommi.) What’s amazing is just how approachable the whole thing is. I could send this album to my dad, even though it’s ostensibly a doom metal album with track lengths that average nearly 9 minutes. (And it is an album that I repeatedly played in the car with my wife, to no complaint.) The compositions aren’t overly technical, but they also avoid staying in one place too long, deftly moving to new melodies without overwhelming the listener. Clean, emotive vocals dominate, with some doom growls joining the mix as additional texture. It’s easy to see why this got so much love on best of lists. Whereas the Helms Alee album is one I think should cross over to indie rock fans, this is one that should cross over to classic hard rock fans.

Russian Circles - Guidance

Russian Circles 'Mota' from the upcoming album 'Guidance' available August 5, 2016 on Sargent House. iTunes pre-order includes “Vorel” instantly: CD/VINYL PRE-ORDER: (ships worldwide)

I still very much enjoy a bi-annual Russian Circles album, even if the formula becomes recognizable (pretty, gentler intro track, second track that kicks everything up a notch, etc). If there’s a knock on the album, it’s the existence of the group’s strong, similar back catalog. It’s hard to be mad when they consistently deliver such a high quality, and when so few other groups can deliver the same thing in the same sort of space.

Revocation - Great is Our Sin

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Theatre of Horror · Revocation Great Is Our Sin ℗ 2016 Metal Blade Records, Inc. Released on: 2016-07-22 Music Publisher: Revocation Music Auto-generated by YouTube.

I was surprised to see the slightly cool reception that this album received. The reviews were positive enough, but I don’t recall seeing it on many (if any) best-of lists, even as an honorable mention. I think this falls into the same issue as Russian Circles: they’ve been steadily prolific and maintained a high level of quality, but a formula is emerging. This album doesn’t depart very far from what they achieved on Deathless. That said, to me, this is Revocation at their most melodic and fluid. It’s a subtle maturing, but it feels like the rest of their package catching up to their technical acument. I think part of the issues with the cool reception is that the first track feels very Revocation-by-numbers, and first tracks have a way of sticking out the most and coloring opinions. It’s with the second track, “Theatre of Horror”, where the album begins in earnest.

Participation Ribbon

Abbath - Abbath

Artist: Abbath / Album: Abbath Subscribe to Season Of Mist for new releases : Available here : Season Of Mist online Shop : Website : Facebook : Twitter : Soundcloud : Independent in thought, sound and vision. Label of Saint Vitus, Atheist, Rotting Christ, Kylesa, Morbid Angel, Deströyer 666, Ghost Brigade, Cynic, Septicflesh, Mayhem, Solstafir and many more! Follow Season of Mist : http://

It was cool seeing Abbath on the Decibel Tour this year, playing a mix of his new solo album and some Immortal favorites. The solo album doesn’t stray far from what Immortal did well, which isn’t much surprise given he was that band’s primary composer in addition to being the frontman. It probably helps that Immortal took such a long break (only 3 albums released in the 2000s), because this would probably feel a lot more tired if the were 7 albums between Sons of Northern Darkness and this, instead of only one. Instead, it feels like Abbath had plenty of ideas left to explore within the general style Immortal perfected on that album.

Helion Prime - Helion Prime

Life Finds a Way (Official Video) From the debut self titled album of Helion Prime **often we hear the issue that you can't hear the vocals. We assure you this problem is a YouTube error. Find the album on Spotify or other online resources and you'll see that's now how it's mixed on the album. Connect with us! Facebook: Instagram: @helionprimemetal Twitter: @saibotreigns Snapchat: saibotreigns Video filmed by Mike Sloat!

Vektor isn’t the only band with a hard-drivin’ space metal album this year. Helion Prime’s debut album is a fun, cheesy chunk of space-themed power metal. Power metal is rarely my go-to, usually relegated to occasional change-up status, and this album isn’t going to be the one to change that. But it is a good time, helped in large part by the female not-at-all-operatic vocals. That vocalist has left the band, but in an interesting turn of events, Witch Mountain’s Kayla Dixon has been tapped to be the replacement. That makes two bands that Kayla fronts without appearing on any of their released albums, but hopefully both bands change that in 2017.

Kvelertak - Nattesferd

Kvelertak's video for 'Nattesferd'' from the album, Nattesferd - available now on Roadrunner Records. The video was shot on Fårö, a Baltic Sea island off the south eastern coast of Sweden. Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman lived and died on Fårö and several of his films were filmed there, among them Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf(1968), Shame (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969), and Scenes from a Marriage (1972). The video was produced by Norwegian production company, Bacon and directed by Jakob Marky. Jakob is a recent winner of the prestigious After Bergman award which allowed the possibility of filming on Fårö. Pick up Nattesferd today at Site: Facebook: Twitter:‎ Instagram:

This album sounds like an extreme metal band covering classic hard rock songs from a parallel timeline. The songs sound familiar, like they’re forgotten hits from that mid-70s-to-early-80s period of arena rock, bar bands, and punk. Songs that, if sung and produced in clean fashion, you could easily imagine alongside Thin Lizzy and Ted Nugent, alongside Van Halen and Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Ramones. It’s like a classic hard rock album from a reality where growled vocals tagged along with fuzzy overdriven guitars when they went mainstream.

Sumerlands - Sumerlands

SUMERLANDS - "The Guardian" from 'Sumerlands' debut LP out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order Here: Subscribe to Relapse: Order on Bandcamp: Order on Google Play: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Official links: Sumerlands on Facebook: Sumerlands on Bandcamp: Lyrics: l'll never have to wonder if you ever cared Even when there’s no one, a part of you is there I'm never lonely and this I still believe I'm not the only one here, I hope you never leave If I'm feeling lost, I look to you as my guide I'll never be forsaken, you're always by my side Whenever I'm forsaken, always be there by my side I know you're out there because I can feel your near Like a shadow in the distance, you’re somewhere Awaiting always to save me from myself If I close my eyes, I see you waiting there to help Someone watch over me, someone maybe you Someone I never see, but still I reach out to Someone watch over me, someone maybe you Someone I never see, but still I reach out to Someone, is it you

Sumerlands is a music geek’s love letter to late ’80s American metal, written to mimic that style but without the imperative to stick closer to radio-friendliness. It’s got that Fates Warning, Queensryche thing going on, which were some of my entry points into the genre. I think the album is great, but what I’m not certain of is if there’s a band-sustaining theme there, or if this is just better as a one-off.

Gatecreeper - Sonoran Depravation

GATECREEPER - "Desperation" (Official Music Video) from 'Sonoran Depravation' out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Order Here: Subscribe to Relapse: Order on Bandcamp: Order on Google Play: Order on iTunes: Order on Amazon: Video by Dillon Vaughn: Produced by Michelle Sheydayi Starring Keir Gilchrist and Phil W. Special thanks to Club Congress and Five Star Video Official links: Gatecreeper on Facebook: Gatecreeper on Bandcamp:

Apparently retro is in, because here’s another one. For Gatecreeper, it’s classic Swedish, maxed-out-HM-2-pedal death metal. Sonoran Deprevation is their debut full-length, and at just under 31 minutes, it’s a lean and dialed-in assault. There’s no fat here, just a straight-ahead riff delivery device. Not a lot in terms of originality, but it stands out for just how well it does what it does, and for how directly it achieves it. That economy makes this a great one to throw down for some immediate, unencumbered ass-kicking.


New Album "METAL RESISTANCE” iTunes pre-order begins! BABYMETAL’s New Album 「METAL RESISTANCE」 will be released simultaneously worldwide on “FOX DAY” Apr-1st, 2016(fri) . Pre-order your copy from iTunes now!! New song “KARATE" is currently available digitally!! BABYMETAL Official Website BABYMETAL Official Twitter BABYMETAL Official Facebook BABYMETAL Official Instagram

The “metal” in BABYMETAL faded pretty hard over the course of their debut album after a strong start, which made me wonder if the band was ultimately going to just be J-Pop with distorted guitars going forward. Instead, they doubled-down on metal for the second record, pulling in power metal and djent and stomping on the gas pedal. This time around, only one song in the second half really dials down the metal (“No Rain, No Rainbow”), but it is bracketed on each side with balls-to-the-wall \m/ \m/. In the end, it is still a tad gimmicky, and the band (while good) is mainly notable for meshing disparate sounds and styles together more so than crafting new ones, but it’s a fun album that doesn’t lose its edge halfway through like the debut (and is also, wisely, a tad shorter at 53 minutes).

Borknagar - Winter Thrice

BORKNAGAR - Winter Thrice (feat. Kristoffer Rygg) [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Directed by David Solbjørg & Kjetil Kolbjørnsrud for Twitchy Films. Thanks to Midgard Historical Centre for use of the Viking Hall. Taken from the album "Winter Thrice". Century Media Records 2016. Pre-order here: Digital pre-sale starts on Dec 25th:

Borknagar’s 2012 album Urd was like their version of Kurt Warner’s Super Bowl season with the Arizona Cardinals - a recapturing of quality the band had enjoyed during their previous peak (which I would argue was the 98-00 period with The Archaic Course and Quintessence albums). It was a tall order to expect them to maintain that level, and unsurprisingly, they fall a bit short here. But the album is notable in that it’s a getting-the-singers-all-back-together effort, with vocalist Garm joining Vintersorg, ICS Vortex, and Lars Nedland, albeit in a guest capacity on a couple of tracks. Stylistically, this doesn’t deviate much from Urd, outside of not being quite as consistently good. Leaving a couple of tracks from the 50 minute running length on the cutting room floor would have helped the rest of the material stand out.

Active Record Save Not Updating Hstore Fields In Rails 4.0 4.1

Here’s some behavior you might not expect when using Postgres’s hstore with ActiveRecord.

ActiveRecord::Base#update_attributes does what you’d think:

[0] pry(main)> thing =
[1] pry(main)> thing.update_attributes({data: {‘mykey’ => ‘myval’}})
[2] pry(main)> thing.reload
[3] pry(main)>[‘mykey’]
=> “myval”

However, ActiveRecord::Base#save might not:

[0] pry(main)> thing =
[1] pry(main)>[‘mykey’] = ‘myval’
=> “myval”
[2] pry(main)>
(0.3ms) BEGIN
SQL (0.4ms) INSERT INTO “things” (“created_at”, “updated_at”) VALUES ($1, $2) RETURNING “id” [[“created_at”, “2014-12-17 04:02:03.119354”], [“updated_at”, “2014-12-17 04:02:03.119354”]]
(0.9ms) COMMIT
=> true
[3] pry(main)> thing.reload
[4] pry(main)>[‘mykey’]
=> nil

Huh? I left the SQL log line in the output here so we can see that our hstore field is indeed left out of the SQL INSERT statement entirely, which explains why the field is nil once we re-fetch the object from the database.

But why is it doing this? It turns out that, in Rails 4.0 and 4.1, this operation doesn’t mark the field as “dirty” in ActiveRecord, so the change is not detected and included in the save operation.

We can mark it manually with ActiveModel::Dirty’s attr_name_will_change!, eg.

[0] pry(main)> thing =
[1] pry(main)> thing.data_will_change!
[2] pry(main)>[‘mykey’] = ‘myval’
=> “myval”
[3] pry(main)>
(0.3ms) BEGIN
SQL (0.3ms) INSERT INTO “things” (“created_at”, “data”, “updated_at”) VALUES ($1, $2, $3) RETURNING “id” [[“created_at”, “2014-12-17 04:08:32.066027”], [“data”, \”mykey\“=>\”myval\“], [“updated_at”, “2014-12-17 04:08:32.066027”]]
(1.0ms) COMMIT
=> true
[4] pry(main)> thing.reload
[5] pry(main)>[‘mykey’]
=> “myval”

The documentation states that attr_name_will_change! should be called before changes to the attribute, as seen in the example above.

Doesn’t this seem like a pain? Well, as discussed in Rails issue #6127, it was expected behavior for Rails 4.0 and 4.1, but improvements to serialized attributes have been merged into Rails and will appear in Rails 4.2. Setting values and calling save will just work.

So, in the meantime, the workaround is manually marking properties as dirty with attr_data_will_change! before making and saving changes to those fields.

Postgre Sql Hstore Default Value In Rails 4

Having used activerecord-postgres-hstore before native hstore support was added to Rails 4, I was used to the behavior of empty hstore fields returning an empty hash {} when a row with such a field was instantiated into an ActiveRecord object, as was discussed and added in the gem’s issue #22.

This behavior changed in Rails 4’s hstore support. An ActiveRecord object with an empty hstore field will return nil for that field rather than an empty hash. (When someone opened a bug in the Rails repo to suggest implementing the same behavior in the new native hstore support, it was brushed off.)

By default, that leaves us to have to nil-check every hstore property in our objects before accessing any keys (eg. &&['mykey']). However, we can get our “empty” hstore fields instantiating as empty hashes instead of nil with a tweak of our migration.

Simply add default: '', null: false to the migration, eg.

class AddDataToThings < ActiveRecord::Migration
def change
add_column :things, :data, :hstore, default: ‘’, null: false

With that default in place, our empty hstore fields will instantiate as empty hashes, and we can avoid the nil check:

[1] pry(main)> thing =
=> #<Thing id: nil, … >
[2] pry(main)>
=> {}

Beyond Ctrl: Make That Caps Lock Key Useful

tl;dr: Supercharge your Caps Lock key by making it Esc when tapped, and Ctrl when held

Caps Lock. A useless key sitting in prime keyboard real estate. Many software developers and power users repurpose the key by remapping it to Control.

After all, on old UNIX terminals, that’s exactly what the key to the left of “A” was:

Replacing the Caps Lock key with Ctrl makes a lot of keyboard shortcuts more convenient. But we need not stop there. Some true Men and Women of Genius came to the realization that, since Ctrl’s behavior is based around behind held down (a modifier key) and doesn’t do anything when pressed and released, it is possible to make Caps Lock do something else when tapped instead of held. For Vim users, the obvious choice is the Esc key.

We can do this in both Mac OS X and Linux.


If you want all Ctrl keys to behave like Esc when tapped

This is the easiest way, and the option I use. (I rarely find myself hitting the normal Ctrl keys anyway.)

First, open System Preferences -> Keyboard, and click Modifier Keys button. Click the Caps Lock drop-down and set it to Control:

Now, install Karabiner (formerly known as KeyRemap4MacBook). If you are a Homebrew user, you should check out Homebrew Cask and install Karabiner with $ brew cask install karabiner

Open Karabiner. Enable the first setting from the screenshot below:

The other option I have there, “Disable Escape Key”, is something I’ve done just to get myself in the habit of using the Caps Lock key for Esc. It is not required, it is just an option if you want to help train yourself to use the new key.

If you only want the Caps Lock key to behave like Esc when tapped

To do this, we’re going to take a slightly different approach. Instead of using OS X’s native Caps Lock remapping, we need to use another app, called Seil (from the same developer as Karabiner) to remap the Esc key to F19, and then use Karabiner to map F19 to our cool Ctrl/Esc hybrid key.

Install both Karabiner and Seil. (Here again, if you use Homebrew Cask, you can do this with $ brew cask install karabiner and $ brew cask install seil)

Open Seil. First, enable the “Change Caps Lock” option, and set the keycode to 80:

Next, in Karabiner, enable the “F19 for Escape and Control” option:


To accomplish the same setup in Linux, we need to use a tool called xcape.

Build and install xcape per the instructions on the project’s Wiki page. One additional step I take after building the app is copying the xcape executable to /usr/local/bin.

If you only want the Caps Lock key to behave like Esc when tapped

Add the following lines to your ~/.profile:

setxkbmap -option ‘caps:ctrl_modifier’
xcape -e ‘Caps_Lock=Escape’

If you want all Ctrl keys to behave like Esc when tapped

Same as above, except we add more arguments to the xcape line:

setxkbmap -option ‘caps:ctrl_modifier’
xcape -e ‘Caps_Lock=Escape;Control_L=Escape;Control_R=Escape’

Note: If you use some other method of remapping the Caps Lock key to Ctrl (some desktop environments have it as an option in their Keyboard settings, much like OS X), then the Caps_Lock=Escape mapping may not do anything, and you will need to use the Control_L one.

One last little tidbit: Ubuntu 14.10 (“Utopic”) has xcape in the universe repos, at least as of the time of this writing. Hopefully it will be included in Ubuntu releases from here on out.

Now Your Caps Lock Key Rules

The most useless key on the keyboard (except maybe for Pause, when’s the last time you used that?) is now your Swiss Army knife. Vim’s keybindings will make a lot more sense now that you can use your pinky the way Bill Joy did on his old ADM3A terminal:

Convert Html To Haml (And Back Again) Within A Vim Buffer

Haml is great. Haml is the JSON to HTML’s XML: all of the garbage and noise stripped away, with only the data and minimal amount of ceremony left.

I use Haml on all Rails projects now, but when dealing with legacy projects, I still encounter HTML/ERb templates.

Using the html2haml command-line tool, I can easily convert HTML/ERb in my Vim buffer into Haml.

The project distributes as a Ruby gem, so installing is accomplished with:

$ gem install html2haml

Then, the magic is done with some Vim bindings to feed a buffer or visually-selected chunk of text to the application, and paste its output back into the buffer, replacing the original text.

nmap <leader>h :%!html2haml erb 2> /dev/null<CR>:set ft=haml<CR>
vmap <leader>h :!html2haml erb 2> /dev/null<CR>

When changing the entire file, I’ve also added the command to change the filetype in the Vim buffer, for convenience.

That takes us from HTML/ERb to Haml, but what if we need to go back in the other direction? This is possible with the haml2erb tool. Unfortunately, this tool is not actively maintained the way html2haml is. For me, on Ruby 2.1.1, it was necessary to install the 0.3.0 prerelease version, as the last official version would not build. Once installed, though, it worked as expected.

We must explicitly indicate which version to install in order to install prerelease gems:

$ gem install haml2erb -v ‘0.3.0.pre.3’

The Vim bindings are much the same as the html2haml ones:

nmap <leader>e :%!haml2erb 2> /dev/null<CR>:set ft=eruby<CR>
vmap <leader>e :!haml2erb 2> /dev/null<CR>

I have not used this nearly as much as html2haml, as I’m rarely changing layout code from Haml back into HTML. However, the couple of times I have needed to do it, it has worked exactly as expected..

Fixed The Archive Page

Finally got around to fixing the Archive page on this site.

If I recall correctly, what happened originally is that I was attempting to get rid of the “/blog/” part of the archive path, but got distracted halfway through and left it incomplete.

For reference: this part of the archive path is not a user-configurable part of Octopress per se. It is a default location for a file in Jekyll, which is in source/blog/archive in an Octopress site repository. Simply moving the archive/ folder out of blog/ and into the top level of source/ will make the archive page generate without the “/blog/” part of the page. (For further reference, see the workaround post on the issue on Github)