I did it! I made another list. I didn’t think it would happen, but it happened. No more lists, though. This is the last one for 2016.
Lots of black metal this year. And I mean lots. But it’s all A+ Amazing. I didn’t hear too much doom (or rather too much premium doom) this year, but, again the doom that was good was really fucking good. There’s tons of weird shit in here that pushes the limits of metal that you should come to expect from my metal lists. Also, I gotta say I’m surprised at the amount of color found on these album covers. 10 of them feature full multi-colored artwork and even more toss in some non-greyscale-but-still-monochromatic flair.
I did something that some of you may find treasonous. I have 2 records tied for first place. So, technically, this is a Top 21 list, but whatever. I spent way too long (like, weeks, maybe even months?) trying to decide which of the two I loved more and just couldn’t settle on one answer for more than a few days. And when I was putting this post together I realized “fuck it, there’s no reason I need to choose one over the other” and thus the Tied For Number 1 spot was born. I’m happy about it and you should be too.
As usual, I try to keep the big names/labels off the list because I’m definitely not a metal blog and I’m sure you all know that The Body, Ash Borer, SubRosa, Cough, ColdWorld, and Primitive Man put out truly outstanding records this year. You don’t need another site to tell you how good they are.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.
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Gog – The Lies, They Want To Give You Something (King Of The Monsters)
Muther. Fucken. GOG. This dude rules all. Everything he’s done has been the highest caliber black drone metal and his newest self titled release on the ever trustworthy KOTM takes shit to the next level. Things are way rowdier than before, less drone (but also more drone?), more songy songs, even pianos & vocals (with Francesca Marongiu of Agarttha & Architeuthis Rex lending her incredible voice to one track), the heavy doom is amped up, cranked to 11, and absolutely mono-fuckin-lithic, serious blown out darkness spewed from a core of pure fury & pain, the black metal blacker and metaller than it’s ever been, Gog transformed into a dynamic beast capable of droning silent voids of non-existence and unholy squalls roaring from the depths of despair, listen to this at maximum volume and be prepared for a true pummeling, this is a wholly unique record, and as a Gog fan, I can safely say it’s my favorite thing he’s ever released. Only 300 copies pressed, and if you’re unfamiliar with Gog or KOTM, know that this will not stick around long.
Wreck & Reference – Apollo Beneath The Whip (Flenser)
No one else is doing this right now. Fuck, no one else has ever done this. Wreck & Reference are forging new ground here and have been since their insane Black Cassette debut. They’re a duo of limitless despair treading among noise, black metal, punk, dark ambient, industrial, targeted cacophony, everything bizarre & grim, that sounds brilliantly original and crushes souls every minute along the way, this is heavy as fuck and horrifically sparse, blowing through a drum kit and electronics with heavy handed dexterity, both dudes taking turns at the mic with bloody screeching & beastly roaring vocals, singing of staring deep into the void of misery and knowing nothing is on the other side, this heaves and creeps like an endless nausea rising from your core and black blood coursing through your veins, all hell has broken loose and we’re left to rot in the bleak absurdity, if Want was any more devoid of hope it would likely be banned in several countries. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by ignoring this band.
P.S. These guys are currently on tour with Deafheaven and Pallbearer and they fuckin rip it up on stage. Even if you don’t care about DH or PB, just go for these dudes and you won’t be disappointed.
Brinstaar – Lakshmi (Kotä)
Some killer weirdness coming out of Russia with this new Brinstaar record, abstracted wandering that births intimate ritualistic chimes & clatter, static glitch finding new ways to hypnotize, mega drones, pulsing bliss, plinky rhythms, and solar transcendence, adding some hidden & mysterious field recordings alongside the processed guitar and synth, this is fantastic work that Brinstaar says comes from looking for that “elusive moment of infinite bliss that keeps him alive and conscious.” Not sure what his moment is but it’s probably pretty similar to mine because this record fuckin rules. And it comes in the most future-tastic holographic jacket that has to be held in your hands to be fully appreciated. New to me label Kotä has instantly won me over with this one.
Zerfallt – Side A (Field Studies)
Boston dabbler Lee Tindall, currently recording as Belarisk and with Mutation Of The Gryd, currently running killer tape label YDLMIER, and previously cosmic jamming with Daniel Lopatin & Andy Plovnick as Astronaut, has a new tape of occult noise as mainstay Zerfallt on Field Studies, burning new holes in the fabric of dark matter, this is some 30th century mystic shit, synths clouded with death murk and screeching hot metal melting over the hellmouth, robo-hum droning hard and controls set straight for the collapsing star overhead, hypnotized by harsh winds and grit & grind, the fever of possession bringing lucid nightmares to reality, a page torn from the burnt book of brilliance, this is some excellent weirdness from a dude with an already excellent back catalog. Grab a copy to blast at your next sacrifice.
Crowhurst – Seven Seconds To Live (Static Reason / Placenta)
Crowhurst is Jay Gambit’s project that has a continually revolving cast and he’s put out a ton of work, like Aidan Baker heights of prolific. Death Van, if you can look past that goofy cover art, is easily his best work to date and has someone guesting on almost every track. He magnificently weaves between blissful noise and noisy bliss, although I’m more inclined to lean towards the blissful noise. This is some supreme harshness, boiling power electronics mixed with monolithic drone, caustic industrial shredding, and lurking beneath it all, bittersweet melodies full of gloom & heartache. So much going on here and it’s all beautifully hellish and fucking relentless, songs that are nonstop from start to end, each burning its own hole in your skull, bulldozing you with crumbling walls of static & deep bone rattling bass, and somehow putting the most euphoric twist on it like the warmth in the final seconds of your life. This record is 100% awesome, and if you’ve listened to Crowhurst before and were like, “yeah, that was cool” but haven’t kept up with his output, this is the one to come back to. And if you’re altogether new to this dude, now’s the fucking time to get in on this. Vinyl & tape versions are available (the tapes come packaged in body bags) but you gotta make it happen over here.