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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Inventions – Entity (Temporary Residence)
First of all, Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium is one half of this new project so it’s already the best thing ever. The other dude is Mark Smith, guitarist from Explosions In The Sky, so yup, definitely 100% the best thing ever. It sounds kinda like what you’d expect, there’s moments where it literally sounds like those clean EITS guitars on top of some premium Eluvium drone, and that’s fucking great and it would be perfectly satisfying if that’s all it was, but it’s sooo much more. These two come up with something familiar but unique, taking their respective talents and washing it in a blissed drone pop that feels way better that you’d ever imagine it could, like magic space dust swirling in slow motion, with subtle mini-crescendos, unexpected rhythmic grooves, and wordless soothing vocals, this is the golden shimmer on top of clouded water, the score to the dreams you hope for every night, giving you the feeling that yeah maybe everything is ok, at least for the duration of the record. Pure fucking excellence. This one has been pretty much glued to my turntable for the past few weeks. Couldn’t love it any more.
Blood Folke – Winter’s Summer (Small Doses)
Their name’s a bit misleading. No folke here. No black folk either. Nothing folky at all. Maybe some blood if that’s your thing. These guys are a trio from Minnesota playing a strange and totally fucking awesome blend of doom & black metal, with some post rock climaxes thrown in for extra epic points. Instead of the usual guitar/bass/drums setup, though, they’ve ditched the bass for a viola, so, wow. It’s the best. It adds to the heaviness in its own way, giving me a neo-classical noir vibe, except when those strings are crying out like some DSBM howls, which is weird as fuck and 100% welcomed. The vocalist doubles up with bear-like growls and throaty mumbles while shredding his axe, teaming with the viola creating melodic crescendo blasts and discordant blackboard screeching, and the drummer is destroying his kit when things get locked down, a massive doom groove that just doesn’t let up. The whole thing is dark and supremely fucking heavy, blacking out the sky and reigning its twisted doom over your wretched soul. Truly great stuff here and for $8 it’s a goddamn steal.
Fiends In Human Shape – Death Won’t Hide You (Tigerelectron)
A new synth/drums duo from Boston tearing it up with a sweet blend of genres from all recent decades. They’ve got ’80s dark pop and ’90s post rock, the ’00s ambient pop (or whatever the hell The Postal Service got tagged as) and the as-yet-defined je ne sais quoi of the twenty-teens. They’re kinda all over the place, but it works, sounding like the soundtrack to a more macabre Tron along with some low key R&B ballads mixed in. As a debut EP, this definitely has enough goodness on it to keep them on your radar until a full length drops.