Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Beast of 2016

So things did not change, did not touch this blog at all, but I've still been listening to the hottest, latest and greatest of heavy metal, so lets start the hit parade an0 2016.

10. Bhavachakra Bhavachakra

Alien and otherworldly black metal, but with an organic quality to the performance that immediately draws me in. Bhava sounds like the more spastic moments of Dodecahedron (who apparently have a new one out which I have not had the chance to listen to) with a production that wouldn't be out of place on an early Converge record. In other words this isn't easy stuff, but it is hooky enough to engage with and warrant repeat listens. A band to keep at least one eye on.

9. Khonsu - The Xun Protectorate

An unholy and unfathomable pro-cosmic mix of Thorns, Arcturus and mid 90's Fear Factory all with that wonderfully processed to hell late 90's/early 00's Moonfog guitar tone. I shouldn't like this one nearly as much as I do, but it's just so well done that I can't help myself. This album is addicting, and as long as Mr. Gronbech is protecting those Xuns all will be right with the world...and the cosmos for that matter.

8. Internal Suffering - Cyclonic Void of Power

Goddamn has it been a full decade since Awakening of the Rebel? I thought only Necrophagist took a decade plus hiatus between WHAT exactly have the boys from Internal Suffering been doing with themselves?? Well, they certainly weren't sitting on their laurels because they deliver yet another instantly refreshing blast of insanity that can only be Colombian in origin. Twisted song structures, difficult but highly entertaining riffing and the ever constant blast your face off drums. Never mind your post-metal, "dream" metal or even your fucking caverncore. This is the real deal right here folks.

7. Root - Kärgeräs Return From Oblivion

Ok look this isn't the best Root, not by a long shot, BUT it just may be their strongest post-Blackosh effort to date. Honestly, any Root album is gonna rule especially while Big Boss is still crooning like the demonic incarnation of Jimmy Morrison...or maybe its Van Morrison, or could it be the Eastern Bloc Roky Erickson? Either which way this new Root is a winner and a worthy successor to the original Kargeras mythos.

6. Book of Sand - Occult Anarchist Propaganda

The odd duck of black metal on this year's list, but I just can't get enough of it. At its core BOS is melodically flowing black metal in the most hermetic of Darkthrone traditions with wild banshee screaming ala Thulean Perspective. This core is adorned with wind chimes, whooshes, moans, violen(ce)s, slide guitar and whatever wackiness this one dude project dares deem appropriate. The riffing structures can also take the turn toward zany (relative to the world of grim black metal of curse) that serve to add a sense of fun and an almost out of control manic excitement to these tunes.
This Propaganda isn't as "out there" as their previous material, which was on the whole very enjoyable but mostly struck me as traveling gypsy carnival music. OAP is much more grim and mucho mucho more metal. That suits me just fine. 

5. Witchcraft - Nucleus

Almost a lock for any of my Beast of lists, Witchcraft further expand their sounds and the palette of emotions they paint with is damned impressive. The clean extended bridge/jam-out in The Outcast gives me chills every single time.

4. Master's Hammer - Formulae

The Grand Weirdos of Czech Black Metal were back at it this year and in a big way with chunky Rammsteinesque riffing and whimsical twists and turns a plenty. Franta "The Font Man" Storm and Necrocock don't ever change.

3. Phazm - Scornful of Icons

Another somewhat out of nowhere album. Its been 8 long years since the most excellent Cornerstones of the Macabre dropped, so Phazm isn't quite at that Necrophagist or even Internal Suffering level of hibernation. Still, I wasn't expecting a new album from these French bastards, let alone one of this caliber! Scornful of Icons is a little slice of mind blowing death'n'roll for the adventuresome riff lover that doesn't mind a little Tuvan throat singing now and again. Phazm don't keep a brother waiting for his death'n'roll like that again! 

2. Bethlehem - Bethlehem

Don't call it a comeback cuz Bethlehem's been kickin' ass since before most of you were knee high to your granddaddy's knob but goddamn if this new one isn't the greatest thing since SUIZID nigh on 20 years ago. For one of the more under appreciated bands in the history of metal (truly) to release an album that surprises me this much was sort of a welcome kick in the teeth and makes me want to go back and listen to their last few albums which I sort of glossed over. If anything the Bethlehem album is a grower and I expect it to age like fine Middle Sister wine, now I just need to bust out my SUIZID long sleeve. 

1. Furia Księżyc milczy luty

Polish black metal that brings the riffs better than any Polish black metal this side of Mgla. There is a unique atmosphere this record evokes that puts you somewhere in the vicinity of being out in the woods with Major Garland Briggs waiting for the supernatural to kick in. I hate to describe Furia using the hackneyed "ritualistic" tag but this album comes damn close to actually warranting that term. Try or Die Fuckers. 

Most Honorable Mentions
Black Funeral - Ankou and the Death Fire, Wormed KrigshuVirus - Memento ColliderWatchtower - Concepts of Math: Book One, Fates Warning - Theories of FlightThy Catalfaque - Meta, Rostorchester - VerdorbenheitTodtgelichter - RoomsScum - Garden of ShadowsHowls of Ebb - Cursus Impasse, Dark Millennium - Midnight in the VoidDie Antwoord - Mount Ninji and da Nice KidBorknagar - Winter ThriceJose Vesely - Heroes of PerfectionTroller - Graphic, Spektr - The Art to Disappear, Aluk Todolo - Voix, Umbrtka - Hlavni Stroj, Waxen - Weihung Auf SatanPolyptych Defying the Metastasis, Chthe'ilist Le Dernier Crépuscule, Geryon The Wound and the Bow, Voivod - Post Society, Sacrilegium - Anima Lucifera, Ihsahn - Arktis, Ntogn - Threads