2016 Favourites (so far)

There’s a lot of music out there; too much to adequately cover, and it’s easy for worthwhile records to get lost in the sea of noise that exists on the internet. That’s why I’ve decided to present a list of some of my favourite records of 2016 so far. As with all my lists, they may not necessarily be the ‘best’, but they’re my favourites, and that’s close enough. There might be the odd one that got released at the very end of 2015, but whatever. It’s the thought that counts.

Allfather – Bless The Earth With Fire

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Label: Self-released

Full review: link

“What I really love about Bless The Earth… though – and I mean really, truly love, in a way that means I’ve been spinning this record a lot since release and probably will do for years and years – is the way the album feels like it makes metal so exciting, so dangerous, so fun. Every ambitious turn, every section and movement, every single riff, seems to have been approached with the question in mind of “is this fun to play and listen to?””

Forteresse -Thémes Pour La Rébellion

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Label: Sepulchral Productions 

Full review: link

“It’s hard to adequately express just how stirring and powerful Thémes Pour La Rébellion is. Considering that I have no connection to Canada and do not understand the lyrics, that the album has such an effect on me is quite telling of its power. Forteresse have always been an inspirational band to the underground, but this feels like the album that could see them break out to a wider audience. Proud, strong and devastatingly intense, Forteresse have unleashed an album for the ages.”

Fuath – I

fuath_cover

Label: Neuropa Records

Full review: link

“It may be tempting to compare I and Fuath to a whole host of other bands and albums, from the more obvious cornerstone of Burzum right through to Eastern European black metal such as Drudkh, or even Winterfylleth at points. Yet not one of these comparisons feels entirely right, and to sum Fuath up as a sum of influences and contemporaries is to sell the band short. I is an album of rare majesty and power, and announces the arrival of a new heavy-hitter on the atmospheric black metal scene, with all expectations not only met but surpassed.”

Furze – Baphomet Wade

Furze_Baphomet_Wade_cover

Label: Freshtea

Full review: link

“This is raw black metal possessed of a more human weirdness, inspired not so much by classic literature or demonic possession, but by the simple joy that comes of playing such music at blistering speeds and deafening volume (make no mistake, the vast majority of this album is played at frankly ridiculous speeds). Each song has moments that make it feel like a stand-out track, and there’s almost no let up during the course of the album’s 41 minutes. A dozen  listens on, Baphomet Wade has lost none of its weirdness, intensity, or enjoyment.”

Invehertex – Hacia el Vórtice

invehertexcoverart

Label: Signal Rex / Atavism Records

Full review: link

“If it sounds like I’m fawning, it’s because I am. There have been black metal records and bands in recent years that have impressed me with their interpretation of the human condition, such as Mgla and Palace Of Worms. Not since my young, unsuspecting self was exposed to Deathspell Omega some ten years or so ago have a band impressed me so much with their unhumanity as Invehertex do, with the sense that their music is coming from someplace beyond ordinary comprehension. This is as close to essential listening as any modern black metal record can be. Absolutely fucking stunning.”

Lizzies – Good Luck

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Label: The Sign Records

Full review: link

“It’s rare to hear an album like Good Luck. It’s not just that it takes a classic style of metal and makes it sound fresh and vital, but that it takes it and makes everything else sound almost obsolete and pointless in comparison. This is one of the most exciting heavy metal records I’ve heard since I was 17 and was obsessed with Iron Maiden. I do worry that this review may be over-selling it, and I’m well aware that I’m probably not assessing it critically; but on the other hand, if an album can inspire such excitement and enthusiasm, drawing comparisons to such classics of the genre, isn’t that enough?Good Luck is absolutely superb.”

Löbo – Alma

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Label: Signal Rex / Ring Leader

Full review: link

“What is life, if not a host of messy, contradictory elements somehow coexisting? Approached from this viewpoint, Alma makes perfect sense. It is music for those reflective moments when you are forced to weigh up your life, and ask if you have been found wanting. As musically heavy as it may be, that is nothing compared to the emotional heft this album possesses. You have been warned.”

Mur – Heartworn

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Label: Fragile Branch Recordings

Full review: link

Heartworn is perhaps one of the most ambitious records to have come my way recently, and it’s also one of the more successful. The new album by one-man act Mur combines raw, atmospheric black metal with North American folk music and more besides, to create something very distinctive and captivating. The press release for the album describes it as being centred upon the themes of migration, loss, and rebirth inherent in North American fauna. As pretentious as that may sound, it makes for a remarkably powerful listen, successfully merging different genres to striking effect, resulting in one of the most exciting records of the year.”

Naðra – Allir Vegit Til Glötunar

Nadra - Allir Vegir Til Glötunar (album cover)

Label: Signal Rex

Full review: link

“With the band having no desire to publish the lyrics, save to state that they are highly personal in nature, it falls upon the listener to find their own interpretation of what is presented. Such is part of the appeal of the record. But regardless of how it is seen, there is no denying that Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is an album that reaches beyond the confines of this world, that seeks for something grander than is usually offered, and as such, deserves to be held in the highest regard. The sincerity of vision and devotion to craft are apparent, and the results are more than worthwhile. It will take time to unlock these mysteries, but dark treasures await those who do.”

Palace Of Worms – The Ladder

GZ Jacket Template

Label: Broken Limbs Recordings / Acephale Winter Productions / Sentient Ruin Laboratories 

Full review: link

“It may be a bleak, depressing album, but there is something remarkably satisfying about it, and even after so many listens, I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of what it has to offer. In many ways, the superb artwork sums the album up. It is unwelcoming, dark, and challenging… yet there is a certain something about it, beckoning you on, encouraging you to make that infinite climb in an attempt to reach whatever revelations await at the summit. It may be an impossible destination to reach, and the journey is long and difficult, but it is hard not to recommend the experience it provides. If I hear another record this year that is so astoundingly moving and deep, I will be amazed. This is incredible.”

Wode – Wode (self-titled)

wode cover art

Label: Broken Limbs Recordings / Sell Your Soul Records / COF Records

Full review: link

“Yet for all of that, Wode is a remarkably addictive album, the kind that can easily be left on for several plays in a single sitting. There are plenty of subtle details to be unearthed amongst the sonic density, but even on a more immediate level it is a hugely thrilling example of modern black metal. This album is not one to sleep on, and more than meets the high expectations I had for it.”

Zeal And Ardor – Devil Is Fine

Zeal and Ardor - Devil Is Fine - cover

Label: Reflections Records

Full review: link

“It’s a glorious, stirring listen, dancing in the ruins of black metal whilst simultaneously embracing its darkness and malice. It shouldn’t be this enjoyable. It shouldn’t work. Hell, it probably shouldn’t even exist. But it does, and I’m bloody glad of that, as few albums – if any – are going to challenge your notions of just what is and isn’t metal this year.”

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One thought on “2016 Favourites (so far)

  1. Pingback: 2016 Favourites – Part I | The Sound Not The Word

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