This was an unexpected surprise. I had thought that Christ Clad In White Phosphorouswas to be Caïna’s final recorded output, but evidently not, as this split with blackened crust masters Cara Neir has emerged. Each band has a single track, though that’s all that both bands need to demonstrate their talent and unorthodox natures. Whilst both bands may have different sounds, it’s safe to say that their mentalities are comparable, making this split a bittersweet triumph – triumphant because of its undeniable quality, but bittersweet as this now marks the last output of Caïnato be committed to tape.
2016 has been the year that saw me listen to, and review, more music than ever before. For every release that gets reviewed, there’s several that I don’t have the time to write something on; or that I listen to, but simply don’t get excited over. It’s also worth bearing in mind the purposes of this blog – exploring the underground. With the odd exception (such as the new Darkthrone), I have no interest in writing in the “big” releases; I want to help give some exposure and coverage to the small and underground, not go chasing whatever review or feature will get me the most hits. I’d also point out that it’s easy to lose sense of what actually is mainstream and underground when you spend so much time immersed in music. Sure, everyone may have access to Bandcamp and Youtube and a legion of Spotify recommendations, but it’s easy to overestimate just how big our favourite bands are.
That said, there’s still some mainstream releases I’ve really enjoyed this year and want to share some thoughts on in another post. But here, I want to take the time to give shout-outs to those more underground releases which didn’t quite make the cut for my list of 25 favourites of the year.
And so, to my five favourite albums of 2016. There’s been a lot of good stuff released this year, some of which I haven’t been able to spend as much time with as I’d ordinarily like, or which I suspect may need more time for me to fully appreciate them – I intend on writing one further end of year post, taking in at least some of those releases, plus a few other bits from 2016.
As with last year, my top five is in order; ranking them has been difficult, but I feel quite confident in the order I’m placing them in, even if there wasn’t much between most of them. On to the list!
Svengali is not an album for those who like their music to rely on the subtle or hidden. This seventeen minute of blackened crust from Siberian Hell Sounds is a furious fist to the face, a raging whirlwind of violence that takes absolutely no prisoners. There are no grand pretensions here, no need to spend hours listening until each songs ‘clicks’ and it makes sense; this EP is negativity given form, expressed in the most direct way possible. Unrelentingly bleak, it is a fine example of just how powerful blackened crust can be.
For all its nihilism and intended obscurity, it’s interesting to note how black metal has gone from being a fringe movement within metal to one of the most widely listened to sub-genres. Its satanic, blasphemous influence can be found in all sorts of places these days, adding further edge and intensity to musical styles that were often already defined by those aspects. Blackened hardcore is one such style, and Rest follow in the footsteps of bands such as All Pigs Must Die and The Secret, with their self-titled debut EP being a fifteen minute blast of hardcore violence and black metal frostiness. It might not do anything too new with the style for the most part, but its passion and intensity are more than enough to make this record more than worth your time.
Guilt And His Reflection is a bit more ambitious than most splits. Whereas the majority of split records have their halves constructed in isolation, and might as well be two separate EPs pressed on a single physical record, this split between Cara Neir and Wildspeaker sees the bands tackle a unified concept. In fact, it might be the first ‘concept split album’ I’ve come across. Tackling the psychological horror of cannibalism in a post-apocalyptic scenario, Guilt And His Reflection is an intriguing enough idea; but musically, it’s also one of the strongest splits I’ve heard in some time, with both bands really surpassing themselves, making this one of the stand-out blackened crust releases of the year.
You know what? Summer kinda sucks. Especially when you live in a building old enough to be cold in winter, roasting in summer; but not so old that it has any charm or, well, many redeeming features at all (other than reasonable rent and a decent landlord). This heat is a total downer. The sooner Autumn comes around, the better.
But, whatever. Let’s have some short reviews. This month, we’ve got Kommando and their brand of machinegun punk on Distroyer/Iron Goat Triumph record; The Sound That Ends Creation unleashing hardcore/tech-metal devastation with We Are The Burden; something beautifully different on the split 12″ by Human Hands andThe Blue Period.There’s also melo-death from Skeleton Wolf on their self-titled album, an invitation to the doomy Cult Of Bathory from Yidhra, and glorious black metal from Toska on their self-titled EP.