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!
Following on from Part I, which can be read here, here is the second installment of my favourite releases from this year; still in alphabetical order, and still full of awesome, wonderfully diverse music. The top five will follow soon, along with a few other reflections on the past year. But in the meantime, enjoy!
This is the kind of metal album that should come with some kind of warning label. Unflinchingly punishing and crushingly heavy, The Embodiment Of Hate sees Californian band Our Place Of Worship Is Silence unleash 27 minutes of deathmetal that truly does justice to the album title. Taking music in to territories so unrelenting and devastating that they make most other death metal bands sound depressingly safe and tame, The Embodiment Of Hate is practically mandatory listening for all those who care about death metal as an art form; or simply for those who care about keeping up with the best in the genre.
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.
I mentioned last month how excited I was over SubRosa coming to the UK, but that excitement has been matched this month by the announcement of a new Planes Mistaken For Stars record. I honestly never expected it to ever materalise, ever though the band have been playing shows for years since reforming. There’s few bands I hold in higher regard than those guys, so I’m very excited.
But, that’s for the future. For now, we have Bloodshed Remains offering up some hardcore Peace; Austrian D-beat/hardcore/grindcore band Six Score with Lebensräume; metallic French hardcore bruisers Pallass and their Devotion Of Souls; Yūgen from atmospheric black metal act Ashbringer; UK anti-fascist black metal band Dawn Ray’d with A Thorn, A Blight; and the pumelling split between Sea Of Bones and Ramlord. Oof!