If you’re in the market for something to get sad to, then Vases is just what you’re after. The collaboration between dark electronics musician Wet Nurse. and Matt Finney is bleak, depressing, and possessed of a certain beauty. This is music for staying up late, wondering where it all went wrong and feeling powerless to do anything about it. And yet, as unappealing as that may make it sound, there’s something about Vases that makes it easy to listen to for hours at a time, sinking in to its dark, melancholy embrace.
There’s a lot of problems faced by underground bands when getting their music released. Arguably, the biggest one is getting people outside of your circle of friends to actually care about what you’re doing. Probably the second biggest problem – and the one that has hamstrung so, so many releases I’ve come across – is that of your music having the production it deserves. Such is the case for anarchist metal band Rookscare on their EP Ecotone. It is a brave, adventurous piece of music, exploring the overlap between nature and technology with varied, interesting songs that are well worth spending time. The trouble is, you may have a hard time hearing the real strengths of those songs due to a quiet, unflattering production. Devote enough time to it though, and you’ll realise that Ecotone rewards such patience.
Funny to think how much has changed in this past year. Comparing where the world is now with where it was when I posted my first set of short reviews a year ago is sobering. Let’s try not to dwell on that though, and have some music instead. This month there’s words on the new single from melo-death band Eshtadur, Cornered At The Earth; artful post-punk by Russians Mirrored Lips on чичичи; hyperspeed fastcore on the split between Beartrap and Hummingbird Of Death; soul-crushing black/death on Breeding Ruin by Dawn Of Tyrants; grindcore as love by The Brood on The Truth Behind; and psychedelic doom/stoner from Heavy Temple on new record Chasit. Enjoy!
Sometimes, it’s good to hear a record and know from the offset exactly what it is trying to be. Croatian solo act Tenebrositas have been releasing demos and EPs of raw, frostbitten black metal for a few years now, and Alone In The Frozen Wastelands carries on in just that style. There’s nothing unusual here, no attempts at reinventing – or even slightly changing – a style that has been in existence for over twenty years now. Instead, it sticks absolutely to the fundamentals, but does so with such spirit that it’s hard to complain about it. If you’re looking for something new, this won’t be for you. But if you’re looking for mid-90’s style cold and nihilism, then press on.
Over the course of the past few years, since release of Elegiac‘s first demo in 2014, the one-man black metal band have been steadily carving out their own identity. Whilst earlier records were very much those of an act testing the boundaries of their sound and, to some extent, finding their feet, later records have seen Elegiac assert their sound and style. That is evident on latest album Rise From The Ashes, which is is a prime demonstration of Elegiac’s aggressive, misanthropic brand of USBM. Following in the raw footsteps of previous album Edge Of Reason, Rise From The Ashes is vicious and uncompromising.
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.
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!