In the increasingly populated world of extreme music, it gets harder and harder to stand out. There’s only so many novel ideas out there, and there’s no guarantee that musicians have the requisite talent to properly convey what they have to express. It’s this context which helps make american seem an all the more startling prospect. Their mix of black metal, industrial, and harsh noise already sounds exciting on paper, but what Violate And Control demonstrates is that the duo have both the ideas and talent to take this combination in to strange new places. This results in an album that feels remarkably fresh, even as it indulges in some of the most horrific music committed to tape whilst still remaining listenable.
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!
The problem with so much so-called extreme music today is that it doesn’t feel extreme anymore. Maybe more bands are playing it (comparatively) safe; maybe I’m just a desensitized, cynical bastard. Whatever the reason, it’s rare these days for bands to give me that same rush of excitement and sheer sense of maniacal joy at the absurd intensity of what they’re doing as I used to get during my youth. So, when I say that The Sweat Of Augury gave me that feeling, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. What Unyielding Love have unleashed here is twenty minutes of blackened powerviolence that is right at the apex of the style, threatening to tip over in to utter chaos more often than not and sounding all the better for it.
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.
Recently, as well as writing for my own site, I’ve had a couple of reviews published at Broken Amp, which has been a good experience. My first review there has been for Sacrilegium‘s Anima Lucifera, and I also had the opportunity to write about Skuggsja, by Ivor Bjornson and Einar Selvik; you can read the reviews here and here.
Also up for (short) review are Nightmare Forever by progressive, brutal death metal act Rotem; Sig:Ar:Tyr‘s Northen pagan metal; Hostilum‘s punishing black metal album The Bloodwine Of Satan; the Killing Susan EP by Fret!, as well as the new album Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts by black metal/crust band Unru, and noisy raw black metal on The Futile Self from Bahuchara.
If you’re wanting a black metal album you can happily have on in the background whilst you go about your daily life, with all its elements set out neatly before you, this isn’t it. After roughly a dozen listens, I still don’t feel like I’m close to grasping even half of what The Ladder has to offer. Over the course of 7 tracks, Palace Of Worms showcase a vision of what metal can be that leaves almost everyone else looking like they’re struggling to keep up. This is the kind of album that transcends genre, and feels as if it is trying to reach beyond boundaries that are more than just musical. Hugely challenging yet vastly rewarding, The Ladder isn’t just the best record that Palace Of Worms have released; it’s a strong contender for album of the year.
Given that the first installment went well, I’ll be trying to regularly release a series of shorter reviews. For February’s lot, I take a look at Ghost Horizon‘s Astral Possession; a split of unholy death/thrash/black between Turbocharged and Ragehammer in the form of their Enlightenment by Bloodletting7″;Atrament unleash Eternal Downfall; Hellenic black metal from Meneapneontes on their Promachos album; Sorrow Plagues‘ self-titled post-black metal album; and the latest release by Hellenic black metal legends Rotting Christ, Rituals.