Fuoco Fatuo - Backwater


Abyssal death-doom that's not content to fill the funereal mold. Most certainly satisfies the urge to dirge, possessing the solemn sonic aesthetic of a Mournful Congregation or early Ahab. Drops crushing doom ordnance in concert with its leaden rhythmic procession, but just as often churns in fathomless death-depths. These obsidian sermons differentiate Fuoco Fatuo's art, evoking filthier correlations to Incantation or Portal. Unlike the dichotomous slow/fast flips of Disembowelment, the harrowing haste of these riffs is contained within each song's dense shell. The drums never move faster than a shambling corpse, but the intricacy injected into every cadence will capture a listener's full attention. Ecstatic self-nullification.
 

Spectral Descent - Descending The Astral Plane


Raw, delectable death with killer instincts. An exceptional, encyclopedic emulsion of American death metal morphemes. Hammered on hemorrhages evoke quintessential Cannibal Corpse. Chugging convulsions convey the way of Obituary, Master, and Malevolent Creation. Celestial jaunts bespeak Death itself, reaching so far as Atheist oddity. Throw in a bit of death-doom excellence and you've got all the riffs your cadaverous soul could desire. Primitive but punchy production makes the result feel like a product of that bygone era. Coherent, convincing, murderous joy.
 

Sarcasm - Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds


From a decades old footnote in Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Death Metal, Sarcasm ascend to sudden glory. Pitch-perfect, sinister, death-black melodies injected with a massive dose of Dissection. Nasty Necrophobic nuance and the dynamic compositional instincts of God Dethroned. Untouchable riffs thrash, gallop, and swarm under a storm of black-hearted leads. Vocals blessed with Jon Nödtveidt’s malignant, effective vocal invective. Ominous classical guitar segues because of course. Lean as fuck, without a minute of flab or fill. My favorite album of the year thus far; the meat is in the hooks.

Falls of Rauros - Vigilance Perennial


Manufactured Americana as black metal crutch gets my goat. Falls of Rauros, however, rolled out from under an Appalachian rock fully grown with guitars in hand and a mind to record the songs of their people. At least it sounds that way. The ease with which these riffs roll is the key, whatever their demeanor. When the rivers run red with blood and blastbeats, the blackish amalgam is effortless, comfortingly cocophonous, genuinely compelling. The clean guitars may appear civilized to a questioning ear, but they belie the bestial undertow. Harrowing, howling vocals emit a mien of madness and tap that vicious vein. Ultimately, this is a devastating explosion of somber, wistful, raging sentiment. I will lay down my bones among these rocks and roots.
 

Fen - Winter


Gathers the captivating threads of their monumental debut, reconnecting the sinews of magnificent oddity forged many moons ago. Channels Eld era Enslaved, transforming many a meager arpeggio into epic windswept vista. Black metal methodologies forge nefarious beauty without subverting their spirit. Melodious without being malodorous, wildly whimsical without ever careening towards catastrophe. Effortlessly engaging, atmospheric in the literal evocative sense, often heavy as fuck-all. In a crowded field you can identify this vision of Fen from a mile away. Shit’s vast; come get lost.
 

Epoch - Sacrosanct


Dials up a pleasing swath of the death spectrum. Decapitated tonality without the dry-heaving edge, Incantation diabolism without the drawl, crooked Immolation irruption with a need for speed, a touch of windswept Mitochondrion madness. Riffs swarm and sweep the legs with staccato pointillism. A superlative rhythm section supports each and every acrobatic attack while guttural orations approach charming psychosis. Worth more dimes than a dozen other fetid death metal outfits.



CD available via the Lavadome store.

Laster - Ons vrije fatum


Exceptional, idiosyncratic blackness. Adorns Agalloch-like opulence with bizarre bits of Bergraven oddity. Moving melodic overtures torched by excoriating vocals. Gorgeous soundscapes warped enough to allow visions of stranger aeons. Gang vocals and Enslaved-style clean chants dot the landscape, oft pushing the vibe towards psychedelia. Crystal clear, balanced production allows examination of many obtuse facets. So much going on, so much excellence, so many convoys to nothingness.
 

Yith - dread


That feeling when you settle into a tremolated haze, surrendering yourself to the blackness of a blastbeaten storm. Here walk riffs of ponderous weight and majestic mien. Fielding more artillary than your average arpeggiated assault, Yith speak from a position of legitimate potency. Guitar tone rules the day; doom and malevolent melody wield equal power in this maelstrom. Intrigue pervades every minute of these massive tunes.  Care was taken, passion was transmitted, elation was received.  Hear that bass line?  Shit yeah I do. Fuck me this rules.

Convulsing - Errata


Much like Sonne Adam or Altars, Convusing carve a coherent niche from roiling, downtuned, deathly weirdness. Turning these amorphous, pitch black materials into ingenious and engaging compositions is no mean feat.  Gorgeous riffs roll and heave in tectonic waves, raining dissonant blows upon your battered soul. The more precise abscissions do recall Ulcerate’s oeuvre, but Convulsing have so much more to offer. Herein lie deep space transmissions, doomed intermissions, and clean-sung laments. This is the kind of fuck-all jam I live for.

Temple of Abandonment - From Outer Spheres​.​.​. Death


A deft and deathly trip to the funeral parlor. Demonstrates the elusive doom mojo that turns a tragic trudge transcendent. Slow motion serenades entwine melodies most satisfying. As majestic as the finest Mournful Congregation, as gripping as old Ahab. If you prefer your plight plodding, seek these shores. Hang yourself on these masterful hymns. Prepare yourself, though, for when the pace picks up; neck injury is imminent.

15 Favorite Albums of 2016


Without fanfare or commentary. Alphabetically:

Setentia - Darkness Transcend


A skillful incursion into the trampled, muddy wasteland where death metal meets tremolated dissonance and ragged sludge. Withered squandered their opportunity in 2016, but Setentia boldly step into that earth-churned breach. Wields wondrous, weighty riffs, malignant melody, and mincemeat grooves in service of a true Pyrrhic victory. A beautiful battery shapes each track, maintaining a precarious balance and blasting circles around surging chaos. Nuance and intricacy survive these tectonic blood-battles unscathed, but your soul may not. Just the right amount of harsh for the here and now.

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