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.

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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.

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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.

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15 Favorite Albums of 2016


Without fanfare or commentary. Alphabetically:

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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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Invertia - The Bidding of Tyrants


Mechanized, industrial black/death that owns all the riffs. Diverse rhythms, both synthetic and organic, drive cogent compositions. A parade of fascinating, malevolent riffs ride roughshod over each cybernetic cadence. Less bizarre than Emptiness, but possesses the same peculiar panache. Diligently prods socio-polical beehives with a direct, punk mentality and coarse, inhuman vocals. An addictive dissection of motifs most dear. So many riffs.

Out on December 9th.

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Siberian Hell Sounds - Svengali


Grinds gloriously in an unfathomable, crusty black abyss. Riffs oscillate relentlessly in both atonal and malevolently dark arcs. Unexplored depths are filled with resounding rhythmic fusillades and insensate howls. Rages with the unfettered spirit of bands like Dephosphorus, or Imbroglio. Utterly unique, nourishing and essential noise.

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Mithras - On Strange Loops


Sarpanitum whet the palate last year for new mystical Mithras space-death. That promise has been fulfilled, delivering all the goddamned guitar sorcery your feeble mortal mind can fathom. A barely veiled victorious ethos propels these extraordinarily massive missives. On Strange Loops' compositional qualities are often reminiscent of space-whale era Gojira, making for a memorable and accessible experience. Above the mesmerizing melee, of course, streaming leads siphon celestial acrobatics straight from Trey Azagthoth's soul. With its thoughtful philosophical arc, ferocious originality, and irresistible riffs, On Strange Loops is certainly one of the year's best.

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Qrixkuor - Three Devils Dance


A work of tenebrous density, unsettling derangement, and surprising nuance. Possesses some of Mitochondrion's windswept, abyssal storm-force, but also writhes with the tentacled screams of Portal. The ability to push mind-stinging riffs to the surface of this roiling cyclone marks Qrixkuor as a breed apart. The album’s compact dynamic range is quite purposeful, holding these heaving tones, demonic leads, and magisterial flourishes close to the vest. Break out your finest electroacoustic transducers, find a padded cell, and commune with some of the years’s finest death metal.
 

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Krypts - Remnants of Expansion


Red-hot, gurgling mid-paced death-doom with a guitar tone to bathe in. Krypts once heaved mud at your ears, but they’ve since learned to hit the listener full-on with the shovel. Removal of slap-happy Autopsy vibes makes for a sharper experience and allows sinister sensations to shine. A pleasing evolution; perhaps marking Krypts as a spiritual successor to the dearly departed Anhedonist. Malevolent and morose riffs congregate in labyrinthine assemblies, trapping your ears and demanding repeated attention. Immersive and rife with rhythmic dynamics, cleanses your bowels like a meathook colonoscopy. An addictive evisceration.
 
Out October 28th via Dark Descent.

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Nucleus - Sentient


Nucleus tilt at the Demilich windmill, subsuming Finnish death and wrapping it in a uniquely fetid package. Sentient succeeds mightily, trapping weird death metal’s lightning in a bottle of succinct hooks and digestible dynamics. Bass-bright production highlights the requisite rhythmic spasms. Screaming, acrobatic solos are conjured at will. Incantation ooze is wiped all over wriggling riffs. The amalgam is moulded into stellar songs, served up with putrid panache. Sentient has survived the summer’s sweaty ear-hole gauntlet, reigning atop the year’s death-pile. Supreme.
 

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Disrotted - Divination


Death-doom not for a funeral, but for a ripe, putrescent self-exhumation. Like Thou stripped of pretension or any shred of hope. Like a Funeral Moth bereft of wings and dignity. Tendrils of boiling distortion ooze from every lumbering note and ire vomits from goddamn demonic vocals. The soundtrack to being buried alive, slowly, wretchedly, eternally. You'll feel every nail as its driven into your coffin. Devastating nourishment for a vegetative state. Pure joy.

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Beansidhe - Mónt


Few warriors of modern death can wield the blade of melody without maiming themselves. Melodic death metal is filled with critical misses. Black metal’s forces of folk frequently fly off the cheese-wheel. Beansidhe, however, brandish consonance with a measured and sensible hand. Melodicism both subtle and blatant permeates this organic opus. Tremolated blackness, mid-paced march, and marvelous death strikes all flourish in Beansidhe's canny compositions. Modern comparisons to this fantastic formula are few; Obsequaie and Crom Dubh have recently managed the same masterful amalgam of memorable riffs and primitive euphony. You’ll certainly hear strains of Agalloch, filaments of early Dark Tranquillity, and the up-close and personal character of a young Woods of Ypres. Solid percussion and throat-ripping vocals fend off any whiff of senseless drone. Habit forming.


Out on January 28th via Via Nocturna:

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Priapus - Depressant


Elastic, biomechanical grind that digs deep grooves in your consciousness and in your face. Shares some of Maruta’s robotic, entropic dementia; crushing, satiating slabs will often fly off spasmodically into disharmonic orbit. The whirling kick-speed and weighty guitar tone land Priapus squarely on the death side of grind. Lyrically and vocally intense in pursuit of its disconsolate ethos; miraculous anthems of self-hate.
At Bandcamp.

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Anicon - Exegeses


Galloping waves of bright black goodness. Intricate but approachable guitar lines, entwined and engaging, with more than a little victorious melodic sauce. A less bestial brand of Mutilation Rites, or shades of a less esoteric Krallice. Distinctive and compelling in its own right, with an enticing focus on diverse and buoyant rhythm. Riffs frequently escalate above churning tremolation, rising to captivating compositional heights. I’ll be coming back frequently to partake of those high altitude excursions.

Out on July 8th via Gilead Media and Avantgarde Music

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Paroxsihzem - Abyss of Excruciating Vexes


Leans away from the regimented deathblack-swarm of their debut, embracing bestial entropy at every turn. Witness an orgiastic deathspree, a band freed from the chains of sanity and convention. After a period of adjustment, realization emerges that this unbridled vision of Paroxsihzem is just as compelling. The demented joy is infectious, and this chaotic evolution doesn't discount an ounce of the quality previously displayed. The new-found diversity of riffs, rhythm, and dynamics make for a disturbingly memorable listening experience. Have fun storming the castle.

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Plebeian Grandstand - False Highs, True Lows


An exquisite, uncharacterizable cocktail of chaotic extremity. Deathspell-style dissonance doused in jet fuel, steeped in noxious hardcore and noise tendencies, dropped in a vat of demented death until dripping black, set the fuck on fire. Crooked arpeggiations ride rock-steady blasts and bursts, degenerating purposefully into Gorgutsy turbulence. Count in the broiling vocal fever-dreams and the pyrrhic victory is complete.

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Prisoner of War - Rot


A choked, churning vomitorium of extremity. Slays in all directions, trampling heedlessly through death, crust, grind, and speed metal alike. Riffs and rage of the utmost purity propel this pandemonium, guided by deft and deadly percussion, goaded on by dope vocals. Goddamn hooks, I tell you. Solos squeal with chaotic glee, as if conjured by Kerry King with hair, on coke. Make no mistake, this is a gorgeously ugly affair, reeking of the lawless abandon of a band like Revenge while channeling the efficacy of a youthful Trey Azagthoth. I’m a proponent of brevity, but every spin of this fifteen minute morsel leaves me with an unrequited blood-thirst. Take heed.

Out on May 2nd via Iron Bonehead Productions.


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Ill Omen - Æ.Thy.Rift



Intriguing, buzzing, and blackened visions of doom, as if Blut Aus Nord turned their gaze towards utter despair. Ambitiously intricate in construction, deceptively dynamic in execution. Sinuous, shimmering visions will burst into tremolated flame without notice, lending precipitous dread to the proceedings. Rife with wicked riffs, peculiar arpeggiations, and magisterial atmosphere. Satisfies the desire for elaborate, ominous malevolence. Everyone needs a little evil sometimes.

Out on March 31st via Nuclear War Now! Productions

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Funeral Moth - Transience


Funeral doom of the impossibly slow persuasion. Presented as two elephantine minor key mantras, crystal clear in delivery, crushing in poignancy. Although minimalistic and direct, the compositions ooze downcast mastery. Scathing vocals slice through the leaden march with pleasing ease, further emphasizing the power of these deliberate, measured movements. Perhaps only for the funeral doom devotee. Perhaps a pinnacle of this ponderous art.

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Inverloch - Distance | Collapsed


Brilliant funeral doom by way of mechanized death. Perpetuates the sonic efficacies of their debut EP, and continues the lordly legacy of the diSEMBOWELMENT bloodline. Distinct, dry strains of death feel firmly rooted in timelessness. Death and doom sit side by side, separated by satisfying stylistic gulfs. Haunting melodies float on crushing, doomed undercurrents, and reflect many stylistic mannerisms of their antipodean countrymen in Mournful Congregation. Inverloch, however, are prone to outbursts of blastbeaten speed, driven by gorgeous percussive feats and icy, pointillistic riffs. A relentless funeral, a spree of death-dealing glory, an absolute necessity.

Out on March 4th via Relapse:

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Yellow Eyes - Sick With Bloom


A revelatory blaze of light amidst a bleak black metal desert. Rides a bolt of Cascadian lightning, but does the deed without sycophantic intent. Whorls and eddies of dense melodic alchemy evoke the nofucksgiving of Weakling, while skirting the esoteric inhumanity of Krallice. An organic outburst of utter chaos, with a feeling of uncalculated necessity. An inexorable undertow, a bullseye of atmosphere and riffs, a no-mercy killing.
 

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Writhing Mass - Human Capital


You say Assück, I say sign me up. A seasoned crew of veterans invoke the name of the most holy Ass, and deliver delightful death-grind goodness. Blunt force riffs reflect all of grind's chromatic demons, and a meaty-thick guitar tone wipes the floor with your entrails. Atonal bile is dispensed in slithering bursts and terse blasts. Gurgle and howl, churn and hurl; don't swallow your tongue. We all need a little beating sometimes.
 

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Obscura - Akroasis


A tremendous album. A skillful sidestep of the immutable tech-death template. Strong whiffs of Death and Cynic whipped to admirably stiff peaks. Less interstellar circus, less fucks given. Equal measures creativity, subtlety, and heaviness that feel timeless. Warmer, more introspect, more sprawling. Leads and solos that beg for hyperbolic adjectives and your best air guitar. Their finest hour, methinks.
 

Out on February 5th via Relapse.

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Xantam - LifeDeathBeyond


Articulate, raging death that rubs sandpaper on a longstanding God Dethroned itch.  Possessed of majestic panache, sporting riffs that rate on the Dissection spectrum. Gut-gurgling vocals, explosive drumming, and a meaty-raw sonic oeuvre make for a compelling spin.  Keep these Eye Tyrants on your radar.

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Gygax - Critical Hits


Unabashed heaviness of the auld school, executed with charismatic aplomb. This is how I want my straight-up heavy metal served, but modern purveyors consistently disappoint. Gygax roll a natural 20, threading the needle of impossibly compelling mojo. More Thin Lizzy than Maiden, more rocking’ than a sack of Deep Purple socks. Vocals more earnest than Mike Scalzi, less operatic than Russel Allen, somehow perfect. Righteous riffs, songwriting, fucking Dungeons & Dragons. What is best in life?




Out January 22nd via Creator-Destructor Records.

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