2016 is here and with it comes a year worth of new metal to be excited about! 2015 left my fucking head spinning and there’s already a ton of exciting new albums planned for the earlier part of this year that I’m excited about. Bring it on, 2016.
This being my first weekly update of the year I mostly have left over 2015 albums on my playlist this week, culled from some late “best of” 2015 lists but there were a couple brand new releases for the first week of the year which I’ll go over first.
On a side note, I’ll return to my daily metal exploration posts starting next week. This week I was playing catch up in more ways than one and unfortunately that feature had to take an extra week off. Until then, here’s the new stuff!
NEW 2016 STUFF: (Links in titles, as always)
Ignite – A War Against You
Wow, Ignite is back after 10 years of little to no noise. I almost thought this was a “best of” album or something but sure enough, it’s new, with the original singer. Their last album Our Darkest Days is one of my favorite punk albums so of course I was reluctant to hear this one but damn is it good. Maybe not as dark or somber, which is one of the main things I enjoyed about Days, but it’s excellent, straight forward, melodic punk rock. Skip that bullshitty Pennywise album he sang on and just get this.
Avantasia – Ghostlights
Oh Avantasia, how cheese-filled you are, which I need now that I’m eating healthier. Avantasia’s The Metal Opera series are bonafide power metal classics but ever since then they’ve moved further and further into more theatrical symphonic lands. Some of those have been better than others. I was kind of hoping this new one would go back to the power metal sound a bit more (although I do love their cheese-a-riffic ballads) and to a certain extant they did. It’s still dramatically over the top theatrical but it’s more memorable than they’ve been.
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Fleshgod always intrigues me with their hyper orchestrated death metal style. This new one is more of the same of that but they seem to have added a little more folk sounds and some more “core-ish” modern American metal sounds. I’m not sure that’s doing it for me but for the most part this album is ok.
Cauldron – In Ruin
The throwback, classic heavy metal band seem to have reached critical mass over the past couple years. There are SO many of them. Seems to be the new trend, not just in metal, to remake everything we loved in our youths, but I digress. Cauldron are definitely doing that throwback sound but they do it so well with such vigor and energy it’s hard not to get caught up in their sound.
Exmortus – Ride Forth
Bring on the cheese! I enjoy this bands, thrash/power/death metal, fantasy laden/battle laden approach. I know this may get some hisses but they slightly remind me of that first Wintersun album, just not as good as that. Stupid good fun, though.
Lascar – Absence EP
This EP here is a fucking doozy. Absolutely gorgeous atmospheric black metal. My buddy suggested they sound like Falls of Rauros and they definitely have that vibe going, which is killer because Rauros is so unique in their majesty, but this band has a similar scope. They may be heavier or more ferocious than Rauros, which isn’t a put down to either band since Rauros deals more with open space and transcendent arrangements. Regardless, this band is fucking killing it on this EP and if you like Falls of Rauros, put this in your ears.
Stworz – Zagony Bogów
Stworz is a Polish pagan/black metal band compromised almost entirely by W. of the insanely awesome Wędrujący Wiatr. While that project is more atmospheric, and Stworz has it’s atmospheric moments, it’s predominantly folk, utilizing traditional instrument sounds and having a more natural sound steeped in traditionalism. It’s rather epic in this sense and has some killer and emotional moments. Solid release.
NEW(ISH) STUFF 2015:
Cross Vault – The All-consuming
Beautiful, mournful, classic euro-styled doom. Damn this one is excellent. This should have been on my best of list.
Terminus – The Reaper’s Spiral
Totally fucking awesome, kick ass, traditional power metal. If Visigoth hadn’t crushed everything with their album this year, this one might have been the one to beat. Alas, we’re left with two killer fucking albums!
Sarpanitum – Blessed Be My Brothers
Crazy complex and intriguing death metal. I’m sorry I didn’t discover this one earlier in the year. Super infectious with the way it weaves technical death metal in with more ethereal and transcendent riffs. This one is hard to put a finger on but it’s fucking killer.
Svadilfare – Krig I Kunst
Some rawer, slightly atmospheric, slightly folk infused, Norwegian black metal. Moments of sheer beauty and all the black metal raging you could ask fore.
Baroness – Purple
I’m a reluctant Baroness fan. I finally gave into the hype with the Blue Record and really enjoyed they’re heavier, progressive take on sludge. Sans a few songs, Yellow & Green was a misfire for me. I assumed the band was going to keep moving in that direction and lose all the qualities I liked from their earlier works. Well, Purple proved me wrong. A sort of back to form album for the band but blending in all the post influence from the last album but making it work this time. It’s getting crazy reviews and topping tons of year end lists. Would I have put it on mine? Probably not, but it’s a good album.
Violet Cold – Desperate Days
This is a weird one. I’m not sure I’ve heard black metal like this before. It’s… peppy. It’s overly joyous, fused with almost 8 bit keyboard samples and slightly techno-ish sounds but with the harsh black metal vocals and guitar/drum work. Part of me likes this. Part of me is confused. I’m not really sure what to make of this.
Galdr – Mörkergång
This band is quietly making incredible atmospheric black metal. If you can’t take Varg’s bullshit and need a replacement Burzum, this band fits the bill.
Autopsy – Skull Grinder EP
Autopsy has been on a tear since their reformation in 2011 and have been inundating us with extremely solid death metal. Accompanying their new box set compilation is this new Ep which is solid as anything they’ve done from the newer releases. It’s Autopsy through and through so if you like well written and catchy gore-filled death metal, Autopsy are still making some of the best.
Vader – Future of the Past II – Hell in the East
I’m always going to check out what Vader is doing. While not ground breaking or on the edge anymore, they are reliably consistent, if you like there sort of straight ahead Polish death metal, which I do. Cover albums, I’m split on. I like covers from bands I like but for the most part I think cover albums are kind of boring and leave me wanting to just hear the original songs. There’re are exceptions to the rule of course but previously Vader has covered Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire” and Venom’s “Black Metal” and I actually prefer Vader’s cover of both. This album is Vader covering a bunch of 80’s and 90’s Polish bands that I’m not familiar with and it actually sounds like a more energized Vader. I may need to track down some of these bands.
Blood Incantation – Interdimensional Extinction EP
Denver based Blood Incantation has taken a darker, cosmic approach to their style of death metal, infused it with classic stylings and technical prowess that makes for a ripping fucking EP that isn’t just technical wanker-ing but actual builds a tremendous atmosphere. I’ll be anxiously waiting to see what they do with a full-length.
Ad Hominem – Antitheist
This one man French black metal band is definitely going for a confrontational approach. The song titles and lyrics are a bit juvenile in this aspect but the music is a nice mix of Panzer Division era Marduk and more sloppy black and roll, punk that makes up a great deal of later era Darkthrone. It has some clunkers but the good outweigh the bad and this album is a decent one time through-er.
Darkeater – Иней Чёрного Рассвета
2015 fell a little in terms of depressive black metal, a sub sub sub genre that can truly be inspiring or can be extremely repetitive. Darkeater don’t change the rule book here and use all of the genre tropes, heavy atmospheric keyboards, blistering, melodic guitars and pained, howled screams and the overarching feeling of beauty and they do so with great success. The problem is, it sounds like most other depressive black metal bands. They do throw a curve ball in there with an Aphex Twins cover and there are some shining moments but overall, it’s just ok.
Grieving Mirth – Calamitosvs Omine EP
This is a solid little EP fusing elements of post black metal with death metal. A little over produced but solid all around.
Dead to a Dying World – Litany
Blackened sludge? Is that a thing? This sounds more doom to me than anything to me with some nice post sounds and some interesting use of black metal styles. It has guest appearances from members of Sabbath Assembly and Pallbearer, two bands I don’t particularly care for but might if they were doing more original sounding stuff like this.
Aegrus – Devotion for the Devil
Some straight up solid, nasty, slightly melodic, Finnish black metal. Good for what ails you.
Maléfices – Hurlemort
Nasty, raw, lo-fi, dismal, Canadian black metal. Not on par with many of their fellow countrymen but very much in the spirit of older black metal.
Nahtrunar – Symbolismus
Nahtrunar wears it’s influence clearly on their sleeves and while they may seem so steeped in tradition that you might expect them not do anything different with it, the later half of the album has some amazingly triumphant moments. The band seems to be finding their footing and if they edit their sound down a bit and focus more on their own elements, a follow up from them could be tremendous.
Fin – The Furrows of Tradition
Holy hell, is this one a fucking ripper. Blazing, beautiful, ferocious, black metal that never rests for even a second, instead they just go for the fucking throat. It’s not a frantic, dizzying assault, but a precise, well honed and well crafted, breathtaking album.
Archivist – Archivist
This band is swirling with all sorts of self described genre tags: black, gaze, post, hardcore, space, and the list goes on. It’s probably not to their credit to over analyze their sound as it veers towards pretension but overall I found this to be and the post-ier side of post black metal. It’s a beautiful, airy album but on the lighter side of black metal. Reminds me of similar French bands like Amesoeurs and their approach to black metal.
Forgotten Winter – Vinda
A very somber and morose, folk filled, black metal album. Summoning must have been a huge influence on this band as they’re trying for that epic, atmospheric sound that Summoning does so well, but aren’t quite getting there. Solid okay album.
An Autumn for Crippled Children – The Long Goodbye
There seemed to be some hype revolving around this one and I saw it pop up on enough lists to give it a shot. I’m not sure what all the hype was about, though. Autumn are playing super post black metal ALA Deafheaven but more borrowing (liberally) from depressive black metal. It’s not bad, per say, just kind of redundant.
Nadiwrath – Circle of Pest
It’s been awhile since I’ve delved into the Hellenic scene. I wasn’t familiar with Nadiwrath before this but their hyper, Waitan-ish with punk style of black metal is pretty polished. A little too Waitain-like to really be great but a pretty killer album overall.
Embrional – The Devil Inside
Sheer Polish death metal brutality. You know my fondness for Poland’s extreme metal and Embrional are a prime example of the ferocity I enjoy so much from these bands.
Until Next Time…