Best of 2016


MMXVI

Yes, 2016 was a dumpster fire, but the flames are not burning any hotter or reaching higher than the ones before…or the ones to come. Politicians are a corrupt lot and most answer exclusively to mega corporations. Few, if any, hold our best interests at heart. We live in a world where religious extremists kill or maim hundreds on nearly a daily basis. There are places on this planet where sexual slavery and rape are a daily part of life. Oh, and the polar ice caps are melting. It’s not propaganda, it’s scientific fact. So you will have to forgive me if I’m not surprised or concerned when an obnoxious, billionaire, reality TV star becomes president of the USA. We lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Carrie Fisher, to name a few…. but celebrities die, and will continue to do so, as will friends and family. We’ve lost touch with that great equalizer, Death. He comes for us all, but the real heroes will be remembered with more than a few “likes”.

To the point, as you and I hurl headlong into the abyss, Music has and will continue to be our Savior. That place of peace and solace, or hatred and loathing, depending on your need. Both are equally welcome in my heart. It’s no exaggeration when I say I would have been dead long ago without it. And to this point, can we please stop protesting concerts and venues? Yes, music is a very powerful thing, but no one is entitled to world free of divergent views. No one. And with all of the worlds ills, I find it hard to believe music is the smoking gun. Try harder.

Thank you for continuing to give your time to our little corner of the worldwide web. And as always, light and love to all who support us.

– Jeff


: STAFF PICKS :

anti-matter

While this year seemed to have gotten off to a slow start, these past few months have thrown such an absurd amount of perfection my way that I haven’t even been able to review everything. The end of this year alone has provided enough material to fill this list twice over. Honorable mentions aren’t allowed, apparently that’s cheating. It’s been my honor, privilege, and absolute pleasure to be in the company of these other contributors here at Plague Haus. This year has seen us moving in a more bold and active direction with the resurrection of the monthly Plaguecast show. To all of the labels and artists that have worked with me this past year, thank you! And now, in no particular order, here are my ten most played releases of 2016.

  • Sapientia : Circulata Mercurius (Lamech Records)
    What can I say? Just like Norma Evangelium Diaboli, Lamech is a label that can simply do no wrong for me. Sapientia’s debut album exceeded all expectations that I’d had for it. Truly an incredible piece of music. The concept behind it is equally great.
  • Cultes des Ghoules : Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love (Under The Sign Of Garazel Productions / Hells Headbangers)
    What an incredible release! Seriously. Cultes des Ghoules has been one of my favorite bands since I’d first heard Haxan a few years ago. This new album is five lengthy tracks totalling in at over an hour. Perhaps its strongest point is the way it’s written. The band has put together a theatrical performance complete with a full cast of characters. I’d said it before, but I’d fully support somebody putting this thing together in a theatrical setting. The music itself is obviously incredible, but the album’s arrangement is what really deserves props in my opinion.
  • Crimson Moon : Oneironaut (Dark Adversary Productions)
    It’s almost impossible to believe that this happened, but Crimson Moon has finally returned with a full lineup and a new record. I might also mention that this is definitely my favorite of the three Crimson Moon albums. Truly an outstanding release all around.
  • Grave Pleasures : Funeral Party 7″ (Secret Trees)
    Yet again, Grave Pleasures has made my end of the year list. The debut was amazing. From the ashes of Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures continues onward. Despite only being a 7″ with around twenty mintues of music, side A alone is enough to make the list. If I knew how to dance this would probably be the kind of music I’d do it to.
  • Perturbator : The Uncanny Valley (Blood Music)
    Truly a memorable release. This is one of those albums I’ve played so much since its initial release that I lost track of when it actually came out. Dark-synth/Electronic, whatever-the-fuck you want to call it. It’s amazing music that combines the imagery of 80’s and early 90’s sci-fi with the soundtracks from said movies.
  • King Dude : Sex (Ván / Not Just Religious Music)
    If nothing else, this album definitely wins, “Sexiest album of 2016.” As usual, TJ has delivered a crushing and introspective release combining neo-folk sounds with plain rock ‘n’ roll. It’s got a darker feel to me than some of the other albums he’s done. Maybe it’s just a bit trashier? Either way works for me.
  • GosT : Non Paradisi (Blood Music)
    Blood Music’s revival of 80’s electronic is in full swing. With GosT playing Horror to Perturbator’s Sci-fi. Non Paradisi is an incredible, music only concept album by the enigmatic Baalberith.
  • Deathspell Omega : The Synarchy of Molten Bones (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
    Esoterrorism at its finest. Four soul shattering tracks, each one representing some of the best material this long running project has had to offer.
  • Antaeus : Condemnation (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
    Another album I never thought I’d see/hear. I was at one point under the impression Antaeus was done. Apparently not, because they just put out their best album to date as a two piece. That leaves us with two more incredible releases in the NED canon.
  • Blood Ceremony : Lord of Misrule (Rise Above Records)
    I’m actually new to this band. I have to say that I really enjoyed this album though. It’s probably one of the best active Jethro Tull inspired bands around. I really don’t have much else to say about this one other than I thoroughly enjoyed every note of it

Jeff

  • King Dude : Sex (Ván / Not Just Religious Music)
    Cowgill consistently delivers, and he’s been at the top of my list two years running. You can read my review here.
  • Urfaust : Empty Space Meditation (Ván) 
    IX and VRDRBR continue to expand the Black Metal horizon, as well it should be. It’s all too easy to become stale and contrived in a scene that all too often shuns experimentation. There’s no cookie-cutter aesthetics here, for my money, one the best Metal bands in existence.
  • Dave & Jerry : Almost Alive In Two Zero One Five (Disques de Lapin)
    I go on and on to whoever will listen about this record. David E. Williams and Jerome Deppe are criminally underrated musical genius’ in their own right, together they are symphonious tour de force.
  • Night Profound : Invocatio Lux, Evocatio Nox (Not Just Religious Music)
    Another release that caught me completely off-guard with it’s depth and magnitude. You can read my review here.
  • :Of The Wand & The Moon: : I Called Your Name (Heiðrunar Myrkrunar)
    Yes, a two track 7″ made my “best of”. No shame, two new songs from Kim Larsen is better than hundreds from lesser individuals. If I had to pick one song from the year that effected me like no other, “I Called Your Name” would be it.
  • Head Of The Demon : Sathanas Trismegistos (The Ajna Offensive /Invictus Productions)
    70’s occult rock blended with contemporary Doom Metal sensibilities, what’s not to love? HOTD have yet to let me down.
  • Bölzer : Hero (Iron Bonehead Productions)
    The metal scene are a fickle lot, these Swiss lads were all the rage for a few years, then I was reading nothing but negative comments about this, their first full-length. Don’t believe the bullshit, this record is amazing.
  • Brahmen Raag : 009 / Brahmen raag (Hare Akedod) 
    This one completely came out of nowhere and blew me away. Some of the best Krautrock this side of the early 70’s. Read my review here.
  • Michael Idehall : No Man’s Land (Ant-Zen)
    Idehall continues to be the torchbearer for true Industrial. For my money, his work in experimental electronic music is on par with the Holy Trinity of COIL, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, blending occult thought with avant-garde sounds. If you aren’t familiar with his work, correct that as soon as possible.
  • Anji Cheung : Daughter of Fortitude (Aurora Borealis)
    This one probably flew under a lot of radars, but it’s one of my favorite electronic releases of the past 10 years. Read my review here.

KR

  • Dark Fury : This Story Happened Before (Lower Silesian Stronghold)
    Dark Fury have built themselves a fairly large discography over the past decade, most of which I have found to be very hit or miss. This new one is a direct hit. They were not fucking around with ambiguity here. Their message comes across as strong as the music does.
  • Death Fortress : Deathless March Of The Unyielding (Fallen Empire)
    Admittedly I had overlooked this band because of the name. A particularly stupid and ignorant move on my behalf because the music is absolutely killer. I can best describe it as very distinctive Black/Death… clearly, there’s an influence from Hate Forest here, just trading in the hypnotic feel somewhat for a solid dose of catchiness. Really, really good stuff.  I found it hard to choose between this one and the new Skaphe, but this one has gotten a few more plays so…
  • First Order : Near Death (Phosgen Records)
    Crushing, visceral Industrial Noise in the true fashion of classic German acts. As deadly as a hailstorm of bullets, and sounds like one too.
  • Gnawed : Pestilence Beholden (Malignant Records)
    Gnawed has become one of those projects that I *know* I can depend on for devastating and well composed heavy electronics. The subdued moments dominate a good portion of this record yet still sound ominous and imposing. Another gem in Gnawed’s discography.
  • Intolitarian : Extermination Campaign (Final Agony Records)
    Live savagery put to wax. Intolitarian has finally caught my undivided attention with their recent works. Kramer’s vocals are fucking nuts on this too.
  • Konflict / Reek Of The Unzen Gas Fumes : Conflict Is Control / Poisonous Gas Thrower Of Jigoku (Cyclopean Eye Productions)
    Sounding somewhat like a radicalized, more militaristic version of Sarcofago during their “Crust” era with a presence of Industrial Noise, Konflict is one band that completely resonates with my musical tastes. I enjoyed the ROTUGF side but I must emphasize that fact that Konflict completely lay everything else to waste here.
  • Lone Wolf Insurgent : Defeat Never, Victory Forever (Vanguard Productions)
    I missed the split with Swallowing Bile (14 copies gave me very little chance to obtain one…) but this hit me as a really promising introduction to a new PE duo. The violent vocal delivery comes across as a more manic version of Brethren…nicely crafted electronics too. Fingers crossed for a full-length soon.
  • Nyogthaeblisz : Apex Satanist (Iron Bonehead)
    If there was a word to describe them in their respective sub-genre, then “Apex” is it. Nyogthaeblisz just continues to become more threatening with every release. The track entitled “Diabolist Militancy” is the perfect analogy for everything found on this disc.
  • Ohtar : Euthanasia Of Existence (Deathrune Records)
    Ohtar is a band I have followed since their debut full length, although they did kind of lose me with “Human Fuel Of Death” which I found a little underwhelming. No punches were pulled here, and Ohtar present us with one of the most underrated Black Metal albums of the year. Nothing but hatred and negativity. If you’ve ever felt compelled to neck yourself, or somebody else – pick this one up if you need that extra push.
  • Scatmother : Flowers Of Maltreatment (Filth And Violence)
    Fuck me, this is some confronting material. If Nicole 12 came across as the seedy uncle, then Scatmother is the psychopathic stepfather, hell-bent on murdering the entire family in the most lascivious way possible. Extremely mean-spirited and sinister material. Absolutely depraved audial libertinage. Keep this one hidden from the Mrs.

: GUEST PICKS :

Andrew (Pale Horse Recordings)

Upon reflection, 2016 was a better year for metal than I credited it in situ; the fact that I had trouble limiting my list to ten entries lies as testament.  It seems like there’s a tide turning somewhere in the netherworld and ideas are showing signs of outgrowing the chrysalis, an event long overdue.  I’m not hoping for a renaissance because I know that the lowest common denominator sells but, come on, it’s time to wake up, take off the gas mask and get a good hard look at yourself in the mirror.

Here’s what kept my hand off the snooze button in 2016:

  • Vrtra : My Bones Hold a Stillness (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
  • Goatcraft : Yersenia Pestis (I, Voidhanger Records)
  • Blood Incantation : Starspawn (Dark Descent Records)
  • A.M.S.G. : Hostis Universi Generis (Profound Lore Records)
  • Predatory Light : Predatory Light (Invictus Productions / Psychic Violence)
  • Crimson Moon : Oneironaut (Dark Adversary Productions)
  • Moss Upon The Skull : The Scourge of Ages (Pale Horse Recordings)
  • Deathspell Omega : The Synarchy of Molten Bones (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  • Mark Korven : The VVitch soundtrack (Milan)
  • Arria Paetus : Arria Paetus (Lycaean Triune)

Anji Cheung (Anji Cheung)

My fav 10 releases of 2016…as they say, in no particular order. 

  • Croatian Amor – Love Means Taking Action (Posh Isolation)
    Released at the end of the Summer, it’s hardly surprising it reminds me of that time of year. Like on the cusp of two seasons this album dreamily teeters in a heat haze on the cusp of hopefulness and melancholy.
  • Ketev – I Know No Weekend (Portals Editions)
    I’ve yet to hear something I don’t like by Ketev. It’s minimalist textures, bass and beats fused together with atmosphere. 
  • Blush Response – Body Architect (Aufnahme & Wiedergabe)
    Makes me want to dance my arse off.
  • Head Dress – Bodies of Water (Audio.Visuals.Atmosphere)
    I’ve been rinsing this since it was released. Haunted astral synths – my soundtrack for walking through the city in Midwinter. 
  • Nuances – Art & the Ego (Total Black)
    This transports me in to a Zulawski ‘The Third Part of the Night’ type of world – bleak and fragile. Until track five throws you a curve ball.
  • Sequences – An Event for Oceans (Audio.Visuals.Atmosphere)
    Gloriously boreal and wraithy, conjuring up images akin to Anton Ginzburg’s ‘Hyperborea’. 
  • Jonathan Fitoussi – Imaginary Lines (Further Records)
    Plague Haus’ very own Mr. C. said ‘Hey Cheung listen to this, I think you’ll like it’. Quite right he was too. I like it a lot. It reminds me just a little of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love on a Real Train’ from the ‘Risky Business’ OST. I’ve listened to this loads whilst reading on my weekday commute…it’s become the soundtrack to the ancient history of the Near East & Mediterranean. Good times.
  • Nastika – Sacral (Altar)
    Tune. Nuff said.
  • Skander – Ruin (Endangered Species)
    Skander makes the kind of noise I want to bite in to, it’s got low end and you can see the sounds shaping the air as they move around the room. 
  • Denial – Various Artists (Total Black)
    Two of the artists on this compilation have albums on this list and Total Black also has another release on this list. So…no surprises this is here then.

Chad Davis (Subklinik / Romannis Mötte / Hour Of 13 / The Ritualist / Mortuor / et al.)

I am grateful To Plague Haus for asking to list my fave recordings from 2016. Although I really didn’t Like the majority of what I heard this year, The list below are well deserving of mention as they have released some of the best of the best. Here goes, in no particular order except for numbers 1 and 2…..

  • Night Profound : Invocatio Lux, Evocatio Nox (Not Just Religious Music)
  • Genocide Organ : Obituary Of the Americas (Tesco Organization)
  • Lustmord : Dark Matter (Touch)
  • Kammarheit & Phelios ‎: Of Dawn And Of Ice (Power & Steel)
  • Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio ‎: [Vision:Libertine] – The Hangman’s Triad (Out Of Line)
  • Sieben ‎: The Old Magic (Redroom)
  • Wretch : Wretch (Bad Omen Records)
  • Spiritus Mortis ‎: The Year Is One (Svart)
  • Hooded Priest : These Skies Must Break (Self Released)
  • Blood Ceremony : Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)

Cody Dickerson (author)

  • Halo Manash : Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation (Live) (Aural Hypnox)
  • Genocide Organ : Obituary Of The Americas (Tesco Organization)
  • Crystal Castles : Amnesty (I) (Fiction Records)
  • Ash Borer  : The Irrepassable Gate (Profound Lore Records)
  • Bizarre Uproar : Dekadenz (Filth and Violence)
  • Aluk Todolo : Voix (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  • Cultes des Ghoules : Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love (Of Crawling Shadows Records)
  • Con Dom : How Welcome Is Death To I Who Have Nothing More To Do But Die (Tesco Organization)
  • Händer Som Vårdar : Interiors (Posh Isolation)
  • Oranssi Pazuzu : Värähtelijä (Svart Records / 20 Buck Spin)

M.Garcia (GreySun Records)

  • Funeral Mourning : Inertia of Dissonance (A sermon in Finality) (Nihilward Productions)
  • Funeral Mourning : Pallid Coffin Spirit promo tape (Abyssic Commune)
  • LLUVIA : Enigma (advance) (Fallen Empire)
    Not technically a 2016 release, but I have been listening to it for several months.
  • Drowning the Light : 10th Region of the Night (Dark Adversary Productions)
  • Cultes des Ghouhles : Coven (Under The Sign Of Garazel Productions / Hells Headbangers)
  • Black Funeral : Ankou & the Death Fire (Iron Bonehead /Dark Adversary Productions)
  • A.M.S.G. : Hostis Universi Generis (Profound Lore / Iron Bonehead)
  • Ifrinn : Ifrinn (Iron Bonehead)
  • Hellvetron : Domius Inferi (Iron Bonehead)
  • Cepheide : Respire LP (Sick Man Getting Sick Records / Fallen Empire)
  • Blood Incantation : Starspawn (Dark Descent Records)

Andrew Grant (The Vomit Arsonist / Longpig / Danvers State Recordings

  • FVNERALS – Wound (The Native Light)
  • Human Larvae – Behind Blinding Light (Freak Animal)
  • Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (Warp)
  • Sutcliffe Jugend – Offal (Cold Spring)
  • Gnawed / Ligature Impression – Split (Maniacal Hatred)
  • Autokrator – The Obedience to Authority (Godz Ov War)
  • Ululatum Tollunt – Order of the Morningstars (Self Released)
  • Apocryphos – Stone Speak (Cryo Chamber)
  • Haxen – S/T (Eternal Death)
  • Aphex Twin – Cheetah EP (Warp)

Shawn Haché (Auroch / Mitochondrion / Night Profound)

  • Vomitor : Prayers To Hell (Invictus Productions)
  • Bölzer : Hero (Iron Bonehead)
  • Rome : The Hyperion Machine (Trisol)
  • Urfaust : Empty Space Meditation (Ván)
  • Gevurah : Hallelujah! (Profound Lore)
  • Wovenhand : Star Treatment (Glitterhouse)
  • Inquisition : Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith (Season of Mist)
  • Dave & Jerry : Almost Alive In Two Zero One Five (Disques de Lapin)
  • Denouncement Pyre : Black Sun Unbound (Hells Headbangers)
  • Ulver : ATGCLVLSSCAP (House of Mythology)
  • Soft Kill : Choke (Profound Lore)

Jase of Spades

I spent the entirety of 2016 listening to nothing but Motörhead. For those of you wishing to understand what would firstly motivate, and secondly sustain such an undertaking, it’s readily relivable via the 366 Days of Motörhead blog, the 366 Days Twitter feed, or the 366 Days Facebook page.

As the crusade is now complete, I don’t update these pages any longer. Despite that, the rush is eternal.

  • Orgasmatron (1986) GWR Records
    I didn’t know that Orgasmatron was my favourite Motörhead LP until some time during 2016. Most people will tell you the Bill Laswell production is horrible, and in a sense, that is true. What most fail to realise is that his fucked up vision for Orgasmatron, gave the record a whole other dimension, that no other Motörhead record possesses. It also has that immortal sequence of Claw > Mean Machine > Built For Speed. Born with the hammer down!
  • Bastards (1993) ZYX Music
    Claiming that the 90s is Motörhead’s least revered period won’t generate a lot of argument from people – fans, or tourists. To completely ignore records of this era is plain daft – and I don’t just mean spinning up allegiance for 1916. For me, 1993’s Bastards is an absolute gem. It’s never my intention to prove those who claim Motörhead wrote one song incorrect; I’m happy for those twits to keep the hell away from my most cherished. But for those wanting to capture a sense of Motörhead at their most collectively diverse, Bastards is where it’s going to happen. From the speed metal rush of Burner, to the party anthem that is Born To Raise Hell, the record is suitably rounded out by an incredible B side, with its surreal Lost In The Ozone, hardrocker We Bring The Shake and soul-stirring closer Devils. Whole lotta magick!
  • Another Perfect Day (1983) Bronze
    The first post-Fast Eddie record was roundly hated by Motörhead fans, and eventually the band members themselves. A shame, as in my opinion it is one of their boldest and most visionary statements. The 101 on it is that Eddie quit the band in 1982, and was replaced by former Thin Lizzy wildman Brian “Robbo” Robertson. Robbo played the fuck outta this record. Let Lemmy’s bass/vocals bore through the core of the record, dominating the guts of it as he rightly should. Philthy’s fast and loose style underpinned the whole execution, and Robbo proved wholly capable of clicking with the band, and composing ten exceptional tracks. Definitely the band’s most consistent to date. Joe Petagno’s most hellish vision for Motörhead also.
  • Sacrifice (1995) Steamhammer/SPV
    At the risk of appearing as a 90s era Motörhead apologist, I think much of my meditation over this one was due to it not having been a record I’d given as significant attention to prior to 2016. Motörhead were a band that did what the fuck they wanted, and adventuring well beyond the expected range was by now de rigeur for the four piece. Sacrifice was to be Wurzel’s last outing with his band of 11 years, and while his departure would impact the band – although not in the way one would typically expect – this was a strong farewell. I adore closing cut In Another Time. I have learned over the years that a lot of Motörhead’s seeming left of centre cuts, are those I tune in to the hardest.
  • We Are Motörhead (2000) Steamhammer/SPV
    Despite being staunchly aligned to 90s era Motörhead, I remember vividly when I first dropped the needle on We Are Motörhead, and was greeted by a decidedly revitalised band. I think this relates more to the bare-bones approach they took here, than any catastrophic overhaul of the territory traversed in years prior. The title track also their greatest call to arms in almost 20 years. Inclusion of God Save The Queen is questionable however. Like all covers Motörhead approached beyond the 70s, they executed faithful renditions. Reinvention is always my preferred aspiration.
  • Motörizer (2008) Steamhammer/SPV
    I was a little complacent with this one, and didn’t pay it too much attention upon release. By that logic, 2016 saw it as the newest Motörhead LP, based on my experience. I was beyond pleasantly surprised, and found it to be one that I returned to over and over during the course of the year. Desperately seeking a vinyl repress. Fuck the Discogs sharks!
  • Overnight Sensation (1996) Steamhammer/SPV
    Motörhead were again a three piece for the first time since 1983, and while Wurzel’s big, open chord resonance is clearly absent, Phil Campbell’s raging repertoire of riffs more than makes up for any perceived deficit. Massive, fluid and a little more metallic than we were used to. Motörhead demonstrated that ripper songs are ripper songs, no matter what the facade may appear as. The LP sleeve art was abominable. Where are thou Joe?
  • Rock ‘n Roll (1987) GWR Records
    ‘Cos I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll, satisfies my soul, If that’s how it has to be, I won’t get mad! The follow up to Orgasmatron was a little flatter than previous manifestations, but Rock ‘n’ Roll wasn’t without its barnstormers – Eat The Rich – title track of the same film the band appeared in, its most abundant moment – musically, and in stakes of the absurd.
  • 1916 (1990) Epic Records
    And speaking of absurd, lead track I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care) storms the gates with the lyric: I make love to mountain lions, Sleep on red hot branding irons. Classic Motörhead! Blistering riff, arrangement, and anthemic chorus on the pause – the video resolves exactly what rules about being a Motörhead fan. This LP is also renowned for the first Motör-bom-ballad which took form in Lemmy’s lamentous ode to those whose lives were unnecessarily lost in the battle of Somme. His voice couldn’t be more perfect for that acoustically perpetuated expression.
  • Bomber (1979) Bronze
    Bomber has two of my most treasured Motörhead cuts – the Fast Eddie orated ode to defiance – Step Down, and Poison – one of Lemmy’s most autobiographical expositions. That the remainder of the band’s second long player for 1979 is diabolically kick ass is nothing to lament!

I currently ramble about records on Instagram – @jaseovspades


Set Sothis Nox La (L’Acephale, Hail, Amarantos)

  • Horse Cult : Day Dreams and Night Mares (Independent)
    Hands down my most listened to release this year. Absolutely inspiring selections of songs featuring a mixture of traditional pieces as well as original songs; together the perfectly nestle between apocalyptic folk/Neo folk and electric folk of bands like Folque or Steeleye Span. Phenomenal!
  • With the End in Mind : Unraveling; Arising (Independent)
    Crushing, beautiful and passionate. The kind of Black Metal I love.
  • Blood Incantation : Starspawn (Dark Descent)
    This release achieves with this release to merge the sort of classic Death Metal elements with the best parts of modern Death Metal. There are great technical elements, there are crushing blasting segments, and there are innumerable great riffs going on here. Yet, they are not merely rehashing a mix of modern and retrospective death metal but forging their own path to the stars.
  • Baphometic Dawn : Unexamine – Against the World, Against Life cassette (Blud Auk)
    The label describes this as “slate wiping noise Black Death punk.” It’s true, this is easily the best combination of those genres ever, hands down. Completely amazing!
  • Rïcïnn : Lïan (Blood Music)
    Preternatural vocals matched with austere, engaging compositions. I remain completely floored by this release. Absolutely fantastic!
  • Leadeater : Oxalis – Cassette (GreySun)
    Another shining gem of ‘Cascadian’ black metal. Seeing them perform this live was also one of the highlights of the year.
  • Faun Fables : Born of the Sun (Drag City Incorporated)
    Faun Fables is such a unique and outstanding group. This recording features many songs that they have been performing the past several years. I am regularly floor at how good the musicianship is as well as the lyrics. Specifically, Madmen and Dogs is just utterly brilliant! This is such a fantastic release.
  • Deathspell Omega : Synarchy of Molten Bones (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
    Although not as good as some recent DSO releases, I found myself going back to this over and over since it came out. This turns out to be a slow burner of a release for me, one that might not be the best DSO release but is still way better than most Black Metal out there.
  • Ekstasis : The Adversary (Pest Productions)
    Ekstasis, along with Sangre de Muerdago, Novemthree  and DIsemballerina (along with a couple other folk groups) are carving out a special niche in my heart. I do not have the right words for what this genre might be just yet but I love it and I want more.
  • Spectral Voice : Phrenelith –Split 7” (Iron Bonehead / Dark Descent)
    I love the design for this release. Austere and macabre. A perfect vessel for the black doom laden sounds it contains. I want a proper full length from Spectral Voice!
  • Batushka : Litourgiya (Witching Hour Productions)
    At first, I thought this was a little kitchy for me, but then I got over it and now, I love it. I want to see this band perform live immensely!
  • Darkestrah : Turan (Osmose Productions)
    I have not followed Darkestrah for a few releases. Not since The Great Silk Road.  The demos, Sary Oy and Embrace of Memory are such great pagan black metal. Yet it is Epos though, where this band matured into one of the most underrated bands on the planet. I love the themes being explored and the music is just outstanding. If you have not listened to this band, start here and then go band and listen to Epos.
  • B.H.L. /Volahn : Debajo Del Simbolo Del Sol 7” (Crepusculo Negro / Final Agony)
    Most people likely know about these bands. This split kills it! Mandatory.
  • Antaeus : Contamination (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
    Blood Libels is a release that I would rate in the top 20 Black Metal records of all time. I did not expect to ever see another Antaeus release, despite them touring the US a couple years ago. All I can say is: YES!
  • Sangre De Muerdago : Os Segredos da Raposa Vermella (Independent)
    I have high expectations when it comes to Sangre de Muerdago, I love their music so very much. I am very excited to hear more hurdy gurdy! So great.
  • Amber Asylum : Sin Eater (Profound Lore)
    You really have to submit to Amber Asylum releases. They often are austere and slow to build, but when you do submit, you come to know their grandeur.
  • Disemballerina : Poison Gown (Independent)
    As discussed elsewhere in this list, this ensemble are in with some of my favorite folk/acoustic music. If you have not heard them, or their release Undertaker, do yourself a favor and get on it!
  • Ehecatl – Quetzallitztly/Risen (GreySun)
    Another fantastic GreySun release, originally intended to come out last year. I highly recommend this!
  • East Sherman / A God or an Other : Split (Independent)
    2 great bands from Washington state. East Sherman are black noise crust grind. They have released several splits and demos all available through their bandcamp page. All of which are fucking great! A God or an Other completely blew me away when I saw them this year at Thirst For Light. Experimental Black Metal. Do yourself another favor, visit both of their bandcamp page and get all the music that both these band have.
  • Crawl : Poisonous Failure (Independent)
    While you are on bandcamp. Look up Crawl, an experimental one man doom project. Another band that I have never heard, until seeing them at this year’s Eternal Warfare Festival. Holy Shit! This is the best crushing doom that I have heard since Nortt. Completely different, but in so far as it is crushing, heavy, and a slow cacophonous doom devoid of insipid ‘beautiful melody.’ This is it!

Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen / Viraloptic / In solace Publishing)

Glimpses into moments, places and things in time that got me through 2016. 

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