(Yesterday we began the roll-out of Austin Weber’s year-end NCS lists with a feature focused on variants of death metal, and here we present his second list, with a focus on black metal and grind.)
As 2016 comes to an end, I remain quite thankful to Islander for allowing me to contribute here over the last few years. I really believe in this site and our mission of sharing more of what’s out there than most other sites. So with that in mind, if anyone about to intake this hasn’t seen my prior year-end lists here at NCS, I try to do something different than most people.
My goal is to bring you a massive alternative list of my favorite lesser-known releases of the year, divided into several parts. Which means I won’t post a lot of releases that you see on other lists. Not because I didn’t dig a lot of them, but because you already know about them and will be seeing a lot of the same names being repeated elsewhere.
Undoubtedly some of the releases will be ones you’ll know or heard mentioned in passing, but hopefully you’ll find more new bands and music you were unaware of overall. Quotes that appear below the following releases were pulled from my reviews, multi-band articles, and song premieres from music covered here at NCS and my 2016 posts from Metal-Injection. You’ll also find some new mini write-ups for releases I didn’t get a chance to cover anywhere this year, but loved as well.
Cvlled Kvlt Cold Cuts
Imperial Triumphant – Inceste
“After a release as batshit crazy and eclectic as Abyssal Gods, I was excited to hear what new realms of misery they cooked up this time. And damn, Inceste does not disappoint at all. It traps and delivers all their many forms of sonic tinkering and dissonant filth, with a healthy round of guests aiding in their eerie quest to musically hit rock bottom and become purely chaotic noise.”
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Jute Gyte – Perdurance
There’s usually at least one new Jute Gyte release each year, and this year that was Perdurance. Overall it’s similar in style and sound to past offerings, but weaves a lot of strange electronic elements into the songs that had been relegated to standalone electronic-only-focused releases up until now. Perdurance is ugly and unorthodox microtonal black metal for people who like sour sounds and desire a fitting soundtrack to their own endless existential crises.
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VIII – Decathexis
“The record clocks in at about 50 minutes, but the kicker is that it’s divided into only three lengthy tracks. Normally something like this would bore me, as compositions this long in black metal often seem to meander, in my opinion. But, that’s not the case on Decathexis.”
“Each song unfolds into a multitude of different segments that flow gracefully from point to point without losing a sense of urgency or purpose. Their label posits the release as gaining strength from its death, doom, jazz, and industrial influences. I’d also add a slight rock-and-roll influence to that mix as well, especially in a few of the solos and the opening riffs present on the third song.”
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Cell- The Frozen Moon of Erebath
Cell are yet another band I found in 2016 due to the hard work of our editor Islander. Before The Frozen Moon of Erebath was out, he premiered the first single and sent it my way knowing it might be to my liking. Wow, was he ever right!
This record deserves more attention, so be sure to check it out if you missed out on it. Islander hit the nail on the head regarding what makes this special, so I’ll quote him in lieu of saying something similar but not as eloquently put: “This trio clearly have impressive instrumental chops, and creative ideas that seem unrestrained by the gravity well of standard genre fare. Without wholly abandoning the ferocity of their black metal influences, they’ve gone rocketing off into space on an unpredictable course of their own.”
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Maladie – Symptoms
Ever since I stumbled onto the brilliant progressive black/death collective known as Maladie a few years back, I’ve been helplessly hooked on their ambitious and emotionally powerful music. Last year’s full-length, Still, was one of my absolute favorites of 2015, and this year’s newly released effort Symptoms sees the band evolving even further into new territory.
Perhaps more black metal than before, there is still plenty of death metal and prog to it, all within a single 42-minute composition, which for the sake of the label selling it, has been divided into eight songs. But having heard it early as the single song effort it was originally envisioned, I can attest that hearing it all at once in one sitting as a singular piece of music is the preferred way to intake this release. Symptoms just recently came out on December 2nd, so hopefully mentioning it here will get more people to check it out — it’s fucking fantastic stuff!
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Anagnorisis – Peripeteia
Putting Anagnorisis on here is a point of pride for me, not merely because they are a band from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, but also because they make really good black metal music, as evidenced by Peripeteia popping up on numerous year-end lists I’ve seen, including some here at NCS — such as the recent one from Panopticon’s Austin Lunn, who used to play in Anagnorisis many years ago, a fact most people don’t know! While the band’s prior record, Beyond All Light was worthy of the accolades it received, Peripeteia is twice as good as that one and shows the band really coming into their own.
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Bhavachakra – Bhavachakra
If you enjoy groups like Krallice, Ephel Duath, Gorguts, Deathspell Omega, and the like, you’ll love this year’s self-titled album from Bhavachakra. Few black metal albums this year have captured my attention like this one has. If you haven’t heard Bhavachakra, come find out why I feel it’s such an impressive debut release by a promising new band.
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Veilburner – The Obscene Rite
“Prior to the upcoming release of The Obscene Rite, I’ve been a very big fan of the group’s two full-lengths that preceded this. Like a fine wine fermenting in hell, the group’s music has only gotten richer, weirder, and more evil with each new release. If their first album, The Three Lightbearers, can be seen as their most savage, and its follow up, Noumeneon, as their more experimental and prog inflected release, than The Obscene Rite sits somewhere in between those two worlds.”
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Vermine – Vermine
“Vermine is a side-project of Plebeian Grandstand’s bassist and additional-vocalist Olivier Lolmède.”
“While it doesn’t paint a perfect picture, Vermine definitely sounds like the logical conclusion of Plebeian Grandstand’s music stripped of the hardcore, grind, and mathcore influences, leaving the cold black metal side at the forefront. There’s a mix of more traditional black metal style riffing and ideas within Vermine, but the overall sound here largely trends more toward Deathspell Omega-influenced kinds of black metal.”
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Dendritic Arbor – split with Infinite Waste
“The two songs on it from Dendritic Arbor showcase further oddball experimentation and cross-genre pollination from the group in their usual gnarly and pissed-off fashion.”
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Cognizant – Cognizant
“…the band have found a way to create thinking man’s skronky tech-grind that draws from groups like Discordance Axis, Gorguts, and Artificial Brain and then compact that down into mini-maelstroms of contained yet memorable chaos. The entirety of Cognizant clocks in at just under 20 minutes, but ends up containing more ideas to explore within its depths than many bands accomplish in double that run-time or more.”
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Nostril Caverns – Self-Inflicted Memory Loss
“Like every other Nostril Caverns release, the musicianship is top-notch and forward-thinking, but this time around it’s all reduced into zany bite-size snippets anchored by weird sound clips. Which cumulatively reminds me of a mix of older Agoraphobic Nosebleed and also Cephalic Carnage during their grind-heavy, sound-sample-loaded 2002 split release, Perversion… And The Guilt After. The music is juxtaposed with an angular technical side similar to groups like Discordance Axis, Dendritic Arbor, Psyopus, Gorguts, and Okazaki Fragments.”
“…a fantastic 99-song experimental tech-grind release…”
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Crisis Actor – Rape Crisis Actor
“What Crisis Actor accomplish and destroy in a mere three songs here on Rape Crisis Actor rivals the intensity and bat-shity crazy nature of many of their peers in grind, tech-grind, deathgrind, and beyond. Add in dissonant black metal chords and you get something akin to a crossbreed between Maruta, Pyrrhon, and Dendritic Arbor, and damn is it a savage mix of truly inspired hatred to hear unfold in all its unpredictable and nauseating glory!”
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Vaulting – Vanitas
“German technical death/grind weirdos Vaulting have been active since 2006, but like a lot of groups, I’m late to the party, having only gotten into them recently through their 2016 release, Vanitas. I suppose a comparison to the strange sound of See You Next Tuesday might give you a small ballpark with which to think of the music here, but there’s so much more of progressive and eloquent side to Vanitas beyond its mathy miniature death-crushing songs.”
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Mülch – nooneisrightandnothingisreal
If you’re a fan of early Fused Together In Revolving Doors-era The Red Chord, you’ll go apeshit over nooneisrightandnothingisreal, the nonsensically titled but deadly serious 2016 “demo” release from Mülch that takes that kind of sound and reduces it into caustic grind-length songs of frantic desperation.
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Cyprus – The Librettist
“The group play a particularly interesting style of what can only be labeled as experimental math grind. The Librettist consists of frantic music that never stays in one place for long, often showing off the weird side of their music as if to prove they truly are an experimental-minded act, but it works. It’s a fun mix of fury and funky, strange, jam-oriented material.”
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Brazen Bull – Soirée
“Ah Brazen Bull, how I’ve missed thee. I’ve been following these Australian bizarro-death-metal-infused, mathcore-meets-deathgrinders for some time now, anxiously awaiting their latest EP offering to come out. Which, out of nowhere, just randomly dropped in mid-August and is called Soirée.”
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Stench Price – Stench Price
“Stench Price is a multi-national project with members from many of the best groups around. And by that I don’t mean just the best grind around. The group encompasses many key skilled players from genres ranging from technical-minded outfits to old school death metal veterans to prog-minded outfits and seemingly everywhere in between.”
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The Divorcée – All My Heroes are Dead And They Are Never Coming Back
“Chaotic and gnarly angular rhythms colliding with throat-scraping vocals rule the roost here, and The Divorcée have a great take on the math-grind, mixed kinda sound. So if you like stuff like Oblivionized, See You Next Tuesday, Psyopus, and Dillinger Escape Plan, you’ll love every second of All My Heroes Are Dead And They Are Never Coming Back. Don’t fight the chaos, embrace the void!”
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Arms – Blackout
“While it’s hard to guess why someone wants to jam something as pissed as this without being pissed themselves, I’ll just say that some people like poison in their cup of tea, and this is for those people. The dead ones, in the corner, ya know, all of us nameless masses!”
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