This time of year there are always a few people who ask whether I’m going to post my own list of the year’s best releases. Again, the answer is no, because making the effort would be too paralyzing. I have enough trouble deciding whether to wash my underoos or let them ferment for another week.
On the other hand, I do kind of feel left out of the year-end LISTMANIA frenzy, so I thought I’d put together a Top 10 list, but one that’s a bit easier for my overtaxed brain to process. These are the 10 best songs I heard for the first time yesterday.
Hey, don’t laugh! It wasn’t that easy — I listened to more than 20 new songs yesterday, so I did have to make some decisions. Of course, I couldn’t be bothered to rank these 10 tracks; there’s a limit to how far I’m going with this.
The first song is “Faceless Queen of Bloodstained Dreams”, which is from an album I’ve been anxiously awaiting — the second full-length by Norway’s Shaarimoth, which is arriving more than a decade after the first one.
The song is ugly, titanic, majestic, head-battering, and arcane — and it doesn’t unfold in a straight line, instead spiraling off into an ever-morphing shadow realm and circling back, changed through the incantations of ritual. A fascinating piece of infernal darkness.
Album: Temple of the Adversarial Fire
Release Date: January 13, 2017
Label: W.T.C. Productions
Next on the list is a lyric video for “Mean, Green, Killing Machine”, a track from the 18th (!!!) album by New Jersey’s Overkill.
Quantum physicists are beginning to conclude that time will never catch up to these bastards. That pulsing riff at the beginning is pure gold, and it’s not the last of the gold you can mine from this track. Bang your head ’til it falls off.
The next song is “Black Storm Will Unfold” by a Polish band named Thunderwar off their just-released debut album. It hit me as a huge surprise — and I mean a really HUGE surprise! It’s a highly alluring concoction of cross-genre elements that proves to be memorable… and highly addictive. Fantastic riffs, blood-pumping propulsion, hook-laden melodies, a great solo, and pleasingly rough and raw vocals… what’s not to like?
P.S. The great cover art for the album was painted by Berlin-based artist Eliran Kantor.
P.P.S. I learned about this song from TheMadIsraeli, who has delivered a review of the album that we’ll be posting soon.
UPDATE: In addition to the order link below for physical editions, the album has now been made available for download here:
I know, this album has been out since April, and it has already appeared on DGR‘s year-end list that we’ve been rolling out all week. But still, I only heard “Reckless Abandon” for the first time yesterday, thanks to a lyric video for the song that premiered recently. I shouldn’t have waited so long.
DGR warned me through his review that this track was the album’s big surprise — an up-tempo beast that comes very close to full-on death metal. Man, I really do like it. Good video, too.
THE OMINOUS CIRCLE
Two tracks have premiered so far from the debut album by this very talented Portuguese death metal band — “From Endless Chasms” and “Poison Fumes”. The one chosen for this list is the first of those.
The Ominous Circle have really nailed a particular kind of death metal sound with this rampaging, thrash-paced song — harnessing vicious swarming riffs, monstrous bellowing vocals, and top-shelf pestilential soloing to produce something as dynamic and as exciting as it is utterly morbid.
P.S. If you let the Bandcamp player run, you’ll also get to hear “Poison Fumes”.
The Ross Bay Cult rises again, this time through the long-awaited debut EP by the band Death Worship, which features performances by members of Conqueror, Blasphemy, and Revenge: guitarist/bassist/vocalist Ryan Förster, backing vocalist Gerry Joseph Buhl, and drummer J. Read.
The song I heard yesterday is “Superion Rising” — and you can indeed detect the bloodlines of the three bands mentioned above. It’s a nasty, bestial piece of downtuned thuggery, but it hits a compulsive groove laced with a diseased spurt of soloing before it finishes carving you up like a side of rancid beef.
EP: Extermination Mass
Release Date: 2017
Label: Nuclear War Now!
After dissolving six years ago, North Carolina’s Advent have returned with a new EP, and it’s the source of the next song on this list — “Weight of the World” — which is a bone-breaking beating of metallic hardcore. It’s a mean-as-shit piece of music that’s very fucking bleak, but buries its melodic hooks in your head, too. The vocals sound maniacally infuriated, and become terrifying by the time of the obliterating finale.
I’m also including a second song that premiered more recently, “Shadow of Death”. It doesn’t love you either.
I learned of this next song through a message from Grant Skelton. Its name is “Swallowed By Death”, from the debut album of a French band named Creeping Fear.
I will say, there’s nothing creeping about this particular track. It comes gunning for you right from the start, and it’s not stealthy about it. The grooves punch like a heavyweight and there’s some technical flash and queasy melodicism in the fretwork. After they finished recording, I also hope they put their vocalist back in his cage before he started tearing the limbs from his bandmates and eating them raw.
DRONES FOR QUEENS
This Philadelphia band reputedly includes members of Woe, Dirt Worshipper, and Woods of Ypres. They’ve previously released a split, two EPs, and now a full-length that’s the source of this next song, “Late Chapters”.
The song is a highly invigorating but lethally toxic brew that could be dissected as equal parts d-beat, hardcore, grind, death metal, and a napalm strafing run. But why bother dissecting it? It hits so hard, so fast, and with such thoroughly destructive intent that you should just let the blast front carry you away. You may have to clean off the blood spray from the vocalist’s jugular rupture by the time you’re done, but you probably needed a bath anyway.
P.S. I actually listened to this entire EP yesterday, not just this one song. The whole EP is goddamned lethal. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll just let the player run ’til it’s over.
Album: Unwavering Servant
Release Date: November 1, 2016
PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS
I’d heard the name Planes Mistaken For Stars before yesterday (hard name to forget), but managed to go through life until then without ever listening to their music. I gather that they disbanded in 2007 after releasing three albums, but reunited about three years later and have now produced a fourth full-length.
“Fucking Tenderness” is the name of the final song in this Top 10 list. It’s an immensely catchy track, and the icing on the cake for me was the darkness in the vocals, which put the song in a different light than it would have had with something cleaner and prettier.
Release Date: October 21, 2016
Label: Deathwish Inc.