Blood Incantation – Starspawn

A weird, yet pleasantly refreshing mixture of OSDM and tech death, while combining atmospheric and prog elements to create this otherworldly beauty. Echoes of Timeghoul and Mithras are apparent, albeit this record is much cleaner then either. I feel like the one thing I wasn’t really thrilled about was how directionless the tracks could be at times. It seems like there were moments where the music just sort of meandered, lazily arriving to it’s destination after much slacking off on tangents. In a way, this makes me feel like I’m having a space exploration, searching unknown worlds for what they hold. Starspawn and Meticulous Soul Devourment in particular give a much slower and calmer view of the album, whereas the other tracks are generally much more violent in nature. I really love how I can hear the environment of the planet in the music, like I’m going through and audio guided tour of some intergalactic hellhole.

While the 34 minute runtime isn’t really bad per say (think it’s actually around the perfect time for this kind of album), I think the first track is just overly long and lacks the necessary diversity for it’s length. It’s kind of funny how part two of Vitrification of Blood packs in twice the amount of imagination as it’s first part, while being half the length. This is especially concerning as that first track takes up a full third of the album. However it doesn’t take enough away from this album for me to not give it a fantastic score, as this easily one of the top death metal records this year.


Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

Fantastic doom metal, held back only by it’s lack of “off button”. It basically is full throttle, tear jerking emotions the entire record, which yes, the vocals especially are soulful as all hell, but for it’s length especially it wears on you a bit. The songs sound pretty similar as well. Still awesome for what it is, haven’t heard a great trad doom record this year until now.


Svirnath – Il regno della natura

In terms of low budget black metal that covers the theme of the beauty of nature, you’re not going to find much better than this. The acoustic guitars are absolutely superb, I can feel the soaring, inspiring riffs of the guitars in my blood, and the entire listen was an extremely joyfull experience that made me grateful to be in an area so full of wonderful nature beauty (Oregon). I’m very weary of black metal albums with real life color photos as the cover, but this made me a believer, at least for now. The only issue I have is the synths, which I felt were just to hollow and empty. I also think, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, that the nature recordings they used during the intro should’ve been used more as a theme throughout the whole album. There’s a lot to like here, just don’t expect a highly produced master piece. Though again, what better way to display the beauty of nature than with a recording that’s much more down to earth?



Jute Gyte – Perdurance

So regardless of what numerical rating I give this record, I will say this: Perdurance has some of the coolest fucking guitar tones I’ve ever heard. I mean listen to that shit at around the 1 minute mark of Like the Woddcutter Sawing His Hands. Holy shit, that’s fucking surreal. I wouldn’t even know how you could go about creating that. Then again, I don’t think I have the imagination to create this album period. Rarely are there metal albums that I listen to and don’t think “yeah if I played guitar I could do that”. I mean maybe extremely technical and vituosic albums sure, but assuming my guitar skills were shared with the artists, the large majority of the albums I listen to is shit I could do in that scenario. This album isn’t one of those, and that deserves some respect.

Aside from just the guitar tone, the entire premise of this album is wicked fucking awesome, like genre porn that you never knew you wanted. Black metal has always prided itself in sinister riffs and tones, so a logical next step to that would be to create black metal using tones that one wouldn’t normally hear in a metal album, or any album for that matter. I’ll admit, I don’t have exactly the biggest experience with microtonal music, but I instantly thought of Penderecki when I heard this, and any time there is even an implication of Penderecki and black metal, I’m going to be a happy man.

But it’s not just microtones that they throw at you. Along with the haunting, whispering buzzing tonalities, you get these crunching, mechanical guitars that sound like they don’t belong on the album. Not that that’s a problem, I’m more than happy to accommodate more weird shit if it sounds good. These guitars are used to produced these heavy, groovy riffs that at times sound like they come from a stoner doom record of all things. Groove is a surprisingly large element of Perdurance. This isn’t all just art student wankery, there are some serious riffs going on here, to a point where it almost detracts from the more artistic elements of the album. Almost.

However, as much as I loved this record, I feel like there simply aren’t enough ideas for it to justify its length. Once you’ve heard the first track, you’ve essentially heard the entire album. I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young is just about the best closer one could hope for, with more diversity than any other track on the album. But until then, the songs are often quite formulaic, with breaks to introduce “new” ideas, however those ideas never coming outside of the formula itself. There’s almost always that mechanical guitar riffing, followed by microtonal whining, back to guitar riffing. The variation comes during moments outside the riffing, however I feel like I have to wait for the riffs to be done before I ever get anything really new, and the riffs make up the large majority of the album. I Am in Athens has some softer sections that sound almost uplifting in a way, and other aspects that keep me interested during the entire track, rather than simply waiting for the good shit to pop up. I feel like an EP of tracks 3,4, and 6 would be fantastic, and get exactly as much information to the listener, while being a lot easier to listen to, and less time consuming.

Is this album a gimmick album, absolutely. A great, and very unique gimmick, but a gimmick none the less. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however. I absolutely adore the concept, and complaints aside, had a wonderful experience with this album. Perdurance represents what I love about black metal. No matter how much black metal you listen to, there’s always something new to hear, and always new ideas being created. It’s ripe with experimentation as well as tradition, often blending both in the same record (though not so much here). But an album based on essentially two ideas does not need to be an hour long. It’s not a major complaint, but it prevents this from being a top 10 album this year, which I feel like it had every right to be.


Moongates Guardian – The Eagle’s Song

You ever have an album that you acknowledge that on a somewhat objective level is total trash, but you still love the shit out of it anyway? And not just in the “so good it’s bad” or in the “it’s bad but really fun” way. But like in a way where the album is so unique and quirky, so full of both insane stupidity, and immense brilliance, that it turns what should be shit into absolute magic? This is The Eagle’s Song. On the one hand, it’s a Lord of the Rings / Summoning worship (which I guess is the same thing if we’re being honest) that for the most part, is slightly over the top, but a tad generic. Like, higher end generic, but generic nonetheless. But that’s only like 40% of the album. The rest is some kind of fucking experience. The vocals are completely fucking trash. It’s like these guys wanted the worst vocals possible that would still sound trve black metal, but like the really bad trve black metal you find in demo tapes from the 90s that were unknown for a reason. The guitar sound is 90% shit during the entire album, but then have random, tiny moments where it matches perfectly with the music. And that’s what makes this album so special. Despite all the wrong that there is here, there is almost as much moments of sheer amazement. The synths on Sauron legitimately make for a 10/10 dungeon synth song. The black metal aspects are mediocre, but those synths are fucking movie tier, GOOD movie tier. The same can be said for the synths on Legolas’ Song of the Sea. There are moments here of inspired beauty that feel like they just shouldn’t be there, but you’re glad that they are. And then you get shit like Inn of the Prancing Pony, which I still can’t for the life of me tell if it’s meant to sound the way it is. Like you get the idea that maybe they’re trying to be purposefully ridiculous, but at the same time in the back of your mind, you think maybe it’s not intentional. That’s the thing, no matter what this album throws at you, you’re left guessing as to whether or not any of the highs or lows are intentional. That combined with the fact that this is an obviously sincere work of love for Tolken, makes for such a magical journey, that good or bad, I couldn’t help but love every second of.


Subetroth – Native Alien

Hoooly shit this is massive. Just like, a fucking fireball of sound coming right for your fucking face. This is easily the heaviest record I’ve heard this year. The guitars are tuned to the lowest possible frequency, giving it the djent quality without sounding too clean. I love the slight intermixing of clean vocals at the right times here, gives you just a little break without sounding over-dramatic. It’s nice that while this record is hugely sludgey and destructive with it’s screeched vocals and crushing guitars, there is just a little bit of thought put into the music, with it’s emotional climaxes, and at certain times, a semblance of songwriting. But of course, that’s not the point of Native Alien. The point is to skull fuck you until you’re so fucked in the head (literally) that you beg for more. The record rapes you to the point where it’s not rape anymore, you can’t get enough of it. If you want pure, extreme doom goodness, check this shit out.


Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows

I don’t know how a Post-Hardcore band turns into a fantastic black metal / mathcore blend band, but I’m enjoying every second of it. It’s just dirty black metal with some mathy riffs, but it works so god damn well. Don’t be a plebeian, give this a spin.


Seven Sisters of Sleep – Ezekiel’s Hags

Hello? Hey is this 2016 speaking?… Hi 2016, it’s Electric Lizard…. Yeah I’m doing good, just going through your albums like always. Say you know I’ve been thinking, there’s something missing from your catalog so far this year. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve had some great albums so far, it’s just that… yeah I know you’re trying your best… yeah Cthe’ilest was pretty damn cool… listen I’m not saying you’ve been bad this year but something has been a bit lacking. So I wanted to ask you a favor. Could you maybe make a you know, good sludge album? I mean yeah Bloodiest wasn’t bad but you know, that’s a lot more post-metal than anything else… yes I know it’s technically called atmospheric sludge metal… uh huh… yeah… look what I want is something that’s really grimey and hard, just pure sludgey goodness… what’s that? You got one for me?! Awww thanks 2016 you’re the best! Does it have those guitar shrieks?… it does?… it doesn’t go full Meth Drinker and abuse it thought, does it?… no?! Man you know 2016, you’re a pretty great guy after all! Hey how about we grab lunch sometime, my treat?… Oh, you’re busy? Oh well uh, that’s ok, I’m not a huge fan of lunch anyway, haha. Anyway it was great talking to yo- hello?… you there? 2016 please answer I don’t have any other friends to talk to. Hello? Hello?!