The Best Death Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016


1.  Fallujah - Dreamless 223
2.  Asphyx - Incoming Death 166
3.  Ulcerate - Shrines Of Paralysis 120
4.  Mithras - On Strange Loops 49
5.  Bölzer - Hero 48
6.  Chthe'ilist - Le Dernier Crépuscule 42
7.  Fleshgod Apocalypse - King (write-in vote) 29
8.  Départe - Failure, Subside 27
9.  Howls Of Ebb - Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows 19
10.  Vader - The Empire (write-in vote) 16
11.  Vanhelgd - Temple Of Phobos 14
  Blood Incantation - Starspawn (write-in vote) 14
13.  Obscura - Akróasis (write-in vote) 12
14.  Aborted - Retrogore (write-in vote) 9
15.  First Fragment - Dasein (write-in vote) 7
  Dysylumn - Chaos Primordial [EP] 7
Total votes:
867



All these new kids on the block have their own fancy twists on fancy twists on fancy twists on death metal, but now and then you need a grizzled, veteran warhorse to crank up the distortion, shred out some demonic thrash riffs, and blacken the skies with raw, old school fury. Martin van Drunen's iconic, hoarse growls command Asphyx's latest descent into brutality, a barrage of blunt, punchy guitar lines and throbbing percussion. "The Grand Denial," the album's centerpiece, and "Death: The Only Immortal," the closer, are in particular landmarks of modern death metal - but all of Incoming Death is as primal and ferocious as Asphyx has always been.
It was hard to miss the chatter surrounding Bölzer's pair of EPs, so when the time came for the Dutch death duo to make an official debut, all eyes were naturally fixed in attention. Oddly enough, Hero takes a rather different approach from the material that got Bölzer so recognized to begin with, utilizing frequent clean vocals and a more repetitive, almost post-black approach to songwriting. Hero is still packed with limber riffing and strange, organic melodies, however; the album brims with personality and suggests that Bölzer is a more complex band than we had imagined.

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There's a wise old saying which goes "You can't please everyone". Intentional or not, Chthe'ilist is smashing that old saying into bits with a big middle finger by checking all the possible boxes. It's brutal, technical, old school-sounding, gritty, doomy and with a good measure of thrashy riffs.

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The phrase "blackened post-death" was tossed around during the preliminary stages of the MSAs, but that horrific aggregation doesn't begin to touch upon the stylistic, thematic, and atmospheric depth that suddenly poured out of Australia without warning in the form of Départe. If it sounds bleak and abysmal, it went into Failure, Subside at some point or another; the pained clean vocals, droning guitar lines, and expansive progressions into enrapturing soundscapes flow through this protracted bout of unfettered anguish. The fact that Failure, Subside is only Départe's first album defies logic, for it feels like the magnum opus of some well-traveled and highly-acclaimed favorite.

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Chaos Primordial is a good example of how to create an album that mixes black, death and prog without being cheesy by any means. The whole EP is over 28 minutes long but right after its finishing seconds you simply want more of it. The replay value is a big factor here.

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How could you possibly turn the most teeth-gnashing, spark-emitting, rubber-burning technical death metal into an illustrious gem of subtle beauty and complex emotion? The answer, apparently, is simply, "be Fallujah." This band already redefined tech death with The Flesh Prevails, and Dreamless gives us more in that same vein, warmly nestling those blistering death metal assaults in seas of calm keyboards, colorful guitar leads, and clean vocals. Dreamless isn't metal; it's technical death poetry.

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There's been a slow but steady increase in creativity and sound diversification in certain areas of death metal lately, and Howls Of Ebb are an excellent example. The Lovecraft-themed death metal on Cursus Impasse is about as atypical as things can get, with an amazingly memorable sense of bounce and groove embellished by curious off-beat riffing, dark psychedelic undertones, and subtle shades of black metal to top it all off. Raise those tentacles high and join this powerful duo in their hymns to the Old Ones.

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It's been nine years since Mithras's last album. While no one is sure what transpired during this long stretch, listening to On Strange Loops should reveal that the band has been occupied with a kaleidoscopic journey through the cosmos, soaring over constellations and crashing through space-time to witness the star-forming regions of the Eagle Nebula.

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Only a bunch of indulgent words can be used to describe Ulcerate's trademark brand of incongruent death metal: precision, technical, chaotic and, above all, brutal. A dissonant, despair-ridden atmosphere prevails courtesy of skillfully crafted song structures and amazing musicianship. Unpredictable and inventive, but without ever bowing down to specific genre axioms, Shrines of Paralysis is another touchstone in the career of these New Zealanders.

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Following on from the brilliant Relics Of Sulphur Salvation released back in 2014, Vanhelgd's latest album, Temple Of Phobos, represents the band's fourth full-length release and has a lot to live up to if it is to compare to what came before. So does it meet expectations? The simple answer is yes ...and then some! With a slower tempo & more variation compared to its predecessor, Temple Of Phobos is a crushing yet well-executed slab of Swedish death metal that starts strongly & maintains its high standards throughout, until finishing with an absolute beast of a track in 'Allt Hopp Är Förbi', making Temple Of Phobos undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2016.

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