The Best Avantgarde / Experimental Metal - Metal Storm Awards 2016





Boy, even the name is avant-garde. This is going to be an interesting experience... Hey, are those bongos? And, like, a bass clarinet or something? Hang on. When did this become a... black metal disco? With... a gospel choir? Grunge country Psycho strings and grindcore? Keyboards and tribal chants and R&B and pop and suddenly there's The Meads Of Asphodel... and the first song isn't even over. It's like Sigh had a baby with 6:33. Specifically, Rosemary's Baby.

When you're so jaded that "regular" avant-garde music just doesn't do it for you anymore, there's... these people.

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Something about French metal in general has seemed incredibly forward-thinking and experimentally inclined in recent years, and Aluk Todolo is certainly a band that helps to cement this impression. Their fourth effort that is Voix sees these talented composers weaving groovy krautrock jamz with curious black metal undertones to a point that often you can't even tell which is which. A powerful genre-blender that proves that with the right helmsmen at command, any stylistic combination may be possible.

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One of the original creators of cybergrind, Gigantic Brain are back after quite a hiatus. So, are you ready for a grinding, electronical, wacky, and playful dose of musical weirdness? As they say, this album features "borderline psychedelic songs about cats, unicorns, sheep, babies, suntanning, boats, panties and much much more." You've been warned!

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Lazy, lilting vocals drip out over the most drunken and nonsensical of synthesized backdrops, out of which crawl all manners of randomized percussion and alien effects. Things like "key" and "pitch" and "time" don't really apply to Kayo Dot; Plastic House On Base Of Sky wanders wherever it pleases with incomprehensible good nature and no regard for structure, but only for the hypnotic walls of bumblebee keyboards that create this album. This thing feels like the soundtrack to a drug-fueled computer simulation from the 1980s, and... it just might be that.

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Seven long years after their last album, Madder Mortem's new offering Red In Tooth And Claw is more accessible than usual; accessibly wacky. Their music is still powerful and deep, true to their melting-pot of influences and glorious. Genre-defying and progressive, Madder Mortem offer us yet another very successful musical experiment on a silver platter.

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Purveyors of musical darkness since The Tunnels, Terra Tenebrosa upped the ante with their third album. Refining their trademark unique sound - something akin to a crushing vortex mixing industrial, dark ambient, sludge and black metal - The Reverses is probably their most entrancing album yet (as shown by, for example, the 17-minute-long apocalyptic closer "Fire Dances", featuring Blut Aus Nord's Vindsval). This is darkness made sound, almost solid at times, and once again a one-of-a-kind experience!

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With Meta, mastermind Tamás Kátai once again welcomes us to a journey through fantastic musical landscapes. The sonic elements that always made Thy Catafalque's unique sound are still here, but with a different balance than in the previous, mellower album Sgùrr. But whether it's aggressive black metal-ish riffing, hauntingly folky melodies, or ambient electro flourishes, Thy Catafalque is as always at the top of its craft, and never ceases to surprise us!

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Rooms marks the return to greatness of female-fronted avant-black outfit Todtgelichter, after the disappointing Apnoe. This is an eerie, disquieting affair, with banshee shrieks and murmured vocals, a dark mood and haunting ambiances, quirky guitar lines and twisted harmonies, electric dissonance and electronic or liturgical touches. A really rewarding listen, wandering in some uncomfortable recesses of the human mind...

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Rarely have there been avant-garde bands that make their quirkiness and peculiarities as catchy and memorable as do the Norwegians in Virus. Here on their fourth album, the band's music is as sharp as ever, with ensnaring, almost danceable guitar riffs, the surreal, Lewis Carroll-ish lyrics of frontman Czarl, and bouncy, intricate bass lines that would even make some funk musicians jealous. Don't run, don't steer clear. This is a virus you want to catch.

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Zeal And Ardor's unique blend of styles has been treated to a variety of labels: "blackened black metal," "black and blue[s] metal," etc. Words like "amazing" and "ingenious" always append the description of Devil Is Fine, one of the Metal Storm staff's collective favorites of 2016. You'll know why as soon as those satanic spirituals being howling a void into your brain, to be filled by cold black metal and scattered electronic elements. Zeal And Ardor is conceptually innovative and substantially brilliant in a way unmatched by most artists in any genre these days.

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