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2016: Keeping Up With The Joneses (Jan-Jun)

For me more than you, as the sheer amount of music in the world has turned me into a goldfish as far as remembering what I've listened to and what I thought of it. However, if you find something cool from here, more power you my friend!

Created by: musclassia | 05.02.2016

1. Cult Of Luna - Mariner [Collaboration]
2016 [8.7] - The follow-up to Vertikal maintains very similar sonic landscapes to that album, albeit arguably less heavy. Overall the quality doesn't quite match up to that album as far as how adventurous the songwriting goes, but there's still some cracking music here, particularly on closing epic Cygnus, and the vocal additions of Julie Christmas, whilst taking a bit of time to get used to, add a very interesting new flavour and are for the most part successful. A very intriguing step for the band to take and a worthy addition to their back catalogue.
2. Fallujah - Dreamless
2016 [8.7] - Everything you expected based upon The Flesh Prevails, but arguably even more refined - lush atmosphere and sumptuous guitar leads alongside powerful proggy death riffing. Perhaps lighter than the last album but no less captivating.
3. Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika
2016 [8.6] - Very much following in the footsteps of previous albums, but with an arguably bigger black metal component than, at the very least, Varjoina..., if not earlier releases too. However, the folk side has not been compromised, and whilst the songs here don't have the huge memorability of the likes of Huuto or Kuoilleiden Maa, they are still highly accomplished black folk metal voyages from a very talented band.
4. Death Grips - The Bottomless Pit
2016 [8.5] - A blistering barrage of amped-up, angry punk-ish hip hop, driven out the gates by an almost thrash metal opening song, and followed up with a savage tone throughout, even in its more moderately tempo'd and controlled-sounding songs. The first 4 songs are possibly the best but it's pretty excellent throughout - probably the best I've heard from them, or the closest to my own personal interests at least.
5. Iamthemorning - Lighthouse
2016 [8.4] - Sumptuous proggy piano music, flitters between dainty beauty and more fun lounge or jazzy parts. The female vocals are very moving and the cameo vocals are great, particularly Mariusz Duda from Riverside on the delightful title track. There's so much feeling put into the music whether it's sad or more upbeat or uplifting.
6. Mesarthim - Pillars
2016 [8.4] - Some really delightfully uplifting space/atmospheric black metal - has a perfect balance of muted but present black metal guitars, tasteful keyboard melodies and lush synth atmosphere, and well-constructed 'orchestrals', all put together really impressively. Possibly a step up from the already-strong Isolate.
7. Ihsahn - Arktis.
2016 [8.4] - I didn't listen to the previous album, but my only prior encounter with Ihsahn, 2012's Emerita, did not prepare me for this. I expected some weird black-tinged avant-garde metal, and I got that on some songs such as Pressure and Crooked Red Line, but I didn't expect the Dokken vibe of Until I Too Dissolve, the Opeth feel of Frail or the Manson touch on South Winds, nor the sheer energetic hookiness of Dissassembled, Mass Darkness and more. Very fun and constantly shifting album, a nice treat.
8. Nadja - Sv
2016 [8.4] - A single song that acts as almost a musical timelapse, starting off very quiet and minimalist, and then exhibiting a very gradual sonic shift throughout, as first the fuzzy beat, then the underlaying droning fuzz, then other sounds that add hints of melody, and then mechanical SFX and other elements all creep in a various points and vary in their prominence throughout. Extremely hypnotic.
9. Josh Middleton Project - Hollowed-Out Planetoid
2016 [8.4] - An interesting departure from the melodeath/thrash/core/whatever of Sylosis, this album is almost entirely instrumental, and is a rather delightful 'classic' prog metal work out, with technical skill and evolving songs without an excess of technical wanking. Sometimes slightly dark, sometimes quite euphoric, as someone whose patience for instrumental metal has really diminished over the years, this is quite the shot to the heart and a welcome contrast to the tedium of Loomis and the like. Big fan of Josh's playing in Sylosis and really happy to see him attempt something different and really pull it off well.
10. Jambinai - A Hermitage
2016 [8.4] - Not always convincing, but for such an 'out-there' approach to post-metal, including a lot of what I can only assume are Korean folk instruments, plus extensive acoustics, they make a very distinctive sound and for the most part it delivers some highly enjoyable results.
11. Vektor - Terminal Redux
2016 [8.4] - A firm demonstration that thrash hasn't necessarily had its death rattle yet. A ferocious hour+ of music full of frenetic riffs, tasty solos, unpredictable songwriting and a delightful departure in the soft and ambitious Collapse. Perhaps a bit too invariant throughout to make much sense of its 73-minute runtime, but it is a long way ahead of the notable majority of thrash metal in the past decade and more.
12. Zeal And Ardor - Devil Is Fine
2016 [8.3] - Every so often you hear something that is so unique and ambitious that even its flaws and rough edges seem totally reasonable. The decision to mix slave spirituals music with black metal and industrial-style electronics (allegedly inspired by a 4chan request) is an incredibly bold one, and although the production is unpolished and the songwriting perhaps a bit limited, the truth is you've probably never heard anything like it before, and the sheer fact that it works as well as it does is remarkable.
13. Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley
2016 [8.3] - Some really cool electronic music, at times throbbing and catchy, at other times more atmospheric and serene. The keyboards at times are almost in Ayreon territory, but it always feels appropriate tonally, and the guest female vocals on Sentient are very effective.
14. Haken - Affinity
2016 [8.3] - Less weird than The Mountain, and also a bit more retro. There are definitely callbacks to several classic prog rock and metal bands, including Rush and Opeth but most obviously Dream Theater, whose influence is felt throughout. Most obvious on the retro-tribute 1985, but influences from the past linger throughout the album. There are other ventures though - Lapse's jangly riff reminds me of some indie bands, whilst the heavy electronics on The Endless Knot are an interesting departure from the general feel of the album. And within all these influences there's some really enjoyable music - it's not quite the level of Aquarius (which I still don't believe they've matched), but I'd arguably rank it above The Mountain.
15. Schammasch - Triangle
2016 [8.3] - An impressive triple album, with music across the three discs falling into distinct categories - disc 1 has the black/death extreme metal from Contradiction in high levels, whilst disc 2 is more expansive and melodic. Disc 3 is a big departure, with some black metal occasionally seeping into what is mostly sinister ambient tribal music that works pretty well. Disc 2 is closest to my tastes and is my pick of the 3, but disc 3 is an interesting musical venture, and disc 1 is very satisfying too. The variation does make listening to the triple album as a whole both less likely to induce a sense of staleness, if at the same time giving off a slight sense of disconnect between the three discs. Overall, however, it is a bold but well-executed effort that outdoes Swallow The Sun's similarly impressive attempt from last year.
16. Votum - :Ktonik:
2016 [8.3] - A very effective prog rock/metal album with a hint of post-, at times I got vibes of TNBD, Karnivool and most obviously Riverside. It can occasionally be a bit too 'heavy but non-evocative', but is usually quite powerful and rousing emotionally, and the final track, Last Word, is a achingly delicate acoustic piece that Riverside would be proud to write.
17. Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust
2016 [8.3] - Very tasty 33-minute tech-death odyssey of the Gorguts variety. Plenty of twisted heavy riffs, along with some neat lead guitar solos and melodic lines, and a fair share of semi-ambient brooding and noisy punishment. Whether it needed to be a single song could be questioned, particularly given that parts of it were released beforehand as distinct songs, but it does fit together fairly well and is ultimately a good continuation of Gorguts' well-received return.
18. Névoa - Re Un
2016 [8.3] - A very effective, brooding atmospheric black metal album, which, with fits and bursts of ferocity, generally crawls along at a slow tempo, with threadbare riffs carried by driving drumming, and aided by a real sense of dread.
19. Withered - Grief Relic
2016 [8.2] - Some very effective blackened death metal, full of menace, cavernous sonic depth, intensity, and harsh but hooky riffs.
20. Novembre - URSA
2016 [8.2] - Really solid return after almost 10 years in the wilderness, the return of that interesting almost dreamy vibe with mellow cleans and solid extreme vocals and lovely guitar playing makes this a really impressive album despite my uncertainty its categorization (Gothic doom? extreme prog?). Nice touches such as the folk guitar melodies on a song towards the end of the album also help differentiate individual songs, further adding to the completeness of the package.
21. Pergalé - Antropologija
2016 [8.2] - An incredibly fun album which features rocky black metal at its core with an avant-garde energy and sense of exploration. This album at any one time might sound like black n' roll, circus-ish bouncy metal, Magic and Mayhem by Amorphis, a twisted form of Moontower, a subdued depressive crawl, and many other things, whilst always remaining cohesive. The vocals could probably be stronger, particularly the cleans, the but the music is so good otherwise it's difficult to worry all that much.
22. Long Distance Calling - Trips
2016 [8.2] - Another interesting step on the journey of this band, finally shifting away almost totally form the extended post- songs of early albums (albeit with a very long closer in Flux), the songs are shorter, and most notably a lot less post-rock inclined, with a greater shift towards prog in my mind. There are some quality instrumental tracks, with Plans containing a great big climax with really cool lead guitar, whilst opener Getaway has a lot of synthpop about it. The vocal-containing songs, on the other hand, feel a lot closer to later Leprous' style of prog. It all works for the most part pretty well, and is more convincing than previous album The Flood Inside.
23. The Algorithm - Brute Force
2016 [8.2] - Seriously fun heavy electronic music - bouncy, catchy, atmospheric, soulful, it mixes in some rock and metal with a wubwub-leaning electronic style that also has atmospheric electronic parts such as Neurotech has increasingly attempted to produce, but done more successfully here. Really enjoyable listen on the whole.
24. Dissona - Paleopneumatic
2016 [8.2] - A remarkably diverse yet consistently compelling prog album that covers a wide array of styles, including viking/folk-sounding songs, extreme metal songs, songs featuring guitar work reminiscent of Fallujah's lighter moments, and an opening track with a strong electronic moment. Not universally successful but remarkably so given the sheer range of styles attempted, this builds nicely upon the promising debut album.
25. Skuggsjá - A Piece For Mind & Mirror
2016 [8.2] - A combination from musicians behind Enslaved and Wardruna, there are notable sections and songs where Enslaved's unique black metal sound is front and centre, but on the whole this album is more focused on the folk side. And it makes a really interesting folk metal release that stands away from the typical Scandinavian folk bands as a far more organic and ultimately interesting sound. With spoken, sung and shrieked vocals and a range of different instruments, it has a fair share of variety and is on the whole rather successful.
26. Atomikylä - Keräily
2016 [8.2] - Some tasty psychedelic doom - heavy, meandering, and trippy. A hint of drone in there, but more structured than the likes of Dark Buddha Rising.
27. Spiritual Beggars - Sunrise To Sundown
2016 [8.2] - Really fun hard rock album, with some psychedelia and stoner in there. Smooth and lush, compared to similar bands recently such as Blues Pills, this is a lot more engaging.
28. Wildernessking - Mystical Future
2016 [8.2] - A rather captivating atmospheric black metal album, with nice riffs, really good lead guitar melodies, and strong song structures. Perhaps comparable to recent Panopticon in both style and quality.
29. Oceans Of Slumber - Winter
2016 [8.2] - Some really interesting prog driven by strong lead vocals and an intriguing atmosphere that is for the most part relatively laid-back and brooding. On occasions, particularly on the song Apologue they revert back to their extreme prog past, and I don't think it's really the right decision as whilst the music is okay, it's not stunning and sounds rather out of place. These missteps aside it's a really nice album.
30. Mirrors For Psychic Warfare - Mirrors For Psychic Warfare
2016 [8.2] - A somewhat sparse and slightly harsh but haunting rock/electronic voyage from members of Neurosis and Buried At Sea amongst others. Lengthy centrepiece "A Thorn To See" develops from a muted, eerie electronic line to have drums, guitars and overall noise gradually layered on top in an evocative slow burn, whilst a sci-fi electro synth line lays beneath anguished doom in CNN WTZ. Not quite at the same level of the best of Neurosis, it is a rather intriguing venture however.
31. Entropia (POL) - Ufonaut
2016 [8.2] - Actually really interesting mix of black-metal, post-rock/metal, and some metalgaze in there. The sound is most obvious black metal, with tremolo, shrieks and more, but with an atmosphere that spends time sounding murky, sometimes sinister, but also a number of times becomes rather uplifting and euphoric, just through subtle musical choices. A really interesting and relatively distinctive sounding album.
32. Borknagar - Winter Thrice
2016 [8.2] - A really enjoyable progressive melodic black album, with really nice instrumental work supported by great vocals from all singers, including guest vocalist Garm. Of similar quality and style to Urd, if slightly more impressive, if you like that then this should do it for you nicely.
33. Pogavranjen - Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem
2016 [8.2] - Sets its stall out quite disconcertingly with a manic sax-dominated free jazz freakout as the opening track, whilst really put me off. However, the rest of the music was an impressive form of dark, somewhat subdued, groovy, jazzy avantgarde black metal that remained compelling throughout.
34. Droids Attack - Sci-Fi Or Die
2016 [8.1] - Very fun upbeat stoner rock/metal album following in the path of bands like Clutch and The Sword. I think this is better than a lot of bands doing this style of music have done recently - good riffs, enjoyable songs and good pacing of the album.
35. Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä
2016 [8.1] - Some impressive psychedelic space black metal, from a band I once had a downer on but which I should perhaps revisit. A compelling mix of atmospheric space/psych meanderings intruded by BM shrieks and a metal edge, which is liable to jump off the deep end into bursts of all-out black metal. Really rather effective.
36. Thrawsunblat - Metachthonia
2016 [8.1] - Fairly similar to the last album, although perhaps closer to Moonsorrow in sound and spirit than that album. Still very enjoyable, although perhaps not matching the peak moments of that album.
37. Vale Of Pnath - II
2016 [8.1] - If you're a tech-death fan, 2016's been a good year for you so far, between Dasein, Spheron and this. Plenty of quality riffs, heavy atmosphere, and intense hookiness.
38. Native Daughters - Master Manipulator
2016 [8.1] - Fairly high-quality instrumental prog/post-metal, with clear influences in the likes of Intronaut, Russian Circles, The Ocean and more. It contains some of the tremolo and drum-heavy nature of the genre, as well as soft/loud shifts, but done in a manner more closely resembling The Ocean than Isis or Cult of Luna. The riffs are on the whole good, the additional guitar leads effective, and the compositions engaging. It's nothing new and does have moments that tend to drag, but is on the whole successful.
39. Spheron - A Clockwork Universe
2016 [8.1] - Some pretty compelling, rich, and intense tech-death metal. Some fierce vocals bringing to mind 90s OSDM, and a capable mix of ferocity and song-building, particularly on 10-minute closer 'Bound In Empty Jars'.
40. Almyrkvi - Pupil Of The Searing Maelstrom
2016 [8.1] - Possibly my favourite of the many Icelandic black metal bands trumpeted recently. Creepy mid-tempo space-y industrial atmospheric black metal with a menacing aura through powerful drumming, effective use of creepy lead guitars and some tasty riffs.
41. Zhrine - Unortheta
2016 [8.1] - High quality blackened death metal full of quality riffs, tasty atmosphere via a well-judged production job and solid songwriting.
42. Vredehammer - Violator
2016 [8.1] - Some pretty tasty Viking-tinged thrashy melodeath with at times Randy Blythe-esque lead vocals. Pretty fun on the whole.
43. Deströyer 666 - Wildfire
2016 [8.1] - A very catchy blackened thrash album, cleaner-sounding, more rock-like and anthemic than the previous album Defiance. I'd consider that album as superior to this primarily due to its more emphatic and attention-demanding nature, however this album is darn entertaining in its own right, notably with the quality instrumental Artiligio Del Diavolo and grand closer Taman Shud.
44. Obscura - Akróasis
2016 [8.1] - Not quite at the impressive level of previous album Obscura, nevertheless the creativity and skill, both technical and in songwriting, of the band has survived the many line-up changes of the past 5 years. Once again the band straddles the line between technicality, brutality and melodicism quite nicely, leaning again perhaps more towards the former and latter than the middle option. It throws in some nice little new elements, such as clean fem/choral vox on Ode To The Sun, and some cello amongst other things in huge closer Weltseele. Ultimately, this album further establishes Obscura as a nice antidote to the full-pelt, extreme technical wankery of other tech-death bands, with melody, creativity and a focus on proper song construction keeping them ahead of the pack.
45. Steven Wilson -
2016 [8.1] - A compilation of 'cutting floor' songs from recording Hand. Cannot. Erase., I actually might prefer this to that album. These songs are less artsy like HCE, and closer to The Raven... and Porcupine Tree material, which pushes it closer to my personal tastes nicely. It's a bit heavier, and a bit proggier, and a bit less indie-esque, all good things for me. I also enjoy the PT cover that closes the album very much; Ninet Tayeb is great.
46. New Keepers Of The Water Towers - Infernal Machine
2016 [8.1] - A significant departure from 2013's excellent The Cosmic Child, this album exhibits a notable curtailment of the stoner element of their sound, and is instead dominated by a doomy, psychedelic, meandering sound. This sound is good and produces some very effective songs; however, the loss of the stoner aspect is a loss, and this album does feel like it is missing something that is affecting its quality.
47. Terra Tenebrosa - The Reverses
2016 [8.1] - A pretty solid third album from these esoteric weirdos. It comes and goes in how compelling it is, but on its strongest songs (for me "Where Shadows Have Teeth" and "Fire Dances"), it has intimidating atmosphere, and a real full-on level of menace and ugliness that The Purging didn't really have, for better or worse. The drone-y conclusion of "Fire Dances", with the monotonous guitar accompanied by powerful drumming, sinister background vocals and additional tones, is a real emphatic closing for the album.
48. Mistur - In Memoriam
2016 [8.1] - Pretty solid viking/folk black metal, consisting of several lengthy tracks dominated by endlessly marching mid-tempo black metal grooves and riffs, lit up with interesting guitar lead melodies and brief but effective use of flutes, pipes and other non-metal instruments. Has the effect of blending together across the whole listen, which does count against it, but in general a fairly strong effort.
49. Latitudes - Old Sunlight
2016 [8.1] - Nothing out of the ordinary, but a rather solid (mostly) instrumental post-metal album. Featuring the typical to's and fro's of the genre, it does however have some rather technical and frenetic riffing that doesn't always pop up in the genre, and at times a rather dark atmosphere compared to some contemporaries. Overall pretty enjoyable.
50. Pensées Nocturnes - À Boire Et À Manger
2016 [8.1] - Another interesting effort from this quirky Frenchy, mixing Parisian folk music with black metal, like a more twisted Caravan Palace. Perhaps more streamlined and less 'out there' than some previous releases, but unlikely to disappoint any fans of the band.
51. Aluk Todolo - Voix
2016 [8.1] - A mesh of black metal, jazz and krautrock that fluctuates between menacing, brooding and frantic during its runtime. Effectively a single piece, the mix of dirty BM riffs and slow brooding sustain with driving jazz drumming is similarly effective to the sonic combination on Pogavranjen, and means that even during its more experimental moments this never becomes a tedious listen.
52. Wayfarer - Old Souls
2016 [8.0] - A fairly strong follow up to their debut, a brand of North American folk-influenced mid-tempo black metal, provides plenty of atmosphere and power to the music, although one may debate the merits of the growly vocals. Not a significant expansion on their first album's sound, but a perfectly enjoyable listen.
53. Katatonia - The Fall Of Hearts
2016 [8.0] - Some of the better work the band have done in a few years - a lot more spirit and inspiration in this than the dull Dead End Kings at any rate, this is capable of evoking emotions. Consistently enjoyable throughout in a way Katatonia have generally failed to be in recent years, with appropriate heaviness, evocative vocals, and a nice appropriate production job, their best album in at least the past decade.
54. Cobalt - Slow Forever
2016 [8.0] - An extremely long album considering the relative lack of diversity in the songwriting, this is however a similarly entertaining album as fantastic predecessor Gin, albeit not at that level. Tracks such as Cold Breaker and lengthy statements of intent King Rust and Beast Whip are very strong songs, although the quality does slightly dip from disc 1 to disc 2.
55. Be'lakor - Vessels
2016 [8.0] - An album that delivers everything you'd hope to hear from Be'lakor based on the past couple of albums, executed well. However, the songs in general do lack that spark that those on the previous couple of albums had that made this band really stand out from the crowd, and without that this is as good listen and a solid record but not much more than that.
56. Alkerdeel - Lede
2016 [8.0] - Raw as fuck onslaught of sludgy black metal for about 35-40 minutes. Could do with a bit more variety but for the most part is quite compelling in its sheer abrasiveness.
57. First Fragment - Dasein
2016 [8.0] - Pretty solid techdeath, some tasty groovy riffs, typically impressive instrumentation, and some nice variety between heavier parts and softer interludes/sections.
58. SIG:AR:TYR - Northen
2016 [8.0] - Quite enjoyable on the whole, this blackened folk/viking album has solid riffs of the mid-tempo and occasionally faster variety, with a share of riproaring solos and some rather effective songwriting. However, at the same time it's not quite special enough to be great.
59. Ecferus - Pangaea
2016 [8.0] - Some solid black metal, full of atmosphere, intensity, and smart writing. Intimidating but not overbearing, and with some nice guitar work to add nice relish to a solid BM base.
60. Église - Église
2016 [8.0] - Some pretty damn fun post-y, sludgy hardcore - plenty of short bursts of frantic aggression intertwined by slow, grim, atmospheric riffs. A selection of short songs revolve around the centrepiece of the album, the 6-minute post-metal-dominated "Have I Become Hell", full on frantic barks, smart build-ups and plenty of sinister atmosphere. Very fun album.
61. Glorior Belli - Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
2016 [8.0] - Catchy and effective mid-tempo black metal, allegedly with hints of Southern rock that I didn't really pick up on. Has a few quieter moments but generally marches on persistently, and is continuously satisfying.
62. Anthrax - For All Kings
2016 [8.0] - This is pretty much as good as one could reasonably expect a 30+ year old band to come up with - it doesn't match the peak 80s albums, but it's pretty damn impressive and stands up very well compared to some of the recent albums by Slayer and Megadeth, and is a marked improvement on the decent but forgettable Worship Music. Belladonna still has a strong voice, but the songwriting has been turned up a notch, and the lead guitar work is quite different to what I've come to expect from Anthrax, some really interesting solos on here. Add into that the typical Anthrax punchy riffs and you've got a rather satisfying thrash/heavy metal album.
63. In Mourning - Afterglow
2016 [7.9] - This one's got a bad rap from quite a few people. Certainly it's not at the same level as Shrouded Divine or Monolith, but I think it's still a respectable output from these progressive doomy melodeath guys. It has its fair share of nice riffs, lead guitar melodies and more, just perhaps without the same inspiration that they've managed to develop in their greatest moments.
64. Bossk - Audio Noir
2016 [7.9] - After a couple of EPs and a hiatus, we finally get a full-length album from these UK post-metallers. The first couple of songs are somewhat unconvincing, but it eventually comes into its own in the latter half. A fairly light album for the most part with a scarcity of vocals, some of these softer parts can meander without properly engaging, but they get more successful later on, and songs such as Atom Smasher and The Reverie II very much have the desired effect.
65. Kvelertak - Nattesferd
2016 [7.9] - Pretty enjoyable effort on the whole, but not as good as the debut or potentially Meir. There's some reasonable diversity, with the plodding heavy/viking vibe of Nekrodamus, the black harshness of Dendrofil for Yggdrasil, the classic rock of 1985 (very catchy by the way) and more. One criticism is as the style changes the vocals continue with the black metal-style shriekiness - it sounds somewhat out of place on songs such as 1985, but still has its moments. On the whole, entertaining and surprisingly diverse, if not quite their best.
66. Graves At Sea - The Curse That Is
2016 [7.9] - Slow, heavy, morose sludge doom accompanied by shrieky vocals and occasional violin cameos. The songs could do with a bit more variety within and between themselves and a slightly less dry approach, and the vocals are not at the stronger end of the spectrum. On the flip side, there are plenty of good riffs, a tasty heavy sound and tasteful use of the violin. Not of the quality of the 2013 Kongh album but much more engaging than this year's Conan.
67. Heavenwood - The Tarot Of The Bohemians
2016 [7.9] - A more interesting album that their previous effort, this is a quite lively symphonic extreme Gothic metal album, which is pretty catchy on the whole with some rather entertaining songs throughout, however with the whole album lacking a slight bit of substance to make it really strong.
68. Headspace - All That You Fear Is Gone
2016 [7.9] - A decent follow-up to the fairly impressive debut from this prog metal group, it has a solid vocalist, impressive musicianship and decent enough songwriting. I simply struggle to find prog metal within this form consistently engaging these days; the serious heavy guitar sound just feels a bit tedious at times, and whilst Damian Wilson is a good singer, I find someone like, say, Haken's singer (given their similarities) to be more evocative for me. This is ultimately a good prog metal album, just one that, through its faults or mine, fails to truly rouse me beyond a guarded appreciation of it despite its many virtues. Having said that, there is plenty to enjoy across the lengthy 'epic' tracks and some of the shorter pieces too.
69. Kokomo - Monochrome Noise Love
2016 [7.9] - The first good post-rock/metal album of 2016, this one lives on the boundary between each; there's a fair amount of the Explosions In The Sky/Mono-esque post-rock tremolo playing going on, but also the sound is rather heavy and regularly the riffing is closer to perhaps Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster than Mogwai. Not necessarily the most compelling band, but the music is functional and often satisfying, and the shifts between heavier and softer parts and non-post sections work well.
70. Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit
2016 [7.9] - The first new release from MA in 6 years, it's a bit of a mixed bag for a 4-song EP but generally works out pretty well. The strongest song is the quite light and moving title track, moved along by interesting percussion and tender vocals, but the closer Take It There is a nice reunion of Tricky and MA in a languid, cool-as-hell package.
71. Death Fetishist - Lucifer Descending
2016 [7.9] - The second release from DF in 2016 already, the quiet production and slightly out-of-place sparse wailing female vocals are counterbalanced by some very tasty riffs within a well-structured song; less atmospheric and ambitious but more effective than the material off of Whorifice.
72. Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest
2016 [7.9] - Some quite tasty black/thrash/death metal, full of hooky nasty riffs and engaging songs. Harsh but still relatively accessible and runs for an optimal amount of time to extract all the good juice from the album without overstaying its welcome.
73. Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand - The Wolvennest Sessions
2016 [7.9] - A pretty damn solid lo-fi drony doom album, with a feel somewhat similar to other doomy fem-fronted bands such as SubRosa and Undersmile, but with some interesting instrumental choices (electronic SFX, tambourine) to match the persistent slow march of those fuzzy, drony riffs and hazy vocals.
74. Lord Mantis - Nice Teeth Whore
2016 [7.9] - Some murky, trudging but quite catchy blackened sludge, with some cool riffs and infectious groove. It does feel a bit underdeveloped at times, like it doesn't quite know where it needs to go to be truly great.
75. Rotting Christ - Rituals
2016 [7.9] - Not the most developed of albums, and not in the same league as something like Theogonia, but Rituals is an oddly compelling march of steady meloblack riffs and fierce vocals, every so often accompanied by bells, folk instruments, chanting and other little features. The tempo mostly rests in second gear, stomping away, but on some songs, particularly towards the front half of the album, the pace occasionally picks up to something more insistent.
76. Tombs - All Empires Fall
2016 [7.8] - Pretty effective and satisfying sludge- and post-influenced black metal, featuring a good share of hooky riffs, infectious grooves, and appropriate heaviness. The low, morose cleanly sung parts aren't all great but sometimes work.
77. Love Sex Machine - Asexual Anger
2016 [7.8] - A dense, nasty sludge album with plenty of bile in its throat. The overall atmosphere of it is infectious and the songs are on the whole powerful; however, I feel like the songs don't quite develop in the way they potentially could to become something greater, instead feeling a bit limited and undercooked. This is a mild disappointment given the potential for it to be something great; however, as it is, it's still a tasty little slab of sludge.
78. Aborted - Retrogore
2016 [7.8] - Tasty death metal very much in the vein of Global Flatline - don't expect any surprises but if you like this stuff get stuck in.
79. Beastwars - The End Of All Things
2016 [7.8] - A rather capable stoner/sludge album, filled for the most part with mid/fast-tempo riff-fests that march or pummel their way forward. However, they do add in a bit of variety, with a slow, acoustic-driven softer piece in The Devil Took Her, followed up with a slow, groovy stoner closing track. The variety keeps it fresh, and allows the solid guitar work and songwriting, and decent if unremarkable stoner vocals, to show their strengths.
80. Wolvserpent - Aporia:Kāla:Ananta
2016 [7.8] - This is about the limit of how highly I can recommend something that falls so far outside of my core interests, but it's a very effective funeral doom metal song with a lot of meat in the sound, fluctuations between cavernous heavy chords and almost static-esque feedback, and little elements like some strings or flickering noise towards the end that flesh out the sound effectively.
81. The Foreshadowing - Seven Heads, Ten Horns
2016 [7.8] - Generally rather pleasant gothic doom, with some really nice guitar leads and atmosphere and effective clean vocals. In addition, it's nice to have an album like this every once in a while without any growls. Beyond that however, it doesn't have much more than what you'd expect from a competent release in this genre, so take that as you will.
82. Howls Of Ebb - Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
2016 [7.8] - Some intriguing weird and quirky death metal, drifts between freakish dissonant riffs and bizarre rhythms and lead guitars as well as creepy quiet moments. Whilst Chthe'ilist owes a lot to Demilich, this is closer to Obscura-era Gorguts, but has a bit more of itself about it than Chthe'ilist, giving it bonus points.
2016 [7.8] - My first Ulver album since Perdition City; whilst they still play experimental electronic-based music, this is clearly a different beast to that one from 15 years ago. Lacing the jazz of that album, the only song that really calls back to it is Desert/Dawn. What we have here instead are a selection of songs that alternate between ambient-based minimalist works (England's Hidden, The Spirits That Lend Strength..., D-Day Drone, Gold Beach, Ecclesiastes) and more substantial works. Most of the more conventionally music tracks explore different aspects of rock; the brooding Moody Stix, the post-rock-esque, Cromagnosis, the indie-ish Om Hanumate Namah and Glammer Hammer, the Gothic, vocal-dominated Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen). It's ultimately a varied effort with something for everyone, it's a rather effective collection of songs.
84. Gojira - Magma
2016 [7.8] - A major drop in quality from From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh; at the same time, it is fairly satisfying on its own terms. A step towards a more mainstream sound, the songs are generally slower, less aggressive, groovier, with greater clean singing, and with a weaker production. For a band that has previously lived and died by its meaty sound, this shift towards a softer production is pretty head-scratching and does them no favours. To counter that out, this is some of the more enjoyable groove metal released in a while, and for a band that's previously not used clean vocals all that much, they do produce some catchy vocal lines.
85. Whispered - Metsutan - Songs Of The Void
2016 [7.8] - Pretty entertaining Japanese-influenced extreme power metal, something like a mesh of Persefone's Shin-Ken and Wintersun's Time I album, with a bit of early Bodom in there. The Japanese elements work well and the various guitar, vocal and symphonic approaches keep things interesting, but it doesn't have too much beyond that to truly shine.
86. Todtgelichter - Rooms
2016 [7.8] - A big step in the right direction from Apnoe, not at the level of Angst but a pretty satisfying effort, with continued high prominence of the effective female clean vocals, and a well-balanced mix of black metal guitar tones with muted, atmospheric-oriented songwriting and interesting melodic quirks amongst other things.
87. Slabdragger - Rise Of The Dawncrusher
2016 [7.8] - Some thick and heavy sludge doom, with a bunch of colossal songs driven by pounding murky riffs and powerful vocals, with some interesting turns along the way. Nothing breathtaking but pretty satisfying, if not in the same league as something such as Kongh.
88. Hypno5e - Shores Of The Abstract Line
2016 [7.8] - A pretty decent math/prog metal album, which fluctuates a lot between softer sections of acoustics, ambience and droning clean vocals, and harder sections, which vary between more melodic prog playing and more chugging math metal riffing. The softer moments vary in quality between pleasant and moving to dreary, whilst the heavier parts can get a bit tedious with the low-end chugging riffing but also delivers some cool moments too.
89. Virus - Memento Collider
2016 [7.8] - Interesting avantgarde rock/metal, about the closest band it resembled that I'm accustomed to is Vulture Industries. However, it's a more weird and less personally appealing strain of music compared to VI, so whilst I found a fair amount to like in it, it ultimately irritated and alientated me a few too many times for me to properly like it.
90. Khthoniik Cerviiks - SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex Of Dementiia)
2016 [7.8] - An interesting extreme metal album, mostly based in death metal but with some elements of black and doom. Dominated by dirty growls, deep, bassy, fast riffs and death metal drumming, there is also an unusual side to it - high-pitched riffing, trudging, doomy segments, and some more unorthodox riffing appear as elements in different moments to spice up the album.
91. Hands Of Despair - Bereft
2016 [7.8] - A solid sophomore effort from these 'dark' metallers, with a well-balanced mix of extremity, atmospheric melody and/or brooding, and a decent mesh of different styles. On the flip side, it perhaps lacks that musical inspiration to gel everything together and raise it above the sum of its parts.
92. Church Of Misery - And Then There Were None...
2016 [7.7] - Some pretty enjoyable stoner metal, mixing between driven riff-based songs and some lush quiet stoner 'atmospheric' parts. Not the greatest or most original stoner album but pleasant to listen to and a step up from their previous album.
93. Kozeljnik - Death Gives Unto Life
2016 [7.7] - Pretty cool BM EP, with little bits of doom, death, meloblack and whatever else inside a decidedly black metal core.
94. Circus Maximus - Havoc
2016 [7.7] - Fairly decent soft-edged prog rock/metal touching on a few modern prog sounds including Riverside, Myrath, Dream Theater and more, all put through a very mild-mannered blender. Perfectly enjoyable but a tad lightweight.
95. Myrath - Legacy
2016 [7.7] - The music has almost all the same characteristics as that on Tales Of The Sands, albeit perhaps not as memorable as the standout cuts from that album, but the downplayed production does make it feel slightly lifeless compared to past efforts. However, the music is mostly on point, the vocals are very good and the oriental elements are well-utilised, and generally it's a pretty solid album.
96. David Bowie - Blackstar
2016 [7.7] - I've never actually been a Bowie guy, but following a recommendation of this album just before he died and the flood of praise afterwards, I decided to give it a go and really enjoyed it. It wasn't what I expected, only being acquainted with his earlier music, but this weird arty avant-garde jazz thing worked for me quite nicely. It's ambitious, with quite a musical spread, and as such some parts are more convincing than others, but it is a brave record and reaps the rewards of that ambition with a number of sections and songs that really hit the spot. As someone without much love for either jazz or saxophone, neither the jazzy nature nor prominent sax irritated me, with everything fitting together cohesively and forming a natural whole. All in all, a very intriguing send-off by a brave artist, inspired to his last.
97. Neurotech - In Remission
2016 [7.7] - The vocals have returned after the all-instrumental album Evasive, but this is very much in the same vein as Stigma and Infra Versus Alpha, without too much to set itself apart form those releases. A perfectly enjoyable listen, but lacking that spark to truly stand out from past work.
98. Rorcal - Creon
2016 [7.7] - A pretty enjoyable and effective dark black metal album on the whole, but a bit one-note and without that much all that remarkable about it. 4 long songs with their fair share of solid fast and mid-tempo BM riffs, competent shrieking vocals and good enough composition but not really anything to make them truly stand out from the crowd.
99. Avantasia - Ghostlights
2016 [7.7] - Possibly their best since The Scarecrow. Not all songs work ('Blood Red Rose' is an interminable AOR song, and there's a couple that are pretty by-the-numbers), but on the whole the music is pretty lively and entertaining; the title track, 'Lucifer', and the epic-lengthed 'Let The Storm Descend Upon You' are strong songs for the band. Likely to be one of the better power metal from the year.
100. Fleshgod Apocalypse - King
2016 [7.7] - On the one hand, this is a logical maturation of the sound found on Agony and Labyrinth, and this release contains plenty of entertaIning symphonic death metal music, with satisfying orchestrals, tasty riffs and lead guitars and a more appropriate metal/orchestral balance. At the same time, it is still the case that most of the music blends together into a singular sound, even with strong songs such as A Million Deaths.
101. Writhe - Writhe
2015 [7.7] - A 5 minute, 5 song atom bomb of intensity, albeit one that's less impenetrable than a lot of grindcore I've encountered. This pretty much manages the right balance of savagery and hookiness, and is just about the right length to not lose me whilst still sounding like a substantial listen. Tasty.
102. Sunburst - Fragments Of Creation
2016 [7.6] - Power/Prog with elements of Kamelot, Circus Maximus, and more in their sound, it is well-played, moderately catchy and enjoyable, but a bit pompous-sounding and not all that fun or memorable, so I struggle to be too enthusiastic about it.
103. Magrudergrind - II
2016 [7.6] - Some tasty hard/grindcore/powerviolence - plenty of short bursts of intensity, and the songs shift between intense but catchy and relatively acceptable, up to frenetic shitstorms of aggression (Unit 731). Not the most impenetrable of grind releases, it's pretty damn enjoyable, if not particularly exceptional or innovative.
104. Brymir - Slayer Of The Gods
2016 [7.6] - Pretty well-done and enjoyable symphonic extreme folk metal, albeit nothing particularly memorable.
105. Desaster - The Oath Of An Iron Ritual
2016 [7.6] - Competent and effective yet fairly generic and non-captivating blackened thrash metal.
106. The Wakedead Gathering - Fuscus: Strings Of The Black Lyre
2016 [7.6] - A solid death metal album - heavy, cavernous and intense but still hooky and not overbearing. A bit muddy in the sound and not that original but entertaining nevertheless.
107. Cult Of Luna - Råångest [Split]
2016 [7.6] - The Old Wind's work here is pretty satisfying sludge/post-metal, with crunchy riffs and powerful vocals. However, the strength of Cult of Luna in comparison is shown by just how much their side of the split stands out, even as it is just a cover. CoL are masters of their art and this makes the collaboration album in April even more exciting; as it is however, this split is a rather satisfying little number, but not quite a genre classic.
108. Death Fetishist - Whorifice
2016 [7.6] - A pretty tasty pair of lengthy black metal songs; it has a pretty much constant driving blast beat beneath throughout, but the overlaying music shifts between similarly fast BM and slower, creepier or more atmospheric stuff, accompanied by suitably grim vocals. The BM is more murky and low-pitched than shrieking and high-pitched, and is pretty powerful on the whole, if fairly typical for the style.
109. Gadget - The Great Destroyer
2016 [7.6] - Not as entertaining as the material from Writhe but better than Wake, this is a pretty solid onslaught of grindcore, with everything you would expect from the genre but with everything working pretty well.
110. Voivod - Post Society
2016 [7.6] - A pretty fun quirky, proggy, thrash album with an interesting sound. Voivod never really clicked for me in the past when I previously tried them, but this I liked quite a bit. Also, the vocals do a decent Lemmy impression on the Silver Machine cover.
111. Aborted - Termination Redux
2016 [7.6] - In the vein of Global Flatline, a ripping quarter-hour of intense modern DM plows on with frenetic riffs alongside the occasional slowed-down breakdown, and some nifty lead guitar work. Fun, and promises a similarly fun full-length later this year.
112. Abbath - Abbath
2016 [7.5] - Not particularly original and pretty much what you might've anticipated an Abbath release might sound like, but it's pretty damn catchy, and in between slower, heavier ones, faster yet easy(ish)-going ones, and a relatively harsh effort in Fenrir Hunts, there's just about enough variety to keep it feel at least somewhat fresh. Pretty enjoyable all in all.
113. Eucharist [Aus] - Endarkenment
2016 [7.5] - A chunk of dense death doom; cavernous sound, deep guitars, monstrous vocals and a plentiful mix of grinding doom and crushing death metal. Not for the faint hearted, but not inaccessible for those who enjoy the sound.
114. Redemption - The Art Of Loss
2016 [7.5] - A fairly unoriginal and somewhat unremarkable, yet still rather enjoyable classic melodic prog album, with plenty of 80s vibes, particularly on penultimate song Love Reign O'er Me.
115. Hexvessel - When We Are Death
2016 [7.5] - Some nice retro-rock with neofolk elements. Not all the songs work, but when it finds a good psychedelic groove and the slightly hazy vocals and intriguing guitar playing comes together it produces some pretty pleasant stuff. As far as this kind of thing goes, Royal Thunder's album from last year was more effective, but this is more playful.
116. Krallice - Hyperion
2016 [7.5] - I have no previous experience of Krallice to judge this against, but as a first taste of the band it is a startling introduction. It has plenty on offer to enjoy, a whirlwind of chaotic and frantic black metal that sounds at different times slow and menacing, or euphoric and melodic, and the transitions between these segments often work quite well. However, the chaotic nature of it does regularly give off a feel of doing too much without delivering something truly appetizing. When it calms down in the second half of Assuming Memory to deliver a slow-burning intimidating build-up of slow rhythm mixed with piercing BM tremolo, it works very well, but oft-times, particularly in track 2, it feels out of control without a clear satisfying direction.
117. Fvnerals - The Path
2016 [7.5] - A rather interesting 2-song release, based around ethereal, longing fem vocals shrouded in a foggy production, backed up by gloomy, atmospheric, subdued metal taking cues from doom and black metal, resulting in something inarguably creepy, but perhaps slightly insubstantial compared to, say, Chelsea Wolfe.
118. Autokrator - The Obedience To Authority
2016 [7.5] - A mix of intense industrial death metal with sinister drone, this is a decent follow-up but less impressive effort than the accomplished self-titled debut.
119. Paganizer - The Portal
2016 [7.5] - Totally derivative but very satisfying 10-minute burst of Swedish OSDM. The Flesh Dwellers and The Portals are particularly pleasing.
120. Chthe'ilist - Le Dernier Crépuscule
2016 [7.4] - Let's stick some weird-ass death metal into you. With vicious deep vocals, Demilich-esque off-kilter riffing and technicality, and a cavernous production, this is a tasty slab of Demilich worship. However, aside from the closing track, the rest of the music is pretty damn similar to the extent that you end up just appreciating a stylistic sound rather than acknowledging individual songs.
121. Sarastus - Il-Toinen Tuleminen
2016 [7.4] - Some pretty entertaining if fairly basic folk black metal somewhat in the vein of Forefather but with some Amon Amarth to their sound too.
122. Lycus - Chasms
2016 [7.3] - Funeral doom will always be a tedious genre for me, but there is some stuff within the genre that suits me better than others, and when this album picks up the pace a little bit, gets a bit death metally or throws in some nice melodic accompaniment it works quie nicely.
123. L'indecis - Moka
2017 [7.3] - Some nice trippy chillout music, based upon soothing electronics, fun beats, and features such as sax, with vocals popping in and out of songs. Very easy going and pleasant hangout music.
124. Plebeian Grandstand - False Highs, True Lows
2016 [7.3] - Frantic, intense black metal interweaved with cold, creepy atmospheric segments. A bit full on and lacking in real interesting variety, but competent in its savagery.
125. Naðra - Allir Vegir Til Glötunar
2016 [7.3] - Some fairly full-pelt black metal. Comes with piercing shrieks, plenty of lo-fi tremolo and blastbeats, but also has a multitude of lead guitar lines that bring to mind some of Agalloch's more analog work (Marrow Of The Spirit, Serpent & Sphere, Pale Folklore) quite nicely. A bit of a chore at times but an interesting album.
126. Mechina - Progenitor
2016 [7.3] - The customary New Year's Day album brings with it little new in the way of Mechina's sound, with the previous 3 releases pretty much covering most of what could be added to their musical palette. Additionally, the combination of low, staccato, almost djent-y riffing alongside dramatic symphs has long reached a point where it starts to all blend together and prevent individual songs standing out. However, the female-dominated tracks can still avoid this obstacle; Cryoshock in particular is a standout track off the album. Also, the closer Progenitor does manage a different tonal springboard that differentiates itself from the pack of Mechina's past songs. Furthermore, the track order is a lot more balanced on this album compared to Acheron, which spent the second half messing about with unnecessary interlude tracks and forsaking actual songs. So, what we've got here is not much new, but once again just enough to differentiate the album from Mechina's past work and stave off sterility.
127. Omnium Gatherum - Grey Heavens
2015 [7.2] - This album is a drop in quality compared to the past two albums - it has less standout songs and more of a feeling of retreading old ground. However, the band generally has a sound I dig a lot, and there are still some fine songs on here, just in lower quantity. The song that really made me pay attention was The Great Liberation, and there's some lovely stuff in Ophidian Sunrise too.
128. Killswitch Engage - Incarnate
2016 [7.2] - Not as good as Disarm The Descent, this is the typical simple, hooky metalcore you'd expect from post-The End Of Heartache Killswitch Engage. As I'm a fan of that sound, this does it quite nicely for me. At the same time, it's not got that many truly memorable songs, and few songs are a bit unimpressive, an accusation I would only lay at "Always" and maybe 1 or 2 others from DTD.
129. Manunkind - Manunkind
2016 [7.2] - An uncompromising mix of industrial, extreme metal, noise and ambient, producing a package filled with clunking mechanical atmosphere, vile extreme vocals, and songs full of plenty of tough listening. Tough to love but easy to admire.
130. Vrångbild - Crystalline Veil
2016 [7.2] - A decent space black metal album, that drifts from uncompromsing lo-fi cataclysm to ambient acoustics and electronics, it's very rough around the edges and somewhat underdeveloped but fairly pleasing nevertheless.
131. Vôdûn - Possession
2016 [7.2] - Heavy and fairly satisfying stoner/hard rock, with powerful and dramatic female clean vocals, some solid mid-tempo riffs and a few brief shifts in tempo and mood. However, not with that much to distinguish itself from the pack, or maintain much interest.
132. Exmortus - Ride Forth
2016 [7.2] - Decent enough harsh-vocalled, power- and thrash-influenced heavy metal. Sounds at times a bit like a drier, non-folky Forefather, and is generally entertaining and competent, if not anything special.
133. Ghost Witch - Demo
2016 [7.2] - This is a pretty reasonable stoner/doom demo with decent production quality, nice riffs, good female vocals, and two good songs, with a nice grandstand solo finish to the second one; however, it is quite derivative, and the minute's silence at the beginning and end of each song is a bit of a chore to handle.
134. Megadeth - Dystopia
2016 [7.1] - A drastic improvement on the previous two albums, it's not quite up with Endgame but with a multitude of solid riffs, just about okay vocals, and well pieced together songs, it's really not half-bad, which is more than I expected by this point. More than anything, it actually spends a reasonable amount of time sounding like Megadeth.
135. Wo Fat - Midnight Cometh
2016 [7.1] - Pretty decent but quite forgettable doomy stoner rock/metal with middling vocals but some hooky riffs.
136. Sorcier Des Glaces - North
2016 [7.1] - Lo-fi atmospheric black metal with the sound of the cold and desolate wastes and all the typical instrumentation to accompany it without much done to really surprise. Some pretty decent stuff on the whole but extremely typical.
137. Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music
2016 [7.1] - Some fairly enjoyable electronic music, however the endless barrage of skittish electronic sounds does get grating every so often, and the music beneath those sounds is rarely outstanding.
138. Necrosic - Putrid Decimation
2016 [7.1] - This EP and Paganizer's 2016 release are nice companion pieces actually, revivalist OSDM EPs from the beginning of this year hailing from the US and Sweden respectively and showing off the distinct traits of the two sounds. As it is, either I prefer Swedish OSDM or I just found Paganizer wrote better songs, as this EP is enjoyable but less exciting than that release. However, both releases are extremely generic so make sure you want more of the same before you try them.
139. Wake - Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow
2016 [7.0] - A decent batch of grindcore, nice and intense, but perhaps a bit long-lasting and not quite as tasty as the brief material found on Writhe.
140. Northless - Northless / Primitive Man [Split]
2016 [7.0] - A step up from Primitive Man's other early 2016 split with Sea Bastard, but more for Northless's contribution. Primitive Man, just like on the Sea Bastard EP, deliver a lengthy track of very slow, somewhat monotonous extreme doom that is an (in my opinion) unwelcome departure from last year's Home Is Where The Hatred Is EP's sound. Thankfully, the Northless side of this EP is a more energetic beast, nasty, muddy and heavy but with some pace to it, and a bit of a twisted black metal touch to it that gives it a certain appeal, even if the songs are a little rough compositionally and ever so slightly lacking.
141. Low Flying Hawks - Kōfuku
2016 [7.0] - This album starts off quite well, but does become a bit of a chore at times. It is a psychedelic doom album at its core, trudging for a long time with some decent riffs and guitar lines, all accompanied by vocals that vary between foggy and anguished. With a bit of trimming down and some refinement it could be rather good, but as it is it's just a bit too much like hard work to get through.
142. Dream Theater - The Astonishing
2016 [7.0] - DT have really decided to be ambitious on this release, at least with length and scope, if not with songwriting. 34 songs, almost all within the 3-6minute window, many of them ballads. Compared to some of the stinkers released by DT recently as ballads (Along For The Wide, Far From Heaven, Beneath the Surface, etc), these are perfectly fine. However, they're not particularly remarkable. The drums throughout sound weird and muted, and aren't all that ambitious, LaBrie's vocals are even worse than usual as far as pronunciation whilst singing goes, and it's pretty cheesy at times. However, it's overall not bad, there's some good songs on there, and the musicianship is regularly up to the level you might anticipate for DT. This might change for better or worse with repeat listens, but overall it's an okay, pushing good album with plenty of pitfalls but a fair number of positives too.
143. Dissvarth - Between The Light And The Moon
2016 [6.9] - A tad aimless and insubstantive, this is still a quite pleasant ambient/neofolk album with slightly 80s new wave-esque vocals, culminating in a sound that calls to mind but is more muted, isolated in wilderness but more upbeat than the quieter moments on Agalloch's The Mantle.
144. The Hyle - EP
2016 [6.8] - Decent and moderately satisfying but slightly underdeveloped occulty doom.
145. The Body - No One Deserves Happiness
2016 [6.8] - This is an interesting album, a quite varied sludge album with ambient electronic tracks, doomy sludge songs, industrial-sounding tracks and more, with intriguing instrumentation and effective female vocals. However, all of this is ruined every time these headache-inducing indescribable vocals that, as LeKiwi put it, sound like a psychotic parrot, enter the fray and ruin any chance of enjoying the music going along with it. What a ridiculous musical choice if the band had any attention other than just being as obnoxious as possible. In which case piss off you pricks.
146. Textures - Phenotype
2016 [6.8] - This album is okay, it's got good technique, some neat riffs, guitar lines, and so on. However, it's one of those new prog albums that seems at times to be trying so hard to be unobvious that it rarely lands a powerful blow. Sometimes you get a nice solo like on Erosion, and sometimes some interesting riffs, but a lot of it is just mathy riffs with not much to offer aside from anti-hooks and non-standard rhythms.
147. Witchcraft - Nucleus
2016 [6.7] - Decent psych/stoner-tinged hard rock, albeit slightly ponderous, particularly on the long songs. There are some nice, catchy, retro rock songs, and the lengthy efforts do manage some lush muted periods. It could just do with being a bit more inspired and energized. Additionally, some songs bring to mind less classic hard rock bands and more some of the more contemporary bands in the style, and quite often they don't match up to the quality of those kinda efforts.
148. Sus Scrofa - Sinistre Sylve
2016 [6.7] - Not a bad release by any means, but not the most compelling BM release ever either. Going beyond the inherent appeal of the BM sound, what we have here is an opening track featuring either mid-tempo or full-pelt BM riffs, all decent enough but nothing out of the ordinary, with the semi-regular accompaniment of medieval chants, and a long third track with some decent mid-tempo riffs, nice guitar leads and interesting folk/pagan melodies, with both songs running the gauntlet of a somewhat lo-fi production. Each track is followed by a brief acoustic piece and a somewhat out of place cavernous ambient piece. It's an eminently listenable EP, but not one that will necessarily stand out against all the many other great black metal bands kicking around at the moment.
149. Serenity - Codex Atlanticus
2016 [6.6] - I am a big fan of this band's debut, and the second album is also rather strong. However, I haven't quite been as impressed since. This album is an okay effort of power metal with symphonic accompaniments and good vocals, but it lacks the spark of the first couple efforts.
150. Rhapsody Of Fire - Into The Legend
2016 [6.2] - Literally everything you would expect from a RoF album from the past decade or so - long songs with fast, flamboyant riffs, dramatic symphonic accompaniments and the 'exuberant' vocals of Fabio Lione in an overwraught cheesy package. However, if that is your kind of thing, they can make some reasonable music this way, and throw in just about enough variety as far as tempo and theme goes to avoid complete boredom. And as usual, the long song is impressive if too long. Very much an album for fans of Rhapsody.
151. Tim Hecker - Love Streams
2016 [6.1] - Tried it based on !J.O.O.E.!'s rec and my increasing interest in electronic music, but this was just a barrage of random sounds that I struggled to make heads or tails of. The fact that it was mildly pleasant to listen to ranks it just above The Body's vocals, but not my favourite ambient electro release.
152. The Body - One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache [Collaboration]
2016 [6.1] - A collaboration that varies from dark ambient-style electronic brooding pieces to savagely cavernous noisy sludgy grind, producing a pretty hellish listen. This would be the good, interesting type of hellish listen if it wasn't for THOSE FUCKING VOCALS that ruin everything by being absolutely diabolically unbearably horrendous. The standard harsh extreme vocals are pretty decent and suit the music nicely, and an album of just those vocals would probably be a point higher. As it is, the music isn't good enough to save it from THOSE FUCKING VOCALS.
153. Conan - Revengeance
2016 [6.0] - Want heavy doomy sludge with a thick, pounding sound and big slow riffs? Well here you go, but remember, Kongh also exist, and if you listen to them you actually get hooky riffs, well-structured songs, and vocals that don't make you want to tear your ears off, unlike this album. The heaviness is moderately diverting, but once you get past that, it's a bit lacking, and there's others bands that do heaviness like this but better.
154. Primitive Man - Primitive Man / Sea Bastard [Split]
2016 [5.9] - I had to go back and check what Primitive Man had done on Scorn and Home Is Where The Hatred Is, because I was sure they weren't usually this slow and trudgy before. My check confirmed this idea, which left me wondering why they had decided to set the tempo to crawling speed and offer up some trudgy, monotonous extreme doom. Then I heard the Sea Bastard track and saw that they sounded similar. It almost gets by on sheer heaviness but ultimately is rather dull.
155. Westfield Massacre - Westfield Massacre
2016 [5.4] - Competent but very unremarkable Killswitch Engage/God Forbid-copying metalcore, with the occasional Fleshgod Apocalypse bit or other little flair, all anchored by quite unappealling vocals.
156. Struggle With God - Letarg
2016 [5.4] - Some sloppy, noisy, aggressive black metal. Not without good moments but considering how short the first four songs are, they felt like a big chore to get through.
157. After The Burial - Dig Deep
2016 [5.2] - A tedious deathcore album with a few decent brief moments but a lot of tedious generic stuff as well, in addition to a sound that switches between a typical heavy deathcore sound and some weird thin bouncy robotic sound that is just annoying. Dry and dull, ain't got shit on something like Cursing Akhenaten or Berzerker from Rareform, which were hardly masterpieces themselves.
158. Amon Amarth - Jomsviking
2016 [5.2] - Insipid retread of well-trodden ground from these guys. I miss Asator and Cry Of The Blackbirds. Heck, even Embrace Of The Endless Ocean.
159. Dream Death - Dissemination
2016 [5.1] - Sloppy poor man's Tom Araya vocals kill any chance of me enjoying this, but the mix of doom, heavy, thrash and death that makes up the core sound feels lesser than the sum of its parts and generally fails to entice me.
160. Primal Fear - Rulebreaker
2016 [5.0] - Unbearably dull.
161. Skáphe - Skáphe²
2016 [4.8] - Practically unlistenable, deliberatley unpleasant but giving no satisfaction.
162. Voidless Form - I, Nihilist
2016 [4.0] - Utter nonsensical rubbish.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 18   Visited by: 99 users
24.02.2016 - 18:16
Gotta keep an eye on this one
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
24.02.2016 - 18:41
Meat and Potatos
Gotta keep an eye on this one
"Aah! The cat turned into a cat!"
- Reimu Hakurei
24.02.2016 - 19:46
Account deleted
Gotta... go fast.
25.02.2016 - 01:00
Wow, so many eyes on this one, I'm getting stagefright
27.02.2016 - 06:26
Would be really interested to see your thoughts on the new Redemption and Headspace albums! They're probably already on your radar, though!
27.02.2016 - 17:08
Written by Diverge on 27.02.2016 at 06:26

Would be really interested to see your thoughts on the new Redemption and Headspace albums! They're probably already on your radar, though!

Planning to check out both; I enjoyed Headspace's debut so looking forward to giving their new one a listen. I've only heard one Redemption album but it didn't do much for me; hopefully the new one will be more to my tastes
28.02.2016 - 17:48
Au Pays Natal
15.03.2016 - 02:45
4.8 for Skaphe? Interesting that you felt there was nothing to latch onto. Ah well, it wasn't going to appeal to everyone.
15.03.2016 - 03:07
Written by Diverge on 15.03.2016 at 02:45

4.8 for Skaphe? Interesting that you felt there was nothing to latch onto. Ah well, it wasn't going to appeal to everyone.

I gave up halfway through the third song. It really was amongst the most misanthropically unpleasant albums I've come across, and whilst I've got nothing inherently against music that pushes those kind of boundaries of 'disgusting' music (hey, I find a modicum of enjoyment in that infamous Wormphlegm demo, which is pretty vile), I just found Skaphe almost obnoxious in how utterly unpleasant it was to listen to. I haven't seen the movie, but it's almost what I imagine the musical version of A Serbian Film to be like - you can make music/films that pushes to be that grisly, and I know there's a market out there for people for stuff like that, it's just the case that I don't really know what I can do with it except think 'I assume the intention of this is to be utterly horrible, and I guess they've achieved that successfully, but I can't convert that into positive emotions towards it'. Reminded me a bit of when I tried listening to the Portal album from a couple of years ago.
15.03.2016 - 03:28
Written by musclassia on 15.03.2016 at 03:07

I gave up halfway through the third song. It really was amongst the most misanthropically unpleasant albums I've come across, and whilst I've got nothing inherently against music that pushes those kind of boundaries of 'disgusting' music (hey, I find a modicum of enjoyment in that infamous Wormphlegm demo, which is pretty vile), I just found Skaphe almost obnoxious in how utterly unpleasant it was to listen to. I haven't seen the movie, but it's almost what I imagine the musical version of A Serbian Film to be like - you can make music/films that pushes to be that grisly, and I know there's a market out there for people for stuff like that, it's just the case that I don't really know what I can do with it except think 'I assume the intention of this is to be utterly horrible, and I guess they've achieved that successfully, but I can't convert that into positive emotions towards it'. Reminded me a bit of when I tried listening to the Portal album from a couple of years ago.

I don't disagree with you. I think there is a considerable market (on this website, at least) for that unpleasant and grisly music, and I can understand it being weird for some people to find positive attributes about that style. I think I'll always find some enjoyment in that sort of music, but in smaller quantities than the prog/post/alt metal staples I tend to listen to most often. Really nice thoughts here, though, and I think it's something a lot of people on this website are thinking but aren't putting in words.

It kinda makes me wonder what you think of bands like Esoteric. I can't imagine you'd be down with that in the slightest haha.
15.03.2016 - 10:01
Written by Diverge on 15.03.2016 at 03:28

It kinda makes me wonder what you think of bands like Esoteric. I can't imagine you'd be down with that in the slightest haha.

Esoteric are alright! I do have pretty limited patience with long and very slow doom (funeral doom is not a favourite genre of mine) but I thought The Maniacal Vale and Paragon Of Dissonance were both very good albums, even if they're not generally really what I'm interested in listening to
11.04.2016 - 03:54
Auntie Sahar
Drone Empress

Pensées Nocturnes - À Boire Et À Manger

Another effort from these quirky Frenchies

Just in case you didn't know or simply forgot when you typed that little write up, Pensées Nocturnes is a one man band
I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.

11.04.2016 - 11:04
Written by Auntie Sahar on 11.04.2016 at 03:54


Pensées Nocturnes - À Boire Et À Manger

Another effort from these quirky Frenchies

Just in case you didn't know or simply forgot when you typed that little write up, Pensées Nocturnes is a one man band

Eagle eyed! I did know this but had forgotten when I wrote that and hadn't picked up on it since, thanks for pointing it out
14.04.2016 - 01:47
Au Pays Natal
The Kokomo album is quite good, glad someone else noticed it. Heard bad things about Novembre and Krallice...still have Rorcal, Cult Of Luna collaboration and Voivod in .rar file status yet. Those three are gonna get my undivided attention real soon. Great write-ups , keep it up.
18.04.2016 - 23:28
Written by tea[m]ster on 14.04.2016 at 01:47

The Kokomo album is quite good, glad someone else noticed it. Heard bad things about Novembre and Krallice...still have Rorcal, Cult Of Luna collaboration and Voivod in .rar file status yet. Those three are gonna get my undivided attention real soon. Great write-ups , keep it up.

Thought people generally liked Novembre! I've only heard The Blue from them but I quite liked it. Krallice was alright but not a big fan. Get on the Cult of Luna collab! The more I listen to it the more I love it, Cygnus is extraordinary
12.07.2018 - 23:10
How dare you call it utter nonsensical rubbish
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
13.07.2018 - 00:46
Written by RaduP on 12.07.2018 at 23:10

How dare you call it utter nonsensical rubbish

Pahahaha I'd totally forgotten about that! Very sorry man, just not my thing at all. Although surprised it took you so long to spot it, on 24.02.16 you said you'd be keeping an eye on this list. I just went back and listened to it; I'd like to say I've had a revelation and now love it, but I think it's just not for me
13.07.2018 - 06:29
Written by musclassia on 13.07.2018 at 00:46

Pahahaha I'd totally forgotten about that! Very sorry man, just not my thing at all. Although surprised it took you so long to spot it, on 24.02.16 you said you'd be keeping an eye on this list. I just went back and listened to it; I'd like to say I've had a revelation and now love it, but I think it's just not for me

Don't worry I can obviously see its shortcomings and all, but i'm still very proud of it and I had fun working on it.

I watch your lists more carefully now since you pretty much give your thoughts on all albums I review which is nice and wholesome.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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