20. CAINA, “Setter of Unseen Snares” (Broken Limbs/Church of Fuck): An asteroid raging toward Earth for a cataclysmic collision is not a thing that cannot happen. That’s why the storyline that plays out on Caina’s latest album “Setter of Unseen Snares” is so damn unsettling. We seem to have a good idea of objects that threaten our existence, but we never know. That theme comes back again and again with these six songs, and it makes for one of the band’s best efforts both from a musical and thematic standpoint.
Caina, long led by Andrew Curtis-Brignell, smear atmosphere and raw energy over their style of black metal, and this tale of the last remaining family on Earth trying to avoid the destruction threatened by a hurtling asteroid really hits you in the guts. Following the intro cut that’s peppered with Rust Cohle’s dark dialog from “True Detective,” we hit on storming “I Am the Flail of the Lord” and its calls of, “All life is blasphemy!” That assault continues over the rest of the album and sets the stage of the gut-wrenching “Orphan,” a 15:28 song that takes up the entire B side of the vinyl release and is the most dramatic, emotional songs on a record full of high points. I’ve long loved this band, and this record totally pays off that devotion. (Jan. 20)
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cainaband
To buy the album, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/shop/
Or here: http://hatecof.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/
And here: https://www.facebook.com/hatecof
19. EYE OF NIX, “Moros” (Belief Mower): Seattle’s Eye of Nix emerged as one of the freshest, most exciting new bands in metal, and “Moros” was a true eye opener. They pile sludge on top of doom on top of prog, and their compositions keep you guessing the entire time. And as great as all of that is, it’s topped off by Joy Von Spain’s unreal vocals that go from operatic to gothically morbid to gutturally brutal, sometimes within the same song.
The tracks on their killer first record take you all over the place, from “Elysium Elusive” that kicks off the album and lets Von Spain unfurl her powerful operatic tones; through to storyteller “We Perish” where things really start to get ugly for the first time on the record; to “Turned to Ash” that is moody, punchy, and jangling (and, woah, the singing on this one!); to “Optimo Vero” where the shrieks and progressive pounding bruise your senses; to the closer “Rome Burned” that contains battle cries of the SLA and a furious, devastating groove you cannot shake. This band infuses the metal scene with freshness and originality, and I can only imagine how Eye of Nix will sound when record two comes to pass. (Nov. 6)
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/EYEOFNIX
To buy the album, go here: http://www.beliefmowercult.bigcartel.com/
18. CLOUD RAT, “Qliphoth” (Halo of Flies): There are records that can capture you solely from the emotion and conviction baked into the songs, and the new effort from Cloud Rat was one of those. That’s not exactly a shock. Cloud Rat wear their beliefs and values on their sleeves, and never has that been as apparent as it is on “Qliphoth.” Spread over 17 tracks and 40 minutes, this record finds Cloud Rat as explosive and passionate as ever, and if you can’t get swayed from the tumult and fury of this collection, you literally might be dead.
Madison Marshall’s vocals are one of the main events here, as she brings rage and menace to songs that very obviously mean a ton to her. The rest of the band smothers you with volcanic grindcore and portions where they let the tempo subside a bit in order for you, and I’m sure them, to have a breath. But those gasps are not easy to come by, and they blast through the record track by track with nary a chance for you to get your bearings about you. That’s part of what makes this record so damn fun, too, because while they’re overwhelming you with riffs, and clobbering smashing, and destructive vocals (though Marshall also infuses beauty here and there), you’ll find you’re absolutely hooked. The fact they also have a noble, positive fight to launch lyrically just adds to this record’s worth. This band is just unstoppable. (May 29)
For more on the band, go here: http://cloudrat.blogspot.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo81-cloud-rat-qliphoth-lp/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/
17. DREADNOUGHT, “Bridging Realms” (Sailor): It feels like the bulk of the records we’re talking about today have a common theme, that being inventiveness. Dreadnought’s new record “Bridging Realms” made me sit up and take notice right away, from listen one, for what they bring to heavy music and their resume as a band. This record is not brutality through and through. I think people get stuck on that sometimes. But as far as dramatic highs, storytelling, passion, and new ideas, yeah, this band has a ton going on. This record feels more cinematic than anything, with the songs floating into one another, the tempos toying with you, and the overall moods of the songs morphing over and over.
It’s hard to describe the band’s sound and nail it 100 percent, but in our review in August we made a comparison to ISIS hanging out with Eisley, both bands we love insanely. You have some of the traits one would expect from a metal record here, but there is so much more. From Lauren Viera’s great singing, to the fluttering flute work, to the progressive arrangements, to the way they take their time and let these songs develop and breathe, from listen one to listen 80, you can have a completely different experience with this album. This record is like a sci-fi fantasy film wrapped into a metal album, and it remains in constant rotation. (Aug. 11)
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dreadnoughtband
To buy the album, go here: https://dreadnoughtdenver.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://sailorrecords.com/
16. CRYPT SERMON, “Out of the Garden” (Dark Descent): Lots of bands do classic, throwback heavy metal. Not all of them do it right. Or well. Or competently. But Philly’s Crypt Sermon knock it out of the park, over the stadium wall, and into your windshield. Holy shit, what a fun, awesome record their debut “Out of the Garden” is, and pretty much the entire year this thing has been bleeding out of my speakers. This feels like the music that made me fall in love with metal in the first place. This thing is pretension free, heavy, burning, and true, and if you want something that’ll make you repeatedly grasp the invisible citrus, this is the one for you.
The Biblical elements of the record (it’s not a Christian record, you dorks) give it a Maiden feel, as they’ve often toyed with those texts, and the epic feel of the music brings into mind thoughts of Dio, Sabbath, Candlemass and bands of that ilk. From the great opener “Temple Doors,” you’re on a journey of true heavy metal thunder, and it never relents over this seven-track album. “Heavy Riders” is one of the best, most memorable metal songs of the year, and its chorus is terminally stuck in my head. Actually, same can be said for “Byzantium” and “Into the Holy of Holies,” both strong, blood-and-guts songs on this collection. “The Master’s Bouquet” is creepy as hell (including words from the song’s originator Hank Williams) and is one of the weirdest, most memorable songs on this record. Holy hell, what a great album and band. (Feb. 24)
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CryptSermon
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/