Best of 2016: 40-31

Temple Nightside Cover40. TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE, “The Hetacomb” (Iron Bonehead): Iron Bonehead puts a lot of great, sooty black and death metal into the world, and their best contribution this year was this second selection in the history of Aussie beasts Temple Nightside. When we wrote up “The Hetacomb” this summer, we marveled at the terrifying sounds that have come out of Australia, and these guys are helping lead that charge. At nine tracks and nearly 43 minutes, it contains some of the filthiest and scariest death metal heard this year, and it has kept our blood boiling ever since the album first landed in the MMM inbox. If we keep getting death this good from Temple Nightside, their profile will have no choice but to escalate violently. (Aug. 5)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/templenightsidenecromancy/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

anagnorisis-cover39. ANAGNORISIS, “Peripeteia” (Vendetta): Metal can be a very personal, exploratory art, and nowhere was that more obvious than on Anagnorisis’ latest album “Peripeteia.” This record is a psychological awakening for vocalist Zachary Kerr, as the music explores his childhood and the events that have formed him into who he is, fueled by two tapes he found from his upbringing where he is interviewed. Those clips on their own are chilling enough, and then taking this journey with Kerr through his formative years and into the present is spellbinding, sad, and sobering. Musically, it’s fittingly complex and massive, pulling listeners through a black metal-laced trip that will leave you wholly affected. (Oct. 21)

For more on the band, go here: http://666.anagnorisis.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/shop-webstore/

For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/

vlk-cover38. VLK, “Of Wolves’ Blood” (self-released): We don’t get to review everything every year, and there are records that we don’t really come to know until later on. It was over the summer that, after reading a few tweets from folks I trust when it comes to music, I got onto “Of Wolves’ Blood,” the debut full-length from Chicago’s Vlk. This record was one of my more visited pieces on my Bandcamp account, and it seems to work well no matter what mood I’m in or what time of year it is. The bleak black metal feels morbidly violent but also strangely triumphant, as if it is being played at the tail end of a bloody battle in which troops were lost to the wilderness and wild clashes, but victory ultimately is the result. It’s a brutal album, and it’s so ridiculously good. (March 21)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vlkband

To buy the album, go here: https://vlkisch.bandcamp.com/

Zhrine cover37. ZHRINE, “Unortheta” (Season of Mist): The Icelandic metal scene is alive and very well, and Zhrine pummeling us with their mighty debut “Unortheta” made it clear the onslaught is just beginning. It was fitting they toured this year with Ulcerate, a band with whom they share some metallic DNA, though Zhrine is proving to be the more creative of the two right now. The record douses the listener in death metal so bludgeoning, it feels like it was created after years breathing in the filth of a dank coal mine. But they also inject some creative wonder into the music, as if they plan to launch this into space to prove their meddle to anyone who might be listening beyond our planet. This band is damn good, and they’re just getting started with this project. (April 8)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/zhrineofficial/

To buy the album, go here: http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here: http://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

WITE cover36. WOMAN IS THE EARTH, “Torch of Our Final Night” (Init): South Dakota may seem like an odd place for the transformation of USBM’s chemistry to take place, but that’s exactly where Woman Is the Earth are plying their trade and changing what we know heavy music to be. On their excellent fourth record “Torch of Our Final Night,” they expand the boundaries of black metal and their own psyches with six tracks that comprise about 39 minutes of music. Heaviness and brutality are there, but so is compassion, atmospheric energy, and incredible heart, making this an album that could help you transcend. If more black metal bands could be as bold as WITE, the scene would be healthier and a lot more interesting in which to delve. (April 15)

For more on the band, go here: http://www.womanistheearthband.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://initrecords.corecommerce.com/

Or here: http://www.womanistheearthband.com/woman-is-the-earth—store.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.initrecords.net/

high-priest-cover35. HIGH PRIEST OF SATURN, “Son of Earth and Sky” (Svart): This is going to be way too much sharing, but on weekends, I like to take long showers at night with the lights out so I can breathe and relax. Typically, I’ll choose music that helps me push through the misery of the week, and High Priest of Saturn’s masterful second record “Son of Earth and Sky” very often is my album of choice. It’s a collection that reaches even higher if your mind is altered, but that’s not even necessary for this music to push you into a psychedelic haze. This band sort of walks the edges of metal and injects a ton of psyche rock, jazz, and some bluesy notes, making it something that could have landed in the ’60s or ’70s and been right at home. Merethe Heggset’s singing in a huge highlight of this collection, as she can soar when the need arises or pull back the intensity when the quiet takes over. This record is intoxicating and immersive, and it’ll keep soothing my mental bruising well into the future. (Feb. 26)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/highpriestofsaturn/

To buy the album, go here: http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/

For more on the label, go here: http://svartrecords.com/

Crowhurst cover34. CROWHURST, “II’ (Broken Limbs/Dullest): Jay Gambit is one prolific dude, and Crowhurst is a project that takes some serious dedication if you want to track every piece of music under that banner. This year, the band’s highpoint was “II,” an effort that mixed industrial smoke and fire with black metal fury perfectly, and six tracks here can get under your skin and increase whatever anxiety you’re feeling naturally. Teaming up with Andy Curtis-Brignell (Caina) and Matron Thron (Ævangelist), Gambit comes up with a record that’s one of the finest in Crowhurst’s massive collection, one that’s soaked in darkness and torment. Every moment of this feels like a psychological bloodletting, and that all culminates on the record’s crushing 13:28 closer “Dried Blood of Old Earth” that take you on a noise-infested metallic fog from which you cannot easily escape. Great work. (Aug. 30)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/crowhurstnoise

To buy the album, go here: https://dullestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ii

For more on the label, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/

And here: https://www.facebook.com/DullestRecords

Pestifere cover33. PESTIFERE, “Hope Misery Death” (Eihwaz): The earth is fucked. I mean, it’s really fucked. At least with the way the United States is bound to approach natural elements for the next four (holy shit, please only be four) years, it’s a terrifying effort to wonder just how far down the drain we will go. Luckily, we have bands such as Pestifere putting up the good fight, which they do on their excellent second record “Hope Misery Death.” This Minnesota-based band launches a fiery, melodic black metal assault on this record that will get your blood flowing but also touch your conscience when it comes to how we conduct ourselves as humans. We’re not the best stewards of Earth, something Pestifere warn often with these eight tracks, all hitting a crescendo on soul-shaking closer “To Those Who Lost Their Home,” which brings the whole collection to a rustic, rousing finish. If you slept on this one, change that. (July 15)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pestiferemn

To buy the album, go here: https://thecollectivedistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/

Sumac cover32. SUMAC, “What One Becomes” (Thrill Jockey): Aaron Turner can make anything he touches feel like an earthquake. Sumac’s thunderous second record “What One Becomes” is proof of that, as he, Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn do supreme damage here. But that’s not all they do. Their playing also runs circles around you, as they make the most of their prowess by proving their technical chops match their heaviness. Lyrically, the record hits home for me as it centers on anxiety and the building blocks that lead one to experience this potentially crippling phenomenon. Here, the band focuses on identifying anxiety’s source and mapping out a battle plan to address and balance it. It’s like therapy put to the sounds of planets exploding. It’s Sumac’s best work and hints that they’re only scratching the surface at what this trio can accomplish. (June 10)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND

To buy the album, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com/

Vektor cover31. VEKTOR, “Terminal Redux” (Earache): Did you see “Rogue One”? It ruled. Seriously, such a fun night at the movies that pays off some long-wondered questions. Nothing’s better than a good space opera, and that’s something thrash demons Vektor deliver on their aggressive, ambitious concept album “Terminal Redux.” It gives Earache one of metal’s most forward-thinking bands, something for which they’ve been searching for a long time since their glory days, and metal audience a fun, ferocious group that can keep their brain cells charged. The record has moments that are so goddamn cheeky that you can’t help but smile and a serving of technical wonder that could inform other musicians that they can play it heavy and purposely geeky at the same time. Oh, and they fucking deliver live. This record is 10 tracks and 73 action-packed minutes that feels like a thriller you can imagine in your mind as the music blows you away. This shit’s made for the big screen, and this record will help you remember than metal can be incredibly fun. We seem to forget that too often.  (May 6)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/VektorOfficial

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: http://uswebstore.earache.com/vektor

Or here (Europe) http://webstore.earache.com/vektor

For more on the label, go here: http://www.earache.com/

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