2016: Multi-national corporate incubation of aural parasitism.

ARCHIVES This post is an archived “Best of the Year” list from another website where I spent about seven years documenting my listening habits. After a break from the site in 2018 and a total exodus in 2019 these lists were collected, saved, and are now presented largely untouched. Please note that these thoughts, opinions, and general comments were not only written (up to ten) years ago but largely for a small audience of friends and fellow record collectors. They are not complete, not retrospective, a little self-conscious and not intended to be professional in voice. The re-posting of these lists are by the request of a small circle of online friends and should not be taken seriously as criticism.

2016 was a joy in hindsight, foully monstrous releases all year long, a huge gain over 2015, and one that’d served some of the biggest, most enduring returns from certain favorite artists (Neurosis, Krypts, Kawir, Reveal!, Oranssi Pazuzu, etc.) since. Out of the ‘Best of‘ lists beyond 2011 archived, this one is probably most fit for public consumption since I remember needling over the order and my quotes for the entire year. There was one edit made here beyond 2016, Verberis was meant to be in #15 when added but I had never moved it out of the #30 slot.

We’re finished. The future starts projecting upon us now. The same way the sun’s rays are ancient in scale once they radiate across sensation-oriented beings, so fast approaching are the things ready to collapse awry. Whether or not you believe in destiny, fate, or fiery chaotic rebirth through occult transcendental conjuring and eventuality or multiple planes of existence — the truth of the universe is that “things” will happen and the piling of “stuff” around us will be sensible to human beings. You’re going to “feel” it, death’s increase. Creation will continue just as long as consumption is a natural impulse of covetous, short-lived upright apes. The future approaches fast, or eternally slow depending what you are. 2015 is nothing, I was nothing but the collective shedding of the still-living, let it be the stamped-out pile beneath 2016. Time only unfolds itself at a speed that we can perceive. Here I sit completely dejected by the horrors of life and the capabilities of man’s filth and deceptive pride. The music of this past year was some of the best I’ve ever heard and yet the darkness clinging to my ridiculously sturdy cerebellum hangs my head forward-leaning into the dark endless soft-footed stairway of depression as winter’s eternally damning sorcery leads me nowhere, at least I bought nice earbuds since they’ll stay in as I walk eternally downwards toward another year of pointless and cruel animalistic human behavior.


TITLE:Predatory Light
LABEL(S):Psychic Violence Records,
Invictus Productions

“How could I not check this out considering what love I have for the band they’re most often compared to: Negative Plane. I don’t think this necessarily touches the opus we’d gotten from Funereal Presence last year but that isn’t to say this isn’t great, it just knots itself in the differently doomed-out manner. Thing of the pure swamping evil of early Hellenic black metal act by way of fifth generation occult-thrashing black/death, a beast capable of crooked bursts of speed and fittingly grimy atmosphere. The full listen feels like an ancient horror with clanging guitar runs (see also: the first Head of the Demon) and its quick and dirty drum changes. I almost feel taunted… like a demonic sorcerer sits on a cliff casting hexes into my face while I age into putrefaction. A wild feeling eh, I’m excited to hear more from these guys in the future.”

TITLE:What One Becomes
LABEL(S):Thrill Jockey Records

“Incredibly heavy atmosludge and a major improvement over the blandest The Deal from last year. The sound design here is amazing, clangorous and in ruins, yet the songwriting is more coherently placed. I suppose the lack of variation helps them achieve singular, punishing point of impact best. I like where the project is headed but I obviously need to spend more time with the rest of their discography.”

TITLE:Experiment of Existence
LABEL(S):Unspeakable Axe Records,
Dark Descent Records

“No surprises here, just refinement of the sound of the previous Ripper album. A perfect mix of early Kreator, early Death and this time the emphasis is more technical. The production is perfect for a brutal thrash album, the material is somewhat expected but feels more like worship of a true ideal rather than the usual lazy copping of style we often get in death/thrash metal.”

TITLE:Empty Space Meditation
LABEL(S):Ván Records

“This is easily one of my favorite bands to ever be labeled ‘atmospheric black metal’. So this one has the airy keys and howling-in-pain shrieking troll vocals that you want to hear. Sure, lots of ambient stuff going on and all that but the more active moments of the album are the best. I guess this band seems gimmicky to some but a lot is conveyed between its howling and crooning mania. A pleasant sort of nightmare music which has grown on me over the year.”

TITLE:The Irrepassable Gate
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records

“I had the right feeling about Ash Borer after seeing them jump from their just ok 2012 album to the brilliant and lofty Bloodlands and I’m glad they took their time in making The Irrepassable Gate a complete and varied extreme metal album that does much more than just atmospheric black metal tags might suggest. There are long-winded atmosludge breaks, slow funeral black moments, wet and slippery clean black metal bursts and I’d be surprised if folks didn’t just hear this as a black/doom record on some level. Is it transcendent of atmoblack cliches? Well, depends on your perspective but thankfully the mood is in constant despair and the riffs are always death tuned. You’ll never feel right walking uphill to this music.”

TITLE:Winter’s Gate
LABEL(S):Century Media

“This kind of outdoes the Omnium Gatherum album from earlier in the year in many ways, but the tone here is singular through by design as this concept album drives itself forward for 40 minutes straight. Insomnium did something reasonably interesting here and they did it with their usual high-gloss style, making one giant multi-movement piece. I’m surprised either release is even on my top list for the year as it has been a while since they’d blown me away. I’m not the biggest ‘modern’ melodic death metal fan but Winter’s Gate is melodramatic and guitar-centric enough to be unique in my mind this year. “Commercial shit” by many people’s standards but the trip is completely worth pushing past that feeling.”

LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

“Psychedelic, lurching death metal with the atmosphere of Gateways to Annihilation and the precision of Here in After, or wait, the other way around? There are tons of blazed-ass thrashing moments with wailing guitar solos and tribal drums over angular riffs that surprise and entertain my ears throughout. Long loosely structured songs and spacious production creates an atmospheric but urgent death metal record full of ominous Mithras-ish space tones and chaotic builds. It feels like a bizarro take on what Gorguts tried to do in the early 00’s minus the groove-‘shuggah riffs and more focused on mesmerizing pieces. An excellent album from start to finish.”

TITLE:To Starve the Cross
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

“This album isn’t so massively different in it’s inherent structure when compared to the first album, but it sounds absolutely amazing by comparison. The tracks are more lively, less doom/death and has a big Finnish 90’s death metal feel to it during the mid-paced sections. This reminds me of a more complex, better produced Desecresy at times and I tend to love the stuff that band puts out too. So, even though Ghoulgotha has that boggy atonal fidgety riff thing going on it seems more like genuine musical personality on this one amidst its thick layered sound. I hear a band overflowing with interesting ideas that outclass peers like Wakedead Gathering (whom are also great) and offers an album way more digestible compared to say Howls of Ebb (whom are also great) with their own weird edge still protruding. Can’t wait to hear where they go from here musically because this is flooded with ideas and energy.”

TITLE:Devoid of Light

“This album appears to be inspired by early-to-mid 90’s melodic black metal from Sweden but with a different ‘modern’ atmospheric focus, sometimes leaning into Inquisition‘s rocking guitar work and other times towards Mgła‘s dead-eyed stare. There is a warm, comfortable aura here… but without losing its own slightly chaotic off-feeling, think of something like Vittra from Nagelfar. The production is rough enough that this one has a lot of character on its own, this isn’t something that With Hearts Towards None did first so, the comparison has been annoying.”

TITLE:The Regal Tribe
LABEL(S):Agonia Records

Ordained was a sort of awakening moment for Usurpress in the sense that this is a mix of crust punk and old school Swedish death metal began expanding into sludgy death/doom moments. On this album they reach for increasingly progressive arrangements to break up the pace. The death/crust side of things represents one of my obsessions these last few years and they’ve still got that energy. For The Regal Tribe their use of dynamic song transitions more atmospheric ideas allows more breathing room beyond big doom riff sections and I suppose it is the type of record that takes a while to digest, just as the last did.”

TITLE:Cursed and Coronated
LABEL(S):High Roller Records

“This sounds even more like the first life of Protector hitting their groove as they had around 1990 but with more emphasis on speed. Reminds me of the first Thanatos album, early Destruction, and their Leviathan’s Desire EP from back in the day. I wasn’t blown away by Reanimated Homunculous, but this has more life to it while still sounding like pure classic thrash. I guess we’ll never see Pestilence return to their early roots in earnest, so Protector doing so is admirable and tasteful. Love the cover art for this and the last one, too. Detailed, dark and a fitting palette.”


TITLE:Pathetic Divinity
LABEL(S):Kaotoxin Records

“An excellent second album from this classic French death metal band since their reformation. The style is still old school 1993-style death metal, no traces of groove metal… actually less grooves than Unholy Black Splendor, where the riffs don’t take a break as often. They’re really pressing forward hard with the songwriting and this might hit a “samey” vibe but in the best tradition of classic death metal. This was in my Top 10 for most of the year, seems like it just got a little lost in the shuffle.”

TITLE:Terminal Redux
LABEL(S):Earache Records

“Although I was fan #1 for Vektor at some point they’ve gone even a bit too progressive for me on a few tracks here. Most of this album impresses by way of its world scaling riff adventure but we lost some of the tempo for the sake of elaboration prog-metal presentation. They’ve almost evolved too much, too fast and now I want an album that sits between this and Outer Isolation in style. I’ve gone back and forth on this thing since release and still don’t have a take I’m happy with yet. An amazing, modern metal album for some, a bit of enjoyable enough overkill for my taste.”

LABEL(S):Season of Mist

“These guys make their apex statement here with a surprisingly varied, well produced record that is still pure energy. Defiance was a load of shit if you ask me but I’ll be damned if this isn’t their best to date. Black-thrashing n’ rolling in the most classic way. I don’t think this band has ever fully struck out with this much personality, think somewhere between pagan thrashers like Sabbat (U.K.) and Craven Idol for the full effect, and that is a glorious thing to behold.”

TITLE:In The Wind
LABEL(S):Totem Cat Records

Real street doom shit? Ok, that’s fine I won’t argue. Anyhow I liked this album at first then I didn’t like it, then I gave it a good double listen one night and it clicked. One of the better doom records of the year for me, maybe just for the sake of being straight forward and giving it a good go with the songwriting. I get hints of Pentagram and Vitus like I should, but the overall dark theme and half serious tone ends up making for the ‘right’ feeling for a doom record circa 2016.” [Note: Self-released back in 2015 under the title ‘Doom is Dead’ as a very limited cassette.]

LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

Verberis has that riff-“warping” (see: ety. verber) quality you might hear on a Hellwitch album but with a war metal/thrashing drummer and a gutturally spooked-out vocalist. Parts remind me of Sadistic Intent, the mid-era stuff that was a little slower. It is not what I’d expected based on their Vastitas demo, the title track sounds like some kind of thrash metal Varathron. Awesome stuff.”

LABEL(S):Northern Silence Productions

“I’ve been a huge fan of this band since hearing Spicilège back when it came out. After re-recording their acclaimed Errances Oniriques and kind of firing off releases since it was nice to see them taking their time with Kornog. Belenos have evolved quite a bit since the cold, corridor blustering early-Aeternus style pagan black metal they’d began with. Belenos‘ compositions are urgent and dense, a separation from the usual status quo today that now infuses lead guitar melody as a primary driver. This album strikes deeper almost Falkenbach-ish note with me that has held up incredibly well, something more musical that still manages heaviness.”

LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

“Excellent as usual from this band. I know a lot of people snub their noses at retro-doom rock stuff, even the particularly authentic Scandinavian ones, but I enjoy these guys’ whole discography. Even if it is a style that has been done and I often talk shit about “retro” obsessions, these guys are true professionals and this album is huge. Opener “Malstroem” is a god damn beast of a track, that sounds like it was ripped from the A-side of Lord Vicar‘s first album, after that most of the record leans into something more Sabotage/Volume 4-ish, rollicking, and sludge-lite.”

TITLE:Burning Village
LABEL(S):This Charming Man Records

“Few albums come so close to the magic of Day of Reckoning and Black Sabbath circa ’75 in such an distant, drugged sort of way. But hey, that is just a launching pad for thought, also think along the lines of Uncle Acid in his ‘And the Deadbeats‘ era. The minimal layers of overdubbing gives an earthy Master of Reality tone to this one, a lot of space and some mid-70’s heavy psych cheese, but the vocals offer a more laid back NWOBHM-esque melodrama. Its like the album that Witchcraft were building up towards after Firewood but never made.”

LABEL(S):Svart Records

Värähtelijä basically means vibrator, a thing that vibrates… The polished feel of the previous album remains but this is inarguably the best they’ve put out since Kosmonument. The space rock/jam feel has been a boon to their greater atmospheric drone, moving away from anything traditional black metal with pleasure and ease. Spongy basslines, spiraling guitars and spooky outer spaced Foley work makes for another masterpiece from these Finnish avant-black metal visionaries.

LABEL(S):Unspeakable Axe Records

“A fully dissolving, scorched and bitter soul twisting its way into the endless reaches of space in the form of decay inducing carbon dust forced adrift into all reaches by demonic gravity and lightspeed heaviness. Oh man, this band has gotten so much better and at the very least the drumming is sharp enough so that the songs are coherent regardless of how many wild Unholy Cult style de-tuned and scrambling turns a song might take. Their main influences must be bands like Demilich, Timeghoul, Atheist and such but I get a huge Immolation vibe too personally. Excellent and completely appealing package, from the Dan Seagrave art to the evil-in-space themes. Great stuff if you like old school tech death and mind warping demonic rifts that fold the brain from ear to ear.”

LABEL(S):Chaos Records

Decomposed were on the right path with the previous two albums but I was surprised that they’d morphed into something even more menacing and depressive on this third record. Death/doom influenced death metal heaviness that is ‘new old’ school without leaning into cavern-core sounds. This approach is on the level with bands like Krypts, despite the more traditional riff style when things do get heavier.”

TITLE:On Strange Loops
LABEL(S):Willowtip Records

“This long awaited record certainly recalls Mithras previous masterpiece Worlds Beyond the Veil and its style of outer space guitar effects-laiden extreme death metal. This time the production is louder, cleaner and just radiating with electric presence. Nothing else sounds like these guys and though I think each album has its own meticulously hammered-together ambiance this is the most prime evolutionary vision of Mithras yet. Their style has always veered left from the later 90’s era Morbid Angel comparisons with a wide array of twists and turns of style to keep things interesting but this is an evolution worth waiting nine years for. The Alchemist-esque opener still blows my mind every time before they kick into gear.”

TITLE:Πάτερ ‘Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

“Epic Hellenic pagan black metal. I am a huge fan of the band’s previous album Isotheos and loved the atmospheric movements of their Greek black/folk metal style, ritualistic riff austerity and the unholy entrancement that comes from repetition and bounding rhythm. All of that is here on this one but Father Sun, Mother Moon now aggressively leans into their galloping folk-droning sound. This is my favorite style of pagan black metal and though it shouldn’t be considered folk metal the appeal is similar. I’d put this record on par with the previous album though it does add more production layers, more animated and raw black metal feeling and a memorable action-cinematic in memory. Definitely an achievement for fans of this style to enjoy.”

TITLE:In Circles We Die
LABEL(S):Nirucon Productions

Runemagick was such a great group. Even on their worst albums they were still achieving something special, especially the darkly psychedelic edge of the later 2000’s. This project from members of that band shows a great deal of evolution, refining ideas between their ~12 demo tapes and this third full-length album all of which make for endless mystification. I though they couldn’t top Eternal Sleepwalker, and they didn’t really on Dark Phoenix Rising. In Circles We Die is a different kind of beast less focused on zombie riffs and but still spooking out in the graveyard with getting Tom G. Warrior shouts and their most menacing sound yet. I really can’t get enough of this style and could sit on their bandcamp for hours at a time just zoning out to the hex it raises.”

LABEL(S):Sepulchral Voice Records

“Psychedelic black/thrashing noise rock? I’d been more curious about this one than anything else coming out this year once I saw the album art and wondered if it would be the same reverb-soaked black/thrash band. In some respects this is a different band the rhythm section has taken more of a noise rock/post-punk if it were black metal sort of route, creating what is truly their own sound. The album starts out as if Bathory had been covering Black Flag‘s “My War” and it only gets more rad from there. This is right up my alley and does something nobody else is. From my perspective this prime ratio is as crucial an experiment as the latest Morbus Chron record in merger of atmospheric extreme metal and obscure heavy rock music.”

TITLE:Distance | Collapsed
LABEL(S):Relapse Records

“Debut album from the guys that spearheaded Disembowelment and a member of Ignivomous. An deeply doom-smacked death metal album that often touches upon funeral doom metal atmospherics. I’d say this full-length is as good or better than the EP from a few years ago, certainly an high-rate evolved hand applied in just a few years. Songs like “The Empyrean Torment” invokes Evoken somewhat but it’d make sense to hear the relation to Disembowelment‘s sound in terms of the more graceful guitar work leading into blasted grinding sections (see: “Lucid Delirium”). This has grown on my skin with repeated listens, especially considering the wealth of atmosphere-thick death/doom available this year.”

TITLE:Fires Within Fires
LABEL(S):Neurot Recordings

Neurosis really took the claim of my favorite band between the mind-altering revelation of Through Silver in Blood and the absolute musical perfection that is A Sun That Never Sets. This is an album in said spirit, a return to that grungier style in slightly stripped down, doomed-out Albini-engineered form. Since my interest had waned with release of Honor Found in Decay it seems a certain ‘organic’ element returns alongside my fandom with Fires Within Fires. This one is inarguably a highlight in their discography and easily one of the best releases of 2016.”

TITLE:Remnants of Expansion
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

“Cosmically entrenched vacuous death/doom metal. The newly distinctive atmospheric presence of Krypts now evolves beyond their debut Unending Degradation, an album that was a revelation for me a few years ago. It’d been perfection in terms of sheer guitar arrangement and riff-craft with a production sound that was a shade muddy but truly atmospheric. That horror hallway sound is expanded upon here with deeper reverberating sinister guitar buzz, now far more layered and angular than before. It is a subtle sort of master work both for its sound design and the rhythm guitar performances themselves. Absolute doom.” [Note: Still the high watermark for atmospheric death metal album.”]

LABEL(S):Pulverized Records

“While there is no real information on who plays in Temisto*, it appears the ex-Morbus Chron front guy produced this and that might be what helps to draw some direct comparisons to that band but this is almost next level compared to them directly. The old school death/thrash attack of this album comes unexpected and often despite the easygoing movement the guitars often bring. The style here is perhaps more raw than the direct comparison would suggest, this is also relevant to something like Degial with some early Necrophobic-like black metal moments. I’d like to compare this to Stench but the drumming is entirely different here, sometimes hitting upon swinging heavy rock beats. It is a mystifying atmospheric death metal experience. Mystical occult atmospheric Swedish post-death metal.” [Note: Leo Ekström Sollenmo (Tøronto, ex-Whore) performs most instruments, Robert Andersson (Morbus Chron, Sweven) provides vocals. Get it if you like their other bands and/or Obliteration.]

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