2016 has been another promising year in Heavy metal music so far, with some very strong releases coming from all around the world. Well initially I planned to do an in-depth review of all the below mentioned albums but laziness found me and hence I will keep the reviews short.
10. Exumer – The Raging Tides
Exumer was quite a force to be reckoned with back in the mid-late eighties after the release of Possessed by Fire (1986) and Rising from the Sea (1987), but they disbanded shortly after that. The band reunited, and released Fire & Damnation (2012). The Raging Tides is the band’s 4th full-length release and perhaps one of their strongest albums so far. Mem V. Stein stated in an interview, “The album is called ‘The Raging Tides,’ and the title represents the ebb and flow of human misery and despair around the globe.” Raging Tides with its neck-breaking speed and Exodus-influenced riffs is a thrasher’s delight and a must listen.You can check out the detailed review of album here
9. Abbath – Abbath
Abbath has been one of the most recognizable and pioneering figures in Black Metal history as Immortal made a name for themselves in the scene with some unforgettable records. Abbath parted ways with Immortal due to tensions within the band and formed his own band with Kevin Foley (ex-Benighted) and Creature (ex- Gorgoroth). The music on offer here is unquestionably grim and frost-bitten, but actually a more varied range of extreme and classic beats and fills are on offer, and the album leans towards a thrashier style of play with some great riffing.
8. Protector – Cursed and Coronated
Protector was formed around 1986 in Wolfsburg, Germany and they released their debut album, Golem in 1988. The band produced a few other EPs and albums with “A Shedding Of Skin” being their most recognizable work, and then they disbanded in the mid 90’s. Protector came back with full force in 2013 and they have released their sixth album this year. The album packs a punch with a few brilliant tracks like ‘Xenophobia”, “Crosses of Carelia” and “Six Hours on the Cross.” For a band that started out at almost the same time as Sodom and Kreator, Protector has often been overlooked inspite of being equally talented as their contemporaries. Hope this album garners them the fans following these guys richly deserve.
7. Irkallian Oracle – Apollyon
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden Irkallian Oracle crept into the metal scene in 2013 with their debut release Grave Ekstasis. Irkallian Oracle doesn’t play the classic Death metal sound which we generally associate with bands from that region. The band’s page states that they never had a stable lineup and this sense of mystery complements the band’s gloomy, grim brand of Black/Death metal. The overall mood of the album is very well conjured in the album artwork as well. The album tells a tale of eons of chaos and destruction through its dismal and cheerless musical explorations and leaves you gasping for air. Engrossing would be the perfect word for me to describe this album.
6. Wildernessking – Mystical Future
Wildernessking started out as “Heathens” but with the release of their 2012 album “The Writing of Gods in the Sand” the band changed their name and since then the Black Metal quartet from South Africa belted out 2 EP’s and 2 splits with the same lineup as in “Mystical Future”. Mystical Future consists of 5 tracks resulting in 43 minutes of pure musical brilliance. The band stands for a style of music that incorporates not only traditional Black metal but also assimilates “post metal” ambience and a tinge of shoe-gaze, resulting in a beautiful amalgamation of horror and serenity. Embrace this beauty.
5. Mantar – Ode To The Flame
Mantar burst onto the metal scene with their 2014 debut album “Death By Burning” which fused Black metal with doomy/sluggish passages. The German duo released their second full-length via Nuclear Blast Records and they have picked up from where they had left. Mantar’s take on Black Metal is quite an interesting one; the synthesis of Black Metal with filthy, sludge-y rock’n roll is a clear winner. The production in this album is definitely more polished than your average Black Metal album and is one of the strongest points of the album.
“Fire is able to reset anything and will erase this planet one day from any plague that’s been around. Furthermore it’s obviously an ode to passion and iron will. ‘Ode To The Flame’ isn’t dramatic, it’s drastic, by all means.”- Mantar states.
Think of Midnight on acids, you get Mantar.
4. Inverloch – Distance|Collapsed
Without any hesitation diSEMBOWELMENT’s 1993 album Transcendence into the Peripheral is the zenith of death/doom metal, nothing absolutely nothing comes close to it. Paul Mazziotta and Matthew Skarajew regrouped and formed Inverloch in 2011 and their EP Duk|Subside was clear proof that they still had it in them to produce soul crushing music and Inverloch’s debut full-length has just reaffirmed this statement. Death/doom is a difficult genre to play as you strive for the perfect balance between slow gloomy passages and providing brutal heaviness, and many bands have a hard time figuring it out. Inverloch seem to have hit all the right chords with this record though, providing a soul crushing, gut wrenching album in the process. The essence of diSEMBOWELMENT is well and truly alive in Inverloch and this might go down to be one of the major highlights of the calendar year.
3. Cobalt – Slow Forever
Cobalt has been one of the best Black Metal bands for the past decade or so, which saw them release epics like “Eater of Birds” in 2007 which they followed up with “Gin” in 2009. Things started to fall apart between Phil and Erik in the coming years, and Phil left the band which resulted in Erik Wunder being the sole member of the band. Wunder recruited Charlie Fell of Lord Mantis fame to perform vocal duties and released their 4th album “Slow Forever”.
Hemingway has been a long time fixation of Cobalt and the tradition has carried on even on this album. “Slow Forever” is hauntingly beautiful; it has its slow passages, acoustic parts, long engaging intros but everything comes full circle and total chaos and destruction rages on.
2. Skáphe – Skáphe²
“Imagine your body disintegrating and coming apart at seams, slowly, gradually, so that one if conscious of it, would barely note it’s passing on. Imagine your muscles turning to gelatin, your bones to powder, and everything you once were becoming again one with the earth, and ultimately the stars.”-On the Afterlife (G.V. Loewen). This is perhaps the most apt way to describe Skáphe’s sophomore.
Skáphe² is a journey through the portals of hell, a thick barrage of harsh noise clouds your way and delivers you to the netherworld. Destructive, unrelenting and agonizing are some of the words I could conjure up to describe this record. This is hostility in its purest form.
1. Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Chthe’ilist has been lauded by fans right from the very first day it came out. Chthe’ilist was created in 2010 right after the dissolution of Phil Tougas’ side project “Spheres”. The atmospheric death metal trio hailing from Quebec, Canada released Le Dernier Crépuscule on 29th January this year via Profound Lore Records. Phil Tougas is a very capable musician and I must say an imaginative composer. The band’s music borders along the lines of Death Metal with a very atmospheric and progressive outlook to it, making this release one of the most unique releases of recent times. Many have already mentioned the Demilich influence but I strongly feel there is more to the band, the lingering melodies, the cavernous vocals and the memorable solos make Le Dernier… one of my most favorite albums in recent times and definitely a strong contender for the album of the year.
I have already done a detailed review of the album and you can check it out by clicking here.
Written By: The Scene Kid