Music of 2016 – Albums of the Year

Hi Folks, i thought i’d do something a bit different and actually write something here…

Well seeing as we’ve just passed into 2017 I thought it’d be a good idea to perhaps write up some of the more interesting records i’ve listened to this past year; Including where possible links to the music and some of my thoughts on the records.

This has the potential to be a verrrrrrrry lengthy post. so i’ve added page breaks every so often

So the long and the short of it here’s a list of my favourite albums that I heard last year. I’ve included links below to pages with more information regarding the bands in question.

  1. AgallochThe Mantle
  2. UlverThemes from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”
  3. Paradise LostDraconian Times
  4. Mael Mórdha – Damned When Dead
  5. Beastmilk – Climax
  6. Secrets of the MoonSUN
  7. Deströyer 666Phoenix Rising
  8. Killing Joke – Night Time
  9. MgłaWith Hearts Toward None
  10. InquisitionBloodshed Across the Empyrean Alter Beyond the Celestial Zenith
  11. Hypocrisy – Hypocrisy
  12. Wolves in the Throne Room – 2005 Demo
  13. Mithotyn – In the Sign of the Raven
  14. Beseech – My Darkness, Darkness
  15. Batushka – Litourgiya
  16. Alcest – Kodama
  17. Dark Tranquillity – Projector
  18. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked for Death
  19. Summoning – Stronghold
  20. Fuath – I

Agalloch – The Mantle

Agalloch were a Black/Folk Metal outfit based in Oregon State in the United States, unfortunately this year they broke up due to differing desires in the direction of the band through a very public breakup.

Freshly re-released around the mid point of this year, “The Mantle” was a record I went into completely dark with. I had listened to “Ashes Against the Grain” many times in years gone past however I had since forgotten about the record.

Ostensibly “The Mantle” is an atmospheric metal album heavy on the acoustic guitars and surprisingly enough for Black Metal; Clean Vocals. Jon Haughm’s vocal delivery being a style it took some time for to acclimate to. but on multiple listens his delivery opens up and for me i warmed considerably to it.

When this record hits it hits hard and the whole album flows together, It begs to be listened to in one sitting.

I’ve chosen to highlight the beautiful second track “In the Shadow of our Pale Companion” as it is a microcosm of the whole album. Give it a listen.

Ulver – Themes from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

Ulver are a mystery. As far as their music goes they are an experimental group formed in the early 90’s by vocalist Kristoffer Rygg. They started out initially as a Black Metal, and they were true contemporaries of the mid 90’s scene in Norway, blending folk music with harsh black metal. however after completing 3 records in this style went crazy branching off into Industrial, Electronica, Triphop and Ambient music.

Each album of theirs is worthy of a listen just because they do something new and interesting each time.

I’ve chosen this record as it finds Ulver just having finished their Black Metal Trilogy and beginning their experimentation. The album is an audio illustration of Blake’s Poem and throws together Heavy Metal, Industrial and Electronic influnces; as far as the band goes this is their transitional record. but by no means is it a weak album.

I’ve selected the opener “The Argument, Plate 2” as straight out the gate you hear this is not initially what you expect…

Grab the album from the band’s Bandcamp page – here

Paradise Lost – Draconian Times

Paradise Lost are one of the so called “Peaceville Three”, one of the big Death/Doom bands that were on the Peaceville Records label together at the same time (the others being Anathema and My Dying Bride). all three bands went their own respective ways musically and developed their sounds differently.

It’s on this album we see Paradise Lost having developed their sound further from their Death/Doom roots and having transitioned to a more Gothic Metal sound with more approachable vocals in the form of Nick Holmes’ shout/bark.

There’s a number of great introspective tracks and the sound is pure 90’s warm lushness; I’ve linked “Forever Failure”, as it never fails to evoke a sense of introspection, however the vocal samples from Charles Manson of all people make it fairly unsettling at the same time.

“Are you forever lost of purpose in a passive life?”

Mael Mórdha – Damned When Dead

Mael Mórdha were an Irish Doom Metal band, they blended the sounds of Doom metal with Irish folk music.

The band shared friendly ties with Primordial and worked together more than once. The band’s lyrics often concerned the Battle of Clontarf, the competition between Brian Boru, High King of Ireland and Mael Mórda Mac Murda, King of Leinster.

Damned when Dead is the band’s final album prior to their Hiatus in 2015, released in 2013 the band reaches a new peak in their sound; I’ve chosen the super doomy title track “Damned When Dead” as it’s from the perspective of an introspective deceased Mael Mórda… and how not everything was as it seemed beneath the surface the track is a beautiful build and build and build until a desperate sorrowful peak.

Beastmilk – Climax

Beastmilk, (now Grave Pleasures) are a Finnish post-punk/rock band with a bitter retro apocalyptic vibe, quite difficult to describe.  Their sound however will more than adequately make up for this.

Fronted by Kvohst formerly of Dødheimsgard, the band is far and away distant from that anarchic experimental black metal band. their sound is effortlessly cool.

I’ve chosen the track “Strange Attractors” on account of the smooth dark romantic croon Kvohst ushers forth with this “Love in the Apocalypse”-style gothic rock track. “Sexuality and Cynicism”

Secrets of the Moon – SUN

Secrets of the Moon (SotM) are a Black Metal band from Osnabrück, Germany.

This is an album i’ve been listening to since launch. SotM have taken a bit more of a turn from Black Metal and turned of all things towards Gothic Rock. the results are absolutely spectacular with magnificent hints towards Fields of the Nephilim on “The Man Behind the Sun”, which coincidentally has a beautiful and unsettling video, by the same artist who’s worked on a number of Triptykon videos.

Other highlights include “Hole” and my favourite track on the whole thing “Here Lies the Sun” which is eminently the most singable track on the record (i was disappointed when they didn’t perform it when I saw them in London earlier last year)

Deströyer 666 – Phoenix Rising

Blasty Blackened Thrash Metal from Australia. Deströyer 666 (possibly one of the most over the top names in metal) are a no nonsense fun black metal band; Often controversial vocalist “K. K. Warslut” is the epitome of the drunk heavy metaller.

Phoenix Rising is their 2000 album and is an uncompromisingly thrashy trashy ride start to finish, “I am the Wargod (Ode to the Battleslain)” and “Lone Wolf Winter” are key highlights from the album. Ungodly assblasty riffs.

Killing Joke – Night Time

Seminal Post-punk and industrial band Killing Joke have played a key role in my music listening over the past year.

Alas it was their most commercial record that did it for me this time around. not much really to be said here. Just an absolutely killer record. I’ve chosen Eighties as it’s been on frequent rotation in my playlists.

Mgła – With Hearts Towards None

Mgła are a Polish Black Metal band, and their style is an uncompromising blend of atmospherics and melody sandwiched together by a seemingly innate feel for riffs.
Mgła have been a bit of a critic’s darling since this full length; and with very good reason this is an absolute barnstormer; unforgiving, mercilessly powerful  melodic riffage and harsh grim vocals. these tracks will get in your head. and they will stay there.

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

Inquisition hail from deepest darkest Colombia (via the United States).

They play a straight up melodic black metal, no bass. lush melody, crushing riffs. this album is no exception it took quite a while to grow on me but after it grabbed me i can not stop listening to it. Lizard croak vocals. no bass. meaty memorable riffs. no bass. grandiloquent meaningless title. no bass.

Did I mention no bass?


-Damien N.

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