CVLT Nation’s Albums of the Year for 2016

TEN – ZEAL and ARDOR Devil Is Fine

This collection of genre-bending songs entitled Devil Is Fine was created by Zeal and Ardor hailing from NYC. To put this project into a box would be doing the creators of this music – and you – a great disservice. What I LOVE the most about this LP is how Zeal and Ardor have found a way to blend Old Negro Spirituals with elements of Black Metal to make songs that not only will move the listener, but also makes them catchy as fuck. The amount of creative freedom you will experience while blasting Devil Is Fine will almost leave you spellbound. In order to pull off this kind of record, it has to be based in honesty, and it’s this fact that makes me a fan of Zeal and Ardor. Maybe it’s just me, but this is also a HUGE middle finger to all of the racist wannabe kvlt asswipes who like to claim Black Metal as their own. In an ironic way, this is some Black Black Metal, and damn, it sounds so good! Ever since I can remember, I have been a fan of Old Negro Spirituals, and hearing what Zeal and Ardor has done with this art form has made love them even more. Big up to our reader Geordie who turned us on to this band last week! If you want to make some new friends, turn them on to Devil Is Fine. This is just the beginning for Zeal and Ardor – I can feel it in my bones!

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NINE – SALEM’S POT Pronounce This!

The music that Salem’s Pot produces on Pronounce This! goes beyond expectations. They do not simply rehash the elements of their previous albums – but they do not dismiss them either. They move into territories that suit their sound, be those psychedelic rock or NWOBHM. And most importantly, they keep the listener constantly on his or her toes, providing an album that is filled with great hooks, moments from horror flicks and trippy journeys.

Read the full review here

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EIGHT – SHATAAN Weigh of the Wolf

The foundation of the record lies in the old-school black metal approach, with the lead work bouncing between different bands of that time. From the spiderweb-like texture of the Mayhem guitars in De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and their twisted and dark tone presented in a subtle and controlled manner, to the animosity and primal instinct, along with the in-your-face attitude of early Darkthrone releases. The twist here is that most of the vocals in the record are actually fairly clean, and Shataan present a very interesting addition to the primal and dark black metal tone. This also ties in nicely with some of the most epic side of black metal. Emperor‘s furious black metal/pagan tone from Anthems to The Welkin At Dusk comes to mind, and the more grand moments actually craft a scenery not unlike the mid-period of Bathory.

Read the full review here

 

SEVEN – AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED Arc

Arc, Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s newest record, is one of four in a series of EPs that will showcase a different sound and approach on each one, with every subsequent album being released over the course of the upcoming year. With this first output, Agoraphobic Nosebleed blow away any previous conceptions as to what this band can summon forth. Arc stands as a testament to how talented Hull and his chosen band of miscreants are. The entire blistering, schizophrenic assault they’ve come to be known for has been replaced by a swampy, backwoods feel to each song. Composed of three tracks, all of which sound almost nothing like anything they’ve done before. No blast beats or frantic overloads of sound. Just stripped down, Black Sabbath-worshiping riffage, injected with a heavy dose of modern-sounding Doom Metal and good old fashioned hate.

Read the full review here

Agoraphobic-Nosebleed-Arc

 

SIX – THE BODY // FULL OF HELL One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

There comes a time in every young man, woman, nonbinary, or other person’s life when they have something put in front of them that is so jagged, bare, raw, textured and destructive that it achieves all levels of perfection and surpasses it without batting an eyelash. Now take extreme experimental noise metal turned alternative pop duo, The Body (who I interviewed not too long ago here) and corroborate their sound with one of the consistently limb-sprouting and genre-transitioning harsh noise-laden, power-electronically driven, and ferociously deafening quartets known as Full Of Hell (who I also interviewed not too long ago here) and put equal part of each band’s sound into one monumental studio effort. Take this release and create a new release aptly donning the title of One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache. This release pushes the limits of sound itself, and meets every single qualification for a legendary categorization.

Read the full review here

'One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache' Cover Art

FIVE – BARST The Western Lands

Mixing genres is no easy work, and if the focus is weak, the process ultimately fails. There is a resulting disconnect that arises from a non-complete approach, even if the mix is between genres that are closely related. Barst point out that part of their goal is to be able to break down the walls between all sorts of genres – something that is easier said than done. Bart Desmet, the man behind Barst, so far has an excellent history of promoting this vision, through cassette releases and collaborations with great acts such as Treha Sektori and RM74 among more, an now preparing to release Barst’s debut full-length, The Western Lands.

The blend of sound is intricately built, encompassing elements of ambient music and drone, but also shoegaze, extreme metal, and on top of all that, electronica. It cannot be said that the combination is completely novel, however the work that Desmet puts in in order to achieve a cohesive result from this mix of styles can be considered herculean. The ambient and drone sides are able to compliment each other; the first crafting the scenery, and when left independent to roam, leading into minimalistic tendencies; while drones are brought in to add sonic constructs, filling the soundscapes and creating an asphyxiating result.

Read the full review here

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FOUR – OATHBREAKER Rheia

The patience and soul searching that went into the creation of Rheia is illuminated through it’s sound. Oathbreaker’s third full length is the most expansive release from the Belgian black metallers, maybe even the most sonically extensive record some might hear all year. The highlights from the record include parts infused with head splitting instrumentals and ear piercing vocal deliveries as well as times where Oathbreaker take moments of rest to find tranquility — if it can be called that on this emotionally rotten record. The lyrical content involves vocalist Caro Tanghe burning through old memories of anger, despair and other forms of vehement discontent that lend to Rheia‘s crushing atmosphere.

Read the full review via New Noise Magazine

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THREE – DEAF KIDS Configuracao de Lamento

Insanity might not always be a disadvantage… If there is one lesson to be learned from the new Deafkids EP, Configuracao de Lamento, then it might as well be that. Hailing from Brazil, Deafkids is a hybrid experimental/raw punk band extraordinaire with a d-beat methodology. They have a number of other releases already out there, which I urge you to check out on their Bandcamp page.

Deafkids erratically and with malice switch through different influences, diverse sounds and contrasting approaches in their latest work. Refusing to be pigeonholed in a single genre or mood, they use the raw punk attitude as a starting point, and go through a number of unconventional transformations. Punk is just the peak of the iceberg in this instance.

The raw energy of hardcore punk grants a basis for the bands’ vision. Thick on one end and intrusive, it makes Deafkids appear in an insisting mode of constant struggle, accurately depicted through the repetitive patterns, bringing the music to a boil with feelings of anger and anguish. However, even that as a style sees quick mutations from Deafkids. From dissonant alternative hardcore elements, which bring to mind even early Neurosis, with an extreme approach, to noise influences being channeled into further aggression and hostility, any form of consistency evaporates quickly.

Read the full review here

Deafkids - Configuracao de Lamento

 

TWO – BÖLZER Hero

After much build up, Bölzer have delivered their debut full length in late 2016 entitled Hero, and while most have seemingly loved what this Swiss duo have brought to the table since their emergence four years ago, this record is bound to split fans who merely want more of the same from those more open to growth – for there is most certainly an evolutionary leap that takes place on Hero that sets it apart from preceding releases.

While the overall sound is still recognizably Bölzer, with its big, bold guitar tone and penetrating vision, the make up of this release and its individual parts are altogether more airy and epic in nature, as an album simply called Hero probably should be. Besides being a bit more open ended with more space to breathe (and thus, freer to build tension), what fans will immediately notice is the vocals. In addition to what you’ve come accustomed to with Bölzer, they’ve added a pretty prominent array of clean vocals to the mix that will undoubtedly throw some off and turn others off altogether.

Read the full review here

 

ONE – NEUROSIS Fires Within Fires

Fires Within Fires marks yet another chapter in the story of Neurosis. And to be honest, this is a difficult review to write for me. Because in my eyes, this band has never erred or put anything out other than high-caliber, thought-provoking music. From their earliest releases to now, Neurosis have consistently broke the bar in terms of what they deliver. So yes, having such a lofty opinion and love of this band might hinder me in terms of being subjective. But then again, this is Neurosis we’re talking about. To have great expectations – and have them met – is par for the course when it comes to this band. But the real challenge when dissecting Fires Within Fires is grasping the emotional thread that connects the band and this album, to their legacy.

I could sit here and hammer out a thousand words about each album. I could write two thousand words comparing them against each other. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to have certain times of the year for each of Neurosis’s albums. The dog-days of summer are marked by heavy rotations of A Sun That Never Sets, while the brutal, east coast winters get my all time favorite Times of Grace as their background soundtrack. And now we have Fires Within Fires, which be released on September 23rd. The second day of Fall, which seems like a fitting, if not a deliberate move on their part. This album just locks into that feeling of inevitable change. From ripe fruit slowing transitioning into decaying matter. Those jubilant days that slowly blend into solemn moments of reflection as one stares into a hearth.

Read the full review here

Neurosis Fires Within Fires cover art

 

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Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

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Zach Dolan
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I really love my genre bending albums, but I thought Zeal and Ardor was straight boring and gimmicky. Why have I not seen Khonsu on any lists?

Danny Smith
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I haven’t seen a single list ANYWHERE with Gevurah on it. THAT ALBUM RULED

DEAF KIDS
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<3

Warren Beyda
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>Bolzer #2
All street cred lost. This album was the worst and you know it. Quit lying to yourself and others.

Jasper Goerlandt
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It’s one of my favorites of the year, too…

Gus Butler
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I love that Salem’s Pot record

Doombringer Joako
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Great records. Obviously neurosis is the best album of the year

Jasper Goerlandt
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Awesome list!