CVLT Nation’s Top 10 AVANT GARDE Releases of 2016

TEN – DROUGHT YEAR All Symbols Are Swastikas

DROUGHT YEAR’s new LP ALL SYMBOLS ARE SWASTIKAS might be one of my favorite records of the year! Let me tell you why – because it is so grim while still being very beautiful in its own twisted fucked way. Imagine if Rozz Williams decided to collabo with Kevin Shields, and they created a dirgy metal record. DROUGHT YEAR’s songs have layers of filth intertwined with layers of urgency that want to attack the fucked up world we live in. Passion is one word that comes to my mind as I listen to ALL SYMBOLS ARE SWASTIKAS, because this collection of songs was created because they had to be. I will never grow tried of this album because it’s just that damn good! Make sure to head over to their website to pick it up, because only 100 vinyl copies were made! You can pick up DROUGHT YEAR’s ALL SYMBOLS ARE SWASTIKAS HERE!

 

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NINE – COBALT Slow Forever

From start to finish, Slow Forever boldly delves into moments of isolation, drug-induced anxiety and sheer anger at the ineptitude of the human race. While Gin stood as a natural progression from Cobalt’s back catalog, Slow Forever feels like the end of a journey. Yet, it also has this sense of new beginnings, perhaps in part due to the  injection of a new voice and blood into the band Charlie Fell.  Perhaps because it took seven years for this mammoth piece of music to see the light of day and Erik Wunder can finally look to the future now that this weight has been lifted off his shoulders. Whatever it is about this alchemists mixture of inspiration and content, Slow Forever is a razor sharp, perfectly executed assault of the highest caliber.

Read the full review here

 

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EIGHT – YOUTH CODE Commitment To Complications

This year, Youth Code gave us Commitment To Complications, a masterpiece of hardcore-infested EBM/electro-industral that not only blows its predecessor from 2013 out of the water by miles, but which has also irreversibly blown open a massive and gaping wound in the underground with its unbelievable vision and execution, its overbearing barrage of sonic wrath, and its unrelenting storm of punishing and scathing beats. Still firmly rooted in the most toxic and degenerate forms of dance music, Ryan George’s beats and sound sculptures have something of the demonic. They are a feeding frenzy on the listener’s synapses. A bludgeoning of the ear drums that never relents. The beauty never wanes, the glorious ramifications of incredible sound design are more magnificent than ever, but holy fuck, these are also songs that are also as rabid as a pack of wolverines as they literally punish your senses with unbelievable force and surgical precision. The loud as fuck mastering and crisp production have further enhanced the beating, bringing you and incessant, punishing and flesh-reaping aural beating that you will never forget. And of course, all of this sonic mayhem would not sound as glorious as it does without the spiteful and tormented vocals of Sara Taylor, the other half of Youth Code, who with her incendiary hardcore-derived vocal assault has established the Youth Code as a real force to behold, as a fierce, fearless and unstoppable beast of the underground.

Read the full review here

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SEVEN – GNAW THEIR TONGUES Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent

One does not need to go much beyond the origin of Gnaw Their Tongues name in order to understand what they are getting into. The expression comes from the Book of Revelation and describes one of the punishments in hell. In essence, what Mories, the multi-instrumentalist and composer behind Gnaw Their Tongues, has been doing with this insane project is producing a a very detailed description of hell (interpret this word however you want.) From one release to the next, Mories expands the sound along with his vision, leading to last year’s amazing Abyss of Longing Throats and now to Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent.

The first aspect that grabs you is the unearthly, infernal ambiance that this record kicks off with. It does not matter if a minimal background is set, and there is not much movement, the parts always retain their sinister, torturous outlook. Based on dark ambient extensions, Mories incorporates a gut-wrenching feeling beat by beat, but what really drives it home is the industrial progression that Gnaw Their Tongues incorporate. As if the dark ambiance was not enough, this guy brings in the mechanical tone of industrial, building the spine of his music, bringing an aura similar to the early days of Godflesh, with the dystopian essence at the front.

Read the full review here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIX – KING DUDE Sex

Sex opens with “Holy Christos,” a rock-heavy song driven by crunchy guitars and his echoing, atmospheric vocals. It begins and ends with haunting melodies sung by vocalist Foie Gras which, while separate from the rest of the song, complete the track beautifully. “Who Taught You How To Love” comes next. This is a slower and more depressing song, but it’s still very much rock-oriented. The guitar is notably post-punk in sound. This one is definitely on the love end of King Dude’s Death/Love Venn Diagram. It opens with the lyrics, “I met her in L.A./She said she’s gonna be a movie star someday,” which is interesting, considering this track was recorded in L.A. separately from the rest of the album.

To me, the album really picks up with the third track, “I Wanna Die At 69.” The placement is perfect. After “Who Taught You To Love” puts us in a melancholy mood, we’re suddenly hit with some crass lyrics sung with rough, gritty vocals. Dark jangly guitar give it a bigger Americana sound than the rest of the album. “Our Love Will Carry On” has the melancholy feel of “Who Taught You How To Love,” but it’s way more folk-based. In fact, this is easily the folkiest song on Sex, which as a whole is more rock-oriented than King Dude’s previous albums. That being said, lyrically and thematically, this song hit me more than the others with the line, “Oh the dead have come and gone/Our love will carry on.” It might sound cheesy on the surface, but I’m a firm believer that love does indeed continue after death, although I don’t claim to understand how or why.

Read the full review here

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FIVE – SYNDROME Forever and a Day

Syndrome is the side project of Mathieu Vandekerckhove of Amenra, who is about to release his third full-length, following Floating Veins and Now and Forever. Thematically, the album follows the concept of Now and Forever, but with a switch of perspective. Where Now and Forever was a dialogue before a father and his son, Forever and a Day depicts the conversation between a son and his father. This connection is also depicted in the artwork of the record, which features a sculpture that Vandekerckhove’s father created.

Apart from the theme of the record, Syndrome also carries down the same road that Now and Forever paved. Caught between post-rock and ambient sounds, the record begins a great introspective journey through the artist’s vision. The mesmerizing melodies guide most of this work, with not so much the usual ethereal, post-rock mentality, but with a more earthy tonality. More immediate in their approach, they are used to a great extent in order to get a highly emotional vibe out of the record, something that is highlighted in the cleaner parts.

Label: Consouling Sounds

Read the full review here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR – BLOODIEST He is Disease

The atmospheric aspect of Bloodiest is prevalent in this work, spread through all the tracks, but it is actually some of the short interludes that make for the most striking, trance-inducing ambiances. The acoustic guitar in “Condition” might have a simple structure, but the feeling that it is able to transmit becomes an integral part of the album. “Mind Overlap,” on the other hand, might be taking an ambient approach, but it relies on electronic elements in order to construct its atmosphere, while the inclusion of a sample in the background adds greatly to the scenery.

The sophomore album of Bloodiest is rich in all aspects. The history that is contained within the record is extensive, while the band’s ability to change the feeling throughout this album is uncanny. The melancholic outlook of “The Widow,” the underlying twisted quality of “Broken Teeth,” the anguish of “He Is Disease,” the chaos of “Suffer” and the ritualistic vibe of “Separation” are just some of the moods that appear in this work. All this combined with the orchestrations of the band, their heavy riffs, big ambiances and their experimental outlook, and you can’t ask for much more.

Read the full review here

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THREE – TERRA TENEBROSA The Reverses

From the onset of The Reverses, it becomes immediately clear that the band have continued to expand their scope and sound to bolster their already-impressive back catalogue. The mastermind behind the project — a masked individual known only as The Cuckoo — previously claimed that the band’s new material was going to be, “faster, more violent and… ugly”; it doesn’t take long for the band to step up to such a claim, and as ‘Ghost at the End of the Rope’ invades the senses in a frenzied wash of claustrophobic black metal, Terra Tenebrosa’s beckoning grin becomes an altogether more sinister snarl.

‘The End Is Mine to Ride’ is an entirely different proposition, and if it weren’t for the fact that the band reside way too far down the rabbit hole to secure mainstream appeal, the gigantic pounding drums and mid-paced swagger almost hints at a rock club banger. Yet The Reverses is no Rob Zombie fun house of horrors. This is artistic expression at its most insidious, and while it clings to its avant-garde palette for dear life, it remains well-formed throughout, never becoming lost within its own ambition. A host of guest appearances (including Blut Aus Nord’s Vindsval and Aosoth’s MkM) serves to strengthen the album’s appeal, adding an external layer to the collective’s usual shrouded existence.

Read the full review here

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TWO – CROWHURST II

Slightly over a year ago, I wrote that Crowhurst was an underground band on the verge of exploding to the forefront of extreme metal. Sitting here today after having had a few weeks time to digest the band’s newest project and mastermind Jay Gambit’s latest foray into the world of blackened aural art, I believe that they have truly lived up to this lofty claim. Crowhurst’s latest effort, the simply named II, is a freight train of catchy grooves, suffocating atmosphere, and strained, manic pain. This massive effort enlists the all-star talents of Andrew Curtis-Brignell of Caïna on guitars, Matron Thorn of Ævangelist on guitars and drums, and of course Jay Gambit himself preforming vocals as well as synth, tape manipulation and other electronic effects. This brand new line-up sees Crowhurst recognize a more fully realized, and for lack of a better word, more mature sound. While their first self-titled effort was a fantastic album, and a perfect introduction to Crowhurst’s misanthropic brand of music for a wider audience, II absolutely outclasses it in every way I can think of. Bringing to bear the talents of these three titans, Brignell and Thorn bring discernible elements of their own talents, but in no way overshadow the collective vision that is Crowhurst. The three work together remarkably well for a lineup that has only been in existence for a year or so. The band manages to still maintain the unique identity of Crowhurst but add wrinkles from each contributors individual repertoires that strengthens the band as a whole and pushes Crowhurst to new heights previously unreached, crafting a unique and vital piece of art that is a strong contender for one of the best releases of the year.

II is decidedly Crowhurt’s most emphatic musical statement so far. It is adventurous and fun, but still maintains the dark, bleak, honesty that Gambit’s work has come to represent throughout his musical career. There is a palpable pain of real world experience, far removed from the melodrama of some of his contemporaries within the style. While communicating and reveling in this pain and loss, Gambit and his cohorts never lose themselves or their visions to it. They maintain a vision and don’t compromise their creativity by limiting themselves to these bleak, established aesthetics. This honesty enables them to experiment with sounds and styles far abroad from their individual starting points, while maintaining their blackened misanthropic sensibilities. This makes for painful, honest yet fun art that is without a doubt one of the best releases I have heard, and likely will hear, all year.

Read the full review here

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ONE – THROANE Derrière Nous La Lumière

To begin to describe how talented Dehn Sora is is hard, because it seems like with every medium of art he creates in, he does it to the next level. As a graphic designer, he has worked with ULVER, BLUT AUS NORD, CHURCH OF RA, all while also being the musician behind TREHA SEKTORI, SEMBLER DEAH and OVTRENOIR. Now he has added a brand new project to his CV called THROANE and it’s one of my favorite releases of 2016 – and I know I will not be alone in saying this. The name of the LP is Derrière Nous La Lumière and will be released by the well-respected label Debemur Morti Productions on May 27th. CVLT Nation has been given the honor of sharing with you the new THROANE song “Nous Blâmons La Tempête De Nous Avoir Laissés En Plaies” below…Make sure to order Derrière Nous La Lumière HERE – this record will grow on you in a way that will only add to your existence!

 

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The Author

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.

  • Do you know anything about the band Drought Year? I’m very impressed with the release and I’d like to give it a mention on a site I write for. A one sheet for the album would also be great.

  • Waiting for post metal releases

  • There is a bunch of bands missing from this list…. tbh

  • (S)

    Premium choices! Very interesting stuff.

  • Just wondering which list Mizmor are going to fit into

  • Slight pedantic correction RE: the Crowhurst record- Andy played guitars, bass, drums. Matron Thorn just played guitar.