When Max offered me a chance to write an article, I knew I wanted to go over a bunch of extreme metal bands that were experiencing popularity in 2016. The albums discussed are also from bands that have been recently formed or used 2016 as the year to come out with their first or second release. The bands could be considered newcomers or freshman to the world of black and death and are also enjoying buzz among internet forums. These releases also share similar strands of cavernous occult theme, atmosphere, and production; it would not be that much of a stretch to see how each of these bands could fit into a twisted family tree.
While I would love to profile every new band of 2016, and particularly every far off but excellent release, that would require a lot more coffee and a sabbatical away from my day job. Every year is a great time for heavy metal, and the first half of 2016 sounds as hellish as ever.
|Artwork by Paolo Girardi|
The internet is a weird place, and even though Le dernier crépuscule feels already discussed in reviews like this, if you step back a few spaces, this Canadian death metal band is still relatively hidden from the majority of people. Chthe'ilist lies in a special place of both death metal bands that pay tribute to the murky hell sounds of Demilich and bands that I have to type their name really slow to spell right. Le dernier crépuscule is the Profound Lore Records debut following an obscure self released demo no one heard or can even spell without looking at. Chthe'ilist's cavernous sound is catching the hearts and imaginations of people, who are finding that it won't let go and is constricting their breathing. Slow moving and eroding of sanity, it was only a matter of time before this sound crept up in popularity. Add to this the band's not so hidden love for the Zelda mythos and you have tens of fans falling over themselves in ecstasy.
|Artwork by Zbigniew Bielak|
In the small microcosm of the internet metal community, Icelandic extreme metal has experienced a surge in interest following great albums by Svartidauði, Sinmara, and Misþyrming. Zhrine comes in with a more monstrous disposition, as their love for death metal has crept into their sound giving it a more focused aggression. While still on the low end, Unortheta retains hypnotic qualities as if guided by the thoughts and whims of extra terrestrial aberrations. Zhrine is also enjoying the attention of Season of Mist, which is supporting this release and thus bringing the sound of Iceland's small but vibrant extreme metal scene to more people. This is death / black for the misty terror creeping closer into full view.
|Cover artwork by Denis Forkas|
Oh shit, look at Gevurah. This Canadian band was first exposed to audiences on the SVN OKKLT Tape compilation released by Fallen Empire in 2011. Gevurah sat along side of Witch in Her Tomb, Axis of Light, and Xothist for a hellish 4 sides of destruction. Somewhere between here and now, Gevurah caught the attention of Profound Lore, which not only sponsored this year’s debut but the band’s 2013 EP. Gevurah has always been interested in deep production with Hallelujah! being the pinnacle of their years of work. Ruminating spirituality runs through the heart of this record, which goes beyond the standard dark themes and becomes something more complex and frightening.
|Cover art by Kris Verwimp|
Melodic black metal is not a style that has aged well. While most of the bands discussed here have a similar cavernous occult outlook, Uada leans more towards older bands like Dissection and newer bands like Mgla. This is black metal that is not only grinding and hypnotic but also entertaining to listen to. Devoid of Light is a shorter record compared to contemporaries but the depth and richness of the sound makes this 33 minute release well worth the travel. I expect many people to stumble backwards into this release as no one expects melodic black to be hiding in the corners. Uada could be this year’s surprise that no one saw coming.
|Cover art by Skaðvaldur|
We are back to Iceland and, unlike Zhrine who had minimal ties to the known black metal scene, Naðra is right in the middle. With band members sharing duties in Misþyrming, 〇, Carpe Noctum, and Mannveira, this band is only a few steps away from a bounty of soul wrenching music. Having vocals strangled and prominent in the mix help the emotional components in Allir vegir til glötunar make the black metal qualities even more effective. The band also released Form, a followup digital EP, which is sometimes just attached to their 33 minute debut. With both of the releases high in quality, this nebulous entity is a hammer swinging into the side of 2016.
|Cover art by Business For Satan|
I have been writing about LVTHN since the band’s first 2014 demo. Eradication of Nescience is the logical conclusion for a band who has measured themselves with careful precision in terms of releases. With a long carpet of lo-fi and raw black preceding this debut, Eradication of Nescience fulfills the promises of the demos and splits with a swarming hornet’s nest of black metal. This band also has the extra benefit of being from Belgium and is comprised of 5 people who have not had their identities revealed. LVTHN could be a collective of well known black and death metal musicians just under the auspices of mystery.
|Cover art: "Theoin II" by Agostino Arrivabene|
Howls of Ebb is a little different from the above group of bands. For one, this 2016 release is the second following a 2014 debut. Additionally, the band seems to be completely insane and whatever we are listening to is just a manifestation of that insanity. With deep ties in some obscure US black/Death from the 90’s, Howls of Ebb takes that sound and sends it banging down a well to the underworld. The tenacity of this act in terms of composition and aesthetic choices is bizarre and frightening, which makes Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows not only exhilarating but also dangerous in terms of bodily harm.
|Artwork and logo by View From The Coffin.|
Sun Worship has always been an interesting band ever since their 2014 debut Elder Giants. Sun Worship has also been a band that is interesting for their visual themes and album art. From just their music, this German band seems pretty on top in terms of angular and entrenched black metal. Compare this to their artsy album covers plus band photos that go against the grain of many black and death metal photography and you get a very strange dichotomy. Their unorthodox presentation, compared to the very traditional sound of their music, makes Sun Worship an enigma that is only accelerated by the fact that their albums are devastating.
Altarage is from Spain and comes by way of support from Iron Bonehead. With a sound that is firmly rooted in the deepest and darkest caverns, these group of anonymous musicians is just waiting to experience a full blown explosion of hype and support. NIHIL is the debut record following a sinister 2015 demo which took 10 minutes of horror and expanded it into a landscape of grotesque atmosphere. If you were ever thinking if riffs could become monsters capable of devouring children whole, Altarage is finally the answer to the question you never wanted to say out loud
Kaptain Carbon moderates Reddit's r/metal as well as writes reviews for lesser known black, death, and doom metal for Tape Wyrm as well as Dungeon Synth, Tabletop, and Movie Reviews for Hollywood Metal.