In recent years it is becoming the norm for blogs and magazines to give an ‘EoY’ (end-of-year) list with the 10 best albums of the year (or in some cases 12, or even 80 if that makes sense). I was hesitating to follow this practice, especially since I don’t use a grading system for my reviews, so what I decided instead is to give you a list of what I kept in my noteworthy list throughout 2016. Had I started ATF reviews earlier, these all would have ended up in either a proper review or a Noteworthy Report, but since I began writing late in November there was no time to make it happen.
Notice that there is no noticeable distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘established’ acts. Still I give somewhat of a break to lesser known acts because having to compete to get a name out there is already hard enough.
Due to the sheer number of releases included in this “Noteworthy Report – all that is left of 2016 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into 4 parts. Hold your breath, it’s gonna take a while (but it will be worth it, I promise)…
Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law
When you know someone is capable of perfection, anything less is unacceptable. To me this isn’t their best release, and this is the only flaw of the album.
Ancient – Back to the Land of the Dead
Ancient is a band from the old guard of Norwegian black metal. They haven’t made a huge name as their compatriots mostly due to their lackluster releases, but I always check them out for old-time’s sake. While this album is nothing too impressive, I think it is probably their most solid release after “The Cainian Chronicle” back in 1996.
Asphyx – Incoming Death
Groovy and powerful death/thrash. If you never liked them, this isn’t the album to change your heart, otherwise check it out.
Arria Paetus – S/T
Powerful black metal from Alaska. Just the right mix of aggression, experimentation and cold feelings. This is from a band that came out of nowhere and just conquered!
Listen to it here: https://arriapaetus.bandcamp.com/album/arria-paetus
Astral Path – An Oath to the Void
Excellent atmospheric shoegaze cosmic black metal from Canada. They formed in 2015, and this is just their first -yet extremely promising- release…
Aornos – Mors Sola
Hungarian metal is known for its wild experimentations. This is not the case with Aornos. High quality black metal, no wheels re-invented.
Athos – Noht Lerapot
I’ve known Athos ever since their inception and seeing them getting better and better with every release just makes me happy. Hellenic pagan black metal.
Australes Tenebris – Reflections of a Decadent Life
Debut full length album for this Brazilian black metal band. Amazing work in general, there are some flaws in the production and drumming, but I guarantee you will enjoy this album nonetheless.
Be’lakor – Vessels
Melodic death metal from Australia. I still prefer their “Stone’s Reach” album, this one sounded quite watered down. Still if you are into mainstream progressive death, this is a good investment. Highly recommended to fans of Opeth‘s lighter moments and Amon Amarth‘s darkest ones…
Listen to the album here: https://belakor.bandcamp.com/album/vessels
Belenos – Kornôg
While most of the French BM scene is taking the chaotic experimental path Deathspell Omega opened, Belenos are staying true to their epic brand. A very good album that brought Himinbjorg to mind at points.
Baptism – V: The Devil’s Fire
Finland is packed with amazing bands that doesn’t have the following they deserve, and Baptism are no exception. The album is a gem of traditional BM.
Listen to the album here: https://baptismofficial.bandcamp.com/album/v-the-devils-fire
Belligerent Intent – The Crucifire
Another Australian death metal band, drawn to the extreme of the spectrum this time. Focused play and attention to the finest detail, this album is a keeper.
Behexen – The Poisonous Path
This is one Finnish band that is churning one good black metal album after the other. I admit this one felt kind of a letdown (purely because of my high expectations from them), yet it still has way more than the average of what makes a good album, well, ‘good’.
Cirith Gorgor – Visions of Exalted Lucifer
One of my beloved bands from the Netherlands ever since their “Unveiling the Essence” album. This one is a masterpiece of melodic black metal with just enough traces of experimentation to keep things interesting.
Crimson Moon – Oneironaut
Crimson Moon started as a one-man band back in 1994, added members solwly and steadily with every release, and ended up again as a one-man band for this 3rd album, which really stands by its name: this is a journey inside dreams –or nightmares- and apart from some odd moments, I really liked it.
Listen to it here: https://crimsonmoonxeper.bandcamp.com/album/oneironaut
Dark Funeral – Where The Shadows Forever Reign
Dark Funeral need no introduction. For yet another album they play their bread & butter riffs (no real excitement here), and even while it is too darn difficult to fill Caligula’s shoes, they still did a wonderful job.
Dizziness / Lord Impaler / Hell Poemer – Carved by the Winds Eternal
Last (but not least) for the first part is what may seem just like a shameless plug to most people -at least those who know who I am-, but believe me, if I didn’t believe this to be a good release we wouldn’t even make the effort to release it. Three bands showcase three different aspects of Greek black metal.
…Well my friends, this is more than enough to keep you occupied as I gather my material for the follow up part (which I expect to happen in 2-3 days). Enjoy them, and I really hope you will discover some cool music in here. And don’t forget to SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND…