2016 Best of Metal List #10

Scorpion Child-Acid Roulette

Alrighty!  On to the top ten.

#10 brings us to local Austin boys done good, Scorpion Child.  These guys bring a retro-flared southern-tinged boogie metal to the proceedings.  Their first album was a solid rocking affair with a slew of catchy riffs and choruses.  The new album debuted on June 10 of this year and saw the band leap a great deal forward with their sound.  They added a keyboardist to their sound and it really added a meaty texture to the songs.  Using primarily a Hammond organ-type sound, the new guy really adds a touch of psychedelic rock to their sound.

Unfortunately, for some reason, they haven’t really done any proper touring in support of this album.  My friends and I speculate that they are in desperate need of new management because this album should be pushing the band further into the Metal community’s subconscious.  There have been a ton of bands touring in which Scorpion Child would be a perfect opener.  I was lucky enough to see them perform at their album release party at Barracuda this summer and the new songs come across really well live.  Go see them if they set a date in your town.

Attached is the title track on the album.  This will give you a good feel for the psyche-influence of this album.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

13.  Opeth-Sorceress

12.  Gojira-Magma

11.  Sumac-What One Becomes

10.  Scorpion Child-Acid Roulette

2016 Best of Metal List #11

Sumac-What One Becomes

Our first and only “supergroup” on the list this year.  Sumac is made up of Aaron Turner (ex-ISIS, Old Man Gloom), Brian Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and they resulting cacophony they make is the musical equivalent of anguish, desperation and angst.  The new album is many steps beyond their first album and it really seems as though they found their collective voice on this one.  The album is only made up of five songs, but it is a lengthy trip they will take you on.  The songs do not follow any type of normal linear pattern and most start with just jolting and abstract sounds before coalescing into a focus of pain.  Sound like fun, huh?  Well, it is actually.  Very cathartic and moving, in fact.

These guys aren’t for everyone.  Only the serious hardcore Metal faces or fans of the band ISIS are going to latch on to these songs.  However, if you’re not feeling timid and have a strong sense of self, give it a try.  Here’s a sample.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

13.  Opeth-Sorceress

12.  Gojira-Magma

11.  Sumac-What One Becomes

2016 Best of Metal #12

Gojira-Magma

I’ve got to admit that when this one came out on June 17 of this year that my expectations were fairly high.  These guys have been on a helluva run of late and it seemed like this release could be a break through album for them.  However, the first few listens, I have to admit that I was a tad underwhelmed.  The songs overall have been stripped down in complexity from previous releases.  However, they more I listened to the album, the more it just wormed its way into my brain.  So many songs I just couldn’t get out of my head.  Luckily for the band, this album is getting seriously good press and the future really looks great for these lovely French dudes.  Also, nice is that their constant theme of environmental awareness and protection is firmly in place.  It’s a good message to continue to hammer home in the face of the shit show coming down the road from Dear Leader Trump and the corporate whores with which he is filling his cabinet.

The sample track below has just an all out trippy guitar hook in which you won’t be able to forget.  It will make you want to slam the nearest climate denial into  a wall.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

13.  Opeth-Sorceress

12.  Gojira-Magma

2016 Best of Metal List #13

Opeth-Sorceress

Well, thanks.  Now I’m scared shitless by peacocks.

Death Metal Opeth is dead!  Long live Prog Metal Opeth!

So, I’m still kind of in bereavement over the death of Death Metal Opeth.  Not to toot my own horn, but I was on the Opeth train early on and I found the early half of their career simply awe-inspiring.  Their blending of death and acoustic and growls and clean parts really created something unique in the Metal world and I really don’t think any band has come close to approaching their level of originality since.  Akerfeldt and Co. have since moved onto proggier fields and the level of musicianship and the craftmanship shown in the songwriting is still way above par for most of the bands going today.  However, I still just miss those heavy, crunchy guitar tones from the earlier days.  I think I’m always going to have that issue.

However, that being said, I really think Sorceress, released September 30, is best album they have produced since they have ventured into the prog realm.  It seems like on the first few prog records that Akerfeldt was more paying tribute to older bands that were shaping his new musical direction.  This new release really feels like he has found his own sound.  It took me a few listens, but after spending a sufficient amount of time with it, it became clear that Opeth has created a newly unique sound in the world of Metal.  It really goes as a credit to the genius that is Mikael Akerfeldt.  Really ballsy move overall and it seems to be paying off for them.

Sample the title track below and make your ear holes happy.  This one starts out very proggy, dominated by Hammond organ, but then just kicks into one of the truly sinister riffs written in Metal this year.

The list so far:

20(a). Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

13.  Opeth-Sorceress

2016 Best of Metal List #14

Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

Technical death metal is a very acquired taste.  I’m sure the first time you tried coffee or beer you just couldn’t understand the appeal at all.  This style of death metal is hyper-aggressive in style.  Usually played on 7 or 8 string guitars, it gets really heavy and it is normally super fast.  Reading, Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate are among a group of newer bands specializing in this type of metal. The new album, released on July 22, is their sophomore release and shows a bit more emotional depth than their debut album, The Wreckage of Stars.  A unique characteristic of this band is the dueling vocals.  Lead vocalist James Dorton handles the death growls and lead guitarist, Andy Thomas, provides some downright angelic clean vocals.  The dichotomy provides interesting textures over the brutal aspect of the underlying music.  Seeing them perform live is somewhat of a trip because Thomas looks like a mountain man/werewolf/sasquatch hybrid and hearing such a beautiful singing voice coming out of him is a little jolting.

Here is a sample song to give you a taste.  Remember:  the more of this stuff you listen to; the more it starts to make sense.  Eventually you will begin to crave it.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

2016 Best of Metal List #15

John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

This isn’t the most metal album in the world, but, WOW, that album cover sure is!  This is the first full prog album to be included on the list.  John Wesley is a guitarist/vocalist who is mainly known for his work with other artists.  I first became aware of him because he was a mainstay touring musician for the prog great, Porcupine Tree.  Any dude who has the chops to hang with Steven Wilson is worthy of checking out.  I was completely unfamiliar with Wesley’s solo material, but when this album was released on October 7 and it started received fairly positive press, I decided to give it a listen.  Very guitar driven prog rock.  Just a solid and enjoyable listen all the way through.  These are the under-the-radar album releases that really make my year.  I had no idea this was coming out this year and it ends up being one of my favorite albums to come out.

The attached song is one of the better songs you will hear this year.  I just don’t understand why stuff like this doesn’t make it on to rock radio stations.  But, there’s a lot of shit I just don’t understand.  You’ll see a running theme going forward.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

2016 Best of Metal List #16

Death Angel-The Evil Divide

May 27, 2016 saw the long-running Bay Area thrashers release The Evil Divide.  Consistent is the word of the day for these guys.  They broke up after 1990’s Act III album, but came back together in 2008.  It has been all guns blazing ever since they have come back.  5 albums into their resurgence and they have emerged as one of the most consistent bands going.  The new album doesn’t really break any new ground, but it is just a slab of professionally produced thrash metal.  Rob Cavestany is a guitarist and songwriter that really should be more well-known by now.  His aggressive riffs will absolutely grow hair on your chest.

Give a listen to the attached track and enjoy this lesson in Metal done correctly.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

Omnium Gatherum at Grizzly Hall, December 12, 2016

If you were teaching a class in Metal 101 and you wanted to provide your class with what the prototypical Metal band should look like on stage, you would have a hard time finding a more Metal example of a band than Finland’s Omnium Gatherum.  These guys have been crafting professional melodic death metal for many a year now.  If you’ve had a stumbling block getting into death metal, OG is a really good introductory band.  Their sound is just your classic Iron Maiden-inspired metal with a death growl master on the mic instead of Bruce Dickinson’s air raid siren vocals.

The show on Monday night was their first show in our fine city.  Their 45 minute set consisted mainly of songs from their latest two albums with a nice setlist finisher of older classic, New World Shadows.  Impressively, even though there were probably only 50 people in attendance, Omnium gave a set that was full of energy.

New Dynamic

The Unknowing

 

2016 Best of Metal List #17

Abbath-Abbath

Ah, the man who inspired a 1,000 memes.  After much internal strife between he and Demonaz, January 22, 2016, finally saw Abbath make his split from Immortal complete.  Let’s face it.  This was the new Immortal album.  This new slab is a rollicking blackened good time.  Abbath’s take on black metal has always been a little more fun than your normal Scandinavian black metal brood.  It’s black metal with a groove.  It’s black metal you can dance to.  The songs are less in the vein of “Satan this”, “Satan that”, “Satan is my friend.”  It’s more “We come from the North”, “We run around in the woods in the snow in our battle gear”, “If you’re not Scandinavian, you are weak and will not survive” “Look at the size of my battle axe” “It’s really fucking cold here” all conveyed in a raspy, demonic gargle.

This is another band to check out live.  Not only do they bring the musical chops, but the man just embraces the character that he has become.  Goofy stage banter in broken English and various awesome stage poses are in full effect.  I saw them at Emo’s earlier this year and really couldn’t get a stupid grin off my face the entire show.

Here’s a sample song to give you a taste of what to expect on this raging album.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

Image result for abbath memes

2016 Best of Metal List #18

Anciients-Voice of the Void

Anciients (not a typo…spelled with two “i”s) is a Canadian band who burst on the scene back in 2013 with a scorching debut album entitled, “Heart of Oak”.  They got a great deal of good press and landed some prime opening spots with some well-known headliners.  Sadly, they weren’t able to completely capitalize on the momentum due to some personal and family issues that intervened over the past few years and were only able to release their sophomore effort on October 14 of this year.  Luckily, the new album picks up right where the last album left off.  If you are a fan of older era Mastodon, give these guys a listen.  Aggressive riffs, spacey song writing and a mixture of growling and clean vocals.  Hopefully they will be able to move forward and get the band back to the position they were in prior to their hiatus.

Also, these guys win best Album Cover this year.  Goats!

Attached is a sample song from the new album.  I hope you enjoy.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void