Hello, Metal Wani readers! It is I, Yidu and today I am bringing you the last article from me this year, my picks for 10 Metal Albums You Should Listen To for December 2016. December is the last month of the year and can be filled with late surprises as the holidays and its festivities tend to eclipse the music releases. Here are some of my favorites. These lists are designed to showcase some new music for our readers and to promote music from the metal underground. Again, these lists are not “top lists” or “best of lists”. Instead, these lists consists of albums that I feel are highlights of the previous month and are only my opinion and my opinion only. Before we begin, I would like to thank my readers for reading my articles and following along. This is my first year writing for this publication, and it has been fun. Hope you had a great holiday season and I wish you the best in the new year. See you in 2017!
At number 10 we have the album ‘The Lucifer Principle’ from Canadian Black Metal band Panzerfaust. Panzerfaust hails from Ontario and plays an aggressive approach to their Black Metal music. However, the band switched labels and is now on Avantgarde Music and with their label change, the band changed their sound to a more dissonant and ominous style. The album contains 4 tracks (the last one being a Johnny Cash cover) and clocks in around 26 minutes so it is on the short side. The music is relatively dense, with a great sense of dissonance and atmosphere that really brings out the music when the band switches from slow to fast sections and back. I definitely enjoy the new direction the band is taking and I hope to see the band to continue to develop their new sound. Recommended tracks include “The First Con Man, the First Fool” and “The Jerusalem Syndrome”.
At number 9 we have the fourth album ‘Obeisance To A Witch Moon‘ from the Swedish Black Metal band Grafvitnir. Grafvitnir is a relatively new band on the Swedish scene as the band broke out in the Black Metal underground with their sophomore 2014 release ‘Semen Serpentis’. The band plays more of a classic Swedish Black Metal sound with hints of the Swedish Melodic Black/Death movement here and there (Dissection comes into mind). If you enjoy Swedish Black Metal, give this band a shot, Recommended tracks include “Wrath of the Tempest” and “The Great Beast”.
The new album ‘40 nocy grudnia’ by the Polish Atmospheric Black Metal band Kres is at number 8. Kres is a side band composed of Polish musicians from the members of Stworz, Fall, and Wędrujący Wiatr. The style of Atmospheric Black Metal that the band plays can be described as warm, serene, melancholic, or even depressive. There is a sense of sadness to the melodies that can be found on this record. If you’re looking for Black Metal that packs emotion along with a great sense of melody, this is an album for you. Recommended tracks include “40 nocy grudnia” and “W chłodnym blasku ciszy”.
At number 7 is the new album from Singaporean band Rudra, ‘Enemy Of Duality’. Rudra is a long-running Black/Death metal band from the Southeast-Asian country and has been active for over 20 years. The band plays a style of Black/Death metal that’s aggressive and energetic but also incorporates Asian folk influences to add a deeper dynamic to how they sound and how they organize their approach to their music. The band has a nice harmonious balance between the Folk elements and the Black/Death metal elements that establishes a great atmosphere as the band weaves through their influences seamlessly. Recommended tracks include “Ancient Fourth” and “Slay the Demons of Duality”.
Number 6 is the sophomore album ‘II: Cursed & Damned’ from the band Lucifer’s Fall. Lucifer’s Fall is an Australian band that plays a modern take on Traditional Doom Metal incorporating various influences from various Doom Metal scenes and as well as Heavy Metal. The band first caught my attention in 2014 with their self-titled debut album. Although the band did not make a big splash, their second album will definitely catch some more well deserved attention. The band has the Doom Metal chops, especially since all the members are in another Doom Metal band called Rote Mare, and definitely demonstrates their capabilities on ‘II: Cursed & Damned’ with the nice guitar work and great vocals. Traditional Doom Metal fans need to check this one out. Recommended tracks include “Mother Superior” and “The Mountains of Madness”.
At number 5, we have the debut album ‘The Great Void Of Mystery’ from the new Heavy Metal band Heavens Decay. Featuring musicians from great bands like Shub Niggurath (MEX), Cenotaph, The Chasm, Denial, Stone Magnum, and Kommandant, the band capitalizes on the talent the musicians have even though their main projects are of different genres than what Heavens Decay plays. The guitar leads are energetic and the bass lines are tight. The drums are done well and the vocals given by the vocalist of Stone Magnum powers through along with the rest of the band. This album is definitely one of the best Heavy Metal records this year and fans of the style should not overlook this one. Recommended tracks include “The Exile” and “Born of Fire”.
Number 4 is ‘The Irrepassable Gate’ the third album from American Atmospheric Black Metal band Ash Borer. The members of Ash Borer have been quite busy lately as they released a plethora of material recently through other bands like Triumvir Foul, Predatory Light, Urzeit, and Uškumgallu just to name a few. It is fitting that the members end their 2016 run with a new album from their main band. Ash Borer continues their development of sound on their newest album ‘The Irrepassable Gate’ as the album features the atmosphere and desolate melodies that can be found on their previous two. The band also continues to experiment with Post-Rock and various elements on this new album which is their most dynamic and ambitious one yet. Recommended tracks include “The Irrepassable Gate” and “Lacerated Spirit”.
Number 3 is the self-titled debut album from the band Substratum. Substratum is a new Heavy Metal band featuring the bassist of Skelator and as well as Amy Lee Carlson on vocal duty. I first caught wind of this band with their demo they released earlier this year, but now the band has released their debut self-titled and demonstrated great improvement. The band’s sound comprises of the Traditional Heavy Metal framework but mixes in elements from Speed, Power, Progressive, and Thrash Metal very well to achieve a varied sound that not only capitalizes and showcases the Traditional Heavy Metal sound but benefits from adding on the additional layers of depth. The guitars and vocals are the start of this album but the bass doesn’t shy away either. This is another fantastic Heavy Metal record this year and fans of the style should definitely check this one out too. The album features a 20 minute 3 part section that closes the album. Recommended tracks include “Last Voyage” and “Room of Eyes”.
At number 2, is the debut album ‘A Spineless Descent’ from the American Black Metal band Grok. Grok is a Black Metal duo comprised of E. Henderson (Njiqahdda) and Casey Hogan (ex-Spectral Voice) which released a couple of instrumental demos back in 2014. Now in 2016, the duo unleashed their debut ‘A Spineless Descent’, a Black Metal album that incorporates fantastic use of synths and other effects that the band use to their advantage in creating something fresh. The synths are not overwhelmingly cheesy and the effects are not gimmicky, they compliment the sound well and even enhances it. Black Metal fans, especially those who do not mind something different or synths in their Black Metal, should definitely give this one a go. Atmospheric, Ambient, and Post-Black Metal fans would find this worth checking out too. Recommended tracks include “Kingdom of the Created Shapes” and “Lunar Riders’.
Lastly at number 1, we have Crimson Moon and their new full-length album ‘Oneironaut’. Crimson Moon is a long running American, now German, Black Metal band that has been around since the 90’s. ‘Oneironaut’ is the band’s 3rd full length album and is their newest full length in 11 years. On this new album, the band showcases their best musical material yet. Fronted by Scorpios Androctonus of Acherontas, the band, now with a new line up, delivers one of the best Black Metal albums of this year. ‘Oneironaut’ is ominously evil and aggressive but has a subtle but powerful sense of melody that is similar to bands like The Chasm. Black Metal fans should definitely check this album out. Recommended tracks include “Uriilian Worm” and the 20 minute album closer “Oneironaut”.
This concludes our journey this month. Here are 5 other albums that did not quite make the list that I want to touch upon. Here are this month’s honorable mentions.
Death Worship – ‘Extermination Mass’
Canadian Black/Death metal band Death Worship releases a Black/Death Metal (more specifically War Metal) attack in the form of their debut ‘Extermination Mass’. The band features members of legendary bands like Blasphemy, Revenge, and Conqueror. Must listen for fans of this style.
Dire Fate – ‘...Where Undead Once Were’
‘...Where Undead Once Were’ is the debut album from Australian Doom Metal act Dire Fate. Great sounding guitars and vocals, the album is a nice slab of Heavy Metal leaning Doom Metal that fans of the style would enjoy.
Scum – ‘Garden of Shadows’
Scum is an old defunct Finnish Death Metal band from the early to mid 90s and in 2016 released a previously recorded, never released album titled ‘Garden of Shadows’. This is great blend of Swedish and Finnish Death Metal that leans on the melodic styles of both scenes but not too heavily. Fans of the old school sound and Melodic Death Metal genre should enjoy this one.
Thunderwar – ‘Black Storm’
Polish Death Metal band Thunderwar released their debut album ‘Black Storm’ which is a different take on the old school sound. Labeled as “Epic” Death Metal, the band has some modern melodic touches to their sound while maintaining familiarity. Fans of revival bands like Horrendous will definitely enjoy this one.
Worm Ouroboros – ‘What Graceless Dawn’
Experimental Doom Metal band Worm Ouroboros returns with a new album entitled ‘What Graceless Dawn’. Blending Folk Music and Progressive elements, the band plays an unique sound to their Doom Metal that is definitely hard to pinpoint but equally enjoyable. Want to check out something different that’s more unique? Give this one a go.