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12.25.16 *Scuro's Top 15 2016 + Blurbs + Extras*10.21.16 Hardcore/Punk/Grindcore/Powerviolence -
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*Scuro's Top 15 2016 + Blurbs + Extras*

Originally posted on Sach's webzine, check it out yo: https://expressions-of-interest.com/2016/12/25/12-days-of-hard-jamz/
26WVRM
Heartache


~unexpected~ This came out the other day and I only found out just before, some fantastic grindcore daaammnn. Love this band.

wvrmgrind.bandcamp.com/album/heartache
25Opeth
Sorceress


*The extras* - albums I want to talk about:

I like this, better than Pale Communion as far as I'm concerned.
24Vorbkt
For Silence


I still like this too, sloppy stuff but I can look past that, it's charming.
23Kid Cudi
Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’


I like the vibe on here, pretty chill. Nothing really blew me away and most of the album meanders but it's nice to relax a bit.
22Negative Voice
Cold Redrafted


Some excellent death metal, really enjoyed this one
21Vulture (DE)
Victim to the Blade


Great speed metal from Germany, paid way too much preordering this short EP but it sure does bring the goods, I wish it was a bit longer though.
20Meshuggah
The Violent Sleep of Reason


First chunk of Meshuggah I've really enjoyed, before this I really didn't get it but this album changed that.
19Darkthrone
Arctic Thunder


Not necessarily one of my favourite albums of the year, but I had to mention it because Tundra Leech is sooooo good.
18Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 3


This is good stuff, too bad they dropped it so late.
17Childish Gambino
"Awaken, My Love!"


Just got this today, it's really cool.
16Kvelertak
Nattesferd


~Top 15(ish)~

This album is so varied and yet so consistently good. It’s impossible to get bored listening to Kvelertak, and they cover so much ground throughout this album while remaining true to their core sound.
15Dzo-nga
Five Treasures of Snow


Hazy atmospheric black metal that wholly envelops you; it's an experience more than it is a piece of music. The concept is also very interesting - dedicated as it is to “those who have lost their lives in pursuit of the worlds highest summits” - and helps to place the blizzard of overdriven guitar riffs and far-away vocals somewhere more tangible. Five Treasures of Snow is a disorientating album that steals your senses and drops the listener directly in the thick of a snowstorm: exactly the level of transportation one wants an atmospheric/ambient black metal project to deliver with.
14ScHoolboy Q
Blank Face LP


Just some great, chill hip-hop. The rapping and beats on this album sound great, every feature adds to the experience rather than feeling shoehorned in. It's refreshing listening to an album that sounds equal parts restrained and engaging. The tone of the album remains the same, sitting in an area of hazy, relaxed beats with a smooth quality to it all. The vocals range from mid-paced rapping to drawn-out, sleepy sounding singing. Overall a very satisfying album that delivers on everything it promises with the syrupy bass lines and impactful rapping in the first few minutes of ‘Torch’, and the solidity of lead single/album highlight ‘That Part’.
13Ripper (CL)
Experiment of Existence


Old school sounding thrash metal, in the vein of early Sepultura. Experiment of Existence is a primitive, raw, organic sounding thrash album with some real meat to it. It's crushing and honest, accurately capturing the energy of late 80s thrash metal as well as that iconic South American sound. Not to be missed for fans of the genre.
12Axis of Light
Northern Ascendancy


Despite containing only two short black metal tracks, this EP has some of the best material from the year. Frustratingly fleeting, but very rewarding nonetheless, this album is a lo-fi journey into the signature Axis of Light style sea of overdrive, with a focus on wandering riffs and transportive low quality production.
11Grand Magus
Sword Songs


I’ll admit it right now, I am a sucker for enjoyable, cheesy music. And that’s exactly what Sword Songs is all about. If the album title wasn’t enough of a clue, this album is packed full of epic heavy metal tracks, with noticeable doom and power metal influences of course. It’s impossible, I think, not to have fun with this album. The vocals feel powerful, the songs are uplifting and clearly designed to pump up warriors before battle. And fuck it, sometimes you just want to hear something that doesn’t require any work from you to get the full experience. Grand Magus aren’t trying to innovate, but they don’t need to, they’ve got a sound that always delivers on what it promises – a good time.
10Ariana Grande
Dangerous Woman


And here with the pop AOTY is Ariana Grande; someone who’s come a long way since her tentative foray into the pop world. Before this album her music was always hit-and-miss, and while she managed to pump out a few catchy tracks in the past, she’s never released something consistently high-quality and enjoyable until now. Dangerous Woman is filled with pop bangers, and despite a few disappointing moments and some…questionable featuring artists (I’m looking at you Lil Wayne. What is that verse.), the album keeps its energy throughout.
9Death Fortress
Deathless March of the Unyielding


2016 has been a really good year for black metal bands, both ‘big’ and small. Deathless March of the Unyielding came out of nowhere and blew me away with its attention to riffs and atmosphere. With nary a dull moment, Death Fortress have released one of the most consistently enjoyable black metal albums of the year. Having known the band previously only for their split with the equally amazing Axis of Light, their signature sound is ever-present – one of their most important assets I believe, as you can definitely pick them out of a crowd. But this new album feels like a strong progression from their material a few years ago, earning them a place on the list.
8Moonsorrow
Jumalten Aika


Though not quite as enamoured with the album as I want to be, Jumalten Aika is nonetheless a truly exceptional album. Managing to not only get stuck in your head for hours, even days later, the atmosphere and soundscape built by the band is quite incredible. The folk elements are restrained while Moonsorrow’s black metal core moves through the album uninhibited. I would’ve liked them to capitalise more on the folk influences than they do (as a cheesy folk-metal aficionado), but of course songwriting comes before the ‘bells and whistles’, and when the band do anything on Jumalten Aika it always feels purposeful. Lengthy tracks allow Moonsorrow more freedom to build their pieces and as a listener you get a true sense of how deliberate, but also natural everything feels. Definitely a highlight of the year.
7Hyperion (SWE)
Seraphical Euphony


Entering with their brand of melodic black metal from Sweden, Seraphical Euphony is a concoction of ideas that come together to create a better whole. From the acoustic playing to the excellent leads, to the rolling melodic riffing – this album has something for everyone. Though not perfect, Hyperion are onto something very promising with this album. This album could certainly be more memorable, immediate, and varied than it currently manages to be, but as it stands the band offer a lot more than Dissection influences and ambition, displaying a knack for thoughtful songwriting and a group of talented musicians.
6Nadra
Form


(5.5) Some of the fat is cut on Nadra's EP Form compared to the full-lenght, containing a smaller sample of similarly great moments, some of which challenge the LPs material in fact. Ironically the EPs issue is that it’s too short to fully immerse in, and the LPs problem is a stretching of ideas spread a little thin over it’s full run-time. Hopefully the band can nail the balance on their next album and release something truly amazing.
5Nadra
Allir vegir til glötunar


Icelandic black metal band Naðra had two great releases this year, the first of which was this LP, featuring some of the best, ‘clean’ black metal I’ve experienced. With a comparatively good production and little reliance on the signature excess overdrive + reverb combination most latter-day black metal is known for, Naðra impress with their songwriting and progressive approach to the genre. Although a little bit too drawn out, and occasionally suffering from stretced ideas in some places, when this album shines it shines really bright.
4Usurpress
The Regal Tribe


Usurpress combine a rock-solid Swedish death metal sound with progressive and doom influences, and the results are commendable to say the least. One of its many intriguing idiosyncrasies is that each track has a small transitory piece bridging them together, making the album flow seamlessly. The tracks themselves are all quite unique from each other too, presenting fresh ideas and approaches from start to finish. Everything from Opethian keyboards to thick, doom-y riffs, and of course meaty death metal sojourns are present. But the core sound remains streamlined and neat, free from any unnecessary distraction that so many death metal bands feel is necessary nowadays to stand out. Quite the opposite as Usurpress prove.
3The Infernal Sea
The Great Mortality


My favourite black metal album of the year, which is saying something given the number of impressive black metal bands releasing quality material in 2016. The Infernal Sea simply deliver on so many key aspects, especially when it comes to the songwriting. Their ferocious style stays true to the core of the second-wave sound, but the approach of these Englishmen feels original and interesting. Their exploration of the Black Death is a very interesting concept too, and the excitement they manage to build in the climax of highlight ‘Entombed in Darkness’ is simply spine-chilling.
2The Dillinger Escape Plan
Dissociation


The pointy end of this list is definitely full of unexpected albums, and this latest and final release by the Dillinger Escape Plan is something I could not have predicted making it. Never having really been interested in the band before I went into the album with almost no expectations, good or bad, and came out slightly confused and very impressed the first time I heard Dissociation. After spinning the CD non stop for about a week with little else playing in between, the album cemented itself as one of my favourite of the year very quickly. The jazzy influences, spastic playing, insanity of the vocals, and especially the touching ending, all made me appreciate the album for not only its diversity, but its consistent level of quality and enjoyment. This album and Winter Thrice seem to grow on me every time I play them, and that’s a sure sign of a truly great album.
1Borknagar
Winter Thrice


Winter Thrice surprised me early on in the year, delivering a polished progressive metal album with touches of the black metal style they’ve retained since the beginning of their career. The singing absolutely steals the show here. Not only do the band’s three vocalists take turns delivering superb melodies and occasional growls of their own, but Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg, former member and current Ulver vocalist, also features on two tracks to great effect. The rest of the band are also in top form, creating frosty soundscapes that reflect the winter-y theme, letting the vocalists shine atop their instrumentation. The dichotomy between softer prog-metal moments and the harder edge of the tasteful black metal parts creates some interesting opportunities for the band to test their transitioning and songwriting skills, and it pays off. Winter Thrice was released all the way back in January and surprisingly managed to hold its position as my AOTY the entire year – well deserved.
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