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10.06.19 Arche's great 2019 bm catch up 09.12.19 2019 ambient for comfy sleeps and peace
12.23.18 Arche's 2018 12.23.17 Arche's 50 from '17
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10.07.17 NYP grabs / transferring ratings to RYM09.12.17 So I met CalculatingInfinity, and he me
07.03.17 Arche's best bits - Jan to Jun05.01.17 Arche's April
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Crunchy 2015.

As we approach the end of 2015, I join the hordes of people posting their EOY lists with this top 50, all described, linked and ranked for your/my interest/disgust. I think 2015 has been a good year, and I believe Sput to be part of that. While I won't mention names as I'll forget someone and feel bad, thank you to everyone who I've chatted with, jammed with, or just simply interacted with in some way over the past 12 months. You know who you are, and you're awesome :]
50The Armed

Releasing their music for free almost seems like they're doing themselves an injustice, but that doesn't seem to be the point. The Armed's latest release is unrelenting and aggressive, and while a bit hard-going for a full listen, whenever a track comes up from this on shuffle that makes me want to break things, wherever I am. Best track: Nervewrecker.
49Hate Eternal

I bought this album on a whim in HMV after seeing the album art, and the description saying it was similar to Vital Remains. As it turns out, it's a slab of really solid death metal that while nothing particularly special, I can't really complain about either. Oh yeah, and the drums are absolutely batshit. Best track: The Stygian Deep.
Quintessential Ephemera

Rosetta's first three albums are among my favourites ever, but the Anaesthete showed that they weren't completely infallible. While this isn't a TOTAL return to form for the post-metal giants, this is still pretty damn good and I suspect will grow on me with time. Best track: (Untitled VII).
47Signal (SWE)

Signal's brand of instrumental doom is done so well that it avoids the common trap that many in the genre fall into and remains an interesting listen throughout. The tracks take ages to build, but this works in their favour as it means the same riffs aren't repeated for minutes on end. Vocals would really take this to the next level, but it's good all the same. Best track: Weeks of Life Lost.

Germans Svffer dropped 'Empathist' a couple of months back, and I wasn't disappointed. Being shorter than 'Lies We Live' there aren't as many ideas flying around here, but Leonie's vocals are still throat-destroying and the tracks still rattle along with all the intent of a war machine. Best track: Illusion.

Londoners Ithaca play some fucking intense emotional hardcore. The production on here is excellent, which really helps bring forward the heaviness in the riffs within a genre that is frequently built on fragility. This does hamper the emotional aspect a tad, aside from closer 'Trespassers' which brings the best of both worlds. At only 12 minutes long there's not a huge amount more to say, but it's a satisfying album from a band that rule live. Best track: Trespassers.
44Ethereal Shroud
They Became the Falling Ash

Straddling funeral doom and black metal nicely, Ethereal Shroud's 'They Became the Falling Ash' is bleak. Depressive riffs, vocals losing their way in the mix and strong usage of keys makes this a difficult listen at times, but it becomes a strangely beautiful listen for it. The length of the three tracks (in particular 24 minute opener 'Look upon the Light') means I haven't been able to listen to this as much as I'd have liked to, but it's great when the opportunity arises. Best track: Look upon the Light.

Venomspitter's self-titled EP is a satisfying slab of dirty, well-executed powerviolence that I keep coming back to - possibly as a product of coursework stress, but probably because it's really damn good. Closer Monument was a surprise at the end, given the hard-and-fast nature of the previous 5 tracks. Best track: Of Peace.
42Lost Salt Blood Purges
The Voids We All Long For

I'm not a massive listener of ambient, but albums like this make we wonder if I should investigate the genre further. Fantastic usage of guitar throughout along with haunting vocals yield the most interesting parts for me - it's late night, dark room listening. There are one or two tracks that I don't particularly care for as much as the rest, but generally this is still great. Best track: Void III: Bones Will Blow In Pink Light.
41Cloud Rat

An interesting mixture of doom and grind, Cloud Rat's 'Qliphoth' certainly kept me on my toes if nothing else. Madison's vocals are a non-stop pissed onslaught from start to finish, and while there are one of two tracks that could definitely have been left out and not missed, this is still the brick to the face that they've always managed to deliver. Best track: Udder Dust.
40A Forest of Stars
The Valley of Desolation

I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, but 'The Valley of Desolation' came as an EP with the limited edition box set of 'Beware the Sword You Cannot See'... and wound up being better than the full-length it came with. Heavily string based, this combines the cleaner vocal styles used on their previous two with the starker, more emotional music found particularly on 'Opportunistic Thieves of Spring'. Best track: Catafalque Caravan Quandary.
39Tiny Fractures
Perfect Moments

In 12 minutes, we have out-and-out screamo, post-rock infused with trumpet solos, and the chance to appreciate them all with good production bringing out the bass and other instruments perfectly. A full-length could possibly yield AOTY material for the future, I feel that strongly about the potential these guys have. Best track: Except in Memory.
38Echoes of the Moon

Cascadian black metal is something very easy to get wrong, losing itself within a never-ending meander of repeated guitar lines, uninteresting guitar parts and the same old schtick for the vocal performance. Thankfully, Echoes of the Moon have largely got the formula right - a bit long in parts maybe, but it never turns into an out-and-out snoozefest like it could and that's all I could ask for. The vocals in particular are magnificent when they appear. Best track: The Tower of Babel.
37Kuroki Nagisa
Jiyu Ritsu

'Jiyu Ritsu' is the first full length from Kuroki Nagisa since it became her solo project, and as a J-Rock record it largely hits the mark. Her vocals are easily the best thing about this throughout, and admittedly the only saving grace on one or two tracks, but 'Makurakotoba' and the beautiful '107' help make up for the weaker moments. Best track: Makurakotoba.
Dust and Disquiet

Marred by a slightly weak centre, Dust & Disquiet is otherwise a fantastic post-rock album that is surprisingly heavy when it wants to be and beautiful at other occasions. The first and last three tracks in particular would have made a brilliant album just by themselves. Best track: Darkfield.
Les insurgés de Romilly

Excellent artwork drew me to this, and I'm glad it did. A peculiar mixture of circus, Dillinger-esque panic chords, occasional Messhugah and just oddball experimentation means that this is a weird, weird album, and occasionally it doesn't work. However, where it does work it's fantastic, mind-melting stuff. One of the best instrumental metal releases this year. Best track: Gringuenaude.
34The Canyon Observer

I had preconceptions of what I was expecting from Slovenians The Canyon Observer when I saw the album cover and the genre tags on Bandcamp - and the awful album title. As it happens, my preconceptions of a slightly weak release are gone, replaced by the knowledge this is a mixture of essentially post-rock and noisy, screamed post-metal that is more heavy than most in the genre. Best track: All of Her, Mine.

Italy's Postvorta have put out another very solid post-metal release to follow up 2014's leviathan 72 minuter 'Beckoning light we set ourselves on fire'. This gets notably less aggressive as the album goes on, starting off with the rageful 'Amnios' and ending with the instrumental 'Placenta' - whether or not this was deliberate, it's how it's come out and it works. Would probably be higher if I listened to it a bit more, if I'm honest. Best track: Uterus.
Sorni Nai

The second album that I know of detailing the Dyatlov Pass incident of 1959 in two years(read about it, scary stuff), Kauan's 'Sorni Nai' takes a prettier but no less affecting angle than Ellorsith did a year ago. The Russian band turn out another Finnish-language release with gorgeous strings and heartfelt vocals that ultimately is quite emotionally draining in the right setting. Best track: kit.

Copenhagen-based LLNN have mixed both the attitude and structures of hardcore with the lows of sludge to yield a spectacular half-hour or so that can trade between being unexpectedly pretty (owing to slight space rock nods) and ridiculously heavy within a song. Occasionally loses its way, but for the most part this works really well and is a hammer blow to the skull. Best track: Calamity.

Archivist's debut full-length left a big impression on me when I first heard it - which is sometimes quite a bad sign. Over an hour in length, the blackgaze outfit's concept is as lyrically magnificent as the guitars on its opening track, 'Ascension'. While there are definitely a few bits which could have been omitted to make it a slightly more appropriately compact listen, this is still a grand release that might have more staying power than I first thought it would. Best track: Hades.
Opus: Decay

Abominor's EP 'Opus: Decay' is another example of the distinctive Icelandic black metal scene that has been developing over the past few years. Characterised by layers on layers of swirling guitars and frantic drums, in just 2 tracks (albeit stretching beyond 20 minutes) this is a pummelling piece of music that bodes well for the future. Best track: Opus Decay.
28Ephemera (SWE)

Any album that opens with the vocalist of Vi Som Älskade Varandra Så Mycket and his unique scream is always going to be a great one. An intriguing idea started by Gabriel from screamo band Heart On My Sleeve, 12 musicians were given a part to record which they were then to send on, but they had no input from each other so it could've turned out awfully. Thankfully it didn't, and a fantastic screamo/post-hardcore EP is the outcome. Best track: Stormen / We'll Find Comfort In The Waves.
27Ad Nauseam
Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est

Ad Nauseam's take on the twisted death metal style requires an awful lot of listening to fathom what is being got across. Immensely clever, it captures the feeling of descension into the abyss really neatly with the cavernous sound and discordant arpeggios - that 56 minute running time does make doing this in one sitting an incredibly hard-going slog though. Good with a little bit of patience. Best track: Lost In The Antiverse.

'Inauguration' is kinda like what I imagine 'Precambrian'-era The Ocean to be like if they got a little bit more interested in post-rock and developed a slightly Teutonic feel. A really well written album that's surprisingly catchy in parts, and although vaguely derivative in parts it's something I keep in the back of my mind now anyway so it's not a problem. Best track: Ordovician.
Live On WRIR 97.3 FM

I'm not generally a massive fan of the live album as a thing, but I'll be damned if this doesn't buck that trend. Featuring some tracks stated will be on their next release, the way this is recorded really lends itself well to the energetic but heavy-as-dammit writing Venomspitter have started to develop. If they decide to record their next studio release in this fashion... I'm not complaining. Best track: We Are Only As Free As Our Most Oppressed.
Söngvar elds og óreiðu

Aside from being really hard to pronounce, 'Söngvar elds og óreiðu' is also really hard to wrap your head around. Once more that distinctive Icelandic black metal style yields something that takes several listens to fully appreciate, and at least 3 to figure out what the hell is even going on. While there is the odd bit that I deem extraneous, for the most part this is a great BM album worth the time spent listening to it. Best track: Ég byggði dyr í eyðimörkinni.

I admit I've only listened to this 3 times so it probably shouldn't be this high up, but Ulvesang's self-titled is an absolutely beautiful neofolk album that works really well with an incense stick and some lavender tea, focusing largely on its usage of acoustic guitar. I look forward to listening to this more in the coming year. Best track: Taakeferd.
22Birthday Girl

Combining trip hop, downtempo and a little bit of post-rock proves to be a great mixture, if Birthday Girl's 'Rituals' is anything to go by. Focusing heavily on natural instrument loops alongside the more traditional electronic fare, I've come back to this one time and time again this year. For a 5 track EP, colour me interested for the future of this project. Best track: Imagine Having Friends.
Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of...

Adversarial's second full length is packed full of delightful riffs from start to finish, and for a blackened death metal album, what more could I possibly want? The production is at that sweet spot of not being too clean but not impossibly filthy, and while the album on the whole is a lot to take in, time yields rewards. The track 'Intro' is also second on the album, and I like that. Best track: Eonik Spiritual Warfare.
Tragically Human State

A two piece comprising of a bass player and a drummer, Deathdealer's 'Tragically Human State' works surprisingly well as a hardcore album. Sounding successfully pissed from start to finish, the technical aspects of the bass are matched perfectly to the scuzzy distortion applied throughout... just really, really good stuff. Best track: Rat's Nest.
19Totem Skin

After 'Still Waters Run Deep,' my hopes for 'Weltschmerz' were pretty high - and they were largely met. Totem Skin mix the 'pretty' with the heavy to awesome effect throughout, and generally keep the dark atmosphere which was so important in the previous album. Best track: Pretend.
Orange Mathematics

Glaswegians Frontierer bring back Danza-esque mathcore in a 48 minute unrelenting nailbomb that I'm pretty sure causes hallucinations in high enough doses. There is something of a lack of variety but this is in lieu of being what it is - complete and utter aural devastation that doesn't try to be pretty or accessible. Best track: Delorean Trails
17Bell Witch
Four Phantoms

Funeral doom played by a duo consisting of a bass player and a drummer is always going to feel like the world is caving in on itself, and the Seattle-based Bell Witch's second album certainly yields this. It goes on a while which does prevent regular listening, but 'Four Phantoms' is nothing less than encapsulating. I also know some here have seen them live, and I'm jealous beyond belief of that. Best track: Suffocation, A Drowning: II - Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever).
La Femme sans Tete

When Rorcal announced their new album was partially ambient, it divided people between those that liked it and those that found it unnecessary. Of course, there's also those in the middle, and that's where I sit. The ambient wasn't bad, but they're still way at their best when playing their neck-breaking sludge that they've become so known for. Best track: La Femme sans Tête (Part II).
IV: Love Eternal

'IV: Love Eternal' is a glorious mixture of drone, ambient and Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western compositions. Possibly the atmospheric highlight of the year, I've definitely not given this enough time so far. One for the future. Best track: Death Eternal.
14The Drowned God
The Ebony Void

The Drowned God's debut, at only 20 minutes in length, displays great promise for the future if they can keep expanding and bringing in new ideas for a full length. The three tracks here are bleak, hypnotising numbers - a wonderful mixture of screamo, post-rock and post-metal that while ever so slightly same-y in parts, is so well executed that I fell in love with it immediately. Best track: Intestate.
The Ache of Want

As someone who loves all of Fall of Efrafa's work, 'The Ache of Want' is an album from one of Alex CF's 3,000 bands right now that bears great similarity to FoE's 'Owsla'. Atmospheric crust punk, cellos and his characteristic roar are the three key ingredients here for an album that, while done slightly better a few years ago, is still pretty damn fine. I still nearly call it 'Owsla' every now and then, mind. Best track: Somnambulant.
12Desolate Shrine
The Heart of the Netherworld

A driving war machine of an album, 'The Heart of the Netherworld' is almost hypnotising in its relentless quest for being as heavy and as massive as possible. Takes a few listens to get into simply due to its ridiculously dense shell and long run time, but definitely worth it when it clicks. Best track: Death.
Wolf Will Swallow The Sun

Endlesshade's brand of death/doom is one that is done extremely well. Blending melodic lines with heavy, dragged out riffs is a staple but they manage to do so in a way that largely is interesting, or at least doesn't feel tired as so frequently happens. Nataliia Androsova's growls are nothing short of awe-inspiring either, which helps. Best track: Noctambulism.

Thurm's debut release is a ferocious onslaught, quite frankly. A perfect mix of both the components of blackened hardcore, the blast beats are volatile, the vocals are throat-destroying and the message is thought-provoking. Maybe slightly homogenous here and there, but still an absolutely blistering listen. Best track: Enough.
9The Decemberists
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

My first album I heard of The Decemberists, 'What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World' is already starting to look like it may be a long-term winner. Aside from a small blip around tracks 9 and 10, I find all the tracks endearing in some way, be it through weird perviness ('Philomena') or absolutely gorgeous songwriting ('Lake Song'). Colin Meloy's vocals are fantastic, and I find myself singing parts of this way too much. Best track: Lake Song.
8We Stood Like Kings
USSR 1926

A album written as a soundtrack to Dziga Vertov's 1926 film 'A Sixth Part of the World' - 'USSR 1926' is for the most part absolutely stunning. Being quite green to post-rock it may simply be that I have a lot to learn, but I spent (and still spend, for that matter) most of the run time being somewhat awestruck by the sheer scale of this. Occasionally it does lose direction a little, but largely an excellent work from the Belgians. Best track: Siberian Taiga.
7Yuri Gagarin
At The Center Of All Infinity

Yuri Gagarin's 'At The Centre Of All Infinity' is ridiculously good fun. 40 minutes of non-stop guitar jams and playing about with synths has the potential to get boring, but this has been done so it's so, so right. While yes, it can be difficult to truly tell where you are and yes, this is in many ways actually as adventurous as a camping holiday in your garden, none of it really matters when you're strapped in and having fun during that 7th or 8th guitar solo. Best track: In The Abyss.
6Thou/The Body
You, Whom I Have Always Hated

I absolutely adore Thou and more or less everything they have ever made, ever. This collaboration with The Body was no exception, and Chip King's subhuman, agonising howls only served to make this a truly uncomfortable yet deeply satisfying listen. Best track: Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity.

Batushka's 'Litourgiya' is intense. Ridiculously intense. Utilising a blend of Slavonic chanting and conventional black metal screams alongside a dense wall of black/doom metal and the occasional eastern European idiosyncracy, the result is an album the crushes the air out of you in a way that few others successfully do. Intoxicating, intriguing, brilliant. Best track: Yekteniya 3.
4Howls of Ebb
The Marrow Veil

If nowt else, 'The Marrow Veil' wins artwork of the year. The music is, however, really damn good as a bonus. It'd honestly probably be higher if I listened to it more (issues with the Bandcamp meant I bought the vinyl from the label site, sans download), as there's not really anything I can fault it on. Hoarse vocals, awesome guitar tone and riffs, and they actually know how to use quieter sections to great effect. Best track: Standing On Bedlam, Burning In Bliss.
3Downfall of Nur
Umbras de Barbagia

'Umbras de Barbagia' was my favourite album this year for a good while. In my half-year list, I went so far as to declare it as perfect, or 'near as fucking dammit'. While I don't quite feel this strongly about it now, I still absolutely love its mixture of Argentinian folk (those pipes...) and black metal. The screams also still make me grin like a madman. Best track: II - The Golden Age.
2Anna Von Hausswolff
The Miraculous

Runner up is Anna von Hausswolff's 'The Miraculous'. The usage of the organ as a drone works absolutely perfectly with Anna's vocals, a mix between Kate Bush and Lana Del Rey, and there is a very real dark folk edge to some sections of the album. Atmospherically perfect, vocally stunning, and intriguing enough to come back to again and again. Best track: Discovery.
1The Mortal
I Am Mortal

My album of the year, in what I honestly believe to have been a good one, is The Mortal's 'I Am Mortal'. Fronted by Buck-Tick vocalist Atsushi Sakurai, this romp through the gothic genre is an absolute blast from start to finish. From energetic, punkier tracks to the slower burning ones, the attention to detail in particular is absolutely astounding. Best track: Sayonara Waltz.
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