FILLINGS AND CAVITIES PART III: STUFF WE MISSED IN 2016
Welcome back to one of our few traditions here at TeethoftheDivine (if you can call 3 years a tradition) – our annual Fillings and Cavities feature. Here, our staff open wide and revisit 2016 to select releases that we failed to review or mention in our year-end lists. Don’t forget to floss afterwards.
Sometimes promos come too late, get buried in the mailbox, hit that dreaded December release date, or simply go unheard before the year-end lists are finalized. There are a multitude of reasons that great albums get overlooked, but we are here to give you more reasons to go back in time – all the way back to 2016. Check out some more albums from that year that our staff has discovered since then.
As usual, there is a bunch of stuff I purchased, heard or was sent too late to make my year end list, or simply too obscure that I had no idea it existed till suggested to me or a random find. Like those revisit the 2006 NFL draft articles- here are some releases that would have been on my year end list for 2016 and that you need to check out if you have not already:
Epitaph – Sinner Waketh. (Dark Symphonies). Another reactivated, obscure Swedish death metal band from the 90s returning from the grave, Epitaph’s second album since 1992s Seeming Salvation, see a more Autopsy and Nailgun Massacre filth and groove to the tried and tested Stockholm gallop with catchy, killer results. This would have been a sure fire top 5 for 2016 had i heard it earlier.
Départe – Failure, Subside (Season of Mist). I had lots of folks I know sing the praises of this, and friends recommend it to me, but I seemed to never have time for it. However, eventually the Ulcerate meets a barren post black metal ambiance eventually clicked with me, and when in the right mood, is a bleak, harrowing experience.
Downfall of Gaia – Atrophy (Metal Blade Records). The last 2 releases from these German atmospheric crust/black metal guys made my year end lists in 2012 and 2014. However, their third release, with a revamped lineup and little press from Metal Blade, this release completely passed me by. I finally caught up with it in early 2017, and it holds up to the prior 2 album with no problem.
Seeker – Loss (Victory Records). Completely overlooked as they reside on the now laughable Victory Records and come with a dreaded metalcore tag, Seeker remain a savage afterthought in american metal. Their noisy, violent take on early grind and metalcore (think Black Market Activities) is horribly underrated and give many ‘extreme’ bands a run for their money.
Illdisposed – Grey Sky Over Black Town. (Massacre Records). Album number 12 from these long running respected Danish got no coverage, press or hype whatsoever. It;s a shame as its a damn fine, chunky, melodic and powerful album that continues the bands underrated legacy.
2016 was a killer year for Metal. While these 5 releases did not make it in my best of list, they were awesome in their own right. I already had my final list sent in and was in no mood to modify it. Regardless, these releases, are worthy of a mention and need to be in your collection, if they are not already.
Sentient Horror – Ungodly Forms [Testimony Records]. Thanks to Erik “Yes I know Drew Brees is getting a little too long in the tooth” Thomas, he hit the nail on the head when he said I would love Sentient Horror. Rooted in the classic Swedish HM2 buzzsaw kind of face melting death metal, Ungodly Forms, for me, is one of the best Swedish-inspired death metal albums I have ever heard. Catchy, fast and fantastically well-crafted songs. The production is perfect and the band hails from New Jersey, not Sweden or Germany. Outstanding album.
Mortillery– Shapeshifter [Icarus Music]. Canada’s Mortillery return with their third album and Shapeshifter is a beast. Cara McCutchen’s vocals never sounded so fierce and incredible. Thrashing along, is what Mortillery does best, but they’re also not afraid to throw in some melody and mid-paced moments. They continue to spend time crafting excellent thrash metal and spend time their super cool album covers fit their music. As always, I will recommend the limited edition version, which contains an additional 3 songs.
Possessed Entity – Extermination of Angelic Parasites [Pathos Productions]. At just under 30 minutes, Possessed Entity wastes no time in pummeling the listener with their brutal brand of death metal. Slams, gutturals, blast beats and an excellent guitar tone, reminiscent of the 90’s American death metal scene, Extermination of Angelic Parasites is a winner. Killer stuff.
Voivod – Post Society [Century Media Records]. Voivod did a number on us, a few years ago, with Target Earth. Recapturing their vintage 80’s sound, the album is one of their best in their discography and is fantastic. Post Society, at 30 minutes, is still an ep, with a cover tune, and originals to blow you out the door. Voivod continues to reinvent their original, sci-fi, off-kilter brand of thrash. Cannot wait until their next full-length.
Brutally Deceased – Satanic Corpse [Doomentia Records]. These Czech’s return with their third brutal offering, Satanic Corpse, and play a Swedish inspired death metal, with tons of blast beats. Probably the most brutal release from this genre of death metal, for 2016. Brutally Deceased, still keep things interesting with great riffs, all the while slobberknocking your head clean off your shoulders, with their brutality. Do not slow down, guys!!!!
Another year, another shit hot abundance of quality releases across the broad heavy music spectrum. With 2017 already in full swing, it’s time to reflect on some of the gems that didn’t quite make it onto the Teeth of the Divine pages in 2016 but are certainly worthy of deeper investigation.
Unfathomable Ruination – Finitude (Sevared Records). Brutal death can so often succumb to a brutality for the sake of brutality mindset and cartoonish songwriting that it rarely captures my interest. Sure there are plenty of good bands lurking in the scene; however, sifting through the indecipherable pile of subpar crap to weed out the worthy bands is often a tediously unfulfilling task. Fortunately, UK outfit Unfathomable Ruination lit a stick of dynamite under the brutal death scene in 2016 with their stupendous Finitude record.
Classic and traditional brutal death filtered through a modern lens, Finitude is packed with lean, surgically executed and riff packed brutal death songs that are musically dynamic and suitably punishing while remaining catchy and memorable. Throw in a stellar production, classy solos and an impressive technical edge and you have one hell of a brutal death feast to sink your teeth into.
Deadspace – Gravity (Independent). Gravity was my first extended exposure with Australian depressive black metal crew Deadspace and what a wonderfully bleak and beautiful introduction it was. Surreal passages of tranquil beauty and unsettling atmospherics bookend savage, anguished and surprisingly melodic bursts of blackened fury. Despite its EP status, the songwriting, emotional heft and sheer intensity and quality easily matches lengthier releases.
Départe – Failure, Subside (Independent). Another exciting Aussie outfit cashed in on their early potential to release a debut LP of serious fucking magnitude. Gripping atmospheric black metal with a crippling emotional core and bleak edge, Failure, Subside was certainly not the most uplifting listening experience of 2016, but it proved one of the most rewarding and powerful albums released, as the twisted artistry and devastating emotional impact of songs like “Ashes in Bloom” strongly attest.
Mistur – In Memoriam (Dark Essence Records). Black metal is a genre I have a great deal of respect for, though certainly wouldn’t claim it to be the top genre pick in my regular listening rotation. However, when black metal hits me, as a couple of the above aforementioned albums have, it generally hits hard. Another case in point was the masterful and long awaited sophomore album from Norway’s Mistur. And pleasingly In Memoriam didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to fully absorbing the album until recently, but better late than never right?
Mistur’s ambitious LP was epic in every sense of the word, featuring complex layered arrangements and expertly crafted compositions, chock full of forceful blasts, atmospheric keys and synths, proggy twists and icy riffs, along with an overarching melodic sensibility. Coupled with memorable songwriting and flawless musicianship, In Memoriam was a triumphant and sophisticated work of black metal excellence.
VEKTOR – Terminal Redux (Earache) Wow! Just, wow! What a kick ass album. I’m not sure why I didn’t grab this album when it first came out; I guess there was always something else to throw my cash at, but I sure am glad that I finally did. This album is worth every bit of the hype I heard from critics and friends alike. Technical death-y thrash for every life form across the universe….Wow!
RUINS – Undercurrent (Listenable Records) Those sneaky fucking Aussies. It was around the last week or so of 2016 that I found out a new Ruins album had been released. Had I been privy to this information, I can assure you that Undercurrent would have ended up somewhere on my best of the year list. Is it really that good? Probably not. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite of theirs, but I still love me some Ruins.
ANCIENT – Back to the Land of the Dead (Soulseller Records) I like Ancient, always have. Even with most of their material being pretty mediocre, I’ve always held a affinity for the group that I can’t really explain. Their first album in twelve years is really quite good, and would be damn good if some of the bloat was removed from this hour long plus offering.
BLOOD RED THRONE – Union of Flesh and Machine (Candlelight Records) Catchier than a call girl’s STD’s. This is fucking death metal!!!
Saor – Guardians (Northern Silence Productions). Aura made my year-end list in 2014, so I knew I was making a mistake in 2016 by not including the follow-up. I just didn’t get to hear it in time. Shame, because it’s as stirring, cinematic, and gorgeous as the last two Saor releases, and one of the very best atmospheric black metal releases of the year. Highly recommended to fans of Winterfylleth, Agalloch, and Wodensthrone.
Omophagia – In the Name of Chaos (Unique Leader Records). I had actually given this a listen last year and liked it, but it got buried in the year-end recap to hear everything again one last time. I’ve since gone back to it a lot – it’s solid, catchy death metal with great production and the right balance of groove, melody, and technicality. Fans of Abysmal Dawn and (older) Decapitated will find a lot to like here.
The Surrealist – Naked Awareness (Self-Released). Lurching, bottom-heavy djent typically doesn’t hold my interest, but this is very different. By upending the formula and making it free-flowing and gossamer-light, The Surrealist has created something truly new with this EP. It’s like the synaesthetic metal version of pointillism – intricate, staccato, and colorful.
Hannes Grossmann – The Crypts of Sleep (Self-Released). Man, how did I miss this last year? Best tech-death release of the year from this former drummer from Necrophagist and Obscura. Dense, twisty writing and musicianship, but still entertaining and catchy. This is everything I loved about Obscura‘s Omnivium but found missing in Akróasis, which is why that didn’t make my list in 2016.
TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE THE HECATOMB (Iron Bonehead Productions)
This record should have made my year end top 10 submission but I frankly had a brain aneurism. The Hecatomb might just be the pinnacle of so called “caverncore” style of death/blackened-death metal. People that once occupied the ancient and now abandoned city featured on the cover succumbed to the otherworldly whispers that didn’t seem to emanate from any particular direction or place. A slow rotting of their mind and physical transmutation took place as the hum of the guitars joined the voice. Cruel commands were delivered via the warbling, eternally echoing guitar solos that only gain strength bouncing from one solid rock face to the next until exiting the nearby mountain opening. When the time was right these wicked disciples of unknown origin entered this dimension and made the maddened city their home using the dead as new building materials. The production ambiance might be distracting to some but draws me further in. You do have to cup your ears to decipher the riffs as the music does have a droning effect, even without the production, shifting back and forth between upbeat blackened death metal and doomy parts. The eerie, wailing solos are what stand out most, reaching out from beyond for any sad soul within hearing range. I listened to this album quite a bit in the fall of last year and somehow let it slip from mind for end of year.
CRIMSON MOON ONEIRONAUT (Dark Adversary)
I was listening to this one very late last year. I liked it but just as it goes at the end of the year I didn’t quite have enough time to digest it and give it context amongst what I had already solidified. Now I would definitely replace my number 10 which was a hasty last minute input. Crimson Moon have been refining their occult black symphonies since the mid-nineties, having released two demo’s and a debut album which gave them clout as one of the early leaders in US black metal. With Oneironaut, Crimson Moon completed the construction of a powerful and wildly ornate spell staff like dropping the last shard of crystal into its place that they’ve been searching and slaughtering for the last 20 years. They created a mystical and dark audio realm that could change your environment right before your eyes. By the time the final entrancing title track settles in your studio apartment ceiling is covered in black moss and green fog is swirling at knee height. The couch now a stone altar is darkened by the blood of numerous sacrifices… don’t you remember them?
HOWLS OF EBB CURSUS IMPASSE: THE PENDLOMIC VOWS (I, Voidhanger)
The Marrow Veil was on my short list of year end favorite e.p.’s for 2015. I should’ve been paying closer attention to the second full length. I gave it a few spins but must not have been fully in the mood for their warped take on metal meant for the tentacle alien crowd or perhaps a little disappointed it was missing some of the surf-y, spy movie guitar riffs of the e.p.. Howls Of Ebb has to be commended for making angular, strange metal that reveals to be very listenable in short time. A large factor as to why their music sounds strange at all is because they simply don’t utilize the production and mixing techniques of most metal albums we are used to hearing would. Howl Of Ebb records sound like products of Steve Albini engineering. All of the instruments sound quite natural, are mixed very even, and with plenty of air to breathe between each. The vocals feature the most blatant effects tinkering so they do at points stand out against the clear, dry production. In some ways it’s like a more refined Drawing Down The Moon Beherit paying homage to The Jesus Lizard.
UXO S/T (Reptilian Records)
So UXO isn’t precisely a metal band but not outside of the tastes of TOTD readership. To a certain set, UXO is a wet dream considering it’s a project including Chris Spencer of noise rock gods Unsane, and Steve Austin most infamously of Today Is The Day. There are two other members but I won’t deny them supergroup status. UXO deliver exactly what one might assume and it FUCKIN RIPS. “Everything’s A Mistake” is a bonafide bring-the-house-down anthem of the genre. A pensive paced song with a killer melodic, bending guitar work that sounds like an unwinding coil of steel wire with a single synth key hitting consistently every two beats like being jabbed with an acupuncture needle keeping the listener attentive, with Chris Spenser’s somewhat squawky, higher pitched yell pleading throughout. UXO release seven tracks of perfect noise rock.
SINISTRO SEMENTE (Season Of Mist)
I leave out on an album that you might not expect. The type of album that is lovely. Romantic in the tragic sense. Sinistro combine doom with trip-hop, string flourishes, and other instrumentation that lends to any such album receiving with the ‘post-‘ tag. Topping it off is exotic female singing of Patricia Andrade who’s voice releases like a slow motion swirl of rising cigarette smoke. The whole album plays like post-doom metal muzak in the waiting room on the way to purgatory. The entire concoction is rather seductive. Julie Christmas has some real competition, and if you were a fan of last year’s collaboration between her and Cult Of Luna but weren’t aware of this album then you should be all over this.
Will “Bones” Lee
Omnihility – Dominion of Misery
You take the tech metal of Origin, blend in some Diabolic, a smattering of Morbid Angel with a healthy dose of Monstrosity and you have the Oregon’s Omnihility. The main reason for my not including this was the drum sound, too much like a drum machine but overall still enjoyable nonetheless. Their prior one Deathscapes of the Subconscious is the better.
Nervosa – Agony
If you love thrash, you just gotta love this release. The three piece from Brazil just rip it up old school. Shades of Destruction, Raven, Sepultura come to mind with plenty of modern vitriol and socio-political lyrical anger. Just love that cover artwork also.
Diabolizer – Apokalypse
If you like swedish death, but dipped in the cauldrons of black metal, and with the anger/intensity of say Infernal War from Poland, you have Diabolizer from Turkey. Amazing, intense. Simply put.
Interment – Scent of the Buried
Could be considered a bit too much of glut with plenty of bands doing this same sound but Interment…..they sound a bit more grittier, dirtier and more old school. Close your eyes and this is Left Hand Path pt II . Take it as you may, good or bad.
Urgehal – Aeons In Sodom
Didn’t get to fully absorb this in time for inclusion the first time, but great black metal as only Urgehal can do and a fitting closure for the band ( RIP Trondr Nefas ) The different guest vocalists add a different aspect to the already great sound.
Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale
Huge fan of Swallow the Sun and when I became aware of this project, I was awestruck. After the passing of Aleah ( another to RIP ) I just HAD to get this release. After some delays in getting the album AND just wanting to sit back and absorb it….I am beyond awestruck. Simply amazing, emotional, evocative, melancholic….I can go on but you get the point.
Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign
This was completely my fault for not posting this initially. I will admit to being not too enthusiastic to hear this because the last to Dark Funeral albums although good, were sort of run of the mill to me. Boy was I wrong, I should have realized with vocalist Heljarmadr ( I love is work in Gra ) now part of the band, it would make for a blistering return to form. Not quite up to the godliness that is The Secret of the Black Arts, but this album settles in nicely after Vobiscum Satanas.
Tortorum – Rotten, Dead Forgotten
Maybe it’s just me but this band seems to to live on the sidelines of the metal world’s consciousness, not garnering much attention but much deserving so. Having been pleased with their prior two releases and I thoroughly enjoy their brand of Watain meets Throne Of Katarsis black metal. I missed posting this release, initially for being an EP but also, I just wanted to sit back and absorb it, as should you all.
For all of the albums I hear every year, I probably miss just as many that I would dig on. It’s hard to keep up and we all get nailed to our favorites here and there. We’re always living in the past yet looking ahead as people and that probably best describes my listening style. Here’s some bands I’m just hearing as well as an album or two that I put on an undeserved backburner.
Horseburner – These psycho Virginians caught my ear with 2016’s Dead Seeds, Barren Soil which I’m just hearing in 2017. I’m digging on everything they’ve done, though the latest album is my favorite and a great place to start. They mess with blues, psyche-y guitar textures, hardcore aggression, guitar harmonies and multiple vocal styles. Folks are saying Mastodon/Baroness vibes abound but there’s something more delta-blues based and even kind of crusty punk-rockin’ going down. Whatever you want to call Horseburner they sure are heavy and worth a look.
The Space Lords – Last year’s Liquid Sun was my first foray into German crazies, The Space Lords, acid drenched world. By looking at the band name these cats are obviously into Hawkwind while the songwriting falls in the lengthy tradition of heavy, kraut-birthed psychedelic visionaries such as Birth Control, Ash Ra Tempel’s Timothy Leary fronted years (see Seven Up if you haven’t), Neu! and a little bit of The Space Lords’ own trip-out sauce.
Descarado – The Swedish stoner punk n’ roll days spawned everything from the ultra-catchy, riff centric punk of The Hellacopters to Dozer’s sprawlin’ for days desert groove. It felt like the movement was dying since I wasn’t hearing too much new that caught my ears. Along comes Descarado with Odd and I feel like I’m back in high school ordering Man’s Ruin records again thanks to my lunch money. I ended up listening to this a lot more than I expected as the textures shift like mescaline, the riffs explode into thick clouds of dust and the vocals howl into a whiskey bottle. This stuff is hard hitting but melodic. I’m certainly down for more.
The Whorehouse Massacre – Though I’m a big fan of this band and have worked with their mastermind Wilhelm Princeton on music, I’ve let some of the recent Whorehouse material slip into the cracks of hell. I’m not including this as a pat on the back, or a plug for my own material…I’ve been a big Whorehouse fan from the beginning and I’m pissed that I missed the latest platter The Reckoning last year. Nasty, unrelenting sludge at a morphine drip pace corroded by Darkthrone’s blackened hatred is the order of the day and this evil stuff deserves a physical release. Gary needs to bring back Shifty Records so we can hold onto a copy of this evil motherfucker.
Deathstorm – Austrian thrashers Deathstorm have been on my desk forever to review. Since I’m slower than a two weeks’ pay and have really enjoyed their most recent album, the band is going to get its due. On their 2016 disc Blood Beneath the Crypts, these maniacs go full bore into the 80s old school ethic and snub-nosed crust breaks while chopping up and stirring in some touches of death/black tremolo speed and even a little grind. Killer riffing and diamond sharp solos abound, yielding the material plenty of shred factor without sounding pretentious.
Midnight – I’m a till death Midnight fan. I’ve seen them several times (thankfully) as well as had a chance to collect a good chunk of their material. Literally 2 weeks ago I found out that they released a brand new EP Shox of Violence with 4 new serial slasher songs on it near the end of last year. Athenar is one of the few that can pull off infectious Lemmy/Venom worship without sounding contrived while somehow lending the debauchery its own flavor (pretty tough to do…honestly!). These songs don’t disappoint if you’ve liked the more produced yet just as sleazy progression of the last couple of albums.
Buzzard Canyon – Members of When the Deadbolt Breaks, No December, Minus and friends gathered to record Hellfire and Whiskey. Released in 2016, I’ve still not got around to finishing off the review for it. Purveyors of road-burnt, anxiety stricken hard rock, the band slams on riffs and churns out rhythmic grooves like an unmanned streetsweeper. Amber Leigh’s resonant, roughhewn vocal power duets with Aaron Lewis’ throaty baritone for some cool change-ups while the songwriting covers a good chunk of the riff map.