Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks for 2016


Well, here we are at the start of a fresh new year. And while New Years is usually a time for bright-eyed, wishful optimism and wistful reminiscence, the global political and social climates have the world at unease. Yet despite a near blastbeat-pace of bummers and deaths, 2016 gave us another year of stellar extreme music.

Teethofthedivine soldiered on in 2016 as well, with some new faces on the team (though our distaste for digital promos hasn’t changed a bit). We also experienced a growth spurt on social media, so if you’re not following us yet, why the hell not? ‘Cause while other sites seem content to feed you with celebrity blogs, lists of ‘top 10 albums from 1993 which which had llamas on the cover’ or so-called humor pieces, TOTD just did what we do best: reviews, reviews, and reviews. One review every week day for the whole year. That’s 300+ reviews, folks.

We hope to add more interviews, features, and contests in 2017, and we do it all for you guys – our loyal readers, sharers, likers, and listeners. So keep on keeping it real in 2017, as it might be the last year the earth continues to spin. We’ll do our part to make sure metal stays as relevant in 2017 as it has been in the decades before.

So with much ado, here are the hand-picked releases that the TOTD staff enjoyed in 2016. Given the thousands of releases that assaulted our collective senses last year, hopefully we’ll introduce you to a few new favorites. And as always, stay tuned for our Fillings and Cavities feature, where we’ll shovel even more death, destruction, blackened weirdness, and melodic wonders into your willing ears.

by Staff

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Jay S.

 

I get stumped on doing these sometimes because contrary to popular opinion music isn’t dead.  Some choose to say it is but if you hang out in the underground catacombs of metal, punk, etc., there’s always somebody taking chances or a several classic bands pumping out top-notch material 20 or more years into their career.  Here’s a list of things had a heavy impact on me in 2016.  Order is not important my world but the music is!

 

Top albums of 2016:

  1. 16 Lifespan of a Moth

16 never disappoints in my book.  For blown out hardcore/sludge/punk, the band’s downtrodden hymns are authentic explorations into the world of a life gone horribly awry with drugs, bad behavior and always losing out.  Lifespan sticks to the classic formula but messes with some trippy melodies, stripped-down cleaner passages, the catchiest riffs of their 3 reunion albums and vocalist Cris Jerue’s unrelenting hardcore bark and excess riddled lyrics.

  1. WarcrabScars of Aeons

Of all the new heavy bands I’ve discovered this year, England’s Warcrab and their tri-headed guitar attack made Scars of Aeons worth endless repeat plays.  Their “I don’t give a fuck” take on death metal descends into doom, crusty punk/thrash and just a general swell of odorous riffage.  It’s rotten and filthy as hell but with killer melodies, songwriting and structure changes.  This is their third recording and hopefully they will be around a long, long, long time to come.  Any fans of the nasty stuff in the same lineage as Autopsy, Entombed and Winter will be doing themselves a huge favor checking this out.

  1. Dead RegisterFiber

On the strength of Dead Register’s debut EP TRVNS BLVK, I knew that their first full-length would be a powerhouse and Fiber delivers the goods.  As depressing as the most sorrowful Swedish stuff as well as cues taken from Godflesh, Christian Death, The Cure, Bauhaus, Katatonia, noise-rock, doom, heavy 90s riffers and much, much more, the band plows through a weighty alchemical mixture of grinding slo-mo guitar work, gothic keyboard manna and strong melodic singing that really hits the spot.  The band embodies so much of what I love from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, it was hard not to get hooked from the getgo.

  1. ContraDeny Everything

Still awaiting a label release, Deny Everything has been shared in enough underground circles that it deserves mention for 2016.  Featuring members of Sofa King Killer, Fistula, etc., the quartet carries on the grand Ohio tradition of melding punk ideals with ungodly classic 70s hard rock instrumentation and pounding rhythms for a sonic brew that’s all balls, no bullshit.  Formerly an instrumental band, Contra has since expanded operations to a fully voiced quartet by adding Larry Bent from Ohio scuzz punk/hardcore maniacs Don Austin to the lineup.  His harsh, blown-lung shout adorns the band with a crown of crusty “fuck you” that works well with the band’s in-the-red, energetic insanity.

  1. RhinPassenger

West Virginian trio Rhin is an odd bunch for sure.  Their frenetic, wind-whipped hardcore/punk assault festers its way into bone-crunching sludgy breakdowns, shroom munching psychedelia and oddball experimentation.  They’d be at home opening for Discharge, a TAD reunion tour, a reignited Cavity or Am-Rep titans Today is the Day or Hammerhead, Flipper…hell, you name it.  They are primed for a circle pit one minute, sunken into a quaking groove the next, overflowing with pissed off noise or even downright infectious n’ melodic.  Passenger covers a wide spectrum of ideas but avoids sounding like it was stitched together without thought.

  1. CoughStill They Pray

Oddly enough with Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard producing Cough’s latest platter of hopelessness, this possessed southern cult shakes the Electric Wizard comparisons harder than ever before on their third LP length recording.  I’ve been a fan since the beginning and always thought they had their own thing going even when wearing their collective love for personal musical influences on the sleeve and letting it spill out in a heavy, swampy gumbo.  Still They Pray is more open, spacious and strange than the band’s prior albums yet no less heavy.  Guitarist/vocalist Parker Chandler is singing more, though his begotten screams are still in full force and the riffing is truly forlorn, begotten and besieged by life’s demons.  Occasional guest organ work was also a sweet surprise for this child of The Doors and Iron Butterfly.

  1. HagFear of Man

There is absolutely no letup on this record and a lot of comparisons to Mastodon that I don’t really understand.  No offense to Mastodon or anyone in this band that might be fans but what I’m hearing from London’s Hag is a full force beating that never stops, never takes a breather and has a thick, thick, thick sound that’s just a wall of nervous energy guitar, a pulverizing rhythm section and dominant alpha vocalizing.  It’s pissed off as fuck and calls to mind Black Flag’s My War, His Hero is Gone’s Monument to Thieves and other 80s/90s punk classics.  There’s a big time metal edge on tap and Hag even ventures into spiraling melodies ala My Bloody Valentine’s ascendant sadness and Kyuss’ desert heat burnt hard rock.  The band manages some variety even though aggression is clearly the number 1 ingredient here.

  1. Hollow LegCrown and Junior BruceEndless Descent

I’m a Bloodlet fan from way back and I eagerly anticipate anything that its former members are up to these days.  When it came to hardcore they were easily the most diseased, desiccated and despicable that Victory Records had to offer in the label’s 90s era.  Seeing that Hollow Leg and Junior Bruce both share Bloodlet alumni Scott Angelacos and Tom Crowther, both Hollow Leg’s Crown and Junior Bruce’s Endless Descent share this spot.  The two albums are top-tier slices of crusty punk/hardcore completely obliterated by scraping doom riffs, vintage 70s metal bursts and towering tones.  They are a killer back to back listen and should be in any collection filled with sludge, punk and hardcore albums.

  1. WitchsnakeII Remastered

Witchsnake’s pair of LPs are two of the slimiest doom metal albums recorded in modern times.  They are so rank, fetid and blood-splattered that they touch on the slovenly atmospheric death metal of Autopsy, Winter and Incantation at times but differentiate themselves with super low riffing that strangles the life from opaque melodic elements (courtesy of Wilhelm Princeton of Whorehouse Massacre infamy) and a surprising amount of stylistic variety when stacked up against the competition.  Derek’s skins are taut and boosted in the mix this time around and vocalist Graham MacSkimming continues to prove a unique focal point with his wide arsenal of eerie clean melodies, screams, growls and otherworldly lyricisms.  II is the pinnacle of the band’s rather short lifespan and this remix is a worthwhile place to start if you missed its prior release.

  1. BeehooverPrimitive Powers

I’m a sucker for German music thanks to the late 60s/70s era which had its own unique vision when weighed against likeminded bands from the USA and Europe during the same time period.  Can you compare Neu! to Deep Purple?  Or how about Birth Control to Yes and Kansas?  Perhaps Ash Ra Tempel to The Beatles?  Nah, not happening!  That would be like comparing Big Business with Beehoover.  Sure they are both made up of very heavy bass, louder than lord drumming and booming vocals but they don’t really sound anything alike.  Beehoover takes the sludge-punk-doom-noise-rock template and filters it through Primus and Zappa’s weirdness as well as traditional kraut rock quirks.  Primitive Powers is hard, heavy and from the gut yet there’s more melody than ever before in terms of the band’s past releases.  Right now it’s tied with Heavy Zooo as my favorite release of theirs and it still gets a frightening number of plays on a weekly basis.

  1. Black WastelandIncantations of Decay   

We’re propping up in Germany for Black Wasteland’s 3rd official release Incantations of Decay.  Powerhouse doom is the band’s forte and they are on a three release tear thanks to this record.  If you want experimentation you’ve come to the wrong place.  If you want absolutely dead-on doom metal that draws from St. Vitus, Church of Misery, Black Sabbath, Soulpreacher and Celtic Frost, come on in!  Laying waste to monotony with fairly upbeat songs intersecting more traditional dirges, Black Wasteland’s groove is constantly engaging and the multi-faceted vocals cover everything from sheer ugly bile to deep baritone melodies.  Some bands are either crusty or melodic but these guys manage to succeed at both ends of the genre.

  1. HorehoundSelf Titled

Pittsburgh is a hotbed for dizzying, original punk rock and it’s also a breeding ground for doom played in the vintage style.  Up from the ash like a risen phoenix is the cemetery prowling Horehound; powered by the gargantuan guitars of Brendan Parrish and Mike Altopiedi which take on Cathedral sized tones while liberally sprinkling some Penance into their feral grooves…the band’s debut is 7 sturdy tracks of lumbering doom.  From sharp-clawed Sabbathisms to blown-out hardcore sprawls in the key of Neurosis to acoustic ambience, the band makes a heady impression on this record.  Shy Kennedy’s mystical vocals are the icing on this pagan holiday cake and the end result is a bewitching album full of uplifting rises and bottomless falls.

  1. Wretch Self Titled

I’m still working on a review of this record.  It’s some deep, deep doom spearheaded by Karl Simon from Gates of SlumberGates’ legacy is carried on and preserved without losing a step.  Karl’s incapable of writing a bad riff and the composition on this record is the real deal.  You know Simon has lived every word of these songs which makes the material resonate and the mind respond in kind when the record is playing full blast on stereo speakers.  A very original take of the Judas Priest classic “Winter,” is well-placed amongst the original material and the songwriting is right in line with Gates’ circa The Wretch and Stormcrow (their two best releases in my opinion).

  1. Snow BurialVictory in Ruin

Very underrated band and record; Chicago’s Snow Burial takes the density of doom and interprets it via Midwestern space rock (Shiner, Hum) and dirty hardcore/noise-rock/punk ala Unsane, Hammerhead, Neurosis and Today is the Day.  These guys are noisy, blistering and rabid in terms of hard-hitting power chords, shattering rhythmic changes and ruthless shouting vocals but the good news is that they can shape everything into something that sticks to your memory long after the record is done playing.  Hopefully this will come out physically soon but in the meantime go wild on their Bandcamp.

  1. Church of MiseryAnd Then There Were None…

Anybody bitching about Church of Misery changing lineups again should really sit down and listen to this record.  It’s exactly what I was hoping for with the players in the current roster.  Scott Carlson of Repulsion and Cathedral on scummy vocal growls, Dave Szulkin of Blood Farmers on spine-cutting guitar, Eric Little from Earthride/Internal Void throwing down the Maryland smash and COM leader Tatsu ripping one psyched-out bass riff after another…with the talent on hand there was zero chance that the results would be bad.  Samples of serial killers, wah-soaked weirdness and crazed pedal boards, gigantic riffs, crashing drums and feelings of dread, decay and nihilism abound.  Hell, one of my favorite human butchers Dennis Nilsen finally has his day in song.  How can you go wrong?

 

Top EPs/cassettes/demos of 2016:

  1. The AsoundSelf Titled Cassette

The Asound’s swansong masterpiece unless they reform (I hope they do!).  These North Carolina bruisers split the difference between punk, doom and late 60s/early 70s power trios.  They remind me of the take no prisoners, psychedelic rock n’ roll overdrive updated with a modern bonecrunch.  Featuring ex-members of Seven Foot Spleen, Patheticism, Hanging Rotten, Algodon, Stone of Abel and many other underrated filth merchants…  This is NOT so-called stoner rock.  There is nothing laid back about The Asound.

  1. DominhateEmissaries of Morning

Caustic, hateful, nonstop death metal from Italy that’s so angry and unbridled it’s hard to catch a breath after this short EP is over.  It turns out that their 2014 full-length Towards the Light is equally worth your time.  Not much else to say but this shit fuckin’ rips you inside out.

  1. Green BastardPyre

Raw, dirty doom metal from New Hampshire with some disparate elements filtered into the traditional sloth.  Lengthy diversions into amp-howl and esoteric feedback give way to plundering sludge grooves, galloping NWOBHM bursts and melodic dirge-ry.  Alternating vocals keep things lively between screams, shouts and singing.  This is solid stuff and I look forward to hearing more.

  1. Death by FungiIn Dearth Of…

Hardcore/crossover punk from India oozing charisma, charm, heart, etc., and unafraid of incorporating whatever influences the band damn well pleases…shades of Fugazi, Minor Threat, From Ashes Rise, Remains of the Day, etc. color this EP with vibrant light/dark hues.

  1. Bump n’ VileSelf Titled

This is a killer EP featuring Graham MacSkimming of Witchsnake on vocals/programming/etc.  Take some fiery 70s hard rock, wild metallic guitar work, punk rock snarl, industrial and electronica…you got Bump n’ Vile.  “Fuck it” is one of the catchiest songs ever written.  Fans of Lard, Ministry and KMFDM should enjoy this but it very much has its own aura shining through.

  1. When the Deadbolt BreaksUntil it all Collides

I’ve had the pleasure of having Deadbolt founder Aaron Lewis as a friend for quite a few years.  It was always great playing shows with these cats as well.  Friendship never clouds my judgement of a band’s output (Ken Mode’s Success a prime but unfortunate example), so my inclusion of Until it all Collides on my year-end list is a matter of musical quality not friendship.  Primarily constructed of one 20+ minute monster of a title track that twists, turns, writhes and twists some more, there’s a lot to come back to and experience on this EP.  It took me several listens to catch all the change-ups and the final product is probably Deadbolt’s best tune to date.  The soundboard live material is a fantastic bonus.

  1. Rats of RealityObsequies

These sick Scots lay down a throbbing, dirt-encrusted wall of filth that runs the gauntlet of hardcore punk, crossover thrash, black metal, doom metal and death metal.  Repulsive vocals, strung-out melodies, blast beats, big riffs and putrid tones ensure that Rats of Reality truly live up to their name.  All of the band’s releases are highly worth your time.

  1. Hellburst Demo(n) #1

Andi Macht from Black Wasteland’s other band Hellburst are the perfect mingling of Venom/Midnight/Hellripper styled blackened thrash with a denim n’ leather crustiness that can’t be beat.  Truth be told, I can’t get enough of this particular take on metal/punk, even if it doesn’t musically push the envelope.  Just like the aforementioned trilogy of band’s, Hellburst is tapped into that sonic G-spot where every riff is a slice of power chord perfection practically guaranteed to cause a circle pit in your own living room.

  1. The Rolling BlackoutsDemo 2016

Philadelphia has a rich scene for metal, punk, doom, noise and just about everything scabby and scratchy.  Featuring Mikey Parsons from the excellent bands Humanasaur and Human Shield, The Rolling Blackouts are all-instrumental and as raw as it gets.  They have hard rock flair in terms of groovy riffing, breakneck crust surges and some destructo low-end that puts them in line with Godheadsilo, Enemymine, Flipper and Smoke and Smoke.  It’s like Karma to Burn got sucked into a black hole and came out looking like the crew of The Event Horizon.

  1. Lo-PanIn Tensions

Lo-Pan continues to prove themselves the kings of soaring, smoke signal stoner anthems.  I miss Brian Fristoe and his melty guitar work but I can’t knock the band for sticking to what they do best and exceling.  This EP has Lo-Pan’s usual combination of super hooky, sing-a-long hard rock and mid-tempo trips outs where the heavy riffs are submerged in sublime psychedelic rock.  The band is still tight as hell with Jesse Bartz and Skot Thompson’s unbreakable rhythm wall opening up the field for incisive guitar surgery.  Jeff Martin’s crystalline; mountain high vocal melodies hang over top of everything like a beautiful morning mist that cannot be lifted.  Overall, I’m enjoying this stuff even more than the last full-length outing!

 

Honorable mentions that should be on the top 2016 list somewhereThe Whorehouse MassacreThe Reckoning, LordAwake, Graves at SeaThe Curse that Is, PyramidoVatten, HammerhandsLargo Forte, Wo FatMidnight Cometh, Monolith WielderSelf Titled, Buried SoulsSelf Titled, Buzzard CanyonHellfire and Whiskey, FatalistThe Bitter End, Victims – Sirens, ZaumEidolon, CrowbarThe Serpent Only Lies, Saint VitusLive Volume II, Into the StormWhere Merfalo Roam

Most anticipated albums from 2016 that I won’t hear until 2017:  CavityAfter Death, FistulaLonging for Infection, The ObsessedSacred

Favorite albums/releases from 2015 that I didn’t pick-up until 2016 but enjoyed plenty:  Golden VoidBerkana, Therapy?Disquiet, SnailFeral, Sonic MassYou People Never Learn, Caustic CasanovaBreaks, GorseVulcanised, FistulaIgnorant Weapon 7”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Jordan, I was literally just listening to that Perturbator record. so good.


  2. Commented by: TowardsTheHum

    Dead Register! Might be my fave album of 2016.


  3. Commented by: speedrider

    Hail Humiliation!!!


  4. Commented by: Glenn Whitehead

    The Metallica doesn’t have a decent melody or vocal delivery anywhere. It sounds like Hetfield shouting atonally over some mediocre thrash and Hamster sprayed Wah-Wah nonsense. Weak.


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Yeah that Dead Register disc made my list too.


  6. Commented by: bast

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