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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Mars Budziszewski 

Best Albums 

(It’s hard enough to decide on ten. If it didn’t stick in my teeth and gain repeated plays than I can’t warrant mention. A build up method, not narrowing down):

Defeated Sanity – Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata (Willowtip)
My personally most anticipated album of 2016 and it delivered. I know it has it’s fans but It didn’t get the response I thought it should. Is Dharmata a dead on mid-period Death impression? Sure, but who else is doing it? Entombed’s corpse is still being ravaged for nutrients and it took countless dozens of albums until metal fans began tiring. For brutal death metal fans, Disposal of the Dead is, at very least, a subwoofer crushing romp with a band that does it best. Give it another go

Void Meditation Cult – Utter the Tongue of the Dead (Hells Headbangers)
I put out a feeler on my Facebook looking for “black metal with whisper/breath-into-mic vocals”. I got one response and one is all I needed. In truth, it’s a blackened doom-death album. I immediately was reminded of the only release by Sperm of Antichrist (also on HHB) but with heightened production and discernible songs. On Utter the Tongue of the Dead the walls drip with black-purple plasm that feed the interdimensional beings who dwell in it’s dank corridors. The songs plod and lurch even when the pace picks up and the production atmosphere fills in every crevice to great effect.

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith (Season of Mist)
After delivering what I thought to be a rather phoned-in affair with Obscure Verses… Inquisition deliver twice over with Bloodshed… . Songs like “Wings of Anu” are instant classics of their discography. Inquisition stand alone in a dense crowd and release one of their best sounding and satisfying records to an already highly regarded career.

Forteresse – Themes pour la Rebellion (Sepulchral Productions)
“Themes for the rebellion”. Careful listening to this album at work as you might find yourself leading a charge of fellow co-workers, via flaming forklift, to the glass offices of management. They strip some of the fuzzy atmosphere and folk embellishments of previous albums. This is straightforward and highly aggressive black metal sharpened to a spear point. A tool of incite. I’m not sure of whether the band harbor strong political belief in an independent Quebec but after a listen through I’m strangely willing to lay my life down for the cause.

Be’lakor – Vessels (Napalm)
In 2009, as Stones Reach was worming it’s way through the metal underground it found my ears. I don’t really follow melodic death metal but the expansive songs and choice of low death style vocals over the usual rasp had me on board. Vessels doesn’t best that album but Be’lakor perform the style in a way no other band quite can touch. They display both beauty and danger in their songs. Like the scene on the cover art, whatever primitive ritual dance being performed is mesmerizing, but stay low and quiet behind the tall grass. You don’t want to reveal yourself nor what precisely what is behind the magic. Just take in the fumes and enjoy.

Antaeus – Condemnation (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
After reading their bardomethodology review it’s likely only the result of chaos magic that these guys released an album at all. Yet from the mess and madness of these individuals each release from the last is a shocking improvement in musicianship and anti-everything violence. I defy anyone to claim another album of 2016 more relentless. God damnit I love blast beats. Cut your best friend and worship Antaeus.

Mur – Heartworn (Fragile Branch)
Cam Sather, the lone figure behind Mur, creates a blend of black metal, doom, and folk that is truly Americana. The successful and much maligned Cascadian black metal of US origin has nothing on the home-grown, hearth of the land, lo-fi meditations that is Heartworn. It’s like a feedback loop of Phil Elverum’s indie band Mount Eerie being influenced by Burzum and Drudkh, and then coming around to influencing other black metal. It features great open and crackling production atmosphere. As if the windy clattering of barren trees were recorded and amplified for effect.

Infernal Curse – Apocalipsis (Iron Bonehead)
Charred, bottomless pit dwelling black/death metal. Not as relentlessly fast or violent as Antaeus but it certainly is in utter darkness. It takes some spins for the killer riffs and writing to seep in but once it all becomes clear, Infernal Curse’s evil intentions are completely overwhelming.

Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem in Blue (Dark Essence)
This is a rather late addition to the list. These Greeks pillage whatever style they see fit, mixing black metal, reverb drenched Mediterranean surf guitar, and anything deemable as “prog” to make for a listen that both pulls you in, as much as it tries to shake you off their tail. Maybe you loved the guitar tonality of Negative Planes Stained Glass Revelations and have been looking for another band that takes it and runs. Look no further and enjoy the crazy.

Hammerhands – Largo Forte (independant)
Metallic sludge, desert rock, Tom Waits, and a bit of vermouth. Pair with an obscure spaghetti western film for effect. This records takes you on a long trek through dry valleys where peril lurks beyond each crumbling pass.

           2016 Favorite EPs 

Imperial Triumphant – Inceste (Redefining Darkness)
It would probably take longer to read my review of Inceste than the run time of the ep. They create a form of music inspired by black metal that might simply be too specific for many. I felt I really knew what they were aiming for and in fact received corroboration based on their own direct comments. The music pulls in black metal, avant-jazz and other less easily classifiable influences for a short set of songs that conjured a lot for my imagination. It wasn’t the cacophonic exercise in weird-chord acrobatics that Abyssal Gods was. Inceste is more intimate and restrained in comparison, yet more focused and ultimately rewarding for it.

Mephistopheles – In Reverence of Forever (Willowtip)
In Reverence of Forever is as close to Philip K Dick as Death Metal is going to get. This is a sci-fi/time traveling concept ep that chronicles events of the story arc’s subject, R.J. Everlife. I honestly didn’t listen to the ep many times but I respect it for the concept and the music works so well to invoke it. Listening is enough to clue you in that the many parts are propelling something greater forward. For a tech-death metal record it doesn’t implode into itself. It may be busy but there’s parts to grab onto and it all acts like connective tissue.

Necromantic Worship – The Calling (Nuclear War Now)
“I don’t see how anybody could get into Dungeon Synth”. Then I heard Necromantic Worship and it formed a bridge that lead me to dig into the Dungeon Synth genre for a time. This one man outfit isn’t Dungeon Synth but it is an underlying influence. Otherwise it stems from the Beherit bloodline of hazy, low-end heavy black metal, in this case, with a druidian twist. I love weird production like this: open, lo-fi, plodding and buried drum tone, weird whisper vocals. Tell me it was recorded in one of those ancient stone chambers found throughout Europe and I’ll take two copies.

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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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