Compared with 2016, this year didn’t see me write about quite as many reviews, and life demanded that I take a break around the Spring time; yet I still listened to a whole lot of music, much of it I simply never found the time or energy to write about. A lot of this music was very good, and it speaks highly of how strong my favourite 25 records – which can be found here, here, and here – are, that none of the albums below made the final cut. All of them are worthy of your time, attention, and support.
2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year, and I have some plans for The Sound Not The Word that will hopefully help me continue my aims for the site – namely, to explore the underground, and do my little bit to help support and promote artists within it. To that end, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that you can follow TSNTW on Facebook, which is the best place to keep up to speed on what’s happening; and any musicians, labels, and PR agents can always get in touch via the Contact tab at the top of this page.
Enough of that. Here’s the records that didn’t quite make my top 25, but deserve your attention.
Ancst – Furnace – as benefits such a title, this record is fast, angry, and leaves quite an impression. Blistering blackened crust that doesn’t over-stay its welcome, this is a strong release from one of the better bands in the scene.
Amenra – Mass VI – Another excellent offering from the Church Of Ra figureheads. Heavy, cathartic, and drenched in emotion, this is all that you’d want from Amenra.
Backswing – SOS – Beat-down hardcore normally comes across as pretty ignorant and hyper-masculine in the worst possible way, but this EP is full of feminist, anti-racist righteous rage. The title track is one of my songs of the year. It may have come out at the dying end of 2016, but it deserves more attention.
Corpse Garden – IAO 269 – Technical, progressive death metal with the sense of heart and emotional connection that this style often lacks, but really needs to succeed. Dense, and demanding time, this is an album that rewards patience.
Endless Grinning Skulls – Risus Sardonicus – Anarchist D-beat/hardcore from Nottingham, the second album from Endless Grinning Skulls combines the no-frills, raw aggression of the best crust punk with an almost forward-thinking musical perspective. Evidence that crust need not be a creative dead-end.
Green Elder – Litterfall – Traditional folk music from Paul Ravenwood (also of Twilight Fauna and Arete), Litterfall is an album that perfectly captures the feel of late autumn, as the nights are growing longer and colder, and of a sense of belonging.
Horrified – Allure of the Fallen – A much more assured, confident album that previous (and great) album …Of Despair, Allure of the Fallen saw Horrified really assert their own identity within the crowded death-doom scene.
Khazaddum – Plagues Upon Arda – Tolkein-inspired metal is normally a sure-fire description to get me to listen to something else, but Plagues Upon Arda avoided all the usual cliches, delivering instead a death metal album as powerful and proud as any dwarfen hold was at its most glorious.
Lock Howl – Pareidolia – we’re probably more familair with James McBain from his main project, Hellripper, but the debut from his post-punk project, Pareidolia, was a dark, gothic take on the genre, full of catchy song-writing and infectious hooks. Fans of Beastmilk will want to be all over this, if you’re not already.
Memoriam – For The Fallen – what do you get when a bunch of old-school British death metal veterans get together? Old-school British death metal, of course. Featuring members of bands including Bolt Thrower, Benediction, and Sacrilege, this is everything you’d hope for from such a band.
Moray – Temporal Majesty – that this EP was so over-looked is a small tragedy. Confident, assured USBM from the underground, that adds an almost Dissection-like appreciation for melody to traditional USBM power, and a raw production that only enhances the record’s qualities even further.
Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Diasdained – the most remarkable thing about Kingdsoms Disadained is that it seems to have caused some sections of the underground to look upon Illud Divinum Insanus with fondness. I can’t understand why, as this is what a return to form sounds like. Sure, the production could be better, but this is Morbid Angel being Morbid Angel, and that’s a great thing.
Necrolytic Goat Converter – Isolated Evolution – Following on from the excellent demo – one of my favourite records of last year – the debut album from this one-man DSBM project was a more eclectic, bold affair, unafraid to take risks and move in unexpected directions.
Rebel Wizard – The Warning of One – the new EP from the originator of heavy negative wizard metal did just what you’d hope a Rebel Wizard record would do – unleash a storm of furious, fast black-thrash, full of energy and violence.
Takhisis – Takhisis – One of Pope Richard’s many, many projects, Takhisis saw the Blackened Death Records mainman take on occult death-doom, full of catchy hooks, dark atmosphere, and a smartly woven narrative.
Wear Your Wounds – WYW – Whilst the new Converge album really hasn’t connected with me in any emotional sense at all, the album from vocalist Jacob Bannon as Wear Your Wounds really did. WYW is musically vast, impressively creative, and emotionally crushing.
Wildspeaker – Spreading Adder – The move to a bigger label hasn’t dimmed Wildspeaker’s righteous fire in the slightest, and Spreading Adder saw them deliver a furious, passionate album of blackened crust that absolutely nails what the genre should sound like.
Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven – Following on from Celestite in 2014, I was honestly surprised that the new album from Wolves in the Throne Room was a black metal record; but Thrice Woven saw the band largely return to the sound that had brought them to prominence initially, albeit with some new lessons learned.
Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie – For me, Immersion Trench Reverie marks the moment when Yellow Eyes really demonstrated what they’re capable of, and the combination of Weakling-esque unsettling atmosphere, frantic energy, and raw, emotional honesty should see them become one of USBM’s bigger names.