2017 Favourites – Part I

It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I was writing my list for 2016… and yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed. 2017 has been a very busy year, and very trying in parts. As a result, I’ve had less time and energy for The Sound Not That Word than at any time before, which has resulted in less reviews being posted. It’s something I’m still not entirely sure how to balance, and may well see my writing take on different forms in the coming year. We shall see.

Anyway. Enough of that for now. Everywhere else is doing lists, and so am I. Writing this is a good opportunity to go over releases from the year, to remember how good some were, and to give coverage to some I never got to write about. As always, these are my favourites – better records may have been released this year, but these are the ones I enjoyed most. The first twenty will be in alphabetical order, over two posts; with the top five given their own ranking. Enjoy!

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Caïna / Cara Neir – Split

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Label: Broken Limbs Recordings

This was an unexpected surprise. I had thought that Christ Clad In White Phosphorous was to be Caïna’s final recorded output, but evidently not, as this split with blackened crust masters Cara Neir has emerged. Each band has a single track, though that’s all that both bands need to demonstrate their talent and unorthodox natures. Whilst both bands may have different sounds, it’s safe to say that their mentalities are comparable, making this split a bittersweet triumph – triumphant because of its undeniable quality, but bittersweet as this now marks the last output of Caïna to be committed to tape.

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2016 Favourites – And The Rest

2016 has been the year that saw me listen to, and review, more music than ever before. For every release that gets reviewed, there’s several that I don’t have the time to write something on; or that I listen to, but simply don’t get excited over. It’s also worth bearing in mind the purposes of this blog – exploring the underground. With the odd exception (such as the new Darkthrone), I have no interest in writing in the “big” releases; I want to help give some exposure and coverage to the small and underground, not go chasing whatever review or feature will get me the most hits. I’d also point out that it’s easy to lose sense of what actually is mainstream and underground when you spend so much time immersed in music. Sure, everyone may have access to Bandcamp and Youtube and a legion of Spotify recommendations, but  it’s easy to overestimate just how big our favourite bands are.

That said, there’s still some mainstream releases I’ve really enjoyed this year and want to share some thoughts on in another post. But here, I want to take the time to give shout-outs to those more underground releases which didn’t quite make the cut for my list of 25 favourites of the year.

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Siberian Hell Sounds – Svengali

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Label: Art As Catharsis Records

Svengali is not an album for those who like their music to rely on the subtle or hidden. This seventeen minute of blackened crust from Siberian Hell Sounds is a furious fist to the face, a raging whirlwind of violence that takes absolutely no prisoners. There are no grand pretensions here, no need to spend hours listening until each songs ‘clicks’ and it makes sense; this EP is negativity given form, expressed in the most direct way possible. Unrelentingly bleak, it is a fine example of just how powerful blackened crust can be.

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Rest – Rest (self-titled)

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Label: Third I Rex

For all its nihilism and intended obscurity, it’s interesting to note how black metal has gone from being a fringe movement within metal to one of the most widely listened to sub-genres. Its satanic, blasphemous influence can be found in all sorts of places these days, adding further edge and intensity to musical styles that were often already defined by those aspects. Blackened hardcore is one such style, and Rest follow in the footsteps of bands such as All Pigs Must Die and The Secret, with their self-titled debut EP being a fifteen minute blast of hardcore violence and black metal frostiness. It might not do anything too new with the style for the most part, but its passion and intensity are more than enough to make this record more than worth your time.

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