This edition of short reviews take in some very interesting stuff, including one of my favourite releases of the year (which is it? Read on to find out!). It also features a split that, though I find it flawed musically, I can’t help but want to emphasise how much I love it for what it tries to do, and how important it will be to some people. There’s a real mix of the underground and bigger names, with three of the six releases being put out without label support.
So, this month, we have melodic punk; crusty powerviolence; not-actually-war-metal; noise rock; thrash/heavy metal; goth-laced metal that all-but resurrects the spirit of Sister; and blissful blackgaze. Enjoy!
One of the most prolific names in extreme and experimental music, Gnaw Their Tongues (Maurice De Jong) is back with Genocidal Majesty, an album that delivers exactly what the title promises. Blending nihilistic black metal aesthetics with harsh noise, this is not an album to relax to. This is an album that sounds like death, filled with harsh and rumbling drones, tortured strings like shards of broken glass, and vocals drawn the deepest pits of human suffering – and that’s without considering the contributions from Chip King of The Body. Genocidal Majesty is an album where nightmares stalk the earth in the ruins of human civilization, constructing temples made of bone, where the choirs inside sing songs of damnation and suffering. Exactly what you’d hope for from Gnaw Their Tongues, then.
And so to the end; here, after a few hundred records, and lots of thought, are the five records I consider to be the best released this year. It’s interesting to note that, whilst 2017 has generally been considered a strong year for death metal, it’s black metal which dominates my list – there were lots of good death metal releases, but none I felt that matched these five. Feel free to disagree, and there’s some strong albums that didn’t make the final cut, but this is a rock-sold five that have, in large part, defined 2017 for me. Enjoy!
The solo project of Josh Graham, IIVII (pronounced “ivy”) have returned from 2015’s outer-space ambient fiction of Colony, with further tales from beyond our world. But whereas Colony told a tale of loneliness that emphasized the void between the stars, new album Invasion draws its fear not from being alone, but from learning that there is some kind of intelligence out there, and it does not come in peace. Though it is more immediate than its predecessor, and its narrative is more obvious, neither of these elements are to the detriment of Invasion, which is a strong continuation for IIVII.
It doesn’t feel like it was long since the first album from Wiegedood was released, with the Church Of Ra affiliated band unleashing a masterclass in modern black metal that rightly saw them lavished with praise. In the almost two years since the release of De Doden Hebben Het Goeg, the band have been touring and generally building upon the buzz surrounding them, meaning that expectations are high for the follow-up. Now that it’s here, does De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II meet them? The answer is: absolutely. It takes all that was good about the debut and doubles down on it, resulting in an album that is intense, captivating, and sure to be recognised as one of 2017’s finest.
Death Poems is a very deceptive album. Whilst, on the surface, it may seem to be front-loaded towards the heavy and oppressive, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that this is an album of remarkable subtlety and intelligence. For sure, there is plenty of darkness and despair here, with lumbering sludge-covered riffs backed up by bone-crushing drums and desperate screams. But equally, there are just as many moments when The Fifth Alliance break free from raw, primeval violence, adding hardcore and post-metal elements to the music, and it transcends in to something remarkably cathartic and atmospheric. It’s easy to be dismissive about anyone dabbling in post-metal contrasts and arrangements these days, with many considering the best days of the style to be well and truly gone; but with Death Poems, there is the clear feeling that this is the only way to adequately express what the band intended to put across, with their emotions raw and bleeding. And as such, it feels refreshingly honest, possessing an urgency and force that is so often lacking in this style.
Here’s the fourth part of my 2015 A-Z favourites. One more post remains after this one, containing my 5 favourites, so if there was a record notable by its omission, there’s every chance it will be in my top 5. If you missed the previous posts, then you can always go back and read through parts one, two, and three.