None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is an album every bit as heavy as you’d hope, what with a title like that. The latest record from Churchburn is 45 minutes of aural punishment, filled with tar-drenched sludge riffs, an aura of extreme doom malevolence, and shot through with crust-inspired dirt. It’s the sound of veteran musicians who are masters of their craft, using all their experience to summon up the sounds of hurt and viciousness, with the end results being as impressive as they are crushing.
The key with good crust (and all its related styles) is conviction. It’s not a genre that’s high on innovation, so coming across as if you actually care about what you’re playing and shouting about matters immensely. Crust/sludge trio Pillärs absolutely nail that point, with Abandoned coming across like the best parts of His Hero Is Gone and The Melvins, all laced through with a real sense of urgency and passion. This is music that won’t take the injustices of the world lying down.
It’s easy to feel angry and hopeless these days, what with the political shitstorms that are Trump, Brexit, and the rise of corporations controlling our lives like some quietly creeping dystopian sci-fi plot. On their demo tape, Baron Soil provide the perfect soundtrack for such anger and circumstances, channeling their rage in to four short tracks of melodic crust, that move with real purpose and urgency. It’s short, fast, and leaves me wanting more – just as a demo should.
There’s a lot of problems faced by underground bands when getting their music released. Arguably, the biggest one is getting people outside of your circle of friends to actually care about what you’re doing. Probably the second biggest problem – and the one that has hamstrung so, so many releases I’ve come across – is that of your music having the production it deserves. Such is the case for anarchist metal band Rookscare on their EP Ecotone. It is a brave, adventurous piece of music, exploring the overlap between nature and technology with varied, interesting songs that are well worth spending time. The trouble is, you may have a hard time hearing the real strengths of those songs due to a quiet, unflattering production. Devote enough time to it though, and you’ll realise that Ecotone rewards such patience.
And so, to my five favourite albums of 2016. There’s been a lot of good stuff released this year, some of which I haven’t been able to spend as much time with as I’d ordinarily like, or which I suspect may need more time for me to fully appreciate them – I intend on writing one further end of year post, taking in at least some of those releases, plus a few other bits from 2016.
As with last year, my top five is in order; ranking them has been difficult, but I feel quite confident in the order I’m placing them in, even if there wasn’t much between most of them. On to the list!
It starts gently enough. Opening track “Fathom” spends plenty of time setting the scene and tone, with softly sung vocals, the sound of sea and wind, and the most sedate of tempos. It’s at once a very deceptive introduction, soon giving way to heaviness and violence, but also utterly in fitting with the broader feel of Covenant Of Teeth. What Morrow have created here is a deeply emotional, passionate mix of crust and post-metal, self-described as emocrust, full of heart and power. It’s an unorthodox mix, but the band make it sound so utterly natural and captivating that you wonder why more people aren’t making music like this.
Oh, this is nasty. Blackened crust is definitely at the stage now where it’s reaching peak mass, and whilst I was initially a huge advocate of the sub-genre (and still am), it’s impossible to deny that an increasing number of bands and releases are missing the edge that initially made the style so appealing. The best crust should take all the harsh edges and nastiness of punk and amplify them; likewise, black metal is an outsider genre, and benefits from retaining that “fuck you” attitude. Perhaps it’s a case of over-saturation or desensitisation, but I’m hearing those qualities in less bands that I’d expect to recently. But on this, the new 7″ by Sangus entitled Saevitia, those abrasive qualities are all present and accounted for, and it makes a wonderfully nasty listen, full of the promise of death and violence.