Every so often, a band will come your way that remind you why you feel in love with hardcore in the first place; where their blend of melody and hard-hitting riffs combine in those energetic, intense ways that take you back to your youth, making you feel like a teenager again in the best way possible. It’s that feeling that Eisberg give me, and never more so than on their new record Few Will Remain. Striking a masterful balance between the melodic and the brutal, with a sincerity and sense of conviction that cannot be faked, this release is one that exemplifies all that is good in hardcore. It’s been a long time coming – five years since their last tape, and seven since their original demo – but the wait has been more than worth it.
Though it was released in 2016, it feels like 2017 is the year when people really started to take notice of Animus. The debut album of Venom Prison has seen the young band work their way to the fore-front of underground death metal in the UK, with a relentless touring schedule seeing the profile of the band constantly rise. It’s only likely to get bigger in 2018, with a tour with Trivium leading even The Guardian to pay attention to the band.
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.