Watain – Reaping Death (2016)

Article by David Rosales.

I. Where is the music?

It is very rare to find a general fan of black metal today who has not at least heard of the name of Watain. The kind of fame it has attained, however, is the kind that is mostly based on peripheral affairs rather than the art which Watain is supposed to dedicate itself to. Watain is the kind of ‘entity’ (as most of these bands are now given to call themselves) that is surrounded by a nebulous aura which may at first, if one is inclined to be generous in providing the benefit of the doubt, seem like an hint of something truly profound going on. Now, whether that is the case in regards to the real, transcendent or philosophical knowledge or experience of the people behind Watain is not for the writer to say. On the other hand, the music itself does not seem to display any of the more-than-human qualities it should if one is to believe all the hype. In fact, it reveals itself as a very mundane affair when one is given to delve into a holistic examination of the music in itself, and even more so when seen in relation to the extra-musical portions of the ‘entity’.

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Kshatriya – Vsque ad Sidera Vsque ad Inferos (2016)

An album judged some of The Best Underground Metal of 2016 but hitherto had yet to receive a dedicated review.

Kshatriya‘s Vsque ad Sidera Vsque ad Inferos is a black metal album celebrating the prehistoric conquest of everything from Ireland to India by pastoral Proto-Indo-European peoples from their urheimat located in the northern reaches of the Pontic-Caspian steppe in what is now Russia and Ukraine. The Indo-Europeans were a martial race among the first peoples to domesticate horses, worshiped the sky father Dyeus Pater, and spoke antecessor of most European languages.

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Gorefest – Mindloss (1991)

Before lapsing into embryonic death ’n’ roll on their second LP False (1992), Gorefest were among the earliest Dutch proponents of solid bread-and-butter death metal with a sense of melodic contour joining the many rhythm riffs into coherent songs which reach a point of focus in their cycles, forcing re-interpretation of its parts. The early style more or less complete on their demo recordings was brought to a fuller and more refined form on the 1991 debut album Mindloss.

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Autechre – elseq 1–5 (2016)


Article by Lance Viggiano.

Autechre‘s elseq 1-5 is a four hour anthology consisting of five individual EPs, each compiled together loosely upon conceptual coherence between the constituent tracks. elseq 1-5 is an exercise in release format rather than just content; the artists behind Autechre seek to utilize the immediacy of the digital age, releasing tracks “as they go” without traditional limitations imposed by the “album.” Granted of course this collection appeared as a hulking and impenetrable dump rather than a sequence. This point bears worth remembering as this overview proceeds as the temptation to view elseq 1-5 as a complete work, or works, is ingrained in popular habits.

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Nécropole – Nécropole (2016)

Necropole are a French group who play flowing melodic black metal in the style of Graveland and the Quebecois with riffing heavily influenced by Gorgoroth. Necropole is an anthology CD collecting both of Necropole’s earlier demos, Atavisme… and Ostara, that were released on cassette only but readily heard through streaming on Youtube. Hopefully Necropole’s debut album will not be titled Necropole too to avoid confusion.

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The Best Underground Metal of 2016

2016 is over. The funderground mentality continued spreading forth, infesting metal over the last year just the same as it had in the decades past the genre’s artistic high-point in the early nineties. Rehashes of past greats pandering to a lowest common denominator audience continue to dominate the release schedules of metal labels all too willing to please the lemmings with music fit to safely ignore during drunken socializing. Ever-flowing streams of posers are desperate to be rock stars, pumping out plagiarism, and paying their way to record deals. File sharing and streaming reducing the cost of hearing new music to essentially nothing has led fans to constantly consume whatever is new regardless of quality. However the purging is at last at hand. The day of doom is here. The filth who have lied and corrupted the underground must be cleansed while the commendable elite few will remain.

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Serpent Ascending – Ananku (2016)

Ananku is a term from the Tamil language describing the otherworldly and awesome power of sublime natural places and objects to overwhelm mankind into submission to their will by merely the perception of them. Jarno Nurmi of Serpent Ascending accomplishes this musically on his album of the same name by composing harmonized heavy and black metal style leads atop a death metal rhythmic basic into occult blackened narratives. Riffs are phrased and repeat to numerologically unfold, revealing profound and novel melodic leads as if the petals of a flower gradually blooming into gnostic truth when bathed in unconquered light.

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Veneror – Percussimus Foedus cum Morte (2013)


Article by Lance Viggiano.

Veneror create long, flowing, compositions in the style of Sacramentum which carry a melancholic but sinister emotive pallet through melodious arpeggiated twin guitar harmonies. Structurally these songs cycle in between two or three motifs yet eschews a sense of heightened dynamics while coarse vocals ride atop giving a sense of continuity rather than circularity. This is further reinforced by the chromatic development which carries itself into reprieves which close each section with sparsity before jaunting into the next. The resultant unbroken sequence of phrases is not unlike what Revenant would use to great effect on their infamous and only full length album.

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Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (2016)


Article by Lance Viggiano

Darkthrone have spent the records FOAD through The Underground Resistance regressing into their pre-Celtic Frost influences. Sensing their customers’ growing unpopularity with this black ‘n’ roll approach, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto try to save face on Artic Thunder by regressing into their own work. The upshot is that nobody but Miller Lite Throne can sell mediocre riffs in cyclical songs as well as these two. The downshift is that they cannot muster enough enthusiasm or energy to play their own ideas with the dedication of a devoted bar-tier cover band.

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Mortalized – 呪われた …Complete Mortality (2016)

Mortalized was the other grindcore band of Gridlink guitarist and riff master Takafumi Matsubara呪われた …Complete Mortality is the total and complete collection of everything the Japanese grindcore legends ever recorded. Since Mortalized is a grindcore band, Complete Mortality is effectively a giant collection of effective riffs in various styles: grindcore, death metal, heavy metal, black metal, Gothenburg, hardcore, post-hardcore, crust, speed metal, you name it and Matsubara probably had an original riff resembling that style of metal or hardcore on this release. Complete Mortality is a true riff bible from the mind of an incredibly creative and talented guitarist.

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