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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Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom (2016)

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Sombre Doom is the new EP from Dead Congregation. The riffing is in the same Immolation and Incantation style with simple but effective variations as on their past releases while the production is a less compresssed version of Dead Congregation’s prior album, Promulgation of the Fall, some of The Best Underground Metal of 2014. Thankfully gone are the cheesy Kerry King style leads and guitarists AV and TK have markedly improved the song structure.

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Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)

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Review contributed to Death Metal Underground by the Peckerwood Boys. The audio review may be heard here.

Yep, just me here. A new Metallica album of all 45 rpms of pure American metal! 180 grams, limited to 500 copies. I’m gonna spin this bitch like NASCAR!

Lookin’ under the hood here, you got your Black Album riffs, you got your Pantera, and that sir, that’s gonna get you over to your cousin’s house faster than her boyfriend so you can propose to her. Now this album right here has really got me saying, “I’m glad, I’m glad it was Cliff!” That Master of Muppets there album had a lot on it I couldn’t understand in it. It was like tryin’ to make sense of one of them pieces of paper with scribbles on it, them black scribbles man.

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Kretchmer – Music in the key of Major (2016)

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Article by Lance Viggiano.

2016 has been a dismal year for metal in terms of albums one might want to carry with them for the rest of their aimless and futile material embodiment. Fortunately, other genres are not so bereft of endearing symbolic language. Kretchmer is an electro composer who draws from the “braindance” acid of middle period Aphex Twin and the romantic melodic sensibilities of Kraftwerk. Each track possess an underlying narrative whose structure reveals itself via the gradual buildup of layers to a moderate density. A primary motif is looped or varied upon through the course of a given track. To further fill space, chords occupy the background and often provide a resolve to the melody as it cycles. Par for the course for this music, the drum and synth bass tracks play with the open space in between musical themes and function as harmonic rather than strictly rhythmic components. The emergent polyphonic circuitry pays tribute to classical sensibilities but eschews the theatrical; drawing instead from the grounded drama of the moving body.

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