December 20, 2016

Trevor Proctor's Top 25 Albums of 2016

The standard of albums we've been lucky enough to hear during 2016 has been exemplary to say the least. It's been another sterling year with some seriously good albums from both new and established artists.
The only down side with a standard so high is trying to keep this list at 25 - when I look at the quality of albums there just wasn't room for it shows me just how healthy our underground thankfully is at present. It's very easy to be an armchair critic when reading year end lists and no two are ever the same but whilst you may not agree with the selection or ranking of the albums featured here I don't think anyone can question the high standard of music. All previous reviews/interviews are linked, as are band and label details so it's just a matter of clicking on whatever grabs your attention to be brought straight to the relevant site - hopefully there's something here that'll spark your interest.

In what's starting to become a bit of a tradition for me I've again tied a number of titles for the number one spot - three fantastic albums that I've found it impossible to separate or split. Again, this isn't a cop out by me in any way, more a reflection of the quality of release we've been bombarded with during the year, and also the reason my list finishes at 23. There are also a few albums such as Antaeus and Mortem that could well have featured but are missing due to the fact I won't get my hands on them until Christmas.

2016 has also been a phenomenal year for myself here at The Lair of Filth - it's been the first complete year where I've been responsible for selecting, writing, posting and promoting all music reviews, interviews and posts, and it has also been a year where we've seen The Lair's support and readership grow more, and at a faster rate, than ever before. 
Many new alliances have been forged with bands, labels and promoters whilst existing ties have been strengthened and I would like to take this opportunity to thank every band, label and promoter that has supported The Lair of Filth in any way during 2016. 

I'd also like to thank Jude for letting me take over the reigns of The Lair, Jude, your trust in letting me do so is much appreciated. As always, I'd also like to thank my extremely tolerant fiancee, Audrey, for coping with the torture I've subjected her and her ears to during the year.

Also, and most importantly, I'd like to express my gratitude and thanks to you, the reader, for your support during the year - I appreciate every single post view very much so THANK YOU for your continued support. 

Debut album from New Zealand's Verberis which was reviewed here, "At times you’d easily forget this is a debut album as with Vexamen Verberis have not only made the transition from demo to album look easy, they’ve also raised the bar to a height many recently formed bands will fail to reach on more than one attempt."

Another debut album, this time from Canada's Chthe'ilist. A very impressive album, featuring a very complex and proficient Death Metal sound that never veers down the route of excessive technicality.

21. Master of Cruelty - Archaic Visions of the Underworld - Blood Harvest Records / Deathrash Armageddon.

Second album from Paraguay's Master of Cruelty which was reviewed here just a few weeks ago, "With ‘Archaic Visions of the Underworld’ Master of Cruelty has delivered an exceptional album that most certainly upholds the excellent reputation of both their label and South America – a band to watch and support for sure."

Yet another debut album from Spain's Altarage, Blackened Death Metal of the highest order from a band to most definitely keep on your radar.

19. Autokrator - The Obedience to Authority - Larval ProductionsGodz ov War Productions.

Unbelievably good second album from French band Autokrator, the members of which were interviewed here in May and described their music as "suffocating death metal, with an industrial touch." 

18. Blood Division - Traitors to the Gallows - Cyclopean Eye Productions.

The debut album from Singapore's Blood Division was reviewed here in October, "...what we have here is a very strong album of high tempo, no bullshit, no frills Crust/Black/Thrash."

Despite forming in 2007 this was Spire's debut full length album, reviewed here in August, "...These contrasts were perfectly summed up by the press release which stated “Above all, Entropy is an album of stark contrasts - speed/sloth, density/space, tension/resolution - brought into frightening focus; it leaves everything and nothing to the listener. The gates have both opened and closed, and there stands the Spire, your Entropy all but guaranteed.”

16. AUM - Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Definitely one of the year's most underrated albums, sublime Sepulchral Death Metal from France - DO NOT MISS THIS if you're a fan of Cavernous Death Metal, a fantastic album, just don't let it slip your radar - brilliant from start to finish.

15. Suspiral - Delve into the Mysteries of Transcendence - Equinox DiscosI, Voidhanger Records.

Another debut full length, this time from Spain's Suspiral, three tracks spanning over 33 minutes featuring some very impressive Black/Death Metal and yet another relatively new band to watch for.

By strange coincidence I picked this CD at random in August then a few weeks later I was approached bu Rudo from Larval Productions who asked me if I'd be interested in carrying out an interview with Caveman Cult, an opportunity I seized without hesitation. Yet another debut album, featuring some seriously good bestial Black/Death Metal.

Black/Death metal from one of Sweden's finest bands who should need no introduction.

12. Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä - 20 Buck Spin / Svart Records.

Probably the biggest "curve ball" on this list - their strongest album yet, a superb seventy minute trip into the twisted, psychedelic world of Oranssi Pazuzu

11. Front - Iron Overkill - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Another sterling debut, this time from Finland's Front. Iron Overkill was reviewed here in May, "...efficiently destructive Front take no prisoners as they batter their way through eight tracks of the most punishing yet catchiest music you’ll have heard recently - Thrash and War Metal fans alike will lap this up."

Colorado's Blood Incantation has been creating a significant buzz since their inception in 2011. With three exceptional demos, an EP and a split they shared with Spectral Voice released as far as 2015 they made the transition to full length without a problem.

9. Uada - Devoid of Light - Eisenwald Tonschmiede.

It's been a very successful year for Portland's Uada, a year which has seen their profile and popularity soar due to many high profile live shows and the release of their debut album. Not only a debut album but also their first official music release, with 'Devoid of Light' Uada achieved a standard many bands struggle to achieve over a number of albums. Exceptionally strong US Black Metal, I hope 2017 is as successful for Uada as 2016.

8. Pale Mist - Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls - Sinister Stench Productions.

Underground Black Metal from the U.K. The Lair of Filth had the privilege of an in-depth interview and exclusive album stream in July - Pale Mist stated "The new album is another highlight because it completely crushes everything I have done previously. Not just by a little, but by a lot. Not just a step up, but a step outside of myself. The amount of time, effort as well as all the inspiration put into it has made it that. It will be a long time before I can write something of such calibre, but I am in no rush…"

7. Inquisition - Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith - Season of Mist / Blasphemous Attack ProductionsMushantufe Productions.

Seventh album from Inquisition and they remain one of the most unique, and most important, voices within Black Metal. 

6. Bestial Raids - Master Satan's Witchery  - Nuclear War Now! Productions.

Just over thirty minutes of pure aural assault that's as intense as it is fierce - no let up, and none needed from one of Poland's greatest bands.

5. Various - Ancient Meat Revived - A Tribute to Cold Meat Industry - Iron Bonehead Productions.

A compilation album created in tribute to Swedish label Cold Meat Industry. This features a track each from some of our underground's finest bands - Sinistrous DiabolusSpireTemple NightsideGrave Upheaval and Antediluvian.

4. A.M.S.G. - Hostis Universi Generis - Profound Lore Records / Iron Bonehead Productions.

Phenomenal second album from Canada's A.M.S.G. The term "boundary pushing" is applied to music too easily in recent times but is a term you could most definitely apply to A.M.S.G., frequent mellower moments, samples and saxophone combine nicely to create a varied and seriously good album.

3. Death Fetishist - Clandestine Sacrament - Debemur Morti Productions.

Clandestine Sacrament was reviewed here in October, "Matron Thorn’s creativity is second to none, he’s a true pioneer and genius within our underground whose creativity seems to know no limits and with Death Fetishist he, G. Nefarious and all other musicians involved have created one of the year’s most unique listens – if you like the music of Ævangelist you’ll no doubt love this."

Reviewed here in July, "Make no mistake about it, 'The Hecatomb' is definitely one of the year’s most important releases and showcases an underground ‘dream team' line-up playing and writing at the very top of their game. 'The Hecatomb' was perfectly summed up at the end of the press release which stated “A slow descent into Hell is an oft-misused/abused appellation for Sepulchral Death Metal, but it truly is done justice here. Abyssal sound devoted to and driven by death worship: Temple Nightside’s The Hecatomb shall stand as a new golden pillar of fathomless morbidity.” 

Cultes des Ghoules are one of our underground's most unique yet secretive entities. Their previous releases are nothing short of sublime, and I class 'Spectres over Transylvania' as one of my all-time favourite EPs. This album seemed to land with very little advance notice or publicity but that's the beauty of a band as talented as this, you don't need any hype. Stunningly good album with Cultes des Ghoules spoiling us with two discs featuring well over ninety minutes of some of the best Black Metal you're likely to hear.

1. Blut Aus Nord + Ævangelist - Codex Obscura Nomina - Debemur Morti Productions.

Reviewed in June this has been at the top of the pile for me since then. " Make no mistake about it; this is one of the best splits you’ll ever hear – two true pioneers of extreme music bypassing any boundaries that may prohibit their peers to deliver some of their most inventive, yet most lethal music yet, another new direction for Blut Aus Nord and Ævangelist doing what they do best. Cast aside your preconceptions of extreme music and get stuck in. A very easy 10/10."

One of the year's most anticipated, and most talked about releases. Hero was reviewed here. "A lot of today’s music is too accessible and immediately gratifying but unlike this mass produced muck an album like ‘Hero’ just gets better with every listen. Undoubtedly a grower of an album and one that reveals its qualities a little more with every listen – give this the attention it deserves and you’ll be presented with one of the year’s most rewarding listens."

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