Thursday, December 22, 2016

Top 10 albums of 2016 (aka maybe establishing a tradition)


1. True Moon - s/t

One can safely say I was pre-determined to like this one as it is Karolina Engdahl's (Vånna Inget's vocalist) other project, and I absolutely adore Karolina's voice and Vånna Inget in general. I daresay my expectations were more than met, and then some. True Moon, with their debut release, strike all the right nerves in me. If I had to describe it, it is like a postpunk-ish thing that borrows '80s darkwave and at times even electro elements, then rendering them in a personal manner and creating this incredible result.



2. This Is Nowhere - Music to Relapse

This phenomenon of a band may theoretically be characterized and categorized under certain genres and labels, but a closer look reveals an abyss for you to explore. Their debut album last year, although still great, I can say it missed the great expectations by half an inch. This one right here... well, it just leaves you speechless. Stepping on Monster Magnet, Kyuss and Velvet Underground at the same time (among many others of course), here we have a collection of tracks that are created only once in a decade or so.


3. Sarabante - Poisonous Legacy

How can an absolutely perfect debut album be topped? Well, Poisonous Legacy is the answer. Sarabante return even more focused, darker, angrier and more dystopic, while melodic at the same time. The overall result is just crushing and the album is consumed every time in one sip.


4. Birthday Kicks - Black Echo Trap

Although I was anticipating their first full-length release (after that great debut 7" single) while Birthday Kicks were taking their sweet time completing it, this one sure took me by surprise. It was just too good; warm and fuzzy rock 'n' roll flowing just naturally and enjoyably. This is an album that appeals to garage rock fans, to stoner fans, to psychedelic rock fans; it simply combines all the best elements of just everything.


5. Καταχνιά - Στη Σκιά Μιας Λαιμητόμου (Katachnia - Sti Skia Mias Lemitomou)

Again, a sophomore release that manages to, not only live up to its predecessor's legacy, but also extend it even further. Katachnia continue to combine the crust punk principles with the greek punk values maintaining an absolutely personal sound and staying true to the tradition they have set.


6. UXO - s/t

Those who know me, even not very much, also know that I'm a sucker for some Unsane-like noise rock. Well, this is my dose for 2016. Today Is the Day's Steve Austin and Unsane's Chris Spencer are teaming up for this project and it just ruled my speakers for weeks. If you know what I'm talking about, you know this rocks.



7. Touché Amoré - Stage Four

What is this? Emo? Screamo? Any other shit the kids nowadays are listening to? Don't care. And when a concidence is repeated, well, it doesn't constitute a concidence anymore. I had loved 2014's Is Survived By but, to be honest, I hadn't really put Touché Amoré really high in my conscience. Stage Four came to change that and to make me a fan. It's surprising how naturally this album flows, how melodic, emotional and powerful it is at the same time. I will keep these guys close from now on.


8. Oathbreaker - Rheia

Avant-garde blackmetal/shoegaze anyone? This could be a dry description of Oathbreaker, but it in no way can contain everything that is encased in this album. Caro Tanghe doesn't only scream anymore (not that we don't absolutely love her when she does), but has developed to a full leading persona. Oathbreaker take things several steps further with Rheia and, while until now you could more or less compare them with other bands, now they just play on a league of their own.



9. Ruined Families - Education

This one just exploded on our faces and it just is beyond words. This is hardcore punk, mathcore, post-hardcore, alternative rock and noise rock at the same time. It grabs you by the neck and doesn't leave room for even a hint of escaping. Kick in the gut, elbow on the teeth, strike between the eyes. That's what it is.


10. Minerva Superduty - Gorod Zero
I'll be honest. I never "understood" mathcore. I have rarely put on such music to listen to at home. And I still don't know what exactly it is that has made me love this album so much. Maybe it's their uncompromised hardcore character, maybe the raw despair that flows through the speakers. All in all, Minerva Superduty confuse me. I don't know how they do what they do, or why. All I know is that Gorod Zero has me hooked.



Runners-up:

Omega Monolith - Fungus: I have felt compelled to write about this particular piece of work several months back. Omega Monolith seem to have reached very close to the implementation of their vision, as they've created an album that lives and breathes of its own. You must experience it; especially live, if you get the chance.
Brainbombs - Souvenirs: The sickos from Sweden strike back after 3 years. I haven't really been able to put my finger exactly on what it is that I find appealing about these guys; maybe it's the raw way thυ deliver their art or that they honestly don't consider it as art at all, or that they would never even think of releasing records if a label didn't push them to. And that all these are elements that find their way into their music.

Sleep of Monsters - II: Poison Garden: I couldn't even begin to tell you how much of a Babylon Whores fanboy I have been and the Sleep of Monsters' debut release in 2013 made me rejoice. Poison Garden takes over where Produces Reason left off, in a more melodic, mellow and choral way. 

Cyanna Mercury - Archetypes: This is a wonder I could never anticipate from a Greek band. It almost sounds unconventional compared to the rest of the Greek underground scene. Dark folk, gothic, traditional greek rhythms, psychedelic rock. Cyanna Mercury have already made their mark with their debut release and I can't wait for their next steps.
Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct: I don't even feel the need to justify myself here. I won't deny the nostalgia factor, but this is purely good Metallica music, as it is supposed to be. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, although a bit annoyingly faithful to the 7-minute-long song stereotype, summarizes perfectly the Metallica sound from Master of Puppets to Reload. If you're a Metallica fan, you can't not love this one.