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Editor’s Choice: What We Missed in 2016

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Already one month into 2017, I’ve come across more music than I know what to do with. Much of it is, of course, garbage. Some of it, though, is quality, but for whatever reason will never make it into any serious feature on this website. In 2016, I kept a running list of all the releases which I enjoyed, but never got around to including in any other articles. Before we get too deep into 2017 (aren’t we there?) I thought I’d share a few things that crossed my desk and piqued my interest, but ultimately never fit anywhere else. These will be brief reviews, but each of these releases deserves the same attention you’re going to give to the new Pig Destroyer whenever it finally drops.

First of all and to welcome our new president, the only joke metal band I’ve ever given a shit about, possibly because unlike GWAR and Steel Panther, I never for an instant feel that Anal Trump have positioned me, the listener as the butt of the joke. Which isn’t to say the joke isn’t on us, because hoo boy is it, and the end of Western Democracy is the punchline, but at least the soundtrack will be good. In all seriousness, even Rob Crow from Pinback and Travis Ryan from Cattle Decap couldn’t make the sound on Anal Cunt great on its own, but this is a loving, winking, pussy-grabbing tribute to someone Seth Putnam would have been absolutely right about.

Back in June, Denton, Texas’s Creeping Death delivered this three-song EP of impossibly moshy Swedish death metal worship. Pound for pound it’s every bit as vicious as new records in the same style by Trap Them and Gatecreeper, with bigger and more ignorant breakdowns than both and besides I have a huge soft spot for this stuff.

More HM-2 worship, this time actually from Stockholm, Sweden and with an even more cavernous low-end. Lifeblind authentically sound like they could be some long-lost OG death metal outfit and, since they have virtually no available information, for all I know they could be.

Vaguely industrial and thrashy, Finalnd’s Melding Plague play black metal with a focus on catchy Immortal-ish riffs. To quote the comment section: more like this, please.

Vaguely doomed atonal death metal, Convulsing slot right into the Pyrrhon-Gorguts-Ulcerate shelf of my library. The project fits in so well, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised if a bigger label scoops it up for a future album. One notable curveball: the penultimate track on Errata is actually a cover of “The Sky Moves Sideways” by Steven Wilson’s influential prog band Porcupine Tree. Didn’t see that coming.

Speaking of Steven Wilson, the UK’s Rootwork play a roughly Torche-ish style of poppy stoner metal, but their vocal inflection reminds me a great deal of Wilson’s best moments in Porcupine Tree.

Brothers Ben and Zach Guzman play blasting-but-chunky death metal together as No Trust and, in the tradition of fraternal metal groups like Nifilheim, their songs are tight and muscular. Their latest, Heavy Hand reminds me in a great way of the first few Bolzer releases.

Misanthrope the first full-length by Minneapolis’s No Funeral, pumps a whole lot of sewage into its brief runtime. The band’s hello-from-the-gutter approach to sludge and shrieking high end remind me of Fister, albeit with fewer harrowing samples.

Take a moment and realize that the cover of The Four Weapons by Children of the Reptile features an RPG-style band of adventurers overlooking a majestic field and a… Zaku from Mobile Suit Gundam. This may be the single nerdiest collection of songs this site’s ever covered. The obsession with the seminal anime series persists in the EP itself on the track “Sieg Zeon”. Underneath the pop culture signifiers, though, is a supremely talented traditional speed metal band every bit as worthy as your Eternal Champions and Sumerlands.

Furthering the classic metal vein, Portland Maine ‘s Sunrunner embellish the style with some interesting progressive guitar flourishes, folk elements and a sort of humbly amateurish stoner metal vocal approach (with nice harmonies, natch!) It’s a mix I’ve never exactly heard before, with lots of potential, though the songs could be more memorable.

The West Virginia anarchists in Rookscare offer up some meditative hippie dippie guitar music with Ecotone which, at its best, does capture a little of the ol’ Agalloch/Wolves in the Throne Room spirit.

Bellowing and noisy, Dublin’s Destriers remind me every so often of the best whale-heavy hardcore bands that ran alongside the Boston/Hydra Head scene but made their homes in Europe, like Breach. I’ve been waiting for someone new to give this style the old college try, and Destriers do so with gusto on Cynosure.

Some readers may remember Mike Martin from my interview with Pink City, who never got the audience they deserved and are now on-hold without releasing their second record. Since then, Martin’s led his vocal pipes to False Pleasures, a more straightforward and altogether noisy project. Dig that absolutely disgusting guitar tone.

Last but not least, Boston Doom supergroup Magic Circle can’t get new music into my ears fast enough. Their 2015 offering, Journey Blind only grows in my esteem as time passed. I cherish that record. The outfit hasn’t done anything new, but this live radio session demonstrates, if anything, just how accurately they play those songs live.

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