Abusement Park: Top 15 of 2016

This is one of my most favorite times of the year. It allows us to take a look at all the great releases that have come out this year, and this year there have certainly been a ton of them. What I look at the most in my end of the year list is albums that demanded repeat listens. The order is not the most important thing but I suppose they are ranked. I also think the best part about this list is, literally none of these bands created this music to make this list, or any list for that matter. However, these 15 albums made my list so lets see them.

starspawn15. Blood Incantation – Starspawn (Dark Descent Records)

Who doesn’t love some really weird sci-fi Death metal? From the buzz that this album created when it dropped, it would certainly seem like very few people do not. I think this is an excellent death metal album and garnered many repeat listens. It’s drenched in atmosphere and it will certainly leave you feeling like the stargate. Favorite Track: Virtrification of Blood (Part I)

sewercide14. Sewercide – Immortalized In Suffering (Unspeakable Axe Records)

It should be no surprise that early into this  list there is a release from Unspeakable Axe, they without a doubt were the best label this year. Sewercide are a disgusting Australian death metal band. I’m pretty sure the band members recorded this in the dankest of places. It’s filled to the brim with sweet riffage and the vocal delivery is just superb. Favorite Track: Megalithic Tomb

mizmor-yodh

13. Mizmor – Yodh (Gilead Media)

Yodh by Mizmor is like one part black metal and one part doom metal. It seeps emotion and bad feelings. It also literally screams feelings of catharsis. The one man behind Mizmor makes you feel with this one. There is so much to take in with this album.  It is so good instrumentally, but the vocals really steal the show. They bring so much to this album and it becomes apparent from that first scream in the first track. That scream quite literally put a smile on my face when I heard it. I just knew I was in for a treat with Yodh. Favorite Track: i – Woe Regains My Substance

ustalost12. Ustalost – The Spoor of Vipers (Sibir Records/Gilead Media)

Ustalost is a solo project for W. Skarstad of Yellow Eyes. I could probably leave it there and not have to explain how good of a black metal album this is, but I’ll elaborate a little bit. This is progressive black metal that goes all over the place. It has incredibly dark moments as well as some bright spots. It features the use of synths pretty heavily. The bass work on this also takes it to another level. Gilead Media will be releasing the vinyl next year as well so scoop that up when the time comes. Favorite Track: IV

21002 [Converted]11. CTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule (Profound Lore Records)

This is another one of those albums that made a buzz this year, and with good reason. It quite literally sounds like the source of all your fears got ahold of some instruments and created death metal that is not of this world. This album is incredibly unique and technically crafted. The vocals do not sound human at times. I’m still not certain that playing this album at the wrong time will not summon a Lovecraftian horror into your home that will drag you into the depths of the unknown to never see what you once loved ever again. You just have to hear it for yourself. Also the slap bass, I gotta mention that. Favorite Track: Voidspawn

chasms_150010. Lycus – Chasms (Relapse Records)

Alright! We’re in the top 10 and to start it off we have the most astounding funeral doom album of the year. Lycus really impressed me with their last album Tempest, and they have impressed me further with Chasms. This is slow dreadful doom at it’s finest. Chasms is surrounded in thick heavy atmosphere. If you aren’t careful this album could crush you under it’s weight. Favorite Track: Obsidian Eyes

khemmis9. Khemmis – Hunted (20 Buck Spin)

Hunted by Khemmis is what Decibel Magazine deemed to be their album of the year, and while it may not be our #1 it’s certainly one of our favorites. It has been a wonderful year for doom metal and this album is a big reason why. Khemmis released their debut Absolution last year and I personally think Hunted is an improvement. The vocals are more triumphant and the guitar melodies hit harder. Khemmis also added elements from funeral doom that I just love. They are present in tracks such as Candlelight. It’s hard not to feel victorious after listening to this one. Favorite Track: Hunted

gatecreeper-sonoran8. Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation (Relapse Records)

I have been following Gatecreeper since they dropped their four song demo tape back in 2014. After a handful of some great splits, the wait is finally over and we have the full length. I got exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted out of this Gatecreeper full length. It’s filled to the brim with GED Riffs that get you hyped up. Honestly when I listen to this I want to punch holes in things. Gatecreeper play music that shouldn’t be trifled with. They wear their Swedish death metal influence on their sleeve proudly and they should. Favorite Track: Rotting As One

north light the way7. North – Light The Way (Prosthetic Records)

The first thing I want to say about this album is that it is beautiful. It has incredible atmosphere and it is just powerful. This album is completely immersive, and is a pleasant listening experience. It would be hard to find a more recent Post-metal album better than this one. I will also say this is one of my biggest surprises of the year. I had not even heard of North until I cam across Light the Way, but I’m glad I found it. This album has gotten many plays this year and I imagine I will keep returning to it. Favorite Track: Earthmind

nucleaus sentient6. Nucleus – Sentient (Unspeakable Axe Records)

If you have been reading everything I have written so far you may remember that I said everybody loves  really weird sci-fi death metal. Nucleus have made some really good, really weird sci-fi death metal with Sentient. The science fiction theme really works for the album since it sounds like it was brought here from the future, but also brought from the past. Nucleus have a brand of death metal that is very much old school and technical, but still very modern. I love the sideways riffs and the sporadic soloing. The subject matter of the songs are great too with subjects like the film Cube and Dan Simmons Hyperion. Favorite Track: Swarm

take over self title5. Take Over And Destroy – Take Over And Destroy (Prosthetic Records)

Take Over And Destroy have always had a sound that is hard to pin down. This album makes it even harder to pin down. They have influences from all over the place and it shows in the music. The one thing I know for certain is this is the catchiest metal album released this year. Every single one of these songs has the ability to stay with you. Each song is pretty unique from one another as well, but the whole package works as an incredible listen. The heavy riffing John Carpenter soundtrack band have delivered once again. Favorite Track: changes day to day but lets go with Bring Me the Rope

scorched-echoes4. Scorched – Echoes of Dismemberment (Unspeakable Axe Records)

Oh yes Echoes of Dismemberment, the album that has as many riffs as a Hallmark store has greeting cards. I love this album, it’s my favorite death metal album of the year without a doubt. I just keep going back to it. Much like Gatecreeper I’ve been following Scorched from demo to splits and have been anxiously awaiting a proper full length. When the full length arrived I got what I wanted. This album features flawless drumming, and groovy riffs. Steve Fuchs and Nick Carucci assault the whammy bar like it wronged their families and I love it.  The horror movie theme is done so well with the album cover, the synth music, and lyrical content. Listen to Scorched. Favorite Track: Dealings of A Gruesome Kind

spirit adrift chained to ob3. Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion (Prosthetic Records/War Crime Recordings)

Nate Garrett appears to have been the bringer of Riffs and Doom this year, having released an incredible EP as well as full length this year. Spirit Adrift bring top tier emotional doom that feels and sounds like a cathartic release. There are guitar melodies that sing, heavy riffs, and vocals that work with the music to perferction. The improvement from the EP Behind – Beyond  to Chained to Oblivion, make this album worthy of spot alone. The entire album creates a cohesive experience. There is not a single track that should go unheard, in fact its best to listen to it all in one go. The resurgence of doom metal lately has been incredible and Spirit Adrift have added to that with this one. I hope the bringer of doom and riffs brings more of both soon. Favorite Track: Chained to Oblivion

haunter2. Haunter – Thrinodia (Unsigned)

This is what I personally believe is the best black metal album released this year and if you have a label you need to listen to this album and sign Haunter. This album has incredible atmosphere. The production is polished at times but still incredibly raw. It’s hard to ask more out of black metal. Most U.S. Black metal is rooted somewhere in New York, but Haunter reside in San Antonio, Texas. They put a unique spin on their brand of black metal. There are plenty of riffs to go around, and very impressive bass lines that can be heard. It’s exceptional black metal and you just need to give it a listen. Favorite Track: Apnoeic (Polarized in Retrospective Contempt)

inter arma paradise1. Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows (Relapse Records)

Here it is the Abusement Park album of the year. Paradise Gallows was my most anticipated release of 2016 and it delivered. It not only delivered, it exceeded my expectations. Inter Arma have a spotless history of releases, and just when you think they couldn’t possibly get better they do just that. This album is about as heavy as holding onto a boulder while sinking into the ocean at times. Then at other it manages to be as beautiful as a cloudless night, sometimes both at the same time. There are amazing riffs at every turn. Inter Arma manage to bring a plethora of styles from doom, sludge, and post-metal. They then put their own progressive spin on it and have composed a modern day masterpiece and I really mean that. They try a lot of new things on this and they all worked. It’s almost unfair, but I’m thankful for this album. Favorite Track: An Archer in the Emptiness

I’ve had a great year running this blog for the first time, and have had some incredible guests on here as well as support. So as a bonus here are some #1 picks by people I interviewed, celebrities, Abusement Park season pass holders… whatever you want to call them!

Andy Leemont (Take Over And Destroy): Grave Pleasures – Funeral Party 7″

Stoney Bass (Anvil Eater Records): Vermin Womb- Decline, and Blood Incantation –  Starspawn

Young Cubs/Night Rambler Records: Downfall of Gaia – Atrophy

Steve Fuchs & Matt Kapa (Scorched): Blood Incantation – Starspawn

Dave Muntean (Nucleus): CTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule

Slade Williams (Pavel Chekov/Celestial Corrosion): Death Fetishist – Clandestine Sacrament

Brandon Kellum (American Standards): The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation, and Oathbreaker – Rheia

A.L.W. (our editor): Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan

Jeff Owens (Goya/Spirit Adrift): Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker (as Jeff put it “heaviest album of the year, in one way, if not another”)

Nate Garrett (Spirit Adrift/Gatecreeper): Vektor – Terminal Redux, and Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows. (It also just occurred to me that Nate had something to do with 3 albums on our list. If we gave out awards he’d be our dude of the year or something what a year for that guy am I right?)

Now time to look forward to 2017

-REH

Advertisements
Abusement Park: Top 15 of 2016

May we mock the notion of mercy

inter arma paradise                                   Inter Arma- Paradise Gallows (2016 Relapse Records)

Here it is, my personal most anticipated album of 2016, it is finally here. Before listening to this I wondered how in the world Inter Arma could follow up 2013’s Sky Burial and 2014’s The Cavern? In my opinion both of those releases are flawless and so incredibly unique in their nature. Inter Arma are a band that many struggle to put into a genre they have a little bit of black metal with some sludge, doom, death, stoner, and psychedelic elements all rolled into one package perfectly. So to answer the question of how does one follow up Sky Burial and The Cavern? Inter Arma answer that question quite simply with  Paradise Gallows.

This album starts out delicately with acoustic guitars and lead guitar solos with the instrumental intro track “Nomini.” It’s a wonderful intro track that quickly changes pace by a quick T.J. Childers drum roll and the listener is introduced to some absolutely heavy riffs that live within the walls of “An Archer in the Emptiness”. This is one of Inter Arma’s heaviest songs to date. This is the type of stuff that dinosaurs would mosh to if they still walked the Earth. We are only two tracks into Paradise Gallows and one is already aware of the many sounds that Inter Arma create, from the night and day difference between “Nomini” and “An Archer in the Emptiness.”  The trend continues with the absolute pummeling heaviness of  “Transfiguration”, but this isn’t your run of the mill sludge metal song. It has this really weird riff that I cannot begin to describe with aggressive drums all through out (T.J. Childers is the man we’ll just state that now). In the background of this song you can actually hear Trombone, which completely shocked me and I loved it. The surprises of Paradise Gallows do not stop here though, we will have more on that later. The next song “Primordial Wound” starts out with a continuous droning riff where the doom metal sound of Inter Arma is shown. This is also when the versatility of Mike Paparo’s voice is shown with chanting, shouting and screeching all used in this one song. The one thing about this album that is different than previous Inter Arma releases is it is some how even more progressive and psychedelic. “The Summer Drones” features psychedelic riffs and groovy drumming with some suprising clean vocals used by Mike Paparo. Now the halfway point of the album starts with the second instrumental “Potomac” which is absolutely beautiful featuring piano and very impressive lead work. “Potomac” also features musical motifs from “Nomini” and goes into the title track “The Paradise Gallows” flawlessly. This is also the point of the album where I was already blown away and then what was left of me continues to be mesmerized by the brilliance of this album. “The Paradise Gallows” is one gorgeous song where Mike Paparo once again uses incredible clean vocals in the beginning and then builds up into the nasty stuff. When listening to this track you cannot help but feel the hopelessness of the person the song is about as they are laughing all the way to their grave. “Violent Constellation” starts out with groovy drum licks and then is accompanied by a very groovy sludge riff reminiscent of Brent Hinds. “Violent Constellations” is yet again another great song on a fantastic album. The last song though “Where the Earth Meets the Sky” is the perfect closer. Along with “Nomini” it allows for the perfect beautiful bookend to this. It completely caught me off guard with just how even more delicate Mike Paparo can make his voice. Before this I thought Mike was one of the best vocalist in metal right now, but now I know its true. His voice is very much like Inter Arma’s sound as a band, its capable of anything and everything and that is exactly what it achieves, as well as what the band achieves.

Inter Arma are a band that have mastered their sound. Paradise Gallows exceeded every expectation I had for it and features incredible song writing and musicianship by all involved. This is hands down one of the best albums of the year.

-REH

Give Paradise Gallows a listen here: https://interarma.bandcamp.com/album/paradise-gallows-2

 

 

May we mock the notion of mercy