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

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Abusement Park: Top 15 of 2016

Unspeakable Axe Records Showcase

Unspeakable Axe Records have been without a doubt my favorite label of 2016. They have put out excellent releases such as Ripper – Experiment of Existence, Nucleus – Sentient, Scorched – Echoes of Dismemberment, 4 Doors to Death, Sewercide – Immortalized in Suffering, And Voidspawn – Pyrrhic. Those are all just from this year Unspeakable Axe Records have been putting out great releases since 2013 and their releases just keep getting better.

hemotoxin

Hemotoxin – Biological Enslavement

Biological Enslavement is one of those great releases from earlier this year that I haven’t been able to get until now. Hemotoxin have a brand of technical Death/Thrash metal that tends to teeter back and forth between the two genres. I think I hear just a bit more Death metal in the music at times but that may just be me. Either way this album can be and should be enjoyed by both. The riffs pack a punch and when I mentioned the band being technical earlier, I do not mean senseless guitar wankery. The musicians in Hemotoxin are incredibly talented especially the two guitarist, Michael Chavez and Michael Rohwer share the lead work and create some very impressive solos on this album. I really enjoy the third track “Minus Human”, it has a very interesting jazzy intro that totally caught me off guard after the aggressiveness of the first two tracks. There is  sweet fretless bass in that one as well. I would have to recommend this band to fans of Atheist and the Spiritual Healing/Human era of Death. The vocal delivery of Chavez really reminds me of Chuck Schuldiner. I think this is a very solid release. If you are a human or just a recreation I think you should Hemotoxin’s Biological Enslavement.

Give it a listen here

 mortal-scepter

Mortal Scepter – As Time Sharpens the Sentence

This Mortal Scepter EP takes us back a bit further into the Unspeakable Axe catalogue. As Time Sharpens the Sentence came out in 2015, and is a French thrash release that I definitely missed out on last year. I think I would go ahead and include this one in the blackened thrash category. The vocal delivery is very raw in the production which just gives me that vibe. The production itself is pretty raw to begin with but the guitars sound great and the riffs are relentless right from the starting gates with “As Time Sharpens the Sentence” it even has one of those crazy old school Megadeth sounding guitar solos. I think I would compare Mortal Scepter overall with early Kreator though. I will say that people who really like their production might have issues with the drum sound on this release at times, but I think the sound fits the vibe of the EP very well. It’s an incredibly raw and relentless blackened thrash metal EP that might be a bit different than what people are used to currently, even though it takes plenty of influence from the old school.

Give it a listen here

omnivore

Omnivore – Omnivore

To cap off this Unspeakable Axe Records showcase we go back just a little bit further to 2014 with the Self-titled album by Omnivore. This album goes fast and does it well. It sounds like it’s heavily inspired by Sepultura. After an intro track we hear the voice of everybody’s favorite vigilante Rorschach and then blistering riffs of “Dead” straight to the point song title. Omnivore really do have the Ricky Bobby mentality of “I wanna go fast” for most of this release which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They slow down a little bit on two occasions, “I hope the war comes” has one of the head nodding mid-tempo riffs before going back to tearing things up. The second occasion is in the track “Nothing More than Dust” which is the longest song on the album the slower section is towards the end with an interesting acoustic section. The Sepultura comparison must be a good one because the album closes with a true to form cover of “Arise”.    This album is a very solid debut that thrashes from start to finish with some real percussive riffs.

check it out here

I hope this inspires you guys to check out Unspeakable Axe Records. They have had an amazing year of releases and have an amazing back catalogue. I look forward to 2017 from them. (Hint: the Maligner is going to be really good)

-REH

Unspeakable Axe Records:

Bandcamp: https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/

Store: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableAxeRecords/?fref=ts

 

 

 

 

 

Unspeakable Axe Records Showcase

Demos and Singles

I have recently came across a whole bunch of great demos lately that have me excited for some new bands. I have also heard two singles for two different bands putting out new albums later this year that I cannot wait to hear.

The first band I want to talk about is an atmospheric black metal band called Embra they are from Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is already full of amazing bands so it should come to no surprise that this band would come from there. This demo features two songs titled “I” and “II” very simple names for not so simple songs. “I” features a build up that goes into some pummeling riffs which is exactly what I look for in atmospheric black metal. “II” is more straight forward but just as good with a really melodic middle section. I find this demo to be fantastic. The vocals come out quite nicely and the demo has really good production with the rawness everybody likes to have in their black metal. Embra released this in July and from here on out will be focusing their efforts on a full length. https://embraofficial.bandcamp.com/ (available for pay your own price as well)

embra demo                                                               Embra – Demo 2016

This next bit is for a single by a band that some of you may have become familiar with last year when Absolution came out, that’s right the new Khemmis song “Candlelight”. Upon first listen I heard exactly what I was anticipating, heavy riffs, triumphant vocals and guitar harmonies. The vocals have been stepped up ever so slightly and sound more crisp than on the previous release. Then I heard the harsh vocals used in this song which are much different than the ones used on the last album. This sounds like some straight up funeral doom type stuff that would be used by Lycus or Usnea. I absolutely love them in this song as if vocalist Ben and Phil are battling it out (assuming that its one of them doing the deep growls). The song ends with a great doom guitar solo and a return to the clean triumphant vocals. I love this song and cannot wait for October 21st when we will get to hear all of Hunted the new Khemmis album coming out on 20 Buck Spin. http://listen.20buckspin.com/album/hunted-2

khemmis                                    Khemmis – Hunted (track featured is Candlelight)

Alright this next one isn’t a single or a demo its actually an EP but I really dig it so I’m including it. It is Voidspawn – Pyrrhic which you may notice that the name of the band is also the name of a Chthe’ilist song. If you pick up on that you may wonder if Voidspawn also play incredibly weird super sick death metal, and you would be correct in thinking so. Pyrrhic features three tracks of out worldly death metal. Decibel Magazine had this to say about it: “These three songs will change the way you hear death metal from here on out.”  It is a very bold statement but I cannot say I disagree with it. I whole heartedly recommend this to fans of Gorguts, Nucleus, and  Chthe’ilist. Pyrrhic will be released on cd September 1st on Unspeakable Axe Records as well as cassette on a different label so stay tuned! https://voidspawn.bandcamp.com/

voidspawn                                                                  Voidspawn – Pyrrhic

I strongly urge you to hold up because there is even more weird death metal to talk about. Ossuary appear to be authentic death metal at first glance, which they still are completely authentic. They have thick riffs that really grab your attention, but the vocals are truly unique. They almost sound like they are being done from some kind of cave dwelling creature from within the walls of the cave they dwell in. The combined package of the riffs and inhuman vocals make something interesting that resembles something creeping in your backyard. Cremation Ritual is indeed a demo and a fantastic one at that featuring three tracks. If you like filthy death metal this is for you. https://ossuary-death.bandcamp.com/album/cremation-ritual

ossuary                                                      Ossuary – Cremation Ritual

A few years before Abusment Park was a thing Take Over And Destroy released Vacant Face which ended up being my album of the year for 2014. Now we are in 2016 and Take Over And Destroy have been signed to Prosthetic Records and will be releasing a new self-titled album on October 7th. The first single for this is “By Knife” which for those of you who have never heard this band, this track isn’t a bad place to start. Take Over And Destroy are a band of many different sounds from 70’s rock, death metal, sludge metal, and then some. “By Knife” features showcases their sound and has all the riffs with all the hooks as well as the twin guitar leads, and a really sweet guitar solo. If catchy and heavy music interest you than Take Over And Destroy are worth checking out. I can honestly say I’m incredibly pumped to hear the whole album and there aren’t many bands that sound like this one. https://takeoveranddestroy.bandcamp.com/

Bonus music video for By Knife:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41bGyyR9OzE

take over self title                         Take Over And Destroy – self titled album song is “By Knife”

Demos and Singles

Four bands for the price of fun

4 wayGatecreeper/Homewrecker/Outer Heaven/Scorched- 4-way split AKA The Fat Riff split

(This was originally written back in June in order to hype the digital release for this as well as the vinyl pre-order. Since Unspeakable Axe Records are releasing this on CD we are putting this out there again. Seriously go get this it should be illegal to not like a song on this split)

Today I woke up happier than usual and it wasn’t because I had to be at work at 6am, or because it was Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. It was 100 percent because it’s the first day of June, which means we are now within the month that the heaviest split of the year officially releases. I honestly cannot be more hyped to get my record in the mail.

The first track on this fatal 4-way is Gatecreeper’s  “Carved into Stone”. If anybody wants to know why I refer to this release as the fat riff split, you will know as soon as this song plays. This track is ridiculous and is probably tied for my favorite Gatecreeper song (I really enjoy their song overdose from the first EP as well). This is one of those tracks that just grooves and has to be played loud. It makes you want to tear stuff up and move around a bit. Just like every band on this split Gatecreeper gets better all the time. If you listen to their back catalogue you will have a great time and clearly see that for yourself. This song should be able to tide you over until their first full length comes out as well. I have been promised that it’s full of GED riffs, which I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I can’t wait to find out.

Next up is Homewrecker with “Perpetrators of Annihilation” which is another great song. If this song is played loud enough do not be surprised if your home does indeed become wrecked. This is another groovy song that will get you hyped up. This is also a different sounding Homewrecker that’s moving forward into even more of a death metal sound in my opinion. It’s way different than what would be heard on the first LP Worms & Dirt, and continuing more with the sound of Circle of Death. The great thing about this track is that after it hypes you up and once you’ve already started punching holes into your walls, there is a nice melodic section for the last 3  minutes of the song. The really great thing about that section is it will chill you out and make you think about what you’ve done.

The next track belongs to doomy death metal compadres Outer Heaven. Outer Heaven released one of my favorite albums last year, Diabolus Vobiscum which is also worth a listen. The track on this split is “Death Worship” which is a pummeling track. The first riff is a down tuned death metal riff that will rattle your bones.  Jon Kunz is a riff machine and this track shows it. Also if vocals could punch somebody in the face I would not be surprised to find out that Austin Haines had that super power. Outer Heaven have a more raw sound when compared to the other bands on this split, and they know how to work that type of sound.

The final of the four bands, is a band previously featured on Abusement Park for being on a gnarly split, so please welcome back Scorched. This is hands down the best Scorched song to come out, “Autopsy Incomplete” is what one would want out of death metal. There are riffs, squeals, a cool solo, and awesome drumming.  Scorched have away of making songs sound like the best intro music that would be featured on the weirdest slasher movie you can find at a garage sale.  This can definitely be heard in “Autopsy Incomplete.” Scorched have also recently said they recorded an even better version of this for their full length. The one take away from that is even more Scorched soon and I cannot wait.

So just in case you still aren’t convinced you need to own this and listen to it, here are a few more reasons why.

  1. Gatecreeper, Homewrecker, Outer Heaven, and Scorched
  2. Four bands and four songs for the price of fun
  3. Fat riffs
  4. Death metal
  5. Matt Izzi is on it twice

This is coming out on vinyl through Melotov Records and CD on Unspeakable Axe Records.

Order the vinyl here: http://store.deathwishinc.com/product/MLTVR035v.html

Order the cd here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66&products_id=359

All of these bands except Outer Heaven have confirmed new music very soon, so be on the look out for those.

-REH

 

Four bands for the price of fun

Awaken in a hexahedron

nucleaus sentient                                                            Nucleus- Sentient (2016)

I’ll just come out and say it early on, Sentient by Nucleus is one of my favorite releases of the year so far. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see this end up on my year end list, and I’m not afraid to say that early on. If you are a fan of  literature, science fiction,  old school death metal, and riffs you need to hear this album.

Sentient starts out with an intro also entitled “Sentient” this intro could be thought of as a launch sequence. It builds up until the listener is thrown into the track “Dosadi” which shows all the funky riffage that nucleus are capable of right of the bat. These are not your run of the mill death metal riffs, they are out worldly and many have been comparing them to Demilich.  I personally would agree with that comparison. The next track is the Dan Simmons inspired “Cantos” which has more funky riffs as well as bass work. One thing I cannot rave about enough on this release is how raw it sounds without losing any of the musicianship. The riffs are at the forefront, while intricate bass is heard throughout the album, so one can hear the work of Ryan Reynolds (no not THAT Ryan Reynolds). Then the drums on this album are there adding punctuation marks with each riff. While I feel that Pat O’Hara has some serious chops (as well as some really awesome chops on his face) he manages to sit back be impressive and tie this whole thing together. Nucleus as a band are really tight and just make this album incredibly solid. So three tracks in and this album has already blown me away. Have no fear this album has its Billy Mays moments because you better believe there is more. “Cube” is a ripper of a track with a really rad funky solo as well as being a personal favorite along with “Dosadi.” Sentient also has some relatively slower tracks like “Insurgent” and “Ancient” one of which would certainly please the titan of the deep.  If in space nobody can hear you scream, hopefully you can hear Nucleus, because I know I will be hearing them for awhile.

Nucleus are from Chicago, Illinois have two other EP’s The Colony and Hegemony. It should come to no surprise that Sentient was put out on Unspeakable Axe records, one would be hard-pressed to find a label having a better year than them. Nucleus also join the ranks of being a bad ass band with their own album cover done by Dan Seagrave, which looks incredible as always. Also be on the look out for more Nucleus sooner than later because their thank you list hints at a future release. The same thank you list also mentions several science fiction writers you should check out if you aren’t familiar withthem already so you can see what inspired a lot of these songs.

-REH

Check it out here: https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/sentient

Nucleus are here: https://www.facebook.com/nucleusmetal/timeline

Awaken in a hexahedron