Hellbound’s End of Year Wrap Up: Part 3
Well, hell’s bells – 2016 was a hellride of a year, wasn’t it?! As the New Year comes creeping in with trepidation, the individual members of Team Hellbound take a look back at our favourites of the year, give our personal thoughts on the state of heavy metal in 2016, and take a look forward at what’s to come.
As always, we here at Hellbound thank you all for your continued readership, and we wish you a very headbanging Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Happy Holidays from Hellbound!
— Kyle Harcott
Albums of the Year:
10. Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion (Prosthetic)
This one very nearly passed me by. The power of social media made me dig in my inbox, and WOW. This is the kind of emotional, psychedelic doom that really does it for me. Heavy as lead with clean, powerful vocals. If you’re a fan of traditional doom and bands like Pallbearer, Spirit Adrift will captivate you. Oh! Can’t get enough! They released an EP earlier in the year too!
9. Wormrot – Voices (Earache)
It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since the last Wormrot “full-length”. They’re still the first name that comes to mind when I think “vicious grind”. In a post-Gridlink world, that is. Voices goes straight for the jugular and doesn’t stop ’til every inch of viscera has been torn from the body. I don’t even know if viscera can be measured in inches. It’s turned my brain to mush. And I don’t care.
8. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä (20 Buck Spin)
This came out way back in February and it’s actually been a while since I listened to it (until right now) but the super-psychedelic black metal here bends the rules of time and space regardless. The repetitive riffs and spaced-out atmosphere conflict with the harsh vocals yet together create an otherworldly mindfuck trip that takes the listener light years away from the mundane Earth.
7. SubRosa – For This We Fought The Battle of Ages (Profound Lore)
I bought this on CD AND vinyl note unheard. It’s SubRosa. I know it’s good. The SLC product did not disappoint. Orchestral and heavy. Dark and beautiful. Other bands may try and emulate aspects of SubRosa but there is only one. It’s hard to find a band that can totally encapsulate the listener the way they do. It’s magic. Pure magic.
6. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
I put this on my phone back in March and it’s still there. I can’t bear to be without it. It’s not as outright trippy as Oranssi Pazuzu but the keys and flute take you back to a freer time anyway. The vintage feel is taken further back making it feel ancient. It’s dark and mysterious and powerful. It’s an enchanting album from front to back and personally my favourite Blood Ceremony release yet.
5. Graves at Sea – The Curse That Is (Relapse)
Finally. FINALLY a full-length Graves at Sea album! And it is everything we’ve been waiting for. The pure heaviness of Crowbar and Yob, the riffitude of High on Fire and the nerve-wracked vocals of Indian or Thou all rolled into a slow burning 70+ minutes of monumental doom/sludge. The power here is near immeasurable. Walls crumble, the earth cracks and all is swallowed without remorse.
4. Hammers of Misfortune – Dead Revolution (Metal Blade)
Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of previous release 17th Street. And mostly unaware of them before that. But Cobbett’s work with VHOL turned me onto his style. Then Dead Revolution dropped and it was like a shot of heroin. Instantly addicted. His guitar work is just amazing but he doesn’t have to carry the band. They all rule. Call it psychedelic thrash, call it what you will. I call it a mesmerizing thrill ride I never want to get off of.
3. Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
Any given day this could top my list. I absolutely love these guys. Progressive without being pretentious. Heavy without the slog. Deathly without the cheese. Can’t say without the gore ‘cuz there’s some of that, and it’s sung about with clean vocals! It’s at those moments it makes you feel just a little psychotic. It hasn’t received quite the praise as Heart of Oak but it deserves it and more. It’s a stunning alchemical mix that produces pure gold. It makes your eyes water it’s so good.
2. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas – Mariner (Indie Recordings)
I can admit I wasn’t really a fan of Julie Christmas going into this. Her other bands are kinda weird. But this collaboration blew me away. Her mix of siren calls and eviscerating screams injected into the CoL body of heavy ass post-metal has created something quite special. It transports the listener across space and time to unimaginable places of wonder. It’s beyond epic. Multiple tracks produce out-of-body experiences. The vinyl cost me an arm and a leg but it’s worth every penny.
1. Cobalt – Slow Forever (Profound Lore)
Phil McSorley out, Charlie Fell in. Cobalt up to the top. (I ranked Gin #9 in 2009.) Erik Wunder makes every nerve fiber in my body tremble. And Mr. Fell makes them explode. I’ve screamed myself hoarse countless times to this and I don’t know how my steering wheel is still in one piece from the pounding I’ve given it. Cobalt is one of the reasons I got into black metal and this makes me want to forget about anything else. It’s so well put together and there is so much passion. Tension, explosive release! Charlie Fell just rules it. I just want to destroy everything!! SLOW FOREVER!!!!
Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2016:
As always there are many contenders, including Asteroid’s simplistic gear shot for III, Ortega’s detailed chieftain on Sacred States, and Wormrot’s accurate visualization of the contents of Voices, but top honours have to go to Mizmor and the cover o f Yodh. It’s truly haunting and suits the black/doom terror it represents. T he artwork is from a painting by Zdzislaw Beksinski and I dare not stare into it too long.
Best gig I attended in 2016:
Well, since I only went to two I can mention them both. First I went and saw Olde and Public Animal at the Toucan in Kingston, ON. Small, small venue. My living room is bigger. (Granted, I have a rather large living room.) The local openers weren’t bad but Olde crushed that bar. And many a patron was caught off guard. I didn’t turn around to look but they did mention doing their job to clear the room. I only knew a couple Public Animal songs going in but Ian Blurton and Co. made me an instant superfan. Their psychedelic garage rock felt magnificent. And in such an intimate environment? Ooohhh! You’ll hear more about their 2016 album , Palace Arms later. And Olde’s Shallow Graves EP for that matter.
The other show I saw was Kyng, Zakk Sabbath and Clutch in Buffalo, NY. Kyng were ok. Zakk Wylde with Joey Castillo and Blasko playing Black Sabbath classics! Can’t beat that! Unless you’re Clutch. I was six beers deep and one fan from the railing when they came on and tore through a Psychic Warfare-heavy set. I’ve seen no band more than Clutch and this was my best experience yet! Not just the beer talkin’!
Favourite physical-copy album I purchased in 2016:
I bought more CDs in 2016 than I have in a long time but few vinyl. One of those was Astrakhan ’s Reward in Purpose. Not only is the music heavy prog par excellence but the cover is wicked cool and looks stellar sitting on top of the turntable.
Most anticipated album for 2017:
I don’t even know what’s slated to come out in 2017 unless I already have the promo. In which case I wouldn’t have to anticipate anything. I’d just listen to it.
My 2016 in Metal:
I took a step back in 2016. I was going all out, writing 3-5 reviews per week spread across various sites. It was good. But for the last year or so I’ve really been taking a look at myself. I’m only 38 but it’s a mid-life crisis. I’m pretty sure. And reviewing that many was taking its toll. I slowed WAY down some months ago and I feel much better about my place in the metal writing community. I listened to fewer albums but listened to them more. Really letting albums sink in. Consequently my Best of 2016 lists were fairly easy to compile because fewer albums held my attention for longer periods, pushing themselves ahead of the pack by inducing a profound desire to listen to them. I’m trying to get a little more momentum going but I also prefer quality over quantity. No promises though. Horns up!
Most Looking Forward to in 2017:
I’m taking things one day at a time these days but something I am aiming to do in 2017 is get a couple more tattoos. I’ll need to rake in some overtime shifts for that to happen but both planned pieces are metal related. The first is a mash-up of various album covers from High on Fire, Sleep and Kyuss to make up a half-sleeve. It’s gonna look fuckin’ SWEET. The second is the cover of Yob’s Clearing the Path to Ascend on my forearm. Both on the right side. That’s my music side. Family goes on the left.
Biggest Loss to Metal in 2016
If you search Metal Archives for artists who have died in 2016 you’ll find yourself with a big list. But there are some standouts. Like Bill Bumgardner, formerly of Indian and Lord Mantis, among others. He was a terrific drummer playing in challenging bands. Unfortunately life proved too much of a challenge as he committed suicide in October at the age of 35. The Gates of Slumber lost another former member as J. Clyde Paradis joined his rhythm section partner Jason McCash from The Wretch on the other side. Dio’s Jimmy Bain, Bell Witch’s Adrian Guerra, and perhaps the biggest hit (to me) was the passing of former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza. His albums with Megadeth are some of my favourite albums of all time. All too young, even Bain at 68.
“Metal Person of the Year”
I’m a pretty insular person so I don’t know if I think in the right terms but the name that stands out most when thinking about 2016 is Lemmy. He wasn’t even alive in 2016 but his death near the end of 2015 has continued to resonate through the metal world. Even more so than Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy was such a constant symbol of what it means to be a metalhead (even if Lemmy himself thought it was just rock ‘n’ roll) that his absence is taking longer than normal to fade.