Hellbound’s End of Year Wrap Up: Part 8
Well, hell’s bells – 2016 was a hellride of a year, wasn’t it?! As the New Year approaches with trepidation, the individual members of Team Hellbound take a look back at our favorites 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!
(see above for a portrait of the author on his way to see Slayer for the first time)
2016 was a year.
For my part, I stayed out of the echo-chamber and didn’t pay much attention to whatever the hype machine was trying to pass off as This Week’s Big Thing™. Honestly, at this point it’s an effort to just try and keep up, and it’s not like I get paid for this shit – I ignored the hivemind and just paid attention to records I thought were worth the effort.
See, I’ve always been better at choosing my own path than being led.
That said, in no particular order, and in my own extremely-humble opinion, here are what I thought were among the best albums of the year.
Ravencult – Force of Profanation (Metal Blade)
Ravencult’s Morbid Blood was my favorite album of 2011, so it’s safe to say I was anticipating their new album (and first for Metal Blade) with not a little bit of excitement. Force of Profanation lives up to the previous record, with an updated production that scours off a little bit of the filth, but not enough so’s you feel any less grimy while listening. It’s still raw, bootfuck blackened death metal designed to light hellfire under your ass.
Auroch – Mute Books (Profound Lore)
Mute Books is a swirling din of hell and chaos, cultic rollercoaster necksnap death metal waged in an apocalyptic hurricane galeforce. That’s all you need to know.
Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith (Season of Mist)
Bludgeoning, queasy riffs, frog-throat, album and song titles that take fifteen minutes to head-scratchingly decipher – what’s not to love? It’s Inquisition- you either get why it rules, or you’re more than likely writing a blog post in protest right now.
Head of the Demon – Sathanas Trismegistos (Invictus Productions)
I didn’t catch up to this one until very late in the year (typical!), but Head of the Demon’s psych-drenched, catchy-as-fuck blackdoom caught my ear in a huge way. One of those records that clicked with me on first listen – and those albums are getting rarer all the time. It’s the sort of thing that creeps into your head and won’t leave.
Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (Peaceville)
It’s Darkthrone, ya choad. Of course it was going to be on here.
Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (Blackened)
Honestly, nobody is more surprised than me that they fucking pulled it off. Sure, it’ll never be Master Of Puppets again (and if you honestly still expect that at this point, my sympathies), but given their track record of the last two decades (fucking Lulu), the fact that it’s worth even half a shit at this point is something to rejoice. And it’s worth half a shit! They even try their hand at thrashing again, and it’s pretty good. Not perfect, but I’ll take it.
But seriously, double-fuck that album cover though, jesus – whoever got paid to fart that Photoshop abortion onto a Metallica album cover is laughing at us right now.
Mountain Witch – Burning Village (This Charming Man Records)
It’s a well-known fact I’m a total sucker for the sweet sounds of proto-metal birthed between ’68-’72 – just mention Highway Robbery, Truth And Janey, Josefus, or Cactus, and my ears prick up. And lemme tellya, it’s few and far between nowadays when a band can recapture that sound properly. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the Mountain Witch album. Not to be confused with those oppositely-named Portland doomhipsters, on this, their 3rd full-length, Hamburg-ers Mountain Witch play an authentic take on proto-metal, right down to the analogue ambience of the production. Highly recommended.
Superjoint – Caught Up In The Gears Of Application – (Housecore)
In heavy metal, 2016 was truly The Year of the Heel. And few (yes, I see you, Mr. Warslut, you can put your hand down) can pull off a heel turn quite like Philip Anselmo. The outright embarrassment of his stage sieg-heils notwithstanding, nobody has ever done the spewing of lyrical vitriol quite like Philip. And oy vey, this time out he’s in rare form.
He’s brought back Superjoint with a vengeance, and again they marry blistering hardcore with something-in-the-water NOLA swampsludge. The lyrics this time out –attacking the SJW & echo chamber contingent in the metal scene- are priceless, no matter how you slice it, with a hefty dose of irony, or not. Stay away from the white wine, though.
Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service (Century Media)
I’d never known much about Witchery beyond the “big-boobed caped gothic nymph” adverts they used to put in metal mags years ago. So hearing the new album on a whim this year (the cover art was what initially grabbed my attention), I was pleasantly surprised. On Infernal … at least, their brand of blackened thrash is not only ripping, it’s also catchy as fuck. Any time you can headbang along with a great hook, I’m on board.
Whores – Gold (eOne)
It certainly is. There was some real good noiserock to choose from this year (helloooo Årabrot!), but Whores gave us an album absolutely dripping with sweat, stinking of human grease, fraught with a palpable anger, and bursting with a perfect storm of distortion and chaos.
Behexen – The Poisonous Path (Debemur Morti)
The new Behexen burns bright, blazing with a ferocity that made it one of the finest second-wave blackmetal records of the year. It didn’t need anything fancy to keep my interest, just keeping up the orthodoxy of merciless blasting, and luciferean paeans was more than enough. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways.
Deströyer 666 – Wildfire (Season Of Mist)
D666 does it up right, their gnarled blackthrash goes for the throat, never lets loose, and never forgets Rule Number One: keep it fuckin’ rockin’. Wimps and poseurs leave the hall (go write a thinkpiece).
Dead Wretch – fuck it. (Independent)
In a year where we got a new Darkthrone record, Dead Wretch put out the 2nd-best blackpunk album of the year. “Unfuckable” is the best blackmetal song about being a dude that’s getting old and fat that’s ever been written. Hails to you, Dan. (get it at Bandcamp)
Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2016:
Ravencult’s Force of Prafanation did the trick for me:
Snakes, skulls, batwings and burning church steeples. I mean, if that doesn’t sum it up for you right there…
Best gigs I attended in 2016:
My gig attendance was way down in 2016 – they were few, but they were good. At the end of March, I got to hang out with my fellow Hellbound homey Jay H. Gorania when he was in town road-dogging with Today is the Day, so that of course was a wicked-pissah time, and a weird bill: Lord Dying, TITD, Author & Punisher, and Weedeater headlining. Stellar gig, I was especially impressed with Lord Dying, and Today is the Day is never not a cathartic joy to watch.
But the mother of all gigs for me this year was in October, when I went home to Penticton to finally see Slayer for the first time, which you can read the entire story of right here .
Favourite physical-copy album I purchased in 2016:
I didn’t buy a ton of new vinyl this year – but I fell into the score of a lifetime in March, when fellow local Hellbounder Rob Hughes called me up, to let me know that some good friends of his were getting rid of their record collection – and would I care to come with him and have a pick through?
Now… when Rob Hughes calls you out of the blue to tell you you need to come see a record collection, you GO and you SEE the goddamned record collection! When I arrived, I was introduced to the good Brothers Logan and their incredible record collection – which they then directed me to pick through at leisure. Suffice to say, this collection was a metalhead’s dream: A few thousand LPs of mint, mostly-‘80s metal titles. Tons of Banzai pressings, loads of early Slayer, Venom, and Frost, and the bootlegs – mein gott, the bootlegs! I couldn’t believe it, but I hauled pretty righteously that day, my friends. So, my eternal thanks to the Hermanos Logan, and to Rob Hughes for inviting me.
Most anticipated album for 2017:
Pretty stoked for new Satyricon and for a new Life of Agony record, but, surprisingly, most of all – the new Marilyn Manson record, Say10. If the teaser video was anything to go by, I am seriously excited for a possible return to his Antichrist Superstar sound.
My 2016 in Metal:
I had a fairly mellow year in heavy metal. My gig attendance was way down, and the only real interview I conducted this year was with a legend of industrial music. So a lot of it was me just being content to observe this year.
And here’s what I saw: There’s a lot of embarrassingly unchecked ego out there in our scene. I mean, I expect this kind of shit from musicians, god knows they can’t help themselves. But when it’s the hangers-on who can’t seem to help themselves from falling into the ego trap of thinking they’re somehow remotely as important as the musicians they’re supposed to be writing about – then, man, we got a real problem. This scene is a teeny-tiny circle jerk, and the circle gets smaller every year.
Save it for your fucking year-end write-up, like I do.
Or get a therapist.
What I’m looking forward to in 2017:
My band DEVICE is almost done writing our second album, and will be heading into the studio soon. And I have a lot of cockamamie big-idears that I want to include on the next record, so let’s see if they make it to the final cut. Stay tuned.
Biggest Loss to Metal in 2016:
2016 was a hell of a year for artistic and cultural losses, it seemed. But I’m still not over losing Lemmy Kilmister.
“Metal Person of the Year”:
Why, Justin Norton, Jay Gorania, and myself, of course: Three of the funniest motherfuckers in metal that I know of. Seriously, my two erstwhile compatriots cracked me up relentlessly in a year when a damn good belly laugh was not a thing to be squandered, and both have become very good friends to me. So here’s to you two fuckers, Justin and Jay! Mags up!
If you’ve read this far, I’d like to say a sincere thanks to you for reading what some old hack like me has to spew. I appreciate every single one of you who ever took the time to engage me, either here or on social media. I may be a curmudgeonly old prick bastard, but your interaction and kind words mean the world to me. May you have a wonderful 2017, and stay gold.