Brandon’s AOTY List (2016)

It’s no secret to people that know me that I love heavy metal, and 2016 was a momentous year for it. As much as I love death metal, black metal, thrash, and other sections of metal’s rich offerings, this list ended up being dominated by some of the best heavy metal by both quality and quantity that have came out in years. It really is incredible that an album like the new Eternal Champion that may have been my album of the year if it came out in 2014 or 2015 didn’t even make my top ten cross-genre cut this year. Exclusions were many and hard to make, and I’m glad for it- I’d much rather have a bunch of tough exclusions than a few easy inclusions. It’s also no secret that I’m terrible at describing music, despite writing for a music blog, so bear with me.

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Begrime Exemious – The Enslavement Conquest (2016)

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Author: Brandon

Band: Begrime Exemious

Album: The Enslavement Conquest

Label: Dark Descent

Canadian death metallers Begrime Exemious finally, after four years of EPs (and a split) return with their third studio album, The Enslavement Conquest in March. There have been some changes from the last LP – this time, founding member Derek Orthner is on lead vocals as well as manning one of their two guitar positions for the first time on LP (though he’s done the same on non-album material before now), bassist Alastair Ritoul has returned, and guitarist F. Thibaudeau is for the first time playing on a Begrime LP – and they sound all the better for it. Continue reading

Brandon’s Top 5 of 2015

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Author: Brandon
In a lot of ways, 2015 has been a slower year than most for metal for me. Last year, I heard a large collection of bands and albums that just completely blew me away, and this year, there were much less of that. That being said, there were still enough fantastic albums this year to make choosing a top five a challenge, and this list is by no means a perfect representation of what I thought was the best of the year because of that, and especially the last two albums are very much arbitrarily picked over albums of similar quality.

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Ares Kingdom – The Unburiable Dead (2015)

Reviewer: Brandon

Band: Ares Kingdom

Album: The Unburiable Dead

Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions

Ares Kingdom has a history going back almost two decades now of putting out nothing but the highest-quality death/thrash that one could expect from a band, as one would expect of a group formed by Order From Chaos legends Chuck Keller and Mike Miller. After being joined by Alex Blume, the band’s vocalist and bassist, Ares Kingdom put out two of the finest death/thrash albums of the 00’s and, after five years, are finally back with the newest installment of their heavy metal tinged aggressive metal assault. Continue reading

Volahn/Arizmenda/Kallathon/Shataan – Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons (2015)

Artists: Volahn/Arizmenda/Kallathon/Shataan

Album: Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons

Label: Crepúsculo Negro

Reviewer: Brandon

Launching out the door with a beautiful clean melody that sounds like it belongs in a spaghetti western, Volahn wastes absolutely no time setting the tone that the Black Twilight Circle wants to set with their newest collaborative effort: the Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons split tape between several of the stars of the indigenous-sounding Crepúsculo Negro label, which, for those that don’t know, is a Southern California based label that fronts Mexican-American black metal that tends to incorporate folk melodies into their heritage inspired music. Continue reading

Mara – Mara (2015)

Band: Mara

Album: Mara

Label: Unsigned/independent

Reviewer: Brandon

Hailing from Gävle, Sweden, Mara is coming from a fairly prolific country that’s been aggressively fronting the recent doom and occult rock trend; while this has resulted in a tremendous amount of recent Swedish revival material that’s incredible, it’s resulted in just as much as that’s terribly generic in the worst of ways. Now, after two years of effective hiatus, Mara has come back with a finished album that’s managed to stand out from their Swedish contemporaries by being bigger, badder, and just plain weirder. Continue reading

Ahna – Perpetual Warfare EP (2015)

Band: Ahna

Album: Perpetual Warfare EP

Label: Choking Hazard Records

Reviewer: Brandon (Guest Reviewer)

Hailing from Canada, Ahna formed in 2008 and started putting out material in the vein of extremely slow doom with heavy crust and black metal influence. After an LP in that style and a string of demos, splits, and EPs, Ahna has moved towards something that I’m infinitely more interested in: a mix of thrash, death metal, and crust. With a mixture lower pitched growls, higher pitched growls, yelled “clean” vocals that immediate remind one of Sacrilege, and a guitar tone (and a fair amount of riffs) hailing to the same band as well as to early Bolt Thrower, Ahna, on Perpetual Warfare, has created something that is, if not completely unique, is incredibly interesting and definitely moving towards there; in just over seventeen minutes, they provide a mixture between fast nonstop riffage based around groovy one-string melodies and occasional slower breakdowns that work incredibly well with the music and don’t at all detract from the high energy, headbanging groove that Ahna puts out whenever they’re not slowing down. Continue reading