Tanner Anderson is the vocalist/guitarist/bassist/songwriter for the melodic black metal group, Obsequiae. The group released a brilliant album entitled Aria of Vernal Tombs earlier in 2015 through 20 Buck Spin. The album has appeared on numerous year-end lists and a few of mine as well. It was one of my favorite discoveries of this year. Tanner was kind enough to contribute his six favorite albums from 2015 as well as his reasoning behind his choices. Check out his selections below. Thanks, man!
BLOOD INCANTATION – Interdimensional Extinction
This has made numerous year-end lists for good reason. I’ve read comparisons to every band from Timeghoul to Demilich. My initial impression was that of early Atrocity and even Nocturnus because the leads seem as pronounced, wild and integral to the riffs and song development. Shoddy comparisons aside, these guys are in a class of their own and originality does shine through despite the obvious influences. This material is so strong, it’s no wonder the comparisons being made are referencing albums that already have been given legendary status for the past two decades. It’s because this actually sounds “classic” despite being new material from a relatively young band. These are tremendously talented guys who can create amazingly catchy and complex riffs, exciting progressions and passages of dense, chaotic, disjointed, and cryptic death metal.
DRAB MAJESTY – Careless
I adore this album so much but it’s difficult to find words to describe music that I’m not as familiar with as, say, metal. So any comparisons or accolades I could muster would likely be off-base or embarrassing to those familiar with this style of music. New wave? No idea. I imagined the layers in the chorus of “Words of the Dying” by Controlled Bleeding when I heard the first song on this album. It carries that kind of depth only it’s a constant. It’s just amazingly textural. There are so many layers that develop and arrive seemingly out of nowhere as though they would be unnoticed in the mix if it weren’t for the clarity of the production that allows them to surface. There are infinite minute details to reward a patient ear. I love recordings like this because they give the listener a different sense of perception and wonder. The theatrical delivery and deep aesthetic really bring all of these elements together into something wonderful.
MACABRE OMEN – Gods Of War – At War
It took 10 years, but a second album finally took form. It’s difficult to imagine how a band maintains its focus after such a long period of time without much activity. “The Ancient Returns” was a killer album and under-celebrated at the time of its release. Like Viking-era Bathory and early Hades (Nor) with the coldness of early Rotting Christ. Now on “Gods of War…”, the same influences are present but with refinement (and way more goddamn Greek sounding). The songs have more going on but are absolutely as captivating and driving as the material on TAR. The delivery is more confident and glorious this time around. The songs actually achieve the epic qualities of Bathory instead of thoughtful nods alluding to them as was the case on the debut. This is an album that feels almost cinematic start-to-finish. It possesses that rare atmosphere that will leave you surrendering this world to enter theirs. Headphones recommended.
PANOPTICON – Autumn Eternal
This is another album that is on every year-end list for good reason. Not only do I agree, but I feel as though I might be able to provide some insight that hopefully helps a reader understand why. I have a strong bias toward the music of Panopticon. Not just because Austin is one of my best friends or because we also have the privilege of working together. Not just because he is an amazing human being or because there is literally no separation between the man on the record and the man I see nearly every day. It’s because he is one of those rare artistic souls that seems to possess all the great qualities and attributes we strive for in life (even the ones that seem to be at odds with one another) and arrives at a healthy balance with all of them.
I think the best way to imagine it is by putting yourself in these shoes: imagine you’re in a tough spot and you’re not even looking for consolation from anyone. You’re just trying to figure it out while you gaze helplessly into the night sky at the stars. Now imagine someone comes over, senses your trouble (but doesn’t let you know it), and reaches up and grabs one of the stars and asks if that’s what you needed? If a person does that and then asks you if you need another, that guy is Austin Lunn.
He is a conjurer of insane riffs, he is a maniac behind a kit, and everything in between that we know and identify in the music of Panopticon. His inspiration is found in the natural world and those close to him and I believe his goal is to always provide sincere artistic insight of those experiences. The music speaks for itself and it speaks for its inspiration. While “Autumn Eternal” strides comfortably around the confines of expertly performed dark metal, it deviates in all the right places with familiar regard to past output as well to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It evokes the spiritual sense of the lands that inspired it (many of which we have hiked together). And that is the heart of the experience in this album. It’s another brilliant scenic overlook – a profound and defining moment of contemplation along the many roads to the north.
THIRD STORM – Tarîtîya Me
This EP hasn’t received much (any?) attention this year. I think this was an unexpected crown jewel of 2015. Heval Bozarslan has been one of my favorite vocalists since I first heard Sarcasm’s “A Touch of the Burning Red Sunset” in 1998 (the original compilation of demos which has since been re-released by both To The Death & Dark Descent). I would have been thankful for any output on his part since the split of Sarcasm (which, as of late, promises to be active again soon!).
Who would have guessed that Heval would put together a new line-up for Third Storm; a band that was referenced more than actually heard (their only history being two demo cassettes from ’87 & ’88)? With news like this comes the obvious concern that, in most instances, there is usually a blind credibility given to bands established during that golden age, which birthed all variations of extreme metal. There was a pessimistic notion that this risked being a potential gimmick for the throwback-obsessed. We’ve seen it again and again in the past few years with reunions and comeback albums. I quickly dismissed that idea on good faith on the reputation of those involved in the new line-up (Daniel Ekeroth in particular). Sure enough, what we were treated to was nothing like “the first Third Storm recording since 1988”. Rather, it is a modern realization of older intentions and the proper beginning for Third Storm.
This EP is a culmination of influences from the 80s and early 90s that has nothing to do with the metagenres that so many have attempted to establish since. The Third Storm of today is, stylistically, a brilliant living relic from an era that blurred the lines of black, death and doom metal. This is why it feels like a disservice to attribute a style so simply. However, for the sake of convenience (if you haven’t already stopped reading and pulled up their amazing video for “Oath – Nava Agir” which so perfectly embodies the music), this is equal parts mid-paced death metal with subtle, churning harmonies, agonizing doom sections with incredible use of sonic space, and discordant ambient passages – all orated by a voice that conveys misery with the kind of conviction that makes the sincerity of this all that much more disturbing as it is rewarding. This is not black, death, doom or dark metal. This is the darkest metal. The rare balance achieved by those who lived through the eras and waves of influence and remained steadfast and guileless in their visions.
I’m incredibly excited for what they might achieve in the future. And if their recently reformed fellow Swedes in Mefisto comes back with this much strength, who needs anything by anyone under 40? The future of Dad Metal looks brilliantly dark.
UNITED BIBLE STUDIES – So As To Preserve The Mystery
UBS is a collective from the UK & Ireland. It would be as difficult to summarize as it would be to understate the amazing achievements of everyone involved, which is part of what makes the cooperation in this band so incredible. The contributions are varied but are connected by a common thread of beauty as well as a delicate approach. Almost hesitant at times, it’s as remarkably human as it is divine. The shimmering drones create pastoral scenes and various instrumentations come cleverly into the foreground before new scenes begin to develop and fade. “So As To Preserve The Mystery” is a contemplative listen and one of the best they have produced to date.