February was a busy month for metal. We are now approaching the third month of 2016 and metal has already seen a couple of albums that can contend for numerous Album of the Year considerations. There have also been some unique discoveries, fantastic debuts, and welcomed comebacks so far this year, especially in February. This month’s best releases are pretty black metal heavy and include an Album of the Year candidate. Included at the bottom of this list are January’s best releases as well, as I was unable to complete a post sharing those albums at the time. Enjoy!
Circle of Salt/Taggarik – Split
Credit to Kim Kelly, this split kind of flew under the radar until she shared it on Noisey. Members of Spectral Wound broke off into both of these black metal entities then came together for this hellish split. Both groups showcase unrelenting, fairly lengthy tracks of harrowing atmospheric black metal. Circle of Salt’s “Ulfserkir” and Taggarik’s “Stalwarts of Suffering” do what every great split album does and causes listeners to want more music from the bands. I’m certain if either of these two groups released an album this year, it would end up in my Albums of the Year feature. This is great stuff.
Ecferus – Pangaea
I, Voidhanger Records
I, Voidhanger Records drops some gems quite often and this is one of them. Everything about Pangaea, the latest album from Indiana’s one-man black metal act, Ecferus, is a story worth listening to. Alp, the sole member of the band, constructed an intense conceptual myth about Pangaea. The story goes that Mother Earth had three children named Land, Air, and Water. Land built a world full of trees and animals and grew to become Pangaea. Mother Earth, not happy with his growth, ripped Pangaea apart and had Water separate his fragments. As Pangaea separated, he vowed to nurture the growth of his animals which ultimately gave rise to humans that turn around and began to destroy Mother Earth. It is an album with a story to get lost in. The dedication to musicianship and storytelling by Ecferus deserves large amounts of praise.
Fuath – I
Andy Marshall’s wizardry as a musician has taken the form of many projects such as Saor, Askival, or In Vino Veritas. In his newest one-man project, Fuath, Marshall creates an icy blast of atmospheric black metal. Four songs totaling roughly forty-one minutes, each track freezing the listener to their core with frigid tremolo guitar picking and an avalanche of blast beats. I is hypnotic and entrancing. Marshall drew a lot of influence from Burzum and early Darkthrone and spun the inspiration into a brilliant debut effort for the Fuath project.
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
20 Buck Spin
Värähtelijä is a strong contender for metal’s album of the year. Finland’s cosmic black metal quintet have created their most immersive and complex composition to date. The album spans seventy minutes and is a watermark for a group’s ability to twist and contort a genre to their own desires without breaking the genre into pieces. Much of the album flirts with progressive or avant-garde instrumentation while Jun-His’s voice emits the most pure black metal moments that Pazuzu offers. “Hypnotisoitu Viharukous” and “Vasemman Käden Hierarkia” are the album’s standout tracks as they exemplify the diversity in Värähtelijä‘s sounds. They showcase the reverberating guitars and shrieking synths that add such a cosmic feel to Oranssi Pazuzu’s music.
Slaves B.C. – All Is Dust and I Am Nothing
On top of being overall awesome dudes, Pittsburgh’s Slaves BC makes a caustic formula of blackened, doomy hardcore music. On their proper debut, All Is Dust and I Am Nothing, they pull no punches and rip through thirty-eight minutes of brutal bulldozing. A group influenced by their Christian faith, the album follows conceptual subject matter in relation to the Book of Ecclesiastes. The book itself is a very sobering and bleak story of the futility of man and his ultimate, inevitable death. This album however is a rousing success and a magnificent full-length debut. Take the time to reach out to these gentlemen! They are incredibly friendly.
January’s Best Releases:
Abbath – Abbath
Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Cult of Luna/The Old Wind –Råångest Split EP
Krallice – Hyperion EP
Lycus – Chasms