Jan 20, 2016
Best Horror/SciFi Soundtrack:
There was no competition. It Follows was hands down the best soundtrack, be it horror or not. Fabulous film helped by a dread-filled retro-futuristic soundtrack (though not retrofuturism, you know?).
It Follows (composed by Disasterpeace)
Runner-Up: John Carpenter: Technically not an actual soundtrack, but excellent soundtrack-sounding music from our old friend John Carpenter. He dives right back into the 80's theme, and sounding freshly nostalgic.
Runner-Up: Ex Machina: The ambient portions were fine; but where this soundtrack shines was the scary and suspenseful areas. It just hammers the tension right into your head.
Hands down Sulphur Aeon is the most thoughtful death metal album of the year. It is blisteringly catchy and just rips. I listened to it three times in my first listening, ‘cause it ain’t exhausting. You should be listening to all the bands in this category.
Sulphur Aeon (Germany), album - Gateway To The Antisphere (song - Into The Courts Of Azathoth (0:28-4:46))
Runner-Up: Thurisaz (Belgium), album - The Pulse of Mourning: Can death metal be emotional? Hell yes. Thurisaz brings in the atmosphere and melody.
Runner-Up: Horrendous (Philly), album – Anareta: The most "easy-listening" and catchy of the death metal band contenders. The vocalist is super unique.
Runner-Up: Lost Soul (Poland), album - Atlantis: The New Beginning: The most TECHNICAL and classic death on this list.
Best Stoner Doom:
One of the requirements of this category is to put listeners in a spell with large crushing riffs, and groove out. This is Magic Circle’s second album, and it is heavier than the runner-ups. Just keep listening, super groove stuff here. This band just gets better and better.
Magic Circle (Boston), album - Journey Blind (song - Journey Blind (6:10-14:35))
Runner-Up: Spelljammer (Sweden), album - Ancient of Days: Nothing here to do but take a huge drag of your spliff and feel the weight of each of these compositions spin you on a journey.
Runner-Up: Mammoth Storm (Sweden), album – Fornjot: Layered sounds is the game here, and Mammoth Storm keeps it every so fresh by keeping you surprised with where the songs are going. Also, the best vocals - super sultry.
Best Evil Avant-Garde:
Cloak of Altering is a side project of Gnaw Their Tongues, and the album is dense, bizarre, horror, avante-garde-infused-assault metal.
Cloak of Altering (Netherlands), album – Manifestation (song - Stretching Infinity (15:18-22:44))
Runner-Up: Gnaw Their Tongues (Netherlands), album - Abyss of Longing Throats: Gnaw Their Tongues didn't lose here. This is hands down one of the best albums of the year. They just happened to be competing with their side project and semi-came in second. Dark, creepy horror.
Best Psychedelic/Space Rock:
Lori from Acid King cements the space-y composition of Acid King's brand new album with her vocals. Super trippy distorted fuzzy space goodness.
Acid King (San Francisco), album - Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (song - Coming Down From Outer Space (23:52-29:39))
Runner-Up: Yuri Gagarin (Sweden), album - At the Center of All Infinity: Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space, a Russian cosmonaut. Swedish band Yuri Gagarin composes into music the idea of diving into space. Your brain will be way out there.
Runner-Up: Nocturnalia (Sweden), album – Above Below Within: Heavy rock, lined with solid vocals and a gaggle of scrumptious jam sessions
Runner-Up: Ecstatic Vision (Philly), album – Sonic Praise: They shine when the music dissolves into instrumental waves of fuzzy space rock.
Noisem is ambiance, death, thrash, grind, punk and technical hardcore. Tons of grind, but their young energy breaks it up into a ripping hardcore album.
Noisem (MD), album - Blossoming Decay (song - Cascade of Stars (30:15-34:28))
Runner-Up: Cult Leader (SLC), album - Lightless Walk: CLOSE second. Members of Gaza. Suffocating grind infuses this album, breaking into pummeling hardcore. Produced by Kurt Ballou.
Runner-Up: Mutoid Man (Boston/California), album – Bleeder: Mutoid Man is true lyrical rock, breaking into technical proggy dirty riffs. You have to love Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) to love this band, which I do, profoundly.
Windhand’s album is incredible melodic metal, which uses Dorthia Cottrell’s vocals as the focal point. Emotional masterpiece creationists, these Windhand folks.
Windhand (VA), album - Grief's Infernal Flower (song - Two Urns (35:01-42:37))
Runner-Up: Grusom (Denmark), album – S/T: Sexy blues vocals, a classic "best vocals" style: clean and hella good.
Runner-Up: Fister (St. Louis), album – IV: Not classically a vocal style that many people would say, "hey this dude's vocals are really gorgeous." But it is: guttural menacing evil shrieks. This dude must be f’n hot.
Sludge does not need to be slow. It is dark and grimey and aggressive. Whether it is slow or fast, it is mostly dirty and abrasive. Sludge is some of the darkest and most evil metal there is, highlighted by distortion and shrieking vocals. This was absolutely one of the most difficult categories to rate, because all three bands released GIANT albums. I fucking love Fister, whatever they do, whatever he shrieks. This album is one huge songs that contains the best groove breakdowns. Fister is one evil mofo band overall though. I want to have a beer with them in St. Louis, and then they can take me into an alley and sacrifice me to Satan.
Fister (St. Louis), Album - IV (song - (portion of) IV: Fister (43:37-53:40))
Runner-Up: Senior Fellows (Oklahoma), album – Shallow Grave for a Dying God: Senior Fellows is the catchiest in this category, and still savage enough to kill you.
Runner-Up: Hivelords (Philly), album – Tapered Limbs of a Human Star: Abrasive, chilling, atmospheric and experimental, and goes down so incredibly easily. This album was the weirdest of all the albums, which is a HUGE compliment.
Best Genre-Defying Metal and 2nd Best Album of the Year:
You haven’t heard A Forest of Stars, most likely. It is some theatrical crazy shit, based on black metal and folk. It is progressive and weird and a big ol’ mess of juxtapositions. It will surprise and entertain and make you laugh. But it is also very dark and menacing and bad ass. It is avant-garde psychedelic folk black metal with violins and flutes
A Forest of Stars (U.K.), album - Beware The Sword You Cannot See (song - Hive Mindless (54:53-END))