By: Aaron Pickford
As Christmas came and went, so too was the end of another memorable year of crushing and sonically discordant riffs, but we can take comfort that 2016 is already off to a blistering start with records from likes of Conan only a matter of weeks away. But before we get too headlong into the new year, we need to reflect that the month of advent, delivered more outstanding records at The Sludgelord .
Today we revisit some of the best records not only from December 2015, but many of which that may have ended up on many yearend lists. Yes, people The Sludgelord’s ‘Sour 16’ is back, you know the drill, each month, you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top 16 records of the month, covering all genres of metal. Is it not a chart, in which reviewers or contributors extol their opinion about their favourite music, but simply, the ‘Sour 16’ are the records that have been trending the most at The Sludgelord and perhaps which you guys have been most interested in over the last month.
So without further ado, enjoy the ‘Sour 16’. Roll up, kick back, chug a beer and Hail the riff! All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork. (Total views at the time of publication highlighted in red)
16). = Implore – “Depopulation” (184)
Depopulation” works particularly well due to the variety of tempos employed throughout the record. Implore never let up on the volume and distortion front, but the transitions between pummelling blastbeats and mid-paced grooves really work well. There are enough interesting touches here to make Implore stand out from their peers without compromising on aggression and attack. This is a strong debut that hints at an interesting future ahead.
16). = One Master – Reclusive Blasphemy (184)
There is a lot of nuance and thought put into the peaks and valleys of these songs, which is unique given their otherwise orthodox style. I still believe that there is a lot from black metal’s early years that can be repurposed and implemented in new ways, and ‘Reclusive Blasphemy’ gives that belief further credibility. This is worth going out of your way to check out.
14). V/A – “Morbid Tales” A Tribute To Celtic Frost (198)
Child Bite, along with Phil Anselmo brings the biggest name to the tribute, and Phil sounds like he had a blast trying Tom G. Warrior’s unique vocal inflections on for size. He’s like a middle-aged kid blasting “The Usurper” in front of a mirror, doing his best impression of Warrior while his parents are out of the house, which kicks this album off with a really fun tone
13). Crawl – “Old Wood & Broken Dreams” (199)
Music like this doesn't need to be complex or challenging to be brilliant, its barbecue music for bloodshot eyed slackers, music to blare out the speakers of your pickup truck on your way to buy more beer. The world needs music like this, thank your chosen deity that Crawl are more than happy to oblige.
12). Cryptopsy – “The Book of Suffering – Tome 1” (201)
Every song sees Cryptopsy firing on all cylinders, including Matt McGachy, who seems to be channeling his inner Mike DiSalvo at certain points through the album, resulting in his best performance to date. With this EP, Cryptopy finds themselves as a band every bit as good as they were at their best. For a band that just recently passed the twenty year anniversary of their debut, that’s no small accomplishment. Cryptopsy are one of the finest exponents of “extreme” on the face of the planet and dammit, I know real metal when I hear it. This is as real and as extreme as it gets. Hail.
11). Forn – “Weltschmerz” (205)
The distortion kicks in and reduces everything to rubble. Stylistically, it's blackened funeral doom; depressing and bleak in it's melody but inherently evil and completely devastating. The vocals are growled from the bowels of the underworld and screamed from the edge of oblivion. , Fórn have created something perfect for the end of the year; let it smash your 2015 into oblivion like a biblical flood. You can start anew in 2016.
10). Space Bong – “Deadwood to
” (220) Worms
This is a craft of pure tar and it is of the purest quality. The dirge stretches further and onward and you feel your essence stretched along with it. You’re wading through molasses by the end of it. “High Priests and Petty Thieves” takes you through an EYEHATEGOD spirited eleven and a half minute trudge with extra on the stoner vibe. Space Bong are onto something in addition to being onsomething and I want to journey with them, wherever they might be headed. With “Deadwood toWorms” it’s easy to understand why.
09). Pigs – “Wronger” (227)
“Wronger” is a great album with a lot of great songs and high energy. Not a ton of diversity in song writing but this is a pretty powerful album that stays the course on annihilation
08). =.Vastum – “Hole Below.” (229)
Each member plays so well into all of the others’ strengths that the album feels more like one gigantic being, lurching and smashing in unified movement, rather than five separate pieces trying their best to come together.
08). = Pale Horseman – “Bless The Destroyer” (229)
Pale Horseman really hit their stride with the 15 minute monster “Bastard Child”. Beginning at a satisfyingly snail-paced crawl, the band soon drop the volume for the first time on the album to great effect. A blissed-out, bass-driven jam ensues, reminiscent of Colour Haze at their most exploratory. The peace is obliterated by the sledgehammer impact of a gold-standard stoner riff which the band grind ever slower towards oblivion,
06). Contrarian – “Polemic” (247)
Far more nuanced than Nile, this is a tour de force of modern tech death, done in a way which recalls old school tech death(!). No blasting, no mindlessly labyrinthine and continuously brutal riffage. What you get is jazz infused death metal with the kind of subtlety not heard for quite some time.
05). This Gift Is A Curse – “All Hail The Swinelord” (272)
It's very difficult to describe the music on this; such is the profound effect it's had. Think Nails with Black Metal and Sludge influences and you'd be on the right track. I can envisage a few end of year lists needing readjustment after hearing this. A future classic? Time will tell.
04). UN – “The Tomb of All Things” (321)
If you have any interest in doom, bleak atmospheric music of any type, funeral type riffs and paces with a lighter touch in some of the instrumental passages that brings to mind post metal and even black metal at times, then this record is most definitely for you.
03). Hooded Menace – “Darkness Drips Forth” (345)
Hooded Menace has delivered a powerful and dynamic record with plenty of doom, fully informed with the approach of death metal of a more Euro/Scandi approach. For me, there is nothing to dislike here and everything to enjoy. A fine and focused record.
02). Scientist – “10100||00101 (410)
Storming opener “The Singularity” distils the key elements of this record into five and a half minutes. Chittering harmonics give way to the sledgehammer impact of furious, frantic riffing moving into anthemic sludge and finishing with an epic post-metal flourish. Imagine the best bits of American Heritage, Clutch and ISIS delivered with the seismic impact of Mastodon’s “Remission”. “1010II0101” is a pioneering piece of research at the cutting edge of riff technology that demands your attention.
01). Baroness – “Purple” (579)
Baroness have never written an album like this before and they probably never will. Fate threw them an experience that shook them to their core. It saw half the band leave, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and here the band are channelling all the drama and the turmoil to concoct an album that is beyond special. The ambition, complexity and painstakingly triumphant melodies that drape this record like an emperor’s clothes has made them near enough invincible.
This list features reviews by, Chris Bull, Philip Weller, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Mike Wilcox, Dan Caycedo & Charlie Butler,