B y: Aaron Pickford
Let it be known fellow Sludgelordians, as we enter meteorological summer the harsh reality is, the 2nd day of June is as bleak and it is cold, but fear not, The Sour 16 returns. The Sludgelord presents the very best Diabolus in Musica to pour scorn on this desolate day and strike upon us the might of the riff, to inject our veins with sin and guide us on journey of subservice to doom, an act that goes against the very laws and teachings of populist culture, and for those that wish to come with us on our quest, kneel with me as we embrace the thunderous din that is, The Sour 16.
You should know the drill by now, 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. To put it simply, ‘The Sour 16’ are the records that have been trending the most at Sludgelord Headquarters.
The results are compiled based on page views alone and calibrated into the list below. So roll up, kick back, chug a beer and Hail the riff! All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork and we have included album streams wherever possible. (Total views since their publication are highlighted in red)
16). Kvelertak – “Nattesferd” (305)
There’s a lot to dig into with this new album, and plenty of ‘Nattesferd’ shows that Kvelertak can step outside of their normal comfort zone and the results have come up overwhelmingly positive. This album keeps the familiar, and adds new wrinkles throughout, to keep the album from feeling like a rerun. ‘Nattersferd’ is an album from a band still at a creative peak.
15). Deadsmoke - “Deadsmoke” (328)
With a metal buzz bordering upon scuzz, Deadsmoke comes crashing down like the heavens themselves have cracked, riffing with almost metronomic precision to let their sound boom down your ear canals. This record is guaranteed to make your neighbors hate you.
14). Arcana 13 – “Danza Macabre” (330)
This album is all about the groove, mixing swampy simplicity with killer vocal hooks. The production is modern and clear, but without sounding overproduced. The guitars are nicely fuzzed out, the bass is growling, and the drums sound crisp and natural. Creepy keyboards and psychedelic sound effects weave in the background, tying the album together and never letting you forget that these are songs inspired by one thing: horror. Overall I would go so far as to say “Danza Macabra” is a contender for the Sludgelord list of top Doom releases of 2016
13). Ommadon – “Ommadon” (369)
Events slowly unfold, occupying a compelling middle ground between the hypnotic amplifier worship of Sunn O))) and the barely-moving leaden doom of Monarch!. Riffs emerge from the gloom, shifting forms accented by gut-punching drums. If immersion in deepest, darkest drone appeals, take a plunge in Ommadon’s well of despair.
12). Sunnata – “Zorya” (372)
It’s obvious from these five tracks that the Warsaw quartet are huge doom fans and wear their influences on their sleeve. “Beasts of Prey” is a monolithic blend of Sleep and Yob’s finest moments; heavy riffs and psychedelic passages flowing into one another seamlessly. As “Zorya” progresses, the mood becomes heavier and darker as the tempo slows towards a hypnotic crawl, a potent marriage of killer riffs and sky-scraping ambition. It may not be the most original release but few bands deliver heaviness on this sweeping scale.
11). Desolate Pathway – “"Valley of the King" & "Into The Realms" (380)
10). Battalions – “Nothing to Lose” (420)
Battalions laces up their good shit kickers on “Nothing to Lose”, ready to walk into a punk show, empty pool, construction site, whatever, and proceed to kick your collective teeth in and throw you into a handy wall until you buy a shirt or something, and rock the fuck out. This is heavy music, and QUALITY heavy music. These guys have crafted something that should get your soul to wake up and take notice. Get this album, and keep bands like this pumping up music to bother the neighbours with.
09). Wrong – “Wrong” (435)
From the first second to the last, Wrong maintain a constant flow of gold standard, armour-piercing riffage and somehow manage to maintain this onslaught of barely restrained energy with no let-up for 30 minutes, like The Melvins being forced into playing at double speed, with a cattle prod. This is a flawless debut from Wrong, an addictive adrenaline rush that’ll be lodged in your brain for months to come. When the tunes are this good there is no alternative but to surrender to the power of the riff.
08). King Buffalo - “Orion” (440)
King Buffalo’s music borrows as much vibe from All Them Witches as it does the headspace that Colour Haze finds themselves in. King Buffalo’s music is concise but it’s also psychedelic and free. Each note is hit with diligence, the builds take their time to unfold and every moment of these 45 minutes contributes something to the greater picture. “Drinking from the River Rises” summarizes “Orion” neatly and therefore makes for a solid conclusion to this very impressive debut
07). Conjurer – “I” (496)
Captivating from start to finish, you will struggle to find a release this year that pertains such a crushing sound. Their heaviness seems to come out of your speakers and wrap itself around you. It tightens your chest and grips you, like a boa constrictor.
06). SUMAC – “What One Becomes” (551)
The fact is, this is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album. Rigid Man” sees Sumac in familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’ “Celestial”. The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos and overall “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears.
05). Victorian Whore Dogs - “Afternoonified” (552)
Victorian Whore Dogs are one of the more underrated and exciting live bands currently slogging away in the UK heavy music scene. They are an absolute delight to behold. Their DIY ethics (this was self produced/recorded and will be self released through their own Hibernacula Records) make other bands seem lazy and clueless by comparison and with songs about masturbation (Murder Boner), VWD deliver crushing grooves and swinging riffs with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks courtesy of front man Danny Page's twisted sense of humour.
04). Sinister Haze – “Laid Low in the Dust of Death” (622)
“Laid Low in the Dust of Death” is a monster of flaming slag dripping from the fingers of one of the best bands going, they lay you low with riffs upon riffs, Brilliant vocal setups, and production that will just destroy you. Sinister Haze has nothing to be compared to, keeping it fresh and heavy no matter what they are doing, and this album should rank in the top 5 of any list out there.
03). Gozu – “Revival” (736)
At their core, Gozu is a bad ass American rock band. They’ve got heavy riffs in tow and bang out tunes loud enough to piss off the neighbors. But Gozu is more than this. Gozu is a songwriting machine, one that is able to churn out eight loud, hard hitting compositions without sacrificing the meaning behind the songs or the band. Gozu’s “Revival” is gruff and dirty when it needs to be just as it’s swift and soulful when the time is right
02). Criminal - "Fear Itself" (1435)
Quite simply, this is the best thrash record I have heard yet this year and may well remain so. It edges towards death metal (in the same manner that the Seps' early work does) but this is just vicious stuff. This type of album is why I first started listening to thrash and extreme metal. The sound and the fury. Dios mio! What a fantastic album from a band playing with fire and passion.
01). Blood Ceremony – “Lord of Misrule” (3060)
If you are new to Blood Ceremony, this album is as fine a place to start as any. If you have heard any of their previous albums and enjoyed them, your enjoyment of this one is guaranteed. This is as good an example as any of a band looking to the past both in terms of musical and folklore tradition to create fantastical and occult inspired music.
A big thank you as always to our amazing writers, your dedication knows no boundaries and for that I am truly grateful. May’s “Sour 16” features reviews by, Chris Bull, Philip Weller, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Victor Van Ommen, Charlie Butler, Doza Hawes and Hunter Young