end of year 2016 lists

2016 End Of Year List: Albums Of The Year

27.12.16



More and more each year we are affected and surprised with the annual end-of-year lists the mainstream publications put out and how those usually tend to disregard most of the noteworthy music, underground stuff or not, that was released in the year. We experience this occurrence while each year is getting worse, we believe due to the quality of the actual popular music which worsens pretty badly as well.





Just as we leave out a huge sigh about what we've once again seen listed as the year's best from the most respected magazines and websites around, we present to you D//E's Albums Of The Year 2016 list...



30. Death Index: Death Index



Bringing to mind the ferocity of The Birthday Party, the aggressive despair of The Sound, the offbeat idiosyncrasy of Suicide and a whole lot of underground darkness, especially from the eighties and the nineties, Death Index's self-titled debut is brief, simple, punk at heart, attention-grabbing and straight to the point, like how goths were doing it in the old days.


29. Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch



Blood Bitch, Jenny Hval's sixth album (fourth under her real name) is co-produced by her and acclaimed Norwegian noise producer Lasse Marhaug and it is a concept album that draws much influence from 1970s horror and exploitation films, vampires, menstruation and Virginia Woolf. While Hval describes it as her most fictional work so far, she considers it to also be her most personal one and to that we must add that it's her most impressive as well.


28. Marissa Nadler: Strangers



Strangers is already Marissa Nadler's seventh full-length record, a haunting work of art that once again highlights the artist's deep, dark, melancholic songwriting qualities. With each new record Marissa seems to be breaking through to more listeners while getting better at her own craft.


27. King Dude: Sex



T.J. Cowgill has been delivering one great record after another with incredible consistency, and Sex, his latest one themed around sexuality as the title suggests, was no exception. Sex is that kind of record that matures inside the listener's head with each listen, a record which if you listen carefully sounds influenced by many different and much diverse sources, yet it's utterly original and one hundred percent King Dude.


26. World's End Girlfriend: Last Waltz



From the Chinese artist, Jiang Zhi's eye-catching cover art to the last drop of those wealthy seventy minutes of programming, melody and noise, WEG balances between darkness and light like the most skilled acrobat and themed around his own moniker's name which he's been carrying along for eighteen years now, he reflects upon the world after 3.11 and the terrorism era we're living in, dressing his work with much personal philosophy and establishing this as the most intimate WEG album so far.


25. Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat To Earth



Weyes Blood may look a bit and sound a lot like a young Joan Baez, but ultimately she is her own person and artist and she proves it in the best way possible, by continuously releasing one affecting work of art after another. Front Row Seat To Earth, Natalie Mering's fourth album, is a work that reflects upon the the sound and posture of 1960s and seventies folk possibly more than any other in contemporary music, but despite its old-time-y sound, it does not face the past. On the contrary Weyes Blood seems to have her observational eye set on the present and the future, picking on her own generation and modern times.


24. Esben And The Witch: Older Terrors



Brighton's three-piece is already on its fourth studio LP and it's safe to say that what they have offered the world so far is one great album after the other, with this new one, Older Terrors, instantly becoming our favourite of the bunch, since it sounds and feels like their darkest and heaviest album so far. Between post rock, which is still the main ingredient, ambient, progressive rock, punk and post punk as well as a plentiful of goth and industrial components, Older Terrors is an entire category on its own.


23. Crippled Black Phoenix: Bronze



Like with every other CBP release, Bronze is not easy to categorize or even comfortably tell whether it leans more towards post rock, progressive rock, stoner or doom metal, but what one can recognize with certainty upon first listen is that it's one more brilliant, emotional and full of soul work of art in the catalog of Justin and company, a band that's incapable of releasing something other than impressive music.


22. Darkthrone: Arctic Thunder



Described by Fenriz as "more serious and primitive than usual," Arctic Thunder goes back to the band's trve black metal background, kind of simplified from the more complex punk sound of their recent previous efforts, although it is still packed with heavy riffs, rock 'n' roll attitude and eighties speed metal energy. It's been thirty years since Darkthrone's formation, twenty-five since their death metal debut, but those two guys, still living as outcasts outside the boundaries of the mainstream, have managed to keep sounding spirited, being productive and remain young, at least regarding the excellent records they steadily produce.


21. Lustmord: Dark Matter



In its very essence, Dark Matter is a triumph, not only because it is one more wonderfully crafted piece of work in the long catalog of one of the genre's finest artists, but also for the fact that it offers the listener a chance to peek at the vastness of the great unknown universe and that it can work as a reminder about how overwhelmingly imposing it can be and how differently we experience it in our own little world compared to what we would see if we could step a little further out there.


20. Raw: From The First Glass To The Grave



Raw, this enigmatic duo from Calgary, Canada, broke out sounding influenced by a wide range of genres, yet they refuse to subscribe to any of them. Where the blues in their darkest form meet some grim country, psych rock and extreme metal, From The First Glass To The Grave shines as one of the most impressive debut obscurities of the year.


19. Super Unison: Auto



Oakland post-hardcore trio, Super Unison, fronted by ex-Punch vocalist Meghan O’Neil Pennie, released Auto, their debut on Deathwish, Inc., one of 2016's most dynamic punk albums, recorded by acclaimed producer Jack Shirley. Auto is fast and loud and its just 35 minutes of duration can be enough of a proof that punk rock is alive and still capable of greatness.


18. Confrontational: Kingdom Of Night



"Horror" and "Italian" are two terms that match each other more than often and the case of Confrontational is no exception to that. Eighties throwback or not, Confrontational's sophomore album does not sound like it's being part of a trend that will most likely fade away in a little while. Its darkness feels heartfelt and its ripping synths, even though they scream "eighties", sound genuine and flow naturally through the forty-two minutes of haunting dimness and icy chills.


17. Emma Ruth Rundle: Marked For Death



Two years after her previous solo album, Some Heavy Ocean and one after her critically acclaimed collaboration with Marriages, Emma Ruth Rundle returned with a dark record sharply titled Marked For Death, which displayed her tremendous growth as a songwriter and performer.


16. Touché Amoré: Stage Four



Touché Amoré's fourth is beyond shadow of a doubt comprised of Jeremy Bolm's deepest and most personal writing so far, a record fueled by his relationship with his late mother, her being sick with cancer and the bitter loneliness that came with her death. The album, apart from its autobiographical aspect, is a lively work of art and an intense experience for the listener, filled with sorrow, aggression and love that eventually leads to cleansing and purification.


15. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree



Coincidentally this is another album inspired by the loss of someone dear, Cave's Skeleton Tree is his 16th album with the Bad Seeds, during the making of which his fifteen-year old son died at a tragic accident. Grittier and maybe most avant-garde than ever, the Bad Seeds' dark sound in this form, minimally produced but unbearably heavy in feeling, was embraced by everyone, as Skeleton Tree became the bands' highest charting US album and received universal acclaim from fans and critics alike.


14. Xander Harris: California Chrome



On his first album for Rock Action, Texan producer Xander Harris exhibited his signature retro synth sound and soundtrack-esque qualities creatively and to the satisfaction of everyone who loved his previous efforts on Not Not Fun and wanted to see him succeed under the shade of a bigger label. For the rest California Chrome will probably go down as Justin Sweatt's first step towards greatness, when the truth is that really happened five years earlier with Urban Gothic.


13. Graves At Sea: The Curse That Is



Portland's Graves At Sea had been a hopeful act for the sludge/doom metal genre for more than a whole decade, attracting much well deserved attention among the metal realm with their split releases and EPs, but in 2016 the time came for Graves At Sea to shine autonomously, with their long awaited full length album that happened to be one of the heaviest records of the year, a record that justified the long wait as more than worthwhile.


12. True Widow: Avvolgere



Blending stoner rock's heaviness with shoegaze's distortion, droning ambience and the accessibility of more traditional genres like the blues and rock 'n' roll, True Widow followed their excellent 2013 album, Circumambulation, with an equally impressive successor that revealed the band's artistic progress and maturity, and proved once more that their sound is quite tough to categorize.


11. Oathbreaker: Rheia



The second album on this list that has been produced by Jack Shirley, Rheia is Oathbreaker's third and their most appreciated LP so far. Belgium's heaviest band released one of extreme music's most emotive albums for 2016, this time inspired more from post metal and black metal than their previous hardcore punk-infused releases, resulting to a work of musical superiority that's almost impossible to parallel.


10. Street Sects: End Position



Experimental/industrial punk duo from Austin, TX, Street Sects, released their debut album, End Position, on The Flenser, a work that blends harsh electronica and industrial frenzy with punk rock grit and serious lyrical pessimism, which happened to be one of the most impressive but underrated breakthroughs of the year. On the EPs that preceded a couple of years ago Street Sects showed great potential, but it's on their debut that the duo perfected their sound and posture.


9. Miserable: Uncontrollable



After two EPs as Miserable it came time for Kristina Esfandiari's shoegaze/dreampop solo moniker to put together a full length and as expected it did not disappoint. Uncontrollable is a dreamy, heavily emotional work, driven by Kristina's sulky vocals and some excellent production that impeccably compliments the compositions and their often dismal lyrics.


8. Youth Code: Commitment To Complications



The duo that brought back memories from the glory days of industrial metal more than any other, put out to the world their confident sophomore full length via Dais Records, a straightforward and super nihilistic LP that overflows with aggression, skepticism and darkness. Ryan William George and Sara Taylor definitely look up to the undisputed industrial music heroes, but they do not emulate the past. Commitment To Complications is Youth Code at their best yet, a highlight for the year and for the genre in general.


7. Wreck And Reference: Indifferent Rivers Romance End



Many steps ahead of their previous releases, Wreck And Reference's latest record dropped like a lightning bolt. Throw whatever term you want in the mix: drone, post metal, IDM, noise rock, metal, even the most twisted version of pop music you can imagine. Having failed to release anything other than excellent so far, Wreck And Reference will always be beyond descriptions.


6. All Your Sisters: Uncomfortable Skin



San Francisco's All Your Sisters followed their impressive 2014 debut with an even more exciting record, Uncomfortable Skin, one of post-punk's darkest moments of the year that grows on the listener with each spin.


5. Cough: Still They Pray



From its haunted-by-Electric-Wizard opener, Haunter Of The Dark, to the brilliant acoustic title track which wraps up the album an hour later, Still They Pray wins on every level. The album was produced by Electric Wizard's Jus Oborn, and marks a milestone in Cough's hypnotic course through the slow, psychedelic part of the extreme metal world. As time progresses Cough do too and Still They Pray is not only their best work to date, but one of the best sludge metal albums of the last few years.


4. David Bowie: Blackstar



It's been almost a year since the great David Bowie passed away. Just before his passing the iconic all-around artist managed to leave behind a profound work of art that was incited by his terminal illness and the grim point of view under which he saw the world during his last few months. Only Bowie could pull off such a deep and intense album as Blackstar, a last gift from his genius to the universe that will keep on giving for many years to come.


3. Russian Circles: Guidance



The three years since 2013's Memorial mark the band's record for longest absence between albums but Guidance upon its arrival proved that it was absolutely worth the wait. Once again Russian Circles balance expertly between calmness and loudness, providing their signature dramatic outbursts, toying with opposite emotions and delivering everything on point, with the help of co-producer Kurt Ballou who proficiently captures the band's complex sentimentality.


2. Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression



With such an amazing album title and backed up by a band that features Josh Homme (who has also produced the album), Dean Fertita from QOTSA and The Dead Weather and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys, artistically 2016 was a great year for Iggy Pop, who at 69 is not only a legend in music, but with Post Pop Depression he has also proven that he can still do it better than anyone...


1. Nothing: Tired Of Tomorrow



When in 2014 we selected Nothing's debut as the Album Of The Year, as much as we believed in the band's excellence, we weren't expecting them to exceed their own selves with a second fascinating album in a row, but it's been clear since the first listen that Tired Of Tomorrow is the best Nothing album yet, perfectly produced by the production team that includes Will Yip and featuring the band's best compositions so far. Nothing's sophomore record went through quite a few obstacles and tribulations before its release, like the abrupt change of labels due to Collect Records being financed by super villain Martin Shkreli and Nicky taking a very bad beating after a gig in Oakland. Fortunately it all worked out great in the end for Nothing, a band with immense talent and creativity that has produced some of the most bleak and lowest spirited shoegaze the world has seen in recent years. For the second time in four years returning champions, Nothing, get the top spot on our Albums list.





In actual list form...

1. Nothing: Tired Of Tomorrow
2. Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression
3. Russian Circles: Guidance
4. David Bowie: Blackstar
5. Cough: Still They Pray
6. All Your Sisters: Uncomfortable Skin
7. Wreck And Reference: Indifferent Rivers Romance End
8. Youth Code: Commitment To Complications
9. Miserable: Uncontrollable
10. Street Sects: End Position
11. Oathbreaker: Rheia
12. True Widow: Avvolgere
13. Graves At Sea: The Curse That Is
14. Xander Harris: California Chrome
15. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
16. Touché Amoré: Stage Four
17. Emma Ruth Rundle: Marked For Death
18. Confrontational: Kingdom Of Night
19. Super Unison: Auto
20. Raw: From The First Glass To The Grave
21. Lustmord: Dark Matter
22. Darkthrone: Arctic Thunder
23. Crippled Black Phoenix: Bronze
24. Esben And The Witch: Older Terrors
25. Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat To Earth
26. World's End Girlfriend: Last Waltz
27. King Dude: Sex
28. Marissa Nadler: Strangers
29. Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch
30. Death Index: Death Index




ZR

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