Best of 2016 Ken’s Favorites

Kim & Ken holding hands Goodbye, good riddance and FUCK YOU, 2016.

While I begin writing this, I am overcome with a rush of emotions. To say that is was a rough year for my family would be an understatement.

As some of you already know, my wife of 20 years and my best friend and soul mate of almost 30 had a heart attack and nearly died during a scheduled open heart surgery to replace a defective valve. She would end up having two more open heart surgeries (three total over three days), and then flat line several times in the days that followed, two of those times while myself and our two teenage children were in the room.

In the weeks that followed, days seemed to never end. Time pretty much stood still. She spent 21 days in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) in a drug induced coma, while 16 different drips, two cardiac machines and a heart pump helped keep her alive and her heart beating as close to a normal sinus rhythm as possible, until it was strong enough to beat on its own.

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Transcending Obscurity Label Sampler 2016

Transcending Obscurity - Label Sampler 2016This appeared in the dying embers of 2016, and oh wow did it light up the festivities! 55, yes FIFTY FIVE tracks to stream and download for FREE covering doomy death, grindcore, touches of crust and stoner vibes. And what really excited me about this was the breadth of countries that are represented here.

If you haven’t done so, go and download it, and play it backwards, not for any nefarious Satanic reason, (…sunioj…) but to hear the lesser represented countries in the world of metal, or even western popular culture; India, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan. The label itself is based in India so I this is a terrific gateway in to the south-east Asian metal scene. And what wealth they have there, whether it is the gurgling disgusting grindcore of Gutslit from India or full on Old School Death Metal of Warhound from Bangladesh, or the quite eclectic Grossty from India with their tribal drumming that breaks in to frenetic hardcore.

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Best of 2016 Arash Khosronejad’s Favorites

Arash Khosronejad coverWell, another year is gone.

Beside its fine, pleasing moments, which were few, it was awful and most parts of it sucked. There were countless sad moments, unfortunate events, and more important than the others many great artists, many legends left us, gone forever but their memories remain, with us, eternally.

However, at the same time, many tremendous albums came alive, pleased us, left huge traces of joy and eternal pleasures carved in our souls, kept us all alive, gave us power to face difficulties, through all the ass-kicking rough times.

I’m cutting it short. I just want to mention the words of Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

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rabitrup SWVMPS

rabitrup - SWVMPS album coverYou may be reading reviews of 2016, flicking through pictures of important episodes or famous people who have died, while you are sitting comfortable in your favourite fireside chair; well, rabitrup seem to have condensed the whole horrific twelve months into a three-track explosive self release.

It was Rich of Blackened Death Recordings who directed me to this, and Christ it isn’t easy listening. Chaotic electronic industrial pounding with screaming and heaving vocals thrown over the top along with spoken word samples that make me feel very uncomfortable, a lot like 2016 made me feel. I couldn’t believe what was happening but wanted to know more, illustrating that horrendous rubbernecking human trait so well.

SWVMPS has more variance and repetition than harsh noise, more along the lines of that bombastic dub step that Mick Harris has been touting this last decade. And a lot in common with the more organic guitar and bass of sludge metal, but of an electronica nature.

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Furia Księżyc milczy luty

Furia - Ksiezyc milczy luty album coverThis surprised me, really got me on the back foot.

Furia come from Poland, and along with the cover, the name, the Polish pedigree I really expected something horrifically black metal, cold, barren wastelands of sound played out. Instead, this is very technically layered piece.

Kicking off with some relaxed jazz style drumming and little hints at guitar before developing a kosmiche rock full on barrage all within a 6 minute “Za ćmą, w dym” opener.

This us their fifth full length, yes fifth, and I have to admit living under a rock whilst their first four albums came out! Furia term their work as ‘Nekrofolk’ and I would love to see these guys play at the Black Tor Gathering in the high hills of northern England. I feel they would complement the surroundings well.

The music continues with this easy going deep spoken word vocal accompanied by thoughtful mood inspiring drums and guitars. Maybe it continues like this too long, and just as I think that we get an electric, or should that be eclectic shock of POWERRRR to wake me up and keep my attention.

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Allfather Inherit the Dust

Allfather - Inherit the Dust (single) coverYou may have heard this already, you may be listening to it right now. You can listen to it, enjoying this terrible noise because we live in peace. You can choose to listen (or not) because we have freedoms to do so, freedoms of expression.

Allfather have chosen to release this song with proceeds going towards helping refugees. Refugees may not have the freedoms of expression in their home country. They may not have the peace we enjoy due to wars.

Allfather come from Kent, the region of the UK where refugees are crossing the Channel from mainland Europe to reach this promised land, and its a credit to Allfather to standing up against the tirade of vitriol in the media towards ‘immigrants’ and the right wing politics of parties such as UKIP fighting hard in Margate and the localities. There is a fantastic community within the world of metal, Twitter and #metalbandcampgiftclub are evidence of this. And tiny actions can make a big difference!

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Shroud Eater/Dead Hand Split

Shroud Eater/Dead Hand - Split coverDead Hand tease us during their side of the split, as it soon melts down in to a very relaxed vibe, gently pulsating guitar strings and keyboards.

Hang on, did it say Dead Head, or Dead Hand? Oh wait, here are the vocal growls, this is certainly not Jerry Garcia. These vocals come courtesy of gargling razor blades and singing the lines whilst the blood is bubbling up in his throat just before it congeals. I hope you get the idea.

Dead Hand are a hard working band with split releases and tours behind them. And after the interlude the whole band release hell on the record, and I can feel the sweat from the energy. Southern Druid Records have done both acts proud with this invaluable split which could be a doorway in to these bands for some people as it is a terrific introduction.

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Sunday Stoner Sludge Sermon Green Bastard and Jagged Mouth

Green Bastard - Pyre album coverMaybe its the effect of the cleaning products I have used in the bathroom and kitchen this Sunday morning I can imagine New England stoner-doom trio Green Bastard will cause a stir when they release their debut LP, Pyre on November 16th 2016 on Midnight Werewolf records as a cassette and download as it creates the expectation of an epic listen.

Three tortuous tracks are on offer by the three tortuous members with their slow-baked slackened sludge. There’s something ‘post rock’ about this in their detached, disharmonic guitar sound but it’s barrelling juggernaut behemoth sound will in grain itself in to the subconscious of the unconscious sludge fans I am sure!

I am a little disappointed with the vocals here as they are a little weak in my opinion, it sounds like he can’t keep the note he is aiming for at times and there is a distinct lack of bass sound! The constant fuzz maelstrom is omnipresent but not deep enough for my taste. It can appear a little two-dimensional, and I want to escape in to a four or five-dimensional ocean of sound.

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