Best of 2016, Q2: Literati Overlord’s List

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With June winding down (already, somehow), it’s time to start looking back at the past quarter and highlight some of the better albums that have dropped. I suppose another way to look at this is by way of a mid year recap. However, with the abundance of quality albums that have come out in the past few months, going back any further than that is just a bit too arduous. (You can only imagine what year-end does to me.) Regardless, allow me to usher in the end of Q2 with my highlights from the last few months.

If you’ll recall, Q1 brought us a host of strong albums from a range of genres. From the complex black metal of Oranssi Pazuzu to the experimental folk of Ivar Bjørnson’s and Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá, we were certainly offered a bit of everything. Q2 was similar, with a fine showing by a couple well-known names across genres. Let’s get into it.


The Top 3

Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts

katatonia

Absolutely no doubt about this one. The 10th studio album from the progressive death metal group out of Sweden is one of their best ever and universally loved with good reason. Since Dead End Kings, Katatonia welcomed in a new drummer and guitarist and the end result is incredible. More dynamic than any of the recent previous efforts, The Fall of Hearts is beautifully melancholic in a way that entrances you early and inspires you to go through it time and again.

[Full Review]

Ihsahn – Arktis

ihsahn arktis cover

It seems like, at this point, Ihsahn can do no wrong. I have been following him closely since the Emperor days and the way his sound and song-writing has evolved over the years is impressive. With Arktis, he shows similar elements as with his more recent solo efforts, but with more creativity structurally. Filled with one memorable track after another, Arktis calls on a number of influences to help him deliver one of the strongest efforts of his career.

[Full Review]

Behexen – The Poisonous Path

behexen the poisonous path

This will undoubtedly be one of the signature black metal albums of 2016. The Poisonous Path is a dark, dense display or raw intensity. The fifth album from the group out of Finland is a suffocating display of gritty black metal. While 2016 has served black metal well in terms of quality in diversity, this effort from Behexen is a more straightforward, devastating display of ferocity that will resonate with you long after the album has concluded.

The Honorable Mentions

Schammasch – Triangle

“A true journey in sound and mind, with Triangle, Schammasch set their sights high and manage to deliver — from the music right down to the ideas behind it.”

Alaric – End of Mirrors

“Regardless, End of Mirrorsis a study in all that is great about nearly three decades of largely British driven rock. The darkness, despair and questioning of existence aside, the music is damn catchy and hummable.”

Gojira – Magma

Few albums from this past quarter came with more anticipation or hype than Gojira’s Magma. While a different record than some of the notable efforts in their discography, in my mind Magma absolutely lived up to its expectations.

Sarabante – Poisonous Legacy

“It has a certain darkness to it that digs its nails into your skin and refuses to relinquish its hold. Given the efficient presentation of Sarabante’s styling, this intensity entices you to return to this album time and again despite the harshly depressing environment it produces.”

SIG:AR:TYR – Northen

A part of me feels like Northen doesn’t quite get the praise it deserves (and I know it has received relatively high marks). The latest from the Canadian viking black metal band is cohesive start to finish and brings a certain raw aggression to viking metal that I seriously appreciate.

Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign

Where the aforementioned Behexen album was on the raw side of black metal, Dark Funeral came forward a more atmospheric, melodic approach and absolutely delivered. Where Shadows Forever Reign may not be uncharted territory, but it’s done so well here that it becomes extremely difficult to put down.


And that will just about wrap up another three months. Cheers, everyone!

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
– Corey

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