Best of 2016, Q2: Manny-O-War’s List

nine circles

Well, here we are again. Another three months past and I am still raving (maybe raging?) about what a ridiculously solid year this has been for metal. Yet, I sit here attempting to include metal that is technically going to be released in the third quarter. You think Blood Incantation isn’t going to end up on year end lists? Ryan Page of A.M.S.Gtotally blew the doors off his production formula and his 2016 release will be battling it out among the top candidates as well.  Further, Brooklyn-based Anicon are set to release their debut (which kills). Over in the prog world, Fates Warning, after working hard for over thirty years will soon put out what might be their best album to date. So, this year is bonkers. And lest we forget the upcoming Inter Arma release… So strap in!

Doing monthly reviews has certainly made the quarterly task easier. That said, ordering these babies and choosing slots for them to fill took some time. There has been an endless amount of genius releases and that theme is only going to continue. Here is what I thought was the best of 2016’s second quarter.


Sylvaine – Wistful

On Wistful, Sylvaine has cemented a spot right beside the powerhouses in gazy, tumultuous, and melancholy music. Her voice is truly a beacon in the darkness and as young as she is she has a limitless future. Good albums come and go but to truly have staying power there has to be something special and unique, something that grabs ahold and refuses to let go. Wistful is all that and then some.” – Josh Stewart


Gevurah – Hallelujah!

There’s no question why Gevurah took three years to release a followup to their 2013 EP Necheshirion (which means ‘Serpents’ in Hebrew). With the thematic depth and musical underpinnings there’s no question that the duo took all three years to write, perfect and compose these seven tracks. It’s exciting to see a band so dedicated to its message and craft. A band so purely Satanic and fundamentally metal in their foundations that they put this much effort into the continuity and complex reality surrounding their art. Hallelujah! is not simply a fun idea or a fantastic sounding record, it’s an experience; crafted through the band’s personal, intellectual tedium. One to be appreciated with all ten Sephirot that may exist within your ethereal soul.” – Manny-O-War


Nucleus – Sentient

“Sentient is an admirable release and with the band growing in all the right ways, Nucleus could very well prove to be the new darlings of the death metal underground. Even with some of its small drawbacks,Sentient is absolutely worth giving your time to.” – Dustin Grooms


Virus – Momento Collider

Virus is genius. And Memento Collider is yet another level in the pyramid to ascension. Virus continues to build and, as they do, their focus narrows as they near the apex. Growing ever closer to leaving this atmosphere and entering the one which they create with their all encompassing auditory blanket of music.” – Manny-O-War


First FragmentDasein

“For all its speed and wild intensity, the lasting impact of Dasein is that it is a simply joyful experience. I’m sure First Fragment is screaming and bleating about important, deeply felt things (the term Dasein, after all, comes from Heideggerian philosophy), but listening to Dasein is fun and makes me feel good and happy. It’s easy to lose sight of that kind of simplicity, particularly when it’s robed in such complicated vestments, but it’s always worth celebrating. Dasein is a great album that KNOWS it’s a great album and doesn’t mind taking a victory lap or twelve.” – Dan Obstkrieg


Grave Miasma – Endless Pilgrimage

Grave Miasma have dominated their niche: blackened death metal with an eye towards atmosphere, musicianship and mood. They have ascended the throne that was theirs for the taking, acknowledged and embraced their roots, and elevated their game to yet another level. While this EP might have served better as a precursor to Odori Sepulcrorum (particularly due to the reworked Goat Molestör track), and while the band may never reach the heights of Odori Sepulcrorum, Endless Pilgrimage is, nonetheless, thirty-three minutes of hellish brilliance.” – Manny-O-War


Zealotry – The Last Witness

Zealotry are able to cull motifs and ideas from multiple sources while never sounding quite like anything else… 2016 has already been a fantastic year for death metal so far, and The Last Witness will inevitably end up standing close to the front of its ranks. It’s a challenging but very rewarding collection of songs, and its density in craft and composition is what makes it so compelling. You can’t afford to miss this.” – Dustin Grooms


Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows

“Much will be said of Howls of Ebb. Their album is not only experimentally reminiscent of Swallowed’s Lunarterial or Morbus Chron’s Sweven but it is also catchy, enrapturing and completely abosrbing. Whether the album gets spin after spin will be up to the individual listener but, as far as music reviewers and purveryos of sound are concerned, Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows should provide more than enough genre-bending and blending to appease the most sadistic and pessimistic fan of black metal. Howls of Ebb provide a journey through global rhythms by way of black metal. It’s one tour that you must take.” – Manny-O-War


Ihsahn – Arktis

For all its heft, Arktis is Ihsahn’s most progressive release to date. It’s also his most easily pallatable for fans of all music rather than just metalheads. It’s an album that should be played on Top 40 stations and broadcast across Vimeo and Hulu. Yet, it is also an album tob e appreciated by the deepest of Ihsahn purists. To love Ihsahn is to follow his vision; to explore the depths of his mind and the nearly limitless bounds of his talent. Simply put, if he can hear it in his head he can make it happen in life. He is, as always, independent and bold, brave and uncompromising across his latest. Ihsahn celebrates his flawless career with aplomb; never showing pomp or circustance. Rather, he lets the music reveal his intellect and speak for itself. Ihsahn is at his best when he’s absorbed in the process and Arktis is no exception—he’s absolutely at his best.” – Manny-O-War


Unfortunately, my #1 album of the second quarter wasn’t able to have a stream. But I implore you to seek out Ihsahn’s latest because it’s a mind-blowing experience akin to drinking hot wax. And there are so many honorable mentions that were left off this list. So feel free to take a spin around this blog and other blogs and just check out the absurd amount of terrific metal that has been released so far. That said, the third quarter is going to be an endless deluge of absurd metal. Did I even mention that Inquisition have a new one due up!?

It’s almost impossible to keep up anymore. So I’m off to lock myself in a basement and listen to about 357 hours of endless double bass and shredding solos to make sure I am on tops of things for the third quarter.

– Manny-O-War

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