Albums of the Year: Phantom Winter
As painstakingly slow Phantom Winter like to drill their amalgam of blackened doom and post-metal into open wounds – their working morale suggests a much higher tempo. While we haven’t even recovered from the nasty tour de force through damp ruins on Sundown Pleasures, the Würzburg five-piece is seemingly already collecting ideas for its successor. .
1. Tim Hecker – Love Streams
It must be noted that Tim Hecker is my favorite musician since at least Harmony in Ultraviolet. Period. In contrast to its predecessors Love Streams experiments with vocals, choral arrangements sung in reverse latin before being cut up to empty them of all meaning. A comparatively mellow and almost poppy album, yet unmistakably Tim Hecker. Saw him live in support of Love Streams at Donaufestival 2016 in Krems. Blew me away.
2. Billy Gomberg – Slight At That Contact
At times dark and cold, other times warm and cosy, Slight at that Contact has it all. Captivating ambient drones with the occasional rumbling and chirping. Perfect for my bike commute at minus ten degrees.
3. Andrew Pekler – Tristes Tropiques
Very disctinct and odd atmosphere, never listened to an album like this before. The title describes the listening experience pretty well, it actually sounds like a „sad rainforest“ to me. A huge listening pleasure, demands full attention. Must be heard to be comprehended.
4. Mats Erlandsson – Old Tears
Three albums of Mats Erlandsson in one year, one better than the other. „Old Tears“ is the one I played the most. Distorted until close to the threshold of pain while sounding melodic and tragic at the same time. Listened to at high volume, it’s a very engaging and satisfying album. RIYL: Tim Hecker, Lawrence English, Stars of the Lid.
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5. Steve Hauschildt – Strands
A synthesizer album with relevance. Much more captivating and entertaining than his previous solo efforts. An exciting and well-balanced mixture of synth ambience and arpeggio sounds. Jean-Michel Jarre meets Alessandro Cortini is what it sounds like to me. I’ve been listening to this one a lot this year.
Sun Worship – Pale Dawn
The follow-up to the amazing Elder Giants needs a few rotations to really stick, but it grows into a more than worthy successor. And yes, I dig the clean vocals in Perhelion, even if that isn’t completely my thing otherwise. So don’t be scared off by the glasses, bare feet and other hipster stuff, buy and enjoy. By far my favourite labelmates.
PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
Basically the same deal as with Sun Worship. The current record is the successor to one of the best albums in recent years (Let England Shake), which made it hard to achieve that same level. Even better that PJ Harvey somehow did it, even with the saxophone.
Unru – Der Mensch ist als Tier nichts
Not a very sophisticated sound, but arther a infernal maelstrom that swallows you whole while listening. It’s wonderful, how Role (Tonmeisterei) manages to give each band a fittingly distinct sound. Musically it’s an interplay of blast beats and in parts extremely slow passages that draws you in. Add well done lyrics, and you got one oft he best albums of 2016.
Celtic Frost – Monotheist
While making this list I had to discover, that great new albums in 2016 were a rarity for me. That’s why this jewel found its way into this compilation. Sadly I ignored it at its release in 2006, but by now this deeply dark lump became one of my favourite Celtic Frost records. Doesn’t matter if it’s metal songs like Ain Elohim, or more gothic pieces like Obscured, these songs breathe a bleakness only Celtic Frost are able to achieve. And don’t get me started with the final monolith Totengott/Synagoga Satanae/Winter. That rips. Sadly Tom Warrior couldn’t reach theese Heights again with Tryptikon, which might have to do with the absence of Martin Eric Ain.
Oathbreaker – Rheia
Of course the biggest Differnece to Eros|Anteros is Caros more varied vocal performance. She has clear parts now. It took a bit, but eventually the album gripped me.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Vol 1.
Whenever I listen to this soundtrack I feel like I’m living inside of Tron, one of my favourite movies. The sound aesthetics on this record are insane. If you need distorted guitars, you’re wrong here.
Black Table – Obelisk
Black metal for students, some would say. The I would say: fuck off! Obelisk is fun. Blast beats and clean guitars, that have so much reverb on them, you want to dive in there. But it’s not smooth at all. Very nice!
Touché Amoré – Stage Four
If I would make hardcore, not metal, it would sound like this. I just love Touché Amoré. From Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me over Is Survived By to Stage Four.
Russian Circles – Guidance
If it’s post-rock, I’ll have it like this. Guidance is a really great album, sometimes maybe a little too euphoric. Sometimes the guitars sound lke synths with arpeggiators. That sounds really interesting.
Throwers – Loss
With Loss, our labelmates on Golden Antenna gave birth to a piece of dark hardcore, that immediately got this old Botch fan. Very sad, that the boys from Leipzig split up at the end oft he year. I would have loved more from that same direction.
David Bowie – Blackstar
When Bowie died two days after Blackstar released, his farewell record really became the masterpiece it is. Especially Lazarus, with its intense melancholia, is deeply touching on every repeat.
Die Antwoord – Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid
„He likes his Coffee black as his Soul“. Southern African mixture of rap and rave with afrikaans lyrics. Best female vocals out there. Enough said.
Nails – You will never be one of us
An incomprehensible anger thats accumulated there, and discharges with this massive lump of brutal riffs and ultra pissed off vocals. I can’t remember another preview-song I’ve listened to as much as the title track. Destroys everything.
Pisse – Kohlrübenwinter
Cold lo-fi deutschpunk with pretty much the best lyrics. Was on heavy rotation these last few weeks and will stay there.
Martyrdöd – List
Simply the best new Crust/D-Beat-album I listened to for a long time. Start with the titletrack. It is so catchy and just so good! Powermetal meets Crust!
Leichnam – Leichnam
In the 90s there were a few bands that made that kind of sound. Silence of Thoughts, Nebel, Zorn (germany), maybe it also has a bit of Lvmen. I love that kind of music so much. Creepy, depressing, emotional, just awesome. The song Black Tar kills!
M.I.A. – A.I.M.
„I’m someone’s shot of whiskey, not everyone’s tea“ – enough said.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
It might not be the best Nick Cave album (as a lot of critics would agree, who cares about critics) but I still love it. A lot. He is one of the guys who could shit into a bucket and make it sound overwhelming.
Bombus – Repeat Until Death
As Christof already mentioned the new PJ Harvey-album, which would be definitively on my list, I go extreme. I could choose the Anagnorisis or the new Asphyx Vrtra! All very good. But I listened to Bombus‚ Repeat Until Death that often, I saw them live and they blew me away, this album has to be on my list.