I was going to do a handful of smaller posts, but I felt that would be tedious (and also, I've been super busy with a lot of shit), and I like the dramatic flair of putting up something like this on the actual end of the year (fuck the nerds who publish lists in November when there's a whole month left). I cut back a little from last year so as to only include releases I revisited a lot (ie there's more I liked, but these were my absolute favorites) and because I don't want to overthink it. So, it'll be 15 total instead of 15 per category (also no categories because like no rules, dude); but the drill is the same as before -- all releases have download links and are in no particular order blah blah blah -- so let's skip all that needless exposition and get right the fuck to it. Off the top of my head, here's what I liked this year.
Obviously this is at the top (even though in general, these are in no particular order). Instead of writing a whole new review, however, the link leads to the one I already wrote when it came out. Short version: Brainbombs are always at the top of the food chain, and in the tradition of each of their releases having a distinct flair, this one relies on buildups rather than the spontaneous combustion which people usually (wrongly) associate with them. Have fun with your paranoia.
FFO: The Stooges, Chrome
Grim Discharge Mountain
I also reviewed this previously, so the link will go to that; but short version: it's fucking perfect industrial. Grim always manages to bring so many layers together and blend them into the most frightening pieces. It's funny, my two most anticipated releases this year were both from old pros showing everyone how it's fucking done.
FFO: Nails Øv Christ, Test Dept.
No Faith Forced Subservience
So-called contemporary "power violence" is, for the most part, a boring cesspool of wannabes playing formulaic tough guy garbage through through HM-2 pedals. Enter No Faith: another perfect example of old pros showing us all how to do something right. All you really need to know is that Dave Witte of Discordance Axis, Black Army Jacket, Exit-13, Burnt By The Sun, Human Remains, etc drums on this, and he sounds like his old self. Add layers of power electronics, an element of true unpredictability, and some unrelenting rage, and you've got a winner.
FFO: Man Is The Bastard/Noise (yes, really), Crossed Out
Blank Spell Miasma
Look, Blank Spell is one of the best bands on the planet, period. Their manic, brooding approach which combines nods to frantic 80s italian hardcore punk with elements of deathrock (and a slew of other things) is unmatched -- they really are the perfect punk band. I wrote a whole thing about it on Cvlt Nation (which you can read here) so I won't go wild in this post, but I will say that if you sleep on this band, you're a total fool and a tasteless ass.
FFO: Bedboys, Declino
Devil Master Inhabit The Corpse
And while I'm on the subject of top tier dark punk bands (who use a lot of purple and also happen to share members), Devil Master's new tape also kicks ass which should come as no surprise. I reviewed this over at Cvlt Nation (here), but short version: if you like thrashing metalpunk influenced by some of the classics from Japan, and with a true devotion to the spooky, you're gonna eat this shit up.
FFO: 集団自殺 (Syudan Jisatsu), Sex Messiah
Gasp Ghost In Scow Out
Okay, but do you know how excited I was when I found out Gasp is back? In so many words, I flipped the fuck out. Gasp is one of those bands who I've always felt deserved so much more attention and credit for how genuinely weird and intense their music is, but people who are "so into powerviolence, bro" don't even know who they are. Well, this new material sounds like Gasp -- it's the trippy spaced out psych noise violence I've always loved, but the grindy elements take more of a backseat this time. I interviewed them this year which was an incredibly fun experience (read it here), and I'm so excited to see what they've got coming next.
FFO: Suffering Luna, Dome
Not all of these are releases I previously reviewed, I promise, but I did definitely do this one when it came out, too. Short version: Plastic is such an incredible band, and play with synthpunk in a way nobody else really is -- the industrial influence certainly puts them above most, and the overall execution is genuinely unnerving in a way no "mutant freak weirdo" bullshit ever can. This tape is just a miserable, bleak trudge through a synthy wasteland, and it's fantastic.
FFO: Nervous Gender, Flipper
Drunk In Hell Drunk In Hell
I've been waiting for this one for a while, and sweet christ it does not disappoint. Drunk In Hell are a band who perfectly represent the smut, filth, and degeneracy we've all come to expect from this style of noise rock; and this LP is a disgusting and beautiful display of depravity. Fantastic riff after fantastic riff (but only one per song, obviously), the band drudges on through the musical mire they've dumped onto the world, leaving the listener to wade along in their nauseous wake. This LP doesn't get old, and I would say it should be considered a modern classic of the style.
FFO: Rusted Shut, Drunks With Guns
I love when bands who I meet perfect bands through FBN. Roht submitted their demo in 2016 and I absolutely loved it (even if I forgot to post a review of it), and I was so excited to see that they were going to have a 7" on Iron Lung Records (aka the dream label). The 7" -- which was released last year digitally, but taken down shortly after it was put up because it was picked up by ILR -- slams harder than the already amazing demo. Roht's dark, winding riffs are blanketed in harsh electronics; the band stomps forward relentlessly like a tank rolling over a mountain of skulls.. And what part of that doesn't sound awesome?
FFO: Rudimentary Peni, Skullflower
Triumvir Foul Spiritual Bloodshed
There's been a lot of cavedweller death metal in the past few years, and I gotta say the field is getting pretty crowded. Not every band can be as good as Impetuous Ritual or Antediluvian (most aren't). Triumvir Foul (along with other Vrasubatlat projects) take a different approach to the style than most of their contemporaries -- an approach which involves the inclusion of power electronics as an additional element to the already crushing and tormented sounds which come along with the cavernous death metal package. And yes, there are sickass divebombs.
FFO: Dagger Lust, Order From Chaos
Bad Breeding Divide
The integration of industrial/electronics into just about everything has made a big surge (or resurgence, really) in the past couple years. The bands who do it well do it incredibly well (and those who don't are so bad that I wouldn't bother with them anyway), and Bad Breeding is among those who deliver the goods. Divide is an LP which had me hooked instantly and doesn't get dull for a single second; Bad Breeding wears their influences pretty clearly on their sleeves, but they combine those influences with a finesse and weirdness which makes them a truly exciting band. Words won't do it justice, so take a listen for yourself.
FFO: Icons Of Filth, SPK
Full Of Hell Trumpeting Ecstasy
This is probably on just about every year-end list (as it should be) so it's not too hard to find or whatever, but I still needed to include it because of how killer it is, and because of the way it feels like the LP Full Of Hell have always been moving towards -- something they brought up in the interview I did with them this year (here). Trumpeting Ecstasy is deliberate and unrelenting -- as punk/noise/metal should be. The attention to detail and thought put into crafting it really shows in the final product, and as always, Full Of Hell leaves me excited for material to come. Plus, that industrial track fucking slams.
FFO: Discordance Axis, Multiplex
Balcanes Decrépita / Decadencia
Well, this is another (and the last on this list) I reviewed already reviewed (here), but short version: Balcanes delivers two more tracks of steamrollingly heavy post-punk on this new 7" which pick up right where last year's Carne Nueva LP left off. Waves of feedback screech over lurching dirges which pound the listener over the head repeatedly as they swell until they fall apart and end. Another winner for contemporary noise rock.
FFO: Will To Live, The Ex
Disciples Of Christ Parched Dredge
One of the greatest contemporary grind bands returned with two releases this year: a split 7" with Gas Chamber, and this 7" on ILR; both are fantastic (obviously), but this was the stronger of the two for me. DOC's brand of noise damaged grind is instantly recognizable, and just gets more vicious with each new release they unleash upon us. Parched Dredge features tracks which were on the 2015 Demo tape (now with titles) along with some brand new ones which are just as relentless and disgusting as I've come to expect from this band. DOC's breakneck bursts of dilapidated thrashing destruction will never be not exciting.
FFO: Ulcerous Phlegm, Excruciating Terror
Bone Awl The Lowest Road
Fucking finally, the Bone Awl release we were promised by NWN a year or two ago is seeing the light of day. But, until that does finally happen. Bone Awl has given us a little preview of what's to come. And well...it's Bone Awl, alright. The repetitive and tortuous riffs played through a trashcan they're famous for are dished out one after another on this tape, and (as always), they're all rippers. Do I really need to say anything else about this?
FFO: Ildjarn, Seviss
Mutant Video Vanity Of Life
Unfortunately, the horror movie soundtrack via industrial outfit known as Mutant Video is done, but they did manage to release one final LP of their dying gasp. I looked forward to this all year, and when it dropped I was all over it. Vanity Of Life differs somewhat from their previous efforts, however -- the Cronenberg elements take more of a backseat to more of an old school death industrial and industrial punk sound -- it's heavier, harsher, and more overtly aggressive than what people have come to expect from Mutant Video; but don't worry, it's still rife with the paranoia inducing subtlety that they have excelled at in the past.
FFO: Minimal Man, IRM
Gowl On Our Feet Or On Our Knees
Promo copies of this were released in 2016, but nobody ripped it so it went mostly unheard until the band put it up on their bandcamp a month ago. Gowl is another one of the top tier contemporary grind bands (even if they don't receive the same notoriety as DOC, Full Of Hell, Triac, Sete Star Sept, et al), and this release is so ruthless and ferocious that I needed to listen to it a handful of times for it to really sink in -- it's a fucking monster. From the pounding industrial at the onset of this assault to the final cut out at its end, there is not a single moment of reprieve from the punishing intensity via a flurry of riffs, hyperspeed blasts, unpredictable changes, and raw, blown out fury. This was probably left off a lot of lists because of dipshits who publish year-end lists in fucking November (with a whole month left in the year), but if you sleep on this you're missing out big time.
FFO: Suppression, Warsore
As I said at the start, there was a lot more that I liked in 2017, but a certain brevity felt fitting for this. I've got some posts which I'm part way through writing, so I'll drop those soon. 2017 was definitely a rut kind of year for me -- even if I did drop two tapes (one was an overdue dub of Execution 2 the other was a new recording of a set I played this year in Richmond, VA released as Execution 3) and was contacted by a label to release an LP -- but 2018 looks promising and exciting (and not just because I have a 12" coming out). Anyway, sorry again about the absence.
All music is bad.