Top Album Jamz Of 2017

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Into the void itself with this year’s list…..better grab a pen and piece of paper.

2017 for the most part has been a life-changing year for myself. So much has happened after the 1 year anniversary of starting this blog it feels like I’m now starting life all-over again. It’s fucking great though. I’m sure a few people are wondering why I haven’t been more ‘vocal’ about things lately. Truth be told I’m tired at trying to drive a nail through a concrete bunker wall. I haven’t given up on this by any means, I’m still working at it. But for now I’m re-assessing my priorities because bitching and whining about what he-said/she-said and then coming in with my two cents doesn’t exactly help the idea of civil online discourse especially when I drop an F-bomb every five seconds in typical black Irish fashion. If anything I add on to the ever-growing online social media dogpile that happens whenever someone says something. And may be I’m finally growing…..older…..not old. I’m still 34 for fuck’s sake. But hurtling towards 35 with a kid on the way is showing me that there’s more to life than trying to stay on top of the online bitch fest. That part has gotten old by itself. So if you don’t see me adding my 2 cents on to whatever someone says, I’m simply not giving them the attention and clicks they deserve. I say just let ‘them’ be blissfully unaware at the lack of their logic and reasoning and continue to indulge in their utopian pipe dream all while completely ignoring history.

With that said, again it’s been nothing but positive change and personal growth for me. I can honestly say as 2017 has had it’s challenges, what with hurricanes and surgeries, part-time jobs, scoring my ever first professional interview for Noisey of all places, meeting and talking to a lot of cool people (both in-person and online), etc. It’s been keeping me on my toes. Most of all I found the love of my life. My wife and I are now building our lives and expecting our very first child within the upcoming year. So I am grateful. I’m grateful that everyone has helped supported Esoterica Codex be it by spreading the word via mouth, sharing, clicking that like button and commenting on my shit as well as checking out the bands I talk about and also giving me hails. With that said….here are the top 20 jamz to help make 2017 a pretty kick-ass year.

1). Paradise LostMedusa (Nuclear Blast)

This should be no secret by now. Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I am a massive fan of the UK’s lords of Doom. In PL’s case, it’s the case of the old dog improving on old tricks and showing the young puppers what the to do when the master summons for thy bidding. With the exception of the other Doom Metal-related bands on this list, this album alone wiped the slate clean of shitty Sleep-worship stoner rock bands having the audacity of calling themselves “doom metal.” And a proper return to their Death-Doom roots of 1991’s “Gothic” and 1992’s “Shades Of God.” Depression never felt so euphoric.

2). UlverThe Assassination Of Julius Caesar (House Of Mythology)

Shocked to find this artist on the list towering over the rest of the rather gloomy, subversive, and doom-laden? Well, reason why this is so high is the significance of this album and how it pertains to being the soundtrack to my life having such a dramatic change. Ulver doing Depeche Mode synth-pop with proper justice. It’s the album that has helped me at various times relax and clear my head that is swarming with obsessions over music and my blog and helped me pause for a minute and enjoy life. Not a lot of albums make me do that.

3). Drab MajestyThe Demonstration (Dais Records)

I keep coming back to this album for so-many unexplained reasons. Who knows why. For me it’s like a memory of a youthful feeling that’s so far away that trying to grasp it is depressingly out of your reach even though it’s already in your hands. I don’t know if that makes any sense. But I do know what makes sense: this album is fucking sweet. I constantly get lost in this album. Alongside Ulver, Drab Majesty are currently making the sweetest non-Metal jamz to seriously fuck with.

4). Spectral VoiceEroded Corridors Of Unbeing (Dark Descent Records)

Hype! That’s all I hear. But then who ISN’T hyped these days? I can name some but I refuse to give those ‘artists’ the attention of time of day. Spectral Voice was the unexplained Old One that Blood Incantation was summoning with 2016’s “Starspawn.” I’m not sure what it is they were trying to summon, but it’s weird and pissed-off whatever it is.

5). FINArrows Of A Dying Age (Folter Records)

If I can pin-point on a US black metal band that does the old-school sound with justice and no bullshit Euro-worship gimmicks, it’s Chicago’s very own sons of darkness, FIN. They totally capture the days of all of us here in the States listening to Painiac/Sombre Records releases and then throwing our North American take on that. It’s deadly, it’s an agressive, manic, pissed-off middle finger to everything that is false. It’s old-school, it’s melodic, and yet it’s a perfect snapshot of how black metal in 2017 SHOULD sound like as opposed to it trying to be something it’s not which is ‘post-modern. Fucking yuck. Support for FIN is total support for US Black Metal showing what the fuck it can do when it properly flexes it’s muscles.

6). HauntHaunt (Independent/Self-Released)

Truly the most disgusting and NECRO fucking black metal record of 2017, and quite possibly some-time. Haunt is like if you dug up the corpse of Mayhem’s Dead, Euronymous and Bathory’s Quorthon, put them in some dank, wet basement with a 4-track recorder to capture the spirit of what once was. But enhanced the cold and grave-like atmosphere with a weird digital/white noise edge to the guitar riffs and overall sound. Taste the grave dear readers, it’s been waiting for you.

7). LossHorizonless (Profound Lore Records)

The lords of US Funeral Doom are back with their second album and all the pain and misery in the world. There isn’t words enough to justify just how this album overshadowed the entire Doom Metal genre of 2017 at the right moment and at the right time. Prepare to suffer.

8). ImmolationAtonement (Nuclear Blast)

The classiest band in Death Metal are back with a new record with their old-school logo from their classic 90’s albums. Fuck yes.

9). Chaos MoonEschaton Moon (Blood Music)

Comprising of members from Krieg, Skaphe‘, Conqubine, Esoterica, Martrod, etc. this album is a beautiful example of how to do modern-day atmosphere correctly for a U.S. black metal band. Also included is the nightmarish artistic visions of Jef Whitehead who help paints the hymns to the end-times. Extremely fitting for 2017.

10). Forgotten KingdomsCrowned In Forlorn Darkness (Tour de Garde)

If there was one thing I thought would never come back to bring some form of joy in my more mature years, it was the worship and appreciation of the dark ambient snyth work of Norway’s Mortiis – or as it is now officially called “Dungeon Synth.” And out of all the Dungeon Synth material I have listened to in 2017, this one hit a mark that nobody else did. Where most other DS projects and artists are doing their best to frolick thru the shire to take the ring to Mordor, Azgorh channels the dark ambient synth of old-school Beherit and stretches it out to an entire demo-length.  Highly fukking recommended.

11). IntegrityHowling For The Nightmare Shall Continue (Relapse Records)

Integrity goes black metal? That’s what a low of people have said, but not really. But what I do know that this is by far their best fucking album since 1996’s “Humanity Is The Devil.” It’s an album that showcases all of not only their strong-points but how the band is still able to think outside of the proverbial Hardcore/Metal/Punk box and show what REAL crossover music CAN be.

12). Full Of HellTrumpeting Ecstasy (Profound Lore Records)

Returning from the mines of that rusted out area of Central Pennsylvania, FoH come blazing back with another fucked-up mixture of Grindcore/Death Metal/Hardcore/Noise/Electronic and god knows what else that managed to sneak into their young but lively and thriving mixture of genres.

13). Spirit AdriftCurse Of Conception (20 Buck Spin)

I wish I could put this album higher than where I’m putting it. It’s just that goddamn good of a fucking classic/traditional Doom Metal album. Again, no stupid fucking Sleep-stoner worship. No ramblings about smoking pot when though the riffs on this album ARE dank as fuck. Nope, just a side-project of the boiz in Arizona’s Gatecreeper laying down some of the best riffs/melodies outside of the like of Greg McKintosh of Paradise Lost and Kirk Windstein of Crowbar. Don’t worry….it’s more traditional/epic Doom Metal than in it is Sludge-y NOLA-style. Do not miss out on this.

14). Old TowerSpectral Horizons (Vinyl re-issue of demo via Tour De Garde)

I would have given this spot to Fief, another excellent DS artist but I felt this was the closest that could come next to the high mark that Forgotten Kingdoms hit. This is about as close as one wants to get to actual old-school Mortiis-worship without being called ‘worship’ or the dreaded ‘rip-off’ label. As it stands, Old Tower are one of the torchbearer’s to a newly-founded sub-genre that sure to stay around for quite some time.

15). Impetuous RitualBlight Upon Martyred Sentience (Profound Lore)

Metal fans didn’t get a new Portal album this year, so this will perfectly do and take the crown for the Cavernous-sounding Death Metal album of 2017. It’s a spiral down into the abyss itself. WEEEEEEEEE!!!!

16). Chis StapeltonTraveller (RCA Studios)

Here is 2017’s “Wild Card Album.” I know what you are thinking, so there is no need to say it. I do that for you; what the fuck is Chris Stapelton doing surrounded in this list of Metal and god-knows-what-else. And an album from 2015 of all things? Well in case any of y’all start to forget, you’re favorite blogger IS a long haired/bearded/tattooed Florida man from the great state and bayous of Louisiana. With a newly-found family that extends up to the hills of South Carolina. That said, I AM going to be a little bit of a loud-mouth redneck minus waving the confederate flag( unless you get some white wine in me 😛 ). I’ve always preached to never forget your roots under any circumstances. And if you wanna know where I tend to get my highly opinionated and middle finger to everything politically correct…..well now you know. Besides, I enjoy me some good-ol’ shit-kicking redneck jamz. Good shit to drive around to while giving your finger to ‘the man.’

17). Rope SectPersonae Ingratae/Proselytes (Iron Bonehead Productions)

2017 has been a quiet year for Post-Punk/Death Rock. With the exception of the latest Grave Pleasures album, it seems like the end-of-the-world party soundtrack has ended and now the hangover and reality of a world truly teetering to it’s end times madness is coming into fruition. Nobody said it was going to be pretty. And so isn’t Rope Sect. This compilation of both of their 2017 releases shows that may be it time to stop partying and start getting down to serious business.

18). Drowning The LightVarcolaci Rising (Dark Adversary Productions)

I was a bit late to this one this year. This is one of a limited handful of black metal releases this year that managed to stick around. Azgorh of DTL/FK is on a fucking roll this year with not 1 but 2 releases that I feel are a culmination of the best parts of his music/career in a very long time. Considering how much this dude puts out, it’s great to see that there is more of a filtering process. That’s not a slur or sign of disrespect either. I just feel that the gentleman is getting better even though I still enjoy some of his older material. Can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

19). NecrotBlood Offerings (Tankcrime Records)

Death Metal the way it’s supposed to be fucking play. End of discussion. Total fukking support!

20). UndergangMisantropologi (Dark Descent Records)

Last but not least and rounding out this year is Denmark’s Undergang. I caught them in Tampa live at The Brass Mug this past summer for the support of “Misantropologi” and it was pure fun. That’s really how I can sum up Undergang is just a no-thrills fun death metal band to enjoy live.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (more jamz that you should seek out and give no-less of total fukking support to):

Convulsing/Siberian Hell Soundssplit (Art As Catharsis Records)
Future TerrorWe’re All Fucked (Black House Industries)
Poison Bloods/t (Relapse Records)
Tchonorbogs/t (Fallen Empire Records)
Bell WitchMirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records)
Power TripNightmare Logic (Southern Lord Records)
The Lurking FearOut Of The Voiceless Grave (Century Media)
KreatorGods Of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
Artificial BrainInfared Horizon (Profound Lore Records)

And that about rounds up this year as far as the jamz go. Until next time, keep on jammin’ in the free world.

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From the Plutonian planet of the Yuggoth comes Tchornobog’s self-titled album.

Can we get one thing out of the way first? The album artwork.

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That. Fucking. Eye.

It just downright creeps the ever-living blue fuck out of me. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get right into the music of this bad-boy. A one man band created by Ukranian Markov Soroka, Tchornobog isn’t exactly a band that is going to be re-inventing the rules of Black Metal. But what he does with this debut album is a hellish combination of Deathspell Omega and Napalm Death. That’s about as close as I can come to describing this outer worldly monstrosity.

The self-titled album only delivers 4 tracks. The first is fucking 20 minutes long. I have heard some people say “Spare me the long intro”, but for me I’m a patient kinda dude when it comes to music like this. Especially if I’m listening to this at 12:30 AM in the middle of the night whenever my fiancee is asleep and all the animals are curled up. It gives me the chance to fully take something like this in. Even the song titles alone; “I: The Vomiting Tchornobog (Slithering Gods of Cognitive Dissonance)” and “IIII: Here, At The Disposition of Time (Inverting A Solar Giant)” take a good amount of concentration to let your imagination get its gears turning properly. At least for me that seems to be the case.

The music contained in the album itself has many peaks and valleys much like what is shown visually on the album artwork. For such a huge album it’s a lot to take in. Tchornobog has the ability to appeal progressive/outside-of-the-box thinking metal nerds. I don’t say that as an insult seeing how I’m a sucker for albums such as “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Nothingface,” “Human,” etc, but this one is a bit more challenging. Tchornobog‘s self-titled album is a constant-changing riff terrain that demands your full attention. Mind you this is one of those albums that does automatically hits you right off the bat, but it’s still an album that I know will take many repeated listens just to get the mapped-out feel of the almost alien-like landscape. It’s a fucking maze of riffs ( and torment too!). One second you get the blastbeats, the next you get a really doomy breakdown, etc. But the way Mr. Tchornobog goes about arranging all of the riffs and compositions is actually a good contrast to say Germany’s own The Ruins Of Beverast. Where TROB are more doomier, Tchornobog adds in the extra little bit of Death Metal elements here and there. Not a lot, but enough to make the music more beefier and dissonant in some parts.

For all intents and purposes, this is mood music. I don’t see this album inspiring an ever-growing legion of fans who are going to be praising Mr. Soroka to ad nauseum any time soon. More like this is an album for the individual to sit back, and unlock doors in the mind that leads them to wherever. As space-y and nerdy as that sounds, that’s all I can really used to describe it. All and all, it’s a creepy fucking album, complete with crawling eyes and maze-like riffs.

Tchornobog‘s self-titled album is now available on Fallen Empire Records for digital release. I-Voivdhanger Records will be doing a limited edition CD pressing. Other than that, you can follow the one man band at his official Facebook page or his official Bandcamp page.

The Mortal Awakening Of Father Befouled on “Desolate Gods.”

A lot of people in 2017 scream “Too much Incantation-worship!“, and to that I say “Phooey!“. Truth be told, I don’t know what they are listening to, nor do I care. Like any self-respecting Death Metal fan, I can’t get enough of not just Incantation but their influence. Ever since I first heard “Mortal Throne of Nazarene” and “The Forsaken Morning Of Angelic Anguish” as a teen in the 90’s, I’ve wanted more. The feeling and desire of something like Incantation to completely blow me away and shatter my concept of Death Metal is always there. That’s not to say other Death Metal bands haven’t blown me away since, that would a lie. But I’m always yearning for that nice sweet spot that Incantation’s influence can always bring and brighten up my day if ever I am having a bad one.

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Enter Father Befouled‘s “Desolate Gods” on Dark Descent Records. Right off the bat, can we discuss the artwork? I love the whole ‘ancient cave drawing out of a horror movie’ feel to it- like some primitive form of mankind worshiping creepy crawling things of the unknown world they live in. Artwork aside, the album itself just might be Father Befouled‘s best, as they mature while staying true and honest to their Incantation-inspired Death Metal roots. I have just described them with both “worship” and “influence”, but it’s apparent that on “Desolate Gods” Father Befouled have gone from “worship” TO “influence”, coming into their own while becoming more comfortable in their skin. That’s not saying anything negative about the band. Detractors be damned, because “Desolate Gods” is, for the lack of better terms, fucking sweet!

My personal favorite track on “Desolate Ones” is “Ungodly Rest.” The doomy-as-fuck deathly stomper is a form of sound that I personally love. It’s also a change of pace from the rest of the album and really shows the band’s writing chops -not relying on the same ol’/same ol’ that I’ve heard from a shitload of other more uninspired bands. Yes, I am going to throw the Lovecraft reference in here as well, but the slow, plodding, funeral dirge of the song just fits the concept of dark ancient entities and possible readings from books bound in human flesh and inked in blood. “Mortal Awakening” has a subtle tinge of blackened riffs before the headbanging breakdown kicks in.  Other songs such as “Exalted Offal” and “Desolate Gods” have twists and turns as well, but at the end of the day it remains true to the Incantation style of Death Metal which is never a bad thing.

I’ll say one last thing concerning the new Father Befouled (and I know I am not the only one who more or less felt this way) . In comparison to their last album, “Desolate Gods” is far superior. Superior artwork, superior productions, superior song-writing, and hands down the best the band has created. This is Death Metal for worshiping old ones while working around the house trying to beat the summer heat. Enjoy!

Father Befouled‘s “Desolate Gods” is out now on Dark Descent Records. You can follow the band on their official FB page and order their album at Dark Descent Record’s official Bandcamp page.

Where next to conquer? A remembrance of the almighty Bolt Thrower.

I don’t have to go into detail or really have to introduce the almighty Bolt Thrower at this point. It’s down-right silly but to those that never listened to them or missed out on hailing them when they were still active; simply put, you done goofed. I won’t go into a huge history of them, it speaks for itself and you can read all about it on the internets. But I will give you a peek into the time I first listened to them and how they just soaked me into their realm of chaos and how I became a fellow slave to darkness.

I was about 18/19 years old and my young ADHD mind was still learning and everything was still fresh to it at that point in contrast to the dank haze that is starting to affect it now as I hurtle towards 34 next March. By that point I was already frothing at the mouth for anything extreme(I still am even now) so I decided to do more research in the death metal genre seeing how the previous 4-5 years I was totally engrossed with black metal. For a while I took a break from not paying any attention to death metal even though I listened to it, but I didn’t actively search out past the big names such as Suffocation, Incantation, Obituary, Morbid Angel, At the Gates, Carcass, etc. Anyway, I remember my good friend and cult mentor at the time, Jon Jasmid of Full Moon Productions, always telling me to listen to them. So I figured “Fuck it. The dude has never steered me wrong.” My first album I ordered was “Realm of Chaos” which he was telling me to start with. He raved at how it was the most extreme death metal release at the time it was shot out of it’s proverbial war cannon. So grabbing it, and just by looking at the cover…..Warhammer 40,000 artwork? Ok that was waaaaaaaaaaaay different. Looking at the song titles such as “World Eater“, “All that Remains“, and “Eternal War“….it didn’t come off as typical death metal fodder in terms of language or anything. So my curiosity was immediately piqued. Upon popping it into my Sony Discman I was thrown head-first into their universe of constant battle and military tactics.

FUCK.

That was my immediate thought with the first song “Eternal War.” It WAS fucking extreme. The downright dirtiness and sound production wasn’t typical death metal. If anything at that particular time, it reminded me a LOT of then up-coming band Black Witchery (gotta remember this was late 90’s/early 00’s) in terms of rawness. It reminded me of all those crappy black metal demos and albums that I listened to up until that point. And in terms of what the other death metal bands were sounding like…..Bolt Thrower was an all-together different fucking beast. Originally I thought “Yeah it’s Grindcore….but where the fuck are the PC/Gore topics?” So that right there off the bat, completely took me off guard. Where as most death metal bands brought on visions and nightmares of gore-soaked obsession and the conjuration of dark entities and the complete breaking-down and failing human body…….Bolt Thrower just reminded me of that scene in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” where the Exoskeleton’s foot stomps down and crushes the nuclear-charred human skull in post-nuclear apocalyptic Los Angeles. No words spoken, just total and absolute fucking intolerance.

Since then, I’ve always looked for and found excuses to nerd out to them. With friends, family, co-workers. In terms of death metal, Bolt Thrower will always be in my Top 10 next to the likes of Dismember, Immolation, Master/Death Strike, Repulsion, The Crown, Portal, Obituary and a few others.One of the things that HAS always irked me about Bolt Thrower is that certain people couldn’t get or accept the Dave Ingram-era of the band which fucking blows my mind because right behind their genre-defining 90’s albums, “Honor – Valour – Pride” is an ace fucking album. I mean just listen to the first track alone and tell me that doesn’t make you want to nerd the fuck out and give them hails.

And really the hits don’t stop there. They are all-over their dischography. Want something more primitive and cursty? Listen to “In Battle There Is No Law.” Want something epic? Listen to “The IVth Crusade.” So in the future if anyone asks what Bolt Thrower means in this thing we call extreme music. Just blast them this song and if they are a false, they won’t entry. RIP Bolt Thrower. Eternal hails.