Of all metal’s sub-genre’s, death metal was arguably the most creative and the most consistent in 2016. A huge number of acts delivered both brutality and a bewildering amount of blast beats but also an experimental edge that looked to challenge preconceptions and the very notion of what death metal can and could be.
That’s not to say that the time-honoured and classic sound of prime late 80’s/early 90’s death metal wasn’t still fighting the good fight – in fact, the gods of death metal were being honoured in ridiculously faithful ways – but 2016 was certainly the year for breaking down boundaries.
Here’s Worship Metal’s top 10 death metal releases for 2016, let the countdown begin:
10. Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Blatantly taking their cues from the legendary likes of Incantation, Demigod and Demilich, the apocalyptic maelstrom conjured by Chthe’ilist on their outstanding debut Le Dernier Crépuscule was a joy for those who appreciated this reappropriation of classic underground death metal sounds!
Crawling from the Canadian underground to spread their grime far and wide, Chthe’ilist (no, we’re not sure how to pronounce it either) simply oozed with primordial power. Innovation is great but sometimes death metal fans need some old-fasioned filth to wallow in and Le Dernier Crépuscule vomited up gallons of the stuff. Sickeningly entertaining and technically brilliant, it was though Demilich and Gateways to Annihilation era Morbid Angel had bumped uglies and spawned something grotesquely unholy and utterly irresistable !
9. Imperium – Titanomachy
Bored of Nile and their death metal history lessons? Hopefully not, as the UK’s very own answer to the Egyptian obsessed blast-beaters were here to deliver their own death metal education, focusing on both Greek mythology and the time honoured tradition of pummelling you into submission with each and every round of bruising, brutal, technical death metal.
An eruption of ideas awaited the brave, Titanomachy revelling in its turbulent rhythms and palpable drama with Mike Alexander’s riffs running the gamut of death metal influences and the accomplished growls of Doug Anderson (Unfathomable Ruination’s sticks-man, more on them later) culminating in a coherent, seamless work of genius that the God’s themselves would bow down to.
8. Zealotry – The Last Witness
A forward thinking follow-up to their outstanding debut The Charnel Expanse, Zealotry’s The Last Witness provided more bewildering rhythms, bursts of Cynic-esque bass and experimental nous as the old met the new in a thrilling showcase of diverse talent.
In fact, the sheer nerve of closing track “Silence” was enough to rank The Last Witness as a 2016 highlight. A tour de force of classical influences – a burst of cello here, an opening flamenco flourish there – instantly captured the imagination while a death/doom approach added heft and menace to a song which practically defied categorisation.
Zealotry/Chthe’ilist/First Fragment guitarist Philippe Tougas was a busy man in 2016, playing a huge part in 3 exemplary death metal releases of the year. Good work fella, good work!