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Album Reviews Listening Chaos

The Listening Chaos: Year-End Chaos, Part III

Part III – here we go…

15. Handsome Prick – Enlarged to Show Texture

I have been singing the praises of NW Indiana grinders Handsome Prick to anyone who will listen ever since I saw them as one of the locals on a bill with Deicide in Valpo last December. In a year where most of the best grindcore albums have been completely humorless, the Prick are refreshing in terms of how they play some absolutely fierce grind but don’t seem to take themselves all that seriously. There’s also more variety from song to song here than you’ll find on a lot grind records. Now will somebody please book these guys in Indy?

14. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked for Death

This is one of those ‘not metal, but…’ records. I’ve mentioned on this site before how much of an Emma Ruth Rundle (also of Marriages and formerly of Red Sparowes) fan I am, but let me reiterate I fucking adore Emma Ruth Rundle, and while Marked For Death might not be the musically heaviest album you’ll hear this year—it probably falls broadly under the ‘doom folk’ umbrella, though there are some bombastic post-metal moments as well—it certainly carries a hefty emotional weight. This record is gorgeous and heartbreaking, and the haunting acoustic closer “Real Big Sky” might be my favorite song to come out in 2016.

 13. Nails –You Will Never Be One of Us

Easily the most ironically named album of 2016, You Will Never Be One of Us broke Nails about as far into the mainstream as a grind/powerviolence band is ever likely to get. And while he backlash in some corners of the metal blogosphere has been kind of fascinating to watch, I don’t think even those people who for some reason seem shocked that main man Todd Jones’s personality might be as abrasive as the music he makes can honestly say this record doesn’t deserve all the attention it’s been getting. This album is a fucking beast. If you’re looking for subtlety or nuance, you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere; Nails basically has one mode—rage. And as they blast through ten songs in a tick under 22 minutes (most of which is courtesy of 8+ minute closer “They Come Crawling Back”), there’s nary a moment to catch your breath. And now that they’re off hiatus or whatever and hitting the road again in March, I highly recommend seeing them live; I caught them in Chicago on the day the record came out, and they are even heavier and angrier in person than on record.

 12. SubRosa – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages

I feel like I was one of a very few people who didn’t love More Constant Than the Gods, so this album seemed like a really nice return to form to me. To my ears, the biggest difference here is that the band is embracing more of their progressive side and taking more risks in the writing and arranging. The vocals sound a lot more confident here, too. And I’m a sucker for violins in metal. Wins all around.

11. Vektor – Terminal Redux

When it comes to thrash, I generally like to see it live more than I enjoy sitting down and listening to it. Case in point: I will go see frequent Vektor touring partners Black Fast pretty much any chance I get, but I rarely listen to their albums. Vektor are one of the rare thrash bands whose records I can really get into. Terminal Redux is an absolute masterpiece of sci-fi thrashy goodness, and there are some surprisingly Pink Floyd-ish progressive elements thrown in this time around that really make this record something special.

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