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SPECIAL FEATURE: Best of 2016 – Chris Dahlberg (TO Staff)

2016 has been a year of ups and downs, but one thing that has been consistent is the amount of incredible music available.  Last year I did a top 15 list, but this time around I had to expand it to 25 because of how much material I was able to listen to.  And even then I’m leaving out a number of noteworthy releases in a variety of different genres.  Having recently celebrated my one year anniversary of writing for Transcending Obscurity, I’ve had the chance to write about and be exposed to more metal and related genres than ever before.  Anyone who says there isn’t a lot of good new music out there in 2016 either isn’t looking hard enough or isn’t open minded enough to try new things, as I could have easily made a top 50.

As with most personal lists, I’m sure you’ll find some picks to disagree with or albums you think should have been included, and I’d love to hear your comments so we can debate.  Look for more best of material from the rest of the TO staff, which is sure to include a lot of different bands from my list and give you some exposure to some other worthy efforts.  –Chris Dahlberg

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INTERVIEW + SONG PREMIERE: Lucifericon- Brimstone Altar

It has been close to four years since the last time Dutch death metal band Lucifericon released material, but that’s about to change with the upcoming ‘Brimstone Altar’ EP. Due out later this month on CD from Invictus Productions with a vinyl version from Blood Harvest Records on May 2nd, this is the type of dark death metal where you can feel the evil and otherworldly atmosphere pouring out each and every note.

We’re excited to have the chance to premiere The Jaws of Time, which is exactly the type of track that makes it clear Lucifericon is a band you should be paying attention to. It comes roaring out of the gate with faster death metal riffing that grabs you right by the throat, with a slower ominous sounding section that is well placed about halfway through. Check out the song below as well as an extensive interview with bassist/vocalist Rob Reijnders that talks about ‘Brimstone Altar’ as well as the band’s future plans.

Lucifericon- Brimstone Altar

 

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INTERVIEW + SONG PREMIERE: Cadaveric Fumes- Dimensions Obscure

French death metal band Cadaveric Fumes released their first demo ‘Macabre Exaltation’ back in 2012, which caught the attention of quite a few people thanks to its old-school sound that was just as focused on atmosphere as it was crushing riffing. The demo caught the attention of Blood Harvest Records, who reissued it on vinyl a year later and is now set to release the band’s newest EP ‘Dimensions Obscure’ on May 2nd.

We’re excited to premiere the second track from the EP, Extatic Extirpation. Right from the start it’s clear that Cadaveric Fumes has grown significantly without losing the elements that made their earlier material so enticing. There’s added clarity to the sound, and an increased amount of thick, tense atmosphere wrapped in more adventurous riffing. About three quarters of the way through, the weight of the instrumentals suddenly lessens to let all of that gloomy, foreboding atmosphere seep in before launching right back into the intense riffing. It’s a catchy song that has plenty of twists and turns, which is true of the entire EP as a whole. Give this one a listen, especially if the more adventurous riffing of death metal bands like Tribulation and Morbus Chron have been a regular part of your listening repertoire.

It’s clear that Cadaveric Fumes has branched out significantly on this new release and is ready to branch off on their own path that captures the dark and murky spirit of older death metal while venturing off in a direction of its own. We had the chance to ask guitarist Wenceslas Carrieu some questions to learn more about ‘Dimensions Obscure’ and what the band’s been up to lately.

Cadaveric Fumes- Dimensions Obscure

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LIVE REVIEW: Hammerheart Ostarablot Day 1

Hammerheart Ostarablot

North America seems to be in something of a festival boom right now. While there have been long running festivals like Maryland Deathfest and now defunct events such as Milwaukee Metal Fest, the past few years have seen more and more options for people around the continent to attend. The next couple months alone have multiple festivals to choose from, and the most recent one to grab my attention was Hammerheart Ostarablot at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. This is the second festival held by Hammerheart Brewing Company, which is based out on Lino Lakes and was co-founded by Austin Lunn from Panopticon. I missed the first one at the end of 2014, which featured performances from Wodensthrone and Obsidian Tongue, but knew I couldn’t make the same mistake again for this expanded two day event. Ostarablot had five bands playing each day with a lineup that went for quality over quantity, and its first day had performances from Wyrding, Wilt, Obsequiae, Waldgeflüster, and Falls of Rauros.

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LIVE REVIEW: Conan + Serial Hawk

Conan Ottobar

I missed Conan when they came through on their first ever U.S. tour last year, but the general consensus I heard from everyone that was able to check them out was that they completely destroyed every venue they stopped at. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long to have another chance to check out the UK doom band, as they started off March with another headlining tour that has Serial Hawk as direct support. This particular run is in support of the group’s newest full length ‘Revengeance’, which came out on Napalm Records back in January and saw them offer more of the overwhelmingly heavy doom alongside some faster blasts. I had the chance to catch this tour when it came through the Ottobar in Baltimore, and Conan certainly didn’t disappoint.

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LIVE REVIEW: Enforcer + Warbringer

Enforcer Tour

Another North American headlining tour has been a long time coming for Enforcer, as the last time they made their way through the continent was back in the fall of 2009 in support of their debut full length ‘Into the Night’. Since that time the Swedish heavy metal band has released three more albums and toured Europe and the UK quite a bit, leaving fans over on this side of the world clamoring for their return. 2016 proved to be the right time, as alongside Warbringer, Cauldron, and Exmortus the group embarked on a 43 date tour. While it passed over my immediate local market (Baltimore/DC), I couldn’t miss this chance to see Enforcer as I’ve been a fan since 2010’s ‘Diamonds’, so a close to two and a half hour drive was in order to catch the very last date in Richmond, Virginia.

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