So, you know how I said I had problems whittling the list of my top albums down in my previous post? Well, there were so many good albums, that I decided to do another run-down! This is a list of albums that didn’t quite make it to the top list for various reasons, but still stand strong, and are worth listening to. So here’s yet another 2016 list to feast your eyes upon!
Beat:Cancer v3 (Various Artists)
So, I set myself some stupid rules for my lists; to not include compilation albums or remasters/re-releases of previous albums. This falls into the former category, and it’s a bloody shame too, as this is definitely worthy of being in amongst the top albums of 2016. Sadly, that list was packed enough as it is, and I even cheated a little to fit all I could into it! So, what is Beat:Cancer? It’s a cancer charity run by the legendary Mark Haigh, who works tirelessly to gather an array of Alternative, Industrial, EBM, Goth and Metal bands for various events and albums. This is the third volume of music, compiled for your listening pleasure, and what a compilation it is! Spanning across three separate discs, there’s a mammoth 36 tracks to get stuck into, with some pretty awesome names, such as Neonsol, ESA, Freakangel, Syd.31, Dirty K, Ruinizer and Taypewyrm. Across this huge set there’s an extremely diverse range of styles that truly captures the essence and spectrum of the scene. From high-octane danceable synthy tracks, to the dirty sounding tones of gritty EBM, to massive sounding industrial metal, Beat:Cancer V3 really does cover all the bases, filled with remixes and original tracks. If there’s one compilation album you need to get your hands on, it’s definitely this one, plus it’s for an amazing cause!
The Firm – Veritas
Another album that was insanely close to making my top albums of 2016 list, but only just missed out. It was a very sad day when frontman Jens Kästel left Funker Vogt. I knew he’d go on to do more great things, but with the legacy of Funker Vogt being so huge, it was going to be a tough act to follow. Needless to say, he absolutely nailed it, and then some! If I’m honest, I’m actually starting to regret not including this one on my list, it’s absolutely massive. Filled with really distorted gritty pounding industrial rhythms and beats, and fueled with aggression, Veritas is a pretty hard-hitting album. I honestly don’t know where to begin, pretty much every track is a dancefloor filler, although the likes of “BTUF (Brotherhood & Unity”, “Geschlichten ohne Wert”, “Projektil”, “Abgebrannt” and “Feuer” spring to mind as the most notable. Even when it slows down with moodier more atmospheric moments “Reflektion” and closer “Frei”, it still has the energetic vibes that manifests throughout the rest of the album. This album is a huge triumph, and if you love harsh sounding EBM, this is definitely a worthy addition to your collection.
Lindsey Stirling – Brave Enough
I absolutely adore Lindsey Stirling’s work. The way she blends classical, and electro-pop music together is genius, creating an incredibly stunning, euphoric sound. She broke new ground on YouTube, then with her self-titled debut album in 2012, truly rosing to new heights in 2014’s Shatter Me. Yet Brave Enough seems to miss the mark slightly. Don’t get me wrong, the beautiful trademark symphonic classical stylings and pop hooks are still very well in place, but they just don’t seem as prominent here. With this release, Lindsey decided to get guest singers in for most the tracks, with some very prominent figures taking on vocals duties. Sadly, I feel the emphasis is too heavy on these guest singers, and they seem to take centre stage, with Lindsey’s amazing violin skills taking a back seat. It’s as if she’s playing second fiddle on her own record. The few tracks that are instrumental is where the album really shines, especially with closer “Gabi’s Song”, which is bound to pull on anyone’s emotional heartstrings if they know the background story to this track (I felt myself tearing up when listening to it.) It’s just unfortunate that these tracks make up for a small portion of the album. I’ve got to hand it to her though, it was a very brave experiment, and the lyrics are beautiful, conveying strong messages throughout. That said, Lindsey herself has proven that she has an incredible singing voice, so if she does go for a vocal-heavy album next time round, I’d love to see her performing vocal duties. I know it’d probably change the style of her unique, energetic live performances, but done right, it could really take her to the next level!
Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events
Trent Reznor promised us new material last year, and fulfilled his promise just in time for Christmas in the form of Not The Actual Events, with long time friend and collaborator Atticus Ross now officially a full-time member of the band. The EP has a rather interesting theme to it, with lots of textured layers giving the tracks a very rich sound. What makes them more dynamic is the usage of heavy distortion, that makes each track have a very visceral, aggressive feel to them, although it also has somewhat of an ambience to it at the same time. The style is very reminiscent of earlier Nine Inch Nails in terms of production, with some of the catchier, modern elements blended in. “Branches/Bones” feels very in line with post-Year Zero NIN, for example, whilst “The Idea of You” and closing track “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” are more akin to the Downward Spiral era. However, considering how long the wait was, it really didn’t feel worth it. I did really enjoy listening to Not The Actual Events, and there’s certainly some interesting experimentation going on. I just think that after a four year wait, it’s somewhat underwhelming. Alas, hopefully this is a sign of things to come. It really feels like more of a teaser for the next phase of Nine Inch Nails, and if this release is anything to go by, things will get very interesting indeed!
Rave The Reqviem – The Gospel of ‘Nil
I first discovered Rave The Reqviem with their self-titled debut album in 2015, and after an intense and amazing show at Resistanz Festival that same year, I was hooked! Their fusion of Metal, Industrial, EBM and Gothic music styles was an amazing mix, with a high-octane pace that was wonderful insanity. Fast forward to 2016, and we finally saw the release of their second album, The Gospel of ‘Nil. After the epically cinematic opening “Prelvdivm (Nihil Ex Nil), we’re re-introduced to the familiar brutal chugging guitar riffs, with catchy electro hooks backing the track, as seen in their debut. “I Hold the Sceptre” and “Black Dog Baptized” are more highlights on this album, melding the electronic and metal industrial elements in an amazing harmony of frantic energy. However, the electronic elements that were pretty defining on the first album seem to have taken a back-seat, in favour of a more Metal direction. Now I’ll admit, this is not entirely a bad thing, it’s definitely a Rave The Reqviem album through-and-through, I just feel they’re at their best when the electro elements are a bit more prominent. When there’s a more even focus on all these elements, it compliments the monstrous riffage contained within their music, and it’s a unique blend that gives them a very memorable sound. If they continue this, I won’t mind too much (I still like it A LOT), but it just feels like there’s something missing. I really hope the balance is restored on their next record.
And that’s it for my continuation of music in 2016. Stay tuned for some albums to look out for this year, it’s a list that’s going to be worth taking note of. I also may have a gig review coming up too. Exciting times! Until then, folks!