CVLT Nation’s Top Ten POST-PUNK Releases of 2016

TEN – MASSES Moloch

It’s beyond awesome when you hear a band that you love grow sonically into a band that you even love even more! This is what has happened with the Post-Punk band from Melbourne called MASSES. I have been a fan since I first heard them. Now they are back with a full length entitled Moloch that is being released via Mass Media Records and Lost in Fog Records. The catchy melodies and daring vocals you will encounter on this album will have you coming back for more! Nuff respect due to the band for taking chances with their creative output!

Read the full review here

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NINE – TROLLER Graphic

Troller got darker. The Austin-based trio dropped the Katatonia model of their debut for Graphic’s BDSM. It’s a better look. Troller’s (2012) lack of purported heavy metal was disappointing. At it’s best, Graphic is like happening on a snuff film in an old video store, but too often Troller is maudlin. They’re softies.

In Austin, the subcultures are cutthroat. Troller’s Adam Jones has his eggs in several baskets. Not only is he in Troller, a trio with Amber Goers and Justin Goers, Jones plays in S U R V I V E, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, and runs the cultish HoloDeck Records. Jones rockets from ambient drone to stellar minimalism all wrangled by HoloDeck’s roster of obsessives.

“There is no place I would rather be right now. I like all of the over-saturation of bands, and the general apathy of the locals. It’s very competitive and keeps everyone playing sharp.” Jones is a member in the self-described “synth nerd culture” of Austin. The city trains Troller, and in the chummy Texas way where everyone can appreciate the trio.

Read the full review here

 

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EIGHT – BLEACH BIRTH s/t

If Bleach Birth of Asheville, NC hasn’t pinged your radar yet, don’t feel bad. These guys are elusive as fuck; they don’t even have a Facebook presence. Here is what I can tell you: this album was fittingly recorded last October and released independently on Bandcamp on January 31st of this year. The album is only available digitally, and the quality is so flawless it’s surprising they’re not on a record label.

“Pervasive Disease (Venal Youth)” is the fast paced opening track. The vocals are particularly gutural and demonic in sound, with strong reverberation. The backup vocals for a few parts are a zombie-like drone. It appears very much Japanese crust inspired. Don’t let the opening track define the album for you, though, it’s a complete trip.

Read the full review here

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SEVEN – UNDERPASS Red Reflection

Two years ago, Underpass released the incredibly well-received Assimilation mini-LP on Desire Records, and were interviewed on CVLT Nation shortly thereafter. Red Reflection features the same lineup as their debut LP; the Robert Smith-like vocals of Alexander Miranda are as prominent as ever, and he has to be one of the best singers in the current postpunk world. Miranda’s vocals – which also remind of Mark Wilson of The Mob, too – are one of the highlights of the band.

It’s hard to believe that Underpass formed only 3 years ago, in 2013. Then again, if you look at the careers of bands as diverse as Joy Division and Minor Threat, within their 3 year timespan those bands did all they’ve ever been known for as well. Underpass’s new Red Reflection LP sees the Vancouver, B.C. postpunk band playing at a more mature, relaxed, and introspective pace. Similarities to Pornography-era The Cure, Modern Eon, Wipers, Glorious Din, Lack of Knowledge, and The Mob abound – and all in a good way.

Read the full review here

 

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SIX – BLACK MARBLE It’s Immaterial

Here’s an album where the sounds of the 80s come full circle. It doesn’t sound like this is a conscious attempt by Black Marble at hipster irony, as the songs feel like they were written in a very honest and organic manner. The ghost of my favorite decade is used as the stylistic trappings to this band’s somber brand of indie rock. While at times it goes back even further to owe a lot to pioneers like Suicide and Television, it can also be very dancey in the way all the best pop music from the 80s once was. Main-man Chris Stewart has finely tuned his song writing chops on this second full length. He has a keen ear for achieving a balance between melodies and the moodier, more lo-fi side of the band. The album reaps the benefit of a move from the East Coast to the West Coast – something that might explain the more relaxed pulse to songs like “It’s Conditional.” In a bi-polar contrast the album can go from a bleeping and blipping frolic to a more introspective tone for songs like “A Million Billion Stars.” Here the more introspective tone works much better for them, and the vocal melody is given room to smoothly flourish.

Read the full review here

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FIVE – RAKTA III

III reaches beyond the comfort of marketing sub-genres to create music that taps into the primal spiritual nature in us all. With Rakta‘s ritualistic manner, the chanting is droned over the driving bass until synths that belong in a 80s sci-fi soundtrack help the dynamics swell. Hearing a band that is this original is very refreshing to me, as I wake up to a half dozen post-punk albums sitting in my inbox every morning, and then I still go out and scour the inter webs for more – most of these discoveries sound great in the press release, but fail to move me when I am earbuds-deep into the music. After a minute of odd atmospheric sounds, the bass rumbles to life to get the second song moving. The singer’s voice is both cold and emotive. She never makes me hum “Kiss Them For Me” under my breath. The only comparison that comes to mind is in the ritualistic expression of the vocals which make me think of Diamanda Galas, without the witch-like cackle.

Read the full review here

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FOUR – DEATH INDEX s/t

Carson Cox is getting back to his punk roots. Before Merchandise, he got his start playing in hard-core punk bands Neon Blud and Church Whip. His latest project, Death Index, just dropped its self-titled album via Death Wish. Despite going in a more radio rock friendly direction, Merchandise’s last album, After the End, was on point, but I’m even more impressed here, as this feels refreshing rather than him just getting back to basics – these songs are brimming with visceral honesty. Vocally, not much has changed for Carson. In fact, the first song takes a couple of listens before you get used to hearing him croon over “Fast Money Kill.” This vocal approach makes more sense with the more accented groove of “Dream Machine.” The song swaggers into that crossroads in the 80s where punk got darker and more melodic. Very compactly written, the songs are stripped to the three-minute mark. The throb of “the Meal” marches through the shadows of dirty back alleys, with feedback squealing off the edges. When they throw themselves into a more boisterous punk on the short blast of “Furio Controllo,” their sound finds more common ground with the Stooges than with Negative Approach. The punk spasms come from unexpected places, jumping out at you right as you are expecting a chorus to come in.

Read the full review here

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THREE – BONE Stop

Adapting a rock-oriented setting and instrumentation, Bone move in strange dimensions with their repetitive progressions and aggressive attitude. Heavy riffs and dissonance are unleashed through each twist and turn of the album, while the vocal delivery appears from a distance, gaining an imposing tone as if shouting from mountain tops. It also ties quite well with a sense of ritualism that oozes from the album, presenting something ancient and primal that has awakened. It is as if Bone is trying to find the proto-rock tone, stepping away from anything modern and contemporary, looking instead towards the occult side of heavy music. This is also the reason why it will probably take you a minute to come to grips with what these guys are doing, and even though the record is not easily digestible, it definitely is delicious.

Read the full review here

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TWO – RITUAL HOWLS Into the Water

Read the full review via Damned Industrial

Ritual Howls are not here to cheer you up.

Ritual Howls are here to soundtrack your nightmares, whether you’re asleep or awake.

The Detroit, Michigan threesome return with album number three, Into The Water. For those unfamiliar with the sound of Ritual Howls, imagine an amalgamation of Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus with a dash of Skinny Puppy. It’s a beautifully gloomy sound, honed to perfection on previous album Turkish Leather with exquisite, catchy goth songs. Into The Water sees the band progress musically with more complex and deeper songs. While the immediacy of the previous album has diminished slightly here, what is gained is a more mature performance with perhaps songs that have greater longevity. What remains is that intense gloominess. Both musically and vocally, this is just incredible goth music.

 

ONE – SPECTRES Utopia

Utopia is an 8-song offering of gloomy and compelling gothy postpunk that shows the five piece evolving further along the road to more complex melodies, guitar lines, and singer Brian Gustavson pushing his vocals into higher ranges, adding a more dynamic cast to the overall song selections here. Put bluntly, Utopia is a magical postpunk masterpiece: while the Spectres’ earliest EPs and songs had a gritty Warsaw/Crisis feel, Utopia is a lush and shimmering document of doomy greatness, one of the crowning albums of the current postpunk and deathrock revival. It’s more firmly in the ballpark of bands like The Sound or the early 4AD “lush” postpunk bands of the early 1980s than the band’s earlier material.

Utopia is the band’s 3rd LP and was recorded in 2015, but has been delayed for various reasons (see chat with guitarist Zach below). It showcases an evolution towards a more nuanced sound – the vocals are more echoey, the guitars feel more atmospheric and shimmery, and Nathan Szilagyi’s driving bass provides a firm underpinning for each track. On tracks like the penultimate “Strange Weather” – which was originally supposed to be the title of their last LP – Mitch Allen’s drumming chops shine through brilliantly.

Read the full review here

 

 

 

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The Author

Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

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Johnny Cvlt
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Johnny Cvlt

Ironically, Spectres sounds a whole lot like A Spectre is Haunting Europe, though that band has a slightly better singer. Song-wise, nearly identical. (A Spectre… does have the advantage of Phil Western as part of the band (Skinny Puppy, NIN, Download, etc) Both Spectres are amazing though.

Darren Tadpole
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Darren Tadpole

+1 for Belgrado

Sjoerd Aarden
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Sjors van Hees Frits van Gaal

Roger
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Roger

Also a vote for Belgrado.

Myron Morales
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Ritual howls!!

Deez Nuts
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Deez Nuts

Belgrado definitely put out the best post punk record of 2016. That Spectres record is way too mild and safe and pop, and obviously local to you, hence the position. Thanks for the list.

Robert Boucher Jr.
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What about Dead Cult?