Followers of the mysterious Texan black metal cult known as Nyogthaeblisz have been anticipating their debut full length ever since it was first announced several years ago; it had gotten to the point where many were questioning whether or not it would ever see the light of day, especially given the lack of regular updates and the “controversy” that has swirled around the band in the intervening years. But on December 27, 2019 the duo at last dropped the sickening slab of extreme noise terror that is Abrahamic Godhead Besieged by Adversarial Usurpation.
In terms of new releases, 2019 was pretty damn dire. But in spite of the rampant mediocrity, I did manage to find a small handful of releases that were truly outstanding and can more than hold their own against the best this dying decade has to offer. So without further ado and in no particular order, here are the five albums that stuck with me throughout the year…
Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about Release Entertainment, the long-defunct sub-label of Relapse Records that was dedicated to releasing a variety of experimental music ranging from noise to dark ambient to death industrial and beyond. It got me thinking about which entries in Release’s sizable catalog were my absolute favorites, which in turn lead me to satisfy my obsession with making lists. So without further ado and in chronological order, here are my five favorite albums released under the Release Entertainment banner.
A few years back, I wrote a piece about Release Entertainment, the long lost sub-label of Relapse Records dedicated to experimental sounds of all kinds, from dark ambient to noise to death industrial. One of the the most extreme albums to come out under the Release banner was Merzbow’s Venereology, a salvo of pure, corrosive sound that would serve as a gateway for many metalheads (including yours truly) into the world of harsh noise. I previously bemoaned the fact that Relapse seems to have no interest in preserving the legacy of Release Entertainment, but perhaps they’ve come to their senses at least somewhat, because in honor of Venereology‘s twenty-fifth anniversary, they’re giving the album a rather lavish-looking vinyl reissue, replete with remastered sound and re-touched artwork, as well as three previously unreleased bonus tracks.
WARNING: This is not one of my usual videos of me sitting in front of the camera and talking. This is a 5 minute “micro documentary” celebrating twenty-five years of Merzbow’s harsh noise masterpiece, Venereology.
Listen and purchase: https://merzbow.bandcamp.com/
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One of the more interesting developments in the underground over the past half-decade or so is the renewed interest in dungeon synth. This was no doubt brought on by the rise of Dutch practitioner Old Tower, who released the excellent Stellary Wisdom this year on Profound Lore, as well as the recent reissues of Mortiis’ early works, coupled with his recent tours focused strictly on this “era one” material as opposed to his current industrial rock/metal incarnation.
In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.