CRANIUM TITANIUM: Trevor McCormack’s Top Twenty Tracks Of 2016… Posted: 09/03/2017 by Trevor McCormack
Trevor McCormack has been championing local home-grown metal talent on his ‘Cranium Titanium Metal Radio Show’ for some time now. And recently he compiled a pretty deadly list of tracks that caught his attention throughout last year, 2016, and shared that list on his show back in January. And was also good enough to contribute a companion piece here to the Archive. Check it out below…
1. TEN TON SLUG: ‘Trollhunter’
(“Brutal Gluttonous Beast” EP)
After playing ‘Godes Andsacsa’ (from the “Live At The Oaks” demo) to death on my radio show I was itchin’ for fresh slime! Not only did this weighty slab of doom laden sludge impress but it’s easily the heaviest track of 2016 if not one of the best as it’s wonderful blend of sludge, doom, stoner and classic heavy metal with an awesome powerhouse vocal performance from lead growler Ronan.
2016 has been a triumphant year for the Galwegian quintet with playing the new blood stage at last year’s renowned Bloodstock Festival and rounding up the year with an amazing release in “Brutal Gluttonous Beast”.
2. WORDS THAT BURN: ‘Unalive’
(“Regret Is For The Dead”)
A stellar year for the Dundalk lads in WORDS THAT BURN. From signing to Italian label Wormholedeath, to a successful domestic and European tour and of course releasing alt metal gamer changer “Regret Is For The Dead” it’s been nothing short of amazing to see what the band has accomplished since their debut release just three years ago. The first video release from this album ‘Unalive’, is a modern metal classic in every sense. Just one listen will hook you in with a wonderfully huge melodic chorus and chockful of lean hooks, alternating tempos and flawless interchangeable vocals from main man Roni.
Add this one to your playlists now! You can thank me later!
3. ALPHEIDAE: ‘Altruist’
(“The I In All” EP)
Checking back through previous playlists I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve aired this release and rightly so!
Here is a track that encapsulates the essence of modern metal without at any stage alienating an old schooler like myself, as one can hear the range of diverse influences such as Gojira, Arch Enemy and even some black metal style motifs sprinkled in with great effect.
All that and its catchy as fuck too! A track that demands repeat listens.
4. ILENKUS: ‘Hunny Bunny’
Removed some what from last years “The Crossing”, along comes “Hunger” and in particular this track and Ep opener ‘Hunny Bunny’ which goes fangs first like a starved and rabid dog right for your femoral artery.
Blind, sonic, hate infused menace takes this track and indeed ILENKUS several cuts above their peers with a bold bend of noise, grind, punk, post metal and a healthy dollop of power violence cut in makes for an essential listen.
A track that simply commands your attention.
5. TWO TALES OF WOE: ‘Burning Lands’
It’s been almost eight years since their excellent debut “A Conversation With Death”, when it was announced in late 2014 that “The Woe” were calling it a day all hit us like a collective punch in the gut. But, they turned it around with an awesome come back, battling off fierce competition in the bloodstock metal to the masses Ireland heats to play the Jager stage at the highly coveted Bloodstock Festival and to top it off a frankly excellent track with ‘Burning Lands’. The track itself is a wonderful cohesive fusion of blues, sludge, doom, classic hard rock and heavy metal and a heads down no-nonsense pit stomper.
If this is a taste of the future “Woe” sound, then it’ll be a heavy future indeed!
6. AXIAL SYMMETRY: ‘A-21’
(“United Corruption” EP)
No fucking around with Axial Symmerty’s sophomore release “United Corruption”, as opener A-21 blasts full force with neck breaking speed from the moment you hit play. Unashamedly full on death metal. It combines great leads with subtle electronics throughout. The guitar work displays switches in tempo according to its requirement and incorporates a delicious solo to boot.
The track gives a fresh approach to the genre with Death and Thrash metal accompanied by vocalist Gavin Doyles vicious snarl all utilized to devastating effect with some great soloing and some jaw droppingly clever riffs.
7. JENOVA: ‘Nail The Eye’
Another band that really found their footing this year with this behemoth of a track “Nail The Eye”.
This track from Dublins melodic death metal outfit displays such a wondrous amount of energy and drive and immediately showcases Jenova’s ability to create memorable riffs.
The song meanders with tone and tempo, swinging beautifully between melody and brutality, with vocalist Brian Harrington keeping everything in check with blood curdling growls that never compromises the tracks intensity or catchiness.
8. CONJURING FATE: ‘Dr Frankenstein’
(“Valley Of The Shadows”)
Helloween your awesome and all but you’ve had your turn, the new kings of metal are in town cause Dr. Stein ain’t got nothin’ on DR. Frankenstein! A wonderful blend of classic speed metal with classic cult horror lyrics sets C.F apart from their power metal peers as tales of dragons, capes and swords and middle earth are banished for a more spine tingling subject matter without deviating at any stage from the sense of fun and euphoria the this track emits. Also did I mention the musicianship is second to none and you’d be very hard pressed to find a better singer than Tommy Daly.
Simply put one of the best classic metal tracks of the year!
9. SIXTH EXTINCTION: ‘Vivid Black’
A track that I originally thought was about a motorcycle and you would forgive me if you heard the track cause it certainly is a driving metal anthem, turns out to be about the pretty dark subject matter, of mental health and the darkness that can affect us in our lives.
But, it is executed particularly well with a stark contrast between catchy, bouncy, contagious grooves and bleak lyrics. The music itself is a departure of sorts from the band’s debut EP favouring a more straight to the point southern metallic style combining groove metal with a dash of southern flare and hint of classic grunge all topped off with the sheer raw power of Liam Ryans vocals.
Altogether a thunderous, riotous, rockin’ pedal to the metal track!
10. DRAKONIS: ‘Abundance Of Sin’
(“As They Rot” EP)
Right from the intro with Vocalist Cass Cassidy screaming “Satanis!” You know you’re in for an aural treat, as from the get go DRAKONIS unleash all their ordnance in a barrage of blackened sonic warfare! It’s a track, in my opinion, that perfectly sums up a band in the prime. They know exactly what they want and are confident in what they want but still ooze that anger, aggression and raw energy. Vocalist Cass is as prominent in this track as any of the other musical artillery that DRAKONIS have in their arsenal with his rasping and ripping vocal style.
Whatever way you look at it Abundance of Sin is an apocalyptic track. Epic in its delivery and bound to be a moshpit classic!
11. OKUS: ‘Buried Deep’
The very definition of a short sharp shock!
A full speed ahead blackened, death tinged, crust punk belter. While there is definite nods to Napalm death and some Terrorizer, Okus do create something so uniquely different in their approach to grind crust and actually make it quite enjoyable and listenable without ever scraping on their ferocious, unrelentless style.
Speed has been toned down ever so slightly with this release in favour of a stronger, beefier, tighter sound. Great stuff indeed.
12. CALL TO ARMS: ‘The Reaper Never Sleeps‘
Real rite to passage stuff here from Dublins CALL TO ARMS, as this is a track is a completely different, muscular beast to their debut “Invictus”. The CALL TO ARMS boys have gone for a more aggressive, dominant, alpha male, take no prisoners and if you do pull off their limbs and beat them to death with them, approach here with a very polished sound full of power and presence. The production is also flawless and heavy and not a single player missing a beat.
Not only would this track fit in perfectly on a CD compilation album of modern metal greats such as Lamb Of God, Hatebreed and Whitechapel, it would probably be the best track on said album. Nuff said.
13. ZYLUM: ‘Reaper’
(“Pray For Nothing” EP)
Munsters Dark metal masters arise for one last hurrah before settling back into the ambient twilight. This particular track sums up the “Pray for Nothing” ep beautifully with hints and nods to some of the industrial and gothic greats like ‘Today is the day’, ‘Nine Inch Nails’, ‘Sisters of mercy’ and Marilyn Manson.
Spine tingling keyboards mixed with driving drums and bass complete with droning EQ’d vox until a pumped up chorus changes the tone and speed, before descending back to industrial groove once more. A truly original piece of work from the Tipp boys.
14. THE MAGNAPINNA: ‘Charm Offensive‘
(“Sex Tape” EP)
The second band on here to be named after a Sea creature (the first was ALPHEIDAE). This time a squid known for its long reaching tentacles which is very apt as this band strive to reach outside their comfort zone and this track is a great example that they have achieved exactly that.
The track starts off with big dirty, heavy, bluesy desert rock riffage akin to Queens Of The Stone Age and Kyuss before slowing down to a doomy chorus where it takes off again in a funkadelic Parliament via Mr Bungle jazzy rock melody. A track with more diversity that some bands would achieve in an entire album.
15. SKEWERED: ‘Viscous Mucus’
With a name like “DEATHMETHYLTRYPTAMINE” this release was destined to become a classic and where it differs from other classic death metal bands is in its style and production. The production alone on this E.P is head and shoulders above even some of household names in death metal and the playing is a crisp and tight as a blood drenched tourniquet!
This track ‘Viscous Mucus’ embodies what SKEWERED are about with nods to the pioneers of the genre but still aware of their own voice and definition. Outstanding stuff.
16. AETERNUM VALE: ‘Ashes Of Memory’
(“Ashes Of Memory” EP)
Moving away from the straight up black metal of their previous release “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” AETERNUM VALE have honed their sound into a much stronger more insidious beast.
This track, the title track of the release, aptly sums up this fresh approach by AETERNUM VALE as they head in a more earthy, folky metallic style by way of Enslaved, PRIMORDIAL, Drudkh and Hate forest. The sound is more pagan in feel and tone with a progressive flare.
A fine addition to any metal fan’s collection.
17. XEROSUN: ‘I Spared Hundreds’
(“This Dark Rage” EP)
A band firing on all cylinders and so sign of slowing down. This track is a wonderful original mix of symphonic and death metal with a weighty slab on industrial groove. The vocal delivery is razor sharp and the playing and production pristine.
This track is slightly, dare I say, more radio friendly than some of the more heavier tracks featured on the EP with a orchestral, catchy, chorus reminiscent of finnish legends Nightwish, that will have you humming for weeks to come.
18. UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS: ‘Leanan Sidhe‘
(“Under Stolen Skies”)
Out of the ashes of former band, the heavy, stoner blues group, ROAD RASH, rose a different type of band altogether with UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS. Their style and sound is more pagan, progressive and nostalgic but still has lovely driving rock and gothic feel underlining the whole track. The vocals and melody are both beautiful and haunting and this track has stayed with with for hours after listening.
Think Jethro Tull, Jess and the Ancient ones, the blood ceremony and Altan woven together with an ethereal presence and mystical flare.
19. RABID BITCH OF THE NORTH: ‘Green Eyes‘
(“Green Eyes” 7inch / “From The Kennel To The Castle”)
There is something unmistakably true about this powerful heavy metal trio from Belfast. In the age where retro N.W.O.B.H.M bands like Skullfist, Cauldron, White Wizzard and countless others are literally a dime a dozen, Rabid Bitch of the North bring a fresh authentic edge to an overdone genre.
This track in particular is one Lean, Mean Killing machine! OTT stage set design, maybelline hair and ridiculous widdly solos are out in favour of a more street wise Motorhead early Metallica approach which goes straight for the throat leaving one gasping for air. A no holds barred, no nonsense classic.
20. ACID AGE: ‘Manifesto De Hyper Thrash’
(“Like a Runaway Combine Harvester…”)
Is there such a thing as having fun but being mad as hell and pissed of as fuck while doing it!?! I’m not sure myself but Acid Age certainly give it a shot and the result is the “Manifesto De Hyper Thrash”. An awesome track with an album title Anal C**T would be proud of, this song captures a band in their creative prime with mean beefy hooks and a lightning fast delivery thats is undeniably their own. Thrash, punk, Crossover with some death metal off cuts and a chunk of grind gives way to their own blend of glorious Hyper thrash.
A tour de force of a tune and an even better album.