Top Fusion/Experimental Albums of 2015

Dec. 31, 2015


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These are the bands that really blew me away this year...but didn't quite fit cleanly into any particular genre.  You can argue about what they are on your own time.  For now, just enjoy.

10 Wretched Host See Details for Wretched Host

This probably could have fit into the death category, but it's got a unique sound to it.  Wretched Host is the soundtrack to organic collapse and liquifying organs. A celebration of rot and decay.  There is a proggy Meshuggah feel at times, but with purposefully less fluid arrangements. Riffs and rhythms bash into eachother like waves in a storm. This is brutal, technical death trudging through a doomy swamp...of doom.

9 On Fading See Details for On Fading

In a word, On Fading is a layered experience. However, this album is less like an onion and more like an Erickson family 7-layer salad. Toppings are just heaped, but instead of mayonnaise and gummy bears, you get saxophone, screaming, and noise. but it's not all about loudness either. These elements are juxtaposed against the soothing ambiance of "New Lows". This track almost sounds like MGMT or Animal Collective.

8 Paroxysm See Details for Paroxysm

A paroxysm is defined thusly: "a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity. Synonyms: spasm, attack, fit, burst, bout, convulsion, seizure, outburst, eruption, explosion, access." Very appropriate title for the sound at play here. I'll bring up Gigan again, as they seem to be the closest comparison across the board.

7 Pest See Details for Pest

Whatever it may be, it’s just plain vile. Blackened, experimental death doom. Yeah. Something like that. Vocals are ugly and uncomfortable snarls of disdain. Shouts of nihilism and death rattles punish the listener like an army of cenobites. It’s grim, it’s gorgeous. Guitars squeak, squeal, and crunch through technical death riffs contorted by bleak, acerbic black ethos. What a ride.

6 Cloaked in Decay See Details for Cloaked in Decay

The end result sounds very chaotic..but in a good way. A discordant jumble of a mess played by an army of evil clowns. And yet beneath the melee you'll find traditional elements buried as on opening track, “Wraith's,” guitar solo. The mathy drum work is a beautiful cacophony of blastbeats and general madness. And while the speed and technical prowess is impressive; things become even more ominous and grand when the pace is slowed down.

5 #​!​%​16​.​7 See Details for #​!​%​16​.​7

Like Primus? Like Meshuggah? Well I may have something for you. I never thought I would put those two bands into a description of a singular entity, but there you have Ketha. The aptly-named #!%16.7 is an 18 minute progressive sweet broken into several small movements. It opens with wonky basslines straight out of Sailing On The Seas Of Cheese, but broadens scope into a thick crunch of groovy chords and harsh vocals. This is probably the weirdest thing you will hear today, but damned if it isn't tasty.

4 Below The Hengiform See Details for Below The Hengiform

Constantly twisting, tentacled compositions began to take firm hold and squeeze. The drumming is as strong as ever with plenty puzzling time signature changes. Trying to count along is being Jack Torrance lost in the frozen labyrinth and always thirty paces behind. There are some slower moments of note as well, particularly the pulsating final minutes of “Forms Become Vapor.” Meanwhile, the guitars and vocals assault the senses with broken glass and razor blades.

3 Endless Howl See Details for Endless Howl

From the very first track, “In the Hour of the Wolf,” you get a taste of the righteous, sporadic changes of pace. Chugging, squealing death metal riffs will give way to soothing alternative rock and post-metal passages. The vocals alternate between various degrees of black and death. This is mood just can’t decide what mood it’s in. One minute you’re crushing skulls, the next you’re floating through the clouds.

2 Empress/Abscess See Details for Empress/Abscess

If you were to play High on Fire, Converge, Motorhead, and Gorgoroth simultaneously; it would sound a bit like Empress/Abscess. The sound is that big and equally depraved. There are also a few surprises to be found in the dynamic changes like the Dillinger-esque piano break in "To a Watery Grave." And second track, "Saprophyte" settles into an excellent pulsating combo of bass and drum with squealing guitars before jumping back into the pit with a downward spiral of chaos.

1 Romantic Love See Details for Romantic Love

This is another one of those albums that defies traditional description. There are blasts of discordant guitars, changing time signatures, and sickeningly grim vocals that occasionally reminded me of Absu. The wretch is so restricted in the throat as to sound inhuman. The churning, slower arrangements channel everything from Abyssal to Lord Mantis. It's all morbidly fascinating and thoroughly engaging despite being one of the more a-melodic things I have heard this year. To use an old adage, it's like a car wreck that you can't look away from.  Never before has the use of ambient been so strangely jarring.