#10: Ecferus - multiple releases in 2016
clicky--> Go check it out! Go! <--clicky
Back from vacation! I cannot believe it has been nearly 2 weeks since writing about #11, but it is finally time to move on to the Top 10! What you will probably notice in the top 10 is that if an artist was prolific AND each release was of great quality, that artist made the Top 10. 2016 seemed to be a year of many things, but it was also a year of proclivitous prolificness.
At this point, might as well admit, the Top 25 Releases is really much more than that, if you count each and every album on this list. It sounded good though. But here on out, it is going to be a bit of a stretch. Nowadays musicians and sound artists have become rather unpredictable. The capability exists to release entire collections of music without warning. Or release one great album and then surprise us with another one later in the year. One of these musicians (who also had a top notch black metal album release just last year) is known simply as Ecferus.
Ecferus is a one man force of black metal fury. He does it all. In 2016, he released the 'Pangaea' concept album, which I was going to include in at least the top 20. But while compiling this list, I discovered that he actually had not one or two, but THREE releases in 2016, and all of them were quite good. 'Shadow Projection' showed a more raw and in the moment side, while 'Shamaniacal Essence' is listed as an EP and perhaps hints at the next full length. But let's start with 'Pangaea' (and oh yeah, he also released a split with Jute Gyte!).
What I referred to as a concept album, 'Pangaea' was released about a year ago now, in February 2016. So I had this album longer than the other and I know it much more in depth. And I call it a concept album because, well, this is what Ecferus has listed on the album's bandcamp page:
"Pangaea" uses a mythological point-of-view to tell the story of a planet at war with its occupants. The tortured main character, Pangaea, is ripped apart into separate continents by Earth so as to prevent the begetting of creatures with potential too powerful to be trusted. Acting out of spite, Pangaea nurtures humanity's rise to power until their passive occupation mutates into indefensible planetary malice. Using wide dynamic shifts and changes in meter, with “Pangaea” ECFERUS creates the musical equivalent of an accelerated planetary evolution, depicting the fury of the elements and an Earth painfully coming to life.
That seems quite conceptual, does it not? Whatever the case, this album sounds really focused and refined compared to a lot of black metal, even his own work. It sounds a bit more progressive rock at times as well, for some reason. What's more important though is that this album is packed full of riffs and intensity as it tells its sad tale. There are even some synths going on. There are many shifts and turns on this album, perhaps not as many on say a Krallice album but in the same ballpark. The album closes out with "Storms Continue On", one of the albums strongest offerings, which starts out at a slower pace and continues developing as it goes.
More could be said of 'Pangaea', but there were two more Ecferus releases from 2016 that sounded a bit different than the high conceptual ideas and focus on detail. In July, 'Shadow Projections' was released, and it possessed a more fuzzy and raw rock sound. It is faster and less proggy, focusing more on energy and movement in more familiar and dark black metal realms. I honestly cannot decide which one I like better, it is a mood thing. If you need a wakeup call and to feel more energized, 'Shadow Projections' works perfectly well. It is a bit less highly original, but sometimes you don't need concept albums, you need a good ass kicking, and 'Shadow Projections' definitely delivers the metal-clad feet needed.
The album is a bit more classic sounding and memorable in parts, especially on the moving "Howling Canyons in the Sulcus". While I lean more towards the ferociousness of 'Shadow', 'Pangaea' was also quite memorable and I have been hearing it longer. They are just quite a bit different, which makes Ecferus' 2016 all the more impressive. But wait, there's more...
'Shamaniacal Essence' was also released. While it is not another LP, an EP, it is still impressive, along with the knowledge that a split with Jute Gyte was also released. Prolific! While 'Shadow Projections' was more a tale of an individual breaking down into "cosmic primitivity" (check out the album closer "Reduced to Cosmic Shreds"), 'Shamaniacal Essence' breaks it down to the primal animal level through induced psychosis, according to the artist. This last EP which was released in November 2016 sounds the most unhinged, which made for an interesting plot to follow, going from the most focused release he had ever made at the beginning of 2016 and devolving into chaos to finish the year out. Sounds about right for 2016.