The Best Ambient / Drone / Noise Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018




Just one album of deconstructing death metal in 2018 wasn't enough for Chaos Echśs; now they also enlisted a free jazz saxophonist. Mats Gustafsson of Fire! Orchestra fame (and many other collaborations) layers his saxophone performance over Chaos Echśs's pulsating, repetitive percussion and droning guitars, creating a harrowing atmosphere from unnerving to threatening, There is no expansive climax, just a feeling of dread, kind of like a never-ending dream wherein the horrible entity that follows you keeps getting closer and closer.

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Coming as a little more structured and doom-influenced than their last effort, this new album from Megaton Leviathan is drone of a warm, inviting, and spacious variety that proves that the genre doesn't always have to be about colossal feedback and dark, haunting atmospheres. Bright, uplifting, and with a transcendent, psychedelic touch to boot, Mage's cover is quite fitting, as the music here does indeed feel quite like walking through a forest mid-autumn, taking in the beauty of the changing colors and nature's transformation.

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Sonnborner sees the Canadian duo strike the drone scene like the master they have always been. With over 50 releases under their belt, one would think Nadja have nothing more to prove - yet they continue surprising their followers with intriguing and unique takes on the genre. From the monolithic and contemplative opener lasting half an hour to short tracks that feature an urgent, abrasive, and nearly hardcore display of aggression, there's no doubt that the duo remains as relevant and groundbreaking as ever.

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The ever-so-multifaceted Maurice de Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues, Aderlating, Cloak Of Altering, and a massive etc.) demonstrates that he still has new cards up his depraved sleeve. Branching out to power electronics, Offerbeest is the soundtrack of true hell on earth. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Afrika is worth thousands of pictures of pain, suffering, and barbaric warfare that has taken place on the continent. It's a demonic rave that will persecute your senses.

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This one was definitely unexpected. Primitive Man, mostly known for their ferocious take on blackened sludge, have dabbled in harsh noise territory before, but never quite like this. Apparently recorded shortly after Caustic when the band had some extra studio time, Steel Casket features two gargantuan slabs of soul-sucking noise music, at times deeper and on the lower-end frequency, at times shifting into the higher end and becoming downright excruciating. Although there were hints from earlier interlude-type tracks of the band's ability to don the noise cloak effectively, Steel Casket is a more expansive embrace of that identity for Primitive Man than ever.

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Violent. Colossal. Earth-shattering. These are just a few of the descriptors that come to mind when listening to Megalomania, an absolutely evil blend of harsh noise, death, doom, and black metal. With a concept clearly set on exploring "the evil that men do" and tracks referencing deranged tyrants from across human history, from the Assyrians to Jim Jones, this album's themes and overall abrasiveness are not for the faint of heart. Murky, unrelenting, and enjoyable from a wide range of perspectives due to its blend of influences, Megalomania is a full embrace of the darker, more grotesque side of the human experience.

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With a title taken from a line from a famous suicide note as well as a track featuring a reading of part of a novel written by a writer who also committed suicide, this might well be The Body's most emotional record. A lot more focused on electronic ambiance and refined samples rather than metal, and featuring some collaborators who enlarge the vocal palette, I Have Fought Against It But I Can't Any Longer is the logical continuation of and further experimentation with the sounds of Nobody Deserves Happiness.

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Atmospheric less in a glacial or foresty way and more in a ritualistic and hypnotic way, Void is, as its name suggests, extremely immersive and enchanting through its slow build-up of layers and extremely diverse sound palette. It's like Aluk Todolo's blend of krautrock and black metal, mixed with the evil post-punk of Emptiness's Not For Music, the mountain-leveling choirs and guitars of Bong and the hypnotic clean vocals-led black metal of Urfaust. And all these still don't encapsulate all the sounds on Void. We might have to add some Tangerine Dream and some The Cure and some Dead Can Dance as well.

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Now this is one for fans of the truly spine-tingling. A mix of dark ambient and black metal at such a level that the two become virtually indistinguishable from each other, Xenward brings an ominous, trance-inducing listening experience featuring music that was clearly not made on this planet. At times a bit riff-guided and more metallic, at others a total embrace of hazy ambiance and effects, this album is something like what a lost tribe of humans would use to communicate with a new species in space, after they had been floating in their ship for multiple decades.

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Универс or Univers is a slob of droney funeral doom that's made up of one gigantic, 32-minute-long track. It goes without saying that the music is slow and distorted. Though not really as slow as the slowest of drone, the glacial pace and the wall of sound do place it on the border between funeral doom and drone, making it feel like both and neither, really. The droney parts feel more like hazy Nadja than disorienting Sunn O))).

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Write-in votes

Ancst - Ghosts of the Timeless Void
Bjärgö - Återstoden
Bong - Thoughts and Existence
Lil Pump & Kanye West - I Love It
Sadness - Rain
ZÖN - Desert Universe