The Best Ambient / Drone / Noise Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016





ARRM is an instrumental project featuring members of Thaw. Their debut self-titled album was recorded live and expands the drone sounds known from St. Phenome Alley. Take a listen if you enjoy Earth's middle era and early Barn Owl.

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Crowhurst specializes in harsh noise and Isolator is an abrasive, mind-shattering testament to that fact. This retching mass of feedback, static, and all other manners of aural spleen that mankind was never meant to hear slowly fills every cavity of your brain with a suffocating mask of black, terrifying harshness until you wither and die. It's that sound at the end of Alice Cooper's Killer, Danny's nightmarish visions in The Shining, and the humming of Lain Iwakura's computer fortress all compressed into one abominable mass. What's not to love?

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When somber Southern rock throws on a drone cloak for the winter, it essentially becomes Horseback's Dead Ringers. Fans of Earth's recent material will be right at home with this one, as an impressive atmosphere of bluesy psychedelia combines with meditative, droney buzzes and electronics for a beautiful, surprisingly poignant experience. Described by the band as what happens when Sunn O))) meets Neil Young, this label may sound silly at first, but is actually quite accurate for describing what Horseback have accomplished here.

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Manunkind's debut is droney noise done the industrial way, replete with mechanized pounding and an avowed hatred for musical convention reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle. The sheer, visceral something is overpowering and genuinely frightening throughout. Who knows what kind of emotion or message is being conveyed, but the dark, discomfiting harshness will rapidly chip away at your sanity and leave you a fragmented shell of a human before the 23 minutes are up. You'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.

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Nadja - Sv

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Sv is half the length of Nadja's other entry here and still takes up a whole album's worth of space with its weird, entrancing buzz. Rather less sinister than its lengthier counterpart, but not exactly upbeat, Sv is a kind of faceless, amoral drone upon which are visited steady percussive clangs and a variety of ancillary effects that almost approach melody. It may sound like nothing at first, but there's a reason Nadja landed two MSA nominations in one year.

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A long album deserves a long title. Nadja's 80-minute fuzz factory has no sunnier a disposition than most of the other albums in this category, even with ethereal whispers making do for vocals and endless corridors of distortion going pretty lean on heaviness. A lot of the progressions are still mildly bleak and disconcerting, and the thick cloud of noise, however soft, does threaten to drown out the outside world after a short stint in the world of Nadja.

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The Spanish Pylar's Pyedra is an absolutely massive album, both in sound as well as its sheer level of ambition. Here one can see the true potential of the freelance drone spirit brought to an impressively high level, as an almost improvisational atmosphere of horns, jazzy drum work, chants, and more goodies plunges listeners into the ritualistic twilight zone. A release in which subtleties and hidden surprises abound, Pyedra could easily end up being an album to beat in its department for quite a while.

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Boy, have these guys come a long way. From humble sludge origins, today the duo of The Body could simply not be referred to as such any more, and have instead morphed into a truly bizarre, multidimensional beast that feasts on whatever food it damn well pleases for fuel. Throwing harsh noise, industrial, doom, black metal, choir, and more into the mix, No One Deserves Happiness is sonic terror at an amazingly unsettling level. Consider this as no less than the grand culmination of everything The Body have yet done.

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There's little that can be said about Ulver that hasn't been said already. With this unpronounceable album, prepare to have these ambient maestros throw you head first yet again into landscapes of musical beauty and transcendence, complete with Oriental tinges, interesting uses of horns and percussion, Kristoffer Rygg's usual powerhouse vocals, and much more to be unveiled with each listen. Their best in quite a while, and a wonderful album to fall back and get lost in.

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Wolvserpent conjure a lot of thoughts of early Menace Ruine, in the sense of channeling extreme elements and interesting nonmetal influences into their larger drone core. Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta sees this American duo offering a powerful lesson in genre blending, as an enormous 40-minute track twists and turns through landscapes of black metal and majestic use of violin and choir, all loosely attached to a doomy drone spine. Crushing, dark, beautiful, and uplifting, here Wolvserpent have crafted a true mood pleaser on many fronts.

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