16 – “The Absolute Center Of A Pitch Black Heart” (Stereogum Premiere)

16 — sometimes stylized as -(16)-, as per their logo — are both holdovers from an earlier age and harbingers of the current one, like a heavy metal coelacanth. Though only frontman Chris Jerue and guitarist Bobby Ferry remain from the band’s salad days, the songwriting paradigm they established as far back as 1996’s Drop Out endures. Its ingredients: fermented sludge riffs, antagonistic noise rock wailing, a dash of nimble thrash, and a whole lot of bad feelings. (Read this interview with Jerue, conducted by occasional Stereogum contributor Justin Norton, for a sense of the negative vibes that drive 16’s artistic direction.)

This toxic stew foreshadowed the heterogenous sound popularized by the likes of Mastodon, High On Fire, Black Tusk, and so forth during the mid-aughts. 16 ironically fell dormant for a few years around the time that the seeds they planted finally bore fruit, but have found a fitting home in Relapse Records — the same label that launched the careers of many of 16’s descendants — for their post-reunion efforts. Lifespan Of A Moth, the third album in this phase of the band’s career, continues their lineage in especially scabrous form. (Its title also reflects 16’s largely unappreciated sense of humor.) “The Absolute Center Of A Pitch Black Heart,” one of its up-tempo burners, strikes with more ferocity than most bands half 16’s age could — or do — muster. Listen.

Lifespan Of A Moth will be out 7/16 via Relapse.

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