Jan 8, 2014
This is the FIRST of two shows where I countdown the “Best of” categories of my choosing. Listen next week for the rest of the list, and my #1 album of the year!!
Best Fusion/Crossover Metal
Oozing Wound (Chicago) album - Retrash (song: New York Bands (0:28-6:48))
Tons of bands out there are integrating a bunch of genres into their sound, Oozing Wound does it the best. It is way more complex than just plain crust or hardcore, you hear it when the metal riffs totally kick in seamlessly and you realize how talented this band really is.
Best Joyous Doom:
Magic Circle (Boston) album - Ride the Void (song: Scream Evil (8:06-14:05))
Don’t underestimate the power of 70’s retro. Sure you can say they are derivative: this lead singer even sounds like Ozzy, but he has his own set of dulcet tones. Let the sound wash over you. Great jams, awesome album, really rocking.
Best Blackened Groove:
Take Over and Destroy (Phoenix) album - Endless Night (song: Boundaries of Flesh (14:45-20:24))
“An American rock & roll band from the 1970s trapped inside a Scandinavian metal band from the 1990s". Even though T.O.A.D. is crusty and ultimately dark, they also pull in very catchy grooves into their sound. Not at all contrived, and completely fist-pumping music in the best way.
Best Black Metal:
Cultes Des Ghoules (Poland) album - Henbane (song: Festival of Devotion (20:48-29:44))
Black metal is supposed to follow a formula – it is a very strict genre. This album is so evil and intense, which is normal, but I never got tired of listening to it. The vocals are the highlight – seriously unique; and great tempo changes and climactic. This is the black metal album to buy!
Runner-Up: Blut Aus Nord (France)
album - What Once Was. . .Liber III
Started as a one-piece, the dude filled out his band and put together an absolute menacing black metal album, stark and cold as all fuck. More traditional than Cultes Des Ghoules.
Beastmilk (Finland) album - Climax (song: You Are Now Under Our Control (30:41-34:12))
When a band makes you nostalgic for the music of your youth, you know they are doing something right. Here is a band that took the best from that era: Joy Division, the Cure, Echo. You can definitely see yourself dancing in a club in the 80’s with the cutest boy with the hair in his eyes 10 feet away, most likely gay.
Runner-Up: Vaura (NYC) album - The Missing
Holy Grail (LA) album - Ride the Void (song: Bestia Triumphans (34:46-40:29))
To love Holy Grail is to see them live. Every single person in the audience was singing with the lead singer. The loyalty is surprising, considering this is a young band – only 2 albums. You understand when you listen to the addictive, chorus-driven album.
Cara Neir (Dallas)
album - Portals to a Better, Dead World (song: Closing Doors
Cara Neir is obviously not as popular as the Body, but way more complex – a thick album with crazy drumming, tight as all hell guitar work. I just want to see them live.
Runner-up: Zolle (Italy) album - Zolle
Completely instrumental psychedelic and stoner rock, with awesome leadups to climactic riffage
Honorable Mention: The Body (Portland) album – Christ, Redeemers
I have seen the Body about 5 times (they used to live in Providence
and opened up for every touring band ever), and each time they
annoy me just a little bit more. and I hate the lead singer
live/screeching. That said, their latest album is super good.
The live shows made me not like them as much. Note: too many
live shows makes the audience more critical, so that is what you
get. I probably liked them the first time I saw them but I
can’t remember so they can fuck off.
Best Saturday Afternoon band (i.e. most listened to album):
Kadavar (Germany) album – Abra Kadavar (song: black sun (45:53-5:59))
Last year this title went to Sons of Tonatiuh, a crust band with a rich album that I could listen to tirelessly. This year, the title goes to a classic psychedelic retro rock 70's style band, Kadavar. I can listen to this at every party at my house, on every warm sunny Saturday that I am too lazy to go outside but I feel energetic enough to play some vinyl. They jam so hard.
Weekend Nachos (Chicago) album - Still (song: Watch You Suffer (52:33-55:53))
Weekend Nachos, Oozing Wound and Iron Reagan were made by the same crust God. There are slight distinctions and very different albums: Weekend Nachos infuses power metal and dirty crust and extreme wit into their unique sound. And, they also get BEST BAND NAME, fuck.
#2 Band of the Year/Best Vocalist:
Batillus (Brooklyn) album - Concrete Sustain (song: Mirrors (56:55-END)
Listen to all my other shows when I play anything Batillus-related, and you will get a sense of how much I look up to this band. Vocals are my number one instrument, when done right will make me a fan forever; when done wrong, I cannot listen beyond it. Fade has the most powerful vocals right now. He is also the influence of noise and industrial on the very metal band. The band is the best to see live. What is exciting for music lovers and fans is knowing they are JUST coming into their own. Can’t wait to hear what is next.