Feb 3, 2016
This week I count down to my #1 album, naming the “Best of” sub-genres along the way! Last week I named A Forest of Stars as my #2 album (folk, black metal, avant-garde).
Behind My Vocals: Perturbator and Night Runner - synthwave from 2014
Best (Horror) Melodic:
Nostalgia for my death rock albums of yore played a big part in naming Tribulation in my favorite list of the year. They do this melodic dark alternative death rock mixed with moody horror metal. It’s a great retro sound, mixed with blacker modern. They do a cover of One Hundred Years by the Cure!
Tribulation (Sweden), album - The Children of the Night (song - Holy Libations (0:28-6:52))
Distorted garage blues vintage rock with unique vocals blended through. They don’t shy away from hardening their sound, super heavy when they want.
Fuzz (SF), album - II (song - Bringer of Light (8:49-12:59))
Haust (Norway), album – Bodies: Haust won in Saturday album, so check out the review there.
Best Black Metal (Tie!): Both from Poland!
The lead singer of Outre stands out, with about a hundred different and experimental sounds.
Outre (Poland), album Ghost Chants (song - Chant 7 Arrival (14:07-21:41))
Perfect production makes Mgla shine: raw but shiny and sharp. Darker than Outre in the best way.
Mgla (Poland), album - Exercises in Futility (song - VI (22:46-31:25))
Yellow Eyes (NYC), album - Sick with Bloom: Yellow Eyes is super dense, thick, suffocating. Even when the notes clear there is still an oppressive distortion. Not an easy ride, and fully enjoyable. Emotional.
Leviathan (Portland), album - Scar Sighted: Leviathan goes for the creepy, depressing and scary path of black metal.
Odraza (Poland), album - Esperalem Tkane: This duo is not generic black metal. They are avante garde, mixing in warm sounds into brutal, catchy into cold, old school and modern, rampage and soft, and raw as fuck.
Best Revitalist/Blues Rock (Tie!):
I seriously cannot believe that two bands in the finals of this genre are my FAVORITE BANDS OF ALL TIME. It was a very difficult choice because Horisont AND Graveyard came out with the best albums of their careers.
Blues rock hinges on the vocalist – it is the most emotional instrument in this genre. Grusom jams hard on top of having the most gorgeous vocalist. This is an incredibly emotional album.
Grusom (Denmark), album - S/T (song - Evil (32:12-37:15))
Oh, I can’t resist Graveyard. This is their most romantic and honey-vocal album to date. That says a lot.
Graveyard (Sweden), album - Innocence & Decadence (song - Too Much Is Not Enough (37:41-42:15))
Horisont (Sweden), album – Odyssey: I called this album 'revitalist art' on my show. It has the swagger of the 80's and the psychedelic emotional sweetness of the 70's.
Sonic Medusa (LA), album - The Sunset Soundhouse Tape: This was an absolutely surprise from LA rockers. Even at (4) songs, this is an epic mini-album.
What did I say about this band? Apocalyptic atmospheric electronic ambient friction metal, that breaks into magical bits of gorgeous composition. You just want more of the pain.
Locrian (Chicago), album - Infinite Dissolution (song - Arc of Extinction (43:31-50:38))
Sunn O))) (Seattle), album – Kannnon: The growl, so deep in the throat, a song in itself. Next time, just the growl.
Best Classic Doom:
All three bands in the running were completely different, and all beloved in my heart. Crypt Sermon was old school, Valkyrie took a southern flavor, and Khemmis was fully thick and heavy.
The vocalist, again, stands out. Maybe that is the trick of all these bands, make sure you don’t get a cheesy idiot vocalist. Crypt Sermon builds and builds and the riffage and it totally throws you around in the best way.
Crypt Sermon (Philly), album - Out of the Garden (song - Into The Holy of Holies (51:08-58:58))
Valkyrie (VA), album – Shadows: This is the second album from two brothers on guitars, seven years between albums. This album is so rich and dense, the guitars playing so well together, natural and organic, southern rock really.
Khemmis (Denver), album – Absolution: Holy shit this album is fucking epic. Guitars, thick distortion, vocals that are just beyond.
Best Post-Punk/Synth Wave/Death Rock/Electronica/Industrial:
You would do well to get all the albums listed below; all of them winners in each of their sub-genres.
Heat Dust does not do shoegaze. They are harder angular aggressive dark alternative. Overall one of the best albums of the year. Romantic, moody, nostalgic but completely different from your favorite 80’s alternative. Brilliant.
Heat Dust (New Orleans), album - S/T (song - Something for Nothing (59:36-1:03:46))
Killing Joke (UK), album – Pylon: Killing Joke came out with one of the best darkwave/industrial albums in the last decade. It is completely versatile and leaps sounds from song to song. You can sit in your room and listen to it and cry that you were never loved in high school. I've said this over and over again, industrial artists from the 80's were some of the best of all time. Eclectic, experimentalists, creepy drug-using weirdos. Everything you need to make epic albums. And when they grew up and didn't die of an overdose, they continued making fucking awesome albums.
Diät (East Berlin), album - Positive Energy: Sexy post-punk, reminding me of the stark monotone of early Bauhaus, mixing in fun speed, punk, pop, and smart lyricists.
Deathhammer describes themselves as “old.” Just, “old.” I really enjoy that. These guys are hilariously, most likely drunk, old school geriatric thrash good time. Energy propels through your body, and that is the point of thrash, right?
Deathhammer (Norway), album - Evil Power (song - Sinner's Possession (1:04:31-1:09:42))
Ramming Speed (Boston), album - No Epitaphs: Vicious vocalist bringing in his force to angular thrash.
Black Fast (St. Louis), album - Terms of Surrender: Technical and precise, riff-heavy, great production, and importantly, dynamic
Saturday Album is the album I listen to most, and it ends up being the most inventive album of the year. Last year it was Chicago's Murmur, an eclectic album ranging from brutal to psychedelic to jazz. This year's Saturday Album has the same range; dabbling in a multitude of genres, picking my brain apart every time I played it.
Haust is sinister post-punk death rock black metal, and as with all Saturday albums, you can listen to it while you are laying on your couch in the sun and it will make you so happy.
Haust (Norway), album - Bodies (song - Days (1:10:09-1:15:20))
Tempel (Phoenix), album - The Moon Lit Our Path: Best instrumental album, excelling when they jam out and let their hair flow loose, swinging in full arcs above their heads
Freedom Hawk (VA), album - Into Your Mind: Stoner album that just rocks out so bad ass. It is a favorite of mine to listen with a beer. Hazy hook rock in the best Saturday afternoon way.
Best Vintage Old School Beer Metal that Automatically Feathers Your Hair When You Listen to It:
Anthemic old school heavy metal that is FUCKING FUN. Remember when music was fun?
Enforcer (Sweden), album - From Beyond (song - Destroyer (1:!5:54-1:19:34))
Best Grind/#1 album:
Complex ominious landscape with grind on the side. Raw, furious, perfectly sculpted grind. The vocalist is FANTASTIC, my favorite was his melodic screeching style. They had their San Diego friend Author and Punisher contribute, which I noticed immediately. The musicianship was PERFECT on this album.
Cattle Decapitation (San Diego), album - The Anthropocene Extinction (song - Manufactured Extinct (1:20:38-END))
You can watch the cutie-pie vocalist in 2012 record his vocals, and see into that process. Nuts. Am I allowed to say that this band is adorable? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1sMIyOuHx0
Here is the Making of The Anthropocene Extinction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cg6DuJ54IA
Theories (Seattle), album – Regression: I wanted to scream along with the vocalist of Theories. They put out grind that breaks into death and groove, prog and brutal.
Cloud Rat (Michigan), album – Qliphoth: Bad ass female lead singer, and songs that are more than short and brutal. Includes hardcore, soft touches of post-punk, and rifftastic death.
Noisem (MD), album - Blossoming Decay: This band won last week for Best Hardcore/Punk, see review there.
Fuck the Facts (Ottawa), album - Desire Will Rot: Groove, guttural, proggy.