Tue, 27 January 2015
Best Saturday Album:
Past bands have been Kadavar and Sons of Tonatiuh. This year my most listened to album on Saturday is Murmur, which is avant-garde jazz fusion band. Super nerdy fusion metal. You will hear a twinge of hardcore and of course, prog.
Murmur (Chicago), album - Murmur (song: Zeta II Reticuli (0:28-7:03))
Dudes from Converge, Cave-In and Isis created Old Man Gloom. They put out a fake album prior to the true release which ended them in some hot water with pretentious reviewers. But, who cares, this album is yet another jaunt in heavy noise and hardcore and ferocity.
Old Man Gloom (New Mexico), album - Ape of God (song: Shoulder Meat (9:09-14:41))
No, this genre is not slow, you just listened to a few mediocre bands and think you know what the f you are talking about. How about you settle down over there and realize you just don’t know. Secret Cutter is a young Pennsylvanian band that have set up some kickass hooks in a swampy sound that kicks into grind.
Secret Cutter (PA), album - Secret Cutter (song: Craving The Silence (15:29-18:41))
Runner-Up: Tombs (NYC), album - Savage Gold: The first time I heard this, I knew it was going in my top list. The album is full of surprising genre melds, but mostly it is just a brutally satisfying trip. Tombs' lead singer just rips.
Runner-Up: Fistula (Cleveland), album - Vermin Prolificus: Crust-infused sludge, the taste I like
This takes into consideration the structure of a sound that invokes heart strings getting pulled, in a way that is still immensely brutal and heavy. This second album by Pallbearer is a step above their first, layered instrumentation and vocalization for a really epic emotional experience.
Pallbearer (Arkansas), album - Foundations of Burden (song: Foundations (19:40-28:21))
Runner-Up: Primordial (Ireland), album - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (also Best Vocalist)
This debut album by Thantifaxath was menacing, mechanical, cold, brutal, clean, scary and wicked.
Thantifaxath (Toronto), album - Sacred White Noise (song: Gasping In Darkness (29:32-34:55))
Best Vocalist/Best Fucking Passion:
I always had a huge crush on Irish men, the accents themselves lend a lyrical quality. The vocalist of Primordial does not sing with an accent, but it is a gorgeous voice, powerful and fierce. The band is going to put you away with speed and prowess. This is their (8th) album.
Primordial (Ireland), album - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (song: Come the Flood (35:33-42:42))
Runner-Up: Alunah (U.K.), album – Awakening the Forest (female): FUCK. This chick is FUCKING AMAZING. This is a close runner-up for Best Doom and Best Ballads.
Runner-Up: Dread Sovereign (Ireland), album – All Hell’s Martyrs: (SAME SINGER AS PRIMORDIAL!!): Ultimately, I am in love with this vocalist. Dread Sovereign has this wonderful retro heavy-metal edge to it; but it is fully a dark and emotional album.
Runner-Up: Blues Pill (Sweden), album – Blues Pills (female - her band got Best 70's Revitalist)
Runner-Up: Pallbearer (Arkansas), album - Foundations of Burden (this band got Best Ballad/Compositions)
Runner-Up: Bulletbelt (New Zealand), album – Rise of the Banshee (female - badass)
Runner-Up: Hang the Bastard (U.K.), album – Sex in the Seventh Circle
Runner-Up: Order of Israfel (Sweden), album - Wisdom
Best Unorthodox Death:
Arty disjointed prog death, of course the Norwegians take something classic and spin it into some crazy product that is barely recognizable. Must be their dark demon-ridden forests.
Diskord (Norway), album - Oscillations (song: Horrid Engine (43:25-46:57))
Best Classic Death:
Horrendous’s take on the classic sound is just catchy riffs, strong pumping beat, and a great singer. This album won’t exhaust you.
Horrendous (Virginia), album - Ecdysis (song: Monarch (48:06-51:57)
Runner-Up: Embrace of Thorns (Greece), album - A Plague Through the Heavens: If you are looking for a thick catchy sound incorporating tons of black metal, look no further. This was a close second to the best death album of the year.
Runner-Up: Morbus Chron (Sweden), album - Sweven: Well, the part that is old school is an (awesome) layer in some of these songs - fun and fast, but what stands out is their take on proggy, and the genre of death is made that much more complex. Their sound is one of the best this year, but it lost to Horrendous because their vocalist was not as strong.
Runner-Up: Dead Congregation (Greece), album - Promulgation of the Fall: A thicker sound, very straight, old school death metal. I love musicians from Greece.
Runner-Up: Teitanblood (Spain), album - Death: Appropriately named album. There is this cold mechanical cutting feel, slicing through your brain when you hear this. So fast.
Runner-Up: Exordium Mors (New Zealand), album - The Apotheosis of Death: Screeching, headbanging brutality
A close race this year, Alunah from the U.K. had one of the strongest doom albums of the year, you should rush out and get it. But, I heart YOB forever. This is them putting out another list of epic climactic songs, leaving an emotional ache in your heart.
YOB (Oregon), album - Clearing The Path To Ascend (song: Nothing to Win (52:58-1:00:45))
Runner-Up: Alunah (U.K.), album – Awakening the Forest: This is also a runner-up to BEST VOCALIST, this chick rocks. I would even put it under Best Ballads – fucking amazing emotional songs here.
Runner-Up: Order of Israfel (Sweden): Definitely more "catchy" than YOB style, which doesn't give a shit about setting a groove. But hell, a girl likes a bit of groove.
Underrated Young and In The Way stole this category immediately, as soon as I heard the album early this year. They do this churning black metal laden crust. BUT, don’t just stop there: their take on doom is a large part of this huge album.
Young and In the Way (Charlotte), album - When Life Comes To Death (song: Fuck This Life (1:01:53-1:05:21))
Runner-Up: Enabler (Milwaukee), album - Le Fin Absolue Du Monde: One of the main things I look for in a crust album is energy, catchy, and grit. It has to have the energy of a crust band, compel me to skip in a mosh pit, and make me clench my teeth. Enabler's guitar work was deeper than what I usually hear in crust bands, way more composition here. But it is fucking galloping crust.
Runner-Up: Husk (Norway), album - Hymns: A bit darker, these breakdowns are hypnotic.
Atriarch is technically a metal band, but they have integrated post-punk and industrial, that made this album really compelling for me. For straight up post-punk, you must listen to Pawns and Horror Vacui, two of the best bands I listened to last year.
Atriarch (Portland), album - An Unending Pathway (song: Entropy (1:06:04-1:11:31))
Runner-Up: Pawns (Brooklyn), album – Pawns: Super raw, like you are at the club watching them live; a must-have
Runner-Up: Horror Vacui (Italy), album – Return of the Empire: If you are going to get one post-punk album, run and get this one. Brilliant, and I hate that I missed them live.
Runner-Up: The New Flesh (Oakland), album –The Absurd: From Oakland, you will relive your 80’s youth
Runner-Up: House of Capricorn (New Zealand), album – Morning Star Rise: Leans towards psychedelic; but definitely gorgeous post-punk song structure
#1 ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
Lord Mantis was created in every element with an artist’s mind, from the almost horrific lyrics to the difficult album imagery. His vocals got “Best Shrieking Vocals”, one of my favorite styles. It isn’t easy to create demonic sounds that you want to hear over and over again. They are not sludge, they have mutated the sound and vocals, bringing in dark electronic and industrial in parts. It is unexpected, a present to the dreary and bored mind. Blistering is the word.
Lord Mantis (Chicago), album - Death Mask (song: Negative Birth (1:12:44-END))
Backing my vocals in order: The Cure; Jesus And Mary Chain; Catherine Wheel; Sugarcubes; Gene Loves Jezebel; Radiohead; Brad; Joy Division; Sisters of Mercy; Thrill Kill Kult; Space Team Elektra
Tue, 20 January 2015
Best Classic Black Metal:
Yes, it is controversial that I am saying this is classic black metal: the production is excellent and they integrate some sludge in here. It has tons of melody. Bite me. Some of these dudes are also in Inter Arma.
Bastard Sapling (Richmond, VA), album - Instinct is Forever (song - My Spine Will Be My Noose (0:28-7:45))
Runner-Up: Blut Aus Nord (France), album – Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry: It's not fair, Blut Aus Nord is just too good. This guy does no wrong, no matter how prolific he is. It is almost too hard to judge.
Runner-Up: The Great Old Ones (France), album – Tekeli-li: I love this album, really romantically menacing. Pure as the snow black metal, but so thick and satisfying. The pummeling.
Best 70's Revitalist
70’s Revitalist is one of my favorites, I love bluesy rock that jams, tons of psychedelic here. This was a close race, but Blues Pills really hits a home run. The female vocalist kicks ass, you will love her. Just get both albums. These dudes left Radio Moscow and started this band.
Blues Pills (Sweden), album – Blues Pills (song – Astralplane (9:33-14:07))
Runner-Up: Brimstone Coven (WV), album – Brimstone Coven: You have to own this album, if you are a blues-rock fan. It was like Sophie’s Choice between these two bands. You are going to fucking jam out.
Full of Hell is a young band who caught a lucky break befriending the drummer of Merzbow at a show. Next think you know, they are composing with a band via email. Noise inspires images that are all of your making. I personally get a torture vibe with axes and medieval boys running around.
Full of Hell/Merzbow (MD/Japan), album - Full Of Hell & Merzbow (song - Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloody And Terrible (15:00-17:29))
Runner-Up: Kikagaku Moyo (Tokyo), album - Mammatus Clouds: Very ethnic
Runner-Up: Suruni (Finland), album – Ikuus: This is just a gorgeous album, don't miss this one
Best Comeback Album
Even though Behemoth has only been quiet for (5) years, this is their 10th album. They show their maturity in not just putting out speed and chaos; they patiently take their time and then suddenly rip. They don’t need to prove shit.
Behemoth (Poland), album - The Satanist(song: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel (18:39-23:17))
Runner-Up: Misery Index (Baltimore), album – The Killing Gods: One of my favorite live bands of all time. Super pummeling technical shit. This album was 4 years in the making, which ain't that long, but it felt it. Solid, as expected.
Runner-Up: At the Gates (Sweden), album – At War with Reality: Dude, what a great follow-up to one of my favorite albums, Slaughter of the Soul. This is fucking melodic metal in the only way I could ever listen to it.
Best Dark Psychedelic/Avante-Garde/Experimental
Close to the category noise/ambient, but incorporates more straight-forward song-writing. Hail Spirit Noir borrows a bit from King Diamond, and the vocalist has some raspy shit going on. The psychedelic songs have a dark edge to it.
Hail Spirit Noir (Greece), album - Oi Magoi (song - Blood Guru (23:59-30:03))
Runner-Up: Murmur (Chicago), album – Murmur: Man this was a close call, I fucking love Murmur. This band mixed progressive and hardcore into the mix.
Runner-Up: Megaton Leviathon (Portland), album - Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell: SO CLOSE!! Progressive atmosphere, very sci-fi; and then add some heavy sludge; holy shit this album contains a ton, no pun attended
Runner-Up: Spectral Haze (Norway), album - I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains: A lighter of the other bands, straight up awesome psychedelic
Runner-Up: Emptiness (Belgium), album - Nothing But The Whole: Darker than the others on this list, but oh so weird in where they take their emotional romantic take on metal, so I shoved it in this category. I feel like these peeps grew up with goth influences, though they are straight-up evil.
Best Unorthodox Black Metal:
Panopticon mixed a bunch of shit into their black metal sound: some organic instruments like banjo and violin. But it is a vicious freeze of black metal fo sho.
Panopticon (Minnesota), album - Roads to the north(song - The Echoes of a Disharmonic Evensong (31:03-39:59))
Runner-Up: Woods of Desolation (Australia): album - As The Stars: One-man band first of all, and incorporating a lot of gazy, emotional, and inherently sweet melody
Revocation has death bleeding into it, but you got some great riffs going on here, it breaks into some real singing and fist pumping. A touch of retro, as any good thrash band pulls in.
Revocation (Boston), album – Deathless (song – Deathless (40:50-45:44))
Runner-Up: Alestorm (Scotland), album - Sunset on the Golden Age: Uh, have you heard this band!?? You first think it is a complete joke, and they have Scottish accents, but this is just a right-on, badass-in-the-riff-arena album, with the BEST LYRICS EVER “we are here to drink your beer, drink. drink. drink. drink. drink. drink. drink. drink.” I mean, this is what thrash is all about right?
Best Crossover Thrash
I love Iron Reagan, they are just one of those bands that know how to have fun, mosh in a circle and check it out. Yes, this song is less than 40 secconds.
Iron Reagan (Richmond), album – The Tyranny of Will (song - The Living Skull (46:55-47:33))
Runner-Up: Foreseen (Sweden)
Best Assault Album That You Cannot Listen Through in One Sitting:
Artificial Brain’s progressive sound is technical, raw, pummeling and painful all around.
Artificial Brain (NY), album - Labyrinth Constellation (song - Absorbing Black Ignition (48:15-53:26))
Runner-Up: Diocletian (New Zealand), album - Gesundrian: Fuck if this ain't an assault, but worthy of many tries to listen.
Best Evil Doom:
Thou brings in the menace to its take to doom. It is cold, but the riffs break it up. This also has some gorgeous melody.
Thou (Baton Rouge), album - Heathen (song - Into the Marshland (54:18-1:01:14))
Runner-Up: Hang the Bastard (U.K), album - Sex in the Seventh Circle: One of my favorite elements is the vocals. Fucking A. And on top of it, completely catchy.
2nd BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR, and Best Grindcore
I can’t tell you how much I love this album. It has all the elements: speed, tight, aggressive, brutal, catchy at times. He has these gorgeous pops of melody. Sadly, this band has since retired
Gridlink (NJ, Texas, Japan), album - Longhena(song- Look to Windward (1:02:26-END))
Runner-Up (to Best Grindcore): Piss Vortex (Denmark), album – Piss Vortex: Young, fresh, hard, crazy, tight, difficult.
Just in case you are interested, these are the bands that I am playing behind my vocals, in order:
Tue, 6 January 2015
We are starting 2015 with a mellow hungover set of nostalgia. Next week starts my Best of 2014 babblings-on.
Stripped: Depeche Mode (0:28-3:59)
Tubular Bells: Book of Love (4:00-10:56)
Well I Wonder: The Smiths (10:57-14:44)
Creep (TLC cover): Afghan Whigs (14:45-18:21)
Tonight: Xymox (18:22-23:35)
All Night Long: Peter Murphy (23:55-29:14)
P.S.: James (29:15-34:07)
Revenge: Ministry (34:08-37:54), plus watch Al Jourgenson in the early 80's:
Scarecrow: Siouxsie and the Banshees (37:55-42:36)
Love is Stronger than Death: The The (42:37-47:12)
Flood II: Sisters of Mercy (47:43-54:29)
Nearly Lost You: Screaming Trees (54:30-58:29)
The Howling: Babel (58:30-END)