Saturday, January 6, 2018

Beast of 2017

Another year another list of some unusual suspects.

10. Tau Cross Pillar of Fire

Sounding like Killing Joke with hella riffs...I'm down.

9. Ewigkeit Cosmic Man

A ramshackle true metal affair that dips into the eclectricism of Diabolical Masquerade and the original trash oddballs Blind Illusion...Neon Ghoul Ride is both a standout track and title.

8. Laster - Ons vrije fatum

Dutch black metal that lives up to that nation's heady contribution to the genre. I hear both modern flowing style black metal mixed with mid period Enslaved psychedelia (think Mardraum, Monumension). Great stuff!

7. Akercocke - Renaissance in Etremis

Even after a decade hiatus these boys still delivered the goods. Challenging, unique and inventive, this was a welcome resurrection.

6. The Chasm - A Conscious Creation from the Isolated Domain - Phase I

Another progressive death metal band that hasn't been heard of from a while, but came roaring back firing on all cylinders. Celestial, mystic, break-your-neck goodness from the godfathers of occult death/thrash.

5. Gigan - Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence

Alien, weirdly cascading neural metal, like Luc Lemay in a back alley melee with Spastic Ink. Doing the Cosmos proud.

4. Expander - Endless Computer

Voivod by way of GBH plus the fucking raddest artwork of the year to boot.

3. Droid - Terrestrial Mutations

One of my fav newer bands delivers on their debut full length. This most reminds me of the airy spacey vibes of Voivod's The Outer Limits...only heavier.

2. Fleurety - The White Death

Another long-asss hiatus and no problem. Sounding like an off-kilter, dreamy version of their Stagnant Waters project. Still raw, but beautiful.

1. Trollech Kazdy strom ma svuj stin

The great Trollech deliver the album with the best riffs of the year. Tremendous atmosphere with those enviable Czech foresty vibes. Thanks Lord Morbivod, thanks.

Most Honorable Mentions
The Residents - The Ghost of Hope, Bedwetter Vol.1: Flick Your TongueOxbow - Thin Black DukeSlagmaur - Thill Smitts Terror, Nuit Noire - Sa Majeste La NuitMutation - III: Dark BlackComa Cluster Void - Thoughts From A StoneLimbonic Art - Spectre AbysmWay To End - Senestre, Nokturnal Mortum - VeritySuffering Hour - In Passing AscensionFreddie Gibbs - Crushed GlassNyn - Entropy: Of Chaos and SaltRope Sect - Personae Ingratae, Impure Wilhelmina - Radiation, Yellow Eyes - Immersion Trench Reverie, Selcouth - Heart is the Star of Chaos, Renaldo & The Loaf - Gurdy HurdingVulture Industries Stranger Times, John Frum A Stirring in the Noos, Ingurgitating Oblivion - Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light, Sol Iustitiae - Iam Christe Sol Iustitiae, Mouthgate - Fungal, Ides of Gemini - WomenAt The Drive In - Incurably Innocent, Lugubrum - Wakar Cartel, Misanthrope - Alpha X Omega, Dreaming Dead - Funeral Twilight, Acedia Mundi - Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Best eps/splits
Wolok/Rotting Heaven - The Anatomy of Madness, Howls ov Ebb/Kthoniik Cerviiks With Gangrene Edges/VoiidwarpTheory In Practice - Crescendo DezignFerrous Oxide - Wild Summer Nights, No Joy - CreepYeast Mother - An Electroacoustic Mass

Best electronica
Fhloston Paradigm - After..., Black Zone Myth Chant Feng ShenWe Plants Are Happy Plants - The Bohemian ImpulseArca - Arca, Bjork - UtopiaActress - AZDForest Swords Compassion, Laurel Halo DustRainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Ambient Black Magic, runescape斯凱利 - runescape.wav符文風景骨架, Blanck Mass World EaterZola Jesus OkoviFever Ray Plunge

Least of the year
The new Enslaved and Satyricon were flat out awful.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Beast of 2016

So things did not change, did not touch this blog at all, but I've still been listening to the hottest, latest and greatest of heavy metal, so lets start the hit parade an0 2016.

10. Bhavachakra Bhavachakra

Alien and otherworldly black metal, but with an organic quality to the performance that immediately draws me in. Bhava sounds like the more spastic moments of Dodecahedron (who apparently have a new one out which I have not had the chance to listen to) with a production that wouldn't be out of place on an early Converge record. In other words this isn't easy stuff, but it is hooky enough to engage with and warrant repeat listens. A band to keep at least one eye on.

9. Khonsu - The Xun Protectorate

An unholy and unfathomable pro-cosmic mix of Thorns, Arcturus and mid 90's Fear Factory all with that wonderfully processed to hell late 90's/early 00's Moonfog guitar tone. I shouldn't like this one nearly as much as I do, but it's just so well done that I can't help myself. This album is addicting, and as long as Mr. Gronbech is protecting those Xuns all will be right with the world...and the cosmos for that matter.

8. Internal Suffering - Cyclonic Void of Power

Goddamn has it been a full decade since Awakening of the Rebel? I thought only Necrophagist took a decade plus hiatus between WHAT exactly have the boys from Internal Suffering been doing with themselves?? Well, they certainly weren't sitting on their laurels because they deliver yet another instantly refreshing blast of insanity that can only be Colombian in origin. Twisted song structures, difficult but highly entertaining riffing and the ever constant blast your face off drums. Never mind your post-metal, "dream" metal or even your fucking caverncore. This is the real deal right here folks.

7. Root - Kärgeräs Return From Oblivion

Ok look this isn't the best Root, not by a long shot, BUT it just may be their strongest post-Blackosh effort to date. Honestly, any Root album is gonna rule especially while Big Boss is still crooning like the demonic incarnation of Jimmy Morrison...or maybe its Van Morrison, or could it be the Eastern Bloc Roky Erickson? Either which way this new Root is a winner and a worthy successor to the original Kargeras mythos.

6. Book of Sand - Occult Anarchist Propaganda

The odd duck of black metal on this year's list, but I just can't get enough of it. At its core BOS is melodically flowing black metal in the most hermetic of Darkthrone traditions with wild banshee screaming ala Thulean Perspective. This core is adorned with wind chimes, whooshes, moans, violen(ce)s, slide guitar and whatever wackiness this one dude project dares deem appropriate. The riffing structures can also take the turn toward zany (relative to the world of grim black metal of curse) that serve to add a sense of fun and an almost out of control manic excitement to these tunes.
This Propaganda isn't as "out there" as their previous material, which was on the whole very enjoyable but mostly struck me as traveling gypsy carnival music. OAP is much more grim and mucho mucho more metal. That suits me just fine. 

5. Witchcraft - Nucleus

Almost a lock for any of my Beast of lists, Witchcraft further expand their sounds and the palette of emotions they paint with is damned impressive. The clean extended bridge/jam-out in The Outcast gives me chills every single time.

4. Master's Hammer - Formulae

The Grand Weirdos of Czech Black Metal were back at it this year and in a big way with chunky Rammsteinesque riffing and whimsical twists and turns a plenty. Franta "The Font Man" Storm and Necrocock don't ever change.

3. Phazm - Scornful of Icons

Another somewhat out of nowhere album. Its been 8 long years since the most excellent Cornerstones of the Macabre dropped, so Phazm isn't quite at that Necrophagist or even Internal Suffering level of hibernation. Still, I wasn't expecting a new album from these French bastards, let alone one of this caliber! Scornful of Icons is a little slice of mind blowing death'n'roll for the adventuresome riff lover that doesn't mind a little Tuvan throat singing now and again. Phazm don't keep a brother waiting for his death'n'roll like that again! 

2. Bethlehem - Bethlehem

Don't call it a comeback cuz Bethlehem's been kickin' ass since before most of you were knee high to your granddaddy's knob but goddamn if this new one isn't the greatest thing since SUIZID nigh on 20 years ago. For one of the more under appreciated bands in the history of metal (truly) to release an album that surprises me this much was sort of a welcome kick in the teeth and makes me want to go back and listen to their last few albums which I sort of glossed over. If anything the Bethlehem album is a grower and I expect it to age like fine Middle Sister wine, now I just need to bust out my SUIZID long sleeve. 

1. Furia Księżyc milczy luty

Polish black metal that brings the riffs better than any Polish black metal this side of Mgla. There is a unique atmosphere this record evokes that puts you somewhere in the vicinity of being out in the woods with Major Garland Briggs waiting for the supernatural to kick in. I hate to describe Furia using the hackneyed "ritualistic" tag but this album comes damn close to actually warranting that term. Try or Die Fuckers. 

Most Honorable Mentions
Black Funeral - Ankou and the Death Fire, Wormed KrigshuVirus - Memento ColliderWatchtower - Concepts of Math: Book One, Fates Warning - Theories of FlightThy Catalfaque - Meta, Rostorchester - VerdorbenheitTodtgelichter - RoomsScum - Garden of ShadowsHowls of Ebb - Cursus Impasse, Dark Millennium - Midnight in the VoidDie Antwoord - Mount Ninji and da Nice KidBorknagar - Winter ThriceJose Vesely - Heroes of PerfectionTroller - Graphic, Spektr - The Art to Disappear, Aluk Todolo - Voix, Umbrtka - Hlavni Stroj, Waxen - Weihung Auf SatanPolyptych Defying the Metastasis, Chthe'ilist Le Dernier Crépuscule, Geryon The Wound and the Bow, Voivod - Post Society, Sacrilegium - Anima Lucifera, Ihsahn - Arktis, Ntogn - Threads

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beast of 2015

Ditto what I said a year back. I basically haven't touched this blog in a year....or the year before that. Will things change this year? I have no fucking clue, maybe? So without further ado, here is what blew my mind this past 365.

10. The Squirm Unspoken

Alesh AD, alum of Czech metal heroes Root, makes a bold move releasing an alt-rock album. Bold but brilliant cuz this is the stuff of top down, pedal down chant alongs. If I were hard pressed I'd have to say that Alesh has been listening to a lot of bro Blackosh's still phenomenal Uncommon Excursions.

9. Cradle of Filth - Hammer of the Witches

Another Root alum does good. I have to admit that I was a bit perplexed as to Ashok's decision to leave Root for COF. Certainly the paycheck has to be better but I really thought it was a shame that his unique riff-writing and superb leads would be buried under everything Filthy. I shouldn't a been worried about a goddamn thing cuz Ashok and short-armed drummer Marthus have upped Cradle's game, with extremely Root-esque riffs, effortlessly splendid leads and tasty drumming. I even enjoy Dani Filth's vocals on an album for maybe the first time ever. Probably the nicest surprise on this list, and definitely Cradle's best since 2000's excellent Midian.

8. Grimes - Art Angels

A small confession to make here, I am a Grimes fanboy through and through. No surprise then that I was awaiting Art Angels with bated breathing ever since Ms. Boucher released the demo of Realiti earlier this year. Also not surprising that I think Art Angels is an absolute slam dunk, a fiercer more aggro version of Grimes than Visions and I'm digging that fire.

7. Arnold Veeman - Klaai

Veeman is a Demon, an absolute beast. A master of production, subtle textures and intricate vocals.  Jazz, big band, handclaps...the whole kitchen sink pulled off with aplomb and appeal. Keep it up Veeman, you are fast becoming one of my favorite artists out there.

6. Dødheimsgard - A Umbra Omega

DHG may not be the most prolific of groups but I've always been one for quality over quantity anyway, and sweet lord is this quality. A perfect mix of 666 International's avant-garde storytelling and Supervillian Outcast's catchy as fuck take on modern black metal...not to mention the twisting creative riffwork of Satanic Art ep schmiered over 5 expansive cinematic tracks. Weird and exhilarating, I just hope we the fans don't have to wait 8 years for the next one. 

5. Mandroïd Of Krypton - Hyperkaossmarket

Well this is another real nice surprise. Swiss techno-thrashers Mandroïd of Krypton manage to bridge the ungodly chasm between Killing Technology Voivod and fellow swatchmasters Calhoun Conquer and I've been lappin' it up like Swiss Miss.

4. Liturgy - The Ark Work

Not everyone's cup of tea (to put it mildly). But this ritualistic weirdo type of metallish choral-chant/rap music puts me in one righteous mood...what more can I say?

3. Arcturus - Arcturian

Is there a more charismatic, more chance-taking metal frontman working today than ICY Vortex? That's not really a question, but more of a request, cuz if there is I'd really love to meet him or her. When Icy heats up just get the hell out of his way and enjoy the show, foghorns and all. 

2. Killing Joke - Pylon

A return to form, but have KJ ever really been out of form? I sincerely doubt it. Hell I personally favor Outside the Gates for fucks sake, but Pylon is pushing all of my right buttons. The riff structure of Big Buzz is absolutely sublime.

1. Aktor Paranoia

A most excellent collab between Finland's fav guerre auteurs Circle & the USA's own Professor Admiron Black of classic metal resurgence renown. This group has crafted possibly the catchiest most out there but not quite all the way "out-there" album of recent memory. Licks of Dharma, kraut drumming ala Circle natch, fucking anthemic keyboards and Black's pitch perfect earnest vocals. Yes my friends, this is some ass shaking space boogie and it doesn't get any finer. For fans of Basement Metal, Club Ninja & for fans of Grimmer Than Thou know who you be. 

Most Honorable Mentions
Lugubrum HervalKaeck - StormkultMamaleek - Via Dolorosa, The Fall - Sub-Lingual TabletSapthuran - HildegicelKrallice - Ygg HuurSolefald - World Metal. Kosmopolis SudBosse de Nage - All FoursNecrocock - Hudba z psychiatrických pavilonů, Grave Pleasures - Dreamcrash, J.C. Satan - J.C. SatanMgla - Exercises In FutilitySadist - HyeanaDoug Hream Blunt - My Name is Doug Hream Blunt, Holy Forest - Holy Forest, Lychgate - An Antidote For the Glass PillBorgne - Regne des MortsAlkaloid - The Malkuth GrimoireDrudkh - A Furrow Cut ShortPeste Noire - La Chaise-Dyable, Imperial Triumphant  - Abyssal Gods

Phenomenal Tech eps
Theory In Practice - Evolving Transhumanism, Watchtower - Technology Inaction, Droid - Disconnected, Wild Hunt - Scroll and Urn

Other Greatness....
Ugandan street rap

Nuwaubian spiritual rap