Sunday, December 26, 2010

Beast of 2010

I love Top Ten lists, and this was a great year for metal, so it is with relish that I present my Beast of 2010!!!

10. Misogi - Tofotukami Wemitamafe
WHAT?!?  I didn't think it was possible for this band to get any more awesome, but here they are with their most kick-ass, weird-ass, thrashin'-ass platter yet!  I think that the various members' time in Quest For Blood served them well.  Although they get a suuji ju and not a suuji ichi, they get an epic suuji ichi for naming their album Tofotukami Wemitamafe.  Seriously fun to say these words out loud, just kind of rolls off the tongue.  Try doing it at a dinner party sometime, you'll be a hit!!

9. Sadist - Season In Silence
These Italian Stallions prove yet again that there is a strong correlation between the gaudiness of an album cover and the awesomeness of the music within.  In a year when one former legendary tech-death band made a tragic comeback (find out who in my forthcoming Airing of Grievances post) Sadist went and released the finest album of their career.  Fretless bass is poppin', keyboards are sweet as cherry pie, and the riffs are so cool they might just give you frostbite.

8. Uz Jsme Doma - Caves
I didn't start listening to this band till this year; which is thrilling, because it makes me realize there are still incredible bands out there for me to discover and fall in love with.  If you ever wondered where some of the weirder Czech metal bands (i.e. Master's Hammer, Root, !T.O.O.H!, Umbrtka) got some of their more off the wall idears, you have these nutterz to thank!  On Caves, they forgather volkeisch melodies with fucked time meters and riveting vocals in the Czech verbiage.  Fast turning into one of my favorite bands EVER!!

7. Inquisition - Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
A new Inquisition album is always cause for much rejoicing and jubilation. Ominous Doctrines is simultaneously their most brutal and transcendental release, which in large part is due to an AWESOME production job that gives everything so much room and vitality that when I first listened to it I was speechless, jaw agape and tongue lolling out, much like our skeletal friend on the album cover : 0=  
Dagon and Incubus's modus operandi (cyclic riffing, amphibious vocals, ludicrously occult subject matter) is well represented, their musical vision crystallized and expanded...par for this course are the viscid croaking vocals that ride atop the cacophonous swoon, much like Abbath's on Blizzard Beasts; but Dagon mixes it up a tad with ghoulish caterwaulin' that adds to the cult (more than any other band, I cannot think of a more fitting term for Inquisition than a "cult") atmosphere.  The duo have also placed a greater emphasis on rockin'-out moments where everything will lock into a stone-Khold groove (the last song, oh my god is that last song sumthin'!) Here's to many more Inquisition albums in the years to come!!

6. Necrocock - Lesni Hudba
Mr. Necrocock is a musical chameleon, but he is one of those rare artists who is able to retain an instantly recognizable sound no matter what manner of genre he tries his hand at. On Lesni Hudba, Necrocock goes for a more alt-metal ambient approach. On a cursory listen this sounds a bit like Jesu, Isis, or any other of those types of atmospheric sludgy bands.  Now, I normally do not go for that type of music at all, but it is Necrocock's singular melodic sense that makes these songs so damn amazing and sets them miles ahead of aforementioned bands.  Transcendent, captivating and unique, this album gets better every time I listen to it.

5. Starkweather - This Sheltering Night
This Sheltering Night is like Gorguts and Psychotic Waltz gettin' together and jammin' on bad acid. So damn crazy, it makes me smile that there are actually human beings out there that make music like this.

4. Canvas Solaris - Irradiance
Already posted this gem; I knew it had a guaranteed spot in the Beast of this year.  How could it not? Canvas Solaris are just too awesome to be denied. One recommendation for ya kiddies, check out the last two minutes of The Horizons Feast On Stars and prepare to get your ass handed to you!!

3. Misantropical Painforest - A Firm Grip of the Roots
Epic & Ambient Forest Black Metal, and probably the weirdest black metal album made this year. Never mind the ambient parts, they are pretty cool on their own (actually wouldn't mind hearing an album's worth of just that), but that ain't what A Firm Grip of the Roots is about.  It's about the fucked up guitar riffs, the epic vocals, the 9 minute long songs about loneliness, struggle and campfires.  OK I'm probably painting a negative picture of this album right now, but rest assured it is one of the greatest things I've ever heard. Picture Comus jamming with that cool troll Shamatee, or Urfaust going on a Merle Haggard bender.  Some things just work, and they don't always have to make sense.

2. Algaion - Exthros
Algaion have been stalwarts of the Swedish scene for nigh on 20 years now, so they have the chops and experience to produce a solid album's worth of songs, but who knew they had this in them??  9 tunes influenced by the kings of Hellenic Black metal, Rotting Christ and Varathron (I even hear a little Madness of the Graves era Root in there), and there is not an ounce of filler on 'em.  Some of the melodies on Exthros (which means Enemy in Greek) are so goddamn majestic I have to sit down when I listen to them.  No one is making albums like this anymore, not even Rotting Christ!!

1. Rossomahaar - The Reign of Terror
I will forgive you if you haven't heard of Rossomahaar before.  I shouldn't, but I will. This Russian band's last full-length came out in 2003, and I remember gobbling it up like a starved pygmy shrew; but in the intervening years I forgot about Rossomahaar, so it is with pleasure that I report that in the 7 years hence they have really kicked it up a couple notches!!  How I love this album, let me count the ways; best riffs, best songwriting, best vocals, best dynamics, worst album title (come on, you really can't get anymore generic than Reign of Terror!) If you assembled a collective of elite black metal riff writers (Abbath, Shamatee, Blackosh, and the Ivar of the past (more on that the next post)), asked them to play their best couple of riffs, then plugged them into an ancient algorithm that structured notes in the most volatile manner possible, you will have an idea of the dense headbangibility of the music Rossomahaar have concocted.  I should not be surprised, since the main songwriter of this band also plays in the fantastic Nargathrond (whom I should really post sometime:) The Scandinavian influences are preponderant, but Rossomahaar retains a slithery Russian vibe, with some of the more thrashin' riffs sounding like the notorious Ruskies Nav'.  In fact, if I were to put a pin in it, I'd say that The Reign of Terror could be the spurious offspring of Nav's The Wolf Sun and Enslaved's Below The Lights, with a touch of jewish-folk music thrown in for great measure!!
What really puts this one OTT in my mind are the moments of pure awesomeness that have the quality of being MORE-ISH (actually a technical term used in some avenues of commerce I have learned).  The NWOBHM blastoff at the beginning of Generation Zero, the bass-led onslaught during the middle of Krasota Dolzhna Umeret', the post klezmer dance-beat syncopated Hellenism of Moscow - The Sanguine..., and the best moment of all, the ending riff and drum workout/solo of God #6.  My God (#6), that's the finest way to end an album since !T.O.O.H! ended their careers with the magnificent outro to Kali!!

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