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VoidFlame
01-03-2014, 09:56 AM
This is the first year I'm doing a year-end review thread since I've first joined these boards. I hope it doesn't turn out so bad.

If you asks yourself why I'm doing this, it's because it's cold as fuck outside (felt like -40 degrees celcius yesterday) and I've got nothing to do.

Here's how it's going to go:


Some honorable mentions
My two favourite EPs of the year
Something you might hate me for
My 30 favourite albums of the year


Don't get your expectations too high for this, but I'm going to try to review each of the albums.

VoidFlame
01-03-2014, 10:22 AM
Honorable mentions

Clutch - Earth Rocker

This album rocked and grooved as what you would expect from a regular Clutch album, which is already fucking awesome. The production was also very heavy and large, but the album felt like it lacked consistency. Not all the songs were as good as the others, and "Gone Cold", although it was a great tune, was totally misplaced. Neil's vocals were fun, but his lyrics were weak when compared to his previous stuff.

It was a very enjoyable album, but not good enough to make my list.


Phoenix - Bankrupt!

One of the catchiest "pop" albums of the year. On this one, the french alt-rockers switched to a more synthpop/new wave influenced sound, with, obviously, more predominant keyboards. The hooks and general songwriting are not as perfect as on the previous album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but they are still great.

Something I found better about this one is the denser sonic textures present on songs like "Entertainment". Sadly, some of the songs got slightly annoying after being listened to many times.


Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

The Scottish electronic duo did it again with this release. Ethereal ambiances and eerie electronic sounds that sound like they've been taken from old documentary films. They didn't change their formula, but still made an excellent album. However, every time I've listened to it, I was either studying or sleeping, so I've still not managed to get a real grip on it.


Katatonia - Dethroned & Uncrowned

Not actually an original full-length, but a remake of their last masterpiece, Dead End Kings. I had to mention it, since these guys are one of my favourite bands ever.

On this one they took out the heavy downtuned guitar and pounding polyrhythmic drum beats and replaced them with more acoustic guitars and keyboards. It gives the album a soothing, almost neo-classical feel. I can't say I enjoy it as much as the original version, but it's still a very interesting listen.


Iceage - You're Nothing

I have to say I prefer their debut album, New Brigade, but the Danish post-punk rising stars surely made something great on their sophomore release. They kept the rawness and aggression of the first one, removed a bit of the catchiness, and added a wall of shoegaze-inspired whammy-ed out sound. It's not an easy listen, but it's really good.


I could go on like this for a while, so I think I'm going to go on with the EPs.

VoidFlame
01-03-2014, 10:32 AM
My 2 favourite EPs of 2013


2. Rotten Sound - Species at War

http://metalinjection.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Rotten-Sound-Species-at-War-Small.jpg

This EP was a pure concentrated 8 minutes of everything I like about Rotten Sound: ferocious death/grind with the classic swedish death metal buzzsaw guitar tone, light speed blast beats with pissed off vocals punctuated with enormous Entombed-inspired death n' roll grooves and a production heavy like the fucking planet we live on. Pure efficient fun and perfect for unwinding after a period of stress.

VoidFlame
01-03-2014, 11:24 AM
1. Fuck the Facts - Amer

http://hasitleaked.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Fuck-the-Facts-amer-ep-2013-570x557.jpg

In my opinion, Fuck the Facts is the best grindcore band out there these days, because they're the most relevant. Instead of only focusing on making fast, and angry or chaotic music like most bands do, they really try to deliver emotions through their songs - and they succeed in it. They mix brutal grindcore with melodic crust punk and sludge. On this EP, they also incorporated some Gorguts-like dissonance in some songs.

This EP deserves the #1 spot this year, because it is hard hitting in every way it can be. The blast beats are brutal enough to cave your skull in (that bell sound!). The mid-paced beats hammer you to the ground (never has a song title like "L'enclume et le marteau" - "The Anvil and the Hammer" - been that relevant). However, the best part for me is probably the vocal duet of Mel and Marc. Mel's screamed wailing is angry and depressed to both extremes of the terms at the same times, and Marc backs her up perfectly by bringing up some low pitched brutality.

Another awesome aspect of this album is the lyrics: every song except "A Void" is written in french and Mel's verses always give me a twinge of extreme sadness when I read them, because they sound so painfully honest.

I had the chance to witness the EP being performed in full not so long ago in Sherbrooke and it was one of the most intense and neck wrecking musical moments of my life.

Seriously, if you like grindcore, doom or any emotionally intense music, you have to try it.

Une triste vue (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWmVCi5xuA8)

VoidFlame
01-03-2014, 01:56 PM
Shameless and assholic self-promotion

This is the part you're going to hate ;) If you don't care, just skip it.

http://f0.bcbits.com/img/a0097113366_2.jpg

In addition to being an extremely fruitful and fun year in music, 2013 was a key year for the band in which I've been playing guitar and bass for the past couple years. My band, Tribunal, has managed to play pretty big gigs: for example, opening for Suffocation and Voivod at the 2013 Trois-Rivières Metalfest and playing at the legendary Montreal Foufounes Électriques venue for our album launch.

Speaking of album launch, we released our debut album, ZING, an event on which I had been waiting for a really long time. To summarize it, our band is a mix of death/grind, funk, disco, rap, punk, and a lot of stupid stuff. The manifesto of the band if pretty much to break every stereotype of the metal scene: for example, we don't really care about "keeping it true", we have breakdowns, total senseless parts, and other non-metal stuff. Also, our artwork is colorful to the point of being silly, and at our shows we dress up in an also colorful and not very masculine way.

Our goal is just to have fun and to give the most absurd and energetic show that we can.

If you're not scared of weird stuff, you can stream it on bandcamp.

ZING (http://tribunal.bandcamp.com/)

Tomorrow, I'll get on with the serious stuff and start my album countdown!

slapguitarer
01-03-2014, 01:59 PM
Nothing wrong with some self promotion! I'll check it out.

VoidFlame
01-04-2014, 08:56 AM
My 31 best full-lengths of 2013

Yeah, I decided to make it 31 instead of 30, because it's 13 backwards and, since I'm not including the new Black Sabbath in the list, I thought might give it some kind of reference, because it would have been good without Ozzy's half-assed vocals... and the kvtlest the better, so here we go.

First, I have to say that the following list is purely based on my personal appreciation of the albums, and my emotional attachment to them. If I was judging them on sheer quality, the list would probably different. Also, I'm not totally certain about the order, it was pretty difficult to put some records above others.

Finally, there are many CDs I would have liked to hear in 2013 and that would have had a chance of ending up on my list if I had, like the new Inquisition or the new Locrian. So let's start with number un-13.


31. Russian Circles - Memorial

http://www.metalsucks.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Russian-Circles-Memorial.jpg

The first thing that caught my attention about this record was the gorgeous and fascinating album cover. In my opinion, it really reflects Russian Circles' approach to music: simple, yet dense and layered; pretty and dark at the same time. The second thing that shocked me was how the drums sounded. I mean, how can you not band your head (and whole body) off when you hear the first groove in "Deficit"? The beats are simple and catchy, yet full of little subtle cymbal notes, and the mammoth production makes them so refreshing to listen to! That's the main thing that got me into this album: everything on it sounds fucking great: the drums are definite, clear and crushing, the heavily distorted bass shreds your brain, and the guitars are sometimes just plain heavy and other times burst out lush tones and melodies. The flow of the album is also really fun. It starts with a beautiful aerial intro, then crashes on you with quasi-death metal riffing. It is definitely their darkest release so far, but it manages to stay captivating by giving you glimpses of hope in the form of pure musical beauty in songs like "Ethel". It then closes with an atmospheric title track featuring Chelsea Wolfe's haunting, distant vocals. Russian Circles never managed to really move me with their songs before, but the work on the sound of this record is so impressive that it works.

Burial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsMhWpmOJpI)

VoidFlame
01-04-2014, 10:50 AM
30. Portal - Vexovoid

http://www.20buckspin.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Portal-Vexovoid.jpg

The last album from those cult Australian death metallers is a nightmarish labyrinth of menacing, oozing guitar drones and ear scraping dissonant chords, laden with cryptic lyrics chanted by a monstrous voice that sounds like it is from another dimension, or at least from an underground cave a few miles below us. The unconventional drum beats contribute to creating the unsettling, deranging feeling given by the Portal experience, which is completed with the best production they ever had. Everything sounds lower and more down-tuned than their previous works, thus more hellish (god, that bass sound!). The atmospheric non-metal parts in "Plasm" and "Awreyon" are very effective in making the listener uncomfortable too. Also, if you have the digipak, you'll see that the artwork inside the booklet is pretty fascinating.

However, there are some down sides to this record. For one, the disturbing ambiance is not as intense as on Swarth. That's the problem in having a cleaner production and "catchier" song structures. Also, the album is a bit too short; I believe that 34 minutes is not enough for an album of this type, that tries to create its own universe.

Still, listening to Vexovoid is a unique experience. I'm still hoping they manage do get a North American tour someday...

The Back Wards (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1agHQi9LFg)

Natrlhi
01-04-2014, 02:00 PM
If there are twenty-nine more albums on this list better than these two, I missed some really good shit this year.

#minortroll #notrlysrs #nicejobsofar

VoidFlame
01-04-2014, 04:46 PM
29. Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)

http://nuskull.hu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Steven_Wilson_-_The_Raven_That_Refused_To_Sing_And_Other_Stories. jpg

This one actually feels like a buffet of delicious sounds and textures, provided by Marco Minnemann's enormous drum set and creativity, the great variety of percussive instruments used, the different keyboards, the multiple guitar effects, the saxophone, the flute, the clarinet, the mandatory melotron, etc. The almost-perfect production makes each of the elements perfectly audible; this is an album that needs to be listened to with proper headphones - the stereo effects are mindblowing. It's a very entertaining listen from the first riff to the final post-rock climax.

It's not Steven Wilson's best album, because it's probably the least original of the three: it is heavily influenced by classic 70's progressive rock bands like Genesis, Yes and King Crimson. On the other hand, this aspect can also be fun; you know, if a certain riff makes you think of Yes' golden years, it can't be that bad! Anyway, the songs are catchy and full of memorable melodies, and the structures are masterfully written. Like always (at least, for me), Steven's voice is incredibly touching, just as the stories he tells are: the lyrics on this are very interesting (see the wikipedia page of the album) and well written. The musicianship of Steven Wilson and his acolytes is also remarkable. Yet, having such good musicians in a prog band leads most of the times to having a fuckload of solos, which gets a bit boring for me at some point, but it's not that bad; on this record, the solos are entertaining and varied. Nonetheless, I'm not an unconditional prog fan, so the songs that get to me the most are the simpler, more emotional ones, like my personal favourite "Drive Home" and the tastily post-rock drenched title track. This was the progressive rock album of the year to me.

VoidFlame
01-05-2014, 11:42 AM
28. Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance

http://metalon.org/site/wp-content/uploads/Darkthrone-%E2%80%93-The-Underground-Resistance.jpg

The legendary Norwegian duo has never, in over two decades, released a single bad album; The Underground Resistance is no exception. They started by taking a bite at Swedish death metal, then denied the whole genre and kinda invented raw black metal. After that, they changed and elaborated their sound a bit, to later settle on blackened crust punk for a few releases, excelling in all these genres. On their latest, they switched direction once again, choosing to play what is probably Fenriz's primary passion: speed metal/NWOBHM. Don't get me wrong, this is no clean, flashy stuff; this record is dirty, ugly, and Celtic Frost-influenced as it should be. The sound feels almost like a live performance, with all its delicious imperfections, and tremendously heavy. Nocturno Culto's guitar sound is perfectly raw, while being very audible (not raw like their early works). The riffing on this is also legendary: it ranges from vintage and fast heavy metal riffs to d-beat punk madness to gloriously mournful doom metal riffs. The bended chords in "Dead Early" and "Leave No Cross Unturned" always make my guts tingle. Because of the quality of these riffs, the every song on The Underground Resistance is very catchy and pleasant to listen to. Another interesting factor of this album is the diversity of the vocals. Nocturno Culto's gutural grunts are punctuated with Fenriz's falsettos (which are not perfect, but it just adds to the filthy feeling that the record reeks of), and sometimes replaced by epic, higher ones (in "Valkyrie") and doomsday preaching doomy ones (on "Come Warfare..."). My favourite songs are probably the kick-in-the-face opener "Dead Early" and the majestic heavy/doom metal crusher "Come Warfare, the Entire Doom". The only real flaws I can find to this record are, first, the closing track that is a bit too lengthy, and, second, the lyrics that are a bit generic. But hey, this is a heavy metal album and it's Norwegian... Would anyone expect anything but cheesy lyrics?

Come Warfare, the Entire Doom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps89qo-prYI)

GutturalNinja
01-05-2014, 07:57 PM
gn

VoidFlame
01-07-2014, 02:26 PM
27. Rosetta - The Anaesthete

http://www.metalorgie.com/alb_thumb/d/Rosetta_2013_TheAnaesthete_cover.jpg

Okay, there's one thing you guys should know before you get into this review. Rosetta has been my favourite post-metal band since I first heard 2007's Wake/Lift. Their unique sound and style of playing have an overall intrinsic feeling that is incredibly satisfactory upon listen; no other band of the genre does the same to me. Their new album, The Anaesthete, was released very quietly, under the radar, in an almost total DIY way. Because of that, it took me a few months before I realized that they had a new record out. I have to admit that when I saw the cover art, I was a little turned off: it looked a bit too cheesy - with the central character, the flames and all - for a Rosetta album (that was before I saw the incredible art inside the gatefold (http://24.media.tumblr.com/7e1dd4d14230e0c89f6c690118467c07/tumblr_mtc2g1nm8i1qb3aiao1_1280.jpg)). Then, I listened to the album. All my fears were automatically lifted by the first spacey/dreamy melodic riff backed with one of their signature odd, primal yet complex, drum beats. Everything was still there: the timeless heartbreaking melodies, the leads that sound like a pure flow of sonic energy (it's hard to explain but, for example, take the ones in "Hara / The Center"), the hypnotic repetition, the heavy, monolithic moments and the subtle ambient sounds that give the final touch to it all. The vocals were still distant, while being raging and desperate at the same time; Michael Armine still sounds like he's screaming his soul, guts and throat out. Also, like on their previous full-length, A Determinism of Morality, they had a guest clean vocalist on one song (the singer of City of Ships appeared in "Hodoku / Compassion") that just enhanced the beauty and diversity of the album.

However, The Anaesthete is not like the other Rosetta records. First, it's their most aggressive one. Two, it's their most contrasted. The song flow is weird, deconstructed: the tunes don't fit into each other like one long song. As the band stated themselves: "The album is arranged like a hurricane: semi-symmetrically but disintegrating". It goes through waves of calm, introspection and crushing heaviness, becoming very dark and hopeless towards the last songs. The album closer, "Shugyo / Austerity", is the pinnacle of the aforementioned phenomenon: it is actually an ambient apocalyptic instrumental with a very worrying feeling (could it be a subtle critic towards the economical policies of our countries?). At first, I was a bit confused by the way the songs were arranged, but after a few listens, I realized that it helps keeping the listener's attention and making the whole experience more memorable. In a way, this album gives an impression closer to a post-hardcore album than to an ordinary post-metal album. The last thing that differed from the other Rosetta albums is obvious in half-Japanese the song titles: the lyrics are conceptual, based on a book (Sword and Brush by Dave Lowry).

Overall, The Anaesthete is not easy on the first listen, but it is a mandatory listen for any lover of powerful, melodic music.

Hara / The Center (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD3Zf_pALDI)

VoidFlame
01-08-2014, 06:26 PM
26. M.I.A. - Matangi

http://cdn.idolator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/24/mia-matangi-cover-400x400.jpg

So, this is where it gets controversial. Contain you hatred, kids! Has it ever happened to any of you guys to really love a certain artist or genre without being fully able to pinpoint and express in words why? No? Well, anyway, that's the case with me and English/Sri Lankan singer and visual artist M.I.A.. I had a bit too much fun listening to her latest album not to put it on my list. The content of the album is also pretty difficult to put into a word: it is a mix of hip-hop, electronic/dance, different kinds of world music (including folkloric music from her country of origin, obviously), different subgenres of reggae, and psychedelia. Some songs ("Exodus", "Lights"...) sound like a modern version of the dream pop genre, perhaps with a bigger emphasis on the "pop" side than what the original definition meant. The beats are original and unconventional, often made with an impressive array of percussions and a few traditional melodic instruments. Even if M.I.A. is widely accepted in the mainstream, her music is a bit like her iconoclastic artwork, it's not that pretty and easy to appreciate: you have to give it time and dig deeper to get the real quality and meaning. Her songs are often noisy and and aggressive ("MATANGI", "Bring the Noize"). I guess this is partly why I got hooked when I heard "Born Free" from her previous album. Her vocals are also an acquired taste, I guess, but in my opinion, she has the most fun voice in the whole modern pop scene, because of its versatility. It ranges from reggae/dancehall relax stuff, to violent, fast, low rap, to her charming signature higher voice. The lyrics on Matangi are also pretty appreciable; she comes up with impressive word play, but to get the real brilliance (just as for her artwork) you have to read between. For example, "Bad Girls" can be understood as an ordinary pop/rap song, a display of feminine attitude, but the song was actually a reaction to the female driving ban in Saudi Arabia. The lyrics cryptically speak of the horrific consequences that must face the women of developing countries, notably in the Middle-East, if they decide to live their life according to their own ideals. However, Matangi is not as political as 2007's Kala, because it revolves around a concept based on a Hindu deity with who M.I.A. shares her first name. I didn't really understand the concept so far, but so what? A fun album is a fun album.

This said, you'll probably hate it.

Bring the Noize (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCkIYkaLBGs)

XDoomsayerX
01-08-2014, 08:01 PM
26. M.I.A. - Matangi

http://cdn.idolator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/24/mia-matangi-cover-400x400.jpg

So, this is where it gets controversial. Contain you hatred, kids! Has it ever happened to any of you guys to really love a certain artist or genre without being fully able to pinpoint and express in words why? No? Well, anyway, that's the case with me and English/Sri Lankan singer and visual artist M.I.A.. I had a bit too much fun listening to her latest album not to put it on my list. The content of the album is also pretty difficult to put into a word: it is a mix of hip-hop, electronic/dance, different kinds of world music (including folkloric music from her country of origin, obviously), different subgenres of reggae, and psychedelia. Some songs ("Exodus", "Lights"...) sound like a modern version of the dream pop genre, perhaps with a bigger emphasis on the "pop" side than what the original definition meant. The beats are original and unconventional, often made with an impressive array of percussions and a few traditional melodic instruments. Even if M.I.A. is widely accepted in the mainstream, her music is a bit like her iconoclastic artwork, it's not that pretty and easy to appreciate: you have to give it time and dig deeper to get the real quality and meaning. Her songs are often noisy and and aggressive ("MATANGI", "Bring the Noize"). I guess this is partly why I got hooked when I heard "Born Free" from her previous album. Her vocals are also an acquired taste, I guess, but in my opinion, she has the most fun voice in the whole modern pop scene, because of its versatility. It ranges from reggae/dancehall relax stuff, to violent, fast, low rap, to her charming signature higher voice. The lyrics on Matangi are also pretty appreciable; she comes up with impressive word play, but to get the real brilliance (just as for her artwork) you have to read between. For example, "Bad Girls" can be understood as an ordinary pop/rap song, a display of feminine attitude, but the song was actually a reaction to the female driving ban in Saudi Arabia. The lyrics cryptically speak of the horrific consequences that must face the women of developing countries, notably in the Middle-East, if they decide to live their life according to their own ideals. However, Matangi is not as political as 2007's Kala, because it revolves around a concept based on a Hindu deity with who M.I.A. shares her first name. I didn't really understand the concept so far, but so what? A fun album is a fun album.

This said, you'll probably hate it.

Bring the Noize (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCkIYkaLBGs)

Always wanted to check out her music.

VoidFlame
01-12-2014, 08:01 AM
25. David Bowie - The Next Day

http://cdn.stereogum.com/files/2013/03/David-Bowie-The-Next-Day1.jpg

About a year ago, you would have asked a random Bowie fan and he would have told you that their idol's career was over. It had been almost a decade since the release of his latest album, Reality, but then from one day to the other, we get a new single and the announcement of a 24th record coming out soon. David Bowie has always been part of my family's values (my mother used to be a die hard fan), so the news got me excited immediately. Apparently, the whole new album had been recorded in tight secrecy. The new song was called "Where Are We Now?": a beautiful introspective ballad led by Bowie's piano. Upon hearing it, I wasn't so sure about The Next Day. Was it going to be softer and less daring, since the artist was approaching his 70's?

Then I saw the cover and I was reassured. It wasn't pretty: the cover of his cult album "Heroes" was scorned, the title scratched off and the picture covered by a big white square and the new title - some kind of hymn to erasing and disregarding the past. Okay, he sure hadn't lost his taste for provocation.

Not long after that, I heard the second single on the radio; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)". It turned out to be my favourite song off the record: it was so beautifully haunting and emotional! At this point, I couldn't wait to hear the whole thing, and when I did, I wasn't disappointed at all.

The Next Day starts off very strongly with a heavy, solid groove and dark lyrics, which both smell like nothing but classic David Bowie. It set the mood for what is following: it's simply an album that rocks. Then follows one of the best tracks. "Dirty Boys" is a monster of saxophone driven dissonant post-punk enhanced by one of the main highlights of the album: the razor sharp guitar sound, that is often complemented by cleaner aerial melodies. The other striking songs are the also rocking "How Does the Grass Grow" and "(You Will) Set the World on Fire" and the three most sentimental ones: "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", "Love Is Lost" and "Valentine's Day". The latter ending with goosebumps-inducing guitar leads and shouts. Except for the introspective lead single, the lyrics of each song tell the tale of a character dealing with his or her personal problems in a different part of history. For example, "I'd Rather Be High" is about a soldier in World War II.

In short, David Bowie brilliantly defied my expectations, showing that he wasn't tired at all; his voice is a bit lower than it used to be, but it still sounds great, and most of all, the songs, the riffs and the lyrics are, with no exception, memorable. This is definitely going to be one of the albums that the future generations are going to get into when starting to discover the artistic genius that is David Bowie.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH7dMBcg-gE)

VoidFlame
01-12-2014, 02:54 PM
24. Dark Tranquillity - Construct

http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Dark-Tranquillity-Construct.jpg

Dark Tranquillity is, with In Flames, one of the first "real" metal bands I got into when I was in high school. They were a very good gateway, since they kept releasing albums of a constant catchiness and pure quality (except for the previous one, We Are the Void, which felt a bit more bland). The formula pretty much stayed the same since 2000's Haven, but each new album felt fresh, fun and destructive. Construct doesn't really stray from this glorious path, but there still is a slight change of sound. For one, it is more atmospheric than the previous ones: it integrates a lot of post-rock (a darker version of Mogwai or This Will Destroy You, for example) influences in songs like "For Broken Words", "Uniformity" and "What Only You Know" by adding tremolo-picked and pedal-blurred leads. The electronica element is also much more present on Construct, in the form of short, but masterfully crafted interludes and transitions. I really wish that Martin Brändström would someday make a fully electronic album!

Another great point to this record is that it emits some kind of dystopian ambiance, that is created by the synthetic, almost futuristic guitar sound and electronic programming, the dramatic keyboards, the dark anthemic melodies and the mechanically precise hammering drums. This ambiance reaches its climax in the overwhelming album closer "None Becoming".

While being dark and apocalyptic, Construct stays a pop album, with all the hooks, great riffs and memorable choruses, which is why it is so fun to listen to. My personal favourite tunes are the sorrowful "What Only You Know" and the simply beautiful "State of Trust". The riffs and arrangements in those two are outstanding, and I have to admit that I have a weak spot for Mikael Stanne's clean vocals.

The only flaw I can find in this album is called "Apathetic". It is a generic melodic death/thrash song, with the solo and everything. Still, it has some great moments. If you forget this one, Dark Tranquillity's
latest effort was nearly perfect. I can't wait to see them live for the first time in February! It's going to be a child's dream come true.

What Only You Know (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYLvknDqsQQ)

VoidFlame
01-14-2014, 02:26 PM
23. Nails - Abandon All Life

http://www.lafilledurock.com/wp-content/uploads/nals_abandonalllife.jpg

In 2010, a small band called Nails released their debut short album, called Unsilent Death, and quickly began to achieve underground cult recognition within the hardcore scene and even converted a few metalheads with their own brand of fast, skull-bashing, pissed off hardcore. Three years later, after many gigs and a few tours, they've come back. With Abandon All Life, they firmly planted their foothold into the doorway of the metal community, venturing further into the territories of grindcore and death metal.

In order to achieve this feat, they started with an improvement of their sound. Everything on the new record sounds larger and more imposing: in addition to being faster in the blasted parts, the drums sound fatter and more massive. Also, they adopted the classic Entombed mind-lacerating "buzzsaw" guitar sound that is specific to the Boss HM-2 pedal. The vocals also blend in better with the music than on their previous effort. They are also closer to a scream than to a shout, with occasional backing growls, making the whole thing more violent and more metal. Abandon All Life sounds like an enormous and organic mass of pure sonic fury crashing upon the listener.

It is also one of the most efficient brutal releases I have ever heard. Clocking under 20 minutes, with simple, but great and catchy riffs constantly ensuing right after the previous one and not a whole second of relief to be found, it is the perfect quick fix of face punching metal or punk (whichever you're looking for).

I especially have a crush for the songs "Wide Open Wound", which is heavier than a lot of the most brutal death metal songs I have heard, and the two last ones. "Cry Wolf" is simply 24 seconds of sheer aggression and "Suum Cuique" is a delirious mastodon of bone shattering doomy heaviness. For any brutal music enthusiast, Nails' Abandon All Life is inevitably one of the most fun album of the year.

Wide Open Wound (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4nV8WV-EDY)

mastodon421
01-14-2014, 03:29 PM
26. M.I.A. - Matangi

http://cdn.idolator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/24/mia-matangi-cover-400x400.jpg

So, this is where it gets controversial. Contain you hatred, kids! Has it ever happened to any of you guys to really love a certain artist or genre without being fully able to pinpoint and express in words why? No? Well, anyway, that's the case with me and English/Sri Lankan singer and visual artist M.I.A.. I had a bit too much fun listening to her latest album not to put it on my list. The content of the album is also pretty difficult to put into a word: it is a mix of hip-hop, electronic/dance, different kinds of world music (including folkloric music from her country of origin, obviously), different subgenres of reggae, and psychedelia. Some songs ("Exodus", "Lights"...) sound like a modern version of the dream pop genre, perhaps with a bigger emphasis on the "pop" side than what the original definition meant. The beats are original and unconventional, often made with an impressive array of percussions and a few traditional melodic instruments. Even if M.I.A. is widely accepted in the mainstream, her music is a bit like her iconoclastic artwork, it's not that pretty and easy to appreciate: you have to give it time and dig deeper to get the real quality and meaning. Her songs are often noisy and and aggressive ("MATANGI", "Bring the Noize"). I guess this is partly why I got hooked when I heard "Born Free" from her previous album. Her vocals are also an acquired taste, I guess, but in my opinion, she has the most fun voice in the whole modern pop scene, because of its versatility. It ranges from reggae/dancehall relax stuff, to violent, fast, low rap, to her charming signature higher voice. The lyrics on Matangi are also pretty appreciable; she comes up with impressive word play, but to get the real brilliance (just as for her artwork) you have to read between. For example, "Bad Girls" can be understood as an ordinary pop/rap song, a display of feminine attitude, but the song was actually a reaction to the female driving ban in Saudi Arabia. The lyrics cryptically speak of the horrific consequences that must face the women of developing countries, notably in the Middle-East, if they decide to live their life according to their own ideals. However, Matangi is not as political as 2007's Kala, because it revolves around a concept based on a Hindu deity with who M.I.A. shares her first name. I didn't really understand the concept so far, but so what? A fun album is a fun album.

This said, you'll probably hate it.

Bring the Noize (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCkIYkaLBGs)

Paper Planes is honestly one of my favorite songs of all-time. Of the limited number of other songs I've heard from M.I.A., I haven't really liked any of them. That being said, I'm curious to check out this record because I've heard a lot of good things about it. Good shit so far man, excited to see the rest of the list.

VoidFlame
01-15-2014, 05:49 PM
Paper Planes is honestly one of my favorite songs of all-time. Of the limited number of other songs I've heard from M.I.A., I haven't really liked any of them. That being said, I'm curious to check out this record because I've heard a lot of good things about it. Good shit so far man, excited to see the rest of the list.

:party:

22. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu

http://www.hellbound.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Oranssi-Pazuzu-Valonielu-e1382031947619.jpg

Oranssi Pazuzu... what kind of a name is that? The Finns' psychedelic space-black metal is as odd as their appellation. They're not the first to do this kind of music, but their twist of the "genre" is really far from what Nachtmystium or Darkspace do. Their latest release, Valonielu is also very different from its two predecessors. You can sense this at the very first riff of "Vino Verso", which is, basically, a barrage of hypnotizing and hammering mechanical drum beats, repeated industrial grooves and mind bending synths (it's difficult to decide if they sound retro or futuristic). Then, the vocals kick in: furious black metal screams processed into sounding metallic, inhuman and unsettling. This gives the start to a synthesizer-driven nightmarish voyage.

"Tyhjä Tempelli" then starts with a tribal drum beat, that is soon joined by angular keyboard chords and dark, hazy country/southern guitars, leading to a magnificent climatic chorus. The structure on this album is a bit more stripped down and uses more repetition than Oranssi Pazuzu's other albums (while still being proggy at some points), but the music itself is a lot thicker and more layered, thus creating a much richer experience. The psychedelic aspect of the record is particularly effective: some of the guitar or synth parts make you feel like your brain is slowly melting, while the vocalist leaves you no solace with his raging screams. Valonielu is in fact pretty scary, even distressing. The ear-scraping and/or menacing and bizarre keyboard ambiances (see "Uraanisula") and dissonant guitars do nothing to make you comfortable. This said, what is captivating about the album is that, like I said before, it is a voyage; it takes you through a wide range of emotions and atmospheres. "Reikä Maisemassa" starts off as a quiet ceremonial song, but then, a load of psychedelic ooze is dropped upon it, leaving the listener's every member feeling worryingly flabby. "Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän" then gets your hopes up again with extremely catchy, yet dense, spacey black 'n roll sprinkled with a few hints of depression. The Finns then leave you floating in outer space, by the means of "Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa", that continues into a dramatic psychedelic post-rock climax sustained by an enormous industrial riff similar to the one on the opening track, then takes you through heavy psychotic distress and leaves you wanting more with its mysterious and mesmerizing finale.

In sum, Valonielu brings a pretty arid listening experience if you're not used to the genre, due to its denseness, its repetition and its Finnish lyrics, but it is extremely rewarding in terms of various, strong feelings tasted throughout the listening. This is Oranssi Pazuzu's culminating and triumphal masterpiece.

Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqjBa1XvFu4)

adamclark52
01-15-2014, 06:16 PM
23. Nails - Abandon All Life

http://www.lafilledurock.com/wp-content/uploads/nals_abandonalllife.jpg

In 2010, a small band called Nails released their debut short album, called Unsilent Death, and quickly began to achieve underground cult recognition within the hardcore scene and even converted a few metalheads with their own brand of fast, skull-bashing, pissed off hardcore. Three years later, after many gigs and a few tours, they've come back. With Abandon All Life, they firmly planted their foothold into the doorway of the metal community, venturing further into the territories of grindcore and death metal.

In order to achieve this feat, they started with an improvement of their sound. Everything on the new record sounds larger and more imposing: in addition to being faster in the blasted parts, the drums sound fatter and more massive. Also, they adopted the classic Entombed mind-lacerating "buzzsaw" guitar sound that is specific to the Boss HM-2 pedal. The vocals also blend in better with the music than on their previous effort. They are also closer to a scream than to a shout, with occasional backing growls, making the whole thing more violent and more metal. Abandon All Life sounds like an enormous and organic mass of pure sonic fury crashing upon the listener.

It is also one of the most efficient brutal releases I have ever heard. Clocking under 20 minutes, with simple, but great and catchy riffs constantly ensuing right after the previous one and not a whole second of relief to be found, it is the perfect quick fix of face punching metal or punk (whichever you're looking for).

I especially have a crush for the songs "Wide Open Wound", which is heavier than a lot of the most brutal death metal songs I have heard, and the two last ones. "Cry Wolf" is simply 24 seconds of sheer aggression and "Suum Cuique" is a delirious mastodon of bone shattering doomy heaviness. For any brutal music enthusiast, Nails' Abandon All Life is inevitably one of the most fun album of the year.

Wide Open Wound (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4nV8WV-EDY)

I bought a Boss HM-2 to be just like Nails, no joke.

VoidFlame
01-15-2014, 06:30 PM
I bought a Boss HM-2 to be just like Nails, no joke.

Playing guitar is just instantly fun when you plug that baby in... I tried my friend's once and it was awesome. I think I'm gonna get one someday.

adamclark52
01-15-2014, 06:45 PM
Playing guitar is just instantly fun when you plug that baby in... I tried my friend's once and it was awesome. I think I'm gonna get one someday.

All I need now is a drummer and some talent and I'm set.

It wasn't too hard to find on eBay. And there's another pedal that's cheaper, more readily available and gives almost the same sound. I can't remember what it was called (it was some company I've never heard of) but it's a neon pink pedal.

VoidFlame
01-16-2014, 05:07 PM
21. Savages - Silence Yourself

http://matablog.matadorrecords.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/OLE-1036-Savages-Silence-Yourself.jpg

Savages is a fairly new all-women band based in London. Luckily, the magic of the Internet and mass peer-to-peer diffusion has made them accessible to the masses. Their debut album hit me so hard it would be dishonest not to include it in my list. The album in question starts off with its synonym track, that builds up around a huge post-punk bass line; this gives a hint to what the rest of the album will sound like. It is mainly bass-dominated: the guitar often quiets down, leaving only the bass line to keep things rolling. Savages' sound is very noisy and unpolished. It takes back the spirit of the late 70's post-punk bands, namely Joy Division, with the mandatory minimalism, a creepy ambiance, dirty, heavily distorted guitars, primitive drum beats and deep reverberating vocals. Speaking of the vocals, their singer, originally from France, adopts a style that is easily reminiscent of Siouxsie (of Siouxsie and the Banshees, duh), but in a lower tone, excepts for some distant wails. Her lyrics are very direct and personal, yet vague and enigmatic; they're principally written to evoke ideas and feelings more than to tell stories. The titles she chose also reflect her lyrics and the band's songs very well: short, thought provoking and impactful.

Also, Savages is no ordinary post-punk revival band. The buzzing and droning guitars, the loud feedback and the general aggressive attitude make their music sound fresh and defiant, even if their main influences come from a few decades ago. The incredibly intense build-ups, often with repeated single words, that most of the times crash down instead of leading to a predictable riff also contribute in forging their unique sound. Another important point is that the album is not unidirectional: songs like the cacophonous whirlwind called "Hit Me", the ambient "Waiting for a Sign" and the bleak goth/cabaret piano-driven closer "Marshall Dear", with its final atonal saxophone solo, throw themselves into the melee, thus disturbing the (listener's mental) peace even more efficiently. If you haven't hopped on the hype train yet, you've got some catching up to do.

She Will (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kebq-cENNn0)

slapguitarer
01-16-2014, 05:14 PM
All I need now is a drummer and some talent and I'm set.

It wasn't too hard to find on eBay. And there's another pedal that's cheaper, more readily available and gives almost the same sound. I can't remember what it was called (it was some company I've never heard of) but it's a neon pink pedal.

Yeah they're not too badly priced either. I got Taiwanese HM-2 for just $65! :D

larvtard
01-16-2014, 06:41 PM
Savages were so great live! Their cover of "Dream Baby Dream" absolutely killed :drool:

VoidFlame
01-17-2014, 08:09 AM
20. Wrekmeister Harmonies - You've Always Meant So Much to Me

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h204/misterpinnacle/omgvinyl/wrekmeister.jpg

I've only listened to this album by the end of the year, but it really took me by surprise. It is made of a sole 38 minute track: it starts with a minimalistic electronic drone, which is slowly enhanced with more and more elements, including cello and piano, thus progressively building a beautiful, haunting and almost claustrophobic (the panicked screams in the background sure help) atmosphere similar to those found of the last Godspeed You! Black Emperor LP's drony tracks.

At its climax, an avalanche of distorted heaviness then crashes upon the listener in the form of huge blackened psychedelic doom riffs adorned with dense noise, cello parts of a deranging beauty, and tortured, desperate, distant screams. This part then drifts away, leaving space for a noisy drone, that slowly fades and deconstructs, again in a GY!BE fashion, leading to the memorable final piano chords. This record would probably be higher in my list if I had the time to listen to it more - it is an emotional trip that is touching from the start to the end.

You've Always Meant So Much to Me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR7QqPMDECc)

VoidFlame
01-17-2014, 08:09 AM
19. Touché Amoré - Is Survived By

http://jakobsalbumreviews.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/80ww_toucheamoreisbcoversmall.jpg

Melodic hardcore rising stars and new wave of screamo leaders Touché Amoré seem to improve with each new album they released. In my opinion, with this one, they managed to achieve the impossible: topping 2011's Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. Musically, Is Survived By is all about contrasts; you can hear that as the first luminous, serene riff kicks in, with the anxious screams incongruously fitting in. The guitar sound does a hell of a job in making the album as interesting as it is. It's basically perfect: metallic without being too distorted, aerial and radiant without being too clean and non-supportive to the aggressive nature of their music. Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt's dual riffing attack is very creative, blending in original chords and melodic patterns you wouldn't usually expect from a hardcore album. They also incorporate post-rock and shoegaze (with the wise use of bended notes and chords, that never seem to stop sending shivers down my spine), making the whole thing sound even more beautiful. The quieter songs are also extremely touching, especially "Praise/Love" with its peaceful chords on top of which Jeremy Bolm screams out in heart-shattering desperation, and the two first Explosions in the Sky-esque post-rock instrumental thirds of "Non-Fiction", leading to its explosive and sorrowfully glorious climax/chorus.

Moreover, Is Survived By is as catchy as any indie rock or (good) emo record, but it comes with a few extras, including unmatched intensity, due to the vocals and the over-the-top inventive and agitated drumming, chaotic song structures and efficiency, due to the short duration of the album and the expeditious songs.

Jeremy's vocals are also stunning. They sound so painfully (and exquisitely) honest... His lyrics are also truly intimate: on the album he speaks about his quest for personal identity and artistic legacy. It sounds like a brutally sincere, but unsure attempt at self-affirmation: the way he often ends the songs, with one suspended last word or sentence, strongly reflect that uncertainty (not to be confused with hesitation, because he's definitely precise in what he tells).

Now, let's talk about the icing on the cake: what made me put the last weight on the scale and decide I liked this album more than their previous masterpiece. It emanates a lot of despair and uncertainty, but towards the two last songs, it fluidly shifts towards hope and, mostly, determination; just look at how "Steps" cleverly takes back the calm riff from "Non-Fiction" and turns it into positive melodic hardcore. Is Survived By takes you through almost excessive emotions, but manages to still make you feel great in the end.

Anyone / Anything (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf9J1Mjji_E)

adamclark52
01-17-2014, 06:41 PM
Is Wreckmeister Harmonies available on CD?

VoidFlame
01-18-2014, 06:50 AM
Is Wreckmeister Harmonies available on CD?

No idea :confused:

Maybe you should ask him (https://www.facebook.com/wrekmeister.harmonies?fref=ts)?

adamclark52
01-18-2014, 07:00 AM
No idea :confused:

Maybe you should ask him (https://www.facebook.com/wrekmeister.harmonies?fref=ts)?

Facebook. No way man, not for me.

VoidFlame
01-18-2014, 11:11 AM
Facebook. No way man, not for me.

:lol: I see...

adamclark52
01-18-2014, 11:14 AM
:lol: I see...

I'll see you at the show tomorrow. I'll be the guy in the black t-shirt.

MetalIsArt
01-18-2014, 12:23 PM
25. David Bowie - The Next Day

http://cdn.stereogum.com/files/2013/03/David-Bowie-The-Next-Day1.jpg

About a year ago, you would have asked a random Bowie fan and he would have told you that their idol's career was over. It had been almost a decade since the release of his latest album, Reality, but then from one day to the other, we get a new single and the announcement of a 24th record coming out soon. David Bowie has always been part of my family's values (my mother used to be a die hard fan), so the news got me excited immediately. Apparently, the whole new album had been recorded in tight secrecy. The new song was called "Where Are We Now?": a beautiful introspective ballad led by Bowie's piano. Upon hearing it, I wasn't so sure about The Next Day. Was it going to be softer and less daring, since the artist was approaching his 70's?

Then I saw the cover and I was reassured. It wasn't pretty: the cover of his cult album "Heroes" was scorned, the title scratched off and the picture covered by a big white square and the new title - some kind of hymn to erasing and disregarding the past. Okay, he sure hadn't lost his taste for provocation.

Not long after that, I heard the second single on the radio; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)". It turned out to be my favourite song off the record: it was so beautifully haunting and emotional! At this point, I couldn't wait to hear the whole thing, and when I did, I wasn't disappointed at all.

The Next Day starts off very strongly with a heavy, solid groove and dark lyrics, which both smell like nothing but classic David Bowie. It set the mood for what is following: it's simply an album that rocks. Then follows one of the best tracks. "Dirty Boys" is a monster of saxophone driven dissonant post-punk enhanced by one of the main highlights of the album: the razor sharp guitar sound, that is often complemented by cleaner aerial melodies. The other striking songs are the also rocking "How Does the Grass Grow" and "(You Will) Set the World on Fire" and the three most sentimental ones: "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", "Love Is Lost" and "Valentine's Day". The latter ending with goosebumps-inducing guitar leads and shouts. Except for the introspective lead single, the lyrics of each song tell the tale of a character dealing with his or her personal problems in a different part of history. For example, "I'd Rather Be High" is about a soldier in World War II.

In short, David Bowie brilliantly defied my expectations, showing that he wasn't tired at all; his voice is a bit lower than it used to be, but it still sounds great, and most of all, the songs, the riffs and the lyrics are, with no exception, memorable. This is definitely going to be one of the albums that the future generations are going to get into when starting to discover the artistic genius that is David Bowie.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH7dMBcg-gE)

Awesome. :fist: I like dat video with Marion & Gary Oldman very much. ;)

VoidFlame
01-18-2014, 03:20 PM
I'll see you at the show tomorrow. I'll be the guy in the black t-shirt.

What particular shirt? ;)

adamclark52
01-18-2014, 03:27 PM
What particular shirt? ;)

Plain black, none more metal.

adamclark52
01-19-2014, 12:58 AM
My son got sick and I had to leave the province. I'm leaving Sunday's show in your hands, Voidflame. Make me proud.

VoidFlame
01-19-2014, 05:56 AM
My son got sick and I had to leave the province. I'm leaving Sunday's show in your hands, Voidflame. Make me proud.

Oh, that sucks.

VoidFlame
01-20-2014, 02:43 PM
18. God Is An Astronaut - Origins

http://www.israbox.com/uploads/posts/2013-08/1377502208_god-is-an-astronaut-origins.jpg

Most albums I've covered on this list so far were emotionally heavy, most of them even deranging in their own way. This one is different; it's an album that actually makes you comfortable.

Since I heard their self-titled album, I loved God Is An Astronaut's pretty and catchy take on post-rock, but I always thought that they lacked a certain personal/unique to put them above other bands of their style, like If These Trees Could Talk and This Will Destroy You. With Origins, they got rid of this problem. They finally decided to fully embrace their once subtle electronic influences, now making the keyboards more prominent, adding more programmed beats and including, for the first time, vocoded vocals. The latter was a shock for me, since I previously thought that the only band who could really carry out emotions with a vocoder used to its full intent was Anathema (in "Closer"). These changes only make their music more memorable, in my opinion. Just listen to "Transmissions", the grooves and the grandiose atmosphere are very explanatory of the general sound of the record: it's a feel good album, but that doesn't mean it's not musically profound. I'll dig deeper into this subject later.

Still, the Irish boys haven't completely changed their sound. The dreamy, stargazing ambiance and aerial guitar leads they were worshiped for are still there. It's going to sound subjective and poorly expressed, but I believe that Origins essentially reflects the sentiment of being amazed or fascinated, transcribing it into a musical form, and layering it with catchy and fun minimal beats and bass lines that sound like they're straight out of the British electronic scene of the 90's, except for the samples used that sound more modern. Though, don't get me wrong, GIAA's new record is not all stars, windblown flowers and stuff; the occasional heavier dramatic moments (see "Exit Dream" for example) and the general eerie feeling, that is at its most pronounced expression in songs like "Strange Steps" and "Red Moon Lagoon".

Other personal highlights include the enigmatic grace of the aforementioned "Red Moon Lagoon", and "Autumn Song", with its blooming piano leads that gradually become flooded with floating guitar, strings and vocal melodies. This song recalls GIAA's older albums and makes you feel like you're floating on a cloud, which can never be that bad... Also, the pinnacle of Origins' catchiness is probably the soon-to-be post-dance (seriously, that's what it sounds like) anthem "Spiral Code", with its delightfully delayed guitar lines.

If you're in need of a little musical pick-me-up or if you're just looking to take a momentary trip and drift into the star filled sky, get this record (and respect the cheese).

Spiral Code (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od_CDrF3fss)

VoidFlame
01-26-2014, 05:58 PM
17. Death Grips - Government Plates

http://cdn2.thelineofbestfit.com/media/2013/11/death_grips_government_plates-500x500.jpg

Hey, sorry guys, I've been slowing down with the reviews, but to quote a song title of my next one, "I'm Overflow" with studying. Anyway, let's do this.

When I first became aware of the existence of a new Death Grips record, I was at the same time excited by the idea and (delightfully) disgusted by one of the ugliest album covers I ever set my eyes on and by the fancy song titles like: "You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it's your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat". This was all so typically Death Grips, so I was ready for an album full of their usual "fuck off" attitude.

Yet, I wasn't really prepared for what I heard when I hit play. The aforementioned album opener starts things off with the sound of breaking glass, immediately followed by a high-pitched drone backed up by a fat rap beat. Then, MC Ride comes in with his "rapped", and sometimes screamed, panicked nonsense, before being swallowed by the enormous distorted bass line. The second song, "Anne Bonny" is more electro-hip-hop oriented, but with an astral ambiance done in a pretty unhealthy way and a somewhat distant feeling. It makes you feel like you're witnessing a weird - and aggressive - sonic manifestation through a window from a parallel dimension.

Government Plates is definitely Death Grips' most psychedelic release, and consequently, their least accessible. Because of that, it is also, in my opinion, their most powerful. It isn't made to make the listener comfortable at all: the uneasy beats, the oceans of echo and reverb, and the bizarre vocal processing. Thus, never does MC Ride make you the favor of adopting a concrete, rhythmic flow to keep you hooked to reality. His delirious rambling only push you further down in to all of the psychotic chaos brought by the album. Still, with all their awkward and diverse electronic sample, the songs remain very catchy.

Rhythm-wise, Government Plates is mostly weighty and mid-paced, but sometimes switches to fast rave-type beats, like in "This Is Violence Now (Don't Get Me Wrong)", "Feels Like a Wheel" and "Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching)", and sometimes also sinks into pure incomprehensibility. The new Death Grips is in all its aspects far from being a rap album. The samples and the repeated phrases sound like they were carefully chosen and placed to fuck with your brain; either lacerating it into shreds or drowning it into an inscrutable and oppressive haze, but always framed by harsh industrial-influenced beats (check out the ones in "I'm Overflow"). In the brain-fucking business, one of the most efficient songs on the album is the first single they released off it; Birds, with its throbbing, plaintive loops.

Released on their newly created label, Third Worlds, Government Plates is, to quote the latter song, the perfect "fuck you" to the major labels (namely Epic), the government and mankind in general.

Anne Bonny (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4CpypI7SOo)

AnthG
01-27-2014, 06:08 AM
18. God Is An Astronaut - Origins

http://www.israbox.com/uploads/posts/2013-08/1377502208_god-is-an-astronaut-origins.jpg


Finally, someone who gets it. I thought I was the only one.

VoidFlame
01-27-2014, 05:46 PM
16. Kylesa - Ultraviolet

http://punkworldviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/kylesa-ultraviolet.jpg

I had tons of school work to do today, but since it's my birthday, I decided to treat myself with a nice evening album review.

I actually bought the seventeenth album of this list at MDF, last summer. Firstly, I found that the artwork was a bit underwhelming, especially the stuff inside the booklet, but I was still very excited to hear a new record from one of my favourite bands that soon.

As soon as I was one minute into the brilliant opener "Exhale", I had to admit it. This was the best sounding Kylesa album. By far. You can hear every note played by the two drummers so clearly that it's shocking. They engage in surprising complex subtleties, while maintaining the tribal unity and primalism that makes Kylesa so unique. The vocals are also at their best, especially the ones by Laura, who sounds more melodic, more aggressive and more honest than ever. They also feel a bit more withdrawn than before, blending in better and contributing more to the atmosphere of the music.

The two best thing on the album are probably the two guitars; sometimes massive and fuzzed-out, sometimes drenching the whole room with enormous echo and various effects, and sometimes shrouding the riffs in loops and countless layers - they're basically all over the place. In addition to his fabulous guitar playing, Philip Cope also took the time to polish everything up, adding tons of electronically treated noise, percussive objects, theremin and keyboards, thus bringing in a whole ecosystem of refined sounds, with new ones to discover on every listen of the record. Aside from the outstanding sound work, what sets Ultraviolet apart from the previous Kylesa albums is the collection of dense spacey moments, wherein the echoing bass uncertainly attempts to guide through Phil's complex sonic sinuosity. Nevertheless, Ultraviolet is not all pretty ambient stuff: it's still filled with pissed-off hardcore-influenced parts (notably in "We're Taking This", with Laura's finest screams). Everything is also integrated very smoothly; the heavy riffs are often superposed with ethereal notes and chords - it's far from being a potpourri of their influences. It's difficult to take the 2009 released Static Tensions' place in my heart, but the new one definitely feels more homogeneous.

If you ask me for highlights, I would recommend the blistering opening duo, "Exhale" and "Unspoken", plus "Low Tide" with its chilling ghastly voices and paradoxically uplifting feel.

Exhale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mBaLIXEThg)

VoidFlame
01-28-2014, 04:51 PM
15. Author & Punisher - Women & Children

http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Author-Punisher-Women-Children-Artwork.jpg

Back in the late 80's, a band from England called Godflesh embarked on the ambitious mission of creating a musical reflection of human alienation by modern society. On their cult debut Streetcleaner, they created a whole new genre of metal, some kind of very harsh industrial metal, with their pounding drum machine, their downtuned guitars and their yelled vocals.

Almost a quarter of a century later, someone named Tristan Shone took back Godflesh's torch under the name of Author & Punisher, bringing the concept into further extremity. His game is quite unique. He processes his anguished vocals with diverse self-made devices, and he actually makes his music with the digitally processed sound of various machines he built, plus one synthesizer. With his "instruments", he masterfully manages to create a low-frequency-saturated world of electric screeching, brain-thumping recurrent hammering, claustrophobic rooms walled with dense noise and haunted by tormented and/or tormenting voices.

Author & Punisher can't really be considered as metal, but it's heavier and noisier than most of the metal bands I have heard recently. Some of the stuff on Women & Children is really scary.

What makes this album even more breathtaking is the creativity and non-linearity: it goes from crushing industrialism, to liquefied drones, to piano-led introspection (see "Pain Myself"), while always staying coherent and consistent. When it goes softer, it always keeps at least some deranging artificial noise crawling under the keyboard. The Godflesh reference I used in my introduction, was far from describing the depth of this project. Also, the build-ups in songs like "Tame As a Lion" are just plain delicious, with more and more layers of noise being added, becoming almost suffocating towards the end.

This is one of the albums that hit me the hardest this year.

Women & Children (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVJ-tSzp7Mc)

VoidFlame
01-30-2014, 04:49 PM
14. Gorguts - Colored Sands

http://www.guitar-muse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Gorguts-Colored-Sands.jpg

Now is the time I give credits to a local band! Death metal legends Gorguts originally hailed from Richmond, a town not so far from Sherbrooke, the city I live these days. Though, they're not based there anymore; the band now consists of local hero Luc Lemay plus three honorable american contributors.

Whatsoever, myself and a lot of my friends had been waiting on the new Gorguts album for years. I remember being in a Montreal record store about two years ago and hearing their tour manager speaking about how the new record was going to be revolutionary, comparing it to Obscura in levels of progginess (okay, it wasn't that in the end, but still). I had also heard of the album's concept for ages: about Tibet's culture and history. When the first single, "Forgotten Arrows" finally came out, I was really excited, and then pleased. Its complex riffing, its acoustic guitar overlays and its titanic ending projected something monumental. Still, I couldn't get rid of my usual skepticism towards cult bands coming back after hiatuses.

A few months later, I managed to listen to Colored Sands. The opening track, "Le Toit du Monde" ("The Roof/Top of the World" in French), starts off with out-of-this-world drumming by John Longstreth, enhanced by the wonderful sound engineering done by Colin Marston and Luc. It then follows with a gloomy semi-clean part with creepy muffled vocals in the background, before exploding into typical Gorguts fury, reminiscent of 2001's From Wisdom to Hate, but with extra soul-cleansing dissonance and exotic-sounding harmonies. Of course, Luc's colossal vocals, which you can't really tell if they express whirling agony or just pure boiling rage, were still there. The album has a general majestic, dramatic feeling, similar to what is found on recent Immolation records, but done in a more mysterious and intriguing way, and with a bit more despair and pain, thanks to Luc's voice.

Another remarkable point was the very original guitar playing, including an extensive use of natural harmonics on the guitars. Also, the most efficient moments are, in my opinion, the slower, ultra down-pitched meditative parts layered with aerial acoustic and electric guitars or deep ritual throat singing. The key method to approaching those dense parts and in fully appreciating them is to let the streams of sounds envelop you, to let yourself go to the overwhelming (and somewhat cozy) low frequencies and menacing drones.

When I was finished hearing the title track, I already knew that Gorguts had made an impressive comeback, a lot better than Carcass and others. That's when I met with the album's biggest surprise: "The Battle of Chamdo". It basically is a twisted contemporary classical piece written by Luc Lemay and interpreted by a string quartet. It's got some kind of a worrisome feeling; it probably paints a perfect picture of the ancient battle mentioned in the title of the track. The middle part of the song and its reprise at the end are definitely my favourites, with their haunting, spectral melodies.

After this softer track, Luc then decides that the listener's resting time is over, throwing at him the album's hardest hitting tune, "Enemies of Compassion", with its pummeling polyrhythmia leading into cathartic tribal percussions and then into sheer chaos. Other highlights were the crippled doom giant that is "Absconders" (listen to it and you'll probably understand why I use the word "crippled") and the closing firestorm that is "Reduced to Silence".

I had the immense pleasure of witnessing the whole album, except for "The Battle of Chamdo", played live on their last tour and it only confirmed how much I love this album. When a band achieves the feat that is blowing Origin off stage, it's something. Get this album. Now.

Enemies of Compassion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2REoHKfDqrw)

Datjazzfusion
02-28-2014, 04:02 PM
:snivel: