voidflame's fully biased and despicable best of 2013 list
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:
[LIST][*]Some honorable mentions[*]My two favourite EPs of the year[*]Something you might hate me for[*]My 30 favourite albums of the year[/LIST]
Don't get your expectations too high for this, but I'm going to try to review each of the albums.
[B]Clutch - [I]Earth Rocker[/I][/B]
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.
[B]Phoenix - [I]Bankrupt![/I][/B]
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, [I]Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix[/I], 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.
[B]Boards of Canada - [I]Tomorrow's Harvest[/I][/B]
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.
[B]Katatonia - [I]Dethroned & Uncrowned[/I][/B]
Not actually an original full-length, but a remake of their last masterpiece, [I]Dead End Kings[/I]. 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.
[B]Iceage - [I]You're Nothing[/I][/B]
I have to say I prefer their debut album, [I]New Brigade[/I], 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.
[SIZE="4"][B][U]My 2 favourite EPs of 2013[/U][/B][/SIZE]
[B]2. Rotten Sound - [I]Species at War[/I][/B]
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.
[B]1. Fuck the Facts - [I]Amer[/I][/B]
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.
[URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWmVCi5xuA8"]Une triste vue[/URL]
[SIZE="4"][B][U]Shameless and assholic self-promotion[/U][/B][/SIZE]
This is the part you're going to hate ;) If you don't care, just skip it.
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, [I]ZING[/I], 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.
Tomorrow, I'll get on with the serious stuff and start my album countdown!
Nothing wrong with some self promotion! I'll check it out.
[SIZE="4"][B][U]My 31 best full-lengths of 2013[/U][/B][/SIZE]
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.
[B]31. Russian Circles - [I]Memorial[/I][/B]
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.
[B]30. Portal - [I]Vexovoid[/I][/B]
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 [I]Swarth[/I]. 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 [I]Vexovoid[/I] is a unique experience. I'm still hoping they manage do get a North American tour someday...
[URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1agHQi9LFg"]The Back Wards[/URL]
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
[B]29. Steven Wilson - [I]The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)[/I][/B]
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.
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