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Old 06-23-2008, 01:09 PM
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2008 Mid-Year Album Writeup

Well we've reached the middle of 2008, and it's already been a hell of a year for new release, so here's my opinion on the shit that's come out that you guys outta be listening to

Earth- The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull- this album continues along the same lines as their last couple releases, but here they expand upon the atmospheric droney sound by adding touches of jazz and more streamlined songwriting as opposed to the open-ended soundscapes of Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method. A word I would use to describe the music is "lush", so if you like mellow instrumental music this is a definite winner.

Russian Circles- Station- the very best of the numerous Explosions In The Sky-style bands out there, Station follows in a similar direction to that of their debut album Enter, except here the band gets heavier in a Mastodon sort of way at times, making the delicate balance between the soft and quiet parts more effective because when the beat drops shit really gets rockin'. Their most distinguishable attribute to me is the guitar-tapping melodies, and those are implemented to full effect. The drumming is outstanding too, perfect mix of flair and restraint, finesse and power. So far this is my favorite album of the year, you gotta check it out if you like this kind of music.

Husky- The Sea King- another instrumental album, but more along the lines of Earth in that this album has a wonderful organic and natural feel to it. They have that Americana/southwestern feel to their music, though with a lot of sparse instrumentation. Amazing guitar tone, so warm and vintage. Sit outside in nature with this album on a hot summer day while enjoying a cold drink and you couldn't be in a better place.

Birds Of Prey- Sulfur and Semen- as the title suggests, this thing is all kinds of nasty. I'll admit I wasn't sold on their debut Weight Of The Wound, but this one absolutely rips face. If I were to have kept track I'd guess this is the album I've listened to most this year. The perfect soundtrack to when you're pissed the fuck off and need the cathartic release of fat sun-rusted riffs and brutal acid-gargling vocals, held together by memorable melodies and surprisingly good songwriting.

Against Nature-Much In Little/Descend- if you dig any kind of 70's hard rock then you need to jump on this one. It's all about that feel that captures the sound of chillin out in a basement all That 70's Show-style, just kickin it. Killer vibes all around on these two albums that were released separately but are meant to go together, and if you still need an excuse to listen then go no further and download them straight from the band's website, along with any of their other albums:

Death Angel- Killing Season- I'm the last person I expected to like this album, but after seeing them play most of the songs live at their record release show back in February I got the album and was very pleasantly surprised. This isn't a bunch of geezers trying to sound like old school thrash and coming off as a terrible parody of themselves (I'm looking at you, other Bay Area thrash metal legends who put out new albums recently....), this is the sound of a hungry band writing the best modern metal I've ever heard. This is the way modern metal needs to sound I think, with the emphasis on great hooks and memorable songs, and Death Angel pull it off perfectly. Yeah there are some songs I skip every time, and my opinion might be biased in that I had absolutely zero expectations, but the iTunes play count doesn't lie. Check it out if you want to hear an album by an old Bay Area band that doesn't sound like Trivium.

Brant Bjork- Punk Rock Guilt- I don't think there is a single musician I've heard that has his own style down quite like Brant Bjork does. His music just oozes pure soul and honesty, and it straight grooves no matter what. The sound is so organic and filled with what I can only describe as happiness and the chillest vibe you'll hear. Some songs on this are brand new, some are re-recorded versions of his old acoustic songs except with full instrumentation, all songs will put a smile on your face and peace in your mind. 'Sol' music.

Colour Haze- All- these guys know how a guitar should sound, and they make the most of it by delivering another piece of pure soul music. Hendrix-meets-Cream-meets-Kyuss, and that's not an exaggeration on any level. Sometimes I'm just in awe of how people can make such beautiful music. It rocks, it's mellow, it swings, it grooves, it's fuckin rad as shit. This is more on the hippie side of things I'll admit, but if you can't get into the vibe then that's too bad because this is a truly special band and possibly their defining release.

Nachtmystium- Assassins: The Black Meddle Part One- as the name would imply, there's a strong Pink Floyd influence in Nachtmystium's brand of black metal on this album, which continues to steer the band away from their early pure black metal roots and further into progressive territory. These guys are kinda turning into the Opeth of black metal I think, though Nachtmystium sway more to the side of post-rock as another influence whereas Opeth sway to the technical side. I have a feeling this album is gonna generate a lot of hype in the metal community and could become a landmark release for extreme metal, and with good reason because this is really a crossroads of styles that meld together very well.

Disfear- Live The Storm- D-beat metal punk, Entombed, Motorhead, Discharge, you know the drill. You will headbang and throw the horns spontaneously. Nothing special to mention except that it might be the best album of this well-worn style that I've ever heard, if only for the fantastic production which puts it over the edge. Perfect guitar tone for this style, great heavy drumming, and the mix brings everything right up front without sounding crowded. Play LOUD.

The Gates Of Slumber- Conqueror- I never really got into this band until this album, which has more balls than Manowar's entire catalog. They adhere pretty strictly to the confines of true doom metal, but the riffs themselves are totally what makes it, along with an expectedly stellar production job by Sanford Parker. The vocals and music sometimes sound like they are literally plagiarizing Wino, but if that's a complaint then you know this album delivers the goods. When they kick into the more traditional heavy metal parts its completely glorious.

Other cool shit that I recommend:

Across Tundras- Western Sky Ride
Siena Root- Far From The Sun
Saviours- Into Abaddon
Hatchet- Awaiting Evil
Merciless Death- Realm Of Terror
Torture Squad- Hellbound
Asva- What You Don't Know Is Frontier
Coffins- Buried Death
Harvey Milk- Life...The Best Game In Town
Tiger Junkies- D-Beat Street Rock 'N Rollers
Soilent Green- Inevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction

Last edited by ADD; 06-23-2008 at 01:17 PM.
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