30. Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
If you like Earth’s new style, then you know what to expect from this album. Droney, doomy stoner rock with a Western/highwayish feeling. Mostly enjoyable, though it does drag at several parts.
29. Trap Them - Seizures in Barren Praise
Some great DM/grind, with some resemblance to new crust like Skitsystem, but it’s got too much of a new-hardcore feel for my taste.
28. Coffins - Buried Death
Coffins are simply one of the heaviest bands around, and Buried Death
is no exception. It’s fairly one-dimensional though, not the most interesting stuff (or the best Coffins release, for that matter), but I can’t stress enough how fucking HEAVY these guys are.
27. Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God
I really disliked this at first, but upon subsequent listens, I realized it was mostly because 2006’s With Oden On Our Side
just set the bar so fucking high for these guys. This is a good record, but the continued inclusion of hardcore breakdowns (which we saw on “Asator” etc.) is irritating, and the overall quality is not quite up to the standard they set with the last album. And the title track really just sounds like power metal to me. Really. Regardless, there is definitely enough of what we’ve come to love about this band to be found here, with a touch of experimentation (is that a cello!?), and this should be considered a worthy addition to the Amon Amarth canon.
26. Hail of Bullets - ...Of Frost and War
Great old-school DM in the Bolt Thrower vein, totally fucking brutal and recommended for fans of the style—but it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table, as one might expect.
25. Darkthrone - Dark Thrones and Black Flags
I really want to get behind this one, but I simply can’t. It ain’t bad, but it’s just not that good. This is pretty much in the vein of their last album F.O.A.D.
, but at this point it sounds like the joke is wearing a bit thin (if you recall my enthusiasm for F.O.A.D.
last year, you can imagine my distress over this). Had they made a shift in style analogous to the one between The Cult Is Alive
(which kind of shifted their focus from punk influence to heavy metal), this might have been a more exciting record—but then again, what would they have shifted to, honestly? Progressive jazz fusion black metal? No, I don’t think so. On the whole, if you like new Darkthrone, this album is enjoyable, but it doesn’t carry the musical or controversial impact that their last two efforts slammed in our faces. Highlights would be “The Winds They Called the Dungeon Shaker”, “Death of All Oaths (Oath Minus)”, “Hanging Out in Haiger”. This last one is utterly ridiculous and sees Darkthrone at their most melodic/heavy-metal-influenced—check out Fenriz’s impression of King Diamond’s lower-register vocals!
Also, with the album title being what it is and with song titles like “Hiking Metal Punks”, I would’ve liked to see them turn up the punk influence again, but it’s not all that pronounced.
24. Melvins - Nude With Boots
I wasn’t familiar with latter-day Melvins before hearing this album, but Nude With Boots
has some great stuff to offer. We still hear Buzzo’s wacky, weed-soaked doom, but this time there’s a healthy dose of hard rock straight out of the 1970s—Led Zeppelin can be heard all over some of these songs. Definitely enjoyable.
23. Enslaved - Vertebrae
This album is somewhat frustrating, primarily because it has so much damn potential. A lot of passages, especially the proggy ones, sound phenomenal
, but they’re often interrupted by not-so-great black metal riffing or other disappointing ideas; the dynamics are just off. Also, this album gives me a general vibe of… fatigue, or something. I’m not sure what causes it, whether it’s the production, or how they’re playing, but from the guitar work to Grutle’s BM vocals (which are now croakier and more ridiculous than ever), everything just sounds kind of weak. They should be playing their hearts out, and it simply doesn’t sound like they are half the time. The clean vocals also sound kind of tired, but they fit the proggy passages beautifully, I must say. Overall this is a good record, and definitely worth a listen if you like later Enslaved, but I just can’t help but feel like it could’ve been much more.
22. Immortal Technique & DJ Green Lantern - The 3rd World
Opinion seems to be divided on this one, and I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it. It definitely has everything that makes Tech great; but I find myself not enjoying a good chunk of about half of the songs here. Some of Green Latern’s beats just don’t live up to those on Revolutionary Vol. 1
, and some of Tech’s rhymes just don’t pack the punch they did on those records. Still, it’s a good album.
21. Kaki King - Dreaming of Revenge
Well, what do we have here? This is an interesting little album, which was recommended to me very late in the year. It consists of mostly instrumental acoustic rock/folk of some sort or another, with a few singer-songwriter-pop-style tracks featuring Kaki’s deceptively sweet singing. Not having heard her music before, my initial reaction was to want to hear more of the singer-songwriter style stuff, and that remains one of my gripes about the album, but I can’t really judge her music based on that. She’s an extremely skilled guitarist; she mostly uses fingerstyle/slap technique, but while her playing is indeed soulful and engaging, it can get to feeling a bit showy at times. Overall this is an interesting and unique album, unlike anything else on this list. Check it out if you’re looking for a change of pace.