And the last three:
3. Early Graves- Goner
Early Graves is not just another Entombed-influenced grind/hardcore band. Rather, they are one of the more original ones in the scene. Comparisons to Trap Them are inevitable; however, Early Graves offers something more. While Trap Them cuts right to the chase and wastes no time ripping peoples’ faces off with their furious brand of grindcore, Early Graves focuses on actually creating songs, songs that will lure you back again and again.
On top of the brutally vicious Dismember-gone-grind riffage, they throw on a plethora of crust and thrash riffs, to boot. There is not a lack of breakdowns here in Goner, but Early Graves do breakdowns right. You don’t think to yourself, “Godammit, they had to put a fucking breakdown here;” you probably don’t think anything. The breakdowns feel part of the song itself, not just a random thing thrown in for good measure. In black metal, the weak production is supposed to create a feeling of atmopshere; I cannot vouch for the fact that the weak production (the album is recorded in Mono) in Goner contributes anything. Still, it doesn’t take anything away from it.
Sadly, their frontman, Makh Daniels, died in a fatal car accident a few months ago. I can already hear the smart guys shouting in unison: “Zomg, their name is Early Graves! How ironic lolololololololol!!!!” But in all seriousness, this album does feel like Makh’s final goodbye. If you listen closely, you can really hear the agony in his yells, the agony of being so painfully aware of his own fleeting mortality. It is truly a shame that such an artist had to die so young; his potential was still so great, even on a fantastic album such as Goner. Mr. Daniels, you are a legend in my eyes.
Recommended tracks: Goner, Faith is Shit, Give Up...and pretty much everything else, to be honest.
2. High on Fire- Snakes For the Divine
I’ve had quite a history with this album. High on Fire has been one of my favorite bands for a while, so when this album started streaming on Myspace, I chose to ignore it. The Tuesday it came out, I drove over to Best Buy after school. In fact, I did this the next three days (it never occurred to me to just call them to see if they had the CD in stock). I finally got it the next weekend at the mall.
The first time I listened, I thought it was decent. Yet it began to grow on me, and soon enough, I started to love it. But then I took a long break from this album, and during the absence, I began convinced, for whatever reason, that this album sucked.
The next time I gave this album a spin, I realized that I still did love it. However, after this, every time I played this album I changed my mind on it. One time I loved it, one time I hated it; one time I just sorta liked it, one time I thought it pretty unremarkable. And so it goes.
Even so, I remain in love with the first two tracks. The eight-minute title track begins with one of the most bonerrific riffs ever created in my honest opinion, and then transitions into an epic stoner-doom anthem, courtesy of Matt Pike himself. “Frost Hammer” is a mini-epic, wedged into a mere six minutes. I was first introduced to this song on the Mastodon/Dethklok tour. It is a great song indeed. The psychedelic vocals are awesome, too.
The rest of the album ranges from decent to very good. “How Dark We Pray” is a doomy motherfucker. “Bastard Samuari” also starts out doomy but speeds up near the end. In contrast, “Fire, Flood, and Plague” and “Ghost Neck” are fun, but kinda lame too. I can’t explain it.
In my experience, most people hate this album. There are people out there who like it, but I don’t think there’s many people out there that absolutely love it, either. One of the biggest complaints is the production, courtesy of the mastermind behind Death Magnetic, Greg Fidelman. I’m not very adept to production, but I do kinda notice some things about this album. At times, it lacks oomph. Also, the volume randomly changes a bunch of times. WTF is up with that?
The other complaint is that Matt Pike is running out of ideas. That I definitely do not agree with. This album is probably the most creative and diverse HOF albums I've heard.
Anyways, I do enjoy this album very much. At times I do feel ashamed of liking it so much, especially because my brother and my best friend hate it so passionately. Still, I would probably rank it right behind Death is This Communion.
Recommended tracks: title track, Frost Hammer, Bastard Samurai, How Dark We Pray, The Path
1. Woe- Quietly, Undramatically
To this day it simply amazes me how someone like myself, who pretty much hates black metal, can love this particular black metal album, yet be completely opposed to other albums of the genre (and trust me, I've heard a LOT of black metal albums this year). I mean, it’s not that original. Honestly, I guess Woe just speaks to me in a weird way.
Being as I’m not a huge black metal fan, I doubt I can describe this album very well. It has lots of atmosphere, but it’s not over-the-top, either. It can be pretty brutal at times but also slightly avant-garde (for example, there are clean vocals- freakin' awesome ones at that- on the title track). If I had to make a comparison, I suppose I would liken it to Ludicra’s recent effort The Tenant.
Ever since I heard this album I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Sure, the production isn’t great, but what black metal isn’t? The important thing here is that the album still manages to be awesome in spite of its pitfalls. Seriously, there is not one song on here I dislike. No other album this year has made such an impact on me this year than Quietly, Undramatically (which is pretty amazing in itself, being as I only started listening to it two weeks ago). Highly recommended.
Recommended tracks: Wait for it...all of them