Album: Axioma Ethica Odini
Label: Indie Recordings
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
In recent years Enslaved has been pioneering a different sound for black metal and have now perfected it. I was taken by surprise with this album, as I did not expect it to knock me out of my chair. Every song on this album is beautiful, and in a sense, majestic. With their last release, Vertebrae
, I felt they were heading in a good direction, but hadn’t culminated their new sound yet. There were some great songs, but also some weaker ones on that album. With Axioma Ethica Odini
they have smoothed out all of the rough spots, giving us pure artistry. When listening intently you can pick out the progressive rock influences, which aren’t as obvious as on the previous record. Just like a good book, I feel like a notice something more every time I listen to this album.
Artist: God Is an Astronaut
Album: Age of the Fifth Sun
Label: Revive Records
As I mentioned, one of the genres I found myself very interested in this year was post-rock. This was actually the first post-rock band I got into, and I was in love immediately. The ambiance of this album is so soothing for the mind that it will erase all of the stresses of your day for the duration it persists. Some of the songs are very simplistic in their nature, but they do not drag on in any way. They progress up until the climax where they blossom into an elegant abstraction of realities.
Album: Valley of Smoke
Label: Century Media
Genre: Progressive Metal / Post-Metal
Intronaut is another band that was new to my collection in 2010. Before listening to Valley of Smoke
I checked out their previous record and was fairly impressed, but the new album left me in awe. It took a few listens to completely wrap my head around it, but Valley of Smoke has left a lasting impression on me and became one of my most loved CDs of the year. The album further develops the distinct sound the band had designed on Prehistoricisms
, focusing much more on euphonious riffs and progressions, but still keeping the bands notable elements. Each song has a slightly different feel and emotion to it, but all are heavenly to the ear. With an incredibly prominent – but not excessively – bass guitar and interesting drum patterns, sometimes integrating Latin and African rhythms, Intronaut has created a new sound for progressive metal, establishing themselves and redefining the limits of the genre.
Album: Écailles de Lune
Label: Prophecy Productions
Genre: Shoegaze / Post-Metal / Black Metal
I have come to find that sometimes the most beautiful music is almost the most depressing. Neige of Alcest has given us an incredible spectacle here, combining multiple genres flawlessly into one album. The musicianship here astonishes me. Although the songs may not be overwhelmingly complex, they are constructed with calculated precision. The music itself moves me beyond words. With each listen I feel reminiscent of my childhood, longing to return to a past where I still viewed life in a fairytale, blind to the hate and corruption of mankind. This is the soundtrack to my memories, taking me backward through my life like a roll of film. No other album has made me feel quite this way; the nostalgia it produces staggers me, leaving me paralyzed; it overflows me with emotions, so many that I can’t even understand them all.
Label: Indie Recordings
Genre: Hardcore / Black Metal / Rock
It is not often that I become so obsessed with a band that I listen to them for nearly a week, but that is what happened to me when I heard this album. Although this album is very straightforward and simplistic, it is revolutionary in the Norwegian music scene. Prior to this album I had heard nothing remotely like this. Kvelertak created a sound that shamelessly blends in their country’s well-known cult music, black metal, with hardcore punk and some rock influences. The transitions from hardcore to black metal are distinguishable, as they don’t simply borrow elements from each genre, instead they almost switch genres within a song. In text this may seem like it would sound awkward and careless, but it is done with heed, bringing about an intriguing aura. One of my favorite aspects of the album is that the lyrics are all in Norwegian. Even in the Norwegian black metal scene it is not often that bands write in their native language, so it is very appealing to me when one of them does. Furthermore, Kvelertak genuinely fun music. When blasting this album it’s hard not to feel like cracking open a beer or just going out and enjoying yourself.