5) sleepmakeswaves - Öand so we destroyed everything
Post-rock is a genre thatís well known for being on the melancholic side of the spectrum, so I find it odd that music that could be synonymous with depressive makes me so damn happy and puts me in a good mood. As Iím listening to sleepmakeswavesí debut album, Öand so we destroyed everything, Iíve got a huge smile on my face similar to this little guy
. What I likes most about sleepmakeswaves, is that theyíve got a real cool, unique spin on post-rock. They use the basic frame for the music, add elements of speed, technicality and electronic and with these extra ingredients create some of my favorite post-rock Iíve heard to date. While these guys do pay plenty of attention to post in post-rock, they magnify the rock more than most. A lot of the shorter tracks really showcase their ability to rock out while still keeping the post-rock aesthetic in place. But where the band really shines the most is the longer piece. Those are the ones in which the bands truly showcases their incredible songwriting ability. Each go through many movements, and have awesome surprises at hidden in Ďem. Whether itís the trumpet on a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, or the vocals we hear on the title track, they throw in nice touches that arenít heard on most post-rock albums. But that isnít what makes these songs so great. Itís the superb songwriting. sleepmakewaves are probably the best in the game at the moment when it comes to really building on ideas and fleshing songs out. With both their sense of technicality and ambience, they masterfully throw in all sort of things into each song and do it so well. I canít really explain how cool it is. I think my favorite thing on the album is the drummer; to be frank, heís super fuckiní good. He creates the coolest drum beats Iíve heard in post-rock and really grooves when the music calls for a good groove. He interplays really well with the bass and it just really makes the music. Overall, Iíd say Öand so we destroyed everything is the best post-rock album of 2011. Dig it.
a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun
4) Protest the Hero - Scurrilous
This album held the spot of number 1 on my list for a solid 7-8 months. That by itself should speak volumes of how kick-ass this record is. But Iím assuming you want to read more than a couple sentences, so Iíll go ahead and write a few more.
So in case youíre unaware, Protest the Hero are a progressive/technical metal band from up north. Theyíve got a keen sense combining guitar wizardry with melody and catchiness thatís unlike anything Iíve heard of in any band. Scurrilous introduces some change thatís quite refreshing to the band. For one, almost all elements of metalcore have vanished from their music. There are no breakdowns or chugs on this album, which never really was a problem because PTH did metalcore right, but the absence of those elements shows that theyíre really maturing as a band and writers. Also, there very, very few growls on this album. The change is welcomed because Rody has an excellent singing voice, but I do know that the departure of the rough vocals did erk few people, but there arenít too many moments on the album where I think growls fit the music. Lastly, bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi only writes lyrics for three of the tracks on this album. Lyrical duties are mainly in the hands of singer Rody Walker now, and heís just as witty as Arif, so thereís nothing to complain about. Along with those ďmajorĒ things, it seems Protest the Hero have exchanged a little of their heaviness for their innate catchiness and a greater sense of melody.
Even with all the change that went on between Fortress and Scurrilous, the band is still the same for the most part. All the members of the band are extremely talented musicians who write cool, interesting parts in each song and keep it fresh as far as songwriting goes. The music is very riveting and keeps the listener engaged. This dynamic bunch of progressive misfits is one of the best, most refreshing bands the current music scene has to offer, and I high encourage everybody who is a fan modern progressive metal to give this shot if they havenít already.
3) Vektor - Outer Isolation
Way back when I started to listen to metal, thrash metal was my shit. I loved the intensity, aggression, and energy it brought to the table. But soon after that I was attracted to the progressive side of metal. Virtuosic playing, changing keys and time signatures, unorthodox ideas, influences from multiple genres out side of the metal realm were probably the things to attracted me most to prog. So, when I first heard of Vektor and heard people calling them progressive thrash metal, I was intrigued. At the time, I hadnít heard any thrash bands that displayed any elements that I loved about thrash or and prog bands there were as rapid or aggressive as my favorite thrash bands. I bought a copy of Vektorís Black Future, and instantly fell in love. As far as Iím concerned, thatís the best thrash album to come out since Rust in Peace. Vektor reached grounds I didnít think any thrash band was capable of with Black Future. Youíve got thrash masterpieces like Hunger of Violence and awesome epics like Accelerating Universe. This band was toying with the likes of jazz and flamenco guitar, fluctuating from time signature to time signature with ease, doing all this complex musical stuff while keeping everything extremely aggressive, and that really blew me away. So, like many of you on Metalsetlists, I was weary about a new Vektor album. I found it hard to believe that any band could even come close to the majesty of Black Future, but Vektor accepted the challenge and succeeded in matching the prowess that is displayed on Black Future.
Like its predecessor, Outer Isolation takes songs from the bandís self-released album, Demolition. This time they re-work Tetrastructural Minds, Venus Project, and Fast Paced Society. Saying that the new versions do the old justice is a huge understatement. The re-worked versions of course sound better than the originals, but are also just better written. Whether it was speeding some up or trimming Ďem a bit, those three songs are just magnificent. And the new songs that Vektor are awesome too. The first track, Cosmic Cortex, which is the only song that exceeds 10 minutes on this album, is a wild ride. It goes all over the place, from relaxed sections to sections where theyíre blasting away at full-speed. The band also focuses a little more on this record, and writes some of the heaviest riffs that weíve heard from Vektor. They also create sounds that donít sound like any of the instruments which are featured on this album. Thereís a part in the title track where I couldíve sworn they threw in some piano, but it was just guitar and bass. My favorite thing about this album though, is frontman David Disantoís banshee howls. Theyíre bountiful on this record. I donít mean to demean anything from the songwriting and how incredible it is, but Vektor wouldnít be quite the same without them. This album is full of great new ideas from Vektor and the same sci-fi thrash metal we know and love. Did they outdo Black Future? No, but they came pretty damn close. And think about it; could anybody?
2) Light Bearer - Lapsus
This album was a complete surprise. I remember hearing something about Cult of Luna working on an album in the first fourth of the 2011, and expressing that I could dig some new post-metal. A fellow former on Metaluprising posted a link to Lapsus. He didnít know a thing about the album, just saw that it was labeled post-metal and decided to be a cool guy and send me a link to it. Best blind decision Iíve made. This album captures everything I love about post-metal and all of the music it derives from. It is border-line perfect.
Light Bearer rose from the ashes of Fall of Efrafa, another post-metal band. The two do sound similar, but Light Bearer does a better job of capturing the tension and melancholy an album band like this is supposed to. The album comprises of six songs, and is just under an hour long. Half of the songs go over 10 minutes, the longest being a little under 18, and another goes a little past 7. One of the other tracks serves as an intro which does feature music, and the other is a little transition track. The 4 main songs absolutely capture the feeling of tension and betrayal, which is what this album is all about. Lyrically, the album is about our best buddy Satan being banished to Hell, for not agreeing with God about the whole Jesus thing. It kind of sides with Lucifer, the OG light bearer, which is of course something every metal band should do. Back to the musical aspect of this album, it combines all that we love about the two genres that make up post-metal, sludge and post-rock, and really creates something magical. All the songs features super heavy riffs, clean interludes with beautifully plucked chords, vocals that perpetuate the pain that Beelz went through as he was banished from paradise, huge crescendos that donít drag or are short, a gargantuan atmosphere, and the tightest rhythm section ever. Seriously, the drummer on this album is incredible. He plays some of the most imaginative drum beats Iíve heard to date. Ghost notes for days, son. The bassist also writes some awesome lines. Also, the addition of instruments like piano, violin, and cello add a really huge, filling sound that haunts. One last thing I should mention is that is that in a way, the album kind of makes a full circle. The closing track, Lapsus, goes to a variation of a riff that is played in the first actual song, Primum Movens. Theyíre similar enough to where it kind of makes the album seem like a huge piece cut into epic pieces, but not alike. This album is beautifully written and one of the most sincere, emotionally compelling albums Iíve ever heard. I simply can not wait for the sequel.
1) Cormorant - Dwellings
Surprise, surprise! Bet you didnít see this coming.
So, Iím sure youíre all fairly familiar with Cormorant by now. There are fair amount of people on here who canít keep them out of their mouth, myself included. The reason behind that is that they achieve something that very few other bands do. Theyíre unique. I know I may have used that word in a few other reviews, but when you get down to it, the word best fits these guys. Iíve yet to hear a band that reminds of Cormorant and Iíve never listened to Cormorant and thought of another band. Cormorant takes influence from all types of music, and instead of picking at what they like from each genre and mimicking it through their own music, they actually create something new.
With Dwellings, Cormorant take on a simpler approach to their music. The music is definitely stripped down. With the exception of one song, the only instruments you hear on this album are guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. No rainstick, mandolin, cello, or guest vocalists. Now, where to being about the album on a musical standpoint? Firstly, the album feels angrier and more primal than its predecessor. I donít know if they do that to emphasize on the vocals in a lot of these songs, or if it just came naturally, but it works like a charm. It also does a great job of embodying emotions like bliss & fulfillment, sorrow & melancholy. The majority of these songs are on lengthy side, on average ranging from 7-12 minutes. Through this, the songs always finish where they began from an emotional stand point. This technique in songwriting is cool because the band often kind of ventures out during the song, turning it into a musical expedition. Another thing to point out is that this album feels angrier and more primal than its predecessor. I donít know if it is to accompany the lyrics or if it just happened naturally, but it really works. A lot of the music also varies. You have pissed off black metal-esque pieces like The First Man, epics like Unearthly Dreamings, and prog jams like Confusion of Tongues. And the variation doesnít stop from a song-to-song level, there is also multiple things going on within each piece. This may sound kind of hectic and spastic, but it comes off beautifully. Another thing worth mentioning is that this album features the entire band vocally. Bassist, Arthur Von Nagel, is of course the main man on vocal duties like in all their previous works, but we really hear drummer Brennan Kunkel taking on a more obvious role providing the clean vocals, and guitarist Matt Solis aiding Arthur in with shouts when it comes to the gang vocals/trade-off we hear on Junta and Unearthly Dreamings.
From a lyrical standpoint, this album is genius. Normally, I couldnít give a shit about lyrics. There are few lyricists that make me pay attention to their words. Arthur Von Nagel is one of those few. Dwellings very well could be a thesis on humanity. It goes over everything the darker side of humanity with The First Man and A Howling Dust, and the good in humanity with the Funambulist and Unearthly Dreamings. I donít feel like going into extreme detail right now, but go check the lyrics out for yourself, youíll be blown away.
Overall, this is the best, most unique album released in the metal realm in 2011. Full of great songwriting, memorable riffs, amazing lyricism, and superb variation, these Tiberian Ass Bastard Folks have created something really special. Not just with Dwellings, but with Cormorant.