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After The Burial -- Flint, MI -- September 20th, 2014
Periphery -- Lansing, MI -- September 19th, 2014
Otherwise -- Sturtevant, WI -- September 19th, 2014
Eluveitie -- Baltimore, MD -- September 19th, 2014
Riot Fest -- Denver, CO -- September 19th, 2014


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  #41  
Old 01-27-2014, 06:08 AM
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18. God Is An Astronaut - Origins

Finally, someone who gets it. I thought I was the only one.
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  #42  
Old 01-27-2014, 05:46 PM
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16. Kylesa - Ultraviolet



I had tons of school work to do today, but since it's my birthday, I decided to treat myself with a nice evening album review.

I actually bought the seventeenth album of this list at MDF, last summer. Firstly, I found that the artwork was a bit underwhelming, especially the stuff inside the booklet, but I was still very excited to hear a new record from one of my favourite bands that soon.

As soon as I was one minute into the brilliant opener "Exhale", I had to admit it. This was the best sounding Kylesa album. By far. You can hear every note played by the two drummers so clearly that it's shocking. They engage in surprising complex subtleties, while maintaining the tribal unity and primalism that makes Kylesa so unique. The vocals are also at their best, especially the ones by Laura, who sounds more melodic, more aggressive and more honest than ever. They also feel a bit more withdrawn than before, blending in better and contributing more to the atmosphere of the music.

The two best thing on the album are probably the two guitars; sometimes massive and fuzzed-out, sometimes drenching the whole room with enormous echo and various effects, and sometimes shrouding the riffs in loops and countless layers - they're basically all over the place. In addition to his fabulous guitar playing, Philip Cope also took the time to polish everything up, adding tons of electronically treated noise, percussive objects, theremin and keyboards, thus bringing in a whole ecosystem of refined sounds, with new ones to discover on every listen of the record. Aside from the outstanding sound work, what sets Ultraviolet apart from the previous Kylesa albums is the collection of dense spacey moments, wherein the echoing bass uncertainly attempts to guide through Phil's complex sonic sinuosity. Nevertheless, Ultraviolet is not all pretty ambient stuff: it's still filled with pissed-off hardcore-influenced parts (notably in "We're Taking This", with Laura's finest screams). Everything is also integrated very smoothly; the heavy riffs are often superposed with ethereal notes and chords - it's far from being a potpourri of their influences. It's difficult to take the 2009 released Static Tensions' place in my heart, but the new one definitely feels more homogeneous.

If you ask me for highlights, I would recommend the blistering opening duo, "Exhale" and "Unspoken", plus "Low Tide" with its chilling ghastly voices and paradoxically uplifting feel.

Exhale
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Old 01-28-2014, 04:51 PM
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15. Author & Punisher - Women & Children



Back in the late 80's, a band from England called Godflesh embarked on the ambitious mission of creating a musical reflection of human alienation by modern society. On their cult debut Streetcleaner, they created a whole new genre of metal, some kind of very harsh industrial metal, with their pounding drum machine, their downtuned guitars and their yelled vocals.

Almost a quarter of a century later, someone named Tristan Shone took back Godflesh's torch under the name of Author & Punisher, bringing the concept into further extremity. His game is quite unique. He processes his anguished vocals with diverse self-made devices, and he actually makes his music with the digitally processed sound of various machines he built, plus one synthesizer. With his "instruments", he masterfully manages to create a low-frequency-saturated world of electric screeching, brain-thumping recurrent hammering, claustrophobic rooms walled with dense noise and haunted by tormented and/or tormenting voices.

Author & Punisher can't really be considered as metal, but it's heavier and noisier than most of the metal bands I have heard recently. Some of the stuff on Women & Children is really scary.

What makes this album even more breathtaking is the creativity and non-linearity: it goes from crushing industrialism, to liquefied drones, to piano-led introspection (see "Pain Myself"), while always staying coherent and consistent. When it goes softer, it always keeps at least some deranging artificial noise crawling under the keyboard. The Godflesh reference I used in my introduction, was far from describing the depth of this project. Also, the build-ups in songs like "Tame As a Lion" are just plain delicious, with more and more layers of noise being added, becoming almost suffocating towards the end.

This is one of the albums that hit me the hardest this year.

Women & Children
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Old 01-30-2014, 04:49 PM
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14. Gorguts - Colored Sands



Now is the time I give credits to a local band! Death metal legends Gorguts originally hailed from Richmond, a town not so far from Sherbrooke, the city I live these days. Though, they're not based there anymore; the band now consists of local hero Luc Lemay plus three honorable american contributors.

Whatsoever, myself and a lot of my friends had been waiting on the new Gorguts album for years. I remember being in a Montreal record store about two years ago and hearing their tour manager speaking about how the new record was going to be revolutionary, comparing it to Obscura in levels of progginess (okay, it wasn't that in the end, but still). I had also heard of the album's concept for ages: about Tibet's culture and history. When the first single, "Forgotten Arrows" finally came out, I was really excited, and then pleased. Its complex riffing, its acoustic guitar overlays and its titanic ending projected something monumental. Still, I couldn't get rid of my usual skepticism towards cult bands coming back after hiatuses.

A few months later, I managed to listen to Colored Sands. The opening track, "Le Toit du Monde" ("The Roof/Top of the World" in French), starts off with out-of-this-world drumming by John Longstreth, enhanced by the wonderful sound engineering done by Colin Marston and Luc. It then follows with a gloomy semi-clean part with creepy muffled vocals in the background, before exploding into typical Gorguts fury, reminiscent of 2001's From Wisdom to Hate, but with extra soul-cleansing dissonance and exotic-sounding harmonies. Of course, Luc's colossal vocals, which you can't really tell if they express whirling agony or just pure boiling rage, were still there. The album has a general majestic, dramatic feeling, similar to what is found on recent Immolation records, but done in a more mysterious and intriguing way, and with a bit more despair and pain, thanks to Luc's voice.

Another remarkable point was the very original guitar playing, including an extensive use of natural harmonics on the guitars. Also, the most efficient moments are, in my opinion, the slower, ultra down-pitched meditative parts layered with aerial acoustic and electric guitars or deep ritual throat singing. The key method to approaching those dense parts and in fully appreciating them is to let the streams of sounds envelop you, to let yourself go to the overwhelming (and somewhat cozy) low frequencies and menacing drones.

When I was finished hearing the title track, I already knew that Gorguts had made an impressive comeback, a lot better than Carcass and others. That's when I met with the album's biggest surprise: "The Battle of Chamdo". It basically is a twisted contemporary classical piece written by Luc Lemay and interpreted by a string quartet. It's got some kind of a worrisome feeling; it probably paints a perfect picture of the ancient battle mentioned in the title of the track. The middle part of the song and its reprise at the end are definitely my favourites, with their haunting, spectral melodies.

After this softer track, Luc then decides that the listener's resting time is over, throwing at him the album's hardest hitting tune, "Enemies of Compassion", with its pummeling polyrhythmia leading into cathartic tribal percussions and then into sheer chaos. Other highlights were the crippled doom giant that is "Absconders" (listen to it and you'll probably understand why I use the word "crippled") and the closing firestorm that is "Reduced to Silence".

I had the immense pleasure of witnessing the whole album, except for "The Battle of Chamdo", played live on their last tour and it only confirmed how much I love this album. When a band achieves the feat that is blowing Origin off stage, it's something. Get this album. Now.

Enemies of Compassion
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:02 PM
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