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  #71  
Old 01-16-2008, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DethMaiden View Post
It takes multiple listens, dude.
Like all post-rock.
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  #72  
Old 01-16-2008, 06:36 PM
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Like all post-rock.
Yeah, essentially.
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:00 PM
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20-11

20. World's End Girlfriend - Hurtbreak Wonderland



(First of all, ignore the band name and album title. They're both bad and evoke images of a totally different kind of music than this is.)

This album is a bit difficult to describe. World’s End Girlfriend seem to be considered instrumental post-rock, but the influences that go into Hurtbreak Wonderland are too numerous to lock it in to just one category. Prominent are elements of classical and jazz, with a string quartet leading many of the tracks, and pianos, saxophones, upright basses being featured as well. Electronica is also very important to the album’s sound; every song features various electronic elements such as beat, sound effects/noise, and electronic modulation of other instruments. There are also a number of other miscellaneous influences that crop up here and there, such as pop, Japanese folk (I think), and even black metal (okay, that might be a stretch, but when I hear distorted tremolo-picked guitars, I think black metal). So enough about the elements going into the music, what about the music itself? Well, it’s quite good, really. The strings lend a feeling of melancholy to many of the tracks, even a sense of nostalgia at times—the childlike “aahs” and music box outro in the beautiful “Birthday Resistance” only reinforce the atmosphere of youth and nostalgia created by the heart-wrenching string melodies. The album’s only flaw, besides feeling a bit samey at times, is the overbearing presence of the electronics. While they are certainly an integral part of the sound World’s End Girlfriend are going for, they are at times too busy for their own good. I don’t really understand the need for all the cartoonish sound effect samples either. At best they give the music a kind of wacky Japanese feel, but at worst they can kill the mood of a song. That stuff aside, this is definitely good music. If you’re into instrumental post-rock and you’re looking for something different, I’d recommend trying out Hurtbreak Wonderland. It’s unjustly one of the lesser-known releases of its kind this year.

19. Nest - Trail of the Unwary



Nest return with what may be their darkest album yet, and perhaps their strongest full-length. Trail of the Unwary gives us a slightly reinvented Nest, with even heavier influence from dark ambient and perhaps even metal. At certain times they even scale back the ambience, opting for upbeat folk passages—one could practically dance to parts of “Claw and Fang”. The track they did for the 10” split with Agalloch back in 2004 hinted at new subtle developments for the band, featuring sung vocals (whereas previously they had only used spoken-word) and an acoustic guitar solo (previous releases had not featured any guitar), and while the guitar does not make another appearance, the new album sees them following such hints to their developed ends. The musical depiction of a pack of wolves hunting its prey on the track “Hunt” is nothing short of hair-rasing, and the spoken lyrics about the necessity of predator feeding on prey are simply perfect. Trail of the Unwary is a beautiful reincarnation of Nest’s brand of naturey, ambient Finnish folk, and it deserves your attention if you have even a passing interest in this kind of music.

18. Ulver - Shadows of the Sun



At times peaceful, at times haunting, but always interesting, Shadows of the Sun is a melancholy work of ambient music from one of the most notoriously experimental former-black-metal bands around, Ulver. This album really shines in the fluidity of its song structures; warm synths, rich pianos, and mournful strings flow seamlessly into unsettling noise and dark percussion and back again, all held together by Garm’s deep, soothing singing voice. The cover of Sabbath’s “Solitude”, which adds a beautifully performed, distant, quiet, trumpet part, is a totally classy move. Repeated listens reveal new things about each track, so this may take more than one spin to fully appreciate. Definitely recommended, especially since this one is probably passed over by most people.

17. Om - Pilgrimage



This may not be quite up to the level of their previous album Conference of the Birds, but I really enjoy Pilgrimage. The quiet, somber, reflective mood of the title track (and its reprise) is a nice variation from the previous two albums, if anything building upon the foundations set by the track “At Giza” from Conference. Basically what you have here is the rhythm section from legendary stoner-doom band Sleep creating a slowly-evolving piece of music for bass, drums, and voice, influenced by Tibetan chanting (thanks Wikipedia). They really manage to create a thing of beauty and depth out of very little. The lyrics are like spiritual, metaphysical versions of those unique Jerusalem-era Sleep lyrics, and they work beautifully. If you’re up for something that takes patience to appreciate, Pilgrimage proves to be well worth the effort, yielding huge aural rewards for those willing to make the journey.

16. Rwake - Voices of Omens



Soaked in drugs and floating through space, Voices of Omens brings a despairing Southern attitude to the progressive/experimental sludge/doom sound of Neurosis and the like. I liked Brad’s description of it as a “twisted, backwoods acid trip”. Solid almost all the way through, though the last song begins to drag a bit. “Leviticus” with its brilliant development is probably the standout track.

15. Neurosis - Given to the Rising



With Given to the Rising, Neurosis prove once again that they are still on top of their game. Mixing vintage monolithic Neurosis riffs with post-rockish melodic sensibilities and a suffocating sense of atmosphere, the album brilliantly expresses its abstract themes, which could be interpreted as spiritual journeys, drug trips, dream states, or any combination of the three. Even if you didn’t enjoy Neurosis’s other recent efforts, give this a chance; in my mind it’s right up there with Souls At Zero and Through Silver In Blood.

14. Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters



Although I wasn’t entirely taken with their previous release Diadem of 12 Stars, Two Hunters sees Wolves in the Throne Room perfecting their sound and stripping away what had been unnecessary. Wolves masterfully fuse black metal with elements of post-rock, a tendency that is becoming increasingly popular across many subgenres of metal in recent years. The album begins with the lush, majestic synth/guitar opener “Dia Artio”, in which the guitars are so distant and processed as to sound like synths themselves. After about 6 minutes of this euphoric bliss, the listener is thrown into “Vastness and Sorrow”, the highlight of this 4-song album. Utilizing repetitive, melancholy riffs that often recall Burzum, Wolves weave a hypnotic 12-minute epic that develops beautifully and wastes none of its long playing time. The following track “The Cleansing” begins with some subdued tribal drumming and floating female vocals, leading into another dark, intense black metal journey. Finally, the last track, ingeniously titled “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots” begins with a whispering wind and a clean guitar intro before launching into another sojourn of hypnotic black metal. At 18 minutes long, this track is the only place where the album begins to feel overlong, but as a whole Two Hunters retains an air of quality and creates a unique sound that sets them apart as one of the better acts of the post-metal and post-black scenes.

13. Sodom - The Final Sign of Evil



Sodom’s newest album consists of re-recorded material from the 1984 debut In the Sign of Evil, plus new recordings of songs that had been originally written for that album, but didn’t make it onto wax due to pressure from their label. Some may say Sodom released this because they’re tired and out of ideas, but the greatness of this record lies in how well they managed to recapture that 80s proto-black metal feeling, right down to the sloppy drumming. It’s a fucking fist in the face (or, an axe to the neck, as it were) of all those bands who claim to be going “back to their roots”, but really just deliver up a heap of uninspired, recycled garbage that ends up sounding undeniably “new” anyway. Slayer and Metallica, among others, come to mind. Not too surprisingly, the tracks we’re already familiar with are stronger than the new ones, but they all rule pretty hard—“The Sin of Sodom” and “Bloody Corpse” are especially unstoppable. I think this album may have passed under a lot of people’s radars—it seemed like it wasn’t too widely promoted or something, maybe it was considered too much of a “die-hard only” release. For this reason especially I’d recommend this album to anyone who’s into first-wave/proto-black metal like Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Sodom (duh), Venom, etc.

12. Ash Pool - World Turns On Its Hinge



Full-length debut by the black metal project of Dominick Fernow, the man behind New York noise electronics act Prurient and owner of record label/store Hospital Productions. Given his background in Prurient one might expect this album to be a bit more experimental than it is—World Turns On Its Hinge is a relatively straight-forward raw black metal album with a few obvious nods to Burzum and a slight resemblance to Akitsa (with whom Prurient did a split EP). One thing this album definitely has going for it is its insertions of melody into the fray, in the form of catchy guitar hooks and haunting sung vocals, but the unbridled aggression found in many of the songs is also impressive, and definitely complemented by the raw production. The level of intensity maintained throughout the album is almost staggering. The lyrics are some of the more horrific in black metal, in that they deal heavily with one of the darkest aspects of humanity—sexual violence and rape. As hard as some of it may be to take, it’s a good artistic choice, as one of the functions of black metal (and really, metal in general) is to hold us down and force us to look at the dark, bestial side of ourselves. One of the best BM releases of 2007. Get it.

11. God Is An Astronaut - Far From Refuge



The best post-rock album on this list. This album fulfilled what I had been looking for in the genre but had up till then not found in a 2007 release, and I see God Is An Astronaut becoming an artist I devote much more listening time to in the future. Far From Refuge is a treasure trove of textures and emotions, be they the gentle, inquisitive harmonics and mysterious aquatic-sounding electronics of the title track, the subtle grooves of “Grace Descending”, or the shadowy ambience of “Darkfall”. “Sunrise in Aries” expresses its title perfectly, ambling through a cool, city-at-night buildup to a celebratory guitar riff evoking a beautiful sunrise; “Tempus Horizon” features hauntingly melancholy guitar lines which, through crescendoed outbursts of distortion and explosive percussion, evolve beautifully into hopeful versions of themselves by the end of the song. Finally, the unsettling segue “Lateral Noise” leads perfectly into the intensely emotional closer “Beyond the Dying Light”, which leaves the listener in whatever heightened emotional state he or she may interpret. As any good post-rock album should, Far From Refuge expresses its range of emotions through its instruments; however, the brief use of distant, wordless vocals exclusively on the title track, “Tempus Horizon”, and “Beyond the Dying Light” is absolutely brilliant. The only criticism I would draw on this album is that a few songs get to feeling cyclical—seeming to proceed 'Segment A, Segment B, repeat', etc. However, the impact this has on the quality of the music is minimal. Far From Refuge is some of the most passionate music of 2007. A must-hear.










Eh... sorry the Rwake review is so fucking lazy. Neurosis too. I'm getting tired.

Last edited by overkiller; 01-17-2008 at 11:12 AM.
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  #74  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:06 PM
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I am gonna have to hear that God Is An Astronaut album soon. Goddamn it sounds awesome.

And thanks for the props in the Rwake review
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  #75  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:17 PM
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powerslave_85 powerslave_85 is offline
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Well, Wolves in the Throne Room definitely wins the title of most illegible logo.
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  #76  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:19 PM
overkiller overkiller is offline
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Well, Wolves in the Throne Room definitely wins the title of most illegible logo.
I actually sat down one day and mapped it all out, but I already forget how to read it.
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  #77  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:24 PM
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So I guess you never heard Land Of The Free II (which I was really hoping was in the 20-11 section ).
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  #78  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:26 PM
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Hmm, I'm listening to Ash Pool right now, and it's pretty cool. Not really what I was expecting in terms of the vocals. Kind of reminds me of older Pig Destroyer. That said, it's not really something I could see myself listening to a lot because of the lyrical themes. I can handle a lot of horrific stuff when it comes to metal lyrics, but from what you described it doesn't sound like my cup of tea.
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  #79  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:27 PM
overkiller overkiller is offline
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Originally Posted by neilpeartjr. View Post
So I guess you never heard Land Of The Free II (which I was really hoping was in the 20-11 section ).
Nope. I didn't hear anything about it that made me want to listen to it.
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  #80  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:33 PM
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You didn't listen to



??
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