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  #81  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:40 PM
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You didn't listen to



??
Negative.
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:06 AM
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Also, given a bit more time, Ash Pool and God Is An Astronaut could very well have made it into my top ten. They both jumped up to the highest spot they could at the last minute, since my top 10 is already locked in due to voting. Besides, I could drive myself crazy redoing the order of the top 15 or 20. It's just not worth it, this stupid thing isn't that important.
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:46 PM
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Kinda sucks that all the mystery is gone since I had to give away my top 10 for voting. Oh well, here goes...
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Old 01-17-2008, 05:03 PM
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The Top 10

10. Gallhammer - Ill Innocence



At first I was afraid that Gallhammer had generated so much hype simply because they’re girls playing black metal who got the right publicity with Peaceville, but this album proved that theory wrong in a hurry. After backtracking through their catalog, it became apparent that Ill Innocence sees a matured, improved Gallhammer. Still retaining the same influences as were present on 2004’s Gloomy Lights—primarily Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Norwegian bands like Darkthrone and especially Burzum, and crust punks Amebix, all done with a doom-metal aesthetic—this album offers improved songwriting and some forms of experimentation. The musicianship is still very basic, giving it a punk rock sort of work ethic, and the sound they create is still very bleak and apocalyptic (an obvious nod to Amebix). In interviews they’ve talked about wanting to give their music a “white” sort of atmosphere, and they would seem to succeed (the CD packaging being entirely white and grey doesn’t hurt). The album begins with “At the Onset of the Age of Despair”, a super-doomy dirge carried by four bass tones and a mournful lead guitar, into which Vivian Slaughter’s superb Burzum-inspired vocals soon burst. Her vocal style is truly a highlight of this album; she manages to sound as tortured and evil as any male vocalist, but still retains a distinctly feminine sound in her voice. She’s not trying to be a male black metal vocalist; she’s a girl doing black metal vocals as a girl and sounding great doing it. The second, faster track, “Speed of Blood”, is total Burzum worship, but it’s done with such energy and personal touch as to be unique in itself. “Blind My Eyes” takes a straightforward metal riff and runs with it, later countering Vivan’s frightening grunts with some wacky, high-pitched squeaky vocals, which are a bit too comical but give the song a weird, Japanese kind of feeling. “Delirium Daydream” starts off with more wackiness, with some delirious-sounding spoken vocals wandering in and out of a noisy riff. Soon Vivian’s screams take over and the riff morphs into a more coherent one, but suddenly it bursts into airy guitar flourishes that give it an almost post-punk aesthetic, which works wonderfully. “Ripper in the Gloom” begins with a somber, almost desert-rockish acoustic guitar intro accompanied by the bass before launching into blistering black metal akin to Darkthrone, or, as usual, Burzum. “Killed By the Queen” is a two-minute burst of pure black metal aggression. The bass intro to “Song of Fall” is a bit too long and a bit too simplistic, but it soon gives way to a heavy, ominous doom passage that features some of Vivian’s deepest, most frightening vocals. “World to Be Ashes” meanders through more doom & gloom, featuring some eerie sung vocals. The eight-minute-plus “SLOG” sounds surprisingly like—dare I say it—post-rock, and it builds slowly but triumphantly through the most positive-sounding track of the album. It still features gloomy sung vocals and climaxes with an up-tempo black metal riff, but it soon comes back down and finishes beautifully. The final track, “Long Scary Dream”, is a tripped-out reprise of the first song, featuring a spacey version of the doomy bass riff and a different, but still melancholy, lead guitar part which, by the end of the song, reprises its original role from the first song. Vivian’s vocals become nothing more than groans, shivers, and various timid noises of pain and discomfort, as if she were having a nightmare. This track wraps up the album nicely and leaves the listener with the atmosphere of gloom and despair that the band seem to be going for. Ill Innocence may be difficult to appreciate at first due to its extremely un-technical musicianship, but the energy these women put into their music alone is enough to create a thing of bleak beauty. The way the guitar and bass work together, being entirely separate entities, is phenomenal, and it gives them an edge over bands whose bassists simply follow the guitar and serve no purpose beyond that of a rhythm-keeper. Give this album a chance; it’s not for everyone, but if you discover the wonders it has to offer, you’ll be glad you did.

9. Darkthrone - F.O.A.D.



The title says it all (F.O.A.D. stands for “Fuck Off and Die” for those not in the know ). Everyone who whines and complains about the “fall of Darkthrone” simply doesn’t get it. After nearly twenty years, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are still doing whatever they want, and anyone who doesn’t like it, well, the title of this album makes it clear what they can do. After the punk flavored, Discharge-influenced (although I think some people made that influence out to be bigger than it was) The Cult Is Alive, black metal’s coolest oldhead duo return with an even more ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek-yet-earnestly-sincere tribute to the metal gods of old. Fenriz even goes so far as to include what bands inspired each song in the liner notes. So what does it sound like? Well, it sounds like Darkthrone, except focusing almost exclusively on their heavy metal influences, with a bit of the punk style left over. The riffs are heavy, dirty, ugly, and in short, fucking metal. People piss and moan about how much Darkthrone have changed, but those people fail to see that the same influences had always been there in all of Darkthrone’s music—the new, “black ‘n roll” albums simply amplify those influences and scale back the 90s black metal sound. Regardless of what idiot purist black metal kiddies will tell you, F.O.A.D. is some of the truest fucking shit around, and Darkthrone still reign supreme as one of the best bands in black metal, perhaps even metal in general, remaining true to themselves and their own music more than practically anyone else who came out of their scene.

8. Municipal Waste - The Art of Partying




We like to party. We like to thrash. If you don’t like it, fuck you. This album sees Waste moving even closer to a straight-up metal sound (just listen to those Maiden parts!) and further away from their early crossover/hardcore sound, and they definitely manage to once again kick bodacious amounts of ass. Upon first listen I didn’t like it so much, thinking that it was too much a carbon copy of their previous album Hazardous Mutation, but it soon grew on me. This is about as good as new thrash gets. Throw this album on, grab some brews, some friends, and a J, and go fucking nuts.

7. Havohej - Tungkat Blood Wand



What the fuck. I’m sort of at a loss for words for this album, so I’m gonna start by giving you the description their label (Hell’s Headbangers) gives: “All new studio tracks of Black Noise featuring Paul Ledney’s exclusive signature style of pounding on wooden coffins, rupturing volcanic rumble, and spewing voice vibrations of black vomit. Breaking major ground, many have already confessed ‘Tungkat Blood Wand’ to be the most achieved work to date. Expect the core structure of Havohej evolved into a guaranteed unpleasant listen. Your blood shall now spout!” …Okay. That’s a start. Second, Havohej is a black metal band, but focuses primarily on experimental material. If you’ve heard the full-length Dethrone the Son of God (which is an absolute must-have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of extreme metal), that’s really more like Ledney’s other, older black metal band Profanatica—Profanatica never released a full-length LP, but Ledney released a lot of their material as Havohej on that one. Anyway. This 10” album features three tracks (it’s reverse groove, so the turntable arm goes from the center to the outside), each of them featuring black, harsh, rumbling noise in place of guitars (as one might expect from Havohej at this point), and dense, simple drum patterns lending some semblance of rhythm, while eerie sounds, screams of agony, and hellish voices create a sonic maelstrom of pure fucking evil, all topped off by Ledney’s unbelievably blasphemous vocals... Guitars are present, but their function is to create more demonic noise, not to create melody or even tone. Actually, there’s not much point in me continuing my attempt to describe this music... it needs to be experienced.

6. Bone Awl - Meaningless Leaning Mess



Holy fucking shit. This has got to be the most aggressive album on my list. This is harsh, minimalistic music done wonderfully. Bone Awl play a sort of black metal crossed with crust punk or even Oi! music, reduced to the core pure aggression of these genres and expressed through a minimal number of riffs. In terms of their black metal aspect, the only band I can think of that they even remotely resemble in style is the Norwegian act Ildjarn (whom Bone Awl absolutely crush in quality), but as for influence I’d point most to Darkthrone—if you listen closely enough, you can hear it in their riffs, and even in the vocals and drumming. Their combination of black metal with crustcore also invites comparison to the superb Canadian band Iskra, but really, Bone Awl have forged a sound that is unique and refreshing in a world of usual, uninteresting black metal. The production is absolutely perfect, giving the album an extremely lo-fi sound while still balancing the instruments and maintaining their clarity. It’s necro as hell and you can actually hear everything that’s going on! I bought the second pressing of this LP, which features new packaging, and everything about it is just artful and impressive. The lyrics are outstanding, only slightly esoteric, and are hugely expressive for using relatively few words. These guys know how to do minimalism right.

5. Jesu - Conqueror



Shoegaze. Suddenly it’s become a regular term thrown around your local metal board. As far as I can tell, it’s the doing of primarily Jesu and Alcest, whose 2007 releases both conjure up the late-80s/early-90s dream-pop stylings of those shoegazers like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. Already infused with post-rock tendencies on the previous album, Conqueror sees Justin Broadrick taking Jesu further along that path while still maintaining the crushing heaviness we heard on the self-titled, and of course, on the Godflesh albums. Rumbling, droning, super-low-tuned guitars, soothing, timid pop vocals, ethereal synths and heavily processed leads all come together to create an aural experience unlike much else out there. Like the self-titled LP, many of the lyrics are still intensely personal, though now we see Justin touching on other topics as well. The title track could very well be about a drug trip (“All the colors that we saw they touched us/All the trails that they made we followed”), whereas “Medicine” sounds like a sort of social commentary, or maybe even more drug-based material (“The medicine is all we need/To keep us hidden away/We can never see the sunrise/We can only see the sunset/In our funny little homes/We’re really quite alone”). This is a must-hear for anyone interested in the whole “post-metal” thing; it’s one of the best efforts to come out of that umbrella category, if not the best thus far (eat it Pelican and Isis ).

4. Ride for Revenge - The King of Snakes



One of the most brutal, evil, ugliest goddamn things I heard this year. Droning, distorted basses, neanderthalic pounding drums, murmured vocals and spacey, strangely modulated noises come together on The King of Snakes to form a primordial mass of black horror that creeps slowly forward, crushing everything in its path. Although certain influences such as Hellhammer and especially fellow Finnish black metal act Beherit are arguable, the combination of elements into Ride for Revenge’s style of black/death metal creates an utterly unique sound that stands apart from the hordes of artistically impotent Darkthrone and Burzum clones. Highly recommended, but for open-minded listeners only.

3. Tegan and Sara - The Con



Yes, Tegan and Sara. This album is practically an indie-pop masterpiece, with insanely catchy hooks bolstered by wonderful songwriting. The variety on this album is refreshing—they mix up their styles, ranging from the dark, almost Nine Inch Nails-esque “Are You Ten Years Ago” to the upbeat pop anthem “Back In Your Head” and the heartbreaking powerpop “Nineteen”. Their subtle use of electronics throughout the album is brilliant, and the two sisters’ heart-wrenching lyrics concern such universal things as breakups and old flames that anyone can appreciate—but it makes the lyrics even more powerful, I think, to know that Tegan and Sara are both lesbians. And while some songs naturally stand out above the others, there are no weak tracks to be found here. If you have it in yourself to get over your preconceived notions about indie, pop, even what might be perceived as “emo” music, definitely give this a try; it’s one of the best things in music this year.

2. Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde




One of the more controversial releases of the year, this album has received as much hate as love since its release in August. Souvenirs d’un autre monde (which translates to “Memories of Another World”) is the highly-anticipated full-length debut for Alcest, one-man project of Neige, who is also known for his work with French black metal act Peste Noire and his other band Amesoeurs. Let’s get one thing straight off the bat—this is not a black metal album. With Souvenirs, Neige shows us that he’s been listening to bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, creating what is essentially a shoegaze album that retains some technical elements of black metal, such as tremolo-picked guitars and simple, Burzum-esque drumming. From the very first track we are hit with a gorgeous wall of guitar sound, soon followed by a sample of children playing happily and thereafter by Neige’s gentle, ethereal singing. All of this sets the tone for the rest of the album, evoking abstract flourishes of nostalgia, joy, contentment, even melancholy and longing. On the otherworldly “Les Iris” and “Tir Nan Og”, Neige doesn’t even need lyrics to communicate emotions; he simply hums and sings carefree nothings like a child, to beautiful results. Though the dreamy soundscapes of Neige’s “other world” do get to sounding a bit samey, the emotional impact this music can have on a receptive listener is astounding. No other album I heard this year had such a profound effect on me, and it’s worth mentioning that it had dominated my list until very recently—I think I may have over-listened to the album throughout the year, and so the effect was somewhat dulled this last time I heard it, leading me to be uncomfortable naming it my #1 album of 2007. Nevertheless, this is a powerful aural experience that generates deeply moving emotional landscapes out of really rather simple music.

1. Deathspell Omega - Fas: Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum



Monumental. That’s just one word of many that could be used to describe the work that is Fas. This is the culmination of their previous two releases—it’s the album they’ve been trying to make since 2004. Fas is the masterpiece that Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice wanted to be, and it carries the further experimentation of Kénôse to its logical, musically superior end. The album is a huge undertaking on the part of both the band and the listener, being a 46-minute assault of primarily dissonant, chaotic, semitonal guitar compositions and frantic drumming complemented by passages of dark ambience and more relaxed, but no less evil, clean guitar segments. While this is certainly a black metal album, the extremely technical guitarwork shares some amount of aesthetics with technical death metal, and the progressive nature of this music should also be mentioned. The songwriting is superb, with brilliant dynamics and a keen sense of buildup and recession. Some of the greatest moments come when the tension created by all the noisy chaos builds higher and higher until it’s released by a melancholy guitar lead—only to be thrown back into further confusion thereafter. And the drums! I usually don’t like constant blastbeating, especially with slick production, but this guy is goddamn adept. His drum patterns are ungodly, often combining blastbeats with free-form insanity and setting the tempo perfectly for the slower passages. As for the production, again, I generally do not prefer clean production for black metal, but for this style it’s absolutely necessary. The crisp, clear sound they achieve allows the listener to fully experience each individual part of the sonic maelstrom without having to guess what’s going on (get a nice pair of headphones if you’re gonna hear this album). Lastly there are to mention the lyrics: I still haven’t read them all—they’re primarily long-winded philosophical ramblings about the nature of good and evil, God, Man, (anti-)religion, faith, that kind of thing. Along with great songtitles, these give the album even more of an intellectual (if a bit pretentious, I’ll admit) edge befitting such an artistic work of music. Fas is the crowning achievement of its style, and an immensely important work for the world of black metal in 2007.










...PHEW. I think I'll pass the torch to someone else for this kind of thread next year.

Last edited by overkiller; 01-17-2008 at 06:15 PM.
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  #85  
Old 01-17-2008, 05:12 PM
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...PHEW. I think I'll pass the torch to someone else for this kind of thread next year.
Torch accepted.
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  #86  
Old 01-17-2008, 05:16 PM
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HEY! LISTEN!
 
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Torch accepted.
Gross, Mars Volta.

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  #87  
Old 01-17-2008, 06:05 PM
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Well done, sir I'm not too into black metal, but I think I'll still be checking some of this stuff based on your reviews.
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  #88  
Old 01-17-2008, 06:14 PM
overkiller overkiller is offline
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Well done, sir I'm not too into black metal, but I think I'll still be checking some of this stuff based on your reviews.
Yeah, this list made me once again realize what a grip the stuff's still got on me. It's really just one of the most viable genres, it can be taken in so many different directions. And, I'm glad.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:37 PM
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Gross, Mars Volta.

In all fairness, the single for the new album ("Wax Simulacra") is nowhere near as good as anything on previous albums, so I'm a bit worried.
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:39 PM
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But yeah, Brady, this list/idea kicked major ass and I have a shitload of respect for you for pulling the damn thing together.
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