Friday, December 13, 2013

The End Time: Best Albums of 2013

Here's what really caught my ear this year. No honorable mentions, no bullshit. I've exhausted these albums and will continue to do so. I've picked 11 because someone once told me that's metal and I want to be as metal as possible.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sweatin' The Small Stuff: Best EPs, Splits, and Comps of 2013

I'm such an utter failure. I've failed to keep this blog up to date and I suck because of that. But maybe there's some room for forgiveness. If anyone cares, I've some stuff to get to and it's stuff you need to listen to if you haven't already.

Without any more mopey bullshit, here are my favorite eps, splits, and comps of 2013.

10. Condition -Bombed Out

Californian d-beaters Condition get the list rolling with some intense and blownout hardcore. The vocals are all over the place, the cymbals sound like shit, the guitars are an irritating ring and man is it perfect. Promised to be a threat live, this ep serves as an adequate warning.

9. Sea of Shit -Sea of Shit

Ugly and grimy, Chicago's Sea of Shit's eponymous tape is full of hiss, thin streaks of feedback, garagey guitars and punky vocals that spit in your face. This tape capture's the band's live energy perfectly and roughly, but good ground to learn about what's cookin' in Chicago ('sides Kuma's).

8. Noothgrush/Coffins - Split

To be honest, The Fleshland felt a bit padded; some songs just went on a little too long and well. there were too many of them too. Thankfully, this split is some of the leanest, meanest, and sludgiest stuff Coffins have touted in recent memory. And well, then there's Noothgrush; a band that somehow has only been getting more upsetting and viral in their old age. A killer split showcasing two bands who know how to continue their sound without being stale or too different. Listen

7. Slave - Slave
Rough round the edges and burning bright in the center, Alabama's Slave are a metallic whirlwind with no notion on how to stop. This one's just frantic, abrasive and works on something in my core; toss in a Despise You cover and you've got an ideal EP.

6. V/A Monomaniac Vol 2/3

Showcasing a slew of great and under the radar bands, Monomaniac Vols 2&3 is an invaluable asset. I love the combo of black/death metal bands and grindcore/punk bands butting heads all on one comp. What's also great is that Dephsphorus vocalist and Blastbeat Mailmurder overlord Panos handpicked each band and asked for contributions. So, not only are these songs exclusive to this comp, but they also embody the spirit of the comp as the aforementioned black/death bands sound the grindiest they've ever sounded.

5. V/A - Svn Okklt
Speaking of comps, the Svn Okklt tape only comp is a grim mess of low key black metal acts from around the world. Drastically different style keeps this comp exciting and educational.

4. War Master - Blood Dawn
Well, sometimes Bolt Thrower needs a break, and thank goodness for War Master as they're happy to appease. Mid tempo death metal with riffs and riffs and riffs. Excellent production and great vocals from ex-Insect Warfare vocal box round out this excellent EP.

3. Harm's Way - Blinded
Whoa wee. This one got me scraping my knuckles as I struggled to pick up change. This is dismal, down-tuned hardcore that's perfect to get your stomp on to. They're kinda like the Juicy J of tough guy hardcore; you know what you're going to get and it's exactly what you wanted. I wonder if the name, Blinded, and the artwork, which focuses on a horse, refers to the foreboding and disparaging play/film Equis. If it does, kudos as the anxiety of the said work matches well with Harm's Way's misanthropy.

2. Wreck and Reference - Content
Content is the best thing this bizarre duo have ever done. It's murky, catchy, powerful and harsh. The organic drums and the vocals offset the bits of electronic/synthesized clutter and melody. Each track builds and falters in an overwhelming yet blissful fashion. "Absurdities and Echos" might even be my favorite song this year.

1. Column Of Heaven -Holy Things Are for the Holy

While the band's roots lay in grindcore/punk, I'm starting to think the band sounds best when they dive heard first into more experimental territory (not to say they've ever played anything typical). Holy Things... is an enthralling departure that shambles in drums and stabs in thick bass. Samples and deranged vocals protrude from this short 7" and create a dark atmosphere with strong rhythms and tangible qualities. No matter the genre, Column Of Heaven are apt to challenge the listener as well as themselves.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bandcamp of the Week: Sea of Shit

After catching Sea of Shit with Sick/Tired, Callous, and Lucid Terror (some ripping Terrorizer-esque grind from LI) I've been digging this tape I picked up from them. Noisy and destructive power violence with charged vocals and a nice muddy tone to the guitars.

Those unfamiliar with this IL act would be wise to hunt down their split with Water Torture (a band that can do no wrong) and their recently put out discography tape.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wreck and Reference - Content

No artist sounds like Wreck and Reference. Maybe my musical interests and knowledge are a bit narrow, but I doubt I'm wrong about my previous statement. Last year's Youth was not only one of my favorite records of the year, but one of the most intriguing and genuinely different things I came across. As the band's progressed, we are given Content, an EP that has many of Youth 's attributes, but brings them into a whole new world.

"Absurdities and Echos," the opener for the EP, is a water logged subterranean cloud of swirling textures - both haunting and otherworldly - organic drum work and the band's best vocals yet. The vocals are augmented in a way that they reverberate in a lower tone and sound like the singer is trapped far below ground and yelling to the surface through an old well. They ebb and flow over the rich drone of effects that come through as a dark hum, sparkling static, and stabs of some type of melodic synth.

B-side of Content  is "Abhorrence," a track which sounds more akin to last year's  Youth. Making use of higher and scratchier vocals, harsh textures that sit below some type of melodic keyed synth instrument, and ever building drums, "Abhorrence" is much more of a car crash than the slow slosh of "Absurdities and Echos."

What Wreck and Reference do so well is simple; they create moody music that's dense but easily appealing. There's a lot going on in each track, but the band does well to include a tangible melody, an accessible vocal line, or an alluring atmosphere. There's no easy way to pigeon hole the band, and we shouldn't look to, but the music finds itself in the company of only particular aspects of other bands: Swans's penchant to trudge and burn, the cathartic momentum of Neurosis's best works and maybe the moodiness of post-punk. The live drums do well to offset the mostly programmed sounds of everything else and the vocals are dynamic enough to easily convey the mood of the lyrics.

While it's only two songs, I've become enamored and absorbed in Content in a way that didn't come so quickly with Youth. While vastly different, the EP does remind me a bit of Urfaust's Drei Rituale Jenseits Des Kosmos, which is way more trance-inducing and repetitive, but a similarly engrossing drone that relies on ambiance and non guitar sounds.

Preorder directly from Flenser and stream for free at the Band's Bandcamp.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ruined Families - Blank Language

Blank Language is that light at the end of the tunnel, the album that twists and turns the way you'd want and the distant dream you've been thinking about since you first had it some years ago. Well...maybe not you, but this is something that I've been itching for ever since I first delved into hardcore music. Ruined Families's style could be pigeon holed as post-hardcore, but what really matters is the fulfilling sensation of the album and all the different notes it hits. Whether those notes are emotional, melodic, or rhythmic, Blank Language is an impressive effort that melds a myriad of influences and sounds into a unique and pulsating album.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fell Voices - Regnum Saturni

With their third album, Regnum Saturni, U.S. black metal act Fell Voices find themselves playing into abstracts and delving deeper into ritualistic chaos. The album was recorded live, a trait that means a lot to me, not only in the band's character, but also in the band's sheer sonic power.Unlike previous efforts, Fell Voices dedicate the first breath to a spoken sample by poet Mary Oliver, a poem which sets the thematic tone of the album and ties into the album's title and mythos. Gone are the repetitive and intricate melodies of the their last lp and instead the band uses tremolo riffing and black metal stylings to create a sort of drone that doesn't shamble, but rather blurs.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blessings - Bittervatten

Band's like Sweden's Blessings instill a certain kind of emotion in me that I'm not sure I can accurately describe. The relatively young 3-piece blends so many different styles, all of which I like, that I find myself wondering why this hasn't been done as well before. The emotion that rises from the perfect mixing of sounds, textures, styles, and influences, could simply be elation; maybe someone's finally done it?

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