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.

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