1: Petrychor - Dryad
"This is music for meditation, for frustration and anger, for beauty, and above all for communication." as T. says it. ANd HOLY SHIT! Does he communicate! This demo offers a path out of the dreary, repetitive modern black metal, by incorporating post-rock, noise and even classical guitar in an overall pummeling whirlwind of emotion. Blastbeats, solos, grating voices in the background and even some excellent electronical music make this record a promise that has to be kept. The build-up in "Gamma Leonis" alone makes this worth the effort, 'cause it's without a doubt the most cathartic riffing of the year. Support him by making a contribution at his bandcamp, we all need a full-length.
2: Deathspell Omega - Paracletus
The last part of a trilogy, and the most comprehensive one at that. Thousands of words have been spoken about this record, easily found, so I'll just say: play it loud, play if often, be humbled.
O deformity, hear the weeping prayers
Arise from rot, be my child! Be my promise!
3: Panopticon - On the Subject of Mortality
A. Lundr makes the perfect combination of black metal and hardcore/punk. Period. But on this record, he recorded eveything himself at home. An even though the quality can be lacking at times, the overall feeling you get is that this is someone who needs the DIY-movement to get his point across. And it works. The gritty guitars, the sometimes slightly too loud drums, the singing which at times is drowned in the sound, all of this shows us a man, desperately lunging at the throat of the world. The lyrics are outstanding meditations on life, death, religion and nature. I recommend especially the second song "Living Eulogy", a collection of amazing riffs, amazing lyrics on existentialist fears and perfect breaks and samples.
4: Ash Borer/Fell Voices split
They could have been nr. 1 if it weren't for the Fell Voices song. Ash Borer shows the Cascadian metal scene which way to go. They have one song spanning over 20 minutes, in which they perfectly keep the atmosphere and attention going without getting dreary at all. Plus, the raging guitarlines and gutwrenching screams make sure that you'll be forced to your knees in humble admiration. The sound quality is perfect, just lo-fi enough to keep a bite but everything is mixed just right. The Fell Voices song is pretty good. But where Ash Borer seem to want to kick us all into the streets to take back life, Fell Voices seem to say that we should stay at home, burrowing into the dark untill the light will shine. It has an overall dark, gloomy atmosphere which is effective, but the sound quality is really too lo-fi to be enjoyable. But perhaps that's just in concordance with their gloom.
5: Heirs - Fowl
Heirs, Australian-based post-whatever band, create a mesmerizing tour through an abandoned industrial complex, filled with the remains of humanity. The record is beautifully constructed, with a clear, desolate song to start the tour with (Dust), and a pulverising torrent of noise to reduce the listener to a weeping pile of filth as an ender (Drain).
Added to the "standard" post-set of guitar/bass/drum/keys is the theremin. This eerie, wailing sound weaves itself through the grime and the pounding, calling out for help, for contact of any sorts, for an ending of this torrent of noise perhaps. It is a brilliant move to use this instrument, because due to this, they have a truly remarkable, individual style.
The sound of the record is spacious, the guitars create distant walls of sound at times, giving the impression that none if left inside the building. But the droning, grating, pounding bass reminds us that there is something wrong here. It is as if you can feel the hammering of the machines in the storage room at the opposite side of the building, but what could be produced here, now?
In the middle of the record, you are caught between the machines, the guitars batter on the ears, coming from all sides with both amazing riffing, desolate notes and reverb-laden waves of drone whilst the industrial battering of the drums make sure that nothing will be left standing when you come out.
Near the end, the soothing tones of (Mother) tell you that it's okay, we made it, but the soothing goes on for too long... did we make it? What is this hallway? And where does that door lead to? Will we get out?
6: Thou - Summit
This is sludge as I like it. Heavy as fuck, dirty as grime and punishingly grating. Thou start off the record with beautiful eerie tones which get ground into submission by a blastbeat, after which the crushing mid-tempo rhythm guides us through the album. Excellent lyrics (all readable on noladiy.org/thou) and consistently crushing in music, this band needs to get more attention. ANd even though the tempo is fairly consistent, it really works as an enhancement to the amazing breaks and those give the record that extra, emotional layer (Another World is Inevitable is an example pur sang). Astounding.
7: Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett
I love Damien Jurado. I saw him perform in a church this September, and I can hardly tell you how deep an impression he left. When you hear him sing, you hear a lonely man down on his luck, hoping for better days. But when you see him, you somehow feel that he's telling the truth, he calls out for your help. The melancholy, the solitude, the brittle hope, you'll hear it all on this record. You should play this when it's raining outside, and dark, and you don't really feel like saying anything because what's the use, huh? Heart-renderingly beautiful. The song "Kansas City" was my tearjerker of the year. "I know...someday I will return". And you really want him to.
8: Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit
A bleak and haunted landscape. Snow falling, wind through gnarled trees and a dying hunter, reflecting on his life as the cold gets a hold of him. What have we done?
9: Dangers: Messy, isn’t it?
As far as hardcore goes, I'm a bit done with all the rehashing of NY and DC sounds. Truly original bands are hard to find, and to be honest I'm a bit of a miser in this area. So when Dangers came by on a blogspot as "the marriage between Ceremony, Graf Orlock and La Dispute", my first reaction was "Pff...we'll see".
They were right. This band features the guitarist of Graf Orlock (and Ghostlimb, for that matter), and his riffing combined with the gnawed screams and shouts and the weird atmoshperic interludes gives us somethiong else. The record lasts for 25 minutes, has 19 songs and is an overall testament that good, honest, original hardcore can still be found. The lyrics deal with political and personal issues, duh, but these lyrics are something else. What I find amazing is that on their site (www.wearedangers.com), the lyrics have explanations everywhere, including references to popular bands and newsitems. I'd love to see them live sometime.
10: Coffinworm – when all become none
This is always the hardest, 'cause the last one in the list, well, I could give 30something titles. But in the end, Coffinworm won.
As I said with Thou, I love gritty, heavy sludge. But what Coffinwormk has done is actually get me interested in doom metal again. They take the awesome depth and heaviness of doom, combine it with the filth and fury and alcohol of sludge, but add to that the genuine banging of metal. I caught myself sing along to their amazing, grotesque lyrics numerous times (STRIP NUDE! FOR YOUR KILLER!) and both aware and unaware put my hair in people's faces everywhere because the songs just rock.
Record I should mention:
Early Graves - Goner
Winterfylleth - The Mercian Sphere
Gnaw Their Tongues - L'Arrivee de la Terne Mort Triomphant
Fear Factory- Mechanize (well. Fuck you!)
Blood of Kingu - Sun in the House of the Scorpion
Celeste - Morte(s) Nee(s)
Furthermore, I haven't updated in months for no particular reason. Just know I'm happy, I live with Lydia and she's the best ever and Terzij De Horde will release a killer album next year which will make us rich and powerful so I can import all my Canadian friends forever.