xjohanx (xjohanx) wrote,

So. Eh. Heya.

I will be a father in six months' time. I have started a PhD next to my teaching. I have toured Europe this year and will tour Japan next year. I am a very, very happy man. So eh, how've you been?

Here is my yearlist.


1:Plaids - Plaids

The thing is, Plaids have been part of my top 10s of the past three years, so to find them here is not that big of a surprise. I have been talking about their amazingly personal style, their mixing of 80's 90's rock and emo, their quirky riffs, their constantly driving sound and their amazing capability of writing short yet hardhitting songs for SO LONG that I might expect you to be bored by now. Fuck you. This is everything that punk could and should be.

Besides that, as this is a highly subjective yearlist (as any), the fact that I have spent 9 days travelling through Europe and sharing stages,floors and smelly vans with them has sufficiently convinced me that they deserve nothing more or less than a #1 spot. Talking with Joe about their lyrics gave them far more depth, discussing life and futures with all of them already hinted at the possibility that this might be their last record and overall, listening to these songs every night and discovering new nuggets of brilliance every night,hammered it into place. I had just learned I was going to be a father in 2015, and this gave an extra urgency to this tour. This might be my last chance, and what if it disappointed? What if I would lose my voice after three shows? What if Bertsj' jokes make Greenberg kill him? What if Phil's lack of shirts breaks him up? What if Palestina?

And then I spin this record again, I get transported to a basement in Switzerland, and I see me and Martin playing along to Greenberg's solos, I see David airdrumming along with Nick, I see Craig screaming along to #19 and I again feel that immense joy, bringing me to tears and enjoying all that I have become. This band was a life-changing experience for me, and the fact that they quit is a horrible thing. Luckily, this album remains.


2: SunKil Moon - Benji

The passing of Jason Molina last year made huge impression on me. I had never listened to such sparse music before, and the amount of power in brevity that he possessed made me shiver each time. As I started to discover more music along these lines, I enjoyed everything I heard besides Red House Painters.It never stuck, I found the music too long-winding and it failed to give me anything close to a shiver. Because of this, I had never checked Sun Kil Moon either, which is Mark Kozelek of aforementioned band. Besides that, he is apparently a huge asshole, so why bother checking him?

And then, suddenly, Benji is ALL OVER THE INTERNET. Everyone whom I hold in high regard is talking about how this record is a gamechanger, how this record finally showed all Mark Kozelek is capable of etc., etc. I tend to be very weary of this, or cynical, so I skipped it. But then I read a lyrical analysis of this entire record on some site, and I got intrigued. Apparently, he was mostly dealing with his personal demons and telling stories of his life, accompanied by a sparse set of instruments. Molina-bells were ringing, and so I decided to give it a spin anyway.

After the first complete playing, I played it again. And then again. And I kept reading the lyrics. And so I downloaded it (sorry), and played it on my way to school, and work, and back. And I memorised all the lyrics. And I realised that this record made an impression on me that I had never, ever expected to experience again. The thing is, I hardly play this record when someone is around, this is such a personal, individual record that it feels like betraying a secret of sorts. His wallowing in darkness, his stories about Jim failing to commit suicide after mercy killing his wife, his dealing with the mortality of his mother, these are things that you need to soak up,that you need to ponder about. Please do.


3:A Pregnant Light - My Game Doesn't Have A Name

Again, a project that has found its way to my year lists more often than not. I have been a fan for a couple of years now, especially because of his raw noise meets melody-way of songwriting and his inhuman howls, buried deep in the murky layers of production. But slowly the songs changed. Clarity started to shine through, and the melodies became more and more prominent. Normally,that would turn me away, but I remained. Why? Because it was still really, really good.

This year also saw the unmasking of Demian Master as the mind behind both label (Colloquial Sound Recordings) and most of the bands. Not too big of a surprise, but it was a surprise when he released an acoustic EP of his. And again,even though I would expect myself to turn away in disgust, it was so good. Besides that, the thing that keeps me interested and attached to his projects is the personality of it. I am convinced that everything he does is exactly what he wants, and he really doesn't care what other people might think of it. And I hugely respect that.

With that in mind, this record is purple metal. It is slightly down-tuned pop music, with blastbeats and howls, but also with rocking riffs and singalongs. And I absolutely love it. Chances are that you'll hate it. But I'd prefer you dancing with me. In the purple light.


4:Thou - Heathen

Thou transcends any label that might have been attached to them throughout the years, by me as well. This is majestic, heavy and intense. Again a band that has been influential on my development both as a music lover (and musician) and a person.They were the first "tour" I arranged, and they were such amazing people delivering such astounding music that it was clear tome that this should happen far more often. Luckily, they'll play the Netherlands again next year.

Thou released a couple of things this year, among which a collaborative record with the body, my #1 of last year. It is good, damn is it good, but it has absolutely nothing on the force and and depth that Heathen provides. It starts of with a good 14 minutes of vitalism noir, where you cannot stop yourself punching the air, screaming along with Brian's "THERE IS ONLY THIS MOMENT". That is the moment this record drags you in, because this moment is a construct. For a good hour, the band and the listener make a promise to enhance this world. To burn down heritage. To live. To love. To crush anything that is in the way.


5:Northward - IJsgang

Another band I loved which pulled the plug this year. This amazing tape release had been in the works for a good year or so, so when Zeitgeists finally released this piece of art it could finally sink in.

Northward was, for me, the first Dutch black metal band that left a mark. They sent us a couple of files 4 years ago, asking whether they could play on one of our shows. I was immediately grabbed by the raw intensity and production, this was a band which actually felt like running through the forests with a burning torch, trying to find a way out. It was rough, badly produced, sloppy and essentially perfect. I am happy that the years following that, everything they did was even better.

This is their swansong, of which they played one track live as a surprise when performing as Laster, the'follow up band' on nr. 11 this year. But when they played IJsgang,for 5 minutes I was shivering, dragged under the ice and lost. And that is what this tape delivers. Disorienting, haunting black metal,cold and dark, but with a sliver of warmth there, a promise of fires burning beyond the horizon. A fitting tribute.


6:Fluisteraars - Dromers

The biggest surprise of the year for me. I had never heard of Fluisteraars before, but a couple of friends had recorded with one of the members and told me that the new record was something to keep an eye on. So when it was released as a stream, I obediently sat down and listened.

From the first riff, I was hooked. The sound is amazing, it has all the depth and clarity of a "proper"record, but it keeps a punch and wildness that is entrancing. It has a drive that is contagious and even though it is just over half an hour of atmospheric black metal, it feels like a proper journey through the woods of Gelderland. It has a certain Drudkh/Winterfylleth-vibe, without sounding as a copycat.

One of those records I would have never listened to if it weren't for friends telling me to listen to music.Never stop doing that.


7:Teitanblood - Death

Teitanblood plays horrible, filthy death metal. I should love this. But the past releases never stuck with me.I had the felling that they produced everything as murky as possible,so that you couldn't really here what they were playing but you knew they were EV0L. So when I heard that a new full-length was to be released, it didn't really bother me, Whatever.

But then I heard a mixtape which had Plagues of Forgiveness on it, and I was banging my head along for seven minutes before I looked who it was by. Damn, son. Teitanblood has slightly improved the production, and suddenly you hear what they are doing! You hear the intricate riffing, the amazing bass lines which often counter the guitars and the ghastly vocals hit home far harder than they ever had. It is 70 minutes of pulverizing music, and you will never play this record twice in a row, at least not when you want to stay out of prison, but this is a monumental record, showing what death metal is capable of. Utter destruction.


8:Ben Frost - A U R O R A

This was the year I discovered electronic music. I steered away from it all the time, because I was convinced it could never capture emotions properly. Silly Johan.

Lydia and I were on holidays in Cork,Ireland, when we visited the amazing Plugd Records, where Um Berto and I talked about metal and scenes and the standard opening lines between bearded guys everywhere. He then told me I should check out Ben Frost, as he was playing Cork in a couple of days, and he had Greg Fox, the old drummer of Liturgy. I was slightly skeptical, but I do like my Liturgy. As we were flying back on the day of the show, I decided to listen to the record when I had arrived home.

The first thing that struck me as I listened for the first time was that this was electronic music which displayed an array of emotions. Some of the songs had an angry vitalism in it, some of them dragged you into despair and the entire record was an amazing journey. The last record I had that feeling with was Heirs' Fowl, and that record is still in my top 10 best records ever. And I am convinced that this one will stick as well,precisely because the record tells a story, it drags you along, and for me it opened up a world I had never looked at before.


9:De Huilende Rappers - Verkleed Als Sukkel

If you're not Dutch, you won't understand this. If you are Dutch, you will probably hate this. But I have played this record to bits, and I absolutely love it without being able to precisely explain to you why this is so. Besides the fact that it is fun. Word gymnastics and tongue-in-cheek stupidity.


10:Gridlink - Longhena

I do like my music fast. And intense.Technical? Sometimes. To be fair, Gridlink, like Dephosphorus, had been pushed my way loads of times by people that were convinced I would love it. When listening to it, I could hear why I SHOULD love it, but it didn't do a thing. When relistening, I found out that it was the intensity, for me, that was lacking. The punk/hardcore vibe that grabs you by the throat and makes you want to run into things.Enter Longhena!

This DOES bring the intensity, along with the speed and the technique. This is grindcore the way I want to experience it. 14 songs, 20 minutes, a string section and loads and loads of hyperfast riffing, screeches, blasts and fistpumping. The death of their guitar player this year, alas, makes it their final record as well. But what a way to say goodbye.


11:Laster - De Verste Verte Is Hier

Northward goes ethereal dance. Amazing record lacking in production.


12:Suffering Quota - Suffering Quota



13:Paramnesia - Paramnesia

Atmospheric black metal that shows USBM how it should be done.


14:Nihill - Verderf

Dutch noisy filth, harsh and unsettling.


15:Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vestuta III: Saturnian Poetry

I waited so long for old Blut Aus Nord. Excellent riffs, just like in the days of yore.


16:Trepaneringsritualen - Perfection & Permanence

The scariest show I have ever seen. This record captures it, almost.


17:Kees Peerdeman - Misshape

Weird Dutch electro/noisefolk. His voice lingers at the back of my head, constantly.


18:Cainan Dawn - Thavmial

A record that sneaked its way in. Great riffs, excellent songcrafting, proper black metal.


19:Burial Hex - The Hierophant

Why I love year lists of other people,this one popped up so many times that I checked it out, and I fell in love. Best artwork of the year, but besides that excellent paranoid ambient/noise.

http://uploaded.net/file/j44i1nm3 (no stream available, but please buy it)

20:Galg - Afzicht

A Dutch noise/black/doom band that people should keep an eye on. Live, they are one of the most intense bands I have heard this year. Young at heart, blackened souls.


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