Friday, December 24, 2010
Personal Top 20 of 2010
1) Jaga Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit
The reason why this album is number one for me is simply because there was nothing else that came out that I heard this year creating music at this level. I actually didn't want this to be my number one, but save for maybe a new Magma or Koenjihyakkei I'm not sure what other band could have released anything so rhythmically dense and melodically gorgeous as One-Armed Bandit.
2) Castevet - The Echo & The Light
Absolutely stunning sophomore effort by Chicago's Castevet. This album is already legendary amongst Emo circles. Their first album was much more Post-Rock influenced creating Emo songs with long winded instrumental interludes with cathartic and screamy spikes all throughout the music. Well they still create songs that are just as Epic and involved, but shorter, tighter and more kinetic in their delivery. Simply put this album Rocks! Also adore the vocals as they are huskier sounding than you're normal Emo screamers adding a touch more originality to an already outstanding album. Might be my most listened to album of the year, as I can't get enough of these guys.
3) Dødsengel - Mirium Occultum
This band/album just came out of nowhere and blew my mind! Great variety of riffs and tempos, well constructed songs that don't leave your head 2 seconds after they are finished, and a fantastic vocalist that brings much needed character and passion into the delivery of a BM song. My personal favorite Black Metal album of the year (not to mention they put out 3 other EP releases this year as well, those shouldn't be missed either!)
4) Jonsi - Go
Sigur Rós front man solo effort. More electronic and Poppy than SR but these songs contrast between ultra sappy ditties and high flying numbers that make you happy to be alive! A great blend of well crafted tunes that'll have the listener riding between a depressed mood and happy mood all through out the disc.
5) Deathspell Omega - Paracletus
I've had an off-and-on relationship with this band throughout the years, but I think I can safely say that DsO might be THEE BM band of this past decade. No matter how you slice it you can't deny their impact, influence, and how they literally set a new standard for BM and how its played. This album here is utterly mind blowing. In fear of talking about this album too much, I state only the 2 things I appreciate most about this album. For one the improved sound over Fas, everything is much more audible (including the bass) and you can really hear all those tiny quarter-riff details that goes on within their tireless arrangements. They also seemed to make a conscious effort in making the songs more 'tuneful' and memorable. This album (as well as their entire discograhy) will be the subject of great study in the years to come.
6) Thou - Summit
Summit is a fine example of an album from a band that doesn't tread the same path as before, yet still retaining their distinct Thou-like identity. Thou have taken their riffage into uncharted territory with this one and IMO set a new standard for their brand of Sludge/Doom. I wasn't expecting it to be so 'outside the box' it totally exceed my expectations. The album is a slow flowing pyre of ever morphing riff structures that demand your attention. Summit is a thing of gargantuan beauty.
7) Circle of Ouroborus - Unituli
Glad I managed to get this thing at the tail of end of the year. CoO never cease to amaze me. They continue to soften their guitar sound to the point of it not even sounding like a guitar anymore, but like a synthesizer of some sort yet still remaining completely organic. On this one they go for an all out Finnish lyrical approach and it fits so perfectly with their original brand of moaning vocals. What makes CoO so unique is that #1 no one else out there sounds like them, #2 I can't even pin them to a genre anymore; I'd still say Black Metal but on the outer fringe. For the most part though they are an ultra-hybridized genre of their own design.
8) Pianos Become the Teeth - Old Pride
These guys are creating sweeping Epic Screamo anthems, the way Envy 'used' to do. These guys have a great youthful spirit and keen sense for melody and hook. One of the Flagship bands of the current True Screamo scene and this album undoubtedly puts them on the top of that heap.
9) The Saddest Landscape - You Will Not Survive
Another band who sits atop the current heap of Screaming Emotional Hardcore. This album is absolutely harrowing with a vocal style that always leaves me shattered and makes me want to curl up in a ball and die. (also the same vocalist for Her Breath On Glass.) Probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year and the only slight disappointing thing about it is that I wish it was just a touch longer, or had like 3 more songs...7 songs just aint enough!
10) Rosetta - Determinism Of Morality
This band is the reason why the word Epic was invented! Okay that was a bit silly, but I've been quite the fanboy of this band since I discovered them a few years ago. This album seems a little more restless than their previous megaliths and the drumming is transcendent! Over all though my expectations weren't exceeded nor diminished with this album, it turned out to be just about exactly what I wanted from these fellows. Another album of twinkly Epic beauty!
11) Wheel - Wheel
A late entry here, but this band came out of nowhere and put out one of the strongest Doom albums of the year. Sounds like it could have been some lost gem from the old Hellhound days of the early 90s. Very Traditional but so strong in the riff and melody department as well as a very appropriate and emotional vocal delivery. The production isn't crushingly heavy, but nice and natural sounding, once again reminding me of something recorded during the early 90s or even the 80s. I love the bass tone on this, it warms you from the inside out, reminiscent of a Vitus tone. I'm always amazed how many new bands out there who pick up the torch of Traditional Doom that can still create well-defined and conspicuous Doom without breaking tradition.
12) Gnaw Their Tongues - L'Arrivée De La Terne Mort Triomphante
This band can do no wrong in my eyes, this band is an apex of music. It would seem to be breaking tradition for me NOT to include their latest full length on my end of the year list.
13) Atlantean Kodex - The Golden Bough
One of my most anticipated albums of the year. To be honest when I finally heard it I wasn't blown away, but it is a long and slow album so it's a bit overwhelming at first. But the Songs really grew on me though, excellent and Heavy production too.
14) Inquisition - Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
Honestly these guys could write an album w/o vocals and I would still love. Their vocals have always been a bit of a novelty but this band for me is all about the delicious riffing. Inquisition has never been a band for experimentation or progression, they just write Black Metal albums for BM people who enjoy the BM riff. Songs on this album are so catchy and distinct and so infused with the spirit of old that I hope Inquisition never dies!
15) Quicksand Dream - Aelin - A Story About Destiny
Had to make a little room for this album. An unearthed Epic Metal gem here: originally recorded during the late 90s and dubbed on a few CDR copies for friends in 2000, but amazingly never had an official release till now. This has an arcane flavor to it and it's also out of touch with current trends so unless you know the details it would be hard to pinpoint when this album was actually recorded,... could have been in the early 80s, could have been done this year, who knows...but music like this is timeless no matter when it was recorded. Love the bass tone/playing on this album as well as the honest vocals. Songs range from mid to slow paced maybe reminding me a bit of Maiden and early Manowar or Bathory's Twilight period during their slower moments but they aren't crushingly heavy band either. Honestly, I can't even pinpoint an influence, and that's a good thing cause they really did create a unique little Epic Heavy Metal album that will hopefully last the test of time now that its been officially released for the masses.
16) The Wounded Kings - The Shadow Over Atlantis
So good and atmospheric. Very simple formula of Traditional Doom with a touch of echo and sound layered upon the music = a recipe for my 2nd favorite Trad Doom album of the year.
17) Grown Ups - More Songs
High energy Emo with a Pop Punk flavor. Very skittery intertwining guitar and bass lines that remain as catchy as they are complex. The vocals are of a melodic shout/sing variety that rasp and crack in all the right places. Very strong and consistent debut that keeps you young at heart!
18) Year Of No Light - Ausserwelt
Strange, I didn't really like their debut album, I thought it was hack work and the vocals stunk. Well low and behold, they carved out a new unique path and dumped the vocals, a move that I give them an A+ for. This album is momentous achievement in heavy Epic music!
19) A Silver Mt Zion - Kollaps Tradixionales
This band definitely deserves a bit or praise, each time they come out with a new album it's always a little different from what they've done before, yet still distinctly A Silver Mt Zion. Always creating music with powerful and bleak statements....the soundtrack to the end of a civilization.
20) Ghost - Opus Eponymous
Probably the most 'controversial' releases this year. One of those love em or hate em so much that you wish the band members and all those who love them die in a hotel fire!!! grrr! I thought I could fall somewhere in the middle of with this band: its good, but not deserving of the hype. But really this album is so goddamned catchy that I finding myself more and more in the "love em" category. Its just so fun and cartoony I can't help but be suckered in for sugary sweet hooks about Satan and Ceremony,,, Mercyful Fate gone Pop, simple as that.,,,
Other bands that put out some noteworthy material that I couldn't fit in a top 20: Blut Aus Nord, Envy, Alcest, Ufomammut, Oceanisize, Nightbringer, Sadomator, Merchant Ships, God is an Astronaut, Jarius, Cough, Salome, Eibon, Claire Cassis, 1994!, Moving Mountains, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Sleeping Peonies, Malegoat, The Reptilian, Red Sparowes, Garden of Worm, etc