Greetings! Fellow protectors of the realm! I have once again managed to slip through the hold of hell’s most oversized vermin, Diablo. The red oversized lizard has not been himself off late, which is definitely a breather for everybody who’s been thrown off the deep end (into hell to be precise). Yet his head never ceases to scheme and chalk out great visions of darkness to engulf and take hold of all souls so weak, Nephalem or human, and through which he hopes to enslave this beautiful sphere we’ve come to inhabit. But fear not! Hope shall be kindled in the meekest of hearts! And forever shall we thwart and tear away at his miasma of darkness.
Here’s to moving forward and singing praises to his decimation and eventual destruction. Let the hymns for the year be sung forevermore! And may we embrace all of its stir and strain!
“Stay awhile and listen…”
1. Tellusian – Collision
A boiling cauldron of grind, hardcore and Mastodon/Torche flavored riffs and jumpy basslines. All neatly packed and stubby songs that scream ‘variety’ as much as they are cohesive. These are a bunch of ‘just over 2 minutes’ songs that remains catchy to the very hilt, much like last year’s Mutoid Man.
2. Aenaon – Extance
An espousal of musical progression and the darker bearings of black metal. My friend and fellow writer Jayaprakash Satyamurthy sums up the album perfectly. “With guest spots by a saxophonist, a cello player and a harmonica player, in addition to Hail Spirit Noir’s Themis on synth, Aenaon are able explore some pretty far-flung musical turf on ‘Extance’, but it never feels like they’re leaving the black metal ethos behind, just carving out new territory for it. Really, all I need to do to show what to expect is to note that Sigh’s mastermind Mirai Kawashima guests on one song, and it is easy to see why.”
3. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall
As blasphemous as it might seem, this was indeed my initiation to the band’s sound. Getting blown away is at most a very humbling act when compared what I experienced here. This is a masterly articulation of hell’s smoldering fires and the arcane arts of old school death metal. A tour de force that tramples friend and foe alike!
4. Woods of Desolation – As the Stars
A transformation of sound from the despondent deep end to the mildly hope smitten, the new WoD still manages to sound clear and maintains this graceful cadence with their sophomore effort. Post-black metal (for lack of a better term) is indeed being saved from drowning in redundancies.
5. Nux Vomica – S/T
Another victory for the underground! Grimy crust blended with sludgy hardcore and with songs that go for the longer more careful meandering route accompanied by a great sense for melody. Indeed contrary to what one might associate with the genres involved here.
6. Trenchrot – Necronomic Warfare
The best old school rendition of death metal this year. There might be innumerable variants vying for that spot in my head but this sticks true to the cult. This is Bolt thrower superimposed on an image of Obituary, where the lack of originality in style is made up for by pummeling riffage. These riffs cleave!
7.Vainaja – Kadotetut
Death doom daubed in the potent Finnish mix of despondence and hatred that will leave you addled in your own sorrow. Definitely not for the faint of heart!
8. Dread Sovereign – All Hell’s Martyrs
One might as well call this Primordial vocalist Nemtheanga’s tribute to Marcolin era Candlemass. All first impressions aside, this is a debut that is darker than your average Candlemass template, from which then stems a vocal performance that is nothing short of brilliant as much as it is heartrending.
9. The Mire – Glass Cathedrals
Despite suffering from an unexplainable dearth of records this year, post-metal seems to be keeping its torch barely lit. The Mire might have had some spare flint to light another and is definitely the foremost exponent of that aforementioned feeling. Cult of Luna-like soundscapes, ethereal baritone cleans, and melody that is structured around riffs rather than solely acting as atmosphere generating buttresses.
10.Morbus Chron – Sweven
Death metal that trades a chunk of its raw aggression characteristic for a more magnanimous jab at all other emotions. It even jazzes and funks, inserts great melodies, and still stays on course. A thoroughly enjoyable album and maybe the only one of its kind.
11. Animals as Leaders – The Joy of Motion
While the rest of instrumental djenters fall decrepit, Tosin Abasi and co, stay relevant through an album that is filled to the brim with technique and catchiness. This one makes quick work of both their previous efforts and smashes obsolete any semblance of a contemporary trying to match their caliber.
12. Saor – Aura
Music that drapes the beauty beheld in the mists, glades and glens of Scotland. Saor’s second offering Aura, after the mesmerizing debut that was Roots, is more rooted in Scottish melody and folklore than ever before.
13. Thou – Heathen
Forever the most prolific of bands, Thou have over the years consistently managed to release albums. And yet the almost 3 year long gap from their last recording seemed like an eternity. But Heathen makes a grand re-entry. The acid mottled sludge lurches out again, complimented by the equally acerbic politically charged vocals.
14. Locktender – Rodin
First they made an album on The Zurau Aphorisms by the inimitable Franz Kafka and now they’ve based an entire album around the work of master sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Aptly titled Rodin, with each song title denoting one of his sculptures, it tries to portray the ‘idea behind’ and the ‘events leading to’ it’s commissioning. For instance, I’d suggest reading a bit about the The Burghers of Calais, and then listening to the song along with the lyrics. Despite the seemingly over-dramatization of a concept, it pulls through, and almost flawlessly at that.
15. The Chant – New Haven
Anathema and latter day Katatonia, all their best parts huddled together into one little box first and then with time neatly are neatly arranged. This’d be the evolution of the Finnish atmospheric rock band The Chant. If I’d be allowed to borrow a line from my own review: “You could describe it as a potent seed of everlasting despair that when sprouts, release a miasma of submissiveness that the listener will succumb to, and yet revel in. Embrace this pall of gloom..”
“Stay awhile and listen…”
– Deckard Cain