For those who missed our last installment, we post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.
Considering the multiple inclusions of Miles Davis’ masterpiece Kind of Blue and an inclusion from Orentte Coleman (whose passing we are deeply saddened), it was a very fitting week to publish the inaugural installment of our Jazz Club feature, where members of our staff will dissect a new jazz album that we find noteworthy and excellent. Our first post discussed The Epic, the spectacular band leader debut of saxophonist Kamasi Washington; read our piece here. This week was also a popular one for Leprous‘s newest album The Congregation, which was included by half off the staff members who participated in this playlist update. The Congregation will without doubt be one of Heavy Blog’s favorite albums of the year, further evidence for which may be read in our review of the album here. Additionally, there are inclusions from a handful of other recent albums which we reviewed positively, including Starfire by Jaga Jazzist (here), The Moon Lit Our Path by Tempel (here) and Settler by Vattnet Viskar (here). We may definitely exhausted this sentiment by this point in the year, but 2015 has truly been an exceptional year in music, and we are still looking forward to an abundance of incoming releases.
For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Head past the jump to see which records have been receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
I’m not going to go on about how great 2012 was for music, because everyone of my co-writers has already done that and then some. There’s no denying it was great, so let’s just move on. I’m writing this list pretty last minute, as I’ve had my choices locked in for some time, and I thought, “Hey, I’m not confused about anything, so I can push it back as far as possible”, and that was a terrible idea, as I’m now scrambling to get this thing finished, and having a hard time really talking about why I like these albums. However, I was the one who reviewed a lot of these, so if you find what I have to say on each individual one lacking, just go read my review or the reviews of the other albums written by my fellow contributors.
Honestly though, I did not love 2012 as much as everyone else. Maybe it was the events in my personal life that caused me to have such a poor outlook on a lot of the earlier releases of the year, but it’s hard to deny the fact that I just did not connect with nearly as many metal releases this year as I did last year. It’s a shame, but not something I’ve overly thought about, because I’ve found other music to enjoy throughout the year. That being said, I did happen to find a good handful of great albums that I anticipate listening to for many years. Like I said, I’ve had my choices for my list picked out for some time, and that’s because I knew which albums I loved, and which albums I wanted to continually listen to for many years to come. I wasn’t wowed by a lot of the big name bands; I found Meshuggah and Gojira lacking a bit, which were two of my my anticipated albums of this year, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just can’t connect with certain albums. And even though metal wasn’t all that great for me this year, I still love the genre, and it’s still my favorite type of music to listen to. Anyways, that’s why I listen to metal, and that’s really all I have to say on the matter, so here’s my top ten albums of the year.
I know you don’t really read these openings to lists. You’re probably shifting on to the top of my list, preparing to either praise me or bury me for my list. Either way, hope you enjoy, and feel free to point out any errors I may have made; I’d be more than happy to talk about why it’s not on my list.
(VERY) HONORABLE MENTIONS
The Agonist – Prisoners
Unfortunately, I only had room for fifteen special albums, but this doesn’t mean that you should let this gem of a record pass you by. The Agonist are the perfect blend of metalcore and melodic death metal, and this is spearheaded by Alissa White-Gluz’s brutal harsh vocals and angelic cleans.
Recommended Track: “You’re Coming With Me”
The Omega Experiment – The Omega Experiment
The Omega Experiment was undoubtedly one of the best progressive records of the year. Shredding guitars, melodies you’ll want to sing to over and over again, and some of the best clean vocals this year make it a standout.
Recommended Track: “Gift”
A Million Dead Birds Laughing – Xen
Have you ever considered what SikTh would’ve been with a more death metal core and a few drugs? Listen to this record and you’ll have your answer. Also, download it for whatever price you desire here.
Recommended Track: “Goliath”
SALLY FORTH THE LIST!
What a year. Here is a summary of my most pleasurable listening experiences. Quick shout outs to Gaza, Eldrimner, Acrania (Mexico), Disfiguring the Goddess, Gods of Eden, Trash Talk, Xibalba and TesseracT who just barely missed the cut. Sorry guys.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy my list. I didn’t mess around. Just meat and potatoes. Also, I’d love it if you left a comment validating my list or insulting me for terrible taste! Either way, happy doomsday!
My “Top 10 Albums of 2012” is comprised of exactly what the title reads; albums. I’m way more apt to enjoy a work that flows from song to song (not necessarily saying the album plays out as one song) as if it were written with the record in mind rather than a collection of songs. To properly flesh out all my separate thought processes that went into making this list would almost certainly convince you that I am out of my fucking mind. In defense of my indecisiveness, there was just too much good music released this year that ranking how much more enjoyable one is over another becomes hair-splitting and impossible. However, I have forged ahead and done so for your enjoyment. Just know that you’ve made me do the equivalent of picking a favorite child and I’ll wake up every morning to these scars.
Blut Aus Nord
777 – Cosmosophy
01. Epitome XIV
02. Epitome XV
03. Epitome XVI
04. Epitome XVII
05. Epitome XVIII
[Debemur Morti Productions]
Taken merely at surface value, French black metal outfit Blut Aus Nord’s 777 trilogy (2011’s Sect(s) & The Desanctification and 2012’s Cosmosophy) could be interpreted as a unique and effective blend of Deathspell Omega’s chaotic black metal and Godflesh’s grinding industrial groove. Such a conclusion would mistakenly settle for genre tags rather than allowing the trilogy’s expansive sonic themes to define these three releases for the monoliths that they are. The core sensation lies within the plight of a delicate human soul being torn to shreds as infernal and divine forces both lust for ownership via a celestial tug of war. For moments of varying brevity, the spirit experiences respite in purgatory as the higher beings recuperate for another bought of soul reaping.
While certainly an extraordinary summary of these albums’ accomplishments, BAN undoubtedly excels at their ability to seamlessly transition between sinister blackened bludgeonings and gorgeous ethereal soundscapes. Cosmosophy is perhaps BAN’s most pristine example of this talent, the strongest album in the 777 trilogy and the most appropriate to conclude it.
Woods of Ypres
Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
01. Lightning & Snow
02. Death Is Not An Exit
03. Keeper Of The Ledger
04. Traveling Alone
05. Adora Vivos
07. Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)
08. Modern Life Architecture
09. Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)
11. Alternate Ending
Back in February I reviewed the latest and probably final record from Canadian doom band, Woods of Ypres. It was both a review and a final piece of mourning for the passing of founding member David Gold, who died in a car accident late last year. I discussed the various merits of the album, and in the end claimed it was the band’s strongest effort, and easily deserving a five out of five on the site.
Dusk | Subside
01. Within Frozen Beauty
02. The Menin Road
03. Shadows Of The Flame
I’m going to be fairly honest and sincere: I am not all that knowledgeable on doom metal. You have the melancholic masters of more mainstream doom like early Anathema and Katatonia, the masters of textures in Earth, and the masters of beauty in Woods Of Ypres. There is one, however, that always comes to mind, and their name was dISEMBOWELMENT, pioneers of what was to become the modern doom metal sound. Deep, harsh vocals on top of low-end guitar tones that filled the room up with an invisible mist, one that carries great weight, and is felt by all. It is also unseen by the human eye, visible in no realm of life we live in. However, after releasing one album and never playing live, they disbanded, forever invisible from the human eyes, just like the mist.
Woods of Ypres
Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
01. Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)
02. Traveling Alone
03. Alternate Ending
04. Lightening & Snow
06. Death Is Not An Exit
07. Adora Vivos
09. Modern Life Architecture
10. Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) (pt 1)
11. Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) (pt 2)
Groundhog Day was last week, and in my neck of the woods the little bugger apparently saw his shadow, which either means I’m going to be stuck in a hell world where nothing but Bill Murray is playing on the TV, or we’ll have six more weeks of winter. I don’t really mind either of those things, though because Billy Murray is hilarious, and winter almost always brings forth excellent metal albums, usually of the slow and melancholic nature. The aptly titled Woods 5, coming from the short lived Canadian doom band, Woods of Ypres, is just that sort of album. It relies heavily on powerful guitar leads, pain-filled vocals and songs focused around the existential topics that make up our life; death, the afterlife, god, et cetera, et cetera. In this genre it’s something you’ll hear a thousand million times, but some bands know how to pull it off, and some bands don’t. Woods of Ypres are one of the lucky groups who definitely know how to pull it off, and with Woods 5 they have crafted an excellent swansong for the dearly departed singer/songwriter/guitarist David Gold who passed away late last year, shortly after finishing the recording of this album.