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!
10. Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
It’d be a shame not to mention the swan song of David Gold. His bellowing swoon will live on in our hearts and his talent will continue to be revered and adored by the metal community. I think it was the most emotional experience this year. I choked up when I heard the lyric “A moment for the dead, but not a moment more. The dead are to be forgotten, we are here to be adored.” Nothing like the gift of life to make you feel grateful. With melancholic and uplifting hooks, a beautiful exploration of themes of death, fame, and love make this album extremely potent.
Highlights: Lightning & Snow, Adora Vivos, Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)
9. Cut Your Teeth – 2 Hot 3 Handle
Why does a 5 track EP of semi-sarcastic party-thrash beat out a multitude of stellar more legitimate releases and earn a spot on my year-end list? Well, to put it simply, it’s hard to listen to this and not have blast. More often than not, this EP puts me in a good mood and has me shouting along, playing a wicked air guitar and turning a seemingly vanilla day into a one-man mosh party. “It’s a Party” was my anthem this summer with it’s insane solos, break neck shout alongs and fiery slide guitar. “Ice Cold Beer” always has me contorting the air in front of me into the best guitar I can imagine. “Touchdown” and “Kegwar” always finds me thrashing about which in retrospect is quite embarrassing. It’s simply the best party music and I can’t stop listening.
Highlights: It’s a Party, Touchdown, Ice Cold Beer
8. Art by Numbers – Reticence: The Musical
Most loved last year’s Digital Veil by classical metalcore quintet The Human Abstract. Though, for others such as myself, it was boring and predictable. It wasn’t the proper follow-up that Nocturne deserved (in terms of releases AJ Minette was involved with). So when I found out that Art By Number‘s guitarists were trained by AJ, my curiosity piqued. Lo and behold, Art By Numbers didn’t disappoint It has the same kind of classical tendencies that THA have but it fleshes out the sound with some minor genre mashing, an outstanding vocal performance and virtuosic fun with every track.
Highlights: Delusions of Grandeur, Best Laid Plans & Panacea
7. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
What more can I say? Any avid Between the Buried and Me fan chomped at the bit to sing this record praise and deservedly so. It’s a great album. I find myself in the lesser-than-Colors-and-Great-Misdirect camp, but releasing such an expansive and eloquently flourished album is no failure. The story is incredibly engaging and it’s simply a stunning album through and through. I don’t think I listened to an album more than I listened to the Parallax II.
Highlights: Lay Your Ghosts to Rest, Melting City, Bloom, Astral Body
6. The Odious – Joint Ventures
Literally released hours before this post, The Odious‘ sophomore effort was a tough inclusion. However, first impressions point to an outstanding album and only time will tell if it holds up. That doesn’t stop the fact that I can’t stop listening to it though. With it’s Alice in Chains-esque clean vocals, psychedelic prog sections, head turning experimentation and crushing death metal filled to the brim with hooks The Odious blew all progressive metal albums out of the water this year. Worth noting is it’s lack of filler. “Fail Science” is arguably a filler track and there are samples throughout, but these elements are used liberally and spaced out well enough that the experience isn’t hampered. Unlike the similar Parallax II which in terms of structure, had needless filler and that’s essentially the main reason why this is number 6 on my list aside from it being so damn perfect.
Highlights: Mer/Ka/Ba, Nuchal Chord, A Sheep in Wolfs Clothing
5. Death Grips – The Money Store
Have you ever been to a Sporting Goods Store and found yourself in the Fishing & Baiting section? Have you ever look at the bait and thought to yourself “now that’s a lot of hooks”? Me too. That’s the kind of impression experimental hip-hop group Death Grips gives off. Ballsy and super catchy. Rarely is hip-hop so captivating, but this record is a real gem. Everything is unconventional. The delivery, the beats, the samples. It’s all wierd and left field. “Get Got” is like a Snoop Dogg track taking a forray into psychedelia whereas “I’ve Seen Footage” sounds like a Fatboy Slim beat with a sweaty dude shouting “Stay noided” over it. I mean it’s got it all and being the only hip-hop album that yanked my chain enough to keep me coming back to it is a welcome change of pace.
Highlights: I’ve Seen Footage, Hacker, Get Got
4. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas – All That We Have Now
Bringing me back to my formative years in the best way possible. Back in middle school, I listened to a lot of Attack Attack and Maximum the Hormone. What a better way to celebrate my youth than with a japanese metalcore band with a strong desire to be radio-rave whatchamacallit? At first, I was definitely against this album. I wanted nothing to do with it’s autotune and electronica. Though one of my cohorts continued to rave about them (no pun intended) and eventually I converted. It was so worth it. A plethora of technical, interesting riffs, some incredible vocal melodies and the best electronic music I’ve hear incorporated onto an album that’s undecidedly metal. It’s a great trip and I encourage people that have any kind of tolerance to give it a shot. Don’t be put off by the electronics and autotune. That’s what makes this album so great.
Highlights: Ley-line, Scream as Hard as You Can, Defeat and Beat
3. Carthage – Salt the Earth
Hold on keyboard warriors! Don’t go flying to the comments to call me out for being biased! Now allow me to preface this entry before I start talking about how good it is. My friend Noyan who contributes to this particular blog had minimal involvement in the record (as far as he lets on) and although I was hopeful for my friend that the record was good, I did not expect it to be the next big thing. Salt the Earth is an incredibly catchy groove laden deathcore album littered with memorability. The production alone makes this leagues above their djenty-deathcore contemporaries, but it hardly sets them apart. What makes this release so engaging is that instead of trying to be something, or re-invent the wheel, it simply just is. No goals or aspirations. Just a great record (I guess that was the goal). It grooves harder than your favourite Meshuggah song at times, and it’s more brutal than your favourite Whitechapel track at others. Not to mention the little things that lead guitarist Tre Watson can pull off can be particularly fascinating like the slap guitar on “Destroy the City” or the breakdown I find myself humming on “Continuous“. Also noteworthy are the destructive vocals of Eric Hendricks (with support from Tre and Noyan Tokgozoglu) akin to Phil Bozeman at times, Eric has perfected the tunnel throat style and he just sounds so huge on the album. To put it simply though, it’s the best deathcore album of the year and a contender for the best deathcore record of all time.
Highlights: Blackout, Continuous, Years & Darkness
2. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life
Arguably the heaviest album of the year, Sentenced to Life is an outstanding display of blackened crust. Blatantly worshipping their progenitors Entombed (and Slayer), it’s easy to dismiss this band as derivative. Jokes on them though, Black Breath rule! Every riff weighs a metric ton and their vocalist is one of the best in the genre. Not to mention the production and guitar tones are nigh prolific. Crushing in every respect Black Breath have solidified themselves in my rotations and I proudly bring them up in conversation as “one of my favourite bands”.
Highlights: Feast of the Damned, Sentenced to Life, The Flame
1. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
I’m relatively new to the Converge camp, however I’ve had the privilege of getting on the hype train for their latest effort All We Love We Leave Behind. There is something I find notable about the first release you are involved with when it comes to a group that you haven’t been actively following or interested in. After investing a substantial amount of time into their back catalogue though, I definitely had my doubts about this record. Obviously they didn’t dissapoint. Instead they took their foot off the brakes just enough to make the turn into the next chapter of their career without stagnating and proved that they still had an amazing record left in them.
I know for a fact that I’ll be sitting in front of a computer in 5 years arguing on a facebook thread about which Converge album is better and why. I know for a fact that I’ll be coming back to this album in 5 years and I’ll be enjoying it the same way I do now. That kind of confidence warrants the number one spot on my list.
Highlights: Sadness Comes Home, Vicious Muse, All We Love We Leave Behind, Trespasses, Aimless Arrow, Sparrow’s Fall