35) Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues
My album of the year came straight out of left field and left me reeling after the first listen. Having never heard Pyrrhon until the album dropped into my inbox I had no preconceptions about what I was about to experience. When I sat down to review it late at night, sitting by candlelight (seriously), I was so completely immersed that I reached a point where none of my other senses were being used. I could hear every drum skin being attacked with poignant authority, each outrageous string bend wretched from guitar and bass.
The nightmare grind that begins with the opening note and bleeds out slowly with the closing moments of the album is a full blown joy ride through places unknown. I carve out time every week to sit and just listen to this album end to end. It is not a casual listen whatsoever and I get why people haven’t jumped on the Pyrrhon train yet, I just really wish they would. Mother Of Virtues is a kaleidoscopic and claustrophobic journey through experimental metal, signposted with classic moments of sludge and grind. Imagine a cocktail of your most secret phobias and inner yearnings, all processed together with an umbrella of technical metal precision poking out of the top, just to keep things pretty. (Matt MacLennan)
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34) Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
When this album dropped, it was two in the morning where I was and I wasn’t expecting for it to just appear out of nowhere. I had heard their first album and enjoyed it, so I thought that I might check this one out, as it was better than sleeping. Little did I know that it would become my album of the year. After I had finished my first run through of the album, I ran it back immediately and listened to the whole thing again because it was just so damn good. The duo, consisting of Killer Mike and El-P, have the tag team aspect of their sound down to a science. The way they trade flows and blows over El-P’s killer production throughout the album’s almost 40 minute runtime makes this album so easy to return to time after time. Not to mention the intense amount of quotables (“You can all run naked backwards through a field of dicks”, “Top of the mornin’, my fist to your face is fuckin’ Folgers”, etc.) that keep you laughing. The album isn’t just funny, it’s also thought provoking. It challenges recent issues such as police brutality, religious control and unfair governments. Really, the album has it all. If you aren’t running the jewels, you’re falling behind. (Ryan Castrati)
33) Tides of Man – Young and Courageous
Relatively few bands are able to write one fantastic album in one genre, but to then come back in a completely different musical oeuvre and utterly destroy there as well? That takes a truly special group of musicians. That is exactly what we have here though in Tides of Man. Once a progressive rock outfit that had already built up a considerable fanbase, after their previous record’s release Dreamhouse found the group bereft of their lead vocalist, they soldiered on as a fully instrumental band. That takes some serious musical cajones. The resulting album, Young and Courageous, though, displays the confidence and maturity of a band who has no time for hand-wringing and self-doubt. It’s an exceedingly powerful and fluid post-rock album that wears the skin of its genre conventions well while maintaining the same kind of progressive sensibility that endeared them to fans in the first place. It’s impossible to know at this time where the band will go from here, but as my colleague Paul Meisner so perfectly wrote in his review of the album, “Regardless of the answer, there’s no doubt that we’ll want to hear it.” (Nick Cusworth)
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32) Raunchy – Vices. Virtues. Visions.
Having recently parted ways with Intervals, vocalist Mike Semesky can still rely on Denmark’s Raunchy having his back. The poppy nature of Raunchy separates them from other melodic acts that would otherwise infuse electronic/industrial elements into their tunes, creating an interesting-yet-cohesive “divide” between the harsh melodic death elements and those a touch more canorous to be found in music fit for popular radio play. Head bobs and bounces abound in Vices.Virtues.Visions. as the album has hooks upon hooks while playing up influences ranging from the obvious melodic death metal and industrial themes to the tinges of power metal and reaching into standard heavy metal territories. The best part is that no one influence defers to another while it takes its place. Instead, each of the pieces plays with one another in a fun game and building the other higher instead of stagnating in a simplistic trade-off. (Kyle Gaddo)
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31) clipping. – CLPPNG
At this point in the countdown you’ve had to deal with a few hip-hop and electronic submissions, and you can rest easy going forward, as this is the last “surprise” outlier in terms of genre you’ll see on our Top 50. However, let me make a case for West Coast noisemakers clipping before you scroll any further into a list you’re sure to disagree with anyway. clipping are smart, vicious, and everything Death Grips should have been. CLPPNG explores lyrical themes such as dealing drugs and gang violence, but does so through challenging flow and wildly experimental compositions; MC Daveed Diggs raps in 5/4 and 7/4 time on the harrowing ‘Story 2’ (potentially the best hip-hop track ever?!) and over an alarm clock on ‘Get Up.’ clipping reach well past their audience for a bizarre and mind-bending experiment and sociological treatise for hip-hop culture. (Jimmy Rowe)
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