Full of Hell, baby. You know ’em, you love ’em. We do too: they’ve appeared a handful of times on the blog this year, from our review of Weeping Choir way the hell back in May to their spot near the forefront of our Grind My Gears 2019 wrap-up last week, to – of course – their spot in the top echelons of Heavy Blog’s Top 50 Albums of 2019 yesterday. And all this love means, of course, that we needed to turn the microphone over and give them a spot to shout out their own favorite albums of 2019. It’s only fair, after all.
Vocalist and professional banshee Dylan Walker graciously agreed to talk about some of his favorite albums of the past twelve months with us. True to form for such a unique and creative band, his list is eclectic; the choices present here range from pulverizing, mind-warping death industrial to minimalist pop and boom-bap. These albums are characteristic of a mind that truly finds artistry within music with little regard for any sort of genre allegiance. But that’s enough out of me – Dylan’s words do plenty of legwork without any assistance. So, without any more delay, I’m happy to say that we have here Dylan Walker’s top five albums of 2019.
Lingua Ignota – Caligula
I’m a little bit biased about this album, but before I was even friends with Hayter, I was completely spellbound by her music. I think she’s conveying a very relevant and powerful message for any time, let alone how poignant it is in present day. This album has the highest peaks and the lowest valleys I can imagine; it’s totally captivating all the way through to the end. The vocal performance is always going to be my favorite part of LI, and Caligula is a shining example of someone who I feel is a true artist with their voice. On first listen, I was really excited to hear some interesting new vocal techniques and to hear her voice soar over completely epic string arrangements and crushing industrial breaks. This album is equally lush, austere, harsh and somber. I feel like I’m the ultimate mark for this intersection of genres. It should also be stated that the studio this album was recorded at (Machines with Magnets) might be the finest studio on Earth. Huge props to producer Seth for his work on this record as well. As many of us can attest, he is truly talented at helping bands/artists shine their best in studio. This is my album of the year, hands down.
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Jad – Strach
Jad is Polish for “venom”. They are a hardcore punk band from Poland. I’ve always felt like there was a severe underappreciation for any foreign music in America, but thanks to festivals, like Damaged City for example, foreign punk bands are being represented in bigger ways in the states. Jad was just over for their first US tour, and it looks like it went really well. I have a strong love for Poland having been able to play a lot of gigs over there and make some long lasting friendships, so repping this band is a no-brainer for me. It’s hardcore exactly how I want to hear it. Stripped down, no filler and absolutely vicious, as it should be. I also think it’s really cool to hear a band sing entirely in their native language. According to vocalist Krzysztof, this debut LP is about inner fear, anxiety and loneliness. The longest song is the outdo, clocking in at 1:50… perfect. Can’t wait to see what they do next.
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Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Blood Incantation represents everything that is good about death metal and DIY to me. They are incredibly focused and passionate about their craft and very careful with how they present it, and it’s totally obvious no matter what detail you choose to focus on. The aesthetic has been very well tuned since they started but this album is their defining statement as far as I’m concerned. The extra instrumentation adds such a powerful aura around the spaced out death metal, I feel like their love of prog shines harder than ever, and it’s an album that’s meant to be listened to in its entirety, which I find rare nowadays, even in metal. It’s also important to note how warm the record SOUNDS because they recorded everything analog. The record sounds like a real band of humans (???) playing their instruments together in a room. It feels organic and real. The fact that these guys topped so many year end lists gives me some faith in the world.
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Natalie Rose LeBrecht – Mandarava Rose
This record was given to me by a friend right at the very end of the year. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since then and it’s impact made it one of my top 5 albums of the year immediately. It’s very hard for me to describe, very soothing and serene, beautiful instrumentation and very blissful washed out vocals. I honestly don’t know anything about NRL outside of the little information I’ve gleaned about this magic record, but I’m hoping more people will catch on. I think this album is an excellent daily listen to find a calm center in your life. HIGHLY recommended.
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Griselda – WWCD
The Griselda crew (Westside Gunn, Conway, Benny the Butcher) finally released their major label debut, What Would Chinegun Do on Shady Records to end the year. I’ve had a growing obsession with these guys for the past couple years and this record feels kind of like an arrival for them in a more mainstream sense. Hearing the 3 of them on a full record together is something very special and important. I don’t think there’s a bad song on this record. For those unfamiliar, these guys have put out very deep discographies in a short amount of time, and my favorite moments are the murky, spooky beats, and WWCD has a lot of that courtesy of co-producers Daringer and Beat Butcha. The verses are dense and dark, and the beats hit just right. I think this could be a good entry point for anyone wanting to check out what this crew is about. There’s some pretty high profile guest spots (50 Cent, Eminem, Raekwon) and also absolutely crucial regulars like Keisha Plum (deadly spot on May Store). My opinion on hip hop does not matter at all, I’m no expert, but these guys make me so excited about the genre in general. If you have even a passing interest in rap, check this out!!