If there was one album which made me ask “what the fuck?” this year, it was Peripheral Cortex‘s God Kaiser Hell. As I wrote elsewhere on the blog, it’s not “just” a weird album; it’s an album that’s weird in a weird way. Casting off all expectations for how weird, jazz-inspired, hectic, progressive death metal should sound, Peripheral Cortex bring in ideas from grindcore and hardcore to bear. That’s how you get noodly guitars, time signatures which make you reach for the calculator, spooky spoken word samples and narrations, aggressive as all hell breakdowns, and more. More importantly, that’s how you make it all work; by reaching far and wide, Peripheral Cortex found a common vision they could keep the album spinning around, giving it more than just the shock and awe value of bizarre music.
That’s why reaching out to them for a guest list was a no-brainer. Getting the chance to perhaps peek into the brains of the musicians who made this whirlwind of an album is an exciting and tempting opportunity. And that’s basically what we got below: a wide range of influences, sounds, aesthetics, and approaches to music. A lot of the bands below are what you might call “eclectic”, reaching into a grab-bag of ideas, just like Peripheral Cortex did, and pulling out a rabbit. But they each pull out a different rabbit, a different magic trick from their blaze of styles and ideas.
So, I suggest you delay on each one and ask yourselves questions about the aesthetics of being weird and how each experimental artist on this list (and elsewhere) chooses to manifest those aesthetics. Oh, and listen to God Kaiser Hell. It will reconfigure something in your brain.
tētēma – necroscape
How can you describe the impossible? necroscape is a wonderful mixture of World Music, Drum‘n‘Bass, Noise, Jazz and whatnot! tētēma surprised everyone with the announcement of their second album after 6 years and man it was worth the wait! Anthony Pateras (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist) and Mike Patton (vocals) did it once again and gave birth to another mind exploding record that will fascinate the listener for years! Definitely a record for someone who needs something new and fresh.
Favorite tracks: “Milked Out Million”, “Dead Still”, “All Signs Uncensored”
Le Grand Sbam – Vaisseau Monde
Honestly this is not a 2020 release, but a December 2019 release, but we just have to sneak it into this list. This album is so wicked, creative and cool that we just cannot leave it unmentioned. Chaotic, frantic, cacophonic. Complex, theatrical and always going in unexpected directions. Though not exactly metal, still loud and dark at times. For us this is a great inspiration.
Favorite tracks: “Les lotus ont fleuri”, “je suis assis à côté d’un éléphant aux oreilles usées”
Clown Core – Van
Groovy, technical, virtuoso, creepy, silly – just a few of the appropriate adjectives when attempting to describe Clown Core. We love the combination of thick grooves, filthy synths, grindcore-elements, jazzy Sax, highly melodic parts, and the overall ridiculousness of it all, in particular in combination with the super-low budget videos. The musicianship of Louis Cole and Sam Gendel is without question. Great lyrics? Maybe?
Favorite tracks: “Computers”, “Keyboard”, “Flat Earth”
Haken – Virus
Well, for starters, the name (being a coincidence or not) is especially fitting the time of its release. The production work on the album is great. I haven’t really listened to Haken for quite a few years, I might have missed out on a lot of great music. Listening to Virus gives me the impression that Haken are keeping up with modern metal music. Also, there a few sick blast-beats in this album.
Favorite tracks: “The Strain”, “Messiah Complex IV: The Sect”
Sordid Pink – Sordid Pink
I wasn’t sure if I should add this album to the list as not all the songs in it are completely to my liking, but here it is! Sordid Pink is a cooperation between two amazing musicians. David Maxim Micic (guitarist, producer and if I’m not mistaken also one the founders of the original band – Destiny Potato) is one of my biggest inspirations. Aleksandra Djelmash is one of those rare singers that can really reach me as a listener and make me feel the lyrics. Sordid Pink as an album packs so much musicality, it’s crazy! David and Aleksanda would definitely not conform to making conventional music and I love it. David doesn’t say “music for the sake of music” in vain.
Favorite tracks: “Killer”, “FU”
Beneath The Massacre – Fearmonger
By now you may be wondering whether our top 10 list as a tech death band will actually comprise any tech death releases. Well actually, it will. This album is a rock and just what you would need and expect from BTR. Too fast, too many notes, over-the-top frantic drumming, cookie-monster vocals, just perfect for the tech death lover. We totally loved it as it pounded our ears last year.
Favorite tracks: “Fearmonger”
My Atomic Majesty – My Atomic Majesty
A collaboration between our friend Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlaeger and Andrey Sazonov, which has basically gone completely unnoticed. It should get a lot more attention and credit than it received. This is a blend of a lot of different stuff; mainly electronic music and extreme metal. The huge contrast between happy sounding electronic melodies and beats and dark metal riffs and drums make this album something really special. The songs flow very well and are catchy, which make them particularly enjoyable to listen to.
Favorite tracks: “Warheadbang”
¡FIASCO! – Arson
In 2020 a new band called ¡FIASCO! surfaced on the musical planet with their debut album Arson and it‘s a wild ride! Jazz meets Rock meets Ambient! And that‘s a good combo! While the bassist and drummer deliver a lovely solid ground the guitarist and saxophonist experiment with reverb, delay and modulation effects. You don’t get that too often! One of my best listening experiences the last year was it to put my headphones on and drift away to the soundscapes of “Setting in Motian”. Try it! Also, for me, they got the best cover artwork of 2020!
Favorite tracks: “Setting in Motian”, “Shadow of the Colossus”, “Recidivism”
Bring Me The Horizon – POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR
You didn‘t expect to find this one here, right? The thing is, this record is a well produced and written Pop Metal album and it has some great earworms on it! Also it really punches you in the face with its riffs while doing your sport exercises at home during the pandemic. “When we forget the infection. Will we remember the lesson?”
Favorite tracks: “Parasite Eve”, “Dear Diary”, “Obey”
’68 – Love is Ain’t Dead.
Vocals, Guitars, Drums and a shit ton of effects. Interesting lyrics and great rhythms. That’s the band ’68 with their new EP “Love is Ain’t Dead.”! The Noise Rock project was born by the mastermind Josh Scogin and it brings us interesting and fresh tunes since 2013. Shamefully they’re not on a greater radar. Check out they’re live performances, always a pleasure to watch!
Favorite tracks: “Bad Bad Lambo”, “The Lesser of Two Upheavals”, “Nervous Passenger”