Wednesday, January 30, 2013

AOTY #16: Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast

Everyone's favourite party thrashers Municipal Waste brought the fun to 2012 with The Fatal Feast. A (loose) concept album about a space mission gone cannibalistically wrong? Fuck yeah bro! Sign me up! The energy and intensity level of this album is through the roof. One of the albums I played the most this year, it was perfect for any mood or occasion. Feeling down? MuniWaste will turn that frown upside down! Bored? Problem solved! Listen to The Fatal Feast! Feelin' good? Crack a beer and spin this shit! It's fuckin' party time! The Fatal Feast will help you cut the grass in half the time! Give you the extra energy to split wood with ease! Entertain the kids by moshing around the living room! Put it on while enjoying a nice plate of spaghetti and...well maybe not while eating. Anyway, my point is, this album is (pay)loads of fun without being stupid and still being technically and vocally fantastic.

(Nuclear Blast)

Monday, January 28, 2013

AOTY #17: Mutilation Rites - Empyrean

Yet another debut full length makes the list in the form of Empyrean from Mutilation Rites. This is one seriously vicious album of depraved American black metal. Yeah, it's depraved. It's American. And it sounds like it was made by depraved Americans. The album is relentless. Blistering speed is paramount yet the band can pull back when need be. But even at the tempered speeds, Empyrean is still punishing. Maniacal screeching vocals, filthy tone and killer riffs, and sickening drum work bring Mutilation Rites to the forefront of the blackened metal scene on this side of the pond. It's disgusting, it's grimy, it's sinister in every way and it gets better every time I hear it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

AOTY #18: Amenra - Mass V

Amenra's Mass V is a dark and atmospheric piece of music. The haunting vocals will rip your heart out of your chest. To really understand how I feel about this deeply emotional album, you should read the review I wrote for Ghost Cult Magazine.

Friday, January 25, 2013

AOTY #19: Ufomammut - ORO: Opus Primum and Opus Alter

 2012 saw not one, but two releases from Italy's psychedelic doomsters Ufomammut. Opus Primum and Opus Alter make up ORO, a sprawling two part concept album exploring the alchemical process of making gold from baser metals. The massive soundscapes and psychedelics touches make the world seen alien.  I suppose the world would seen that way as ORO takes you deep down to the molecular level. Your sense of perspective gets skewed as Ufomammut transport you beyond this realm of perception. I don't use the word transcendental very much but I will here. Many times I completely lost myself amidst the layered vocals, the drone, the repetition, and the crushing low frequency walls of sound. The scale of vision that Ufomammut has in putting together this awe inspiring package is unfathomable to my feeble mind. I've been a fan since their debut (Godlike Snake) and I feel ORO may be their best yet.

I had to retire my beloved Ufomammut shirt recently as well. I put my finger right through it putting it on. Sad day indeed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

AOTY #20: Royal Thunder - CVI

Like Horisont, this was another one of those releases in which I had heard some trusted sources raving about it and gave it a shot. I heard the stream of "Whispering World" and fell in love. Not to take away from the rest of the band but bassist/vocalist Mlny Parsonz is the real star here. She has such an incredibly powerful and dynamic voice. It can be soft and sweet, or raspy and edgy. I could definitely see her becoming a role model for a new generation of young girls who want to rock hard (My girls like Royal Thunder anyway. And Witch Mountain. Uta Plotkin has some stellar pipes too.). Royal Thunder isn't just about that voice though. CVI is loaded with instantly memorable songs with massive hooks, southern groove and a whole lotta soul. Royal Thunder have something special going on here. Let's hope they get even better. Man, I really should have gone out to see them when they rolled through Ontario with CoC.

2012 was too short.

I listen to a lot of music. Not enough, but a lot. But inevitably there is going to be a huge number of albums that for one reason or another (mostly time) failed to make it past my ears at all, or I only heard them once or twice. The following is a list of such albums that I think I would have really liked but never got around to. Or at least wanted to hear.
Bell Witch - Longing (Profound Lore)
Dysrythmia - Test of Submission (Profound Lore)
Dragged Into Sunlight - Widowmaker (Prosthetic)
Bastard Sapling - Dragged From Our Restless Trance (Forcefield Records)
The Great Sabbatini - Matterhorn (No List)
Early Graves - Red Horse (No Sleep)
Satan's Wrath - Galloping Blasphemy (Metal Blade)
The Sword - Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)
Winterfyleth - The Threnody of Triumph (Candlelight)
The Shrine - Primitive Blast (Tee Pee)
Sons of Otis - Seismic (Small Stone)
Afgrund - The Age of Dumb (Willowtip)
Tribune - Elder Lore/The Dark Arts (Corpse Corrosion)
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Blood Lust (Rise Above/Metal Blade)

And probably a dozen more I just can't remember. Some I have and just haven't heard, some I have yet to acquire. Hook a (broke ass) brother up labels!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

AOTY #21: Cannibal Corpse - Torture

It's Cannibal fucking Corpse. Justification done. Fine, I'll write more. No one reading this can deny that Cannibal Corpse are the undisputed Kings of Death Metal. For 25 years now Corpse has been soaking the death metal landscape in blood, guts and gore. Torture is no different. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher's hyperspeed growls, guttural bellows and shrieks front unfuckwithable musicianship. (Kneels at the feet of Alex Webster.)  For the most part, CC don't change up the formula on this release maybe other than "Scourge of Iron". It's pace is dropped back to a relative crawl. A comparative zombie in lead boots. But I can almost guarantee that lurching rhythm will be the riff stuck in your head. To reiterate. Cannibal.fuckin.Corpse. Torture. Don't make me (insert paraphrased Cannibal Corpse album title) you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

AOTY #22: Horisont - Second Assault

I told you Witchcraft weren't my highest ranking Swedish retro-rockers this year! Horisont are a band I was unaware of prior to this year. I had heard some valued colleagues talking the band up so I gave in and checked them out. Am I ever glad I did. Second Assault sounds quite genuinely '70s retro. From the tones, to the riff style, to the slightly higher pitched and somewhat strained vocals. The riffs and vocal lines are catchy as they come and production is great. They don't sound like a band trying to be retro. They sound that a band that just IS retro. Most of the time I listened to this in the car (highly effective driving music and inoffensive to the family!), or on the kitchen stereo (any meal tastes better if prepared with Horisont playing), but on the headphones it just sounds sooooo good. That bass tone is dead sexy. The whole album is sexy! I'm a big hippie at heart so that fact that I love this is really no surprise. Just do yourself a favour and check it out. I don't think enough people have. It's criminal, man.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

AOTY #23: Meshuggah - Koloss

My relationship with Meshuggah is on again, off again.  I loved Chaosphere, but couldn't even make it through obZen. Other albums were hit and miss. So with Koloss we can declare the relationship on again. I'm no expert but I understand Koloss is a return to a more groove oriented approach for the band. Perhaps it's that underlying fluidity complementing the signature Meshuggah "djent" time signature mindfuckery that won me over this time. Not to mention the absolutely phenomenal drumming of Tomas Haake and the intensely unique vocalist, Jens Kidman. I can hear his facial expressions. I went to bed listening to Koloss a few times after some "herbal" medicine and I'm really surprised I didn't wake up completely insane.

Friday, January 18, 2013

AOTY #24: Eluveitie - Helvetios

I don't think anyone was more surprised that I liked Helvetios more than me. Let alone that it would end up in my Top 25. In general I'm not a fan of folk metal. I can't think of a folk metal band other than Eluveitie that doesn't make me gag. (Primordial is not considered folk metal, correct?) What it is about Helvetios that has captured my heart is hard to say. There must be some intangible that has connected with me. The hurdy-gurdy, the flute, the story telling, the uplifting melodies, the way it makes me want to dance a jig and headbang at the same time? Who's to say? All that needs to be said is that this enjoyed HEAVY rotation all year long.  I vaguely recall not being stoked on previous releases from this Swiss collective but I love love love Helvetios. But don't think this will be some kind of folk metal gateway drug. I've taken a stand and I...will not...BOW!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

AOTY #25: Samothrace - Reverence to Stone

Two tracks. Too good. Reverence to Stone from doomsters Samothrace is an incredibly powerful and transformative album. It's heavy and lush and rips the listener away from the real world enveloping them in its emotional soundscapes. For a clearer picture of what I mean, you can read my full review at below. 

(20 Buck Spin) The LP is only $12.99!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

AOTY #26: Deftones - Koi No Yokan

Deftones can be considered the survivalists of the nu-metal age. Not only because they are one of the few bands in and around that style still making relevant music but also due to their drive to push forward as bassist Chi Cheng continues to recover from a devastating car accident. For a complete breakdown on my thoughts about Koi No Yokan, you can check out my review for!

(Warner Music)

AOTY #27: Napalm Death - Utilitarian

I can't say I've been a lifelong Napalm Death fan. Solely because I had never heard them prior to Enemy of the Music Business. But I've been a fan since then! My appreciation of the band reached a whole new level when I saw them play in Kingston back in October 2011. That date was the first of the tour that saw them premiere the song "Quarantined" from Utilitarian. What a privilege. So it was with great anticipate that I awaited the release the album. And it was not disappointing. Unquestionably a Napalm Death album, Utilitarian did have some surprises up its sleeve. Such as the free-jazz saxophone blast on "Everyday Pox" (which I'm still not sold on, by the way.). Guitarist Mitch Harris's shrieks complement the mad mastiff barks of Barney Greenway as the incomparable rhythm section of Shane Embury and Danny Herrera complete the fury of Utilitarian's socially conscious, highly intelligent and thoroughly vicious grindcore. I'll end this blurb with the only phrase I wanted to use. (Which wouldn't have made for very interesting reading)

It's fucking Napalm Death! What more do I have to say?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

AOTY #28: Conan - Monnos

I must admit I am a sucker for tone. If you have the right tone, I will get on my knees and kiss your feet. I'll have to do just that if I ever cross paths with Conan. Their album Monnos has tone in spades. The warm textures brought forth by their monolithic riffs could ward of hypothermia better than the thickest coat of furs. The resonant frequency with which the drone and sludge emanates matches the vibration of mine own body and mind. The crushing riffage and (largely) chanted vocals elevate Monnos to another plane. Conan will lure you in with a hypnotic slo-mo groove only to deliver a knock-out punch with a shift in drum tempo or a roundhouse riff. One could use all manner of cliched adjectives to describe the glory of Monnos, but one thing is for certain; this album is as muscular and epic the band's namesake. Tremble weaklings, before the mighty Conan!

Friday, January 11, 2013

AOTY #29: Evoken - Atra Mors

I don't believe I have as of yet been able to fully appreciate all that is Evoken, but Atra Mors may be the (anti-)stimulus needed to realize the totality of Evoken's vision. As the album completes its peregrination, all the while dragging its toes as the mud sucks at the feet, one is transfixed by the unburdenable weight placed upon them. Atra Mors is unconscionably heavy. The gravity here comes not only from the ungodly low tuning but from the mood the album creates. The unbearable sadness of deep loss saturates the very fabric of the album robbing the listener of the ability to feel joy. Piano and synths augment the guitar and impeccably perform drums to create vast soundscapes capable of transporting the consciousness beyond this realm. Atra Mors is funeral doom at its best. It's unfathomably slow, brooding and depressive yet never boring as it injects flashes of light to stimulate the heart.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

AOTY #30: Indesinence - Vessels of Light and Decay

Few releases of 2012 pack as much atmospheric punch as Vessels of Light and Decay. Just as the hooded figure on the cover invites the child into the void (the extended artwork is pretty fantastic) Indesinence invite us into stunning darkness. Vessels is a doom laden death metal journey through the blackest regions of the soul. The pounding riffs and doom passages stack layer upon layer of emotion onto the listener. The burden is heavy yet well received for those inclined to the melancholic. These Londoners have summoned a superb ode to the pits of human suffering.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

AOTY #31: Liberteer - Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees

Liberteer is the singular vision and execution of Matthew Widener. BTDOYFTLOYN is a politically charged grind album the likes of which you have never heard before. BTD is incendiary in its entirety as it stokes the fires of rebellion. Cutting through the vicious grind are horns and pipes to remind us that this is about war. Civil war. But a new kind of civil war. Not a geographical or religious war. This is a war against the centralization of wealth and power. Us vs, Them. A rallying cry for The 98%. And just as much so a war against complacency. Riffs and themes circle around and are ever present, holding the album together as it threatens to unravel under the force of its own fury. BTD is compellingly powerful and those horns can make a patriot out of anyone. The album is unique, uncompromising and unrepentant. It's insightful and inciting, and quite possibly the most meaningful album of the year. BTD will punch you in the face and grind you under its boot and you'll pop right back up with a "Thank you sir may I have another!!"

AOTY #32: Aeon - Aeons Black

I don't feel like Aeon get enough credit in the greater death metal scheme of things. Hopefully Aeons Black can change that. Aeon may lean a little more towards execution over evolution, but there's nothing new under the sun anyway. Aeon, and this album especially, slide right into the space on the shelf between Cannibal Corpse and Deicide. Gloriously blasphemous with a classic DM feel, Aeons Black is whiplash inducing and throat shredding. With killer riffs and satisfying solos, catchy vocal lines, and enough determined fury to burn down a stone church, Aeon are quickly becoming one of my favored death metal bands. Perhaps Aeon will win another Kingdom of Noise Death Metal Song of the Year Award. The "Where's your Saviour?! Where's your God?!" part in the title track makes a strong case!

AOTY #33: Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

This would be the point where I paste a link to the review I already wrote, but it hasn't been published yet. In that case, I'll do my best to summarize.
Container Ships (Brutal Panda) is a really heavy album. Its weight comes from both its tone and lyrical content. Huge, awe-inspiring riffs and lyrics you can relate to make this more than just a ship passing in the night. Yet, after talking with bassist Ian Miller and guitarist/vocalist Scott Evans, the size of the album has nothing to do with their egos. They are just four normal guys making the music that comes out of them. And the dirty doom rock that results just happens to be really, really good. The album is sonically immense, unassuming and to be honest, quite captivating. You could catch a ride in the wake of Container Ships, but I recommend getting right on board.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AOTY #34: Nihill - Verdonkermaan

I'm gonna be lazy on this one and just link to the review I already wrote. And I will do the same for subsequent entries on the countdown. I'm that lazy.

Read it. And be frightened, 

Buy this from Hydra Head. Now. Here. Its SOLD OUT on CD. That makes me cry. In a good way.

AOTY #35: Testament - Dark Roots of the Earth

I was first introduced to Testament in a friend's car back in 2001 outside the bar where the staff Christmas party was happening. Needless to say, Testament was better than any of the crap that was playing in the bar. The band kinda faded from memory from that point til The Formation of Damnation was released. With that album and this year's Dark Roots of the Earth, Testament have usurped their thrash metal brethren. The last two albums have been far and above anything released from the "Big 4". There's really no other way to state it other than this album is fucking awesome!! Chuck Billy's very poignant lyrics and Alex Skolnick's slick guitar work meld to create just an amazing album. And did I mention the incomparable Gene Hoglan on drums? I mean really. Sickeningly catchy with songs that actually mean something makes Dark Roots a must-have for any thrash fan. This is another one of those albums that makes me really sad I can't grow my hair out long. Well, I could but it would be a skullet and the wife won't go for that. Hahahaha. In the meantime, I'm content to thrash away and air guitar my balls off to Dark Roots of the Earth. This is metal. My real good bud Todd might gimme a blast of hell for ranking this so low but dude, you know this kicks major ass and I could spin it every day without hesitation. 

AOTY #36: Witchcraft - Legend

I've been a fan of Witchcraft for years. However, I must admit that Legend didn't wow me the way I hoped it would. The five year wait since The Alchemist most likely made my expectations higher than they should have been. The single "It's Not Because Of You" did lead to heavy repetition though. Thankfully after a few spins the strength of the album became apparent. It's all about the riffs on Legend. It's stupendously catchy from front to back and Magnus Pelander's voice begs to be sang along with. Did I mention the riffs? Just incredible. Every time I listen to this I love it more and more. Legend packs a retro feel, brilliant songwriting and plenty of soul into its 57 minutes. Oh and "White Light Suicide" may be one of the best songs I've heard all year. I do believe it is mandatory I get my dirty mitts on the vinyl version of this pronto. That being said, this isn't the best Swedish retro rockin' album on my list this year. Stay tuned.

Available from Nuclear Blast.

AOTY #37: Begrime Exemious - Visions of the Scourge

What's not to like? Edmonton's Begrime Exemious rupture eardrums and speakers alike with Visions of the Scourge. Insanely relentless, this blasphemous death metal blast is fueled by adrenaline and sickness. Visions is pedal to the metal fury with an underlying rhythm demanding the most furious of headbanging. We're talking thrash levels of ripping speed. Disgusting black metallic vocals frighten wives and children alike as fathers/husbands (me) raise invisible oranges in demonic triumph. It's albums like this that are making Dark Descent a label to watch. With a little lineup stability big things could come out of the Begrime camp.

Friday, January 4, 2013

AOTY #38: Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme


Being the first death metal album to grace my Top 40 this year, Reign Supreme from Dying Fetus proves that I'm more interested in the veterans of the genre than most of the new upstarts. It's the band's excellent balance of outright brutality and brilliant technicality that really strikes a chord with me. It's devastating and dexterous all at once. Everything about it is what makes death metal one of my favourite genres. The vocals, the catchy riffs, the destruction. And that intro to "From Womb To Waste"? That takes balls. I really should have ranked this higher. Too late now!