Once again this year has been one in which I have a minor and short–scale existential crisis about all of the music I didn’t have time to absorb. There have been loads of good releases, and I bought around 1% of what I would like to have, missing out on albums from Royal Thunder, Deafheaven, Zombi and Hooded Menace amongst many others. A lot of albums were on heavy repeat, especially when I was sailing and my choices were limited to what was on my iPod, so there are a couple of new releases on my list but not as many as I would like there to be. There is no particular order here, but looking through this list one pattern that struck me was that out of the 13 (no Satanic coincidence) artists on this year’s list, out of these 13, 8 of them could be called heavy or rock artists, whereas last year, out of 16 bands, 13 of them could be called heavy or rock artists. This feels representative of a more personally diverse year in listening, a trend (in the statistical sense of the word) which I think will continue.
Black Breath, Slaves Beyond Death. ‘[B]last beats of the splatty–est (you read it here first) nature alternate with grooves you could use as a half–pipe’. Reviewed here.
Ithaca, Trespassers. ‘After a while eardrums can become calloused to this sort of music (or ‘noise’ as you’ve probably been told several times), becoming immune to music that most people consider to be a sonic extremity, no matter how confrontational, abrasive or misanthropic it tries to be or is described as. With Trespassers, Ithaca get right underneath these callouses, right to where it hurts.’ Reviewed here.
Mogwai, Les Revenants. Simultaneously mournful and unsettling, apt for a soundtrack to a series about a (mostly) gentle, sad community of the risen dead.
Weareripcord, RE:MIND Vol 1. The 22 tracks that make up this compilation are what I like to think of as emo living up to its potential; heavy, confessional, angsty, and a bit arty with the musical substance to back it up. Reviewed here.
Agalloch, The Mantle. ‘Like looking out onto a dark, wild landscape, with the falling snow and growing night slowly obscuring the trees and rolling hills, a brooding force lurks just beneath the surface of The Mantle.’ Reviewed here.
Black Hole, Deadhearts. I finally got around to buying this album, which was released in 2009, and have been playing it very loudly ever since. A perfect blend of hardcore punk and heaviness. I saw them play at the Camden Barfly last Friday, and hands down it was the best gig I went to this year, surpassing Megadeth, Lamb of God, Karnivool, Monuments, Svalbard, Kvelertak and even Weedeater in the process.
Isis, Oceanic. ‘Absorbing, distinctive, influential, clever, and forever building. Whenever Oceanic finished playing through my headphones it kept on going in my head, and I felt a little older, a bit more reflective, appraising the world anew, much like finishing one of those books that takes ages to finish and in the process finding your world view changed.’
Action Bronson, Dr Lecter. Mr Wonderful was good too, but not as cohesive. I’m not hugely into hip–hop, but I do like this old–school stuff and the heavy use of breakbeats.
The Cure, Disintegration. A wave of warmth.
Tom Waits, Small Change. Filthy jazz.
Wolfmother, s/t. ‘Only now have I realised its full excellence. Lots of lyrics about travelling and cutting loose old ties, accompanied by John Bonham–style drumming and elements of psychedelia.’
Mastodon, Leviathan. ‘I heard something in this album that inspired a sense of wonder, a sense of travel, and of being divested of one’s familiar surroundings, creating that feeling of forgetting your own name as you float along in the cosmos. Leviathan is a story, and one told through more than lyrics, as poetically rich as they may be. Besides the already–mentioned barbed riffs, the jazzy drumming (does anyone else wonder how drummer Brann Dailor remembers it all?) and the contrast between the space and the dancing guitars gives the songs a wealth of content to dig into. Each of the instruments contains their own little intricacies and flurries of notes, with the story finished by the psychedelic, tumbling Hearts Alive.