In keeping with that noble tradition of trying not to repeat myself so much that I bore everyone into stabbing themselves in the thigh with a biro just to feel alive again, all previous entrants have been excluded. However, there are a couple of albums which gave the REPEAT button good use this year. Joining Wolfmother’s first album in the Hall of Fame will be Hang The Bastard’s entire discography and Oceanic by Isis (please, please see link for clarification of ‘Isis’).
I managed to buy five albums which came out this year, which is something I suppose.
Pallbearer, Heartless (Nuclear Blast)
‘Want to mellow the mood in this post–Black Sabbath age? Think that doom metal needs to get real? Want to get worked up about 60 plus minutes of intense sadness? Put on Heartless and turn that smile upside down.’
Julian Marchal, Insight III (Whale Records)
‘Marchal takes this concept of each song being each listener’s own insight and really makes it it work. Like the best instrumental music, the 10 pieces on Insight III tell stories without using words. The removal of the human voice gives these pieces an enigmatic quality, and with his songwriting and playing laid bare with only a piano at hand there is a poignancy and contemplative quality that are endlessly attractive.’
Left Behind, Blessed By The Burn (Unbeaten Records)
‘Someone, somewhere, just got pushed into a moshpit listening to this album.’
Bossk, I II (Holy Roar re–release)
“Gaze into night sky
see riffs shimmer on star flight
as they pass us by.”
Bossk’s re–released I II is deep, light, and inspires questionable poetry about stargazing.
Converge, The Dusk In Us (Epitaph)
The Dusk In Us can be about politics if you want it to be. What is more definitive is that this album supports the premise that it’s best to work backwards with Converge, and that the gradual shift to a more melodic approach has led to increasingly rewarding listens.
Neva mind tha’ dreck from 2017, back i’ 2016 we uz um some ‘ad real music, aye.
Pariso, s/t (Holy Roar)
Proper finger–pointing, give–me–that–microphone hardcore, but with riffs. Osmium Claw is like a hardcore version of Iron Man.
Employed To Serve, Greyer Than You Remember (Holy Roar)
Also give–me–that–microphone hardcore, jammed packed with everything, in a good, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, bone–breaking way.
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska (Columbia)
‘Everything dies baby, that’s a fact
but maybe everything that dies
someday comes back’
Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (Island)
Similar to how I thought Unknown Pleasures would be fun on at least one level, I thought Downward Spiral would be straightforwardly energetic – Nine Inch Nails are half–techno, after all. Well, it ain’t. Downward Spiral clangs and scrapes and by the end it hurts.
Gojira, Magma (Roadrunner)
‘[T]here were also several points on this album that started a one man moshpit in front of my stereo.’
Inter Arma, Cavern (Relapse)
If you can write a song that opens with a riff constructed like a series of pillars, and then finish that song 45 minutes later by reintroducing that riff, I like you.
Samothrace, Life’s Trade (20 Buck Spin)
Elemental forces meandering along the river of doom.
Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (Indie Recordings)
We’re going on a roadtrip to space and the soundtrack’s going to be awesome.
Townes van Zandt, Our Mother the Mountain (Fat Possum Records)
My previous appreciation of country music was limited to The Blues Brother (‘we got both kinds’), but van Zandt wrote some dark, haunting material evocative of being left asunder.
Bert Jansch, Rosemary Lane (Transatlantic Records)
Rosemary Lane makes me think of corners of England that seem to have been happily forgotten and where folk music is the only kind of music (‘we don’t got both kinds’).
Burst, Lazarus Bird (Relapse Records)
The opening line of first track I Hold Vertigo is ‘What is the nature of this?’ It took me a while to figure out that what Lazarus Bird is, with its many facets, is progressive. This is philosophical music about and for philosophical ideas.
Deafheaven, New Bermuda (Anti–)
As I have remarked elsewhere, I’m generally not a fan of black metal. The black metal bands who I do like have invariably mixed it up with something else; Kvelertak with hardcore, Alcest with shoegaze (‘Shoefookinwhat?’), Agalloch with folk and post–rock. Here, Deafheaven have also mixed up black metal with post–rock and shoegaze (‘Shoegaze? Wha’ t’ fook is shoegaze?’). Interestingly, for 47 minutes of music which draws from two genres which are generally lighter on riffs compared to other styles of metal, New Bermuda is full of massive hooks; Gifts For The Earth sounds like something Kirk Windstein or Pepper Keenan (‘Pepperfookinwho?’) would be proud of.
Rough Hands, Nothing’s Changed (Holy Roar)
…talking of riffs…
Third World, 96° In The Shade (Island)
Roots reggae of the most uplifting order.
Mastodon, Blood Mountain (Relapse)
Mastodon have changed with each album; if you want prog stylistics and duelling guitars, Blood Mountain is the album to go to.
Yob, lots of everything (and then some).
Metallica, Ride The Lightning
I have reached that stage with this album where I am discovering new favourite songs. The gift that keeps on giving.
Kate Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos (Fiction Records)
Poet Tempest tells the story of seven unrealising neighbours over Let Them Eat Chaos’ 13 tracks, which along the way grows into a state of the nation address and story of human connections over electronic/electronica(?) beats that evoke an urbanised disaffection.
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On (Motown)
It took a while to grow on me, what with it being a bit smoother than the d–beat I usually like to play out of my windows at the neighbours, but the soul of Gaye’s voice, and creativity of James Jamerson’s basslines, transcends this kind of behaviour.
The Duke St Workshop, Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (Static Caravan)
The Duke St Workshop have recorded H.P. Lovcraft’s short horror stories From Beyond and The Hound with soundtracks, which involves a lot of synths. Don’t listen to after lights out.