Monday, February 3, 2014

Wulf's Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013 Insanity

So there it is, another year down the drain!! I really wish I had spent more time listening to what came out last year because there seems to have been a lot of good stuff, but unfortunately these days I spend most of my time listening to stupid podcasts and comedians :(
Anyway, that being said, there were still some great albums I did manage to check out, so here's a list of the best music that tortured my eardrums for 2013!!

10.  " Abusing Dismembered Beauties" - Vulvectomy

Yeah, it's a pretty gross first pick to start things off, but I almost had to include this album as a protest to how disappointed I was with the new Devourment album. While this isn't an amazing album by any stretch of the imagination (and even straight up plagiarizes Devourment, see the track "Dirty Rotten Infibulation" (around the 2:25 mark for a complete rip off of a riff from Devourment's classic(k) "Babykiller") but whatever). Also, some of the samples are a bit lame, but besides that this is still a really fun album that brings the brutal vokillz, pummeling drums (even though they're programmed, they sound damn good!!), and, of course, SIKK FUKKING SLAMZ!!!

9.   "Labyrinth" - Fleshgod Apocalypse

While as a whole this album isn't that great (lame cover art too :/), holy shit does it make up for it with energy and enthusiasm.  I guess this is supposed to be some grand concept album about Theseus slaying the Minotaur of Crete, but I didn't dwell too much on this.  Instead, I really just enjoyed this album purely from the music alone-- it's ridiculously over-the-top, bombastic, and fast as fuck!!  It works really great as the soundtrack to something like the God of War series of video games, as the sheer epicness and brutality of the music definitely conjures up images of clashing armies, powerful wizards, impossibly huge structures, and an overall Hollywood-esque aesthetic.
If Rhapsody of Fire (fellow Italians!) ever got bored and decided to be as brutal as possible without kicking out Alex Staropoli, it would probably sound like this.

8.   "Sunbather" - Deafheaven

This is another album that's been talked about to death this year so I don't really have much else to offer, other than that it's a great follow-up to 2011's "Roads to Judah", and that it just goes to show that post-black metal is still one of hottest genres in metal right now (the other being, of course, occult rock).  
Is it still black metal if you take away the Satanism, the corpsepaint, the obsession with nature and misanthropy, and instead focus on emotions and feelings?  Does it ruin a band's credibility if the main fanbase draws from both metalheads and NPR/Pitchfork dorks?  If the music is this good, I would say it doesn't matter.   Yeah yeah, it's essentially The Get Up Kids playing black metal, but you can tell it's genuine.  Also, it takes balls to experiment like this and piss off the hordes of black metal basement dwellers, so to do this AND pull it off shows that these dudes know what they're doing.  Anyway, I'm still exploring this album so I don't know really what else to say at the moment since I really need to publish this post and get on with my life.  I will leave you with this:  Don't be turned off by the haters!  Listen to it for yourself!  THIS is something that truly takes black metal to the next level, much more so than whatever the fuck Liturgy have been trying to pull off with their "transcendental black metal" nonsense. 

7.   "Das Tor" - Paysage D'Hiver

I don't know what it is about Paysage that has always attracted me.   Whenever I listen his (Wintherr's) black metal releases, I always feel as if I'm tuning into some kind of obscure frequency on an old radio, with bizarre, abrasive black metal/static emitting from the speakers and drawing me into a strange world of icy landscapes, alien intelligence, and unrelenting, freezing winds.   His ambient stuff, such as "Die Festung", is also excellent, and is awesome as background music for an RPG night (except Professor Grindstein AKA Gorgoroth the Barbarian just felt like we were listening to Hearts of Space on NPR haha).
Anyway, Judge Dredd may have thought it was just raw black metal nonsense, but for me it was one of the best black metal releases of the year!!  When I first heard this I was running some errands on a super gloomy, rainy day, and while it wasn't exactly the most bitter, grim and frostbitten day of the year, it was enough to really feel the music.  My imagination was transported to that bleak, sorrowful world again, where the riffs, like the wind, droned on and on, almost hypnotically.  I'm getting a little melodramatic at this point, but you get the idea of what this album is all about.  I guess if you mixed Burzum's atmosphere and vision with the horror of Xasthur and the rawness of Striborg, you get Paysage D'Hiver.  Enjoy!!

6.   "Halo of Blood" - Children of Bodom

I know I might get made fun of for putting Bodom on here because I'm not 16 anymore, but I'm just happy that they finally picked up where "Hate Crew Deathroll" left off and finally released a quality album, even if it took them 11 fucking years to do it (In Flames, we're still waiting for you to come around)!!  Anyway, there's not really much to say other than it's arguably the closest we're gonna get to the "classic CoB sound", with catchy songs, great performances and production, and an overall fun atmosphere that distinguished the band early on from all the other melodic death metal bands back the early-mid 2000s.   Fucking finally!!!  Welcome back dudes!!

Fun fact:  Children of Bodom actually stayed at the hotel I was working at when I was living in Sydney...not only did I get to meet Jaska Raatikainen (who was pretty quiet, but nice) at like 7AM, but after the band left they accidently left their tour photo album at the hotel (titled "Dirty Laundry" haha).  While I did get a chance to sneak a peak and check out all the behind the scenes shenanigans the band was up to on this tour, unfortunately there wasn't really very much in the way of shocking lewd pics or anything incriminating, so that was kind of disappointing.  Maybe a few years ago when the band was boozing it up a lot more I would have stumbled across something more crazy... :D

5.   "Peste Noire" - Peste Noire

While not as good as 2011's "L'Ordure à l'état Pur", this is still a good album!!  Part of what really does it for me with this band is the hype, controversy, and sheer arrogance that this band brings to the table (to get a taste of what I'm talking about, check out this interview).
Anyway, I'm actually still digesting this album because there's so much crap going on, but overall it retains the core PN sound (messy, sloppy guitars and production, medieval France atmosphere) with catchy riffs and classical guitar accompaniments and interludes (along with a host of other folk instruments as well).   Ardraos is a killer new drummer as well, with a loose, rickety playing technique that really compliments Famine's style)  Also featuring a slew of guests, if you're a fan of the band you'll probably like this release as well.  I wish I could expand more on this right now, but it's already February 2014 and I'm trying to put this out ASAP!!
Anyway, Famine may be nutty as fuck, but unlike Varg Vikernes, his Norwegian counterpart, it appears like he still knows what he's doing when it comes to releasing quality music.

4.   "Colored Sands" - Gorguts

A labyrinthine death metal masterpiece that sounds as if it was recorded underwater is probably the best I can do as far as describing what "Colored Sands" sounds like to me.  Seriously, put on some headphones and listen to some Hour of Penance or Katalepsy, and then immediately afterwards switch to this record and you'll notice the bizarre production.  What's cool though is that it totally works-- I think it was brilliant to leave the vocals kind of buried in the mix and have the guitars and bass dominate...definitely gives it a crushing, suffocating feeling that really gives it adds a lot to its unique atmosphere.  It also doesn't hurt that the riffs and songwriting are unusual as well.  Yeah, we're talking about Gorguts, but you can't forget that besides Luc Lemay it's an all-star virtuoso lineup with Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia), Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia), and John Longstreth (Origin, a bunch of other brutal DM bands) tearing it up as well.  Anyway, while it may not be for everyone (I wouldn't describe it as a "fun" record like the usual stuff I like), it's definitely worth checking out!!  I really enjoyed it mainly for the production, atmosphere, and individual musicians' performances as a whole rather than the actual songs themselves :)
Great album art, too!!

3.   "Surgical Steel" - Carcass

Every dummy knows that this is one of the best metal albums of 2013.  It was on everyone's "best of the year" lists, and for good reason!!  The songs are catchy, the production is top-notch, and it's pretty much everything you could want in a badass comeback album from one of metal's most cherished bands!!  There's not really much else to say about it, other than it's a lot of fun and is a great addition to the mighty Carcass discography!

2.   "Obscure Verses for the Multiverse" - Inquisition

Another killer release by a killer band (both in the studio and live), while it's not quite as good as their last record, "Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm" (in terms of production and songwriting), it's definitely still a masterpiece.  There's already been a ton written about this album, so I'm just going to keep it short and say that this one's got all the trademark Inquisition stuff-- the hypnotic, swirling riffs, Dagon's croak, fresh and organic drumming, occult lyrics and atmospherics, etc.  One of my favorite things about this band is their fixation on the link between Satanism and the cosmos, something I've always found fascinating just because I think outer space is scary as fuck. 
Anyway, while a lot of people are turned off by Dagon's Tuvan throat singing-esque vokillz, there's no denying the power of their deadly combo of catchy riffs, pounding drums, and evil atmosphere.

1.   "Henbane" - Cultes Des Ghoules

Are CDG the new Watain??  It seems like everyone was pretty disappointed with "The Wild Hunt", and perhaps the whole "evil mystique" shtick with the band is a bit played out due to their relentless touring and appearance on covers of major metal magazines Terrorizer and Decibel, it seems like the doomed masses have found another BM horde to rule for some time as kvlt kings of all things grim and frostbitten.   There was tons of hype surrounding this release among IMNs, which is pretty surprising considering that the band doesn't do too much in the way of interviews or publicity, and has no official website or other social networking platform.   Anyway, as it turns out, unlike Watain's "The Wild Hunt", the hype here was well-deserved.
What I really love about Cultes Des Ghoules' music is a combination of the evil, ritualistic atmosphere they create, coupled with the primitive, vintage, fuzzed-out production...kind of like old-school Bathory jamming with Electric Wizard.  On top of that, the riffs are great too, with some truly brilliant moments (see the second track, "The Passion of a Sorceress", for where this record truly shines), but the real star of the show is Mark of the Devil's insane vocal performance.  He screams and howls like an absolute madman, and really gives off the impression like he's completely fucking possessed by whatever demon or evil spirit he's attempting to invoke.  Sheer "Vintage Black Magic" indeed!!

So there you have it everyone!!  My top 10!!  I was going to do more for this post, like list my favorite songs, favorite videos, disappointing releases, etc. but I'm so fucking sick of laboring over this and thinking about all the metal that came out in 2013 that I just want to finish it.  Anyway, I'm excited to see what 2014 has in store for us, I've already got my Spotify up and am currently exploring some of the stuff that has already come out, so check back again soon for more updates and other tomfoolery!!  Peace!!