..not just albums released this year.. but what I’ve been listening to..
Great.. so now that that’s clear, I’ve had the luxury in time given to me by the procrastination of working from home in that weird period between Christmas and New Years to think about what the fuck to write on this blog.
About this time of the year, peers, friends, bands, labels, magazines and ugly celebrities release their favourite albums of 2017 in lists. I find it’s a great way to pick up on releases that might have been missed throughout.. take Nate from Converge for example… .. I’d absolutely recommend perusing through this list, some great stuff there:
Hey.. thanks for coming back.
I know all the kids these days have ‘Spotty recommendations’ and all that shit.. but it’s nice to be old, conventional, get some recommendations the old fashioned way. So that’s not the point of this post necessarily.. I’m not even really going to do that now, because instead of being so tapped to the wire like Nate of Converge or Molly Meldrum of Hey Hey, I’m just going to talk through some of the stuff I spent a lot of time with this year.
‘How much time Murray..?’ you ask..
Well fuckin 22,240 minutes mate to be exact.. according to Spotify. Which is only about 2 consecutive weeks .. doesn’t account for some of the offline listening I’ve had.
So what came out?
To save you all some time, recognising the diversity of my audience (hey Murray..) most of it is in the Extreme Metal category, so there’ll be a lot of that. And I’ll break them out, so if you’re like ‘fuck Extreme Metal you dirty bogan’.. then you can skip down a bit.. because I do venture far and wide and into the realms of nostalgia, so get ready for that too.. and if I can make bring a chortled ‘hmph’ to your day.. then that’s all I can ask for really. Well I could ask for a fuckload more but that’s unrealistic because I don’t see a genie here.
Anyway.. in the Extreme Metal Category
So I spent a lot of time with two albums from this British band, ‘Vanitas’ and ‘Desideratum’ despite their more recent release from 2016 ‘The Whole of Law’. And it’s not some dirty sex thing if that’s what you’re thinking.. well actually I dunno, it could be.. I don’t know what the name means.
I think the appeal of this band to me is just the sheer complexity, intensity and depth to their sound. There is just such a massive wall of sound, rich layers and a that fantastic formula you find in a lot of grind music where utter chaos in all directions converges into a symphony of sound.
They’re at their most intense with ‘Mostrum in Animo’ .. hopefully you get a sense of what I’m talking about:
‘Joystream’ offers a slightly more melodic appeal, but the hook here is the intense chords that Anaal bring to just about all of their songs, probably, in my opinion, best demonstrated here:
Dragged into Sunlight
Again over to the UK to ‘Dragged into Sunlight’.. great name right? The band keep their identities secret and play with their backs to the audience. So these guys do the unsettling really well.. washed out vocals, an uncomfortable sub-sonic bass and a lo-fi sound at the top.. not to mention there’s a lot of vocal sampling from convicted serial killers injected throughout the music, at times with a carefully orchestrated atmosphere, but their level of intensity is really amplified through their production.. ‘Hatred for Mankind’ literally sounds like it was recorded in hell.
Oh great Murray.. lighten the fuck up would you..
Well that’s cool.. you see, I think as an artistic impression, to create that sort of unsettling atmosphere is brilliant. Here’s ‘Buried with Leeches’ from that album.. haha.. so good amiright? Soz for the album cover work. eek.
But it’s not all hell and satanic ritual. Well it mostly is actually, nasty stuff.
Wolves in the Throne Room
Another great name, these guys are on the lighter side of black metal and are more thematically aligned to nature and paganism and forests and elderbeasts and fungerwood or whatever else those types talk about.
They put out a great release this year ‘Thrice Woven’.. highly recommend you check it out:
Classic death metal from Belgium.. these guys have some great albums and I spent most of my time between ‘Retrogore’ and ‘The Necrotic Manifesto’.. but most of it replaying the ‘Termination Redux EP’ which is absolutely brilliant. Both the intro and outro to the title track is among my fave moments in music this year.
Young and in the Way
I love this band .. a great fusion of black metal and crust punk. There’s a really visceral element in their music.
Just great black/death metal from Norway.
Is just one guy from the US.. but he creates this incredible dreamscape through his release ‘The Dreaming I’ .. it’s this ethereal, richly layered and complex composition that brings a blackened dream realm to the surface. It’s a really amazing album.
Aww I love this band. Vegan death metal. LOLZ. They’re seminal in the death metal scene, and thematically put humans into what we happen to subject animals to.. Travis Ryan’s vocals shift from growling to trollish sneers.. it’s great to listen to. Their release from a few years ago ‘The Anthropocene Extinction” is brilliant.
Danish black metal with female vocalist Amalie Bruun. These guys put out an amazing album this year in Mareridt. Beautifully atmospheric and frightening as Bruuns vocals shift from the angelic to brutal.
EVERYONE in black metal knows the story of Burzum. Varg Vikernes is the all-Norwegian church-burning, rival band member murdering musician. Filosofem was recorded right before his incarceration. It’s your typical lo-fi black metal and is beautifully ambient in places.
Ukrainian black metal.. Slavic mythology. Really great, intense sound though. My fave of theirs would have to be ‘Blood in Our Wells’
Italian extreme metal in the crust/grind genre. Only a recent discovery for me, but I love their 2016 release ‘Mass Grave’ ..
Okay! Shut up! Enough with the extreme metal you say..
Other music not of the Extreme Metal category..
I spent a bit of time with:
A band that’s been around for ages but alluded my radar until earlier in the year. Their 2017 release “After Laughter” is amazing.. and I was surprised to hear mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss singing through ‘No Friend’ on the album.
Young guy from New Zealand who’s supported Lorde recently, and won out on an bunch of awards at MTV.. some great production on his album ‘Beautiful Nightmare’ out late in the year. There’s some vocal gymnastics that push it a little to the edge of my comfort but it’s atmospheric and rich, and kind of exciting to see what he can do..
Well we lost Chester this year. Broke my heart a bit, everyones had their digs at Linkin Park over the years, but I had the privilege of teaming for them back in early 2000. So I got to meet the guys at their show at Festival Hall in 2001. No ego, no bullshit, just great people, happy to have fans hang with them. “Hybrid Theory” is close to my heart .. ‘A Place for My Head’ .. a great track. There’s not many acts that are as tight and amazing to watch live than these guys were. A big loss.
These guys are a measure of the avant-garde for a lot of people, and I think broke the mold a bit when they broke in 2011 with “Exmilitary”. A lot of their music has been released free on ‘mixtapes’ on the Internet over the years and they’ve developed a nice and dedicated following. Not easy to listen to, but rewarding if you can stick with it. They’ve put a lot out over the years but ‘The Money Store’ still rings as my fave.. great to see them live earlier in the year too..
So there you have it.. thanks for sticking with it. My year in music 2017.