December 19, 2011

THESE SEANS' BEST OF 2011

Music is an intensely personal form of art - for both those who create and those who take the time to appreciate. Music is often reflective of time periods within life. I feel that this list represents a very significant change in my life within the last year: the disappearance of time. My list last year had records that I enjoyed on a very deep level. I spent a lot of time listening to Coffinworm, Unearthly Trance and Castevet alone in my room. This year most of listening was done digitally, while commuting, or from my laptops speakers. This is not to say that the records on the list are inferior to those on my 2010 list, just that I enjoyed them in different ways and for different reasons.

Luciform
10~

Sutekh Hexen
Luciform
(Wands)

Almost a straight noise record, Luciform is the most thrilling black metal record I've heard in years. The unlikely success of guitars, drums, vocals and noise getting equal attention and balance makes Luciform satisfying on many levels.

Crucial Cut: "In Worship They Weep His Name"

Orphan
9~


Gridlink
Orphan
(Hydra Head)

Gridlink's first record, Amber Grey, was impressive in its very existence. Jon Chang on vocals, Bryan Fajardo on drums and the fact that the band is split between Japan and the United States makes pretty much anything they do cause to stop and pay attention. Orphan, however, makes the big jump from a "wow" factor to just "this is a really fucking good record." Takafumi Matsubara's (guitars, song writing) songs are better, the band is tighter and Jon's vocals range wider - with success. As emphasized by my pick for Crucial Cut, I love Jon's guttural moans.

Crucial Cut: "Deliverables"

Tyranny Of Decay
8~

Defeatist
Tyranny of Decay
(Self Released)


Defeatist's swan song shows the most adventurous side of them yet. While there was certainly growth in the band's material before, Tyranny of Decay manages to take Defeatist's signature twist on grind and throw grooving double bass heavy riffs into the middle of the record - and still have it race past you, leaving the listener again and again, trying to keep up.

Crucial Cut: "Symptoms Of Rejection"

Nothing Passes
7~

The Body & Braveyoung
Nothing Passes
(At A Loss)

The Body have a knack for being experimental, and having it work. Their collaboration with Braveyoung uses a lot of noise, melody and The Body's oddly recognizable, shrill doom sound. Ideas are developed with eyes only for what is right, as songs range from three minutes, to eight minutes, to 15 minutes. Nothing feels rushed or dragged out, under or over developed.

Crucial Cut: "Song 2"

Celestial Lineage
6~

Wolves In The Throne Room
Celestial Lineage
(Southern Lord)

Two Hunters wowed me, Black Cascade bored me. Celestial Lineage was an immensely surprising and enjoyable listen. I didn't have to time to delve into the bands intent for their trilogy. While often the subject of ridicule for pretension, I thoroughly support that idea that musicians treat their music as art, and as such, a means for artistic expression of ideas they possess. But even without taking the time to slip into WITTR's intent and message, I got lost again and again in the rises and falls of this great record.

Crucial Cut: "Astral Blood"


Diotima
5~

Krallice
Diotima
(Profound Lore)

In the past I've not cared for them (Krallice) and had them grow on me (Dimensional Bleedthrough), but Diotima connected with me immediately. Perhaps, as such a staggeringly unique band, their very presence demanded assimilation before I could accept and enjoy them, or maybe it's just Nick McMaster's awesome death metal vocal presence on this record - either way, Diotima struck me, and stayed with me, as an adventure through abstraction.

Crucial Cut: "Diotima"


Beneath The Grow Lights, Thou Shall Rise
4~

Cannabis Corpse
Beneath The Grow Lights, Thou Shall Rise
(Tankcrimes)

As a shtick band, Cannabis Corpse never really aroused my interest. A friend recommended I listen to Beneath… rather enthusiastically and I took his rabid insistence as a foreshadowing that it may just be great. On first listen I was mildly underwhelmed, it was slightly death tech-y, and slightly too clean of a record for my tastes. But I gave it a couple more listens and soon discovered that the songs wouldn't leave my head. Before long I was incredibly into what I initially thought were faults. This record has moments of great technical prowess displayed by the band, but that never over powers the songs they are playing. In fact, it is perfectly appropriate for the death metal they spew. The production - sure, it's cleaner than the Sutekh Hexen record I listed above, but it, again, perfectly highlights the real star of this record - the powerful, well crafted songs…. about pot.

Crucial Cut: "Immortal Pipes"


Towards The Megalith
3~

Disma
Towards The Megalith
(Profound Lore)

Towards The Megalith needs little explanation. A few listens are all that is necessary to find a balance of pure death metal and an unconventional style and knack for composition.

Crucial Cut: "Chaos Apparition"


And on and on…
2~

Despise You
And On and On… (their side of the split only)
(Relapse)

Without a doubt the record I listened to the most this year. While the clean-ish vocals took a second to get used to, they work perfectly with Despise You's most accessible, and best material to date.

Crucial Cut: "You Can't Fix Me, Don't Trip"

And on and on…
1~

Autopsy
Macabre Eternal
(Peaceville)

Admission: In the past, I was never a huge Autopsy fan. Mainly, for the reason that many people revere them: their riffs. The constantly harmonizing riffs of their past were just a bit "too metal," and too up front for my taste. Growing up, I was more into hardcore than Maiden or Priest, and this prevents me from really enjoying some bands that are too riff-oriented. Macabre Eternal pushed Autopsy's material in new directions, and these slight changes made this record an instant fit for my tastes. The longer songs (and longer record) that was immediately jumped on by the "popular" presses, don't affect my opinion one way or another - this record, and these songs stay interesting, which is all that matters. The change I like the most is subtler riffs. The guitars are blunter, filthier and even when harmonizing, less up front. This record feels like a punk record despite the gore, the vocals, the guitar solos. Chris Reifert's vocal delivery is possibly the best of his career, or maybe it just seems that way. That is what is special about this record - it is four people playing together honestly, and you can feel it. There are slow songs, fast songs, long songs and short songs - but all of these songs still sound like a band that is playing for no one but themselves.

Crucial Cut: "Always About To Die"


Unranked:

Batillus - Furnace

Furnace is an incredible record. I did not put it on my list… for a number of reasons. None of which really have anything to do with the record itself. It deserves to be on this list, and that's why I am writing this now. The above list represents what I was really into this year, and Furnace was given to me mid-way through 2010 and I devoured it then. Look at my list from last year. That is where it belongs. Doom was not a big part of my life this year, but that doesn't mean that Batillus, or Furnace, should be neglected.

Tombs - Path Of Totality

This record puzzles me. I love Tombs' Winter Hours, and Path Of Totality is, start to finish, excellent. I just can't settle into it. It is constantly uncomfortable and challenging, and I say both of those things in praise. I've given this record a lot of time, but I said in the start of my list, time isn't what it used to be for me. When I would find myself with an hour-plus commute, this is the record I would reach for - to ensure I could listen to it start to finish. Maybe if could have enjoyed it under different circumstances this year it would have settled differently in my brain. I know that I'll keep coming back to this record, maybe 2012 is the year for me and Totality. The compulsion to continue to pursue Totality compels me to include this record in this post somehow.

Also enjoyed:

Origin - Entity

Triac - ...Always Meant To Hurt You

Column Of Heaven - Ecstatically Embracing all that we Habitually Suppress

Dark Castle - Surrender To All Life Beyond Form

Archgoat - Heavenly Vulva

Earth - Angels Of Darkness, Angels Of Light

Immolation - Providence

Prurient - Bermuda Drain

Psychic Limb - Queens

Servile Sect - Trvth

Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

Wormrot - Dirge

Wormrot - Noise


RECENTLY LISTENED:

Altar of Plagues - Mammal

I just listened to this record yesterday and I already feel like it should be on this list. Sprawling, but muscular.

RECORDS I HAVEN'T LISTENED TO, BUT AM INTERESTED IN:

Ash Borer - Ash Borer

Circle Of Ouroboros - Eleven Fingers

Indian - Guiltless

Mitochondrion - Parasignosis

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