Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

Here it is New Year's Eve and it is time for that annual douchebag move that every music geek loves: the best album of the year list. I feel like a dick, but can't help myself.

10. Gigan- The Order of the False Eye

Take pummeling death metal then spice it up with bizarre song writing and super weird futuristic sci-fi style noise and you have Gigan. This debut is awesome and proves that death metal is not stale. It sounds like Hate Eternal mixed up with a japanese psychedelic space adventure. Yeah.

9. Nachtmystium- Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. 1

This album is truly one of the critical darlings of 2008 and it deserves to be. It is probably the 2008 metal album most likely to pop up in the collection of an adventerous non-metalhead. As for the sound: mostly black metal with a crusty punk vibe at times and a good dose of Pink Floydian prog. One of America's most interesting metal bands.

8. Origin- The Aftermath

Now, this album will never appear in the collection of someone who isn't diehard into metal. These guys are the most amazing technical death metal band I've ever heard. Every song is jampacked with 200,000 notes and 500,000 beats. The ear can barely comprehend the thick viciousness of this. But there are also hooks and songs hidden in there. If I could listen to this audio massacre more than once a day, this would be number 1 on the list. They should be given an award from Juliard or some high fallutin' orchestra because these grimy death metallers are more talented than 98% of professional orchestral musicians.

7. Metallica- Death Magnetic

You don't need an explantion or a link to their Myspace. You know the sound, you know the band. And if like metal, then you liked Metallica at some point, and this record is head and shoulders above anything I expected at this point. Bad-ass.

6. Torche- Meanderthal

I liked their first album a little better than this, but that one got kinda overlooked. Oh well, now it looks like every music critic on earth (metal or non) is lining up to provide them with oral favors. They are pretty awesome. If you like heavy Melvins style thickness, but wrestled into radio friendly almost pop style (think Nirvana or Foo Fighters), then they are for you. They are definitely for me.

5. Gojira- The Way of All Flesh

These french eco-metallers are back with their blend of death and thrash metal with a flavor that is all their own. If you listen to Gojira than you know the sound and no one else has that sound. Like Torche, I liked Gojira's last record (From Mars to Sirius) better, but this one is amazing also. "Vacuity" is a masterpiece of simple pounding metal. One of the world's most important metal bands.

4. Of Montreal- Skeletal Lamping

OK, I know what you are thinking. You think I am just throwing a curveball in here to show you how eclectic I am. Wrong. I hate those reviewers with Top Ten lists that include rock, jazz, hip-hop, and country in one. I do not believe anyone really has tastes so broad that they can love the cream from all the big genres. I really don't; I think people fool themselves into liking things they think they should like.

Anyway, this my girlfriend's favorite band and from the start I hated them. But I kept listening and now I am sold. The sound is that of disco, mixed with the Beatles, mixed with David Bowie, mixed with indie rock, mixed with terrible club dance music. The best word word for it is gay. Not homosexual (well it's a little that too), but gay. But fuck it. I think the dude writes totally cool music that is never predictable and always keeps you guessing. I guess I am gay.

3. Misery Index- Traitors

This is death metal/grindcore/super tough punk. These guys are just amazing. One of the best kept secrets in extreme metal. I am continually amazed at how underappreciated they are. Oh well, for myself and their legion of devotees, they are one of the best in the game. This is the most crushing album on the list. They are just sledgehammering your face and jackhammering your brain. This is brutalness for people who like headaches and bruises.

2. Enslaved- Vertebrae

If you want an indepth review of this record, look down about 5 posts. I don't need to reiterate the greatness of this band. It is time they break out bigger. Like Opeth size. I like Opeth a lot, but think Enslaved are much better. Let's hope the public agrees at some point.

1. Trap Them- Seizures in Barren Praise

Like the last entry, I have an in depth review of this record just a few posts down. This band is really making a strong push to become one of the best young bands on the scene. The future for them is very bright and I fully expect to be listing them again in my best of 2009 list. Can't wait to see them at Maryland Deathfest 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Metal Song of 2008

Seed of Filth- Six Feet Under

If you are a metal fan then you probably already have an opinion on Six Feet Under. Alot of folks love 'em, alot of folks hate 'em. I love 'em. Seed of Filth is the first single (I don't know why they still use this dumb term or even keep up the concept of a single in the world of metal because there is no radio station in the country that is going to play this band) off of their new record Death Rituals. This is the kind of song that makes me personally love the band.

First thing you will notice is that the song's tempo is slow. This does two things. First, it allows you to hear the rythymic picking of the guitar. This is important as a lot of the hook lies here. Second, it creates 5 minutes of the best headbanging we got all year. This song is perfect for headbanging and throwing up the horns. The hook is simple and cruel and beautiful in its simplicity. You will also notice that the guitar solo comes after the first verse and chorus. This is a small thing, but I don't know if I've ever heard another song with this structure. You will also notice that Chris Barnes continues his reign as the gruffest, most ogrish death metal vocalist on the planet. This guy sounds like mutilated bodies look.

As they say, the devil is in the details. And a small detail about this song pushes it over the edge to greatness. During the choruses, Barnes sings a few words that the entire band echo in that punkish off-mike kind of way. These moments beg for audience sing alongs. What are they saying? It's "Maggots, maggots". And after the first verse, when they all shout along? It's "The maggots feed and grow, the maggots feed and grow!" Deal done, song of the year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trap Them- Seizures in Barren Praise

Trap Them is a band from New Hampshire. I saw them at the 2008 Maryland Deathfest where they were a late add due to someone dropping out. They played their 25 minute set at around 2 PM. Not exactly prime rocking time. Anyway, they stood out and I really dug their set. When I saw they had just released a new record, I figured it was about time I bought some of their recorded material.

Boy, am I glad I did. This here is one sharp, kick in the balls of a record. It is short and to the point; as lean as a record of this fierocity gets. Trap Them fall somewhere between gindcore, death metal, and crusty anarchopunk. These three things are not as different as some folks may claim, so let's just say they fall into a territory characterized by huge, buzzing guitars, precise drumming, crushing riffs, and a sense of violence and urgency. If you like hardcore or metal, there is something here for you.

A couple of pointed observations:

1) I listen to a ton of metal and punk. These genres are angry musics. It is in their DNA and is the main pillar of their sound. Every metal and punk band sound angry by default because of their harsh genre, but how many metal and hardcore records have you heard where the anger isn't noticable? A bunch. The emotion doesn't always come through. Not the case here. Trap Them sound seriously angry. You can taste it and it primally makes your fists and jaw clench. Visceral.

2) The vocalist is awesome. Ryan McKenney is his name. His vocal style is more of a hardcore shout or scream than a metal grunt. And you can usually understand what he is saying. His voice is a big part of conveying the disgruntled emotions that pour out of this disc.

"My name is Ryan and I am gonna trap you real good!"

3) If you can listen to the first song and not scream along "The vertigo, the death threats, the funerals, ....they never end" then you and I are different animals, my friend.

4) Trap Them is a great name. It sounds so evil and nefarious. It is much more scary then just picking some graveyard imagery like a million extreme music bands. Like Dark Tombstone or Mausoleum or Inverted Candelabra. Trap who? What are they going to do after trapping them. Creepy.

Buy this. And buy this. And go ahead and buy this. Here is a good spot.

And you can check out some tunes from this page. Click on the album artwork to get tunes.