Friday, December 13, 2013

The End Time: Best Albums of 2013

Here's what really caught my ear this year. No honorable mentions, no bullshit. I've exhausted these albums and will continue to do so. I've picked 11 because someone once told me that's metal and I want to be as metal as possible.

11. Raspberry Bulbs - Deformed Worship

Twangy, gross, and a bit out there, this offshoot of Bone Awl carry their knack for brilliant packaging/aesthetic but hack in a more varied way and with the smallest bit of black metal possible. The brutish oi! charm of this lp is unmistakable and it's easily one of the most unique things this year without getting proggy, full of itself or unwelcoming. Reverb-y and jagged, Deformed Worship was a pleasant surprise as the band's previous work never really did it for me.

10. Cloud rat - Moksha

Moksha's a staggering release because grindcore is one of the most narrow sounding genres around (for better or worse). The plethora of influences, musically and ideologically, that culminate in this band's unique sound makes it an easy pick for this list. Huge moments of cathartic melody, some of the most personal and excellent vocals/lyrics I've recently read, and of course, the headbangability of it all make Moksha an ambitious and moving release.

P//S Review

9. Ruined Families - Blank Language

Infectious, emotionally charged, and momentous sum up this Greek act's latest quite well. Their brand of post-hardcore/emo/whatever you want to call it is as memorable and catchy as it is angry and fierce. Short and to the point, Blank Language is one of those albums that makes sitting still and keeping quiet whilst listening a chore.

P//S Review

8. Fell Voices - Regnum Saturni

Easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2013, Regnum Saturni was a huge curve ball as Fell Voices unleash a harsher and much more denser side than any of their previous works. You can read my crackpot review here and try to decipher all the stuff I get into, but at it's heart this LP is such an enthralling and large piece of work that listening to one track here or one track there won't do it justice. It also just happens to be on the prettiest looking pieces of vinyl ever executed.

P//S Review

7. Ruin Lust - Ruin Lust

Another highly anticipated release (and another with drummer/vocalist Mike of Fell Voices) Ruin Lust is an immense slab of death metal that's one part Archgoat aggression, one part Incantation muck, and a whole lot of heavy playing and gruff execution. Groovy bouts, primal thumps and a myriad of craggy riffs along with the perfect production job make this one of the heaviest and aggressive things I've heard in awhile.

Cvlt Nation Review

6. Horna - Askel Lahempana Saatanaa

Horna's 8th studio full length shows the band in fine form as new singer Spellgoth (of Prevalent Resistance) fits well with the band's more aggressive style for this release. While I'm a huge fan of the now departed Covus and his range, Spellgoth's gruff delivery and cultist like charisma highlight the brash drumming and ravenous approach of the guitars. Even the bass has its day with that great riff in "Yhdeksas Portti." Askel Lahempana Saatanaa won't surprise Horna followers, but it offers enough new things in terms of it's warm but raw production, the aforementioned vocals, and the band's direction towards more aggressive and less melodic songs. A raw and frenzied release not without memorable melodies and a truly demonic vocal performance make this one of Horna's best full lengths.

5. Tim Hecker - Virgins

When I made my way through the first 4 or 5 songs of this LP I thought to myself "Hecker's sounding a lot like Ben Frost these days." Well, lo and behold, as part of the group that contributed to this LP, Ben Frost's name appears. Similarities and people not named Tim Hecker aside, this album is one of Hecker's most inviting, cathartic, and powerful albums. The tones are much warmer and organic, yet there's still that firm grasp of static, glitch and pulse that's made Hecker such a powerful composer. Virgins successfully builds on Hecker's typical arsenal by adding greater warmth, more tangible tones, and stronger melodies.

4. Grave Miasma - Odori Sepulcrorum

This English quartet was flying under my radar for quite sometime and I'm not sure how. Odori Sepulcrorum is a putrid brew of atmospheric death metal with occult leanings and black metal flourishes. This album is IMMENSE and one of those great listens where each song bleeds into another. Describable riffs, melodies and progressions- hell even solos- are key ingredients in setting this band apart from so many other relevant death metal bands. And, if we gotta talk about packaging, this double LP, with its D side etched and encased in a tri-fold jacket is one of the most obsessive and beautiful pieces of wax I own.

3. Cultes Des Ghoules - Henbane

Another one that I stumbled upon blindly, Henbane, was a release that completely underwhelmed me my Henbane strikes you as strange because so much sounds familiar yet bizarrely different. The guitar tones have a bit more meat to them than you'd expect, the vocals will dip here and there into awkward tones akin to Attila's croon and awesome metal riffs will bleed into angular and atonal sounds that take you by complete surprise. Again, it's just one of those albums that words have a tough explaining. first time around. Yet, after a few listens I found myself so excited to revisit, respin, and find new things within this black, uncomfortable mass of occult black metal. Without any gimmick or use of anything too unusual.

2. The Ruins of Beverast - Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer

I've never been a fan of this German one man black metal act, but this album's got me floored. The arrangements and the whole thing is obsessive. A lot's to be made about the combination of black, doom, and death metal, as Alexander von Meilenwald meticulously melds various tropes, tones, aspects and sounds into a seamless mass, but what really steals the show is how natural it all progresses. Meilenwald's true skill lays in his subtle manipulations, whether it be a riff and it's melodic progression, a drum pattern, or how he staggers a sample or vocal track. At times catchy, at times frightening, at times emotional and gripping, and even just bizarre, Blood Vaults is such an inspired effort that's devoid of proverbial fat yet is still juicy and dense.

1. Vemod - Venter på stormene

Yes, yes, I know it's official date was in December of 2012, but it wasn't physically released/available until 2013. So sue me, but this is it; my favorite album of the year. Venter på stormene is a winding narrative of atmosphere and pulsing black metal, the kind best under a dark Autumn sky. It's a vast and deep album that is repeative, but never boring. Each track builds upon itself and becomes more and more alluring. To quote myself, "Venter på stormene is a sparse, yet rich, album that transcends normal listening. If spun at the right mood, I find myself losing track of time and becoming completely engrossed in it's winding structure." Mood aside, the production is dense, but not messy or indecipherable. The drums are a steady pulse beneath the anthematic guitars and well laid keys. This is the kind of record that you have to spend quality time listening to, no quick spins on the train.

P//S Review

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