Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Albums 2009

Here are twenty albums I enjoyed from 2009. I heard (and liked) a lot of new releases this year. I think it was a slightly better year for music than 2008, and I have my hopes up for 2010 (flying cars and some new crust punk I hope)!
My top ten are filled in with several artists I already knew and loved coming back for more, along with some excellent new debuts.

I'm certain I'm forgetting some important releases, and also I just like to hear other people's opinions, so you should all comment with your favorites! And if anyone would like to hear an album from my list, leave me a comment and I'll post it.

1. Panopticon - Collapse AND ALSO split w/ Wheels Within Wheels
  • more awesome anarchist black metal; both releases are ace, but I find myself listening to the split more than I thought I would
2. P.O.S. - Never Better
  • angry yet thoughtful underground hip-hop; about as good as Audition, which is to say excellent
3. Punch - Punch
  • hardcore thrash punk from SF; awesome female vocalist
4. Skagos - ást
  • a big hit among fans of atmospheric black metal; this band certainly deserves the underground attention they are getting
5. Cobalt - Gin
  • progressive black metal; with the hype I've seen I imagine this will make a lot of people's lists
6. Star Fucking Hipsters - Never Rest In Peace
  • sort of a pop-ier Leftover Crack/Choking Victim; this probably isn't as good as Until We're Dead, but the concert was pretty great
7. Rx Bandits - Mandala
  • progressive rock with hardcore and soul influences; they don't play ska anymore, but they're a better band for it
8. Martyrdöd - Sekt
  • more blackened crust from one of Sweden's best
9. YOB - The Great Cessation
  • the return of the sludge-doom metal masters; heavy heavy!
10. Nadja - Belles Betes AND ALSO split w/ A Storm of Light
  • two solid and listenable drone and post-metal releases
11. Mouse on the Keys - An Anxious Object
  • Japanese jazz-fusion
12. DödsÄngel - Helgrind
  • a nice Canadian one-woman black metal piece with some crust influences
13. Iskra - Bureval
  • blackened crust from Canada; this time with an emphasis on the black
14. De Silence et d'Ombre - Ascension
  • dense, atmospheric black metal from Germany
15. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - self-titled
  • indie pop shoegaze; This Love is Fucking Right!
16. Witch Hunt - Burning Bridges to Nowhere
  • anarcho-punk; I recommend the earlier albums more though
17. Oranssi Pazuzu - Muukalainen Puhuu
  • weird psychedelic black metal, with an astronaut on the cover!
18. Ilkim Oulanem - Iblisbilim
  • quality traditional black metal from Turkey
19. Intro5pect - Record Profits
  • more electro-dance-anarcho-punk from southern California
20. Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
  • more atmospheric black metal straight out of the North American forests (Fen was in this position, but I decided this album is better)

a handful of honorable-mentions:
Megadeth - Endgame
Sylvester Anfang II - self-titled
Sun of the Blind - Skullreader
Fen - The Malediction Fields
Sonic Boom Six - City of Thieves
Pensees Nocturnes - Vacuum
Celeste - Misanthrope(s)
Drudkh - Microcosmos
Fall of Efrafa - Inlé
Black Moth Superrainbow - Eating Us
Deafest & Cynd split

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Weakling - Dead As Dreams

Artist: Weakling
Album: Dead As Dreams
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2000
Origin: USA

I've been meaning to post this album for a long time, but it's difficult to write about. I'm not sure I even know how I feel about it. It's a brilliant album for sure, but you have to be in the right mood to handle the dark and hypnotic atmosphere, otherwise it can be downright hard to listen to. From Dead As Dreams, Weakling's only release, you can see where some of the more recent US black metal bands, such as Wolves in the Throne Room, got their dense atmosphere. But Wolves in the Throne Room took it in a more... light-hearted, I guess... direction, whereas Weakling is closer in some ways to the misanthropic feel of fellow San Francisco artist Leviathan.

All of the ID tags should be correct, though one of the files is misnamed: it should be "Desasters in the Sun". In general, if it looks like proper English it's probably not the correct track name.

receive album

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - Full Tension Beaters

Artist: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
Album: Full Tension Beaters
Genre: ...
Year: 2000
Origin: Japan

I think the name pretty much sums it up. Really I have no idea what else to say.

receive album

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ilkim Oulanem - Iblisbilim

Artist: Ilkim Oulanem
Album: Iblisbilim
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: Turkey

Ilkim Oulanem is a one-woman black metal band from Ankara, Turkey. This EP is actually one of the better pure black metal albums of the year, above any Scandinavian releases I can remember from 2009. As far as I know, there's not too much of a Turkish black metal scene (I've listened to ...Aaaarrghh..., but wasn't much more impressed with their music than with the band name), but I think this album is a very nice (though traditional) beginning.

receive album

Monday, November 30, 2009

Union Jack - There Will Be No Armageddon

Artist: Union Jack
Album: There Will Be No Armageddon
Genre: Psytrance
Year: 1995
Origin: UK

There are two bands named Union Jack, and I like both of 'em! But this is the English psychedelic trance duo, not the French skacore band. In the best psytrance tradition, the music is made up of lots of interesting sounds, which are particularly great in the song Water Drums, which manages to make me think of instruments made out of liquid. It's calming music, as far as trance beats can be.

receive album

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Iskra - Bureval

Artist: Iskra
Album: Bureval
Genre: RABM
Year: 2009
Origin: Canada

Iskra is a Canadian crust band that has leaned heavily black metal in the past, and is apparently focusing on the black metal aspect of their music even more in this recent release. The band takes its name from a Soviet newspaper, and is often brought up when people discuss the Red and/or Anarchist Black Metal scene. This album is just as furious and thrashy as the self-titled album, but I think I like this new one better, particularly since this drumming and a few of the riffs would fit in with any pvre kvlt Norwegian black metal band.

receive album

Sunday, November 15, 2009

La Plebe - ¡Hasta La Muerte!

Artist: La Plebe
Album: ¡Hasta La Muerte!
Genre: Punk
Year: 2007
Origin: USA

La Plebe is a (primarily) Spanish-language punk band from San Francisco, who I only recently discovered when they opened for Star Fucking Hipsters, and played a very memorable set. They play punk music that is heavily infused with trumpet and trombone, but it is not ska at all, just good old fashioned punk rock with prominent horns. In fact I would compare it more with banda/mariachi style music, though really I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to Mexican music, and I enjoy this way more than the "traditional" Mexican music I've heard on the radio. The name means something like "the proletariat", I think, and the music is certainly political. The song Plebe por Vida is really fun, and I remember it being great at the concert as well.

receive album

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Essoupi - Aktiv Dødshjælp

Artist: Essoupi
Album: Aktiv Dødshjælp
Genre: Dark Ambient
Year: 1999
Origin: Denmark

Essoupi is a brilliant and almost entirely unknown (at the time of this posting, 10 listeners on dark ambient project from Denmark. It's somewhat understandable that the band is unknown after recording only a single-track demo, but it's a damn good (and long) track. As you can probably guess from the silly picture, it comes at ambient music from the metal perspective, breaking into black metal riffs at one point.

receive album

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Janvs - Vega

Artist: Janvs
Album: Vega
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Year: 2008
Origin: Italy

After recent listenings, I've decided that Janvs' 2008 release, Vega, is one of the best albums from last year; I'm not sure why I neglected to include it in my listing. The lyrics seem to be more interesting than the average satanic black metal farce (from what I've read, I don't speak Italian), and they manage to incorporate progressive melodies and occasional clean vocals while still sounding like a (sophisticated) black metal band.

receive album

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Punch - Punch

Artist: Punch
Album: Punch
Genre: Hardcore / Thrash Punk
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

Punch is a powerviolence/thrashcore/very-fast-punk band from my local metropolis, San Francisco. The female vocalist is extremely fierce, which accompanies the band's blistering speed and heaviness perfectly. The lyrics are of course quite important to the band, with vegan and feminist ideologies featured prominently in those that I read. I only came across this, along with the band's only previous release, the Eyeless EP, very recently, but I think this is definitely a promising young group.

receive album

Hyatari - They Will Surface

Artist: Hyatari
Album: They Will Surface
Genre: Drone / Doom / Sludge
Year: 2008
Origin: USA

Hyatari is a drone / doom metal band from West Virginia. The drone reputation comes mostly from the first album I think, since this one, their second, is sludgy doom and slow, melancholic rock that is far too melodic to be considered drone. The music is totally instrumental, but still emotional.

receive album

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anti-Flag / Bouncing Souls split

Artist: Anti-Flag / Bouncing Souls
Album: split
Genre: Punk
Year: 2002
Origin: USA

It's Blog Action Day! I'm supposed to talk about climate change. So, ride your bike or walk somewhere today. And don't eat any meat today - the meat industry is one of largest human-created sources of carbon emissions. This shit matters! A small rise in sea-level from melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will be devastating to the people in a poor, sea-level area like Bangladesh. Lives are at stake.

And here's a very nice ep from one of the greatest, most unashamedly political punk bands I know. And the Bouncing Souls side is ok. I will forgive Anti-Flag just about anything they do musically nowadays because this older material is so damn great. This release marked almost ten years of awesome, unmistakably unique punk albums from the band.

I should also mention that each band does a cover of the other on this split: The Bouncing Souls play Anti-Flag's "That's Youth" and Anti-Flag does The Bouncing Souls' "Freaks, Nerds, and Romantics". "Ever Fallen In Love" is also a cover of the original by the Buzzcocks and "We're Coming Back" was originally by Cock Sparrer (lots o' cocks here I guess).

receive album

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yellow Machinegun - Bean Ball

Artist: Yellow Machinegun
Album: Bean Ball
Genre: Crossover Thrash
Year: 2001
Origin: Japan

Yellow Machinegun is three overly cute Japanese women who play a surprising hardcore / thrash mix that will please fans of Municipal Waste and the like. I really like bands with an image that doesn't fit their scene. Sorry, no time for more of a review!

receive album

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill

Artist: Grouper
Album: Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
Genre: Shoegaze / Ambient
Year: 2008
Origin: USA

Grouper is a one-woman band from Portland, Oregon making fuzzy, wavering, super mellow, and eventually catchy music. Dragging A Dead Deer... is continuing my recent trend of posting music listenable only through headphones - don't try to play this one through your laptop speakers. It's not exactly "song"-oriented music, but the track Disengaged is especially beautiful. It looks like she's gone huge recently (at least on, which is a little surprising but certainly deserved.

I noticed that this has the same tag-things as the Nadja post, and I suppose the same kind of people would enjoy both, but they aren't quite the same. This one is much more acoustic and pop-y. I only use those tag-things to draw people who might be interested in a particular post anyway.

receive album

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nadja - Belles Bêtes

Artist: Nadja
Album: Belles Bêtes
Genre: Drone
Year: 2009
Origin: Canada

This is the latest (and my introductory) album by the Canadian drone duo known as Nadja. Sometimes drone can be like the noises your refrigerator makes when it gets old, and I admit that I've never been a big Sunn O))) fan. But this comes at the genre from a more relaxing, shoegazey angle.

receive album

Monday, September 7, 2009

Trimonium / Plagued split

Artists: Trimonium & Plagued
Album: split ep
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: Germany & Ireland

I originally searched out this album because it's the only release by Plagued, the one-man black metal project of Nemtheanga, the vocalist for the amazing Primordial and Void of Silence. I had never heard of Trimonium, despite having three full-length albums under their belts. Here each band provides one excellent 8-minute track of memorable pagan-style black metal. Of course Nemtheanga's voice is a haunting and wonderful highlight, though mostly in the traditional black metal growl. I could definitely wish for another Plagued album, and I think I will look into Trimonium's other works as well.

receive album

Sylvester Anfang II - Sylvester Anfang II

Artist: Sylvester Anfang II
Album: Sylvester Anfang II
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Year: 2009
Origin: Belgium

This band is a bit of a mystery to me. Apparently this is a new offshoot of the original Sylvester Anfang, who I am unfamiliar with. They claim to play "Funeral Folk" music, but really it is more along the lines of ambient, psychedelic krautrock. For the most part it is not as creepy as the album art would lead one to believe, sort of like a more-accessible, less-droning Aluk Todolo. Thanks to the nice woman on for the recommendation!

receive album (NOTE: the original file was missing track 1; this is fixed now!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

De Silence et d'Ombre

Artist: De Silence et d'Ombre
Album: Ascension
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: France

This French one-man black metal act deserves more attention than it receives. He combines some of the ambient atmosphere from Darkspace with some of the tortured harshness of Smorzando and throws in a few more melodic moments to craft a very nice album. I think this release is actually a combination of the band's two demos, which gives the second half a different feel from the first, but both are excellent. Sorry for the large file-size; I promise it's worth it!

receive album

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Morne - Untold Wait

Artist: Morne
Album: Untold Wait
Genre: Sludge / Crust
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

Morne is another crust band that plays atmospheric, sludgy music that is very reminiscent of Fall of Efrafa. The band-members hail from a notable crust-punk background, from bands such as Disrupt and Filth of Mankind, but they obviously have been influenced by post-metal just as much. This is a style that I think is really starting to take off, and I can't say I'm sorry.

receive album

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fuckmorgue - Down Forever

Artist: Fuckmorgue
Album: Down Forever
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2004
Origin: Canada

I almost didn't take this when I first saw it because of the band name and album art. But then someone mentioned crust influences, and it seems that at least one out of four interesting new black metal bands comes from Canada, so I gave it a shot. I was surprised in a very good way! It's grimy and harsh, but experimentally so. The vocals will probably turn some black metal fans off: she screams in a crusty but tortured voice - think somewhere between Detestation and Thorr's Hammer. The album and songs are rather short, and I like all of 'em, even Where He Goes which only has one repeated line to the lyrics.

receive album

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dessa - False Hopes EP

Artist: Dessa
Album: False Hopes EP
Genre: Hip-Hop
Year: 2005
Origin: USA

This post was partly prompted by my noticing that P.O.S. - Audition is by far the most downloaded thing I've posted here. Dessa is the sole female rapper in P.O.S.'s Doomtree collective, and who doesn't like a good femcee? She's into poetics (she seems to think of herself as a writer more than a musician), and her lyrics are similarly personal in nature to the P.O.S. album. I think there are somewhere around 12 cds titled False Hopes by the various members of Doomtree; the only other I've heard is the group release, which is quite good.

receive album

Mouse on the Keys - An Anxious Object

Artist: Mouse on the Keys
Album: An Anxious Object
Genre: Nu-jazz
Year: 2009
Origin: Japan

This Japanese jazz trio is fresh and exciting, though much more 'produced'-sounding than traditional jazz albums. In this case that adds as much in carefully crafted intricacies as it takes away in atmosphere. I'm pretty sure this'll make my top of '09 list. For fans of The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, Jaga Jazzist, etc.

recieve album

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Encircling Sea - demo

Artist: Encircling Sea
Album: demo
Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: Australia

This demo album consists of a single 48 minute track. It's a good 12 minutes into the song before the heaviness hits, which makes it rush through one's headphones all the more furiously. The song includes long ambient passages, and finishes up with a descent into black metal riffing. I haven't been able to listen to the whole thing in one sitting yet (maybe it should've been 2 tracks?), but it's great atmospheric, cerebral music.

Thanks to Encircling Sea for sending me this album! I like to promote underground artists on this blog, particularly those that want to be part of the music-sharing community. Of course I still only post music that I really like!

receive album

Friday, July 24, 2009

Umbra Nihil - The Borderland Rituals

Artist: Umbra Nihil
Album: The Borderland Rituals
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Year: 2008
Origin: Finland

Umbra Nihil did an awesome split way back with Aarni, one of the most interesting bands in metal, and I believe Master Warjomaa is also a member of Umbra Nihil. This is more doom-centric than I've come to expect from his influence, but still very much on the experimental end of metal. This is an album that would've made my top twenty of last year, except I didn't hear it until a few months ago.

In other similar sounding news, I had the chance to play Borderlands recently, and it's a fun multiplayer game! You should play it when it comes out. If you're into that kind of thing.

receive album

Fall of Efrafa - Owsla

Artist: Fall of Efrafa
Album: Owsla
Genre: Neocrust
Year: 2006
Origin: UK

Fall of Efrafa are a sludge/crust/post-metal band from Brighton. Apparently they are a concept-band about the mythology in the novel “Watership Down” By Richard Adams (which I haven't read). Anyway, the songs on this, their debut album, are epic and crushing in all the right ways, starting out with a simple and dark cello intro and building their marching army of sound as they head to the crash against rocks that is the self-titled final track. I also have the second album, and I guess the third is out now so I would love to hear it; I wonder, will they disband after the trilogy, or just let the 'concept-band' idea fade away.

receive album

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kakistocracy - Cast Aside Your Chains and Dance

Artist: Kakistocracy
Album: Cast Aside Your Chains and Dance
Genre: Crust Punk
Year: 2004
Origin: USA

kakistocracy n. - "Government by the least qualified." As you would expect with a name like that, the band plays anarchist punk with crust heaviness and dual-vocal technique. They come from the South of the US, which seems to give them the motivation to kick even more ass than their Northern counterparts.

receive album

Sunday, June 14, 2009

C.U.T.E. - Systembreakdown

Artist: Collapse Under the Empire
Album: Systembreakdown
Genre: Post-Rock
Year: 2009
Origin: Germany

Have some happy electro post-rock. C.U.T.E. were gracious enough to email me with their latest album, showing a cooperation with the music listening/sharing community that I truly appreciate. I've only given the album one listen so far, but it's some quality post-rock music, and I have the feeling I'll be listening to this one rather often. Although the album is entirely instrumental, based on the band name and album title I'd say the band leans anarchist, or at least anti-authoritarian.

receive album

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Comus - First Utterance

Artist: Comus
Album: First Utterance
Genre: Psych Folk
Year: 1971
Origin: UK

Comus took folk rock in an almost frightening psychedelic direction in the 1970s. The band used a wide variety of instruments, and sometimes tried to incorporate animal sounds into the music. I really like the drumming and the violin parts, and the male and female vocalists fit the music quite well, though I am sometimes glad I don't understand all the lyrics. Akerfeldt of Opeth is apparently a fan, having named My Arms, Your Hearse after a line from the song Drip Drip. I find the album cover both disturbing and reminiscent of the artwork for The Court of the Crimson King, this album (First Utterance) being much more frantic and dark.

receive album

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Broadways - Broken Star

Artist: The Broadways
Album: Broken Star
Genre: Punk Rock
Year: 1998
Origin: USA

I think this is what happens when sociology students form a band at university (...though I'm just guessing about the Broadways). The album features musically upbeat punk rock with serious intellectual (but still all punk-angry!) lyrics. I first looked into this band when I saw they had a song about Jonathan Kozol (read Amazing Grace, it's a very powerful account of the terrible inequalities in US schools and communities). It's an enjoyable album sort of along the lines of Propagandhi and Good Riddance.

receive album

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Secrets of the Moon - Antithesis

Artist: Secrets of the Moon
Album: Antithesis
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2006
Origin: Germany

On this album, Secrets of the Moon play rather dense, progressive-ish black metal. It's thrashy and seems somehow more connected with the scandinavian music than the likes of fellow germans Lunar Aurora. I have an earlier album from this band as well, Stronghold of the Inviolables, which seems to have higher reviews on metal-archives, but I enjoy this particular release far more.

receive album

some non-metal on the way for those with finer tastes!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Deafest & Cynd split

Artist: Deafest & Cynd
Album: split
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

I really don't know anything about these two bands, except that they play nature-lovin' black metal with a depressive tone. Coniferous by Deafest is the stand-out track in my opinion. This album is nothing groundbreaking, but it's some quality underground music.

Sorry the description isn't better, I'm sick. :C

receive album

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us

Artist: Black Moth Super Rainbow
Album: Eating Us
Genre: Psychedelic
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

This is the newest release from Black Moth Super Rainbow, a modern psychedelic rock band. The music is laden with enough obviously-synthetic fuzziness to earn the electro tag from me, but to quote the page, "all are lovingly played by real people with real hands." The melodies can take on a strange melancholy, but it's the sadness of losing one's way in a confused and stoned haze rather than a feeling of anything really depressing. It's really chill, somehow indie-based music, and I recommend it to any post-rock fans.

receive album

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wes Montgomery - Full House

Artist: Wes Montgomery
Album: Full House
Genre: Jazz
Year: 1962
Origin: USA

Wes Montgomery might just be the greatest guitarist jazz music has ever seen. His trademark thumb-plucking technique and wonderful solos make this one of my favorite jazz recordings. Normally I wouldn't appreciate the inclusion of several takes of the same song, but with Wes each track is a unique delight.

receive album

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The 241ers - Murderers

Artist: The 241ers
Album: Murderers
Genre: Folk Punk
Year: 2008
Origin: USA

The mysteriously named 241ers (some New York thing I guess?) were formed from members of the Stockyard Stoics among other underground punk groups, which is probably what first got my interest. They play acoustic folk-punk though, with the angry-drunk vocal stylings and anarchist lyrics that make the genre work for me.

receive album

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wrath of the Weak - Wrath of the Weak & Persse

Artist: Wrath of the Weak
Album: Wrath of the Weak
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2006
Origin: USA

Minimalist, fuzzy, dense, intriguing black metal. For fans of Paysage d'Hiver, Darkspace, Lurker of Chalice, Weakling, Wolves in the Throne Room.

receive album

EDIT: by request, here's Wrath of the Weak's new ep!

Artist: Wrath of the Weak
Album: Persse
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

I finally listened to this new EP, and I am enjoying it a lot. It seems to focus a lot more on the repetitive, ambient drone aspects, similar in some ways to Menace Ruine, though without the vocals and more of a black metal foundation.

receive album

Gorguts - Obscura

Artist: Gorguts
Album: Obscura
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Year: 1998
Origin: Canada

This album is filled with technical weirdness and wankery to the max. It's one of the more unique death metal releases I've come across, and though it seems like it is somewhat influential, I don't think anybody has done something quite like this since. The note progressions are unintuitive and jarring, but I can't help thinking there is a complex mathematical order to the music. I really think everyone should at least have the experience of listening to the song The Faceless Ones - it just might be my favorite death metal song ever written. 9 metal-archives reviewers gave this album an average of 93%.

receive album

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mephiskapheles - God Bless Satan

Artist: Mephiskapheles
Album: God Bless Satan
Genre: Ska (-punk)
Year: 1994
Origin: USA

Satanic ska! God Bless Satan has become one of my favorite ska (-punk) albums over the last couple years. The song-writing is excellent and very horn-focused, and the lyrics are humorous and sung with a unique voice. Many of the songs give me the urge to get up and dance to the swingin', blazin'-fast rhythms. All the tracks are catchy and fun, but Doomsday stands out as my favorite ("wu-wu-wu-wu-what's this button for?").

receive album

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thy Light - Suici.De.Pression

Artist: Thy Light
Album: Suici.De.Pression
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: Brazil

The first and only release thus far from the one-man Brazilian black metal band, Suici.De.Pression's title should give anyone familiar with suicidal/depressive black metal an idea of what to expect. This is traversing the same musical ground as Coldworld and Nae'blis (whose music I've posted here already), with chilling atmosphere created through the combination of acoustic passages with black metal riffs. These riffs aren't quite the traditional Burzum-esque black metal fare though, as they take on an almost technical edge at times. I hope Thy Light is working on a slightly more polished album as we speak.

receive album

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Pinstripes - The Decay

Artist: The Pinstripes
Album: The Decay
Genre: Ska
Year: 2007
Origin: USA

The Pinstripes play 2nd-wave "two tone" ska (with some 3rd-wave I guess... I dunno, it's one o' those waves) how you might expect, but with more punk energy and sometimes politically conscious lyrics. It's a really groovin' album, definitely one of the best ska releases I've heard in recent years. The sax, trumpet and trombone are all excellent and prominently displayed. If you like older ska like the Specials or horn-centric music in general, I think you'll like this a lot. To quote the band's myspace, "sounds like: GOOD".

band site

receive album

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dreams of the Drowned - Thanatotropic Principle

Artist: Dreams of the Drowned
Album: Thanatotropic Principle
Genre: Experimental Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: France

The band noticed my earlier post with the demo and kindly pointed me toward the new release, which they uploaded yesterday. As they put it, it's "not a full length yet but a true release indeed!" Anyway, I'm happy to share and promote music of this quality, and I hope the band receives more recognition with this release.

This album continues the trend found in the demo, including a cover of Coiled In Wings by avant-garde legends Ved Buens Ende. The music is sludgy post-rock, hectic hardcore and blackened rock all bundled nicely in an avant-garde package. I wouldn't call it shoegaze, but those of you on that bandwagon will find something to like as well. Overall it's another unique and rockin' release from Dreams of the Drowned.

band page

receive album

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fullmoon Bongzai - Noisense

Artist: Fullmoon Bongzai
Album: Noisense
Genre: psychedelic electronic black metal
Year: 2008
Origin: Greece

Look at those goats. And that logo. "A voodoo beach party celebrating the unholy." You know you have to have this album. Fullmoon Bongzai is a one-man band from Greece, who takes after Aarni by claiming several fictitious band members. The song-titles make it seem like a parody-act, but musically it's quite unique and interesting. The album delivers a harsh psychedelic experience with ambient black metal (that might be closer to noise actually) and well-integrated electronic sounds. All vocals on the album are sampled, which gives a little bit of a disjointed feel between tracks, but there is a cohesive atmosphere throughout the album. In summary, if you like weird stuff check this out.

receive album

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Conflict - There's No Power Without Control

Artist: Conflict
Album: There's No Power Without Control
Genre: Anarcho-punk
Year: 2003
Origin: UK

This is the comeback album from British anarcho-punks Conflict after 10 years of hiatus - which might have something to do with apparently being banned from performing in the UK after inciting a riot. This album is heavier and features better production than their old work, and it's catchy enough that I find myself singing it out of the blue every once in a while. The dual male-female vocals complement each other very well when present, and Conflict's favorite lyrical themes of anarchism, police abuse and animal rights make a strong appearance. There's also a pretty sweet ska beat on The Hidden Hand. Also, I've gotta say that is one of the coolest album covers I have ever seen.

receive album

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Odious - Mirror of Vibrations

Artist: Odious
Album: Mirror of Vibrations
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: Egypt

Odious is an Egyptian black metal band taking a large influence from middle eastern music to accompany the usual european melodies. I definitely recommend this for fans of Melechesh or middle-eastern folk music. I think this is an influence that has been underutilized in metal, so I was really excited to hear Odious doing something novel with it.

receive album

Friday, March 20, 2009

Munruthel - Aquarius' Epoch

Artist: Munruthel
Album: Aquarius' Epoch
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Year: 2006
Origin: Russia

Munruthel is yet another Russian pagan black metal band, but this one is definitely above the curve. I call it black metal, which is definitely there, but you'll also hear a lot of folk and even power metal melodies (weird, I know!). It's good times, but I should mention that I cringed when I first listened to the album: why so hooked on the battle samples?! argh!

receive album

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A.P.P.L.E. - Plutocracy = Tyranny & Exploitation

Artist: A.P.P.L.E.
Album: Plutocracy = Tyranny & Exploitation
Genre: Punk
Year: 1988
Origin: USA

A.P.P.L.E. helped define Peace Punk by merging elements of British anarcho-punk, a la Crass, and 1960s San Francisco rock, Jefferson Airplane-style. The result is quite different from both influences, I think, but very enjoyable. The lyrics have that punk kick (and gratuitous profanity), with the 1960s influence giving them more of a peace-and-love message than most anarcho-punks. This album incorporates a few (very good) songs from an earlier ep, A Sensitive Fascist is Very Rare.

receive album

Monday, March 9, 2009

P.O.S. - Audition

Artist: P.O.S.
Album: Audition
Genre: Hip-Hop
Year: 2006
Origin: USA

P.O.S. is a rapper from Minneapolis. He started out his music in a punk band, and the influence can still be heard, but now he makes intelligent but angry underground hip-hop. The main thing that stands out is that his beats are sometimes crafted from chugging metal guitars (and is that double-bass I hear?). He's also a part of the Minneapolis-based Doomtree collective, which I also recommend to hip-hop fans. This was requested, but I have definitely been listening to (and posting) a lot of hip-hop recently; five years ago I never would have guessed!

receive album

Friday, March 6, 2009

Panopticon, Wheels Within Wheels split

Artists: Panoption, Wheels Within Wheels
Album: It's Later Than You Think
Genre: RABM (Red & Anarchist Black Metal)
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

I've gotta say, I'm excited about this one. Panopticon starts things off with an excellent acoustic track featuring banjo and mandolin. I think it's great to hear a metal band drawing on American folk-music traditions, though this isn't a metal song by any means. The black metal kicks off from there with fuzzy atmosphere and compelling riffs on a song in memory of anarchists murdered by the state for fighting for workers' rights. Wheels Within Wheels is a new band on Lundr Records, the label run by A from Panopticon. The packaging calls it "crushing blackened doom", but I think it's more like blackened drone/post-rock. Either way, it makes for an excellent second half to the split, and I also look forward to more from this band.

1. Panopticon - ...speaking...(collapsed version)
2. Panopticon - the ghosts of haymarket square
3. Wheels Within Wheels - begining
4. Wheels Within Wheels - white light rains down on...

receive album

buy the cd - mine is hand-numbered copy #11/100, and it comes with a cloth patch (this makes the punk inside me very happy)

Monday, March 2, 2009

K'naan - The Dusty Foot Philospher

Artist: K'naan
Album: The Dusty Foot Philosopher
Genre: Hip-Hop
Year: 2008
Origin: Canada

K'naan is an African-Canadian rapper, originally from Somalia. His vocal style is unique (in my limited hip-hop experience anyway), giving me the feeling that he is just having a conversation. This leads me to think he doesn't take himself as seriously as most rappers, though his rhymes are excellent and his beats fresh (and he does give the occasional trash-talk). A lot of his music relates to Africa and being a refugee, with an insightful global perspective. Musically he also has a lot of rock/pop leanings on this album, particularly with the amazingly catchy If Rap Gets Jealous.

receive album