Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Albums 2010

This year I'm cutting my list down to 10 instead of 20. It felt more appropriate, though I'm not sure if that's because I haven't been putting as much effort into finding new music recently, or if there just really weren't as many awesome releases this year, or maybe I'm just feeling picky and leaving off a bunch of albums that I still like a lot and/or forgot about. Both Megadeth and Iron Maiden made new cds this year! Neither made my list - they weren't terrible or anything, just not top-10 material in my opinion.

(I'll try to use this as an excuse to actually post some new music soon too!)

Sigh - Scenes From Hell
  • This album takes everything that I liked about their previous full-length and gets rid of all the garbage, leaving a truly excellent avant-garde black metal album with a very strong brass section that I like even more than Imaginary Sonicscapes.
Menace Ruine - Union of Irreconcilables
  • The shockingly good Canadian duo return with an album that blends the psychedelic drone of The Die Is Cast with the black noise of Cult of Ruins, bringing the amazing vocals a little forward in the mix (which might be good or bad, I still go back and forth :) ).
Ludicra - The Tenant
  • San Francisco black metal with a bit of a post-rock feel. Shame on me for not listening to this band years ago.
Dessa - A Badly Broken Code
  • This actually includes a few songs I don't like, so it's a little surprising I'd find it solid enough to go this high on my list. But the songs that hit me hit hard, and the awesome Doomtree group concert probably influenced me as well. Dessa is America's best female rapper by far.
Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II
  • I like this follow-up quite a bit more than Assassins. And I still think the title is a clever pun several layers deep, though I really wish the Pink Floyd reference wasn't the only thing anyone ever says about the band anymore. There are other psychedelic/progressive rock bands to compare to guys!
Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
  • Kylesa seems to be the most popular crust-rooted sludge metal band, and with this release I think I'd agree they deserve it.
Paper Tiger - Made Like Us
  • Doomtree producer Paper Tiger's first solo album; it's about what I'd expect, which is to say really great electronic music except for one or two only-OK vocal-centered pop songs.
Electric Wizard - Black Masses
  • Stoner doom metal heroes Electric Wizard still rock. So heavy, so fun.
Lazerbeak - Legend Recognize Legend
  • Doomtree's other producer also made an album this year, it is actually not at all what you might expect (unless you saw the Doomtree tour, which once again was amazing). He sings, he plays simple guitar riffs, it's all rather catchy.
Preface to the Dead Sea - Preface to the Dead Sea
  • Another crust-based, sludgy, post-metaly band; this one you probably haven't heard of if you aren't from Russia. But it's high quality, and wins the best new band name award!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Madness - One Step Beyond...

Artist: Madness
Album: One Step Beyond...
Genre: Ska
Origin: UK
Year: 1979

OOONE STEP BEYOOOOOOND! Happy halloween you guys!

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Municipal Waste - Hazardous Mutation

Artist: Municipal Waste
Album: Hazardous Mutation
Genre: Crossover Thrash
Origin: USA
Year: 2005

All I really have to say is if you like old-school thrash metal or hardcore punk, you'll probably really like this album (it's way better than their more recent albums, in my opinion). I just got back from their concert at Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze, where they played with Vitamin X and Toxic Holocaust. It was a lot of fun!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Propagandhi - How To Clean Everything

Artist: Propagandhi
Album: How To Clean Everything
Genre: Punk
Origin: Canada
Year: 1993

Propagandhi have become a classic of Canadian punk rock, pushing the skate-punk sound into more political territory. This early album is maybe a little less polished, but the production is solid and the lyrics have an odd juxtaposition of heavy-handed, self-righteous anarchism and not-taking-themselves-too-seriously silliness. The irony is laid on pretty thick with the oft-covered Ska Sucks (a ska song), Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass (a reggae song) and the painful I Want U 2 Want Me cover (the liner notes for this song say "we thought it was funny at the time" or something like that; don't worry, the rest of the songs on the album are great).

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Witch Hunt & To What End? - split

Artists: Witch Hunt & To What End?
Album: Split EP
Genre: Crust Punk
Origin: USA & Sweden respectively
Year: 2008

Witch Hunt and To What End? are both female-fronted, aggressive punk bands that came together across the Atlantic for this brilliant split. Witch Hunt is influenced a bit more by '80s British anarcho-punk, while To What End? is straight-up Swedish d-beat. I also highly recommend This Is Only The Beginning..., a compilation of Witch Hunt's early recordings.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Empire Shall Fall - Awaken

Artist: The Empire Shall Fall
Album: Awaken
Genre: Metalcore
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

This is a band with a frontman who's more famous for a band I couldn't care less about, Killswitch Engage. That certainly wasn't the reason I first listened to Awaken! I heard the track These Colors Bleed on a local college radio station's metal show that commonly plays this type of metalcore-type music, and I liked it a lot more than I usually do. I have to say that the breakdowns throughout the album don't do much for me, but most of the riffs are quite solid, both the clean and harsh vocals are really good, and the openly political lyrics are neat.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hi everyone! I didn't want to be the kind of blogger who does this, but I just moved and started a new job, and so The Chief Commie is going on a bit of a hiatus. I'll start back up with my irregular postings whenever I'm feeling less busy and using my computer at home more; hopefully it'll be soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doomtree - False Hopes

Artist: Doomtree
Album: False Hopes
Genre: Hip-Hop
Year: 2007
Origin: USA

Doomtree is the hip-hop collective of P.O.S., Dessa and a bunch of other cool cats. They seriously are the best hip-hop artists in the world, to the point where I almost feel like they ruined other rappers for me. They have released a self-titled album now that is also very good (you should buy it if you like this stuff!), which they say is the music that really represents them. But I think this album might be their best collaborative work, despite being called False Hopes which is what they name a lot of releases that they think of as secondary.

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doomtree site

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Astrix - Artcore

Artist: Astrix
Album: Artcore
Genre: Psytrance
Year: 2004
Origin: Israel

This is the most well-thought-of release from Israeli psychedelic trance musician Astrix. It isn't innovative or anything, just good, solid, fast psytrance. Track 2 is a remix or collaboration or something involving Infected Mushroom, though I feel like the music picks up much more toward the second half of the record.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Evangeli - ...In Sin

Artist: Evangeli
Album: ...In Sin
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Year: 2006
Origin: Sweden

I've been posting a lot of black metal in a row, and I usually try not to do that... OH WELL. Evangeli is a band formerly known as Magog, which changed its name because of another more popular band by the same name, and I've been looking for this album since first hearing some Magog tracks years ago. This is the audio portion of a live CD/DVD that is pretty much the only thing Evangeli released before promptly breaking up, and it includes one of the old Magog tracks as well. Long explanation aside, this is what viking metal is to me. It doesn't have any of the battle horns or whatever (it is a live recording after all), but the song melodies really capture an atmosphere of glorified pagan violence.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Menace Ruine - Union of Irreconcilables

Artist: Menace Ruine
Album: Union of Irreconcilables
Genre: Black Noise
Year: 2010
Origin: Canada

It's the brand new album from Menace Ruine! If you're familiar with the duo's previous recordings, this seems like a middle ground between the noisy black metal on Cult Of Ruins and the psychedelic drone on In Vulva Infernum and The Die Is Cast. Geneviève's vocals are much more up-front in the production this time around, and I'm not yet sure if it's a good or bad thing. Menace Ruine is still one of the recently formed bands I'm most excited about.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fell Voices - Fell Voices

Artist: Fell Voices
Album: Fell Voices
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

Fell Voices is an atmospheric, "cascadian" black metal band that has only released one demo and this self-titled album. When I first heard the opening track I wasn't overly impressed, but then the second (and final) track came along and blew me away. Not that the first song is bad, it just took me a few listens to get it, while song 2 was love at first listen. The band is probably some flavor of anarchist, and they're from Santa Cruz (where I went to school), so that's something! I'm probably going to see them play in a few days with Ashdautas and maybe again later this month with Altar of Plagues.

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Birushanah - Akai Yami

Artist: Birushanah
Album: Akai Yami
Genre: Doom Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: Japan

Birushanah is a sludge/doom metal band that gets the 'experimental' label for the strong influences from traditional Japanese music. The three long tracks on this, their only full-length release, are great. The bass player is a former member of Corrupted, so expect a similar feel.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Orange Tulip Conspiracy - Orange Tulip Conspiracy

Artist: Orange Tulip Conspiracy
Album: Orange Tulip Conspiracy
Genre: Experimental Rock
Year: 2008
Origin: USA (LA)

I usually try to avoid reposting albums that have already been offered by my blogging friends, but this is a great album that deserves more exposure. Orange Tulip Conspiracy is sort of a mashing together of the members of Estradasphere and Secret Chiefs 3. I like both of those bands, but this seems like a culmination of their musical ideas, avoiding some of the sloppiness and incoherency that went with their earlier experimentations. I guess arguably that could mean that this release is more 'tame', but I think that would be selling it short. Anyway, if you aren't familiar with these artists, it's a style created by jumping between (instrumental) genres - all kinds of rock, jazz, classical (and even some death metal) show up when least expected. And it's fantastic.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Skarp - Requiem

Artist: Skarp
Album: Requiem
Genre: Blackout Grind
Year: 2005
Origin: USA (Seattle)

Blackout grind? Yeah, it's a made-up subgenre, but I think it sounds cool and gives a hint of the band's atmosphere. Skarp takes a crusty punk song structure and drops the bottom out with mammoth heaviness you won't believe. The female vocalist is "singing like I'm from Sweden," with fitting harshness for a grind act. As you can see from the album cover this release has a somewhat silly theme of suicide, making this kind of like the punk equivalent of DSBM, though of course there are the usual anarchist lyrical themes as well.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Twilight - Monument To Time End

Artist: Twilight
Album: Monument To Time End
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: USA
Year: 2010

Twilight is a super-group of sorts (Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice, Nachtmystium, Isis), playing post black metal kind of how you would expect from the combination of those three parts. It's pretty dense and very good. But you probably already have it. Well if you don't, listen to it here!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Alex Kresovich - Gold N' Fly 007

Artist: Alex Kresovich
Album: Gold N' Fly 007
Genre: Hip-Hop mashup
Year: 2010 (I think)
Origin: USA (New York)

If you don't have nostalgia for the game, this post probably won't hold much interest for you. But it really is an expert production job, with the tempos and crescendos seamlessly matched. Of course I've played Goldeneye many times and it really brings back memories, but it's kind of amazing that these songs weren't made for this. The quality of the rapping is mixed, from those tracks that could stand on their own (Nas, Tech N9ne, 2Pac) to some really terrible rap by really terrible people (Lil' Wayne, 50 Cent). Admittedly it starts to feel a little repetitive after 22 tracks, but if the concept sounds interesting to you at all you should check this out.

Also, I'm not sure if Alex Kresovich was part of The Ocarina of Rhyme or Vinyl Fantasy VII projects, but they're pretty cool too and are linked from his website.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Battlelore - The Last Alliance

Artist: Battlelore
Album: The Last Alliance
Genre: Power Metal
Year: 2008
Origin: Finland

I guess this is Tolkien nerd theme month! Here's a fun power metal-ish album, with a good mix of clean female vocals and growled male vocals. It's not super deep content-wise, but it has some nice melodies. The biggest thing I think they should've changed about this album is to move the first track to the end, because it's so great that it kinda overpowers the following songs.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Falls of Rauros - Of Stone And the Stars In the Sky

Artist: Falls of Rauros
Album: Of Stone And the Stars In the Sky
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: USA

This is a great little two song demo from American folk/black metal band Falls of Rauros. Yes the name is awesome, but no you don't have to be a nerd to appreciate the music. Both tracks are largely instrumental, and the title-track especially is very good. The production could be a lot better, but it doesn't detract from the music too much for me.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

World's End Girlfriend - The Lie Lay Land

Artist: World's End Girlfriend
Album: The Lie Lay Land
Genre: Experimental
Year: 2005
Origin: Japan

This album is a psychedelic style of post-rock that incorporates ambient electronic music and some jazz passages. Japan knows how to do experimental music right, and this album in particular is wonderfully beautiful to my ears. Headphones or a quality sound system are necessary to pick up on the depth of the music. It is probably different from the music you normally listen to, but I hope you will give it a try.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Totalt Jävla Mörker - Totalt Jävla Mörker

Artist: Totalt Jävla Mörker
Album: Totalt Jävla Mörker
Genre: Crust punk
Year: 2006
Origin: Sweden

This here's some of the heaviest, most refreshing crust punk I've heard in a long while. Totalt Jävla Mörker are from Sweden (of course), and the lyrics are all in their native tongue, along with the band name: Total Fucking Darkness. From what I understand, the band's newest album is slowed down a bit, but this self-titled release is lightning fast, crushingly metallic punk in the best Swedish tradition. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys Martyröd or Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ludicra - The Tenant

Artist: Ludicra
Album: The Tenant
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2010
Origin: USA

Ludicra is a black metal band out of my local San Francisco. I've only heard this most recent release even though I'd seen their name around, and as I type this I'm kicking myself for not listening to them sooner. After only a couple listens I'm sure this album will make my top-releases list for this year. The vocalist is female, but mainly uses harsh vocals, and the guitar work is rather more progressive than I expected, though this might not be the case for the band's earlier albums. The band includes members of Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, and Hammers of Misfortune. I would especially love to hear their 2001 split with The Gault, which is another San Francisco metal band that I highly recommend. Ludicra was supposed to be opening for Mayhem on their US tour this spring, but it looks like Mayhem canceled?

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beyond Decay - Dropping the Bomb

Artist: Beyond Decay
Album: Dropping the Bomb
Genre: Skacore
Year: 2008
Origin: USA

Beyond Decay play a mix of ska, reggae and hardcore, with rap thrown in on a song or two, which comes from the now-worldwide "crack rock steady" scene. I come across a fair amount of this style on the Internet these days, but this is an album that is executed much better than most (see No Cops For Miles as another very good, though less creative, example). Yes, the album cover is larger than my review, but it does look cool doesn't it?

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fen - Ancient Sorrow

Artist: Fen
Album: Ancient Sorrow
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2007
Origin: UK

I thought I should post this EP since I mentioned it in my top albums list this year. It didn't come out this year, it's just much better than Fen's newest album. I can't exactly say why I feel that way, but this one was more along the lines of atmospheric black metal, where the new album seems to be based a lot more on post-metal. I like black metal more than post-metal, but I'm not the type of person to disown a band for going vntr00; this release just seems more filled with emotion. Anyway, if you're into atmospheric black metal you've probably heard Fen, but if not you should try it out!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Morningside - Moving Crosscurrent of Time

Artist: The Morningside
Album: Moving Crosscurrent of Time
Genre: Doom Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: Russia

This is an excellent melodic death-doom metal album. It's unusually technical at times, and the production is clear without losing that distorted doom metal feeling. My comrade Bart has posted an earlier album, which is also quite good.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Hammers of Misfortune - The Locust Years

Artist: Hammers of Misfortune
Album: The Locust Years
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Year: 2006
Origin: USA

I can't believe I only recently started listening to Hammers of Misfortune. They're from San Francisco, and they include members of GWAR, Christ on Parade, and even Pansy Division! That's a strange combination, but it doesn't really hint at what the band sounds like, except that the music is also an interesting combination. It's power metal, or traditional heavy metal or some-such, but it's definitely progressive and there are folky parts and hints of something heavier. The melodies and the female vocals on this album are tremendous. It almost seems like the lyrics must be political somehow, from the song titles, but I haven't noticed anything overt.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

C.U.T.E. - Find a Place to be Safe

Artist: Collapse Under the Empire
Album: Find a Place to be Safe
Genre: Post Rock
Year: 2009
Origin: Germany

More happy electro-post-rock from Collapse Under the Empire, released in the same year as Systembreakdown. I think I like the first album better; it feels more consistent in its style, whereas this sort of jumps around in unexpected ways. Don't get me wrong, that can be a great thing, and this album is a lot of fun. Thank you C.U.T.E., for making and sharing this release!

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cobalt - Gin

Artist: Cobalt
Album: Gin
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 2009
Origin: USA

Gin is a progressive black metal album that really made the rounds on the Internets this past year. It is rather unique for the genre, and I'm not at all surprised it attracted so many new fans. The percussion in particular doesn't sound anything like you'd expect from a black metal band, and I've seen comparisons to Tool, which I don't want to get into, but that's just to say that this isn't just coming out of the black metal tradition. There's a lot going on in this complex recording, and I'm not sure I've even processed it properly yet, but I definitely recommend this download.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dub Guerilla - Dub Guerilla

Artist: Dub Guerilla
Album: Dub Guerilla
Genre: Dub
Year: 2005
Origin: Germany

This album combines dub and jazz wonderfully. The instrumentation is impressive and the production is smooth, so that three trombonists feels like just the right number. If this album doesn't make you feel calm and happy with the world, I don't know what will.

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NOTE: MediaFire gave me a weird message. I downloaded it myself to test, and it all seems to be working, but let me know if there are any problems.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gravy Train!!!! - Hello Doctor

Artist: Gravy Train!!!!
Album: Hello Doctor
Genre: Electro-trash
Origin: USA
Year: 2003

"They're such a horrible band, they just get stuck in your head."
- a shoutbox comment

Gravy Train!!!! is a completely ridiculous electronic pop group from Oakland. Normally I don't think that anyone should ever be embarrassed about the music they listen to; if you don't think it's good music, why listen to it? But Gravy Train!!!! is pretty much a guilty pleasure no matter how I look at it. That quote is about right: the beats are thrown sloppily on top of explicit rapping about sex, junkfood, and more sex. But there's something that keeps me listening, I can't really say what! It's the same kind of sick enjoyment I get out of Hollaback Girl, only magnified.

Sippin' 40z - a sample of what the band is all about; because I think you deserve fair warning (also, this is one of their catchier songs and it isn't on Hello Doctor)

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

Artist: Jethro Tull
Album: Thick As A Brick
Genre: Progressive Rock
Year: 1972
Origin: UK

Jethro Tull is an amazing progressive rock band that hopefully everyone knows already. Aqualung is their masterpiece, but since my comrade Bart has already posted that one I'll share Thick As A Brick, which is also excellent but seems to be less well known. I suspect this is because it is really just one long composition broken into two parts to fit on a record. It's got some of Ian Anderson's trademark flute along with some occasional brass and a lot of great bass guitar parts. The album has a compelling concept about a young boy and his poem. This is from before the band's folk period (which is also quite good, I may post Minstrel in the Gallery sometime later).

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Disfear - Live the Storm

Artist: Disfear
Album: Live the Storm
Genre: Crust Punk
Year: 2008
Origin: Sweden

Disfear has for years been one of the best bands and worst names in crust punk. Now they are playing it rock'n'roll style, but still with the d-beat (of course). This is for fans of Wolfbrigade/Wolfpack for sure. It may be more accessible than most crusty albums, but the energy on this recording is still unbelievable. It's intense, it's rockin', it will make you bang your head!

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Citizen Fish & AOS3 split

Artist: Citizen Fish & AOS3
Album: TV Dinner/Conspiracy split 7"
Genre: Ska Punk
Year: 1992
Origin: UK

Citizen Fish is the ska offshoot of the Subhumans (UK), and after seeing them play 3 times, I think they are pretty cool dudes. It's kind of amazing how many songs they have about tv rotting our brains. AOS3 is a psychedelic punk band who really rock on their one track from this split; I would really like to hear their full-length albums. They take their name from Augustus Owsley Stanley III, a prominent Dead-head and the maker of much of San Francisco's LSD back in yesteryear. This is a short recording, but if you like punk and psychedelic rock you should definitely try this out.

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happy 2010!!!