Filthy, swirling black metal done right. Damn, what an evil slab of
noise. Made my best of list at the last instance, but after a few days
of listening to this over and over, I’m sure it was not an impulse pick.
Even after noticing a few little gripes about the album (at a few, rare
times they band lose their dissonant bite), I still dig it massively
for the oppressive yet spacey atmosphere. Also, blast beat-backed riff
grenades like the one dropped at the beginning of “Arrival of eons
after” of “Infinite interstellar genocide” (READ THAT NAME AGAIN!!)
reconcile me with it in seconds. The combination of long lasting
atmospheric value and instant gratification through severe violence make
this album one to own.
Recommended song: Infinite interstellar genocide
I’m not sure if this takes the cake for most mainstream entry on a
GD Best-of list ever, but if necessary, so be it. Dismissing this as a
commercial album and nothing else doesn’t do it justice, even though the
Pharell Williams tracks have been played to death literally everywhere.
A 9-minute, spoken-word heavy track like “Giorgio by Moroder” (which
after years of quiet suddenly let articles about Mr Moroder pop up left,
right and center again) or the Post-Rockish “Contact” are among the
last thing to ever receive commercial airplay, and they’re quite
fantastic at that. Daft Punk went to great lengths digitally to create a
sound as analogue as possible, and the album actually sounds alive and
breathing, with influences from Funk to Post Rock to Moog synthies. And
vocoders. Lots of Vocoders! My recommendation is to give this a chance
despite the big name – I hate listening to the radio, but when this
stuff came on in 2013, I actually left it on.
Recommended song: Instant Crush, even though it starts like “Last Christmas”
As usual, the best kind of music coming out of 2013 was that which
sounded not like it at all, and Enforcer produced another example of
just that. Further solidifying Sweden’s position among the leading
countries to come up with talented motherfuckers, these folks dished out
another fine piece of full-on, traditional heavy metal. No frills, twin
leads, galloping horses, great vocals, and some of the year’s best
individual tunes. Not much more to ask really. “Mesmerized by fire” or
“Take me out of this nightmare” (my soundtrack on the road back home
from Finnish winter) are prime cuts of an overall badass album everyone
with an interest in heavy metal should have heard.
Recommended song: Take me out of this nightmare
Thrash metal done right is a safe winner for me. I tend to forget
that among the tons of lackluster copycat efforts, “returns to form” and
“next big things” in the genre, but what do you know: it actually is
possible to get the mix of professionalism and punk edge right, and
sound energetic, fast, crunchy, aggressive. Thrash metal is supposed to
be high speed death on six strings, yet too few bands actually seem to
realize that these days. Some never manage to get it right, sometimes it
works on the first try, sometimes it takes a couple of attempts. Like
with Toxic Holocaust and their latest chunk of awesomeness.
Recommended song: Deny the truth
2013 was the year for me to discover “Outrun Electro” or Synthwave,
which basically is nothing but a an 80s movies soundtrack transposed to
the 21st century. Strikingly similar in imagery and soundscape, the
entire genre seemingly tries to either emulate Miami Vice of some retro
Cyberpunk flick – Bourgeoisie falls into the second category. Mixing the
everpresent ethereal synths with driving beats and a dark atmosphere
that invokes rainy neon nights, shady ladies and hardened veterans of
the off-world colony wars, “Space tapes and vice” is among the prime
albums I’ve listened to from the genre, but it is also just one example
of the ton of good stuff I was lucky to discover in that direction lately.
Recommended song: Industrial Sector 3083
Death Tyrant: Opus de tyranis
Loses the best black/death album honors to Inquisition.
Battle beast: Battle beast
Heavy metal that actually sounds like synthwave, but with a bad-ass female vocalist.
Immolation: Kingdom of conspiracy
Iron Reagan: Worse than dead
D.R.I. meets a good version of Municipal Waste.
Wardruna: Runaljod – Yggdrasil
…and I don’t even like folk music too much.
Clutch: Earth Rocker
Back in action!
The Monolith Deathcult: Tetragrammaton
Not sure what to make of their humor, but they sure have some bad-ass tunes.
I have a feeling I had no expectations at all this year, at
least I don’t recall feeling genuinely disappointed. Too grvm for that,
obviously. Instead, a few releases which I already expected not to do
anything for me did exactly that – but the hype surrounding them still
made them feel a little lame: Prime examples are Carcass and
Witherscape. I simply didn’t get what’s so great about them. But yeah,
whatever. Someone else will probably tell you in this very feature.
Also (though we can’t really speak of “hype” here), Newsted fucken sucked. Not exactly the surprise of the year, either.