Friday, February 29, 2008

Battle of Mice: A Day of Nights (5/5)

Year: 2006
Label: Neurot
Genre: Dark Shoegaze Sludge
TRT: 46:02

This band is comprised of members from Made out of Babies, Red Sparowes and Book of Knots, and is singularily disturbing. Delicate to crushing in .01 seconds. I would describe their sound as a more demented Neurosis & Jarboe, or Circle Takes the Square playing ISIS.

Here's an excerb from their myspace:

"...A Day of Nights documents the savage trajectory of an interpersonal flameout. It is a litany of ominous overtones and malicious subtext, a catalogue of the poisons that conspire to choke our best intentions; a testament to the inexorable miasma of suspicion and paranoia that creeps, unannounced, into the open spaces between us all. Which isnt to say that beauty and grace cannot be the handmaidens of ugliness and dysfunction: A Day of Nights is nothing if not mesmerizing; a living, breathing monument to the optimistic notion that everything happens for a reason. And despite any unseemly events that may have transpired, there WILL be more Battle of Mice Records to come."

Definately a must-hear. But be careful where you listen to this will probably terrify you and those around you.

01 Lamb and the Labrador
02 Bones in the Water
03 Sleep and Dream
04 Salt Bridge
05 Wrapped in Plain
06 At the Base of the Giant's Throat
07 Cave of Spleen

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Veni Domine: Material Sanctuary (4.5/5)

: 1994
Label: Thunderload
Genre: Atmospheric Power Doom
TRT: 65:42

Pretty inventive for the time, combining the heavy elements of doom metal with the vocal stylings of power metal, with none of the silliness. Choral arrangements and keyboards add a good dose of "epic" to this prophetic tale of imminent destruction.

eBay is a much better place to aquire this title as well as their debut Fall Babylon Fall, as Amazon users seem to be a bit more unwilling to part with their copies.

01 The Meeting
02 Ecclesiastes
03 Material Sanctuary
04 Ritual of the Sinner
05 The Mass
06 Behold the Signs
07 Wrath of the Lion
08 Beyond the Doom
09 Baroque Moderne

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Grizzly Bear: Yellow House (5/5)

Year: 2006
Label: Warp
Genre: Psychedelic Indie Folk
TRT: 50:00

Grizzly Bear may sound like the name of a band that should have heavy parts and a mean sound, but maybe instead the name just matches the powerful vibes and feelings that they can only give. They are respected by the modern musicians of our time because they have created their own unique sound while still using influences that are so familiar. Each song on "Yellow House" is a beautiful little masterpiece....I couldn't say one bad or negative thing about any sound on this album. I think one of my favorite things on this album is the higher "Beach Boys" type harmonies that the drummer pulls off. I think this will be my favorite band for good remainder of my life..

01 Easier
02 Lullabye
03 Knife
04 Central And Remonte
05 Little Brother
06 Plans
07 Marla
08 On A Neck, On A Spit
09 Reprise
10 Colorado

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wolves in the Throne Room: Two Hunters (4.5/5)

Biggest Metal Surprise of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Southern Lord
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
TRT: 46:18

Having never been a fan of black metal, I was completely blown away by this release. It’s atmospheric, dark, brooding and strangely enough, beautiful. I checked this band out because of their amazing moniker, and also because I read one of the coolest interviews ever, that intrigued me to no end. These guys are the real deal, living on, and working, a farm in the wilderness of Washington State. They’ve opened my eyes to the realm of black metal that I actually enjoy, and will be actively searching for this year.

01 Dia Artio
02 Behold the Vastness and Sorrow
03 Cleansing
04 I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots

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A Swarm of the Sun: The King of Everything (4/5)

Best Metal EP of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Version Studio
Genre: Post Metal Sludge
TRT: 23:41

The first release from this band, and it's very promising. Very heavy, and very accessible simultaneously. There's even an element of glitch electronics present, with good clean vocals backed up with good yells to round it out. Looking forward to future releases.

01 Refuge
02 King of Everything
03 A Mind Not a Mouth
04 The Grip
05 An Animal in the Shape of God
06 I Fear the End

Buy From Version Studio Records

Evoken: A Caress of the Void (4.5/5)

#10 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: I Hate
Genre: Funeral Doom
TRT: 61:38

Funeral doom has never been a more applicable description. Seared of hope, bereft of light, this disc has nothing to offer but hopelessness. You feel it in your soul. If you don’t see the beauty in that, steer clear of this album. It holds nothing for you but despair.

01 A Caress of the Noid
02 Mare Erythraeum
03 Of Purest Absolution
04 Astray in Eternal Night
05 Descend the Lifeless Womb
06 Suffer a Martyrs Trial (Procession at Dusk)
07 Orogeny

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Minsk: The Ritual Fires of Abandonment (4.5/5)

#9 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Relapse
Genre: Psychedelic Sludge
TRT: 59:03

A lot of thought went into the making of this record, that’s very evident. A Very deep album, with many many layers to dig into. Very satisfying to listen to when you’re alone and can just sit, listen, and let your mind play over the sound waves crashing over you. Crushingly heavy, with a psychedelic atmosphere to get lost in.

01 Embers
02 White Wings
03 Mescaline Sunrise
04 The Orphans of Piety
05 Circle of Ashes
06 Ceremony ek Stasis

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Kongh: Counting Heartbeats (4.5/5)

#8 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Trust No One
Genre: Doom Metal Sludge
TRT: 64:43

Another late in the year discovery for me. A beautifully crafted disc, with five epic tracks containing some seriously groovy sludge-laden doom goodness. Not sure what else to say. Not sure what else needs to be said.

01 Pushed Beyond
02 Counting Heartbeats
03 Adapt the Void
04 Megaprimatus
05 Zihuatanejo

download part 1
download part 2

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The Ocean: Precambrian (4.5/5)

#7 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Metal Blade
Genre: Progressive Sludge
TRT: Disc I/22:03 Disc II/61:41

Another “sludge metal” album, but with a twist. These Germans utilize an array of instruments not usually found on such an album. This variance allows them to step beyond the bounds of what you might expect. The xylophone, violin, piano, bells, et cetera add dynamic and beautiful textures layered above and beneath some of the heaviest tracks I heard all year. Albums with themes have always attracted me for the extra depth involved, and this two disc set is a timeline of sorts, with each track title coinciding with a different prehistoric age, delivers. And delivers. And delivers.
Review by Praemorior

#3 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007
This is a very cool album to talk about because of the thought that went into it. The early years of earth are described not only through the names of the songs but the songs themselves and the artwork the album entails. This is a dual disc album with the first disc being more abrasive and unstable like the speculated beginning of the earth. The second disc is more down-tempo sludge, but still very changing. Both albums really bring together such a feeling that I think is pushing the bounds of the current metal genre.
Review by |A Study in Temperament|

Disc I
01 Hadean
02 Eoarchaean
03 Palaeoarchaean
04 Mesoarchaean
05 Neoarchaean

Disc II
02 Rhyacian
03 Orosirian
04 Statherian
05 Calymmian
06 Ectasian
07 Stenian
08 Tonian
09 Cryogenian

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The Psyke Project: Apnea (4.5/5)

#6 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Lifeforce
Genre: Post Metal Sludge
TRT: 56:01

Another new blip on my radar. I avoided listening to this album for months and months, because I couldn’t get over their dumb moniker and cheesy artwork. But when I finally did, I regretted my shallow behavior immensely. Because these guys kill. Hailing from Denmark, they rise above the some-what muddled slew of mediocre sludge bands spawned over the past few years. This is an easy band to get in to, because they really convey emotion well, and also their songs are short compared to many in the genre. With most songs being between 3 and 7 minutes long, they’re a good choice for someone who likes the sound of bands such as ISIS and Neurosis, but doesn’t care to invest so much time per listen.

01 The Voice of Commandment
02 I Get Paralyzed
03 Panic
04 Creating Landscapes
05 Physical Romance
06 Dedication
07 Love Shown In a Handful of Dirt
08 Poems Written By Kings
09 Jugganata
10 Not in My Time

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Rwake: Voices of Omen (5/5)

#5 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Relapse
Genre: Post Metal Sludge
TRT: 59 :02

I just discovered this band in 2007, even though they’ve released four albums previous to this one. That’s alright with me though, because they’ve hit their stride here, with crushingly heavy riffs, vocals ranging from terrifying screams to brutal yells, and so much groove you don’t know what to do with it all. This is southern sludge at it’s nastiest. At it’s finest.

01 Intro
02 The Finality
03 Crooked Rivers
04 Fire and Flight
05 Leviticus
06 Of Grievous Abominations
07 Bridge
08 Inverted Overtures
09 The Lure of Light

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Between the Buried and Me: Colors (5/5)

#4 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Victory
Genre: Progressive Metalcore
TRT: 64:09

Colors is a huge step forward in the evolution of this band. As polarizing as it is addicting. You still have intense technicality, but it’s more mature, seasoned. This album is like an eight piece puzzle that fits together perfectly, with dozens of smaller puzzles contained within the songs themselves, going from beautiful piano parts, to blistering guitar-work, to off kilter Patton-esque vocal parts overtop honky-tonk piano, to a drunken bar sing-along. It will take you by surprise, it might make you a bit uneasy, but it all fits together. However, my favorite part of the whole production is the song transitions. They’re perfect. Seamless. A Work of Art. I was not prepared for the transition from Informal Gluttony into Sun of Nothing, and I almost wrecked my car when I heard it. One of my favorite parts of music ever written. Also, Blake Richardson deserves a special mention, because the drumming on this album is spectacular, far beyond any expectations. This album will age much better than any of their previous albums, I can already tell.
Review by Praemorior

#10 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007
I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with Between The Buried & Me's "Colors". Everytime I listen to it I get something new that I love more than my first listen, but there are still a few parts that just don't sit right. I feel the vibe they were going with and they do it well, but why put in parts that just twist the vibe?
Review by |A Study in Temperament|

part 1
part 2

01 Foam Born: (A) The Backtrack
02 (B) The Decade of Statues
03 Informal Gluttony
04 Sun of Nothing
05 Ants of the Sky
06 Prequel to the Sequel
07 Viridian
08 White Walls

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Blotted Science: The Machinations of Demensia (5/5)

#3 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Unsigned
Genre: Instrumental Progressive Metal
TRT: 57:15

As a testament to it’s greatness, I didn’t hear this album until October, and it was almost immediately not just in my favorites of the year, but counted as one of the best instrumental albums I’ve ever heard. If I had to make a comparison, I would describe this album as the result of James Malone from Arsis suffering from extreme sleep deprivation and listening to nothing but Meshuggah for days until finally passing out. If you are familiar with Spastic Ink and other Jarzombeck projects, you probably already know about this record, and it’s probably in your headphones right now.
Review by Praemorior

#6 out of 10
Metal Album of 2007

First off if you like Between The Buried & Me you'll love this album. It's instrumental but the riffs will keep you entertained. In the first song "Synaptic Plasticity" I was listening and then this crazy drum roll came out of nowhere and this heavy guitar tone that was absent before just stunned me. This will continue to happen over and over through out the album. When you get to the end listen to the last two songs again (this may sound strange). The last two songs are unique in that, the last song is the song before it in reverse. This was pointed out to me by Praemorior, and I love that you can hear the beats and guitars from the opposite and reverse end.
Review by |A Study in Temperament|

01 Synaptic Plasticity
02 Laser Lobotomy
03 Brain Fingerprinting
04 Oscillation Cycles
05 Activation Synthesis Theory
06 R.E.M.
07 Night Terror
08 Bleeding In The Brain
09 Vegetation
10 Narcolepsy
11 E.E.G. Tracings
12 Sleep Deprivation
13 The Insomniac
14 Amnesia
15 Adenosine Breakdown
16 Adenosine Buildup

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Swallow the Sun: Hope (5/5)

Year: 2007
Label: Spinefarm
Genre: Doom Death Metal
TRT: 63:40

I had heard of this band several years back, but their music was always so hard to track down that I finally gave up. Well 2007 changed that, with Hope being one of the first albums I acquired in January. In a few short months of listening, Swallow the Sun has joined the ranks of artists such as Virgin Black, Opeth, Ulver and Meshuggah as one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re unique blend of death and doom make for some of the most destroyingly catchy music I’ve ever heard. I have no complaints, not a single one. Brutal growls and beautiful cleans at all the right moments, perfectly fitting every arrangement. Do yourself a favor and get in to this band, you will not regret it.

01 Hope
02 These Hours of Despair
03 The Justice of Suffering
04 Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2)
05 Too Cold For Tears
06 The Empty Sky
07 No Light, No Hope
08 Doomed to Walk the Earth
09 These Low Lands

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Virgin Black: Requiem - Mezzo Forte (5/5)

#1 out of 10
Metal Albums of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: The End/Massacre
Genre: Classical Orchestrated Doom
TRT: 52:09

Virgin Black has been my favorite band since the very first time I heard them in 2002. This is actually the second installment of a three part series entitled Requiem, however The End records chose to release this first, as it’s the closest to previous releases out of the three. Mezzo Forte was recorded, along with Pianissimo and Fortissimo, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, making this at once the most ambitious, dense and multi-faceted Virgin Black release to date. With soaring operatic vocals (both male and female) and crushing growls, the album takes you for a tumultuous and emotional ride. The orchestration meshes seamlessly with Virgin Black’s brand of gothic doom metal, which comes as no surprise if you’re familiar with past releases. It’s no less than you would expect. Listening to this album, for me at least, is an experience I find difficult to put in to words. To put it simply, Virgin Black resonates within my soul.

01 Requiem, Kyrie
02 In Death
03 Midnight's Hymn
04 ...And I Am Suffering
05 Domine
06 Lacrimosa (I Am Blind With Weeping)
07 Rest Eternal

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Hilary Duff: Dignity (3.5/5)

Biggest Surprise of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Hollywood
Genre: Electro Dance Pop

The surprise? Half the tracks on this album are superb. The other half are what you would expect, fluff and drivel, but the other seven tracks are absolutely steller dance pop tracks with catchy beats and meaningful lyrics. Don't miss out on this, because if you ignore it just because it's Hilary Duff, the jokes on you.

I have taken the liberty of only uploading the worthwhile tracks (including a rare remix), so quit it with the elitist bullshit and click the link.

01 Stranger
02 Dignity
03 With Love
04 Danger
05 Gypsy Woman
06 Never Stop
07 No Work, All Play
08 Between You and Me
09 Dreamer
10 Happy
11 Burned
12 Outside of You
13 I Wish
14 Play With Fire
15 With Love (DJ Kaya Remix) (Japanese Import Only)

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Jesu: Sun Down/Sun Rise [4.5/5]

Non-Metal Ep of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Aurora Borealis
Genre: Ambient Doomgaze
TRT: 32:38

Harkening back to the ambient drone days of Heart Ache, this is Justin Broderick once again at his best. Too bad it's barely thirty minutes long.

01 Sun Down
02 Sun Rise

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Battles: Mirrored (4.5/5)

#10 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Warp
Genre: Instrumental Math Rock

This band knows how to rock Full of energy and spunk, their refreshing knack for strangeness is what really sets them apart from the crowd. While not truly an "instrumental" band, they vocals used are used in a purely aesthetic way, and are really no more than another instrument in the mix. They do things that you simply wouldn't expect, and keep you coming back for more.

01 Race : In
02 Atlas
03 Ddiamondd
04 Tonto
05 Leyendecker
06 Rainbow
07 Bad Trails
08 Prismism
09 Snare Hanger
10 Tij
11 Race: Out

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Marissa Nadler: Songs III: Birds on the Water (4.5/5)

#9 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Kemado
Genre: Atmospheric Folk

I kept coming back to this album throughout the year, and it always struck me as inherently beautiful. Miss Nadler's voice has a timeless quality to it that is simply enthralling, and reminds me of Vashti Bunyan. Couple that with well-written, dark, and simple folk music and the result is irresistible.

Also of note is her cover of Leonard Cohen's classic Famous Blue Raincoat, which I actually like even more than the original.

01 Diamond Heart
02 Dying Breed
03 Mexican Summer
04 Thinking of You
05 Silvia
06 Bird on Your Grave
07 Rachel
08 Famous Blue Raincoat
09 My Love and I
10 Leather Made Shoes

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

M83: Digital Shades Volume I (4.5/5)

#8 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: EMI Music France
Genre: Electronic Ambient Glitch
TRT: 35:39

Not a "typical" M83 album, but the first in a series of electronic ambient albums to be released under the moniker. Digital Shades Volume I is an incredibly dense and indellibly beautiful journey. It's warm and atmospheric, remaining on the outskirts of conscience, while at the same time, when allowed, dominating the senses. A balanced mesh of Harold Budd's melodic flow and Brian Eno's knack for textured soundscapes. While not eclipsing either artist, this cd still delivers fulfillment listen after listen. I look forward to hearing the subsequent installments in this serise.

01 Waves, Waves, Waves
02 Coloring the Void
03 Sister (Part I)
04 Strong and Wasted
05 My Own Strange Path
06 Dancing Mountains
07 Sister (Part II)
08 By the Kiss
09 Space Fertilizer
10 The Highest Journey

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The Angelic Process: Weighing Souls With Sand (4.5/5)

#7 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Profound Lore
Genre: Doomgaze
TRT: 57:35

I first heard this record at the beginning of January last year, and it really took me by surprise. They're making music I would call doomgaze, a combination of doom and shoegaze. Which sounds weird, but works actually very well. The muddy production fits perfectly with what they're doing, and the vocals are buried under the music, giving them a celestial quality. I wish there were more bands doing this, because it's stunning, crushing and beautiful.

01 The Promise of Snakes
02 Million Year Summer
03 The Resonance of Goodbye
04 We All Die Laughing
05 Dying in A-Minor
06 Weighing Souls With Sand
07 Mouvement - World Deafening Eclipse
08 Burning in the Undertow of God
09 Mouvement - The Smoke of Her Burning
10 [silence]
11 [silence]
12 [silence]
13 [silence]
14 [silence]
15 [silence]
16 [silence]
17 How to Build a Time Machine
18 Sleepwritten (Bonus Track)

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Deerhoof: Friend Opportunity (4.5/5)

#6 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Genre: Experimental Pop
TRT: 36:36

This band makes me so happy. It's hard for me to imagine anyone listening to them and not feeling better about themselves and the world in general. With odd lyrics, adorably cute vocals, and music so quirky it'll make you laugh, it's impossible to listen to them without smiling at least a couple times, and the album closer Look Away is the perfect anchor to reality, showing a more serious side of the band. I'd have to say that this is their best record to date.

01 The Perfect Me
02 +81
03 Believe E.S.P.
04 The Galaxist
05 Choco Fighter
06 Whither The Invisible Birds?
07 Cast Off Crowns
08 Kidz Are So Small
09 Matchbook Seeks Maniac
10 Look Away

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oceansize: Frames (5/5)

#5 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Superball
: Progressive Sludge Rock
TRT: 65:53

I had mixed expectations for this release, having really enjoyed the 2004 EP Music For Nurses, and been a bit let down by 2005's full-length Everyone Into Position. My concerns were unwarranted. This album is brilliantly orchestrated, with strings, bells and piano scattered throughout musical arrangements that are at times subdued and at other times as poly-rhythmically aggressive as bands like Meshuggah and Obsidian. Balance is the key, and here they hit all the right chords at all the right times. Vocalist Mike Vennart has also kicked things up a notch in his department, showing confidence and versatility like never before, and rounding out this wonderful album.

01 Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt
02 Unfamiliar
03 Trail of Life
04 Savant
05 Only Twin
06 An Old Friend of the Christies
07 Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions
08 The Frame

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Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero (5/5)

#4 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Interscope
Genre: Industrial Glitch Pop
TRT: 63:42

If you are not aware of the Alternate Reality Game preceeding this album, immediately go to and read up on it, as it's one of the coolest things I've ever taken part in. The album also makes a lot more since when put in context with ARG. To be honest, I was not a big fan of the album at first. It took me several months of listening for it to really click, but click it did. The album follows people living in a distopian future-world where the government and the church are essentially one entity, where global warming has made most of the world unlivable, and the government is putting sedatives in the water and chips in it's "citizens". Again, to full appreciate and understand the album, you need to follow the ARG from start to finish to put everything in perspective. There are rumors of a Year Zero movie, which would be quite an undertaking (David Lynch, perhaps?), and a follow up album both being in the works, so keep your eyes peeled.

01 Hyperpower!
02 The Beginning of the End
03 Survivalism
04 The Good Soldier
05 Vessel
06 Me, I'm Not
07 Capital G
08 My Violent Heart
09 The Warning
10 God Given
11 Meet Your Master
12 The Greater Good
13 The Great Destroyer
14 Another Version of the Truth
15 In This Twilight
16 Zero-Sum

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Tegan & Sara: The Con (5/5)

#3 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

Year: 2007
Label: Vapor
Genre: Electro-Folk
TRT: 37:07

I had very high expectations for this cd, as I loved the album that preceded it, So Jealous. Thankfully, these Canadian twins were up to the task. Not only up to the task, but far and away beyond the task. Whereas So Jealous was a fun collection of upbeat indie pop-rock tracks, The Con is a dark and intimate electro-folk masterpiece. My one and only complaint with So Jealous was it's length, it was about four songs and twelve minutes too long, it just sort of tapered off and released me attention. The Con seems like it's over before it starts. The fourteen tracks flow seamlessly together, and at the end of your 37 minute journey, the only thing to do is start it over. I listened to this cd nearly non-stop for almost a month before I bought it on release day, and it was probably another month after that before it left my cd player. Not a single track is superfluous, not a single second is wasted. It's amazing how far they've come in nine years.

01 I Was Married
02 Relief Next to Me
03 The Con
04 Knife Going In
05 Are You Ten Years Ago
06 Back In Your Head
07 Hop a Plane
08 Soil, Soil
09 Burn Your Life Down
10 Nineteen
11 Floorplan
12 Like O, Like H
13 Dark Come Soon
14 Call It Off

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Ulver: Shadows of the Sun (5/5)

#2 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

: 2007
Label: Jester
Genre: Dark Minimalism
TRT: 48:47

Ulver makes gorgeous music. Whether it's traditional Norwegian folk, electronically enhanced trip-hop, dark ambient or sludge metal, and their ninth full-length offering is true to form. Going back to their Silence… era sound, the blueprint is expanded into a more lush, minimalist framework of sounds, soothing and comforting while remaining entirely morose and melancholic. Thought-provoking and reflective, this is a record for dark nights and a glass of wine.

01 Eos
02 All the Love
03 Like Music
04 Vigil
05 Shadows of the Sun
06 Let the Children Go
07 Solitude (Black Sabbath)
08 Funebre
09 What Happened?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Shining: Grindstone (5/5)

#1 out of 10
Non-Metal Album of 2007

: 2007
Label: Rune Grammofon
Genre: Avant-Garde
TRT: 44:03

This was one of the first releases I acquired from 2007, but for some reason that escapes me, I didn't listen to it until almost half way though the year. My mistake. From the very first measures of the first track, I was enthralled, entranced, completely and utterly mesmerized. It's hard to even find the correct words to describe what happens on this album, there's so much genre-bending goodness all-throughout. With elements of jazz, prog-rock, post-rock, and an overall experimental and avant-garde nature, this album will keep me coming back for more, and more, and more. I always try to be level headed when writing reviews, because nobody trusts a fanatic, but this album transcends mere fanaticism. This album is a keystone of existence.

01 In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster
02 Winterreise
03 Stalemate Longan Runner
04 To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again
05 Moonchild Mindgames
06 The Red Room
08 To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again
09 Psalm
10 -... .- -.-. ....
11 1:4:9
12 Fight Dusk With Dawn

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nadja: Touched [Re-Release] (4/5)

Year: 2007
Label: Alien8
Genre: Doomgaze
TRT: 59:57

I didn't get around to listening to Nadja until 2007 was already over, and boy am I bummed about that. The level of heavy found here is astounding, and the layered atmosphere created by the fuzzy and distorted sound is calming as the hurricanes eye...ready to drown you as soon as you turn your back to it. This is one of four 2007 releases, bringing Aiden Baker's total up to 12 releases in four short years. The truly astounding thing being that every album is as solid as the last, making his one of the most consistantly awesome discography's I can think of.

01 Mutagen
02 Stays Demons
03 Incubation/Metamorphosis
04 Flowers of Flesh
05 Untitled

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music (5/5)

Year: 1975
Label: RCA
Genre: Avant-Garde
TRT: 64:11

This album was almost acidentally ground-breaking when it was released. It's basically a great big middle finger from Lou Reed to RCA, as they would not release him from his contract early. So to fulfill his contractual duties, Reed released this double LP of nothing but layered guitar feedback. While at the time, I'm pretty sure Reed was doing this out of spite and not for the sake of art, this little musical expletive undoubtedly influenced the likes of Merzbow, Aphex Twin, Autechre and many more, myself included. Listen to this album at least once, if only for the sake of antecedency.

One more thing; While shunned upon it's release, these vinyls fetch upwards of $200 these days, probably because of the shunning. I would love to own a copy due to the special way the B side of album 2 is loop endlessly. That's insanity.

01 Metal Machine Music I
02 Metal Machine Music II
03 Metal Machine Music III
04 Metal Machine Music IV

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Secret Chiefs 3: Book M (4/5)

Year: 2001
Label: Web of Mimicry
Genre: Avant-Garde
TRT: 54:52

A genre-bending amalgamation from the half of Mr. Bungle that isn't Mike Patton. There aren't many ways to describe this album other than "emperimental" and "avant-garde", but if I were to take a stab at it, I would label it as "the bastard child of traditional jewish folk music and trance/electronica". Needless to say, an interesting combination. One worth checking out.

01 Knights of Damcar
02 Haga Sophia
03 Vajra
04 Ship of Fools (Stone of Exile)
05 Horsemen of the Invisible
06 Combat for the Angel
07 Zulfiqar III
08 Siege Perious
09 Dolorous Stroke
10 Blaze of the Grail
11 Lapist Exillis
12 Lapis Bailtulous
13 Safina

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Underoath: Cries of the Past (5/5)

Year: 2000
Label: Takehold
Genre: Avant-Black Metal
TRT: 42:48

Forget what you thought you knew about this band. Before Solid State Records assimilated Takehold, Underoath was a metal band. A very dark, brutal, extreme metal band. Dallas is at his scariest with vocals that literally give Lucifer himself chill-bumps, and some of the things this band does here are just mind-blowing. This is by far their best record, and an essential album to own.

Good luck with that though, as they're currently going on Amazon for upwards of $150.

01 The Last
02 Walking Away
03 Giving Up Hurts the Most
04 And I Dreamt of You
05 Cries of the Past

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thai Elephant Orchestra: Elephonic Rhapsodies (4/5)

Year: 2005
Label: Mulatta
Genre: Avant-Garde
TRT: 70:01

There is nothing else like this in the entire world. The Thai Elephant Orchestra is the brainchild of muscian and composer David Solder in cooperation with Thai Elephant Conservation Center, and it is a brainchild of epic proportion...literally. Equipped with giant instruments especially crafted for them, these elephants show uncanny rhythmic timing and propensity for musical creativity. This album contains tracks with just elephants, and also collaborations between elephants and humans. It is truly music that cannot be adequately described, but must be experienced to be understood.

Un fortunately, the only download I could find is missing the first track, so I must apologize for that.

01 A Child's Guide To the Elephant Orchestra
02 Phong's Solo
03 The Ganesha Symphony/The Birth Of Ganesha
04 The Ganesha Symphony/Shiva Beheads Ganesha
05 The Ganesha Symphony/A Head Is Found
06 The Ganesha Symphony/Ganesha Triumphant
07 Rhapsody In Grey
08 An Elephant's Swan Song
09 Three Baht Opera
10 Little Elephant Saddle
11 Floating Down The Pin River
12 Pin Pia
13 Bamboo Dreams
14 Bamboolin
15 Dancing With Prathida
16 An Adult's Guide To The Elephant Orchestra
17 Kaw-Liga
18 Pastorale Lite
19 Homage to Harry Partch
20 Baby Elephant Walk
21 Mr. Elephant
22 Eletranz
23 Chant! Chang! Chang!
24 Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony, First Movement

download Part 01
download Part 02

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Espers: II (4/5)

Year: 2006
Label: Drag City
Genre: Psychedelic Folk
: 50:01

Less fragile and delicate sounding than their previous release, with a fuller sound and more psychedelic rock parts. However, it still retains the essence and nature of beauty The Weed Tree exudes.

01 Dead Queen
02 Widow's Weed
03 Cruel Storm
04 Children of Stone
05 Mansfield and Cyclops
06 Dead King
07 Moon Occults the Sun

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This Heat: This Heat (4/5)

Year: 1979
Label: Piano
Genre: Psychedelic Experimental Rock
TRT: 47:40

This is very progressive and inventive. The beginning of the album is a little spacey but give it a chance and you'll start to see the brilliance behind the instruments. I'm sure this album isn't for everyone, but I'd never heard of this band until I randomly stumbled upon them which goes to say they must have made some kind of waves to still have mp3's floating around on the internet.

01 Test Card
02 Horizontal Hold
03 Not Waving
04 Water
05 Twilight Furniture
06 24 Track Loop
07 Diet Of Worms
08 Music Like Escaping Gas
09 Rainforest
10 The Fall Of Saigon
11 Test Card

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Espers: The Weed Tree (4/5)

Year: 2005
Label: Locust
Genre: Psychedelic Folk
TRT: 36:48

Gorgeous vocals (male and female), beautiful harmonies and memorable music. Atmospheric and laid-back a majority of the time, but with a few freak-out moments that bring a smile when they hit. Overall a very relaxing album. All but the last track are covers, but they really make them their own.

01 Rosemary Tree
02 Tomorrow
03 Black is the Color
04 Afraid
05 Blue Mountain
06 Flaming Telepaths
07 Dead King

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ulf Söderberg: Tidvatten (3.5/5)

Year: 1998
Label: Slow Moon
Genre: Tribal Ambient
TRT: 57:09

A very atmospheric offering from the Swede behind Sephiroth, Tidvatten contains dark and beautiful soundscapes of an almost spiritual persuasion, with tribal drums and field recordings from the Frozen North playing a major role.

download part 1
download part 2

01 Hennes Vingars Skugga
02 I Vargmånens Tid
03 Ecuatoria
04 Tidvatten Part I
05 Nattstaden
06 Nordvinterögon
07 Järtecken
08 Ammons Hav
09 Tempel Och Katedral Reser Sig Ur Djupen
10 Tidvatten Part II

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Training For Utopia: Plastic Soul Impalement (5/5)

: 1998
Label: Solid State
Genre: Chaotic Mathcore
TRT: 48:00

Plastic Soul Impalement was released in the same year as The Dillinger Escape Plan: Calculating Infinity and Meshuggah: Chaosphere. Sadly, with Solid State Records still in it's infancy, Plastic Soul Impalement slipped through the cracks and into obscurity. Which is a shame, because this is one of the most furiously disturbing records I've come across, and it's been a favorite of mine since day one.

Note: There are two different album covers, as the ken doll artwork was deemed too controversial for Solid State's "christian market". You can find copies of both on eBay pretty cheap.

01 Plastic Soul Impalement
02 A Good Feeling
03 Brother Hezakiah
04 Two Hands
05 Pretty Picture of Lies
06 Black Forest
07 One Zero One
08 Burning Match in Hand
09 Burning Match in Hand
10 Human Shield
11 Single Handed Attempt at Revolution
12 A Gift To a Dying Friend

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