Friday, August 26, 2011

Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song (4/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Country
Label: Mercury Nashville
TRT: 1:45:33

I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from an expert on country music. Outside of a Johnny Cash, I've never really been impressed by what I've heard from the genre. So when NPR was reviewing this album last year I was dubious, but intrigued. And when they played Lonely at the Top, I immediately tracked down the album for further investigation.

While The Guitar Song is a sprawling release, covering two discs and close to two hours, it's remarkably consistent in quality. Sure there's a few tracks here and there that cross into the twang, honky-tonk and "good 'ol boy" stylings that initially caused me to dismiss the genre outright. But for every one song like that, there's two or three that are poignant, earnest and refreshingly down to earth. Tracks such as the aforementioned album opener, Can't Cash My Checks, Good Morning Sunrise, et cetera, are frank, honest (sometimes painfully so) and you can sense that Johnson is in this to exercise his own demons, and any fame or fortune that might come along with that are merely added bonuses.

Apparently he's pretty popular and well known in the country music scene, so it's not like I'm unearthing an obscure gem here, but for someone quite far from informed on the matter, he's quite a find, and has sparked my interest to find similar artists of his mettle. Perhaps he'll do the same for you.

Disc 1 (Black)
1Lonely At the Top
2Cover Your Eyes
3Poor Man Blues
4Set 'Em Up Joe
5Playing the Part
6Baby Don't Cry
7Heaven Bound
8Can't Cash My Checks
9That's How I Don't Love You
11Mental Revenge
12Even the Skies Are Blue

Disc 2 (White)
1By the Seat of Your Pants
2California Riots
3Dog in the Yard
4The Guitar Song (Featuring Bill Anderson)
5That's Why I Write Songs
7Thankful for the Rain
8Good Morning Sunrise
9Front Porch Swing Afternoon
10I Remember You
11Good Time Ain't What They Used to Be
12For the Good Times
13My Way to You

EDIT: file was reported by the IFPI, you'll have to google it for yourself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nadja & OvO: The Life and Death of a Wasp (4/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Noir Doomjazz
Label: Adaigo 830
TRT: 34:16

Nadja has made some excellent music, and some extremely boring music, so I always approach a new release with a healthy level of skepticism. By about a minute into this one however, I completely forgot to be skeptical. This is completely different from anything else Aidan Baker or OvO has ever done. Yes, it's still gloomy, yes at times it's got some doomy drone, but the atmosphere here is very noir and has a feel more like Bohren & der Club of Gore than Jesu. This is also a strange album due to it's subject matter, with creepy Jarboe-esque vocalizations meant to be the wasp that is doomed to a liquid grave. It's weird as hell. And I love it.

01 Movement 1: A Wasp Flying Around the Sugar Jar
02 Movement 2: Trapped in the Jar
03 Movement 3: Put Some Sugar in My Cup, Please
04 Movement 4: Drowned in Coffee

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bohren & der Club of Gore: Dolores (4.5/5)

Year: 2008
Genre: Slowburn Doom Jazz Noir
Label: Ipecac
TRT: 58:23

This band kept popping up on my radar, and after one particularly avid fan beseeched me to bump them up in my queue, I obliged.

This is the definition of "mood" music. Dark, slow paced, schmaltzy and ominous, Bohren & der Club of Gore took jazz and made it what they wanted it to be, not what it was "supposed" to be. It really blows my mind how much I enjoy this, as jazz has never really been very agreeable to my sensibilities. The best thing is, apparently their early catalog is even better than this one.

I highly recommend putting this on while you read a good book, it sets an absolutely spectacular atmosphere.

01 Staub
02 Karin
03 Schwarze Biene (Black Maja)
04 Unkerich
05 Still am Tresen
06 Welk
07 Von Schnäbeln
08 Orgelblut
09 Faul
10 Welten

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Black Sheep Wall: I Am God Songs (4.5/5)

Year: 2008
Genre: Sludge Metal
Label: PID
TRT: 60:05

Regardless of the quality of he music (which i consider quite good), this is very likely the heaviest thing I've heard in my life.

Their guitar tone is the most righteously ungodly thing ever.

It's like drowning in concrete.


02Care by Carcinogenic


04Modest Machine


06Lamb... gayy

07D327ht2qwbref2 5g2

08Ten Fucking Billion


Search Amazon for Black Sheep Wall

Monday, August 15, 2011

22: Flux + ESP (4.5/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Mathpop
Label: Best Before Records
TRT: 47:55

At first I wasn't entirely sold, but the more I listened, the more sold I got.

Now I'm bought and paid for.

They're like Circa Survive meets The Mars Volta meets Meshuggah meets glitter and glowsticks.

I'm in love. I can't get enough.

01 Plastik
02 Gotodo
03 Flux
04 I Am That I Am
05 Disconnecting From the Grid
06 Kneel Estate
07 Loopwhole
08 Power Is So Yesterday
09 Perspective Pleiadian
10 Susurrus
11 Abdomental

their EP ESP (Extra Sensory Play) is also fantastic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Natural Snow Buildings: The Centauri Agent (4/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#10 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Psychedelic Folk Drone
Label: Vulpiano
TRT: 106:57

A Massive 2-disc venture, Natural Snow Buildings creates a unique vastness, an expanse unparalleled by anything but their own catalog. This is the soundtrack for swirling endlessly through the vacuum of space.

Disc 1
o1Our Man From Centauri

o2The Accidental Remote Viewer

Disc 2
01The Psychic Circle/Uchronia

02Black Holes

03The Storm of Resurrection

04Moscow Signal

05Phantom Twin

06Stuttering Probe

07Solar Flares

08Emergency Network Farewell Broadcast

09Memories Found in a Bill From a Small Animal Vet

Natural Snow Buildings on Vulpiano Records

Fang Island: Fang Island (4/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#9 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Indie Dance Rock
Label: Sargent House
TRT: 31:27

After a falling out with fellow band-members in Daughters, Nick Andrew Sadler decided he was done with drama, and just wanted to have some fun. Joining up with fellow musicians from Providence, RI, they started a band whose music they describe as "everyone high-fiving everyone", and dammit, that's about as good of a description of their music as can be made. Just turn it up, crack a beer, and let go. Just be sure to leave one hand free for five fingered affirmation, which is sure to abound.

01Dreams of Dreams

02Careful Crossers


04Life Coach


06The Illinois


08Davey Crockett

09Welcome Wagon


Search Amazon for Fang Island

EDIT: DMCA complaint, apparently Sargent House is affiliated with Atlantic Records. You'll have to wave a wand at Google to find a link.

Daughters: Daughters (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#8 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Noise Rock
Label: Hydra Head
TRT: 27:56

A lot has changed since Daughters released Canada Songs back in 2003. A lot has changed since 2006's Hell songs. So much so, that the band quietly disassembled in August of 2009 after having a "falling out" revolving around musical differences and mutual unrest with the recorded material finished in June. Everyone went their separate ways, with guitarist Nick Sadler going on to start the band Fang Island (more on that later).

Later in the year, vocalist Lex went to drummer Jon and they decided to release the self titled Daughters album, stating in a Noiscreep interview: "We started this band and we're the only two people who have been through it consistently, so there was no reason to stop altogether and throw the whole thing away".

And thank goodness. The third full length from Daughters (their longest to date) is by far the most accessible material they've ever released, straying far away from their spastic grind-influenced debut, and only keeping the "drunken Elvis"-esqe vocals from the follow-up. Daughters is still demented, but in a noise rock, art core sort of way. It's easy to see why the band collectively threw up their hands in disgust.

Lex went on to say to Noisecreep that he's "not knocking anyone who enjoys this record, because I enjoy parts of this record. But I think if people like it, it's because it was written for them to like it, if that makes sense." On the surface that seems like a dick thing to say (though Lex is far from a stranger to lambasting fans and critics alike), but if you take a good listen to the album, you can actually see exactly what he means.

01The Virgin

02The First Supper

03The Hit

04The Theatre Goer

05Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One)

06The Dead Singer

07Sweet Georgia Brown

08The Unattractive, Portable Head

Search Amazon for Daughters

The Seven Fields of Aphelion: Periphery (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#7 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Ambient Piano Dreams
Label: Graveface
TRT: 38:08

Another member of Black Moth Super Rainbow (in addition to Tobacco and Power Pill Fist) that has decided to dabble into the solo arena, thank goodness. Whilst Tobacco captures the dirty chip hop side of BMSR, and PPF exemplifies the noiser chaos side of BSMR, The Seven Fields of Aphelion channels the ambient and atmospheric side. Ethereal, surreal, soothing and thoughtful, we're treated to a softer, more contemplative and drifting floating away on a dandelion puff in a secluded mountain meadow, on the cusp of summer and autumn.

01 Slow Subtraction
02 Grown
03 Pale Prophecy
04 Wildflower Wood
05 Cloud Forest (The Little Owl)
06 Mountain Mary
07 Saturation : Arrhythmia
08 Fever Sleep
09 Lake Feet
10 Sunburst Chemicals
11 Michigan Icarus
12 Starlight Aquatic

Search Amazon for The Seven Fields of Aphelion

Mains de Givre: Esther Marie (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#6 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Classical Drone
Label: Textura
TRT: 46:29

Mains de Givre (Frost Hands) is a a partnership between experimentalist/guitarist Eric Quach and classically trained violinist Emilie Livernois-Desroches. What they've managed to do here is created a wonderfully dense soundscape of whirling, swirling, and often enveloping washes of slowly evolving loops and variations originating from strings, more often violin than guitar, but melded together expertly. The result is at once menacing and ominous, while somehow hinting at light on the cusp of breaking through the brooding storm clouds.

Not too shabby for a couple of Canadians.

01 Un Chœur Dâmes En Détresse
02 Le Cercle Des Moeurs
03 Cauchemar Noir Et Rouge
04 Larmes Sanglantes

Search Amazon for Mains de Givre

The Glitch Mob: Drink the Sea (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#5 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Electronic Glitch-hop
Label: Glass Air
TRT: 59:33

I'd heard about this collective before, but never got around to checking out any of their sets. After touring extensively for several years, this is their first official release, and it was received with mixed reactions. Many were let down at the direction they pursued here, because it's apparently quite different from their live approach. Having not heard anything but this album, I came to the table with no expectations and no preconceived notions about what I was or was not going to hear. And if those opinions would have caused me to dislike this, then I'm quite glad of their absence, because this album is excellent.

Every track has something different to offer, and each song has a life and will of it's own, all coming together to form a blissful journey from start to finish. Glitchy electronics drenched in lush production and beats that are, at times, driving and at times simply walking in the background, marry to create arresting sonic soundscapes.

01 Animus Vox
02 Bad Wings
03 How To Be Eaten By A Woman
04 A Dream Within A Dream
05 Fistful of Silence
06 Between Two Points feat. Swan
07 We Swarm
08 Drive It Like You Stole It
09 Fortune Days
10 Starve The Ego, Feed The Soul

Search Amazon for The Glitch Mob

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Julie Christmas: The Bad Wife (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Albums for 2010
#4 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Sludge Rock
Label: Rising Pulse
TRT: 41:51

Full disclosure, I'm pretty much a sucker for anything this woman has a hand in. Battle of Mice, Made Out of Babies...whatever. So even though I tried not to get too excited about this album when it was announced to be in the works several years ago, I had little doubt I'd be into it.

Hooray for realistic expectations. Ms. Christmas combines elements of both the aforementioned projects, but highlights a more delicate side of her muse on this release. By "delicate" I don't mean "weak", this is a very dark and ominous album, but it doesn't quite cross the line into metal this time around. "Restraint" might be a better description, as there's still a definite aggressive thread running throughout.

As one familiar with her previous work might expect, The Bad Wife is a concept album. While not immediately obvious and not entirely fleshed out, it tells the story of a woman who is desperately attached to her beloved, but in the end her co-dependency and instability drives him away from her. The fact that the details are cloudy and the outcome vague only adds to the atmosphere.

01 July 31st
02 If You Go Away
03 Bow
04 Secrets All Men Keep (Salt Bridge, Part II)
05 Six Pairs of Feet and One Pair of Legs
06 Headless Hawks
07 The Wigmaker’s Widow
08 I Just Destroyed the World
09 When Everything is Green

Search Amazon for Julie Christmas

Sleigh Bells: Treats (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#3 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: The Noisiest of Pop
Label: Mom + Pop
TRT: 32:00

The story of Derek Miller (ex-guitarist for Poison the Well) and Alexis Krauss (former middle school teacher) meeting at a Brazilian restaurant in Brooklyn, and then practically the next week beginning work as Sleigh Bells would be meaningless if Sleigh Bells failed to be memorable.

Well, love it or hate it (and there's roughly equal proponents of each), Treats is hard to forget. At first I was quite dubious when a friend was telling me about this "hip hop noise pop" duo that was making waves in the underground. My skepticism lasted for about 32 minutes, roughly the length of their debut. Then I hit play again and turned it up a bit and all of a sudden, I was completely sold.

They may never be able to match the intensity and sheer energy found here on subsequent releases, but dammit if they haven't invented their own genre and executed it perfectly with their first release. Other bands have sort of dilly-dallied around this sound, but Sleigh Bells nails it to the wall and then pulls the walls down around their heads.

So roll down your windows, throw out all of your preconceptions about what "hipsters" or "pitchfork" think about this, and turn that shit up until your ears bleed and your mind melts.

1Tell 'Em


3Riot Rhythm

4Infinity Guitars

5Run the Heart


7Rill Rill

8Crown on the Ground

9Straight A's

10A/B Machines


Search Amazon for Sleigh Bells

Jónsi: Go (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#2 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Dreamladen Clouds of Glitter and Sparkly Wonder
Label: XL
TRT: 40:17

Sigur Rós has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now, so I was understandably chagrined to hear they were taking an extended sabbatical from recording anything new. Imagine my elation when I got wind of this release.

Of course, there's always a niggle in the back of your mind when someone from a favorite band goes solo, but I was confident it would be good, whatever direction he went in.

What we get here is a perfectly-crafted antidote for when the world's ills begin to overwhelm the soul. Instead of the brooding, expansive, climax-driven soundscapes Sigur Rós has been known for over the past decade, Jónsi takes the essence of this and magnifies it to exultant levels. Go is one of the most uplifting and life-affirming albums I've ever heard. Even when he gets reflective, the inherent hope of being alive is still palpable. The pacing and balance between upbeat and somber is also executed much better than on the last full band effort.

It's like injecting rainbows and fairies directly into your bloodstream. This album should make anti-depressants obsolete.

01 Go Do
02 Animal Arithmetic
03 Tornado
04 Boy Lilikoi
05 Sinking Friendships
06 Kolniður
07 Around Us
08 Grow Till Tall
09 Hengilás

Search Amazon for Jónsi

The River Empires: The River Empires (Epilogue) (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#1 of 10 (Album of the Year)

Year: 2010
Genre: Whimsical Cinematic Indie Folk Orchestration
Label: Self Released
TRT: 88:41

Jesse Ribordy and company came out of nowhere this year, and launched what could turn out to be one of the most epic series of releases of the decade, and perhaps of all time, if fully realized. I know that sounds a bit presumptuous, but after dozens and dozens of start-to-finish listens to this 88 minute masterpiece, I can come to no other conclusion.

The River Empires (Epilogue) is, as the title implies, a summary of the larger tale, which is scheduled to be released in reverse order over the next 3-5 years in the form of three more double disc sets. Additionally, these sets are meant to be soundtracks for three movies (though it now seems Ribordy is leaning toward as mini-series instead to avoid the possibility of one movie getting picked up and the others left to the wayside), telling the tale of "two children who, during one particular summer, find a glass bottle with a message in it that changes their lives forever." As a summary, the Epilogue makes little sense since we don't yet know the story, but once the narrative is complete, it's intended to be "a nostalgic look back on the beginning of a strange and terrifying idea called The River Empires."

The length of this release might seem daunting at first, but after 2 or 3 full listens, recurring themes and motifs begin to emerge, and the tantalizing lack of details will begin to take root in your mind. Ribordy and Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter) utilize a plethora of instruments, including the banjo, piano, xylophone, various strings...with the notable absence of guitar for all but a few tracks. This gives a very cinematic feel to the recording, and it's not at all hard to imagine it working as a film accompaniment. Imagine a marriage of Anathallo, Sufjan Stevens and (unsurprisingly) The Dear Hunter, and you'll have a bit of an idea of their sound, but hardly a complete picture of it.

Sometimes innocent, sometimes sinister, As dark as it is beautiful, this is the beginning (end) of something vast. A massive undertaking to say the least, but if they can pull it off i have no doubt The River Empires will go down as one of most ambitious visionaries of our generation.

Disc 1
01The River Empires Theme I
02Overture in Thales Summer

03Our Neighbor, the Earth

04The Coventry

05Galloping Through Day Blooms

06The Harbourland

07From Faye to Astral

08A Toast to the Snake King

09The First Message

10Catacombs and Orchards

11Three Tigers

12The Stag Hollow Fair

13Lull Of Celeste

14From Outside the Cellar

15Vcias in the Pines

16A Dimmer Lux


Disc 2
01Witches Blossom

02The Curse of Maybel Cains


04The Motorbike

05The Pelican

06The Backyard in Sparkles

07Land of Canoes

08Theon, the Fox

09An Elliptic Figure From Borelli

10The Marching of the Clocks

11The Woods of Northland

12The River Empires Theme II

Visit The River Empires Bandcamp Page

Fleshgod Apocalypse: Mafia (4/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs from 2010
#5 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Label: Willowtip Records
TRT: 23:57

Tech death is far from my favorite flavor of metal, and I'm extremely picky within the genre. Fleshgod Apocalypse does a good job with keeping away from the "virtuoso" (read: wankery) of many of their peers, utilizing clean vocals and symphonic elements to add balance and contrast to the otherwise brutal assault on the senses.

01 Thru Our Scars
02 Abyssal
03 Conspiracy of Silence
04 Blinded by Fear (At the Gates cover)
05 Mafia

Search Amazon for Fleshgod Apocalypse

Tobacco: La Uti (4/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs from 2010
#4 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Wonky Glitch-hop Electronics
Label: Anticon
TRT: 18:39

A few new tunes and a few tunes off 2010's Meat Maniac, but re-recorded with guest vocals from other Anticon artists. This brief EP contains some of Tom Fec's best work, not in any small part due to the guest appearances; it just works. It works so well. I sincerely hope this is a taste of what's to come, because the further into Hip Hop he delves, the fresher and better his grooves seem to get.

01 TV All Greasy (Feat. Anti-Pop Consortium)
02 The Injury (Feat. Doseone)
03 Lick The Witch (Feat. Rob Sonic)
04 2 Thick Scoops (Feat. Serengeti)
05 Sweatmother (Feat. Height)
06 Unholy Demon Rhythms (Feat. Icicle Frog)
07 Lamborghini Meltdown (Feat. Zackey Force Funk)

Search Amazon for Tobacco

Nekrasov: Perishable Things (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs for 2010
#3 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Blackest of Metals
Label: Self Released
TRT: 14:33

Apocalypse. Armageddon. Nuclear Holocaust.

Basically what Merzbow would sound like if he made a black metal record, viscerally offensive to the senses.

01 C.Z.V.M
04 O FOOL!

Search Amazon for Nekrasov

Mouth of the Architect: The Violence Beneath (5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs for 2010
#2 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Label: Translation Loss
TRT: 31:07

I consider MotA to be one of my favorite post metal bands, and The Ties That Blind is an absolutely magnificent album. However, I thought that their last full length effort, Quietly (while still good), was a marked step down from their first two offerings, which dampened my expectation of their future output.

Confidence: Restored. The Violence Beneath starts off with the title track and goes straight for the jugular, almost as if to say "how dare you doubt us". These three original tracks are chocked full of pummeling riffs and grooves, but as on their first two albums they balance the aggression with tasteful ambiance and atmosphere, which at times add more weight to the mix than the heavier sections.

The post metal poster boys show a more emotional side of their muse with their closer. Opting for an interesting cover of Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes, converting the 80's pop anthem into a noisy yet restrained swirl of feedback laden doom.

01 The Violence Beneath
02 Buried Hope
03 Restore
04 In Your Eyes

Search Amazon for Mouth of the Architect

Cloudkicker: ]]][[[ (5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs of 2010
#1 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Polymetric Metal
Label: Self Released
TRT: 15:46

Ben Sharp said in an interview recently that one of the main reasons he started making music was to see how many layers he could fit in a song. This brief EP is a testament to that. Moving in a bit of a different direction than The Discovery, ]]][[[ is more focused on the build up than the pay off, but because of this the pay offs are some of his best to date. A nice little bite-sized snack that is substantial, regardless of size.

1. #
2. %
3. $

Check Out Cloudkicker on Bandcamp

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Necrite: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#10 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Drone
Label: Flenser Records
TRT: 70:10

Thus passes the glory of the world. That's how the Latin translates. It has Templar Masonic origins, and has quite a few occultic and Lovecraftian implications.

This album is about the complete annihilation of everyone. The first three tracks are meant to rub the face of humankind in the "filth" of it's own existence, while the rest of the album transitions, as the band puts it, "from painting a picture of human disease, to a vision of cleansing. It is a worship of Armageddon and the end of life in which everything is reset to a pure blackness."

pretty nihilistic stuff, but this message and ethos are perfectly complimentary to the utter black abyss that the music found here evokes. Nasty, ugly, filthy, and as heavy as the subject matter demands, this is an album to listen to with all the hatred in your heart exposed and gloating.

01A Mass for the Harvest of Death
02Bereft of Hope
03Bathing Open Wounds With Shards of Glass
04Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
05Worship the Sunn((O))

Search Amazon for Necrite

Odem Arcarum: Outrageous Reverie Above The Erosion Of Barren Earth (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#9 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Osmose Productions
TRT: 65:12


That and the tag "" immediately i was interested in hearing this. Goodness gravy this is a disturbing album, and they achieve that not with silly gimmicks or cheap tricks. They do this by creating one of the most sinister atmospheres of any album I've ever heard. Eerie and unsettling, you're transported to a dying world of terrible things, and abandoned there with no hope of survival. But if that doesn't make you want to listen...


01 Gate
02 Oceans
03 Worlds Of Barren Land
04 Loss
05 Hell & Revelation
06 The Body & Perpetual Imagination
07 A Darker Kind of Dreaming

Search Amazon for Odem Arcarum

Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#8 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Chaotic Sludge Grind
Label: Prosthetic
TRT: 32:55

Unrelenting carnage. Even when they put the brakes on, they wreak havoc. They hate everything and everyone, and they're trying to kill you sonically.

Imagine a less sloppy Converge, combined with Crowpath and Bodies in the Gears of the Machine.

01 Teeth & Hair
02 Cloven
03 I Walked Away From The Human Race
04 Shat Out My Bones
05 Gold Frankincense & Myth
06 Recession
07 Piss
08 Bouquet Of Self Pity
09 Leather Hands
10 Made Of Coal
11 They Smeared Shit On Their Skin So They Could Blend In At Night
12 Empty
13 Remove The Light

Search Amazon for Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire

Year of No Light: Ausserwelt (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#7 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Label: Conspiracy
TRT: 48:02

Having enjoyed their 2006 debut Nord, I was interested in the direction their sophomore release would take. Turns out they decided to completely drop the post hardcore element from their sound, and completely do away with vocals. Instead, they opt to take a turn towards the atmospheric sludge sound contemporaries Mouth of the Architect, A Storm of Light and others have been championing for the past few years. It just so happens that I love that sound, and Ausserwelt is an excellent representation of it. Moody and brooding, they carry you across an ever-evolving soundscape of swirling doom that eventually drifts away on a sea of despair.

1. Perséphone (Enna)
2. Perséphone (Coré)
3. Hiérophante
4. Abbesse

Search Amazon for Year of No Light

Sol / Blóðtrú: Old Europa Death Chants (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#6 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Funeral Folk Doom
Label: Paradigms
TRT: 77:34

"Old Europa Death Chants". With a title like that, my attention was immediately piqued, and rightly so. This collaboration of two Danish bands who's body of work falls in the realm of "doom", you sort of think you might have an idea of what they might do together. But that idea is like a rough pencil sketch of the Sistine Chapel. This is a very unique beast.

The pacing is a little strange, and at 77 minutes, a full listen is a commitment, but by the end, you'll feel it was time well spent, and look forward to the next time you take the journey. It's mammoth, serpentine, and oceanic.

01 Alone
02 Crippled by Emotions We Die in Solitude
03 The Dusk of Man: The Dawn of the Beasts
04 Where Did We Fall
05 A Golden Horse
06 Death Chants for Old Europa

Search Amazon for Sol / Blóðtrú

Periphery: Periphery [Instrumental] (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#5 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Polymetric Metal
Label: Sumerian
TRT: 71:26

This album has been in the works for more than 5 years. Fighting through multiple line-up changes, most notable a veritable revolving door at the vocalist position, this labor of love was finally released. And it comes off in a bit of a "we're just going to get this fucking thing out there and move on" sort of way, mostly because every song on the album has been online in one form or another for years.

Be that as it may, this album kicks much ass. Thick, mean, and impeccable executed, the music sounds better than ever. Unfortunately, The vocals are another matter, but since they released an instrumental version of the album too, I'm going to give Spencer Sotelo a pass on this one. He came into the recording process with a very short period of time to learn lyrics and vocal parts written by previous singers with different styles, and did the best he could at the time. Since then he's grown substantially as a performer, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in his own right.

Having said that, I would recommend getting the instrumental version (though both are provided here). Listening to the version with vocals first, and then a few weeks later listening to the instrumentals, it was like listening to the album for the first time all over again, because so much of the nuances and subtleties are masked or obscured by the often distracting vocals. They do grow on you after a time, but if you're only going to get one, get the instrumentals.

01 Insomnia
02 The Walk
03 Letter Experiment
04 Jetpacks Was Yes
05 Light
06 All New Materials
07 Buttersnips
08 Icarus Lives
09 Totla Mad
10 Ow My Feelings
11 Zyglrox
12 Racecar

Search Amazon for Periphery

Kvelertak: Kvelertak (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#4 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Black 'n Roll
Label: Indie Recordings
TRT: 42: 16

These Nords made huge waves in 2010 with their infectious and unassuming combination of black metal, classic rock, and undeniable badassery. It's like one giant slab of vicious ferocity wrapped in bacon wearing a party hat leaving destruction in their wake (because everything is better with bacon). I bet Andrew W.K. loves this album.

I paid $30 to import this, but you can get the re-release from The End records for a 1/3 of that, along with some bonus tracks. If you like it, you've no excuse not to drop a Hamilton on it.

01 Ulvetid
02 Mjød
03 Fossegrim
04 Blodtørst
05 Offernatt
06 Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)
07 Sultans of Satan
08 Nekroskop
09 Liktorn
10 Ordsmedar av rang
11 Utrydd dei svake

Search The End for Kvelertak

An Autumn for Crippled Children: Lost (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#3 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Depressive Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: A Sad Sadness Song
TRT: 50:20

Proportionally, this album is about as good as it's name is silly.

01 To Set Sails to the Ends of the Earth
02 Tragedy Bleeds All Over the Lost
03 A Dire Faith
04 In Moonlight Blood is Black
05 Ghost Light
06 An Autumn for Crippled Children
07 I Beg Thee Not to Spare me
08 Gaping Void of Silence
09 Never Shall Be Again

Search Amazon for An Autumn for Crippled Children

Shining: Blackjazz (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 "Metal" Picks for 2010
#2 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Blackjazz Metal
Label: Indie Records
TRT: 57:15

Shining has been borderline insane for years.

With Blackjazz...they've finally crossed over. This album is absolutely schizo (and how about that, they even covered an appropriate King Crimson song to celebrate). They've toyed with heavier sounds from time to time, but here they land in metal territory, if only on the outskirts. Their statement on this album is "what black metal is to metal, blackjazz is to jazz". It's dark, it's scary, it's completely fucked up, and it's out of control.

Embrace the chaos.

01 The Madness And The Damage Done
02 Fisheye
03 Exit Sun
04 Exit Sun
06 The Madness And The Damage Done
07 Blackjazz Deathtrance
08 Omen
09 21st Century Schizoid Man

Search Amazon for Shining

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Option Paralysis (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#1 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Chaotic Mathmetal
Label: Party Smash Inc / Seasons of Mist
TRT: 44:18

Ire Works fell flat on it's face for me. One of the few reviews I've bothered to write about a CD I didn't like.

So I was apprehensive, I was nervous, and I wasn't sure what to expect from this one.

In short, this might be the best thing they're ever done (a hard claim to make, for sure). If this had been released right after Miss Machine, it would have made perfect sense. It's the logical progression of the sound the experimented with there. Everything is so well integrated, where Ire Works seemed choppy and poorly pasted together. Option Paralysis even has a bit of a monster ballad, albeit they can't contain themselves for the whole song, but it's perfectly executed. Greg Puciato's vocals are better than ever, and can actually match the talent of the rest of the band, not to mention that he's one of the most intimidatingly good frontmen in the scene today.

Bottom line, this is a furious album, and it will destroy your face right off.

01 Farewell, Mona Lisa
02 Good Neighbor
03 Gold Teeth On A Bum
04 Crystal Morning
05 Endless Endings
06 Widower
07 Room Full Of Eyes
08 Chinese Whispers
09 I Wouldn't If You Didn't
10 Parasitic Twins

Search Amazon for The Dillinger Escape Plan