Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best of 2007 - from #30 to #26

30. the great deceiver - 'life is wasted on the living'
[review published on issue #163 of Terrorizer magazine]
Shame that metalcore has become such a dirty word, otherwise it would be a perfect term to describe bands that actually can appeal to the sensitivities of both hardcore and metal audiences by doing a bit more than just mixing clean and rough vocals and doing a lot of breakdowns. As it is, it’s hard to describe The Great Deceiver’s new album without alienating the genre purists by the end of the first sentence. It’s their loss anyway. Tomas Lindberg (ironically enough, as At The Gates are often cited as an influence on the current “metalcore” bands) and Kristian Wahlin’s band has defied easy categorization ever since 1999’s ‘Cave In’, with each album a potent cocktail featuring a different balance of genres, and here that balance has clearly gone the way of the hardcore punk. The intensity is enough to bring Converge to mind often, while the creativity and agility of the guitarwork work beautifully in keeping the record fresh and interesting, despite the directness of the music, so you’ll be kicked in the face for 12 songs and enjoy every hit. Where’s the hunger? The dedication? Where’s the passion?, Tomas screams during closer ‘21st Century Heartburn’. Well, it’s right here.

The Great Deceiver - 'Home To Oblivion'

29. the angelic process - 'weighing souls with sand'
There is a certain frame of mind, a red thread going through some artists and bands of the past couple of decades that connects them, more spiritually than in actual performed music itself. The Angelic Process don't really sound like My Bloody Valentine, or Swans, or Jesu, and neither of those bands really sound like each other, but there is the same underlying feeling to their albums, the same bittersweetness that's left in your gut whenever they finish playing. The Angelic Process is a couple (K. Angylus and MDragynfly) who have recently put the band on hold, tragically, due to an injury to Angylus that prevents him, for an indefinite period, to play drums and guitar properly, but before disappearing (for what one hopes is a temporary period - here's hoping, K.) they've left us this monument of an album. What comes to mind after enduring a full listen of 'Weighing Souls With Sand' is waves - tidal waves of blurry, hazy, gigantic walls of noise burying inside them painfully beautiful and feverishly intense, emotional melodies. Everything in this album is both subtle and with immense scope, and it never meanders into pointless tragedy for tragedy's sake - it's like a brutal elegance that's thrown at you, enveloped in a surprisingly rich musicality, as the almost-hidden structure of the songs reveals itself once you get your head round the winds-lashing-across-Venus'-surface way in which they are presented. Approach with caution, for you might not come out.

The Angelic Process - 'Million Year Summer'

28. wolves in the throne room - 'two hunters'
It's interesting, and I have mentioned this before, how the impact of Burzum's music (while not necessarily Varg's lyrical message, or at least not in its entirety) is only now being fully processed and applied to evolution by some of the most interesting (post-?)black metal bands. 'Two Hunters' is one such example, strictly musically speaking, as Wolves In The Throne Room flow between raw, unadulterated aggression in the vein of the classics like Darkthrone or Immortal, and something quite beyond easy comparisons, a whirlwind of atmosphere and feeling. Take a song like 'I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots', for example, for a full Wolves In The Throne Room experience - the beginning is quietly acoustic, then after a while it surges into hyperspeed black metal distortion before pulling you back for another moment of quiet. The ending is then enormous, as intensity and ambiance are coupled together, including some beautifully mournful vocals by guest vocalist Jessica Kinney. By that title you can imagine a rural, back to the roots ideology at work here, and that's exactly what this band practises - the three members live in a self-sustained farm, growing their own nourishment and raising their own cattle. This nature worship transpires into their music, not in a hippie way but in a fundamental admiration for what surrounds us, both light and dark, both good and evil, with a balance in the crystallization of these feelings into sound rarely heard in recorded music.

27. a whisper in the noise - 'dry land'
[review published on issue #24 of Underworld magazine, translated and slightly adapted for too.many.records.]
Rarely has a band's name been so appropriate as here. Whisper In The Noise's sound is just that, a whisper among all the racket that can have a bigger impact just by its simplicity and meaning than all the loud volumes that might fill up the rest of your musical day. Three albums in, this Minnesota band give us an example of class and maturity. Recorded by Steve Albini, the songs exhibit a rare and delicate beauty, without ever getting into over-sentimentality. There is a minimalist elegance in these compositions, enriched superbly by the classical instrumentation which blends in with the low-profile piano and guitars. Songs like opener 'As We Were' or the wonderful 'This Time, It's' perfectly illustrate the general environment of the record, a slow development of an almost despondent sadness that nevertheless reaches leves of quiet euphoria, as West Thordsons voice echoes vague ghostly tales of a chilling evocative power. Monotony never sets in, through the intelligence with which the songs switch gears almost imperceptibly. The mood is very Southern Gothic - the old, wooden country houses, empty and abandoned, lonely old men inside slowly tracing the course of painful memories that they offer in each room. Albini's work is remarkable - each instrument resounds with crystal clarity the exact sound that is required by it, helping 'Dry Land' pull you in to repeated listens like few other records do, especially within a certain frame of mind. 'Dry Land' is an unusual, genuine record, and clearly reaffirms the faith if sometimes you think that people just don't do music like they used to.

A Whisper In The Noise - 'This Time, It's'

26. tombs - 'tombs'
[review published on issue #165 of Terrorizer magazine]
This is it, people. Whether you want the crushing weight of Godflesh, the hypnotic intensity of Swans, the piercing coldness of the darkest drone music or the atmosphere of the heavier shoegaze bands, Tombs deliver all that. This 30-minute EP is salivatingly brilliant, from the icy horror of ‘Fountain Of The World 666’ to the obliterating pain of ‘Calvaire’ or the ominous noise-instrumental that is ‘Marina’. A proper full length will probably kill us all. And what’s more, we’ll love it anyway.

Tombs - 'Calvaire'


  1. Nunca ouvi the great deceiver, mas depois da review (e da entrevista na loud), fiquei curiosa. Sempre gostei de At the Gates, mas acabei por não investigar muito as bandas a que os membros se dedicaram. A review de A whisper in the noise já a tinha lido na underworld, também é algo a conhecer num futuro próximo. Em relação aos restantes da lista - grandes álbuns! (tenho ouvido Tombs regularmente, o jornalista de renome da terrorizer tem razão, sim senhora.)*

  2. E gostaste da música de The Great Deceiver que aí pus? Vai investigar os álbuns anteriores deles, são todos bastante diferente uns dos outros e todos muito bons.

    E Tombs, Tombs. Valha-nos a Terrorizer e os seus maravilhosos jornalistas. ;)