Friday, February 08, 2008

Best of 2007 - reaching halfway! From #50 to #46

50. behemoth - 'the apostasy'
[review published on issue #162 of Terrorizer magazine]
Behemoth have been worryingly average for a while now, and the fact that this less inspired (by their standards) period has coincided with a rise in their commercial status, especially in the United States, is a very valid cause of concern for fans of these Polish giants. ‘Demigod’ was a step further into their definitive affirmation as a death metal band, as opposed to their blackened earlier output, but it was a bland, uninspired step which left several question marks on what would be the ideal direction to follow on the next release. Their commercial future might be relatively secure, with the kind of popularity they seem to hold now, but purely musically speaking, a lot hangs on ‘The Apostasy’. So it’s good that ‘Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa’, the first track proper after the moody intro, will kick any lingering doubts and anxieties from your mind with all the violence you could wish for. A clinically precise yet very pleasantly gritty and above all very heavy slab of proper death metal, it nevertheless shoots off in several other directions that elevate it from very good to brilliant status, and sets the norm for what comes next. In a month where I feel like I’ve used the word ‘ethnic’ on every single review, Behemoth show everyone how it’s really done. Much like Rotting Christ’s ‘Theogonia’ or any Nile album, all those influences are entangled in the songwriting itself, instead of someone just plucking a sitar when the drums go quiet. Coupled with frequent tempo changes and the best, most twisted and fiery drumming of Inferno’s career, this melting pot of ultra-brutal death metal, shit-scary vocal layering, Middle-Eastern chanting and tribalism turns a song like ‘At The Left Hand Ov God’ into something very close to a masterpiece. Even better, if that’s possible, is ’Inner Sanctum’, where none other than Warrel Dane wails all over some sick black metal riffing and jazz piano (!), his characteristic voice a perfect and surprising match to Nergal’s deeply resonant growls. ‘The Apostasy’ isn’t catchy, and all the kids who picked up on the band recently will have trouble getting to grips with its complexity and density, but the top-notch songwriting, the sheer weight of the atmosphere and the grinding relentlessness of the whole album make it one of the top death metal releases of the year so far.

Behemoth - 'Inner Sanctum'

49. antimatter - 'leaving eden'
Saddest band in the world, proclaims the sticker on the cd case, but that might be misleading. In fact, the first feeling that you get from 'Leaving Eden' isn't really of overbearing sadness, but of quiet, of solitude and contemplation. This record actually sounds a bit like the more pensive bits of Anathema, which is funny since it's the first Antimatter album to not feature ex-Anathema bassist and songwriter Duncan Patterson, leaving Mick Moss as the remaining founder. It does still have a tie to the Liverpool band though, as Danny Cavanagh guests with a few guitar parts. Somewhat like Ulver's 'Shadows Of The Sun' (coming up later... much later!), 'Leaving Eden' is the perfect album for a silent, dark evening, and even to put on just before you fall asleep. There's the same kind of quiet melancholy in the singer/songwriter-like simplicty of 'Ghosts', the breezy, 70s-like 'Another Face In The Window' or the beautiful instrumental 'The Immaculate Misconception'. I must admit I feared Anitmatter would fade away without Duncan, but that might have actually been a good thing. Wonderful as Antimatter's previous albums where, there always seemed to be a conflict of styles between the two men, and with 'Leaving Eden', Mick Moss has managed to create the most cohesive and coherent Antimatter album to date.

Antimatter - 'Ghosts'

48. fall of the leafe - 'aerolithe'
Sadly, Fall Of The Leafe split up shortly after the release of 'Aerolithe', but at least they left another great album so that we won't grieve too much. Long-time fans of the band will grieve anyway, because there was something special to Fall Of The Leafe. Whether it's Tuomas Tuominen's unique, labyrinthine vocals or the never obvious but nevertheless infinitely catchy song structures and hooks, you can't really find a comparison point for these guys. Mixing all kinds of melodic metal elements and even, why not, a few poppy bits now and then (mostly in feeling), Fall Of The Leafe's songs were often memorable, launching into choruses molded by Tuominen's voice meanderings and coloured by his cryptic, unusual lyrics. If previous album 'Vantage' was where he totally let loose with all his vocal talent, 'Aerolithe' is a more controlled affair, where the music is given space to breathe (ie, he shuts up now and then) and therefore work much better as a whole. Although there isn't a stand-out million-dollar song like 'The Fresco' on 'Aerolithe', the whole album feels more like a complete effort, and still offers a few highlights of incomparable melody, like 'Sink Teeth Here' for example. Sink your teeth on it down there and you'll know what I mean.

Fall Of The Leafe - 'Sink Teeth Here'

47. reverend bizarre - 'iii: so long suckers'
That title is well revealing - Reverend Bizarre are no more. What the hell happened to Finnish doomsters in 2007? Two of the finest, most brilliant bands in the entire genre of traditional doom, Reverend Bizarre and Minotauri, have called it quits last year, apparently just because they could. At least they both left monuments to their memory, 'II' in the case of Minotauri (later on this list...) and this little monster in the case of the Reverend. Basically, 'III: So Long Suckers' is two hours (yeah, it's a double) of The Riff. The ghosts of Black Sabbath or Candlemass are summoned to the seance, and all the spirits join together to spew forth mammoth doom riff after mammoth doom riff. And that's it, really. Reverend Bizarre have always kept it simple, you want doom, you get doomed, with Albert Witchfinder crooning all over the slow paced of the beasts that are these seven (for two hours, I repeat!) songs. A worthy funeral for the Reverend.

46. l'acephale - 'mord und totsclag'
Holy shit. One of the major headfucks of the year, 'Mord Und Totsclag' will require some getting used to, even by people who listen to abrasive music daily. L'Acephale combine the atavistic primitivism of old Darkthrone with a viciousness worthy of Funeral Mist to create a severely bruising wall of hellish black metal fury. The vocals are some of the most intense, paint-peeling shrieks heard this side of Dead, and the music reaches Burzumic levels of repetition and creepiness often. The most amazing thing about this record is the creeping unease that permeates it, from the most direct stuff like 'The Book Of Lies' to the unbearable 21 minutes of centerpiece 'Against A Weeping Sea Of Sleep'. That's the best description for 'Mord Und Totsclag - it's unbearable. All props to you if you can listen to it all the way through in one sitting, because sometimes even the music on this album seems to be unable to keep up with itself, like on the insane 'Terror Is Our Tenderness', where the instrumental part sometimes goes down in volume during vocalist's Set Sothis Nox Law shrieking. Phew.

L'Acephale - 'Terror Is Our Tenderness'


  1. Anonymous12:20 pm

    Boa pah!
    Mais um bocado e em 2013 acabas esta lista de discos de merda....


  2. Anonymous12:22 pm

    Tens de ter em atenção o calendário Maia...não vá o mundo acabar antes de acabares esta lista... obviamente, de m*****!


  3. Então e já conseguiste ouvir L'Acephale, ou ainda estás com medinho?

  4. Anonymous11:17 am

    I completely agree with your review on Fall Of the Leafe, My favorite band in the whole entire world.
    Sink teeth here is my favorite song off Aerolithe, & The Fresco & But the Ghosts Here on Vantage. I'm so glad that someone else knows how brilliant they are.

  5. I'm glad you liked the review, Alexie!

    It's always been a source of discomfort for me how underrated Fall Of The Leafe were. Such an unusual band... I'm still hoping they come back at some poitn.

  6. I disagree with Behemoth's album! I think that kind of music is simply pure noise and nothing of talent! sounds so boring! Come on!