Saturday, April 04, 2009

Best of 2008 - from #70 to #66

70. warrel dane - 'praises to the war machine'
Joined by former (at the time, since he's now re-joined the band) Soilwork songwriter Peter Wichers on guitar, Nevermore's frontman put out, with this unlikely pairing, a surprisingly good solo album. More than just quenching the thirst for new Nevermore material, most of the songs on 'Praises To The War Machine' are very much Dane's work, with a separate identity from his main band. Of course, some of it will sound like Nevermore, which would be unavoidable, but overall it's commendable how Dane avoids any obvious references or clichés. With some of the more aggressive moments hitting that rather epic Nevermore quality, like opener 'When We Pray' and its unforgettable chorus or 'The Day The Rats Went To War', it's on the album's quieter but also darker moments that the real gems are to be found. Much more personal than a Nevermore album could ever be, 'Brother', 'August' or 'This Old Man' offer an insight into Warrel Dane like we've never had before, and they are moving, passionate and utterly bleak songs, beautiful without being ballads and with a tremendous impact without being brutal. The icing on the cake are the two covers, Simon & Garfunkel's 'Patterns' and The Sisters Of Mercy's 'Lucretia My Reflection', especially this latter one - although they are rather unnecessary to the flowing of the record, they show the full range of Dane's interpretative powers.

Warrel Dane - 'Brother'

69. torche - 'meanderthal'
Almost universally hailed, 'Meanderthal' is the album that really put Torche on the map, and right from the first listen it's easy to understand why. While maintaining their sludge/doom framework, Torche have meandered (sorry) into a middle-ground territory - the almost pop sensibilities of the melodic hooks, that warm and fuzzy guitar tone and the absolute catchiness of all the material, from the most scorching to the slower stuff, all of them beg to be heard by a much wider audience than what seemed to be reserved for Torche based on their previous work. With riffs to die for ('Across The Shields', 'Speed Of The Nail'), ton-heavy sludgers ('Sandstorm') and exhilirating rock-outs ('Fat Waves'), the closest reference point for Torche is actually Kyuss, these days. That's not a band to throw around lightly, and in this case it's perfectly justified.

Torche - 'Speed Of The Nail'

68. they are cowards - 'demo'
It's only a demo, but it's disgustingly heavy so it gets in the list with all the social grace of a homeless wino, pushing around all the other records until it lands in its place smelling of stale piss. Made up by three former members of Atavist and ex-RedRightHand guitarist Robbo, this Manchester foursome take everything that's ugly about Iron Monkey, Khanate or indeed Atavist themselves and join it into one freewheelin', aggressive and provocative whole. Fat grooves and bruising attitude abound, and promise a whole deal for what's coming next. Which, apparently, is a split with Black Sun. Satan help us all.

Get it free from their website!

67. amenra - 'mass iiii'
Maybe their concert at Roadburn will help Amenra build the following that they would so richly deserve, based on every gargantuan record they've put out so far - 'Mass IIII' is no exception. Relentless and hurtful while still allowing space and time for darkly atmospheric moments, with colossal dynamics that make you feel like someone who's been punching your face in has just allowed you to get some air for a few seconds before resuming the activity and, above all, with the overwhelming sluge hiding painfully beautiful underlying melodies, this Belgian troupe have really done it again with this album. Ignore them at your own peril!

Amenra - 'Razoreater'

66. genghis tron - 'board up the house'
Electro-grind, eh? A few attempts have been made before by a few rather unknown bands, but Genghis Tron really do step up that surreal genre notion to a seemingly unbeatable degree. All kinds of bleeps and scratches and even some beats hover around an insane orgy of mathcore/grind craziness. Go see some photos of how these guys look (I mean, really.) and you can picture them holed up in their bedrooms, fiddling with their laptops for hours until they come up with this stuff. However it is they do, the fact is that it slays and will probably be the starting point for a deluge of copycat "cybergrind" bands all wanting to make a similar kind of hellish racket like this.

Genghis Tron - 'City On A Hill'


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