Friday, April 03, 2009

Best of 2008 - from #80 to #71

80. dismember - 'dismember'
One of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (well, of Swedish death metal) that still stand strong and proud, along with Entombed, Grave and Unleashed, Dismember offer us yet another slice of bass-heavy, groovy death metal. By now nothing that Matti Kärki's band can offer will sound new, but that's not the point either. Even if they can still raise some eyebrows (like the unashamed Iron Maiden worship on 'Under A Bloodred Sky'), the point of Dismember is that you know what you can count on, and what you can count on is good - eleven more blasts of solid, exciting and no-frills proper death metal.

Dismember - 'Under A Bloodred Sky'

79. inverno eterno - 'póstumo'
You might not expect Portugal to produce a quality depressive/suicidal black metal project, but here they are - Inverno Eterno can slash wrists with the saddest of 'em, and they don't have to pretend that they're German or American to do it. With a very Portuguese display of emotions and lyrical expression, Inverno Eterno offer a desolate but painfully beautiful landscape to each of their songs, mostly within the norm of the genre but with some added flourishes that create their very own personality, like the creepy whistling on 'Depois Que Tu Morreste...' for example. A wonderful surprise, when we'd least expect it.

Inverno Eterno - 'Depois Que Tu Morreste...'

78. blindead - 'autoscopia / murder in phazes'
Featuring some known names from the Polish extreme metal scene, most notably ex-Behemoth guitar player Havoc and vocalist Nick Wolverine (who now screams for Antigama as well), Blindead sound absolutely nothing like those references would lead you to think. With Neurosis as the clear guiding light throughout the seven intricate, interweaved, concept-based songs, Blindead offer a remarkably surprising mix of sludge and technical doom metal, introspective, deep and worthy of several listenes to reveal all their hidden secrets. Bringing to mind Bloodlet at times by their fabulous dynamics, incorporating quieter passages among the stressful atmosphere and for their strained weight of composition, Blindead are a name to keep under a careful watch.

Blindead - 'Phaze I: Abyss'

77. anaphylactic shock - 'two thousand years'
Imagine a blackened Entombed, keeping the full rock-out swagger of the legendary Swedes but adding a bit of kvlt icy darkness to the whole thing. Now wrap that in a sort of post-hardcore atmosphere with truly venom-ridden vocals full of spit and bile, and what do you have? A fucking sexy band that you wish existed? Well, wish no more - Anaphylactic Shock are exactly that, and with their unusual mix of styles, the Dutch gang have been tearing up stages and ears alike with their furious live shows.

Anaphylactic Shock - 'Holy Land'

76. harvey milk - 'life... the best game in town'
It would have been a shame if Harvey Milk had bowed out during the seven year period of inactivity they went through. Even if their past legacy would ensure them a place in the hearts of the few who ever subjected themselves to the skewed freakery of their first two albums or the punishing bar-brawl rock-out of their third, there is way too much talent here to just put away, especially when the mighty Joe Preston (ex-Melvins, ex-High On Fire, ex-Earth and ex-Sunn O))), the man's resume reads like the coolest discography in the world) jumps aboard to lend his bass to the proceedings. Aaron Turner's Hydra Head wasted no time, and helped the guys put out 'Life... The Best Game In Town', which is a sort of celebration of everything Harvey Milk have ever done. There's the athletic dynamics of their early tunes coupled with the hard-hitting, to-the-point approach of their latter work, and everything flows perfectly in a gung-ho Motörhead-like fashion. Even their cover of Fear's 'We Destroy The Family' is put through the Harvey Milk processor, making it something very much their own. Unique and highly addictive, don't miss this.

Harvey Milk - 'A Maelstrom Of Bad Decisions'

75. flogging molly - 'float'
California's coolest Celtic punks march on, with yet another album that should come with Guinness coupons, such is the mug-raising quality of their pub tunes. Infused with an extra sense of melody as opposed to the punkier early records, 'Float' doesn't lose, nevertheless, any of its exciting drive. On the contrary, all the songs are even more infuriatingly catchy, and it's one of those records that you'll hum all day if you have the poor sense of putting on in the morning! If any bone in you is tickled by The Pogues or the Dropkick Murphys, or any aspect of Irish musical culture for that matter, you absolutely need this.

Flogging Molly - 'Requiem For A Dying Song'

74. caïna - 'temporary antennae'
Andrew Curtis-Brignell, the sole member of Caïna, achieved with 'Temporary Antennae' what might seem difficult - to follow-up his classic debut 'Mourner' with a record that doesn't even try to follow the horrid creepiness of that album but manages to still create an enveloping ambiance very much its own. Even if it takes a while to catch on, courtesy of less inspired opening tracks, by the time the warped-out 'Tobacco Beetle' comes on you're on your own again, lost within the confines of Andrew's mind. 'Temporary Antennae' is a crawling, dark beast to tackle, but one which offers within its Burzumic core a strange beauty and a bizarrely welcoming atmosphere as well. Light and dark, conflicting extremes and metamorphosis, and one more musical victory for Caïna.

Caïna - 'Tobacco Beetle'

73. akimbo - 'jersey shores'
...where Akimbo take their fascination with deep-sea horror to a whole new level. After those three songs about the Megalodon in 'Elephantine', 'Jersey Shores' is a concept album about a string of strange shark attacks that occurred in 1916, and it's damn near the closest approximation of such a hideous event as you can have without actually ending up in the belly of the beasts. Concept albums are a tricky business, especially for a band that is more known for its über-riffs than exactly their extraordinary storytelling abilities, but Akimbo pull it off in huge style. Telling the tales from the perspective of the victims themselves, Akimbo introduce some droning rhythms and all kinds of warped effects to their already respectable arsenal, lending a whole new weight to Jon Weisnewski's monstrous screaming and the band's punishing sound. Eerie but still in-your-face, 'Jersey Shores' is where Akimbo went up the evolutionary ladder, two steps at a time.

Akimbo - 'I Think I'm A Werewolf'

72. *shels - 'laurentian's atoll'
Although 'Laurentian's Atoll' is an EP, the breathtaking care and attention to detail that it has benefited from, as well as the sheer sparkling beauty of the music makes it very worthy of integrating this list. Showing that it is still possible to innovate within the post-rock spectrum, with truly unusual dynamics and a heightened sensitivity in the quieter parts, *shels sweep all the Pelicans of this world to a corner. The most interesting quality about these 37 minutes is the dream-like feeling of the music - a hazy, even unfinished ghostly appearance of these songs which sees them turn more into "pieces" than actual songs. Sometimes it feels almost free-form but without slipping into over-the-top esoterica, flowing wonderfully like your weirdest but most wonderful dreams would.

*shels - 'Wingsfortheirsmiles'

71. treponem pal - 'weird machine'
Marked, for better or worse, by the death of legendary bassist Paul Raven (Ministry, Killing Joke, Prong) during the recording sessions, 'Weird Machine' transformed into the best epitaph and most dignified homage a musician can get - a wonderful album, full of his own talent for people to remember him by. It's nevertheless unfair to reduce this album to Raven - 'Weird Machine' sees Treponem Pal return in sparkling form, showing everyone how industrial metal should be done. With the mighty Ted Parsons on drums, vocalist Marco Neves uses his animalesque voice like few times before, creating a cyber-metal record free of all the pitfalls and cumbersome mistakes that this genre usually suffers from once you step outside the absolute classic bands (see: every band that Raven has played in). Maintaining a very musical, structured approach to the machinery-like environment, Treponem Pal dropped a true bomb with this album.

Treponem Pal - 'Mad Box'


  1. I really loved that you considered Harvey Milk. In spite of the years in total silence, we have to understand they behave a little bit like Tool: years of silence mean a great up-coming album! And that's what happened here.

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