Thursday, April 02, 2009

Best of 2008 - from #90 to #81

90. earth - 'the bees made honey in the lion's skull'
Now that all the hipster kids have discovered drone through Sunn O))) or Boris and turned it into a trend, it's a welcome fact that Dylan Carlson has returned to show everyone that this sort of thing has been around way before everyone started paying attention to the mysterious men in robes. Fortunately, Earth aren't merely rehashing 'Earth 2' over and over, regardless of the temptation to cower in the shadow of that timeless classic - 'The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull' is still abstract and hard to get your head round, but it's simultaneously Earth's most musical record so far as well, which is also the result of a heightened importance of the remaining band members. Drummer Adrienne Davies and organist Steve Moore play a role as essential as Carlson's, and together they mix a skewed sort of beauty with the punishing slowness that they are known for.

Earth - 'Engine Of Ruin'

89. black shape of nexus - 'microbarome meetings'
Black Shape Of Nexus are a band that you can always count on to go by the less obvious route. When the suffocating despair of their self-titled debut is still ringing in our years, they opt to follow it with a limited-edition drone album, removing any trace of doom and just throwing you helplessly into a huge black vortex that will consume you without mercy. Four songs (in the vaguest sense of the word) in 66 minutes that will earn you a medal if you can sit through them all the way through without flinching uneasily in your seat and begging for mommy.

Black Shape Of Nexus - 'Microbarome D'

88. suffocate for fuck sake - 'blazing fires and helicopters on the frontpage of the newspaper. there´s a war going on and i´m marching in heavy boots.'
Yes, yes, the title is a huge pretentious mouthful, but let's leave that alone for now. We've heard all the jokes about the band with that album title, but focus on the music itself and you'll be hugely rewarded. Suffocate For Fuck Sake offer a weird conceptual album based on a girl looking back on her time at a mental institution (complete with interview samples and everything), and the music is every bit as intense as that idea suggests. A difficult emotional rollercoaster, 'Blazing Fires...' sounds like a slightly more oddball Isis, or a sort of Cult Of Luna with the heavy parts amplified in their brutality and the more sensitive parts thrown to an emotional extreme that is hard to take. Dark and beautiful at the same time, it won't be an album you'll forget in a hurry.

Suffocate For Fuck Sake - 'We Are Driving Through Darkness'

87. we are the damned - 'the shape of hell to come'
One of the surprises of the year in Portuguese extreme metal, We Are The Damned served up a potent, punked-up Entombed blast that has made waves in every place that it was given a chance. Fast, loose and devil-may-care in attitude, its razor-sharp riffing was complemented by an enormous revelation - diminute vocalist Sofia Loureiro might look like the (tattooed) teenager next door, but when she opens her mouth, all shades of hell come out at once. Impressive!

We Are The Damned - 'Release The Wolves'

86. javelina - 'javelina'
One look at the beards on most of Javelina's band members will let you guess correctly what you can expect musically from these Pennsylvania natives. Ass-heavy, downtuned sludge is their game, and they practice it with an extra portion of motherfucking giant groove to boot. With Mastodon seriously wimping out on their new album, it's reassuring to know that there are lesser known bands that can crush anyone in their unrelenting pursuit of heaviness, on their debut album on top of it. One of the most cool-sounding blasts of weight of the year.

Javelina - 'Gored To Death'

85. KYPCK - 'cherno'
KYPCK (pronounced Kursk, like the sunken submarine) is the new band of Sentenced's Sami Lopakka, and it's all about Russia - from the overal theme, right down to the lyrics, everything is Soviet about 'Cherno'. What might be a silly gimmick actually works, and it makes you wonder how no one thought of this before - the ice-cold and the militaristic aura of mystery surrounding Russia's culture lend themselves perfectly to some doom. Heavier, slower and more cavernous than Sentenced, while still maintaining a mournful melodic sense, KYPCK seems to be much more than a one-off project, and if 'Cherno' is a valid indicator of what they can do, that's good news.

KYPCK - '1917'

84. wrath of the weak - 'alogon'
A sort of My Bloody Valentine gone black metal, Wrath Of The Weak are one of the best projects of the whole crop that shows that Burzum was a musical entity almost two decades ahead of its time. Taking that blueprint and expanding it through hazy atmospheres full of fuzz and open-wide sonic landscapes, anguished cries in the distance and truly enveloping creepiness, Wrath Of The Weak offer an album that will take its time to sink in, but one that will reveal itself tremendously when it does. Even if that 20-minute monolith of the last track feels like a chore to get through, the previous six will draw you in like a movie. A scary, unpleasant but fascinating movie.

Wrath Of The Weak - 'Chapter I: A Leap Of Faith Ends When You Crash To The Ground'

83. witch - 'paralyzed'
Witch rock harder than you and they're most likely older than you too! Featuring J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr (on drums, not guitar!), 'Paralyzed' is simply a blast of old-fashioned rock'n'roll energy, a sort of more excited and vibrant version of Black Sabbath that make a hell of a racket and seem to have enormous fun while doing it. Full steam ahead tracks like '1000 mph' or 'Space God' remind you why rock music needed to be invented, and they have the huge merit of not taking themselves excessively serious. A majestic, swaggering beast of an album that shows young kids how this kind of thing should be done.
Witch - '1000 mph'

82. poisonblack - 'a dead heavy day'
Three albums in and Ville Laihiala has finally figured out the ideal formula for Poisonblack. If the first album was way too camp-gothy, albeit with some good songs, and the second album was mostly bland and forgettable, 'A Dead Heavy Day' is brimming with memorable choruses, razor-sharp riffs, downbeat lyrics and a healthy rock-out atmosphere. Sounds familiar? While it would be unfair to write this album off as a Sentenced sound-alike, that's precisely what was lacking in the two previous albums, that typical Sentenced icy punch that grabbed you by the neck. Ville seems to have finally stopped running away from his past, and acknowledging his Sentenced years while maintaining what are essentially Poisonblack characteristics (check out the clean-vocal melodies on 'The Days Between', for example) he has finally made an indispensable album.

Poisonblack - 'The Days Between'

81. moho - 'chotacabra'
'...He Visto La Cruz Al Reves' might be unbeatable in its blackened sludge/crust attack, but the follow-up doesn't embarrass this Madrid power trio in any way. 'Chotacabra' is dark, foreboding and noisy as hell, enveloping the listener in a pitch-dark atmosphere while still pounding him with monster riffs and scary growled vocals. 'Terror Ultramarino' or the 16-minute long 'Anciago' feel like enormous sea serpents crashing through your boat and eating you up alive. Ouch!

Moho - 'Terror Ultramarino'


  1. Dude, I can't still get it, how come these guys named their band "Suffocate For Fuck Sake"? That's the stupidest band name ever! Maybe just after "KISS"! Hilarious! Like to play the bad-asses role!

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