Not grind. Not powerviolence. Still here.
Altar of Plagues - White Tomb
Altar of Plagues brought a hellstorm of grim & kvlt black metal enthusiast on themselves with a very modern-sounding (meaning: add the post- prefix) way of atmosphere combustion. After the intro straight off Two Hunters, we get the usual blastbeatery coupled with long post-metal reminiscing easy rides. White Tomb definitely isn't for the fan of classic black metal, and it isn't even necessarily thriving with originality; genre-wise, it sounds more like a coalition than an union, but I'd still like to see where it goes. Just don't go in expecting any black metal standards.
Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs
Amesoeurs create shoegazing darkwave with a predilection for the blackest of all metals, and they do it fairly well. No, really. While I don't particularly drool over all the classic post-punk stuff that they pull off certainly nicely, "La Reine Trayeuse" - for example - affects me like a wonderful, lovable, yet extremely unnerving berceuse, much like this one girl I know does. P.S. I'm une total suckeur for francais. Avance!
Anaal Nathrakh - In the Constellation of the Black Widow
Anaal Nathrakh's ferocity on The Codex Necro keeps me coming back to the band, and while In the Constellation of the Black Widow is, without question, pretty ferocious, it is also much more melodic, less abrasive, with clean vocal parts. Much of it is a matter of taste, but I'm still disappointed to hear parts and riffs that make me think of average melodic death metal. Sure, it's actually a fairly nice album, but that's not the epithet I'm looking for in relation to Anaal Nathrakh.
Iskra - Bureval
Iskra completely abandoned their crusty roots for a ferociously-fast-black-metal-with-grindy-blastbeats kind of deal. It's a matter of taste, really, but I miss that old, unique, crusty rawness that they used to have. Bureval sounds like a fine record from some completely different band. That said, the thing has a quality akin to Angelcorpse's Exterminate!
Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough
Krallice holds many bleeding dimensions that make the listener pay attention in order to enjoy the music. Personally, I enjoyed last year's S/T more, if only 'cause it was more aggressive and comopositionally intriguing, both qualities that I find took a step back on Dimensional Bleedthrough, which is generally a great album anyway, and perhaps a much more focused record, actually. Well, jeez... I figure all of you who didn't enjoy the debut ought to try this one anyway - it has riffs. I'm a fan of Krallice, I am, but sometimes I find myself bored. Thing is, I dislike the composition becoming riddled with progressive metal clichés, and this year Liturgy just ate them and their long-winded tremolos for breakfast. Their awesome long-winded tremolos, however.
Liturgy - Renihilation
Liturgy released the definite album of the year. Read / dl here.
Panopticon - Collapse
Panopticon advances his fairly authenthic green-black metal sound with tingly howling riffs and shitloads of godless bluegrass bliss. Only ruins are left of skyscrapers, weeds have overgrown and intertwined over this concrete jungle hell, while you lay deliriously hungry on damp humus but it's-a alright. That's the kind of feeling I get. And I wonder whether the songs are faultily out of focus, or if they're supposed to wither like that, just kinda collapse away. The latter prospect makes the album charming beyond belief. Download in solidarity - along with many other relevant black metal bands (e.g. Iskra, Skagos) - on Red & Anarchist Black Metal.
Skagos - Ast
Skagos gets mentioned alongside Panopticon and Wolves in the Throne Room and a few other acts as one of the more well known bands in this whole "cascadian black metal" deal. What sets the band apart from the rest of the scene (if we could call it that) is a sort of more "Agallochian" approach to melody, nice 'n' easy. The atmosphere is soothing, melancholic, lying in a bed of soft shrubbery with the mind bent on roving throughout itself, mad on familiar, terrifying, grand thoughts and feelings like only forest solitude can condition.
Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
Wolves in the Throne Room's third full-length didn't live up to the expectations of the masses hungry for catchy riffs. Black Cascade is not too memorable at first, and it isn't nowhere near as epic as the the first two. It's fairly average on first listen, much better on the second, when you notice subtleties in the composition. Much better, but still not too exciting. As for me, I was hoping for a continuation of "A Looming Resonance" from the Malevolent Grain 12". Instead, it just feels like WITTR toned down on the aspects that made them epic and heavy, although they still remain great in other areas. I hope they get their shit together for the next one, though, 'cause this doesn't seem to lead anywhere.
LOST AMONG BLASTBEATS
Burnt by the Sun - Heart of Darkness
Burnt by the Sun took an excellent theme for their new album and decided that it needed to be as heavy as possible. Man, I remember the preview vids: "It's gonna be heavy," "sounds fucking heavy," "the heaviest thing that I've ever done," etc. Well, perhaps there's a bit too much of the chugga in the end. Other than that, Heart of Darkness isn't much too catchy on the first listen except for the occasional relatively melodic vocally-powered part. Several listens are required for the album to sink in like the authenthically colossal anchor of metal that it is - their last, their heaviest, their darkest album.
Converge - Axe to Fall
Converge's latest offering doesn't leave much to wish for (except, erm... blastbeats?). Seriously, Axe to Fall has most of the good Converge stuff coupled with their classic, praisably spirited deliverance. Nice. Very nice.
dälek - Gutter Tactics
dälek's and Oktopus' wall of sound basically found a crunchy equillibrium, or so my inner fanboy says. Right at the root, ballistic Rev. Jeremiah Wright's words pummel the room's atmosphere into a battlefield for Gutter Tactics' ominous street sounds and the contra-preaching of my favorite prophet. Musically, the record is as enjoyable as most of the duo's outpot. As for the subject matter, "...we've heard my former pastor use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation..." said yet another irrelevant president.
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Isis really never went stale the tiniest bit - quite the opposite - Wavering Radiant brought back some of the heaviness and exchanged the post-rock for progressive rock + made them a much more dynamic band. Apparently, when Aaron Turner had lost his guitar pick, and all he had left was to play the guitar was a screwdriver seeing as you obviously aren't allowed to be heavy with your fingers. And that's how it happened.
Lye By Mistake - Fea Jur
Lye By Mistake was, what, a mathcore band? Some guy screamed his lungs off while the rest of the band alternated between breakdowns and flamenco, or something similar enough. After a small demo, lo and behold: Fea Jur. God knows I'm rarely modest when I ramble about music, but I figure that I'm pretty much a dilettante when it comes to modern jazz fusion except for the stray band from Tokyo or Osaka (for reasons unknown). That said, this thing holds some of the wildest, thickest fusion that I've ever heard. Dunno what the mistake's supposed to be - this stuff would make Sean Malone proud.
maudlin of the Well - Part the Second
maudlin of the Well surprised everyone by releasing their final, best album - a fan-funded thing - a free one, at that. More here.
Psyopus - Odd Senses
Psyopus remains my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band. Here's why.
sgt. - Capital of Gravity
sgt. jazz it up more and more every record. Truth be told, I sorely miss the enthusiastic optimism of Perception of Causality akin to some other bands, like Mirror's On, Then, In. That said, Capital of Gravity holds a wholly different approach, making for a totally different experience, naturally. While they're complicating their music, sgt. seem to be getting more and more playful and free and mature at the same time. There's a wonderful feeling of space and progression and exciting build-ups and fall-aparts just as exciting - if not even more. I guess we could call this post-rock, but hey, that funky-ass Japanese post-rock scene always displayed a jazz niche quite unlike most of the pretentious cookie-cuttery from the west.
El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez Lopez - Cryptomnesia
El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez Lopez is a progressive/math-rock supergroup: The Mars Volta + Hella in a nutshell. Cryptomnesia didn't fulfill my expectations, in a nutshell. I guess I expected my head to explode or something, 'cause people say it's great shit, not self-indlugent at all, more cohesive, etc., and I just don't know. I expected more, but if just feels like I've already heard it all, Omar. Not self-indulgent enough!
Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono is just about the most well known post-rock band from Japan, presumably stemming from the fact that they're recreating the same tried and proven songs for years. It's like asking "What's new?" and being answered with "There's a new Mono album out." Does. Not. Compute. Goddamnit. But all jokes aside, Mono are the masters of the... of this whole tragically epic tremolo build-up post-rockin' deal.
Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
Tortoise too, our ancestral post-rock masters, delivered a bubbly video game reminiscing album. I don't know about you, but when I hear a song like Prepare Your Coffin, all I can do is utter a "Wooo!" Sometimes I just can't be bothered justifying the existence of any more than 8 bits. This time, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. I enjoy Prepare Your Coffin immensely; as for the others, so-so.
Agents of Abhorrence / Roskopp - Split
Black Hole of Calcutta / Lycanthropy - Split
Blood I Bleed - Gods Out of Monsters
Lycanthropy / Suffering Mind - Split
Magnicide - Rise to the Annihilation
Mumakil - Behold the Failure
White Eyes - Beastmode
EXPECTED DEMISORS OF MY HEARING IN 2010
Dreams of the Drowned
Wormrot / Joe Pesci
In other news, someone's throwing tarnished condoms under my window. Fuck you, guy. So that's about it. The top "3" are in the posts below. Again: [3rd] Psyopus & maudlin of the Well & Parlamentarisk Sodomi, [2nd] Wormrot, [1st] Liturgy.