Bit of a funny one for me, this year. Feels a bit like it’s been neither here nor there, for the most part, if you know what I mean. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my hearing this year and my day job has moved a lot nearer to home, so consequently I just don’t feel like I’ve listened to as much music this year as I would have done normally, since most of my listening was done on the journey to and from work, compounded by me temporarily losing the hearing completely in one ear and then the other, later in the year, after having an operation to reconstruct the eardrum. I’ve barely been able to bear to listen to any kind of sounds since November, so I’m still playing catch-up to some extent.
However, I did manage to drum up a list of my 14 most listened-to and most-enjoyed recordings from this year and I’d like to put them out there for you –
1. Thantifaxath ‘Sacred White Noise’
Not unlike Inquisition taking an atom smasher to Dimension Hatröss, this is dissonant, aggressive, progressive Black Metal that, for once, has an actual bass tone that can be heard and felt. More of this please.
2. Dead Rider ‘Chills On Glass’
Ex-U.S Maple man Todd Rittmann and Cheer-Accident skinsman Thymme Jones team up with another couple o’ weirdos and give us Chills On Glass, a jittery, skittery cut-up Universe B take on T.V On The Radio. Uncanny.
3. Dama/Libra ‘Claw’
Hauntingly beautiful mournful hymnals from ex-Asva/Burning Witch/Sunn bass-god G. Stuart Dahlquist and ex-Silkworm/The Downer Trio vocalist Joel RL Phelps, Claw is warm, intimate, heartbreaking and life-affirming. You should seek this one out forthwith.
4. Mantar ‘Death By Burning’
A much-anticipated, by me, debut album that categorically did not disappoint on any level whatsoever. Motorhead/BuzzOv-en/Melvins, absolutely rock fucking SOLID.
5. Yob ‘Clearing The Path To Ascend’
I don’t think I need to tell you why I this is on here do I?
6. Kayo Dot ‘Coffins On Io’
In which Toby Driver and cohorts veer off into art-rock and leave all of you dummies sitting in the dust banging rocks together hoping they’ll make Electric Wizard riffs.
7. Earth ‘Primitive And Deadly’
Simply the best Earth studio recording since Hex. Tonally as warm, sweet and gooey as a fresh apple pie, and aesthetically not a million miles away from someone playing a classic rock 45 at 16 RPM.
8. Chrome ‘Feel It Like A Scientist’
It sounds exactly like Chrome. What the hell more do you want?
9. Morbus Chron ‘Sweven’
Total Prog-Death Metal, cavernous, labyrinthine and serpentine and another record I’d been eagerly anticipating for a while that in no way let me down.
10. Stargazer ‘A Merging To The Boundless’
I’ve not long heard this but it kicked me squarely in the pants on first listen and, well, I want more people to listen to it. Avant-garde Black Metal goodness with some killer bass-playing. Still digging into this one.
11. Voyag3r ‘Doom Fortress’
Synth-tastic faux 70’s/80s soundtrack rock that frequently scores the interior movie playing in my head all day. Hail Carpenter.
12. King Buzzo ‘This Machine Kills Artists’
Acoustic Melvins tunes? How the heck does THAT work?!?! Well, pretty fucking well actually. The man is iconic.
13. Prong ‘Unleashed In the West – Live In Berlin’
Absolutely scorching ‘live in the studio’ renditions of a whole slew of classic Prong bangers from the latest tight-as-a-gnats-chuff incarnation of the trio, delivered with quite probably my favourite guitar-tone of the year.
14. Khthoniik Cerviiks ‘Heptaëdrone’
Another one that came out earlier in the year and slipped under my radar, I stumbled across mention of it elsewhere online and was intrigued enough by what I read and saw to go check it out. Off-kilter primitivist Black/Thrash/Death Metal that fucking RIPS, snarls, clangs and generally foams at the mouth. Bears much more listening as of yet.
Pretty arbitrary ordering here for the most part, but all worthy of your undivided attention. Additional shout-outs go to The Dead‘s Deathsteps To Oblivion, Kenn Nardi‘s Dancing With The Past, Revocation‘s Deathless, Dimesland‘s Psychogenic Atrophy , Death Grips‘ Niggas On the Moon, Cliff Martinez‘ score to The Knick, Aminals‘ Dead Air, Battle Trance‘s Palace Of Wind – all of which I need to spend more time with yet – Idylls’ Prayer For Terrene, Lucifyre’s Svn Eater, Expo ’70‘s Frozen Living Elements, and as reviewed on this here site, Obliteration‘s Black Death Horizon, Slough Feg‘s Digital Resistance, Floor‘s Oblation, Lazer/Wulf‘s The Beast of Left And Right, Tusmorke‘s Riset Bak Speilet, Tombs‘ Savage Gold, Ommadon‘s V, Okkultokrati‘s Night Jerks, Kings‘ I Trust The Hounds Are Hungry, Forn‘s The Departure of Consciousness, Autopsy‘s continued triumphant comeback, and, of course, Bowl Ethereal‘s untitled 7”.
The big reissues for me were box sets from Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band – featuring remasters of Lick My Decals Off Baby – FINALLY – Clear Spot, The Spotlight Kid and a bonus disc of unreleased material – Tears For Fears – Songs For The Big Chair in various versions with a plethora of demos, remixes, alternate versions and whathaveyou, spread across six discs – and the continued excavation of live material and remastering of the classic albums from King Crimson, although I have yet to buy the latest one, to my shame and moth-ridden wallet.
Song of the year is, without even having to think about it, Yob‘s Marrow, gig of the year is, naturally, Roadburn, and the letdown of the year is, honestly, the Scott Walker & Sunn album Soused, which was quite frankly beneath both parties. I know I’m in a minority with this one, but, well, I call a spade a spade, and this one is of inferior material.
Next year, look out for forthcoming Eps from Loop, albums from Opium Lord – I’ve heard the demos and it’s a doozy – and Moon Tooth.
Th-th-th-that’s all folks!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson