Yeah, so I’m about a month behind in putting up my favorite albums of last year….. But better late than never eh? And by the way, these are in no particular order.
Sanctus Bellum – “The Shining Path”: Houston’s doom crew returns. But to be fair, calling them doom is accurate, but still kind of limiting. Stellar guitar work with crushing riffs and tunes, mixed with intricate solos and acoustics. Great album and a great leap forward for this band. That’s not a put-down to their previous album, 2010’s “Return to Dust,” I’m just saying that this album is well worth your time.
OM – “Advaitic Songs”: This band never ceases to impress and please me, and this album is certainly no exception. Present this time around are the additional of multiple musicians to add to the soundscape that OM create. For this release, they added in a third full-time member, which will no doubt give their live sound a boost. The female vocal chanting, along with the creepy voice intro of the song “Sinai”….. My god. And the best part is that you can use this album as chill music, or ear-cleaner if you get sick of relentless beats and rhythms. It’s always nice to relax to something that isn’t pounding my eardrum into oblivion.
High on Fire – “De Vermis Mysteriis”: Hell yeah. High on Fire always deliver the goods, and this time, they aren’t screwing around (as if they ever did before). Right out of the gate, songs like “Serums of Liao” and “Bloody Knuckles” come out and nearly knock you out of your seat. And of course this album is not without Matt Pike’s killer riffs and solos. Other stand-out tracks would have to be “Madness of an Architect” and the instrumental “Samsara.” Not being a fan of Converge, I was kind of puzzled to see that Kurt Ballou was producing this album, but those fears were quickly put to rest. No complaints here.
Eyehategod – “New Orleans is the New Vietnam”: So this release is a single; just one song. And I love it so much that it made my list! It’s been quite a while since the public has been graced with new Eyehategod songs; specifically 13 years since their last full-length, and 7 since their last chunk of newer material. This song is high-energy, filthy, down-tuned, and sludgy. It’s pure Eyehategoodness let’s say. But moreso, if this song is the pre-cursor to their forthcoming new album, then I’m totally sold.
From Ashes Rise – “Rage of Sanity/Rejoice the End” 7 inch: Only two songs on this one, and two bad ass songs at that. I’m thoroughly intrigued by the mix of their sound with elements of crust-punk, metal, hardcore, and doomy vibes all mixed in. While all of the members of this band have numerous things going, it would be easy to understand why there isn’t a full-length out, or even an extensive tour, but these two songs satisfy my urge for tunes from this band. Similar to the Eyehategod release, this album leaves me curious on what further efforts from them might sound like, seeing as this release is pretty stellar.
Aborted – “Global Flatline”: Despite the need for chill music once in a while, it’s good to blast out my ears to some sick amalgamations of gory metal. It’s a strong, solid album from start to finish, with some killer guitar riffs and brutally heavy passages. Perhaps the stand-out track for me would be “Grime” which features guest vocals by Jason Netherton of Misery Index. Aside from the guest appearances, it certainly is a great output from Aborted who kind of lost me on their previous album. This is a great leap forward I say.
Silencer – “The Great Bear”: A concept album, which is a first for Silencer, was not something I was expecting. But either way, it’s nice to see Silencer in fine form following some line-up shifts. This band never fails to dish out a crushingly heavy sound that you can headbang too, in addition to form a pit with. The wall of guitar and pounding rhythms that this album creates certainly puts you in the right headspace to sink into this opus full-force. I can easily say that this release should not really be compared to their previous efforts, as I think “The Great Bear” has then returning to the thrash inspired band that I first heard almost ten years ago. Silencer never skimp on a final product and always put out good honest metal that can please fans of any age and taste.
Napalm Death – “Utilitarian”: I absolutely love this band and was drooling all over myself as I unwrapped the CD packaging so I could blast myself into oblivion. From the get-go, you can see new bits of atmospheric music-scapes, which you wouldn’t really expect from Napalm Death. But despite that, they do it, and they do it rather well. Of course, the same old grind that Napalm Death wrote the book on haven’t disappeared, thankfully. My favorite track, hands down, would have to be the bonus track “Everything in Mono” that isn’t available on all of the formats of this release, but you can search for it online. It’s absolutely relentless. (Please note that for whatever reason, the image of the album cover refuses to show up on this blog)
Paradise Lost – “Tragic Idol”: After celebrating the anniversary of their masterpiece “Draconian Times,” Paradise Lost carry that vibe over into “Tragic Idol” with a much more stripped down approach than their last few albums have had. Talking to the band in September 2012 during their stop in Houston, I got a more in-depth analysis of it from the band, and it almost appeared that revisiting “Draconian Times” forced the band to return to that form and ditch the musical layerings they had been experimenting with over the last several years. I still love this band, and certainly “Tragic Idol” was a breath of fresh air in terms of Paradise Lost albums. It should also be noted that Adrian Erlandsson makes his album debut with this one.
Saint Vitus – “Lillie: F65”: Ever my ears were first blessed with the sound of Saint Vitus just over ten years ago, my dreams were filled with the band reforming and putting out new music. It might have taken quite a bit of time, but it was worth it! It’s a doomy and sickeningly dirgy record and did not disappoint me in any fashion. In a conversation with Dave Chandler, he had mentioned that some fans complain that it isn’t long enough, but I’m not really concerned with length so much as great songs. Would you have have about 30 minutes of great songs, or an hour of great songs mixed with filler? I prefer the former. Wino dishes out his signature and unmistakable vocals along with the undeniable sound of Chandler’s guitar. Sadly though, this album has to be a memorial of sorts to their late drummer Armando Acosta. But thankfully for us, Henry Vasquez fills his void perfectly. Absolutely no complaints here.
Neurosis – “Honor Found in Decay”: It’s always good to hear Neurosis. Frankly, the five year gap between “Given to the Rising” and this one isn’t really an issue I’d say. Sure it would be nice to have more continuous albums from them, but these guys are busy with other projects, which I feel gives a great breath of life to each one of their albums. I was very eager to get my hands on this one, as they never disappoint, but also I was very curious on where they would pick up musically, but also because I’m enamoured by their soundscapes and atmospheres. I get goosebumps just thinking about. Next step for me as a Neurosis fan is finally witnessing their live show, coming up in a few weeks in Austin, Texas.