to eleven


Review: Windhand – Windhand by Jayson
January 2, 2012, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Metal, Review | Tags: , ,

Windhand album cover

Ah… this was out in September. I can’t really explain why I didn’t review it then. I apologize for that.

Ok, so fun fact about me: I hate trad doom. It’s not something I scream from the top of the mountains, mostly because I don’t want to razz the legions of trad doom fans out there, some of whom are pals. I think it’s because a lot of what I’ve heard, even some of the really admired stuff in the genre, skews more toward “doing my Ozzy impression” than “this is the stylistic basis of my approach to music.” It’s a focus on duplicating the sounds of a specific band at a specific moment in time, rather than the deeper level of the stuff that basically made doom, doom.

My point in even bringing all that up is that Windhand ain’t do any of that. They’re playing trad doom crafted in the tradition of their mightiest forebear(s), not auditioning for a Sabbath cover band. Yeah, the riffs are crushing and the vocals eerie, but this is managing to feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. This is one of those records that is so good it doesn’t need a masters thesis of a review. This slays.

Buy it from Forcefield Records. Do this now.

– Jayson

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Top Best Albums of 2011 by Jayson

Out of the way. Quick & Dirty. Stuff I reviewed only. I think anyway. Order does not imply ranking. I didn’t want to re-review these here, if I had any additional thoughts, I’ve added them.

Full Lengths:

Batillus – Furnace

I spent the whole time from when the vocals where announced to when I got to listen to it worried that they’d screw it up. They didn’t. Not at all.

Matt Bauer – The Jessamine County Book of the Living

Emotionally devastating to listen to.

Letna – Adria

In this broad genre of ambient music, this was the brightest light in a year of fantastic stuff.

Wugazi – 13 Chambers

Mashups are art, 13 Chambers is proof.

We’ll Go Machete – Strong Drunk Hands

Noise rock is back, people.

naisian – Mammalian

Picking up where Isis left off.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

Wolves’ Oceanic.

Harmondale – Spirit of 73

So one lady proves she understands country music with her first release better than any new artist I’ve heard this year.

SP-33 – Escape From Tha Carter

This is music from a real future that exists somewhere.

Mastodon – The Hunter

I was super hard on this, but honestly in the wake of a year of challenging releases, The Hunter is seriously my go to album to unwind with. Girlfriend/In the car metal for life!

Special Dispensation:

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Technically this came out in the USA, where I am in 2010, but we were actually contacted by the UK pr and reviewed the UK release of this album. I loved it, heartbreaking. I am cheating to put it in here, but I can do that.

Graf Orlock – Doombox

Yeah, the 10″ has new material, but it’s most about being a comp.

EPs:

Soul Khan – Resolution

Soul Khan had an incredibly prolific year in 2011. Of all the stuff he did, Resolution is my favorite. Khan is now one of my top 5 living MCs, real talk. Also as a thing, this has Nine on it. Seriously any day I hear ‘Whutcha Want’ on the radio, I think it’ll be a good day.

Big’n – Spare the Horses

Noise rock is back. Seriously back.

Butterfly Trajectory – EP 2011

So looking forward to what this band does next.

Witch Mountain – South of Salem

I want to listen to this and make out with a girl that has slightly crooked teeth.

So anyway, musical year in review. I kinda came back to metal this year after near total burnout last. There was some good, enjoyable stuff out there and I was glad to listen to it. Noise rock coming back was the big thing. I don’t want to get into the ‘yeah, but has it musically progressed?’ argument. It’s being back is really enough for me. As you can see by the list, though, it didn’t quite dominate my listening. Nothing really did. I view that as a good thing. This is a pretty well rounded list of the kind of music I like to listen to and review. It was also really hard to pick the top out as it was a uniformly good year here. I don’t have any major disappointments either, because there was very little I had serious anticipation for. As I sit here writing this though, I am really at a loss to say anything other than 2011 musically was the year that was.



Review: Sulaco – Build and Burn by Jayson

The thing about Build and Burn was, for me, the fact that I basically had some kind of musical deja vu listening to it. Sulaco are walking a lot of fine lines. Their music is math rocky but not spastic, weird but not corny. It’s got enough noise that my Am Repdar is going off, but there is metal happening. I heard the deedly even. Definite heaviness. I had a basic realization here, like River Pheonix crashing through the ceiling in Sneakers, Sulaco are saying “it’s not easy what we just did!” I buy that. The balancing act between all their influences could have pretty easily resulted in a bad album, which this is not. It’s a good album. The thing for me is, having listened to it a bunch and formed opinions I still can’t tell you what kind of music it is. Good music will have to do.

Craw. That’s it. These dudes are the spiritual successors to Craw. Can’t ask for more than that, whatever that means.

Available as a limited edition LP from Handshake Inc.

– Jayson



Review: Surachai – To No Avail by Jayson

It’s a basic fact that you pretty much have me at the words “experimental black metal.” Or at the least, you’ve basically guaranteed a listen.

On a continuum between conventional black metal and the more extremely experimental stuff that I love, Surachai are occupying a comfortable middle ground. To No Avail is an album that could easily be enjoyed by fans of a band like Deathspell Omega who really aren’t into the whole experimental angle, but is equally engaging to the listeners who like going one step beyond into territory that’s outside the traditionally defined boundaries of the genre. Surachai are completely destructive and malevolent as any traditional black metal, which is rad; I love that stuff, but the part of me that loves experimental music was really fascinated by the brutal ambient parts. I’ve experienced a lot of evil noise, but To No Avail’s unabashedly digital approach is something unique. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of extreme music, To No Avail is completely worth your time.

Available digitally or as a limited edition record from Handshake Inc.

– Jayson



Review: Rwake – Rest by Jayson
September 20, 2011, 9:49 am
Filed under: Metal, Review | Tags: ,

Being honest here, I lost touch with Rwake’s music between If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die and Rest. So, not that they were bad at all, but they’ve come a really long way since then. Their sound has gone from what I thought of as sort of extremely angry sludge metal with black metal style vocals to more of a sludge-doom hybrid, with a little bit of progressive color. The biggest change are the vocals, that black metal style is gone, replaced with an almost hardc0re sounding shouted style. Going back and comparing it to the last album of theirs I listened to, I’m definitely hearing a band that’s evolved their sound. The changes don’t mute the overall hostility and bleakness that I’ve always associated with Rwake’s music. It’s more like, the longer they play, the more they fully realize their approach. Now any band that’s gone on to incorporate what we’re calling progressive elements has been subject to any amount of criticism. On Rest doesn’t feel at all forced, which is real test. Rest feels like it has a slightly more positive vibe here than on If You Walk… actually the whole album feels kinda like it’s building to something, and the quiet parts and use of acoustic parts contribute on the whole. I’m glad I caught up with what these guys are doing.

An Invisible Thread

– Jayson



Review: Butterfly Trajectory – EP 2011 by Jayson
September 14, 2011, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Metal, Review | Tags: ,

Butterfly Trajectory’s music represents exactly why I continue to write here. There are musicians all over the world doing brilliant work and they send it to me. I love it.

Butterfly Trajectory represent a more metal approach to post-rock. It’s actually quite a bit more metal, given the vocals. Pitor from Butterfly Trajectory is delivering straight up death metal vocals, very much in the tradition of Pitor from Vader. Being a huge Vader fan, the similarity in stylistic approach immediately won me over. The band’s approach to the post-rock progressive sound varies from going at it in a straight up metal approach to backing off for very quiet moments of beauty. It’s more of a calm before the storm thing; a very successful melding of elements from both genres that you don’t hear pulled off with this much skill very often.

I’m really looking forward to whatever these guys do next.

Defibrylacja

EP 2011 is a free download on Butterfly Trajectory’s Facebook page. Check it out and give them a Like.

– Jayson



Falling Down IIV by Jayson
September 7, 2011, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Metal | Tags:

Yann wrote me and asked if I’d be willing to write an article about an upcoming compilation record. Check out who is on this thing:

Mouth of the Architect (US)
Karma to Burn (US)
Julie Christmas (US)
Terra Tenebrosa (SWE)
Year of No Light/Mars Red Sky (Special Collaboration – FR)
Hopewell (US)
Rosetta (US)
Black Sun (SCO)
Ahkmed (AUS)
Vanessa Van Basten (IT)
Sendelica (UK)
Ayahuasca Dark Trip (PER)
Ocoai (US)
The Winchester Club (UK)
Planning for Burial (US)
Vespero (RUS)
Rorcal (CH)
Ethereal Riffian (UKR)

I am not familiar with all the bands on there, but I’m a fan of Mouth of the Architect, Karma to Burn and Rosetta. So I am anticipating this release. The video is really cool too. This will be out in 2012 and it is all going to be unreleased material. More bands are being announced, check out the Fallingdown webzine for updates. Just thought you should know.

– Jayson