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Friday
Jan042013

The Top 10 Metal of 2012 #1: Katatonia - Dead End Kings

We hurtle down towards a hellish Earth to take our throne at the Dead End...

#1

Katatonia - Dead End Kings

Katatonia have reached the apotheosis of doom metal. Ten years ago, Viva Emptiness wiped the canvas clean, thumbing its nose at musty genre trappings. They boldly cauterized the powdered wig and opera hall romanticism from doom. Inspiration was found amongst grubby neon dance halls or the back streets of an ultra-modern, concrete-skied Stockholm frozen in perpetual winter within the ruined hearts of these men. Apprehensive, sinister and desolate doom metal flows black from the strings and keys and throat of this elegant Swedish confederacy of mourners. Their music is penned by those who subsist on a belly full of hope; always empty and forever wanting. Blasting riffs rest on one's heart like concrete. Strings are streaked with shuffling electro beats as tradition meets the modern. Guitars in trepidation wind melodies around Renske's longing baritone, lancing through the world's happiness like a dagger of ice. Each cut feels inspired and compelling and every note drips with despair. Such is our humanity on our cold distant journey, racing toward the throne at the dead end.

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The Crushtor.net Top 10 of Metal 2012


#1 - Katatonia - Dead End Kings

#2 - Anathema - Weather Systems
#3 - Deftones - Koi No Yokan
#4 - Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
#5 - Killing Joke - MMXII
#6 - The Faceless - Autotheism
#7 - Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone
#8 - Baroness - Yellow & Green
#9 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
#10 - Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve

The Honorable Mentions

 

 

Saturday
Dec292012

The Top 10 Metal of 2012 #2: Anathema - Weather Systems

Sitting alone we contemplate the reason why we're here as clouds gather and rain upon us - in that instant we realise we're alive...

#2

Anathema - Weather Systems

Soviet dissident Yevgeny Zamyatin once said that there are books the same composition of dynamite - except that books can explode thousands of times. This is one album that explodes innumerably and perhaps forever. After I listened to and pondered all three of the Peaceville Doom Triumvirate's (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride) cuts this year, Anathema's left turn into the wonders of our mind instead of the harshness of what lies beyond is easily the most profound. There's not many records that can draw out a reverence and warmth from the most stubborn of cynics, but every time I load Weather Systems on to the turntable platter (an aside: do not listen to it in mp3 or lesser formats - it's resplendence is dulled to the point of choking the music) I do lie inconceivably transformed. Folky acoustic guitars with the clarity of fresh glass lifts one free from the chains of present life, carried upward by a thousand satiny voices (Untouchable, Part I). In the masterpiece Storm Before the Calm, unrelenting marches of "It's getting colder/colder/Until I can't feel anything/at all" poetically captures the brief moments of life as death claims us. Then almost as if you're dragged beyond the point of no return, you're dropped into a rollercoaster as it gradually gathers pace. As swathes of strings swell, your car suddenly breaks free from the rails as it hurls itself up the crest of a wave. In sheer terror you're rocketed high above the clouds until a gentleness pervades your being, joyous in the knowledge that you're still alive. Anathema deftly unite horripilatory binaural beats and ponderous, heartfelt piano chords creating suites of infinite splendor and melancholy. Guitars merit some mention, creating swirling atmospheres dense with color and light. Some may claim Anathema more soporific than calming, but a record that has the power to make one feel free just as they are is deserving of the highest of praise. Zamyatin again:“All of life in its complexity and beauty is forever minted in the gold of words.” Perhaps they're found in the grooves of this record, too.

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The Top 10 Metal of 2012

#3 - Deftones - Koi No Yokan
#4 - Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
#5 - Killing Joke - MMXII
#6 - The Faceless - Autotheism
#7 - Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone
#8 - Baroness - Yellow & Green
#9 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
#10 - Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve

The Honorable Mentions

Friday
Dec282012

The Top 10 Metal of 2012 #3: Deftones - Koi No Yokan

Slinking away from gray streets, slick with rain and shimmering under neon, we take rest on a dusty concrete stoop to remember where we all came from...

#3

Deftones - Koi No Yokan

Growing up a rock n' roller pre-Napster and post-Nirvana was growing up in a forbidding, angst-filled place. MTV's last candle as taste enforcer was running out of oxygen - fast. It's quite possible we were the last generation to avoid a full-blown case of Retromania. The inoculants were effective but not exactly brilliant, of course. Korn, blink-182 and Limp Bizkit stood front-and-centre on MTV's hype platform, teenage Middle America's fatuous expression of discomfort and angst. It served us pop, pop, pop all the way down. Pop muddied with downtuned riffs and greasy hundred-dollar dreadlocks whipping about. Pop with puffed-up chests topped with caps drawn backwards. Pop so brazen in its appropriation of modern pop, it dressed up as pop, sounded like pop and cheekily dared people to sit up and spot the difference. Christ, just how dumb were we? Deftones weren't quite fed through the teen IV drip of camouflaged pop music. They were revered, but the millionaires who were twice our age saw far more than kernels of truth in their despondent bizzaro metal jams. Genre masterpiece White Pony seethed with raw cynicism and bleakness, unfit for an age of abundance and freewheeling within acceptable PMRC limits. Over ten years on, Deftones' wounds are still raw. Rawer still from the agonizingly slow recovery of Chi Cheng from a car accident and estrangement from what made them a functional collection of dope-throned wasteoids. Years of nervous burnout takes its toll on most bands but Deftones didn't find themselves empty and wanting, they just dug deeper. Buried underneath was the bittersweetness of failed love, painful reminders and the courage to endure.

From the review in Hysteria Magazine #13:

Trip-hop-lite inspired Graphic Nature continues Moreno's vampire-like draining of colour from his world [...] They reach for the occasional Faith No More-ism and obtuse bass driven creepiness (Poltergeist) and delve into prog-rock live from after the apocalypse (Rosemary, What Happened to You?) each yawning chorus and severe riff as compelling as the one which came before. Their cohesiveness on this sprawling piece undoubtedly required a soul-searching and depth rivalling their past selves. Deftones may have beat out their adolescent wrath, but at what cost? One of their finest hours.  

 

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The Top 10 Metal of 2012

#4 - Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
#5 - Killing Joke - MMXII
#6 - The Faceless - Autotheism
#7 - Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone
#8 - Baroness - Yellow & Green
#9 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
#10 - Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve

The Honorable Mentions

Thursday
Dec272012

The Top 10 Metal of 2012 #4: Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

How does one recover from desolation? He weeps until he wastes away under Grey Skies and Electric Light...

#4

Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

When tributes poured in following the passing of vocalist David Gold, we all knew we were robbed of an immense heavy metal talent. The world is short of a man who cut his heart and bled out on stage each night he stood to command it. Woods of Ypres didn't much stand for doom metal ceremony. There's no weepy violin or midnight Chaucer readings heard on Woods 5; just untrammeled woe and "horribleness" which pervades the most adamantine of optimism, snuffing it out mercilessly. I imagine cheery souls listening to five minutes worth would scream for it to be shut off lest it exposed their void,  usually papered over with saccharine platitudes and counterfeit smiles. Woods 5 in essence is a potent cocktail of post-punk minimalism, heart-tearing guitar bravado and gothic riffs cut with middle fingers thrust squarely at the establishment - what finer epitaph for David Gold than the Woods of Ypres' ultimate heavy metal wristcutting romance?

From the review posted at Metal As Fuck:


Though Gold screams at us "We shouldn’t worship the dead!" over and over in the severe black metal cut Adora Vivos – the Woods of Ypres will still see many a fan supplicate before them in testimony of his incredible talent for one of rock music’s darkest artforms. We will miss you, brother. Thank you for everything.

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The Top 10 Metal of 2012

#5 - Killing Joke - MMXII
#6 - The Faceless - Autotheism
#7 - Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone
#8 - Baroness - Yellow & Green
#9 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
#10 - Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve

The Honorable Mentions

Wednesday
Dec262012

The Top 10 Metal of 2012 #5: Killing Joke - MMXII

Delusions of Godhood dissolve as we realize we're powerless to avert our own desolation...

#5

 

Killing Joke - MMXII

Surreptitiously, Killing Joke is part of heavy metal ancestry. They might be invited along as “friends of” to the heavy metal family reunion. They’d be sat in the corner, watching Ozzy Osbourne’s drunken arm slung over Rob Halford’s leather-clad shoulder as he screams obscenities at no one in particular. A few of the bands in attendance – Metallica, Behemoth and Napalm Death to name but a few - would tip their glass toward them in silent tribute. Talking to Steve Hughes earlier this year made the urgency of Killing Joke's musical countdown to our incipient extinction clear. Our civilization’s fundament is at best an unknowable labyrinth, the great benign mother of us all is poisoned and choking and we now have the power to “Google someone’s toothbrush from space” – Steve joked at the time, albeit the humor doesn’t last long. Killing Joke’s inelastic attitude to perfection gives birth to dark children of metal invention. Dark shuffle In Cythera, garrisoned by synthesized dread digs down into their bittersweet proto-industrial days serves as précis for the record – vibrant, abrasive and not completely devoid of optimism. Mostly, though the crunch of bones in the teeth of merciless cogs ring out in their riffs. Jaz Coleman screams a grim portent toward mobs of void minds from their bleak soundscapes: the end isn't near, it's here.

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The Top 10 Metal of 2012

#6 - The Faceless - Autotheism
#7 - Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone
#8 - Baroness - Yellow & Green
#9 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
#10 - Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve

The Honorable Mentions