title: loudest of 2010
[originally posted over at Pinnastorm, just thought I'd throw it up here for posterity]
“So, Martin, what’s going on in the metal world these days? What’s good?” Hoo, this is going to be tough! There was a ton of great metal this year. Just like last year. Every year, I’m impressed with the way metal bands keep on evolving, looking for unique ways to push the boundaries of heaviness. Metal seems to be at an experimental stage, branching out into new territories and looking for something fresh.
As I’ve looked around at other retrospective posts around the web, I keep thinking the same things- “those albums sucked!” or “who the hell is that?” But also, there’s a complete lack of consensus on what is good and where metal is “supposed” to go from here. At least last year, Mastodon blew up with their release of “Crack the Skye”, and it was popular because they are really good. And the worst thing metal snobs could say was “oh it’s great sure but the older stuff was better”. Not that I would say that. But this year, I don’t think there were any big, amazing, consensus-building albums. Different sounds work for different people, and bands are going to be too screamy, too noodley, too grim, too thrashy, or too clearly aping Mastodon’s style just to be popular.
Speaking of popular bands, 2010 was also the first time in awhile where I actually felt like I had my finger on the pulse of mainstream music. I 100% agree with most music critics out there that Kanye's album was the album of the year. I have recommended it to just about all of my friends, and it's nice to have an album that everyone's talking about and everyone's heard. Well done, Kanye. Sleigh Bells is good - I wanted to make a snobby comment about how the EP was better, but actually they improved all of them for "Treats". The National's album was one of my favorites too. I really enjoyed some of the ghosty pop/folk out there, like Gayngs and How To Dress Well.
But enough about that bullshit, here were my favorite heavy albums of the year. Here’s a really personal list that should not be taken as consensus on anything. Rather than droning on through a huge list, I trimmed it down to right albums that are perfect from start to finish. Hope you like stoner/sludge/doom metal, because that’s what I LOVE right now. Also sometimes reading words can’t hold a candle to actually hearing these bands, so CLICK HERE for a playlist of tracks from all these albums.
8. Thou - "Summit": this is exactly what I want from doom metal. The riffs are warm and fuzzy, yet everything together feels bleak and hopeless. The music drags a bit and everything hits a little later than you want it to, kind of like how you feel when you're crawling out a swamp in Louisiana.
7. Altar of Plagues - "Tides": This album is about the Atlantic Ocean. Cool? Anyway it's just two songs clocking in at the 15-20 minute range. But they're SO GOOD. This might be my favorite black metal release of the year, although it's not especially "troo", or grim, or heavy even. The melodies are top-notch.
6. Ufomammut - "Eve": Here's a nice sludge metal concept album! The tracks on "Eve" go from long to short to long. They flow together perfectly. I can't get enough. The riffs are fantastic, sure, but there's also this extra layer of feedback/noise that adds an evil/creepy vibe to the whole album.
5. Nadja - "Autopergamene": I have tried a lot of Nadja albums, but this is the first one that's merited repeat listens. This is dense drone metal with soaring guitar lines. It gets EXTREMELY NOISY, but not without warming you up first. You hit Play on the album (on headphones preferably), then it disappears into the background, then it builds into something you can't ignore. It FEELS. GOOD. When the album ends, you are free.
4. Capsule - "Capsule": OK, this album is really just a collection of their demos, EPs etc. Still, I gotta give props to this band for crafting bursts of extreme energy, writing songs that last barely a minute, leaving you wanting, NEEDING more, such that you end up playing the same song over and over again. Oh, a couple songs break the 2-minute mark, but that's probably because the band needs some time to breathe.
3. Dolcim - "We Carry the Fire": I don't know if this tops "Guillotine Ride", but they've kept up their unique brand of extremely dense, bleak, melodic...screamo? Post-hardcore? Is it even metal? This is probably the band on this list I'd most like to see live, especially since I'm guessing only a dozen or so people would show up.
2. The Saddest Landscape - "You Will Not Survive": "Oh, Martin, I bet you only like that band because of their name!" Kindly fuck off! I only like this band because the singer can scream "heartache and failure!" repeatedly and have it mean something different each time. I can chant along with him at the end of each song when the instruments abandon him, like he didn’t get the memo that the pain was over. His voice is so raw that I want to make him mint tea after his shows, and also maybe recommend that he talk to a therapist.
**1. Daughters - "Daughters"**: Another band that is able to re-invent itself with each new release. Remember when everyone panicked when "Hell Songs" came out, and the vocalist switched from screaming to doing this lazy Southern drawl? But it still kicked ass? Their newest is "Hell Songs" kicked up a notch. The album sounds like you're being blown around in a tornado full of glass shards.
That’s all, thanks for reading! Bonus shoutouts to Celeste, Intronaut, Rosetta, Cloudkicker, Black Boned Angel, and Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza!