Genocide Pact - Order of Torment
Listen on bandcamp.
Death metal’s a funny thing. While it’s by far the best subgenre of metal in my honest opinion, many of its bands that emerged post-1995 have a tendency to fall somewhere between absolutely fantastic to headache-inducing. In recent times, however, the genre has begun to experience a sort of mini-renaissance of bands that follow the old school styles of death metal (i.e. Tampa, New York, and Sweden) like Homewrecker and Gatecreeper. What makes Washington D.C.’s Genocide Pact so interesting is that they appear to be a sort of amalgamation of all three of these sounds, and while they don’t necessarily do anything new with them, their songwriting and sense for brutality creates a punishingly groovy and evil death metal record in Order of Torment.
A criticism that I’ve heard of many a death-doom band is that they tend to draw out otherwise fine compositions to an unnecessary crawl, boring the listener into submission in an attempt to sound brutal. This is not the case with Genocide Pact. Order of Torment never has a dull moment--from the thrashy-sounding “Spawn of Suffering” to the crushingly feedback-driven end of “Ascendancy Absolved,” the D.C. three-piece makes sure that you don’t find yourself distracted or bored at any point in the record’s 39 minute runtime. The vocals, handled by Tim Mullarney, sound like a voice emerging from hell to haunt your worst nightmares, an effort that’s even more impressive when considering that he also handles guitar duties. Given that many death metal vocalists have the potential to sound strained and tired, Mullarney’s jagged yawp is undoubtedly the band’s most potent weapon.
That isn’t to say that the rest of Genocide Pact’s armory isn’t loaded. The drums move seamlessly from slow war cracks to lightning-fast blast beats as the band channels the varying styles pioneered by bands like Immolation, Malevolent Creation, and Entombed. The mix is about as good as you can get for a band paying homage to old-school death metal; each tremolo-picked note and furiously struck cymbal is perfectly audible. The bass doesn’t stand out, but rather serves to bolster the group’s hellish sound. If you prefer shredding in your OSDM, however, it’s best you look elsewhere, because you won’t find it here; the few solos on Order of Torment, like the one found in “Pain Reprisal,” feel more gradual and grueling, which makes sense given the torturous nature of the music.
Order of Torment is just as good as any OSDM-style death metal record you’ll hear in 2018, if not better. Genocide Pact’s refinement of a sound that’s well-established within metal is an impressive feat, managing to pay homage to days past without sounding derivative. With this record, Genocide Pact have set themselves a seat at the OSDM-revival table alongside Gatecreeper and Blood Incantation. Go give it a spin.
Kero Kero Bonito- “TOTEP”
Listen to the EP on your preferred streaming service here.
Kero Kero Bonito, often abbreviated to KBB, is a British electro-pop trio that combines the genre with some elements of j-pop and hip-hop. Formed in 2011 by Gus Lobban and James Bulled, the two went in search of someone that could speak Japanese. They came across Sarah Midori Perry and released their 2014 mixtape Intro Bonito. From the getgo, one of the most prominent features of this group is Perry’s smooth bilingualism. Sometimes she raps an entire verse in English before switching to Japanese, or change language in the verse, somehow managing to make the words rhyme with each other perfectly. The lyrics aren’t very deep, usually dealing with whatever the song is named for, but I think the fact that Perry’s talent is more than enough. She is backed by tasty, sugary pop electronics with some occasional experimentation. Their 2016 debut LP, Bonito Generation, expanded on Into Bonito with a much more focused sound. Now, out of the blue, the trio have dropped a brand new, 4-song EP entitled TOPTEP.
From the moment “The One True Path” starts, we notice that KKB is not quite the happy-go-lucky version of the band we have come to know. The production is nocturnal, lo-fi, even glitch-y. The lyrics are more existential, with a verse that actually goes “Well, I’m not the only person looking for a clue / I see by the footprints in the sand that you are too / So maybe together we can find a path that’s really true.” There is a hint of optimism, but these are quite the departure from previous lyrical themes such as jumping on a trampoline and visiting your parents. I am completely on board. As much as I enjoy their previous work, it’s nice to see the trio expand beyond that super-optimistic style to tackle darker subject matter. Next up comes “Only Acting,” which, at first, seems like a normal KKB song about acting in a play. The chorus takes a bit of a noise-rock approach, and then we get to the first bridge, when the song starts showing its true colors: Perry screams, and there’s a not-quite-breakdown from the instrumentals. This is quickly pushed aside and the song returns to normal,right up until the final chorus, which starts with Perry saying “exactly.” But there’s a continuous glitch on her voice, and the song soon collapses into a genuinely beautiful disaster, which transitions perfectly into the next track, “You Know How It Is.”
This track also reminds me of KKB’s earlier material, but updated with that noise-rock flavor. The lyrics also continue in a darker vein with lines like “Oh, you know how it is / When you try, but nothing’s going right.” Regardless, it manages to keep their cutesy, upbeat appeal. The EP concludes with “Cinema,” a somber, lonely place to finish. It reminds me of “Fly Me to the Moon,” the song that plays over the credits of every episode of Neon Genesis: Evangelion: calm, but sad. It seems the character Perry is portraying on this track is more reluctantly content with the fact that things just aren’t going to change, no matter what they do: “While the adverts might’ve changed / The popcorn tastes the same,” as she so beautifully sings. This is wonderful closure to the EP in how it answers the first track’s question of the “true path.” You have to keep moving in life.
The only thing I wanted out of this EP that it didn’t give me was more. I loved every track; I’m just upset that this thing only stands at 11 minutes, as it could’ve easily have benefited from an extra song or two. However, if this is what we should expect on whatever Kero Kero Bonito releases next, it’s safe to say we have an electropop masterpiece on the horizon.
VERDICT: Kero Kero Bonito put together an 11-minute EP that explores a broader range of topics than their contemporaries. I am absolutely excited to see where this group goes in the future.
- Alex Brown
Cane Hill - Too Far Gone
Listen and buy here
Cane Hill were cagey about their influences on the self-titled EP; more grounded in post-hardcore and metalcore than later albums, only that telltale “bounce” gave away the Slipknot and Korn influences that would float to the surface on Smile, along with healthy doses of Static-X and Nothingface. The chorus of “St. Veronica,” featuring an uncredited appearance by the ghost of pre-vocal-lessons Jonathan Davis, and the Marilyn Manson stomp of “(The) New Jesus” may lean a little too far into hero-worship for some, but Smile is an undeniably infectious cross-section of nu-metal’s best sounds. Too Far Gone is more its own beast, following the direction mapped out by the first record’s “Mannequin,” “It’s So Wonderful,” and “Strange Candy” to explore more textured, melodic territory.
Essentially, then, Cane Hill do with Too Far Gone what My Ticket Home did with unReal. It begins heavy, with “Too Far Gone” adding a new shout-along to future setlists, and “Lord of Flies” follows up with vintage Follow the Leader riffs and a Subliminal Verses-caliber chorus, making it an obvious single. It’s clear from this opening salvo that Elijah Witt is growing into his own, toning down the Corey Taylor-ish bellows and making use of a throaty near-spoken-word, lending a new, ominous air to “Too Far Gone” and the pre-chorus of “Erased.” He’s unafraid to stretch his pipes into limpid crooning, even falsetto, on “Singing in the Swamp” and “Why?.”
James Barnett proves he’s the new guy on the block, his an arsenal of fresh, inventive, but not overly-technical riffs a consistent highlight of the record even when things go south (in a manner of speaking). Apart from his catchy-as-hell work on “Lord of Flies,” refer to the masterpiece of a riff on “Singing in the Swamp”: alternately chunky and razor-sharp, it leaves as powerful an impression as the sexy Antichrist Superstar grooves of “Why?” and the Clutch/Black Sabbath-isms of “It Follows” and “The End.” “Erased,” with its verses of rolling bass and guitar delay, operates in a similar vein to “Why?” but turns out to be this album’s “Fountain of Youth” with an incongruously heavy breakdown following the second chorus. Knowing it’s coming doesn’t diminish its brute power; consisting of only a two-note riff and a lot of ominous space, it’s a prime example of the sort of less-is-more songwriting that their genre heroes made a living on.
The album’s first dip in quality is “It Follows,” although its aforementioned Clutch swagger keeps its corny lyrics and repetitive structure tolerable. “Scumbag” and “Hateful,” however, see the album hit bottom quite suddenly. The former plays like the band’s “I Am Hated,” giving them just under two minutes to indulge their worst tendencies. Their hearts are in the right place in denouncing Nazis and the alt-right (same thing, not to kid ourselves), and it’s a powerful message from a band conscious of their American southern heritage, but the song is fast-and-heavy in the most generic way possible, and lacks substance beyond that. “Hateful” tumbles further into the ditch with overly macho lyrics (“I feel so fucking hateful, pissing on the right here right now”) and uninspired arrangements salvaged only by the third and arguably most intense Barnett solo on the record, following the wah-pedal abuse of “Singing in the Swamp” and the melodic shred of “Why?” Too Far Gone has a hard time finding its footing on “10¢” and “The End.” before it’s over, and while these closing songs have passably catchy choruses that shouldn’t be overlooked, they don’t measure up to the album’s best.
Too Far Gone is a more cohesive record than its predecessor for over half its runtime, and willing, in some small but significant ways, to reinvent Cane Hill, or offer the option to do so: overtones of stoner rock are creeping into the Cane Hill sound, which would make a natural progression for their already dense songwriting and heavy instrumentation, but there are hints that Cane Hill could just as easily move in a more accessible alternative-rock direction. They have the energy to do it, and I can’t deny that I’d be interested to hear what they could do with a set of choruses on par with “Lord of Flies,” “Why?”, and “Erased.” Despite a couple of misjudged experiments, Too Far Gone is a worthy successor to Smile with possibly even more promise than that already auspicious debut.
Watain - TRIDENT WOLF ECLIPSE
Watain are a black metal band. They have tried to make that clear by including the word “dark” in the names of two albums, Lawless Darkness and Sworn to the Dark, and by sneaking it onto the cover of their latest album, the title of which sounds like the result of a game of black metal Mad Libs, if not the first thing spit out by one of those online genre-specific name generators. In case their blackened metalness went over your head, you can also dig up 1998’s Go Fuck Your Jewish “God” EP, 1999’s The Essence of Black Purity, and 2013’s Fuck Off, We Murder flexi-disc for clarity.
It stands to reason that TRIDENT WOLF ECLIPSE would then be a black metal record. It is. Specifically, it is a second-wave black metal record. On it, you will find all those old Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Marduk riffs you forgot about but loved to jam to in the early days of your black metal phase, shrink-wrapped in better production than any of those bands wanted or were able to afford when they recorded them. They may not be quite as “necro” as they were in the mid-nineties, but Watain preserve the tremolo and blastbeating so well it’s almost as if the twenty intervening years didn’t happen, or as if the band is willfully ignoring anything that changed in that time, just as they did in 2010, 2007, and on back to their inception. They are not alone. Plenty of newer artists can be classified as “throwback” bands, adopting retro attitudes on-stage and in their songwriting as a way of tapping into or recapturing a zeitgeist they were not able to experience firsthand, or that went all too quickly. Like those artists, Watain can occasionally be worth a listen. There’s nothing wrong with croaking along to lyrics about Satan and war and wolves and other things that are dark; after a point, it just wears thin, and experimentation becomes not only desirable, but necessary.
Watain know this. The Wild Hunt, while not a particularly great record, dared to peek beyond the mossy, frostbitten confines of second-wave black metal at what their less nostalgia-hampered peers were doing, and then mimicked some of what they heard. “They Rode On” is a mold-breaker within Watain’s body of work, making use of decidedly non-blackened sounds like folksy acoustic guitar and male and female singing to craft nine minutes of Watain at their yearnful best. While it’s easy to sniff out the influence Bathory’s Viking phase had on the song, the point stands: Watain know that they can experiment, and that they can be successful at it. That’s what makes TRIDENT WOLF ECLIPSE such a problem. On first listen, it’s frustrating to hear Watain not only regress to sub-Sworn to the Dark/Lawless Darkness-isms, but to do it consciously, as if afraid of where the inspiration of The Wild Hunt might have taken them, both creatively and in the eyes of their permanently backwards-facing fanbase.
Subsequent listens evoke almost nothing. Because there isn’t anything inherently wrong with playing and listening for nostalgia, it’s possible to latch onto a passage here and there and enjoy it “for what it is”: for what it reminds you of, rather than what it bodes. There’s a high for every low. The lows are derivative. The highs are adequate. On the whole, TRIDENT WOLF ECLIPSE averages out to a perfectly flat, perfectly neutral listen that can eat up forty minutes of your night in exactly the same way that staring at your collection of old black metal bands will.
Jeff Rosenstock- POST-
Stream and buy the LP here.
Jeff Rosenstock is a Long Island musician who started his music career with the Arrogant Sons of Bitches before moving to arguably his most well-known project, Bomb the Music Industry!, which broke up after ten years. Jeff went on to focus on his solo career, dropping the ska-punk of his previous projects for a style closer to pop-punk. His first studio project under his solo moniker was We Cool? in 2015, which was a fun, passionate, and quirky highlight of the year. A little more than a year later, he released WORRY., which I wish I liked it more. Jeff pushed himself as a songwriter, but I feel like he needs to do more than be quirky and fun to stay afloat in his genre. Now, the new year comes, and on the very first day, we get POST-. Despite having his shortest tracklist at only ten songs, this is his longest LP to date, reaching the 40-minute mark. This is because we have two epics here, one seven minutes long, the other reaching past eleven.
After a six-second introduction, the LP kicks off with the first epic, “USA,” a pointed critique of the current state of affairs in his home country with lyrics such as “I fought the law, but the law was cheating” (paying homage to the classic Crickets song) and “...he was dragged to the bottom of the lake by a couple of kids saying, ‘it’s a joke.’” This song starts off typical of Rosenstock, but breaks into an atmospheric synth section that caught me completely off-guard. He has used synth before, but not this wall of atmospheric beauty. After roughly a minute, he returns with a dreary, dreamy “We’re tired and bored” as the drums build up to a post-rock inspired climax, with vigorous chants of “We’re tired! We’re bored! Et tu, USA! Et tu, et tu, USA!” This is the songwriting I’ve been waiting for from Jeff Rosenstock. It still has the fun, quirky elements of his previous music, but now with exceptional, adventurous songwriting.
“Yr Throat,” which is about having anxiety (“I can’t find any way to relax,” “I can’t do anything of impact,” “What’s the point of having a voice when it’s stuck inside your throat?”) is more in the vein of his previous material, but with some progressive-rock elements borrowed from King Crimson and Yes that keep it fresh and exciting. There’s also a clear reference to the Access Hollywood tape (you know which) where we hear our sitting president bragging about sexually harassing women, backed with Jeff and company singing “If you’re a piece of shit, they don’t let you go.” I’ll let you interpret. “All of This Useless Energy” is a sort-of-ballad with a clipping acoustic guitar track around which the rest of the instruments get progressively noisier. This song also seems to deal with anxiety, as Jeff sings about how scared he is of abandoning what he loves, and how he can’t fool anyone when he says he’s trying his best, because he can’t be his best anything when he can’t sleep. He’s full of “useless” energy. The instrumental abrasiveness is a powerful underscore, and and the song stands out very clearly amongst the rest.
“Powerlessness” is instrumentally more upbeat, but sees Jeff continuing to question how can he solve anyone’s problems when he can’t solve his own. While this song isn’t quite as interesting as the previous tracks, it is fun, and the lyrics hit very close to home. “TV Stars” comes out the better song; lyrically, it’s timely and on-the-note with all these celebrities hinting at presidential runs in 2020. This is another “ballad,” with the synth taking focus as Jeff muses on how he gets away with things despite not being very good at them, followed by an eyebrow-raising comparison to people without political backgrounds running for president. “TV stars don’t care about who you are” is something we should all take into consideration.
“Melba” is about the shitty aftermath of anxiety, when Rosenstock want to start over, even though these issues will just follow him no matter where he goes. This track is another one that’s kind of just “fun,” but even these below-par songs sport incredible lyrics. “Beating My Head Against A Wall” may be the most relatable of the bunch, as it tackles the hopelessness of debating politics with an idiot. This song is roughly a minute and a half, but lyrics like “All I wanna see is peace, but I wanna fight you with every little bit of me” are just hilarious. It doesn’t offer much, but it does bring back some funny memories. This goes into track nine-out-of-ten, “9/10,” a gentler track about depression: Rosenstock clearly misses someone, and is a complete mess because of it. He doesn’t want to be the selfish, restless, and miserable person it makes him. But when he thinks about this person, he sings that it’s like he “almost” misses them--a sentiment that hits a little too close to home with me.
“Let Them Win” is the 11-minute epic, and it begins unexpectedly heavy, led by the bass as Jeff sings about how “they” can do many things, like kick you in the knees, criticize, and profit off lies. There’s no way the song isn’t about the way the GOP turns their debates into accusatory hate-fests, pointing the finger no matter where that finger has been. “They can make us feel afraid, and try to turn it into hate, oh yeah,” sings Rosenstock. “They can steal our slice for the hundredth time, judge us when we cry and never empathize with anyone but themselves.” His opinion of the GOP boils down to a word: selfishness. These are people who don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves, and will do anything they can to destroy dissenters and protect their flatterers. The mission statement of the chorus, “we will never let them win again,” is punctuated with a powerful “fuck no,” and the song takes off. Around five minutes in, Jeff starts humming over an acoustic section before that wonderful, atmospheric synth returns to conclude this 40-minute beast of an LP.
This is a first for me: on the first day of the year, after three relatively solid LPs, Jeff Rosenstock strikes it out of the park with POST- and gives me my first contender for album of the year. Though political in nature, the lyrics are a little more substantial than “Fuck Donald Trump,” exploring the issues, new and pre-existing, that the Trump presidency has churned up. At the same time, we get a clearer picture of Rosenstock’s mental state and how he deals with his anxiety and depression, a valuable thing to learn in these anxious, depressing times. This will be a hard one to top.
- Alex Brown
Bloodbather are a metalcore band from Broward County, Florida that play an aggressive, dissonant style in the vein of bands like Eighteen Visions and Disembodied. Having been put onto them when a friend sent me a link to their last release, 2016’s Justified Murder, I was eager to hear more, and when Pressure was announced for a release on New Year’s, I was excited to see what they could do. What I got was a record from a band filled with energy and potential that, with time, could help put Broward County on the map.
I’ll concede that, despite my love for the ultra-heavy and mosh-friendly Disembodied-style metalcore, it’s become a bit of a tired trend, with plenty of bands using it as a crutch to give the illusion of sounding aggressive without actually doing so. This is not the case with Bloodbather. The vibe that Pressure gives off is straight-up murderous, due to both the stellar production (recorded DIY, which is impressive) and vocalist Jeffrey Georges’ deranged screams. I’m not exaggerating either: Georges’ vocals, coupled with lyrics that could’ve come straight out of a diary found in an abandoned mental institution, something exemplified in the first lines of “The Final Request,” where he screams “I am coming for your head / I have always prayed for this,” which immediately set the tone for the rest of the record.
Calling back to my earlier point about this style becoming a bit overdone recently however, I do feel that the record gets a little samey at times. Much of Pressure has two speeds: slow and slower, which is great for the live setting, but is a bit tiring to listen to, and I definitely wish that there were faster, more mid-tempo sections like those in the title track and “End.” Thankfully, the record’s brevity helps hide these flaws, so they’re much easier to overlook than they would be on a full-length. With all that said, Pressure is 100% worth your time if you enjoy the other bands I named earlier, and I’m excited to see how Bloodbather will grow in the future (as well as hopefully mosh to the breakdown at the end of “Suicide Note” soon).
FFO: Knocked Loose, Disembodied, Eighteen Visions, Sanction
2017 was a fucking weird year, to say the very least, but I went to some of the best concerts I’ve ever been in my whole life. Here, I’ll be counting down the twenty-five best, because the pressure of narrowing it down to ten like I did last year would give me an aneurysm.
25. Bungler @ The Studio at Webster Hall: May 15th
Kicking off our list are the Buffalo boys on tour for their debut LP, The Nature of Being New. There were maybe 20 people in the audience by the time Bungler took the stage, but they still gave us their all and made a 25-minute set into something truly beautiful. “Opiate” live made the night that much richer for me. Truly one of the most underrated bands in the game right now. Check out my review for The Nature of Being New here.
24. Old Wounds @ The Palladium: December 15th
After a very awkward period of time, Old Wounds are back in the game. Since the only other time I saw these gentlemen was opening for Beartooth last year, I had to make the most of seeing them in a super tiny room, without a barricade. Boy, did they deliver: Kevin is a one-of-a-kind frontman, and the band’s live performance is more powerful and energetic live than their recordings give them credit. Hearing songs like “Son of No One” and “Rest in Piss” in such an intimate setting is incredible, but we also got some new tracks that we should be hearing on their new LP coming out next year. I’m super stoked to the future of this lineup.
23. Converge @ Warsaw: August 4th
These metalcore icons have been around since 1990, and their energy really hasn’t let up at all. Jacob Bannon is still all over the place, while the group, astonishingly, are able to keep up with his energy. They pummeled through their hour-long set with fast and aggressive tracks like “Dark Horse” and “I Can Tell You About Pain” as well as slow-burning dirges like “Eve” and “Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast.” The icing on this cake, however, was their choice of “Jane Doe,” from the album of the same name (and one of my absolute favorite songs ever) as closer. I hope to see them again very soon.
22. AFI @ Terminal 5: February 3rd
Despite not really liking their latest LP at all, I knew I was in for a treat when I got my tickets to AFI. These guys know what the fans want to hear. Their set included hits like “Miss Murder” and “Girls Not Grey” alongside really deep cuts like “Triple Zero” and “Morningstar.” Not to mention, everyone in this band can still jump around with the best of them, and Davey Havok even dove into the audience for “I Hope You Suffer,” a song I dislike, but was able to love in the moment as the crowd lifted him back up. AFI will forever hold a special place in my heart, and it’s great to see that they can still kill it.
21. Periphery @ Playstation Theatre: November 9th
I did not think I was going to be putting these guys on any of my best-of lists again. When I saw them in 2013, I thought that was as good as it was going to get, but this night was an impeccable Periphery setlist. Watching live shows during the Juggernaut tour cycle broke my heart because their sets were short and kind of disinterested. They weren’t amazing when I saw them last year, either. That said, this time has to be the best I’ve ever seen them. I don’t know where it came from, but the energy was through the roof: Spencer even stagedived during “Omega” and started performing from within the audience. The setlist was full of gold, including “Mile Zero,” one of the few songs I haven’t seen live off their sophomore LP. I may never like another record these guys put out, but god fucking damn did they blow me away that night.
20. LIMBS @ The Studio at Webster Hall: June 9th
A few days before this show, I checked these guys out and listened to them almost non-stop. It’s safe to say the SLEEP EP left an impression, one they solidified live. They came out with multicolored strobe lights and proceeded to get fucking crazy, performing with the sort of energy you’d expect of a group like letlive. They basically played their discography, or what it was at the time, and it was a great show. LIMBS are probably the best hardcore band I discovered this year.
19. The Weeknd @ Barclays Center: June 7th
This show was aesthetically perfect. The stage was basically a walkway overhung by a spaceship-like model, and there was an absolutely beautiful light display. The Weeknd’s mostly consisted of songs off of Starboy, with nice gems from his previous work like “I Can’t Feel My Face” and “Angel,” even if they were shortened versions. I was also surprised to hear how authentic he sounded live, because he used to be pretty mediocre. This show goes down in the books for me.
18. Capsize @ The Studio at Webster Hall: June 9th
After LIMBS and Eidola, Capsize began their set with Daniel Wand stage-diving right from the get-go. The set was a mix of 2015’s A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me and a few tracks from The Angst In My Veins, including a guest spot from Hector Sabino (Young Graves). I got a black eye from a crowd-surfers boot, but it honestly made the whole thing that much more worth it. Capsize put on the sort of show that leaves a huge smile on my face. Oh yeah, Hail the Sun headlined the show, but I didn’t stay for them. If they put out their EP before that show I would have considered. Otherwise, nah.
17. Thursday @ Irving Plaza: April 29th
Thursday was vital to developing my taste in music. When they announced they were breaking up in 2011, I was really heartbroken, because I thought this meant I would never get to see them, until they reunited in 2016 and announced dates in 2017 with Touche Amore and Cities Aviv. As soon as Thursday opened with “For the Workforce, Drowning,” I knew I was in for a night of celebration. They pulled out obvious classics like “Cross Out the Eyes” and “Understanding a Car Crash,” as well as other greats like “Beyond the Visible Spectrum” and “Division St.” I was speechless by the end. I saw them two months later at McCarren Park as well, but this was definitely the more memorable show.
16. deafheaven @ WARSAW: March 15th
You can read my review for the whole show here, but to summarize, there is no band in deafheaven’s style that performs with as much passion and fire. What made this time more special than the other three times I’ve seen them was the emphasis on their debut LP, Roads to Judah. I got to hear “Language Games” live. I never would have expected it, especially since they ignored that record the entire New Bermuda tour. I even got to see them do their cover of “Cody” by post-rock legends Mogwai. What was better than their setlist, though, was George Clarke’s presence. Sure, he’s a bit goofy, but his performance is passionate, and he clearly cares about the fans: he’s always reaching out, grabbing hands, turning the mic out to them. It’s obvious he was raised in hardcore. I love this band, and I can’t wait to see them continue to release stellar music.
15. Swans @ WARSAW: November 4th
Sticking to WARSAW, we move roughly eight months into the future and come to the final performance of Swans as we knew them. This beast of a performance was three mind-numbing hours. From the drone opener alone, which was forty-five minutes long, to “Cloud of Unknowing,” mutated to nearly an hour of music, to the 30-minute grand finale “The Glowing Man,” this show was nothing short of loud and meditative. I’m so lucky to be able to say I witnessed this one. Thank you for everything, Swans.
14. pageninetynine @ Gold Sounds: September 26th
This show was just a great, big, screamo fest. We got an opening set from up-and-coming skramz act Portrayal of Guilt, followed by screamo legends Majority Rule. The night finished off with an hour-long set from THE emoviolence heroes, who absolutely obliterated it, playing so many songs I never expected to hear in a live setting with such raw power. I can now die knowing I’ve seen one of the finest in screamo.
13. END @ The Palladium: December 15th
Oh man, was this an interesting show. END was the breakout band of the year, but the lineup at this show was rather incomplete, In that vocalist Brendan Murphy (Counterparts) was not allowed in the country. So what did they do? They brought out Ethan Harrison (Great American Ghost) to do vocals. Honestly, his performance was better than Brendan Murphy’s could ever have been. Everyone was all over the place, with Ethan stage-diving multiple times during the show. Yours truly stage-dived TWICE, busting his ass the second time, and it was all fucking worth it. Hopefully I will see the “true” version of END one day, but I think we got the best version of END at this one.
12. Travi$ Scott @ Barclays Center: July 23rd
Travi$ was opening for Kendrick Lamar, but you wouldn’t be able to tell looking at the stage for his set. He performed the show as if it was HIS, and that’s what made it so tight. There is no one in hip-hop right now who has the energy of this 25-year old. I wasn’t a huge fan of his prior, but I sure as hell left one. At one point, he climbed on top of a giant mechanical bird and “flew” as he rapped. If this is his show as an opener, I have to see him headline. His set closed with a snippet of “goosebumps,” foreshadowing what was to come.
11. The Saddest Landscape @ Brooklyn Bazaar: March 4th
These boys claimed the #3 spot on my list last year. This year, I got to see them open for Pianos Become the Teeth, and they stole the show. Much of what I said last year is applicable to this performance, too, but there was even more fire and passion this time around. The icing on the cake was me, along with a few others, going on stage and singing along to “Eternity Lost on the Dying.” I need to see these guys do a headliner already, dammit!
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas @ Barclays Center: December 8th
This year, I got to see one of my favorite childhood movies screen with a live orchestra and much of the original cast singing their parts. The orchestra was fantastic, and so were Danny Elfman reprising his role as Jack Skellington; Catherine O’Hara reprising her roles as Sally and Shock; and Ken Page reprising his role as Oogie Boogie. It was a beautiful, charming night.
09. Pyrrhon @ Saint Vitus Bar: August 31st
If you read my Top 10 LPs of 2017 list, you’d see that these guys took the silver medal for the year. I’d go as far as to say that the LP they put out is my favorite death metal LP of all-time, and you can read why here. This was one of two shows they played it in full, so I knew I had to go and witness it in its entirety. Somehow, it was honestly better live, with the group adding an entirely new section to the finale that was nothing short of improvisational beauty.
08. God Mother @ Saint Vitus Bar: December 30th
These guys were the last headliners I saw for the year, and it was the perfect show to close out 2018. I saw them a few days prior opening for The Dillinger Escape Plan at Terminal 5, but this is a band you HAVE to see in an intimate setting. I’m not typically a mosher, but I had to for these guys. The highlight of the set was the limbo competition. Yes, vocalist Sebastian put his mic stand on the floor, had someone hold the wire, and initiated a limbo competition. It was absolutely amazing. This is not to ignore the fact that Sebastian climbed to the top of the venue and held onto the beam holding the lights, or any of the stagediving that otherwise would have been too dangerous to do at the venue when not sold out. This show was nothing short of fun, and I guarantee it will go down in history as yet another legendary show at the legendary Saint Vitus.
07. Kendrick Lamar @ Barclays Center: July 23rd
While DAMN. is not one of my favorite Kendrick Lamar projects, this tour was phenomenal. Topping a set as lit as Travi$ Scott’s is no easy feat, but I knew K. Dot had it in the bag. As soon as it started, we had a man come out doing katana tricks. There were plenty of dancers who did all sorts of unique things during his songs and the interludes. 2 Chainz and Travi$ Scott came out for 2 Chainz’ “7AM,” which transitioned into Travi$’ “goosebumps.” There was nothing more bone chilling, however, than hearing the whole room sing “HUMBLE.” at once. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. Kendrick is truly is one of the best in the game right now.
06. Death Grips @ Terminal 5: October 17th
The reason Death Grips did not make my top list the year before was mostly because I had a horrible experience with the crowd. It’s one of two shows where I felt like I could literally have died. To avoid a repeat, I stood on the venue balcony this time, and the experience was infinitely more enjoyable. Death Grips definitely blew last year’s show out of the water from the get-go: they turned off the lights and came out wearing gloves that shone different colors. It was an experience, to say the very least. They played parts off of their brand new one song-EP Steroids, and it went hard as fuck. Death Grips are, in a word, remarkable.
05. Street Sects @ Sunnyvale: April 15th
I barely knew who Street Sects were. I went for Planning for Burial, but my brother kept telling me how amazing Street Sects was. I listened to the first Gentrification EP in preparation, but in no way was I ready. They filled the room with fog, which made their strobe lights that much more effective. Honestly, I didn’t even know what was going on for the first three minutes, and then I saw their vocalist Leo Ashline pop out of the fog like something out of a horror movie. He went around screaming in everyone’s face. About halfway through the set, he pulled out a chainsaw. I’ve seen acts like Exhumed do this before, but the difference here was that this was a REAL chainsaw. Sure, it didn’t have a real saw on it, but I literally smelled the gasoline. He started running around the venue like a maniac. I was horrified, and in love. When his microphone stopped working, he grabbed people and screamed in their face. From that moment onward, I was a huge Street Sects fan, and you can read my review for their latest EP over here.
04. Between the Buried and Me @ Irving Plaza: September 23rd
Three days after I turned 21, I got to see Colors. I wrote an entire piece on the LP for its tenth anniversary that you can read here, but this show was magical. Every song was performed to perfection, with hardly any breaks. The audience went absolutely wild, screaming the words out loud. Fuck, man. I finally got to hear the LP that changed how I looked at music in full, what more could I have asked for? Oh, and they closed the night with The Silent Circus’ “Mordecai.” Yeah, it was truly a fucking beautiful memory. I cried six times during the set.
It’s kind of crazy to imagine, but there were three performances that topped this. Let’s hand out these medals.
BRONZE. Trap Them @ Saint Vitus Bar: November 10th
Trap Them’s last New York City show was bound to be a treat, but I didn’t realize how crazy it was actually going to be. I went to both shows (you can read my review for both here), but I will be focusing on the very last one, as the energy both the crowd and band gave off that night was insane. They were also much more prepared this night too, with a banner and extra lights. Yours truly crowd surfed during “Hellionaries” in what I’ll call the best crowd-surfing experience I’ve had yet. It’s sad knowing I’ll never get to see Trap Them again, but being that I went to both shows and got the most out of them, I’m happy I got to witness these guys live to begin with.
SILVER. The Number Twelve Looks Like You @ Gold Sounds: July 27th
I had a hard time choosing between the two times I’ve seen The Number Twelve Looks Like You this year, the other time being at Brooklyn Bazaar when they performed Nuclear.Sad.Nuclear., as both were pretty damn perfect in their own right, but this one just had to take the cake for being the first time, and in a much smaller space. Coming off of such a long break, they were ridiculously intense. Jesse Korman took my phone and started recording from the stage during “Sleeping with the Fishes, See?”, the footage of which you can view here. Jesse got a piggyback ride from a concert-goer. During “The Garden’s All Nighters,” Jesse got into the crowd and formed a dance circle. Lastly, to conclude the night, he invited many of us on stage, much like Dillinger last year at Webster Hall, and we partied to “The Weekly Wars.” This was a special show in every sense of the word. At the time, I didn’t think anything could top it.
GOLD. The Dillinger Escape Plan @ Terminal 5: 12/27-29/17
Once again, The Dillinger Escape Plan top the list. I just wrote a review for all three shows, so read it. I don’t want to repeat myself, or much these nights meant to me. I said goodbye to my favorite band.
Here’s to more great shows in 2018, y’all.
- Alex Brown
BRUH 2017 SUCKED. I COULD BE A FUCKING DORK AND SAY THAT AT LEAST IT WAS A GOOD YEAR FOR MUSIC BUT CONTRARY TO THOSE SENTIMENTS THAT KIDS WHO BUY PATCHES FROM FYE SAID ABOUT “AT LEAST SOME GREAT PUNK ROCK BANDS WILL COME OUT OF THIS”, FOR THE MOST PART THIS HAS BEEN A PRETTY UNREMARKABLE YEAR FOR ME MUSICALLY, THOUGH JUST IN THINGS I LISTEN TO NOT THINGS I’VE DONE. I ACTUALLY PUT OUT AN ALBUM THAT WAS WAY BETTER RECEIVED THAN WE HAD EXPECTED *LUCRETIA PLUG* LMAO DUDE ALEX BROWN’S ONLY FLAW WITH IT WAS THAT HE THOUGHT ONE SONG DIDN’T FIT IN AND THAT WAS KINDA THE POINT OF IT LMAO I LOVE YOU MY LITTLE LONG HAIRED ANGEL, I WON’T LET HELMS DEEP FALL. YOU HAVE A GOOD SWORD ALEX, SON OF HAMA.
YO I’LL BE COMPLETELY HONEST HALF OF MY INITIAL LIST (AND BY THAT I MEAN THE LIST I DID ON FACEBOOK LIKE 3 WEEKS AGO) WAS PRIMARILY ALBUMS FROM THE LAST TWO YEARS THAT I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT UNTIL THIS YEAR.
ALSO DISCLAIMER: LMAO THERE’S NO RAP ALBUMS ON HERE BUT NOT EVEN ON SOME “I DON’T LIKE RAP” I JUST DON’T LISTEN TO RAP RELEASES AS ALBUMS. I NORMALLY JUST LISTEN TO IT ONCE OR TWICE AND TAKE OUT THE SONGS I LIKE AND I’M NOT GOING TO LIE ABOUT RELISTENING TO THE LIKE 90 HOURS OF BROCKHAMPTON RELEASES THAT CAME OUT IN 2017 LIKE I JUST DIDN’T DO THAT LOL.
ALSO ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I WAS GOING TO DO AN HONORABLE MENTIONS SECTION BUT SINCE I ALREADY KINDA DID THIS ALREADY ON FACEBOOK JUST GO ON THERE LOL.
ALSO THIRD DISCLAIMER: IDK IN CASE YOU COULDN’T TELL I’M NOT REALLY THE MOST DISCIPLINED WRITER AND I’M NOT EVEN A PART OF THIS PAGE LMAO I GOT THE IDEA TO DO THIS THIS MORNING WHEN I WAS SHOWERING AND THINKING ABOUT HOW JESUS PIECE KICKS SO MUCH ASS EVEN THOUGH EVERY BAND THAT SOUNDS LIKE JESUS PIECE SUCKS.
(PICTURED: MY APPLICATION FOR DOING THIS.)
ANYWAYS WHATEVER LET’S GET IT:
10.) CYBERBULLY – imhavingthetimeofmylife
LISTEN HERE: https://cyberbullyallcaps.bandcamp.com/album/imhavingthetimeofmylife
CYBERBULLY IS A BAND NAMED AFTER WHAT I’M GOING TO BE DOING TO CESAR IRL SOON AND IS THIS INSANE INDUSTRIAL HIP-HOP/HARSHWALL/ELECTRONIC PROJECT BY SOME KID IN BOSTON WHO I DON’T KNOW BUT A LOT OF MY FRIENDS DO. I’M PRETTY SURE HE’S THE ROOMMATE OF THE GUY WHO DOES THAT “FUCKING SIIIIIIICK TATTOO OF A WOLF EVERYDAY” MEME PAGE OR SOMETHING BIZARRE LIKE THAT.
CYBERBULLY’S LAST RELEASE “SUMMER OF FLIES” WAS AN ABSOLUTELY PUNISHING SOUNDSCAPE RECORD THAT FELT LIKE GETTING SMACKED IN THE EARS. IN CONTRAST, IMHAVINGTHETIMEOFMYLIFE SOMEHOW MANAGES TO INSERT MELODIES INTO THE CHAOS AND NOISE THAT PERMEATES IN EVERY TRACK. IT’S KIND OF LIKE LISTENING TO THE MUSIC FROM THAT SONIC THE HEDGEHOG GAME THAT WAS ON THE SEGA GAMEGEAR WHILE THE BATTERIES STARTED TO DIE. THE SECOND TRACK “BEREAL” HAS ONE OF THE MOST TRIUMPHANT SOUNDING MUSICAL REFRAINS THAT ALSO AGGRAVATES THE PTSD I GOT FROM WHEN I WOULD BUMP MY POKEMON CARTRIDGE AGAINST A BUS SEAT ON MY WAY HOME FROM SCHOOL.
9.) GREAT GRANDPA – PLASTIC COUGH
OKAY SO GREAT GRANDPA’S NAME SUCKS AS MUCH AS CYBERBULLY’S NAME RULES, BUT DON’T LET THAT DETRACT FROM HOW SOLID A RECORD PLASTIC COUGH IS. LMAO NO LIE I LEARNED ABOUT THIS RECORD AT A NEWBURY COMICS IN BOSTON LOL. ONE OF THE SONGS WAS PLAYING ON THEIR LOUDSPEAKER AND I ASKED SOME KID IN AN OFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH SHIRT WHAT IT WAS AND HE WAS LIKE “IDK LET ME CHECK” THEN HE RAN BACK AND WAS GONE FOR LIKE 15 MINUTES LIKE DUDE I COULD OF SHAZAMED IT OR SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T NEED TO GO THROUGH THE CATACOMBS ON SOME MERLIN SHIT MY GUY YOU’RE GOING TO TEAR YOUR $500.00 CONSTRUCTION WORKER SHIRT.
ANYWAYS GREAT GRANDPA IS INTERESTING BECAUSE THEY PLAY A KIND OF DREAMY SLACKER STYLE DIY INDIE THAT EVERYONE WHO WAS INTO THE EMO REVIVAL NOW INSISTS THEY WERE ALWAYS INTO BUT THEY HAVE SOME SONGS THAT WILL SUDDENLY DROP INTO EARLY DAUGHTERS TYPE MELTING-ACID GRIND AND GO RIGHT BACK INTO BEING CATCHY LITTLE SONGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ON A CASSETTE YOUR SISTER MADE FOR SOME GUY SHE HAD A CRUSH ON IN 1993. THE ONLY THING I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THIS ALBUM IS THAT THE LAST SONG ON PLASTIC COUGH IS ABOUT SMOKING WEED AND WATCHING THE SIMPSONS WHICH IS SOMETHING I DON’T EVER WANT TO HEAR ABOUT SINCE IT TAKES UP ABOUT 40% OF THE INSTAGRAM STORIES MY FRIENDS POST LIKE LOL WE GET IT YOU HAVE A STICK N POKE OF YOUR ASTROLOGICAL SIGN AND DRAW CARTOON CHARACTERS WHO DON’T HAVE NOSES. ALSO THE SINGER ALSO LOOKS LIKE MILLIE BOBBIE BROWN IN A MIA WALLACE WIG LOL.
8.) SABELLA – THE SONGS OFF “DOG DAZE” THAT HAVE CLEAN SINGING
LISTEN TO TRACKS 1, 2, 6, 9, & 13 HERE: https://sabellaofficial.bandcamp.com/album/dog-daze
OKAY SO THIS ALBUM AS A WHOLE IS PRETTY MEH BUT WHEN THEY GOT THE GUY FROM THE FRAY DOING HIS LIL CROONING “IM SAD AND MISS A GIRL” STUFF IT’S REALLY SOLID. I ACTUALLY HATE DOWNTEMPO/BEATDOWN/WHATEVER PEOPLE ARE CALLING DEATHCORE WITHOUT THE BLASTBEATS THESE DAYS SO THE REST OF THE ALBUM CAN BE SKIPPED, I CAN BASICALLY JUST YELL RAP AND BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF A HI HAT AND YOU CAN GET THE SAME EFFECT.
THERE’S ALSO ONE SONG WHERE THE LYRICS ARE LIKE A PITBULL SONG LIKE "PUT ON YOUR SNEAKERS" OR SOMETHING THERE’S ALSO A SONG CALLED "FREE FALLIN" BUT ITS NOT THE ONE THAT JOHN MAYER SINGS SO YOU CAN MISS ME WITH THAT SHIT LMAO. I’M KINDA CONFLICTED BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IF THIS BAND GOT RID OF THE 8 STRINGS, STUCK TO JUST ONE VOCALIST, GOT ANOTHER GUITAR PLAYER, AND FOCUSED MORE ON WRITING MELODIC STUFF THEY COULD BE REALLY GOOD.
ALSO I THOUGHT THIS BAND WAS KNOCKED LOOSE THE FIRST TIME I HEARD THEM LOL DUDE KNOCKED LOOSE IS JUST SWORN IN FOR PEOPLE THAT WEAR CHAMPION HOODIES.
7.) HELPLESS – DEBT
LISTEN HERE: https://helplessband.bandcamp.com/album/debt
AT FIRST GLANCE YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THIS IS THAT NEW END RECORD BUT THIS ONE ACTUALLY SOUNDS KIND OF INTERESTING AND ISN’T JUST FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY WITH THE VOCALIST FROM ANOTHER BAND THAT PROBABLY MADE SHIRTS WITH A PICTURE OF THE BAND AND SOME LYRICS ON THE BACK. INSTEAD THIS IS JUST GAZA WITH A DIFFERENT BAND LOL. I HAVE A GAZA THIGH TATTOO SO I’M PRETTY WITIT. THERE’S ONE PART ON THE RECORD WHERE THEY PLAY THE SAME RIFF BUT WITH DIFFERENT DRUM PATTERNS AND THEN WITH AN OCTAVE PEDAL AND IT’S REALLY COOL IDK WHAT SONG IT IS I’M NOT ABOUT TO PULL IT UP ON MY PHONE I’M AT WORK I DON’T WANT THE ATTORNEY IN THE OFFICE DOWN THE HALL TO HEAR THIS RIFFAGE AND TRY TO CEREBRALLY CROWDKILL ME (LMS IF YOU REMEMBER THAT YOUTUBE VIDEO WHERE THE SINGER FROM GAZA AND A 18 YEAR OLD JAMI MORGAN ARGUE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT MOSHING IS OKAY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67cCk1gbvLg)
6.) CONVERGE – THE DUSK IN US
LISTEN HERE: https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/the-dusk-in-us
THIS IS THE NEWEST ALBUM BY CONVERGE, WHO ARE MORE INSTRUMENTAL IN THE WAY THAT HARDCORE HAS CHANGED, EVOLVED, AND BEEN CONSUMED THAN ANY OTHER BAND IN AT LEAST 30 YEARS. CONVERGE IS THE GREATEST HARDCORE BAND OF ALL TIME AND IF YOU THINK OTHERWISE YOU WRITE FOR ROLLING STONE AND THINK THAT NOTHING THAT HAS EXISTED IN YOUR LIFETIME CAN BE PARADIGM SHIFTING. I LIKE THIS RECORD A LOT AND WISH THAT CONVERGE DIDN’T RELEASE ALMOST EVERY SONG ON IT BEFORE THE RECORD CAME OUT SO I COULD HAVE BEEN SURPRISED MORE.
IF YOU DON’T IMMEDIATELY WANT TO JUMP OFF A BALCONY DURING THE
MY PAIN FEELS LIKE
PART OF “I CAN TELL YOU ABOUT PAIN” YOU HAVE ZERO HOES AND STACK NO PAPER.
5.) MOUTHBREATHER – PIG
LISTEN HERE: https://mouthbreathercult.bandcamp.com/album/pig
THERE’S LIKE A TRILLION BANDS NAMED MOUTHBREATHER BUT THIS IS THE BEST ONE. THIS ALBUM IS LIKE 6 MINUTES LONG AND IS MOSTLY JUST MESHUGGAH MOSH RIFFS BUT NOT IN THE LAME DJENT WAY LOL DO PEOPLE EVEN LISTEN TO DJENT ANYMORE? I HOPE I DIDN’T OFFEND SOMEONE WHO STILL WEARS ELONGATED WHITE TEE SHIRTS UNDER THEIR HOODIES BUT FOR REAL IS DJENT A THING? POLYPHIA IS SO BORING DUDE LOL THEY DEF CALL EACH OTHER FAM IN THEIR GROUP CHAT. LMAO IN THE TIME IT TOOK YOU TO READ THIS SECTION YOU COULD HAVE LISTENED TO THE ENTIRETY OF THIS ALBUM BUT INSTEAD YOU JUST KEPT SCROLLING THROUGH MY THINLY VEILED SHOTS AT KIDS WHOSE EXISTENCE I AM UNSURE OF BUT HATE NONETHELESS.
4.) KIDNAPPED – KIDNAPPED
CATCH UP HERE: https://kidnappedpv.bandcamp.com/album/s-t
I LOVE THESE KIDS SO MUCH YOU HAVE NO IDEA. DANNY, LIAM, AND DAKOTA ARE SOME OF THE BEST PEOPLE I’VE MET IN MY LIFETIME AND THEIR BAND CURRENTLY HOLDS THE DISTINGUISHED POSITION OF “ACTIVE BAND FROM CONNECTICUT THAT MICHAEL TERRY LIKES THE MOST RIGHT NOW ™”. THEY RELEASED 3 RECORDS THIS YEAR BUT THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE. THE PRODUCTION IS TIGHT BUT THERE IS NO LOSS IN HOW RAW AND AGGRESSIVE EVERYTHING IS.
DUDE DAKOTA PLAYS DRUMS WITH FUCKING MARCHING STICKS. MY MANS IS OUT HERE HITTING HIS SNARE WITH THOSE SOUVENIR BASEBALL BATS YOU GET AT GIFT SHOPS. THESE GUYS ARE BLOWING UP AND THERE IS LEGITIMATELY NO BAND I KNOW THAT DESERVES IT MORE.
3.) VEIN – SPLIT WITH .GIF FROM GOD (A.K.A. SELF DESTRUCT)
LISTEN HERE: https://veinband.bandcamp.com/album/split-w-gif-from-god
“BUT MICHAEL THAT ALBUM CAME OUT IN 2016” YEAH BUT IT CAME OUT ON NEW YEARS EVE AND I DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT IT LAST YEAR SO SMDFTB. LOL I FEEL SO BAD FOR GIF FROM GOD LIKE I DON’T KNOW A SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS LISTENED TO THEIR HALF MORE THAN ONCE.
I’M FROM NEW ENGLAND SO NATURALLY I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT HOW I KNEW VEIN EVEN BEFORE THIS RECORD CAME OUT BECAUSE I’M PETTY AND WASTED MY POTENTIAL BY GETTING INTO HEAVY MUSIC AS OPPOSED TO LIKE, FINANCE OR SOMETHING. THIS ALBUM SOUNDS LIKE THE LOCUST OR DAUGHTERS BUT YOU CAN PIT TO IT. LOL MY MOST VIEWED VIDEO ON INSTAGRAM IS A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SWINGING THEIR ARMS TO THAT KORN RIFF FROM THE FIRST SONG ON THIS ALBUM. VEIN RULES LOL.
2.) GLASSJAW – MATERIAL CONTROL
THERE’S NO BANDCAMP FOR GLASSJAW SO JUST GO ON SPOTIFY OR APPLE MUSIC IF YOU’RE A COP.
I ALREADY WROTE A PIECE ON THIS SITE ABOUT MEETING GLASSJAW AND HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT THIS ALBUM. INSTEAD OF REPEATING MYSELF I’M JUST GONNA SAY THAT THIS RECORD WAS SOMETHING I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE AND EVERYONE WHOSE MAIN COMPLAINT ABOUT THE RECORD WAS THAT “ITS BEEN 15 YEARS SINCE THE LAST RECORD” DOESN’T KNOW DICK ABOUT BEING A GLASSJAW FAN.
SO IS THIS RECORD BETTER THAN GLASSJAW’S PREVIOUS TWO LPs? NOT REALLY. BUT IT’S A FANTASTIC RETURN TO FORM FROM MY FAVORITE BAND SO I LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF IT. I HOPE ALL OF YOU LILY WHITE SOLIPSISTIC CURS ARE CURSED TO WAIT 15 YEARS FOR YOUR FAVORITE BAND TO RELEASE A RECORD ONLY TO HAVE SOME DORKS WHO FORCE THEMSELVES TO LISTEN TO LIKE 45 RELEASES A WEEK SAY IT’S UNDERWHELMING EVEN THOUGH THEY DON’T LIKE THE BAND THAT MUCH TO START OFF WITH LIKE WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH Y’ALL.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT MY PAIN FEELS LIKE. *JUMPS OFF LADDER TO DELIVER THE PEOPLES ELBOW TO ANTHONY FANTANO*
AND THE NUMBER ONE ALBUM OF 2017 IS………………..
1.) SLIPKNOT – IOWA
THAT’S RIGHT BABY!!!11!
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN FOR THE 16TH YEAR IN A ROW, IOWA WINS ALBUM OF THE YEAR. I’M NOT EVEN GOING TO LINK IT BECAUSE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY LISTENED TO IOWA BY NOW I’M JUST GOING TO SCALP YOU LIKE THE STEM OF A PUMPKIN.
IOWA IS UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS IN AMERICAN ART AND IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU LEFT 9 COKEHEADS WHO HATED EACH OTHER IN A CORN MAZE WITH A COUPLE OF BC RICH WARLOCKS AND A BEER KEG THAT WAS BEING SMACKED AROUND LIKE A PINATA. I WILL HEADBANG SO HARD DURING “PEOPLE=SHIT” I WILL GIVE MYSELF A CONCUSSION TO RIVAL THAT OF A RETIRED NFL PLAYER. LMAO CATCH WILL SMITH YELLING AT ME LIKE “YEW HAB DA CONCOOOSHUN” LOL SHUT UP WILL GO BACK TO DOING GUEST VOX FOR BURY YOUR DEAD (THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED S2G).
YO DEADASS MY G LOOK ME IN THE WINDOWS OF MY SOUL AND TELL ME “LEFT BEHIND” ISN’T A FLAWLESS SONG. FUCK EVEN THE WORST SONG ON THIS RECORD IS STILL A BETTER AMBIENT INDUSTRIAL SONG THAN ANYTHING WHATEVER OBSCURE BLACK METAL BAND YOU LIKE HAS DONE. AND FOR ANYONE THAT HAS ANY DOUBTS ABOUT IOWA I GOT TWO WORDS FORMING ONE PORTMANTEAU FOR YA:
I WILL THROTTLE YOU AND CRUSH YOUR HEAD LIKE A DELAWARE MERCENARY DURING ANY PART OF “DISASTERPIECE.” I LOVE IOWA SO MUCH I COULD PUNCH THROUGH A WALL.
SHIT DUDE MAYBE 2017 WASN’T THAT BAD AFTER ALL.
2017 has been phenomenal for music. I feel like there have been so many amazing records both from personal favorites and bands I just discovered this year that should make it on this list. This is easily the hardest year in music for me to rank, but here goes.
10: Signs of the Swarm - The Disfigurement of Existence
Signs of the Swarm is that band for slamming deathcore this year. They came out swinging with some of the heaviest blast beats and most demonic vocals I have ever heard. It should go without saying that this should take the cake for the heaviest deathcore record of 2017. I didn’t think it was possible to get heavier than their debut record, Senseless Order, but holy fuck was I wrong.
9: Counterparts - You’re Not You Anymore
I’m pretty sure You’re Not You Anymore is a site favorite, especially for me and Cesar. This year has had a lot of emotional downs for me, so I hold this record all the nearer and dearer for its lyrical content and the groovy breakdowns that Counterparts are been known for. The Current Will Carry Us was my favorite Counterparts record, but this album, released the day after my birthday, took that spot from the first second.
8: Being as an Ocean - Waiting For Morning To Come
Being as an Ocean are a go-to band for bad nights. This record is full of gems, and I had to give it this spot because I find myself revisiting the album quite often.
7: PVRIS - All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
I vividly remember falling in love upon hearing my first Pvris track in 2014 when I caught them a few moments of their set at Warped Tour. It isn’t perfect, and not every song resonates with me like I had hoped, but it is an undeniably beautiful record that does everything right.
6: Full of Hell - Trumpeting Ecstasy
Full of Fucking Hell. Enough said right? Trumpeting is easily up there for me as the best Full of Hell record, and damn was it hard to top Rudiments of Mutilation. I can’t even describe in words how amazing this record is. It’s 23 and a half minutes of perfection.
5: Currents - The Place I Feel Safest
True story: I stayed up all night until the day before release just to purchase the record for more money on an NZ iTunes account because I was just that excited to own it. Hard work pays off.
PS: Brian is the god of break up songs.
4: Movements - Feel Something
I didn’t even listen to this album until a week or so after release because I knew it would make me emotional in ways I wasn’t 100% okay with facing. This record is close to perfect, and although there’s one song that I don’t really vibe with, every other track is musical genius.
3: My Ticket Home - unReal
It’s not Strangers Only and that’s clear as day, but unReal is a great take on this 90’s grunge/“nu” sound. I hope one day that we get to see what they did with the Strangers Only sound on their true unreleased sophomore album, but for now, this will hold me over just fine.
2: Varials - Pain Again
I’m such a sucker for a good beatdown record, but I really didn’t expect to love the new Varials as much as I do. I’m even in the video for “Colder Brother.” I honestly think the bass tone on this record is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s crunchy, diabolical, and makes this record stand out amongst the other hardcore albums this year.
1: Lorna Shore - Flesh Coffin
Psalms was my introduction to Lorna Shore, and at best, it’s a good record. It didn’t captivate me like it captivated others. I didn’t know what to expect from a follow-up, but I knew I loved “Denounce The Light” and pretty every other single from this album, so I had high hopes that Flesh Coffin met, and then exceeded. The blackened approach shows real musical progress, and I can see them becoming one of my favorite deathcore bands if they keep this style going.
- Dakota G.
My taste in music has pivoted steadily toward black metal in the last few years. A third of my favorite records of 2016 were black metal, and in 2017 the genre claims half my list, with its fingers in (most of) the other half. There are any number of reasons for this shift, but maybe the most salient is that when I listen to music, I want to feel as if I’m in the presence of something greater than people playing instruments; and black metal, with its conceits of mysticism and the occult, of nonconformism and transcendence, fits that bill better than most styles of music.
10. Dodecahedron - Kwintessens
Hailing from the Netherlands rather than Iceland, Dodecahedron have a lot in common with that country’s black metal, although they take a stormier approach that gives them room to explore more idiosyncratic musical territory than their contemporaries. Kwintessens contains the single heaviest “interlude” track I’ve ever heard, and despite the album’s overall jaggedness, it makes for such a quick, smooth listen that I would find myself addictively looping the record for hours in the early part of the year. It hasn’t lost its dark luster since.
9. Artificial Brain - Infrared Horizon
An arbitrary rivalry began in Metal Lifestyle Group Chat (TM) between Artificial Brain and Pyrrhon a few months ago as we tried to determine which of these two New York death metal bands was “better.” There’s no way to answer that question, but for my money, I enjoy Artificial Brain’s cold, inhuman version of the style more than Pyrrhon’s noise-inflected cacophony (which isn’t a jab at them; What Passes for Survival is a helluva record). By removing the humanity from the sound, they gesture toward something larger: non-humanity, and what happens after the species collapses. That chill of cosmic horror has stayed with me all year.
8. Almyrkvi - Umbra
And, at the tail end of the year, an echo of that same chill came to me in Almyrkvi’s Umbra. Arguably more powerful in the context of black metal’s historic nihilism, the album lives up to song titles like “Forlorn Astral Ruins” and “Stellar Winds of the Dying Star” with an expansive, frozen sound full of dread, melancholia, and a creeping paranoia that one is listening to something better not heard. Umbra is a bad dream; like watching the shadow of a strange planet fall over the world and knowing it will never pass.
7. Vitriol - Pain Will Define Their Death
Everything I feel I needed to say about this record was said in my review. At only three tracks, placing it above three other fully fleshed-out records may raise some eyebrows, but there is a wholeness to Pain Will Define Their Death that transcends its short runtime, and something corrosively fresh underneath. It’s a statement in three parts, one whose implications may not reveal themselves until we have a proper Vitriol full-length in our hands, or until others take the record up on its implicit challenge to death metal. For now, this is one of the most memorable releases of 2017, heralding even better to come.
6. Blaze of Perdition - Conscious Darkness
I’m late to the Blaze of Perdition party, but given the number of times I’ve sat in awe of Conscious Darkness since discovering it, I think I’ve earned my place. As a Polish blackened death metal band, they have much in common with latter-day Behemoth: an arsenal of bludgeoning, darkly melodic riffs; an occult mystique; conviction. Conscious Darkness introduces itself with a clip from The Young Pope that functions as a miniature portrait of the album’s spiritual turmoil before it crushes the listener beneath it: “Everyone must learn that it takes sacrifice and suffering to find God. It's too easy to come to terms with God as the sun is setting. They have to find Him in the cold and the dark of night. The way I did.” On the heels of a personal tragedy that affected both members of the band (yes, this is a duo; have another listen and be dazzled all over again), Conscious Darkness teems with human emotion and cathartic power even as it strives to overcome them, and its failure leaves a wound.
5. '68 - Two Parts Viper
The most unabashedly Josh Scogin record with which Josh Scogin has yet been involved, Two Parts Viper may just be the definitive record of his career, a sentiment I share with my Metal Lifestyle pal Alex Brown: it’s a brash, exciting, and excited record that excavates Scogin’s own beating heart for the thrill of it. Two Parts Viper swaggers, shakes, and implodes; it’s flecked with the splinters of broken instruments; it pulses with that inimitable southern mannerliness that defines Scogin’s persona on and off the stage. It sounds as if it was both meticulously planned and thrown together on the fly. Everything is here. Everything is happening at once. As anyone who’s attended a live set of theirs has asked themselves, how the hell do they do it?
4. Dödsrit - Dödsrit
I love Totem Skin. Sometime in the near future, I’ll cobble together a retrospective piece on the little Swedish metalcore band that swept me off my feet, and it will almost certainly drip with misty-eyed fanboyisms despite my best efforts to filter them out. Dödsrit (which translates to something like “Deathride,” or maybe “Deathrite”; my Swedish is only as good as Google Translate) is the solo project of ex-Totem Skin guitarist Christoffer Oster, with which he explores the gloomier aspects of his former project’s blackened crust/emo/powerviolence sound. In fact, it’s built from the repurposed parts of Totem Skin’s planned third record. “The Void” is a powerful example of the direction Totem Skin may have taken, invoking the majesty of “Seasons Don’t Fear the Reaper, We Can Be Like They Are” updated with the dynamism of Weltschmerz. In other words, it’s one of my favorite songs of the year and the album’s unquestionable centerpiece. Once again, Dödsrit is short at four songs and a runtime just under half an hour, but it does right by the legacy of one of my favorite bands--I’ve spent more time exploring its impenetrable mists and forlorn glens than most of my favorite records this year, and that counts for something.
3. Full of Hell - Trumpeting Ecstasy
Full of Hell have long been one of the hardest-working bands in metal. Trumpeting Ecstasy is their defining moment. Members of Metal Lifestyle will try to tell you that it’s actually Rudiments of Mutilation, and they’re entitled to their opinion; it’s mine that Trumpeting Ecstasy not only boasts some of the deftest songwriting of their impressive career, but that it’s also their most thematically consistent, and their most (sorry) full of hell, tapping the same well of grinding madness from which they’ve always drawn, but now with a more pronounced backbone of death metal and an experimental edge honed over their collaborations with the body and Merzbow. Around the release of “Deluminate,” vocalist Dylan Walker mentioned that the band had been influenced during the writing of the record by the films of Ben Wheatley, director of Kill List, one of my favorite films. Wheatley’s movies are defined by a sort of nihilistic absurdity, most visible in Sightseers and A Field in England; like those movies, Trumpeting Ecstasy thrives on scorn and irreverence. This is a bitter, hateful album with acid in its veins. It’s Jane Doe for Xenomorphs.
2. The Great Old Ones - EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy
France’s The Great Old Ones turned what should have been a gimmick into a glorious performance philosophy with their first record, Al Azif, and haven’t let up since, expounding on their ominous debut (lyrically indebted to H.P. Lovecraft, a major selling point) to deliver an album-length adaptation of “At the Mountains of Madness” for their sophomore record Tekeli-Li, and now “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” for their third record, EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy. As a horror nerd and a fan of epic-sized black metal, The Great Old Ones are catnip; and as their best-realized work thus far, EOD is nirvana, replete with cavernous walls of sound and an aura of illimitable darkness. By turns, it recalls Emperor at the heights of their powers, around Anthems to the Welkin At Dusk; Wolves in the Throne Room; and even Sulphur Aeon’s Gateways to the Antisphere, with which is shares a similar aqueous sensibility and an air of cosmic transgression. I’ve listened to this record consistently since its January release and couldn’t imagine 2017 without it.
1. Der Weg einer Freiheit - Finisterre
Google Translate, my old pal, tells me that the band’s name means “The Path to Freedom,” but it won’t give me a proper definition for the album title. It doesn’t matter: that word means the end of the world, and every second of Finisterre is spent underscoring the meaning of that phrase in blood and fire. I’m not sure there’s a way to prepare for the first time the drums enter the picture on “Aufbruch,” or for the dizzying, heart-in-throat histrionics of “Ein Letzter Tanz”--if I ever found myself in a situation where I was required to soar into a battle for humanity on the back of a dragon, wielding a sword of fire, this would be the first song I queued up on Spotify. Then I’d just let the album play. This is a record to trample things to, but also to watch a friends die by; it’s an paralyzing storm of emotion at every turn, bogglingly dense and immersive; it’s fastidiously detailed and performed with expert technical precision; it’s brutal as hell and existentially tragic, and it doesn’t once fall into the ruts that derail other black metal bands when they try to be either of those things.
How much more hyperbole can we come up with? Finisterre is the most terrific music I’ve heard in 2017. Fucking listen to it.