By ThePhantomnaut 33 Comments
10. Boris - Smile (2008)
It's unusual to release different versions of the same album. Both American and Japanese versions have the same songs but they are constructed differently, not just in structure but how are they played. "Statement" blows out the pure desert stoner rock while "Message" goes noisy industrial based. Others go out in subtle fashions with specific characteristics from each other. Even with more noise, less noise or the unusual voice overdub that's occurs in the Japanese disc, Boris provided some of the catchiest rock releases I have heard from the land of the rising sun.
9. Amon Tobin - Chaos Theory - Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack (2005)The interactive soundtrack is exciting to listen when sneaking or escaping which Amon Tobin created in the third Splinter Cell game. Although not as dynamic, the best parts from each level in the game are well explained and doesn't go too repetitious to the point it's better preferred just listening to it in the game. Such fast and engaging pieces like "El Cargo" and "Ruthless" audibly emulates the environments very well even if you are far away from controlling Sam Fisher.
8. Withered - Folie Circulaire (2008)
Meat and bones extreme metal and then some. Withered is not scared to go post-metal up my ears because they know how to go all out with really heavy riffing that just calls out the black and death greats. Supported by a rich and dark production, there is power which I barely see in extreme metal now. It's evil.
7. The Ocean - Precambrian (2007)Visually the early years of Earth, lyrically the examples that drag down humanity today, and musically the sound of breaking post-metal's limits by having very hybrid sludge death riffs on disc one and the fluid progression of multiple instruments and vocals supported by many members of Berlin's Philharmonic Orchestra on disc 2. Even released in 2007, it's still way ahead of its time even with the recent mini-emergence of NeurIsis bands. The future seems very bright for the collective if they keep on going.
6. Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless (2000)
Grindcore bands like Repulsion, Terrorizer and Napalm Death defied punk and metal during the 1980s but Discordance Axis defied grindcore in the early 2000s. Beyond of the elitist-alienated blue sky DVD cover, it's 23 minutes of seizure intensive technical art house grindcore with songs based on scream maniac Jon Chang's interests: video games and anime ("The End of Rebirth," "The Third Children," "Angel Present"; Evangelion anybody?).
5. Cult of Luna - Somewhere Along The Highway (2006)Isolation is a needed dream but if it lives on and hurts, it's a nightmare. What I am really trying to say is that Somewhere Along The Highway creates two opposing feelings. It's a great album where the musical and the lone lyrical content cohesively combine very well but it's a depressing piece filled with slow paced delay pedal riffs and grief stricken shouts. They keep spreading the sadness going until the very end.
4. Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer (2004)
Riffs! Riffs! Mother f-ing riffs!!!!!!! Enough said.
3. Opeth - Ghost Reveries (2005)A usual Opeth fan would actually prefer Blackwater Park but although very enjoyable, Ghost Reveries was something more majestic. Constructed of conceptually un-arranged songs based on guitarist/vocalist Mikeal Akerfeldt's story of a man being possessed, it doesn't entirely make up lyrically but musically. The ebb and flow that exists in the record feels so fluid starting with "Ghost of Perdition" to signify the fans that even signing to a major label doesn't stop their heavy induced songwriting. Midway in "Harlequin Forest" shows the bands culmination of the years of experience trying to make very dynamic progressive death metal.
2. Tombs - Winter Hours/Altar of Plagues - White Tomb (2009, TIE)
I never put Winter Hours as my top albums of 2009 but I realized something after posting my top three (excuse me four) of the year. Besides Altar of Plagues and some others, I have listened to Tombs' Relapse Records premiere a lot throughout the year. Ever since Katatonia, I never really listened to a band sounding like a bastardized My Bloody Valentine especially one that mixes the least expected metal genres. Although some black metal bands utilize a shoegazing element, it's the abrasiveness of Winter Hours' production where it's astonishing. If nonexistent, songs like "Merrimack" and "The Great Silence" loses it's energy and emotion in which this record completely has.
You can compare Altar of Plagues' White Tomb to stuff by Olympia, Washington naturalists Wolves In The Throne Room. Ambient black metal, check; natural awareness lyrics, check; occasional female vocals on a record, check. One thing that the Ireland four piece that intrigues me is the how the album is presented. The four songs flow through seamlessly to the point that I might believe that 5 minutes past even if it was actually 12. In support, White Tomb doesn't rely too much on repetition but rather variation and power to drive the record and keep the listener awake and aware of something that seems to be filled with life.
1. Converge - Jane Doe (2001)
The break-up album for extreme music? Probably because there is a lot of anger and grief that seems to be coming out of vocalist Jacob Bannon's barking. Although a common theme, it's expanded to the point where the the instruments can match the feeling of love loss and being betrayed. Fast barn burners like "Fault and Fracture" and the catchy "Homewrecker" dominate the truly emotional playing field in quantity but the slow tempo pieces are the more ferocious. "Hell To Pay" goes AmRep noisy chaos with bassist Nate Newton recording multiple basses and amps while guitarist Kurt Ballou tries to intentionally dismantle the whole song. Even on the slowest beat of the droning "Phoenix In Flight," drummer Ben Koller fills up the environment and keeps the excitement with unpredictability. All of the rage is accumulated in the ultimate and title track where the 11 minutes they craft will pave their road to their experienced future. This is their breakthrough, this is a landmark, this is really amazing.