It's beyond me why Swedes are so good at American-style stoner/desert rock/metal. Sweden has no deserts! That aside, this record is quite enjoyable. It starts out playing it safe, as is the Swedish stoner way, but really comes into its own when it ditches the standard rock parts and upshifts into cosmic jams full of fuzzed-out lead guitar goodness. Occasionally keys and synth add delicious icing on the des(s)ert. This record rewards repeated listens!
This was my 2022 AOTY. That Krallice put out not one but two top-shelf records that year, both with band members switching instruments, is an incredible feat. The chiming, ethereal textures, bold bass tones, and organic drums recording suggest later King Crimson tunneling forward in time to inhabit the bodies of Deathspell Omega and have a go at both black and death metal. Everything here is strong, deep, intentional, and executed with precision and conviction.
Oddly enough, I like to cook while listening to this album. I mean, it can't get more organic than one dude with an acoustic guitar, kicking ass. It's hard to describe the magic that is a Mick Barr performance. You just come out half an hour later, having gone through a hypnotic, exotic, and deeply fulfilling journey. In this case, the journey is to a parallel universe Middle East.
It's heavy, mellow, and enjoyable, basically a whole record of the doomier parts of Crowbar songs. Kirk's singing voice is in fine form, as is his guitar playing - he really nails the tuning of slowly bent notes, a deceptively hard skill. Strong threads of 70s (harmonized guitars) and 80s (glistening clean tones) hard rock run throughout. Somehow the Aqualung cover fits in smoothly!
Normally I go to Steve Roach albums to experience time less linearly, so to speak, but here we have an album that's structured almost like a conventional one, with tracks that are distinct from each other. We get pure ambience, gentle tribal rhythms, and glimpses of piano, all building towards a breathtaking final pair of tracks in which Roach sets aloft a full-throated melodicism that's new to me in his oeuvre.
It's a lot like Botch, but grimmer and heavier, less whimsical - all of which is fine with me. Usually I'm not a fan of "sounds like" deals, but (a) this is very, very well done, and (b) I have sorely been missing the punishing angular mathcore that set the turn of the millennium alight. The production here is fantastic, with modern power, but not so compressed that it sands off the oh-so-vital edges.
I didn't know it was possible, but Emma Ruth Rundle has accessed the ancient, mystical place via acoustic guitar that Steve Tibbetts has explored throughout his discography. Despite acoustic guitar being the spine of this record, it does have an electric atmosphere, with drones and a smattering of electric guitar, thus earning it the EG moniker. It's a beautiful and unexpected follow-up to the first one, and an experience that truly feels timeless.
It's 42 tracks but only 30 minutes, so it goes down easily. To me, Dropdead are the main US branch of Siege's influence, with Napalm Death being the UK branch. I totally picture Barney Greenway's one-man moshpit here. You get Siege's raw "aargh" energy, but honed with more definition in the riffs and songs.
There's a reason I keep coming back to this Converge record above all the others, which are giants in their own right. It's sort of like Converge's Reign in Blood, with dry, concise rippers and an epic blowout at the end. And, of course, the artwork - it's modern art museum-grade. For how savage the record is, it's a surprisingly good headphones listen; if you want an empathetic and artistically rich way to access your inner abyss, this is it.
In which Joy Division get reincarnated as a country band - while Peck's rich lower-register voice is probably modeled after, say, Roy Orbison, to my ears he's channeling Ian Curtis and sometimes Morrissey. Some of the riffs are pure post-punk, too. This record's sparse, reverbed sonics evoke a wide open America where one can be anything one wants to be.
Grindcore is typically "external" music (energy flows outward, often directed at something specific), so this album is interesting because it's very internal, lyrically and sonically. Grind is a connecting thread here, but there's so much other stuff mixed in - blackened atmospherics, death metal, noise rock, post-rock melodies - recorded and produced extremely well by Topon Das. More grind bands are exploring these territories now, like Cloud Rat and Wake, but FTF paved the way for them.
It's crazy that this record is self-released (I think?) because it's absolutely big-league material. I hear grindcore and noise rock coming together in a really cool way, with a sort of hardcore vocal approach. The appealingly dry production is like if Steve Albini recorded late-90s Napalm Death, when they were experimenting past death metal and really confusing people. The arrangements and riffs here are amazingly memorable and catchy for how off-kilter they are.
You know how it's a thing to just wander around video games to take in sights and sounds without worrying about accomplishing goals? This album is like, say, exploring a Resident Evil game world - lots of fog, abandoned swingsets creaking creepily, etc. While the sonic detail is impressive, this album can also be oddly soothing. Maybe it's OK to chill out in the fog for a little while...maybe.
Chat Pile is my new favorite band! Seriously, some of these songs are already sort of modern classics. You get one leg Big Black with the guy playing electronic drums, one leg Jesus Lizard with the crazy vocalist who knows how to disrespect a beat, but also upper body of guitar and bass bringing 90s metallic (not metal) and huge bass tones into the 21st century; clearly this band has listened to Godflesh. This band has things to say, and people are catching on.
It's a stunningly beautiful sonic tapestry that weaves together many different voices, field recordings, chillwave beats, and all sorts of ambient and electronic goodies into a soothing, uplifting experience. There's so much to unpack here, with little details revealing themselves with each listen. The subject matter of mental health couldn't be more timely.
This is a really, really strong album that goes for the ring traditionally held by Europeans for Wacken-sized grandeur and darkness. Cloak sort of mine the same black 'n' roll ground that Satyricon first plowed, but whereas that band's fire has dimmed greatly, Cloak sound ascendant. They're sort of what I wish Watain were now in terms of boldly flying the flag of "the dark". The album goes from strength to strength and is hands down some of the best metal I've heard in a while.
This is an exciting evolution in Leila's solo work! While this record still has plenty of atmosphere, it's less about blanketing ambience and more about well-placed, discrete sounds. Basically, it's more composed than ambient. Leila's haunting vocals come to the fore more than ever, and the glockenspiel parts remind me of the Blade Runner soundtrack's more tender moments. This might sound odd for music like this, but the weighty, spacious mastering is really good!