(Guest contributor Kaptain Carbon is getting a head start on year-end listmania with a most amusing review of albums he missed earlier in the year. Despite the fact that I laughed out loud on numerous occasions, I haven’t forgotten that the Kaptain owes me a Russian Nesting Doll. Some things you don’t forget.)
Well, I am now a guest in another person’s house. I should take my shoes off and pretend I eat with my pants on. No Clean Singing put out a call for entries and usually I would be hosting board game night in my basement over at Tape Wyrm but now I am here. What a lovely house you have. I really love your collection of Russian Nesting Dolls. Oh dear, I think this one may be broken. I’ll set it down right here.
2012 is almost done and we will soon all be judged before the great cosmic eye. Before our fate is weighed on the gilded scales at an altar of ivory and blood, we all have to go through our end of the year lists. Yes, before the inevitable reckoning, where December is consumed in an omnipresence hellfire, we have to make our top 10s of 2012. Now, we all know it will probably go to the new Marilyn Manson record, but there is also the matter of the stacks of records which now make a castle on your coffee table. Look at this mess. Look at all of this stuff you said you were going to listen to but never did. You are a horrible human. I found this Abigail Williams record in the vegetable crisper.
I recently went through my library and pulled out all of the 2012 records I meant to review but never got around to doing so because I am a terrible metal-hating human being who secretly loves everything which you hate. I just want to make sure I did not miss anything, so I am going to go through this pile of laundry and rifle through its contents before throwing it back on the ground. Sure, things will still be messy, but there was production involved.
It is time to revisit the forgotten, at least by me, and the never-heard of 2012. Sure, No Clean Singing is giving me a wonderful opportunity to share some of my work with you, but let’s be honest, I woke up late and I am doing my homework while running to class. Thank you No Clean Singing for this opportunity and fuck you, you motherfucking stupid cocksucking alarm WHERE ARE MY KEYS?
Ash Borer – Cold of Ages
Agrilus planipennis, otherwise known as the Emerald Ash Borer, is an Asian beetle that supposedly eats swaths of ash trees. Really? There are many reasons to listen to this record. Profound Lore. Atmospheric black metal. Much-discussed follow-up to an already strong debut in 2011. Band members only go by letters. What? Really? Like Agent 99 in Get Smart? Holy shit, I am not that old. No one can be that old. Barbara Feldon was cute as hell.
Listening to Cold of Ages reminds me once again of how hard I fell for Cascadian black metal. For a brief moment in my life, I was consumed by Wolves in the Throne Room, Skagos, and Weakling. Ash Borer allow me to revisit this time without all of the stereotypes associated with the style. How old is Barbara Feldon? 79? I thought this band was named after a tree. This is true beetle metal.
Burzum – Umskiptar
I was done with Burzum long after I tried to appreciate Hvis Lysett Tar Oss. No amount of memes and hilarious forest photography can persuade me to enjoy an entire album of his. I was done with Burzum long before he released his 10th record Umskiptar, which is his third since returning from prison due to that thing we do not need to go over for the 100th time this month. I can see an alternate reality where I praise the recent work of Burzum despite him being an enormous ass when it comes to public relations. I could be that guy who tries to talk sense into people to give his post-incarceration work a chance because it plays into a greater narrative arc. It is not. I cannot. While Umskiptar is more listenable than Fallen, which made me question whether or not I needed black metal in my life anymore, it is just not for me. I’m sorry we can’t be together anymore.
Catheter – Southwest Doom Violence
Fuck Yeah. When did the party arrive and why was I not invited? It’s cool guys, I’ll just put the beer ball over here. Do not mind me, I am just going to get warmed up by oscillating pushups between flex time in the mirror. These tracks are so short and they taste like death metal and gasoline.
Catheter are from Colorado, which has been known for its grindcore scene, well never. Southwest Doom Violence is the band’s third record in nearly a decade as they mostly split their time between splits and, I do not know, being desert marauders and chasing down rival gangs in fire-breathing convertibles. This album sounds like broken glass in a sock used in a pillow fight.
Demoncy – Enthroned Is the Night
I missed this because I am a bad person. You hear that black metal elitists are in shadowy caves and temperate forests. I missed this because I am a terrible rotten no good person. Fuck me. Shit, I even adore this guy’s 1999 release Within the Sylvan Realms of Frost — whatever that means. I even wrote about Demoncy in my early USBM article. As for his first release in nearly a decade — I was watching Disney princess films and combing the hair of my dolls apparently because I am a horrible human. Alright that joke was weird. Sorry.
Enthroned is the Night is damn awesome, and for anyone interested in the pageantry of second-wave black metal yet with the addition of mid-level production. I suddenly can hear the instruments. Amazing.
Earth – Angels of Darkness Demons of Light II
I may have missed this release because I overexerted myself during the first half of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light — Earth’s first part of a two-part clean drone odyssey. The album art is fantastic, the legacy is solid, but I feel there is something missing. When I saw Earth live, there felt to be more reverence than actual enjoyment for a band that had successfully conquered some heavy personal obstacles to completely reinvent a sound which they pioneered during the mid 90’s. I wonder if I could ever enjoy something like this to the level I should. The work of Earth after Hex; Or Printing In the Infernal Method, conceptually, is outstanding yet emotionally I am already asleep.
Furze – Psych Minus Space Control
Alright dude, stop being fucking weird. I first heard Furze on a treadmill for his 2010 release Reaper Subconscious Guide. Listen, do not ask me why I thought abstract black/doom would be a good tempo for running. Furze is out of his damn mind and takes the idea of black and doom metal and deconstructs it like it is an MFA thesis. Riffs become self-aware and everything turns out to be something Derrida wrote about ages ago. Or not. I never really understood anything I was reading about deconstruction. This is the strangest workout ever. I have always been open to the idea of psychedelic black metal as I feel the pursuit of emotional catharsis and psychological odysseys could form a great partnership. I said nothing about not being weird.
Germ – Wish
I love this album so much. I love this album so much because it combines the ferocity of black metal with the sensibilities of pop. I love this because it is probably making someone’s skin crawl while I laugh like an idiot. Ohh black metal the places you will go. Germ is the work of Austere front man Tim Yatras. The other half of Austere has carried on with the very excellent Woods of Desolation. Ask yourself why wouldn’t you want emotionally tinged break-up songs sung like a heartbroken pterodactyl? Emotional Jurassic black. Completely cool. I forgot about the synth. Oh lord the synth.
Horrendous – The Chills
Holy. Shit. I lied. Out of everything, I made sure to revisit this album, otherwise a hex was being placed on my house for generations. The Chills is the debut album from east coast collective Horrendous. I would not known about this if it were not for being a supporter of Dark Descent Records. Horrendous unceremoniously slide into the above-average tier with a knockout death metal record that presents the style with no additives, preservatives, or frilly flavor. This is raw and completely un-distilled death metal extracted from the amber peaks of death metal mountain. Horrendous is the Icelandic yogurt of death metal. What a goddamn weird metaphor. That shit is so expensive. Why does this taste like grass and goats?
Impiety – Ravage and Conquer
I knew about this record before, but it wasn’t until writing an article on Singaporean black metal during the 1990’s that I started to realize the importance. Impiety is a well oiled machine. The band have been operating since the early 90’s under the close eye of Shyaithan, not only producing stellar black/death but making a name for Singapore in the arena of extreme metal. Also, Impiety follow a trend of bands devoted to the sound of Bestial Warlust, whose biggest contribution is the revival of first wave black metal aesthetics and skin-scraping presentation. Give me my goddamn bullet belt and ravage my soul.
Judd Madden – Artesian
Hey, this isn’t fair. This one just came out. Calm the fuck down. I also host a music podcast called Champions of the Universe. What? You do not think I am coming on here and not passing out pamphlets? Enjoy that goddamn gift card. One of this year’s guests included Australia based one man stoner bedroom act Judd Madden. Over the slow breaths of sunsets and opium we came to an understanding that his music could play until the fiery end of the world. Earlier this year, Madden released Doomgroove, which was pretty awesome. Artesian is even more amazing with its walkabout in the scorched lands of the afterworld. Completely instrumental and devout to the stoner gods of old, if the world went up in a puff of bong smoke it would be completely fine with me. I’ll float away on the ashes of destruction. Cosmic eye take me.
Lord Mantis – Pervertor
That cover grosses me out. Lord Mantis is a Midwest collective which pulls together some pretty awesome veterans of evil music. First of all there is Andrew Markuszewski of Nachtmystium and the awesome project Avichi. You also have Indian drummer Bill Bumgardner. You also have the very talented Charlie Fell, who played on this years Nachtmystium release. Combine all of these things and one has a pretty menacing black/sludge record that protrudes bile and venomous hate. No seriously, I could go my entire life without seeing that album cover. I love Justin Bartlett and his artwork though it makes me physically ill. — Shiver–.
I feel that this album was truly overlooked. The choir of damned angels singing confirms this fact. Lord and Jehovah hear my pleas. Monarch is a sludge/doom act with a healthy obsession in drone and grand narratives. Their songs are meticulous, plodding, and really fucking long. If they were not so heavy and interesting, I would have a problem. I do not. The vocals come in amazing shrieks and cries as if protruding from a cavernous cathedral from a gaggle of banshees. This is post metal from the bottom of a ravine and is one of the most unsettling records of 2012. I cannot believe I and everyone else missed it. Fuck.
Nachtvorst – Silence
Like most good things, Nachvortst is from the Netherlands. Much like Flemish painters and Boerenkoolstamppo, I was pretty excited about Nachtvortst following the band’s 2009 release Stills. It was a perfect expression of grief-ridden black metal. I meant to listen to this but forgot to. I even made mention of this is a mid-year black metal report and expressed my excitement. I need to stop doing that if I do not follow through with this. The band comes from Code666 records, which specializes in extreme music with small bends in styles. Nachtvorst is black/doom metal with the eternal weight of gothic melancholia. It is mood music by the abandoned railroad track obscured by the evening gloom. I could possibly be into this. I still haven’t listened to it all the way through. There I go again.
Obscura – Illegimitation
I want to punch a hole in the wall but not because I am angry but out of joy. I really enjoyed Obscura’s 2011 Omnivium. Illegimitation is a re-release of Obscura’s first demo, combined with pre-production demos from Cosmogenisis, all packaged together with a few covers of Cynic, Atheist, and Death. It was entirely funded over the course of 60 days by fans who wanted this German tech death’s early work to be fully documented. I mean why in the hell not? I adore Obscura for their embrace of apocalyptic-style tech death combined with a high-end sheen that does not dilute its intensity. Omnivium was the band at their absolute peak traveling at the speed of blinding. Illegimitation is obviously not going to be up to the same caliber, yet it still resides in the same universe. This is pre-flight preparations. Ground pad metal. Mission control death.
Pilgrim – Misery Wizard
The early part of this year was filled with earth-cracking hip-swinging doom. Feel that emotion. Rhode Island’s Pilgrim and Arkansas’ Pallbearer both released their debuts within a month to wide and critical acclaim. For a second I thought it was going to be a thing and be embraced by a larger generation of fans. To some extent I think both Pallbearer and Pilgrim fit into a larger generation of contemporary doom, but that is for another article which I need to start writing. I may have enjoyed Pallbearer’s Sorrow and Extinction a little too much that I did not give Pilgrim’s Misery Wizard a fair shot. Unlike the very gloomy traditional style displayed by Pallbearer, Pilgrim is more groovy and smells faintly of pot. Alright, to be honest they both smell like pot and they totally need to leave before my dad gets home.
Royal Thunder – CVI
I know I may be breaking a bunch of rules regarding clean or not clean singing. Royal Thunder rolls with Relapse despite the band being sort of an outlier with sound. I actually caught the debut from Royal Thunder in 2010 because I get weak in the knees for good female vocals. It was alright and reminded me of a slightly heavier Black Mountain. CVI is the band’s follow-up and merely tightens the formula presented two years ago with a unique presentation of sultry doom. Like a slow burning leaf fire which throws smoke out onto the highway. It smells so earthy and seasonal.
Sarcofago – Decade of Decay
Whenever I talk about the Sarcofago I instinctively want to yell and scream incoherently . This is the third time this record has come out. I feel with each release it is reaching a larger audience. Decade of Decay is a greatest hits of Sarcofago’s 10-year, 3-album, dozen demos/split work, which originally in a 1995 compilation got so much attention over the years. Perhaps it is because of the hilariously crude cover. Maybe Sarcofago is the Star Wars of first wave Brazilian black metal. Whenever I fly South American, I know I am in for a world of scrapes and bruises. These gentleman know how to party.
Tenochtitlan– Сотворение Мира
Oh lord. I feel Tenochtitlan could be bigger and possibly followed with cultish devotion if given the chance. A few things need to be known. Yes this band is Russian and yes they devote their entire existence to Mayan themes and concepts. Are those pan flutes in the back? Outstanding. Tenochtitlan’s music is a strange mixture of doom, folk, and strained blackened vocals. It almost reminds me of Primordial’s sound yet completely off its damn rocker. I think I enjoy the sheer willpower and drive displayed by the band more than the actual music. You guys really enjoy the Mayans don’t you?
Ulver – Childshood End
This is flat out breaking some sort of rule. This isn’t even a metal release. Well, Ulver hasn’t been a metal band since the 90’s but just like Earth they still carry veteran status. They drink for free at most bars. I enjoyed the work of Ulver as they went through their ultra-moody electro-goth phase. Shadows of the Sun was a haunting record. I love this band even more as they take another turn toward psychedelic rock. Childhoods End is a collection of obscure psych rock covers from the golden period of the late 60’s. Ulver still retains some gothic dampness from previous album excursions, so the result is dark psychedelia. Amazing? I knew I shouldn’t have come to work high.
Veil of Maya – Eclipse
What, I did not have any other V’s. Its not that bad right? I mean they took their name from one of my favorite Cynic songs. It can’t be that bad. I mean they are even using 2001: A Space Odyssey samples….ohh my. Oh Dear. That is some heavy chugging. Is this album only 28 minutes? In all honesty, Veil of Maya seem to be the last remaining survivors of the great deathcore culling which rendered all its important players disbanded or commuted to straight-laced death metal. Veil of Maya leans heavily on its technical aspect, making the whole production not that terrible to be a part of. 28 minutes? I can deal. I will add it to my workout mix to play while I curse and do pushups. I can finish this tub of ice cream for the rest of the time. It’s a vicious cycle.
Wreck and Reference – No Youth
This is the reason why my other column Tin Wyrm exists. I was so moved and blown away by this record, I wanted to find more albums that lay on the borderlands between metal, hardcore, and experimental noise. I haven’t been that successful because the term “avant” includes a lot of not so awesome albums. But seriously, this record is mind blowing, I am upset I did not cover it more thoroughly on its release. With harrowing vitality and dreadful confidence, the California trio sews together post metal, black vocals, and a healthy amount of unsettling ambience into a breakup record with existence itself. Take this, and add it to the fact they have kept their album free on Bandcamp, and you have the coolest record of 2012 which isn’t quite metal but is too scary to be placed anywhere else.
Xasthur – Nightmares At Dawn
Ohh Xasthur, I want to take you on a date. You were actually one of my wife’s first black metal acts due to the fact you sounded like a banshee hidden deep within a cave. I will always check out to see what you are doing. Fuck, I keep forgetting you disbanded the project. Nightmares At Dawn is a compilation of unreleased tracks made by Xasthur during the years 2004 and 2009. it seems like a fitting tribute to an act that existed triumphantly for most of the 00’s. Sing me that sweet melody. There are some amazing tracks on this record like the 10-minute “Screaming at Forgotten Fears.” There are also other tracks like a cover of Black Sabbath’s “A National Acrobat”, which is not so awesome. In fact, you should see my face when I listen to it. It’s the same as when I accidently eat horseradish.
We are going to pretend I actually had listened to that Yakuza album and then call it a day. I want to again thank No Clean Singing for having me over and I am sure some superglue and some good ol’ fashioned ingenuity will get those nesting dolls to fit back in with each other. We are entering our own end of the year season and would love some more company. That is of course if you did your homework and No Clean Singing says it’s alright. Oh who am I kidding, I would be the doting mother in this situation. Time to go. It’s after 8. Time for bed.
-Kaptain Jonathan Addison Carbon III