Jan 052014

(NCS contributor Austin Weber shares with us his year-end lists of 2013 metal (and not-metal), focusing on releases that may have evaded attention.)

I’ve had a lot of fun sharing my terrible, obnoxious, and idiotic music tastes with you the sexy readers of NCS. Time is always against us, but my goal is to develop further as a writer in a manner that continues to become less grating and grammatically inaccurate while at the same time giving off a demeanor of pure irrelevancy.

Most of the bands mentioned heavily on 2013 best of metal lists will not appear here, nor will most albums that got good coverage during the year, even if they haven’t appeared on many lists. I’m trying to give you, the reader, more music to check out from 2013 that may have been overlooked and underappreciated.

To save myself from writing something new to explain why each one of these is great, I’m going to paraphrase from album reviews that I wrote here at NCS. For albums I already reviewed through my gig with LEO Weekly (a local Louisville, KY print publication with additional online content), I will paste in my reviews instead of writing a short synopsis. For a few I will say only a sentence or two because I’m running out of time to work on this behemoth. What follows isn’t anywhere near everything I loved in 2013, but I hope it will bring something new for everyone.

Life Metal

 

Gigan – Multi Dimensional Fractal Sorcery And Super Science

The fact that I’m not seeing Gigan on many year-end lists makes me feel like fucking Mugatu in Zoolander. I feel like I must be taking crazy pills if I’m one of only a few who found this to be a phenomenal album of brilliantly warped death metal strained from unknown realms.

To quote from my review:

“When I listen to Gigan I often think of them as a better, more creative Hate Eternal (sorry Erik Rutan!). This album, while having a stronger atmospheric and synth-laced gravitas, is a labyrinth of destructive percussion and frenzied guitar-work that build in collaboration to monstrous heights of hyper-blasting, ever-shifting insanity. They’ve always been one of the most unique and truly alien-sounding technical death metal bands, their aggressiveness rounded out with a heavy dose of drawn-out atmosphere, oddball riffs, genuinely psychedelic and trance-like moments, and a chaotic nature rooted in the shifting between these different sounds that makes the music a uniquely unhinged, unpredictable experience.”

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/10/07/gigan-multi-dimensional-fractal-sorcery-and-super-science/#more-66842

http://willowtip.bandcamp.com/album/multi-dimensional-fractal-sorcery-and-super-science

 

Mephistopheles - Sounds Of The End

Quotes from my review:

“What truly makes Sounds Of The End so killer was the band’s decision to write their songs in a splintered frantic way that  divides time between ruthless death metal aggression, esoteric black metal, progressive moments, and some occasional blasting blackened terror. The only band I could compare them to is Arkhum, not sonically or songwriting wise, but in the way they combine and switch so often between death and black metal in a new and interesting way.”

“Their riffs are a huge part of what sets them apart from what you think of when you hear technical death metal, as they contain an inherent deadly elasticity and elongated groovy nature. Yet they can slay at those hyper tempos when they so desire, as on some parts of “The End Of All Light” or the opener “Pariahs Of The Universe” after its initial, hypnotic then doomy, intro. Sounds Of The End rings forth with a rapturous divinity; overwhelmingly, the feelings I get from this are not chiefly disgust but sadness and beauty. ”

http://willowtip.bandcamp.com/album/sounds-of-the-end

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/09/27/mephistopheles-sounds-of-the-end/

 

Unhuman - Unhuman

Quotes from my review:

“This is very compact, technical music, with songs that are hard to discuss individually. All of them are entangled, churning storms of both melodic and aggressive ideas fighting each other and frequently combining and splitting—in unorthodox fashion.”

“You’ll find many bands who are very skilled death metal musicians crafting intricate music, and yet many of them fail to find a real identity of their own. Unhuman break from the pack, and have given us a series of exquisitely crafted tracks set in their own universe. No one sounds quite like Unhuman, nor do they sound like any other band or style of death metal. Without a doubt, Unhuman’s Unhuman is one of the finest albums of the year, a true sleeper hit you don’t want to miss. It is by and large unfuckwithable. Most death metal is simply blasé when compared to the creative, mind-inverting compositions contained within this album.”

http://unhumanofficial.bandcamp.com/album/unhuman

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/11/05/unhuman-unhuman/

 

 

Exist - Sunlight

Jaw-dropping jazz-fusion-flavored death metal with a Meshuggah influence lingering in the background, but this isn’t djent per se overall. What it is is fucking outstanding and worthy of being bought.

http://www.existband.com/

 

 

Okular - Sexforce

Quotes from my review:

“For those unfamiliar, Okular are a Melodic Death Metal band from Oslo, Norway who make elegant yet aggressive death metal with a blend of acoustic playing and folk-styled clean singing.  SexForce is a continuation and evolution of the technical progressive mold Okular created for themselves on their debut, Probiotic.

“The rest of the album follows this format of ferocious, intricate death metal stacked with softer progressive moments. This cascading duality gives the album a complex yet patient feeling that captures a unique flow and pace all its own. It’s hard to pin down exactly who they sound like, which is a good thing. ”

http://okular.bandcamp.com/album/sexforce

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/04/05/underdogs-in-the-underground-the-dogs-who-let-them-out-part-2/

 

Serocs – The Next

Quotes from my review:

“They don’t fit into one subset of death metal neatly, but to break it down, they basically mix old school death metal influence with technical death metal, supplemented by a brutal death metal side, all deconstructed through a deathgrind approach.”

“This is caustic, highly relentless music, fine-tuned with a lightning-fast percussive assault and exploding with furious fretwork that definitely reminds me of Cryptopsy, and I also hear Cannibal Corpse in some of the more “brutal” riffs. Serocs wisely break beyond their normal mold of speed-addled aggression with plenty of groovy breaks and build-ups that let the music breathe until the next steamrolling section appears.”

http://serocs.bandcamp.com/album/the-next

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/09/16/serocs-the-next/

 

The Schoenberg Automaton - Vela

Why u no love Shoeborg Auto-Tampon? Grate Ail-bum. Pissed Oaf. Pull Veer Eyes Sing. Deem Eyes Muse Ick Four Idea Oats.

Quotes from my review:

Vela delivers in spades and builds upon their unorthodox mix of Ion Dissonance-style mathcore and Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza grooves covered in technical death metal.”

“I could say a lot about Vela, but ultimately music this intense and different needs to be heard; explaining what they do still wouldn’t prepare you for how well thought-out, eerie, and dominating The Schoenberg Automaton are.”

http://theschoenbergautomaton.bandcamp.com/album/vela

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/02/09/the-schoenberg-automaton-vela/

 

Atlantis Chronicles – Ten Miles Underwater

While I wrote about them here a long time ago, I wanted to write something new that might be a bit more cohesive.

By my count, I’ve listened to more albums with a specific song or a few songs I find myself gravitating toward than I have albums that I wish to hear from front to back. The Atlantis Chronicles know how to write an album with no filler and no boring tracks, one that starts strong and ends even stronger on the intense run of the last two epic songs.  Just listen to “Stomia’s Boa” or the stunning closer “William Bebee” and tell me that’s not awesome, inspired stuff.

Yeah there is some core influence, a little bit of thrashiness, and a small smattering of groove, but their uniqueness and great songwriting shines through.  So many great riffs and so much amazing lead guitarwork. In terms of cohesion and the ability to construct an album that mirrors its themes eloquently, this was one of my favorites of the year.

https://play.spotify.com/album/1hM0UytAwpeYb0k34Jxz4s

 

littledidweknow - Lucid Happenings

With every year, littledidweknow have improved and matured. After years of gestation, they’ve finally given us a frenzied debut. littledidweknow have never been comfortable in one box; their sound is a hodge-podge of many eclectic metal influences. It comes as no surprise, then, that Lucid Happenings is hard to categorize, featuring songs that constantly shift from complex stop-start rhythms to slower breakdowns while always twisting into new sections.

The demented powerhouse vocals of William Sullivan add several more dimensions of insanity to the horror found here. The effect of listening to this is akin to being tossed around inside an unforgiving tornado. littledidweknow have crafted an intricate debut in Lucid Happenings, an effort that overwhelmingly rises above local scene ambitions. This is the work of individuals with a determined vision: disturbing, potentially, but nonetheless original and powerful.

http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/lucid-happenings

http://littledidweknow.bandcamp.com/album/lucid-happenings

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/07/25/littledidweknow-lucid-happenings/

*This review was previously published in LEO Weekly Magazine

 

Hybrid - Angst

Quote from my review:

“Now fast forward to 2013 and Hybrid are dropping their sophomore release, Angst, with two new guitarists: Ivan Duran and Antonio Sanchez. These two are every bit as talented and diverse as their predecessors. In fact, despite replacing both guitarists, the band sounds remarkably similiar to their debut, in both their wonky compositional nature and sonically by drawing from a similar framework of styles that are then experimentally conjoined. But this is no repeat of The 8th Plague. It feels looser and more organic, whereas the last record had a harsh mechanical tone and atmosphere. They still love to stack opposing tempos and ideas in a schizophrenically dizzying manner, making their constant push and pull dynamic a huge part of their identity. Few can so skillfully layer genres with such a creative grace as Hybrid does.”

Angst operates on a completely different level than most metal as Hybrid schizophrenically splinter all their diverse influences into conjoined hybrids, free of their genre constraints.”

http://hybridnoise.com/album/angst

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/05/30/hybrid-angst/

 

Reciprocal - New Order Of The Ages

Quotes from my write-up:

“To give an idea of what they sound like, they are from the Hate Eternal school of blistering, towering, jack-hammering death metal. But they deny being pigeonholed to one style through their frequent switch-ups in direction toward parts more technical, black metal, slam, crushingly groovy, and melodic on a few tracks, and they also allowing for a plethora of bass-only moments.”

“This is a monster of a record, with killer performances by all the members. However, in giving a prominent voice to the bass in the songwriting, they’ve shown what’s possible in a way that few others are doing. New Order Of Ages is an absolutely gigantic and terrifying slab of death metal. Many bands aim to deliver such a feeling and experience, and yet very few end up sounding this goddamn apocalyptic and so calculatingly seething.”

https://play.spotify.com/album/7eZlP9jVo4HCJT3UxFGNqx

 

Azure Emote – The Gravity Of Impermanence

Quotes from my review:

“As far as death metal supergroups go, Azure Emote certainly has not only a killer line-up but more importantly a willfull intent to make music outside the confines of their genre, an aim they achieve by taking death metal hostage and lifting it to unconventional heights of sonic ecstasy.”

“The way the electronic elements build up the music and flourish instead of being an afterthought is a large part of what gives The Gravity Of Impermanence such a unique identity for a death metal record.”

“Though not a member, Pete Johansen is another driving force in the music. His illustrious and haunting violin playing of both the acoustic and electric variety warmly finds a home in most of the tracks. His playing is perfectly married to Azure Emote’s ethereal web of dense electronics, and the aggressive death metal core, enhancing the music in much the same way violin does for Ne Obliviscaris.”

http://azureemote.bandcamp.com/album/the-gravity-of-impermanece

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/04/29/azure-emote-the-gravity-of-impermanence/

 

 

In-Straw-Mane-Tales

 

Pomegranate Tiger – Entities

Another instrumental new breed (who, bad pun intended, have an amazing song called “New Breed”) who sound like a logical combination of Scale The Summit and AAL with an occassional Between The Buried And Me influence. A plethora of piano parts and fantastic acoustic playing ups the ante further. Personal favorites: “New Breed”, “Not To See The Sun”,  ”Ocean- I. White Ship”, and the acoustic meets orchestral trance of outro “Regenesis”.

https://pomegranatetiger.bandcamp.com/album/entities-2

 

Imperial Gates – The Sound Of Human Fate

Proggy jazzy funky inflected expansive eargasmic stuff stuffed with pianos. Whoa!

https://play.spotify.com/album/5OaU4folXeHiQehUOhUklH

 

Felix Martin - The Scenic Album

Quotes from my review:

“Among passionate music fans there is a real desire to hear the sonic unknown, to find until now unheard of amalgamations of styles and sounds. For me, Felix Martin encompasses that thrilling aspect of musical discovery, and in particular the mixing of a widening divergence of styles with metal.”

“With The Scenic Album, Felix Martin expands his own self-created hybrid of jazz-metal and does so in a way that is often stunningly beautiful. ”

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/10/01/felix-martin-the-scenic-album/

http://felixmartin.bandcamp.com/album/the-scenic-album

 

Virgil Donati - In This Life

Spiraling ethereal jazz fusion and some metal riffs/heavy parts played with dazzling chops, but also a lot of soul, groove, and funk to it. At times the guitar-work reminds me of Ron Jarzombek which is also a plus. The way the keyboards work in the music is great as well. In This Life comes across as highly chilled out, but plays out in a very complex manner at the same time.

https://play.spotify.com/album/7jxWR5ojzdvI8DFq9N2cSk

 

Goodthink - Ascend

Goodthink is one of the brightest and most varied acts coming from the numerous bedroom solo projects hitting the scene currently, not only because groove isn’t the sole focus here, but also because of the potent mix on Ascend of slow dreamy music and fast  technical music. Soft tracks like “He’ll Manage” emotively tell a lyricless picture beautifully, while opener “Capacity” quickly shifts from an album intro and shows the capacity that Goodthink has to ascend through the merging of disparate sounds. More complex shreddy numbers like “Imagine How Is Touch The Sky” annihilate, with tech-death noodling that latches onto a groove current, and the speedy symphonic journey through “A Storm Emerges” is yet another powerful track on this phenomenal album full of epic feeling.

http://goodthink.bandcamp.com/

 

Ocrilim - Qurotenthrough

Before he was in Krallice, Mick Barr was exploding brains in Octis/Orthrelm and collaborating on astral madness with Hella drummer Zach Hill. While he has been quite busy with Krallice, he always finds time to work on solo projects, and this year saw him drop a number of quality releases. Ocrilim’s multiple 2013 releases included the fantastic album OctisPile, a collection of his faster Octis style material. However, my absolute favorite Ocrilim release from 2013 is the scintillating two-track effort entitled: Qurotenthrough.

http://ocrilim.bandcamp.com/album/qurotenthrough

 

Near Neptune - Navigation

An awesome progressive instrumental trio from Denton, Texas. They are, as their Bandcamp states, “high energy instrumental” whose music “takes the listener from melodic composition and soft interludes to blistering solos and pummeling riffage.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. This is music to cloud walk to, but some might argue it’s meth music.

http://nearneptune.bandcamp.com/

 

Teramobil - MultiSpectral SuperContinuum

Quotes from my review:

“As usual Dominique ‘Forest’ Lapointe (Augury, Beyond Creation, Atheretic, Humanoid, Negativa) has found yet another project to lend his signature bass-playing style and loud tone to. That group is Teramobil, a fascinating new upstart of technical progressive instrumental metal who round out their first-class musician pedigree with drummer Alexandre Dupras (The Plasma Rifle, Unhuman) and guitarist  Mathieu Bérubé (also of Unhuman). Since Teramobil has no vocals and only one guitarist, Dominique is allowed even more space in the music to trail off on whatever he is playing, in opposition to the guitars, and the results are genius.”

“All this praise for bass playing is not to imply that the guitar playing or drumming is any bit weaker. In two words, what Mathieu Bérubé and Alexandre Dupras do is dexterous, and zany. They are all over the place, in any given song jumping boldly from technical death metal to monolithic-sized grooves, prog-rock leanings, and avante-garde fusion-inspired territory. The rhythms here are ADD-driven, circus-like circles that never find a home, and instead revel in the blissfull cacophony created by fleeting, crashing ideas bouncing off each other.”

http://teramobil.bandcamp.com/album/multispectral-supercontinuum

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/04/05/underdogs-in-the-underground-the-dogs-who-let-them-out-part-2/

 

Abnormal Thought Patterns - Manipulation Under Anesthesia

Zero Hour is a band I used to get into, and their style of Meshuggah influence meets super shredding with purely singing was way ahead of it’s time and still outclasses nearly all bands doing this sort of thing currently. The two brothers at the core of that group, Jasun and Troy Tipton, have founded a new instrumental group called Abnormal Thought Patterns that put out an amazing record this year.  They don’t really sound like any other instrumental band, but often for comparison’s sake they play stuff that could fit in an Animals As Leaders song.

The out of control nutty bass playing of Troy Tipton is such an integral, fascinating, and interesting part of Manipulation Under Anesthesia’s greatness.  Troy’s contributions add a depth to the music beyond the equally sick riffs and mind melting shredding of Jasun Tipton and the precise vibrant drumming of Mike Guy.

https://play.spotify.com/album/4lFMNGKQfcwsXKEHV8I2qo

 

 

Vasudeva - Life In Cycles

Vasudeva play a chilled out ethereal concoction of math-rock, post-rock, and a bit of rock that is very engaging yet also quite calming. Life In Cycles is powerful music that I find myself easily drawn into and stuck on playing all the time.

http://vasudeva.bandcamp.com/album/life-in-cycles

 

 

Culled Kvlt Cold Cuts

 

Imperial Triumphant – Goliath

In my estimation, an EP should count the same as an album. It’s all music, and I’d rather listen to a phenomenal EP than a so-so to merely-okay full-length.

Quote from my review:

“The total experience of taking in Goliath plays out like part horror score and then part real horror, a sickening scintillation of the surreal and the sadistic that together conjure an evocative glimpse into hell, where the laughing void of destruction howls in the wind of our fears.”

http://imperialtriumphant.bandcamp.com/album/goliath

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/10/02/short-but-sweet-imperial-triumphant-goliath/

 

Jute Gyte - Discontinuities

While a lot of black metal strives to sound fucked up and wicked, most bands overall achieve that aim in the same ways that their peers do, which in a sense has become codified and conventional. If you want to hear some unorthodox, truly unsettling black metal, one man band Jute Gyte offers disgust in intriguing spades.

Adam Kalmbach gives us some of the strangest experimental black metal I’ve ever heard. A grim world he opens up with his swarming and slippery microtonal guitar compositions, teeming with a terrifying density and a constant feeling that it is near collapsing in on itself from the sheer weight of disgust raining down in massive, ceaselessly punishing waves.  Get lost in the monolithic swirl of buzzing riffs and psychedelic protrusions. Give in to the twisted sense of discomfort and crackling cacophony found herein. Discontinuities forms writhing soundscapes of pitch-black desolation in which listeners can easily lose themselves in the driving immersiveness.

https://jutegyte.bandcamp.com/album/discontinuities

 

Order Of Leviathan - The Total Path To Infernal Darkness

Quotes from my write up:

“Order Of Leviathan are a local black metal band from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. This has been a good year for  metal in my town, as locals Anagnorisis dropped Beyond All Light just a few months ago and littledidweknow dropped Lucid Happenings as well. Now Order Of Leviathan have released some excellent black metal as well.”

“Overall, their take on black metal is often quite technical, layered with thrash undertones, dark melodies, esoteric ambient/nature passages, and sprinkled death metal influences. They have a potent nihilist energy that is quite intense and comes alive in their harsh, blast-filled approach, teeming with memorable riffs and pained screams. I’m proud to hear how good these guys sound – not like a local band re-hashing lo-fi black metal, but instead like a focused group actively crafting their own take on the genre.”

http://orderofleviathan.bandcamp.com/album/the-infernal-path-to-total-darkness

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/11/25/recalcitrant-roundup-redux-part-1/

 

Anagnorisis – Beyond All Light

Within the ever-changing musical landscape of Louisville, a crop of black metal acts have emerged and quickly become a force to be reckoned with. Among these groups lies the thriving madness of Anagnorisis, an act who revel in the creation of filth and blackness. On Beyond All Light, Anagnorisis spew forth a compelling darkness, an effort enhanced by a theatrical bombast of symphonic and atmospheric keyboards. They wisely break up the tremelo-picked rage with a slower sorrowful side that lends a sense of balance to the music. The album highlight, “This Cursed Blood,” annihilates you with a writhing assault of disdainful aggression that never relents. Beyond All Light further illuminates the rising profile of Anagnorisis, and the album’s reception has rightly seen them garner worthy national recognition.

http://music.anagnorisis.com/album/beyond-all-light

http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/beyond-all-light

*This review was previously published in LEO Weekly Magazine

Arkhum - Earthling

Quotes from my review:

“When Anno Universum dropped like a bomb all the way from Eugene, Oregon, in 2010, many sites and fans were made curious and became stuck on this new group’s virulent combination of technical death metal with brutal vocals and black metal soaked in sci-fi concepts. Earthling finds Arkhum in an even more mature place where instead of merely crossing genre streams, they’ve upped the black metal aesthetic and given it considerably more room to grow.”

“They have an unparalleled skill in fusing black metal and death metal together. This leads to two interesting dichotomies: black metal-fueled death metal and death metal-fueled black metal.”

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/02/19/arkhum-earthling/

http://arkhum.bandcamp.com/album/earthling

 

Ornate Oddballs and Prague

 

Secret Chiefs 3 – Book Of Souls: Folio A

I could write several pages about how much I like this album, and probably a dozen regarding how awesome Secret Chiefs 3 are as a band. Whether you would enjoy it or not, however, revolves around how much you enjoy Mr. Bungle, as Secret Chiefs 3 is ex-Bungle genius Trey Spruance’s band, with their music being just as cross-genre nutty and jarring as his former band’s. Secret Chiefs 3 is easily one of my favorite groups and I urge everyone to check out Book Of Souls: Folio A.

 

uSSSy - Unsharp Mask

Imagine math rock played on microtonal guitars. Sounds weird right? What if in addition to that, the music has a pronounced psychedelic vibe? The end result would be what uSSSy have conjured on Unsharp Mask, an album so trippy and different from any other math rock I’ve ever heard. At times the music reminds me of Indian music in the most oddball way.

http://usssy.bandcamp.com/album/unsharp-mask

 

Palms - Palms

Palms have built an intriguing buzz. Consisting of three members of now-defunct instrumental post-metallers Isis and singer Chino Moreno of Deftones, the result sounds like a logical extension of both, albeit stripped-down to a haunting, ambient-influenced base. On Palms, much of the Isis aesthetic carries over, such as their swelling post-rock-structured songwriting and rich atmospheric sensibility.

The biggest change lies in their lighter approach, dropping most of the heaviness in favor of tranquility. Palms find an ethereal and calming identity through their trippy use of ever-present reverb, the sounds echoing from each instrument in lingering psychedelic waves. Combine the soft, radiant music with the tender airy croon and signature cryptic lyrics of Moreno, and you have a lush recipe for success. Palms abounds with a unique beauty that is wonderfully sad and steeped in distant longing.

http://leobeat.leoweekly.com/2013/09/10/palms-album-review/

*This review was previously published on Leoweekly.com

 

Theater Of The Absurd - The Myth Of Sisyphus

New York City natives Theater Of The Absurd play a very hard to categorize strain of avante-garde/progressive metal. Often they sound like a jam band, and overall the music trends more non-metal and very eclectic.  They sound like a bizarre but potent merger of Pain Of Salvation and Unexpect with shades of Dream Theater. If you want to hear some captivating, challenging metal, this is for you.

https://play.spotify.com/album/5yTFFJ6Hn6ScEyTIYSCmjz

https://www.facebook.com/TOTABand

 

Tomahawk - Oddfellows

With three albums of unorthodox rock under their belts, Tomahawk (vocalist Mike Patton, guitarist Duane Denison, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer John Stanier) let Oddfellows expand upon their group chemistry, while each contributes elements of their distinct styles. It makes for a creative album that hijacks rock ’n’ roll and infuses it with that extra something special. The economical way Tomahawk dole out a number of different sounds is impressive, starting with opener “Oddfellows” lurching to a head-bobbing math-rock groove. Then comes the infectious hard-rock flirtations of “Stone Letter” and its twin, “White Hats/Black Hats.” A recurring obsession with channeling California-era Mr. Bungle appears prominently on “Rise Up Dirty Waters,” with its deranged crooning, and “I.O.U,” cloaked in a cinematic-pop tone. Rock isn’t dead, it just took to the underground and went a slightly weirder route.

http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/oddfellows

*This review was previously published in LEO Weekly Magazine

Perhaps - Volume II

Perhaps are an almost impossible to describe band, but to give a relative idea, they are a prog-rock group. I had previously written about Perhaps here at NCS, and then had the good fortune of seeing them play their first record, Volume One, in it’s entirety just a few months ago here in my hometown of Louisville, Kenfucky. Perhaps you’d like Perhaps?

http://perhaps.bandcamp.com/album/volume-two

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/02/05/remnants-of-2012-that-i-heard-in-2013-hivesmasher-perhaps-diskord-ii-ii-ii/

 

Cryptodira - Recursions

Cryptodira are a very difficult band to pinpoint, from a genre perspective. To take a stab at it, they are an off-the-wall hybrid of all the sonic characteristics East Of The Wall draw from, with some death metal, slight djent flourishes, and prog influences of varied shades rounding things out.  My personal favorite track “Either Fly or Fall Faster” begins with some furious fretwork that reminded me of Paria’s The Barnacle Cordious, a fantastic album in it’s own right if you haven’t heard of it. Every track twists and turns with its own surprises and great usage of build-up/breakdown, and soft/loud dynamics that lend an epic quality to their music. They’ve got a new two-song EP coming up soon as well, which as the song “Descent “they released shows, is an entirely different, faster, and mathcore-driven animal than the material on Recursions.

https://soundcloud.com/cryptodira/descent

http://cryptodira.bandcamp.com/album/recursions

 

TMBG -Nanobots

As one of the most consistent and creative rock bands around, They Might Be Giants have not gone soft with old age as they reach past 30 years as a band, but have continued to push their own boundaries while still putting on an incredible live show even after all these years. Having seem them multiple times I would easily call them one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. Nanobots sees more of their quirky pop-heavy rock paired to their signature cryptic lyrics, which range from oddball to hilarious to philosophical, and often give off a dark and, dare I say, metal vibe. A statement I stand behind after they’ve released songs such as “When Will You Die?” and “Exquisite Dead Guy”.

Bosnian Rainbows - Bosnian Rainbows

A new psychedelic rock/pop project by ex-Mars Volta members. Great stuff. Great band name!

http://bosnianrainbows.bandcamp.com/

 

Anomalous Grind Hippopotamus Promise

Psychofagist - Songs Of Faint And Distortion

I first heard of Psychofagist in a namedrop for a review for fellow weirdo grinders Antigama about 7 years ago, which was fitting, as both of them are sort of oddball as far as grind goes. Over the years, Psychofagist have shed some of their grind shell and become a gangly, experimental, part noisy, improvised-style group like nothing you’ve ever heard. Songs Of Faint And Distortion is an ugly, bruising experience to endure, with nary a trace of convention or normal structure. A thick, healthy dose of audible, funky bass playing envelopes each track, which is fantastic and not at all something you hear in grind normally. This music is really disgusting; it takes hold of your sanity while slowly disintegrating into lethal cacophony.

http://psychofagist.bandcamp.com/album/songs-of-faint-and-distortion

 

Fraud - Forms Unknown

Quote from my write-up:

“What Forms Unknown deliver is a rabid mix-up of technical death metal and grind, though they do allow for some slower parts that lend a sense of balance to the primary pummeling onslaught. At just under 20 minutes, Fraud pass by quickly, but pack a lot into each song. If this album doesn’t inspire a sense of vitriol in the pit of your stone heart, your brain is lying to you.”

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/12/03/recalcitrant-roundup-redux-part-3/#more-68536

https://grindfraud.bandcamp.com/

 

Duobetic Homunkulus - Ani já ani ty robit něbudzeme, šedněme do koča, vozit še budzeme

After the untimely demise of Czech experimental grinders of !T.O.O.H.!, I started to follow a new group formed by ex-members of that band called Duobetic Homunkulus. Their first EP, Části a mechanismy strojů, came out all the way back in 2006 and showed a lot of promise. Then they fell off my radar until this year when I noticed they were finally dropping a full-length album entitled: Ani já ani ty robit něbudzeme, šedněme do koča, vozit še budzeme. Now while I have no clue what that means, I know for sure the music contained within is killer and quite experimental.

They still play a strange mix of grind and death metal laced with a technical flair, except this time the music is enhanced or broken up by a plethora of piano samples, Middle Eastern sounding parts,  flugelhorn (which, as I looked up, is similiar to a sax) and old-timey sounding music samples that sound straight out of the 1940’s.

By far one of the strangest parts about it, and the part that threw me off the most, was “Ach Ty Mé Zvlhlé Rutilové Elektrody”. The song literally borrows the melody of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound Of Music. As a huge fan of The Sound Of Music, it made me really happy to see a soft, gentle melody get twisted inside a metal song.

This is highly recommended for fans of !T.O.O.H.! and for metalheads who want to hear something different. I will mention as an afterthought that a new !T.O.O.H.! album called Democratic Solution did come out this year, but it’s electronic only, with no guitars, and it’s not very good in my opinion. It has a few re-recorded versions from Rad A Trest that lose all their vitality due to being electro only now, and the vocals don’t have the same manic insanity anymore, though luckily those crazed vocals are now here on the new Duobetic Homunkulus.

https://www.facebook.com/duobetic.homunkulus

http://duobetichomunkulus.bandcamp.com/album/ani-j-ani-ty-robit-n-budzeme-edn-me-do-ko-a-vozit-e-budzeme-2

 

Djoints

Sarah Longfield - Oneiric

I wrote about Sarah Longfield’s band, The Fine Constant, on my year-end list for 2012. Oneiric is a new EP of her shred-heavy instru-groove tunes. On this EP she adds a lot of interesting piano that lends a haunting flair to tracks like “The Great Illusion”, which is probably the best song on here. It’s a very emotive and elegant song that gives me chills! The subtle jazz outro of “Afterthought” is another nice touch and instance of progression for her music. Created by one of the better solo DIY groove-tarists around right now, this is worth checking out.

http://sarahshreds.bandcamp.com/album/oneiric-ep-2

 

The Omega Man - Rebirth

Quotes from my post:

“Having listened to far too many bands lately playing within a “progressive metal” Venn diagram of similiar influences, it takes a group with creativity in both playing and songwriting to pique my interest. The Omega Man from Texas are such an act, as they artfully tackle a technically adept brand of BTBAM-inspired death metal with a cosmic atmospheric vibe complete with some occassional djent flourishes. On paper, this might sound like old hat to some, however that couldn’t be further from the truth, as they are a creative group clearly doing their own thing.”

“The Omega Man deliver plenty of spacey, lush guitar-work with densely melodic riffs, and they have a flair for letting their softer instrumental segments develop instead of being mere brief interludes”

“The sparingly used clean singing is very effective in a Between The Buried And Me sort of way, taking the moment higher while avoiding sounding like pop.”

http://theomegamantx.bandcamp.com/album/rebirth-2
http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/05/22/underdogs-in-the-underground-notable-newcomers-part-2/

 

A couple of hardcore punks de-evolving into sludge

Pushmen – The Sun Will Rise Soon On The False And The Fair

I meant to review this for nocleansinging, but my review was convoluted goop and I got caught up working on so many other things that it stayed uncompleted. Which is a shame, because this is one of the finest records of the year in my opinion. At a time when many new punk-meets-metal hybrids of every stripe and possible combination are popping up, few if any are taking things to the eclectic extremes that Pushmen are. The reason for this stretches all the way back to the time spent by three members of Pushmen in a past band, Employer, Employee – a  band similarly versed in chaotic genre mashups and off-the-wall vitriol muddled by maddened aggression — although this is quite refined as well, and swaths of blues, rock, drone, and Middle Eastern melodies worm their way into the hardcore punk fighting sludge and d-beat core of their music.

https://play.spotify.com/album/3w0KhoD7mJcCnlTedguMZV

 

All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates This Nature

All Pigs Must Die have a special place in my heart, not only because they are the best and angriest band currently plying that whole hardcore meets d-beat with metal influences thing, but because they were the first band I was assigned to review for my first writing gig. While their first record, God Is War, terrified and punished me, somehow they upped their songwriting and upped the vitriol on their latest album, Nothing Violates This Nature. Why the fuck aren’t you listening to this?

http://apmdsl.bandcamp.com/releases

 

ASG - Blood Drive

As groups inspired by Black Sabbath go, ASG have always been one of the most inspired. Their secret weapon lies in the powerful pipes of singer/guitarist Jason Shi. His soulful tone adds a heartfelt depth to the eclectic songs of Blood Drive. ASG have plenty of heavy, gargantuan riffs to spare, but it’s their thriving bluesy flirtations that truly cement this with a sense of identity. Beyond blues, their North Carolina roots shine, with country and rock elements appearing throughout. Their Southern edge figures prominently in tracks such as “Earthwalk,” a slow-burner that develops a gorgeous indie-rock chorus, eerily channeling Smashing Pumpkins. By the time the somber twang of closer “Good Enough to Eat” rolls through with a psychedelic pulse, you don’t want the trip to end. But end it does, leaving only one clear choice: Hit replay.

http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/blood-drive

*This review was previously published in LEO Weekly Magazine

https://play.spotify.com/album/7AdrkC8Ul8z9dBtxsHbwra

 

Coliseum - Sister Faith

Coliseum have never ceased their sonic explorations, a characteristic that has led them somewhere new on each record. Today, Coliseum find themselves in a volatile and mournful state, yet still conjure raucous hardcore-fried punk that oozes with a driving ’90s indie-rock influence. This graceful amalgamation of styles imbues tracks such as “Everything in Glass” and “Doing Time” with a defiant rock ’n’ roll swagger. Beyond their ability to kick ass, their softer, contemplative side shines through in the introspective lyrics of Ryan Patterson, delivered in his signature gruff howl, giving a deep, poetic picture of the passion that has driven them for so long. Sister Faith is a reflection as a much as a celebration, honoring Louisville’s fallen Jason Noble while also being a continuation of their hard-working ethos put to record with the help of friends.

http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/sister-faith

*This review was previously published in LEO Weekly Magazine

http://coliseum.bandcamp.com/album/sister-faith

 

Reptilian.Rapscallion.Rap. Illin

Deltron 3030 - Event Two

Finally Del Tha Funky Homosapien decided to create a sequel to his most famous work, the sci-fi themed Deltron 3030. This effort lives up to expectations, with spectacular beats that, as usual, revolve around the unique delivery and lyricism of Del on the mic along with some awesome guest spots. Event Two features both producers Kid Koala and Dan The Automator, who crafted the likewise phenomenal beats on the first Deltron 3030 record.

https://play.spotify.com/album/0nU0YPGZvhZIvnQfTKhAho

 

Natti - Still Motion

Natti is one-third of the underground alt. rap legends Cunninlynguists and this is his first solo record, though he is frequently backed up by the other members of his group. Fellow Cunninlynguist MC Deacon The Villian shows up on half the tracks, and Cunninlynguist skilled beatmaker Kno lends his skills to numerous tracks as well.

http://cunninlynguists.bandcamp.com/album/still-motion

 

Hopsin - Knock Madness

Hopsin has been building up quite a name for himself, fueling his rise with a multi-part introspective series called The Ill Mind Of Hopsin. On Knock Madness, Hopsin as usual has an anti-drug/anti-alcohol bent that puts him in a different class of rappers, even if part of the time he falls ill with boring tropes and rap cliches. Where this record really shines is in Hopsin’s raw passionate skill as an MC and his Eminem-like ability to change his flow in so many different ways, and he tops that by showing off some skill as a singer on several tracks as well. Knock Madness is a pissed-off ode to immature youth grasping for truth while wishing everything daily death. Dig it.

https://play.spotify.com/album/16SMGvTZrwtiJ132g69toP

 

Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons To Die

While other members of Wu have gone soft, or delivered a myriad of half-baked albums, Ghostface has never lost his touch and Twelve Reasons To Die is a warning shot to the larger rap world that (some) Wu rappers still got it. On Twelve Reasons To Die, Ghostface continues his reign as both the most prolific and most consistent member of the Wu-Tang Clan to have continued success in a solo career. As usual, he is backed up by a lot of Wu members, making this Wu-Joint Wu-Tang as fuck bitch. C.R.E.A.M. per usual.

http://soultemplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/twelve-reasons-to-die

 

Childish Gambino - Because The Internet

Donald Glover is one talented dude. He is a comedy writer, actor, producer, and also a skilled rapper who goes by the moniker Childish Gambino, which he fully admits came from a Wu-Tang instant name generator. Lurking between typical rap themes and tropes are some very cerebral and introspective lyrics that ring true and keep me coming back.

10 Responses to “THE BEST OF 2013: YEAR-END LISTS FROM AUSTIN WEBER”

  1. djneibarger says:

    wow, there’s so much great stuff here! i’ll be referring back to this for a while

  2. This Is The News says:

    How did I miss Forest Lapointe’s new project? Lots of under appreciated stuff on here. I wouldn’t have expected Hopsin to turn up on a list on NCS. Shows what I know.

  3. CoreyTC says:

    Theater Of The Absurd is some good stuff. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Leperkahn says:

    Abnormal Thought Patterns are reminding me of Arsis for some reason. I really don’t know why.

  5. richuuuurd says:

    dat Childish Gambino, though.

  6. BMF says:

    This is an inspired list. I purchased most of the DM albums you discuss based on your original reviews, and found all to be worthwhile. Unhuman, especially, was a revelation – easily one of the best releases of the year.

  7. There are a surprising number of albums One would have missed if not for you.
    WHAT AM I EVEN DOING!!!

    • austin weber says:

      Thanks man! I have some interesting non music website choices for how I find all I find but I refuse to give away my secrets!

  8. C. Gurz says:

    Thanks to this incredibly impressive list I’ve discovered some of the best guitar driven music created over 2013. Fucking Radtacular, thanks again buddy!

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