EDITOR’S FORWARD: I’m a big fan of Portland-based Arkhum and have written about them multiple times at NCS, including this fairly recent post. The band includes two brothers — lead vocalist/lyricist Kenneth Parker and guitarist/vocalist Stephen Parker. Recently, each of them has provided NCS with guest interviews — Stephen interviewing Jason William Walton (Agalloch, Self Spiller) and Kenneth interviewing Izedis of apocalyptic black noize merchants Enbilulugugal.
As part of our year-end Listmania series, I asked each of them if they would let me publish their personal lists of the year’s best albums, and they agreed. Both lists include albums I’ve never heard before — which is a big part of why this Listmania thing is fun — and so at the end of this post I’ve randomly included some music from the albums that were new to me. Here we go:
STEPHEN PARKER’S TOP 11
1. Light Bearer – Lapsus
If anyone out there is a fan of the sludge/neocrust titans Fall of Efrafa, you know who Light Bearer are. The first track I heard was ‘Prelapsus’, and it was amazing. The track starts with the signature vocal magic from Alex CF. His harsh but emotional vocals really set the tone for this entire track. After a lengthy but necessary buildup, the track busts into an orgasmic display of bassist Tom Watson’s vocal range. When you hear Watson and Alex sing/scream the lines “We are the sons of fire, we are the daughters of light”, prepare to have chills from your head to your toes.
2. Devin Townsend – Deconstruction
This is a Devin Townsend release . . . . . ’nuff said.
3. Ulver – War of Roses
I don’t think it’s physically possible for me to hate ANYTHING that Ulver has put out. One of my all-time favorite albums is Blood Inside. Every time those guys write something, it comes out sounding like Unicorn shit – rare but amazing.
4. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
Best troll ever. But his lyrics are fantastic. Honest, relevant, awesome. Whatever you wanna say.
5. Deafheaven – Roads To Judah
This. Album. Is. Fantastic. That’s all I can really say. The vocals are so emotional, yet so brutally heavy.
6. Nebulous – Into Infinite Spectrums
I was first introduced to these guys by their vocalist Alex Pitts. He found me a bunch of months ago on Tumblr and Facebook, ranting and raving about how much he digs Arkhum. From there we started talking about music and such. Well just a few weeks ago he sent me the link to his band’s new EP, and it’s fantastic! It reminds me a lot of Severed Savior and older Decrepit Birth. Especially listen to the track ‘Hivemind’, it has a super rad riff around 52 seconds in. Go get the EP now! http://nebulousdeathmetal.bandcamp.com
7. No Made Sense – New Season/New Blues
These guys remind me of Mastodon, Fall of Efrafa, and some other sludge-y acts. I dont know how to properly describe this album, but listen to it! It’s pretty damn progressive. And not like Dream Theater progressive . . . more like . . . if Mikael Akerfeldt had sex with every member of Mastodon, gave birth to 5 different babies, then all of those babies fucked each other and made a super baby. A SUPER BABY.
8. Ash Borer – s/t
I was first introduced to these dudes awhile back, when Kenneth [Parker – Glossolalia Records/Arkhum] got the Fell Voices/Ash Borer split. At least I think that’s when. I got their self-titled album, and it’s fantastic. Very atmospheric and very Cascadian.
9. Steven Wilson – Grace From Drowning
Again I use this…it’s Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Have you ever heard ANYTHING bad from this guy? The correct answer is ‘no.’
10. Ramin Djawadi, Game of Thrones OST
Have you seen/read Game of Thrones? Or anything in that series? Yeah, the story itself calls for a very epic and moving score. Djawadi captured all of the emotions perfectly. I can’t stop listening to this.
11. Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage
A lot of people haven’t accepted this album and I’m not sure why. I think it’s a typical progression from Black Cascade, especially with the more drawn-out drone side of things. It almost seems as if being on Southern Lord has influenced them, but I’m okay with that. I fuckin’ loved the latest Sunn O))) album. Anyway, the atmospheric parts are a bit more evident on this album, and sometimes it comes to light without any black metal influence whatsoever, especially the track with Isis’ Aaron Turner on it.
I’m not sure why anyone would give a shit about what albums we loved this year, but there you go!
[Editor’s Intrusion: You can follow Stephen at all these outlets: Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/tittlemanscrest); Tumblr (http://thoughtlessfroth.tumblr.com); Arkhum’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/arkhum); The Will Of A Million Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thewillofamillion).
KENNETH PARKER’S TOP 10
1. Kauan – Kuu…
A perfect album and the closest thing to a spiritual experience that I’ve had since childhood Christian bamboozlement.
2. Leviathan – True Traitor, True Whore
Crisp yet caustic, the record bears Wrest’s trademark synthesis of shoegaze, dark ambient, bleak industrial soundscapes and classic Scandinavian black metal.
3. Young and in the Way – I Am Not What I Am
A seamless synthesis of black metal, crust and original hardcore. Think Kvelertak with more balls.
4. Disma – Towards The Megalith
Profound Lore does it again. Everything that death metal should be. Period.
5. Rye Wolves – Species Battle in the Branches
A dynamic and exquisitely executed doom record. Crowned with a nigh-on 40 minute modern avant-garde doom/drone masterpiece.
6. Arizmenda – Without Circumference Nor Center
Yet another stellar release of agonizingly desperate psychedelic black metal from this California collective. Members of the Black Twilight Circle.
7. Vhmnt – Withered Atrocity
A new project from Abe Nobody of Rye Wolves, Vhmnt is droning, melancholic blackdoom that, frankly, just doesn’t quit. Sort of like a more minimalistic Fell Voices.
8. Jute Gyte – Impermanence
Jute Gyte is tied with Circle of Ouroborus and (late) Peste Noire for the title of ‘Band Who Couldn’t Give Two Shits About What You Think Black Metal Should Be.’ Impermanence is oddball, headfucked black metal for no one. Enjoy. Err…
9. Craft – Void
The masters return to show all us pussies how to write riffs that will get you laid by thin pale girls in Beherit tanks. Full of unforgettable grooves and catchy as fuck, Void is unstoppable.
10. Decrepitaph – Profane Doctrines Unburied
There were a lot of great revivalist death metal albums this year, and Profane Doctrines Unburied was right beneath Towards the Megalith, so think that band with Possessed’s sense of melody and a vision for epic song structure.
EDITOR’S AFTERWORD: I wanna throw a few more Parker brothers links your way — specifically, these links for Glossolalia Records, a small print record label run by the brothers which specializes in underground black/death/doom/drone/folk releases.
Now, here are those randomly selected song clips from a few of the albums that Stephen and Kenneth listed that I’d never heard before: