Yes, we are now into February and this list isn’t finished yet. I suppose I really ought to give serious thought to wrapping it up, but I have sooo many more attractive candidates still sitting in front of me. Maybe this weekend I can force myself to assemble the final tracks and reach a conclusion next week. If you have any strength and willpower that I could rent for cheap, let me know. I promise I’ll give ’em back on Monday.
In his review of Gorod’s latest album, Andy Synn declared that “A Maze of Recycled Creeds is right up there with the best the band have produced… and it brings that memorable weirdness factor back into the band’s music with gusto,” helping “to give the album a brash and bold sense of character that makes it stand out from the crowd.” I certainly concur. I can also see the sense in the words Andy chose when he characterized the song I’ve chosen for this list as a “sexy jazz-prog shimmy” with “nimble, furiously funkified Tech-Death riff work”.
It’s a head-spinning, high-octane song to be sure, and that’s certainly a big part of its allure, but as insane as the instrumental work is, those “funkified” grooves and sinuous, jazzy interludes are at least equally responsible for its inclusion on this list. This song puts a big smile on my face whenever I hear it, no matter how sour my mood going into it. Here’s “Celestial Nature“:
I found it interesting to watch the clash of words that developed over Anareta near the end of last year. As I was rolling out lists from other sites and zines as part of our LISTMANIA series, I started referring to this band’s third album as one of “the usual suspects” — because it was popping up everywhere, even on lists from “big platform” sites that otherwise were pretty ho-hum. I sensed that the album was getting so much gushing praise from so many people (including our friend Leperkahn, who reviewed it for us) that it produced something of a backlash.
As we all know, metalheads can be a contrary, ornery bunch, and tremendous “popular” success can sometimes bring out an almost instinctive antagonism among at least certain segments of fandom. And so I began to see more and more people who felt compelled to say, “it was good but not as great as everyone seems to think it is” — which of course produced a predictable counterattack from Anareta’s slavish adherents.
It’s not really my intent to reignite that debate. My intent is to celebrate one song from the album that by my lights was one of the year’s most infectious — “Acolytes“. Of course, I’ll probably ignite a different kind of debate in doing that, with people who think other songs on the album are more deserving. I wouldn’t fight you too hard, because there were certainly other deserving candidates on Anareta. But this one especially got its hooks in me.
A LOATHING REQUIEM
A Loathing Requiem is the solo project of Nashville’s remarkably talented Malcom Pugh, who is also a member of Inferi and Diskreet. The band’s mind-blowing second album, Acolytes Eternal, was reviewed by DGR for this site. As he pointed out, the explosion of the tech-death genre in recent years has made it harder and harder for groups to stand out from the pack, but man, does Acolytes Eternal stand out.
As DGR remarked, the album is “so frighteningly consistent that it makes the concept of the word ‘heavy’ into a mundane study” — “a massive dish of humongous and jarring guitar playing that seems to dart back and forth in the blink of an eye, and drumming that seems determined to bore into the center of the Earth”. The technical skill on display truly is jaw-dropping, but perhaps what makes it stand out even more is the song-craft; all of that technical whiz-bang is put to good use within the framework of songs that you can remember and want to come back to.
As Exhibit A, I give you the next song I’m adding to this list: “The Mortal’s Harvest“. In addition to a brain-scrambling swarms of notes, generated through a lot of spidery, highly accelerated fretwork, and the music’s blazing-fast percussion, it contains some fantastically fluid solos that weave memorable melodies — and guitarist Mark Hawkins deserves credit, along with Pugh, for the soloing in this song. Enjoy…