(For the fifth year in a row, we’re grateful that Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood) accepted our invitation to share with us and you a list releases from the past year that made an impact on him. His lists always provide welcome discoveries, and this year is no different.)
I have to be honest, this year I really didn’t listen to a lot of new records. I guess there’s a bunch of reasons why, each one more boring than the last. Sort of like most of the year-end lists I’ve seen on social media the last six weeks. Am I just getting too old and burned out to enjoy some of this shit? I mean that seems like a solid enough reason rather than just coming out and saying a lot of “popular” (I guess) metal this year felt disposable, and while a lot of you will rise up to tell me I’m a fucking moron I’d be willing to put a solid six or seven dollars down that you won’t be listening to the majority of your year-end list in two years.
Last year I had a massive list and I still stand by the bulk of it. 2017 was a great year for new music. 2018? I dunno, I’ve been distracted. I haven’t even listened to the new Drudkh yet. I’m sure it’s great. I’m sure a lot of great stuff happened this year and I’m sure a lot of it is under my radar and possibly yours too. I don’t want anyone to have the impression I feel like I have superior tastes to you when I do these lists; I don’t. And neither do you. We all should listen to what we enjoy without having to worry about what some asshole a few seats over is going to think.
Just like when Amebix and Antisect did return records I read a lot of people complaining about how Axegrinder were too different an entity now than thirty years ago. The usual “this isn’t (insert band here)” gripe. I really loved the Amebix return, and Antisect made it into my year-end last year but unlike those two I never really had a major connection to Axegrinder. Sure, Rise of the Serpent Men is a great record but I rarely listen to it, so when I saw they had a new record out I didn’t rush to check it out.
My mistake, because when I finally did I was instantly gripped. Similar to the aforementioned Amebix and Antisect reunion records, Satori sees Axegrinder experimenting with their sound, coming off like a crustier mixture of Killing Joke and Psalm 69-era Ministry. Rarely do you get a band coming back after three decades releasing anything palatable let alone their best record to date.
Extinction of Mankind: “Storm of Resentment”
I knew this was going to be fucking crushing before I even pressed play but I don’t think I was ready for how much EoM have dialed up their aggression with this record. It’s just a savage fucker from beginning to end, outdoing any previous full-length in terms of sheer violence. Not that I was expecting to be disappointed; I just wasn’t expecting how heavy and fucking nasty the end result would be. Album of the year for me.
Andeis: “Servants of the Cold Night”
I tend not to give bands like this a chance anymore, mostly because the cult of personality and instant Discogs flipping of these labels is just enough to sour me on them. I’m probably missing out on some great records but unless you’re ready to get the preorder within six minutes of it going up you’re fucked. This doesn’t really have very much to do with Andeis, more just some free floating hostility. This Swedish band isn’t following any of the modern black metal rules, meaning there’s riffs instead of a reliance on a reverb pedal and throwing a Scrabble board into a wood chipper to create a band name. This has parts that remind me of Ildjarn, Mutilation, and a lot of feeling from when I used to trade demos in the ’90s. Extremely well thought out and well done, worth any of the hype you’re seeing about it.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I think a lot of the post-punk revival of the last few years is fucking garbage, loaded with garbage people. And that’s a bummer (no pun intended I guess) because this is a genre that’s ripe with opportunity. Fortunately there’s a band like Unmaker and a record like Firmament. They take a lot of the late-’80s Killing Joke feeling and inject a fresh energy to it, kind of a Beastmilk meets The Cult impression. Whatever comparison you can draw to it probably doesn’t do it justice and this record really should be getting a lot more attention. It’s upbeat and fucking miserable.
Remember how I mentioned the Andeis record made me remember demos from the ’90s? Credo might have well been recorded in 1996. Considering black metal is now supposed to be this whole “forward thinking” movement, you could take that sentence as a detraction but honestly it’s the highest compliment I could pay a black metal record in 2018. Everything about this record absolutely ignores the last twenty years. It’s a cold and raw experience, which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with Akitsa, but this stands as the project’s defining statement for me. Bleak and uncompromising excellence.
Since, as I’ve driven the point home like a fucking sledgehammer, I didn’t listen to a lot that I enjoyed this year, I really wanted my list to reflect records that, should I live that long and not get my Christmas wish of getting run over by a bus, you could ask me if I still listen to in a few years and I could truthfully tell you an affirmative. Hopefully 2019 will be a fruitful year and I can come back next year with another two-part list of shit I’m hoisting onto you.