(One of the perennial highlights of our year-end LISTMANIA series are the articles Neill Jameson has contributed, and we’re very happy that he’s done so again this year. This one is the second of a 5 (or 6?) part installment of Neill‘s lists. And to be clear (again), Neill wrote the title of this feature himself.)
There’s no real need for me to write anything more than welcome to part II of my annual titterings. We’re going to start this one with a fucking bang.
Sarin “S/T” Tape House USA
I was anticipating the first full-length from Chicago’s Sarin after first hearing them on a split with the excellent Vvegas in 2019 and I’m not disappointed. Brutal negative hardcore with harsh vocals and pummeling drums. Someone on their Bandcamp said that it sounded “like a root canal” and I can’t really sum it up better than that. This is fucking vicious.
Hive “Spiritual Poverty” Translation Loss
Hive is like a fucking kick in the mouth. And while you’re on the floor trying to find where your teeth went you’ll probably have the passing thought that Spiritual Poverty is the…erhm..spiritual (please clap) successor to Cursed’s Architects of Troubled Sleep” Nasty metallic hardcore from the twin cities with an excellent discography behind them, however Spiritual Poverty outshines it all.
Parasit “En Falsk Utopi” Grind Destroy Records
So, it was only this year that I found out Henke Forss from Dawn (and the only good In Flames recording) has been fronting a crusty d-beat band and that they fucking rule. Parasit, like countrymen Skitsystem and Martyrdöd, are fucking savage and unrelenting hardcore, both anthemic and confrontational. Henke sounds more ferocious now than when I picked up the first Dawn album over twenty-five years ago. If you dig Swedish crust then this by all rights should be your favorite record of the year.
Hersker “Befængt” Caligari Records
The last few years have shown considerable domination by Danish bands, particularly Nyredolk and those associated with the Korpsand Circle. Hersker are another great addition to Denmark’s audial conquest. Sounding somewhere between Bone Awl, Nyredolk and the more metallic side of crust (think Tragedy’s Darker Days Ahead) Hersker evokes sitting in the front seat of a head-on collision. This was one of the best demos I’d heard this year, and their full length Hudangst is even better.
Gam “Hvisken fra Skyggernes Vrå” Ottende Kunst
Continuing with this new wave of Danish darkness, Gam performs stripped-down and genuine traditional black metal that takes you back into the late 1990s tape trading scene. There is such sincerity to their music and aesthetic that you’d be forgiven to think someone sent you an obscure demo from decades ago. Pure class.
Jernved Den Ottende Kunst
I raved about their debut demo, Stormvasel, in my list last year so it’s only natural that the followup would end up here as well. For a younger band to release two demos in fairly quick succession isn’t entirely uncommon in these days of bands releasing four fucking records a quarter but what is different about Jernved is that they possess a high quality of songcraft. Excellent Danish black metal akin to countrymen Fanebærer with more than a passing nod to Blood Fire Death.
Celestial Season “Mysterium II” Burning World Records
Rarely are bands able to reunite after decades (and massive stylistic changes) and do anything other than a few festivals and maybe an album. Celestial Season are now on album number two since their reformation and continue to hone their craft of misery. Death/doom is a genre that I used to adore but over the years nearly every band from the classic days disappeared, dramatically changed styles and/or shit the bed into water-treading mediocrity. Because of this it’s very rare that I even seek out anything in the style but Celestial Season were a very important band to me decades ago and to hear them continue to perfect the sound I fell in love with in the mid ’90s when we’re now all old and grey is something I won’t tire of anytime soon.
Lustre “A Thirst for Summer Rain” Nordvis
A Thirst for Summer Rain is a somewhat different approach for Lustre, this time recorded in a “proper” studio and showcases more crushing doom-y riffs than the ambient flowing textures of The Ashes of Light. This was more of a grower for me as it’s such a slow burn of a record and I was such a fan of the last one but once it settled in I found the album title to be a perfect representation of the sonics within. Captivating and beautiful, as always, a record for quiet moments.
Bradung “טרפה الهرم” New Era Productions
If you’re like me (God bless your heart) you’d feel that a Lugubrum/Urfaust collaboration would only be natural, right? But what would you imagine it would sound like? Not this, that’s for fucking sure. Surreal psychedelic middle-eastern instrumental ambient(?, sure) mind warping entirely bizarre fuckery would be a good place to start. This is as far from what you’d expect and, on paper, that sounds like it could be fucking awful but this record is captivating and refreshing. If I were to name another record that made me experience what I got out of טרפה الهرم it would be Nova Akropola. While not stylistically related at all, both records really just take you outside of yourself. So, have a drink and let yourself sink into this.
Traditionally this would be when I’d make some ham-handed gag about dungeon synth being up next but, as this is a year for mature reflection (and I’d said I wasn’t really doing theme pieces, tho that’s probably a lie) I’ll pass on that. But the next piece will probably be your “princess is in another castle” type shit. See you then.
If ever there was an apt title.