I like this kind of round-up posts on other blogs, so I've decided to try and make one of my own.
As per title, some cool music I found out about this year:
1. Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships
If you like your hard rock/metal sludgy and noisy, this one is for you. I do, and lately I've been listening to Kowloon Walled City 'till exhaustion. Their trademark sound consists of mammoth-like, primitive drumming, much in the way of Neurosis and the likes, thick, saturated bass and mid-rangey guitars. One must appreciate how they achieve heaviness by emphasizing the mid range instead of going for the scooped sound typical of heavy music. Their releases are also available under Bandcamp's "name your price" rule.
2. Megadeth - Rust In Peace
I've never been much of a fan of Megadeth. They are by far my least favourite of the infamous Big Four. I always thought they lacked of intensity. Yet, this is a classic heavy metal album, and it very much sounds like basic heavy metal should: written with focus, raw but in control, technical without crossing the border with comedy, extremely fast but precise as a razorblade, cohesive without sacrificing the personality of the players. As a matter of fact, I like that every player gets his own spot and every instrument is given proper importance. Though I personally lean towards metal that focuses on sheer aggressiveness instead of melody and technicality, this was a positive surprise.
3. Obituary - Slowly We Rot
I was never a fan of Obituary, but I was drawn to this when I was surfing the net looking for examples of heavy music played in E Standard tuning. Of course, this one qualifies. It's death metal like it should be: raw, primitive, aggressive, minimal, fast, devoid of technical jerking-off. The album sounds great in its lofi production, though the guitar tone is clearly ripped off Celtic Frost (not a flaw to me, quite the opposite).
4. Candiru - Unloved And Weeded Out
Obscure, long gone industrial/noise/lofi project. Very lofi. In fact, it's been an inspiring listening for a future direction in my own efforts.
There's still some traditional metal elements in Candiru, like the extremely distorted guitars and bass, but they're mostly drowned in an undefined sludge of fuzzy sinth lines and stark drum machine beats. Nailbomb come to mind for a similar lofi and minimalist intent, but production and songwriting values here are put aside in favour of a completely nihilistic and quintessentially raw approach.
5. Fragment King - Grey Album
Another champion of nihilism and minimalism, down to imagery and artwork. Fragment King's music is a monolithic fusion of drum machine plodding rhythms, insanely distorted bass and fuzzy synth textures. Absolute center spot for the noise itself, while the only really descernible remnant of musicality is the beat, even groove in some cases. Vocals are almost absent. The impression is that the sound is bigger than the sum of its own elements. Also available on a "name your price" basis.
6. Neurotech - Infra Versus Ultra
I've been listening to this Slovenian band for a while now and it's been interesting to witness its evolution. This is their poppiest release so far. In fact, there's a little to much inclining towards saccharine melody for my own taste here. Yet, the production is really powerful and enticing and the overall sound is an extremely original fusion of industrial metal of the futuristic kind and electro/synth pop with a bit of an Eighties' taste.
This is very much like I imagine popular music will be in thirty years from now.
7. HIMIKO - Victims Of Greed
One of the most absurd things I ever listened to. A blend of primitive, crazy drum machine-driven deathgrind and digital hardcore/d'n'b chunks that start and stop almost randomly. The only consistent element is the inhuman pig squealing vocals. Extreme stuff.
8. Celtic Frost - Monotheist
Kind of an unsung masterpiece. This album marked the return in style of historic black metal pioneers Celtic Frost. It really sounds like a piece of work that took years to chisel to perfection. Everything sounds indeed rather spontaneous, but always in control. It's still a raw and primitive Celtic Frost album but, clearly, nothing happens by accident here. The production is outstanding, with the trademark snarling guitar tone still protagonist.
9. Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
Probably the most bleak, nihilistic and brutal piece of music ever recorded.
10. Paradise Lost - Shades Of God
Since their beginnings, Paradise Lost gradually included more and more of traditional songwriting and accessible melody in their style until the basically pop-rock releases of the last Nineties and the following slow return to metal.
Therefore, their earliest records showcase a completely brutal compiling of Black Sabbath down-tuned riffs and gothic rock inspired dirges.
Despite being a Paradise Lost fan since ages, I had never paid this album the attention it deserves, though I was aware of the classic As I Die tune which ends it. Shades Of God marks the beginning of their transition to a more digestible style but it's still crushingly heavy. The Black Sabbath influence is still very present, overwhelming at times; but the overall tone is somewhat less mournful than on their previous efforts.