After months of talking about it, we’re finally launching our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to us there to see rig rundowns, interviews, song playthroughs and more from us.
We’ve finally got some other exciting content on the way for our blog/site, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop banging on about the tunes we’ve been listening to. Check out some of our picks below.
Chris – Guitar
Show Me A Dinosaur – Sunflower
Terrible band name, great song. This is firmly in the vein of New Bermuda-era Deafheaven, with a similar vocal style and a similar warmth to the production – given that Deafheaven’s newest album didn’t click with me anywhere near as much as their previous material, this was a welcome find.
Chthonic – Rise of the Shadows
Mirror of Retribution is probably still my favourite album by Taiwanese black/death metallers Chthonic, with a stacked tracklist and fascinating themes of Taoist hell and myth. This song is crammed with absolutely huge riffs and perfectly-pitched vocals, making it a real standout on a great album.
With the Dead – Crown of Burning Stars
Lee Dorian is one of my favourite vocalists (OOH YEAHHH?!) and this project marries his classic vocals with utterly filthy, bone-crushingly heavy doom/sludge riffs. Seeing them at Roadburn in 2016 was a true treat, and this track is just pure Dorian heavy goodness.
Sabaton – Primo Victoria
Look, sometimes you just want to listen to cheesy power metal, okay? I’ve been watching a bunch of WW2 documentary content this month, and this track remains my unshakeable mental soundtrack to the D-Day landings thanks to a great sing-along chorus. TO THE GATES OF HELL!
Ibaraki – Tamashii No Houkai
I’ve been waiting for this for a long time – atmospheric black metal based on Japanese mythology, created by Matt Heafy (guitarist/vocalist of Trivium, who I fully idolised in my teenage years) with Ihsahn of Emperor. The first track from this project does not disappoint – it has similar vibes to Ihsahn’s heavier solo material, but you can clearly hear Heafy’s influence and penchant for vocal hooks as well. I’m excited to hear more!
Nick – Guitar
Boundaries – The Devil’s Breath
A tasty little hardcore track from last year with an outrageous breakdown in the second half. I listened to this on my walk to work and got there nearly ten minutes quicker than normal, not even kidding.
Dance With The Dead – Kiss of the Creature
Why did no one tell there was a synthwave/metal band inspired by John Carpenter? I mean I know that phrase applies to a lot of bands, but why did no one tell me about this one in particular?
Seven Nines and Tens – Fight For Your Right To Partial Relevance
A hidden gem discovered by chance scrolling through recent releases on Bandcamp. A band I’d never before heard of, SNaT are a grungy shoegaze post-metal via 70s psychedelic rock band and their new album is all trill and no fill, check it out.
Sleep Token/Loathe – Is It Really You?
My favourite band of 2021 covering my favourite band of 2020. Have I slipped into a coma and started experiencing my wildest dreams or something?
Devin Townsend Band – Deadhead
After several years of light encouragement, I finally relented and listened/was forced to listen to a track that Richard has often dubbed the greatest song ever written. I still stand my believe that the epithet belongs to ‘September’ by Earth Wind and Fire, but this track is pretty damn good, and proof were it ever needed that simple melodies with great harmony are without parallel.
Richard – Bass
Meshuggah – Stengah
The announcement of a new Meshuggah album has had me going back to the classics and absolutely rinsing them this past few weeks. Nothing is a favourite of mine for it’s unparalleled groove. Even now, well past the era of djent bands aping their guitar tones and some of their dizzying polyrhythms, there’s still no one who sounds like these truly alien machine beings. Crushing.
My Dying Bride – Christliar
Alongside a Meshuggah binge I’ve been having a bit of a MDB resurgence too, mainly after a long chat about them whilst hanging out with Joe from Ethereal Shroud recently. The Light at the End of the World is my go-to choice of album from them, and this track starts out in churning riff territory before evolving into a plaintive cry-fest, as per.
Ian William Craig – Contain [Astoria Version]
I discovered Ian William Craig at the end of last year and enjoyed getting dragged into his world of glitchy ambience, punctuated with a strong melodicism and some haunting vocals. It’s like a little lost robot singing lonesome tunes from the centre of an electrical storm on a distant planet. Or something.
Anomalie – Vision V: Starless Nights
Riff-driven post-black metal from the live guitarist for Harakiri for the Sky. Catchy melodies, tons of emotion, heavy riffs – you don’t need much more. Whole album (you guessed it: it’s called Visions) recommended as a cohesive experience.
Woman is the Earth – Lungcrusher
Atmospheric black metal from the WITTR playbook, but with some nice textural and compositional intricacies that make it their own. Good shit.
Luke – Drums
Arch Echo – Red Letter
As I’ve come to expect from this band, their new single makes me feel like I’m having a lot of fun in a djenty, jazzy video game. This band just know how to make me smile.
Meshuggah – Abysmal Eye
They are back in full force with a heavy, driving master piece. The classic Meshuggah approach of polymeters builds up to some really fun rhythmic stuff in the middle of the song before calming back down to pure headbanging groove which I cannot wait to experience live!
Timely as ever, a few of us have selected our album highlights from last year. As ever, we were spoiled for quality new music and we’re so thankful to every artist who made the year more bearable. A track from each of our picks is included in the Spotify playlist too, for you to get stuck into as you read…
Chris – Guitar
Every year, I struggle with the pull between listening to new music and going back to my comfort listens – especially given the state of the world, there’s a lot to be said for the warm blanket of an album that you know inside and out. It was tough to populate a top 10 list this year, but that isn’t a reflection on the number of quality releases – more my relative inability to absorb new albums particularly fast! Nevertheless, here are the ten albums that particularly stuck with me this year and soundtracked a tumultuous, terrible, and sometimes triumphant 2021.
10. Panopticon – …And Again Into the Light
Folk and metal, the two great tastes that taste great together. Except, despite my 10-year history in Northern Oak, I’ve always been quite leery of the “mead and wenches” variety of folk metal which favours cheesiness over actually trying to write good songs. Thank fuck, then, for Panopticon – a solo project from Austin Lunn, who mashes together mournful American folk/bluegrass with melodic black metal and does a damn fine job of it. Powerful, relentless and cathartic.
9. Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry
I’d probably class this as more of an EP than an album, at 36 minutes – but quibbling aside, it’s a tumultuous blast of fierce post-black metal with a staunchly antifascist/pro-LGBTQ stance that ticks a lot of my boxes. If I have one criticism it’s that the vocals are mixed a little too low, which means they’re occasionally overpowered by the music – having seen them live earlier in the year I know that vocalist Abi has some serious lungs, so hopefully they’ll address that on future releases.
8. Noctule – Wretched Abyss
“Melodic black metal inspired by the videogame Skyrim” feels like the most “me” sentence ever written, and I’m pleased to confirm that this solo album from Serena Cherry of Svalbard absolutely nailed the brief – every track on this release evokes the wintry mountains of Skyrim, wrapped in atmospheric production and peppered with soaring leads. Serena is apparently working on more tracks for a follow-up, which is great news!
7. Maybeshewill – No Feeling is Final
I wasn’t expecting to get a new Maybeshewill album this year – the last I heard, the band had split up, so this was a delightful surprise. It doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of their previous releases (particularly the extremely post-rock-titled I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone) but it’s still a very well-constructed chunk of ambient post-rock from a band with masterful control over their sound.
6. Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
Just scraping into consideration (by virtue of being released in January 2021, which feels like a decade ago and yesterday all at once) is this follow-up to the incredible Down Below – and while it doesn’t quite match up to the previous album, it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Tribulation’s sound is hard to pigeonhole easily – guttural death vocals and some pretty bouncy riffs and melodic guitar lines – but it’s absolutely, 100% my shit.
5. CHVRCHES – Screen Violence
CHVRCHES are probably the most consistent band I know – every album they’ve released has a high number of bangers and is overall very enjoyable. Screen Violence just continues that trend – it doesn’t really stray from their formula, but when the formula works so well, why should it? This was another album that I kept coming back to this year – it falls into the “comfort listening” category for me, and I’m excited to (hopefully) see them live in 2022.
4. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue
If Taylor Swift got into djent, it’d probably sound a bit like this. Delightful pop vocals on top of some big, meaty riffs – crucially, this album doesn’t fall into the trap of recycling tired breakdown after tired breakdown, which is what often turns me off djent. They’re comfortable with melodic riffs that compliment the soaring vocals, and know when to apply light and shade. Now, does anybody have Tay-Tay’s number so I can talk to her about guesting on the next Ba’al album..?
3. Daniel Hart – The Green Knight (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I listen to a lot of soundtracks (both movie and videogame) because I love the way that music can deepen my appreciation of another piece of media. In the case of The Green Knight, the music was absolutely integral to the whole (spellbinding) experience I had with the film – it complimented the bleak, fantastical landscapes perfectly and suffused the whole thing with an otherworldly medieval vibe. The OST stands alone as a worthwhile listen even if you haven’t watched the movie, which is a rare feat.
2. VOLA – Witness
I’d never heard of VOLA before 2021 – Luke mentioned them in our band chat so I went to check out this album, and was absolutely blown away by it. The main thing that characterises Witness is extremely catchy hooks, both vocally and musically – this is music to sing along to in the car, but with the added frisson of some excellent djent-inspired breakdowns and proggy time signature fuckery. Highly recommended, but be warned, you won’t be able to get the choruses out of your head…
1. Wolves in the Throne Room – Primordial Arcana
Less ambient and drifting than their previous albums, with a greater sense of urgency and snarl, but without sacrificing the atmosphere – I think Primordial Arcana is my new favourite Wolves album, narrowly beating out the transcendent Celestial Lineage. I decided not to listen to this album until I could sit down with the vinyl and give it my full attention – and then I kept coming back to it throughout the back half of 2021, finding new things to love each time. Listen to this album, journey into the mountains and revel in the magick and majesty of nature.
Richard – Bass
2021 has been another bumper year for great music. I listened to 75 albums this year, which is a total I’m very pleased with. As ever, a top 10 was an incredible challenge, and I had about 30 that could have made it in… Those that came closest were Hong Kong Express (specifically ‘L.Y.F’ out of the several albums he released this year), Ed Scissor & Lamplighter, Mol, The Hyena Kill, Amenra, Emma Ruth Rundle, Wolves in the Throne Room, Autarkh, Hellish Form and finally the album with which I had the most stupid fun this year: Kurupt FM.
10. Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
Stripping away almost all of the industrial/drone/metal elements to her sound this time around, Lingua Ignota continues to make some of the most emotionally punishing and anguished left-field music going. The orchestrations and additional instruments this time around allow for both some of her most beautiful music so far as well as some of the most sinister and disturbing. Listening back to this after the revelations came out about Kristin’s horrifying personal ordeals this past few years, it’s impossible not to be deeply moved and powerfully affected. Not an easy listen.
9. Violet Cold – Empire of Love
As I’ve mentioned here before, this is the album that finally got me properly into Violet Cold and had me exploring his other records, where before I’d been so-so on what I knew. I’d be lying if the blatantly pro-equality and anti-fascist message (shown in the face of great adversity) wasn’t part of the reason I like this album so much, but it’s mainly just the overall euphoric, passionate and uplifting feel to this exploratory and eclectic post-black metal. Earlier this year I was sure this would be top 3 material, but over time I’ve realised I’m not the biggest fan of the first couple of tracks, which feel a bit clunky. The rest is stellar, though.
8. Other Joe – Jealousy Tulip
Other Joe is an ambient artist I discovered from a BandCamp email a few years back and one who I’ve enjoyed since, but never would have expected to end up in my albums of the year. In truth this was battling it out with Hong Kong Express’ album L.Y.F. for this spot in my top 10, as they both fill similar needs in my listening life: atmospheric, otherworldly, slightly melancholic, nostalgic and urban soundscapes. In the end, Jealousy Tulip won out just because of it’s more varied textures and more forthright beats which lend a slight sense of the sinister to some tracks.
7. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
There’s a pattern emerging: this is another album I would never have expected to make it to my top 10, but here we are. I enjoyed Billie’s debut in 2019 when it first made waves, but aside from the standout, bass-heavy bangers, I didn’t go back to it too much. On her second outing, there’s a lot more variety and pretty much all of it lands for me. Sure, the aforementioned minimal bass wobbles aren’t there so much this time, but there are plenty of sultry grooves, atmospheric and soulful pop cuts and even a climactic outburst of heartfelt rock. The mid-album spoken word callout to all those who unfairly malign her for her appearance is just the cherry on top that makes Happier Than Ever even greater.
6. Rivers of Nihil – The Work
Whilst I did really enjoy 2018’s tech-death sax-fest Where Owls Know My Name, I never quite fully boarded the hype train and found it a little bit sterile after a while and stopped going back to it. Enter The Work, one of the most bafflingly ambitious releases I heard this year. There’s still plenty of technical brutality (and still a little sax goodness), but this time around there’s also a ton of other stuff going on, ranging from spacey synth noises, classic heavy metal leads, rich ambient textures and everything in between. Describing it accurately is pretty hard as I still don’t feel like I’ve fully got my head around it yet, but what I do know is that it is excellent.
5. Der Weg Einer Freheit – Noktvrn
This is by far the least surprising pick on my list, as I’ve been banging on about my undying love for DWEF since I was put onto them in mid-2019. On Noktvrn, the Germans continue their mastery of wringing immensely powerful atmospheres out of unstoppably powerful, precise and high definition black metal battery. Though it doesn’t quite match up to their previous effort – one of my favourite black metal records of all time – the range on display this time is wider, taking in some electronica, increased clean vocals and some other brief, surprising turns, making it something fresh for the band without sacrificing any of their strengths.
4. Voices – Breaking the Trauma Bond
For my penultimate surprise (to myself) for the year, I was taken aback at how much this album got under my skin. Successfully mixing the gothic and melody-focused elements of their last album with a return to the brutality of the stunning London that preceded it, Breaking the Trauma Bond is equal parts infectious hook and savage death metal riffery. Each time I listened to this album I forgot just how many strong moments there are, and how many of the random tunes I’d had in my head in the previous week were from it. Yes, it’s possibly a bit long, but it’s catchy, aggressive and steeped in the band’s unique voice (SEE WHAT I DID THERE).
3. Black Country, New Road – For the First Time
I’ve spoken about this album at length already, including reviewing it for an online publication, but I still can’t stop adding my voice to the burgeoning critical response this band are getting from all manner of people much cooler than me. Mash up some Slint, Oxbow, Swans, Black Midi and Jewish klezmer music, add a rambling and warbling storyteller up front and wrap it all up into the shape of a band who are young enough to make you want to throw all of your instruments away and give up and you’ll get close to this post-everything collective of musical wizards.
2. BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is Burning and Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again
The final time I’ll say I surprised myself this year is here. After hearing about them from that mind-bogglingly stacked ArcTanGent lineup (god I hope I actually get to go this year), I checked this out and was blown away – post rock almost never grabs me as much as this did on first listen. It’s simultaneously doing what the greats have done before (think the expansive tones of Godspeed! You Black Emperor with some of the bubbling electronics of 65daysofstatic) and doing something that feels totally fresh, all within an absolute cavern of reverb and drenched with passion. The band are strongly anti-Spotify, so they’re not on our playlist, but I urge you to head to their BandCamp and listen to ‘Industry’.
1. Daniel Avery – Together in Static
Nick – Guitar
10. Ethereal Shroud – Trisagion
This album would have been higher up my list but unfortunately Richard played bass on it which is obviously extremely uncool, so unfortunately it will have to settle for tenth. Jokes aside this is quite simply an astounding work of bleak music, using an array of stylistic tools to navigate an intense emotional journey. I understand that Trisagion was the product of many years of work, and it can only be said that the time put into this album was worth it, it’s about as good as blackened doom gets.
9. Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Grey Area was one of my favourite hip-hop albums of 2019, and Introvert is without doubt my favourite of 2022. Anchored by some excellent production and intimate lyricism, this album presents an artist at the peak of her powers and she only seems to be getting stronger.
8. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe – Bloodmoon: I
Two artists that I like but have never particularly loved combine to create an album that I inexplicably adore. That’s the story of Bloodmoon: I. The album is the centrepiece of a Venn diagram of the two, with stunning vocals from Wolfe and intricate, haunting aggression from the Converge crew. Bloodmoon: 1 implies that there may be a Bloodmoon: 2 – here’s hoping anyway.
7. Erdve – Savigaila
Probably the heaviest slab of absolute disgust I heard all year, which says a lot given my inclination towards disgusting slabs. Albums like this blur the lines between hardcore, sludge, metal and basically anything you would define as heavy, to the point at which it deserves its own genre I have ingeniously coined “heavy ass shit”.
6. Five The Hierophant – Through Aureate Void
I have a thing for post-metal with brass and woodwind instruments, so I Stan this album hard. It probably would have been my post-metal album of the year based just on the bits that were ‘metal’ anyway but the bits that aren’t ‘metal’ push it into a whole other void (audible groans from around the room).
5. Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
Recent revelations made the impact of this album all the more insidious. This is about as emotionally raw that music comes and I’ve never heard tragedy portrayed in such a devastating manner as this. Chilling and beautiful in equal measure, there really is no one quite like Kristen Hayter. Her story will leave its mark on extreme music for generations, of that I am sure.
4. VOLA – Witness
I was a relative latecomer to the VOLA hypetrain, discovering them around the time that Applause of a Distant Crowd released. I was immediately enamoured and the wait for new material felt like an age. Whilst certainly not the proggiest, nor the heaviest, nor the poppiest prog band around, they’re among the finest songwriters the genre has to offer, consistently ploughing out some of the hardest hitting riffs and most euphoric choruses you’ll hear out of the genre. Pretty much as soon as ‘Head Mounted Sideways’ dropped I was already considering this album as a potential AOTY contender, then they released the whole album and their spot was confirmed.
3. Biffy Clyro – The Myth of the Happily Ever After
For a band 27 years (I know right) into their career to still sound so youthful and dynamic is a testament to one of the finest alt-rock bands the UK has ever produced. Their first taste of proper mainstream success over a decade ago could have seen them tumble into a vat of mediocrity, as is so often the case. I saw them headline Leeds Festival back in 2013 when they started to hit their commercial peak and drift away from the proggy peculiarity that we all loved. But here they still are sounding as fresh and unique as ever, trying new things and believing enough in their own sound to bring them success.
2. Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders/The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
3 artists of wildly different genres combine to sound like they’d been playing together for decades. Whilst Sanders effectively acts as the album’s voice, performing with incomparable soul, the work of Floating Points and The London Symphony Orchestra is a dynamic and intricate centrepiece in its own right, and is perhaps one of the finest collaborations of classical and electronic music ever produced. As an album you could loosely define as ambient, I thought I’d give this album a go whilst I did some work. I got no work done.
1. Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Probably the most divisive name on my list, Sleep Token were nevertheless my most streamed artist of 2021, and the only band I’ve been to see live as a punter in a good few years, so I can’t argue against this album taking the top spot. Their saccharine brand of pop, post-rock and djent may not be for everyone, but none can deny that Vessel carries an astounding voice, and boy do this band know how to turn you into a blubbery mess. This Place Will Become Your Tomb is the break-up album you never knew you needed.
One final playlist from us before the year is out. Get decidedly un-festive with us below as some of us detail what we’ve been listening to recently.
Nick – Guitar
Kowloon Walled City – Splicing
I love the raw emptiness of this new album, between the simplicity of its instrumentation, the closeness of the production and the honesty of the performances, it’s one that makes you feel like you’re just sat in the room with them. And dang if that guitar tone ain’t fucking great I don’t know what is.
Emma Ruth Rundle – Return
As per the above, there’s such a delicate intimacy to this. You can hear every vocal wobble and all the natural ambience of playing music on wooden contrivance. This is not an album that slaps in the traditional sense but the sentiment remains the same.
Bohren & der Club of Gore – The Art of Coffins
Recently fallen down the rabbit hole of darkjazz thanks in no small part to this band (and of course The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble). I think I may have found my new favourite niche.
Chelsea Carmichael – All We Know
Delicious slice of psychedelic jazz and a late contender for album of the year. Beautiful harmony of acoustic jazz and subtle layers of electronics and noise make this such an interesting yet satisfying listen.
Poppy – Bloom
Just a great song to be honest. A little less garish than her usual output and stands as proof that she is an all round great songwriter, whether she’s mashing up genres or not. The chorus vocals stayed with me for quite a while after I first heard this one.
Chris – Guitar
Heaven & Hell – Bible Black
Show me someone who doesn’t love Dio and I’ll show you a person without joy in their life. This album is stuffed with prime Iommi riffs and a lovely, weighty production to compliment the mighty vocals. You’re reading from the Bible Black!!
Maybeshewill – The Weight of Light
I had no idea we were getting a new Maybeshewill album, so this was a pleasant discovery – both their previous albums (Not For Want of Trying and I Was Here For A Moment) are spectacular, and this just continues the standard. Great instrumental post-rock.
Two Man Advantage – Bastard of the Ice
Sometimes you need a hardcore punk who write songs exclusively about ice hockey to brighten up your month. Enter Two Man Advantage, a band who are very good at just that. I don’t have any deep observations here, I just love ice hockey and music associated with it!
Bon Iver – Perth
Tranquil, fragile indie folk from one of my favourite albums ever released. I managed to pick up a vinyl of this and it was a joy to revisit it again – every song is full of inherent sadness but also hope, a kind of wistful, transportive longing for simpler times.
Aoife Fhearraigh – The Best is Yet To Come
Celtic folk-pop with a beautiful, soaring vocal line. I confess that my attachment to this is largely because it plays over the end credits of one of the best videogames ever made (Metal Gear Solid) but it’s an excellent song in it’s own right and worth your time.
Richard – Bass
Kelly Lee Owens – On
After many COVID-based reschedules, I finally got to see Kelly Lee Owens live recently and it was magical. Whilst there are some artists around who mix dreamy, atmospheric pop with harder dance music, you’d be hard pushed to find any that go as far into the banging house and techno beats as Owen does, and live those moments were absolutely pounding. This track pretty well summarises the two extremes of her sound; if you listen to just the start and then just the end they don’t sound like the same song, and yet as a whole piece it flows perfectly.
Porcupine Tree – Anaesthetize
Somehow I’m the only one in Ba’al excited by the Porcupine Tree reunion, but I’m going to keep shouting about it anyway (even though the exclusion of Colin Edwin and John Wesley is quite criminal), and protest via the medium of a 17min song. As much as In Absentia is their best album for me – in fact, one of the best of all time – for some reason it’s the chorus to this epic that I’ve had stuck in my head since scrambling to buy tickets for their one (!) UK show next September (!).
Recoil – Shunt
Recoil is a project by Alan Wilder, formerly of Depeche Mode, who turns his hand to dark trip-hop meanderings to great effect. Though the album that this track is from, Unsound Methods, loses it’s way a bit in the middle with some bizarre and clunkily written spoken word about shagging, when they nail it these sultry grooves stand up against the greats of the genre.
Opeth – The Grand Conjuration
Though Ghost Reveries is far from my top Opeth album, it’s taken on a new meaning recently due to the loss of a close friend of ours, who sadly passed away last month. Thanks to a very generous family, I wound up with his CD of this album and I’ve been jamming it in my car in his memory. RIP Dario, gone far too soon.
CHVRCHES – Asking for a Friend
Since my two top picks for this month weren’t on Spotify (BRUIT ≤ and Anti-God Hand – both amazing bands you should check out on BandCamp), I’ve added in this cut from the most recent CHVRCHES album. As an album I think it’s a bit inconsistent compared to their earlier stuff, but the best tracks absolutely go toe-to-toe with the band’s all-time bangers, and this is one of them.
We’re back from our tour, we’re writing new music and there are lots of exciting things going on. One thing that never changes, though, is our love for blasting out tunes, so here’s what some of us have been listening to this month.
Richard – Bass
Gozer – Crown Eater (this one’s not on Spotify – get it sorted lads. For now you can stream/download it from BandCamp here)
An obvious choice to kick things off with, following our UK tour with Gozer last month. These guys have been like family to us for years, so to spend a week on the road with them was sublime. Since coming back I’ve been absolutely rinsing this, their debut single under their current moniker. It goes hard like Amenra, with some filthy bass grooves to underpin it all. Having had a sneak peak at their upcoming material, I can say now that you absolutely need to keep a weather eye out for what comes next from this trio of lampshade enthusiasts.
Dødheimsgard – 21st Century Devil
This month’s edition of ‘legendary band that Richard has only just listened to for the first time’. It’s got the buzzing riffs of mid-career Dimmu that I love, mixed with tons of electronics and some dumb, fun industrial metal grooves. Hefty and silly in just the right measures.
Leftfield – Black Flute
Leftism is a record my partner got me into a couple of years ago and it’s one I’ve been blasting in my car recently. Unbeatable 90s dance vibes with some real power alongside the good times.
Deafheaven – Other Language
Deafheaven’s shedding of almost all of their black metal elements and their transformation into a fully-fledged shoegaze band makes total sense given the direction they were already heading in on the last record, and yet it still took me a little by surprise. However, a few spins in, I’m definitely a fan. Whilst I’m far from one of the deniers who think the only good bit of the album is right at the end when they briefly bring back the shrieking, I do think that the album’s highlights are when they add some quasi-metal weight into the guitar tones, and this is one of a few tracks in the middle where the balance is just right for me.
Ross From Friends – R.A.T.S.
Whilst I invest time getting stuck into his new album, I’ve also been revisiting the debut album from this Essex techno/house maestro and preparing to finally see him live next year, having had previous plans ruined multiple times by COVID. Good vibes, slick grooves, hard kicks. Get into it.
Joe – Vocals
Chris – Guitar
Septicflesh – The Vampire from Nazareth
I watched Midnight Mass this month (it was very good), and I couldn’t get this song out of my head the entire time. Beefy symphonic death metal = YES PLEASE.
Green Lung – Old Gods
Really vibing with the new Green Lung – psych-sludge-doom with tasty vocals.
Zeal & Ardor – Götterdämmerung
At this point Zeal & Ardor could fart into a microphone for 3 minutes and I’d probably love it, but my bias aside, this new track off their upcoming 4th album absolutely slaps.
Florence & The Machine – Stand By Me
Florence & The Machine’s own songs are fantastic (High As Hope is a phenomenal album) but this cover, done for the videogame Final Fantasy XV of all places, really showcases just how impressively huge her vocal talents are.
Bolt Thrower – World Eater
Sometimes you just need to listen to sloppy, 80s, Warhammer 40K-inspired death metal. Blood for the blood god!
Nick – Guitar
Biffy Clyro – Unknown Male 01
There are few bands that can adopt as many genres into their repertoire as seamlessly as Biffy Clyro, especially considering how uniquely like Biffy they always sound. The range on display on their new album is mesmerising, and I honestly believe they could release entire albums devoted to each of their stylistic bases and do so with as much creativity as most other bands could hope to achieve.
Wolves In The Throne Room – Spirit of Lightning
Wolves In The Throne Room are a band that I should love and yet I’ve never quite gotten into them as much as perhaps I could. Whether it’s because I’ve not been patient enough to engage with them or otherwise I’m not sure. Regardless, Primordial Arcana is the first album of theirs that I truly connected with (Thrice Woven came close). Maybe I’ve finally passed the threshold and will begin to appreciate them as much as their reputation deserves.
Aging – The Trapped Man
I’ve been consuming a lot of noir fiction of late, including watching a great Korean series called ‘My Name’ and getting completely lost within the world of ‘Disco Elysium’ on switch (sorry to my partner for being so absorbed in this lately). This album is the perfect companion piece to the grim mystique of this stylish genre. As I listened to this exquisitely smooth and intriguing jazz album, I couldn’t help but picture myself larking about in a trench coat and solving crimes whilst wrestling an addiction of some variety.
Monolord – The Weary
The kings of writing massive tracks devoted to the riff. This album ranks as perhaps their strongest yet in my opinion, with some genuine ear worms that I still haven’t shaken off. Hails.
Miki Matsubara – Stay With Me
Apparently this track has seen a massive resurgence recently and it’s no surprise because dang this shit is catchy. What a gem and I’m so glad I discovered it.
As we prepare for tour, we’re still blasting bangers at high volumes to all nearby parties. Here’s what some of us have been spinning of late, with our waffle on why we like it.
Richard – Bass
Triptykon – Myopic Empire
Recently I’ve gone in on Triptykon for the first time, having remembered how much I liked the final Celtic Frost album, and I can’t believe this has been missing from my life all this time. Suffocating doom with a heavy gothic edge, filtered through Tom G Warrior’s signature buzzing guitar tone, housed in the trappings of black metal and backed up by some chunky riffs that are basically death metal beatdowns. UGH.
Kurupt FM – A Million
People Just Do Nothing very quickly became one of my all-time favourite British TV shows when I discovered it a few years ago, so getting the film and the album from The Best MC in the Galaxy and his crew within a few months of eachother has been a real treat. Yes, it’s very funny stuff, but the boldly titled debut release Greatest Hits (Part 1) is genuinely full of bangers that bring a shiny modern production to the sounds of UK Garage, early grime and dubstep from the Golden Era of 1997-2001. Kurupt FM: the rest are irrelevant.
Kimyan Law – Seven Ant Foley
Nominally a drum’n’bass artist, Kimyan Law’s composition are so much more free and technicolour than that tag implies. Restrained, atmospheric and yet full of bounce and groove, this is just my kind of electronic music: adventurous, but still focused on Big Beats, which, as we all know, are the best (get high all the time).
Gaerea – Whispers
Fiery and spirited black metal with the downtuned, meaty guitar tone of a sludge band and some of the sensibilities of post metal. Make no mistake, this is immediate and aggressive stuff, but it’s filthy underbelly will get it’s hooks deep into you.
Путь – Волос твоих пепел, Рахиль
Atmospheric black metal with an accordion. That sentence plus the hilarious painting of a skeleton playing an accordion in the snow on the album cover should have you intrigued enough to check it out. If you’re not sold, though, I’ll add that the accordion is far away from your usual, cheesy folk metal fare, and is actually a sparingly used and effective textural element to flesh out a convincing and pretty powerful atmospheric black metal sound. Come for the gimmick, stay for the quality.
Chris – Guitar
Hail Spirit Noir – Visitors of Horror
The masters of spooky theremin metal are back! As ever, this is catchy as shit and I love their sound – coupled with the artwork, it has the vibe of a low-budget 80s horror movie, which is perfect for this time of the year.
Spiritbox – The Summit
“What if Taylor Swift did djent” is a sentence that popped into my head to describe Spiritbox after our other guitarist Nick recommended them to me – this track is the exemplar of that, with a vocal line that seriously wouldn’t sound out of place on a Tay-Tay album but crossed with BIG RIFFS. A delight!
Amplifier – Cat’s Cradle
Bit of a throwback here, for some reason the chorus of this track popped into my head and wouldn’t go away until I’d listened to it thoroughly this month. Fun psychedelic fuzz-rock, and the lead singer/guitarist has the distinction of possessing the most ridiculously OTT pedalboard I’ve ever seen anyone use.
Daniel Hart ft. Emma Tring – Aiganz O Kulzphazur
This track comes from the soundtrack of The Green Knight, one of my most-anticipated movies of the year (hell, I’ll say it: of all time) – the movie absolutely didn’t disappoint, because it’s phenomenal, and this song is a highpoint of a very good soundtrack. The vocal line is absolutely beautiful and haunting, and it perfectly captures the vibe of the film – lush greenery, tormented knights and the misty mountains of Albion.
Rina Sawayama – Enter Sandman
Controversial statement time: this is the best version of Enter Sandman that’s ever been done. Literally my only (minor) complaint is that it’s been brickwalled (like basically every mainstream pop song), but Rina clearly understood the brief because this is HEAVY, and her vocals are perfect for it. I feel no shame in the more basic elements of my music taste – have fun with your krieg two-man forest BM recorded at the bottom of a well, elitists, I’ll be over here singing along to Metallica!
Nick – Guitar
Little Simz – Introvert
This track sets the tone for what is probably my favourite hip-hop album of the year. The production is amazing, Simz’ lyrics and delivery is amazing, it’s just generally amazing, so yeah, go listen to it.
Chvrches – How Not to Drown (feat. Robert Smith)
I think this new album is the best thing Chvrches have ever done, and this track featuring the absolute DON epitomises that. What else is there to say?
Lut – Mersmark
Maybe it’s a bit ignorant of me to say they sound like a cross between Kvelertak and the Hives based on their overall sound and the fact that they’re all very loosely connected geographically, but they do basically sound like that so I’m not wrong. I can only imagine these would be a sweet band to catch live, this album has so much frenetic energy which would translate so well to the kind of sweat box show that COVID doesn’t really allow for at the moment.
Sleep Token – Hypnosis
This week’s most polarising band just so happens to be a band I dig the fuck out of. Their new album is a solid continuation of Sundowning, offering a ton of haunting vocals from Vessel and a fair few stacked riffs. This track in particular is clearly taking notes from Deftones and is a definite highlight. They may not be everyone’s bag but if you like it then who the flip cares?
Biffy Clyro – End Of
Underrated may be a push given how popular and critically lauded they generally are, but I can’t help but feel like Biffy get overlooked when we talk about great bands of the last 20 years. Without doubt one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live and even after 15 or so years and about 8 albums, they’re still flirting with the mainstream AND dropping mental bangers, and they’re doing both better than most bands can even do one.
As we’ve passed the midway point of the year now, we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favourite albums of the year so far, if nothing else to make our final lists in December slightly easier. Read on for some of our picks, with a Spotify playlist of a song from each.
Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound (Chris)
Tribulation’s last album (Down Below) grabbed me instantly, so I was excited for new material from them – and this album didn’t disappoint. Big, crunchy, melodic riffs paired with harsh death-doom vocals – it’s just great, okay?
Erdve – Savigaila (Nick)
Probably the heaviest shit I’ve heard all year, and with only a few months of the year left, 2021 is going to have a hard time topping it. If my brief research into the meanings of Lithuanian words was accurate, ‘Erdve’ translates as space, and if that is the case, they represent the chaos and discomfort of the great unknown.
Black Country, New Road – For The First Time (Richard)
Hailed by many as the second coming of Slint, Black Country, New Road are purpose-built to debunk the jaded music fan who thinks all modern music is predictable toss. Bits of free jazz, klezmer, Oxbow, Swans, Black Midi, divisive and wobbly spoken word vocals and much more swirl around in this arguably very pretentious, inarguably very adventurous and subjectively very excellent post-everything album.
Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon (Chris)
Their first new release in 13 years since 2008’s fantastic Board Up The House, this came largely out of nowhere – I had no idea Genghis Tron had new material in the pipeline. It’s stunning – I can’t easily categorise their sound (glitchy electro-grind? Noise-rock? Other wanky genre descriptors?) but that doesn’t matter when the songs are this good.
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (Nick)
I’d heard talk of this album so frequently that it was bordering on being hyped to the point of disappointment, but I don’t think any number of superlatives will ever do this album justice. Just a perfect blend of grandiose classical, poignant electronics, and soulful jazz, lovely.
WOWOD – Yarost’ I Proshchenie (Richard)
Veering between majestic post metal a-la The Ocean, monolithically filthy doom riffs and furious blackened hardcore, this Russian outfit really caught me by surprise by wrapping up some of my favourite metal sounds into a devastating and gigantically produced whole.
Kauan – Ice Fleet (Chris)
I discovered Kauan through Spotify – their last album Kaiho was a fragile, wintry thing of beauty, and Ice Fleet continues in that vein before building up to some beautiful post-rock crescendoes. Put it on, relax and let the atmosphere wash over you like the frozen waves of the North sea.
Alfa Mist – Bring Backs (Nick)
A beautiful collision of jazz and hip-hop and a great compliment to a mellow Sunday afternoon. I picked this album at complete random whilst flicking through the Bandcamp charts. I can only assume that divine intervention led me to this album, I don’t think anything but fate could be responsible for such a pleasing encounter.
Violet Cold – Empire of Love (Richard)
As I’ve mentioned in a previous playlist blog, this is the album that really got me invested in Violet Cold, my interest in them previously having been limited to “yeah they’re pretty good”. Of course I love how much the artwork and message of the album is riling the most closed-minded corners of the black metal world, but mainly I just love the impassioned melodies, soaring textures and lack of fear of experimentation with genres. At this stage in the genre’s existence it’s a great feeling to still find genuinely exciting new blackgaze.
Vola – Witness (Chris)
I only discovered Vola this year – either through a Spotify recommendation or through our drummer, Luke, I can’t remember which. Nevertheless, this album is absolutely phenomenal – big riffs, big vocal hooks, catchy melodies. It’s the kind of thing you want to crank up loud and sing along to while driving through open countryside, or maybe that’s just me?
Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams (Nick)
Here comes the wholesome record of the year. Arlo has revealed herself as one of the most formidable voices in quaint, summery, lounge pop with stunningly arranged portraits of her brief but eventful life thus far. Loyle Carner vibes, which is never a bad thing.
Daniel Avery – Together in Static (Richard)
Known mainly as a big time UK DJ trading the largest of beats in the darkest of rooms, Avery’s newest outing combines his penchant for tech-house bangers with a surprisingly reflective, heart-warming and non-specifically nostalgic vibe that will catch you right in the feels whilst you’re grooving to the kicks. The industrial floor-fillers are balanced by some luscious ambient techno tracks and all bases are covered with an immense attention to detail.
Noctule – Wretched Abyss (Chris)
“Atmospheric black metal inspired by the videogame Skyrim from the vocalist of Svalbard” is a sentence that I never thought I’d see, and yet here we are. The result is a genuinely excellent album that rises above any sort of “videogame-inspired” gimmick – plenty of melody to build atmosphere, and it captures the frostbitten feeling of Skyrim’s locations perfectly.
Five The Hierophant – Through Aureate Void (Nick)
Post-metal album of the year for me (don’t have an aneurysm, Amenra stans!). Sits restlessly on the psychedelic deck of the riff bus and the destination is Anglosaxophoneland, the land of the Anglo-Saxophones.
Ed Scissor & Lamplighter – Joysville (Richard)
The impending return of my favourite UK rapper and his inseparable producer has excited me all year and it doesn’t disappoint. As with all of his releases to date, Ed stands well apart from the rest of the UK hip-hop crowd with his dark and unknowable tales of grim and gritty reality delivered with his uniquely deep and despondent drawl. Lay these bars over Lamplighter’s atmospheric and no less abstract electronic tapestries and you have a sound I truly cannot get enough of.
With a semblance of normality gradually returning, we’re gearing up for gigs and the like, but we’re still blasting bangers at home. Here’s our playlist this month, featuring our newly unveiled guitarist Chris’ picks, too.
Joe – Vocals
The Ruins of Beverast – Kromlech Knell
The Ruins of Beverast evoke the feeling of being trapped in an enormous ancient burial chamber where the dead may not be as restful as you’d hoped… and that’s really fucking cool.
Ondskapt – A Graveyard Night
More traditional mid-paced black metal, but it’s strength is in its subtly. It’s eerie, dark and brooding.
Together To The Stars – Timeless
Melodic blackened metal with a post hardcore vocal. It’s strangely beautiful and positive in its tone.
Iotuun – The Weaver System
Hugely grandiose, Iotuun have been a recent revelation for. The science fiction theme and gorgeous combination of operatic and harsh vocal is exquisite, topped off by the melancholic undertone of this particular track.
Slipknot – Everything Ends
Iowa was the soundtrack to my final year at secondary school and to embracing the notion that there was nothing wrong with being who I was. This song in particular captured the obnoxious defiance of that moment of realisation I had as an angry fifteen year old. RIP Joey.
Nick – Guitar
Four Stroke Baron – Friday Knight
What a great piece of prog pop/metal. Cool riffs, great vocal lines and solid production from Devin Townsend. These are a band I’m completely new to so colour me delighted that they already have two albums released with a third on the way, from which this track is a single.
Puppy – Arabella
I’ve always wanted to catch Puppy live and on the two occasions I planned to go see them, my plans were scuppered by having to play gigs with Ba’al on the same nights. Every cloud and all that.
Møl – Photophobic
Their debut was one of the freshest black metal albums I’ve heard in a while and Photophobic sounds like another step forward. I’m loving the injection of more post-hardcore riffs and ideas on this track, I’m confident their new album is going to be off the chain.
Carpenter Brut – Roller Mobster
After occasionally dabbling with Carpenter Brut’s back catalogue for a while, it was playing Hotline Miami 2 that urged me to invest some proper time in it. Perfect synth wave soundtrack for assaulting a mob-owned nightclub with a machine gun in the 80s.
The Horrors – Lout
Did not expect The Horrors to release something this aggressive but I am 100% into it, they’ve nailed industrial noise rock, or whatever you want to call. A shame it’s only an EP but if their next album is anything like this it’s going to be much amaze.
Chris – Guitar
Lola Kirke – Monster
Atmospheric, echoey folk-pop. For me, this is at the same table as Taylor Swift’s Folklore in the cafeteria of my music tastes, and the chorus is a catchy one. Fun aside: Lola Kirke is also an actress, and having devoured all 5 seasons of Mozart in the Jungle (which she starred in as a professional oboist turned conductor), I have a MASSIVE crush on her.
Omega Massif – Unter Null
The cover art for the album this is taken from reminds me of a Martian landscape, and the music is an appropriate soundtrack – spacey atmosphere leading into cascading sludge riffs in the vein of Neurosis or Cult of Luna.
Lingua Ignota – PERPETUAL FLAME OF CENTRALIA
Lingua Ignota is in a bracket of musicians I mentally categorise as “hard to listen to” – not because their music is too complex or avant-garde for me to follow, but because the raw emotion they pour into their work can be overwhelming. This new track off her upcoming album is outwardly quite simple (moody piano and vocals), but it perfectly illustrates the maxim of “less is more” and will dig it’s way into your head.
Genghis Tron – Ritual Circle
There isn’t another band like Genghis Tron, and I can say that with certainty. Their style defies classification (it’s rooted in rock/metal, but touches on electronica, noise, glitch, drone, ambient) and this track from their new album Dream Weapon brings all those disparate influences together into a transcendent ten minute whole.
Slipknot – Duality
I couldn’t not include a Slipknot track on here – the death of Joey Jordison was a shock, and it highlighted how much his playing influenced a lot of people my age. I struggled to pick a favourite Slipknot song (there’s a long list to choose from), but ‘Duality’ definitely gave Joey plenty of room to show off and that chorus is absolutely chef’s kiss.
Richard – Bass
Slipknot – (Sic)
Had to include some Slipknot for obvious reasons. I was never as huge a Slipknot fan growing up as many of my metal friends were and are, but I still have a lot of time for the first two albums in particular, and the iconic half-time grooves and sick (!) fills on this banger stand up as as fitting a tribute to the maestro Joey as any.
Gruzja – Jeszcze nie mamy na was pomysłu II
Absolutely nailing an avant-garde mix of black metal and post-punk with a whole lot else besides, this album is a bizarre experience to which I was further won over by the fact that a Polish reviewer on Rate Your Music compared them to my other band, the considerably less-acclaimed Bleating Apocalypse. You’ll find bits that sounds like Rammstein, Shining (SWE), Mr Bungle, The Cure and a lot more… Go figure.
The Darkness – Hazel Eyes
Following the success of the hair metal excess and good time rock’n’roll of Permission to Land, The Darkness’ decided to make a second (and final pre-cocaine-downfall) album that throws away the rulebook entirely and goes off on several wonderful flights of fancy into absolute ridiculousness. This one in particular has been in my head recently, with it’s mixture of Celtic folk (with partial sincerity, but also large amounts of satire, and a comical Scottish accent) and the trademark big riffs and memorable solos. I say all this without a hint of irony, because The Darkness are one of the UK’s greatest exports and I will hear no other opinion.
Rafael Anton Irisarri – Bastion
A huge discovery for me this month has been the so-called ‘loud ambient’ of Rafael Anton Irisarri. Trading in overwhelmingly lush synthetic soundscapes, his music is made to get absolutely lost in. Truly superb.
AL-90 – Tvoya Pesnya
Like standing in the queue outside a club and listening to the catchy, rhythmic house grooves through the wall. Chilled out but with a pumping groove, this is 100% my vibe and another one I’ve had on repeat.
We’ve got an announcement coming very soon. In totally unrelated news that definitely in no way relates to that announcement, here’s another monthly playlist, featuring some more picks from our as yet unannounced new guitarist.
Joe – Vocals
Voices – Footsteps
Emotional closer to the last album Frightened hits hard. Very much looking forward to the new album this year.
Raging Speedhorn – Me and You Man
I love Speedhorn, one of the first bands I saw live. Consistently great fun and down to earth attitude, deserve to be much bigger than they are.
Bloodyard – Mortem
Lancaster old school death metal. Their livestreams have been a shining light during lockdown.
Cannibal Corpse – I Cum Blood
Sometimes you just fancy a classic…
Draconian – Moon Over Sabaoth
I’ve had this stuck in my head for ages now. Gothic majesty, haunting cleans and demonic growls make for a gorgeous bit of dark metal.
Richard – Bass
The Body – A Lament
Even by their own disgusting standards, the new Body album is pretty extreme in terms of pushing their equipment to breaking point in terms of volume and distortion, and it creates a really weird and uncomfortable extra edge to their already nasty sound. This track has a slightly Jesu-ish melodic aspect to it, too.
Hong Kong Express – Humid Summer
As is the case every year, the don of dreampunk/ambient vaporwave himself, Mr HKE/Hong Kong Express/Subaeris/about a billion other projects has released a stupid number of albums in 2021 already, and it’s a hefty task to separate out the stuff I actually want to listen to from his recent left turn into wilfully offputting nonsense. However, the album L.Y.F. is a step right back into his heyday of wonderfully atmospheric, melancholic, urban nostalgia.
Violet Cold – Be Like Magic
I’ve always liked Violet Cold but I’ve never been fully invested, and it’s the latest, strongly pro-equality, LGBTQIA+ focused album Empire of Love (and it’s inevitable pathetic backlash from the darkest and most closed-minded corners of the online metal community) that has prompted me to properly dive into the catalogue. This is my favourite off the new record, partly because it is just a gorgeous blackgaze track and also partly because of the troll-baiting electronic/rap section.
Kessler – Moonlight Branches
Take the euphoric, ambient-laden tech-house vibes of Bicep and turn up the drum’n’bass element and you’re pretty close to the infectiously melodic sound of Kessler. I simply cannot get enough of this new EP for big time vibes.
The Angelic Process – Coma Waering
It’s pretty unlike me for four out of my five tracks to be new releases, so I need to bring it back to the early 2000s here, and an enduring favourite record of mine that I’ve been getting immersed in again this month. Saturated to within an inch of it’s life, The Angelic Process’ sound is so sonically dense and overwhelming that Coma Waering feels more apocalyptic and overpowering than even the most outwardly evil and misanthropic of other metal bands could ever hope to be. If you’ve ever wondered what drowning in lava whilst having a religious experience would feel like, look no further.
Nick – Guitar
Tephra – How The West Was Lost
Oh how I wish this band would reunite, though I suspect the chances of that are close to nil. Still at least I have this, one of my all time favourite sludge records to fall back on.
Sleep Token – Alkaline
A fairly brief taster of what is to come on their upcoming second album, with Vessel’s outrageously strong vocals as ever being the focal point of the track. Would like to see some progression from Sundowning in the next few tracks that drop but this is a nice opening flavour.
Ride – Leave Them All Behind
A gem from the early days of shoegaze before they broke up and one of them joined Oasis. Such a move is forgiven by the grace of how good those first few Ride albums were.
Boss Keloid – Gentle Clovis
Honestly don’t think any sludge band are as instantly recognisable from a single riff as Boss Keloid, barring maybe Mastodon or Baroness, and they have worldwide on their side. Family The Smiling Thrush is yet another intricate garden of vivid, phosphorescent flora with some of the most exquisite musicianship and vocal prowess you’ll hear on any album this year.
Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
I don’t think this one really needs an explanation.
??? – Guitar
Sojourner – Perennial
You’re standing on a hillside. Behind you, a ruined keep crumbles into the earth, swallowed by greenery. Ahead, giants stalk the landscape, a monolithic and mysterious presence. The air smells of wet loam and moss. Suddenly, an ethereal voice pierces the air, uplifted in song – adventure awaits. This song is 100% my shit!
And So I Watch You From Afar – BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION
I spent much of this month trying to remember the name of this song/band, only remembering that it had a long and ebullient title and I enjoyed it. Once I rediscovered the band, I remembered why it stuck with me – bouncy, instrumental rock with an ear for a good hook and some big, lovely guitar chords.
Hail Spirit Noir – Mannequins
Hail Spirit Noir are one of my favourite bands (their last album Eden in Reverse is fantastic, weird, and unique) – this new track from them goes in much more of a synthwave direction, which isn’t what I was expecting, but it works. Come for the synth beats and floaty vocals, stay for the theremin.
Clutch – Electric Worry (Weathermaker Vault Series)
Clutch have an insanely deep discography and keep putting out album after album of bangers, but this track will always be one of their best. This re-recording captures the magic of the original while freshening up the production for guaranteed good vibes.
Zombi – Mangler
Another instrumental track, this was a Spotify discovery that just slaps – big atmosphere, some groove and a lot of interesting soundscapes to splash around in. Plus the cover has flying manta rays on and they’re one of my favourite aquatic creatures!
More songs and words from camp Ba’al, this time featuring some tracks picked by our as-yet-unrevealed new guitarist. Guesses on a postcard, please.
Nick – Guitar
Bossk – Menhir
This band. This fucking band. Bossk were my gateway to post metal and they’ve occupied a private room with a mini-fridge and snacks in my heart ever since. As one of the lucky few to have already heard their new album (low key journo flex) I’m here to say it proper slaps.
Erdve – Lavondėmės
Order yourself an ice cold slapuccino to go because this shit is heavy and it waits for no one. The Erdve bus has no designated stops, you just run and jump through the open windows and hope it throws you back out somewhere near your planned destination. It won’t matter once you’ve arrived though, your coffee is everywhere and you’ve been decapitated.
Eomac – What Does Your Heart Tell You?
This makes for a very pleasant interval. I asked some folks for something to fill my Max Cooper shaped IDM hole and Eomac delivered with a smile. Really great electronic album that flew under my radar.
Dystopia – Razernij, Deel I
A lot of people don’t like the brass instrumentation we’re getting more and more of in black metal these days, but I for one am completely hooked on that shit. Dicks out for the trumpet.
John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads
We watched Whisper of The Heart recently, which provides all the heartwarming whimsy that one would expect of a Studio Ghibli film, and this track gets played several times throughout (albeit with different lyrics). It gives me wholesome yankee-doodle-dandy vibes.
Richard – Bass
Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron – An Ill-Defined Air of Otherness
At the online-only version of Roadburn in April, one of my favourite discoveries was the band Autarkh, who will no doubt end up in a future playlist of mine. However, looking into them I found that they are essentially an offshoot of Dodecahedron, a now-defunct Dutch avant-garde black metal band, whose last album I am now hooked on. Crushing, progressive, mechanical but also rich with melody and ambience – all boxes ticked.
Clown Core – End
Look, I get it. They’re basically a joke band, and both Nick and I have talked about them here before. But I am on a mission to make people realise that these two be-masked maniacs are actually musical geniuses. This song – funnily enough the penultimate track from their 18-minute 2020 opus Van – is a gorgeous ambient piano piece, which is a glorious composition on it’s own and only moreso when you take it in after ten tracks of insanely chaotic grinding electronic jazz metal played by two people in clown masks being driven around in a people carrier. Get with it.
Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers
Though my Eurovision favourites this year were Go_A from Ukraine and Daði Freyr from Iceland (and yes, I did also have a soft spot for the unashamed nu metal of the Finnish entry), this soaring entry from Switzerland is the one that’s been stuck in my head since the big night. I was really rooting for it when it became clear it had a shot near the end, and I was sorely disappointed when it was beaten to the post by the Italian imitation of Buckcherry.
Anna Von Hausswolff – Deathbed
I’ve been slowly immersing myself in the musical world of AVH this year, and this is a choice cut from her most organ-heavy work. It’s ethereal, droning and artistic darkwave/dream pop driven by a massive church organ, and with vocals that have more than an air of Kate Bush around them.
Muse – Stockholm Syndrome
In the absence of live music, my partner and I have had more than a few evenings in the last 18 months watching big budget live DVD performances accompanied by and ill-advised number of beers, but the ideal crowd size (two). Muse’s HAARP performance was the latest, and I’ve been really hammering the riffiest tracks off Absolution since. Without any serious thought or consideration for other contenders, I’m going to go ahead and claim that this song has the best chorus of any guitar-based song in the 2000s.
Joe – Vocals
Portal – Writhen
Lovecraftien cacophony and the musical equivalent of all that goes bump in the night sure to make you poo your pants.
Monstrosity – Remnants of Divination
Unfairly regarded as a training centre for musicians before they join a bigger death metal band, Monstrosity never get their due. This track is the perfect mid-paced combo of technical and catchy.
Grima – Rotten Garden
Fantastic Russian atmospheric black metal with added squeezebox and I Am Groot masks.
Show Me A Dinosaur – Hum
Another hit from Russia. Brilliant post black metal from the album Plantgazer that beautifully captures the feeling of life in lockdown.
Epica – The Skeleton Key
Nobody does symphonic bombast quite as well. Huge chorus, massive hooks and subtle use of a childrens’ choir make this track a joy.
??? – Guitar
Heretical Sect – Ritual Inversion
Haunting melodies, guttural vocals, fantastic artwork and a powerful narrative underpinning their work. This blackened death-doom act from Santa Fe were a Spotify discovery and the album has been on rotation since.
Enslaved – Roots of the Mountain
For my money, RIITIIR is still Enslaved’s crowning achievement – monolithic and anthemic in equal measure. This sprawling 9-minute epic evokes Norse mythology and pairs it with a feeling of vast landscapes and defiance – try not to snarl along to “HARK! MEN OF FAITH!”
Sigur Rós – Brennistein
Sigur Rós aren’t known for being the heaviest of bands – they’re much happier to stick with uplifting and transcendent. This track, the opener off 2013’s Kveikur, was definitely a shift – a huge, stabbing bass line and some thundering drums lay the groundwork before the falsetto, soaring vocals take you to another world.
Lustmord/Karin Park – Hiraeth
Haunting, ethereal vocals over deep, droning atmospheres? Where do I sign? This is a collaboration for the ages and perfect music to relax to.
Zeal & Ardor – Run
Zeal & Ardor continue to evolve, with each album developing the themes and sounds of the previous one. This is the first track they’ve dropped from their upcoming third album, and if this is anything to go by, the album is going to blow some heads off.