The Bronx - The Bronx IV
The Bronx move further into melodic territory without losing edge or indeed credibility in any way. Will the punk purists suggest The Bronx have sold out, comparing “Heart Attack American” or “Three Dead Sisters” to “Valley Heat,” wringing their hands in anguish…. perhaps. But consider this, while the best punk bands over the years have projected aural bile in the guise of anarchistic social commentators, what do we remember most fondly, is it the attitude, is it the clothes, is the globules of phlegm, no, it's the music.........and The Bronx provide exactly that in shed loads. This band just get better and better and better.....
To describe “Surgical Steel” as the comeback album of the year would be accurate, but also woeful understatement. In reality, possibly the best comeback album ever. Original members Bill Steer and Jeff Walker manifest alongside Ben Ash and Daniel Wilding, armed with razor sharp aural scalpels, sonically disembowelling the listener, no pain involved however due to an anaesthetic mix of unpredictable song structures, intelligent riffage, blistering fretwork and stampeding rhythms all showcasing musicianship of the highest order.
"Surgical Steel" is an essential album, ultimately defining everything which makes Metal the most stimulating musical genre around.
The Icarus Line - Slave Vows
Icarus Line main man Joe Cardamone once again rails against authority and a music industry openly regarded as an enemy to creativity. In many ways, there’s a temptation to suggest, come on Joe, that’s just the way life is, like it or not, but without that anger, without that resentment coercing a desire to rip open wounds and rub salt, deep as humanly possible, an album this intense just wouldn't exist. One thought I can’t remove from my mind on every occasion I play ‘Slave Vows,’ the spectre of founder member and original lead guitarist Aaron North has most definitely now left the building.
Iron Tongue - The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown
Iron Tongue may reek of years of life on the road and dusty bars although a real freshness emanates from deep within tales of life, love, pain and suffering. They revolve unashamedly around music of the 60's and 70's, each track injected with additional doom encrusted purposefulness, making this album stand out completely triumphant. Stoners with soul, it really doesn’t get much more impressive.
Windhand - Soma
'Soma' a heavy weight meandering beast containing sludge riffery of the filthiest kind circumnavigating contrasting clean vocals. An album which includes both an acoustic and thirty minutes plus track of slo-mo metal lumbering shouldn't work and maintain any level of interest. The fact it does, suggests quite simply, Windhand taking Doom to another level.
Antlered Man - This Devil is Them
Demonic prog with a devilishly wicked sense of humour, an injection of rapped vocals and some of the heaviest crashing chord structures this side of 'Electric Wizard,' "This Devil is Them" not an album for the faint of heart. Even the Dark Lord himself would take a step or two back in awe at the sheer power of Antlered Man......enter one of the distinctly individual collections of the year at your peril.
Wolves in the Throne Room - Anno Domini
Do two tracks totalling twenty minutes constitute an album? Perhaps not, but impossible to let this release of a 2011 BBC live session pass by uncommented. Focusing on 'Prayer of Transformation' and 'Thuja Magus Imperium' both taken from their "Celestial Lineage" album, Wolves in the Throne Room's devastatingly atmospheric Black Metal proves hauntingly compulsive while maintaining a overall disturbing aura. Somewhere along the line, if given time and effort, it proves perversely relaxing........or perhaps that's just me?
We await future material with equal levels of excitement and trepidation.
Jamie Lenman - Muscle Memory Pt.1
How can it be, Jamie Lenman appearing in both the quiet, and loud lists of the year? Simple, "Muscle Memory" a double album of such diversity, one half introspective, the other a hark back to Reuben days of yore supplemented by total lack of melody, even notes. Instead, Lenman slams his distortion pedal through the floor, producing a pulverising attack on the ear drums designed to make the listener turn quickly to album two. In this he fails miserably, instead producing a tuned down collection of hardcore magnificence, which sits intensely alongside his best ever work.
Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood
Veteran Thrash Metallers Death Angel return with a album chock full of vivacious life, easily putting bands half their age to shame. Riffs and solos arrive and depart at blistering levels, keeping pace with a galloping rhythm section all seemingly headed towards a multiple pile-up which never materialises. Instead, control and cohesiveness amongst the rapidity key to the albums brilliance.
Kawabata Makotos Mainliner - Revelation Space
"Revelation Space" literally rips the rule book to shreds on song structure and balanced recording, preferring to annihilate through feedback induced, distorted chaos. Imagine Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell turning up at the studio to find Jimi and producer totally off their tits, deciding to press on regardless and see what transpires from a drug fuelled haze. You get the picture.
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