Album Review

Top 20 (Not Drone Or Metal) Records Of 2015

Third list! One more to go. No genre theme this time, but I excluded drone & metal records because they have their own lists. Although there are a few that almost made it onto either of those other lists (see: 12, 10, 7, 6), I felt they weren’t quite droney or metal enough to make the cut, so now they’re here. I hope there’s some new jams in here that you haven’t heard yet and that it’s not too predictable.

Have fun. Thanks for reading/listening/appreciating.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the huge lack of some of my favorite records that were just too big for me to want to include. Namely, Carly Rae Jepsen, Chrvches, and Purity Ring (among others). Those definitely wouldn’t seen some Top 5 action.

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Album Review

Top 15 Metal Records Of 2015

I’ve reviewed a decent amount of metal records, I’ve made four Black (Metal) Mixmas mixes, and last year’s non-genre list had a few metal records in it, but I’ve never done a full metal-only list (except for the little thing in Black (Metal) Mixmas IV), so I hope this doesn’t seem too out of place, but honestly I listen to wayyyyy more metal than I ever write about on AGB, so this sort of makes up for that I guess. I’m not as deep into the metal scene as I am the drone one, so I’m sure there’s way more awesome obscure metal records that would’ve made it onto this list had I heard them, but whatever. If you’ve got any recs, let me know in the comments or email!

And in case you’re not a huge metal fan, know that there’s plenty of stuff on this list that A: is only debatably metal (see: numbers 15, 13, 12, 1) and B: has plenty of AGB friendly elements aka drone, noise, etc (see: numbers 9, 6, 5, 4, 1).

Have fun. Thanks for reading/listening/appreciating.

 
 

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Album Review

Mamaleek – He Never Said A Mumblin’ Word (Flenser, 2014)

mamaleek - he never said a mumblin word album cover
MamaleekAlmost Done Toiling Here (Flenser)

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This is Mamaleek’s fourth record. The first self released self titled album was absolutely insane experimental shoegazey black metal, then Fever Dream added some jazzy shit to the mix, then Kurdaitcha went Middle Eastern, but they always managed to fuck you up in different ways while still sounding like the same band. This new LP mixes everything they’ve done in the past and spits out a brilliantly unique and otherworldly black metal that should suite all fans of the fucked & twisted, sitting well with now label-mates Wreck & Reference and Botanist, sharing Botanist’s borderline poppy melodies that’ll get stuck in your head while the roaring gritty ferocity of W&R beats your bones to a pulp, along with mesmerizing mournful foreign sampled singing, blown out beat machines, obliterated vocals, and beastly buzzing guitars that favor distortion over tremolo, this is raw as hell and fuckin EPIC, lo-fi not in the shitty production way but like this was buried & baked in a desert for a hundred years and only just now unearthed, these guys are fuckin demons, thrashing in a new style of black metal that nobody else is doing or even can do, the best kind of blackness that you instantly fall in love with and makes you rethink all the other run of the mill shit you’ve been digging lately, this is what everyone else should hold as their standard, the fucking pinnacle of wretched heaviness.

Album Review

Halfway Through 2014: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

No need to rehash the stuff I’ve already written about with a mid-year best of list. Once a year is plenty. And sometimes (ok all the time) it’s hard to keep up with all the supremely excellent releases that come out. And sometimes it’s easier to just bang out a bunch of mini(ish) reviews all at once so I don’t feel like I’m trapped under a stack of promos that’s ready to cave in on me. So here’s the awesome shit that came out this year (one was originally released on CD last year but put out on vinyl this year so whatever) that I didn’t have time to get around to. Each and every one of these is fantastic enough to have deserved their own individual review but oh well, so it’s likely more than one of these will end up on my year end Top Drone list. And while some of these records have already gotten more than enough coverage elsewhere, they’re all just too good for me to ignore. But I’m sure you’ll be able to find some stuff in here you haven’t heard yet.

Also, if record on here was self released, chances are it’s available for pay what you can on Bandcamp, so get excited.

The technically unranked list of 20 is below the jump so as not to clog up the front page.

 
 

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Album Review

Wreck & Reference (Flenser, 2014)

wreck & reference - want album cover
Wreck & ReferenceApollo Beneath The Whip (Flenser)

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No one else is doing this right now. Fuck, no one else has ever done this. Wreck & Reference are forging new ground here and have been since their insane Black Cassette debut. They’re a duo of limitless despair treading among noise, black metal, punk, dark ambient, industrial, targeted cacophony, everything bizarre & grim, that sounds brilliantly original and crushes souls every minute along the way, this is heavy as fuck and horrifically sparse, blowing through a drum kit and electronics with heavy handed dexterity, both dudes taking turns at the mic with bloody screeching & beastly roaring vocals, singing of staring deep into the void of misery and knowing nothing is on the other side, this heaves and creeps like an endless nausea rising from your core and black blood coursing through your veins, all hell has broken loose and we’re left to rot in the bleak absurdity, if Want was any more devoid of hope it would likely be banned in several countries. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by ignoring this band.

P.S. These guys are currently on tour with Deafheaven and Pallbearer and they fuckin rip it up on stage. Even if you don’t care about DH or PB, just go for these dudes and you won’t be disappointed.

Album Review

Planning For Burial – Desideratum (The Flenser, 2014)

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}
Planning For BurialWhere You Rest Your Head At Night (The Flenser)

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After a ton of EPs and tapes and singles and splits and experiments, Planning For Burial, aka Thom Wasluck, finally follows up his 2010 debut LP Leaving with this second magnificent beast of a record (and his first foray into vinyl). Thom is the gloomiest bastard I know and Desideratum showcases that perfectly, this is beautifully depressing shit, taking the monstrous shoegazed metal from Leaving and building on it with the tender low-key sadness from other releases like Quietly, he’s turned a wild mix of styles & genres including doom, slowcore, black metal, drone, gothwave, and everything else into a patented buzzing darkness that’s loud as fuck and just pure fucking excellence, overwhelming in sound and emotion, bleak walls of noise that build and crumble, huge waves swelling & crashing against cliffsides in a foggy storm, it’s blissful and devastating in the best way possible. If you dug Leaving as much as I did, rest assured Desideratum will not disappoint. It’s PFB at his best and it will fucking destroy you.

Album Review

Have A Nice Life – The Unnatural World (The Flenser, 2014)

have a nice life - the unnatural world album cover
Have A Nice Life – Guggenheim Wax Museum (The Flenser)

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I’m going to refrain from bragging about how much I love Have A Nice Life, but for the sake of this review you should know that a) I hate the term “fanboy” and b) I would without hesitation call myself a hardcore Have A Nice Life fanboy. Their debut Deathconsciousness is fucking untouchable, easily in my all time Top 10, if not my Top 5.

If this is the first you’ve heard of HANL (Dan Barrett & Tim Macuga), I’m so fucking psyched to share them with you. Think Nadja plus Joy Division then forget that and just listen to that sample up there. Fucking life changing. Honestly, some of the best sounds to ever grace this sweet doomed planet of ours. The gloom is infinite and I accept it wholly. This is the massive dejected pop you’ve always needed but could never find, with bombastic pulverizing percussion echoing in an empty warehouse, deafening catchy riffs, smooth black synths, and boundless reverbed ghost vocals singing about the closeness of death and the woe of Nothingness.

Compared to Deathconsciousness, The Unnatural World is cleaner, better produced, more consistent, and more mature (whatever the fuck that means). But it still sounds like a blown out lo-fi home recording, it’s just that the atmospheric tracks don’t sound like sound they’re being played by your neighbors next door. The beautifully suffocating “Music Will Untune The Sky” is a perfect example, instead penetrating your core and making you feel like you’re drowning in slow motion, watching the life dust float in sunlit water, waiting for your last breath to expire in your lungs. And while Dan & Tim might be in a healthier emotional state while making TUW than they were for DC (pure conjecture on my part), this is every bit as depressing & devastating as their first record.

I hold DC up on the highest fucking pedestal. I mean on its own DC closer “Earthmover” is the single most soul obliterating song I’ve ever heard, and TUW never reaches that level of apocalyptic dread. But compared to TUW, DC feels a lot like an experiment. This new record is HANL leveled up, everything that you love about DC has been refined, turning the genre-less madness into a motherfucking masterpiece. I had insanely high expectations for TUW and it’s hands down one of the best goddamn records I’ve ever heard. It might not overthrow DC in my all time Top 10 but that’s probably more for sentimental reasons than anything else. I know I’m an enthusiastic hyperbolic kinda guy but I say this without the slightest bit of exaggeration: TUW couldn’t possibly be any fucking better. It’s literally flawless.

Album Review

Halfway Through 2013: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

For a variety of terrible reasons, I have a hard time writing about records that didn’t get submitted to me for review. That means I come across tons of incredible shit that I don’t make time for on AGB. A lot of the records in this mid-year roundup fall into that category. Regardless of how I found out about them, all of these are 100% awesome and I’ve been playing the fuck out of each and every one of them.

Also, I have a totally bullshit & ever-shifting line that I try not to cross when writing about records that wobbles between how popular the album/band/label is and how much I love the record. This list is made up of stuff I probably would’ve reviewed if I had the time, but there’s a lot I’ve been jamming hard that was “too big” in my eyes for AGB, lots of high profile metal like Deafheaven, Altar Of Plagues, Inter Arma, The Body, etc, and then there’s stuff like William Tyler’s super bitchin Impossible Truth, which, if it didn’t come out on Merge, I most likely would’ve written it up, but then there’s some that regardless of how much press they get, I can’t help but praise the shit out of them. So those are my half-assed rules and what went through my head when making this list.

There’s a few records on here that might make it onto my year end drone list, so if you’re the gamblin type, start up a pool with your pals and maybe you can strike it rich.

Since this is a pretty big list (28 and unranked) I’ve put everything after the jump so it doesn’t clog up the front page. Here’s hoping you find some in here that you haven’t heard of yet.
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