The Monolith’s 2013 in review – part 3!
Once again we reach the end of another year – and as usual, I’m picking ten albums that left a lasting impression on me. The albums listed below are the ones that grew on me over time, and received more of my attention – the sort of albums that would be playing in my head days, even weeks after hearing it. I will admit I missed out on plenty of albums this year due to the fact that I could not stop listening to said albums, and as much as I wanted to check out another band, I couldn’t pull myself away from what was ultimately giving me all I needed. The albums in my list contain a few newcomers, as well as bands that I was listening to when I was a teenager, who made their return this year – so there is a major nostalgia effect going on. Anyway, I know I have to play catch up with other albums that have been showing up on other best of lists, but in the meantime, here are the ten albums that got me through the year, which are in no specific order.
Momentum – Herbivore
Momentum, a side-project featuring members of Plague Mass, Light Bearer and XZieglerX – play heavy, epic and melodically driven DIY hardcore-punk, which is both crushing and uplifting – showcasing not only their passion for playing fast, politically-charged music, but deliver a strong message that hits just as hard as the music. With Herbivore, the band’s second and final album, they shift their focus to animal rights, veganism, and the tragedies of the meat and dairy industry, which is beautifully orchestrated throughout eight tracks of pissed off and melodic hardcore. While the band has stated this is their final album under the moniker of Momentum, fingers crossed that sometime in the foreseeable future they decide to reunite and release another album, because such passion and artistry in music shouldn’t be kept from the world.
Top tunes: ‘Barbarity’, ‘Realities Of The Dairy Industry’, ‘Conscientious Objector’ | Bandcamp
The Ocean – Pelagial
What can I say about this album that hasn’t been said plenty of times before? I was more than pleasantly surprised by this album, not to say that I had low expectations seeing as how this is The Ocean, but Pelagial took my already high optimism and punted it to the moon. From the well-crafted website that teased the album’s theme, to the album itself, Pelagial is the perfect combination of the soothing and melodic moments of Heliocentric, coupled with the devastatingly and heavy moments of Precambrian. Safe to say I was overjoyed after my first play-through, and it only grew as I continued to listen to it. The sheer fact that the album gets deeper and deeper as it progresses, almost to a doom like nature – all the while still providing touches of melody, the album never veers from its path, and each track never sounds out of place. Simply put, The Ocean is a band I hold in high regards as one of the best in the genre, and for those that dig their excellent musicianship, the band took it upon themselves to release both an instrumental and vocal version of the album to satisfy everyones needs.
Top tunes: ‘Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses’, ‘Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety’, ‘Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance’ | Facebook
Ghost – Infestissumam
I was late to the party when it came to Ghost. Having skipped their last album, Opus Eponymous, I took it upon myself to rectify my mistake and decided to give Infestissumam a listen – but the choice to do so was easy after watching the video for their first single, “Secular Haze” when it came out. I was digging the 70′s rock/occult vibe of the song and it was only a matter of time before I gave the rest of the album my full attention. Now I can understand how certain people may think this is cheesy, or a gimmick, but that doesn’t concern me at all; I took to the music like a moth to a flame. From the hypnotizing vibe of the vocals, especially the choruses, to the overly catchy riffs and melodies, I couldn’t get enough of this album. To this day I still rock this album and get super into it, but it goes without saying, Infestissumam took a bit of time to win me over completely, but hey… it won, made my list, and they got a new fan.
Top tunes: ‘Jigolo Har Migiddo’, ‘Year Zero’, ‘Monstrance Clock’ | Facebook
Carcass – Surgical Steel
It has been seventeen years since Carcass last released an album, and it was sort of a hit and miss between fans. But that is the past, and Carcass are looking toward the future, as they return with what is possibly one of the best ‘comeback’ albums in a metal bands career. Surgical Steel could either be the predecessor or successor of 1993′s Heartwork. Taking all the best elements of melodic death metal and throwing in moments of grind, Surgical Steel is one hell of an album. Jeff Walker still sounds as vile as ever, and the combination of riffs and harsh vocals easily takes me back to the good ol’ days of metal music. I mean, if the intro alone doesn’t get you hyped when it comes on, than I don’t know what will. Although there are moments of melody strewn about, the album moves at a break-neck pace, and it’s required you bang your head in conjunction with it. Surgical Steel is a welcome return for the band, and further proof that the world of metal needs Carcass in it. Welcome back boys!
Top tunes: ‘A Congealed Clot Of Blood’, ‘Unfit For Human Consumption’, ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ | Facebook
Nails – Abandon All Life
Nails are no strangers to being included in one of my top ten lists – their 2010 album, Unsilent Death, quickly made the list after blowing my ear drums apart, and Abandon All Life is no different. Already a vicious powerhouse of a band, their newest album cranked it up a notch by offering a much heavier, harder version of the band’s sound that wasn’t as prominent on their last album. But not to fret, the speed is still there, as is the complete destructiveness this band is able to convey, and it has the ability to destroy speakers even with the volume dialed to low. With well-placed breakdowns and infectious hooks, and add to the fact that Kurt Ballou was at the helm producing this beast of an album, Abandon All Life is the beefed up older brother to Unsilent Death, and is nothing short of awesome.
Top tunes: ‘In Exodus’, ‘Wide Open Wound’, ‘Suum Cuique’ | Bandcamp
Boysetsfire – While A Nation Sleeps…
Boy do this band bring back memories. While A Nation Sleeps… marks the return of one of the best post-hardcore bands to ever grace the hardcore/punk-rock scene. Seven years since their last album, the band returned with an album that sounds as though they never went on a hiatus. Still politically charged and angry as ever, the band do a great job of blending thrashy riffs and crushing breaks with moments of melody and heart. Vocalist Nathan Gray is just as energetic and passionate behind the mic as he’s ever been – and truth be told, without that passion, the band just wouldn’t be the same. The album follows a theme of despair, anger and ultimately hope, which is carried by audio samples taken from The Great Dictator speech by Charlie Chaplin. While it has become an overused sample, they work great in the context of the album and doesn’t come off gimmicky at all. Boysetsfire have made a strong return, and I for one, welcome them back.
Top tunes: ‘Until Nothing Remains’, ‘Reason to Believe’, ‘Altar of God’ | Facebook
All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature
Another devastating album that came out this year is from hardcore supergroup All Pigs Must Die, which for those unaware, consists of Kevin Baker of the The Hope Conspiracy, Ben Koller of Converge, and Adam Wentworth and Matt Woods of Bloodhorse. These fine gents took it upon themselves to outdo their first full-length album, God Is War, by giving us listeners one of the heaviest and angriest albums of 2013. Take Black Breath‘s Sentenced To Life album from last year and multiple that by a hundred, maybe even a thousand, and that’s how ridiculously fast and pissed off this album is. From the moment the opening track begins it is anything but relenting, and to hold that momentum of pure aggression over the span of ten tracks is quite a feat. If All Pigs Must Die continue on this path, we might as well just say goodbye to our aural canals.
Top tunes: ‘Chaos Arise’, ‘Faith Eater’, ‘Articles of Human Weakness’ | Facebook
Woodkid – The Golden Age
I came across Woodkid only a few months ago, but the effect his album The Golden Age had on me will last a lifetime. The Golden Age is an engaging album that ascends into moments of hope, yet finds itself descending into the darkest of depths. It’s an album that requires multiple listens, and all the way through, so as to let its story sink in. The orchestral elements are potent and powerful, yet never in your face, and Lemoine’s vocals, while soothing to the ear, are a cascade of emotions that blend well with the music and give the album its driving force. Showcasing a different way to be heavy, The Golden Age hits hard on an emotional and musical level throughout its fourteen tracks. It is a positive start for Lemoine in his musical journey, and time will tell if his persona, Woodkid, will continue on this promising path he has laid out for himself.
Top tunes: ‘I Love You’, ‘Ghost Lights’, ‘The Other Side’ | Facebook
Leprous – Coal
My first introduction to Leprous was when I heard their second album, Bilateral, which happened to make my list back in 2011. And oddly enough, their latest album, Coal, sees itself once again landing a number two spot. With Coal, these Norwegian progressive metallers veered in a opposite direction as opposed to the more outlandish Bilateral. Their new album was more melancholic and darker, and only featured a handful of the heavier moments that were much more prominent on their last album. Tracks like “The Cloak”, “The Valley” and “Echo” are powerful in their vast openness of sounding deep and foreboding. Vocalist Einar Solberg once again showcases his amazing voice, as he meshes well with his fellow band mates’ instrumentation. Even when he is ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’, you can’t help but get goosebumps – and the band loves to take musical tangents/build-ups that repeat for a while, but never once do they get boring. I find myself enjoying Coal more so than Bilateral, and it has easily been one of the most played albums this year for me.
Top tunes: ‘The Cloak’, ‘The Valley’, ‘Echo’ | Facebook
Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
It feels like forever since Queens of the Stone Age released an album… well at least to me it does. After the more experimental Era Vulgaris came out, the band toured in support of it, but all was silent in terms of news or any new music. Only after recently finding out that frontman Josh Homme was hospitalized, it explains the lull in the band, but also defines the latest album, … Like Clockwork. Homme’s recovering process reflected heavily on the album, and when you listen to it, you can just about feel the pain and state of depression he was in. The album is the darkest of their career, but it does manage to carry over some of what was heard in Lullabies To Paralyze and Era Vulgaris, with the former still being my favorite album of theirs – so you can bet … Like Clockwork was music to my ears. The album flows perfectly, with not even one skippable song in the bunch, listening from front to back is no chore, but an absolute reward. The album also boasted an excellent list of guest musicians from, such as Trent Reznor, former bass guitarist Nick Oliveri, and even the great Sir Elton John, who took it upon himself to call Josh and ask to be apart of it. You hate to think that someone had to be in such a horrible state of mind in their life that served as the foundation to this album, but when the results cumulate into one of the years best albums, and another success in QOTSA discography, you can’t deny that all of the pain was worth it, and us fans have another solid album to rock out to.
Top tunes: ‘The Vampyre of Time and Memory’, ‘Smooth Sailing’, ‘I Appear Missing’ | Facebook
Integrity – Suicide Black Snake
Monolith – A Votive Offering
Doomriders – Grand Blood
Touche Amore – Is Survived By
No Omega – Shame
Burning Bright – Doomsday
Russian Circles – memorial
The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is tHe Killer
Trvth – Black Horse Plague
Unkind – Pelon Juuret
Haapoja – Haapoja
God Is An Astronaut – Origins
Watain – The Wild Hunt
Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen
Vattnet Viskar – Sky Swallower
Cara Neir – Portals to a Better, Dead World
Haunted Horses – Watcher