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At the end of every year, it’s a wonderful time for discovering new music. Everyone in the music community come out of their caves and commit to a list of their favourite records. A brief, but poignant, time when you line up next to your friends, colleagues, anonymous people on the internet you don’t talk to normally but they comment nicely all the same (fine people), and bring forward and show what was important to them for that year. Their music collection, what fuels their lives for 365 days a year.

It’s beautiful when you see that no two lists are the same. At some level, everyone is different! We all have our weaselled away gems we’ve discovered and kept to ourselves, and then shown at the annual ceremony of year-end lists. It’s almost primal. Well, as a handy forager, I’ve seeked through hectares of lists and have collected my findings, along with some of my own discoveries, in the below, alphabetical, list. Happy trails!

AxxicornAxxicorn – War of the Giants [Self-Released]

There are no bells and whistles on this record, amongst all the proggy doom rock riffs there’s raw punk buried close to the heart. I love the idea of stepping into a garage and entering Axxicorn’s world, weaved with technical riffs and barked lyrics of Greek heroes and titans. Like lightening trapped in a bottle, Axxicorn have trapped the Bronze in a garage. The production is spartan and could be indicative of the kind of budget the band had, but it’s all part of the charm, and the riffs speak for themselves – and, it’s name your price.

Listen at Bandcamp.

CaltropCaltrop – Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes [Holidays for Quince]

A songwriter’s record. If anyone is interested in what good song craft is, give this record a go, because it is incredibly well written. The songs beautifully twist and wind, owing much to blues, progressive rock, and soul, yet still retains that metal crunch in tone and smooth bass lines, keeping them in touch with stoner groups. I just put my hands down to this one, I think it is brilliant. It’s Caltrop’s second record in four years; their debut dropped in 2008 and is worthwhile too.

Listen at Bandcamp.

ConanConan – Monnos [Burning World]

If anyone has seen the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, I’m sure you’ll agree it looks like Conan’s natural habitat. On Monnos, the trio put the slow motion thunder of debut record Horseback Battle Hammer back into the forge, heaved on the bellows, hammered till dawn, and wrought the heaviest record of the year. It’s the same weapon, but with finesse. A special mention to drummer Paul O’Neill whose performance is remarkable, his is a technicality and diversity which is often forgotten on doom records.

Listen at Bandcamp.

CowardsCowards – Shooting Blanks and Pills [Throatruiner]

This is the first of a one-two punch of noisy Throatruiner bands, and this Parisian band is exactly that: noisy. Take the idea of a leather bag filled with human bones and then consider it an instrument: I’d imagine you’d get some kind of rhythmic, jangled noise out of it but nothing special, but then Cowards snatch it from your hands and produce the kind of disgusting, squeamish grooves they harness on Shooting Black and Pills. Nauseating, sludgey hardcore, and it’s monstrous. It’s name your price.

Listen at Bandcamp.


Disastroid – Money and Guilt [Self-Released]

Disastroid don’t move too far away from their principal influences – namely Queens of the Stone Age’s self-titled debut and the great Fatso Jetson. The chunky, rhythmic riffs and the ticking robotics Josh Homme looked for and then subsequently lost have been found in Disastroid’s villainous hands. There must be something said for Enver Koneya’s vocals and how he ties the whole sound together, akin to a Chris Cornell role, and his soulful sound surfs the rollicking riffage and bassy drums. Heir apparent to the desert sound.

Listen to the title track on YouTube.

GoatGoat – World Music [Rocket Recordings]

This last year a lot of 60s and 70s psychedelic rock dominated my listening habits and I can say there have been two standout records which have paid proper homage to that era. The first is Ulver’s Childhood’s End, which was an album of covers. I listened to that constantly at release, but soon I realised they were too true to the originals and Ulver hadn’t really reinvigorated those songs; they’re just that: covers rather than adaptations. World Music is far different. Goat have taken the lessons from the masters, like The Rolling Stones, Träd Gräs och Stenar and Jefferson Starship, while adding rumbling bass riffs and ethereal female vocals. Here, the 70s psych revival has manifested with the world’s instruments in hand, creating the most enjoyable purple of hazes.

Listen to a full record stream on YouTube.

HexvesselHexvessel – No Holier Temple [Svart]

Evil, by way of 1970s progressive rock. The same evil defined as spirits in Greek mythology, those that lived in the forests by pools, disguised as trees or animals, or hidden beneath the water’s surface. A classic sense of evil, one of nature’s empowerment through demons and taboos. Opeth heavily subscribed to this idea of evil portrayed in nature on 2011’s Heritage. They implemented organs and acoustics more, in hand with the clarity of clean vocals; instruments, deemed more natural and organic. This is a link connecting evil with natural sounding instruments, therefore, in my view, Heritage is actually Opeth’s evilest sounding record. However, it is imperfect, which is where Hexvessel, and their own ode to nature and all its evil, step in with their second record No Holier Temple. Hexvessel take their paganism seriously. They make use of similar instruments to the Swedes, more in fact, more strings, wind, and percussion, but they stir something much deeper in the forest. They hang on to notes longer, understated in their song craft, these Finns and Englishman remain patient with their unsullied melodies. No Holier Temple feels like a lifelong dedication, rather than an obligated ritual in the woods. The real deal.

Listen to the song Sacred Marriage.

Love Sex MachineLove Sex Machine – Love Sex Machine [Throatruiner]

I feel a little icky when I say it was Love Sex Machine’s track titles that roped me in to listening to them. What could “Anal on Deceased Virgin” actually sound like? Turns out, it is horrifying. This debut is brimming with falling-dream riffs that make the stomach plunge in unconsciousness, and then next you are awake and eviscerated and a waterfall of red splatters into your clawing hands. This record is that stab in the gut while being looked in the eye; aggressive, fast, chaotic, not many other records can compete with this kind of ruthless brutality.

Listen at Bandcamp.

TenticleTentacle – Void Abyss EP [Self-Released]

In the summer a swarm of bees entered our garden and hung around for an hour. The sky was thick with their insect bodies. We had neighbours say they could hear the vibrating hum of the bees from within their own homes. To say the least, it was an odd phenomenon. It’s a fitting comparison then for Ice Dragon side-project Tentacle and their debut EP Void Abyss, which sounds like a shifting green cloud of scuzz and static. It is the subterranean bass lines that drives the hive, warping into deeper, darker pits. This is where Electric Wizard should be heading: to the depths, the voids, the abysses – but they now have to dethrone Tentacle, reigning Kings of the Dark. And, it’s name your price.

Listen at Bandcamp.

Re-release of the Year


S:T Erik – From Under the Tarn [Spora]

[2009; re-released in 2012]

There is a well trodden path behind leading cosmic doomers Electric Wizard. In fact, it’s trampled. A galactic highway. And so, it was refreshing when I discovered the vinyl release of From Under the Tarn, first released in 2009. A quality piece of Swedish doom from a similar system to Electric Wizard, but with a younger and more focused star. The songs don’t blur or are overly repetitive, like so many other clones. There are strong songs here. The bass riffs swerve, pulled around by gravity as they’re that heavy, and the wailing vocals of Erik Nordstrom are unique; a kind of howling moan. A really good doom metal record overall, one of my most reached for this last year.

Listen at Bandcamp.

There we go, that’s who I found anyway. If you’ve found a cool band through the year-end lists lists, drop a comment, it’d be great to hear what other people have discovered.

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