Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Crystal Ball

The Grind That Annoys’ End of Year Report earlier this month was a roaring success so thank you all for that, and now once again we look upon our crystal ball for the forthcoming year for what albums there is to look forward to.

Alcest will release their third full-length album Les Voyages de L'Âme on January 6th. With one song already released, ‘Autre Temps’, it’s looking like Neige is taking Alcest further away from his black metal past and going all out on the shoegazing/post rock vibe. ‘Autre Temps’ and live footage of ‘Summer’s Glory’ have shown so far that this could very well be a smart decision.

Sludge masters Thou will also put out a new full length next year called Heathen. The band always keep busy releasing several EPs and splits every year so there’s no fear of a drought ever from them. Meanwhile, Swedish crust veterans Wolfbrigade recently signed a new deal with Southern Lord for their new record, Damned. Finnish death doom band Swallow The Sun are still working away on their new album Emerald Forest and The Black Bird.

Scottish crust band Absolutist will release their debut LP Ave next month, through Dublin label Suburban Mayhem. The band showed reasonable potential in their demo but this album is going to destroy it entirely. It’s like night and day between the two. Scheduled for release in February, this is already looking like a highlight for 2012.

A number of months ago Sweden’s In The Hearts of Emperors released their split LP with Downfall of Gaia. They’re a really impressive post metal band, heavy in dark atmosphere and sporadic vocals to complement the mostly instrumental output. 2012 is sure to see a new release in some form from this band, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for. Downfall of Gaia’s side is also hugely impressive affair, making for a massive step-up from their 2010 LP, Epos

 Denmark’s Hexis are a band that I’ve kept a keen eye for a while now. They released their storming demo this year and followed it up with a split 12” and most recently a new 7”. I’m very excited to see what the band is going to do next.

Anathema have roughly slated an April release for their as yet untitled follow-up to 2010 album of the year We’re Here Because We’re Here. Needless to say, hopes are staggeringly high for this one. Neurosis will also release the long, long awaited follow-up to Given To The Rising (2007). And Pelican will release a new EP at some stage early in the new year, via Southern Lord.

In Ireland, several bands have releases in the pipeline, including Twisted Mass and Sickener. Putrefaction will also finally release their first LP and Drainland have split 7”s with Enabler and Crows landing soon and are working on album number two. If you saw the Top 10 Irish Releases of the Year, you’ll know that I rated Refraction’s self-titled as #1, they’ve been on a hiatus since April so hopefully they’ll re-emerge from the depths at some point in 2012, the sooner the better.

I really could go on and on about the records I’m looking forward to, but I won’t, there are literally dozens. But I’ll finish by saying the highest expectations I have are for Anathema and Neurosis, two bands that can’t do any wrong in my book.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jesse Leach working on a solo album

Some interesting news for your St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day, Jesse Leach is working on a solo record as shown by today’s Facebook update: “singing the blues.... working on solo material...getting excited the way things are starting to take shape. blues/trip hop/rock/psyc ambient ..its gunna be a strange one..this is what happens when a "mutt" makes music on his own...”. No other news beyond that but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on. 

Mieszko Talarczyk: 7 years gone today

Several weeks ago, Swedish grindcore luminaries Nasum announced a brief reunion in order to properly bid farewell to vocalist/guitarist Mieszko Talarczyk. He died in the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in 2004. Today marks the seventh anniversary of his death. Gone not forgotten.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Yeah, apparently Christmas is this week. Who knew? Anyway, this is of course the mandatory Christmas post with a few festive tunes below, and cheers for checking out the blog throughout the year, it really is much appreciated. Posts will be fewer in the coming days over the Christmas period but do keep an eye out for the 2012 Crystal Ball post someday between the 26th and New Year’s Eve. Merry Christmas!

And of course…

David Gold passes away

Woods of Ypres guitarist and vocalist, David Gold has passed away. He was involved in a car accident near Barrie, Ontario.

I’m quite shocked and saddened to hear this news. Several months ago I interviewed David for Drop-d and he was an absolute pleasure to talk to, very intelligent in his words and clearly passionate about his band, which he has helmed since day one. Since the interview, David and I stayed in contact sporadically, mostly by Twitter. Woods of Ypres were readying the release of their new album next month and I was given the chance the hear it. Frankly, the record was a triumph and was to be their first new album with Earache Records (their fifth overall), and an album that should have yielded great success for the band. Sadly, that is not to be the case as another young life, at only 31 years of age, is tragically taken away. I’d like to send out my condolences to David’s family, friends, bandmates and anyone else that knew him. Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ZOM demo coming on the 29th

ZOM, Dublin’s newest death metal offering, who we have been yammering on about frequently this year, will release their debut demo tape on the 29th, via Invictus Productions. Check out the blurb and cassette artwork below. There’s been quite a bit of talk for this one but if their live shows and the track debuted recently are anything to go by, then this will be one very impressive demo. You can pre-order the demo now the Invictus site HERE.

Ireland has always suffered from a lack of the more traditional black and death metal bands over the years but this has slowly began to change. Emerging from the sewers of Dublin is ‎ZOM, who will issue their 5 track demo through Invictus shortly. Taking influence from Hellhammer, Beherit, Morbid Angel, Blasphemy, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sepultura, Necrophagia, Sodom, the three member line up of Chthon (Sub Sonik Destruktion/Kommands), Sodomaniac (Axe of Khaos/Kommands), Sabbac (Astral Battery) invoke perversion, sorcery, cosmos and death through their primitive, atavistic and ritualistic sounds.

Fragments post teaser video

Belfast’s techy metal outfit, Fragments have uploaded this pre-production teaser to well, tease you with. They released their first EP in early 2011, which was quite impressive, however I caught them live in August and they completely took me aback, with a very tight and short but invigorating set with new material getting some airings that alluded to interesting things, one such track was ‘Remnants of Fallen Kings’, if I remember that name correctly, which was a stunning piece of work. Hopefully that will be featured in its full glory on this new EP.

Pelican finish new EP

Southern Lord have confirmed that Chicagoan post metallers Pelican have completed work on a new EP for released in early 2012 – “Pelican have just finished recording a new EP! It will be released on LP and CD on the Lord next year. Dark, introspective, intrusive! Great!”
The as yet untitled EP will be the follow-up to 2009’s stunning album, What We All Come To Need. Check out some live footage of a new song HERE. The band has also confirmed an appearance at Roadburn.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas track from Drewsif Stalin

Much like Cloudkicker this time last year, Andrew ‘Drewsif Stalin’ Reynolds has released a Christmas track for free download. ‘Black Christmas’, is a medley of Christmassy tunes, most notably with the 'Silent Night' and carols lyrics. Reynolds’ vocals are hit and miss for me, and here I feel it’s a bit of miss and the track sort of lags at the end. Excursion, the full-length album, was released earlier this year and had some pretty solid moments.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Savanna track released

Savanna is a new side project band from Portugal, featuring members of experimental doom band, Löbo. This week, they put up their first taster of new material in form of the track, ‘Run’. Vastly different from the dense drone and doom of Löbo, Savanna has much in common with the poppy elements of Orbs. The band is scheduled to release an EP soon. Meanwhile, we still wait with bated breath for what Löbo will be doing next. Have a listen to ‘Run’ here:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New issue of Molten out now

The new issue of Molten Magazine is out now, with cover stars Dimmu Borgir. You can pick up a copy in Eason or in some other smaller retailers across the country. This issue features live reviews of Devin Townsend/Turisas and Abaddon Incarnate, I’ll Eat Your Face et al in The Pint back in November. I’ve also written the Ones To Watch feature on Sickener, which I’m happy that I got to do. As well as that there’s a review of the Crows/Drainland split, which doesn’t have a release date just yet but will be out some time early in the new year, I believe. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

And more new music today: Psycroptic

Tasmanian tech death outfit Psycroptic have released a new song from their forthcoming album, The Inherited Repression. The song ‘Carriers of the Plague’ is the band’s first serving of new material since 2008’s impressive (Ob)Servant album. Firstly, the band has decided to take this into a much more song-oriented territory, but still not losing any of their technicality and the vocals are much clearer than the last album. Overall, a very solid number from Psycroptic, ahead of the release of The Inherited Repression.

New Twisted Mass track

Dublin crust band, Twisted Mass, who released their debut EP during the summer, have a new song online. It’s called ‘Control’ and can be heard below. It’s just a demo version, which explains the sound not being quite up to scratch with the production on the EP, but regardless, there’s still the all-important harsh feel off the track, which is a vital component of their sound and continuing on from their debut, ‘Control’ is replete with feral vocals and riffs.

There are no details yet as to what the band is planning for the next release, whether it’s an EP or an album, or who knows. Hopefully the release isn’t too far off though, the self-titled EP was an absolute stormer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Empire Shall Fall – Vol. 1: Solar Plexus EP

Jesse Leach is back again with his other band The Empire Shall Fall and the first of three planned EPs – Solar Plexus. Check out the full review HERE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Please welcome Trioscapes

Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs likes to keep busy. When not tearing your senses apart with modern prog metal troupe Between the Buried and Me, he’s playing guitar in orbs with members of Abigail Williams and Fear Before The March of Flames. Now, you can add Trioscapes to his résumé. This project sees Briggs’ foray into fusion imbued progressive rock, taking much Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson with a dashing of Zappa for good measure. The band’s line-up features drummer, Matt Lynch and saxophonist, Walter Fancourt.

The band is streaming their first batch of new material now on their Facebook page. Two songs can be heard HERE called ‘Blast Off’ and ‘Wazzlejazzlebof’. They have recorded their debut album with producer Jamie King, a long-time collaborator with BTBAM, and seems likely to be released early in 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wolfbrigade sign with Southern Lord

Swedish crust luminaries Wolfbrigade have signed a deal with Southern Lord, for their next three albums, the first coming early next year and will be entitled Damned. Surely a coup for Southern Lord, the label spent the best part of 2011 signing and/or re-releasing several crust/d-beat/hardcore records from around the US and Europe, including Alpinist, Masakari, Drainland and Misantropic, to name only a few. Wolfbrigade is an impressive signing for the label now and raises hopes for this new record. The new album was recorded with the esteemed Frederik Nordstrom.

Check out the album artwork for Damned below and keep an eye out for tour date announcements from the band for both American and Europe throughout next year. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stream Pulled Apart's demo

Pulled Apart put their demo online a few days ago. The new Dublin hardcore band, featuring members of Drainland, recently recorded the six song effort and it is now streaming on their bandcamp or just down below. There’s a been a bit of talk about this demo on Facebook and other blogs during the week and the reference point that keeps coming up is Black Flag. Well, the truth is Pulled Apart take a lot of inspiration from Black Flag.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ex-Isis members working on new material

Three ex-members of Isis have begun work on a new project, including Aaron Harris, Jeff Caxide and Bryant Clifford Meyer. Harris tweeted: “Writing with Cliff (Jeff couldn't make it today). Planning to record early next year.” Isis disbanded in mid-2010 and most of the members have been working on various projects. Meyer is also a member of Red Sparowes and vocalist/guitarist Aaron Turner, who heads up Hydra Head Records, has been working on numerous new projects.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New old Steven Wilson song

Early in the week, Steven Wilson posted a previously unreleased song on his Soundcloud page. Entitled ‘Cut Ribbon’, the song was originally intended for a metal project he was working on with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt in 2001. Since then the two’s relationship has expanded with various collaborations in the mixing and producing of Opeth albums. Of course the two have been scheduled to work together for many years and finally did so in late 2010 and throughout 2011 with the working title Storm Corrosion. An album from the project is rumoured for release next year. While it’s completely unrelated to Storm Corrosion, here’s ‘Cut Ribbon’ for your enjoyment.

"Cut Ribbon is now available on my Soundcloud page. This song was written for a planned metal style collaboration with Mikael Åkerfeldt in 2001, but this is a more recent version, made during the Grace For Drowning album sessions. Over the last 10 years it's been the orphan song, destined to never fit in with anything else I was doing. Previously only available on the SW iPhone app, now here it is for you to download / listen to in full resolution (well CD resolution anyway, 44.1K 16 bit). Enjoy!"

New BoSoGa track online

You might remember from earlier in the year, BoSoGa, the solo project of Reptilian’s drummer Steve McMichael and the new album Recollective. No? HERE, jog your memory. Anyway, the man himself is streaming a new song now called ‘Yukigassen’. Check it out below. It furthers the best elements of Recollective, which were the extended, melodic instrumental passages. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

End of year report 2011 Part 3: Top 25 albums of the year

Third and final part! If you missed parts one and two, check them out HERE. Right, this is it - the big one. Let’s make one thing clear, coming to the final decision on this list was quite difficult… right then no more messing about let’s get straight into it.

25 A Storm of Light – As The Valley of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade
A Storm of Light made a few swerves on this record, the follow-up to 2009’s Forgive Us Our Trespasses. This is faster and shorter, but no less heavy. They have however shed some of their doomier tendencies and indulged in some hook-led riffing, all with top results, surprisingly.
Standout track: ‘Wasteland

24 Jesu – Ascension
Is there anything Justin K. Broadrick can’t do right? Probably not. When not basking in the triumphant return of Godflesh, the man somehow found time to churn out a new Jesu record. Ascension is another lesson is despondent, droning, shoegaze-inflected metal with Broadrick’s trademark ghostly croon.
Standout track: ‘December

23 Wormrot – Dirge
The last two years have been good to Wormrot. Abuse kicked down a lot of doors for them and their second full-length needed to be every bit as vehement and violent, and Dirge is just that. Modern grindcore has some very exciting faces these days and Wormrot are most definitely one of them.
Standout track: ‘The Final Insult

22 Braveyoung – We Are Lonely Animals
Bloom, Braveyoung’s first EP, came out in 2009 and the band sort of dropped off the radar for a while, until early this year when they released their first album. We Are Lonely Animals is simply breath-taking and invigorating post rock that’s completely dream-like across its running time. Something to get lost in.
Standout track: ‘Light Narrows

21 Grown Below – Long Now
Belgium’s Grown Below popped up out of nowhere this autumn with this heady and ambitious record, Long Now. Clocking in at 67 minutes, there’s a lot going here. Long Now is a crushing sludge record with many death doom influences with heaving guttural as well as clean vocals and a penchant for the grandiose soundscapes of Cult of Luna as well as the slow dissonant riffing reminiscent of Thou.
Stream the full album HERE

20 Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance
No surprise here. Esoteric once again blow us all away with their peerless funeral doom. Two discs, at over 90 minutes of wretched but beautifully cathartic doom. There’s a full feature review in the next of issue of Molten Magazine.
Standout track: ‘Abandonment

19 Lantlôs – Agape
Last year’s .neon album from Lantlôs featured on this end of year list in 2010 and its follow-up doesn’t disappoint. However it has marked a great progression for the band. It’s a much slower album as edified by the opening devastating clang of ‘Intrauterin’. ‘Bliss’ then is a wondrously powerful song with closer ‘Eribo – I Collect The Stars’ capping off the record perfectly.
Standout track: ‘Bliss

18 Flourishing – The Sum of All Fossils
New York erratic death metal band Flourishing were another one of 2011’s pleasant surprises. The Sum of All Fossils is an album that is nothing short of a barrage. Cascading technical riffs collide with an overwhelming thick bass that conjure up an imposing sound and not to mention the mixing up of vocal delivery, like the pained shrieks of ‘By Which We’re Cemented’ breaking away from cruel growls.
Standout track: ‘By Which We’re Cemented

17 Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All
Speaking of stunning death metal albums, it doesn’t get much better than New Zealand’s Ulcerate with their latest record, The Destroyers of All. Crushing but intricately arranged, the sound that this three-piece make is simply unholy. This is their finest hour yet and having signed with Relapse Records, a new album will be swiftly upon us in 2012. Only greatness awaits this band.
Standout track: ‘Dead Oceans

16 Bacchus – Bacchus
First Irish release of the list, which was number three in the Irish top 10 from Monday. There’s no need to go into too much detail again, this is pummelling, unforgiving, raging crust. Tuck in.

15 Cloudkicker – Let Yourself Be Huge
A latecomer this year. Ben Sharp aka Cloudkicker released two albums late last month, this and Loop. Let Yourself Be Huge is great deviation from last year’s stunning Beacons. It’s mostly acoustic and mellowed out with one track including sparse vocals, but it’s altogether beautiful stuff.
Standout track: ‘Let Yourself Be Huge

14 Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestial Lineage
Wolves in the Throne Room sort of have that love/hate relationship with the listener. If you are one of the lovers of WITTR then Celestial Lineage is exactly the album you have yearned for, to follow the tumult of Black Cascade with the more cerebral barrage of Celestial Lineage.
Standout track: ‘Prayer of Transformation

13 Woods of Desolation – Torn Beyond Reason
2011 has been dotted with some impressive black metal records coming from all directions but nothing quite surpassed Woods of Desolation. D., Australian black metal royalty at this stage, has made his finest record yet and indulging in a cleaner production job has given Torn Beyond Reason the ability to really shine and breath, sounding absolutely massive and grandiose.
Standout track: ‘Torn Beyond Reason

12 3 – The Ghost You Gave To Me
After a tumultuous few years, with their Roadrunner deal falling through, 3 were in many ways on the ropes but lo and behold they come screaming back with the album of their careers. – The Ghost You Gave To Me. Unabashedly melodic, hook-driven and heavily influenced by the old prog gods of yesteryear, this is a cracking record.
Standout track: ‘React

11 Momentum – Whetting Occam’s Razor
Whetting Occam’s Razor is expansive melodic hardcore with no hesitance in utilising grand soundscapes and acoustic guitars here and there, but for the most part though it’s belligerent and unruly with plenty of memorable riffs.
Standout track: ‘Theory

10 Scale The Summit – The Collective
Scale The Summit and Animals as Leaders both permeated our consciousness in 2009, both enjoying success, AAL more so. Both released follow-up albums this year and who would have thought that it would actually be Scale The Summit that would come up trumps. The Collective is just magnificent.
Standout track: ‘Black Hills

09 Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events
You know the deal. Portnoy leaves, tears are shed, people whinge and bitch and Dream Theater make one of their best albums of the last 10 or 15 years. Yeah, the latter seems the most important.
Standout track: ‘Bridges in the Sky

08 Times of Grace – The Hymn of A Broken Man
On paper this sounds boring, doesn’t it? Current and former Killswitch pals Adam D and Jesse Leach make a new record together that is still within the realm of metalcore. Surprised were these ears when it turned out that The Hymn of a Broken Man is actually heaving with some great tunes from start to finish. Granted, it preaches to the converted but overall, a victory for the duo.
Standout track: ‘Hope Remains

07 Oathbreaker – Mælstrøm
The second Belgian band to appear in this list, Oathbreaker. Released on Deathwish, Mælstrøm is fucking ferocious stuff from start to well, near finish. The first eight of these nine tracks are blistering barrages, only for the title track to close things out and it’s a stripped down acoustic track with the only singing of the album. Strangely it works but it’s songs like ‘Origin’ and ‘Glimpse of the Sun’ that make this album so good.
Standout track: ‘Origin

06 Altar of Plagues – Mammal
Again, you read about this on Monday. Mammal is a jaw-dropping album, simple as that. With this and White Tomb behind them, where Altar of Plagues go next is anyone’s guess but chances are it will be sublime. Frankly, they probably couldn’t fail, even if they tried.

05 Refraction – Refraction
The Irish album of year unsurprisingly cracks the top five. A complete and fluid listen, the whole damn thing is streaming on their bandcamp so I won’t go into any more detail about it; I did that already on Monday. Listen HERE.

04 Fuck The Facts – Die Miserable
Fucking relentless. That pretty much sums up Die Miserable. It’s been a while since the band could be still called grindcore but flourishes still remain and plenty of injections of shameless melody are to be heard on this record too, along with hints of death metal, hardcore and, whisper it… metalcore. It all works though.
Standout track: ‘Census Blank

03 Mastodon – The Hunter
2009’s Crack The Skye was when Mastodon went all out on their prog tendencies. Needless to say, it was an instant classic. The Hunter is both a progression and something of a regression. It’s been stripped back to shorter, catchier tunes but they haven’t attempted to mimic their Remission days. Neither have they attempted to make Crack Pt.2, which would have failed horribly. Rather they crafted an album that’s a little simpler in ideal but managed to progress as a songwriters and as a band. Hats off. Plus, we have two of the most ridiculously catchy tunes of the year in ‘Curl of the Burl’ and ‘Blasteroid’.
Standout track: ‘Blasteroid

02 40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room
40 Watt Sun are number two, just about. The fight for the top spot was very much a photo finish. However, don’t let it take away from this landmark release. Former Warning mainman, and all around doom metal victor, Patrick Walker’s new lifeblood 40 Watt Sun finally released this debut after some fanfare, and it hasn’t disappointed. This is a beautiful blend of doom; it differs from Warning but at the same time maintains an enthralling aural kinship with the now defunct band. The Inside Room is powerful, affecting and, while heavy, so fragile.
Standout track:  ‘Carry Me Home

01 Light Bearer – Lapsus
Grandiose, imposing, ethereal, haunting and captivating are some of the clichéd words that you could roll out to describe 2011’s album of the year, but they are all overwhelmingly true and apt. Light Bearer’s debut Lapsus, born from the ashes of Fall of Efrafa, is a staggering feat to say the least. At times it’s slow and trudging and at others, beautifully compelling and illuminating but it’s an altogether cathartic experience. The genre of Post Metal is a hazy phrase at best, but if it continues to result in utterly miraculous albums like this then it’s no bad thing. Light Bearer – the start of something beautiful.

There you have it – the best of 2011. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

End of year report 2011 Part 2: The best of the EPs, demos & splits

Yesterday, I ran down my top 10 Irish releases of the year, cheers to all of you who had a gander. If you missed yesterday’s post, check it out HERE. Now, let’s look a little beyond Ireland at the best EPs, demos and various split releases that landed on our ears this year.

Between The Buried and Me, a band I’m guilty of fanboyism for at times, signed a new deal with Metal Blade this year and subsequently released their first EP – Parallax – The Hypersleep Dialogues, another feather in their already heavily garnished cap. It continues on from 2009 album of the year The Great Misdirect, concept wise, and will spill into the next full length later next year. Check out ‘Lunar Wilderness’ for an idea of where this vital band is right now in their careers.

Coming from the same realm, The Universe Divide released their debut EP, Dust Settles on the Odontophobes. Featuring Gael Pirlot and Chris Rushing of the now defunct Canvas Solaris, this EP is an invigorating debut effort. Similar to Canvas, it’s ludicrously technical instrumental prog metal with no fear of hooks either. Also, Blotted Science returned with a powerful EP, The Animation of Entomology, which merely reminded us all of just how good Ron Jarzombek is.

From a different angle, Fuck the Facts released their new album, Die Miserable in October along with the EP Misery, featuring cuts that didn’t make the album, strange really because there are tracks on this EP that are almost as storming as Die Miserable.

Cynic too returned just last month with another EP – Carbon-Based Anatomy. The review went online last Thursday, so read THAT. Spectral and mellow would be apt in describing it, a logical progression from Traced In Air. Meanwhile, Russian post metallers, Moro Moro Land may have a pretty bad band name but their self-titled EP, released for free online, hints to great things. Lion’s Paw also released a free demo, on bandcamp, espousing some heavy Pelican worship that comes across rather well, and will definitely be a band that I’ll be keeping a firm eye and ear on.

German neo crust band Alpinist has had a cracking year and their split LP with Masakari furthered that. Both bands delivered big time with their respective sides, especially Alpinist. Hopefully their third LP isn’t too far off. French dark hardcore band Nesseria was another band that released a great split side, with Clinging To The Trees of a Forest Fire. Their four tracks were just scorching barrages.

Back on our wretched home island, new-ish grinders Sickener got around to putting their demo online in September, revealing some short bursts of filthy grind. I was banging on about them for a while prior so thankfully the demo is actually really good. Keep an eye out for my feature on the band in a forthcoming issue of Molten Magzine. Sticking with Ireland, Crows narrowly missed out on breaking yesterday’s Irish top 10. It’s a shame because their Severance tape is searing. If you’re unaware the band play some corrosive, misanthropic hardcore and their next release is a split 7” with Drainland, and mark my words, they’re going to destroy.

Across the board, there were some interesting demos released this year, like This Tongue Is Poison mentioned yesterday as well as Column of Heaven. However the most impressive demo of 2011 came from Denmark – Hexis are one of the year’s greatest gifts. Their self-titled demo tape, released by Suburban Mayhem, has shown some of the most promising noise for some time. Simply put, their assault is completely unrivalled. It’s caustic, pulverising, barbed blackened hardcore and with a split release with Euglena and As We Draw just released and last week’s new 7” called X out too, the band have high expectations awaiting them in 2012. Listen to the demo here:

Check back tomorrow for the final part -Top 25 albums of the year.

Cynic - The Village, 3/12/11

Live review from Cynic's headlining show in Dublin last Saturday with support from djent darlings Chimp Spanner and Limerick's Shardborne, who replaced Hypno5e after they dropped out. Click HERE to check it out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

End of year report 2011 Part 1: Top 10 Irish releases of the year

Yes, it’s December again. Where oh where do the months go? Another year is coming to close, and needless to say 2011 has been a busy, hectic year across the world and here in Ireland. We had a general election, a worsening economic climate, more reports on clerical child sex abuse, and a new president to mention a few. Elsewhere, the Arab Spring kick started with Gaddafi’s eventual death, Osama Bin Laden was killed, the Euro is struggling for its survival, and riots laid waste to London. That really is only a handful of things that happened this year.

In the realm of music, there was plenty going on with more stunning albums and unfortunately, on the flip side, its fair share of turds, Lulu? Illud Divinum Insanus? Anyone? Meanwhile, Cathedral, Dismember and Maruta called it a day. Black Sabbath reformed and so did em… Coal Chamber. And Garry Moore, Phil Vane, Seth Putnam, Scott Columbus and Jonas Bergqvist all passed away, and James Murphy’s brain tumour returned after first beating it several years ago.

Moving on to more positives things though, it seems appropriate that the first of this three-part end of year report starts with a look at the best Irish releases of the year, considering that there was a lot happening across the island throughout 2011. Let’s have a look at some of the best albums, EPs, demos etc. of 2011 with the top 10 Irish releases of the year.

Honourable mentions
Firstly, the honourable mentions go out to great albums/EPs/demos from Crows, Shardborne, Friend?, I’ll Eat Your Face and Sickener.

10: Drainland / Trenches LP
I was in two minds about including splits in this list but seeing as it is two Irish bands, I went for it. I wrote a blog post recently, espousing the wonders of Trenches’ side of this split and Drainland’s didn’t get mentioned too much. But unsurprisingly their three servings are blistering.
Standout tracks: ‘Vaccine’ & ‘Stairs

09: [R]evolution of a Sun – Hell
For a lot of people, this is probably the best thing to come out of the country this year. It’s certainly one of the best anyway. It was a long time coming too, many years in fact for the Cork hardcore veterans to release their first full-length and it’s the victory lap it deserved to be.
Standout track: ‘Evolution

08: Owensie – Aliens
I’ll be honest, I never heard of Michael ‘Owensie’ Owens before December last year. He’d been in a few local bands prior to going solo and acoustic but I’m not familiar with them at all. This I’ve become very familiar with though since its release in January – beautiful and bare alt. folk, with an unavoidable Nick Drake flavour, and this guy has one of the most affecting voices you’ll ever hear.
Standout track: ‘Tied To A Name

07: Overhead, The Albatross – Lads With Sticks EP & Mr Dog
Is this cheating? Including two releases in one spot; maybe. Overhead, The Albatross released the EP Lads With Sticks in January followed by the mini-release/single Mr Dog in August, consisting of two tracks. The former is a sleek, beautiful and short trek through wondrous post rock climes while Mr Dog expands on every idea on the EP with lush, sprawling strings and jaw-dropping crescendos.
Standout tracks: ‘Footprints in the Blood Soaked Snow’ & ‘Pigonometry

06: Rites – Rites EP
Galway’s Rites released this 12” EP back in June to much love, and rightly so. Crushing sludge with penchant for a big riff or two, you can’t go wrong, can you? Two new songs were put online lately and a new release from the band couldn’t come sooner.

Standout track: ‘Vessel

05: Twisted Mass – Twisted Mass EP
No frills d-beat is what Twisted Mass do and they do it very well with five tracks here for their debut EP, released in July. This short effort is just storming from the pummelling opening of ‘Behind The Veil’ to the blazing gallop in the closer, ‘Weeping City’.
Standout track: ‘Weeping City

04: This Tongue Is Poison – demo
This Tongue Is Poison’s four track demo of wrenching emotional hardcore really took me aback on first listen. It’s simple enough really and the production isn’t great (it’s only a demo after all), but the quality of the short tunes shines through all that.
Standout track: ‘Weaker

03: Bacchus Bacchus
“Raging”. That’s the word that Bacchus uses to describe themselves. Pretty apt, it has to be said. Galway’s finest hardcore sons dropped this powerhouse of an LP during the summer and it didn’t disappoint. It’s ferocious, unrelenting crust that simple kicks your heard in for 35 minutes.
Standout track: ‘Hopeless Daggers’

02: Altar of Plagues – Mammal
If you’re surprised by how good this album is then you haven’t been paying attention, have you? 2009’s White Tomb truly marked the arrival of Cork’s post-black metal outfit, Altar of Plagues, in breath-taking fashion, after some EP releases. Followed by another spectacular EP last year entitled Tides, it seemed the stars were truly aligned for Altar of Plagues to release something utterly spellbinding. Mammal is it.
Standout track: ‘Neptune Is Dead

01: Refraction – Refraction
Refraction finally released their debut album in January, and twelve months on, it hasn’t lost any of its bite. The four-piece play an absolutely captivating brand of instrumental metal, with blends of post rock and the progressive all sprinkled on for good measure. Refraction’s strength is its fluidity. It’s very much a complete album with not one dull moment to be found from the avalanching riffs of ‘Light Fades’ to the mesmerising crescendos found in ‘Into Nothing’ and ‘Until We Reach’ to the sultry lead guitars of ‘Mortal’. All wrapped up in a near-perfect production, there really isn’t anything to fault with this album.

Check back tomorrow for the lowdown on the EPs and demos of the year and Wednesday for the all-important Top 25 albums of the year. Some of the releases mentioned here may be rearing their heads again.