Isis – Celestial
Discordance Axis – The Inalienable Dreamless
The Inalienable Dreamless is regularly featured on these kinds of lists if it’s looking at some of the best grindcore albums – and for good reason. Discordance Axis’ final record is that good. It would be the band’s swansong record in 2001 and most definitely is the sound of the three-piece going out in blaze of rotting glory. The Inalienable Dreamless is 23 minutes of near-faultless grind.
Mare - Mare EP
Recently Mare reunited. However, prior to that they were remembered for just one thing – this self-tilted EP from 2004, because it is their lone release and was to be their epitaph when calling it a day (officially) in 2007. Short lived and ephemeral doesn’t come close to describing it. It’s remarkable that a band could make such an impact with this short four track EP, so much so that it would be looked on as a benchmark release for Hydra Head by some. This Toronto band crafted a searing massacre of discordant sludgecore and unnerving melodies with this self-titled, and it was well before its time.
Jesu - Conqueror
I’ve made no secret of my fanboyism for one Mr. Justin K. Broadrick so unsurprisingly; a Jesu album finds its way onto this list. Conqueror is one of Broadrick’s finest moments under the Jesu moniker. It’s eerie droning shoegaze-inflected metal with heavy poignant atmospheres, all the while still being crushingly heavy, tipping its hat slightly to the spectre of Godflesh, shown straight away by the opening riff of the title track. But it’s Broadrick’s ghostly clean vocals buried deep in the mix that really make this record so hauntingly atmospheric. Jesu at its finest.
Pelican – Untitled EP
Somewhat similar to Isis’ Celestial, Pelican’s Untitled EP was an introductory exercise. They would eventually leave Hydra Head and find a home with Southern Lord but the first couple of Pelican records are all pretty stunning and this EP is the band at some of their heaviest best, from the imposing opening riffs of ‘Pulse’ through the appropriately titled ‘Mammoth’ eventually concluding with the massive 12 minute ‘The Woods’.