Hey everyone! Sorry for the radio silence the past month or so — I got married on December 9, so that occupied a lot of my time. That’s over now, though. Everything went wonderfully and I slept for the past two days, so time to get back at it!
I haven’t been entirely absent from the internet. If you’re interested in learning what my favorite metal-ish albums of the year were, check out my list over at MetalSucks. I may do a few of these EOY-type things before the end of the year, but seeing as Bandcamp has their top list going, I thought I’d write a little about some of my favorite BC discoveries from this year that I haven’t covered elsewhere (sorry, Carpenter Brut!). In no real order:
Dallas Campbell – The Seven Sisters and the Serpent
I’m obviously familiar with Mr. Campbell from his work with Ogre and his own previous ambient journeys, but TSSS takes things to the next level. An all-enveloping homage to classic electronic music, it sucks you into its distant world and keeps you there as its neon glitz washes over you. His mastery of different forms (there are dub excursions, beat-heavy synth pop, and Berlin School experimentation, among others) puts him at the top of the analog synthesizer pack.
Galácteos – Galácteos
As of this writing, I’m the only one to own this album, and it’s a goddamn travesty. If you love upbeat, disco-influenced electropop with heavy Krautrock influences, this is your jam. If you didn’t understand a word in the last sentence, it’s still your jam. Fans of Justice, Rockets, and Devo shouldn’t overlook this infectious Argentinian delight.
Scavenger – Battlefields
I love me some mutant metal, and these 30 minutes are some of the finest throwback Viking raids you’ll hear all year. The rough production, the giant riffs, the buff barbarian dude and metal bikini lady on the cover — these Belgians are going for a very specific aesthetic, and it’s rad. Sure, there’ve been hundreds of these bands, but Scavenger have it where it counts — the songs.
Marijannah – Til Marijannah
Turns out the fine folks in Wormrot can do doom as well as they can do grindcore. Marijannah is a real treat for the ears, a fuzz-soaked, slow-paced march beyond the walls of sleep. The Singaporeans know how to construct a mesmeric jam, the stoner metal rumble scratching that itch between your chakras that you can never quite reach.
Deep Space Destructors – Visions from the Void
Speaking of sweet spots, it shouldn’t be much surprise that I’d love a Finnish act that takes the very best aspects of Hawkwind and Maserati and creates a hypnotic space rock masterpiece. There’s even sax! Visions from the Void took me by total surprise, but allow me to forewarn you: this’ll launch you as high as Sputnik.
Rough Spells – Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch
Screw the bigots – if it made all occult rock sound as good as this, every band should have trans members. Modern Kicks has a kind of Rush-meets-Maiden-meets-Blood Ceremony thing going, and it kicks serious ass. They have the looks that kill and riffs that’ll bury your corpse six feet deep.
Holy Fawn – Death Spells
Post-rock usually bores the Slint out of me, but this black-clad quartet incorporates shoegaze, black metal, and indie touches into a cohesive statement. The way they nimbly balance the pretty and the ugly reminds me of Deafheaven and Astronoid, but in their own unique way. While a lot of the albums on this list admittedly look to the past for inspiration, Holy Fawn show how to take those influences and point them towards the future.
Gloom Influx – Voyageur
Gloom Influx reached out to me over Facebook, which is usually a quick trip to the trash pile, but it’s hard to ignore something this fun. In a year that saw a lot of metal-influenced synthwave, this stood out. With nods to Ministry, Megadeth, and Justice, this one-man Canadian wrecking crew combines his love of loud guitars and overdriven samplers into one headbanging package.
Trevor Something – Ultraparanoia
A trippy electronic journey through one man’s mental struggles, Trevor Something’s latest full-length is a culmination of the different styles he’s played with over his career. Mixing in breakbeats, ambient, synthpop, futuristic R&B, and weird interstitials, it’s a unique, cathartic work from an artist unwilling to stay nailed to one genre. It’s certainly better than electroshock therapy.
Sergeant Thunderhoof – Terra Solus
The band is called Sergeant Thunderhoof, so you can probably guess this ain’t gonna be twee. They don’t have deserts in England (as far as I know), but if they did, the Sarge would dwell there, surrounded by their nomadic caravan of amplifier worshippers and hash dealers. Make sure to stop at this oasis.
Chapel of Disease – ...And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye
Don’t let the Billy Corgan-level album titling put you off. While this may be tagged under “death metal,” it spins the genre on its ear by refusing to conform to the more boring parts of its dogma. It feels… freeing. There’s the usual shredding and shrieking, but also also crazy fusion-y riffs, virtuoso blues solos, and, most importantly, tunes that don’t get buried under a barrage of BWARRGH. It’s a plague worth catching.