The albums I listened to and really loved! I made this list, I checked it twice and still didn't manage to get it out within a timeframe that it's still kinda relevant...
So this will be in no particular order but rather a collection of 10 albums I absolutely loved and listened to a whole lot during last year, presented as last time in alphabetical order.
This could have easily ended up on the last list as my hype for this was quite intense after waiting for it since 2007's Antichrist blew me away, but for whatever reason I dove into it headfirst and goddamn I'm happy I did.
What a return to form! These guys came back with a fucking vengeance, bringing back all the signature elements of Akercocke's music but shying away from the overtly Satanic themes of the past. That may sound like they've just become Voices, a fantastic Akercocke side project, but they've still managed to maintain their own identity.
Throughout the album it genuinely feels like a logical next step from where they were after they released Antichrist but forward thinking enough to seem modern at the same time.
When we look at my favorite bands coming back this is quite different to Sikth's return in the way that Sikth spawned a lot of copycats in their wake whereas Akercocke's throne stayed unmanned during their absence from the kingdom. Their signature blend of gothic overtones, blast beats and somehow making thrash metal riffs sound cool in the 2000s has made a great transition to the 2010s and I hope I'll get another chance to see them live before they return to hibernation as last time in Southampton was amazing.
To make a long story short, The Human Abstract released a great debut, a disappointing sophomore album and then finished off the trilogy strong with the fantastic Digital Veil.
What does that have to do with Artificial Language and their endlessly entertaining debut The Observer? Well, Artificial Language was preceded by Art By Numbers, which included members who studied under AJ Minnette, of Human Abstract fame, and then went on to found Artificial Language. Art By Numbers only released Reticence: The Musical but a big way this album, and The Observer, differ from Digital Veil is in the theatrical presentation of the music as well as the exclusive focus on clean vocals.
It's clear, for those familiar with Art By Numbers, that Artificial Language is a direct sequel of sorts. Despite several member changes they've taken some of the coolest elements that made cameos on Reticence: The Musical have been made into more prominent or even "leading" roles in Artificial Language; the piano, a larger focus on theatricality and, as a cherry on top, a diversification on the tempo and feel of each song.
Shreddy, catchy and fun The Observer is highly recommended for anyone seeking intricate, well written metal with a weakness for Andrew Lloyd Weber's work.
This can be a hassle but at the same time I wouldn't want to be in a band that can answer that really easily. I wouldn't want the answer to be as simple as "death metal", "classic rock" or "experimental mathcore with jazzy leanings, Daughters inspired vocals and periodic forays into sassy pop and slam poetry."
Wait...that last one wasn't that straight forward but coincidentally (not really) it leads nicely into the next album on the list, Czar's Life is No Way To Treat An Animal.
As is clear from that description this album is one hell of a ride through some weird shit. I know that is not at all a clear, professional or even helpful on a basic level, a description but if it doesn't draw you in, at least a little, it's not likely to be the album for you.
The video above is the only thing they have on YouTube for this album so I'd recommend, as always, to go to Bandcamp (my absolute favorite source of music) and check it out:
A) Are worth breaking formatting for
B) Don't have anything from their amazing self titled album on YouTube
How to describe THAZ? The simple version would be "relentless" or a similarly overused-by-the-metal-blogosphere word. Many would point out the fact that they're female fronted, which I've now inadvertently done as well, but to be honest I'd pull a RuPaul move out of the bag and call them "fierce".
That's probably just as overused but I felt like it's been a while since RuPaul's Drag Race has been brought up in a post about a grindcore/powerviolence band; it might even be a world first!
Onto the album at hand, it's a great evolution from the already impressive EP and split THAZ released before, introducing even more dynamics into their sound, fine tuning the songwriting, performance and production to perfection.
Give it a spin and it'll spin your fucking head in seven complete circles.
The other 4 albums came from bands I either already liked or (in the case of Artificial Language) liked the predecessor of.
I Trust You To Kill Me's new album Love is one that is simultaneously quite straight forward and a bit hard to explain. It has a lot of elements from different parts of the hardcore scene: some mathcore parts, some clean singing, semi-screamo bits and some of the crispest production on this sort of album I've heard this year.
I would go on and on about this album but I've just discovered that they've taken it off Bandcamp, taken down their Facebook page and there's barely a trace of them online (I mostly just find references to Kiefer Sutherland's tattoo).
I'm not sure what happened, I hope they'll find their way back home as "pitch black is lonely".
Stay tuned for the final 5 on my top 10!