Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 in review - the big top 100 (part 1/2)

I don't know what I was thinking with this top 100 business, where even a couple of sentences about each album feels like endless homework, but it had to be done. I'm still bitter about the records left out of this crazy huge list! Hope some of you discover something nice out of this that you didn't know.

Anyway, here goes, first half, from #100 to #51. Apologies for typos, mistakes and general random fuck-ups.

Ready, set, geek!

100. MORTE INCANDESCENTE …Relembrando Um Túmulo Esquecido
Kicking off with my Portuguese album of the year - no frills necro black'n'roll featuring Corpus Christii's Nocturnus Horrendus. Filthy, groovy and pitch black.

99. WATAIN Lawless Darkness
A landmark album for Watain and for black metal in general, if only for its commercial consequences. That a black whirlwind of death like this album is turned into one of the most popular of the year speaks volumes about the current exposition of our "underground".

98. CASTEVET Mounds Of Ash
Atmospheric and beautiful, Mounds Of Ash sounds just like that cover hints. Foggy, eerie and deeply enveloping, fully justifying its presence on the ever-fascinating Profound Lore roster.

97. IMMOLATION Majesty And Decay
You know what you get with Immolation, and they always deliver. Majestically brutal death metal done the proper way. And the way Bob Vigna attacks his guitar is still one of the most fascinatingly metal sights ever.

96. ROSETTA A Determinism Of Morality
I wrote about them here when I was all excited about this album, and my opinion hasn't changed since.

95. ZOROASTER Matador
Took a while to settle with me, this album, but once it did it stayed there. It's the album they've always seemed capable of doing, full of razor-sharp melodies and killer riffs. Excited to see them at Roadburn!

94. BETA RADIO Seven Sisters
One of the most unexpected entries in my list, Beta Radio's Seven Sisters is a brilliant dusty folk-americana album full of simple and catchy songs to sing while sitting on your porch with an acoustic guitar.

93. WHITE WIZZARD Over The Top
Bassist, songwriter and bandleader Jon Leon doesn't seem to be able to hold a line-up for more than five minutes, so no one apart from himself remains of the Over The Top recordings. It's a shame, because they were really on to something here, screamin', thrashin', soarin' heavy metal that lame big-names like Enforcer can only dream of.

92. THE HOWLING WIND Into The Cryosphere
The Howling Wind's second album is much more Unearthly Trance-y than the first one, but still maintains that appropriately icy, chilling misanthropic distance, a certain bestial inhumanity that lends Into The Cryosphere an aloof, monumental quality.

91. MISSISSIPPI BONES Mississippi Bones
Awesome southern rock'n'roll that I discovered totally randomly, and it earned a band of the week feature. I'm anxious for more. 

90. RINOA An Age Among Them
Their first and last album, as they have recently split up, and such a shame too, since their atmospheric post metal could already rival with the best. Guys, reconsider.

89. KHOMA A Final Storm
Just try to listen to this a couple of times and then keeping those melodies out of your head for the susbsequent week. Try it. Can't be done.

Physical evidence that ultra-technical brutal death metal can nevertheless be full of feeling and emotion. Play this to any doubters to obliterate their puny misconceptions.

87. FUKPIG Belief Is The Death Of Intelligence
Mick Kenney, the mighty Irrumator, keeps pushing the boundaries of extremity with his various bands. Fukpig's second album is as devastating as the 2009 debut, the intensity of its blackened grind sometimes almost too much to bear.

86. WITHERED Dualitas
"Atlanta, Georgia" and "underrated" are two apparently incompatible terms in 2010, but they both apply to Withered, already on their third album and always offering an original and punishing vortex of black and death metal. Crushing stuff.

85. NECRO DEATHMORT This Beat Is Necrotronic
They play what I'd describe as digital drone doom (seriously) and their band name is made up of three words that mean death. Make of that insanity what you will, but whatever you do don't pass up on this outrageous album.

84. KOLLWITZ Like Iron I Rust
One of the best picks out of the Neurosis-worship gang, this Norwegian gang have a really, really promising debut with this album. Heavy, deep and wonderfully atmospheric, it sounds like the work of a veteran band already. Mark this name. 

83. WOVENHAND The Threshing Floor
Not as soul-grippingly fascinating as some of David Eugene Edwards' previous albums, with Wovenhand or with 16 Horsepower, but still full of that fiery spiritual intensity and that instantly recognizable voice and songwriting ability. One of the truly unique musical personalities of 2010.

82. THE WOUNDED KINGS The Shadow Over Atlantis
Traditional doom with a few twists, as The Wounded Kings really come into their own. Appropriately enough, I only paid attention to this album like it deserves after their amazing Roadburn show, so I'm doubly glad I was there for it.

81. SUMA Ashes
Enormously heavy cosmic stoner doom, crushing and almost suffocating. Nothing not to like here.

80. ELECTRIC WIZARD Black Masses
It's probably higher on most lists of this sort than on mine, but that doesn't mean I don't think it's a great album. I'm just very partial to the buried ultra-fuzz of old rather than this cleaner, more riff and vocal melody oriented approach, but it's still the Wizard and it's still great.

Depending on who I've played this to, I've heard they're the best band ever and that they're absolute shit. Christine Davis' vocals might be an acquired taste, but they're so full of soul and truth that you can't help but be conquered by the whole thing if you really love heavy metal. Oh, and Fenriz loves them.

78. BURNING LOVE Songs For Burning Lovers
Just having Cursed's Chris Colohan on vocals grants Burning Love instant entry into any list. Cursed are one sorely missed band. That Burning Love play fucking furious punk rock helps, too.

77. A FOREST OF STARS Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring
Out-Agalloching Agalloch and reaching Wolves In The Throne Room-like heights, A Forest Of Stars emerge as a bright new promise on the more progressive black metal camp with their second album, a wonderful mix of beauty and savagery.

76. COLD BODY RADIATION The Great White Emptiness
Another of my great 2010 discoveries, Cold Body Radiation will drop the temperature of any room where The Great White Emptiness is played. Hazy, nebulous and distant, its cosmic slumber will numb you into a bittersweet oblivion.

75. GHOST Opus Eponymous
I actively tried to hate Ghost, but it's impossible, once their hooks are set in you. It's one thing to resist the hype and not call this album of the year, but it's quite another to not spend all day humming stuff like the chapel of ritual smells of dead human sacrifice etc, after just a couple of listens. Great, now I'll have that in my head all day. AGAIN.

74. THOU Summit
Baton Rouge's ugliest sons drag you through the mud once again with more dirty, downtuned, facebreaking sludge. Just how we like it.

73. INQUISITION Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
I'm glad Jaime over at The Living Doorway had this high up on his own list, I would have forgotten the wretched thing otherwise. A capital sin, for sure. Twisted riffs, vocals from beyond the grave and yet one more chapter in the grand Inquisition march towards cosmic domination. Urgh.

One of the best grindcore albums of the year from one of the most unlikely sources, a band with a huge name that I disliked at first but now love, along with their crazy Brutal Truth-like grind. They were my band of the week when I discovered them.

71. NACHTMYSTIUM Addicts: Black Meddle, Part II
I thought I'd lost them with the previous album, of which I'm not at all a fan, but this is more like it. Ministry gone black metal? Oh yeah.

70. HEIRS Fowl
Look at that cover. Just look at it. It's just... wrong. Like most of this album. In the best possible way. Read my band of the week text on them, I have to scroll down and stop looking at that thing.

69. MENACE RUINE Union Of Irreconcilables
...not that Menace Ruine are the most pleasant of sights and sounds either. While I don't hold this album in the same untouchable regard as the previous one, the utterly faultless The Die Is Cast, this mysterious duo can still evoke horrid atmospheres like a demented evil twin of Dead Can Dance would.

68. NEGURĂ BUNGET Vîrstele Pamîntului
They survived the terrible split (even if they've just restructured the line-up yet again recently) and still put out a fantastic album like Vîrstele Pamîntului, positively dripping with Transylvanian atmosphere, so all respect to them. It's not as good as Om, of course, but then again few things are.

67. LUDICRA The Tenant
Haunting and darkly psychedelic, The Tenant seems to have finally made more people aware of Ludicra after several years of obscurity. It's about time!

66. CIRCLE OF ANIMALS Destroy The Light
Quick, look behind you! Is Sanford Parker there? He's not? That's weird, dude seems to be everywhere. He even managed to find time to reign in Yakuza's Bruce Lamont and an all-star cast of drummers and make one of the coolest industrial albums of the past few years, a true homage to the legendary Chicago scene.

65. DANZIG Deth Red Sabaoth
Some people seemed to have hated this album, but I've rocked out to Danzig like I hadn't in quite a few years with it. Man still hasn't lost the ability to belt out some cracking Halloween tunes.

64. MELVINS The Bride Screamed Murder
It seems that the Big Business-enriched Melvins line-up peaked with its very first effort, the awesome (A) Senile Animal, at least so far, but it's the Melvins we're talking about - every album has a world of fascinating details and enough shit-heavy parts to break your collarbone over and over. And that last song? Eerie, dude.

63. BASTARD PRIEST Under The Hammer Of Destruction
Fucking grim, hard and loose punkish death'n'roll, like the corpse of Entombed spitting out fat larvae all over a puddle of puke. Oh yeah.

62. EXTORTION Loose Screws
Harsh, absolutely relentless powerviolence. My head hurts just by looking at the album cover. Holy shit.

61. EIBON Entering Darkness
Awesome band that I discovered a bit late but made up for it by writing up a band of the week feature on them.

60. CONAN Horseback Battle Hammer
When you think shit can't get any heavier, along come a few thugs like Conan to tell you it can. I'm not entirely sure if this is an album or an EP (I've seen it referred as both things depending on the source), but whatever, I've made my EP list and this needs to be somewhere.

59. CELESTIIAL Where Life Springs Eternal
Thanks to the wonderful R. Loren, who has a few records of his own making on this list still to come, I discovered Celestiial and proceeded to be fascinated for days with this album. Check out R's full list, there's some serious good taste going on there.

58. RAY LAMONTAGNE & THE PARIAH DOGS God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
One of my favourite singer/songwriters of the last few years (Till The Sun Turns Black is one heart-stopping album) goes all out with a band, and while the transition to this mood is a bit difficult at first for long-time fans, the strength of the songs eventually pulls through. Sensitive yet hard-playin', playful but darkly emotional, Ray's the man.

I'm glad Daniel opened for Neurosis in the London show I attended, as his wonderful performance at that gig encouraged me to go listen to Say God with more care than I had previously, and I went on an enlightening Higgs kick for a few days. Profound and meaningfully spiritual stuff.

56. KRIEG The Isolationist
Title says it all. A cold, cold sound of isolation and self-imposed solitude is what this album is. As if writing most of Twilight's album (still to come on this list...) wasn't enough, N. Imperial found time to further amaze with his own Krieg.

55. 1349 Demonoir
Trample the two wildly different last 1349 albums under Satan's mighty hoof and the puddle you get is Demonoir. There you go.

54. VASAELETH Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin
Occult, mouldy and fucking old-sounding Incantation-like death metal, if you're not into it you're a wimp. In a year without Portal, this is as good as it gets!

53. MICHAEL GIRA I Am Not Insane
As a sort of taster for the Swans album, Michael's solo album holds up remarkably well as an entity onto itself too. Both the barebones versions of what would come afterwards, the reinterpretations of old songs and the originals all share the same imposing quality of the man's talent. Genius shines through, behind a wall of sound or a single acoustic guitar.

52. HELMET Seeing Eye Dog
Best Helmet album since the 2004 return and worthy of the band's past. From Beatles-esque harmonies (okay, and a Beatles cover too) to Page's harshest vocals, like, ever, Seeing Eye Dog is a total grower of an album. Starts out unassumingly, and when you notice it you're listening to it every day and you know every song by heart already.

51. DARKTHRONE Circle The Wagons
If you can stomach yet another direction shift, into Manilla Road true heavy metal territory this time, Circle The Wagons is actually a very rewarding album. Rudimentary and slightly repetitive, it still offers amazing songs with the seemingly intact Darkthrone spirit. Where will Fenriz go next?


  1. haha holy shit you did a top 100??

    that is BOLD, my friend. and i'm already seeing a ton of stuff that I missed.

  2. It's a fuckload of hassle, that's what it is. I still have 50 albums to write about tomorrow!

    And even so, you've just ruined it, because I just realized with your last post that I totally forgot about Blasphemophagher! :D

  3. a hassle is right - i could barely get through 20.

    maybe you could just write about your top 50 snacks or something instead?

  4. Man, there's an idea. Visit would soar, too. I'm sure there are more people into burritos than into atmospheric post-black metal.

  5. FUCK i forgot to add burritos to my list!