Thursday, December 3, 2009

Next 10 (Metalloid) of 2009

As I've admitted, when it comes to metal, I'm purely a dabbler - a tourist (such an accurate insider epithet). But even I know that 2009 was a great year for heavy music. At any rate, I've split the semi-traditional Next 10 (#'s 11-20) into separate Metal and Non-Metal lists. Still, this one is not exhaustive (haven't heard all the good ones), contains some stretches (only tenuously related to metal), and intentionally leaves out some critical contenders (I continue to think Sunn O))) is a prank on its audience). Major 2009 Top 10's will come out about weekly throughout December.

Anyway, I hope you like it!

#20 The Map Is Not The Territory and
Portmanteau - Cloudkicker

"Ever Thus to Deadbeats" from The Map Is Not The Territory (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Free Downloads - at Official

Genre - Electro-Beat Laptop Heaviness
Location - United Kingdom
Review - Dorset Rocks

Featured here in an early Free Music post, Cloudkicker's discography comes too cheap by infinity. Not purely metal, but definitely in that ballpark. Good stuff for anyone who enjoys distorted guitar, big beats, stark dynamics, and free music! (Also, nice reference to The Big Lebowski in the sample song's title...)

#19 Crack the Skye - Mastodon

Crack The Skye
"Oblivion" from Crack the Skye (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Official Store
iTunes - Mastodon
Lala - Crack the Skye

Genre - Epic Progressive Post-Metal
Location - Atlanta, GA
Review - The Quietus

I'm still not totally sold on Mastodon, and I'm not sure it tops Leviathan (2004). But there's some good stuff on this, yet another concept album. You know I'm not above some proggy-ness, but for me the cool sections neither fit together nor crash violently enough. But anyone with multiple singers and song titles like"The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral" will always have a chance...

#18 Snailface - Snailface

"Botanomancer (Sap Cave of the Magi)" from Snailface (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Free Download - at Official

Genre - Dooom
Location - San Francisco, CA
Review - Zann from Argentina [translated from the EspaƱol... about 3/5 down the page, might have to click "Translate" again]

I'd never heard of Kowloon Walled City (the band). But they took up a 6-day album-making challenge, and the results are free! Hilarious, good, dopey (stoner) Doom, recommended for Black Sabbath fans. The riffs are thick and numerous, the playing is right-on, and once again it's a super-bargain.

#17 Exterminating Angels - Exterminating Angels

Exterminating Angels
"See You Next Tuesday" from Exterminating Angels (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Sound Exchange, Houston, TX

Genre - Heavy-Duty Experimental Noise
Location - Houston, TX
Ranking - KTRU Top 35, 11/29/2009 (#27)

Guitar superhero Scott Ayers (Walking Timebombs, Truth Decay, Pain Teens, Anomie Records), bassist/noisemaker Shaun Kelly (Indian Jewelry, Rotten Piece, Sad Pygmy), and drummer Adam Butera (Kai/ros, Gasher). Not technically a metal band, but this is a grinding, dirty album so it goes on the list. Kelly being a video director, they have tons o' videos, including an extremely gory one for their cover of Stickmen With Rayguns' "Grave City." They play a matinee show every Sunday at Super Happy Fun Land.

#16 When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV - Nadja

"No Cure for the Lonely" [Swans] from When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - All That Is Heavy
iTunes - Nadja
Lala - When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV

Genre - Ambient Shoegaze Drone Metal
Location - Toronto, ON, Canada / Berlin, Germany
Review - Drowned in Sound

Yeah, this is an album of all covers. And I think mostly '80s stuff if I remember correctly. So, there's Swans... and My Bloody Valentine, Slayer, The Cure... a-Ha. Dreamy, shoegazey melodies buried under corroded noise and submerged in fathoms of reverb. Maybe the MBV cover isn't too surprising. (Oh, I couldn't find a video for "Faith" from this one, but here's a different Cure cover.)

#15 When Sweet Sleep Returned - The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

When Sweet Sleep Returned
"Drunken Leaves" from When Sweet Sleep Returned (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Tee Pee Records
iTunes - The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
Lala - When Sweet Sleep Returned

Genre - Laid-Back Stoner Metal
Location - San Francisco, CA
Review - Strange Glue

Hippies always make the best music. This one's another stretch, but the previous AHISS album was more metal, I promise! They've since moved from a Blue Cheeresque stoner proto-metal to something more like psychedelic rock 'n' roll hits circa 1970. We're talking CCR, The Doors, not very metal I know... But they're on Tee Pee! O well, here's another song. See, the YouTube description specifically says "Retro Stoner Sludge Psychedelic Retro Fuzz Wah Wah Rock Doom Metal."

#14 Black Cascade and Malevolent Grain EP - Wolves in the Throne Room

Black Cascade
"Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" from Black Cascade (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - All That Is Heavy
iTunes - Wolves in the Throne Room
Lala - Black Cascade / Malevolent Grain

Genre - Transformative Black Metal
Location - Olympia, WA
Review - Stoner Rock

Black Cascade's not quite Two Hunters (#7, 2007), but it's better than the EP. Same thing going on: longform USBM with moments of terrifying beauty and ambience. Quality stuff overall! Here's a current playlist with the whole album. And one with the full EP.

#13 Dimensional Bleedthrough - Krallice

Dimensional Bleedthrough
"The Mountain" from Dimensional Bleedthrough (2009)

Official/Myspace -
Purchase - Profound Lore Records
iTunes - Krallice

Genre - Lovecraftian Urban-Decay Black Metal
Location - Brooklyn, NYC, NY
Review - Metal Review

Now the learner has become the master. If you like WITTR, I would suggest Krallice's new one before Wolves' current-year releases. From Brooklyn, they furrow the same fields, but their fields are concrete and many-tentacled. No idea what the songs are about, just judging by titles like Autochthon, Cnestorial, Molec Codices, and Monolith of Possession. Joining a suitably Black Metal rhythm section are usually-non-Black technical wizards Colin Marston (#9, 2007) and Mick Barr. Here's a video of the title track live. The studio version is available for free download via Stereogum, as is "The Mountain."

#12 Absu - Absu

"Girra's Temple" from Absu (2009)

Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Candlelight [CD / LP]
iTunes - Absu
Lala - Absu

Genre - Sumerian Thrashened Black Metal
Location - Plano, TX
Review - Pitchfork

I've already written about the titanic Tara (2001), so that's two Black Metal Classics bands on this list. With only the great drummer held over the eight-year hiatus, this one's only very slightly different sounding - offset by a return to the ancient Near East from the less-ancient Celtic domains. Again, I have no idea what's going on here thematically, but titles like "Nunbarshegunu" and "Ye Uttuku Spells" give a vague idea. The music continues to pummel and thrash for its very life amidst the battles of yore, as Sumerian deities glower from the mists of... There's also great tunes like "...of the Dead Who Never Rest in Their Tombs Are the Attendance of Familiar Spirits" and, uh, "Amy."

#11 Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars - Blut Aus Nord

Memoria Vetusta II
"The Cosmic Echoes of Non-matter (Immaterial Voices of the Fathers)" from Memoria Vetusta II:Dialogue with the Stars (2009)

All Music Guide - Blut Aus Nord
Wikipedia - /wiki/Blut_Aus_Nord
Purchase - Candlelight Records
iTunes - Blut Aus Nord
Lala - Memoria Vetusta II

Genre - Epic Industrial Black Metal
Location - France
Review - Metal Sucks

The French are making, how you say?, the good music. I'd never heard of Blut Aus Nord, and was resistant to the idea of really, really good Black Metal coming from France. (Amesoeurs was just pretty good...) But the opinions mounted in one of those places I frequent, so I checked it out. Really, really good stuff. Apparently a return to their Black roots after some more electro-industrial dabblings, Memoria Vetusta II (the sequel) still has an arty, symphonic musicality. Let's call it dark and gloomy, but not grim and frostbitten. I made a YouTube playlist for the whole album.
So, dig it!

Absu vinyl
For the record, I first tried getting into Sunn O))) due to the subtitle of their Metallica cover, "FWTBT (I dream of Lars Ulrich being thrown out of the bus instead of my master Mystikall Kliff Burton)" still cracks me up.

Malevolent Grain

1 comment:

ian said...

Glad you liked Snailface. Snailface II is now available at