Another tough category. Lots of great stuff, and as always, if it made the site I consider it to be worth your while. Even so, if you wanted to narrow down for budget purposes, this is where it's at. Honorable mention for The Filth Element.
"This EP represents the arduous experience which ensues during panic episodes, when mentally the conditions of life unravel within and I'm left recognizing calm energy flowing gently below the insane rubble of my human life. Reflecting after these intense, often suicidal moments, it becomes clear that culture, language, love, work, acquisition, sex, survival are all expressions of this energy, but are secondary to it. They are the form in which humans express energy, not energy itself. This realization has helped me, and it is important to communicate."
For all of the similiarities to Fugazi, I must also give credit where it is due for where The Nepalese Temple Ball venture out into more extreme territory. For one, these guys take the aesthetic to much darker places than their elders generally did. They had their moments, but Arbor is a consistently derisive affair that never ventures into the light.
Not as vile-sounding as groups like Indian or Lord Mantis, they sport a bit of a post-hardcore fusion to their sound. It's kind of like listening to Converge played at half speed. There are still some bendy, dissonant melodies and use of feedback; but Valve tempers this with the more traditional sound of Wovoka and Alaskan.
This is another great example of a unique fusion of sounds coming together just right. That opening scream and guitar hook on “Serpents” is perfectly designed to pull you in. But Crown is quick to pull back the veil and let us know there will be a softer-albeit still dark-side of this album. The portions of clean singing backed only by ambient noise and digital drum beats, fortunately, are equally noteworthy. There is a nice back and forth between this and the dense walls of distortion that keeps the listener immersed in the experience.
With Architects of the Void, this stoner quartet truly step outside of the boundaries of the genre. There are still your doomier affairs, such as the lumbering chords and sustained growls of the title track, but these are mitigated by the energy of "Philosopher's Blade," going half Celtic Frost, half Motorhead. Even "Architects of the Void" takes a sudden left turn in the final third towards a progressive build that is anything but funeral.
Wrath Monolith instantly caught my attention with its fusion of death metal vox and riffs with funeral doom atmosphere. Vocals are primarily deep growls with the occasional retch. Meanwhile the guitars provide a dual trudge of crunchy chords with effects-laden leads that are simplistic, but highly infectious and well-crafted. Songs run the gamut of slow, atmospheric marches like opener, “Paradoxon” to more mid-paced, palm-mute heavy affairs like “Our Ruin Silhouettes.” The latter sports some excellent soloing and use of harmonics that made this a fast favorite.
This music is beyond moody. It's an encapsulating bubble of tension. The Earth is the Sky is certainly still soothing in a way, but even listening to this in the background keeps me in a state of hypervigilance. And the riffs aren't exactly filler either. Things can pick up, as on "Atticus Atlas." That rapid, buzzing strumming followed by the Tron-ish electronic warble have a very industrial feel. These moments remind me of another recent release in Crown's Natron.
Los Angeles, California. Home to sunshine, beaches, and hundreds of wealthy, beautiful people. Surfing, shopping, smiling people. Wovoka has come to change all of that. They have come to slap the latte out of your hand and break those perfectly capped teeth. Most closely comparable to works from Alaskan, Saros is a brutal piece of sludge metal determined to break down the façade and leave a wake of destruction. Yet the coming storm is not without its own magnificence.
Triptykon is worth mentioning, especially in the darker moments of tracks like "The Devil's Elixir." Similar lyrics and vocal delivery amp the heaviness to 11 without having to rely on speed or volume. Compositions are always on the move, and even the moodier bits have a certain energy. This is very purposeful, directed emotion. Einfallen is not a drawn out love letter to despair. As the full title implies, there a level of hope, redemption, and victory here as well.
One of the many great things about this album are the minimalist lyrics. Author & Punisher has developed a mastery of shocking with a few very visual words, not unlike the work of Lord Mantis. "The Barge" repeats the cryptic mantra of "No peace, no faith." Messages like this leave you in a cesspool of nihilism. The delivery, especially on closer "Void, Null, Alive," is both hypnotic and illustrative. The haunting, almost atonal, singing on "Shame" contrasts harshly with the violent eruptions of pessimistic bile. This is just one example of the excellent use of vocal layering. Meanwhile, the pulsating notes of Tristan's machines are undulations of cyborg sex. The debauchery comes to a head on "Teething," which just sounds downright dirty.