For the second edition of year-end selections we are drifting over to the darker side of the spectrum. Though we are admittedly not as in touch with developments in the metal world as we once were, we still make an effort to seek out new stuff, and some of it really sticks around our listening routine.
Cult of Luna – Vertikal
A post-metal concept album based on the movie Metropolis – what’s not to like about that? In a genre that has almost become a cliche for predictable slow-builds and climaxes, Cult of Luna push the boundaries of their sound by working in electronic elements, even a bit of dubstep-inspired wobbling. A worthy heir to Isis’s Panopticon, a classic in post-metal (and one of our all time favorites) that offers a similarly dystopian take on modernity.
Inter Arma – Sky Burial
Richmond-based metal provocateurs Inter Arma throw the kitchen sink at this one on their exhilarating debut. The 10-minute epic, “Long Road Home,” featuring a spaced-out Americana jam that explodes into a crescendo of blackened fury, would have been my favorite metal song of the year were it not for the next record on this list…
Deafheaven – Sunbather
A record that deserves the plaudits and hype for basically blowing the doors off of black metal conventions. Alcest has long been one of our favorites in the genre, and these guys take their experiments in the lighter side of black metal to the next level. Not to wade into the shitstorm that’s enveloped these guys in the metal community, but as fans of most forward thinking black metal, we have no qualms with the increasing crossover success of the genre, especially if it leads to more moments like when we saw Liturgy open for Sleigh Bells and shred the ears of a crowd full of unsuspecting sorority girls and bros. Though you do have to wonder are how angry the church-burning set must be about a black metal album with a bright pink cover. Controversy aside, this album probably was our most listened to of the year.
SubRosa – More Constant than the Gods
Folk-tinged, female-fronted doom metal with 2 violins(!!). The sound of seemingly ancient ballads dredged up and hammered into oblivion with a pummeling but plodding metal assault. A surprisingly catchy album and a very effective soundtrack for the depressing end of fall and beginning of the long, bleak winter, or at the very least for an afternoon stuck grading exams and papers.
Coliseum – Sister Faith
The best driving music of the year – in fact, due to the circumstances when we first listened to the album, it usually conjures up memories of navigating intense freeway traffic. Simple, but powerful stuff, and a nice blend of metal aggression and punk melody. As an aside, one of the things we miss most about living in Gainesville was going to the grocery store and seeing girls shopping in random band shirts, like Coliseum. Rural North Carolina is not quite the same in this category.
Pelican – Forever Becoming
We have been following these guys for a while, but slowly had been losing interest, until the opening riff of “Deny the Absolute” shocked us back into attentiveness. An invigorating return to form, and a testament to peaks that can be reached in all-instrumental metal.
We will probably crank out one more of these retrospectives before returning to trains, so stay tuned…