well, hells bells, here we are at the end of another one. the cricket went balls deep in a whole helluva lot of heavy metal this year, but there were plenty of other sounds in the mix as well. below is a list of the top 25 albums to dig deepest into our psyche and spin most often from our speakers (with band names linked to our original thoughts, if we had any, and/or a tune or two)…
grand magus triumph and power
the well samsara
bad tattoo another bad tattoo
hitten first strike with the devil
metal inquisitor ultima ratio regis
the dead space faker
peter murphy lion
have a nice life deathconsciousness
planning for burial desideratum
new light choir volume ii
dawnbringer night of the hammer
pallbearer foundations of burden
midnight no mercy for mayhem
possessor electric hell
order of israfel wisdom
midnight priest midnight steel
apostle of solitude of woe and wounds
northumbria bring down the sky
air raid point of impact
primordial where greater men have fallen
ad/dc rock or bust — seriously, i’ve been rockin’ this thing since it landed. “play ball” was the first single, but it’s the title track that really gets the cricket’s horns up. can’t wait for the tour to hit the states.
tons of drone — go read anti-gravity bunny’s year-end list for some great recs.
and check out metal squadron for great old-school metal by modern rockers.
but with all of the great music the cricket got into this year, the best thing we heard or saw, far and away, was king diamond’s show at fun fun fun fest. fucking epic, theatrical heavy metal at its best. here’s a video someone posted to the interwebs…
rock it. see you on the other side…
Buried deep in more classic 80s metal sounds of late, Los Grillos missed this growling menace of a noise rock banger from Young Widows when it landed back in May, but we’re damn glad to have stumbled upon it here at the end. This thing fucking rips and rumbles with a heavy metal meets noise rock vibe, like Sonic Youth covering The Melvins or Unsane if they were less AmRep, more Relapse. Jagged guitars, groaning vocals, and general discord bite and scrape and stagger and tear like a couple of drunks deep in blackout despair lashing out at each other in the dirty back alley behind the bar. Anyone who digs the likes of the Jesus Lizard or Barkmarket will wanna give this one a go.
Easy Pain is out now via Temporary Residence. Check it out here.
On new track “Black Sheep”– the first from a forthcoming debut lp– Toxic Room launch right the fuck into it with a thrash meets Motorhead intensity and never let up. Double-kick drums and white-knuckle riffs mix with a gravelly falsetto to tell the tale of outsider metal-head pride. The band shares its lead-screamer– and an affinity for bringing classic metal to a contemporary crowd– with Midnight Priest, but where Midnight Priest lean as much occult as they do fight-hard-rock-hard anthemics, Toxic Room come off as all fight and rock, all the time. Los Grillos is lookin’ forward to a full length from these no bullshit carriers of the metal torch, but in the mean time, we’re raisin’ a toast to the “Black Sheep”.
Alright, it’s here, the first AC/DC album in almost five years, Rock or Bust, and the first without brother Malcolm anchoring the rhythms with his sturdy guitar crunch. So then, how is the thing? I suppose it depends…
If I were to be cynical about the whole affair, I could say that it panders to fans by serving up AC/DC lite with songs like the title track. I mean, previous AC/DC anthems to the glory and grind of rockin’ all the way to the grave include “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and “Highway to Hell”. Now we get “Rock or Bust”? Fuckin’ hell. Bust.
On the other hand, I could give in to the hardcore AC/DC fan in me, realize that that band is never going to be that band again, take the new album on its own terms, and recognize that, at the end of the day, this is a pretty lean and mean rock ‘n’ roll animal. Sure, it’s front-loaded with the slick anthemics of the title track and the crowd-pleasing single “Play Ball”, but the deeper one gets into the album’s short 35 or so minutes, the leaner and meaner it gets. Standing up and counted are some tight, melodic riffs from Angus, crunchy guitar rhythms worthy of Malcolm’s legacy, bass work from Cliff Williams high enough in the mix to– along with some solid drumming from the allegedly murderous, meth-loving Phil Rudd– shake the shit out of your foundations, and reliably gravel-gargled-with-whiskey vocals from Brian Johnson. And though the production from Brendan O’Brien is certainly slick enough for an A&R man to hear a single, it seems to get louder and more raw as the album progresses. Or maybe that was just the Lone Star I was drinking on first spin. In either case, by the time I got through the last notes of album closer “Emission Control” (still the kings of the rock ‘n’ roll double entendre!), I was ready to hit repeat and rock it all over again. So fuck cynicism– Rock!
Rock or Bust is out now (pretty much anywhere you can by music, I’d imagine).