Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Ten Albums of 2008

Edit: Best of 2008 Compilation d/l linked below!

So another year is coming to a close, and thusly I've spend the past week or so thinking a lot about the best albums that came out over the course of these twelve months. Of what I've checked out (thus far), these topped the "List" for me (in alphabetical order):

Black Mountain, In the Future (Jagajaguar)

Heavy enough not to be lame, diverse enough to keep from becoming redundant. This is what more "Psychedelic" bands should aspire to.
"Queens Will Pay" is easily one of my favorite cuts from 2008.

Didn't think this album would be as good as their self-titled debut... It's better.

Fucked Up, Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)

Picking up with the experimentation 2006's Hidden World introduced us to, the band has taken a step even further away from traditional hardcore.The more I listen, the more I'm convinced this is in our best interests.

I can't help but feel like Fucked Up have become one of those bands our kids will ask us if we were into the way we might ask our parents if they were into Black Flag.

Iron Lung, Sexless//No Sex (Prank)

The "First Name" in modern power violence...

Iron Lung progress where so many bands are content merely replicating their predecessors. This album is fast, heavy, noisy, and chaotic all at the same time. It's the kind of music your parents hope you don't bring home.

Personally, I preferred Sexless to their debut (Life. Iron Lung. Death.) but both albums are stellar.

Made Out of Babies, The Ruiner (The End)

Noisy, tight, and heavy - but definitely not your daddy's metal.

Made Out of Babies' third LP is just as solid as the first two (though some might argue it's less aggressive than 2006's Coward: or 2005's Trophy). Think of The Jesus Lizard with a crazy chick singing and you're not too far off.

If you're a fan, you'll probably be interested in (singer) Julie Christmas's other project; Battle of Mice. They dropped a great split LP with Jesu this year as well.

Mind Eraser, Conscious Unconscious (Clean Plate)

Two songs, each taking up one side of this monster LP.

Released only weeks before the 7" EP The Prodigal Son Brings Death (listed below), this is arguably Mind Eraser's best material to date. Slower and heavier than their earlier material. This album dabbles in the more metallic and doomy side of Mind Eraser's sound, whereas Prodigal keeps things faster and more hardcore. Success on both fronts!

"Neanderthal worship band seen buying Celtic Frost and Sleep albums from Record Exchange?"

...Something like that.

Nadja, The Bungled and The Botched (ConSouling)

My favorite release from the Noise/Drone/Post-Metal behemoth.

An hour of beautiful, carefully constructed soundscapes. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes haunting. I love it.

Highly recommended for fans of Boris, SunnO))), Khanate, Ocean, etc.

Rotten Sound, Cycles (Spinefarm)

Scored the leak for this album a year ago (even though it wasn't officially released stateside until summer '08). From the first listen I knew this would be the best metal album to come out this year.

Incredibly tight, heavy-hitting grind from Finland. If you liked Trap Them's first album, this is where they got their sound. This album is more than just a succession of blast-beats though. It's innovative without being pretentious, and it's still accessible to fans of traditional grindcore as well as those who need a more polished sound to their metal.

Tombs, Tombs (Level Plane/Black Box)
Split 12” w/ Planks (Black Box)

Formed in 2007 from the ashes of a short-lived project called Versoma, Tombs is the brain-child of ex-Anodyne guitarist and frontman Mike Hill. The band explores the layered wall-of-sound approach Versoma had taken to song-writing, leading to a less metallic sound than Anodyne, but one still fulfilling for fans of post-hardcore and punk. As a trio, they make better use of their abilities than most five-piece bands. Their shit sounds (if nothing else) full.

Tombs' cite Swans, My Bloody Valentine, Emperor, Burzum, and Godflesh as some of their many influences. The self-titled debut seems more akin to their shoegaze and no-wave forefathers, where the split LP (with Europe's Planks) has a more overt black metal influence.

Since recording their sophomore album (my most anticipated release of 2009), the band has recruited the former drummer of NY's recently departed grindcore band Asra.

After seeing the band last week I can assure that 1) This new addition benefits us all, and 2) The new album, Winter Hours is going to blow minds. Keep an eye out for it.

With Cursed calling it a day in 2008, Tombs are officially my favorite current band.

Trap Them, Seizures in Barren Paradise (Deathwish Inc.)

While less grind-influenced than their debut LP Sleepwell Deconstructor (read: fewer blast-beats), Trap Them have found their true voice.
The band are bridging the divides between blazingly fast metal, crust-punk, hardcore, and noise-rock; and I think with more success than many of their contemporaries.

Ryan McKenney's lyrics are as bitter and chilling as ever, and the band has hit their stride. Great record, great layout, great band.

Walls, Walls (Painkiller)
One-Sided 12” (Iron Lung)

Basically, this is the new Cold Sweat band. Members of Iron Lung, Cold Sweat, and Akimbo playing slow, noisy punk in the vein of Flipper, later Black Flag, The Butthole Surfers. The newer LP was also great, but has faster and more hardcore songs with a more Rorschach sort of feel. Discordant and vaguely depressing. I love this band.

Saw them at Nara Sushi in Richmond last Month with Cough, Snack Truck, and Sweat Lodge. Walls stole the show and played the best set I saw all year. Given the opportunity, check them out live. Even if you're not into the albums, you need to see this.

Runners Up…

- Boris, Smile (Southern Lord)
- Breathing Fire, Years of Lead (Painkiller)
- Ceremony, Still Nothing Moves You (Bridge 9)
- Coffins, Buried Death (20 Buck Spin)
- Cursed, III: Architect of Troubled Sleep (Goodfellow)
- Devour, Devour (Solid State)
- Endless Blockade, Primitive (20 Buck Spin)
- Faithhealer, Bound and Chained (Inkblot)
- Fight Amp, Hungry for Nothing (Translation Loss)
- Grails, Doomsayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence)
- Hooded Menace, Fulfill the Curse (Razorback)
- Leviathan, Massive Conspiracy Against All Life (Moribound Cult)
- Moss, Sub-Templum (Rise Above)
- Portishead, Third (Mercury)
- Socialcide, Unapproachable (Even Worse)


- Bookburner, Bookburner 7” (16Oh)
- Double Negative, Raw Energy EP (Sorry State)
- Logic Problem, Logic Problem 7” (Sorry State)
- Hatred Surge, Servant b/w Bestial 7” (Deer Healer)
- Mentally Challenged, Doctors, Lawyers, Cops and Priests 7” (Self-Released) and Regressor, Pt. 1 Cassette (Painkiller)
- Mind Eraser, The Prodigal Son Brings Death 7" (Youngblood)
- Moutheater/Vegas, Split 7” (Thrashed)
- Sex/Vid, Nests 7” (Dom America)
- Spanish Bombs, Beasts: Man Is God EP (Self-Released)
- Surroundings/Pellinore, World Darkness Split 10”

I still haven't checked any of these albums out, but I have high hopes for each of them...

- Blank Stare, Blank Stare (Third Party/Refuse)
- David Byrne & Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todo Mundo)
- Failures, Failures (Youth Attack)
- Hostage Calm, Lens (Redscroll)
- Ocean, Pantheon of the Lesser (Important)
- Protestant, The Hate, The Hollow. (Halo of Flies)
- Sex/Vid, Communal Living (Dom America)

For you, our reader, I've compiled a mix with songs from most of these releases. Sorry, no Nadja or Moss... the half our songs tipped the scale too much.

Happy Holidays! (Link Fixed!)

Oh, and I'd love to hear what the other contributors think as well.