Friday, May 07, 2010

Essentials of the last decade: More Metal

When I wrote the first installment of the metal portion of this list, I didn't realize how much longer it needed to be.  So there will be two more (including this one), both of which will contain metal that may or may not be deemed "progressive".  I'm not snooty enough to care about separating the remaining albums - they're all to good for segregation.  If you really need an identifier for these five albums, they're all deathly, deathly ugly.  (And that's not a bad thing.)

So, without further ado, let's get five more essentials explained!

Made Out of Babies: Coward

This may be the ugliest album ever recorded - if not, it's very close to it.  And you know what?  That's perfectly okay.  It is infectious and creepy, loud and garish, mean and hideous.  This is not the kind of album that you'd play with your mother around, simply out of respect for her eardrums.  But is there better music to work out to than the ugliness that is Made Out of Babies?  Probably not.  The guitars are raw, the bass overpowers, and vocalist Julie Christmas may be the best creepy female vocalist of all time - the way she can weave beautiful, innocent sounding melodies with screeches of the highest order is to be commended.

Yob: The Great Cessation

Great Cessation
Yob is the preeminent doom metal band, in my view.  Every track on this album accentuates everything that doom metal is supposed to encompass - slow, crushing tempos, guitars tuned so low you're amazed they'll still play, and a palpable sense of despair that hangs like a pregnant spider in every measure.  Each track is a behemoth (most longer than ten minutes) and the whole thing is louder than things should be allowed to be.  It feels like it invades your space - it's like the mouthbreather that seethes right behind you - you hesitate to give it the time of day, but to ignore it is impossible.

Shrinebuilder: S/T

Another album that refuses to let go, Shrinebuilder's first (and only, so far) album is a sonic joy - if you want to bleed from the eardrums.  Being a supergroup, they are somehow able to avoid the nastiest trope of such types of musical outfits - incongruence.  Every bit of this belongs - from the mean drums from the Melvins to the guitar work and vocals from Neurosis to the bass from Om.  I love this disc, and I'm eager to see if this supergroup keeps working together - I can only see bright futures from artists of this calibre working together.

Dillinger Escape Plan: Ire Works

Ire Works
DEP is not one of those bands one listens to casually.  It's not a band that you can say, "Oh, you know, that's kind of cool." Either you really like them, and support what they're trying to do (which is mind-blowing) or you say, "That's not my cup of tea."  Either way, I do like them - and Ire Works is the best reason as to why. It changes its mind as to what kind of record it wants to be constantly - but without the pretentiousness of so many "progressive" groups.  I'm uncomfortable to try and fit DEP into a type of metal, other than experimental.  The vocals clash against the sound of the guitars throughout, the drumming is brutal and maddening, and the whole shebang is wonderfully technical and efficient.  It's not for everyone, but I'm impressed by it every time I listen to it.

Agalloch: Ashes Against the Grain

Ashes Against the Grain
Few CDs shock me the way Ashes Against the Grain did the first time I listened to it.  I was familiar with Agalloch's earlier work, but this album absolutely astounded me in every way - it took all the tropes I liked from their previous records - a mix of clean and harsh vocals, methodical, layered guitar work, and a focus on melody unlike many metal bands - and distilled them into a perfect mix of awesome.  Just read what Peter gushed about it when he first heard it - it echoes my sentiments exactly.  This is a work of immense import, and one that has remained a constant in my playlist for years.


  1. Again, another great list, one that I agree with very much. I have to be honest though, I think I just might put Option Paralysis by TDEP instead of Ire Works. Yeah, I think it just might be better.

  2. I've only gotten my hands on a copy of Option Paralysis in the last couple of days, so I haven't had the chance to adequately digest it yet - but what I've gotten through so far, I certainly enjoy.