COREY MITCHELL’S JANUARY ’12 BLEEDERS’ DIGEST
Holy crap, is 2012 off to a great start or what? After my first run-through, I had 35 albums that could have been potential Bleeders, but whittled them down to a mere thirteen. The diversity on display is also promising as there are solid releases from familiar names (Aborted, Farsot) and new faces (Acheode, Desecravity), and that are spread across multiple sub-genres as well.
As usual, there will be bands on my Meh’ers and Blowers lists that you guys may like. I could care less if you think I’m an idiot for not liking them. I’d rather hear why you think those bands deserved to be ranked higher. Be an advocate, not an asshole.
I hope February is as half as good as January.
Here are the January 2012 releases that got under my skin, burrowed their way into my brain, made my ears bleed, or simply tickled my unmentionables:
JANUARY ’12 BLEEDERS
These are the keepers. I expect to spin these throughout the year and longer.
Aborted – Global Flatline (Century Media)
This is how you make a death metal album sound brutal™, yet crisp. Vicious, but not wanky. Long-time deathgrind vets Aborted come back with an attitude missing from their most recent releases. They’ve employed recording tactics of modern-day deathcore acts, yet avoid cheesy breakdowns and over-excessive pig-squealery. Also more straightforward than most of their contemporary tech death compadres, Aborted slows things down a tad and, as a result, rewards (punishes) their listeners with solid, expressive death metal that allows you to hear every instrument working together. Great start to 2012. Too bad Century Media refuses to stream it on Spotify.
Acheode – Anxiety (Kreative Klan Studio)
Holy shit, 2012 is bursting out of the Hellmouth with some serious brain-scrambling death metal. Up next are Italian abrasive math-deathsters, Acheode, who have reached into their magic bag of tricks and unveiled such varied influences as Meshuggah, VoiVod, and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (see the track “Abhorrence” which strangles the bass lurches from TDHOH’s “Language of Violence”)!?! This is almost anti-tech death as it seems as if each song is on the verge of spinning violently out-of-control, only to be reined in before splattering grotesquely onto the hot pavement below. Controlled insanity, with bits of tweedly-dees thrown in almost as an afterthought, as if the band were saying, “Yeah, we can spit out the OTT tech shit, but we’d rather fuck with your heads rather than bore you with our masturbatory skills.” This is a fucked-up album in so many ways, and I only mean that as a compliment.
Azaghal – Nemesis (Moribund Records)
Some kvlt black metal fans frown upon albums that showcase stellar production values. The grimness will be through the darkened cave after hearing the ninth release from Finnish veterans, Azaghal. Everything is pulled to the forefront and it sounds phenomenal. Crisp guitars, shit tons of reverb-laden vocals, and a propulsive drum sound that obliterates, annihilates, and other music review-y descriptors that one can conjure up. It also allows the listener to realize how cool black metal can actually sound. Azaghal’s production eliminates the annoying beehive buzzing of many BM releases and focuses instead on the atmospherics created by the aforementioned aspects. Expect mesmerizing repetition (a good thing), the occasional dirge passage, and a relentless pursuit of sounding better than Darkthrone and you begin to understand the bloody Azaghal portrait.
Behold! The Monolith – Defender, Redeemist (Arctic Forest Records)
B!TM rudely grasp Mastodon by the throat, snip their tiny prog balls off, and proceed to shit vociferously into the wounds. They then thumb a ride with High On Fire’s Matt Pike, break open a suitcase of cold ones, and proceed to break the empties over his thick skull. He smiles, gives them his last bag of weed, and sings their praises as they roar off to pillage his women and rape his village. You know the tag words – doom, stoner, sludge. It’s all here, but with a extra burst of creativity and energy lacking from many of today’s bands of this ilk. Moody, pissed-off, and reeking of flatulence and unshaven privates, this album should redefine exactly what Stoner Metal™ means in the year MMXII.
Black Bomb A – Enemies Of The State (AT(h)OME)
Remember when metal actually, you know, rocked the fuck out? No? Then take a gander at Black Bomb A’s newest and revel in the joy that is rocktastic metal. Now, on paper, this album reads like a fucking disaster — a seventeen-year veteran French thrashcore unit that incorporates the punkier stylings of nü-metal (think Rage Against The Machine), funky bass passages a la 311, and Linkin Park-esque Good Cop/Bad Cop vocal shenanigans. But, I swear to you, it somehow overcomes all of these apparent detriments and manages to create a balls-out, bitter, rock-the-fuck-out record. I especially like the powerful screams and solid vocals from Poun and Shauny D. Definitely won’t be for everyone here, but I fucking dig it.
Cadaveria – Horror Metal (BL Music)
Despite having what will easily be the worst album cover of 2012, Cadaveria bring a solid mix of SubRosa-meets-blackened thrash that pummels, yet comforts, sometimes simultaneously. Named for the former Opera IX vocalist, Cadaveria toil in the land of Satyricon-meets-Belphegor simplistic chunk riffery, but keep things interesting with the aforementioned SubRosa-like Gothic vocals. On the other end of the vocal spectrum, Cadaveria’s death growls could nestle comfortably between the chesticles of Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow. Sure, it’s not the most original, but honestly, how much of heavy metal these days is truly original? If that is your sole, or even main, criteria for enjoying new metal, then you are going to miss out on lots of good music.
Caspian – Live At Old South Church (The Mylene Sheath)
Time to slow things down a lot. I believe the most difficult metal sub-genre to write about is the instru-metal movement, or post-rock. It is very easy to come off sounding like an arrogant twit or an over-effusive New-Ager when describing the emotions that are wrought from these sounds. Caspian’s newest live EP presents a similar problem. I can imagine this album will hold 1,000 different opinions for 1,000 different people. Some will like the soothing quiet passages, some will go for the bombastic Explosions In The Sky exultations, while others will dig the jazzy drumming style underneath the jangling guitars, while others will simply tune out and say that this is not metal. For me, the ability to create such a wide range of reactions is the definition of true art. And if it can be accomplished through a version of metal, all the more power to it. Heady stuff, this.
Cosmonauts Day – Paths Of The Restless (self-released)
The perfect compliment to the Caspian EP, but with more velocity and a stronger sense of urgency. This Russian act floats from ethereal post-rock ambience to punchy, punky full-bore rock to metallic sludgy progressiveness throughout their debut release. If you enjoy Rosetta or Mouth Of The Architect, Cosmonauts Day will be right up your dark alley. Also, fans of Neurosis and Red Sparowes will dig the heavier instru-metal moments. Probably the best way to describe Paths Of The Restless would be Crack The Skye minus the annoying Ozzyisms. Top notch progressive post-metal minus the wanky-ness and shitty vocals.
Desecravity – Implicit Obedience (Willowtip Records)
Freneticism is the perfect way to describe this insane debut from Japanese four-piece Desecravity. On par with last year’s releases from like-minded masters Origin and Hate Eternal, Desecravity crank up the guitars, toss in some groove, and display a level of dexterity on their instruments as to defy reality. The key difference with these guys, however, is that amidst the chaotic maelstrom lies the heart and soul of true songwriters. Sure, they can tweedly-dee with the best of them, but they provide you with enough rhythm to grasp on to, which, in turn, allows you to better experience the tech-deathyness of it all. Also, some of the cleanest and best production I’ve heard on a death metal album in a long ass time.
Farsot – Insects (ProMedia GmbH)
If you followed my Bleeders’ columns last year, you witnessed an impressive array of stellar Black Metal albums released in 2011. With top-quality full-lengthers from the likes of Horned Almighty (my #1 album pick of the year), Cavus, Inquisition, Blut Aus Nord, Infestus, Absu, and Craft, to name a few, I would have bet $10,000 that 2012 would not come close in comparison. Looks like I might lose that bet as January has already brought us Azaghal and now this masterstroke from progressive Black Metallers Farsot. This Germanic five-piece, only known by numerical equations, conjures up a deadly potion of Opethian progressivism, Dimmu Borgir dronish vocals, and a Deathspell Omega cacophony (but more controlled) that will get your head banging and your mind racing. Fans of the aforementioned Blut Aus Nord, Enslaved, and even Tool will find something to enjoy within the domain of Insects.
Suicidal Angels – Bloodbath (NoiseArt Records)
Thrash is not dead! These seasoned Greek Slayer worshippers stretch their spiked arms out and create the best thrash metal album since Mantic Ritual’s Executioner in 2009 (also my Album of the Year). No, it’s not 5-horn worthy, but it will definitely rattle your cranium. Taking the best parts of Larry Lalonde-era Possessed’s guitar tones, combined with the speed of Agent Steel, and the hell-spawned power of Slayer, Suicidal Angels would have fit perfectly into the world of ’80s thrash, but somehow manage to make it palatable for a jaded audience in the present day. There’s a little bit of everythng in here that you know and love, from Testament’s jackhammer chugging style to an Exodus “ChemiKill” easy groove on “Chaos (The Curse Is Burning Inside)” to the Max Cavalera-meets-Tom G. Warrior deep bellows from vocalist/lead guitarist Nick Melissourgos. Add in Priest-like dual guitar interplay, some smoother Kerry King-like solos, and some of the cleanest, yet heavy drumming you can imagine. This is a great fucking record! Exclamation points all around!!!
Undergång – The Mother of Armageddon (self-released)
Hardcore by way of Cryptic Slaughter, peppered with a flair for rocking blues guitar that brings to mind Steppenwolf. Weird mixture, right? Wrong. This shit is HAF (heavy as fuck). Prepare to experience your entire body convulsing to the thrashy goodness, whilst trying to stop your feet from boogieing. These are short, sharp bursts of pure adrenaline overdoses clocking in at around a minute apiece. The only complaint I have is that there are so many interesting ideas going on with each song, I wish they were longer just so I could enjoy them even more. Check out their excellent cover of ZZ Top’s “Heard It On The X” to hear what blues rock hardcore sounds like.
Vita Imana – Uluh (Kaiowas Records)
So you dig bands like Machine Head, Slipknot, and Chimaira, but have been underwhelmed by their recent output? Do you need some serious groove in your metal, but not just another Pantera rip-off? Still wish Max Cavalera was in Sepultura singing “Roots, Bloody Roots”? Never fear as your Satanic desires can now be sated. This Spanish sextet culls all the best parts that you know and like from the aforementioned bands, overlays them with a blackened groove, and, best of all, utilizes various forms of percussion (darbuka, djembe, surdo, berimbao, etc.) that recall sounds from Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Australia, and Senegal. The guitars on this one, from the slamming electric to the piquant acoustics are crisp and stellar and the vocals from Javier Cardoso bring to mind a rawer Robb Flynn. Finally, Míriam Baz’s previously mentioned percussion interludes and sonic enhancements truly bring something new to the metal scene. I will be spinning this one for a long time to come.
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Sadly, the Suicidal Angels (NoiseArt Records) and Aborted (Century Media) records are not available via Spotify. I think I’ll keep a label tally throughout the year for Bleeders that don’t appear on Spotify:
BLEEDERS, BY LABEL, NOT ON SPOTIFY
Century Media – 1
NoiseArt Records – 1
Good points throughout the record, but not enough to make we want to revisit it.
Aabsynthum – Inaniums; Aechoes – The Human Condition; Alcest – Les Voyages de L’Âme; Anxiety – Angstnation; Astral Doors – Jerusalem; Attack Attack! – This Means War; Beyond The Bridge – Old Man & The Spirit; Black Pyramid – II; Bleeding Through – The Great Fire; Blind Guardian – Memories Of A Time To Come; Bridges Left Burning – A Breath Of Loss; By My Fear – Center; Caulfield – The Feast; ††† (Crosses) – EP †† ; Damngod – Damngod’s Deliverance; Dario Mollo & Tony Martin – The Third Cage; Dead Icons – Condemned; Demiurgo – La Virtud Del Invitado; Detrimentum – Inhuman Disgrace; Dodecahedron – s/t; Dragonland – Under The Grey Banner; El Caco – Hatred, Love and Diagrams; Elixir – Unleash The Magic; Every Minute Can Kill – Faceless Creatures EP; Gifts From Enola/Caravels – Well Worn split; God Seed – Live At Wacken; Golden Dawn – Return To Provenance; Haemoth – In Nomine Odium; Hate Squad – Katharsis; Headcharger – Slow Motion Disease; Horrendous – The Chills; Immanis – Few Stand Against Many; Integrity – Kingdom Of Heaven (The Araca Sessions); Junior Bruce – The Headless King; King Giant – Dismal Hollow; Lacuna Coil – Dark Adrenaline; Lamb Of God – Resolution; Late Landing – Caught In The Middle; Liberteer – Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees; Loincloth – Iron Balls Of Steel; Majestic Downfall – The Blood Dance; Malleus – Asylum; Mandatory – Cataclysm EP; Megaherz – Götterdämmerung; Moonfrost – Starfall; Mosfet – Deahlike Thrash ‘N’ Roll; Mouth Of The Serpent – Manifest EP; My Ticket Home – To Create A Cure; Nailed Coil – The Outcome Of Anxiety; Nekromantheon – Rise, Vulcan Spectre; Nevergreen – Karmageddon; Nothnegal – Decadence; Nowen – Essence Of Fear; Oz – Burning Leather; Praesepe – Vesperae; Primal Fear – Unbreakable; Racebannon – Six Sik Sisters; Redmist Destruction – Nobility In Death; Retrogression – s/t; Riotgod – Invisible Empire; Rising – To Solemn Ash; Ritual Necromancy – Oath Of The Abyss; Saille – Irreversible Decay; Sanctify – s/t EP; Slakattack – Kontaminerad; Spectral Mortuary – Total Depravity; Thin Lizzy – Live At High Voltage Festival 2011; Thy Catafalque – Rengeteg; Touchstone – The City Sleeps; Vinterblot – Nether Collapse; Waning – The Human Condition; Zavod – Industrial City
JANUARY ’12 MISSES
Was not able to get my grubby little hands on these platters.
Anatomia/Absconder – Audible Assault split; Black Crow King – To Pay The Debt Of Nature; Darkside Of Innocence – Xenogenesis; The Dead Lie Waiting – Almost Heaven; Decaying – Encirclement; The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicentre; Dies Arae – Secret Veils Of Passion; Eclipse Eternal – The Essence Of Hopelessness; Everything Went Black – Cycles Of Light; Fisthammer – Devour All You See; Ghoul Patrol – s/t; Hayagriva – Descendant; In Virtue – Embrace The Horror; Lvcifyre – The Calling Depths; Opera IX – Strix Maledictae In Aeternum; Pact – The Dragon Lineage Of Satan; Skylark – Twilights Of Sand; This Ending – Systematic Worship EP; Vise Massacre – Expendable Humans; Whores – Ruiner
BEST JAUNARY ’12 RECORD
Suicidal Angels – Bloodbath
“Taste the hate, live it as a form of healing.”
2012 TOP 15 EARLY INCLUSIONS
Let’s see if they make the final cut.
Acheode – Anxiety (January ’12)
Desecravity – Implicit Obedience (January ’12)
Suicidal Angels – Bloodbath (January ’12)
Vita Imana – Uluh (January ’12)
New Metal Releases Listened to this year – 108
Bleeders – 13
Meh’ers – 72
Blowers – 23
Top 15′ers – 4
**Some of these releases are possibly late 2011 sets, first-time U.S. releases, or sneak peeks of upcoming albums.**
Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books and is currently helping Philip H. Anselmo write his autobiography.
Bring on SXSW!