SCRAPING GENIUS OFF THE YEAR: GARY SUAREZ’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2008
Well, it’s sure been a nifty four months or so for Scraping Genius Off The Wheel, my infrequent but always essential noise rock column for this fine blog for jerks. Despite the fact that all I’ve been listening to lately is 70’s funk and Akon’s superb new album Freedom, try not to hold it against me as you review my list of my favorite heavy music releases of 2008.
10. Motorhead, Motorizer (SPV)
A considerable number of “legacy” metal acts dropped new albums in 2008, including AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest, and Metallica. Yet, somehow, Motorhead’s latest got lost in the shuffle of Wal-Mart exclusives and Guitar Hero tie-ins. Sure, by now we all know what to expect from Lemmy and company, but that doesn’t make Motorizer any less enjoyable. (In fact, there’s something quite comforting about a band you can always count on, like KMFDM or the aforementioned AC/DC, no?). Sleazy, vulgar, and raucous, these eleven fiery tracks are a surefire pickmeup after a hard day and the perfect prelude to a hard night. Frankly, I’d take “Rock Out” or “Runaround Man” over anything off Death Magnetic any day of the week.
09. Gods And Queens, Untitled (Robotic Empire)
When I first caught G N’ Q (get it?!) some months back at a cozy downtown venue, they simultaneously bludgeoned and dazzled with their brief live performance. Standing with the fortunate few in their presence, I felt like I had stumbled onto something special – like an untapped gloryhole. On this intentionally nameless record, however, the sonic assault which defined that gig acquiesces somewhat to the noise rock trio’s impressive rhythm section, perhaps at its regal best on “Untitled 1.” On engaging tracks like “Untitled 4”, frontman Jamie Getz alternates between slightly nasal crooning and throaty gurgling roars over his technicolor guitar work. Despite the album’s short running time, you can’t soak it all in with just one listen. Lather, rinse, repeat!
08. Bison B.C., Quiet Earth (Metal Blade)
My favorite stoner metal record of 2008, Quiet Earth blends Mastodonian Kush with Melvinskunk to make Bison’s BC Bud a sweet, stinky aural high free from pesky stems and seeds. And while there’s no need to get baked in order to appreciate this one, with titles like “Primal Emptiness of Outer Space” and “Dark Towers” it sure as fuck can’t hurt! There’s even a two part song suite devoted to the fucking Wendigo, for fuck’s sake! Despite these lofty, esoteric themes, the endearing boys of Bison BC avoid the perilous pitfalls of their puff-puff-passing peers. (Woo hoo! Alliteration!). The soloing on “Medication” alone is enough to get you time in the pokey for possession! Have I made my point? Can I stop with the drug references now? I can? Thanks, guys!
07. Norma Jean, The Anti-Mother (Solid State)
Don’t roll your fucking eyes at me, you black emperors! Christian evangelical subversion or not, The Anti Mother is a melodic metalcore masterpiece that vastly exceded my expectations given the abundance of piddling and pitiful acts representing the subgenre as well as it’s spiritually minded subset. Initially enticed by the band’s choice of collaborators (Deftones’ Chino Moreno, Helmet’s Fucking Page Fucking Hamilton Fucking), I found myself thoroughly enraptured by Norma Jean’s potent combo of accessible squeal n’ grind riffage and penetrating, catchy choruses. It’s hard to hold an Old Testament-level grudge against the guys over the positively banal video for “Robots 3 Humans 0” when the song itself feels so damn good pressed against my tender stigmata. Christ, it’s enough to make me consider converting. (Not really. HAIL SATAN, Y’ALL!)
06. Fucked Up, The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)
Sure, goofy G.G. Allen stage theatrics, laughable NME photshoots, and the creeping adoration of the skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts set should make any self-loathing metalhead cock a skeptical unibrow at these increasingly popular post-hardcore Canucks. However, all such trepidation dissipates upon listening to The Chemistry Of Common Life, a subversive tour-de-force that injects unanticipated beauty into gutter ditties. Lyrics like “Hands up if you think you’re the only one / We’ve all got our hands up” could be interpreted as a veiled dig at the band’s growing audience of pretentious, entitled Gen Yers, but evidently those self-absorbed fans are too busy losing themselves in waves of distortion and shards of light to take offense. Everyone here should vote these guys onto next year’s Ozzfest just so we can claim them as our own. (Wow, did I really manage to discuss this band/album without profanity? Fuck yeah, I did!)
05. Triclops!, Out Of Africa (Alternative Tentacles)
Easily the most creative noise rock record I encountered in 2008, Out Of Africa is an incredibly listenable audio safari of this tremendously promising and clearly talented band’s repertoire. Vacillating between headbanging heaviness and art punk angularity, these tracks provide twists and turns that consistently deliver pure chewing satisfaction. Notably, Johnny Geek draws on a truly schizophrenic array of vocal identities throughout, bridging heretofore unbridgable gaps between Jello Biafra, Perry Farrell, Ian Mackaye, Jaz Coleman, and anyone who ever sucked helium to hear how their voice sounded afterwards. Though sometimes smothered by the novelty of his shapeshifting singing style, his lyrics harbor pointed political statements (“Duende War”, “Iraqi Curator”) well worth backtracking for. Too obscure to be underrated, this is the best album you haven’t heard (or even heard of) this year. So, like, maybe you should go buy it!
04. Boris, Smile (Southern Lord)
An alarming number of so-called Boris fans completely shit on this, the Japanese trio’s latest full-length for the Southern Lord label. I don’t know what their fucking problem is, because Smile fucking rules. (Then again, I’m more a fan of Heavy Rocks than Absolutego, so infer from that what you will.). A delightful albeit partial return to Stooges/Motorhead/Guitar Wolf hard rock after their hipster baiting Rainbow collaboration with psychedelia purveyor Michio Kurihara, the album features several tracks of pure, unadulterated garage fuzz, fury and fun (“Statement”, “Buzz-IN”) alongside more experimental and occasionally doomier fare (“Untitled”). Full of tripped out dreaminess and well-placed guitar crunchitude, standout “My Neighbor Satan” romantically captivates in ways metal rarely does beyond the backseat of your Dad’s station wagon.
03. Made Out Of Babies, The Ruiner (The End)
Anyone who reads Metalsucks with any regularity should already own this by now. If you’re one of the few miserable people reading this that hasn’t heard The Ruiner yet, please get with the fucking program. In a world of my making, this band would be headlining stadiums, thereby banishing Disturbed and Nickelback to the crappiest shithole venues that Middle America has to offer. You can’t seriously tell me that “Invisible Ink” wouldn’t sound TOTALLY AWESOME on a Metallica-sized touring PA system. Backed by the best “new-not-old” noise rock band in NYC, Julie Christmas howls and wails her way through feral numbers like “Cooker” and “The Major”, yet manages a believable feminine whimper on “Buffalo.” Have I mentioned how great this album is? It’s fucking great.
02. Young Widows, Old Wounds (Temporary Residence)
Unafraid of their obvious influences (Jesus Lizard, Melvins) and hungry for progression, these Louisville sluggos plow through eleven heavy frenetic noise rock slabs that induce a tilt-a-whirl effect, simultaneously ebbing and flowing with concurrent waves of euphoria and nausea. While neither as nastily confrontational as David Yow nor as aurally hideous as Buzz Osborne, the members evidently hold these archetypes in high regard without succumbing to sloppy emulation. “Old Skin” lurches from the Churchill Downs manure with stoner-grade headbanger potential, while the raw bloody stinking horsemeat of upbeat, downtuned grinders like “Lucky And Hardheaded” and “Delay Your Pressure” gratify with unadulterated belligerance.
01. Kingdom Of Sorrow – Kingdom of Sorrow (Relapse)
I’ve known for months now that this one would top my list this year, as every single track ranks in my “Top 25 Most Played” songs in iTunes. Pairing Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta with Crowbar/Down axeman Kirk Windstein, this sludgy metalcore amalgam showcases the best qualities of both parties. Undulating with vibrancy amid its steady cathartic release, their self-titled release propounds an infectious, somewhat transcendent alternative to lesser acts in the crowded heavy music marketplace. The presumably starstruck Jasta and his wise, menacing elder Winstein work wonderfully together, combining their strengths to produce heavy hitters like “Hear This Prayer For Her” and “Buried In Black.” If you’ve hesitated on this one for any reason, I implore you to reconsider. Or don’t. I don’t have to fucking impress you.
– Eric Avery – Help Wanted
– Disfear – Live The Storm
– Graveyard – Graveyard
– Lair Of The Minotaur, War Metal Battle Master
– Suicide Note, Empty Rooms
– These Arms Are Snakes, Tail Swallower And Dove
– Time Again, Darker Days
– Tweak Bird, Reservations
– Wetnurse, Invisible City
– Zozobra, Bird Of Prey
Get out of my house, cocksuckers:
– Any and all black metal bands
– Sarah Palin supporters
– Phil Anselmo side-projects that aren’t Down
– Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the Bush administration’s Bullshit Bailout
– Family Guy‘s past few seasons
– Touring acts that think playing sports arenas in New Jersey or on Long Island counts as a “New York City appearance”
– Those fucking savages that trampled Jdimytai Damour to death just to get discounted shit at Wal-Mart
– Homophobes, hatemongers, and other Republicans
– French Stewart
That’s all, suckers! See you chumps in the new year! Me and Santa have some presents to deliver to your Mom. And my presents, I mean really good sex.