Question Of The Week: Looking Over The Overlooked Lookers
Today marks the midway point of February, so we’ve all had some time to “live with” 2013’s best albums. The dust has settled, and unobscured is our view of the surfaces and guts of those many, many records. Many struck us as captivating, some fulfilled that first impression; others stalled in the gates, but made a late break or a noble showing a length or two ahead of the pack. Whatever the case, these albums are products of the mind; as such, their lifeline meanders and darts off at weird angles. That is, it’s easy to overlook an awesome metal record. lol
But that’s what MetalSucks Question Of The Week is for! It’s a safety zone, a trust exercise where we fall backwards into the attentive embrace of our peers. So today we’ll have one more look at 2013 to make sure none of us moves on without having given proper consideration to a hard-to-hold or easily-camoflouged superjam from last year!
Inspired by the spirit of reconsideration, we asked our staff:
What is 2013’s most overlooked album?
Tell us what we may have missed :) Have an awesome wknd!
Death Sigils by Occultist. I had just submitted my best-of lists when I got ahold of this nasty little gem, so it was too late for me to exalt it publicly; the album came out October 1st, but I didn’t really hear it until November. Man, what a cool record. Super-evil thrash from Richmond that channels Dark Angel and Celtic Frost, but brings a really gross blackened grandeur to it all (and sigils. I fucking love sigils). They also seem like they’re fun as shit to see live, so keep an eye out for them if they roll through your town.
Windhand was consistently recommended to me, and kept popping up in blogs I read and in friends’ record collections — but I just didn’t fully “get” them. I got all kinds of crap from my doom pals for not including them in my top 15 and I just shrugged it off. It wasn’t until I saw them live in December that it fully hit me — really, the wall of sound hit me — and I realized their sheer brilliance and became a huge fan. After the show, I admitted my folly to the guitarists who were sitting at the merch table and bought two records as penance. Now I can’t get enough and I fully regret not giving them my attention in 2013.
It came out last February, but I didn’t get to Soilwork‘s The Living Infinite until a few weeks ago. My fandom began with 2002’s Natural Born Chaos, so every couple years for a decade I’d been woofing down like a dozen new Soilwork songs. So I didn’t exactly hunger for 20 more (especially after 2012’s gem by Night Flight Orchestra, the smooth side project of two dominant Soilwork dudes). It’s like one day I looked in my shoe closet and saw enough sneakers for one pair of feet. But then I remembered that I love the promise of double albums, their potential to explode the limits of the format. Sure, we’re usually left with The Searchers when our fingers are crossed for a Once Upon A Time In America, but the possibility of a work that’s massive in scope is tantalizing. It makes pushy journalist types like me press bands that are staffed by multiple songwriting aces (looking at you, The Crown). Anywayyy I finally pumped myself up for Infinite to find that though it’s not a fearless use of the extra space, it lines up as many great moments as, say, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence.
For the relative whimper with which Fit For An Autopsy‘s Hellbound arrived, you could blame the whole deathcore thing. That wouldn’t be fair, of course, as FfaA aren’t deathcore by the “(Something) the (Something)” band name standard. If anything, Hellbound reminds you of the wrecking ball heaviness that deathcore initially wielded. It’s mean. It’s angry. It’s nasty. Fit for an Autopsy hurl a vending machine through a window, while the flat-brimmed hat crowd sound like they’re throwing a tantrum. (And presumably, with that heaviness comes an apathy toward ridiculous things like year-end lists. They were almost on mine.) But truth be told, I’m probably jamming Hellbound a lot more on a regular basis than 15-minute sunny black metal songs via Deafheaven’s Sunbather. I do still love the latter, but Fit For An Autopsy scratch a more immediate itch.
The Inquisition EP from Yorkshire’s Cognizance was just another of the many jewels buried in Bandcamp, but the band has a significantly more renowned background: Alex Rudinger of The Faceless tracked drums for the release, and Romain Goulon (Necrophagist) played on their self-titled EP from January. It’s some of the most ridiculous technical death metal I’ve heard in months, with brutal time signature changes and spastic asymmetrical rhythms. Cognizance know that it’s all about the riffs; that juddering 1-1-2 section in “Clones of the Night Sky” is rabidly infectious. The whole album is riddled with unpredictable, exhilarating drum fills and the crispiest of lead lines, topped off with massive production. The subject matter is smart, too; geology and philosophy themes fit well with metal’s aesthetic.
Howl‘s Bloodlines. Maybe because it’s not as good as their (fantastic) debut Full Of Hell. But this new one: It’s polished. Too polished, granted. But dig beneath the slick veneer: This a really catchy album of sludge and doom. Not in an overtly get-active-rock play. But in a way that, once you see it live (and you should), the songs’ll stay with you.
Inevitably, lots of under-the-radar records have the same killing power as the year’s big ones. Not sure how many will agree that this is one of the former, but … Welcome Goatcraft! Back in March, this one-man “death-metal-inspired piano” or “necro-classical” project loosed its album All For Naught and made me rethink my musical center. Hailing from Texas, drenching himself in blood, and calling out to the Fallen One’s cold void in us all, sole member Lonegoat pounds the ivories and turns his pretty instrument into a servant of the dark. (A new album for release is set for this year, called The Blasphemer, and it also rules.) Anyone willing to ply their non-metal, uh, craft in a very metal context deserves some serious attention. Especially when it’s this good. When the Christians are finally all dead and the transdimensional alien hordes have buried the Earth in the new world infrastructure, they can play this at all our funerals.
I’ve got a million answers to this week’s QOTW, but decided to go with this particular album because I do think it got overlooked on a grand scale. It’s a damn shame, too, because what we’ve got here is the kind of twisted woozy black metal that tons of people have been getting into lately (thanks, Deathspell Omega!). This newest addition to Ireland’s already ironclad metallic roster comes by way of Belfast. Patrons Of The Rotting Gate is a progressive black metal project helmed by one Andrew Millar, who orchestrated the plaintive notes and rapacious riffs on “Pride in Descent.” It’s a terribly impressive debut, and a bright spot in an overcrowded genre.
DAVID LEE ROTHMUND
Did anybody pay attention to the number one album on my list of 2013’s best? I still never hear any chit-chat about it. But all is well, I suppose. And here on Valentine’s Day, it shouldn’t matter one little bit! Overlooked albums, underlooked albums, who gives a shit. You could be listening to this and doing this. Happy Valentine’s day. Drink blood.