Some Stuff We Liked in 2011 (Part 2 of 2)
2011 was a year and there were metal albums released during it, so fuck it, let's talk about some of them. We'll start with Necros Christos, which is Greek for "Fuck you Dad." This album continues in the band's tradition of interspersing their terrific death-metal tracks with weird organ tracks and folk tracks they got by invading Hungary and beating up Sacra Arcana. It works really well and they kick a lot of ass.
Here's a hypothetical: You ask someone what they were listening to and they said "Ribspreader's The Van Murders." Is your reaction a) "That sounds like a cool-ass band that makes cool-ass music, I should absolutely listen to that" or b) "Oh, I'm afraid that'll cause my [INSERT PUSSYASS SHIT HERE] to act up"? Well if your answer is the latter then please help yourself to a soothing cup of chamomile tea and fuck off, because Ribspreader rules. Even fans of shitty bands like Pantera can get down with the groovy (but not shitty like Pantera (also Machinehead)) death-metal stylings of Ribspreader.
That said, if you did answer option b to the above question, Deafheaven's Roads to Judah provides a great introduction to modern black metal; even the post-rock-y interludes are tolerable. Fans of Liturgy (a band that sucks) will enjoy this, but so will fans of good metal, so it's an all-around crowd-pleaser!
Speaking of Liturgy, I'd like to tie their 2011 release to another insufferable recent media trend by comparing them to Tim Tebow. Like Tim Tebow, Liturgy isn't exactly "good," per se, but its shittiness is overstated by detractors who are distracted by their ideology (which, like Tim Tebow's, is unmitigated garbage). If you think Liturgy is interesting because of their manifesto, you're a bad person, but if you think their music is good, your taste is only borderline questionable, so don't feel too bad.
Just so you don't think "extreme metal" is all that's out there, we'll end with Týr's latest effort, The Lay of Thrym. In the past, Týr has churned out plodding "viking metal" like this. But then Týr decided they wanted to make music lots of people would want to listen to, so they told grim traditionalist fans to go fuck themselves and made a deliberately poppy album, relatively speaking. Inspired in large part by power metal (but with a guitar sound and composition that sounds more like melodic death metal's interpretation of power metal, in the vein of Amon Amarth), Týr created an album full of catchy singalong songs, sweet-ass choruses and good, fast riffs.
Baring Teeth, Atrophy (Willowtip)
I love Gorguts-worship and I love Man is Mostly Water, so my mind was made up to love this album before even hearing it all. It's adroitly dissonant and flecked with hints of serialism and just evil as all hell, man. Plus the drums aren't all clicky bullshit, so it's brutally pleasant to the ears when dimed out in my hybrid-ass whip. Not content to merely blast for the length of the record, they slow down for some of the heaviest, most effective doom I've heard all year. And this album has fewer vocals than I'd expect, so you can listen to it with your stepdad, Todd, and he won't get all bogus on your shit.
Cold Cave, Cherish the Light Years (Matador)
Cold Cave's first record Love Comes Close was pretty good, but it was weighed down by filler and out-and-out clunkers. This time out, it feels like a coherent, consistent album by a real band (from the '80s). This album is definitely poppier, and in this case, it's a great thing. More pop means more choruses and more time for Dominick Fernow to Dance Like No One's Watching. Just a couple of adult boys rocking slick jugends and affectations of gothic effeminacy making guilt-free guilty-pleasure music, is all. They've expanded their musical vocabulary a bit and made everything very dense and hot. Lesser men would complain of ear fatigue. Fragile, impotent, cuckolded homunculi with baby ears.
True Widow, A.H.A.T.H.H.A.F.T.C.T.T.C.O.T.E (Kemado)
This record reminds me of the '90s. Not in any nostalgic way (because, of course, all memories are trash), but in vibe, tempo and songwriting. If there were such a thing as music television, I could imagine watching videos from True Widow on some kind of two-hour program that showed videos late on a Sunday, possibly hosted by a good-natured fat man, possibly with Thurston Moore interviewing Beck, sure, why not. I'm pretty sure the guitarist/vocalist has a tattoo of Petunia on his forearm. This album has the best guitar tone of the year, bar none. This sounds like Earth writing actual songs, all thick fuzz, burdensome malaise and friscalating dusklight. They do the Sonic Youth/Blonde Redhead thing with serious Sturm und Twang, and I swear I hear Jew's harp jangling all over this little guy.
Deafheaven, Roads to Judah (Deathwish)
People make too much of the shoegaze element in this album. Sure, it's there, but there's a ton more late-'90s/early-'00s screamo influence a la City of Caterpillar. I could say more, but either you know (and are cool and With It) or you don't (and are a dumb stupid). Or you can read up about it here. (Ed. Note: Anderson is cool and handsome.) (Real Ed. Note: whaaa? *spring uncoils loudly, arooga horn blares*) Deafheaven makes beautiful, haunting post-rock and shit-hot, blasting black metal. Roiling piss and palpable grief? You're soaking in (vom)it. I am the falsest, but this, for me, is the best album of the year. It got me the most pumpedest, and I hurt my finger playing Blastbeat the Steering Wheel, like, a bunch.