It’s obviously incredibly late to be listing my favorite albums from a year that’s been over for almost two months now, but nonetheless, I had to get this post done for pure catharsis sake. I’ve been busy with various projects and haven’t had time to devote to the site in a while. Honestly, this list looks like crap format-wise and probably doesn’t make any sense, but I had to get it done and posted to get that weight off my shoulders and move forward with new stuff for the blog. If you see something on there that sounds interesting, look em up, and if you can’t find any info, message me on Facebook and I’ll link you to their music. Enjoy!
1 Saint Vitus – Lillie: F-65
This is one of the few albums I heard last year that truly is perfect all the way through. Though the album only has five real songs, each one of those songs is one of the greatest Saint Vitus have ever written. I think part of my obsession with this album is because it only has five actual songs, so there isn’t much to take in, and also because I’ve seen all five of those songs played live twice this year and every one of them sound WAY better live than they do in the studio.
2 Napalm Death – Utilitarian
The best grind album of 2012, and possibly one of the best of their career. Every song on here is laden with hooks, but also some incredible blasts of grind fury. Napalm Death have once again claimed their crown of best grind band ever.
3 baroness – yellow and green
This record was my favorite of the year for a while until the very end, honestly. It’s completely different from every other album they’ve ever put out and both discs are a rollercoaster of badassery, without question.
4 converge – all we love we leave behind
The heaviest hardcore band on the planet got heavier and more ridiculous.
5 overkill – the electric age
This album, along with Royal Thunder, was my biggest surprise of the year. I knew Overkill would come out swinging for the fences, because that’s what thrash metal icons do, but I had no idea they’d knock the cover off the ball like they did with this record.
6 christian mistress – possession
I normally don’t dig female vocalists much, but this band is the major exception to the rule. Heavy as balls riffs, coked-up rock n’ roll fury and songs catchier than Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIII.
7 testament – dark roots of earth
Testament are one of my favorite thrash bands of all time and this record just goes to show that they still have it. Native Blood might be my favorite song all year.
8 pallbearer – sorrow and extinction
This is one of the greatest doom albums I’ve ever heard, without question. Riffs so heavy they’ll knock the fillings out of your teeth.
9 graveyard – lights out
People always talk about how rock n’ roll is dead, but if they’ve ever heard these Swedish monsters, it’s obvious that rock n’ roll is VERY much alive.
10 royal thunder – cvi
Incredibly bad ass bluesy, southern rock n’ roll. I hadn’t listened to them much prior to this year, so this album would have to be my biggest surprise of the year, without question.
11 deftones – koi no yokan
I haven’t heard a Deftones album since Self Titled that I wasn’t obsessed with, and Koi No Yokan was no exception. They have once again incorporated beautiful vocals and atmosphere with seven-string riffs that kill, and a powerful rhythm section. I would say this is definitely one of the best albums of their career, without question.
12 torche – harmonicraft
Any time Torche puts out a new album, they seem to unleash something new upon the world. With Harmonicraft, they somehow managed to include, ridiculously heavy, signature Torche riffs with elements of arena rock and pop punk. Fantastic driving album.
13 neurosis – honor found in decay
Neurosis have released yet another album that sounds like Neurosis, but doesn’t resemble any other album in their back catalog. It’s one of those albums that has so many elements in it, that you hear something new on each spin, and it can’t be classified under any real genre because it just sounds like Neurosis and not much else.
14 horseback – half blood
2012 was definitely the year of Relapse Records. One reason is because of bands like Horseback who completely pushed beyond genre limitations to create one of the sickest psychedelic rock albums ever. It’s got occasional black metal vocals sung over soothing, trippy, bass-driven rhythms that just melt my heart.
15 pig destroyer – book burner
I am a pretty big fan of Pig Destroyer, but upon hearing Book Burner, I became much more obsessed with them. This record has all of the elements that make them great, but they also added Adam Jarvis from Misery Index on drums, which took them to a completely new stratosphere of heavy.
16 conan – monnos
Words can’t express how disgustingly heavy this album is. It’s got the hugest, fattest tones i’ve ever heard on a doom album. These guys are the Yokozuna of British doom metal.
17 meshuggah – koloss
Meshuggah are one of my favorite bands on earth, so it wasn’t surprising how good their new record was. What did surprise me, however, is how they were able to slow it down and change their pace just enough to avoid sounding like they were ripping off the genre they unintentionally created.
18 cattle decapitation – monolith of inhumanity
I’ve always had respect for this band, but this is the first album of theirs that really blew my doors off. It’s got all of the usual brutal death/grind riffs going on, but the real star of the show is Travis Ryan’s version of clean vocals, which consists of disgusting, undead howls.
19 liberteer – better to die on your feet than live on your knees
When I first heard this album, I was completely floored. The stunning mix of HM2 death metal with grindcore and civil war type passages is absolutely crushing.
20 asphyx – deathhammer
This album is part two of Martin Van Drunen’s brutal death metal assault in 2012. It sounds like an Asphyx record, obviously, but with the fantastic production of the record, it’s helped them continue to reign as one of the heaviest bands on the planet.
21 black breath – sentenced to life
The cool thing about this band is the fact that they took a style like old school Entombed-style death metal that’s very old and familiar, and they added their own hardcore influence to make it even more intense and pummeling. This is a perfect mosh-pit album.
22 municipal waste – the fatal feast
At this point, it’s very easy to lump Municipal Waste in with the 80′s thrash bands as one of the best thrash bands of all time. Their new record continues that legacy with a ton of awesome thrash/punk anthems, as well as an appearance by John from Nuclear Assault which rules.
23 corrosion of conformity – corrosion of conformity
This is the first COC album in forever without Pepper on guitar, and in my opinion it’s one of their best. The mix of their doomy rock n’ roll era with their hardcore punk/thrash roots is just delicious.
24 incantation – vanquish in vengeance
This is another album that caught me by complete surprise. It’s an old school death metal album, but it’s also got a lot of slow, devastating doom riffs that add an extra 100 lbs to their already insanely heavy death metal.
25 pilgrim – misery wizard
In my review of this record, I stated that this band is like the football team that wins by running the ball up the middle and playing violent defense. The reason I said that is because this album is a slow, plodding, thick slab of doom that rarely changes pace and beats you to death every step of the way.
26 grave – endless procession of souls
I’m obviously a sucker for old school death metal and Grave are one of my favorite bands of the genre. This new record is just another gory chapter in their fantastic discography.
27 grand magus – the hunt
This album caught me by complete surprise with how catchy it is. It’s got a lot of heavy, bone-crushing riffs, as well as some epic Norse-themed lyrics, and it’s impossible to not headbang to.
28 the sword – apocryphon
I’ve always been a big fan of this band, and this record is another flawless part of their discography. It’s got all the foot-stomping classic rock/doom influence, as well as the cool sci-fi element that makes them continue to be interesting.
29 enslaved – riitir
Enslaved are a band that has been able to continually change and progress over the years, and with this record, they brought that progression to it’s highest peak yet. The vocals on this album are much cleaner than on previous records, which actually gives it a bit of beauty at times.
30 inverloch – dusk subsides
This band was formed in the ashes of dISEMBOWELMENT, and they picked up right where they left off. Slow, plodding funeral-esque passages lead to huge, monstrous doom riffs and back to a crawl again. It’s a shame this album wasn’t a full length, because it is truly intense.
31 paradise lost – tragic idol
Though they are a legendary British doom band, Paradise Lost have taken on a much stranger tone with their newer albums, but I love it. The biggest thing for me was the hooks all throughout this album, it’ll stay with you for MANY days after you hear it.
32 down – down iv part 1 purple ep
With this first of four EP’s, the boys from Nola seem to have gotten in touch with their Saint Vitus influence and I couldn’t be happier. I just hope the next three EP’s sound this awesome.
33 dying fetus – reign supreme
2012 was an amazing year for brutal death metal, particularly when a band like Dying Fetus comes out with a back-to-basics death metal album full of the slams and monstrous blast beats their fans know and love them for.
34 norska – norska
Though this album is a reissue, it was one of the finest doom albums I’ve heard all year thanks to their incredibly creative riffs. These guys definitely offer up a fresh take on a genre that is sometimes lacking in the freshness department.
35 unsane – wreck
Some people call Unsane noise rock, but it’s more than that. It’s a heavy, groovy, bruiser of an album. Chris Spencer’s voice is also incredibly grating and it never gets old to me.
36 prong – carved in stone
Tommy Victor perfected the art of “groove metal”, and when you hear this album, you’ll understand why. The man can also still write a hook like nobody’s business.
37 bison bc – lovelessness
Though these guys are a mix of stoner metal and Mastodon, they have managed to progress more and more with each album, culminating in one of the best albums of their career. This is another album that’s great for drinkin heavily and drivin fast.
38 ihsahn – eremita
The former Emperor main man has always managed to stay ahead of the curve as far as prog metal goes. “Eagle And The Snake” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
39 Nile – At The Gates Of Sethu
Another burly, technical, semi-eerie slab of Egyptian death metal from the only band in America that knows how to do it.
40 The Faceless – Autotheism
Definitely a change of pace for these guys from their previous albums due to a new vocalist, but still just as proggy and brutal as ever, with a touch of Opeth for good measure.
41 Grand Supreme Blood Court – Bow Down Before The Blood Court
One of the loudest albums I’ve heard all year. Seriously, it’s impossible to turn it up very loud without blowing out your ear drums. It’s brutal, old school death metal featuring current and former members of Asphyx.
42 Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
This album features a legendary German thrash band doing what legendary German thrash bands do…playing fast, infectious thrash metal.
43 Katatonia – Dead End Kings
This album is absolutely gorgeous at times. It seems that this album is quite a bit more melodic than previous records, and they also don’t sound like Chevelle anymore, thankfully.
44 Murder Construct – Results
Absolutely bloody grind/death metal from members of Pig Destroyer, Intronaut and more. Fast and violent win the race.
45 A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance
This is their first new album in a while, but stylistically, they are just as nuts as ever. The manner in which they layer a crap-ton of awesome solos and leads over a huge, monstrous groove is just amazing to me.
46 haarp – Husks
These guys are one of the best bands going in New Orleans these days, so it’s not a surprise that this album is awesome. What did surprise me, however, was the fact that it only has three songs…three very long, brutal, depressing songs.
47 Bereft – Liechenhaus
This band features current and past members of bands like Intronaut, The Faceless and Abysmal Dawn, so I didn’t know what to expect from them style-wise. The end result is a ten-ton mountain of soul-crushing doom.
48 Nachtmystium – The Silencing Machine
The boys from Chicago broke away from the Meddle theme of their last two albums and went back to making hateful black metal. The results are exactly what you’d expect, only a little better due to better production, as well as a still-lingering Floyd influence.
49 High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
Matt Pike is a complete monster, plain and simple. When you combine his amazing songwriting abilities with Kurt Ballou’s incredible production, good things are bound to happen.
50 Burning Love – Rotten Thing To Say
I listened to this album because their singer is Chris Colohan from Cursed. I fell in love with it because of their hardcore-punk mentality with some rock n’ roll thrown in for good measure.
51 Cannibal Corpse – Torture
If you have ever heard Cannibal Corpse, then you know what this album sounds like. Brutal lyrics and an uncompromisingly punishing form of death metal have been their calling card for 20 years.
52 Car Bomb – w-^-w-^^-w-^-w
This album reminds me of a mixture of Dillinger and Meshuggah, but at times fastier and groovier and a little more insane.
53 Castle – Blacklands
This album has a bit of a thrash metal influence, but it’s tuned way down and has a cool doom-rock vibe to it.
54 Bell Witch – Longing
Very emotionally-draining, super intense funeral doom. It’s made by just two guys, but you sure can’t tell due to the intense, soul-eviscerating riffs.
55 Horrendous – The Chills
Many bands try to sound like Entombed, few manage to pull it off the way these guys do. I’m a big fan of old school death metal, and apparently these guys are too, because this record could have come out in 1991, easily.
56 Angel Witch – As Above, So Below
I’m so glad that these guys got a real record label, because the production on this album is amazing. Music-wise, it’s exactly the kind of old school, epic metal you’d expect from one of the O.G. NWOBHM bands.
57 Candlemass – Psalms For The Dead
Epicus. Doomicus. Metallicus. This is supposedly their last album, and it’s got all of their typical bells & whistles to leave fans with a good taste in their mouths.
58 Pelican – Ataraxia Taraxis
Though this isn’t really the Pelican I’ve grown to love, I think I can appreciate what they were going for with this Ep. It’s way more rock n’ roll than their previous albums to say the least.
59 Dawnbringer – Into The Lair Of The Sun God
The only genre I could really give this album would be “heavy metal”. It’s throwback, epic metal with classic rock vocals, basically.
60 Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering
It seems these guys get angrier and nastier with every album. At this point, they remind me of a hardcore band who tried to make technical death metal.
61 Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
I assumed that signing to a huge label would ruin these guys, but it actually made their unique brand of groovy, technical metal even heavier and more preposterous.
62 D.I.S. – Becoming Wrath
The letters in their name means destroyed in seconds, which is kind of a fitting band name for this incredibly mean-spirited mix of black metal, death metal and hardcore.
63 Cryptopsy – Cryptopsy
They finally got back to making violent, dizzying technical death metal, and it paid massive dividends.
64 Hooded Menace – Effigies Of Evil
A very cool mixture of death and doom metal, with a dash of horror samples to make it even more terrifying.
65 Swans – The Seer
This album was almost too much for me to take in due to it’s length. It’s not really metal by the standard definition, but it’s the kind of sprawling, gorgeous album that is very rewarding when you let it sink in.
66 Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
Loud and abrasive would be the operative words to describe this album. It’s blackened death metal with a sprinkle of weirdness.
67 Evoken – Atra Mors
Slow, plodding, depressing funeral doom. The perfect album to listen to while walking through the woods at night.
68 Dysrhythmia – Test Of Submission
Brain-rattlingly technical instrumental metal. Colin Marston knows how to make instrumental metal not boring.
69 Ancestors – In Dreams And Time
Very dreamy, sludgy post-metal. Great music to sleep to.
70 Daylight Dies – A Frail Becoming
A nice mixture of doom and death metal. It could be said that this is what Opeth should sound like these days.
71 Spawn Of Possession – Incurso
Insane, technical death metal. They seriously cram like 5,000 riffs into each song. Incredibly brutal.
72 Fight Amp – Birth Control
This album is also very hard to classify. I would say they are like Torche, but with maybe a bit more of a Jesus Lizard influence.
73 Evocation – Illusions Of Grandeur
More old school death metal that uses the crap out of the HM-2 pedal. Incredibly heavy and awesome.
74 Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker
A nice, depressing, terrifying mixture of death and doom, but it’s more like the soundtrack to a serial murder, honestly.
75 Agalloch – Faustian Echoes
One twenty minute song of melodic, gorgeous, Agallochian black metal.
76 Gypsyhawk – Revelry And Resilience
Upbeat, throwback rock n’ roll just the way I like it. They have an amazing Rick Derringer cover on here as well.
77 Samothrace – Reverence To Stone
This album has just two songs, but both of them are thick, depressing and heavy as hell doom.
78 Kowloon Walled City – Container Ships
Very sludgy metal that’s hard to define, but they remind me of bands like Torche that have a rock n’ roll influence mixed in with doom.
79 Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
Very dense black metal, but also got elements of crust and thrash to keep it interesting.
80 Aborted – Global Flatline
Brutal Swedish goregrind/death metal with some…creative song titles. This record also has some cool guest vocalists like Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia.
81 Old Man Gloom – NO
This album wasn’t as awesome as I initially thought it’d be, but when it hits the heavier songs, it definitely brings enough thunder to make up for the slower parts.
82 Chrome Waves – Chrome Waves
Can’t decide if this album is black metal or not, but it’s definitely fast, chaotic and intense. Stavros from Atlas Moth does an insane job on the vocals, the most unique part of the album.
83 Ram – Death
Traditional heavy metal in the vein of Judas Priest or Dio-era Sabbath.
84 Dethklok – Dethalbum III
Their last album was incredibly boring, so I was shocked to hear how brutal this album turned out to be. Then again, anything with Gene Hoglan is going to be at least a little awesome.
85 Mares Of Thrace – The Pilgrimage
Very eerie stoner/doom similar to The Melvins, but with a lot of shred and a lot of very intense passages.
86 Wizard Rifle – Speak Loud Say Nothing
Spastic mix of garage rock and sludge metal. Reminds me of a more spastic version of Pissed Jeans
87 Enabler – All Hail The Void
An insanely fun mix of black metal, punk and hardcore.
88 Zombiefication – Reaper’s Consecration
Incredibly vicious old school death metal. They’re clearly fans of Entombed and Autopsy.
89 Sons Of Tonatiuh – Parade Of Sorrow
A raw mixture of sludge/doom and punk from Georgia, but they sound like a band you’d hear opening for Eyehategod or Crowbar in New Orleans.
90 Hour Of Penance – Sedition
Insane technical death metal, but unlike some bands who just wank it Necrophagist-style…they are more hellbent on speed than anything.
91 Unconscious Disturbance – Mind’s Corner
Creative progressive rock with a jazzy touch, as well as Human-era Chuck Schuldineresque vocals.
92 Antigama – Stop The Chaos
Straight up face-smashing, creative grind.
93 Acephalix – Deathless Master
Brutal old school death metal done the right way.
94 Aura Noir – Out To Die
Awesome mix of old school thrash and black metal. Very similar to Venom or Celtic Frost.
95 Tiamat – The Scarred People
An absolute classic from the old school progressive death metal band turned into semi-gothic doom metal stalwarts.
96 National Sunday Law – Festival Of The Horned God
Ridiculously crushing atmospheric doom. Nice, beautiful acoustic passages one minute, insanely heavy doom riffs crashing down the next.
97 Vaginal Bear Trap – Just The Tip
Incredibly catchy goregrind/death metal. Also, best band name ever.
98 Martyrdod – Paranoia
Blistering blackened crust punk/thrash.
99 Grave Disgrace – Grave Disgrace
Very obscure Russian sludge/stoner doom that I stumbled on randomly, but fell in love with.
100 Abigail Williams – Becoming
Surprisingly good, epic black metal. Definitely their best album.
I’ve been incredibly busy lately and it’s been hard to keep up a steady writing pace, but i’m really excited about this weeks crop of albums because all four of them are absolutely fantastic. Hopefully soon things will get back to normal and I will be able to finish my thrash bracket this weekend. Stay tuned, and please check out these awesome albums mentioned in this post.
Meshuggah are a band who doesn’t leave room for alot of grey area, it seems. People either absolutely adore them, completely despise them, or (like everyone i’ve played them for) just don’t get it. With the release of their seventh album “Koloss”, they are faced with their biggest challenge to date; their last album “obZen” came out in 2008 and completely spawned it’s own genre, and I don’t need to tell you that when you release an album that creates an entirely new genre, it’s difficult to follow that up.
Musically, Koloss is just as technical and complicated as previous Meshuggah albums, but the thing that sets it apart the most for me, is it’s incredibly simplistic approach. I’m not saying that they toned down the robotic technical prowess they displayed on previous albums like “obZen”, and “Nothing”, and even “Chaosphere”, but I can definitely tell they have gone with a less robotic approach to their music. There are no songs on this album like “Bleed” that just pound through with the same riff being played over and over for sure. The album features a few different approaches, specifically when you hear a song like “Behind The Sun” which features a super heavy riff played at a much slower pace than these titanic swedes are used to, then they launch into a song like “The Hurt That Finds You First” which is one of the faster songs they’ve written in years. There are a couple of songs on the album that have the same type of vibe as “obZen” however, namely “Swarm” and “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” which features an intro that reminds me of “Bleed” a little, but the album also throws back to “Chaosphere” a bit with songs like “The Hurt That Finds You First” which is insanely fast, but it also features a rogue snare drum which seems to chase you down a dark alley with a long machete in hand. In my opinion, the stand out track on this album is definitely “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion, which got it’s name from a poem about revenge. There are no words for me to describe the main riff of this song except maybe that it sounds like having your head smashed repeatedly by an aluminum trash can, but honestly, you have to listen to it with headphones on to even understand what I mean by that.
Overall, I have to applaud Meshuggah for looking back on their previous accomplishments and instead of resting on their laurels, deciding to move forward with one of their most forward-thinking albums yet. Admittedly, i’m a HUGE fan of Meshuggah, so i’m kind of biased with my review, but if you are somebody who can listen to Meshuggah and enjoy them and what they do, this album is definitely worth your time.
Here’s the deal, man, as much as I want to write a super long, descriptive review of the new Overkill album, it doesn’t really need to have that much said about it. Simply put, this album is an absolute beast of a thrash album.
There’s been a huge thrash resurgence in the last few years, but not just with the big four; bands like Exodus, Testament, Mortal Sin, and Forbidden have all put out great releases in recent years, yet somehow Overkill has managed to keep up with all of them, especially the latest album by Anthrax which kind of blew, and lacked many important elements of their classic sound. Though “Electric Age” is Overkill’s sixteenth album, it contains every single bit of fury they’ve had on the fifteen albums before it, if not moreso, in fact, they seem to be on a huge winning streak lately, because their last album “Ironbound” was also fantastic. As far as standout tracks on this album go, there’s not one particular song on here that’s better than the others, but my favorites are definitely “Old Wounds,New Scars”, “Black Daze”, and “Electric Rattlesnake”. Each song on the album stands up nicely in the Overkill discography because they all feature Bobby Blitz’s legendary barking vocal style and D.D. Verni’s signature style of thrash with alot of groove and a bonecrushing pace, but, like Megadeth, they are able to keep a razor sharp edge thanks to their lineup, which is rounded out by the hotshot guitar duo of Dave Linsk, and Derek Tailer on guitar, and Ron Lipnicki on drums
I didn’t know what to expect from this album because I figured Overkill had kind of reached their peak and couldn’t outdo themselves anymore…boy was I wrong. It’s always nice to hear a legendary thrash band able to put out legit, relevant music these days, and Overkill have done just that with their new album, in fact, I can guarantee you this album will be on my top albums of the year list because it’s a bonecrusher from beginning to end and I just can’t get enough of it.
Black Breath are a band that’s been active in the underground metal scene for a few years now and they made a pretty big name for themselves with the release of their 2010 debut album “Heavy Breathing” on Southern Lord Records. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with “Heavy Breathing”, but I decided to give their new album “Sentenced To Life” a chance despite it’s cheesy album cover, and i’m incredibly glad I did.
The thing about this album is that Black Breath play a very heavy style of hardcore/punk in the vein of Converge, but they play with the same type of pedal made famous by bands like Entombed and Dismember, so what would normally sound like a rip off of Converge, or The Hope Conspiracy ends up sounding like Dismember if they had an album produced by Kurt Ballou. The attack on this album is very straight forward, and the album isn’t very long, but something about that Entombed guitar sound just really gives me a huge boner for this album. The best song on this album, and the main reason I love it, is the track “Sentenced To Life” which has that Entombed guitar sound, but it’s got a fury you might find on a hardcore album and the “chorus” makes me pump my fist every time. My other favorite track on this album is “Home Of The Grave” which is more of a death metal oriented song, but it’s still got that Converge/Trap Them type fury and that killer guitar tone.
Overall this album has a million awesome riffs on it, and each one of them would normally not impress me, but the tone that their guitars have is really the difference between it being meh and completely amazing. I know it sounds weird to only love an album because of the guitar tone, specifically when it’s a direct ripoff of other bands, but the way they creatively used that tone to play violent, angry, hardcore music really makes this album one of my favorites of the year.
When word got out that Angel Witch was going to have Bill Steer of Napalm Death and Carcass joining Kevin Heybourne on guitar, I got incredibly excited that a new album would be coming out. Two years later, thanks to Metal Blade Records, Angel Witch’s fourth studio album “As Above, So Below” has arrived and it is an absolute marvel considering this band should have been dead 30 years ago.
If you’ve ever heard Angel Witch’s 1980 self titled album, or if you at least played the game “Brutal Legend”, then you should be singing “you’re an angel witch, YOURRREEE AN ANGEL WITCH!” right now, because it’s one of the catchiest songs ever written. Though Angel Witch are a legendary NWOBHM band, one thing that’s ever present on this album that’s different from their contemporaries is the fact that the music absolutely rules, in fact, it’s 100% relevant which is something Raven and Saxon can’t say for themselves these days. The album has alot of familiar elements of Angel Witch’s classic 1980′s sound, but it has been updated thanks to technology, and it’s taken on kind of a strange doomy sounding guitar tone despite the upbeat boogie of the riffs on the album. One of the best tracks on this album is the upbeat “Gebura” which reminds me alot of “Atlantis”, other stand out tracks on the album are the doomy “Dead Sea Scrolls” and “Into The Dark” which features some incredibly groovy guitar work and very infectious vocal melodies. Despite adding the legendary Bill Steer to the lineup for this record, all of the praise for this album has to go to the band’s founder, and only original member Kevin Heybourne, whose determination to make Angel Witch relevant again has paid major dividends, and his epic vocal style and fantastic guitar playing make this album an absolute monster.
I’ve been involved with my local music scene for many years now, and in my travels i’ve made plenty of friends, with various bands along the way and i’ve decided to start occasionally posting interviews bands both local and not so local. The band I interviewed today, Aynrei, is a project started by Michael Carpenter and Clay Shroeder in Austin, Tx. I know Michael from his days in the band Dhalsim which was started in Ruston, La. Dhalsim were definitely the most original band to ever come from North Louisiana, they were also featured on Metalsucks as one of the winners in their “Best Local Band” contest a few years ago. Aynrei just released their debut EP and you can listen to it HERE or HERE and i wanted to interview them about this project and find out about their plans for future world domination.
What does Aynrei mean?
Michael: It means infinite nothingness. Just a mashup of an esoteric and a japanese word really. Ayn is the nothing. Rei is the soul. Just something I came up with that I felt was unique to our metaphysical interests.
Who was involved in the recording of your debut EP? Did you only play drums on this record?
Michael: It was just Clay and myself. Yea, I just played drums and percussion. We constructed the whole record together pretty much, so I had input on all the guitar and some of the bass parts as well. I didn’t use the big Yamaha kit either, so I was sad, but it still turned out well with the Roland and there’s a few programmed parts we added in, but most of the playing is me trying do my thing on the e-kit.
Where did you record this album?
Clay: Was recorded and mixed entirely “in-the box”, meaning guitars/bass were recorded and mixed with amp simulation (POD XT, Axe Fx, and Logic amp designer). The drums were performed on a roland electronic kit and then sample replaced with Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 2.0. The EP was recorded between January and May of 2011. We had to delay the release due to tense arrangement battles and rock star indulgences that nearly crushed Aynrei’s existence. Originally, the idea for The Great Circle was to include input from a vocalist and bassist, but after being dissatisfied with local auditions, I was forced to handle the sparse bass parts and we decided Aynrei’s musical vision was beyond words..at least for now.
Michael: Clay covered that one, I think. We are still on the fence with vocals though. I’d like the added element, but it has to be a perfect fit for what we do. There are lots of cliche vox in heavy music right now. If it’s not going “h.a.m.” then we aren’t fooling with it. The rock star indulgences are limited to me sleeping on random couches and eating expensive fresco bean burritos from Taco Bell.
What seperates this project from your previous bands?
Clay: Aynrei grew from pure organic struggle. Mike was previously the drummer for my band Atlas Versus, but after artistic visions split with the addition of more members, we parted ways, luckily on good terms… shortly thereafter, he threw an 8 string guitar in my hand and started hating. 47,568 riffs/noises later, the EP was complete. No blood shed. Just feelings. For the record, Mike loathes the metronome as much as I fear experimentation.
Michael: I think the quality of the recording and the arrangements are a lot different. In my previous bands, I obviously wasn’t the same caliber player that I am now, so there’s more concise and cleaner execution of the parts. Also, most of this stuff was built up on the spot. We didn’t write the songs, then go practice them, and then record full songs. It was basically us sitting in a room with guitar and drums plugged in to a comp. Oh, i think I mentioned that I didn’t play an acoustic kit this time, to so I had to adapt to some rubber pads and latency stuff. The full length will have the Oak customs on it though, promise!!!
What are your plans for the future of Aynrei, and where do you see this band in a year or two?
Clay: We are currently developing ideas for a full album, although nothing will be set in stone until we have the input of a bassist. As we like to develop ideas slowly within this band, I am eager to have fan input on arrangement ideas. I feel like this would be a natural evolution for the “DIY” movement. In my opinion, Progressive Metal got it’s rebirth from the rise of affordable home studios and a direct connection to fans around the world via internet. With such outlets why would we not want to hold our listeners’ attention spans by involving them into our world.
Michael: There’s going to be the full length, some regional touring initially, then some straight up road dogging. I’m trying to play 300 shows in a year once the record is done. Hopefully we will keep receiving positive reviews and make enough noise to get some label support and some legit tours.
When people see Aynrei live, or listen to your debut album, what would you like them to take away from that experience?
Clay: Experience. I want this to be beyond an audio stimuli. The listener should be able to close their eyes and feel the emotion that the sounds produce. As as a songwriter, I have always been drawn to odd meters and odd note movements, basically chasing the dragon of complexity while still attempting to hold the listeners grasp, unfortunately the musician part of me needs to be held at bay with this project. Working with Mike has allowed me to surpass my boundaries as a musician, although one of the most fierce collaborations i’ve had to endure. I think we’ll agree that the results are validated.
Michael: What Clay said. For me, the tunes are like soundtracks to a film. It’s like a trippy mind journey type of vibe where you sort have this abstract type of narrative going on and you can create your own dialogue. I want the audience to interpret the music on their own terms.
What are your thoughts on the term “djent” that is used to describe bands like Periphery, Meshuggah, and Animals as Leaders who have a sound similar to yours?
Clay: Obviously, we’re a huge fan of all these bands, I wouldn’t be recording if it weren’t for Misha. Then again, I wouldn’t enjoy odd time signatures without Tool or Crimson, nor extended range instruments without Korn…(cough) I mean Meshuggah. I think Djent is just a cute word to describe the recent surge of poly-rythymic metal. They can’t very well call it “Shugging” haha, regardless, I can see how Aynrei can be put into that category, but I think you’ll notice our unique Don Caballero (Check Them Out NOW!) approach of syncopated/separated meters..basically we want to develop multi-pocket groove. YA. One gigantic trench coat that makes your ears ejaculate.
Michael: I never got caught up in the whole djent as a genre vs. djent as a tone characteristic stuff. Whatever people need to do to define something they will do that and if that’s something we can use to reach a certain demographic that will support what we do as artists then I’m all for it.
What are your thoughts on the direction the music industry is heading, and are you for or against people downloading music?
Clay: NO! Music should be free. I feel like if an artist doesn’t struggle, they’ll lose their voice. Their material will become as saturated as their facade lifestyle. They become walking advertisements, utterly soulless. I sigh in relief that we have the means of spreading our music to millions within a matter of days. The money train is gone, oh well. At least I can still share my art…which is what music is supposed to be, art. Not products restricted by the laws of cash. It’s meant to move and inspire people.
Michael: I disagree with Clay with the whole free thing. I’m a painter, and I play music. Two different mediums, but the goal is the same, to share your unique vision with the rest of the world and to make a living doing it full time if you’re lucky. The internet has leveled the field as far as reaching an unlimited fan base. If you spend enough time online hustling your work, you can get your band heard and get folks out to shows to see you live once you’re touring. We are giving away this album at no cost because it’s not a physical copy. The quality is great and it makes it easier for people to spread the word about us. Bands that play the music we do aren’t rockstars at all. There’s lots of grinding it out, sleeping in vans, and not getting girls, going on. Every dollar that’s made is more than likely being put back into the band to keep them on the road, or to finance a record or whatever. Merch and money from a guarantee are a big chunk of it, but if you sell 5000 cd’s for 10 bucks, then that’s more money in the furnace to keep things going. It’s not getting stacked up in a savings account for Bentleys, dude! Every little bit helps and is very appreciated. I understand that the record industry’s price gouging in previous years has the price of music in a bad light, but we are artists that still want to make a living doing our thing. You can’t tour or make records with nothing. It’s just impossible.
As a musician living in Austin, is it harder or easier to get your music heard?
Clay: Word to the Bluth family. The live music capital of the world is biased. I’m more worried about our online existence at the moment, we need fans to play live to. When the time comes to bring our sound to audiences, it will have reached a heightened maturity.
Michael: It’s tough because EVERYONE’s a musician here. Everybody has a band that they are in and folks get tired of getting begged to come to their friends shows, i’m sure. On the other side of it is the fact that there aren’t many bands doing what we do, nor is there a lot of local support for it. There’s only a handful of places that really deal with heavy music here, because this is a blues and country town, but when heavy bands come through the people come out in droves. We’re focused on spreading the word through the web because it’s just a more efficient way to hustle art. You can stand on the corner all day with some paintings, or you can stand on top of a mountain with a beacon of light, and illuminate the city with your presence.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
Clay: Tough question. Hmmm, definitely “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. That atmosphere is deeeeep.
Michael: I don’t know what’s wrong with Clay, man. Thanks for taking the time out for us Johnny!! We really appreciate it.
2011 was an incredible year for metal, without question. The best part is, 2012 is also shaping up to be a monumental year for metal. 2011 was a year full of releses from fantastic new bands like Atriarch, Disma, and Vallenfyre, but 2012 will be the year that some of the genre’s best put out new albums. This list i’m making is completely ridiculous because it’s based solely on predictions by both myself and record labels and even other magazines.
*UPDATE*: I have included links to my reviews for all of the albums on this list, so check them out if you are wanting a better idea of what some of these records sound like. Also, for more information on awesome upcoming releases, check out my Facebook page.
The first part of this list are all the albums coming out in the next few months with already confirmed street dates, that i will definitely be listening to.
The legendary goregrinders are back with a new record and i have a feeling it’s going to be a monster. Will have guest appearances from members of Black Dahlia Murder, Misery Index, Rotten Sound, and Benighted
This band has gotten more and more boring over the years as they’ve become bigger and bigger, but i have a feeling this album will be pretty decent at least. They benefit from dropping it at a time with no other big records dropping. No offense to Aborted, of course.
Super progressive grind album from Matt Widener of Cretin. First song i heard had a swedish death metal type tone and seems like it’ll be a solid album.
I don’t like technical death metal near as much as i did when i was younger, but if i did i’d be stoked to hear a new Psycroptic album. I’ll definitely give it a listenthough.
This is a band i haven’t listened to alot, but Martin Va Drunen is a legend in the death/doom community and with a limited amount of albums distracting from it, it has potential to gain alot of attention.
This will be their eigth album, and first with the Animosity era lineup in a really long time. I have a feeling this album is going to either be incredibly mediocre, or it’s going to absolutely rule, there’s not much grey area when a band goes from crossover to southern metal and attempts to go back to it’s crossover lineup and recreate magic.
I will guarantee you that i’ll be purchasing this album and listening to it non-stop upon it’s release. It seems that every single Napalm album gets better than the one before it, and judging by how good “Time Waits For No Slave” was, this album is going to be a monster.
This album is basically a re-recording of all of Autopsy’s random demo’s they’ve recorded over the years. There could be some terrible songs on there, but more than likely it’s going to sound alot like Macabre Eternal and it’ll completely kill.
Already pre-ordered this album. Old school metal aesthetic played with a classic rock tone. This album is recommended for anyone who likes Heart, Motorhead, or awesome hard rock/heavy metal.
Saint Vitus – Lillie: F-65 (north american release date delayed)
I have no idea what this album title is in reference to, and I really don’t care. So glad they are finally scheduled to release this album, they played a new song when i saw them in New Orleans and it was fantastic. Wino’s voice sounds awesome on record these days so this album will be one of the best of the year, I truly believe.
Testament – The Dark Roots Of Earth 4/27/2012
One of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time. This is the followup to their last album which blew the doors off of their back catalogue and this album will do the same. Also some guy named Gene Hoglan did drums on this album, not sure if he’s any good, but I think this record will rule.
The second part of my most anticipated list are bands who’ve either been advertised to put out a new album, or who i’ve heard rumored to be putting something out this year. A few of these are just rumors, some are being recorded as we speak, but if even a few of them actually put out records like they’re supposed to, 2012 will be another epic year for metal.
Admittedly, I sort of hate the guitar tone Slayer has taken on over the last 20 years, but i’d be lying if i said i’m not excited to hear them put out new music, specifically more stuff that sounds like “Psycopathy Red”.
I have a feeling that if they release a new record this year, it’s going to sound completely different from anything they’ve done before, which may or may not be a good thing. I can definitely say that it’s going to be worth listening to for sure.
Unlike the first 2 bands in this list, there is not a single doubt in my mind that if their new album is released this year…it will char the skin off of all who get in it’s way. So ready to hear new material from PxDx.
If Axe To Fall is any indication on where these guys are headed, they are going to release another unquestionable album of the year candidate.
High On Fire
Snakes For The Divine was a landmark release by Matt Pike and co, but I think that if they can build on the formula they started with that album, that the new one that’s being recorded right now will be just as deadly, if not moreso.
Supposedly they are going to do part 3 in the Black Meddle series, but i could really care less, i’m ready to hear anything Blake Judd is ready to unleash.
I have a feeling there will definitely be a new Voivod album next year, and they have their original bassist back, plus a fantastic guitarist named Dan Mongrain, therefore I think their new album will run circles around their last 2 decades worth of material.
It seems that, with every new album these guys release, they reinvent themselves completely. Considering how awesome ObZen was, that fact alone means that whatever they put out this year will be purchased by me immediately upon it’s release.
This band also features Danny Walker from Exhumed/Murder Construct, but instead of playing death metal, they are more similar to bands like Isis, but they aren’t just another Cult of Neurisis band by any means and i’m sure guitarist/vocalist Sacha Dunable has more than a couple tricks up his sleeve that’ll make this album their best yet.
Neurosis is recoring an album right this very second with Steve Albini. No reason in wasting anymore words on this one. Very stoked.
Supposedly they are going to put out a new record 1 ep at a time until they’ve done 5. To me, it sounds like a waste of time not putting all of those songs on one disc, but they are good enough musicians, that i think it’ll be worth the wait.
I heard they were supposed to put out a new album in 2011, but nothing ever came of it. I’m really hoping they release the follow up to Watershed this year so that they can finally prove they are still an awesome death metal band and not a bunch of folk rock wannabes like people claimed Mikael Akerfeldt was trying to turn them into.
Other albums supposed to be coming out in 2012 i’m looking forward to:
Kyuss Lives! (not really metal, but still amazing)