December 28, 2012

George's Top Albums of 2012

Whoopty doo! This is the list that comprises my favorite albums of 2012. Seeing as it's been a mediocre year music wise and I haven't heard that many albums, I'll have to apologize beforehand for the lack of numerous entries. That being said, let's begin the hipster madness! In no particular order...

1. Crystal Castles - (III)

Darker than ever, Crystal Castles released an album that sounds fresh yet murky. This is no longer your 8-bit dancehall stuff. (III) is glitchy, harder to get into and Alice Glass got buried even more behind layers of synthesizers. Yum!

2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

While I don't like him as much as I like The Weeknd, I can't deny the fact that he's still a great singer. And all those collaborations, man. Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, the Creator, André 3000 and even fuckin' John Mayer on Pyramids, a 10-minute epic madness. Just wow.

3. blink-182 - Dogs Eating Dogs 

I can't deny my love for blink. Loved them ever since I was a child and I still do. Even though this is no Self-Titled in terms of quality, it's still a great EP and it tops Neighborhoods. Probably because this time around they actually met for the writing process. I can't wait to see what else they're going to release.

4. Wild Nothing - Nocturne


I had no idea who Wild Nothing was until I found this little gem. It's a combination of dream pop, post-punk and shoegaze mixed perfectly. These songs evoke the spirit of youth and carelessness, being just a great care-free album overall. Loved it.

5. Holy Other - Held

A great release from TRI▼NGLE Records, Held brings to the table a (yet) fairly unknown genre, witch house. Sure, you might classify it as dark ambient, but no one cares. It's a great album and this dark and dusty bedroom atmosphere makes me appreciate it even more.

6. The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

The Sunset Tree was the album that got me into The Mountain Goats, and I've been hooked ever since. Its simple instrumentation and John Darnielle's great lyrics always make for a great album. This one's about castaways trying to fit in today's society.

7. The 1975 - Sex

I had no idea who these guys were until I found their single, Sex. After that I just had to listen to the whole EP. I really loved it, definitely up there in my 2012 top three. A perfect mix of ambient, R&B and indie-rock, all this in just 4 tracks . It's a must listen.

8. The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now

Great swedish indie-folk act, I think Kristian got it right this time. I couldn't get into his previous LPs, but this one was really awesome. Piano sequences, complicate finger-picking techniques and a love-it-or-hate-it voice sealed the deal for me.

9. The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania

Even though their line-up constantly changed throughout the years, Corgan finally began to walk on the right path with Oceania. After the terrible Zeitgeist and a long hiatus, this album came at the right time to show us that the band still has potential. I'm eagerly waiting for more material. Better material.

10. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Well, I must admit I didn't see this one coming. Releasing a new LP after a nearly decade-long hiatus is quite something. Especially when the album is absolutely astonishing. The post-rock scene certainly needed this, seeing as it has become more of a joke lately. Thank you, GY!BE.

11. Burial - Kindred

Constantly managing to improve the style that made him famous, Burial brings to the table a new EP. Three songs which explore darkness, coldness and desolation, the voices shouting and weeping in turmoil greatly accompanied by dreary's beautiful.

Chester's Top 20 Albums of 2012

This is it, folks! Listmania is upon us and I am here with the list of my favorite albums from 2012. It's been another great year for metal and I can't wait to see what the next one will bring. This is my last post for the year, so have fun, take it easy, be cool and see you in 2013! Peace out!

** Please note that, despite the title, this is not actually a TOP 20. The albums are only listed in alphabetical order, their position on the list is irrelevant to my tastes.

1. Alcest - Les Voyages de L'Ame

This is the first time I'm listening to Alcest, but I'm willing to include them on my year-end list simply because I liked every song on this album, starting with the strong opener Autre Temps. It's beautiful and inspiring and the fact that the lyrics are in French lends it a certain elegance I find most appealing.

2. Burning Love - Rotten Thing to Say

Canadian hardcore bros Burning Love are responsible for my favorite sludge/hardcore album of the year. Explosive riffs, fast-burning bluesy licks, frantic drumming, great songwriting, cool lyrics and tons of screaming make Rotten Thing to Say a truly intense album that offers much more than its low-key cover might suggest.

3. Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity

Vegan warriors Cattle Decapitation have stepped up their game and came up with an insane deathgrind album which puts all of their previous output to shame. Travis Ryan is one hell of a vocalist, being able to produce all sorts of crazy vocals, and he is backed by a well-trained demolition crew, obliterating everything in their path.

4. Die Antwoord - Ten$ion

I non-ironically love Die Antwoord and I hope they keep making music and creepy/funny videos until they're too old to stand. Ten$ion sees the South-African crew maintaining their unique style and crafting some of their best and quirkiest songs to date. ZEF SIDE REPRESENT.

5. Dopethrone - III

With this crushing monster of an album, Dopethrone further cement their reputation as some of the best stoner doomsters around. It's heavier than a herd of mammoths stampeding all over you and catchier than toilet seat STDs. There is no excuse to miss out on this one.

6. Germ - Wish

Ex-Austere vocalist Tim Yatras is a true alchemist. I would have never imagined electronic trance music, black metal and post-rock could work so well together. But Germ's music merges these elements flawlessly into one of the most original and hopelessly addictive albums of 2012. All aboard for the cosmic journey of a lifetime!

7. Gorod - A Perfect Absolution

French tech-death overlords Gorod have released an impressive album which has been on my constant rotation ever since it came out. Fantastic vocals, hard-hitting riffs, soaring guitar solos, plenty of melody and impeccable production make A Perfect Absolution their best effort to date.

8. Graveyard - Lights Out

A more quiet, subdued album than last year's excellent Hisingen Blues, Lights Out sees the Swedish rockers preserving their vintage sounds and equally vintage looks and delivering another badass performance. Graveyard rule!

9. Horseback - Half Blood

A dark, ominous yet totally catchy album combining black metal, drone, shoegaze, doom metal and a touch of Americana twang? Sign me up! Arjuna = one of my favorite songs ever.

10. Muknal - Muknal


11. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I

Progressive metal doesn't get much more progressive than this. On their debut album, Ne Obliviscaris combine black/death/doom metal with jazz, classical and Oriental elements into a clusterfuck of all things awesome. Brilliant songwriting, harsh/clean vocals, fast tremolo-picked riffs, delicate acoustic passages, violins, brutality and beauty, all rolled into one. Portal of I is nothing short of a masterpiece and it begs the question: where will these guys go from here?

12. Nomega - Deimos

I'm always happy when I get the opportunity to include a Romanian band on this list. Last year it was Mediocracy. Now, it's Nomega's turn to step into the lime light. These stoner bros create half-improvised, loosely structured stoner/psychedelic/space rock anthems and boy oh boy, it's great! Taking cues from a slew of influencial stoner rock bands, Nomega do things their own way. Deimos is a dizzying 2001: A Space Odyssey-like journey through the fringes of outer space and inner conscience. There's not much else to say except... BLAST OFF!

13. OM - Advaitic Songs

OM are on my best-of list by default. Every year that they put something out is a year not wasted in vain. It may not be as good as some of their previous work, but it's still something to behold.

14. Panopticon - Kentucky

I was born in old Kentucky, in a coal camp born and bred.
I know all about the pinto beans, bulldog gravy and corn bread.
And I know how the coal miners slave and work in the coal mines every day 

For a dollar in the company store, for that is all they pay.

15. Rhinocervs - RH-12

A sparse, grim as fvck album that reminded me what black metal is really about. These three nameless songs are filled with a dark, foggy atmosphere and cold riffs, but there is also melody hidden among the raw ugliness of Rhinocervs' music.

16. Satan's Satyrs - Wild Beyond Belief

It took me a looooong time to get into this album. The fact that the production is so shitty that it sounds like the band is playing four blocks away inside a cardboard box isn't going to make Wild Beyond Belief a particularly easy listen. But, once I managed to unearth them from the heaps of fuzz drowning this album, I discovered some kickass riffage that practically begged me to take off my clothes, crush some cold cans and howl like a wild beast while my horrified neighbours were calling the police. Sweet!

17. Subcarpaţi - Underground Folclor

I was chomping at the bit to hear the new album by Subcarpaţi and it was exactly what I had hoped for. A whole bunch of dubstep/electro beats pounding over folk music samples and MC Bean's twisted lyrics about nationalism, hanging out with your grandma and listening to old songs on the radio. Good stuff.

18. Veil of Maya - Eclipse

I have no idea what keeps me coming back to this album. The percussive djenty riffs? The cool low/high dual vocal attack? The fact that they made fun of some YouTube kid on the song Punisher and modeled an entire riff after his online rant? Yeah, maybe.

19. Witchcraft - Legend

Five years after the release of The Alchemist, Witchcraft have made a long-awaited return with Legend. By lending a modern edge and a crisp production to their classic rock/doom songs about love, struggles and social issues, these Swedes have managed to helplessly ensnare me, which is why I've been listening to this since it came out. Somebody stop me!

20. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is a beautiful emotionally-charged black metal/post-rock album that adds to the late David Gold's already impressive legacy. It is at once moving and heavy and it explores so many sentimental themes that it's almost impossible not to relate with at least some of the songs. I'm notorious for getting excited about bands everyone else already knows about, so Woods of Ypres is my top musical discovery of the year. Always late to the party!

December 24, 2012

Zulu’s 2012 musical wrap-up

Part of my admission process as a musical journalist for Tzeeeac included the promise to boldly create a musical top that no one has created before. Also, imagine having to make this god-awful promise while standing with my knees on chrismukkah-colored glass shards and with my right hand glued to The Book of Heavy Metal.  It’s no easy feat, I tell you, and I’m glad I had the strength of character to be accepted.

With that said, I’ve decided to comprise three short lists each with three choices (again, it’s a magic number and I very much like it). They will be called, in no particular order:  Release of The Year (ROTY), Fail of The Year (FOTY) and Musical Discovery of The Year/Gem of The Year (let’s say GETY). And since I’ve posted them in this order, let’s have at it the same way.

First up, ROTY Category:

3. Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent

These guys have become something in the vein of Amon Amarth: They keep releasing the same record every time, yet it never gets old. And I’ll be damned if I have something against that: the music is great for head banging, their live shows are a blast (I’ve seen them twice and will definitely see them again) and Simone is putting the H in Hot, as always. What’s there not to like?

2. FusionCore - Permanent Voyage

Up and coming Romanian rockers flying under the moniker FusionCore have put out a smashing debut that incorporates elements of funk, jazz and even metal, with lyrics sung in three languages. A very exciting album to listen to that will appeal to music lovers anywhere. See if this hits the spot for you.

To top that, there a free download at the following address
Get it while it’s hot!

1. Tetrafusion - Horizons

After two previous full albums, these american proggers have settled in a comfortable formula and have found a style that defines them, pretty much unique in the genre, and this nifty EP stands proof to that. I’ve talked about them before on Tzeeeac (here’s the link) and I’m happy to award them the title for Release of The Year. Good jobs guys, and let’s hear a full album in 2013. You deserve to make it big!

Get the EP here!

More on the blind side, the FOTY  Category:

3. Katatonia - Dead End Kings 

     After the excellent Night is The New Day, I was expecting something truly amazing from these guys. Instead I got Dead End Kings, a record which is not bad by any means, but that doesn’t really go anywhere. The songs have no true identity and just plod along at the usual pace for a Katatonia release. I have listened to this album many times while on the train ride to/from work and the only redeeming quality about it seems to be that I sleep very well with it as background music. Here’s one of the better tracks:


2. Between the Buried And Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence

Being a fan of BTBAM’s early work mostly, this album was something that I listened to purely as an informative action. Based on the EP that precedes it, I didn’t expect to like it that much, yet it managed to quickly become one of the most annoying albums that I have laid my ears upon. Therefore, inclusion in this list was made mandatory. Again, link to one of the better tracks:

     More on the album here.

1. Swallow The Sun - Emerald Forest and the Blackbird

Let’s disregard for a moment the silly album name and I’ll try to give you some relevant info. From the moment STS posted a sample of their next release on their website, all I did was check for updates time and time again to hear more of it. It was awesome and jaw-dropping and it reminded me of The Plague of Butterflies. It was my most highly anticipated album for 2012. But they were secretive and until release day came upon us, the common folk, nothing much was shared. Suffice to say I couldn’t sit down and have more than 3 listens of this album without the music unwillingly turning into background noise. 

The rehash of old ideas complemented with the lack of originality in all the compositions made for the most bludgeoning borefest one could never have asked for. Just listen to this:

Ten minutes of music that go nowhere and most of the times I lose interest half-way into the song.
With that said, I’m forced to crawl back to their debut release, The Morning Never Came. More on that here

And finally, the GETY Category:

 3. Gojira - L’Enfant Sauvage

     I’m not going to try and come up with excuses of why I didn’t listen to Gojira before; let’s just say that it slipped by me in more ways than one.
This album hit me like a train could hit a 70’s convertible: leaving a giant pile of wreckage behind. The rawness of the production, the uncomplicated music (only guitars, drums and harsh vocals), the massive concentration of mind blowing riffs per minute and the fact that it all sounds like Arch Anemy, early day Chimaira and Amon Amarth got together for a jamming session, it all makes for an exhilarating ride that I have subconsciously been waiting for in a long time.

It just can’t get any better than that.

2. Uaral - Sounds of Pain…

There’s really only one word to describe this album: DAT.ACOUSTIC. GUITAR.

Ok so maybe it was three words, but who am I to judge?!? The mad skills behind this release make me overlook any of the little faults that lie within it.

    1. Kauan - Any release

    This band did to me this year what Year of No Light did in 2011: that is make me completely oblivious to any other forms of music, burying myself in the scenery painted with the blood and sweat of only two people. At over 20 hours of airtime gathered in just about three weeks, considering I don’t have much time to listen to music as I did in the past years, it should give you enough of an insight of how invested I have become into this band. Any song from any of the four releases is good enough to be featured here, and since in my last post I’ve talked a little about records one and three, I’ll just choose a tune from their latest offering, Kuu.

I just wished I would have found them earlier.

And that’s about it with my 2012 musical ramblings, now excuse me while I go and email Anton from Kauan for some t-shirts.

Zulu out.