Sunday, November 20, 2016

20 that turned 20 in 2016

20 of my favourite albums that turned 20 years old this year. Simple enough premise but damn it took a while to get this just right. Anyway, list time!!! 

20. Opeth - Morningrise

I first heard Opeth on a bootleg black metal compilation CD called "Blackened Vol. I". The song on it was "Nectar" and it fucking blew my mind. When I finally got my hands on "Morningrise", the album did not disappoint and along with "Blackwater Park" it remains an album i revisit every now and then. 

19. Napalm Death - Diatribes

Napalm Death sold out. They have a rap song on this new album. That was the word on the street when this arrived on Indian shores. ND was one of my favourite bands at that point and I would not believe the rumours. As it turned out, there wasn't any rap on "Diatribes" but it was a whole new beast. Catchy riffs, more hardcore in nature than anything ND had done till then and overall an album that's stuck with me for the last 20 years. Not anywhere near the band's best but a sentimental and personal favourite. 

18. Cryptopsy - None So Vile

None more brutal. This album fucking blew minds. Ridiculously heavy and pummeling death metal, "None So Vile" is an exercise in brutality for brutality's sake. It's a trememndous rush while it lasts and one of the blueprints for modern brutal death metal. 

17. Type O Negative - October Rust

Initially, "October Rust" felt like a disappointment after the epic doom of "Bloody Kisses…" but over the years, this album has grown on me like a fungus. A bit more pop and less metal in some regards but the superior song writing and Steel's inimitable lyrics have made "October Rust" a perennial favourite. 

16. Marduk - Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered
"Heaven Shall Burn" was the first black metal album I heard along with "Transilvanian Hunger". The Darkthrone album was a bit scary to be completely honest and "Heaven Shall Burn" definitely the easier listen. I came back to Darkthrone much later in life and pretty much discarded Marduk apart from this one and the debut. This album was a black metal gateway for me. I remember friends from that 90s describing it as "death metal with fuck all production and screeching vocals" and that still fits. 

15. Pro-Pain - Contents Under Pressure

Mid 90s groove metal. This is just such a ridiculously catchy album that even today when I spin this in the car I'm singing along to every one of these songs. "Contents Under Pressure" is just filled to the brim with kickass riffs. A relic of it's time but has somehow managed to stay relevant and memorable. 

14. Desaster - A Touch of Medieval Darkness

I love the first 2 Desaster albums. The debut especially. Rooted in NWOBHM and thrash metal but exploring the whole pagan side of black metal, "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" has memorable songwriting and the passion of these young Germans is evident. 

13. His Hero is Gone - 15 Counts of Arson

Not much to say here. Abrasive, furiously angry American crust punk. Sometimes feel like more people should know this band. This one and "Monument to Thieves" should be essential purchases for anyone with even a little bit of interest in the whole punk/ crust/ grind scene.

12. Sacramentum - Far Away From The Sun

I didn’t actually get round to listening to Sacramentum till maybe the mid 2000s. Sometimes, a band just releases a special debut and then floats along for a couple more purely on the strength of that one album. "Far Away from the Sun" is that debut. Melodic black metal that took Dissection as a starting point but brought their own feel and immense skill to the game.

11. Corrosion of Conformity - Wiseblood

"Wiseblood" is the album Metallica wish they'd made instead of "Load". Great American rock music. Pepper Keenan was in control of the band at this point and "Wiseblood" went one step further in severing all ties to the band's hardcore roots. Superb guitar playing, great song writing and just one hell of a memorable album. 

10. Burzum - Filosofem

Burzum had peaked by this time. I think parts of this album were finished in prison and the songs sometimes have a slightly disjointed feel to them. In spite of that or maybe because of that, there's a weird hypnotic charm to this album. Kind of like if "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Oxygene" were being played simultaneously and in close proximity to each other. Not his best but I really like this one. 

9. Carcass - Swansong 

I love this album. Carcass changed completely here and became a heavy rock band. Bill Steer and Michael Ammot just rocked out on these songs with groovy, catchy riffs, grooves aplenty and some neat soloing. Most people hate this one but what can I say? "Swansong" rocks like a motherfucker. 

8. Lux Occulta - Forever Alone Immortal

The first Lux Occulta full length has held up really well. Blackened doom metal or doomy black metal. Call it what you will but this album has some amazing songs and the melodies are genuine ear worms that get stuck in my head for days at a time. 

7. Adramelech - Psychostasia

Finnish death metal has come to be a description for a certain sound rather than just a geographical indicator. This album helped put that sound on the map. Absolutely sublime death metal. 

6. Amorphis - Elegy

"Elegy" saw this Finnish band finally discard all of the death metal of their first 3 releases and instead go off in a prog rock inspired hard rock direction. Excellent song writing, some amazing melodies through out this album and the Finnish folk music touches made "Elegy" a perennial favourite and even 20 years down the line, these songs kick ass. 

5. Integrity - Humanity is the Devil

Only 90s metal-core is real and "Humanity is the Devil" is one of the most important records to come out of this scene. Integrity are one of my all time favourite bands and with "Humanity…" the band delivered an album that was angry, abrasive and heavy as fuck. This is not an album for the weak of heart. 

4. Skyclad - Irrational Anthems/ Oui Avant-garde á Chance
Bit of a cheat here but Skyclad put out two amazing records in 1996. Martin Walkyier and his band of merry men first released "Irrational Anthems" which was a huge step up from the slightly disappointing "Silent Whales of Lunar Sea" from the previous year...

Penny Dreadful 

 ...but then went one better with the stripped down, mostly acoustic folk album "Oui Avant-garde á Chance". The band wrote some of the best music of their careers with these 2 albums and Walkyier wrote some of his best lyrics. Essential releases for fans of the band and an excellent introduction to new comers. 

3. Acid Bath - Pagaen Terrorism Tactics

More refined and focussed than the debut, "Pagaen Terrorism Tactics" pushed the Louisiana sludge sound to a slightly more accessible place. Dax Riggs is a little more reined in compared to the debut and the band backs him up with some amazing song writing. Among all the defining albums of the scene, this one displays maturity and an emotional weight that has seldom been equaled.

2. Immolation - Here In After

I fell in love with this album the first time I saw the cover art and read the lyrics to "Nailed to Gold". "Here in After" has stood the test of time and is still one of the greatest death metal albums to come out in the last 20 years. 

1. Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood

"Through Silver In Blood" changed heavy music as we know it. By 1996, Neurosis already had two great albums to it's credit with "Enemy of the Sun" and "Souls at Zero" but it was this release that firmly pushed the band to legendary status and got them the kind of press that they deserved. Mixing hardcore, psychedelia, tribal percussion, Swans and Black Sabbath, Neurosis blew minds and expanded on what metal could be.  

And that is that. 1996 was a pretty great year. Not as awesome as 1986 though... 30 albums that turned 30 this year should be my next post. Hopefully before 2016 dies. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Don't usually do food porn but this was exceptional. Preset, 3 course dinner based on the food of the North Atlantic, particularly Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands. 

The bread was ridiculously hard and served with a grey tasteless butter which didn't really get my expectations going but what followed was nothing less than stunning in terms of taste and presentation. 

Course 1 was a sublime and incredibly fresh Cod topped with fennel, pickled radish, finely chopped herbs and bacon bits paired with a delicate and slightly bubbly juice made of apples and elder flower. 

Course 2 was an Ox steak cooked rare served over a bed of brisket with carrot purée, carrots cooked in butter, shaved cauliflower and herbs paired with butter cooked Danish potatoes and a blueberry and grape juice. 
The final course was an absolutely sublime cinnamon cake with rhubarb sorbet, pickled rhubarb, butter milk foam and jellied rhubarb paired with a really delicate rhubarb juice. 

Off to France and Hellfest tomorrow and so far it's been a perfect holiday. Scored some amazing records, been eating some amazing food and generally being a lazy vegetable. 

Saturday, June 04, 2016

2016... some of it

Seven Sisters of Sleep - Ezekial's Hags
SSoS straddles an uneasy balance between metal extremity and sludge and fail to do justice to both. Ezekial's Hags is like the easy listening version of Death Mask by Lord Mantis. 

Desaster - The Oath of an Iron Ritual
There's something about the opening riff on the first proper song on this album takes me right back to the band's awesome debut 'A Touch of Medieval Darkness'. It isn't long before the chug chug chug kicks in and ruins what could have been quite good. Desaster's been on auto pilot for a while now. Consistent but apart from a few songs on various albums, also kind of boring. If you've never heard them, then listen to the first 2 albums and the Stormbringer EP. The Oath of an Iron Ritual is a bit dull. 

Lord Vicar - Gates of Flesh
This was such a disappointment. Lord Vicar now sounds like a generic Swedish stoner band. Biggest buzzkill of the year. 
signs of osiris

Metal Church - XI
Very shiny production but I'm enjoying this quite a bit. 

Greenleaf - Rise Above the Meadow
Greenleaf reached their creative apex with 'Nest of Vipers' in 2012 which was a distinctly Swedish take on 70s hard rock. Everything’s been downhill since then. 
tree of life

Phazm - Scornful of Icons
Phazm used to be a fun death n roll band with the occasional doomed out bit. Like stoner death metal. On Scornful of Icons the band's playing some pretty generic blackened death metal. Very disappointing. Should have come back with a different name. 

The Order of Israfel - Red Robes
Red Robes occasionally sounds interesting but is mostly boring.
von sturmer

Voivod - Post Society
Great stuff. Continuing from Target Earth and maybe going one better. One of the highlights of the year.

Bombs of Hades - Death Mask Replica
There's a rock n roll swagger to Death Mask Replica . Enjoyable but i have a feeling it'll also be quite disposable.
to walk through pyres

The Lion's Daughter - Existence is Horror
Sludgy noise rock done really well. This band released an amazing but ignored album called 'The Black Sea' with folk band Indian Blanket which is also worth listening to. Existence is Horror will probably feature highly if I get round to a year end list. 

The Levitation Hex - Cohesion
Another great fucking band that hardly anyone's heard of. Cohesion is maybe a slightly easier listen compared to the debut. Liking this one a lot. 

Hawkwind - The Machine Stops
This is alright. Not exactly a milestone in the band's career. There's a song on this called Solitary Man that annoys the crap out of me.
solitary man

Karma to Burn - Mountain Czar
Much too short. Doesn't last for more than 25 minutes but Mountain Czar rocks like a motherfucker in that time. K2B continue to kick ass. This is straight forward heavy rock and a worthy follow up to 'Arch Stanton'.

Vektor - Terminal Redux
The last 2 Vektor albums have promised plenty. This new one delivers. Absolutely epic thrash metal that has some great playing backed up by great songs. This album is blowing my mind.

Vektor Bandcamp

Saturday, April 09, 2016

At home with Mr. Flu

Hello again. Here's all the music I listened to this week. 

Scorpions - Lonesome Crow
It feels like the band just did whatever the hell they wanted to on this album and somehow everything fit. Awesome 70s rock. Completely fearless.

In Search of the Peace of Mind

Uriah Heep - The Magician's Birthday
Just for Sunrise. Over and over again. Someday. 


Gorguts - The Erosion of Sanity
Just some reassurance. Easy, familiar fallback. 

The Erosion of Sanity

Danzig - The Lost Tracks of Danzig Disc 1
Huge collection of unreleased stuff, rehearsals, covers and a few good songs buried here and there.  

Satan's Crucifiction

Demon Fuzz - Afreaka!
Fantastic afro-rock. Kind of psychedelic, jammy prog rock with funk and pop bits. Love this album. 


Abysmal Grief - Feretri
Feretri really is an amazing album. went back to this after a long while and it is some really terrific doom metal. 

Lords of the Funerals

Saint Vitus - Mournful Cries
Speaking of terrific doom metal

Dragon Time

Maybe getting Linda Perry to write you a song is pretty much all you need but you still have to sing it. Damn. She can sing. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

PC Metal

Vastum was recently in the news after an interview with the bands vocalist did the rounds. This American death metal band got off to a promising start with their Carnal Law debut a few years ago but since then it’s been a case of diminishing returns with the follow up failing to impress and this new album, “Hole Below” sounding like a sampling of all the lowest common denominators of the current death metal scene. There are some trying to sound like Incantation riffs and “atmospherics”, groovy Bolt Thrower lite riffs hiding behind a whole lot of distortion and reverb heavy vocals. At times it reminds me of a catchier, friendlier version of that last Grave Miasma album but ultimately just as boring.

Feels more and more like if a band can say all the right things to the press then they get a free pass as far as the music is concerned. This year's best of lists have started to come out and it seems to be following this same pattern. If, however they say the wrong things or just were on the opposite side of the political spectrum then they could get blacklisted, banned, shamed on social media and dropped from festivals. Which seems like a weird place for metal to be in. Today, if a young/ new metal band showed off their Nazi war memorabilia collection would they be branded Nazis or would they just be a little eccentric and just “metal”? I think I know the answer to that. I’m just rambling now but yeah, creating a safe space in metal so everyone can feel welcome should mean that it's a safe space for everyone including racists, misogynists, homophobes and every one else people don't like. The state of metal today is just worrying and makes me sad. Anyway Dear Diary...

Another Sunday already. Moving to an early morning shift this week and not looking forward to it one bit.

The new seasons of Arrow and The Flash are killing it and Supergirl is pretty damn good too. DC is having a pretty great run on TV with all 3 shows hitting the right comic book notes. A 3 way cross over event is probably just wishful thinking but if it does happen, it could be very good. J’onn J’onzz’s debut last week was a very cool twist on Supergirl while The Flash/ Arrow crossover this year was just relentless fun. It was also cool to see John Constantine pay a visit to Star city and he fit into the universe very smoothly.  It would have been great if Amell and Gustin could have simply crossed over onto the big screen for the eventual Justice League movie. Anyway, at the moment DC TV is just good fun.

Spain’s Orthodox returned just as I was moaning yet again about 2015 being a disappointing year for heavy music. The band is down to just a 2 piece now but is still just as weird and wonderful as ever. Heavy doom metal but with enough tricks up its sleeve to always be interesting and this is an album I can really sink my teeth into. This is going to be on my playlist for a long while. Snail has a new album out too. This is some more shimmering, psychedelic stoner rock with a heavy bottom end and odd melodies. It’s been growing on me with every listen.  80s thrashers Viking made a low key but triumphant return this year with “No Child Left Behind”. What really works for this album is the band has stuck to a very 80s production and sound and while there isn’t anything innovative or path breaking about this release, it’s a solid thrash metal album and something I’ve played a lot over the last few months.

In other news, India heads off to Australia next month. After the 3-0 win at home against South Africa the team should be high on confidence. Australia will win comfortably though and it’ll be the usual mixture of fun and frustration to see another Indian failure abroad. Australia’s going to destroy our batsmen although our faster bowlers might just do well this time. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma bowled surprisingly well in the few opportunities they got against South Africa. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Oh Bangalore

Oh Bangalore. No electricity. Raining. Very fucking heavily. Sitting in Cuppa with half the lights turned off. The UPS is on the brink and this dump looks like it’s supposed to. A budget drinking place except that you can only get coffee with your kababs. 

Lucifer is the 2nd attempt from Rise Above to make German vocalist Johanna Sadonis a star in the occult rock/ metal spectrum. The first was The Oath which was some watered down hard rock that fell between Danzig and Sisters of Mercy and this year saw the release of the debut album by Lucifer. Fronted by Sadonis with Gaz Jennings on guitar. While Lucifer is more rock than goth it’s still a watered down bunch of songs. As for the vocals, she’s not very good. The slightly “heavier” songs have her voice drowned in reverb and the more rock songs leave her weak melodies exposed. Overall, this is some pretty ordinary stuff. I'm especially puzzled because Rise Above already has Gaz Jennings' other band Death Penalty who released a kickass heavy metal album last year and has a female singer as well but is probably a bit too metal to appeal to the occult rock crowd whoever they are. 

Listening to Wiseblood after years. Redemption City. You can see what Metallica were trying to do on Load and Re-load. Didn’t come close to this fucking monster of a rock album though.

Happy Deepawali to one and all. Hope you had a good time with the crackers and sweets and booze and whatever else this festival is about.

There’s a new Ride for Revenge album. More primitive death metal from Finland. Fuck yes. It isn’t as abstract an album as Enter the Gauntlet was and there is actual songwriting coming through with some cool progressions. There’s something about it that reminds me of Dying Embrace circa Serenades of Depravity without the weird electronic beats and the sudden detours into noise. It’s a really good death metal album and probably as accessible as this trio has ever been. This one along with the Desecresy have brightened up the year considerably. And and and there's a new Abysmal Grief on the way. 

The hookahs are lit and the sickly sweet smelling smoke mingles with the stench of burning crackers. Luckily this new Ride for Revenge is a very effective counter measure. Don’t ask me how music helps with combating this stink but it does.

I got told I was mean today. I guess I am. Every day.

That time of the year again
12 hour nights and buried secrets
A world of hurt with a pack of cigarettes

Tau Cross’s self titled debut is my most played album this year and easily my favourite so far. It reminds me more of Killing Joke than either Voiod or Amebix and it’s full of memorable songs.

Ares Kingdom's The Unburiable Dead was a much anticipated release this year and it doesn't disappoint. In simple terms. it's not quite as good as Return to Dust but a bit better than Incendiary. Heavy metal that's sort of death metal that occupies the same outlier space as Arghoslent or Deceased. Another very good album for Chuck Keller. 

Goatsnake’s Black Age Blues is a heavy blues rock album with swagger and swings like a motherfucker. The use of the gospel choir on parts of the album is inspired and the songs are memorable. A very welcome return. 

I've written about the new Ride for Revenge album elsewhere. Ageless Powers Arise is some really good shit. 

The one big surprise for me this year is Megiddo’s The Holocaust Messiah. Simple, straight forward Bathory influenced black metal that’s just a bit more evolved from the first 2 albums and it has remarkable repeat value. In terms of sheer plays, this one should be in the top 5. 

Desecresy's Stoic Death is a powerful work of death metal and has been getting a lot of plays. It gets a lot of stuff right in the Bolt Thrower worship field. Derivative but also ebough original chops to stand out.   

Ironsword's None but the Brave is 2015's answer to Triumph and Power. Heavy fucking Metal. Straight forward, memorable and catchy and has the kind of fuck you attitude that just can't be faked. 

Archgoat’s The Apocalyptic Triumphator is probably the most rock they’ve been so far and it’s a solid album. This is a band I love for no rational reason and played this a whole lot when it came out. It's got legs surprisingly. 

Perpetual Descending into Nothingness is the 3rd album by Obscure Infinity and I had no clue. Good songwriting, good musicianship and a keen sense of melody helped make this album stand out amidst all the evil/dark/atmospheric death metal bands.   

The new Wooden Stake was a revelation. While the bands debut album had it's moments, there was something missing and now on A Feast of Virgin Souls, the duo sound assured in their approach and use doom, speed and nwobhm to craft a very entertaining heavy metal album. In a fair world, this would destroy the likes of Lucifer. 

So that’s my top 10 so far. A few more releases to look forward to but overall a dull year. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This kitty's got claws

It's been 5 months now since the crash. I'm finally on my way to walking without support and should be good in another 10 days or so. It's been a long, slow and mostly painful recovery. In other news, there's a new entrant to the household. She's loud, full of energy and already an entitled little brat. 

So then, 5 months later, this blogging thing seems most irregular. I'm not even half as interested in blogging as I used to be. it's raining outside and I'm waiting for the momo man to deliver even as the mushroom soup simmers in it's cream and garlic base. Melancholic Sunday aside, today's been about Sam Gopal, OM, Solstafir and The Doors. 

Crossed the halfway mark for the year and it's been a pretty disappointing year for music. Are there 10 albums I'd buy without hesitation this year? Not off the top of my head. 

Hannibal came to a close this year with what was a strange and slightly polarizing 3rd season. The first half leading to the capture of Dr. Lecter was truly stunning television and elevated the show to being one of the my all time favourites. the second half with the Red Dragon story line was a bit by the numbers but still managed to close out the series in a very solid manner thanks to the dude who played Dollarhyde and the spectacular imagining of the mind palace. Overall, this is up there with my all time favourite TV show