Wednesday, 18 December 2013

2013 Chronicle (Year in review) part 1 - Best of the Rest from 2012

Yup, it's that time again!  It's time to stick a fork in the numerologically unluckiest year of the century, glad that we survived it, and remember fondly those that didn't and to turn the page to the bright future which lies ahead in 2014!  But first, first, let's take a look back at the year that was.  I'm going to do something slightly different here, I'm going to cast my net deeper into time and begin my look back at 2013 with what I missed (the first time around) in 2012.  This is the way we're going to do things the rest of the way:  I'm going to take a poke through the months January 2013 through October 2013 and try to boil them down to my twenty favorite releases from each month.  It's the same thing I did last year [you can check it out on the "2012 Year In Review" tab on the sidebar] and it was a lot of crazy fun, so as we gear up for the Top 100 Most Paranoid Albums of 2013 (as mentioned before: only including releases from January 2013 to October 2013), we're going to do one of these 2013 Chronicles each and every day until December 29.  After that the Top 100 Most Paranoid Songs from 2013 and the Top Albums lists will close things out on the final two days of the year followed by A Very Special Doom Chart.  There's going to be a shit ton of nerd fun in the weeks ahead so stay tuned and yes, I'm going to throw in some neat little surprises along the way, not to mention the regular features like reviews, mini doom charts and Hours of Power!

So here they are, a bunch of albums that I missed the first time around in 2012 and didn't discover them for whatever reason until much later.  Some of these albums I was able to give full reviews of or feature elsewhere, but some I've never mentioned either here on the blog or on the facebook page but are albums that I've come to love.  I chose 15 of them to run down in chronological order of release because I'm a dork.  Now, let's get busy ...

January 27 - VELVET ROBE (La Seance Haunted) - This seldom seen Ice Dragon related black metal tinged side project first appeared on bandcamp with this album which was full of conjuration, invocation and annihilation.  Though the album is a half hour long there's spooky clips and eerie atmosphere enough for one thrice its length.  Velvet Robe released a split with Merlin and two horrific videos earlier this year and released a four song EP as lately as a week ago which you can grab from the same page at the link.  I recommend it.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Kharis Lives" and "In Visible Shadow".  Rating 4/5

February 21 - MOUNT CARMEL (Real Women) - Bluesy southern rock and roll peeled right off the strip of the seventies, Mount Carmel is the closest you can actually get to the seventies without slipping backwards through the cracks of time.  This is a damn impressive album full of heavy guitars, funky riffs and blue-eyed soul.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Real Women" and "Oh Louisa".  Rating 4.5/5

March 28 - ARC OF ASCENT (The Higher Key) - New Zealand based psychedelic doomsmiths Arc of Ascent released what may have been the best album in 2012 that I never actually heard in 2012.  It's heavy as sin, full of great riffs, hyper-making drums and swirling psychedelic freakouts.  There isn't much to not love here so stop being a bonehead like I was for some 14 months and shoot yourself into the Arc of Ascent with one of your new favorite bands.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Land of Tides" and "The Celestial Altar".  Rating 4.5/5

March 29 - BANDA DE LA MUERTE (Pulso de Una Mente Maldita) - This album was on my radar for what seemed like forever, but it wasn't until the band released their 'Seis Canciones' covers EP in April of this year [review here] that I finally embraced their earlier full-length album.  It was a good job I did too.  This Argentinian quartet moves through 9 tasty slices of punky stoner rock to mess up your face.  Get it hereHighlights include: "El Miedo" and "Espíritu en Paz".  Rating 4/5

May 4 - NORTHWINDS (Winter) - Here's another of the greatest albums I'd never heard.  This one was just crazy, it was doom, but it was also prog (but not proggy), it had an awesome album cover and the keyboards were highly cinematic.  There was the Saint Vitus cover ("Clear Windowpane") and Hammer Films clips ("Gorgon").  This one had it all and in a way that had never been heard before, not by these ears.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Black Tower" and "Land of the Dead".  Rating 4/5

June 1 - THE GENTLEMEN BASTARDS (ST) - From the virtual stoner doom vacuum of Alabama come this pack of well-dressed lads with a bad attitude.  It turns out that rock n roll still sounds dangerous in a dress shirt.  Who knew?  A band like this one will restore your faith in the power of rock n roll.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Deja Vu" and "Big Bad Wolf".  Rating 4/5

June 12 - SANCTUS BELLUM (The Shining Path) - I have no idea how I missed this one last year, but I did.  This Houston-based quintet makes muscly doom metal in the mold of Argus, Pale Divine, Las Cruces, Maligno and Mala Suerte, many of whom Sanctus Bellum actually shared stages with this year.  Traditional metal and epic doom merge in well-developed landscapes with explosions of shredding guitar.  Great stuff.  Get it hereHighlights include: "The Shining Path" and "Dumb Luck Divinity".  Rating 4/5

June 19 - BLACKHAND (And the Devil Rode Forth) - How's about a little Jersey metal?  This hard knockin' stoner metal quintet dropped a terrific five song debut that flew right over my head.  I never saw it coming until it was too late to write it up in last year's rundown.  This album is definitely worth a peek, especially if you want doom with a little more energy.  Get it hereHighlights include: "The World Has Moved On" and "Blood Debt".  Rating 4/5

July 13 - COLD BLUE MOUNTAIN (ST) - This album was in my bandcamp wishlist forever.  Thankfully, this sludgey Californian quintet released a video for album opener "Branch Davidian Compound" recently which reminded me that CBM was one of my "most wished for" albums on my wishlist, one listen reminded me why.  It's just nine quick blasts of midtempo, though energetic metal, along the same lines as Pyres & Crowlord from this year.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Branch Davidian Compound" and "Dark Secret".  Rating 4/5

July 17 - THE HOWLING WIND (Of Babalon) - Here's a break through from my "I don't usually listen to this genre" list.  Actually, I started digging around into blackened doom and black metal after discovering Head of the Demon and came up with this American duo on Profound Lore Records.  The Howling Wind is at their best when they pour their black metal through a Doom filter.  Get it hereHighlights include: "The Seal Upon the Tomb" and "Scaling the Walls".  Rating 4/5

October 12 - DOPEFIGHT (Premature Neanderthal Idiocracy) - Sadly, I didn't discover Dopefight until they had already seized operations but they were kind enough to leave the world with a hefty bag of unreleased demos that were to have made up a second album to have been released in early 2013.  This is just pure stoner sludge metal at its finest.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Pathetic" and "P.N.I.".  Rating 4.5/5

October 29 - CROWNED IN EARTH (A Vortex of Earthly Chimes) - This UK duo blasts out space prog like it's attached to a fire hose.  I discovered them way late in the year after an interview they did with Aleksei on the Temple of Perdition blog [R.I.P., still in shock here].  Glad I did to say the least, fuzz and space rock are piled upon by layers of prog.  Get it hereHighlights include: "World Spins Out of Key" and "Winter Slumber".  Rating 4/5

October 31 - BLACKQUEEN (March of the Obsidian Triumvirate) - I discovered BlackQueen the way everybody else did, when they became a surprise invitee to play the Housecore Horror Film Festival.  This King County quartet worships at the altar of Goblin combining abrasive metal with a horror film soundtrack sensibility which they call "witch metal".  They only just released a 14 minute mini-film / music video for "BabeGhostWitch".  Get it hereHighlights include: "The 2nd Key" and "BabeGhostWitch".  Rating 4/5

November 6 - DECEPTOR (Chains of Delusion) - This album is rad.  This UK power trio combines elements of old school power metal with old school thrash.  This four song, 6 track EP came late to me because I was late on catching up on Shadow Kingdom releases, one of the most consistent labels on the planet.  Get it hereHighlights include: "To Know Infinity" and "Sentient Shackles".  Rating 4/5

November 27 - CRAG DWELLER (Magic Dust) - This pyrotechnic pyramid of power from Portland sadly packed it in this past year.  But before they split, they left us with a 7-song document of face melting fury.  The good news is, at least one member [Travis] is moving forward with a project that may prove to be even cooler than Crag Dweller by the end of it, but that's a pretty tough act to follow.  One down the hatch for the boys in Crag Dweller!  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Chrononaut" and "Gotta Have It".  Rating 4.5/5

Other notable break-ups in 2013:
The Gates of Slumber
The Devil's Blood
Iron Mtn (damn!)
Cult of the Headless Witch
Witchcoven (double damn!!)
Aniara (formerly known as Oak)

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