Friday, 27 December 2013

2013 Chronicle (Year in review) part 10 - Best of September 2013

September 2 - Cult of the Headless Witch (ST)

September 3 - VISTA CHINO (Peace) - The band formerly known as Kyuss Lives! made their debut on this date.  Though it was a debut, it was easy to go in with a whole suite of set expectations, but to their credit, Vista Chino delivered an album that both pays homage (pun unintended) to the band's Kyuss roots and moves in an all-new direction.  This was the record that should by all rights have been the biggest let down of the year, and ends up an easy top 20 pick.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Dargona Dragona" and "As You Wish".  Rating 4.5/5

September 6 - Nonsun (Sun Blind Me)

September 6 - SINISTER REALM (World of Evil) - Shadow Kingdom Records rarely falters in their vision or their judgment, so you know what you were getting into here, old school metal touched by the hand of doom.  Vocalist Alex Kristof puts in a strong Dio-like performance while guitarists Risko & Kantner shred and the rhythm section creates a claustrophobic effect.  Good heavy old school doom right here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Cyber Villain" and "Dark Angel of Fate".  Rating 3.5/5

September 9 - BLOOD RED WATER (All the Ills of Mankind) - Italian sludge quintet Blood Red Water increased the stakes big time on their second E.P.  The follow-up to last year's 'Tales of Addiction & Despair' was still full of addiction & despair, only the intensity was increased a hundred fold with faster tempos and tighter grooves.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Bad Trip in a Toxic Mind" and "The Outstanding Loss".  Rating 5/5

September 11 - NYMF (From the Dark) - One of the best albums of the year, 'From the Dark' also happens to be one of the hardest to define by genre.  Niklas Sjoberg's vocals are mostly clean if forceful, but sometimes growl, the music mostly moves at a good pace with the force of a jackhammer but is also doomy in places.  I just call it good metal with cool lyrics about werewolf covens and vampires and stuff.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Fear of the Doom" and "Lucifer Takes the Crown".  Rating 4.5/5

September 11 - Sun of Man - (I)

September 13 - Exiles (Wreck)

September 13 - Shades of Deep Water (Waterways)

September 13 - YIDHRA (Hexed) - From L.A. but featuring a thick, filthy, very un-sunny sound the doom metal quintet Yidhra conjured their debut album on this date.  There's nothing cute or pretty about this 9-song collection of doomed death knells, just some extremely atmospheric tunes, thick like black attic mold.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Oath Breaker" and "Mai-Cob".  Rating 4.5/5

September 17 - SUBROSA (More Constant Than the Gods) - Utah's very own experimental doom quintet SubRosa has crafted the go to album to escape the traditional, the expected or the norm (however strange your norm may be). SubRosa push the sonic boundaries into the remote, into the timeless. Sarah Pendleton's violin has a lot to do with it, her highly atmospheric playing style suggests the sound of the future while conjuring images of a pirate-laden and enchanted past. 'More Constant Than the Gods' is a listening experience all its own.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Ghosts of a Dead Empire" and "Cosey Mo".  Rating 4/5

September 17 - Tombstone (Evil Seed single)

September 18 - PALM DESERT (Adayoff) - Recorded in a single marathon session, with much if not most of it improvised or composed on the spot in the studio, 'Adayoff' is a breezy EP that moves through track after track of loose stoner jams.  The "off-the-cuff" way it was put together is part of this E.P.'s haphazard charm.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Dusty" and "Among the Stones".  Rating 4/5

September 18 - WOODWALL (WoodEmpire) - Italian quartet Woodwall's full-length debut already made my dubious "didn't listen to enough" list, unfortunately, but I'm more than happy to rectify that as time trudges onward.  Certainly the most adventurous offering in the stoner / sludge category this year, 'WoodEmpire' is full to the brim with progressive movements, changing dynamics and strange ideas.  Get it hereHighlights include: "WoodEmpire" and "King Stuste".  Rating 5/5

September 20 - Alucarda (D.F.F.L.)

September 20 - Dead Meadow (Warble Womb)

September 24 - Olde (The Gates of Dawn)

September 24 - SASQUATCH (IV) - L.A.'s go-to fuzz rockers let loose their fourth album for Small Stone Records on this date.  What may seem unassuming on first listen soon takes hold of the listener and it isn't too long before you can't stop spinning the record.  Simply put, this is some top notch stoner rock.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "The Message" and "Smoke Signal".  Rating 4/5

September 24 - WINDHAND (Soma) - Arguably the biggest doom buzz band in the world of mainstream metal, Windhand's second album and first (full-length album) on Relapse Records had many scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss was about.  It's my assumption that these head scratchers never heard the band's self-released debut and so failed to see the band find their own identity and leave their own  mark on the genre.  'Soma' is an impressive six song collection which casts a dark light on all corners of Windhand's emerging identity while throwing all but the kitchen sink at the listener including the 30 minute-(over)long closer.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Woodbine" and "Orchard".  Rating 4/5

September 27 - Disenchanter (Back to Earth)

Best Album From June 2013:
'From the Dark' by NYMF

Best Song From June 2013:
"Woodbine" by WINDHAND

PARANOID Thoughts:
Female-fronted.  You read that two word phrase a lot these days.  "Female-fronted occult-based doom metal band ..." is becoming roughly as familiar a phrase as "... a mix of sun and cloud with a chance of showers ...".  The most remarkable aspect of it all remains the fact that it continues to be pointed out in the first place.  I, myself have been known to utter the phrase and it always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.  In my defense I would like to point out that I usually try to give a reader unfamiliar with a band at least an idea of what to expect from the vocals of ANY band, and if they are instrumental to point that out early in an article as well.  We all have different tastes, some like clean vocals, some don't, etc.  The truth is, the overwhelming majority of metal vocalists are men and I don't see that changing any time soon, so the fact that a band's vocalist is a woman remains an interesting one I suppose.

The issue here of course is the vague generalness of the term "female-fronted".  I'm not sure the phrase has any real meaning whatsoever, and does nothing to prove to me that such different sounding bands with such different vocal styles as say Jess & the Ancient Ones and Shroud Eater have anything in common at all.  What do Kylesa, Windhand & Seremonia have in common?  They are all bands and that's about the extent of it.

Below you'll find a list of my favorite lady singers whose bands released albums in 2013.

Top 10 Vocalists (Female):
1). Jex Thoth (Jex Thoth)
2). Alia O'Brien (Blood Ceremony)
3). Shelly Delbridge (Albino Python)
4). Jane Esther-Collins (Shinin' Shade)
5). Emily Kopplin (Mount Salem)
6). Darcy Nutt (Uzala)
7). Jean Saiz (Shroud Eater)
8). Dorthia Cottrell (Windhand)
9). Noora Federley (Seremonia)
10). Rebecca Vernon (SubRosa)

And just so the dudes don't accuse me of being a 'sexist', here's the men's list.  Some were selected for their singing chops, others for their incredible ability to pen unique and thought provoking lyrics, some even have both those things going for them.  Mostly it's whose words and whose voices that spun around my head in 2013.

Top 10 Vocalists (Male):
1). Marc Gaffney (Gozu)
2). Kevin Schindel (Neon Warship)
3). Aryn Jonathan Black (Scorpion Child)
4). Butch Balich (Argus)
5). Mark Weiner (Earthen Grave)
6). Dee Calhoun (Iron Man)
7). Phil Anselmo (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals)
8). Ron Rochondo (Ice Dragon / Tentacle / The Mangled Dead)
9). Steve Janiak (Devil To Pay)
10). Philip (Aleph Null)

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