Sunday, 22 December 2013

2013 Chronicle (Year in review) part 5 - Best of April 2013

April - APE SKULL (ST) - Ape Skull is amazing, their debut album is such a perfect slice of 60's psychedelic pop that if you didn't know it was a new record, you'd be convinced it was a lost classic.  It even comes complete with a cover of "I Got No Time" by the decidedly obscure British psych band Orange Peel who I believe released a mere two singles in the late sixties.  Anyway, this is an excellent album, well worth checking out.  Original review here.  Get it here.  Highlights include: "Lazy" and "So Deep".  Rating 4.5/5

April 1 - Desert Storm (Horizontal Life)

April 2 - THE BLACK ANGELS (Indigo Meadow) - Here's another album I didn't listen to nearly enough.  Hands down this is the best straight-up psychedelic record of the year and maybe the heaviest while we're at it.  This thing is blessed with infectious hooks and psychedelic freakouts in equal measure.  Highly recommended.  Get it here.  Highlights include: "Twisted Light" and "Don't Play With Guns".  Rating 4.5/5

April 2 - Black Pyramid (Adversarial)

April 2 - Space Mushroom Fuzz (Man in the Shadow)

April 2 - Warbeast (Destroy)

April 3 - Hela (Broken Cross)

April 9 - DEMON EYE (ST EP) - I called this EP the debut of the year when it was released and even now after months of new releases I stick by that.  They got an excellent American retro sound with tones of Deep Purple sprinkled throughout.  Since the release of this EP they have been signed up by Soulseller Records.  Their full-length record 'Leave the Light' is on it's way (January 24, 2014) and is comprised of the entirety of this 6-song EP plus five new ones.  It promises to be an early candidate for record of the year 2014.  Original review here.  Get it here.  Highlights include: "Silent One" and "Hecate".  Rating 5/5

April 9 - DEVIL TO PAY (Fate Is Your Muse) - This is another of my desert island favorite albums of the year, it's an impressive display of power and consistency with a stellar rate of hookiness.  Ripple Music dialed up a winner with this one, full of heavy guitars, soul-felt vocals and high energy.  Definitely a must have for any rockers out there.  Original review here.  Get it here.  Highlights include: "Prepare to Die" and "Already Dead".  Rating 4.5/5

April 9 - Grave Disgrace (Triumphant and Militant Church)

April 13 - ABYSMAL GRIEF (Feretri) - Abysmal Grief are one of my favorite bands in the whole world and their latest album did not disappoint.  Nobody does a better job of breeding gothic elements with doom and the album title 'Feretri' (coffins in English) and album cover were just aces too.  On a personal side note, this was the first album I reviewed over at The Sludgelord blog so I knew straight off that I had come to the right place.  Fast Fact: I had originally written the review as a eulogy but it just didn't come out right, so the version you see at the link below was actually my second review of 'Feretri'.  Support the Sludgelord site if you don't already!  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Sinister Gleams" and "Lords of the Funerals".  Rating 4.5/5

April 16 - Anciients (Heart of Oak)

April 19 - BEASTWARS (Blood Becomes Fire) - Beastwars's follow-up to their 2011 debut album was another major highlight of a year quickly becoming crowded with highlight albums.  Taking on a streamlined, no-bullshit approach to their messianic sludge metal, Beastwars's latest throbbed and pulsated with intensity, power and meaning. Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Tower of Skulls" and "Caul of Time".  Rating 5/5

April 19 - LA CHINGA (La Chinga) - I was months late to this party but when I got there it was in full swing.  Vancouver's very-own power trio La Chinga puts the bulge back in guitar, bass and drum sleaze with 10 choice cuts of hellbrand rock n roll.  The band has since been snatched up by stoner powerhouse label Small Stone Records and the sky is the limit, even it those skies are almost always overcast in the band's home territory.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "La Chinga" and "The Universe is Mine".  Rating 4.5/5

April 20 - The Heavy Co. (Midwest Electric)

April 23 - GOZU (The Fury of a Patient Man) - Small Stone Records didn't put out a ton of all-new material this year, but the fuzz giants released an absolute gem in Gozu's latest.  This Boston quartet (subsequently expanded to a five piece with a third guitarist plus a new drummer) dialed up a hook-laden winner with their rolodex of riffs and vocalist Marc Gaffney's acrobatic arias.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Bald Bull" and "Signed, Epstein's Mom".  Rating 4.5/5

April 28 - The Grave (Demonia EP)

April 28 - TUMBLEWEED DEALER (ST) - I don't listen to a whole lot of instrumental music, but even if I did, it would be easy to call this the best instrumental rock or metal album I've ever heard.  I couldn't get enough of it, from the deep tones to the developing ideas.  The duo that recorded this record is now a trio and is busy at work on the next one!  Get it hereHighlights include: "How To Light a Joint With a Blow Torch" and "Trudging Through an Egyptian Swamp".  Rating 4.5/5

April 30 - Cathedral (The Last Spire)

April 30 - REVELATION (Inner Harbor) - Maryland doom legends Revelation returned after a three year absence in 2012 with 'Inner Harbor'.  The album was released by the impeccable Shadow Kingdom Records on this date and that's when I stumbled upon it so it warrants inclusion here.  An entirely proggier affair than previous efforts, 'Inner Harbor' was an addictive album with many different, deep facets.  Original review here.  Get it hereHighlights include: "Rebecca At The Well" and "Terribilita".  Rating 4/5

Best Album From April 2013:
'Feretri' by ABYSMAL GRIEF

Best Song From April 2013:
"Bald Bull" by GOZU

PARANOID Thoughts:
If it's true that there's an element of horror in every doom metal band's repertoire, then it seems equally true that there's an element of psychedelia in every (good) rock band's repertoire.  That's where it all comes from.  Hard rock, prog and metal all came out of the psychedelic rock movement of the sixties and it even influenced punk in an indirect, antithetical kind of way.  The point at which bands decided to change their image, grow their hair long, play loud and heavy, experiment with different and extended song structures is the point at which rock n roll ceased being pop music and became it's own thing.  Basically, psychedelic rock IS rock n roll as we know it today.

Of course, that is only true in the perspective of long-term development.  There have been so many touchstone moments in rock n roll history in the intervening 50 years (give or take) since psychedelic rock first came about that the bands that hearken unabashedly back to the soundtrack of the summer of love can no longer be called rock n roll bands.  They are something else, they are psychedelic rock.  A paradox?  Nah.

Again, most (good) rock n roll bands have some element of psychedelia to their sound, no matter what particular style they play.  Top flight hard rock bands like Mothership and La Chinga incorporate plenty of sweat-stained instrumental freakouts that go well beyond the typical "guitar solo" within their basic song structures, but that doesn't make their overall sound psychedelic.  For the label to apply and mean anything it takes something else, a particular sensibility, a nuanced approach to atmosphere, tone and a pioneer's wanderlust for experimental song structure.  These are the astronauts of rock n roll.

There were a number of really good unabashedly psychedelic rock albums that were released in 2013, here's a list of my personal favorites:

Top 10 Psychedelic albums from 2013:
1). The Black Angels - 'Indigo Meadow'
2). Bardo Pond - 'Peace on Venus'
3). Naam - 'Vow'
4). Eye - 'Second Sight'
5). Ride Into the Sun - ST Mini-LP
6). Dead Meadow - 'Warble Womb'
7). The Auras - ST EP 2
8). Causa Sui - 'Euporie Tide'
9). Ziz - 'Ever'
10). Sun of Man - 'I'
Honorable Mentions: Steven Wilson - 'The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)'

Note: Two California bands, The Warlocks and Mammatus both released great psychedelic albums in November, beyond the purview of the October 31st cut-off date I've been using for these lists.

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