Wednesday, December 07, 2011


8. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
As with Chemistry of Common Life, I still don’t really know how to describe this band. You know what they do, you understand the sound and the elements used to create that sound, but how it all comes together seems foreign. The thought of three guitars playing different things simultaneously not only goes against my own logic; it actually goes against whatshould work. But they make it work, really well.
If you were so inclined, start this thing from the beginning and get on a bike at night with headphones on. It might help you appreciate what I mean. This stuff is harsh, densely layered, yet so uplifting it can propel you.
Cuts like “Running on Empty” are massive. Like, Bon Jovi massive. And I mean that in a good way.

7. Obscura – Omnivium
It seems almost default for a noodly band from Germany to make my annual year-ender. Upon inspection, a noodly German band didn’t make my list last year. Going forward, I promise to have a noodly band from Germany on my year-end lists, and if Obscura is to release a new record in 2012, I’m sure adding a record by noodly Germans won’t be a problem (baboom. Music writing 101, people.)
Omnivium is as entertaining as it is accomplished, and watching them play this stuff live with grinning ease reinforced my opinion (the fans ((like, the spinning electrical ones, not humans)) gloriously blowing the hair of both guitarists, and what looked like Chesney from Coronation Street on drums also helped.)

6. Mastodon – The Hunter
Mastodon’s strength always was, to me, its ability to build and stack snakey, rigid riffs to a peak, then break the tension with a loose, driving groove. When working my way throughThe Hunter, and realizing none of that previous formula was there, I was bummed with a capital :(  , yet despite my initial reaction I was continually drawn to the record.
Seeing the band live brought sense, though, to The Hunter. After having spent years becoming increasingly complex both musically and conceptually, the band broke its own tension by stripping back and composing catchy, traditional “songs”. And wedging those catchy songs, and their massive sing-along-ready choruses, between the older, more complicated work, it all worked really well.
A band has to live with its music far more than the listener by playing it everyday, and these guys looked like they were having fun, which makes a big difference. The Hunter is a change, but it’s good, and still distinctly Mastodon.

5. Trash Talk – Awake EP
This thing is a 5 song, 7 minute and 19 second firesale of punk and hardcore. Its song titles might as well be “Ready?”, “You Sure?”, “Here we Go”, “Told Ya”, and “Eat That”, as that’s pretty much my emotional range when getting through it. Almost every tune begins with faded-in-feedback and moments are not spared, as the material seems to have been written with the mindset of everything happeningRightNOW.

4. Revocation – Chaos of Forms
I’ll admit to being skeptical of this band for probably no valid reason other than writer/vocalist, Dave Davidson, looking like a regular guy in his 30’s who could be mistaken for me, but was doing that touring metal band thing, which I’m not. When he was selected the #1 Modern Metal Guitarist by Metalsucks I caved and listened to Chaos of Forms.
It turned out to be the one band this year where I sent “check THIS out” messages around and immediately bought one of the band’s dumb tshirts designed for children with a giant stupid “heavy metal” image on the front that I probably shouldn’t be wearing anymore.
Davidson is the real deal here, delivering strong, crafty and clean riffing with slick leads (Dime, Slash, Vai influences). There is no posturing; it’s not trying to be anything other than pure metal with enough modern twists to keep it from being redundant. It’s a mixed bag, and while some of it doesn’t work, most of it does.

3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Holocene, man. 

2. Devin Townsend – Deconstruction
When the Junos jumped on board the Heavy Music bandwagon, announcing the inclusion of a Metal award, I couldn’t help but be cynical. And the winner is…what, Three Days Grace? Maybe (hopefully) I’ll be wrong, and whatever combination of people will have its collective head on straight enough to acknowledge that Devin Townsend, in quantitative and qualitative terms, has arguably been one of the most consistent Canadian artists – not just in heavy music – over the last decade.
To the mainstream, an album featuring guest appearances from members of Death, Emperor, Soilwork, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Gojira, Meshuggah, Opeth, Gwar, and Between the Buried and Me, may not mean much, but that is truly an impressive international roster of heavy hitters, and speaks volumes to the respect Townsend commands. Deconstruction is expansive, gets carried away a LOT, immature at times, but unmatched in its technical muscle combined with moments of, for lack of a better word, majesty.
Make no mistake, despite what the Canadian Music Industry thinks, this is the best Heavy music released by a Canadian in 2011.

1. Decapitated – Carnival is Forever
The only thing that has changed since I originally wrote of this record is that I’ve listened to it a lot more.

Honourable mentions:
Hate Eternal – Phoenix Amongst the Ashes
DJ Quik - The Book of David
Vader – Welcome to the Morbid Reich

- Ghost
- Black Metal. Like, all of it. 


MetalPrincess69 said...

I stumbled across this blog a little while ago and have enjoyed reading your posts. Very well written. What is your educational background? Do you have an English degree?

Chaosbeard said...

No degree, no.
Just learning from example through a lot of reading online.