YOB sign for Neurot Recordings!

OREGONIAN DOOM METAL TRIO JOIN THE NEUROT RECORDINGS FAMILY

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Behold the following press release from Rarely Unable, bringing forth some exciting news on one of our favourite bands here at We Must Obey – PC

Neurot Recordings is pleased to welcome long-running Eugene, Oregon-based doom metal trio, YOB, to their expanding household of eclectic, thought-provoking music. The band – founding vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg – will release their seventh studio offering this Autumn preceded by an appearance at the illustrious Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands in April.
 
   Comments Scheidt of the recent union, “YOB is very happy to have signed to Neurot for our new album. Travis, Aaron and I agree that Neurosis is the epitome of forward-thinking heavy music, made with zero compromise. Our love for their music is total. Neurot’s dedication to putting out uncompromising music is no different. To have this opportunity to put an album out on their label is an honor that runs deep. We cannot wait to share our new music with Neurot and our friends worldwide.”
 
   Neurosis’ Steve Von Till notes, “This was meant to be. Neurot has always sought out to work with those who share in the purification of spirit through sound and who harvest their sound from originality and intensity. When I listen to YOB, see them leave it all on the stage, or share a conversation with them about life,  I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they embody what Neurot stands for completely and we are so very honored that we get the opportunity to work together with them on their next album.
 
   Adds Scott Kelly, “YOB, as with all things that actually matter, there is only one. They have built their temple with a foundation concreted in absolute truth. The truth is the riffs, the truth is in the delivery, it’s in the unwavering commitment, and in the handshake and the look in their eyes. If you don’t know them, then you are fucking up your own lifes’ truth. There’s is nothing heavier on the face of this earth than this band. The Neurot Family is honored to be a part of legacy of this, the monolithic treasure of sonic achievement that is YOB.
 
Further details on YOB’s forthcoming new release to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. 
 
YOB might be one of the best bands in North America,” BEN RATLIFF: NEW YORK TIMES
 
YOB on Facebook
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Ufomammut tour hits the UK tonight!

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That’s right folks, psychedelic doom riff lords Ufomammut bring their latest tour to these shores tonight with three shows in the offing for the next few days, hitting Bristol tonight, then Leeds & London. Entitled, “the Magickal Mastery tour”, the idea is to present music from across their entire canon as this will mark their last tour for the foreseeable future whilst they work on new material. 

You can watch the latest trailer for the Magickal Mastery Tour here: http://youtu.be/cQz67NFueXs

(Contains flashing images)

Promoted by the good folks at Desertscene, support comes from the fantastic Zolle.

ZOLLE – https://www.facebook.com/zollezollezolle

And Leeds people, you can still get tickets here:

Tickets – http://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/3835/Ufomammut-plus-guests-Leeds  

Below is the press release for this incredible tour:

Like a snake biting its own tail, time is circular, and with their upcoming tour, Ufomammut further corroborate ouroboric tendencies…

This autumn, Ufomammut will excavate items from their pliocenic past, keeping their third eye pointed at the future – the ‘Magickal Mastery Tour’ is a journey through fifteen years of Ufomammut music, performing under a new light songs from Godlike Snake to ORO, as thanksgiving to people for their support and devotion.

The band commented…”We are very excited to come out and play material from across our album catalogue, whereas recent focus has been on ORO, an album which we are most proud of, we are looking forward to playing older material also, it’s been a while! This marks the last tour we shall do for a period, whilst we concentrate on writing a new album”

UFOMAMMUT is a power trio formed in 1999 in Italy by Poia, Urlo and Vita. With long songs, droning vocals and massive effects the band combines a monumental riffing attitude with the psychedelia of the more visionary Pink Floyd.

In ten years the band has played several times around Europe reaching the US West Coast in 2009 as well as performing at international music festivals including Roadburn, Hellfest, Assymetry and alongside bands such as Down, Baroness, Lento, Motorpsycho, Orange Goblin and many more.

Ufomammut’s live show is supported by the internationally acclaimed video and graphic art of Malleus, a rock artists collective who conjure the entirety of Ufomammut’s visual impact. 
UFOMAMMUT is a power trio formed in 1999 in Italy by Poia, Urlo and Vita. With long songs, droning vocals and massive effects the band combines a monumental riffing attitude with the psychedelia of the more visionary Pink Floyd.

In ten years the band has played several times around Europe reaching the US West Coast in 2009 as well as performing at international music festivals including Roadburn, Hellfest, Assymetry and alongside bands such as Down, Baroness, Lento, Motorpsycho, Orange Goblin and many more.

Ufomammut’s live show is supported by the internationally acclaimed video and graphic art of Malleus, a rock artists collective who conjure the entirety of Ufomammut’s visual impact. 

Peter Clegg

Special thanks to Rarely Unable for the material

Visions: Vodun – Oya

It’s been a while since I constructed a Visions post, either because I haven’t been bothered or because most rock and metal videos weren’t interesting me any more. Well take a look at this! London trio Vodun, whose excellent ‘Eat Up The Sun‘ EP was recently reviewed here, have dropped the creepy and rocking video for ‘Oya’, where an outpatient is drawn towards the band upon which she encounters some rotten vegetables and eventually a out-of-body experience courtesy of the voodoo ritual that seems to be taking place. You don’t see much of the band but you don’t need to – ‘Oya’s power lies in its well scripted video, in which you can at least just about follow what’s going on. It’s also a mighty shock as well when the song kicks in. And I’m not talking about the song itself, which is thoroughly, brilliantly soulful rock once again.

‘Oya’ is out now via the band’s Bandcamp page for £1 or more, with a remix of the single, by Amatuer, as the b-side.

Peter Clegg

Vodun – Eat Up The Sun

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Vodun
Eat Up The Sun
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Does anyone here in the room remember Invasion, the London three-piece who created bowel-shaking psychedelic noises and all manner of enchanting soul ruckus? It seemed they disappeared without much of a trace following the release of 2009’s widely-hailed debut ‘The Master Alchemist’, but through the power of voodoo, it seems, two thirds of that band (drummer Zel and songstress Chan) have returned as Vodun, a body shaking, soul grooving heavy rock machine, adding Oli from Arrows of Love on guitar to complete their triumvirate.

Starting with a passage on how ‘voodoo has given woman the power…to distinguish her from humans of all other forms‘, the title-track kicks in and Chan’s delightfully soulful vocals kick in over the booming low-end riffs and pounding drums. This is followed up quickly by the thrilling ‘Red Flag’, a fast-paced high octane ride with some simple yet effective organ over the top of the motoring riff. The bluesy shake of ‘Erzulie’ pops up next, one of the highlights of the EP as Chan declares ‘don’t bow down/I’m not your saviour/I’m not your Jesus/But I bear your cross’, even laughing at the end of the bridge section to show just how this band enjoys creating this sound as much as we, the listener, should enjoy it. By the end it seems the hocus takes over, as ‘Zaka’ reaches its conclusion, as the band play out a doomy riff underneath Chan’s building wail, not unlike an unholy summoning of the voodoo gods. Its not quite the equivalent of perfection, but this is without question one of the releases of the year so far. So much so, I reckon they wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Later Live with Jools Holland’. Can we make this happen? Please?

Peter Clegg

Download ‘Eat Up the Sun’ here
Stream it below:

Official site
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Bandcamp

‘Kin Hell Fest 2013 Preview – Sunday

All good things come to an end and the same is no different with the 2013 edition of ‘Kin Hell Fest. But will it go quietly? Of course not. There’s still another thirteen bands to see, and there’s an afterparty too for those who don’t have to jet for the last train home. So let’s round off this preview…

Envoys – 12:30-12:55

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Envoys are a lush instrumental post-rock/metal trio who certainly qualify as one of the more expansive bands on the line-up. Their 2012 demo (self titled as ‘E N V O Y S’) showcases a band full of potential.

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DSDNT – 13:10-13:35

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Local Leeds hardcore crew who formed in mid-2011 and have been tearing off limbs ever since. Their debut self-titled EP is up for free on their Bandcamp page and if Envoys don’t blast the cobwebs from Saturday away, DSDNT should certainly do the trick.

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Horsebastard – 13:50-14:15

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Assuredly free of any fraudulent horsemeat, this equine-loving crew are proprietors to head-shrinking grind and for one of 2012’s most disturbing and compelling videos, for the track ‘Short Controlled Bursts’. And that’s exactly what you’ll get here, as this Liverpudlian lot batter you time and time again with said accurate bursts.

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The Day Man Lost – 14:30-14:55

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Mourned by the Northern scene and by grind fans in the know when they originally split, Preston’s The Day Man Lost have returned with new blood and all new intensity. The mood is likely to be celebratory but at the same time it’s going to be downright nuts when they make mincemeat of the crowd with their furious assault.

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Corrupt Moral Altar – 15:10-15:40

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Making their first appearance in Leeds and indeed at this festival, Corrupt Moral Altar are a supergroup of sorts, containing members of Horsebastard, Magpyes, Malevolent Creation, and play ridiculously heavy, scuzzy sludge grind. ‘Luciferian Deathcult’ was more than just a warning shot, bringing to the fore classic vibes of Iron Monkey, Mistress and smoky bourbon. New release ‘Whiskey Sierra’ is set to prove that was no fluke. Do not miss.

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Wode – 15:55-16:25

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Fantastic up and coming black metal band from Manchester. Their drummer is also the lead vocalist, and he’s an absolute machine, especially on the kit. The rest of the band are up to his ability too. Certainly got the ability to be one of the highlights of the festival.

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Sufferinfuck – 16:40-17:05

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One of the many bands flying the flag for Scottish grind/powerviolence bring the pain to Leeds. They’ve been owning the scene over the border for a little while and now its England’s turn to be decimated by this West Lothian mob.

Official site (Blogger)

Iron Witch – 17:20-17:50

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Highly talked about and full of boozy rage, Scouse sludge crew Iron Witch are going from strength to strength, off the back of two solid releases in the last year, ‘Post-Vegas Blues’, and their best work to date, ‘Hangover Suicide’. Unquestionably one of the bands you absolutely must not miss this weekend, though watch your drinks don’t go flying when the pit undoubtedly explodes in a fit of nihilistic rage.

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Bong – 18:10-18:50

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Even if you arrived ten minutes late into this band’s set, you probably won’t have missed much beyond the opening bars! In all seriousness though, Newcastle’s space-psych-doomers Bong will certainly be the trippiest band of the weekend, sending us all onto another plane whatever your poison is. A rare live outing not to be shunned.

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A Forest of Stars – 19:10-19:50

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Unquestionably one of the most intriguing acts the festival has to offer, A Forest of Stars are more than just your average black metal band, winning new fans and dividing current ones further with 2012’s masterful ‘A Shadowplay for Yesterdays’, rich in Victorian theme and avant-garde propensities. This Leeds crew are another stellar draw for the festival and their set ought to be warmly received by all.

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Gout – 20:05-20:35

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Smashing London lads who are quite good at this grind jiggery-pokery, embracing the fun and silly side of goregrind while at the same time embellishing its wicked tendencies. If you enjoy Rompeprop you’ll enjoy these too.

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Foetal Juice – 20:50-21:20

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Grimy, scuzzy Mancunian death metal merchants FJ bring forth the muckment once again after a slamming performance at the original ‘Kin Hell Fest. Back with new material in tow, they’ve been ploughing away at this game for several years and are aiming to join the bigger leagues of death metal. Bring forth the slime!

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Man Must Die – 21:40-22:30

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The final band of the weekend are indeed a biggie – Man Must Die. Hailing from Glasgow, they were the first British band ever to be signed to Relapse in that time put out two crushing albums, including 2009’s brilliant ‘No Tolerance for Imperfection’, and toured with the likes of Machine Head, Decapitated, Hatebreed, Suffocation, Exodus and many more. They released a new single, ‘Antisocial Network’ towards the end of 2012 and their new album is coming very soon. Get ready to open up that circle pit Leeds, because MMD will bring it!

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That rounds off our massive preview, but stay tuned to We Must Obey for coverage of the whole festival. Til then, see you in the pit!

Peter Clegg

‘Kin Hell Fest 2013 Preview – Saturday

If our preview of Friday’s line-up for ‘Kin Hell Fest 2013 got your metal juices flowing, the Saturday will literally have your tongue on the floor. A huge fifteen bands will take to the stage from Saturday afternoon, heading deep into the evening.

Masochist – 12:30-12:55

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Local tykes Masochist brought us ‘The Extent of Human Error’ late last year and set out their stall as another fine brutal death metal band, adding grind flourishes to their sound to provide an excellent mix that’s seem them backed to become one of the UK’s top extreme metal acts. Hopefully those of you still recovering from Friday’s antics will oblige these guys early this Saturday morning!

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Nu Pogodi! – 13:10-13:35

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All female kick-ass hardcore punk/d-beat crew full of political and sociological rage, doing it well in the vein of Discharge, Crass, etc. The definitive soundtrack to humankind plunging itself into further unrest and turmoil. Nu, nu, nu Pogodi!

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Sloth Hammer – 13:50-14:15

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Organiser Paul Priest’s other band Diascorium will no doubt have dizzied the audience on Friday but it’s with this band that he and his fellow crew will bring things right down to a torturous crawl with their improvised drone goodness. Their original release was entitled ‘Pure Unbounding Misery’, and that’s exactly what to expect, as they expel you into the abyss.

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BongCauldron – 14:30-14:55

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Winners of the vote on the final band to be announced, home town trio BongCauldron will bring, as their name suggests, a heavy brew of sweet stoner grooves, sludge bombs and doom hammers. Influenced by all things good like Sleep, Weedeater et al, riff out!

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Prolefeed – 15:10-15:35

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Noisy chaotic hardcore punk in vein of Vitamin X, The Horror, et al, Prolefeed are swift, fast, and raging. Their debut EP ‘Murder Rob for Cult Status’ was released earlier this year and was over and done with inside five minutes. Make no mistake, turn up even slightly late on this band and you’ll miss out on all the fun. If the first two bands don’t wake you up, Prolefeed will.

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Regurgitate Life – 15:50-16:20

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When Sam from Oblivionized isn’t delivering dizzying riffs of agony with his main band, he can be found here in his solo project Regurgitate Life, successfully managing on his own the power of four or five. Guaranteed to crush you all.

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The Atrocity Exhibit – 16:40-17:10

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Another band back for seconds following their fantastic performance at the inaugural edition of the festival, The Atrocity Exhibit, and off the back of 2012’s superb ‘What Time the Hidden Death?’ Come on over and get down to some fantastic crossover sludge grind!

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Cancerous Womb – 17:25-17:55

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Another member of the ‘Split Roast’ Five (including Diascorium and Magpyes) to perform here, this Scottish death metal trio who lavish themselves in the depravity the genre can bring from time to time will certainly bring crushing brutal riffs and blastbeats aplenty, all in poor taste and with precision par excellence.

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Ishmael – 18:15-18:45

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Wondering where the doom might be? Well look no further, this is where it begins. Plymouth’s Ishmael are quite simply one of the most agonisingly crushing doom bands in the UK right now, if not yet the world, and their debut album ‘Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here’ is one of the most intense albums I can recall in recent history, a prime example of how heavy, bleak and thoroughly punishing the band’s sound is. Fronted by Dani Hawkins, a lady with the most uncompromising of vocal talents, Ishmael are without doubt going to be the most fascinating and evil-sounding bands you’ll hear all weekend.

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Flayed Disciple – 19:00-19:30

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Death-thrashers Flayed Disciple have made great strides over the last year, seeing their name spread in the wake of their phenomenal debut album ‘Death Hammer’ as well as their videos for ‘The Westboro Massacre’ and the sickening ‘The Shrine of Dahmer’. Another in the new wave of British death metal, their riffs of precision will greet Leeds mid-Saturday and will be sure to open up a great hole in the floor. Rumours that Steve the Zombie will appear on stage are unconfirmed.

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Asomvel – 19:45-20:15

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A dream to some…a nightmare to others’ is their motto, and these classic Yorkshire heavy metallers celebrate their 20 th anniversary this year. Expect old-school riffs and attitude aplenty, fans of Motorhead, Stuka Squadron et al rejoice! Grab your self a beer and bang thy head!

Official site

Palehorse – 20:35-21:10

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Guitars out, bass in! Veterans of the heavy brew, South London’s Palehorse bring their relative years of experience and their crushing sonic weight to Leeds, promising a fantastic mix of crushing sonic waves, moments of relative serenity, steeped in sludge and sheer audible force.

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Alkerdeel – 21:25-22:05

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Belgian mob Alkerdeel are making the short trip over the Channel for ‘Kin Hell Fest, bringing with them raw, agonizing, black sludgy drone/doom, shrouded in darkness and misery. One of the cruellest crawls of the weekend.

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The Afternoon Gentlemen – 22:25-22:55

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The self-styled kingpins of ‘power joogle pogger violence’, Leeds’ very own The Afternoon Gentlemen return to ‘KHF to once again for the crowd to get wasted to before TAG lay Leeds to waste, having done so to venues across Europe and America for the last couple of years. This is what your booze was made for.

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Rompeprop – 23:15-00:00

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Headlining the second night by special invitation are the Dutch goregrind group Rompeprop. With below-guttural vocals, low-end riffs and subject matter not for the faint of heart or easily offended, Rompeprop are one of the heaviest bands who will play this weekend, but not without a fun element. Never ones to take themselves seriously, one look at their performance at Obscene Extreme Festival 2010 will show the band are happy to bring the party to you, and hopefully the ‘Kin Hell Fest will party just as hard as the Czechs did that day!

Acoustic Womb – 00:15-00:30

And after all that gonzoid madness, Cancerous Womb will reveal a more sensitive side as their acoustic alter egos Acoustic Womb. Lighters in the air for ‘Torn From Gunt to Cunt’ Anyone?

We’ll return tomorrow with the final part of this year’s preview, going through Sunday’s also amazing cast.

Peter Clegg

Best albums of 2012

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We’ve finally reached the end of 2012, and my has it been a blast. The greatest year in the UK’s sporting history. A supposed prophecy that was never realised. A glorious year for rock and metal and all its various forms.

The music this year has been so exceptional that its been harder than ever deciding on the final ten. As such, honourable mentions must go to the following:

Ginger – 555% (Round/Pledge Music)
Dope Body – Natural History (Drag City)
Eagle Twin – The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (Southern Lord)
Burning Love – Rotten Thing to Say (Southern Lord)
Every Time I Die – Ex Lives (Epitaph)
Napalm Death – Utilitarian (Century Media)

All of which are records which you should check out, if you haven’t already, and they only missed the final cut by a whisker. Damn, if 2013 is better than this we will truly be spoilt.

Without further ado, we present our top ten albums of the year.

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10. Deftones – Koi No Yokan (Warner Bros)

The Sacramento crew continue to impress on album number seven, despite, for me, not reaching the stratospheric heights of ‘Diamond Eyes’ on this occasion. From start to finish its another wildly esoteric ride reaching soaring heights and dark depths, creating a new set of anthems that Deftones fans will sure echo throughout cavernous arenas well into 2013 and beyond. Tracks such as ‘Romantic Dreams’, ‘Entombed’ and ‘Tempest’ are absolutely lush, and there’s not many bands these days who can create the level of atmosphere around a song like Deftones can. There’s simply no stopping them right now. 

 

wpid-898529953-1.jpg9. Krallice – Years Past Matter (self-released) 

In a year which has seen Felix Baumgartner skydive from the stratosphere, and in a year where Voyager 1 is reached the interstellar medium, I have wondered what soundtrack would best embody a human odyssey into the far outer reaches of space. And no, I’m not talking about the Voyager Golden Record. Now a human venture going that far is not likely to happen in our time, our offspring’s time, or the next generation, or the next generation…but if it did, and we can preserve a vinyl pressing of Krallice’s ‘Years Past Matter’, then that voyage will go beyond anything what even Carl Sagan imagined. Maybe that’s an overexaggeration. But still, ‘Years’ is without question Krallice’s finest vision yet, where all out speed subsides slightly to a more bombastic and expansive approach. The artwork alone should tell you what a vast journey this is, and it doesn’t disappoint, whether it’s the propulsion into the interstellar void (‘IIIIIIIII’) or the thrilling closing 16-minute epic (‘IIIIIIIIIIII’).

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8. Gorod – A Perfect Absolution (Listenable)

I was perhaps one of the few slightly disappointed by French tech-deathers Gorod’s previous album ‘Process of a New Decline’, so I was particularly impressed by the results shown on ‘A Perfect Absolution’. Don’t mistake their inclusion in their list for one of mere marked improvement, because Gorod have never lacked the quality – there’s just something about this album in particular that had real oomph. In a year where people went nuts for The Faceless’ ridiculous aping of more celebrated progressive greats, Gorod put on a technical masterclass in death metal, knowing when to bring on bursts of speed, when to usher in groove phases, even shaking with a bit of flamenco that won’t have gone amiss to, say Athiest or Cynic. All with excellent skill and precision. Lyrically, it all centres on 10th Century Kiev. Jolly good! All in all Gorod ought to be a bigger name in these circles, and it’s their noticeable inclusion on next year’s Bonecrusher Fest (with Job for a Cowboy) that has got me excited for 2013 already.

wpid-Converge-All-We-Love-We-Leave-Behind-album-cover.jpg7. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph) 

After the guest-laden ‘Axe to Fall’, which for my liking didn’t fire on all cylinders, Converge returned with the excellent ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ to the widespread critical acclaim they’re surely used to by now. A searing block of molten anger, despair and reflection, the desperate on-the-edge approach to their craft is what continues to set Converge apart from everyone else. I truly felt like I’d gone seven rounds with Ballou, Newton and co after the first three tracks, and how the rest of the album developed delivered knockout punch after knockout punch, even during the ocean drift of ‘Coral Blue’. A superb record from a band still unashamedly as energetic as when they began. Youngsters, take note.

 

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6. Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum (Neurot) 

High things were expected of Ufomammut following their switch to Neurot Recordings, and boy oh boy oh boy oh boy did they deliver. Many people seem to prefer the second, slightly leaner part of ‘Oro’ – ‘Opus Alter’ – to ‘Opus Primum’, but for me, the longer, more intense ‘Primum’ is the power element of this couple. Every thick groove oozes through swathes of abstract elements, spoken words and psychedelic trips, further empowered by the band’s visual collaborators, Malleus whose images made ‘Oro’ even more hypnotizing. The album’s third track, ‘Infearnatural’, is particularly embodying of this description, where guitarist Urlo delivers an echoey chant before landing back into the sweet, slow, crushing doom groove. By far the most inebriating ride of the year, ‘Oro’, and in particular ‘Opus Primum’, not only lived up to the hype; it squashed it flat too!

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5. Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay (Neurot)

An album I got around to too late to publish a full review for before the turn of the year, but undoubtedly deserving of its spot on this list. Scott Kelly has immersed himself in numerous projects since the last Neurosis album, ‘Given to the Rising’, and especially so in the last year; but none is more immersive and rewarding as his main band’s latest. Everyone’s got their own take on the best Neurosis album, and while I don’t rate this as high as, say ‘Enemy of the Sun’, its still pretty darn close to their best – and that is leagues above many other bands’ best. An enthralling journey through darkness and doom, ambience and hush, there’s many a fine moment to behold – ‘My Heart in Deliverance’ in particular stands out as one of the songs of the year, not just the album itself. As always, completely encapsulating.

Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light4. Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light (Earache)

It was the album that was supposed to launch Woods of Ypres towards the mainstream, a new beginning. The tragic accident that took singer and founder David Gold’s life at 31 means not only a premature termination of a potentially commercially successful band, but that ‘Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light‘ feels like more than just another album. It’s doomy metal with a few less of the black metal pervading their sound on previous releases touches, but with songwriting and musicianship par excellance. Throughout the fragility of life and its tipping point into death are lyrically displayed, with a sadly prophetic feel to it all. But what a final album to end on, with tracks such as the slightly tongue-in-cheek ‘Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)’ and the poignant funeral march of ‘Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)’ showcasing exactly how great a loss Gold is to metal in general.

wpid-Between-the-Buried-and-Me-Parallax-II.jpg3. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence (Metal Blade)

The juggernaut that is Between the Buried and Me shows no sign of slowing down, now on their seventh album barely into their thirties. And if ‘The Parallax II: Future Sequence’ is anything to go, then they’re maturing very well indeed. Those Pink Floydian-tendencies seem stronger than ever in the quintet, as ‘Parallax II’ is a space-opera deluxe from start to finish, continuing the story that began on 2011’s ‘Parallax I: Hypersleep Dialogues’ EP. Every second is thoroughly compelling, twisting through dream-like melodies, frenetic riff-fests, ambience, blastbeats, and those oddball moments which you’re either a fan of or not. I fall firmly in the first category. Everything truly comes together on this record, with ‘Silent Night Parliament’ and the reprise of ‘Goodbye to Everything’ being a fitting epic finale worthy of stadiums, not clubs. A wonderful album set in glorious spaaaaaaaaaace. 

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2. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis (E1 Music)

2012 was in many ways the year of Pike – specifically for his recorded ventures and rereleased material, if not specifically the spell in rehab from which he has emerged victorious. Pike’s pre-HoF band Sleep were being celebrated by the rerelease of ‘Dopesmoker’, and indeed the early HoF days were being relived through the rerelease of ‘The Art of Self Defense’, but if ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ showed anything, it was that Pike and his crew are more than capable of recreating that superb form. Previous High on Fire Records have ranged from anything to brilliant, to…well, alright I suppose. ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ was something else. The most varied HoF record yet, it drew heavily on the fictional grimoire authored by Robert Block and picked up by H.P. Lovecraft, styled on an idea Pike derived about the Immaculate Conception and time travel, and featured many a centrepiece moment, whether the Jeff Matz-led instrumental ‘Samsara’, so evocative of the great Cliff Burton, or the truly majestic ‘King of Days’, one of Pike’s finest vocal performances to date. The traditional power drive of the band is always present, but the varied approach to their latest record makes it their most essential since ‘Blessed Black Wings’.

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1. Panopticon – Kentucky (Handmade Birds/Pagan Flames)

We already saw evidence in 2011 of US black metal coming to the fore with acts like Wolves in the Throne Room providing undeniably transcending moments and Liturgy shaking things up with their divisive take on the genre, along with the Krallices and Nachtmystiums of America doing very well indeed. This year, it has further aged into a fine creature, showing it is capable once again of further breaking any shackles that confined the genre. No one act – or indeed, one man – showed that more than Austin Lunn, aka A. Lundr, aka Panopticon, on the breathtaking fourth album ‘Kentucky’. 

Folk and metal may not be unusual bedfellows any more, but to take a further strain of folk, bluegrass, and to attempt to meld it to black metal is daring by anyone’s standards. To truly pull it off requires a masterstroke. Lunn does that, and so much more. It’s the ultimate love letter to his home state, from the two bluegrass instrumentals that bookend the album, every bit as beautiful and evocative of the images of Blenheim Forest contained in the vinyl releases, to his depiction of the issues that Kentucky struggled with through its history – the massacre of Cherokee Indian women and children at Ywahoo Falls (‘Bodies Under The Falls’), and in the main, the story of the toil, the uprising, and the demise of coal miners in the 1930s. The heavy songs appear between the traditional miner songs that are covered here, and you’d be a soulless individual not to want to sing along to ‘Which Side Are You On’. It absolutely nails the passion of the miners in that time period – partly achieved through samples – but more to the point, it becomes utterly flooring. The sprawling ‘Killing the Giants as they Sleep’ combines with a truly haunting rendition of ‘Black Waters’ that will emotionally drain you, leaving just the title track jam to pick you back up as the credits roll.

Its testament to Lunn’s ability as a multi-instrumentalist that he doesn’t sound sloppy at all, not on one single instrument. He can match any extreme drummer for speed and ability, adds a hardcore-esque buzz to those guitars that distinguish it just slightly Panopticon’s sound away from traditional black metal, and the flute that he plays over the top of the heavier tracks completely works, every time. Admittedly, this heavy brew won’t be for everyone, and no doubt there’s some smug so-and-so’s out there who won’t be able to get off their elitist pedestals long enough to truly appreciate this. Their loss. ‘Kentucky’ is unquestionably the boldest statement of creativity in 2012, a fantastic snapshot of the Bluegrass state, of how far metal has progressed, and what it has achieved over the course of forty plus years.

Peter Clegg

Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Alter

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Ufomammut
Oro: Opus Alter
Neurot

The indelible and esoteric trio from Italy known as Ufomammut have already dropped one stunner on us this year, the first part of this two-part trip, ‘Oro: Opus Primum‘, and as promised, the second part, ‘Opus Alter‘ now greets our ears.

It’s impossible not to compare ‘Opus Alter‘ with ‘Primum‘, unfair as it seems. It’s more than a companion piece, its a continuation of ‘Oro‘s theme. And that feels evident as this latest part progresses. Opening track ‘Oroborus’ features a groove-shaking riff that only changes nearly four minutes in for another riff, going round and around like the self-consuming serpent of lore, with some effects designed to unsettle just slightly. Repetition seems to be a theme running through ‘Oro‘; the aptly-titled ‘Sublime’ utilizes a build-up into one cracking riff and then back out again, while ‘Luxon’ is basically a reprise of ‘Infearnatural’ from ‘Primum‘. It seems to feel more immediate than ‘Primum‘ too, with less of the slow brooding and a little more forward purpose. Any questions asked about the truth that statement are firmly answered when ‘Deityrant’ brings down the curtain on ‘Oro‘ with a straightforward verve and a penchant for grooviness.

Overall, I feel as though I can’t resist a comparison with ‘Primum‘, and with that said, ‘Alter‘ is just a shade behind its predecessor in terms of its overall quality – but still a fantastic album in its own right, and in its entirety, ‘Oro‘ is nothing short of quintessential.

Peter Clegg

Ufomammut – Oroborus

Buy ‘Oro: Opus Alter‘ here

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