Thursday, 20 December 2007

2 0 0 7

In Brief - 2007 has been an interesting year, filled with the usual disappointments from the big names, and brilliant surprises from the unknown. I've also seen my own tastes develop, something which won't show too much from music this year, but largely in what I've chosen to listen to the most. Boris, Eyehategod, Growing, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Xasthur, etc. have been important and it's been a good year for pushing the envelope for me. The lists I've made are going to be a lot more personal than usual, as a top ten should be, so I hope a few people will read this.

The 10 Albums of 2007

10. Sword Heaven "Entrance"
Load Records
Long awaited following a series of epic demo tapes, and finally picked up by Load records, Sword Heaven released their debut album this year. It's nasty sounding, easier to get a grip on than the various tapes, skittering and shattered noise falls over near tribal beats and fractured vocals. Reminiscent of early Swans, which is definitely an unpleasant but good thing.

9. Loinen - "s/t"
Blind Date Records
Finnish doom, very much in the tradition of mid-period Melvins. Characterised with jerky stop and start riffing, clever drum work and unique vocals. Massively satisfying to hear in a year of almost exclusively deep south / eyehategod influenced sludge, this album hits with some brutal, nasty riffs yet very much has its place in modern doom.

8. Eluvium - "Copia"
Temporary Residence Records
For me, an emotional album that is entirely about feeling and depth. Difficult to place, but in the end such a perfect sense of grandeur and subtlety with expert instrumentation. Strings and woodwinds and well as the backbone of piano push this far, far ahead of the Eluvium material that went onto the split 12" with Jesu.

Xasthur - "Defective Epitaph"
Hydrahead Records
Malefic gets it right again, that is all really. The big additions of live drums and strings are kept low in the mix, which turns out to be one of the strong points of this record. Thick waves of noise all but drown the bass and drums, with vocals and synths occasionally pushing through. Far into the realm of blackened shoegaze (awkward, i know) at times, but mournful and oppressive above all.

. Deathspell Omega - "Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum"
Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Almost at the completely opposite end of the scales to 'Two Hunters', 'Fas...' is quite honestly one of the most brutally technical back metal albums I have ever heard. The album seems to work at two speeds, an atmospheric mid pace reminiscent of a blackened Gorguts and a breackneck technical blast. Disorientating and unpleasant, yet never technical for its own sake, this basically sounds like a descent into a technicolour madness.

Big Business "Here Come The Waterworks'
Hydrahead Records

Big Business step up their game considerably from the one dimensional, yet awesome 'Head For The Shallow'. It would be easy to put this down to the influence of the Melvins, but Jared and Coady are legendary in their own right. Better riffs than '(a) Senile Animal', choruses that are of Karp quality and the addition of a supporting guitar player all add up to make a great, great rock album.

Deerhunter - "Cryptograms"
Probably the most 'indie' album on this list, and front runner for album of the year for most of the year. Catchy, clever, dreamy and danceable in equal parts, 'Cryptograms' brings up memories of the best of early shoegaze and noise, while still being completely fresh and compelling. Extremely satisfying as a pop album, yet loses nothing when taken as a whole. 'Spring Hall Convent' and 'Hazel St' are the kinds of songs that get easily attached to memories, yet only positively.

3. Oxbow - "The Narcotic Story"
Hydrahead Records
The first new Oxbow release I have been around to appreciate from the start, I originally heard these songs on the Love's Holiday acoustic tour, and while some songs still work best that way, there is no doubting the power of this album. An immediate candidate for the album of the year, the twisted pulse of this album churns out thoroughly touching moments as readily as unpleasant outbursts. Eugene Robinson completely outdoes himself, every track is a perfect performance in every way. Musically, its more of the blues/noise/rock that only Oxbow can do, this time with unparalleled depth of feeling. Pretty much perfect.

Do Make Say Think - "You, You're A History In Rust"
Constellation Records
After being a slightly interesting aside to my own perception of post rock for a very long time, it all seemed to suddenly make sense with this album. No emphasis on tedious 'build up' or soaring delayed guitar lines, but instead a beautiful sense of melody and unpretentious, short songs. With fall back of very natural, almost folky guitar lines and memorable sighed vocals, there is almost infinite room for an expanse of instrumentation. I find myself constantly going back to this record and humming along to every line, certainly the most uplifting album of 2007.

Wolves In The Throne Room - "Two Hunters"
Southern Lord
As reviewed earlier in the year, this is a fantastic album. Deep, symphonic post - black metal (if that means anything) that completely avoids cliche and sounds as lush and refreshing as it is epic and brutal. For an album so obviously black metal there is so much going in 'Two Hunters' tied to an inescapable sense of melody and emotion. Yes.

Those That Did Not Make It -
  • Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity - Simply not as good as 'The Runners Four', some great tunes and it's still deerhooof, but disappointing nonetheless.
  • Neurosis - Given To The Rising - Again a great album, but very much middle of the road compared with the rest of Neurosis' material. I have an extended review to post, this was a difficult call
  • High on Fire - Death Is This Communion - Flat sounding and sadly a bit predictable following on from 'Blessed Black Wings'. Killer riffs, and new bassist Jeff Matz works incredibly well with the band, but it was hard to get excited about.
  • Om - Pilgrimage - Fairly simply. a great album, but too short. Song writing seems to have gone backwards from the near perfect 'At Giza' as well.

Potential Additions -

I havent heard albums by Clockcleaner, Wooden Ships, Prurient, Boris & Michiho Kuhihara, Portal and Earth yet.

1 comment:

David said...

Great list. Nice to see Deerhunter and Wolves In the Throne Room up there. You should check out the album "Theory of Machines" by Ben Frost. It's really something else.