Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 in review - non-album releases

So instead of just one band of the week, how about going the whole hog and doing the dozens of bands of the year? That's right, folks, it's that time of year again. If you're not of the nerdy list-making persuasion, this is where you bitch and moan for a month and probably mention that no good music has been done since 1973 anyway. If you are, this is where you bitch and moan for a month about how every single list of every single website, blog and magazine in the world is just wrong, apart from yours. It's a win-win situation, or something.

Anyway, as you know, I'm crazy enough to do a top 100 every year. It's not because I love everything that's released, as you'll bitterly witness when I roll out the disappointments of the year (and there have been a bunch in 2011!). I just listen to way too much stuff and my tastes are far too wide-ranging for my own good. So, to break you in gently before the big caboodle hits, here's a strictly alphabetically ordered and very non-exhaustive list of the demos/EPs/tapes/whatever-it-is-as-long-as-it's-not-a-full-length that I most enjoyed in 2011. Feel free to discuss and show yours.

No idea who these people are or where they're from. They used to have a facebook that now disappeared and no other info seems to be available, so the only thing I can offer you is a little link for this demo, I'm sure they won't mind. I don't even know if they're human, and I'm pretty sure cacodaemons from the seventh level of hell don't give a shit about mediafire. This is 11 songs in 10 minutes of pure chaos - a drum machine set on fuck-'em-all while guitars squeal and someone's throat is ripped to shreds. Can't imagine how they'll ever be able to do something longer than 10 minutes, but for now it's a perfect room-clearer.

ANTEDILUVIAN Revelations In Excrement
The final piece in the skullthrone of demos from this beastly Canadian bunch, and the title of this 3-track EP really says it all. It's a piece of fucking grim, mystickal black vortex death metal like they didn't do it anymore, and then they started doing again, and all these horrid little bubbles of fetid pus are starting to burst all over and it's awesome. Spoiler - the subsequent Antediluvian full-length will feature highly on my top 100 list.

Blazing 4-song 7" released on Southern Lord, and while it sounds like just about every other of the last dozen Southern Lord signings (raw and blackened crust punk kindathing, you know), it's still awesome, and it sounds grittier and angrier than most of this new wave of bruising negativity.

BLOODY PANDA Summon: Invocation
I wasn't the biggest fan of 2009's 'Summon', the second Bloody Panda full-length. This NY band seems to gather everything I usually enjoy about an experimental heavy band, but somehow they never really clicked with me. I'm even less of a fan of remix albums, a horrid exercise that I find redundant, masturbatory and unnecessary 99% of the times. Well, 'Summon: Invocation' takes two biscuits in one go - it makes all those songs come to live and hit harder in all their head-caving sludgy glory and it reinstates my faith in remix albums. I guess handing your stuff over to people like Sanford Parker, Mick Barr, Portal, Stuart Dahlquist, Jarboe or Nadja and let them fiddle with it is a pretty good idea.

CORPSESSED The Dagger & The Chalice
It's a cross between the words corpse and possessed, okay? Whatevs, though. There's a guy from Wormphlegm here and this is the very first release from a band practising old-school gurgly and ugly death metal, the Finnish way. That's all that matters.

Here's the list of bands that the members of Destroy Judas have played in before: Mindrot, Phobia, Eyes Of Fire, Asunder, Lachrymose, Noctuary, Winterthrall, Deathevokation, Dystopia, Semtex Vest, Dead America, Crisis. Mindrot alone would be enough, but yeah. It's crusty fucking doom. Now go get it before they put out a full length, or be a wimp forever.

DRAINLAND And So Our Troubles Began
It's originally a 12" from 2010, but Southern Lord picked up this Irish band and reissued it in 2011, so it counts for me. It's a recent Southern Lord signing, yes, so do you want to take a guess at how it sounds? I don't know how it is that most of these bands still sound awesome, but they do. Probably the maximum limit of tolerance is close at hand, but we're not there yet.

DREDD Cursed Earth
Dredd are so cool that I made a whole post about them (well, and another dude) up at The Living Doorway, a lovely place I like to stink up every now and then, when I discovered this demo. Go forth and read.

EARTHTONE9 For Cause And Consequence
Earthtone9 are one of my favourite bands ever and one of the most underrated to ever come out of the bubbling furnace of randomness that was the 90s. So it's a tremendous pleasure to see them reuniting a full decade after their initial extinction. And if you're a reunion sceptic, screw you. This is the line-up that recorded 'arc'tan'gent', which makes them automatically valid in any circumstance. While these teasing 16 minutes aren't quite of the same timelessly brilliant level as that record, they do show that the guys are in full form to reach it again, and that's wonderful.

I've gone on about Ensorcelor several times before, including on Terrorizer,  so it's great to see them proving their worth with each release. I've actually recently read that 'Crucifuge' is a full-length release, but at 34 minutes and two songs, I assumed it was an EP when I got it and so it ends up here. Whatever it is, get it - it's more abstract that 'Urartica Begins' and not as immediately gripping, but it gets every bit as dark as its predecessor EP.

FUKPIG Batcave Full Of Bastards
A two track digital EP that flies by in a hurry with all the urgence of Fukpig's typically relentless necropunk fury. Therefore, indispensable.

GODSTOPPER Empty Crawlspace
I got all giddy and metaphorical about the band name when I got this tape of amazing doom/noise rock weirdness and did a band of the week post on them, so check that out for more on Godstopper.

Gone Postal are a young death metal band I discovered during Eistnaflug Festival in Iceland this year, and they blew me away. This imaginatively titled demo is but a fraction of their blunt attack on stage, so be prepared for more coolness soon. In the meantime, download it here.

Speaking of death metal, here's one of the best role models for all the young bands. Screw reviewspeak, it's Immolation, they released an EP and you got it because you have good taste (and because it was free, you cheap bastards), it's as simple as that.

LARK'S TONGUE Providence
Lark's Tongue features Chris from Minsk and I also posted on The Living Doorway about it, so go and see what I said about it then so I don't have to repeat myself all over again. It's a list of EPs, not a novel.

LLIHJE Encompassing Nothing
Ice-cold lo-fi black metal without a single thread of emotion or humanity. I loved imagining the extinction of humanity and the subsequent endless black void while listening to it, so I named this one-man monstrosity band of the week.

MAMMON Demiurge
This amazing 3-track EP is right here in front of me on my desk, I just brought it up from my car. I like imagining Satan rising up from beneath the road and torching every car in a blaze of devilish vindication while listening to it. That should give you a hint of how essential the thing is, and then go read my band of the week post I did on them for confirmation.

MY DYING BRIDE The Barghest O' Whitby
The importance of My Dying Bride in my musical upbringing is tremendous, but 'The Dreadful Hours' was the last album to really give me that emotional doom-kick in the gut from them. Not that there's anything spectacularly wrong with the three albums that have followed it, especially 'For Lies I Sire' which was actually quite good, but there was little material as deep as their magical back catalogue. This one song, half-hour EP is a good indication, however, that things might be about to change for the better again. Evocative, dark, poetic and doom-heavy as they haven't been for a long time, it hints at great things to come. Let us hope.

Oblique, disturbing black metal from Lyon that'll make you feel like taking a shower, except you won't, because you'll also start to feel that your bathroom might be haunted by hideous spectres from another dimension. Or something. They were my band of the week alongside the aforementioned Llihje, so check out that article for more gruesome details.

Proving that post rock is alive if you know how to do it, this live recording was totally improvised and unrehearsed, and it's still miles above most other bands that fiddle around in the studio with their build-ups and releases for weeks. Eric Quach from Thisquietarmy is part of the trio, so you wouldn't expect anything less than excellence, but it's still amazing how the whole thing works. Moving shoegaze atmospheres and monstrous surges, it's all there. If this is how you guys sound unrehearsed, I suggest you never try to! Oh, and it's free as a digital release.

It was released really, really early in 2011, but it's impossible to forget it. 'Erosion's last song remixed by Sanford Parker, Echoes Of Yul, DJ Mofo, Bosque and Sons of Bronson, all of them mangling it further and further on a downward spiral of Godfleshian darkness? Yes, please. And chalk up another point for remix albums in 2011.

THOU To The Chaos Wizard Youth
I always have mixed feelings with Thou. I hear potential for them to become one of my favourite bands, since they really have everything. The heaviness, the filth, the horror, the noise, the slowness. However, they keep spreading themselves paper-thin with a release every 10 minutes, never really achieving the monstrosity level they're clearly capable of. I have so much Thou shit, that in between demos, splits, EPs that they all start to pass me by. I'm almost not sure which of them are actually full length records anymore. Well, 'To The Chaos Wizard Youth' is the release that has captivated me the most from them in a long time, so hopefully they'll settle down and make a proper record full of disgusting ditties like 'The Witch Cunt'. That would be delightful.

UNDERSMILE A Sea Of Dead Snakes
One of the year's revelations for me. Discovered during the first edition of Seven Churches Festival, Undersmile quickly became one of the most promising young bands in Europe for me. The songs on the split with Caretaker were a confirmation that the forthcoming debut album will crush us mercilessly. They were band of the week back then as well. And I repeat what I said there - any band with a song called 'Instrumenstrual' rules by default. Fact.

UTOPIUM Conceptive Prescience
Explosive first release from one of the most exciting new Portuguese bands. Since it slays so much, and they do the same live, I did a little piece on them at Terrorizer which you can read here.

Okay, so this is the last release on the list for alphabetical reasons, but it's very appropriate that it is the last thing you will remember from it. If you only listen to one demo this year, or this decade for that matter, make sure it's this one. The tape took its own sweet time being released, so I wore out the streaming page for it by playing it incessantly every single day, several times a day, until I got a hold of it. Just listen to it for yourself, no description is necessary when darkness this opaque and this revolting descends upon you. I haven't been so excited about a band since, I don't know, last week probably. But I really mean it this time. These people will destroy us soon. Just wait. And go get that fucking tape right now.

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