Saturday, December 28, 2013

VII's Top 20 Of 2013

I'm blown away by how fucking chaotic 2013 was. It's a year that seemed to go by so quick, but looking back, there was a ton of crazy shit that happened these 365 days. We all grew up, we got wiser, some got stupider, a lot of people died, we all experienced some hard times, and we all saw the explosion of pop stars making grinding on inanimate objects a symbol of sexual liberation. More importantly, we got body slammed with an ton of incredible new music. I think I say this every year, but I'm certain that I took in more new music this year then I ever have. It was a hard task whittling it all down to 20, but I'm pretty confident in my decisions right now, so let me just spill it before I over-think it again and change my mind. As I'm sure you'll figure out, I'm including LP's, EP's,  splits, and demos.

20. Flatbush Zombies - "Better Of Dead" mixtape

I really didn't keep up with hip-hop at all this year (I missed the new Danny Brown, that shows you
how out of touch I am). But the little pieces I've heard really impressed me. Mostly with the amount of creativity and energy they had. The new mixtape from Flathbush Zombies was the diamond that shined brightest. Drugged out, aggressive, and energetic bangers all the way through, with some grimy and impressive rhymes and flows from Meechy, Juice and Erick Ark Elliot. Love it every time I play it.

19. Bastard Noise/Lack Of Interest - Split LP

This came into my possession very late into this year, which is unfortunate as I haven't had very many chances to give it a proper listen (being stuck with broken speakers doesn't help either). But when I did get the chance to finally spin it, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. I've been anticipating this record for over a year now, and both bands deliver some of their most vicious tracks to date. Especially on the Bastard Noise side. The SKULL crew hasn't sounded this metallic and sharp in ever, and the choice guest spot from Maruta's Mitchell Luna was deadly! Lack of Interest are always, always, always, fucking incredible. Their side of this split is no different.This is one of the rare groups that never lets me down, and this record only strengthen's my love for them. Two of my favorite bands.

18. Prurient/The Rita - "Women Pissing" collab. 7"

Harsh noise/HNW music is something I don't expect everyone to have a fond taste in. But for those with even a mild interest, or for seasoned listeners in general, do not miss this epic pairing of two of the genre's best. The Rita, aka, Sam McKinlay, creates a brutal wall with the manipulated sounds of two women
synchronized swimmers, with Prurient, aka, Dominick Fenrow, supplying the harsh vocals. It's an excellent pairing of modern noises's best acts. Plus, it's cool to see Dominick still doing stuff that isn't techno/darkwave.

17. Archagathus/Nak'ay - Split 10"

This split was a pain in the buttocks to find, but the wait made listening to this incredible record even better. Nak'ay are a complete blasturbation on their side, it's unrelenting filth grind at warp speed.
Imagine if Insect Warfare snorted meth and played through amps made of rust, you get Nak'ay. Archagathus give us a meaty chunk of new songs, with a lot of Swede-grind influence, which was pretty fun and different. Their most metallic and straight grindcore sounding stuff in a while. Mandatory split!

16. Nails - "Abandon All Life"

Haven't played this one in a while, honestly. But I'm a huge fan of Nails, and this album crushed my skull when it came out earlier in the year. They came back louder, faster and heavier then on "Unsilent Death". More grind, more death metal riffs, more more more everything. Still keeping with the fifteen minute album length though, which I dig. Never got why it was so cool to hate on this band, especially if they keep putting out quality albums like this.

15. Sea Of Shit - "S/T" 10"

The mid-west rocked my world this year. That area seems to only be populated with the most fucked up, brilliant musicians. Chicago especially, and my favorite Windy City gutter blasters, Sea Of Shit, came through yet again with their new 10". Self released on their vocalist Robert's own label, Diseased Audio, by the way. While this is definitely the bands cleanest and least noisy recording to date, the pure filth that saturates their music is ever-present. Endlessly negative and grumpier then ever, I'd say that this record definitely has some of the bands best songs so far, and ends with one of my favorite final-screams of 2013.

14. Chainsaw Squid/Ether Binge aka Victim Of A Drive-By - Split cassette

Both of these bands could easily be my favorite bands of 2013. This is a mandatory split between two of the West Coast's best, new grind monsters. I talked very highly of this split in my review, and I stand by every word in that post. Chainsaw Squid are complete brutality, breakneck stops and starts and limb-
flailing blast beats from front to back. Ether Binge are a band that I absolutely cannot wait to hear more recordings from. This is grindcore from the future, with the most interesting slap-bass/metal guitar hybrid sounding instrumentation I've ever heard in this genre. These guys are on the 2nd level and you all need to learn quick.

13. Backslider - "Consequences" 10"

A release that may have come as a bit of a surprise to long time fans of Backslider. Definitely a surprise for me. This album (?) introduced a much different sounding band then the one that used to loyally stay in the no-song-over-a-minute club. Backslider sound more mature, inspired, and heavier then ever before on "Consequences". Keeping their roots in fastcore, and blending stoner sludge, death metal, rock riffs, and whatever the hell else they feel like into one monolith of a record. Do not miss this!!

12. Cheap Art - "Desocialized"

However, if you want a fastcore record that's a no holds barr blasterpiece of excellence, look no further then this new 7" EP from Cheap Art. This is a tough, tough fastcore record, leagues above the EP they released last year. The addition of the new vocalist is excellent. Adding a lot more vocal dynamics to the band, Blown-out screams, ludicrously fast blasts, heavy heavy down tuned riffs, there is absolutely nothing to not like here.

11. Cloud Rat - "Moksha"

When this came out, I was positive it was going to be my album of the year, While obviously, a few records have surpassed it, "Moksha" stands as Cloud Rat's best work yet, and is a landmark for grindcore this year. It's as ferocious as it is vulnerable, lyrically painting images of abuse, drugs, depression, and melancholy. It's a intense listen in many ways, and on a side note, these guys successfully pulled off a Neil Young cover. How cool is that?!

10. James Blake - "Overgrown"

I'm gonna guess not a lot of you know who James Blake is. Well, chances are most of you probably won't hold interest after I tell you. In a nutshell, James Blake is a beautiful man who makes beautiful music. This is a soulful, down-tempo, minimal and gorgeous electronic-music based record. Not something that sounds that nifty to most grindheads, I know. It's an album that just hits me right in that sweet spot I have for beautiful melodies and happy/sad lyrics. Some of my favorite songs of the year are on this album, such as the titled track and "To The Last". Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous music, I think it's worth your time.

9. Suffering Mind - everything

I'm going to be cheating a bit with a couple of these inclusions. 2013 was a huge year for Suffering Mind, and they put out some incredible splits, and keep spilling the beans about new splits to come. These splits with Massgrave, Six Brew Bantha, Water Torture and Dead Church we are choice additions to anyone's record collection this year. Suffering Mind just can not write a bad song, and every time I threw on one of their new records, I was satisfied. Can't forget the other bands though, crushing stuff from every one of them; my favorite Massgrave stuff by far, some of the sharpest songs SBBB have written (more of them later), torturous sludge from Water Torture, and an under-one-minute epic from Dead Church.

8. Full Of Hell - "Rudiments Of Mutilation"

This record rocked my goddamn mind when it was first unleashed onto the world. I haven't heard hardcore sound so evil or straight up as metal as on this new Full Of Hell record. The first four tracks alone are some of the most perfect and intense moments of music I've heard all year. With the raw power electronics in the opener "
Dichotomy", the swamp monster sludge chugs of "Vessel Deserted", and the complete fury of "Throbbing Lung Fiber". The B-side might not match the urgent intensity of the first half , to me, but this is still one of the most interesting hardcore records to come out all year. And seeing them at MDF kinda sorta solidified their vocalist as my favorite frontman.

7. Rectal Hygienics - "Even The Flies Won't Touch You" 

Representing Chicago on this list once again with the lucky number 7 pick! I'm counting the vinyl re-issue of this previously cassette-only album, I'd say it's valid. "Even The Flies Won't Touch You" is nothing but pure sleaze and perverted filth (what is it about Chicago that makes bands like this?). It's a
lyrical document of a madman, a complete sociopath, it's music that your vanilla PC friends will not like, and probably shun you for listening to it. Knuckle-draggingly simple, sludgy, noise drenched heroin rock. If you dig bands like Brainbombs, or even get a kick out of Anal Cunt, dive into this mess.

6. Sex Prisoner - "State Property E.P."

What an outstanding comeback year for Sex Prisoner! The fantastic 3-way split with ACxDC and Magnum Force (honorable mention) made their presence know again, but their stand alone 7" EP, State Property" put them over the edge. Deadly, tough, brutish powerviolence, the kind of stuff that makes any mosh pit an ignorant warzone. Sex Prisoner make every single second of this 7" a beat down, it's the heaviest powerviolence record I've heard all year. Some of my favorite vocals too. Can't wait to hear their new 12" from A389 next year, congrats guys!

5. Agents Of Abhorrence - "Relief"

Sadly, I never came around to giving this album a proper review on the blog. Somewhat regrettable, as this was one of my most anticipated records of the year. Agents Of Abhorrence have a solid spot as one of my my top five grind bands ever, and the anticipation of hearing their new full length was eating my alive. The wait, was to my Relief(hur hur), well worth the wait. This record is a fucking wrecking ball, some of the best grindcore I've heard out of Australia, and definitely some of the best stuff the band has ever done. This is their "brutal record", the guitar tone has never been more beefy or distorted, and the addition of Roskopp's Jacob Winkler to the band was the perfect touch to making "Relief" the great album that it is. Losing Grants vocals was a big loss for me, his pipes were a huge part of AoA's sound to me, so I was initially worried to hear what a new vocalist would bring to the band, and I'm happy to say that Jacob does not disappoint. The much more growly vocals definitely match the new sound AoA were going for, something that I don't see Grant doing quite as well, honestly. "Relief" only proves that Agents Of Abhorrence are one of grindcore's best kept secrets.

4. Water Torture/Six Brew Bantha - Split 7"

Water Torture released a lot of stuff this year, and don't seem to be stopping any time soon as hints and whispers of their upcoming releases keep popping up. By far the best stuff the Buffalo boys put out this year was their split 7" with Six Brew Bantha. For one, this is the first and probably only recording of them with a guitar player, and it's a fantastic change of sound for this record. It's kind of got an Infest meets Amphetamine Reptile noise rock thing going on. Kind of different, I dig it a lot. Certainly wouldn't be opposed to them doing this kind of thing again. Six Brew Bantha's side is straight up brilliant, it's by far my favorite stuff from them. Incredible riff after incredible riff with maniac drumming and vocals. Listening to this at max volume will not only destroy your speakers, it might cause everyone in your household to devour each other. Mandatory!

3. Abuse. - "S/T" LP & "A New Low" 7" (tie)

RIP powerviolence 2013, Abuse. killed everyone in the game this year. This is a band that doesn't

come around every day folks. This band, this new band mind you, broke out of the ether of the cosmos, crash landed to earth, and made the two best powerviolence records of the year. I just couldn't pick which one is better, they both wreck my everything in equal amounts. The 7" had a much rawer sound, more gritty and nasty. It had the same spirit as the classic No Comment and Crossed Out records that we know and love, but still managed to sound fresh, new and exciting. It's a perfect EP, powerviolence 101. Their LP however, shows the band with a brighter, much more modern and professional sound. And it doesn't take away a shred of their intensity, in fact it may have added some. Abuse. on the LP sound more urgent, adding a little more for a modern powerviolence sound. Some faster blasts, heavier breakdowns, more metallic guitars, the works. Both are incredible records, and are not to be missed. I mean it.

2. Deafheaven - "Sunbather"

I just know that a large chuck of you are going to look at this album's inclusion on this list a let out a loud, verbal "pshht" that I could let such a praised, insanely hyped record such as "Sunbather" come in as my 2nd favorite album of the year. And honestly, I mean this, if you can't find even one thing to like about this record, then I'm very sorry, because this album is amazing. Believe all the hype, this record is a masterwork. Some people call it metal gaze, post-black metal, some call it hipster bullshit. At the end of the day, I just say "Sunbather" is good music. Beautiful music in fact, a perfect balance of metallic intensity and energy with gorgeous, uplifting chord progressions and melodies. All together, this band creates a lush, colorful and impeccably passionate soundscape of reverby trembelo picked guitars riffs and blast beats, and some of my favorite songs of the year. "Dream House" is a monster opener, probably the best track on the album, which is maybe the only fault I can give it for starting with their strongest track. It's a very small one though, as it ends with the almost as amazing 'The Pecan Tree". I can't think of a record that's crossed over and reached so many different people in so many different scenes. I know grind fans, indie fans, metal fans, noise fans, you name it fans who all like this record. Just incredible. I know that this will definitely be a record that I'll talk about very fondly off in the years to come, and of the experiences that I've had and the people I've gotten to know with it's accompaniment.

1. D.O.C/Triac - Split 12"

At the end of the day, there can only be one. One record that stands above the rest as VII's favorite release of 2013. And with out one shred of doubt it my, the split 12" between Washington DC's
Disciples of Christ and Baltimore's Triac is that record. Grindcore just didn't get any meaner or nastier then this split, it was not even close to being matched. Keep in mind, this split came out way earlier in the year, so I've been saying this for a minute now. This is the record that all other records had to beat for me. Some same close, at time others may have even surpassed it, but it always came out on top at the end of the day. D.O.C.'s side is absolutely disgusting and earth shattering, it's still a chaotic mess every time I listen to it. And Triac bring their best stuff ever! Slick, loud, punishing, over the top grindcore perfection. You put it on and the swords come out, the ground splits, and the we all take a collective bow towards this magnum opus.

RIP 2013.


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