Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Handsome B. Wonderful's Thirty-Sixth Annual List of the Top Ten Rock Albums of the Year!

Sorry, Ronnie, you guys didn't make the list, but hell, not that bad of an album for dudes in their sixth and seventh decades. More than Robert Plant can say, yee haw, cletus. Now, curse that cancer, yousguys.

I'm not stating what I stated last time, a state not worth visiting, like Ohio (save for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and this), especially since I'm too cheap to buy you a beer because I need to buy me another la fée verte.

Oh, alright, shorter: stuff I listen(ed) to a lot.

1. Alice In Chains, Black Gives Way To Blue. You've read the book, now hear the movie in your headphones. Had it for a few months, decrees remain sludgy, slimy hooks slip from the grime and have a reach that matches their grasp. Shot through with the spirit, if not the voice and spectral tales of Layne, just don't call it a comeback, call it a rebirth. When you step off the bus on the return trip from hell, you're a changed sonofabitch, yet thankfully still depressed.

2. Katatonia, Night is the New Day. Mood rock for moody I-don't-know-whats, jerks like you and I, they don't ply in bonecracking sorcery, but pry at the crevices in the shadows of your own making. Good thing, too, that you've got an ample supply of notes, for constructing such a cityscape takes some effort, leaves you spent, scratched. Now steep, sleep in the bleak precipitation and remember what could have been. Yeah, man, still depressed.

3. The Black Crowes, Before the Frost...Until the Freeze. A Zeppelinesque tight-but-loose grooves from side to side and front to back, that's the fact, jack. Perhaps a hiatus does the soul well, for after regaining their footing on a very solid, if unspectacular comeback, the boys from Georgia and parts afield have crafted a great rock and fucking roll album. Okay, the extra bonus download is a bit country for my power chord ears, but there's no law that says I have to continuously spin it.

4. Unto Ashes, The Blood of My Lady. Sadness, uninterrupted. Mastermind Michael Laird (and assorted help) strips a few beloved trappings off this neo-classical glow for a sparser, more personal affair. Pungent folk balladry welcomes poisonously sweet longing with open, wounded arms, ostensibly to kill it, for that's what I would do if given the chance, the streaming blood inking page after page of fresh inventions. That's what we always seem to be stuck with, isn't it.

5. Behemoth, Evangelion. Menacing the way a lion's burnt sun jaw was to Roman Empire Jesusery, saliva evaporating the second it hit the torched sands, oh, but thirst soon quenched, Poland's finest cast forth their best in many an hour, eat that awkwardly-phrased cliché, hungry beast, and choke on its wretched truth. Toe-tappingly vicious occult psalms manifest a righteous Crowley glare, rhythm guitar, solo, breakneck, neck broken, fuck off.

6. Funeral Mist, Maranatha. Unlike those kielbasa, there's less mystical darkness, more inverted Abrahamic lunacy in their iron sink approach, hyperspeed passages sliced through with funeral dirges, blood spatter affectations of an acid mass, the unwashed swaying to chorales hacked out of the abyss. And lo, beholdeth that priestly venom spewing forth, a twisted, neurotic vocal performance that would make Attila Csihar weep with profound joy.

7. Marduk, Wormwood. Hey, I recognize you, you sang on number six. Number seven is alive, too, three, whee, a bit more orthodox in its destructive tendencies (not the content, gatekeeping scribes), less the diabolical, straitjacketed general of hell sickly barking orders from a spiked, flesh-stained cell than his premiere assassin, colder than Cocytus, deadlier than the starship captain actually deadlier than Turanga Leela. Not simply Mach 5000 anymore, but textured blasphemy. And, bien sûr, bitter.

8. Wolves in the Throne Room, Black Cascade/Malevolent Grain(EP). Quite possibly nature's favorite black metal troupe, hey, that tree just told me so, gives us their third volume of meandering soundscapes, extended suites of seasonal extremes, the harsh, mesmerizing call of storm and rain, sturm und drang, dragging feet on a muddy track to nowhere in particular, as long as it's away from the goddamn 9-5. Sure, I'm cheating by grafting the EP, but 'tis essential, too.

9. Moss, Tombs of the Blind Drugged. Is it really an EP if the three tracks rise to nearly two-thirds of an hour? Will I care about such detailed devilry once my woebegone being has been dragged sub templum for some cthonic rites, alright, inside joke telling is stale, even moreso if none of you wankers get it, but these ultra drone dirges ain't. Above ground terror transmutes into underground horror, slow, slow, ever slower, slow, sure is burrowing slow, but that's a graveworm-infested Templar for you. Oh, the answer to the question, no, I won't.

10. Altar of Plagues, White Tomb. Everything you know about Ireland is wrong if the only new thing you knew about Ireland was this because the old symbols would be drowned in an thundering tide of circular depression. Blackened post-whatever alternates between spacey undulation and tenacious skullcrushing, making you forget leprechauns, relentlessly curvy redheads but not alcohol, duh, especially since you remember how Robbie Keane & Co. got jobbed by the frogs. If I were them, I'd spin this document of self-inflicted destruction and wallow.

11. Paradise Lost, Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us. What a renaissance these blokes have had over the last few albums. I didn't particularly mind their forays into a less metallic mood palette but heavy, romantic tristesse is what they're best at. Fuck, was Gothic a masterwork of this movement's vanguard in the saintly days of yore. Drink that finely aged scotch and journey back towards a tortured existence under the blackest of suns, forlorn doom infused in chords, leads flowing, unforced as sharp, fluttering rapids. And Nick Holmes even gets a bit growly!

12. Slayer, World Painted Blood. Defining aging gracefully, though your facial fuzz, Tom, is looking a bit grey. Hey, so is mine! Choking on youthful angst while air-guitaring to Hell Awaits is a dangerous proposition in my creaky state, but this angry slab made me wanna laugh in the face of actual medical danger and bang the head that used to bang in between chugs of whatever cheap beer someone's dad kept in the fridge.

13. Teitanblood, Seven Chalices. Everything you know about Spain is wrong if the only new thing you knew about Spain was this because the old symbols would be slaughtered and thrown in a ditch. Filthy, fucking filthy, fucking fugly ugliness scraping the cavities of your skull with rusty barbed wire making you forget tapas, stunningly beautiful women and futbal chokes on the world stage. I don't know what Lucifer ate that made him belch this grotesquerie up, but please, dude, continue chowing down.

14. Cheap Trick, The Latest. Oh, what the hell, an extra seat in honor of Rockford's favorite sons, who, according to evidence accumulated since the birth of rock and/or roll, shouldn't still be kicking ass at this late stage. In spite of the occasional cane n' Ben Gay slip up, they do, and the planet is better for it, power pop, power chords are sick, like a man from Europe, Beatlesesque touches (see, I like 'em a little, you fucking lemmings) when appropriate, and then some more power chords. Rick Nielsen, you are one bad mamma jamma. And, is it me, or does Robin Zander sound 28 again?

15. Of course I'm going to pull a last year (sort of) and list a bunch of releases for the coveted final slot. An intersection of art, mood and experience is the final arbiter of what moves, I can't choose just one peanut butter, eleven is one today, twelve is three tomorrow, forty-two is everything, so mighty hails to the visceral Celtic Frost-worship of Goatwhore's Carving Out the Eyes of God, the Nazi Punks Fuck Off riffwork of Vreid's Milorg, the intricate, death-laden Egyptology of Nile's Those Whom the Gods Detest, the erotic, neo-rock fetishes of Black Tape for a Blue Girl's 10 Neurotics, the doomy romanticism of My Dying Bride's For Lies I Sire, the sadly already split-up metalgaze of Amesoeurs' self-titled disc, a couple of dozen more, some I haven't heard yet and some that I probably missed because I'm going fucking senile. Go, 2009, it's your birthday.

Save two slices for Dr. Zaius there, Mr. Spooky.


Übermilf said...

I am just hazarding a guess here, that in answer to Olivia Newton's John's musical query "Have You Ever Been Mellow?" your answer would be, "No, no I have not."

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

Once again you have overlooked the contributions of Up with People.

Albums of the year, indeed!



Übermilf said...

ignored contribution

MRMacrum said...

Even though I generally do not have a clue about the music you review and rate, I really enjoy how you do it. Not the typical audiophile snobbery.

Randal Graves said...

übermilf, this is a rock list, not a roll call of my favorite chamber works. Don't be such a noodlebrain.

By the way, purchase Alina Ibragimova's disc of Szymanowski's works for violin and piano. Holy fuck, that's lovely stuff.

tengrain, are you kidding? They're so good, if I had them on this list, all the other artists would be crushed under their dancing feet.

übermilf, you are vile. Needs more cowbell, though.

mrmacrum, granted, I can't read minds, but too many lists seem to try too hard to 'get it right' critically. You dig what you dig, you can't help it, you know?

sunshine said...

Too bad "Poison" didn't come out with an album this year.
I know how much you love them!
Rock of Love Baby!! :P

Well I must say .. I bought a couple of these albums .. suggested by you.. over this past year and they were GREAT!
I'm not into the Death Metal so I would never buy that but anything else "normal metal" that you reccomend I would pick up for sure.

You're da man Randal!

I'm not mad at you anymore...


Mary Ellen said...

Randal, you aren't fooling anyone. We all know that you really listen to Pat Boone and Kenny Rogers.

sunshine said...

Don't forget Ricky Martin Mary Ellen... :P
R.M. makes Randal feel all sex-eh

sunshine said...

Milf~ You get a lot of mileage out of that "Up With People" video.. don't you? ;P

Randal Graves said...

sunshine, I'm not sure what's worse, them or Puke With People. I doubt you'd be into the Funeral Mist, but Unto Ashes is neo-classical/folk, so you'd dig them.

nunly, shhhhh! And here I thought you were my friend. Sniff.

sunshine, I don't need no stinkin' music, I'm naturally sex-eh.

sunshine said...

Unto Ashes... Perhaps I'll go sit on Santas knee and let him know I'd like it.
I haven't been a very good girl though...

You are VERY sex-eh ..naturally. I just thought that Ricky Martin brought out something extra.
Or maybe it's just your monocle. :P You know what that thing does to me...

I'm very frisky today! Aren't I??

Übermilf said...

Sunshine, I have yet to repeat an "Up With People" video. There are countless ones out there. I can torture Randal for years without a repeat.

And Randal? Are you going on record as stating that you have, in fact, been mellow?

S.W. Anderson said...

" . . . hyperspeed passages sliced through with funeral dirges, blood spatter affectations of an acid mass, the unwashed swaying to chorales hacked out of the abyss. And lo, beholdeth that priestly venom spewing forth, a twisted, neurotic vocal performance . . ."

Plaudits such as this create a strong desire to get you to seek professional help, Randal. But then comes the realization that the state of the art for that help might not be up to the task.

No, I wouldn't want you put on medications that would have you singing commercials on your way to work, and hurrying home to listen to old Mitch Miller Chorale vinyl; that would be the other extreme.

It's just that this fixation with blood, gore, the netherworld and other grotesqueries for noisy entrtainment is . . . disturbed.

okjimm said...

Ya know....I didn't see Taylor Swift or Kayne West listed? Wazz up wit dat?

Dusty said...

Corn-on-a-fucking-stick? You nitwits have statues of corn on a stick?

That tells us all we need to know about what's wrong with this nation dude. ;p

Tom Harper said...

Boy, you sure do listen to a lot of that awful loud screeching heavy metal. I'm surprised at you.

Hill said...


"In spite of the occasional cane n' Ben Gay slip up..." made me LOL.



Demeur said...

Graves you'd listen to nails on a chalkboard if it had a good beat.

Beach Bum said...

Nice to know I actually have heard of one of the bands. Cheap Trick was in my record collection when vinyl was not just on the side of houses.

On a different note, I'll be damned but a couple of months ago my brother dug out a box with a couple of my old albums. One was Night Ranger and the other was Twist Sister but I'll never admit to listening to the latter.

susan said...

I heard Laika and the Cosmonauts have a new album coming out next year. They'll be making it to my list for 2010.

Christopher said...


What do you think about Brian Wilson’s Smile?

I think it's really good and kinda flew under the radar.

Randal Graves said...

sunshine, have we forgotten that this is a family blog? Sheesh.

Now where are those pornographic yarns you promised us?

übermilf, I'm mellow right now. I don't actively slaughter the innocent while listening to my music, unless it's a special occasion.

SWA, The body count of Randal who listens to violent metal: zero.

The body count of so-called god-fearing world leaders: millions upon millions.

Just sayin'. ;-)

okjimm, I have taste.

dusty, I don't even know where that is. You have to understand, outside of my Callahooga County, Ohio is pretty fucking warped.

tom, I swear it's not true, Al-Qaeda must have hijacked my blog!

hill, you didn't slip, I hope!

demeur, if the alternative is top 40 radio, you betcha.

BB, Trick is so ridiculously underrated. And when I think of Twisted Sister I think of two things: the videos with Niedermayer from Animal House and their cameo in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

susan, a lot of that surf stuff is very important to metal. If you heshers dig your evil speed picking, thank the likes of The Ventures.

christopher, was never a big Beach Boys fan, so haven't heard it, but I hear it's good.

puddy said...

what? no Innocent Man? stay in the closet randall... it's warm in there.

S.W. anderson said...

I have to hand it to you, Randal. You make an excellent point. Still . . . :)

Distributorcap said...

you left off the spice girls

also the top 10 had 15

but no one said people in Ohio could count

Dr. Zaius said...

Yay! Heavy Metal Cake! Thanks, Randal! ;o)