Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handsome B. Wonderful's Thirty-Seventh Annual List of the Top Ten Rock Albums of the Year, sponsored by Aut-O-Post and viewers like you*

Not Freedom Rock.

Stuff I dig, standard caveats apply. Nearly off to the mythic land of non-furlough vacation (assuredly next fiscal year) so get your queries/hate mail/suggestions I'll gleefully ignore/nelsonmuntzing in now. Here's hoping you won't be sacrificed to Mithras even though you probably deserve it.**

What I want for Christmas? Neither a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock & this thing which tells time nor a magical pixie dust that transforms politicians into the object of their deepest fears in a Cronenberg-does-After School Special kind of gig but a chronology machine so I can go back & be in the audience at this devilishly swanky concerto for group & power chord.

1. Rome, Nos Chants Perdus. Some soundscapes seem to be emblematic of a particular season. For many, spring wistfully soars whilst Beethoven's Sixth swirls in the ear, even sans the maestro's program notes. This album -- & this is neither good nor bad in & of itself, merely observational, though thank the gods for it -- possesses a flexible facility to boil its suitably melancholic folk alchemy using salty heat, decaying earthtone leaves, falling snow. The adaptability of this listener's already existing sentiment? The overwhelming power of these songs. A permanent rotation comrade, comrade.

2. Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit. Being a moody, emotional clusterfuck kind of guy, I'm a sucker for the art of these Portlanders, sprawling, complex paeans to the beautiful & terrifying natural world, multi-chambered hallows of gentle acoustic splendor & electric power chords. Perfect for late-night headphoning, more so for walks around the long block in the refreshingly bitter December evening. Stuff like this only strengthens my joy that I'm not cursed to live in warm climes.

3. Ihsahn, After. Saxomophone. Sax-o-mo-phone & progressively hefty, occasionally quiet, shifty metallic runs. The anthemic, night sky power of Emperor, evidemment, remains a referent, as do the classic influences smeared over his first two solo works but this is unquestionably the wise-man-on-the-mountain pinnacle of the planned trilogy, though where the fuck Mr. Tveiten goes from here is up to a confluence of wintry cold, Scandivanian bitters, lutefisk, 7-strings & that sphinx known as inspiration. Majestic.

4. Les Discrets, Septembre et ses dernières pensées. The French Agalloch? Perhaps. There are certainly worse bands to share a passing stylistic affinity with, 99.9% of the rest if we're being technocratic &  since it's the 21st century, we are. Je reste triste that the spectacularly promising & oh-so-short-lived Amesoeurs split their constellation, but this fragment is a worthy spectral remnant, less a commentary on glass & steel dislocation of said century, more the workings of the human spirit in dis/concert with the world & the self.

5. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones. Meaty, beaty, big & bouncy & big. Repetition is requisite, for these riffs are big, subterranean cavern full of unspeakable horrors big. But what do you expect from a guy who's vomited forth the likes of Morbid Tales, To Mega Therion & Monotheist? Doom takes precedence over speed, age being a factor. No, a decline in slick wrist flicking skill isn't the culprit, but simply the tremendous weight of experience, the space between filled with such grey bleakness; donc whereas unbridled rage may best be served by youth, an expansive, cacophonous brush is by us geezers.

6. Deathspell Omega, Paracletus. A religious experience. Does it really matter whether the object of worship is Old Scratch, a tyrannical Semitic sky god, Gene Roddenberry or the squirrel digging for nuts in your front lawn? Oh, you betcha, bet on a vortex of DSM-IV riffs needling through your skull, son, pulling tight like a torture from Barker's Hellraiser in reverse, the pieces torn inward upon themselves in a bloody, mashy goo. It is the end, after all, & by the way, ha ha, fooled you. There's no comfort. Thank Satan for Johnnie Walker Blue affordable hooch on a civil service salary.

7. Les Fragments de la Nuit, Demain, c'était Hier.  Brusque, lush neo-classical wondernoir -- that word may not roll off the tongue, but platitudes do & they stroll in that twilight glazed by dueling natural & artificial luminescence. Night music for true night owls, not out-on-the-town simulacra settling for middling faux-jazz stringy pickup lines; there's something less gentle rondo, more taut polonaise, a propulsive tugging/listen, you're not going anywhere. Maybe it's a French thing, maybe I'm hearing what I want to hear, maybe it's no matter. 

8. Electric Wizard, Black Masses. Look man, if I turned this website into a full-time Stuff Randal People Like gig, amongst other things, there'd be posts on grimy power chords, the bleak pall that hangs over existence [ed. note: so find your niche & make a hash of it with loved ones], Hammer Horror, Lovecraftian lunacy, smoke 'em if you got 'em, versification & the X-Files. These blokes + one chick cover all that save the last two on platter after platter & here's another serving, a bit less muffled special brownies, now rattling bones scuffling across basement flagstones towards the Marshall stack to turn it up.

9. Alcest, Écailles de Lune. Given the seductively atmospheric aural & visual qualities that are the ichor of this outfit, dissection isn't a word I'd associate, but black metal has been dissected here, drained & filtered, burned & reconstituted, stripped & restitched, nourished & refashioned into something as beautiful yet different (is it even black metal any longer? Not so much) as that genre's best. Here, the omnipresence of death dissolves under a filmy pall of some heretofore unknown otherland. 

10. Weapon, From the Devil's Tomb. What the fuck, Canuckleheadbangers, what a step up from number one, blackish death done old fucking school, beer n' brackish bongwater denim militia 1982 via Morbid Angel's stolen Tardis. It's metal, it's the Stones, it's Chuck Berry, it's Howlin' Wolf, it's always always always ALWAYS about the riff & here it lies, dead & kicking like Sam Raimi would want 'em, no, no, how 'bout that crazy shambling fucker from Return of the Living Dead.

Bang the head that doesn't bang.

11. Sabbath Assembly, Restored to One. If you'd like to know more about the Process Church of the Final Judgment, consult your local library. Or this record. Dexterous vocalist Jex Thoth praises the four deities over a gurgling bed of billowy, percussively hymnal 70s fuzz rock. Unsurprisingly expansive here & there, but Jesus, Jehovah, Lucifer & Satan are just alright with me.

12. Íon, Immaculada. The second neo-folk concoction from ex-Anathema bassist Duncan Patterson tastes like Gaelic, Mediterranean, this, that, mandolin & the other thing with a pinch of vocal & musical helping hands yet after all that is even more minimalist than his previous platter, just as delicately somber, but the most beautiful aspect is the natural charm of it all; nothing's forced, songs develop at the seemingly proper pace & quibbles are stylistic (& quite minor), never intent.

13. Lightning Swords of Death, The Extra Dimensional Wound. Speaking of unbridled, youthful rage a bunch of entries late, these upstarts from the city of angels are less Raphaelite than Luciferian. Chortle. Hammers smashing faces & other violent clichés various & sundry speed the dismemberment of cochleae, the riffs backing up the bravura. Plus the band name is fucking ridiculous in a Saturday morning cartoon Ed Wood sort of way. Banzai!

14. For some unknown reason -- subconscious directives, genetic quirk of personality, government mind control rays, magic mushrooms -- I have difficulty spending vast gobs of time actively searching out & listening to new releases, whether by heretofore who-the-fuck-are-theys or old favorites, preferring to glom onto a select few albums, often highly anticipated, oftenish random acts of senseless surfing, spinning/clicking buttons over & ad infinitum. Thus, as usual, a 738-way cop out for stuff I either haven't heard or haven't given sufficient hours to in order to pass judgment like an angry cracker op-ed columnist, Krauthammer I'm looking at you. I'll get around to 'em all, Apollo, swear: Darkthrone, Circle the Wagons; Shining, Blackjazz; Cathedral, The Guessing Game; Witchsorrow, Witchsorrow; Cough, Ritual Abuse; Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky; Hail of Bullets, On Divine Winds; Monster Magnet, Mastermind; Gnomonclast, Tempus Null; Ludicra, The Tenant; Krieg, The Isolationist; Salome, Terminal; Triptykon, Shatter: Eparistera Daimones Accompanied; Jucifer, Throned In Blood; Slough Feg, The Animal Spirits, any suggestions I gleefully non-ignore et ceteroony neighborino.

*Rembrandt Q. Einstein is on hiatus. 2010 only spun currently-owned oldies.
**I'm kidding. Except for that one guy. You know who you are. Asshole.


David Barber said...

Randal - A great post that I will get more involved in later. Look forward to watching the video clips.

I've left comments on your previous posts but they don't seem to be there. Don't know what happened?? I'm still reading your blog!

Anyway, enjoy the festivities you "non-festivarian"!! :-)

sunshine said...

Hmmm, well, you know I love "Rome" and am really digging the endearment (I hope) "Canuckleheadbangers".

I'll have to check out some of these bands while you're on your hiatus...

Enjoy- not enjoying- your holiday!


Jack Crow said...

Randal Graves said...

david, ??? fucking Blogger. Or maybe all that snow buried your posts before the electrons could find their way off Albion's shores.

sunshine, the Rome's a fucking masterpiece, & I think you'd dig the Ion. The rest? Not sure, although support your fellow Canuckleheads!

jack, the only work we have of his is his tome on ancient Greek, no shamans nor mushroom pickers.

Mary Ellen/Nunly said...

This one didn't make the list? What the hell???

sunshine said...

Nunly~ I CANNOT believe you did that... hahahahah!
That's just too horrible. ;p

Randal Graves said...

nunly, 'tis 2010, girlie girl. Don't make me throw candy cane shrapnel at you!

sunshine, the best part about that was the on-air shamefest one of the big-haired TBN yokels made him go through. Great theatre.

Tom Harper said...

Aren't you a little old to still be listening to all that heavy metal stuff :)

thatgirl said...

great mood music for the Bat Cave.

Also, I need to hear the new Jucifer.

Demeur said...

My exposures to the extremes of music ended when I heard ole Al here.
Why settle for mere amateurs when the best was in your own backyard all the time?

okjimm said...

Aw, shit&whiskers! call that musikk? I gotz one.... Sing it wit me.."Hapuppy Cleveland to you .. Hapuppy Cleveland to you... Hapuppy Cleveland & A New Year Yore..two!

susan said...

and I wish you all the best for a very Merry Solstice til we meet again.

Stay frosty :-)

S.W. Anderson said...

In the word of Jack Benny, "Well!"

Re: David Barber's lament. I, too, have had at least two (maybe three) comments disappear from Blogspot-hosted blogs in the past week and a half or so. It's good in a way to know I wasn't imagining things, and that I'm not the only one. Paranoia loves company.

Randal Graves said...

tom, fine, fine, I'll get off my own lawn.

thatgirl, it's got a real old school Cathedral vibe to it, nice n' grimy.

demeur, I always knew you were a closet metalhead.

okjimm, hippie!

susan, Ia ha! Ia ha!

SWA, hmm, I've heard grumblings about typepad and WP, so there's essentially no platform that hasn't been infiltrated by agents of the DHS.

Liberality said...

I could probably dig album #9

#9, #9, #9, #9, #9

Sorry, had a Beatles flashback there ;~)

Beach Bum aka Captain Barbossa said...

...squirrel digging for nuts in your front lawn...

Saw a little fuzzy dude walk on water getting away from a cat. Close enough to a miracle for me.

Tengrain said...

Graves you swine!

You left out Up Yours With People again.

Q: Should I take the 10 hits of acid you recommend before listening to this aural assault?



Dr. Zaius said...

You possess a mind not merely twisted, but actually sprained. ;o)