End-of-week list #1

At the start of this year, I resolved to curb my voracious appetite for music and listen to just seven albums a week. Here are my choices for the first week of 2012, which turned out to be a prodigiously excellent bunch. Keep an eye out for a (probably much briefer) post on my picks for the second week. In the meantime, tell us what you’ve been listening to this year, old or new. Go on, fill up that comment box.

Rose Kemp – Golden Shroud (2010)

I was an easy convert to Ms Kemp’s music after 2008’s Unholy Majesty, which combined an astounding voice with some earth-shaking heaviness and traditionally strong songwriting. For some reason I took a long time to check out its successor, Golden Shroud, which is a very different album. Three long songs cover a wide sonic expanse with elements of bluesy metal, extreme doom and some quirky folkier moments, including some bafflingly great a capella passages. The riffs mark a huge step up from the last record, and Kemp is takes a lot more risks with her voice, even braving some strange inward garglings on the fantastic centrepiece, ‘Blood Run Red’. Golden Shroud has been a perfect accompaniment to the brighter days of the English winter, and I could happily have survived the week on this album alone.

Rose Kemp – Blood Run Red

Hellveto – Od Południa na Północ… (2009)

This fairly obscure Polish project is one of my favourite discoveries of last year, which I owe to Noktorn of the mighty Trial By Ordeal. This man has released 14 insanely complex albums in just ten years, and everything I’ve heard from him has been excellent. Falling somewhere between the dense orchestration of Summoning and the drive and intensity of latter-day Graveland, Hellveto’s records offer a unique and often difficult listen. Od Południa na Północ, the first of a trilogy of albums, is quite unlike any other I’ve heard from him. Many of the songs hover around a single chord, which takes some getting used to; but gradually the real beauty of the music works its way to the fore and you start to pick out the recurrent motifs and small-scale detail that make it such a great album.

Hellveto – Moc Odrodzenia

Helheim – Heiðindómr ok mótgangr (2011)

The reviews I read of this excellent album all express some surprise at the relative unpopularity of Helheim – Norway’s other progressive blackened Viking metal band – compared with Enslaved. But as far as I can tell, there’s no mystery. Enslaved specialise in catchy and accessible anthems that draw heavily on the aesthetic palette of prog rock without really being all that experimental. Helheim, on the other hand, are driven more by the adventurous spirit of prog than its melodic appeal. It’s also a lot darker, sounding at times rather like Taake (Hoest, in fact, contributes some vocals on ‘Dualitet og Ulver’). Heiðindómr ok mótgangr is a lot to swallow, but having stuck with it for a week it’s clear to me that this was one of the finest records of 2011.

Helheim – Nauðr

Dismember – Like an Ever Flowing Stream (1991)

One of the most important things in life is having easy access to music that’ll tear your face off. This becomes immediately apparent once you put a cap on the number of albums on your player. Work getting you down? Take a two minute break, blast ‘Soon to be Dead’ and return to the fray ready to wreak some havoc.

Dismember – Soon to be Dead

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The Caretaker – A Stairway to the Stars (2002)

I chose this album to satisfy any ambient cravings I might succumb to during the week. Oddly enough, I didn’t get round to playing this even once. As some of our commenters pointed out, there’s no use listening to music if you’re not in the mood for it; and as anyone who has heard The Caretaker will know, his music is suited only to very specific moods. For anyone who hasn’t, it’s essentially a bunch of old records played through a lot of effects – a copyright lawyer’s nightmare/field-day. It’s soothing, disturbing and often brilliant.

The Caretaker – Emptiness

Neurosis – A Sun that Never Sets (2001)

Not a kind of music I usually go for, the praise heaped on this band has nonetheless convinced me that they deserve a fair shot. This is a well-written and memorable record that conjures plenty of strong images from the natural world and Old America. There’s not always enough going on to sustain a grip on my attention, but it made a good accompaniment to walks in the woods. I’ll keep exploring the band’s discography, but maybe not quite yet.

Neurosis – The Tide

Uneven Structure – Februus (2011)

The compulsory comfort-zone-expanding choice for the week, Februus is one of the better records to come out of the modern wave of progressive metal dabbling in djent-y sounds. While much of that stuff is truly execrable, marred either by non-existent songwriting or disgustingly saccharine vocals (e.g. Periphery), I really enjoyed Vildhjarta’s Måsstaden album and thought I’d give this one a go. It’s a slow grower, but has a lot of strong points: the structure and flow of the record is genius, they have a good head for ambiance and texturing, and the clean vocals sound like a mix between Garm and Ihsahn, which works well. Uneven Structure are at their best when building tension between suppressed polymetric chugging and gentler textures. The first two minutes of ‘Frost’ contain some of the most powerful music I’ve heard in a long while. Give it the chance it deserves.

Uneven Structure – Frost (complete album stream available)

12 Comments

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Rowan

    Kinit HerMosaic of the Hyacinths
    InquisitionOminous Doctrines of the Perpetual Macrocosm
    Höhlenmusik Ensembles/t
    Jasper TXThe Black Transmissions
    SaåadPink Sabbath
    Woburn HouseSleep Summer Storm
    KuedoVideowave E.P.

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Tom

    Februus is incredible, good choice. Neurosis are always a good choice too.

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    keelan o'neill

    Essence – Lost in Violence
    Abaddon Incarnate – Cascade
    Wolvhammer – The Obsidian Plains
    Vektor – Outer Isolation
    Thy Catafalque – Rengeteg

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Durbin

    I’ve not been using this listening arrangement myself yet but I certainly need to check out some of the bands on this list. Uneven Structure certainly sound interesting from a few songs I’ve listened to on youtube, I didn’t know djenty bands were capable of such things.

    On Neurosis, I’m big into Neurosis at the moment but still can’t totally wrap my head around A Sun That Never Sets. I’d probably suggest starting with Through Silver In Blood or Given To The Rising. These albums are denser than ASTNS, and may satisfy your need for more going on at once.

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Nico

    Holy hell, The Caretaker sounds amazing. I’m hoping I won’t become obsessed with it.

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Sergio

    Witchrist – Beheaded Ouroboros
    This Heat – This Heat & Peel Sessions
    Zinumm – Zinumm
    Akitsa – Sang Nordique
    Townes Van Zandt – Our Mother The Mountain (!)

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Doomed to Repeat

    It finally snowed in my neck of woods, so I’ve been in “that” kind of mood . . .

    Got out Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane like some people get out there winter coats.

    Jammed Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales & Emperor’s Return in my car.

    Still listening to Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All constantly.

    Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon and A Blaze in the Northern Sky are almost to obvious to list, but I did jam them a bunch.

    As well as Jesu’s Conqueror.

    The only new release I got around to jamming was Nekromantheon’s Rise, Vulcan Spectre.

    Alright, now I gotta go watch some band called SKVLT play down the street from me. “Black metal influenced hxc,” supposedly. Should be . . . great.

  • Reply January 16, 2012

    Billy

    I didn’t quite achieve keeping to a minimum of 7 albums, but I have certainly been more moderate, and the more detailed focus on a few records has been really enjoyable:

    Midnight – Satanic Royalty (nothing sophisticated or clever about this record at all, just low down, dirty, blackened drunken attitude!)
    Beketh Nexehmu – De Dunkla Herrana (the first album in a while to give me that cold nostalgic early 90s BM feeling – reminiscent of Strid, with beautiful layers of fuzz, synth and acoustic guitar – essential!)
    Venenum – Venunum (simply stellar morbid death metal)
    Myrkraverk – Nordvegen (majestic Isengard inspired Norwegians, also essential listening)
    Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time (I probably won’t agree in a year, but right now this is my favourite Maiden record – superb songwriting)

    • Reply January 16, 2012

      Doomed to Repeat

      That’s an interesting list, Billy. Especially Beketh Nexehmu. I’m also searching for that old cold feeling of early 90s BM. Will definitely check them out.

  • Reply January 16, 2012

    Noah

    Your original post inspired me to this same thing (for the same reasons you started). Here’s my weekly list’s so far:

    week 1:
    The Atlas Moth: A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
    Big KRIT: Return of 4 Eva – Purple Tape Remix (Skrewed & Chopped)
    Forteresse: Le Hivers de Notre Epoque
    Gnaw: This Face
    Kinit Her: Living Midnight at the Harvest Abbey
    Law of the Rope: Beasts Will Have You

    week 2:
    Antediluvian: Through the Cervix of Hawaah
    Black September: The Forbidden Gates Beyond
    Law of the Rope: Thee Age of Tallow
    Neurosis: Souls at Zero
    Sedativ: 2002-2003
    Watain: Casus Luciferi (The Fall of Lucifer)
    Worship: Last CD Before Doomsday

    week 3: (present week)
    Of the Wand and the Moon: The Lone Descent
    Mitochondrion: Parasignosis
    Locrian: Territories
    Volahn: Dimensiones del Trance Kosmico
    Law of the Rope: The Book of Three
    Murmuure: Murmuure
    Negative Plane: Stained Glass Revelations

  • Reply January 16, 2012

    Richard

    My last few weeks have revolved around:

    Diocletian – War Of All Against All
    Summoning – Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
    Disembowelment – Transcendence Into The Peripheral
    Wildernessking – The Writing of Gods in the Sand
    Timeghoul – Discography
    Ulver – Nattens Madrigal
    Evoken – Antithesis Of Light

  • Reply January 17, 2012

    lye

    KYPCK – Ниже
    Thantifaxath – Thanitfaxath
    Pain Of Salvation – Road Salt One and Two
    Low – C’mon
    Woburn House – Sleep Summer Storm

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