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Lamp, broken circa 1988

IN 2019 I WILL LISTEN TO YOUR ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

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I shall remind ye a final time on New Year's Day, but, the cutoff date for submissions is New Year's Day.

also because I've already heard the purple mountains record a few times and I'm not listening to that until a few days after New Year's, when partying no longer feels appropriate.

1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
2. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
3. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
4. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

I do not know anything about The Austerity Program. My requisite googles told me they’re a two piece noise rock band formed in the 90s, and two of my favorite bands are exactly that set up (Lightning Bolt & The Body). So, odds are decent I enjoy this. That’s as much as I cared to look up. Appropriately short intro for short album. Here we go!

So far it’s the Jesus Lizard setup, but like honestly why not emulate the Jesus Lizard. My download of this came with a PDF that I thought at first was random verses but I’m quickly realizing are the lyrics. This record is going to have a lot of lyrics! I love the reductionist element here, of having a phrase and just bashing it out while making its carry the rest of the song. It becomes trancelike and that’s a good space for a rock song to be in. It’s good stuff, and a good intro. I’m set on what to expect from the rest of this. Can’t ask for a lot else. Intro’s good too, just cutting off.

I suspect this is no longer a two person band. That first song is doable as a loop constructing exercise, but this one, not so much. The singer is feeling more and more like an emo singer as this goes on (I had an emo phase before you confuse that for a burn) and it’s an interesting approach. Another one of my favorite noise bands (White Suns) has a very emo approach to vocals. At the same time, I’m not sure how much it’s working in the songs? It’s having trouble punching through the instrumentation, which is either the production or the writing oh it’s over.

God, I love an overdriven bass. I need to play along with that in my own writing more. The structuring of these songs is really good, untraditional, noisy rock. I love that shit. Death to the verse chorus structure. At the same time, I’m still struggling with the vocalist, although as this song swells up he amps up nicely. I’d like more of that on here, but I imagine since this band’s been around since 97, what I am asking for is “their old records,” so, fair enough. I admire how coherent their walls of noise in these songs. That can be a hard thing to recreate on recording. I’ve failed at it more than a few times.

This one’s maybe a little on the nose for a record called “Bible Songs 1.” I don’t like this one so much. Like if we’re going to be unnerving with an unnerving topic, we owe it more attention than this. I’ll avoid bringing up the specific topic here cuz I dont know who’s reading but I’m dissatisfied with this one. It doesn’t help that they still go for a crescendo here because even if your intentions are dark, the crescendo is still too much of a rush and it undermines the intention here to me. Oh well.

Yeah I feel similarly on this song. I feel like this band has a style and a pastiche and they’re not like altering that at all for their topics. Unless they’re meaning to imply “all this stuff is the same topic at the end of the day,” it ends up feeling disrespectful towards their own songwriting, like the band comes to the lyricist with a song and the lyricist goes “uh ok well I have this”

Well, it’s not an ending ballad, but it’s pretty boring nonetheless. I appreciate that we’re ending in the same trance state songwriting, but it’s still feeling unrelated to the song itself. I do appreciate that it changes completely upon “I’m Coming For You,” which is I think the first time on the record that the lyricism and the music have worked together at all. The outro is very power metal out of nowhere, but considering the closing statement, it works.

= = =

So, they have a sound, and I’m sure their body of work covers broader ground than this, but I found this record to start in one gear, stay in that gear no matter the context, and end up crashing into shit on the points where it was the wrong gear. I’m not sure how this release fits in with the rest of their catalog, but if this is par, I'm not sure I'll look through the back catalog.

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Huh, I didn't know you liked noise rock. You might be able to tolerate the Teitanblood record after all. 

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Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race

I’m all over the place on my albums of the year. It’s kinda weird how my favorite songs are on albums I’m not nuts about. This one is consistent throughout, though. 

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8 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

If I hadn't picked Teitanblood I would've probably picked that one. Thanx bud

No prob. Every now and then I gotta live up to the second part of my name or they’ll just rename Harden Stan

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Relistened to Teitanblood.  It's good, but somehow too polished?  I don't really know how to say this, but I wish it was just a little uglier.  It's a little too gorgeous for me.  

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Posted (edited)

Well, it's not Seven Chalices, I'll give you that. My issue is the vocals which obscure more than they need to. On the plus side, this is the fastest material they've ever done -- and not the blasts, but the double-time thrash parts that sound like my favorite death/thrash bands when they really get pumping; Mutilator, Merciless and the like. 

The Blood Incantation is probably objectively better (especially compared to Starspawn) but I had to give it a nod. 

Honorable Metal Mentions go to: Twisted Tower Dire, Ares Kingdom, Vastum, Witch Vomit, Entombed A.D., Possessed, Hellripper, Devil Master, Haunt, Pentacle, Slough Feg, Impure, Doombringer, and more I'm forgetting

EDIT: Like the fucking awesome Cerebral Rot record

Edited by Curt McGirt

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23 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Well, it's not Seven Chalices, I'll give you that. My issue is the vocals which obscure more than they need to. On the plus side, this is the fastest material they've ever done -- and not the blasts, but the double-time thrash parts that sound like my favorite death/thrash bands when they really get pumping; Mutilator, Merciless and the like. 

The Blood Incantation is probably objectively better (especially compared to Starspawn) but I had to give it a nod. 

Honorable Metal Mentions go to: Twisted Tower Dire, Ares Kingdom, Vastum, Witch Vomit, Entombed A.D., Possessed, Hellripper, Devil Master, Haunt, Pentacle, Slough Feg, Impure, Doombringer, and more I'm forgetting

EDIT: Like the fucking awesome Cerebral Rot record

Best metal song of the year. By far.

I also loved Nasheim, Olhava, White Ward, Vehemence, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and the Hell / Primitive Man split.

also, I take it back, there’s one metal song that can rival “Give Me To The Night.”

 

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Fuck.  Forgot Murk Rider.  Almost put that one over Blood Incantation.  Would've been amusing to see a review of a three 30 minute long songs.  

But yes, objectively, the Blood Incantation is some of the best death metal I've heard in ages.  

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Alright, we're locked in now. Thanks again to everyone that contributes to this, I appreciate having the chance to talk about records at length because it helps me refine my own songwriting process. Entertaining y'all makes me better at my passion. It's a blessing to have this.

"well maybe if you wrote good songs you'd entertain people" alright jeff ross, cool it.

1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
3. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
4. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
5. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

I’m going to keep this one short: I have little exposure to David Berman’s catalog, and this record was the soundtrack to some of the most horrifying shit I’d ever went through. I don’t mind listening to it a second time, but, I’m not sure what all I’m going to be able to say about it. I’m definitely not going to talk about the lyrics at length because David Berman is known for his lyrics and rightly so- they’re all amazing on this record.

I love the intro of this record. It sets the tone pretty much immediately of everything that’s about to come, the opening credits music of one of the saddest records ever made. The chorus dropping the rhythm of the song is a pretty brilliant move as well, it makes the sentiment of the words feel different from the rest of the song, which they are.

This is a brilliant song. It’s two chords- maybe three- but the way everything is paced makes it feel like it’s gliding across the sky. The way the drums dip in and out of the mix while retaining the feeling of a rock song is tricky business. Holding the second bridge longer is a fantastic way to build tension, because when the next chord hits it feels like release without having to rely on anything but timing. No volume, no pedals, just a snare drum and a chord change.

Yeah the thing about the songwriting this record is that it’s just a case study in deft touches. If you have to do verse chorus structure, this is about as good as you can do on making those transitions not feel like the verses are the lead up to the logo treatment and are actually telling a story. A lot of choruses these days feel over developed and over clever. The focus on “the hook” eclipses the importance of making the rest of the song any good at all.

I don’t have a lot to say about this one. It’s a ballad and it’s well constructed enough but it doesn't change anything about how I feel about ballads. It at least has multiple instruments, resisting the temptation of ballads to pare down to as few instruments as possible like that’s inherently interesting.

This might be one of my favorite songs on the record. There’s a cruelty in the sound of it that you don’t often associate with acoustic guitars, and it perfectly sits with the lyrics and their anger.

See, I have a theory. American rock is influenced, above all else, by the open road. That’s why it’s possible to have the observation of music being good for driving, because Americans spend so much time doing it. As such, the momentum of rock songs feels like different kinds of roads, different kinds of speed limits. The hanging synth chords and the rhythm of the song are used here to excellent effect: they create a landscape of a small town which creates the small town Berman’s talking about in the song. This is the kind of thing I mean when I talk about instrument choice and song writing speaking to a central message of a song.

I would feel like a real piece of shit for saying anything about this song.

This is my other favorite song on the record. Death has visited my life a fucking lot, and only a few songs have worked to help me feel normal about that. This is one. Musically, every melody in this song perfect and memorable. There’s chords, but they’re the setup for every other phrase.

This is another song I relate to a lot. I appreciate that on the record this is one of the happier sounding songs, where it’s kind of an “aw shucks” approach to being caught in cognitive loops. On a related note, being a psychology student has resulted in me having the knowledge of like how to diagnose problems like cognitive loops and let me tell you- hasn’t helped. Anyways!  This song is a good bit of catharsis post-Slow Jam About The End. The convulsant guitar solo at the end adds a lot to the feeling of the song, as though it’s representing those storylines.

Look, I’m just going to make a quick point about the ending ballad thing. On this album, and on David Bowie’s Blackstar, there's no ending ballad. So, uh, stop doing that. This song feels like ending credits, like a revisiting of the intro with the newly gained information. “If no one’s fond of fucking me, maybe no one’s fucking fond of me” is a fucking amazing lyric, by the way. It’s a good song

= = =

RIP. Thanks for helping me last year. I’m sure you’ve helped a lot of people more than that.

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Alright so I'm gonna try to bust out the rest of these in the next week because i'm gonna be busy starting on the 20th. Something like one every other day is the plan.

1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
3. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
4. "Deceiver" by DIIV"
5. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
6. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

Okay, so, I remember the existence of the band DIIV, because they were in the pitchfork news cycle a LOT, and I remember there was some kind of controversy around them a few years ago. I listened to their first album, I dont remember anything on it, positive or negative. Although, to be fair, if I thought something positive about it then it would probably be in my music library, and it isn’t. Regardless, that was almost a decade ago, so lets see how I feel about DIIV in 2020.

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to alt-influenced indie rock that’s not Deerhunter so it’s weird to go back to that. I will say that the actual production is pretty great. It sounds very full without trying to force it into sounding like soaring pop stuff. The chords in the verse are really nice, even if that’s balanced by the obviousness of the chorus chords. Sometimes the obvious stuff works, though, and it’s doing OK here. The outro though is very, very good. The build is well timed and purposeful, and it earns the crescendo. Good opening song!

This is shoegaze adjacent. I have no idea if that’s new but it’s not what I associated with them. I’m actually going to ask a friend of mine if they remember if that’s how the band’s been. Anyways, I’m still enjoying the sound and the production. I’m going to look up the lyrics now. … yeah okay rock lyricism. I’ll say something about the lyrics again when I feel like I have something to say about them. Decent tune, a little slow.

I’m starting to worry this is the default speed of the record, and nothing’s going to get faster, which means it’s only going to get slower. Damn this musclehead brain of mine. I do appreciate that verse two is longer than verse one to make up for the time they had to spend establishing the phrases of the song. Again, the outro is very strong and well developed. They’re not untalented writers, but it’s starting to get a little samey.

The acoustic intro made me feel like “welp that’s what I get for opening my mouth, it’s ballad time.” At least we can hold off from that for a little bit. This song is a little different, it doesn’t feel as fuzzy and the guitars are sounding more like bells during the “chorus.” The outro also sounds different from the last few and that’s appreciated. This is probably my favorite song on here so far.

I’m finding myself with very little to say here. I’ve covered all the thoughts and emotions the record has elicited in me already, and we’re just kind of stuck there. At the moment, this record is fine, but I’ve been fighting to keep my mind from wandering which is not the best sign. This is the first song where the crescendo has felt trite, like it’s just the rest of the song Plus Gain. Maybe the other songs had the same kind of outro, but maybe they were nuanced enough that I didn’t notice.

Every time the songs start quiet I’m like terrified it’s ballad time. I have even less to say than I had last time. I’m at least learning that “loud” is not enough for me by itself. There’s a brief frequency cut in the outro that’s like a beat drop, and that was a cool sound.

OH MY GOD FASTER RHYTHM. It’s an immediate breath of fresh air from what the album’s been, by both pushing the shoegaze stuff down and speeding the pace up. If this song was sooner on the record it would have been nice but it’s a relief regardless. This is my new favorite song on here.

Aaaaand ballad time. Granted this is more power ballad than just regular old ballad thanks to the return of the shoegaze elements. Weirdly, by being so much slower it also ends up feeling like a relief from the rest of the album. So it’s good that there’s a ballad, but like the last song, it might have worked better if it happened a single track sooner. Like, imagine if side B of this record starts with the last song and then this song. Oh well. And don’t think I haven’t noticed the last song is 7 minutes long. By the way my friend just got back to me and yes, DIIV has always been kinda shoegazey, so good to know.

MORE FAST SONGS HOLY SHIT. Yeah okay Side B of this record is a lot better than Side A. This track specfically feels almost Pinback-y thanks to the low toned chords. Also it turns out this song, while still being Rock Lyricism Deluxe, is at least about a thing. Maybe if there was a time to stop the moaning singing it would be while talking about the coal industry, because otherwise it just kind of sounds like adapting a current event into your outline. That’s just me though. It’s still fast and good and well written.

The Metal Bass Intro makes me think we’re gonna do a slow build and not necessary an ending ballad which will be nice. The Japanese in the chorus made me laugh. I’m starting to think we’re not gonna be speeding up, but instead just stretching out the crescendo extra long. It’s a choice. Still, not technically a ballad, just kind of an underwhelming ending in it’s own way.

= = =

If this was an EP that was just Side B, this would be amazing. Unfortunately the sameiness of the first half of the record sours how the record should end. If you start with a bunch of big monoliths, the ending is just Another Big Monolith, no matter how much bigger you try to make it. Ultimately, it’s fine, and really well produced.

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I think I was supposed to put this up yesterday? Eh, it'll be fine.

  1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
  2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
  3. "The Baneful Choir" by Teitanblood
  4. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
  5. "Deceiver" by DIIV"
  6. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
  7. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

My googles of Teitanblood have only caused me to learn one thing: I am not sure I know what “extreme metal” signifies. My hope is that it’s metal but more extreme. My fear is that it’s metal but for people who drink energy drinks and use “tite” in their texts. I’m pretty sure it’s the first one. This week I’ve been listening to pretty much exclusively banda and dark industrial, so I think I’m in a good enough mindset. Here we go!

Pretty good atmosphere noises! Hard to know what to say about it until I know the scene it’s trying to set but just going off the album cover it’s working well enough for me. The arrival of the drums before the transition is perfect.

I'm into this. I know we're on our way to doublebass town eventually but we could stay here at this rhythm for at least this song. Why rush? The cymbals are loud as hell, and the only clean thing on the record. Alright, I'm loving the slow building here, it speaks of an awareness of pacing and I appreciate that. The more chaotic that it gets the more that I like it. I dont remember if I said this last year or the year before, but one of the things that bums me out about metal is how much a lot of it relies on playing a single melody with some occasional counterpoint. I get it's a hallmark of the sound, but you can play around with it more than most bands seem to want to. The moments of chaos on this song are an example of that: it helps it stand out. these two songs back to back are a great introduction to a record.

And then immediately chaos! Perfect! The production here does an excellent job of subverting tropes like beat drops by making them sound mutated. So do their tempo changes; by placing them at points where pop structure suggests a crescendo it pulls the song ahead in time. (Before anyone yells, I use Pop Structure to refer to western song structure post-recording industry. I know this is not a pop album, just like you know this isn't an orchestral score.) The production done to the drums really make the double bass less intrusive than it can be on a lot of metal records, while still letting it keep the pace up. This is really smartly produced AND well written so far.

They're very good at using surprise in their timing. What I mean is when they're writing, they're putting their accents in unusual spots, maybe an eight of a beat off. That's what's making those two notes in the middle of the verses pull away from the rest of the song so distinctly. This is a fun record for me to listen to because there's like spots where I'm hearing all the theoretical grounding, and then other spots where I just kinda give up and go "oooh". I imagine they have a hell of a time getting this to sound right live, but on record it's a good time. Oh, uh, I figure this is as good a time as any to mention this, but I've got nothing to say about the lyrics so far, under my well established Rock Lyricism clause.

I both appreciate the lack of time between songs and wish there's an actual break coming cuz I forgot to get some water before I sat down. I'm waiting to hear where this one's going (since it's six minutes) but at the moment this is the first song that's yet to really catch my ear with anything structurally. It's not a bad song, but it's lost the element of surprise. At the same time it's fair enough, they packed a bunch of really solid ones into the start and it's unfair to be like "NO SUBVERT A GENRE ON EVERY SONG GOSH."

Now that I have retrieved water, let's start this one over again! I'm interested to hear ambient-into-ambient, or if the next song is just a one minute sprint. Either way, it's keeping up the ambiance of the record, which I figure is the main way to analyze ambiance's use on a record unless it's the point of the record.

I appreciate that it's a rough continuation of the last ambient track. Clearly these two songs are the bookend between the sides on the vinyl and I appreciate the hell out of that.

The slow intro of the title track is appropriate. It reminds me vaguely of Beyond the Black Rainbow's soundtrack, or at least how that soundtrack made me feel. When the guitars join and mimick the other melody it at least makes sense considering that this is the centerpiece of the record. See, I don't object to that approach Period, I just thing it can serve a thematic purpose and to use it all of the time is to remove that tool from your toolbox for the sake of tradition. Similar to how the beat drop is used at the outro! By making it a complete seperation from the song it has a much more dramatic impact than ending every song with a beat drop.

And, when you make the centerpiece of the record a drone on a single phrase, the return to the blastbeats feels that much more distinct of a change of pace. That said, it's a good song but I feel like I've run out of things to say about this record at this point.

While I'm in the same boat on this song, I do appreciate the return to the more classic style of metal songwriting near the end, because it feels like a bookend to the record, thus leaving the climax room to be something else.

Ending Ambiance doesn't count as Ending Ballad. I'm sure if I connected more to the lyrics this would be a more impactful moment but I found that difficult. It still suits the mood of the record, however.
= = =
Overall, a good time! I don't think it's about to make a convert of anyone that doesn't enjoy metal, but there was enough ingenuity in the songwriting to keep me engaged throughout. The production was also well suited for the record, although I have to admit that there were a few times that the clean tones on the cymbals made me chuckle, like a set of miniature bells being flung around a hurricane. Good stuff.

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Well that was certainly detailed. Glad you liked it! I think #3 is high as I'll ever get in these yearlies so I'll take it whether it slides up or down. 

As far as the band themselves go, it's two guys from Madrid (NSK and J) primarily with session members. They've been around since 2003 and have two prior LPs, Seven Chalices and Death (a double LP) and several EPs that are all extremely fucking long with 11-15 minute songs. They got more into the ambient stuff as they went along, I don't care for it all that much though I don't actively oppose it, it just seems unnecessary at times. Lyrics are your Morbid Angel-y Lovecraftian weirdness. Seven Chalices in particular is one of my favorite death metal albums of the last 20 years and that covers a lot of ground. Here's their Bandcamp: https://teitanblood.bandcamp.com/

fc67_1.jpg

Oh, and as far as "extreme metal" goes, that's just a Record Label Term for when they don't want to use black metal, death metal, etc. IMO. Poseur talk. 

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I'm shocked that my pick is still #1, but it was a pretty good fucking album 😎

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You know, I forgot all about the usage of "Extreme Metal" as a term by our friend Sam Dunn in his Metal Evolution series. In that case I think he was extrapolating to cover a variety of topics. In anyone else's case, it's a desire to do same but also add easy compartmentalization for commercial usage. In said cases it's pretty close to calling a horror movie a "psychological thriller" -- you don't want to call something what it is because the sale value might decrease due to perceived bias. 

Re: Sam Dunn, the man may be misguided but he is a scholar, and a real fan, and here is his "Extreme Metal". Which btw was still dropped by VH1 due to content, so I suppose commercial interest only goes so far haha... it's fine until he starts talking up new Enslaved. 

 

 

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Two left!

  1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
  2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
  3. "The Baneful Choir" by Teitanblood
  4. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
  5. "Deceiver" by DIIV"
  6. "i,i" by Bon Iver
  7. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
  8. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

I know who Bon Iver is. I'll keep this brief: I liked For Emma, I hated the self-titled at first, I LOVED 22 A Million so much that I went back to the self-titled and ended up liking it, and I've already listened to this record once and ended up feeling like it was the middle point between the self-titled and 22 A Million, and maybe if they'd come out in that order people would be less mad at 22 A Million, but maybe that would've been a less exciting record in general. So! Time for listen #2.

The intro is a neat series of sounds and it's half a minute. I do appreciate the "Are we recording" bit in the intro...

...because when the song rises from the intro it makes it feel like a contiguous event being interrupted by a recording effort, and that's a neat feeling to start a record with. As for the song, we're at this weird point where indie rock is pretty well dead and so there's a canon to play around with, specifically with the mixture of club sounds, orchestras and folk. This song feels like a collage of those disparate moments of the last like 20 years.

In retrospect this might be the Maximalist Bon Iver record, since it has pretty much all of the aspects of his old works but Lots (with the notable exception of the vocal modulation). His falsetto is so strange, and it's gonna be sad when it goes.

It's hard to pick out theory stuff to analyze in these songs because for a lot of them the phrase isn't around long enough to center it against the rest of the song's context. This one's an exception, where the staccato notes suggest the same impermenance that I think the lyrics are suggesting. I say "I think" because, if you've not listened to Bon Iver before, it's worth noting his approach to lyricism is obfuscation and density ahead of cogent, easy ideas. He wants to make impressionistic puzzles to make listeners decode his songs. I understand the approach, but that means I'm not going to have like accurate decoding of what he's going for a lot of the time.

Ballad! At least Bon Iver ballads have elaborating phrases in non-trite ways, but it's still kind of dull listening for me, and I feel it's kind of a dull sentiment. But, hey, he thought it was worth a song, so go for it I guess.

I thought this song was kind of corny the first time I heard it, and that analysis has survived. It's one of the most traditional songs he's put out and attached to that is some generic "we are the world" "gotta make it better" stuff which feels like... well, I wont get into what it reminds me of because this place ain't built for that. Bottom line, hard to take this song seriously.

This one too strikes me as kind of corny, as an extention of what the last song was thematically. It's a decent enough selection of chords and his sense of melody is good, but there's something about the sudden political awakening that's unnerving to me. Regardless, it's a fine tune that's maybe a little broad.

This is a ballad but it's noisy and dissonant so that works for me. Again, Bon Iver is good for the ballad stuff because he takes the slower opportunities to focus on unusual instruments and arrangements, instead of just breaking out the grand piano and acoustic guitar.

Yeah okay I had forgotten this record made my eyes roll this often. The songwriting is good but there's something about the lyricism that's exhausting this go-round. Maybe it's an overinflated need to be poignant? I mean I can't be mad if that's what was on his line, but it's not a thing he's good at and so it makes this a tense listen for me.

More ballads. There's a gospel tint to this record that I think might be central in my unnervedness (I dont think that's a word). It feels borrowed and since the things it's being borrowed to do are corny it colors the record strangely. There's still flashes of his talent for writing and ingenuity in instrument choice, but the foundation of it isn't working for me.

The staccato returns on this song, and feels like a revisiting of the panic from earlier on the record, but with the faith talked about in the last songs it surfaces in the chorus as like an idea of having this faith as a tool to deal with the new scary aspects of the world. This is probably the best song on the record, both in the writing and how it pays off of the rest of the pieces set up earlier on the record.

Ballad. Apparently improvised by the description. For people who don't know, the song is called "Sh'Diah" which is an abbreviation for "Shittiest Day In American History" which is supposed to be a reference to the day after the 2016 election. While I wasn't a fan, that cannot possibly be the shittiest day in american history, and that's kind of central to why the lyricism on this record doesn't sit well with me; it speaks to this awakening of the neutral who suddenly realizes "oh no things are bad" and still has this underdeveloped ahistorical sense of what to do about the things what are bad other than vague platitudes and the sharing of. It's dull.

ENDING BALLAD. 😖  Again, at least it's instrumentally complicated and dense, but the song is meant to be reassuring and to follow "the shittiest day in american history" with "well hey at least we have these good things" is weak.

= = =

So like... it's well made? It's full of dense and interesting phrases and structure, but the content of the lyrics curdles the record for me. I don't know what the right answer is to change that. I guess I'll say that I understand how this can be someone's album of the year, but I didn't like it. Maybe it's just an even numbered album curse or something.

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The penultimate!

  1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
  2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
  3. "The Baneful Choir" by Teitanblood
  4. "Animated Violence Mild" by Blanck Mass
  5. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
  6. "Deceiver" by DIIV"
  7. "i,i" by Bon Iver
  8. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
  9. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

I know Blanck Mass, kind of. I definitely listened to their prior record a single time. I know they're built out of some other act I should know about. I'm doing my googles... okay it's one of the Fuck Buttons guys. Alright. Anyways, I tried that record because I'm a Sacred Bones Record fanboy and thought it was OK and didn't keep it or buy it. I remember the intro of it very well because it starts with just a big loud sound blast, but past that, nothing. And now, the second Blanck Mass record (that i've heard, there may be more records of this and i dont know about em).

The onset of synths in the intro track is good, and the crescendo that starts track 2 works. The song is developing nicely, developing into an attempt at an epic. Oh, I guess there's going to be lyrics. I'll go look into that. There's missing lyrics on the page I found. The vocals are kind of screamo/black metal adjacent. I dunno, it's a fun tune. There's something about the mix that feels off. Like, they're making enough space for everything but it's had this weird effect of making a hollow where something should be, since all the parts have to exist in anticpation of an additional element being added later.

The transition between songs is good. The introduction of the bass line?? is very Factory Records. I remember thinking the last record was also sorta Big Loud New Order-y. The gradual build makes sense in an electronic music sense but I'm maybe a little wary that the entire record is going to be that. Fun fact: most lyric sites list this song as being instrumental, which is not actually true. GOSH. Anyways, this song is super distorted New Order stuff which is not exactly my thing but it's well done. The mix still feels odd to me. It feels mixed somewhat like a hip-hop record, where the recordings of the synth elements have considerable mid cuts on it, but because they're turned up so loud it ends up creating this kind of artificial full sound, as it brings the mids down to the level of the highs and then pushes it all up.

Man, the transitions on this record are killer. And it has the sense to go from quiet to just full loud instead of wearing out the slow build technique. It's a decent tune, and it totally fits with the rest of the record. I'm kind of out of things to say about it at this point. It's like an EDM record for old mallgoth kids.

Again with the killer transitions, and even less preamble than last time. This song, more than the last few, betrays the downer pop rock aspirations of the project. The hook sounds like an MCR hook. There's nothing wrong with that, and I kind of appreciate the earnestness here of just like Being This Record. It would be really easy to make something like this that was more derivative and safe and radio-ready, and Blanck Mass is hanging onto both worlds here by making stuff in ostensibly pop formats but with his own sculpting of sounds instead of focus tests. This is my favorite song on here so far.

That was kind of the least impressive of the transitions, but man that's like four consecutive brilliant ones. An OK one is perfectly acceptable. This intro reminds me of No Quarter. Oh, this is like this record's version of a ballad, huh? I was wondering if there'd be a quiet/slow song on here at any point. This is a perfectly timed change of pace. The writer has a real savvy with the structuring of this whole album that I find enviable.

Speaking of changes of pace and also weird New Order-ness, this song! I'm guessing that since this is going full 80s pop structure, the last song will be the last slow build track on the record. I do appreciate how long all these songs are. It speaks to a confidence in the songs. Maybe I'll try writing something like this, where the first verse happens without vocals whatsoever, just as a long build to the hook. Someone trying to make it into the market at this point would fill this song to capacity with platitudes, but I prefer the patience of more sound.

Welp, that prediction was wrong. We're going out with controlled demolition. It's not working for me though- the rest of the album has spent so much time going for Epic that it feels like a rehash. I caught myself yawning.

= = =

This is a hard thing to rate. On one hand, I found it repetitive and emotionally unaffecting. On the other hand, it's undeniably well made for what it is, and it gave me ideas for my own songwriting. I'm going to say the inspiration gives it the edge over Lizzo, but only just.

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Thank you again for humoring this creative exercise. It means a lot to me, especially that it's so well received. I hope we can continue to do this for years to come.

Also, I'll be posting my own top ten in this thread in a few days for anyone who may happen to be curious.

Also, thanks for not making me listen to that Tool record, for now I never will and shall be better for it.

  1. "When I Get Home" by Solange
  2. "Purple Mountains" by Purple Mountains
  3. "The Baneful Choir" by Teitanblood
  4. "Hidden History of the Human Race" by Blood incantation
  5. "Animated Violence Mild" by Blanck Mass
  6. "Cuz I Love You" by Lizzo
  7. "Deceiver" by DIIV"
  8. "i,i" by Bon Iver
  9. "Bible Songs 1" by The Austerity Program
  10. "Jade Bird" by Jade Bird

I know nothing about Blood Incantation. Like several metal bands in my life, I only looked them up in the preparation of the christmas drive playlist for the trip my brother and I take. I tend to choose the shortest song for the mix, and that happens to be the intro song here, but hand to god I remember nothing about it. Google says it’s a death metal band. When I was having my metal phase it was mostly death and thrash, so lets see how we do!

Lol. Okay so of course this record would just start but I just took a second to like get water and brace myself and immediately BANG. First impression is that it’s more melodic than the death stuff I was fucking with back then, but that was a while ago so maybe my memory’s just bad. It’s changing shape a lot, which I remember as part of the deal. Those transitions are maybe a little overcomposed at times? Like, there’s a difference in writing where you’re doing something because it feels like the right thing to do, and then there’s transitions that you do because your theory training says this is valid or this is how to articulate a certain sensation. There’s a mix of both kinds of transitions here- I find when they’re transitioning into blast beats or between blast beats its less composed and specific, and when it’s shifting between melodic phrases or key changes they’re making sure to drop that key change on whatever note would be the most obvious signifier of the key change. It’s not incorrect, but it’s jarring to me. 90% of listeners aren’t going to notice. The playing is very good however, so that does a lot for their aspirations in composition. I’d dwell on the impatience of their transitions but I know the last track is 16 minutes so I suspect I’ll have a chance to see how they treat the opposite.

This intro is veering on the edge of progressive death metal. When the verses start there’s an amazing chord stuck in there that feels like some yawning machine denying an input, and since it’s called “The Giza Power Plant” I’m going to give it bonus points for that. (I don’t actually score records.). The breakdown portion is the most I’ve enjoyed this record for. They have a talent for elaboration on a theme that their rapid transitions was smothering on the previous song. Granted, this song is also reminding me of Nile, which was my shit in my death metal phase, so that’s sure helping a lot. Even so, beautifully written, even if the transition back to the verse is more of the “HERE’S THE KEY CHANGE” stuff. The section after the key change is great too, because it’s given time to articulate and pick up nuance and menace. For as much as the intro put me off, the rest of the song steadily improved from good to great. Also, the brief synthesizer sounds in this record make me genuinely curious as to if they bring keys with them or if that’s just raw post production.

Signs point to this song being instrumental so I’m going to take a quick moment and say that I’m not going to say anything about the lyrics on this record under my Rock Lyricism Clause.  They match the record, I don’t find them worth decoding or mulling over. When the song rises into existence from the ambiance, it’s a solid metal jam track. It just goes to show that their ability to build a theme into something larger is an incredible tool of theirs, and in this song that ability to keep the development going through their key changes is a testament to how good they are at that. When the song turns to blast beats it feels genuinely ominous and disruptive, which is exactly the intention.

Okay if we’re starting the 18 minute song with blastbeats I am maybe a little concerned about where this is going. The key changes continue to be jarring. Okay I have to say a thing about the lyricism real quick because I’m looking at this while I listen to the song and here is a potential truth as to what bothers me about metal lyricism. It feels like the lyrics are written as some kind of attempt at prophesying, like they’re trying to artificially give the ideas meaning and weight through peculiar phrasing, which I find is not how communication works. I dunno. Maybe I’m the weird one for trying to communicate explicitly. Anyways, the arrival at the ambient portion is welcome, and the return of the instrumentation is full of the overcomposed transitions that have been winding in and out of the record to this point. I’d be starting to fatigue if I didn’t know this was the end of the record. The second beat break giving way to a third beat break is a fascinating way to end the record, given that the topic of the last song is mostly about ascension from human understanding. Even if I’m skeptical of the existence of such a thing, the peeling away of chaos to reveal beauty and then further beauty is perfectly in theme with what they’re talking about.

= = =

I thought this was a pretty good record. There are moments of genuine, awe inspiring beauty, where they’re attempting to grow a brief musical phrase into an enormous towering sound. Those are excellent. At the same time, there’s also several points at which it feels like the composers are far too concerned with what is theoretically achievable, to the degree that it makes the music feel a little algorithmic it’s so programmed. Much like Teitanblood, this isn’t going to convert anyone to metal, but it’s a good enough time on its own.

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Their previous album Starspawn really didn't do much for me. It sounded like a lot of the current trend in death metal which is "cavernous" or basically Incantation worship, which would be fine if any of the bands sounded half as good as Incantation instead of just lazy and boring. The last track on that album showed the spark of their more progressive style on this record which is thankfully ALL OVER this record. It almost feels like a tale of two bands. 

I keep third place!!! *dances*

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6 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

I keep third place!!! *dances*

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I saw part of that on TV the other day and so was calling Bobby Lashley "Booby" all night last night.

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