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The Bureaucrat’s Top Ten of 2013, Best Songs, and Disappointments of the Year

It’s that time of year for me; I like waiting until the very, very last minute before I write these just to snag a chance of listening to any albums that sneak their way into the current year.  Last year, I had my mind fairly made up by December 1; this year was completely different.  There was so very, very much to enjoy.  Without further ado:

10. Anciients – Heart of Oak: I love the Vancouver, BC/NW US metal scene.  It’s amazing, and Anciients did absolutely nothing to disappoint on their first full release.  Alternatively, heavy and melodic, the band’s efforts are wholly rewarding (Review).

9. Black Crown Initiate – Song of the Crippled Bull: A damn fine approach from the PA metal band.  This was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year simply for its desire to push past the conventions and build something of their own.  I’m looking forward to their full release (Review).

8. Scorned Deity – Adventum: Operatic, tense, seething, and soothing, Scorned Deity’s release this year hit me like “Into the Nightside Eclipse.”  Their brand of metal evokes an Emperor with refined American sensibilities (Review).

7. Leprous – Coal: Ever evolving, Leprous hits you with their sounds from every different direction.  This is a heavy, dark album that never quite gets too over the top in tone or strength.  “Coal” marks their steps away from Ihsahn and his solo career and into their own light (Review).

6. Witherscape – The Inheritance: What do you get when you mix old school early 80s heavy metal with death/doom?  This.  Witherscape’s release this year was a wonderful joyride composed of nostalgia and awesomeness.  I loved nearly every minute of it; though Dead for a Day brought it down a few notches here (Review).

5. Deafheaven – Sunbather: An album I had to experience alone and think over to truly understand, Sunbather is a wail of textured noise and fury centered around a nearly ironic and idealistic view of the American dream.  The band executes to near perfection metal gaze sounds, and seems to be reaching for an answer to the questions of what happens to the children when things fall apart (Review).

4. Gorguts – Colored Sands: A concept album about the plight of Tibet?  Yes.  It’s beautifully done, well written, pensive, violent, and all those myriad things that go with such an emotionally charged subject (Review).

3. Katatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned: When I first saw this, I didn’t take it seriously.  I’d just seen the band live and their metal sets from Dead End Kings was spot on, tight, and heavy.  But, this remastering worked.  It’s very nearly better than the original album, shedding a far more vulnerable light toward melancholy than their heavier approaches (Review).

2. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen: I believe this album will be looked back by those that have only considered it as its basest level and be viewed as a landmark experimental creation.  Unlike Ihsahn, who typically takes ideas from his previous albums, rephrases them and then moves forward from there, this album seeks to create something that stands right next to Eremita instead of after it.  Beautiful from start until finish, this is genuinely one of most introspective albums of the year (Review).

1. The Fall of Every Season – Amends: A genuine, beautiful and bright album, The Fall of Every Season’s lyrical themes, musical qualities, and generally powerful scale made it stand out from the other albums released this year.  Heavy when it needs to be, fragile when it reveals itself to the listener, The Fall of Every Season truly made a magnificent piece of work (Review).

For my stat nerd self, here’s the break down of nationality: 3 bands from Norway, 2 from Sweden, 2 from Canada, and 2 from the U.S.

Best Non-Metal Albums of the Year:

Bruce Soord with Jonas Renske’s Wisdom of Crowds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away

Ghost’s Infestissumaum (sorry, this was Prog Rock, not metal).

Best Songs of the Year:

Biggest Disappointments of 2013:

No new Cynic album (yay! 2014); The Ocean’s Pelagial; Steven Wilson’s “The Raven that Refused to Sing”

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Geek, Inspiration, Music, Reviews

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: The Fall of Every Seasons’ “Aurelia” from “Amends” (2013)

This is the most beautiful song from this wondrous album.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Art, Music

 

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Weekly Music Review: The Fall of Every Season’s “Amends” (2013)

The Fall of Every Season - Amends

 

This band struck me completely unaware.  I had no inkling as to their existence, until I saw this album’s art on the Amazon March Metal sale page.  I’ve come to understand through the recent years that the better the art the more likely I am to enjoy the band in question.  The Fall of Every Season is an atmospheric metal band from Norway whose career to this point I am wholly unfamiliar, and this album, “Amends,” sent me scrambling to Dark Lyrics to judge their songwriter’s abilities.

The Fall of Every Season walks down a similar path to Opeth, blending acoustic, clean passages with doom and death metal styles to craft their atmosphere; however, the use of classic rock elements and jazz fusion moments are not found here.  Generally, melodic progression is similar; however, if this is even possible, The Fall of Every Season’s sound is so densely packed that it took me three weeks to truly get through to the point where I felt a review was sensible.  Without listening to the album, I believe that is as close to defining the music crafted here.

Designed as a concept with no explanation, “Amends” opens with movement, albeit with little energy.  A jangling bass chugs in after a sample of train station sounds crafting this feeling of movement well.  The acoustic seems to accentuate the knocking sounds from a train ride as the vehicle’s wheels amble down its track.  I concur with the Angry Metal Guy review in which “Sole Passenger” is quiet probably the most engaging of tracks.  Once that song comes on, I have yet to not be able to listen to the entire album, which quickly roars in to “The Mammoth” thereafter with its heavy and focused pummeling riffs.

Strand’s voice is clear, ranging from deep, bellowing roars to his fragile, nearly bardic clean singing voice.  The best example of this is “Aurelia,” a hauntingly beautiful and warm song in which the trade off between harsh and gentle are perfectly juxtaposed.  To wit, this is the best song and example, in my opinion, of the band (and was noted on the fan page on facebook as being the most stand alone of the songs).  The variation, and focus, of the use of each instrument’s sound and its exact timing in the composition is stunningly executed, developing from the intended melancholic mood yet creating a warmth in entire piece.

The most obvious flaw of the work is the mix: at times when the music is immensely layered, my ear struggled to pick out the subtlety that Strand had interjected in this album.  Though this flaw can be easily be overlooked, it does create a touch of a disconnect at points from this tapestry (yes, that’s the best analogy I have for this album).  If Strand’s music, which pounds with its death metal in restraint, its doom metal moments never fell quite so pitch black and its account moments emphasize mellow fragility, is comparable to any one project (if not in a direct sound analogue), it would be Alcest.  This is a reinvigoration of this death/doom mix that has become so played out that even those that forged its sound are beginning to distance themselves from it.  This album is bittersweet in its melancholy; it remembers the warmth and develops it well.  Overall, if you consider yourself a music fan at all, you should listen to this album.

An open note to Mr Strand: Please, do not make those of us that found this beautiful piece of work wait six years for another glimpse of your creativity.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Geek, Music, Reviews

 

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