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Sign Of The Southern Cross – …Of Mountains and Moonshine (Season of Mist 2009)
Sweat-stained and bourbon-soaked, this album sure knows what it’s on about. The sound is fat, humid and dirty is all the right places. SIGN OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS never lets the listener suffer too long from heat exhaustion either. Songs like “Weeping Willow” are as soothing as night air through a screen door on the hottest day of the year. I seriously dig this album, mosquitoes and all.
Korpiklaani – Karkelo (Nuclear Blast 2009)
I saw KORPIKLAANI with TYR, WHITE WIZZARD and SWASHBUCKLE at the Opera House on January 10th, and holy hell was it a good show. Every time I listen to Karkelo, I vividly recall being showered with beer, having my ribs crushed, and being hit in the face with a headbanger’s dreadlocks. I might love this album a little more than I should. I’m okay with that.
Dying Fetus – Descend Into Depravity (Relapse Records 2009)
I really, really wish I had something pithy and succinct and witty to say about this album. I wish I was inspired to talk about the beefiness of the sound, the quality of the production, or the tension that builds in my neck muscles as I listen. Instead, the 17-year-old boy who seems to have taken over my brain cannot resist pointing out that the cover art looks exactly like it should grace the box of a GTA-esque video game. Doesn’t it seem perfect for a murderous sandbox shooter? Also, John Gallagher sounds exactly like Nathan Explosion.
Persona Non Grata – Shade In The Light (Sensory 2009)
I like the progressive sound and the dominant keys that characterize Shade In The Light, but the vocals leave me quite cold. I wanted to sink into this album, relax into it fully, but kept coming up against a wall when it came to the voice.
Nirvana 2002 – Recordings 89-91 (Relapse Records 2009)
This is all there is, all that exists, of the “other” Nirvana.
I have a box in my room that is full of chapbooks, broadsheets, pamphlets. These small printed artifacts, stories and poems, line drawings and comics, were all produced by Canadian micropresses. Most of the owners and operators of these presses are my friends. They made things because they loved to, often just with their home printers and photocopiers and long-necked staplers, and once they had sold or given away the print run (100 or 50 or 25 or 10 copies), they usually couldn’t afford to make any more. I hold this box of ephemera among my most precious possessions. It is possible that some of the things I have are the only copies that still exist in the world.
This album is the musical equivalent to that silly, invaluable pile of paper I keep moving with me each place I go. This is ephemera in the truest sense of the word – an album made from recordings of rehearsals, live performances, demos. The sound is as fuzzy and degraded as any third-hand photocopy. This collection of all there is left to hear by NIRVANA 2002 is a monument to impermanence, a reminder that, every now and again, something that might have disappeared completely can be saved.
Death Angel –Sonic German Beatdown Live in Germany (Nuclear Blast 2009)
As someone who is inevitably drawn to lyrics, vocals are always terribly important to me. If the voice doesn’t do it for me, the album is probably going to leave me cold, regardless of the quality of the rest of the music. Live albums can be tricky for me as a result, since the vocals tend to suffer outside a studio environment. Happily, this could not be further from the truth on Sonic German Beatdown Live. Mark Osegueda’s voice kicks ass recorded on an outdoor stage.
Weapon – Drakonian Paradigm (AJNA 2009)
Sometimes what strikes me most about an album is the way my body reacts to it, especially when I am not paying attention. Sometimes I find myself outside, walking around my neighbourhood at a quick-march; sometimes I pace the hallway fretfully; sometimes I really want to punch something. Sometimes my legs unconsciously shake; sometimes my head bobs; sometimes my hands convulsively clench and relax. And sometimes I just find myself just giving up and sitting in the bathtub. This album, however, left me at a loss – my body did not know what to do, how to react. There is a buzz, and itch in my muscles, that isn’t easily placed or assuaged. I felt caught between the need to be perfectly still and tear a building down.
Mayhem – Ordo Ad Chao (Season of Mist 2007)
Lily the Pirate: “What is this?”
Lily the Pirate: “Huh.” *reads the copy on the sleeve* “Apparently this album ‘spits on you, rapes you.’”
Me: “And ‘leaves you rotting.’”
Lily the Pirate: “Mayhem: they’ll totally shit in your eyes.”
Culted – Below The Thunders Of The Upper Deep (Relapse Records 2009)
How ugly. How perfectly, perfectly ugly.
Urgehal – Urgehal (Season of Mist 2009)
There’s a separateness to each aspect of this album. I was aware of each instrument, including Nefas’ voice, as a distinct entity as I listened. This gives the album’s sound an unexpected sense of friction, a granular texture—and a strange sense of loneliness.