So while every one is doing their top 10 lists of the year, i thought why not do it myself just for fuck sake. Obviously some of you will differ to my opinion so what! Deal with it!
Starting off with number 10
#10 Altered States - Tesseract
Well to start off I am one of those buggers who will prefer Dan Tompkins any day over Ashe with Tesseract. No offence to Ashe but he had some pretty big shoes to fill in given that the vocal duties before him were handled by Elliot Coleman. Maybe Coleman’s reign over the vocal duties was short lived but that guy has so much potential that can be seen here. After Coleman’s departure I was kinda skeptical as to what way the band will go with the new vocalist. But with the release of their single Nocturne i was blown away by Ashe’s vocal melodies. Metaphorically speaking Ashe’s vocals felt like molten gold with a texture of supreme quality honey.
#9 Ghost B.C. - Infestissumam
I am not much into this Satan spawned anti Christ kind of music, coz they’ve kinda ran out of lyric writing topics years ago. But the mysterious Swedish metal outfit formerly known as Ghost went all out in their refreshing brand of heresy with this record. And trust me when i say this you mix old school plus Satan inspired lyrics and its a sure shot turn off for me. But with high skilled musicianship and most importantly quality production much which lacks in the formerly mentioned style, this album was full of win. Infestissumam delivers a handful of hooks you won’t escape and a few zingers that’ll make you smile. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen is the record’s eight-minute centerpiece. Also got to be my favorite track off the record. It’s heavily laid with sing along vocal melodies, on tracks such as Monstrance Clock (or rather Monsters Cock), Secular Haze and Per Aspera Ad Inferi. And talk about their appearance, after Slipknot and then Mudvayne (early years) this is my next favorite masked band. They have cultivated a sterling, alluring persona of subversion and symbolism. Their leader is a papal parody named Papa Emeritus II, who comes cloaked in inverted crosses and a sinister skeletal mask. He’s flanked by five Nameless Ghouls dressed in matching black uniforms that suggest Darth Vader using the force to infiltrate and overrun the Catholic Church. So much so that the band started a facebook campaign for Papa Emiritus II, as the new pope.
#8 Desecration - Halahkuh
I first saw them in February earlier this year, my band was just playing before them. I had never seen or even heard of them before that. Until now we had a little chat and jolly time pre gig but when these men got on stage they were monsters. I was instantly a fan. Later that night bought their EP from them and gave it a spin the next day. It’s a 4-track EP with the opening intro track Ordeal which leads you into a monster track which feature Shashank Bhatnagar (Undying Inc.) on vocals, and it is a much known fact among Indian metalheads what sort of (m)animal this guy is. This is some down right trash music which sounds like its much drawn inspiration is from bands like Slayer, Pantera etc. The riff feeds you with raw energy fully complementing the vocal power of Shashank and Prakhar.
The next track is called Possessed, Strangulated and Enslaved. The track kicks in with a powerful scream and heavy thrash riffs which if was to be described in graphical form would be
You get what i mean don’t you!
#7 Invasion - Devoid
Devoid are one of the pioneers of Death/Thrash Metal in India. Formed in the decade where Heavy Metal was still in its infant stages, Devoid has grown to become veterans in the genre which was long underrepresented in the country. This is EP is the typical Devoid stuff with it’s angry energetic guitar-work, heart pounding drums and down right no bullshit thrash metal attitude. Though it got mixed reactions from its fans, where some called it the bands best work yet and some differed as to saying that they have gone mainstream metalcore on this one. Well i was in the first lot this created a lot of friction over the internet in the Indian metal community which went on for months.
Personally i have been a huge Devoid fans in over years now. Getting back to the Ep, It tells you a story of (stating the obvious) an invasion on our planet by extra terrestrials. Sounds like an Independence Day/Mars Attack kind of plot, doesn’t it? But do not be fooled this album will make you feel the depth of the catastrophe and put you in the place where your brains are about to be eaten (not really), it brings you to the brink of destruction until you acquire The Brahma Weapon. The highlight of this record.
"The Brahma Weapon"; according to Indian mythology, it is one of the most destructive weapons ever known to mankind. Created by Brahma himself, it is equivalent to a modern day nuke. The song; well just like the Brahma Weapon, this song neither has a counter attack, nor a defense. The song demands respect and the riff speaks for itself. And not to forget about the artwork by Acid Toad. A class apart. Kudos to the bands DIY approach on the whole record from production to sales.
#6 Sunbather - Deafheaven
Every once in a while you get hold on a piece of music that is just not… conventional. You are not used to hearing shit like this. You don’t know that if you quite like it or not, but it catches your attention at the first hearing. It’s the unconventional attitude of this piece that puts you in certain position. It puts you in a state of trance; it takes you to a journey. You slowly go ahead and look at the album cover, it is not really the kind you’ll see for the music you are listening and just at the moment it takes you from this heavy black metal sound to a more post-rock kind of sound. You are left astounded, this is not your average metal band with the in your face attitude, it’s like a painting everyone appreciates the beauty of it but no one really gets it. Then there are the pseudo-crits like me who think they have caught hold of the style. But I am wrong; it beats you hands down in complexity beyond words. It’s just not the tremolo picking and high pitched screeches backed up by the sweet chord picking patterns but it’s more about the texture and the fabric it creates sonically. Much like Dillinger Escape Plan it brings you out of your comfort zone to an extent of playing drilling sounds for over a minute; but then at the end kisses you on your head and leaves you with a cotton candy. When you read the lyrics it’s so poetic and outright, and yet in that high pitched screech.
I held my breath and drove through a maze of
wealthy homes. I watched how green the trees
were. I watched the steep walkways and the
white fences. I gripped the wheel. I sweated
against the leather. I watched the dogs twist
through the wealthy garden. I watched you lay
on a towel in grass that exceeded the height
of your legs. I gazed into reflective eyes. I
cried against an ocean of light. Crippled by
the cushion, I sank into sheets frozen by rose
pedal toes. My back shivered for your pressed
granite nails. Dishonest and ugly through
the space in my teeth. Break bones down
to yellow and crush gums into blood. The
hardest part for the weak was stroking your
fingers with rings full of teeth. It’s 5 AM…and
my heart flourishes at each passing moment.
Always and forever.
In the words of vocalist George Clarke the title represents, “A wealthy, beautiful, perfect existence that is naturally unattainable and the struggles of having to deal with that reality because of your own faults, relationships troubles, family troubles, death, et cetera.” This is the words of an artist having clarity of his own work. I had never heard of Deafheaven until early December, 2013. Sunbather is truly a master piece of an album.
#5 Pelagial - The Ocean
I know this should have been a little higher on this list but i didn’t have the pleasure to listen to the album earlier, it was only until October that i had heard this album. The Ocean Collective (or just The Ocean) is not a band to be taken lightly, even if that were possible. They are musicians in a very classical sense, an approach that does not just strive for some catchy effect as one track moves to the next, but rather the intent is to complete a fully realized work of art.
The Ocean puts their talent for both soft soaring moments and crushing metal blasts through an interesting metaphorical journey from the ocean’s surface into the dark unexplored ocean floor.The band takes the listener through all five stages of depth: epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathyalpelagic, abyssopelagic, and hadopelagic. The point is of course to take the music (as well as the listener) to darker and heavier places as the album progresses. As the album revolves around this central theme, it is best taken all in one listen.
#4 One Of Us Is The Killer - The Dillinger Escape Plan
There aren’t many bands that maintain a consistency while constantly progressing from album to album. It seems like everyone wants to renew and reinvent their sound so as not to bore their audiences. Dillinger Escape Plan, doesn’t give a fuck about that.
One of Us is the Killer marks Dillinger Escape Plan's fifth full length album since their forming in 1997 and those that have enjoyed their releases since Miss Machine will find One of Us is the Killer to fit perfectly into the band’s repertoire. Everything you’ve come to expect from the band is on this album: jarring rhythms, breakneck speed, masterfully technical and melodic sections, and an overall superb flow.
The album opens with the smasher “Prancer.” Much like previous album openings, Dillinger Escape Plan lets us know they’re not fucking around and just come in swinging. Off beats and fevered melodies shine throughout as the song slows and picks up the pace. And not slowing down for a second they kick into “When I Lost My Bet.” Quite possibly the best song on the album. It spins and weaves riff after riff with time bomb-like blasts, shooting one after another, after another, after another. The song is manic, intense and out of control. Watch this video if you have the stomach for it.
#3 Asymmetry - Karnivool
Karnivool have fashioned an epic inner-eye monster of a record. Asymmetry is more than an hour long, and it covers an appropriately vast and varied terrain.With probablly India inspired intro and outro ‘Aum’ and ‘Om’ it creates a sonic fabric in between giving a very versatile yet powerful record. This is much different from the bands previous record Sound Awake, they have clearly pushed themselves to a different mile. It sounds different yet very appealing with songs such as Aeons and Sky Machine, can be like the Umbra and New Day of this record. This record like every other prog record needs to be heard over and over leaving you with at least 4 - 5 favorites, that is the only way you appreciate it. The album has it all - the technical madness of songs like “Nachash” and “Sky Machine,” to the more thematic gelling between lyrics and music on “Aeons” [where Kenny resumes his prophecy, “Chemical fires will signal we’re dead.”].
Asymmetry needs listening to, but not just once or twice, or a certain set of songs. This one will take time sinking in, but will stick with you.
#2 Silent Machine - Twelve Foot Ninja
I first saw the video for Mother Sky at my friend Jagdish’s place while recording Sense of Tumour's single, i guess Misha Mansoor of Periphery had shared it. We literally watched it over and over again and i still can’t get enough of that video.
OK, so the band name is silly and the whole ninja angle is goofy. But, good God, this band is talented as all fuck, and their songs are absolutely unstoppable and instantly memorable. They’re heavy without being dumbed down, catchy without being cheesy, and they blend seemingly disparate styles in a seamless way that doesn’t feel like “Hey, look what I can do!” Silent Machine is expertly produced; it sounds fantastic. Layer upon layer of audio production goodness continues to reveal itself with each subsequent listen; underlying arpeggiated acoustic guitars, dense vocal harmonies that are fun to hum along to, subtle keyboard textures and sound effects, etc. And, as noted before here and elsewhere, vocalist Kin is the icing on the cake, his versatile croon invoking voicesmiths as talented as Mike Patton.
And now for the number one album of the year ….
#1 Fortress - Alter Bridge
This undoubtedly has to be the album of the year. Because the song writing here makes most bands out there want to go back to school. They are like the education board of song writing on this album.
It’s hard to imagine that the songwriting duo of lead singer Myles Kennedy and guitarist Mark Tremonti have time to sleep, never mind write a new disc with all of their combined projects. With that in mind, the two, along with talents of Brian Marshall on bass and Scott Phillips on drums, have elevated their creative forces once again producing a disc that truly comes to life, screaming out to be performed live.
On ‘Waters Rising,’ Tremonti gets to step into the spotlight as a lead vocalist. After singing all the leads on his solo project, this seemed like a logical next step in the evolution of Alter Bridge. The results are a dynamic tune that combines the full arsenal of Tremonti’s musical weapons with the added bonus of Kennedy’s harmonies throughout the chorus perfectly complementing the song.
‘Farther Than the Sun’ is another blistering, heavy-hitter with a theme of defiance and liberation; it translates well to the overall spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
The album concludes with the title track ‘Fortress,’ a perfect bookend to the epic tale that is ‘Cry of Achilles.’ The band has called ‘Fortress’ the most experimental song on the record, featuring deep, bottomless textures, time changes and the perfect culmination of all the risks they took on this disc.
Although Alter Bridge’s sound embodies many of the signature elements made popular by melodic rock bands that came before them, the substance and technicality that they have immersed into their music have elevated them to a whole new level. ‘Fortress’ proves to be the next impressive chapter in an epic adventure that shows no sign of ending any time soon.