I had an intro written and ready to go, reflecting on all the good and bad that heavy music in 2015 had to offer (mostly bad), but then I remembered that no one reads these long-winded, pointless intros. So, without further ado, here are eleven musical things (not just albums) that grabbed a hold of my crank and kept on yanking in 2015…
When darkwave legends Lycia returned from the musical wilderness with Quiet Moments in 2013, it was widely hailed as a stellar comeback for the band. While I certainly enjoyed the album, I couldn’t help but feel that they were just warming up. Quiet Moments is unquestionably a good record, a great record even, but it also struck me as the work of an artist attempting to fully regain their footing after some fairly lengthy gaps between releases (seven years between Empty Space and the Fifth Sun EP, three years between Fifth Sun and QM).
Last year, Gainesville, FL’s Ars Phoenix put out one of the best darkwave albums I’ve heard in quite some time in the form of Violent Rain, a release that combined robotic synths with an icy, sinister vibe to create a delightfully dark yet catchy and at times even danceable take on the genre. I revisit the album often, so I was quite excited when the band e-mailed to inform me that they had some new material out in the form of a split with fellow Floridians Burnt Hair titled Shinju (“double suicide” in Japanese).
If there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s writing intros to interviews. Fortunately, Paradise Lost is a band that needs no introduction. The death/doom/gothic metal pioneers have been releasing great music for nearly three decades now, and that enduring legacy continues with their latest full length, The Plague Within, which is out June 1st via Century Media. Legendary vocalist Nick Holmes graciously answered my questions about their stunning new album via e-mail.
Sacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend. The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat. The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.
As a reviewer, tons of releases come across my desk every year, but few of them actually make me stop and say “Wow, this album is really something.” Burial Hex’s The Hierophant is just such an album; its seamless mixture of disparate tones and textures is simply unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Please believe it when I say this is not another case of music journalist hyperbole, this is simply one of the most stunningly unique, beautiful and unsettling recordings ever to ravage my unworthy ears.
How in the blue hell did I manage to get even this far into the THKD Top 100 without covering a Danzig album?! Granted, the list is in no particular order, but given my Danzig super-fan status, you’d think I would’ve touched on one of the man’s records within the first few posts. The bands/artists you love the most are always the most difficult to write about and let’s face it, I’ve already devoted a fairly exhaustive amount of digital ink to the goddamn mighty GD (here, here, here, here… need I go on?). What’s left to say about my love for the man and his music at this point?
Underground metal is a land of extremes. Bands playing so fast that a human drummer can’t keep up, bands playing so slow they make a glacier look speedy, bands trying to play the heaviest, the most technical, the most brutal, the most… ah, fuck it, you get the idea. What I’m attempting to get at is, there’s typically no such thing as subtlety in the circles we travel in. This is what makes Emptiness’ Nothing but the Whole such a refreshing album. Where other bands seek to crush your soul in the first thirty seconds, Emptiness would rather watch it slowly wither and die.
Longtime THKD readers will recall that late last year I finally got to see Danzig live after being a fan of the man and his music for twenty years. Considering the fact that the set included a slew of Danzig classics + a mini-set of Misfits songs featuring Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein on guitar, I was convinced that I could pretty much die happy.
I’ve long had a thing for the gothic/darkwave sound, and although I don’t seek it out as rabidly as I do metal, some great bands in this style have been coming my way of late. Last year saw Ghost Noise releasing a promising debut album and the past few months have been all about Bad Psychic’s stunningly beautiful Soon. Now we have Gainesville, FL trio Ars Phoenix gracing us with yet another must-hear take on the genre in the form of Violent Rain.