Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Decade Part 5: past the halfway point

As I was typing out my write-ups, I noticed that I had numbered my list incorrectly, and it turns out, that I have, in fact, only 40 albums. So my first post was wrong, it is only the top 40 albums of the decade, not 41. So what does that mean? Not much, but it was worth mentioning.


21. Isis - Oceanic (2002)

....That being said, Oceanic is the best Isis record. The muddy production has been cleaned up, but it's still so heavy, and just has a lot of punch. You can really hear every instrument working together, even the drums (hear the beautiful resonance on the intro to "Weight"), to create an astounding texture. The drums are so far away from any jackhammer metal style and they sound freakin' huge. The biggest change in songwriting seems to be more pronounced and abrupt dynamics, which I think give the songs a more powerful impact. It's more of a surprise on this album when the long drone erupts into a frenzy of screams and crushing heaviness (though nowadays this is a total metalgaze cliché). Oceanic seems to be Isis' most complete and cohesive record; it really keeps a consistent sound throughout and has that feel of a full album that takes you on a journey.

22. Jesu - Conqueror (2007)

I was so disappointed when I first heard this one (which was in summer '09 when I picked up the CD for like 7 bucks). Where was the crushing heaviness and more importantly, the lethargy? This one is not the air conditioner soundtrack of the summer! Why, the songs are a good bit shorter and more structured! There are hooks! The vocals are much more prominent in the mix! After a few listens, I got past my preconceived notions of what I thought a Jesu record should sound like (based on the debut) and realized that these songs are great. The whole thing is even sadder and prettier than the debut, but also more memorable, which is partly a result of the vocals and lyrics having a much bigger role in the songs. There's so much vulnerability in those two elements that you can't help but empathize. I do miss the sludge, but there's a reason why I put two Jesu albums on this list.

23. Jesu - Jesu (2005)

...And another metalgaze record makes the list. I guess it's rather obvious that I'm a fan of this genre when it's done right. But what song is heavier than "Friends Are Evil"? And as catchy? Justin Broadrick's decision to make sad, pretty songs was a very good idea since he does it so well. It's almost impossible not to feel lethargic and end up crying at some point (maybe more than once) when you're listening to Jesu's self-titled debut full-length. For me, in '05, this was the perfect air conditioner summer music. You just lay around in the AC and crank it up, letting the glorious, enormous guitar sound obliterate/annihilate/rape your mind (that's actually a compliment). This album really feels more like a collection of songs, since each has a slightly different mood, but the overall sound is consistent throughout and in that it truly succeeds and deserves a space on this list.

24. Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow (2003)

I was hooked into buying this album on the strength of two highlights: "Dracula Mountain" and "2 Towers," but I was so disinterested in it when I first listened to it. It's so noisy and the sound is so cluttered that I just wasn't having it when I bought this in '03 or '04. I was more interested in very clean sounding stuff, like Hella or Orthrelm. You'd think, being a two-man band like those other two that maybe Lightning Bolt might actually resemble them, but that is just not the case. This band is more easily classifiable as noise, even bordering on metal territory, being that I would in fact use the term brutal to describe them. This album is a massive adrenaline rush of brutality, though it is not angry or hostile. Rather it is brutal in that it is so energetic and heavy. It's almost hard to listen to. Anyway, the sound is consistent and the songs are memorable and the whole thing feels very complete: the first track is a warm-up and the last is a cool-down. The interior of the album is a rigorous work-out for the mind (and body, if you so choose to dance, and you ought).

25. the Locust - Plague Soundscapes (2003)

This is a grindcore album, but it is not a metal album. This band sounds more like a really angry Devo on crack than Napalm Death. And for that, they've been a bit controversial. But who really cares? This album is brutal and over-the-top ridiculous AND freakin' awesome. I love the synths and the drumming is off-the-charts incredible. Thanks to the fabulous production, the sound is loud and dense, which is exactly where it should be. Grinding of the more punk variety, especially with a band as odd as the Locust, ought to be as in-your-face as it can be, and it is. The song titles are silly, but I can barely remember them anyway, so I don't care. It takes longer to read them than listen to the songs. So just listen to the songs.

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