Tuesday, 5 January 2010

2009 Part 4

Today's the last part of the "albums I bought" portion of my 2009 stuff. Tomorrow or maybe later in the week, I'll have a post about stuff I didn't get around to.

This is the more general metal section.

Much attention has been payed to Baroness' newest album, Blue Record. The first time I heard this, I kept asking myself ARE YOU READY TO ROCK??!! because I haven't heard a band rock this hard in a long time. Each time a new song came on, I expected it to be the "chill-out" tune, but no, the ROCK doesn't stop, save a couple of short transitional tracks. I was really impressed by how fun and interesting the record was and I regretted that I procrastinated buying it for quite a long time.

If I was doing a traditional list, it would be impossible to leave off Converge's latest masterpiece, Axe To Fall. The band's other releases this decade have all been great, and ATF continues the legacy. I think Converge has officially become the Fugazi of metalcore, always finding a new direction and never putting out a boring album. They're a band that accomplishes the feat of remaining true to, and expanding their sound. This time around, there's possibly their most out-there tracks ever "Cruel Bloom" and "Wretched World." The former is total bluesy-folk that erupts in rock power and the latter is a layered, swirling droner that stretches past seven minutes, and neither prominently feature one of Converge's signature elements, Jacob Bannon's shrieking yowl. The branching out isn't confined to those two tracks, though. There's more double-bass and an increased focus on rock and roll riffery, particularly in the first 4 tracks. And I thought Baroness had a monopoly on the ROCK. Guess not.

Probably my favorite live band this year was Kylesa. I saw them with Mastodon in the summertime, and no disrespect to the 'don, but Kylesa was fun, exciting, and hypnotic. Their difficult-to-peg sound plays quite well live, and I regret that I missed them when they came back to my neighborhood in the fall. I bought Static Tensions at the show, and was initially disappointed. I could tell the band had stepped up their songwriting and were utilizing their two drummers setup better than before, but the album wasn't as good as the live experience. I've written about this before and my opinion hasn't changed. However, as I listened more and got some distance from the live show, Static Tensions has really grown on me. It seems to me that Kylesa is just getting better and better, and I'm hoping the next album will continue the trend. Until then, I'll be listening to "Said And Done" and "Unknown Awareness" a million or so times.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say about Burnt By The Sun's alleged final album, Heart Of Darkness. I've always considered the band to be on the second tier of the metalcore genre, and this album doesn't really elevate them. I like this album, but I thought their 2003 album, The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good, was better. It felt more like an album, with transitions and breaks. HOD is a little more consistent, but that makes it a little boring in comparison. What originally interested me about this band was the cool riffs and the dynamic drumming (it's not all blinding speed all the time) and both of those elements are present on this album, though I don't find the songs as memorable. I probably need some more time to listen to this album, but I just wish it had a few more surprises. I enjoy listening to it, but it's missing something.

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