Sunday, December 27, 2015

Report to the Dance Floor : Kendrick Lamar : "To Pimp a Butterfly"


If Chelsea Wolfe had not sad this was on of her favorite album's of the year then I would not have checked it out , but I figured I'd check out. While there is some trippy trappings to the opener and a synth line that recalls older West Coast rap, his voice doesn't have me convinced. George Clinton does guest on it , which is an impressive stamp of approval , but he is prolly guesting on everything so he doesn't feel like he is a dinosaur."King Kunta" has a more James Brown pump to it, but his voice still makes me think he needs to stop smoking as he could be gasping for breath at any moment. The groove to this song is stronger than the opener and the mix is interesting as this doesn't sound like everything else."Institutionalized" might have a more stoned brand of jazz like funk to it along with Bilal and Sneep, but it's not as compelling as "King Kunta" , maybe this is 2015's take on Tribe Called Quest, because I'm sure if I had never heard " the Low End Theory" this would seem like next level shit being dropped."These Walls" never reaches out to grab and hide behind a wall of bong smoke.

 Lamar tries to get more aggressive on "U" , but that fact he is always gasping for every verse takes the edge off this.He goes into some dramatic crying, that sounds kinda bitch to me.Things pick back up on "Alright". While upbeat "Momma" finds Lamar just rambling over Outkast like backing tracks .He pays more homage to Tribe Called Quest on "How Much a Dollar" cost which ponders the plight of the homeless and addicted with Ron Isley providing the vocal hooks. This album is inconsistent where where "the Blacker the Berry" excels the preceding "Complexion" begins to bore me. While this is West Coast rap they certainly touch on 90's Atl rapping with "You Ain't Gotta Lie". One of the album's best songs is the dancey "I", this is the first song that finds Lamar impressing me with his flow, up to this point the backing track were more impressive.

 "Mortal Man" finds himself pondering if his fans will still have his back when the media turns on him. At this point they obvious do, as too many people are hailing this as the best album of the year or at least the best hip-hop album of the year, which is pretty far fetched as both Dr. Dre and the Weeknd put out more innovative and impressive albums. This one is pretty good considering Tribe Called Quest isn't putting out anything new, so I'll give it a 7.

 

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2015


This is speaks for it's self the top ten metal albums of the year from every genre.This is what you should have been banging your head to this year.


10-Nevoa -"The Absence of Void"

 Portugal has been pumping out the metal this year. This album is surprising due to it's clean production.The guitar tones are very crisp and the mix leaves room to actually hear the bass , which is rare for black metal. One thing that is impressive with these guys is even when they fly into the blast beats everything retains a clarity and doesn't turn into a bunch of pots and pans are falling out of a closet. They are atmospheric without losing all form and function. They touch on a chilling drone that doesn't just become white noise and numb you out. Due to the Scandinavian roots of black metal bands they tend to get referred to as having a coldness, despite the geographical difference there is a similar starkness to the riffs that are more emotionally cold than musical translation of the physical nature of the cold lifestyle that haunts other black metal. More than likely the best black metal album you didn't hear this year. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/nevoa-absence-of-void.html




9- Dodsferd : "Wastes of Life" This album is the kind of thing you might want to blare at some one you hate if you have them tied up in a dark room. Full of stellar guitar work that seldom graces black metal, come on admit it when was the last time you thought about shredders in black metal. When the actual metal kicks in they don't jump to a blast beat and churn on something that has more of a old Shining feel...the Swedish band not the spastic band from Norway. Speaking of location, location, location this Greek band has not aspirations to be Rotting Christ. They drone on with this one milking the mood for every drop of it's dark blood.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/dodsferd-wastes-of-life.html


8 Tidemouth :"Velvet And Stone"

The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter. An incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/tidemouth-velvet-and-stone.html




7- Shape of Despair :"Monotony Fields"

 this Finnish band has taken the past fifteen years to perfect their very melodic and atmospheric brand of doom . The vocals range from are a low gurgle, to female oohs and aahs stacked like Type O Negative in the background. The stay on a depressing path through out. The oppressive feeling is almost tangible. The band is aware they have been notorious for putting long spans of time between releases, so everything is right where it should be with every nuance dialed in, so it was not time wasted. It might not dig as deep and dark of a grave as other funeral doom bands , but the songs are masterfully varied and dynamic to create an awesome album.

  http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/11/shape-of-despair-monotony-fields.html

6-Nechochwen : " Heart of Akamon"

 West Virginia is an unlikely breeding ground for this kind of music. Roughly black metal in some sense, it is highly progressive in the same manner as old Agalloch. The clean vocals are stronger and they layer clean sounds and the more metallic grim ones through a different lens than the Portland band. In some ways these sounds are blended much like their label mate Panopticon. The clean tones are very organic and often allowed to stand along. The blast pretty furiously into "Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun". The drums are masterful insanity in motion. The footwork pretty breathtaking even in a genre where it is expected. The vocals are well layered and punchy. While they work in many twists and turns over the course of a song they do not exceed the seven minute mark. They are also good at not placing the clean vocals in the obvious Killswitch places to make it the good cop/ bad cop dynamic.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/nechochwen-heart-of-akamon.html
5 -Strangeweather: "S/T"

 Another album that forsakes metallic overdrive and instead employs a more organic yet dark hearted Neo-folk with an Appalachian breeze blowing through it. The members switch off vocals resulting in a wide range of moodiness to the dirge like mourning allowing each instrument and voice embraces while adding another swathe of gray to the sonic tapestry. hey have really created something unique here. The lyrics carry the indignant unease of post- punk, while they set upon a soundtrack with the elegance that is the x-factor many a wanna-be goth bands just doesn't get . This brings the emotional weight making it heavy in feeling rather than metal.When I played this for my wife just dismissed it as more of the droning drug music I like, so you have to listen to this as a whole work to really get the full effect or have to have been involved with heavy narcotic use for a period of more than five years. Do not play while operating heavy machinery.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/strangeweather-st.html
4- Iron Maiden- "the Book of Souls"

 Right behind Black Sabbath when it comes being one of  the most revered classic metal bands  of all  time. This is for good reason as they have they have maintained tons of integrity over the years even if they did break down and use keyboards and made the poor choice of trying to replace Bruce with Blaze. This album upholds their legacy and I would not be surprised if it was their last as it feels they want to try everything they have yet to do and make the most of every solo. It would not be out of place if I decided to make a top ten power metal albums of the year or a top ten prog albums of the year... the latter being more likely as I doubt I listened to ten power metal albums this year, however they transcend both of those genres. Have done better and it might not be on the level of the albums that came before "Fear of the Dark", which is a bar held incredibly high, But they never outright miss the mark and even if this was just dialed in it would still be better than everything else. But that is the beauty of this they are still committed to putting their all into what they do and there is a lot of heart put into this, they are just older and wiser with that wisdom compensating for the fire that was in their music when they were a younger band, this is still an album made by one of the greatest bands ever.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/08/iron-maiden-book-of-souls.html
-

3- Eye of NIX : "Moros"

 This is more experimental than prog, though it is progressive in the sense the songs go somewhere. That is more can be said for many so called prog bands that remain stagnant in favor of wanking on the fret board. The album starts off as a more post-rock version of Dead Can Dance. Lead singer Joy Von Spain lets it all out in an operatic soprano as things get blasty beneath her. Male growls add a grit to their shifts into crustier paces. While Mykur gave us similar dynamics earlier this year, each end of the dynamic range here is pushed a little further. Joy is dynamic range extends into the not afraid to shred her vocals chords a little with some screams. Sometimes they play by the more typical metal rules and the veer off into slow-core. They sometimes build into the type of chaos that can be found in some of Swans' freak out moments but with a more metallic command.They incorporate every element of music that love into this one album in a cohesive fashion.
http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/10/eye-of-nix-moros.html

2- Kylesa : "Exhausting Fire"

 These Savannah rockers continue to evolve, in someways that makes them progressive , since they are not where I first found them when I picked up a copy of "To Walk a Middle Course" ten years ago. There sludge roots are still intact but they have enough dark psychedelics is place to appeal to the hesher sect. They used to cover Pink Floyd, so this side of the band should come as not surprise.  Laura's vocals which have continues to grow sometimes take on a more Siouxsie like croon to them. There are plenty of balls this times around injected to these heavy grooves. After a dazed and glazed cover of the Sabbath classic "Paranoid" the path of the band is best in explained in the lyrics of the closing song where Laura says she is throwing caution to the wind and taking her chances again here. Even when they wander off into a more heady direction the bass line holds down the fort, until they bring the smack down the happy ending that blazes out with solos in true rock god/goddess fashion. Another moment of triumph for this band.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/09/kylesa-exhausting-fire.html

1- Tribulation - the Children of the Night

 Was a little torn as to if this album even belonged here, until I went back and listened to the album and "Music From the Other " sealed the deal. While I liked the band's last album, but found them much more fascinating of a creature on stage when I saw them open for Watain, so I am hoping some of those more progressive and wandering qualities have carried over from the road and right from the first few chords of the opener it seems like they have. There is an almost Opeth like lushness to the sound. They don't use the traditional metal crunch, instead just going for an organic tone that they are playing loudly. The vocals are more intelligible than the previous album. When they dive deeper into the darkness answering the question what would it have sounded like if DeepPurple had written the soundtrack to the Exorcist. This is another step forward for the band that continues to grow with every album, they blend the more classic metal elements in with their more ethereal colors with ease, as they are not afraid to push the bounds of what death metal can be.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/tribulation-children-of-night.html

the Top 15 Albums of 2015




OK, this pretty much speaks for itself as this is overall, no genre left behind and ranked by how much I actually listened to it though out the course of the year, which is an impressive feat for an album to stay in rotation as I sometimes listen to an upwards of ten albums a day and that just to review, not counting in the car, walking to the gym etc. So here are the Top 15 Albums of 2015.


15- Tidemouth :"Velvet And Stone"

 If there had not been a hardcore/ punk list this year, this album would have been on the goth list. The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter. An incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/tidemouth-velvet-and-stone.html






14- Shape of Despair :"Monotony Fields"

 this Finnish band has taken the past fifteen years to perfect their very melodic and atmospheric brand of doom . The vocals range from are a low gurgle, to female oohs and aahs stacked like Type O Negative in the background. The stay on a depressing path through out. The oppressive feeling is almost tangible. The band is aware they have been notorious for putting long spans of time between releases, so everything is right where it should be with every nuance dialed in, so it was not time wasted. It might not dig as deep and dark of a grave as other funeral doom bands , but the songs are masterfully varied and dynamic to create an awesome album.

  http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/11/shape-of-despair-monotony-fields.html



13-Nechochwen : " Heart of Akamon"

 West Virginia is an unlikely breeding ground for this kind of music. Roughly black metal in some sense, it is highly progressive in the same manner as old Agalloch. The clean vocals are stronger and they layer clean sounds and the more metallic grim ones through a different lens than the Portland band. In some ways these sounds are blended much like their label mate Panopticon. The clean tones are very organic and often allowed to stand along. The blast pretty furiously into "Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun". The drums are masterful insanity in motion. The footwork pretty breathtaking even in a genre where it is expected. The vocals are well layered and punchy. While they work in many twists and turns over the course of a song they do not exceed the seven minute mark. They are also good at not placing the clean vocals in the obvious Killswitch places to make it the good cop/ bad cop dynamic.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/nechochwen-heart-of-akamon.html
div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">

 12- Them are Us Too: "Remain"

 Right from the first song Kennedy Ashlyn Wenning's voice makes you take notice, before "The Problem With Red Heads" allows her to shed some of the Elizabeth Fraser worship when the duo drifts into an alluringly dreamy rock. Sure this would not have been out of place on  4AD, in the 80s and the band encourages these comparisons. This also reminds of the Gatherings post- metal moments. Her choice of melodies shows she cares abut crafting something that is not just a tribute. I can almost hear more Cure than Cocteau Twins until Cash Askew's guitar comes to prove he has discovered the lost secrets to Robin Guthrie's sound.Their influences might be worn on their sleeves ,but lets face it the Cocteau Twins are never going to make another album or tour again.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/04/them-are-us-too-remain.html


11 -Strangeweather: "S/T"

 Another album that forsakes metallic overdrive and instead employs a more organic yet dark hearted Neo-folk with an Appalachian breeze blowing through it. The members switch off vocals resulting in a wide range of moodiness to the dirge like mourning allowing each instrument and voice embraces while adding another swathe of gray to the sonic tapestry. hey have really created something unique here. The lyrics carry the indignant unease of post- punk, while they set upon a soundtrack with the elegance that is the x-factor many a wanna-be goth bands just doesn't get . This brings the emotional weight making it heavy in feeling rather than metal.When I played this for my wife just dismissed it as more of the droning drug music I like, so you have to listen to this as a whole work to really get the full effect or have to have been involved with heavy narcotic use for a period of more than five years. Do not play while operating heavy machinery.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/strangeweather-st.html />


10- Iron Maiden- "the Book of Souls"

 Right behind Black Sabbath when it comes being one of  the most revered classic metal bands  of all  time. This is for good reason as they have they have maintained tons of integrity over the years even if they did break down and use keyboards and made the poor choice of trying to replace Bruce with Blaze. This album upholds their legacy and I would not be surprised if it was their last as it feels they want to try everything they have yet to do and make the most of every solo. It would not be out of place if I decided to make a top ten power metal albums of the year or a top ten prog albums of the year... the latter being more likely as I doubt I listened to ten power metal albums this year, however they transcend both of those genres. Have done better and it might not be on the level of the albums that came before "Fear of the Dark", which is a bar held incredibly high, But they never outright miss the mark and even if this was just dialed in it would still be better than everything else. But that is the beauty of this they are still committed to putting their all into what they do and there is a lot of heart put into this, they are just older and wiser with that wisdom compensating for the fire that was in their music when they were a younger band, this is still an album made by one of the greatest bands ever.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/08/iron-maiden-book-of-souls.html


9- Eye of NIX : "Moros"

 This is more experimental than prog, though it is progressive in the sense the songs go somewhere. That is more can be said for many so called prog bands that remain stagnant in favor of wanking on the fret board. The album starts off as a more post-rock version of Dead Can Dance. Lead singer Joy Von Spain lets it all out in an operatic soprano as things get blasty beneath her. Male growls add a grit to their shifts into crustier paces. While Mykur gave us similar dynamics earlier this year, each end of the dynamic range here is pushed a little further. Joy is dynamic range extends into the not afraid to shred her vocals chords a little with some screams. Sometimes they play by the more typical metal rules and the veer off into slow-core. They sometimes build into the type of chaos that can be found in some of Swans' freak out moments but with a more metallic command.They incorporate every element of music that love into this one album in a cohesive fashion.

  http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/10/eye-of-nix-moros.html

8- Kylesa : "Exhausting Fire"

 These Savannah rockers continue to evolve, in someways that makes them progressive , since they are not where I first found them when I picked up a copy of "To Walk a Middle Course" ten years ago. There sludge roots are still intact but they have enough dark psychedelics is place to appeal to the hesher sect. They used to cover Pink Floyd, so this side of the band should come as not surprise.  Laura's vocals which have continues to grow sometimes take on a more Siouxsie like croon to them. There are plenty of balls this times around injected to these heavy grooves. After a dazed and glazed cover of the Sabbath classic "Paranoid" the path of the band is best in explained in the lyrics of the closing song where Laura says she is throwing caution to the wind and taking her chances again here. Even when they wander off into a more heady direction the bass line holds down the fort, until they bring the smack down the happy ending that blazes out with solos in true rock god/goddess fashion. Another moment of triumph for this band.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/09/kylesa-exhausting-fire.html



7- Health :"Death Magic"

 I first questioned some of the reviews where this project referred to as industrial, they seemed more like edm with a dark and dirty slant to it and a kick , but Industrial ? Well it took many listens to convince me of this. This is their sixth album and it's been five years in the making, so no wonder  they  have become masters at layering some clever vocal melodies over yearning grooves to create some hooks that sink into your brain and pull you along for the ride. The first hint it might just be industrial came in the tribal pound of  drums that open " Men Today" that has some noise to it , while the sounds assembled are cool , for an album with such emphasis place on sex and drugs it feels sometimes like foreplay with no climax.Until the subtle hooks are latched into your brain. There's an old 80s dance feel to "Flesh World" the androgynous are very fey in the same manner of Sliversun Pick ups or Savage Garden. There are some glitch ridden sounds thrown into the sonic jumble. I have always wondered if the remixes are going to sound better than the originals , then why not just make the original songs sound like that in  the first place? Well the solve that by making "Flesh World" sound like it has already been re-mixed. This album made me want to go back and dig up their earlier stuff, which I was unable to do since I was so hooked on this one.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/08/health-death-magic.html



6- Ryan Adams : "1989"

 This album served as the methadone for my Taylor Swift addiction. My wife doesn't like Taylor Swift, she is banned from being played in the car, but this album is totally acceptable. Ryan Adams who also must be a pretty big fan as well as a metal head...just look up his cover of "Holy Diver", made a bold move in covering Swift's "1989" in its entirety and the results are pretty great.He really makes these songs his own which is an impressive feat and colors them with more of a Bruce Springsteen feel.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/ryan-adams



5-the Weeknd : "Beauty Behind the Madness"

 Abel Makkonen Tesfaye goes about things in a manner darker than your average r&b singer  and has been known to sample both Siouxsie and the Cocteau Twins, his drug use might explain for this taste in music .He gives many winks to another addict...Michael Jackson. Lyrically the album has bi-polar moments, either he's a pimped out playa or hopeless romantic in the tug of war his pimp side is lyrically more interesting. He is a master of hook and they keep me returning to this album.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/report-to-dance-floor-weeknds-beauty.html



4- Tribulation - the Children of the Night

 Was a little torn as to if this album even belonged here, until I went back and listened to the album and "Music From the Other " sealed the deal. While I liked the band's last album, but found them much more fascinating of a creature on stage when I saw them open for Watain, so I am hoping some of those more progressive and wandering qualities have carried over from the road and right from the first few chords of the opener it seems like they have. There is an almost Opeth like lushness to the sound. They don't use the traditional metal crunch, instead just going for an organic tone that they are playing loudly. The vocals are more intelligible than the previous album. When they dive deeper into the darkness answering the question what would it have sounded like if DeepPurple had written the soundtrack to the Exorcist. This is another step forward for the band that continues to grow with every album, they blend the more classic metal elements in with their more ethereal colors with ease, as they are not afraid to push the bounds of what death metal can be.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/tribulation-children-of-night.html

 

3-Twin Shadow: "Eclipse" This album caught me by surprise I'll tell you right off the bat it's a strong contender for album of the year. From the first song he shows you how to make a chorus carry the most emotional impact possible.Who said pop music has to be a bad thing? More common with the 80s he sings in an urgent baritone, think Corey Hart but with a larger dose of soul injected in the phrasing. It's a crime not to check out this piece of greatness. Every vocal oozes like a hook in it's own right, one of the most perfect vocal performances.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/report-to-dance-floor-twin-shadows.html



 2-Royal Thunder: " Crooked Doors"

 This band continues to evolve from the blues soaked stoner rock, they have put the Black Sabbath albums away and now have become more of an indie rock band that takes on a rough edged hard rock dynamic. On the opener "Time Machine" which the band premiered on Npr,  Parsonz puts some angry husk to her voice when the band begins to climax toward the end of the song. The band was never fully committed to being a metal band even they they had a fetish for playing with metal bands , but they have taken another step away from metal with this album. This is not a bad thing as the new direction lends it's self to a compelling array of sounds and emotive glimpses into who this band is.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/royal-thunder-crooked-doors.html





1- Chelsea Wolfe -Abyss

 This might not have been the metal album every one hope it would be but it all works together perfectly. She might balk at being on this list because she denied begin goth when I interviewed her, though she said she like Nick Cave and the Cocteau Twins so she is in denial. This album might not be metal but it does have some pounding beauty. She stays true to her ethereal vocal style which works well over the hammering beats. Though "Iron Moon" seemed surprisingly heavy when the song was first released in the context of the album she is giving you are breather. Even more experimental than "Pain is Beauty" the fuzzed out bass to "Dragged Out" rumbles over her ghostly plea that sits back into the dark background. The chorus builds into a more industrial din as the song expands and contracts.he has not disappointed, in fact exceeded expectations  and the bar was raised really high. I didn't think she could beat "Pain is Beauty" , but that is what has happened.


http://www.cvltnation.com/cvlt-nation-interviews-chelsea-wolfe/

Saturday, December 26, 2015

the Top 10 Pop Albums of 2015


I think we know that pop music is my favorite palate cleanser to start the day off with before I spend the rest of the day listening to blacksludgepostdeathcrust metal. Granted my taste is pop is generally darker, and many of these albums would have been battling it out in the over crowded goth list, one of the artists even self identifies as goth.

 10- Camouflage : "Greyscale"
 In the same club as Twin Shadow , but coming from a much more Euro vibe. Think Depeche Mode. Well I don't have to tell you to think anything because if that doesn't come to mind when you hear this I'm not sure what blog you are normally reading. This is however better than anything Depeche Mode has done since "Ultra". They are not totally stuck in the 80s as a song like "Laughing Proves". No wonder the title is "Greyscale" as that is how dark this album is.  So not goth, but it will appeal to goth's who have "Violator" in heavy rotation, as this is which era of Depeche Mode this projects draws inspiration from. They do tend to ride some of the grooves into the ground, but it allows the songs more of a drone.It goes in a chill wave sort of direction, so you have to be in the right mood.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/05/report-to-dance-floor-camouflages.html



9-Lana Del Ray : "Honeymoon"

 When I'm not making a pop list she is obviously more mainstream the majority of the artists I cover, but has enough melancholy to her sound to have her place along side some of the other female artists covered here. She said this album was going to be filled with muddy trap energy and inspired by late night drives listening to Miles Davis. She employs elements of sound to make the album feel like a 60s western soundtrack. Her voice glides with her typical cool croon like it is business as usual. She closes the album with a cover of the Animals " Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" that retain in the organ some of the trippy 60s feel. Overall this album might not be "the Ultra-Violence" as the lyrics are not as biting and the ballads are sleepier, but she excels when she does what she does best.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/11/lana-del-ray-honeymoon.html


8-Prince: "HITNRUN Phase Two"

 Once upon a time the only artists I listened to who were not metal were the Violent Femmes , David Bowie and Prince. I got "Purple Rain" X-mas of 1984 and hung tough with him despite changing his name to a symbol and the Bat Dance not parting ways with him until fifteen years later with  s"Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic", though the last I saw him live was on the "3121" tour. The opener might have the social commentary similar to his "Sign O the Times' album,  so it no surprise the upbeat opening remind me of a slower paced "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man". His guitar  has a jazzy Frank Zappa like cadence  following the chant of "if there ain't no justice there ain't no peace" . His voice sounds like he hasn't aged a day. The only sign of age is in his mellowed approach to rock, which finds his guitar using a cleaner jazz tone and forsaking the wild man Hendrix wail of feedback.In some ways it is unfair to compare this album to "Around the World in Day" which is a place in time that he can never get back to but where he is finds the Purple One at a much better place than I expected and makes me want to back back and listen to the albums I missed out on , because if they are as good as this one it will be time well invested.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/report-to-dance-floor-princes-hitnrun.html
 
7-Puscifer : "Money Shot"

 Before you balk at this album being on the pop list, first ask yourself what are you doing reading this in the first place if you don't like pop music. Tool used to be one of my favorite bands. A Perfect Circle was up there as well. Puscifer seemed like Maynard's stab at doing his own Massive Attack , but heavy on the jokes. The first album he mainly used his lower range and further separated himself from being the voice of Tool.  First off the album sounds great but sounds best through head phones. More focused on songs and less focused on jokes , with more of an emphasis placed on songs. Closely harmonized with female voices it sounds like this could have been written for a Perfect Circle album that never happened.Even though Former Ministry bassist Paul Barker lays down the grooves this is not industrial, nor is it dark enough to be goth or organic enough to be rock, it is what is good catchy songs, do you not think that what defines pop, it's just low on the sugar.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/10/puscifer-money-shot.html


6-Madonna: "Rebel Heart"

 Me and the Fabulous Ms. M have been out of touch. After "Music" we parted ways, she went on to have a mid-life crisis and released four albums none of which had anything that entered into my consciousness, but then again when I quit doing drugs, I also quit frequenting gays bars. The first song on Madonna's new album "Rebel Heart" makes it apparent gays bars are where she has been hiding out making music. This is perfect for my climate so there is a bit of a nostalgic edge to this which gives me a appreciation for this album which in it's initial sales haven't impressed the rest of the world , but what do those sheep know about good music any way?Oh, well it is what is, don't believe the hype saying this is a bomb, because it's not creatively , try to get the expanded edition there some songs that are actually better than some of these , but this still is getting a 9.5 as Madonna is back in biznasty.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/report-to-dance-floor-madonnas-rebel.html


5- Dr. Dre : "Compton"

 Things have changed in the hood. While working on the film "Straight Outta Compton" Dre was inspired to make this album, only his third full length. This album does not feel like a  companion piece to the bi-opic about the rap crew that put Dre on the map, which he produced as well. This is not a retro homage to his days in NWA and perhaps to a fault finds it's place in the modern hip-hop market. While I wore out my copy of "the Chronic" in high school, when I quit smoking pot thirteen years ago rap listening took a decline. Post -Tupac rappers got krunk and began writing twerk anthems because truth be told they just didn't have anything to say as it became harder to distinguish hip-hop from pop-music. The lyric " we load up pro-tools" on Dre's first team up with Kendrick Lamar explains one of the things that has changed in how Dre assembles his beats.The last song finds Dre doing what he does best without having other mcs crowding him. At times This album feels like it is serving two masters he is trying to make sure at 50 he can still sell albums to kids of today while doing what he does best, however this is better than any other hip hop album that came out...the Dr is in.
 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/08/dr-dre-compton.html


Karin Park : Apocalypse Pop"

She already has two Grammy's in Norway and this is her fifth album, so if there is any doubt as if the six foot three fashion model knows what she is doing , this album is a resounding yes. The album opens with a driving pop song with rough and tumble beats pumping under the otherwise carefree vocal.My finance drew Lorde comparison in her fleeting listen to the first single off the album "Shine" which I can hear in her phrasing that sometimes rides the rhythmic line between singing and rapping on a you be be as broke as you want/ you can be as drunk as you like". The lyrics on this album are incredible and often explore her dysfunctional relationships.Needs to be played while driving fast on dark roads...high on coke optional.

abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/05/report-to-dance-floor-karin-parks.html

 3- Chvrches: "Open Every Eye" Funny enough I decided to break down and give Chvrches a shot a few weeks ago after hearing them brought up on the State Of the Goth Scene panel at this year's Dragon-con. While not what I consider goth they do have a more serious lyrical tone than most of today's pop music and much like Twin Shadow are an act that proves pop doesn't have to be a bad word. their last album some reviews compared it Taylor Swift's "1989". They took that as a compliment. And this might come as a surprise to readers here who normally click on for the goth/metal/ punk reviews, but I have gained an appreciation for Swifts last two albums. The hooks are addictive and the same can be said for Chvrches. Lauren Mayberry continues to ooze with the same youthful glee that Swift also possesses, the difference being more lyrical as Mayberry doesn't always have to be the protagonist in her songs. She has little regret for not always being nice claiming on "Leave a Trace" that she is as sane as she ever was. Mayberry might make you dance , but she didn't show up to the studio trying to start a party. Fans will not be disappointed if they liked the last album.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/09/report-to-dance-floor-chvrches-open.html



2-the Weeknd : "Beauty Behind the Madness"

 Abel Makkonen Tesfaye goes about things in a manner darker than your average r&b singer  and has been known to sample both Siouxsie and the Cocteau Twins, his drug use might explain for this taste in music .He gives many winks to another addict...Michael Jackson. Lyrically the album has bi-polar moments, either he's a pimped out playa or hopeless romantic in the tug of war his pimp side is lyrically more interesting. He is a master of hook and they keep me returning to this album.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/report-to-dance-floor-weeknds-beauty.html




 1- Twin Shadow: "Eclipse" This album caught me by surprise I'll tell you right off the bat it's a strong contender for album of the year. From the first song he shows you how to make a chorus carry the most emotional impact possible.Who said pop music has to be a bad thing? More common with the 80s he sings in an urgent baritone, think Corey Hart but with a larger dose of soul injected in the phrasing. It's a crime not to check out this piece of greatness. Every vocal oozes like a hook in it's own right, one of the most perfect vocal performances.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/report-to-dance-floor-twin-shadows.html

Top 10 Hardcore/ Punk Albums of 2015"





This is the first time punk and hardcore has gotten its own list, normally it was divided into the goth or metal lists. If you are looking for shitty 1,2,3 go... punk then look else where. If you are looking for attitude but no ability to play their instruments keep clicking as well. That means there are all shades of punk and hard core from it's many eras from CBGB 70's to Post- Myspace. The two genres are equally divided  half and half here. Some have a few metal moments some have a few goth, but would you expect anything else from my Top 10 punk and hardcore albums of 2015.


10- Calabrese -" Lust For Sacrilege"


Going into this I only know this band plays Dragon-con on a regular basis and also does the horror-con circuit which is why they are one of my friend's favorite bands. They have cool monster themed t-shirts.The opener is like a dark wave Tears For Fears which is better than some of the Volbeat hard-rock. The singer has a good voice, so much so that is carries the otherwise bland "Down in Misery". They use to be a horror punk with a touch of shock a billy, this however is well produced but straight rock.Many punk bands go this route once they gain a little more command of their instruments.  You can hear the Misfits influence still lingering on "Teenage Crime Wave".My initial thoughts on the album is these guys are better than I thought they would be as it's not just one to three go and all of the rock-a billy elements if they were ever there are shed for a more rock approach. 

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/calabrese-lust-for-sacrilege.html




9-No Omega: "Occupants"

 This ep by the Swedish band No Omega came out back in April, so I am not sure how it slipped past me.  They take another step in a more metallic direction in their attempt to create darker hardcore, this how how thin of a line it can be between the two genres. Some post- rock influenced sections even float in on the first song. This is more melodic than what I have heard from the bands previous work. By the second song the lyrics which are encouraging the person to whom they are directed to "stay and face their problems" which is more of a hardcore lyric than a metal lyric. It is also more straight forward bordering on punk in the simplistic arrangement. This one eases back on intensity and darkness, but finds the band taking a step forward in other ways. A good album, I'm a hard judge after having grown up listening to Converge it makes you jaded when it comes to a hard core band experimenting. But they are the best of the current crop.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/no-omega-occupants.html


8- Hellbastard-"Feral"

 Hellbastard features appearances from ex- members of Amebix so I suppose I'll have to watch what I write since members of Amebix have gotten butt hurt over things I have said about side projects. This is was more metal than the side project which shall not be named. There is a slight Motorhead tinge to the vocals, though they get really fucking cool around the chorus, when drenched in effects and set back into the mix. Otherwise it gets off to a pretty thrashing start. This takes you back to that place in the 80s where metal and punk met. The guitars and the drums fit tightly together to pack a dense punch into these riff. The lyrics are more punk and have sharp sense of humor to them. What the vocals might lack in range they make up for in attitude. This album is well produced and everything sit right where it needs to. Some of the riffing might be a little more straight forward than what I listen to now, but this is right in line with some of the more on the fringe thrash that I listened to as a teenager. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/07/hellbastard-feral.html


7-Gallows -"Desolate Sounds"

On first  listen this album confused me so that I had to go back and listen to the band's first album "Orchestra of Wolves" to figure out what happened. It's a change to the magnitude of that AFI made. Several elements contributed to this such as the fact they now have Alexisonfire singer Wade Mcneil on the mic brought about some of the changes.The herky jerky guitar carries some sentiment of the band they used to be , despite the big chorus of "Even bad dreams are too good for you". The title track is very influenced by New Model Army  and a little more punk. The more screamed vocals have more of a metal feel to them and the distorted filter slapped on in post-production adds to this. Overall this album sounds good and it has some songs on it that I really like and  more or less none that are fast forward classics. If you are a fan of the direction the band has gone with Wade then you will like this one too.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/gallows-desolate-sounds.html


6-Enabler: " Fail to Feel Safe"

 There was a good bit of drama surrounding this album, which had nothing to do with the music , but had bloggers speculating as to if this album would even see release. The drama involves accusations made against the singer by his ex-girl friend who also played bass in the band.Truth be told only the people involved know the truth, so I don't give a fuck about anything but the music. The music in question is a dark style of very metallic hard-core that crossover past the point of being able to see what which genre is which. Jeff Lohrber , who has played in Today is the Day and Trap Them is the ring leader creating something that falls closer to Myspace metal in some ways than say Converge, but I like the prophetic title track "Fail to Feel Safe". There is an chaotic element to their sound that is still confined to the context of the song. this angry album is more emotionally rawer  than most  of the other more mainstream slanted metal Century Media will be releasing  will hear this year. I think it is still rough enough around the edges so that fans who have stuck with the band up to this point will dig it, I like it better than some of their more underground peers like Xibalba as there are more layers and melody kicked into the density and is a well crafted addition to the genre is represents. 

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/07/enabler-fail-to-feel-safe-review-by.html



5-Lightning Bolt: "Fantasy Empire"

 I am not sure if you would call Lightning Bolt metal, but the influence they have had on Liturgy is undeniable, even from the first song on this new album which is their first album in six years. The thick distortion and the relentless herky jerk of the duo's attack, is almost every thing black metal should be. it does lack the key component being evil, instead these guys are mean. They are sonic bullies. There is a math rock element to what they do . This is given crystal meth. It finds a turbulence that blast beats create without ever having to play a real blast beat. There is a noisy color to the painting they are throwing colors at, but to call it noise rock misses the point.This album seems to be rougher than previous work the raw monster tone of "Dream Genie" finds the vocals that stay buried in the guitar's distortion for the entire album , heading in more of a Today is the Day direction. The drummer is insane often reminding me of homeboy from Hella. This album achieves the perfect balance of being lo-fi yet sounding good. 


http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/02/lighting-bolt-fantasy-empire.html



4- Haust:"Bodies"
 Metal, punk or just some avant garde noise rock,  all of which seems to be colliding on this album. The band's primary sound is dissonance which in turn creates their darkness.  They have been labelled as hardcore, a term seriously brought into question by  the guitar's 60s garage rock warble  that  off sets to more malicious metal edge of the vocals , that are not too far off from being black metal. I would say they are more firmly planted in punk than what we think of as hard-core. The layered vocals at the chorus on "Days" are no more hard core than anything from Darkthrone's black n roll days.  The chaotically blurred genre lines aside they capture some mesmerizing sound and take the sound down some unexpected dark alleys. They have a rowdy metal attack that jumps out from behind the corner of songs.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/haust-bodies.html



3-Anasazi : "Nasty Witch Rock"

 Anasazi seems to drinking from the same bottle as Iceage, from the slurred stumble this song takes. They are without question much darker than the Danish punks. Dynamics take a shift from the dirty punk that drips of last night's rock n roll to a more dissonant driving. They don't decorate the songs with the sounds you might associate with death-rock, but the attitude of the L.A. underground is there.Overall this album touches a place other bands haven't. The intentionally rough production took a little warming up to, but the album demands repeat listens as it has both the heart and the attitude needed to carry the torch, which in the end justifies the band leaving some of the other trappings behind.



http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/02/anasazi-nasty-witch-rock.html


2-The Libertines : " Anthems For Doomed Youth"

 When we talk punk here we are talking the early days of the New York Dolls and the Dead Boys, but with more of a mod streak. They got the band back together, after Doherty's tabloid worthy battle with addiction. I am not sure why I have never really given the band a shot until, now but what appeals to me is their admiration for the Smiths and Morrissey, which their sound winks at but is not dominated by. There is some crooning, but obviously they make no attempts to touch Morrissey...and really how could they?


http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-libertines-anthems-for-doomed-youth.html

 


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1- Tidemouth :"Velvet And Stone"

 If there had not been a hardcore/ punk list this year, this album would have been on the goth list. The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter. An incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/tidemouth-velvet-and-stone.html

the Top 10 Rock Albums of 2015


This year there is an eclectic mix ranging for folk rock to hard rock, some albums are darker than others. The inclusion of a pop category this year took anything to happy to rock with it. Most of these albums speak for themselves. A couple of these some lists have had as metal, but not every one knows what metal is...oh, well. Here are the Top 10 rocks albums of 2015.
 10 Cairo Pythian: "Touched"

 Cairo Pythian might have been the best kept secret of the Pacific North Wast. There have been enough post- punk band's worshipping Ian Curtis and friends so why no one at the alter of Love and Rockets. Often they weave a weird piece of dark wave that pulls out the rock n roll more than I anticipated. The synths are darker than the guitar solos that are more Brit pop. The singer can sing, on some songs he carries a seventies glam streak. But we are getting ahead of our selves because it starts of with a colder electro synth pop streak.The industrial elements are glamorized for the dance floor and not really for rivet heads throwing punches in latex. The genius in the production is the lo-fi indie rock distance the songs have to keep them from sounding like something on the oxymoron that is mainstream alternative radio.If you are tired of "cold wave" albums that sound like they were recorded on a four track in the bathroom and open to some genre defying drug crazed nonsense that is fun as all hell, do not waste another second of your life by not hearing this "band". I was able to just stop keeping score as I knew I was going to like each song.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/01/cairo-pythian-touched.html


9-Nostalgist:"Of Loves and Days Ago"
 It's hard to argue against this Seattle band. The baritone vocals like if the singer from Bellicose Minds sang for a shoegaze band. They have an incredible guitar tone and have combined an interesting array of elements, I can hear touches of every thing from Hum and Failure to the more shoe gazing side of black metal. Not that they go any where near a blast beat but they have a similar atmosphere. Being a product of the 90s I enjoy any band that can use samples as a narrative in the songs and they really contribute here.Luckily with a little clicking I found the band's "name your price" as life currently has me too broke to pay the 8 bucks, though it would have been worth every penny and one of the few albums I would have put on my forced to buy list. Good Job kids. 


http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/07/nostalgist-of-loves-and-days-ago.html

8-King Dude:" Songs of Flesh & Blood -In the Key of Light"
 Being the Chelsea Wolfe that I am you would think I'd already be all over this considering he is one of the few artists she has collaborated with and midway into the first song I am not sure why I haven't been. It's more post- punk meets rockabilly than folk or the Johnny Cash singer-song writer thing I assumed it to be. There is more of a Rome like strum to "Deal With the Devil". The things I like about it that is remains dark. Sure Nick Cave is an obvious influence, but Cowgill doesn't get lost in the narrative and forget he is singing a song an not narrating a story. I prefer the fuller sounds and production on this album to some of his older work I heard a few years ago. If you are a long time fan then some of the more sparse and droning moments that didn't grab me off the bat will be more of you thing.
 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/07/king-dude-songs-of-flesh-blood-in-key.html


7- No Joy :"More Faithful"

   I was anticipating  this new full length from No Joy. Having liked the glimpses I got from this project in the past , but have never gotten a solid taste of what the band could really do  so now we get the big picture. The show you many side right from the first song which has the driving post-punk bass pumping under dreamy vocals. The guitar doesn't come into clearer focus until the second song, which conforms to more indie rock standards than the opener. The vocals smooth out and glide over their brand of dream pop, that comes across more vocal more in the forefront than their previous work. Not quite dancey and shaded with equal dabs of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth.Sure they can gleam like fragile crystal, but can also rock out when they feel like it.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/no-joy-more-faithful.html


6- The Decemberists: "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World"

 What do I want from a new Decemberists album ? Why am I even asking that question aren't they out of place among the typical fare.You might not have guessed that I would be a huge fan of the Decemberists, having listened to the for over a decade and seen them four times live during that time. Their last album the "King is Dead" was a quaint stab at radio airplay, a gamble that paid off for them. So what do a think would be a perfect Decemberists album, well I would like to see the lyrics darken back up...of course and get back to the murder balladry of the past.  A cross between the Hazards of Love with Picaresque.I get this in doses, but not completely.Colin Meloy's voice has improved over the years.This can be heard in the tonal quality of it on "Lake Song". Strummed folk with a jazz like under current it works a familiar magic for the band. Other songs find bands classic sound minus and pirate shanty elements with "Till the Water is Gone". There are moments when You really get a good picture of how good of a guitarist Chris Funk. This is followed with "the Wrong Year" a pop song that is written in the classic world folk sound the band excels. It carries a hook with all the intention that they wrote the last album with, but draped in  sounds long time fans should feel more comfortable with.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-decemberists-what-terrible-world.html


5- Algiers: "S/T"

 Matador records is released this, but not doing much else to promote it. Good thing for the band they have a unique sound that should set them apart.  They formed in Atlanta, but like most other good music Atlanta doesn't know what to think of it so they relocated to varied parts of the world meeting up again in New York. They do take string synths that are slightly goth and set them as a backdrop to the gospel dirge. The singer's husky soulful voice has more rawness to it than I expected and it sits in a bizarre juxtaposition to the noisy industrial clanging that it emotes over. Sometimes it sounds like the rest of the band is going to go along with him and start busting out some 60s soul from within the din. fitting comparison to this band would be they fuse dark electronica to gospel in the same way Chelsea Wolfe has done it with folk. Lyrically I think any religious imagery is being used as a metaphor. If you have any inkling in regards to my spiritual path based on my writing for Cvlt Nation then it should be clear that if this was a christian band I would not give them the time of day. Without a doubt this is an excellent piece of work that was well worth the searching it took to hunt this down.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/06/algiers-st.html


4- Nadine Shah: "Fast Food"

 So many of these new post-punk revival bands are jacking from Siouxsie, but they are only latching onto one element of what  she does.  Nadine might be jacking from Siouxsie, but at least it's a different aspect of Siouxsie that is a path less travelled. The album opens up in a more straight forward manner than I suspected. It still has air-tight song writing.There is an interesting tone to album that juggles an androgynous longing in the lyrics and their delivery. I have no problem just keeping this album on and letting it play.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/04/nadine-shah-fast-food.html


3-Marriages: "Salome "

This trio spawned off of the Red Sparrows and have been killing the stage opening for the likes of Chelsea Wolfe after releasing the impressive "Kitsune". The first thing that grabs your attention this go around is their singer. Her singing gets the most improved award for the album. Not that she was a bad singer before, her vocals have really stepped up to the next level and given the space to be used as an instrument just as impressive as the guitar, bass or drums. She was a more purring alto, which she flexes into some vocal lines that are more aggressive that the guitar that has taken on an even more dreamy quality time time around. At times this gives them more in common with A Perfect Circle or Tori Amos then the Russian Circles post-rock they brewed before. Sure some of the melodies are more radio friendly, but this is a far cry from selling out. You can't blame a girl for wanting to sing. They deserve all the praise they might get for not being afraid to shed some of the pretense of post-rock and just focus on writing good vocal driven songs. Emma has stepped up to the mic with a vocal performance few albums are going to be able to beat this year.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/marriages-salome.html


2- Ryan Adams : "1989"

 This album served as the methadone for my Taylor Swift addiction. My wife doesn't like Taylor Swift, she is banned from being played in the car, but this album is totally acceptable. Ryan Adams who also must be a pretty big fan as well as a metal head...just look up his cover of "Holy Diver", made a bold move in covering Swift's "1989" in its entirety and the results are pretty great.He really makes these songs his own which is an impressive feat and colors them with more of a Bruce Springsteen feel.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/12/ryan-adams-989.html


1- Royal Thunder: " Crooked Doors"

 This band continues to evolve from the blues soaked stoner rock, they have put the Black Sabbath albums away and now have become more of an indie rock band that takes on a rough edged hard rock dynamic. On the opener "Time Machine" which the band premiered on Npr,  Parsonz puts some angry husk to her voice when the band begins to climax toward the end of the song. The band was never fully committed to being a metal band even they they had a fetish for playing with metal bands , but they have taken another step away from metal with this album. This is not a bad thing as the new direction lends it's self to a compelling array of sounds and emotive glimpses into who this band is.

 http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/03/royal-thunder-crooked-doors.html