To kick off this (if the tinfoil hat-wearing crowd are to be believed), the final year of the world as we know it, before momentous cataclysms annihilate the earth, I'm re-introducing the short-but-sweet style reviews I used to do at RBS. This is partly to make sure I actually get to review the bands I like and am excited about while it's all fresh in my mind as well as an attempt at making a dent in the towering backlog of shit I promised myself I'd do but never got around to. It also serves to toss a few reviews your way of some of 2011's most stand out releases. So, in the immortal words of Malcolm Tucker: "Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off!" Here's the first batch of reviews.
Bädr Vogu - Exitium
2011, Memento Mori
This Oakland quintet released one of the best sludge/doom/heavy fucking metal albums of 2011. This is probably the album that most impacted on my musical tastes last year, because it made me want to check out more of the same. This is all about thunderous, shuddering basslines rumbling beneath a ton of gritty, vicious guitars, driven by simple effective drumming, with a vocal mixture of deep growls and midrange screams. Even in the midst of all the carnage of these seven songs there is always room for melody and also a sense of direction and flow which keeps everything moving and never becoming dull of repetitive. I keep thinking of Eye For An Eye/Animosity-era Corrosion Of Conformity when I hear Exitium, partly because they share the same love for Sabbathy grooves and riffs but also because they have that same open recording style where everything seems to be hanging very loosely together, leaving lots of room for every instrument to breathe. Like a pair of really baggy pants. This is some truly excellent shit everybody into haarp, EyeHateGod, Nootgrush etc should checkout. Like right fucking now. Buy.
Hexis - XI
Hexis are an exciting new Danish hardcore act that seemed to come out of fucking nowhere like a spinning back-fist, last year. Their music, much like that fist, hits like a sledge hammer to the head, because it is not only heavy as hell but it is also confusing as hell. This is black metal fuelled hardcore with influnces from everything from screamo to sludge to post-metal/hardcore/whatever. Everyone of these seven, mostly fairly short, tracks are densely packed with feedback, chaotic tremolo picking and intense speeds, many times interspersed with slower, sludgier sections that break the pace a bit. Expect to be completely thrown off balance here. There is not even a trace of traditional song structure to be found in these songs, which is awesome. Like I said this is a blend of all sorts of metal/hardcore styles and it is definately unorthodox and challenging, but never, even for a second, dull. Go Denmark! Buy.
Fuck The Facts - Die Miserably
Canadian grind shredders Fuck The Facts have, with Disgorge Mexico and Stigmata High-Five, recorded some of the best grindcore albums of all time, but with their latest release, Die Miserably, they've in my opinion released one of the top ten metal albums of the past decade, or more. I may be overstating the case slightly but I think this is as diverse and as important an album to the genre as a whole as Brutal Truth's Need To Control was in 1994. This is monumetal stuff that has recieved nowhere near the attention it deserves. And as much as I love Brutal Truth, Noisear and Gridlink, those guys are completely blown out of the water by FTF. Die Miserably is not only a collection of songs but has a clear sense of cohesion and vision. Everything fits perfectly together, like precision-made machine parts, into something much grander than the sum total of the songs themselves. I could rave on and on about the fucking stellar writing on Die Miserably; how I'm still, after listening to the abum scores of times, amazed by the incredibly memorable riffs and brilliant twists and turns of the tracks; how the band beautifully infuses melody into the album without ever dropping the ball; how they blend loads of different styles into the music that somehow never clashes with the core element of their craft. Instead I'll just urge you: even if you're not really into grindcore, do yourself a favour and check this album out. It is pure excellence in all its parts as well as in its totality. I got the Deluxe version of the album in digital form off iTunes, which has eleven bonus tracks. There are a bunch of versions as well at their bandcamp site: Buy for fuck's sake!