playlist

Best albums and tracks of 2018

The best albums of 2018 contains about 80 albums that I listened enough to warrant them a place in this list. Scroll further down for the best tracks as a Spotify playlist and a few pickups that I missed in 2017. Hyperlinks lead to reviews.


Best albums of 2018

Excellent (9)

Summoning — With Doom We Come – symphonic epic doom metal

Ancestors — Suspended in Reflections – doom metal / psychedelic rock

Orphaned Land — Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs oriental progressive metal

Hamferð — Támsins Likam doom metal / death doom


Excellent- (9-)

Gorod — Aethra progressive/technical death metal

Slugdge —  Esoteric Malacology – technical death metal – the beginning trilogy is 10/10, among absolute best tracks of the year but unfortunately the rest of the album is only good.


Very good (8½)

Kallomäki — Roka Ukridark folk metal

Haken — Vector progressive metal

Lik — Carnage – oldschool death metal


Very good 8+

Warrel Dane — Shadow Workprogressive metal / groove metal

Doomed — 6 Anti-Odes to Lifedeathdoom metal

Stam1na — Taival – progressive metal / thrash metal

Sigh — Heir To Despair – progressive metal / avant-garde metal

Snarg — Snarg II – hardcore punk / nintendo rock

Howling void / Nyss Splitdoom metal / black metal

The Ocean — Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic – progressive metal / post metal

King Goat — Debt of Aeons doom metal


Good (8)

Asunojokei — Awakening black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music

Muuan Mies — Elämmekö Unessa? – Finnish indie pop with reggae and rap influences

Hollywood Burns — Invaders synthwave – When Carpenter Brut started going soft, Hollywood Burns composed this joyous hard-hitting synthwave extravaganza. It is not the most original of albums, but the quality of the tracks is high. This is the year I also ran through nearly all Perturbator albums, but Hollywood Burns overtook them all.

Thy Catafalque — Geometriaprogressive metal / avant-garde metal/rock

Xenoverse — The Fall: Part I – progressive metal/rock

Eleanoora Rosenholm — Talvipalatsin puutarhassa – Finnish experimental indie pop

The Eternal — Waiting for the Endless Dawndoom metal / melodic metal

Kovaa Rasvaa — Pahan vaimon käsikirjahardcore punk / chaotic hardcore / metalcore

Sol Invictus — Necropolisneofolk

A Forest of Stars — Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakesavant-garde black metal

Ultha — The Inextricable Wanderingatmospheric black metal

Craft — White Noise and Black Metalblack metal – Craft is one of the most original black metal bands today, great mixture of black metal, doom and depressive tones. I particularly love the guitarists unique style but also the way the bass stands up. Just not enough killer tracks, unfortunately.

Cosmic Church — Täyttymys – black metal

Tribulation — Down Belowblackened occult metal/rock

Slægt — The Wheel Blackened occult heavy metal – initial disappointment wore off and The Wheel turned out to be a fine release, albeit I’m missing the black metal hues of the past that Being Born (Is Going Blind) still successfully employs.

Heptaedium — A M E N – breakcore


Good (8-)

Magoth — Zeitgeist: Dystopia – black metal

Jpegmafia — Veteran experimental noise rap

Omnium Gatherum — The Burning Cold – melodic death metal

At the Gates — To Drink from the Night Itself – melodic death metal

Radien — Syvyys – sludge / doom metal

Iglooghost — Clear Tamei EPIDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Cryptopsy — The Book of Suffering – Tome II brutal/technical death metal

Barren Earth — A Complex of Cagesprogressive (death) metal

Amorphis — Queen Of Time – melodic metal – The c part of Golden Elk sounds like it could have been composed by Orphaned Land lads themselves, and hey some folk from the band are guesting on the album, so maybe it is! Quite a few nice symphonic touches on the album that really resemble Orphaned land, a good thing, their album is one of the best of 2018 after all. Sometimes I feel Queen of Time is a 8+ album and others sounds like another boring Tomi Joutsen era Amorphis album (7), so I settled somewhere in between.

Valkyrja — Throne Ablazeblack metal

Primordial — Exile Amongst the Ruinsheavy metal / doom metal

Converge — Beautiful Ruin – chaotic hardcore/metalcore – fierce and short, as much as I like EP’s under 7 minutes is so little. Always listening it twice helps.

Voices — Frightenedblackened melodic metal with progressive and death metal twists – Footsteps is an absolute anthem.

Rivers of Nihil — Where Owls Know My Name – technical death metal – Starts really solidly, but soon it becomes apparent that while Where Owls Know My Name is technically really solid it often reduces to chugging around with spacey melodies. I’ve heard this before.

Paperi T — Kaikki on hyvinFinnish indie rap

Mogwai — KIN – post rock – good relaxing background music but lacks a bit of memorability and louder songs.


Good- 7½

Hegemone — We Disappear atmospheric black metal – Similar to Ultha but there’s even more inextricable musical wandering in the tracks. Condensing would be most welcome, Mara, Raising Barrows and Tengri have a lot of good stuff going on in the end. In most cases it takes quite a few minutes of mediocre material to reach the blissful end. Raising Barrows is a good entity and the end of Tengri one of the best moments of the entire year.

Oneothrix Point Never — Age of – experimental mellowly fucked up electronic

Empty — Vaciodepressive black metal – Strangely hooking, might prove to get better with time.

Satan — Cruel Magic80s heavy metal – Usually would not be to my liking at all but Satan is at best great because of solid riffs and vocalists mean enough delivery. Nearly the lone exception in 80s heavy metal department. Atom By Atom (2015) was overall a more varied and solid release.

Iglooghost — Steel Mogu EP – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Carpenter Brut — Leather teeth – synthwave

Alex Tiuniaev — The Escapist + Moon Quartetclassical pianist – I’ve never dug into classical elegant piano music, I guess The Escapist is an alright relaxing release of that sort. Moon Quartet is genuinely an enjoyable track with more luscious arrangements, violin etc.. It is not from the short The Escapist EP, but it is a perfect addon to the end. I will certainly keep my eye open for more Moon Quartet like material.

Kriegsmaschine — Apocalypticists black metal


Okay+ (7+)

Mournful Congregation — The Incubus of Karmafuneral doom metal – could grow to be better, about 10 listens did not still unearth this giant. Unlike usually, I liked it more in the first listens, good album straight from the start.

Panssarijuna — Voiko tähän kuolla – Finnish indie rock / trauma blues – the trauma blues elements are considerably less prominent and the album is more polished than before.

Sea of Poppies — Sea of Poppies experimental harsh noise / analogue

The Howling Void — The Darkness at the Edge of Dawnmelancholic doom metal

Behemoth — I Loved You At Your Darkestblack metal / blackened death metal

Machine Girl — The Ugly Art – Electro / industrial / chiptune / darkstep / Metalcore / indie / IDM –  There’s so much different stuff but somehow all fit under Machine Girl’s output (I did not even mention the occasional hardcore punk vibes or rave/psytrance beats / glitchy stuff). It’s not an unclear album at all. I just wish it was better songwise and better sung. The post-hardcore-like screaming does not really appeal to me. A lot of aggression present, a rather enjoyable mindfuck with some really bright spots and constant variation. On some listens I can barely stand the album, on others I am absolutely entertained. Listeners who have a liking of post-hardcore or metalcore can easily enjoy it more then me.

Teksti-TV 666 — Aidattu tulevaisuus – Finnish post punk / noise rock / indie rock

Mörkö — Ulvova Tyhjyys – progressive/atmospheric/ black metal / electronic / ambient – I’ve always liked the weird side of Finnish black metal but Mörkö just keeps going all out ambient in the tracks. Especially the latter half of album is almost only ambient. I almost gave the album a better grade for its sheer strangeness. Probably the most puzzling release of this year, has some strange magic I haven’t yet managed to grasp completely. I might understand the album better in 2 years. I’m actually looking for coming back to it later to see if it has grown. The beginning of Sikiäminen promises so much that on first listen I was ready to deem it among best albums of the year.


Okay (7)

Fireproven — Future Diary – progressive metal – Good live band but the album is too long and repetitive. There’s easily over 30 minutes of 8/10 material. Good amount of promise.

Hebosagil — Metsätie / JokiFinnish noise rock – Too pleasant, where’s the mud and dirt? I gotta say I quite enjoy the new clean guitar sound though.

Jukka Nousiainen — Ei enää kylmää eikä pimeää – Finnish retro 70s jytä/purkka rock/pop –  Pretty much everything is done the right way but it is not my thing. At worst such bright 70s poprock I’m glad I wasn’t yet born in that decade. But the meandering between quiet and noisier sections works delightfully, especially Aurinko paistaa romukasaan is a successful piece. Instrumentation is well played, some lyrics border great, some are quite naive, nicely airy sounds. I can imagine Jukka Nousiainen works well live, his other band Räjäyttäjät! definitely does.

Sarr — Ávitun – black metal –  3 track ep has a good title track, then it goes very repetitive and lo-fi with little ideas and a lot of length. Side-project of Nyss.

Makrofagi — Makrofagi – progressive rock/metal – In a world where Yup, Cmx or Absoluuttinen nollapiste didn’t exist, this’d be great. Technically good, atmospheric, even a quite original progressive weird rock/metal, just does not catch flight for reasons a bit unknown. All the sudden, a language change: liikaa hitaita biisejä, sanoituksiin on vaikea samaistua, aika pimeitä tarinoita. Jumalattaressa on hieno kertsi. Hyvä suomalainen häröilymusa lienee saturoinut korvani niin että vähempi kuin mestariteos ei kelpaa. Ne ovat aina liian lähellä EP:n Aavekaupunki on valitettavasti edelleen Makrofagin paras biisi.

Heptaedium — The Great Herald of Misery – djent / electronic


Okay- (6½)

There’d be significantly more albums here and below, but I didn’t see a reason to find albums I did not like to listen them again for a fair grade.

Sear Bliss — Letters From The Edgeatmospheric black metal – When another metal veteran Amorphis made their best record of the 2000s, Sear Bliss who has always delivered so far did the opposite.

Watain — Trident Wolf Eclipseblack metal – Sworn to the dark pt II, this time with a lot less soul.


6+

Therion — Beloved Antichristsymphonic heavy metal – Listening any of the 3 albums is quite pleasing, it is the entity with not enough substance or variety that is hard to fathom.


6

Ronski & Satanic — Täältä tullaan kuolema! – Finnish occult rap – Cool concept and a good idea. Should be my cup of tea but the most important, lyrics, instead of being deep and esoteric unfortunately are half interesting and half sound stupid. The single track is very good, at least.

Møl — Jordblackgaze – Professional, loudness war, serene, bright. Møl is making me understand why some people hate blackgaze.

Kalmah — Palomelodic death metal – I can find no burn of emotion here, just casual melodeath with extremely generic melodies. I liked every Kalmah album before this. Stalker is a decent piece of a track though.

Necrophobic — Mark of the Necrogramblack metal – Mediocreness overload, it is actually hard to understand why I get no joy out of Mark of the Necrogram, I even liked it on the very first listens. Very professional record in all measurable variables.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics splitdoom metal / sludge – There’s quality in here, I reckon there’s a lot of people who might enjoy this kind of slightly psychedelic, slightly stoner, slightly oldschoolish sludge doom similar to Ufomammut. I don’t. Perhaps the riffs fail to find my connection or perhaps they really are generic.


5

Khôrada — Saltprogressive metal –  There’s no way I’m listening this mess more than 1 time if it’s not a side-project of Agalloch. What a letdown. Vocals are close to incessant wailing and the song-writing is a mess. If given enough time, it might grow to be a bad album instead of very bad. I guess John Haughm was the visionary of Agalloch after all. I genuinely hope that Khôrada picks it up later, in paper they have a lot of talent.


Some albums I checked out artificially but I didn’t have enough time to properly listen them

KivirantaGammasäde
KivirantaDolce Vita
ÖverFacing Trancendence
Anaal NathrakhA New Kind of Horror
Jarkko MartikainenAina Auki
VolaApplause Of A Distant Crowd
SerocsThe Phobos​/​Deimos Suite
The Beast of NodVampira: Disciple of Chaos
Hiidenhauta1695
Thomas Erak and The Shoreline — The Whole Story
Perfect BeingsVier
W.A.I.L. Wisdom Through Agony into Illumination and Lunacy vol. II – the most demanding album this year, after over 5 listens I am still unable to place this monstrous doom slab anywhere.


Best tracks of 2018

Best tracks arranged to a playlist in quite random order.


Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…


2017 flashback

albums from 2017 that I found out too late to make it into last year’s top list.

9+

Iglooghost — Neō Wax Bloom – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep

9-

King Gizzard — Murder of the Universe – progressive rock / garage rock – the darkest, weirdest and most progressive of 2017 King Gizzard albums, making it the best one.

Aether Realm — Tarot melodic death metal
Caligula’s Horse — In Contactprogressive metal – Songs for No One jumped straight into my best progressive metal tracks of all time list.
Lauren Bousfield — Fire Songs – experimental idm / breakcore
Camerata Mediolanense — Le Vergini Folli – neoclassical

8+

Magoth — Anti Terrestial Black Metal – black metal

8

Perturbator — New Modelsynthwave
Aivovuoto — Dötöx Finnish rap
Saimaa — Urheilu-Suomi
– progressive rock for sportsmen
King Gizzard — Polygondwanaland – garage rock – 5 albums released 2017 and all of them quality! Polygondwanaland is a complete free download too. Not only that but it was released with a statement “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records.” There’s 234 different versions to date! Growth from 2017’s is 74! I also made a best of 2017 collection which I will publish later.
King Gizzard — Sketches of Brunswick East – garage rock

8-

Venenum — Trance of Death – death metal
Leprous — Malina – progressive rock / progressive metal
Earth Electric — Solar, Vol. 1 – heavy metal / doom metal / progressive
Mustan Kuun Lapset — Saatto
– dark metal

7+

Black Dahlia Murder — Nightbringers – melodic death metal

Anathema — The Optimist – post rock / alaternative rock – Anathema’s albums nearly always have individual great tracks, here it’s Endless Ways.


OK 2007 albums I didn’t listen enough, but there were some potential

Angerfist — Creed of Chaos
Insurgency — Militant Death Cult
nishaiar — UNIVERSUM
Light of the Morning star — Nocta
Mogwai — Every Country’s Sun
Resurgency — No Worlds…Nor Gods Beyond
Deserted Fear — Dead Shores Rising
Ghost — Prequelle

Like Summer 2018 Music to Your Ears playlist + Music Quickies

Like usual in the summertime I have not looked out for that much new music but focused on… Just summer I guess. I dunno where it went. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been new tracks on my playlist. Not all of the chosen music is summery, in fact most isn’t. Instead of idiotic hip summer music, the playlist has plain really fucking good tracks.

Metals of summer 2018

-6122529-1411671592-2798At The Gates published their new album To Drink From The Night Itself in 2018. It’s a pretty good effort with some memorable tracks (To Drink From The Night Itself, In Nameless Sleep, The Mirror Black) but most of all it made me retry their previous album At War With Reality (2014). Somehow I had skipped it altogether and it proved to be a mistake, it’s an extremely solid melodic death metal album that only loses a bit of punch by the end. And I don’t get excited about melodic death metal easily. Circular Ruins has a grandiose last half, great chorus, lovely guitar harmonies and fierce vocals (even the Crawling Chaos from H.P. Lovecraft gets a mention), what’s not to like.


Slugdge-Esoteric-Malacology-e1519751375282Slugdge – Spectral Burrows. Esoteric Malacology is probably my favourite album of 2018 so far. Cosmic progressive death metal with a gimmicky lyric theme, that does not reflect to the overall quality of the music. How the hell a band that sings about snails makes lyrics and music this good.

 



R-10663576-1501951371-9132.jpegMagoth – Requiem Deus (Anti Terrestrial Black Metal, 2017). So, there’s these rare songs that starts with a chorus. Really untypical but you find them sometimes. Requiem Deus is one of those but on top of that, the chorus is instrumental! That’s even rarer I guess! The basis is a strong as shit tremolo melody. I bet a lot of black metal bands could have composed this tremolo but how the track is arranged brings so much more power to it.


R-12160526-1529516094-5694.jpegCraft‘s 2018 album White Noise and Black Metal does not seem to be as strong as Void (2011), but Void was ridiculously good. Cosmic Sphere Falls is right there among the best tracks of Craft’s career. Summer and black metal baby.

 

 


102919-awakeningAsunojokei – Spring of Passion (Awakening, 2018). Combining black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music melodies. How can it not fail? Asunojokei’s compositions sound so logical that on paper they sound much more weird than what they actually sound!

 


homeland

My Reflection – Homeland (single, 2018) Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their career. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections. I also just published a short article about the track: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2018/08/10/my-reflection-homeland-epic-symphonic-melodic-metal/


leprousLeprous – Stuck (Malina, 2017). Leprous gig in Tuska was among the best of the festival. The band looks like school boys and at best sounds like jazz musicians doing their impression of catchy progressive metal. The weird drumming style and lots of rhythmic hooks have drawn me quite in to their style. The last 1.5 minutes of rhythmics on Stuck are such a bliss.

 


doomedDoomed – Our Gifts (6 Anti-Odes to Life, 2018). Death/doom. Strong album that might lack a bit of high-points but the overall quality makes up for it. Especially The Doors and Our Gifts are high class atmospheric death-doom tracks. Strangely the tacit and slow instrumental Layers (Ode To Life) has been playing in my head after waking up, I guess it’s beautiful enough. As a satisfyingly logical detail, it is also the 7th track of the record!

 


Meshuggah_-_The_Violent_Sleep_of_Reason

Meshuggah – By The Ton (Violent Sleep of Reason, 2016). Another high point of Tuska 2018. The rhythmic majesty combined with the supreme light-show at times induced a catharsis. For example the title track of the record had a super satisfying effect of white lights going down on rhythm and speed with huge downward slides of one of the central riffs (first appearing at 0:34). By focusing on the lights they brought a completely new visual rhythm element to the show. By The Ton is still my favourite track of the record.


Electronics of summer 2018

a0487580087_10Slipdrive – Nova Byzantium a Thousand Spires of Light (River of Heaven OST, 2014). A complete random find from a soundtrack of a pen an paper roleplaying game I’ve never played and probably never will. The soundtrack is lovely sci-fi-game music-chillout-electro. Nova Byzantium and The Coming Renunciation seem to launch the listener straight into space.

 


42084Vector Lovers – Monologue (iPhonica, 2013). Music that sounds like you were on drugs. Sounds that seem to come from an other dimension in surprising relaxing symmetry. Such weird sensations and damn if I like it!

 

 


glanko orvotGlanko – Orvot (single, 2018). Glanko’s progressive sci-fi IDM or what the heck it is always activates my synapses. Chillout electronic track with really strong astral spacey vibes. Ideal for watching a spacestation move slowly with a small beam drive, multicoloured star rings and nebulas shining around it.

 


Finnish music of summer 2018 (sad list)

R-12137234-1529049213-7911.jpegPaperi T – Muutos (Kaikki on hyvin, 2018). My mainstream sin. The flow and sound of Paperi-T’s vocals and the cunning punning lyrics are a joy to listen. Even though his darker compositions and lyrics seem to be in the past, when Paperi-T is at his darkest that’s when I enjoy him the most. One of those lyricists that makes you want to google what the hell he is singing about but can also surprise with straight-forward lines and stories. New album is quite uneven but has a really good starting trinity.

Sol Invictus 1990-1994 Best of Collection – Bootleg playlist

Sol Invictus is an English neofolk group, fronted by Tony Wakeford. As they have released a huge amount of quality albums since their formation in 1987, I decided to compile a bootleg best of collection as a Spotify playlist. Soon however, I realized that it would have to include about a quintillion tracks. A natural way to tackle this turned out to be dividing the collection into 4 parts by the release years. As always I wanted to make the collection like a “real” album entity.

The first of the four, 1990-1994 includes a few of my favourite releases: Trees In Winter (1990), King & Queen (1992) and Death of the West (1994). Almost every other full-length and live album between these years is also included!

A sharp-eyed lad may notice the absence of Lex Talionis (1993). That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, actually the opposite. I struggled hard in adding 3-4 tracks of industrial neofolk noise into an acoustic guitar driven collection and decided to make the more experimental Sol Invictus tracks into a separate collection. Also the lo-fi Against the Modern World (1988) will suffer the same fate! Nevertheless, I decided to include Angels Fall from Black Europe (1994) live album to make a cameo appearance.

Musings on some tracks

The starting track, The Man Next Door is Very Strange is my favourite rendition of Trees in Winter’s Sawney Bean. Many consider it a classic Sol Invictus song and I like to think this 1991 Killing Tide version is more definitive than 1990 Trees in Winter version. I do prefer the title Sawney Bean though. The track is chilling and has an extremely chilling backstory too: “Alexander “Sawney” Bean was said to be the head of a 48-member clan in Scotland anywhere between the 13th and 16th centuries, reportedly executed for the mass murder and cannibalisation of over 1,000 people.” There are old folk versions of this track but I cannot say whether the composition or lyrics have been influenced by any of them.

Talking about folk ballads the 6th track Sheath and Knife is one the Child ballads (folk songs collected by Francis Child during the second half of 19th century). A lot of musicians have made new renditions of these ballads, many extremely dark in nature. Sheath and Knife portrays a particularly tragic and a bit violent love story. And the ending… Sheesh.

Quite a few Sol Invictus listeners that found the band in 2000s came through the metal band Agalloch. They released a cover of Kneel to the Cross in their EP Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor (2001). This lead me to the unpolished version on Kneel to the Cross on Lex Talionis (1993) which I could not fathom at all. However I also found Death of the West (1994). It hit the mark almost instantly and is featured as the 9th track in this collection.

Tracklist

The Watching Moon sketch by Tor Lundvall (https://tonywakeford.wordpress.com)

1. The Man Next Door is Very Strange (The Killing Tide, 1991)
2. The Watching Moon (King & Queen, 1992) – one of the many occurences of nihilist pitch-black humouristic lyrics. Just some lovely piano-dibbling on the composition too!
3. Death of the West (Death of the West, 1994)
4. Media (Trees in Winter, 1990) – probably the most loved Sol Invictus track, straight to the point, melancholic and melodic.
5. Sheath and Knife (Death of the West, 1994)
6. Angels Fall (Black Europe, live, 1994; originally Against The Modern World, 1988)
7. Like a Sword (Let Us Prey, live, 1992; originally The Killing Tide, 1991)
8. Amongst the Ruins (Death of the West, 1994)
9. Kneel to the Cross (Death of the West, 1994)
10. The Return (King & Queen 1992)
11. Tears and Rain (King & Queen, 1992) – Seek out Tor Lundvall’s cover; it’s even more chilling.
12. English Murder (Trees in Winter, 1990)
13. Sun and Moon (King & Queen, 1992) – bonus track

 

The next collection will cover the years 1995-2000, it will be linked here when it’s ready!

Monumental Folkish & Folk metal playlist

1. Fleurety – Fragmenter av en Fortid disappeared from Spotify just a while ago, it will be added back when it comes back around. Full-length Min tid skal komme from 1995 is the real jewel of their discography. One of many “lost” metal releases that many consider a classic but most people have never heard about. It’s definitely a must checkup for fans of folkish metal.

1. Fleurety’s place was taken by Pillorian, the newly formed line-up of ex-Agalloch John Haughm. After Agalloch split into two pieces in 2016, the remaining three members went to form Khôrada that is due to release their first album. Pillorian‘s 2017 release Obsidian Arc starts with it’s brightest spots, By the Light of a Black Sun (+ Archaen Divinity) should sate most Agalloch fans.

2. Fen is not a band that I’ve tracked, even though it’s similarities to Agalloch have been known to me since their first full-length Malediction Fields in 2009. It is only lately that I gave a true chance to their unpolished first album and it unveiled a real jewel in Lashed by Storm. The weak clean vocals in the very end are it’s only grey spot. Fen’s 2017 release Winter materialized on my listening cycle; it does have some very atmospheric sections but its also really-frigging-long (75 minutes!). I would deem it very possible that a track from it appears to my playlists later on.

3.-4. As a humble praise, Wilderun‘s Sleep at the Edge of Earth might be my favourite metal release of past 5 years. It has a glorious quaternity Ash Memory (trinity has 3, quaternity 4, yeah i just looked it up from google…), from which 2 well fitting tracks were chosen. Hope and Shadow (II), and the The Faintest Echo (IV). The traces in the beginning of Hope and Shadow that clip in this collection are from the 1st track of the quaternity. Wilderun really took care to make it a logical entity which I then disturbed!

The Faintest Echo’s 3.20 monumental symphonic centerpiece and outro of the quaternity is a prime example why Wilderun’s output doesn’t pale in comparison with any symphonic and folk metal bands of today.

5. Tore Hund is by Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá. It is a project by Enslaved and Wardruna veterans, which may run below radar cause of it’s eccentric name that sounds like artsy folk music. Well um, it is kind of that actually, in a lot of ways Skuggsja sounds more like folk with metal elements than the other way around. Though even the folkier tracks often have a heavy backbone that owes to metal and makes these two elements come together naturally.

6. In Zuriaake‘s Afterimage of Autumn‘s most stunning moment, the chorus of 歸兮 / Return Journey Zuriaake seamlessly adds a traditional sounding Chinese tremolo melody to a slow doomy basis. Unfortunately I could not pick the name of this guitar like string instrument as the booklet is all in Chinese (except track titles). Zuriaake’s black metal focuses on entwining natural atmospherics, ambience with very overdriven guitars and depressive black metal vibe. I also reviewed them in the past (https://likemusictoyourears.com/2016/01/26/zuriaake-afterimage-of-autumn).

7. October Falls is an interesting beast for their first promo was metal but three of the first four official releases were acoustic guitar driven material with a lot of natural ambience. Since then they’ve mostly strolled on the metallic grounds, always with quality but rarely with something that really catches my ears. A Collapse of Faith Part III, from 2010 A Collapse of Faith must be their best track to date. I must admit however that I have spent way too little time in adjusting to 2013, The Plague of a Coming Age. That ought to be my next listen.

8. The noise / drone wall of Sol InvictusEnglish Murder‘s intro make it a significantly difficult piece. But I am not making these collections for layman listeners quick fix. The controversy and paradox of a folk track being actually heavier and darker than the following metal track make it a juicy addon.

9. Logically following Sol Invictus is Agalloch, who have listed Sol Invictus as one of their big influences. Agalloch is one of the very first metal bands that I got into and surely the first folkish metal band. Yet in their sound progressive elements, post-rock and melancholia are also ever present. Limbs 10 minute brilliance is started by deliciously annoyingly long 10 second note after which it goes all post-rock. Climbing to mountains, descending into valleys and drifting among the transparent mist.

I do appreciate a well timed and set up grunt, John Haughm’s 6.35 effort is one of the prime examples! “These boughs were said to be lost! Torn, unearthed and broken –  IYRRRRRRRRRRRR”. What the fuck is he even singing about? There must be something to it as it inspires genuine sing-along grunting from yours truly. When it comes to grunting, Haughm is right up there with Thomas Gabriel Fischer.

10. Skyclad‘s past two albums haven’t been nearly as notable as most of their 12 full-lengths before them (many of them are masterpieces after all). I would only rate A Burnt Offering for the Bone Idol and No Daylights Not Heeltaps on level with the new albums. However, on In The… All Together from 2009 Skyclad formed possibly the best track of their career, The Well-Travelled Man. The vocalist Kevin Ridley is on fire, shouting half of the track. Lyrics and composition communicate perfectly into a folky, dramatic, upbeat, yet melancholic tune with a heart-wrenching ending. Wow.

Depression Overload – metal playlist

Funeral doom and depressive black metal is the bread and butter of this album (a playlist really, but I consider my playlists albums). It visits only a few other despairing terrains. This is no melancholy walk in the park as my previous playlists (Monumental funeral doom melancholy and Post-rock melancholia) but pure despair and depression. The darkness on the album is not sourced from incoherent extreme sewer sounds but tightly sounding bands that combine a great melodic sense with a feeling of hopelessness and misery.

1. It would not make sense to reveal all the cards in the beginning, so the beginning of the album is a light descent with some melodic funeral doom.

Shape of Despair is a band many of the melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. Entwined in Misery is the best piece of their 2004 album Illusion’s play. It features hauntingly beautiful background keys that have lasted the touch of time extremely well. Pasi Koskinen’s growling kept getting deeper as Shape of Despair progressed in their career, peaking here. The new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job on their newest release, Monotony Fields (2015) as well.
All these years in absence
…forgiveness does not reveal itself…

…and emptiness falls before me…
And silences this life,


2. One of the best releases of 2015 Leviathan’s Scar Sighted is based on black metal but at it’s darkest it is pure nihilistic funeral doom. The title track is especially gloomy. The tortured screams and bright piano create a real contrast of depression and light.
Nil light reigns
Only tattered accusations
Paling to the comparison
Now utterly drained
And all wonder is banished
Life after life
Absorbing
Nothing


3. Evoken – Mournful Refusal. Evoken could be called a successor of nihilistic old school funeral bands like Esoteric, also having more in common with Thergothon and Skepticism than Shape of Despair. 2005 release Antithesis of Light (what a title!) benefits of its modern and crushingly heavy production. Hear also the dynamics, how beautifully Evoken has crafted a chorus with clean guitar and lovely bursty double bass drumming.
Waiting only prolongs the wanting
Living only prolongs the arriving
Death knows no regret of a mournful refusal

In sporadic tone, the composition of beauty
Turned grim and cold…


4. Lifelover (what a band name!), a lot of people loathe them and for a reason. Their sounds take some time to get used to, drum machine and quite amateuristic guitar sounds. Upon listening their masterpiece, Konkurs for the first time I thought: “Is this the masterpiece? Really?” But it’s a stunning grower with a soul that is very hard to find on any other release. The pitch-black humour in the depressive lyrics is the icing on the cake.

Stängt p.g.a Semester (closed because of semester) is an interlude unlike anything else on this album. A beautifully haunting acoustic track with despairing lyrics. One of the only instances were being forced to study ~8 years of Swedish in school has paid off.

På Svenska
Vem behöver glädjas åt sig själv
När vi kan skratta åt andra?
Vem behöver ha ett syfte
När det är urvattnat och saknar mening?
Vem behöver säga att “Jag mår bra”
När ändå ytan är det viktiga?
Innan jag åkte, lämnade jag bomber,
Där ni känner er som mest trygga
Jag kommer inte tillbaka
English translation
Who needs to be happy about their selves
When we can laugh at others?
Who needs a purpose
When it’s all dried up and lacks meaning?
Who needs to say “I feel good”
When the surface is what counts?

Before I left, I planted bombs
Where you feel most secure
I won’t return

5. A lot of people thought it a dick move when a couple years ago Ghost Bath swindled in being a Chinese band, but turned out to be American. They said that was because they wanted to keep actual identities/location anonymous and for affection of Chinese culture.

Prejudice labelled aside Moonlover is a fine release but Happyhouse is the lethal injection Ghost Bath is at it’s best in prescribing. Happyhouse brings in mind the “Mental Central Dialog” themes of Lifelover. It’s bright melodies and incoherently painful screaming vocals clash together to create a feeling of an mental asylum. The melodies are a bit predictable but twisted a little obscure, perhaps wee bit out of tune and so fucking good, all this predictability is a strength. A downright shuddering tune.


6. Drudkh – Solitude. Yes it’s a great track and yes it’s pretty long with a lot of repetition, in the right mode Solitude becomes a very meditative track. Solitude is one of the only instances of more melancholic terrain than the rest of the tracks, it’s true potential lies in its slow and somber orchestral main melody.

Solitude’s lyrics are from a poem of an Ukrainian artist Taras Shevchenko (Thoughts of mine, О thoughts of mine, 1839). The familiar slavic dramatic melancholy is easy to discover.

Ukrainian
Журбою
Не накличу собі долі,
Коли так не маю.
Нехай злидні живуть три дні –
Я їх заховаю,
Заховаю змію люту
Коло свого серця,
Щоб вороги не бачили,
Як лихо сміється…
Нехай думка, як той ворон,
Літає та кряче,
А серденько соловейком
Щебече та плаче
Нишком – люди не побачать,
То й не засміються…
Не втирайте ж мої сльози,
Нехай собі ллються,
Чуже поле поливають
Щодня і щоночі,
Поки попи не засиплють
Чужим піском очі…
English translation
Never knew I joy, nor will it
Come to me if I
Grieve ’thout end…. Let grief be short-lived,
Let it snake-like lie
Coiled within my breast and hidden
From the evil sight
Of my foes…. And may its laughter
Reach them not…. By night
And by day my thoughts are ravens;
Let them croak while my
Heart, a songbird, trills and warbles,
While it softly sighs,
Sighs and moans with none to hear it
Or to taunt it … Pray,
Let me weep, and do not try to
Wipe my tears away.
Let them flow and flood the alien
Field till that a priest
Comes and covers me with alien
Earth…. Ah, me! No peace
Grief will bring me….

English translation by Irina Zheleznova taken from http://taras-shevchenko.infolike.net/t-shevchenko-tr-by-irina-zheleznova-poem-thoughts-of-mine-o-thoughts-of-mine.html) I cannot speak Ukrainian so the English and Ukrainian parts may not match exactly.


7. Moonsorrow – Kuolleiden Maa. Listen, Moonsorrow is not most known for their depressive black metal vibes. But on Kuolleiden Maa they are nothing else.

Finnish
Olen siellä mistä kaikki alkaa uudelleen
Missä valo ei värejä näytä
Kaikkialle levittäytyy tasainen niitty
Vain taivas ylläni vaalenee
Käy rauhaisena vierelläni tuuli
Itse silmäni suljen ja itken
Tänne jään, kaipuuta vailla
Rikotun henkeni veden virtaan annan
English translation
I am there where everything
starts and
Where the light shows no colours
An even meadow stretching everywhere
Only the sky above me growing lighter
A calm breeze is blowing beside me | I close my
eyes and weep | Here I
shall remain, without yearning | My broken spirit I shall give to the streaming
waters
depression overload_edit

Illustration from British Library free to use Flickr

Monumental metal 4 – Epixperimental playlist

Bring out the weird again, epic experimental tracks! This playlist features bands from experimental terrain that have a solid basis on metal.

1. Rudra‘s Illusory Enlightment is “Vedic” metal from Singapore. Vedic comes from their incorporation of Sanskrit Vedic literature, philosophy and ancient mantras (shlokas) to blackened death metal basis. They also encompass traditional Carnatic music to their compositions. Illusory Enlightment’s top moment is the compelling chanting chorus. See also the review of their album Brahmavidya: Immortal I here.

2. Jumalhämärä is one of the many bands in Finnish experimental black metal terrain that has gotten more attention in the past 10 years. Along with bands like Oranssi Pazuzu, Abyssion, Mörkö, Jumalhämärä is probably the weirdest of the bunch. The title track of their most accessible album Resignaatio is a rare catchy, almost punky, track and in their catalogue that makes it an abnormality. Its deep bass rumbling intro turns into naturally flowing structure, captivating Finnish lyrics with supremely hooking riffing and stylish use of upstrokes. You know what they released after Resignaatio? A drone pipe organ album. Really.

3. December Wolves is one of the many bands I found from Earache presents: Metal – A headbanger’s companion (2007). It is from the CD 2 – Grindcore, but especially CD 6 – Leftfield is a great listen (Cult of Luna, Callisto, Scorn, Godflesh, Akercocke, Crotchduster etc.). Desperately Seeking Satan could be called leftfield, though its roots are firmly in black metal. The heavy use of voice clips, nihilistic lyrics and programmed drums combining industrial with violent black metal guitars make their 2002 release Blasterpiece Theatre have a sound appearance unlike any other.

4. The Meads of Asphodel – Children of the Sunwheel Banner (part 2). You could say that Metatron, the vocalist of Meads of Asphodel takes making lyrics a bit seriously. Their webpage has about 100 pages of text per album about the lyrical themes. So you can imagine it surges pretty deep. It seems the web page is unfortunately down at the moment though.

Sunwheel banner obviously references to nazis. I am not even going into the stuff of them being “nazis” because they are a metal band that has an interest of the atrocities of the past + uses the word “jew”. Oh and one of the 10 labels that has released their music has apparently released an NSBM release, jeez.

Like in one of my previous playlists Monumental metal oddities, I placed “cousin” bands The Meads of Asphodel and Sigh after each other. They have enough eccentric material to use for a few playlists. Also, the keyboard solo in Children of the Sunwheel Banner is played by none else than the main man behind Sigh, Mirai Kawashima.

5. Sigh – A Messenger From Tomorrow (I. The Message – II. Foreboding – III. Doomsday). The most epic track in Sigh’s catalogue. Surprisingly also one of the lightest ones, based on strong orchestral melodies. The lesser amount of heavy distortion guitars does not mean the composition wouldn’t be huge though. A Messenger From Tomorrow only further proves the multifacetedness of Sigh as a monstrously diverse band.

6. Negură Bunget – Cunoașterea tăcută. Negura Bunget’s 2006 release Om is one of the highlights of 2000s black metal in both song-writing and originality. The introduction of Romanian traditional instruments, epic soundscapes, shamanistic repetitive passages, raw production and very oldschool black metal elements blew many a mind. Cunoașterea tăcută includes one of those clean melodies (at 3.00) that makes you wonder on what plane of being it was conceived. Oldschool black metal riffing accompanied with traditional instruments and high-flying folk singing with the catchiness of bubonic plague.

7. Ufomammut – Daemons. What a Monster riff to close up their 2015 release, Ecate. That is all that needs to be said really.