Here, then without further ado, are the Antivenin Top 10 of 2010:
(Sorry, no graphics because blogger kept fucking up my formatting when I tried to include pics of album covers.)
#10 WATAIN – Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist)
Any band as laden with controversy as Watain is bound to be polarizing. There are those in the tr00-kvlt faction who believe Lawless Darkness loses validity, as:
A) The production is crisp and immaculate, and
B) it’s brought Watain to the forefront of the current blackmetal scene, and
C) because its songs are allegedly simpler and more-easily digestible than on past efforts.
I disagree - I think the new album is more punishing, and in a lot of ways, less accessible than 2007’s Sworn to the Dark. The title track of that album alone is far more ‘catchy’ than anything on Lawless Darkness. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge Watain’s incredible live show as a deciding factor - they were probably the best show I saw this year. While the album drew me in, the live show blew my
mind. Regardless of the hype, Lawless Darkness is a fantastic,no-bullshit, all-guts blackmetal record and my favorite of the genre this year.
#9 SALOME – Terminal (Profound Lore)
My ear-popping introduction to Salome came in the form of their 2009, for-a-comp cover of Fugazi’s “Blueprint”, which I stumbled across on YouTube this past summer (thanks @sophiepn!). Now, granted, I have a personal bias - I’ve always firmly believed Fugazi was one of those bands you just don’t cover. Ever. But it turned out, in Salome’s case, I was happy to make the exception. And when Terminal was released in November, I dove into it on the strength of that cover alone. Holy shit - guitars that sound exactly like Ten Songs-era Melvins, fronted by a singer whose voice sounds like a hair-clogged drain. And no bullshit present. The 78RPM-record-on-33RPM-speed of Terminal is about a subtle & nuanced as a nine-pound sledge taken to your fibula. But sometimes the need for power far overrules any need for restraint.
#8 NACHTMYSTIUM – Addicts: Black Meddle Part II (Century Media)
Nachtmystium blew my mind with their forward-thinking psychedelic black metal, although, in truth, it took a few listens for me to get into. With no previous knowledge of their music, I was blissfully unaware of any controversial change surrounding the band’s previous sound, I just knew it was unlike anything I’d heard before - "Nightfall" and "No Funeral" especially. Once I realized -and began to appreciate- exactly what it was I was hearing, this album didn’t leave my rotation for months. A dichotomous album, gloriously ugly as much it is groundbreakingly beautiful, Addicts is a timely chronicle of a band stretching the boundaries of extreme music.
#7 SLEEPBRINGER - Compendium (independent)
I still say Sleepbringer's Compendium is the heaviest record I heard this year, ‘nuff said. (←Album available for free download at link in band's name)
#6 TRIPTYKON – Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
A bookend to Celtic Frost’s brilliant 2006 swansong Monotheist, Eparistera Daimones was lauded as a Warrior’s Return for the mighty Tom G. And rightly so, because the album’s SO goddamned HEAVY: Gargantuan, lugubrious riffing that invokes a state of trance over the listener, and makes for an epic listening experience. Dripping with an un-pinpoint-able darkness, and thickening the air with sonic smoke, Triptykon revels in a bleak, black atmosphere befitting such an iconoclast as Tom Warrior.
#5 THE SEQUENCE OF PRIME – Virion (independent)
Brandon Duncan’s bone-chilling, apocalyptic, amphetaminized-industro-doom album Virion had me all a-quiver from first listen. It’s a frightening, jaw-dropping album from start to finish. That The Sequence of Prime is a one-man project makes me stand even more in awe of the genius behind it. Much like its subject matter, Virion is an unstoppable, unreasonable show of force start-to-finish; an amoral, alien evil without any comprehension of its malevolence, but destroying everything it comes into contact with nonetheless. The music is equally as infectious as the hypothetical virus it describes. Brandon Duncan is a genius and I cannot wait to see what 2011 holds for The Sequence of Prime. (←Album available for free download at link in band's name)
#4 KVELERTAK – Kvelertak (Indie Recordings)
Insert the words Turbonegro or blackmetal in any given sentence, sure, my ears prick up. Include them both, especially in the context of a confluence on one album, and you’ve really got my attention. This time the nod goes to Kevin Stewart-Panko, whose review of this record at Hellbound intrigued the shit out of me, and led me to one of the year’s most rewarding finds in Kvelertak’s self-titled monster of a record. There’s no letup; Kvelertak are here to party down, wailing away with blackened-boogie abandon. The piano, tambourine and handclaps on “Mjød” are especially ass-shaking (there’s never enough handclaps in metal), but the whole disc runs down like this. Probably the finest example of black’n’roll this year. As a bonus, John Baizley’s incredible artwork made for my favorite album art of the year.
#3 GHOST – Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)
Credit where it’s due: a tip of the hat to Hellbound’s Adrien Begrand for turning me on to this fine Swedish, pseudo[?]-Satanic, pseudo-Seventies, Suspiria-sounding soundtrack to dark-cloaked rituals and burnt offerings. Equal parts Goblin, KISS and Mercyful Fate, Opus Eponymous’ massive hooks crept under my skin and slid open the gateway for subliminal Satanic subversion. It’s all well and good when [insert blackmetal-band-X] can beat you over the head with we’re-more-evil-than-anyone-else rhetoric, but Ghost is here to hook you on their music before they slip you their malefic message. Don’t believe me? Stick on “Ritual” and see how long it takes before you’re humming the shit out of “Believe in one god, do weeeee / Satan almighty-eee-eeeee”. Brilliant and eerie, Ghost may be the catchiest thing I’ve listened to all year. And that's what makes it so goddamned evil!
#2 KYLESA – Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
Continuing to chart new territory with their mashup of earthbound, Southern-fried sludge, stargazing psych-rock, and the finest double-drumming this side of the Melvins, Kylesa’s new album was everything I hoped it would be and then some, having been enraptured by 2009’s Static Tensions. Kylesa’s signature sound wraps itself around the entire record, much to my appreciation, but their roll-of-the-dice on “Don’t Look Back” caught me unawares and ultimately blew my mind. I’ve spoken at length about the power the song has over me, so I won’t repeat myself here. But suffice to say its powerful hooks and reflective lyrics struck a serious chord and made it Song of the Year for me.
#1 ÅRABROT – Revenge (Fysisk Format)
Being one of my most-anticipated albums of the year, I played Revenge non-stop upon receiving the promo from Fysisk, and I still spin it a couple of times a week as I write this. I only got into these guys about a year ago, when my friend Alex told me about their previous album, 2009’s The Brother Seed. In a country known for cutting-edge musical talent, Årabrot continue the Norwegian trend with their vaguely blackmetal approach to AmRep-styled noiserock, and as a result, hooked me instantly. Kjetil Nernes’ voice sounds like an industrial press in dire need of maintenance. His vocal approach is one of the most unique I’ve heard in a long time, and one of the things that so instantly endeared me to Årabrot. Whenever people have asked me to recommend new music to them this year, this is the band I’ve been raving about the loudest.
Sorry, I'm passing on honourable mentions, because otherwise this would turn into a Top 50.
ANTIVENIN'S MOST-ANTICIPATED ALBUMS FOR 2011
WOODS OF YPRES, Woods V
They completed a North American tour, and recorded sessions for a new album, but amid murky abrogations by Mr. David Gold himself (and quickly followed by his hasty exit to Kuwait), this past summer Woods of Ypres left their fans shocked and saddened by the news that such a special band would be disappearing after eight years of back-breaking, independent labour. However, it was all just an Andy-Kaufman-esque ruse, as instead, WoY were busy silently finalizing their deal with Earache. 2011 will see the much-anticipated release of Woods V, as well as the Earache re-release of the WoY back catalog.
CROWBAR, Sever the Wicked Hand
Six years to the day since the last Crowbar album was dropped on us in 2005, Windstein will level us with Sever The Wicked Hand. Any new material featuring the heaviest riffs in metal, bar none, is always a reason to rejoice. If the two teaser tracks are anything to go by, this new album is going to be gargantuan.
THERAPY?, as-yet-untitled full-length
Therapy? have returned to the studio for a follow-up to 2009's excellent Crooked Timber, and I could not be more excited. One of my favorite bands since I first heard 1993's Troublegum, Therapy? are one of those bands that, to me, get better and better with every album. I keep pining away for news of a proper North American tour, and still kick myself daily for not flying across the country in 2006 to see their 40-minute N×NE set in Toronto.
ANTIVENIN'S SHOWS ATTENDED 2010
January 8, CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE, Biltmore Cabaret
February 8, HIGH ON FIRE / ASG / KANDI CODED, Biltmore Cabaret
April 30, RED SPAROWES / CASPIAN, Biltmore Cabaret
May 29, SLOUGH FEG / FUNERAL CIRCLE, Red Room
June 26, WOODS OF YPRES / FIRST REIGN / ARCHSPIRE / MOTHER DIED TODAY, Biltmore Cabaret
July 5, MELVINS / TOTIMOSHI, Rickshaw Theatre
August 6, JUCIFER / MENDOZZA / AHNA, Funky Winkerbean's
October 2, RAVEN / ENTROPIA / MAGNUS RISING / STRIKER, Red Room
November 14, WATAIN / GOATWHORE / BLACK ANVIL / GALGAMEX, Rickshaw Theatre
December 2, KYLESA / BAPTISTS / HAGGATHA, Media Club
December 14, KILLING JOKE / COWARDS, Venue