100. Thurston Moore - Trees Outside The Academy
Acoustic over the top freak out rock from Sonic Youth icon.
99. Clockcleaner - Babylon Rules
Garage rock craziness and the best release on Load this year.
98. Religious Knives - Remains
Droning soundscapes from 2 Double Leopards and half of Mouthus.
97. Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb
Thrash influenced fast grindcore, giving us one of their most dynamic releases.
96. Behemoth - The Apostasy
Experimental tones with unusual elements to their blackened death metal shit.
95. The Bark Haze - Total Joke Era
The Bark Haze
Free guitar improvs that defy expectations.
94. Eluvium - Copia
Ambient tones with just enough dramatic connotations.
93. Weedeater - Godluck And Goodspeed
Slow and filthy metal from these Eyehategod disciples.
92. Burning Star Core - Blood Lightning
Operator Dead...Post Abandoned
Total ambience from albums that experiment with mood and technology.
91. Destroyer Destroyer - Littered With Arrows
A hateful, fast moving and brutal promise.
90. Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound
Quieter and varied songs, some of which give more melody to their jerky angular guitar rock.
89. RTX - Western Xterminator
80's hair metal gets treatment from heroin noise heiress.
88. Job For A Cowboy - Genesis
Classic death metal yet with enough of their own take on the genre to make for a good album.
87. Carlos Giffoni - Arrogance
Overdriven synth tones for this reinvented noiser.
86. Orthodox - Gran Poder
Slow and brutally low ended, with unorganized drumming and flamenco-inspired vocals...i know it's 2006 but i had to include it.
85. Astral Social Club - Super Grease
Ambient, droning and electronic from one of the best in the Brit scene.
84. Zozobra - Harmonic Tremors
Ex-Cave In members bring a heavy, sludgy album.
83. The Fall - Reformation Post TLC
Mark E. Smith embraces krautrock more than usual, and entertains the shit out of us.
82. Gallhammer - Ill Innocense
Mixing the crusty overtones of Amebix with the ugly yet far reaching metallic stomp of Celtic Frost, these japanese ladies give us a very charismatic album.
81. Antigama - Resonance
Eastern bloc grincore that's fast and technical and a good example of one of the biggest scenes in the world.
80. Pre - Epic Fits
Spazztic and rocking, girl singer screeches along the band's tight yet chaotic songwriting.
79. Armenia + Cornucopia - Un Infierno Total
Two giants of latinamerican noise collaborate and speaker hell ensues.
78. Jessica Rylan - Interior Design
The Artist Known As Can't takes a stab at sound artistry and results in one of her best releases.
77. 108 - A New Beat From A Dead Heart
One of hardcore's harshest bands returns with an incredibly solid album.
76. BBBlood - Experiment 50
Britain noiser delivering one of his finer releases.
75. Xiu Xiu Larsen - ¿Spicchiology?
Second chapter between both band's collaborations, more soundscapy than before.
74. Meat Puppets - Rise To Your Knees
Country punk's finest return with a calm psychedelic affair with long and really well written songs.
73. Death Ambient - Drunken Forest
Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, et al, improvise a downward, dark but envolving storm of mood music.
72. Battles - Mirrored
Mathy supergroup discover the art of the song and fight with it until both are one.
71. Astro - Astral Orange Sunshine
Galax - Never Ending Space Trackin'
Hiroshi Hasegawa uses his synth to conjure spacey calmness of black holes of pure horrible sound.
70. Watain - Sworn To The Dark
Black metal that stomps with pronounciation on the metal and deliver an album of dark hymns.
69. Prurient - Adam Tied To Stone
Dom Fernow gives way to harsh and ugly noise.
68. Bloody Panda - Pheromone
Combing the snail stomp of Khanate with the drama and melancholy of My Dying Bride, the structures and vocals remain in a land of experimentation while the songs deal with despair.
67. Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light
Returning to their power pop sound of early in this decade, the band deliver heartfelt songs like only they know.
66. Rubbish - Vexanation, The Great American Outhouse
Awful and punishing, harsh noise that's different yet unforgivable.
65. Mayhem - Ordo Ad Chao
Attila returns to the band and his experimental streak rubs off Hellhammer, Necrobutcher and company for their best post-Euronymous album.
64. Taint - Sex Sick
Real life depravity and extreme frequency manipulation from veteran U.S. P.E.-er Keith Brewer.
63. Circle - Panic
Sunburned Circle - The Blaze Game
Pharaoh Overlord - Live In Suomi Finland
Finland's rock alchemists and warriors, Panic gives way to synth explorations and heavy as shit rock, Katapult conjures up a mescaline-soaked Venom, while jamming with Sunburned Hand Of The Man makes them explore their mutual love for krautrock, giving more focus and magic to their improvisation; while side band P.O. starts a motorik rhythm and an hour later, they are destroying the p.a.
62. Boris With Michio Kurihara - Rainbow
The Tokyo Terrible Three roll back their sonic maelstrom, invite White Heaven/Cosmic Invention/Ghost guitar virtuoso of emotion and deliver one of their most daring releases.
61. Sigh - Hangman's Hymn
Thrash metal meets fast paced, pseudo-orchestral elements, reinventing themselves yet again.
60. Vibracathedral Orchestra - Wisdom Thunderbolt
Michael Flower and whoever else was around recorded yet again some of the most trascendental long notes of the year.
59. Silverchair - Young Modern
Van Dyke Parks returns to arrange the strings for Australia's underestimated pop-alchemists, this time extending his influences more to give Daniel Johns' songs a more whimsical feel, and it works.
58. Pan Sonic - Kathodivaihe
Still combining the early Industrial Records sensitivities in sound with IDM-approved beats, Kathodivaihe resonanted like few electronica albums.
57. Bongripper - Hippie Killer
Instrumental metal that's not pussy or a direct rip from Neurosis, not afraid to go to quiet, vulnerable places without sounding corny and playing slow, tuned down riffs like they mean business, noisy and fucked.
56. Darkthrone - F.O.A.D.
Ferniz and Nocturno put on their "Meat Is Murder"-scrawled leather jackets and deliver a love note from black metal to Discharge and the rest of the crust punk nation, with some of the bm's funniest songs, period.
55. Hentai Lacerator - Covered In Fun
40 songs in 14 minutes; fast, unrelentless and with full personality, more than grind, this is a nod to the Gerogerigegege from the gabber/breakcore/harsh noise heart.
54. Angels Of Light - We Are Him
Michael Gira brings his career full circle with these collection of mostly cyclical, repetitive songs, like the devastating dirges of early Swans going to heaven for salvation.
53. Heavy Winged - Feel Inside
A free jazz metal noise demolition course in three movements, few records were as crushing as this one.
52. Wold - Screeching Owl
Black metal without much use of quiet space, bringing guitar noise to a whole new level for these blastbeated nods to the dark.
51. James Blackshaw - The Cloud Of Knowing
American primitive guitar had no better exponent than Mr. Blackshaw, who strums and fingerpicks his 12-string guitar into worlds known and unknown.
50. Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO - Crystal Pyramid Rainbow In The Sky
Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo
Crystal Pyramid... brings the band closer to Gong/Mahavishnu/Bitches Brew with sax explosions of netherworld journeys, Nam Myo... proclaims a new order of monks who vocalize themselves into nirvana.
49. The Angelic Process - Weighting Souls In Sand
Equal parts beautiful and brutal, the duo manage to give us their definitive statement of polar opposites.
48. Om - Pilgrimage
Al and Chris, before breaking one of metal's best rhythm sections, combine equal amounts of the heavy parts of their Variations On A Theme album with the quiter parts of the Conference Of Birds to give us probably the quintessential Om album.
47. Yellow Swans - At All Ends
Gabe and Pete wave goodbye with a psychedelic, free forming mutant sound that goes to electronic to punishing, ending their career in style.
46. Mammal - Lonesome Drifter
One of U.S. noise's best artists, Mammal returns from the drum machine explorations to giving us a more experimental work that succeeds in it's sum.
45. Zoroaster - Dog Magic
Painfully heavy, slow as fuck and violent in it's delivery, the long songs compromising Dog Magic deliver on the promise the band had made.
44. Kenji Siratori - Survival Mind
Prolific? Yes. Spotty? No doubt. Dada/Sci-Fi writer Siratori nonetheless has the ability to really bring a unique perspective to harsh noise when he wants to.
43. Benighted - Icon
Death metal that dares go where it usually doesn't dare to go, following up an incredibly tight album with one even more innovative is no small feat.
42. Boredoms - Super Roots 9
Eye and Yoshimi celebrate Christmas by playing with a full blown professional choir, resulting in music that's 100% Bore.
41. Sir Richard Bishop - While My Guitar Violently Bleeds
Former Sun City Girl Bishop let's his inner Django Reinhardt loose, as seen filtered through the murky, quirky and often scary worldview of the Sir with the undeniable guitar skills and originality of few.
40. Hild Sofie Tafjord - Kama
The quieter half of Fe-Mail demonstrate that she's not so quiet after all, giving us one of the harshest and most inventive noise releases of the year, via electronics and french horn.
39. Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline
Droning for 2 and a half hours and 6 sides of vinyl or so, SOTL reminds us of the bliss and fragility of sound.
38. Original Silence - The First Original Silence
Thurston Moore, Paal Nilssen-Love, Mats Gustaffson and members of Zu, among others, bring the skronk punk to free jazz for a much needed electrification the likes of Last Exit once did, giving their own take on it.
37. PJ Harvey - White Chalk
Polly Jean abbandons her guitar and sits on the piano, leaving her blues succubus self for her more delicate side to shine on one of her best albums.
36. Unsane - Visqueen
Noise metal legends return with a bluesier edge to regain their merciless sound.
35. Suishou No Fune - The Light Of Dark Night
Live testament of the dark, melancholic psych duo from Japan, mesmerizing onstage in a slightly different way than they do on record.
34. Baroness - Red Album
Country rock metal meets prog rock tendencies and amazingly well written, epic songs. More than heirs of Mastodon and/or Eyehategod, a whole other way to play Southern heavy shit.
33. Pita - A Bas La Culture Marchande
Peter Rehberg leaves his drum machine home mostly, and decides to explore more sides to his highly experimental and uncontrollable style.
32. Polysics - Karate House
Probably their most varied effort, fractured rhythms, pitch-shifted synth pop singalongs and the expected quirkiness make for a strong effort that makes you go from dancing to jumping to slamming in the most fun you probably could get from an album.
31. LSD Pond - LSD Pond
Alasehir - Sharing The Sacred
Alasehir - The Stone Sentinels
Alumbrados - A Generation Of Vipers
Baikal - Baikal
Bardo Pond as such didn't release anything this year, but these prove how great they are; their collaboration with Tokyo's LSD March gives them a way to quiet improvisation, at moments becoming something otherworldly, the Alasehir trio bring guitar psychedelic while the same line up, as Alumbrados, strip the rock out of it for something more abstract. Finally, Bardo becomes Baikal when they go without Isobel's woman touch for a heavy and fucked jam.
30. Wooden Shjips - Wooden Shjips
Garagey yet psychedelic in song context.
29. Trap Them - Sleepwell Deconstructor
Destructive extreme metal-infused hardcore that one-ups Converge's own excesses with something that approaches death metal brutal riffing and black metal's ultra bleak atmosphere.
28. To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie - The Patron
Quiet and melancholic, the songs on this lo-fi document are as pretty as music can get.
27. Múm - Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy
Their electro-soundscapes adorn songs that are well written and feel complete.
26. Hot Cross - Risk Survival
Screamo without the screaming, Hot Cross had a pedigree of screaming, mathy, Gravity Records-influenced hardcore; for their swan song, the band decides to stop screaming and use melody in unmelodic ways for a set of fulfilling experimental yet well rounded songs.
25. Smegma - 33 1/3
Veterans of noise and free rock or whatever, the band pays tribute to the vinyl album the way they know best, by playing their chaotic, quirky yet messy brand of sound with the occasional skewed garage rave up. Not a whole lot different from their old stuff, but in this case, it's a good thing.
24. Islaja - Ulual Yyy
Merja Kokkonen, a.k.a. Islaja, brings forth a delicate, folky and intimate collection of songs that, while not as out there as those by fellow countrymen Jan Anderzen or Keijo (after all, this is an album that ends in bird song), demonstrate that sentiment and delivery are still powerful tools.
23. Einstürzende Neubauten - Alles Wieder Offen
Almost thirty years after putting hammer to anvil and anguished screaming to jackhammer, the Collapsing New Buildings give way to a powerful yet quieter and well-composed sound, more satisfying than their last couple of long players and not as out there as their private releases, that completes their range of sounds and feels as well laboured as their power tools n' junk metal past.
22. Oxbow - The Narcotic Story
Apocalyptic cabaret rock, as exemplified by the Birthday Party and contemporaries The Jesus Lizard, comes full circle with Oxbow, whose use of decadent rhythms and dissonance comes forth to life via more acoustic instruments on their latest, demonstrating the power emanates from depravity, not distortion; and at the center of it all is Eugene Robinson, whose Bukowski in briefs lyrics and delivery stand second to few in this day and age, which is something much needed.
21. Bad Brains - Build A Nation
HR, Dr. Know, Daryl Jennifer and Earl Hudson reunite for a new album and did the impossible, they recorded a fast, heavy and incredibly inspired album that makes it the right sonic succesor to 1982's s/t a.k.a. as the ROIR Tape. After years and album after album of mediocre shit, the band returns to demonstrate they can still bring the kind of fast fucked up hardcore they originated. That this is their reunion album and first in 12 years, is an admirable feat.
20. Zelienople - His/Hers
Quiet, restrained, yet beautiful; words defy an album so complete.
19. Oren Ambarchi - In The Pendulum's Embrace
Between his formative years as a noise merchant from Australia, to his tenure as stalwart of the Touch label and, ultimately, to his adoption as drone metal's godfather with his darker and heavier releases, not to mention his association with Sunn O))) and Southern Lord, there's no telling what Oren Ambarchi might come up with after all. Pendulum embraces the wide eyed optimistic drones of his Touch releases like Grapes From The Estate but with a pronounced bottom that suggest darker things lurking beneath. Probably Oren's most definitive statement.
18. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Funeral brought the attention to Win Butler and company, and the hype surrounding their debut might be hard to follow in these hipper-than-thou ages, but the band has delivered an album twice as ambitious and profound as their previous one, with songs that can be hushed while others are celebrations of life with better arrangements and more feeling. They'll probably be remembered better for Funeral, but Neon Bible is the better record.
17. Wolves In The Throne Room - Two Hunters
Coming from the Northwestern backwoods, these three metalheads have adopted the deep in the ancient woods atmospherics of Scandinavian black metal and injected not only with some well deserved barbaric lumberjack sensitivity but otherwise real sensitivity coming from swirling guitars that give more dimension and complicated emotions than pessimism and misery often associated with bm. At times somber, at times hopeful and never letting itself up for a second, the four extra long tracks on Two Hunters show not only considerable growth since their debut LP but also that bm can be trve even if it steps away from it's usual sounds.
16. Lasse Marhaug - The Great Silence
Member of Jaz(z)kam(m)er, Testicle Hazard, Origami Replika, et al. serial collaborator of the stars and all around noise badass, Lasse Marhaug celebrated a big year, coming off from 2006's enormous Metal Music Machine and starting his new label with a (highly recommended) box set of his solo work released on tape in the 90's. Impecable credentials aside, Lasse's business is noise and he delivers it like few, making destructing wave after wave of frequency abuse but never getting purity get in the way of variety of experimentation, The Great Silence is anything but silent, exploring much of the opposite in a great way.
15. Li Jianhong - San Sheng Shi
China might not be the hot bed for fuck-my-head-in guitarists like Japan is, but as this album is any indication of it, it's has nothing to do with nationality; Jianhong, member of the hard as fuck noise jazz group D!O!D!O!D!, presents here a guitar only concert that takes the listener from familiar sounds to punishing and destructive, having us questioning if a guitar can possibly make that much of a racket. While it does remind one of the work of Les Ralizes Denudes' Mizutani, Keiji Haino and Jutok Kaneko, among others, Mr. Jianhong projects enough personality making his six string explorations sound like coming from no one but himself.
14. Alcest - Souvenir D'un Autre Monde
Coming as a side project from France's black metal scene, Alcest's sound bears more similarities to My Bloody Valentine than Deathspell Omega; while "shoegazer metal" isn't something exactly new (it's actually the sound of '07 probably), Souvenir... stands head and shoulders above most soundalikes by delivering more emotion and well written songs than sonic excess and it works to their favor. Many avant-metallers might have used dream pop sounds, but few, like Alcest, dared to dream and expose those dreams on wax.
13. Ghost - In Stormy Nights
Masaki Batoh and company give us one of their most pastoral releases under the name of his psych collective; while most of the album is devoted to psychedelic and folky sounds with some overreaching sentiments, the song "Hemicyclic Anthelion" balances all by being half as long as the album, as well as being introspective and darker than the other half, evenning all for a very complete listening experience.
12. Los Llamarada - The Exploding Now!
Monterrey, former 90's fertile ground for commercial rock here in Mexico, now gives us a bastard child that attempts to break on through audio; armed with the very rudimentary of instruments and recording equipment, Los Llamarada channel krautrock via The Fall and trascendental enlightment via punk rock's fuck everything except what we're doing; sound and band becomes one and, on the riff cycles played by them, lurks something big, scary and essential.
11. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
For their latest act, the four acid-washed animals attempted to throw away their lenghty instrumental improvisations and folky singer-songwriter sensibilities, saving just enough writing skills and trippy instrumental experimentation to compose the best batch of pop songs they can, and come out of this act as a fresh, reinvented front without really changing. "For Reverend Green" celebrates something or another while "Fireworks" let's love rule; everywhere in between, the first true song oriented AnCo album presents us a party.
10. Municipal Waste - The Art Of Partying
Of course, if you aren't a fan of old Metallica, Exodus, Slayer, Anthrax, etc (not to mention D.R.I., Suicidal Tendencies and the like crossover bands), it's very probable that this album might not sound like top ten material; but for us who still headbang to the old riffs of thrash metal, Municipal Waste played our song; a brash, uncompromising heavy n' fast songfest of vaguely metaphorical references to partying, and a soundtrack (by the way of the "Municipal Waste is gonna fuck-you-up!!" chant) to bashing the hard and heavy way.
9. Descartes A Kant - Paper Dolls
Coming off as the bastard child of Mr Bungle and Deerhoof, Guadalajara's multi-costumed ones didn't succeeded by being original (which they aren't) or by proving they can play many musical styles on the same song (which they can but, then again, others have done it better); the reason Paper Dolls is such an irresistable album is because they prove they can write memorable songs in ever-shifting sounds and still feel like they do what they like, in the styles that they like. While their influences show, most of the songs here are so fun and hard (although the lyrical content might not be as euphoric), one can't deny their skills as songwriters or the energetic delivery they perform them with.
8. Kousokuya - Echoes From Deep Underground
Ray Night 2006.10.18
Jutok Kaneko's passing left a hole within japanese psych no one will fill; and, more than an epitaph, these two concerts showcase Jutok's mastery not only in his instrument, but also as a band leader, guiding his bandmates over free passages, melancholic sections, heavy breaks and music that overall doesn't feel improvised as much as transmitted from somewhere deep in the soul and unto our ears. A testament to a great.
7. Sutcliffe Jügend - This Is The Truth
Power electronics, extreme industrial and harsh noise in general are having some sort of big appreciation period at the moment, as artist old and new are active and fighting for their limited edition runs to sell out first; and while most P.E. performers worships at the altar of Come Org/Broken Flag/Tesco, few really go beyond that altar in their executions. So leave it to these true pioneers and experts in extremism, Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor, to re-draw the map and attempt something else to make p.e. more powerful, by giving silence and whispering as much space as screaming and blasting. This Is The Truth might not become a quintessential document of noise, but it surely will be one of the few to blame for shifting perspectives within it.
6. Melt-Banana - Bambi's Dilemma
Continuing with their more song-oriented material, Melt-Ba decide to use their hyper-fast attack only where it counts on the main songs of this album, resulting in some of their most memorable in their whole career, while still have the balls to give us a whole section of sub-minute songs AND two synth blasting space truckers. Yako, Agata and Rika don't really change approach but evolve into something, making Bambi's not only the great record it is, but an invitation to expect something else whenever these genius chipmunks decide to drop a follow up.
5. Nadja - Radiance Of Shadows
Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker have made good if not great albums before this one, but Radiance Of Shadows delivers everything the duo has been making since Nadja was a pseudonym for Baker's solo explorations: deep bass rumbling underneat, samples and effects giving wave after wave of light and long pieces that surround the listener with something beautiful yet terrifying that's difficult to put into words. On Radiance..., they deliver all this into some of their best written and arranged pieces to bring us probably their definitive and more rounded album, one whose emotional context is so tidal, one wonders how the speakers don't break to let all those sounds loose in the room.
4. Kemialliset Ystävät - Untitled
Jan Anderzen and associates have many releases, not only as KY but also in many nicknames and configurations, many of those being some of Finland's best avant-whatever artists and groups; still, for this Untitled album, Anderzen and co-conspirators use everything they are known for: random sounds, electric instruments, homemade sound generators, well arranged songs and improvisation to build one of the best, most psychedelic albums ever. Where nothing is what it seems, it could only mean that it invites for multiple listens to be transported somewhere else.
3. Neurosis - Given To The Rising
After wandering out into somber and less metallic regions with their last two albums, the mighty Neurosis probably would be expected to deliver another introspective collection of songs; that they did, but they also returned to playing their brand of heavy, punishing music. That a band can successfully retake their old, signature sound and progress into another with the accumulation of experiments and the atmosphere of their recent albums is something that is not seen everyday, especially when said album is as solid as Through Silver In Blood or Enemy Of The Sun, more than ten years apart, is something only Neurosis could have done.
2. Jesu - Conqueror
Justin Broadrick doesn't have to prove anything to anyone, his latest vehicule Jesu has already demonstrated that it can conjure up sounds both destructive and contemplative, often at the same time; instead of doing just another album of swirling, doomy guitars and face being snobbed over Nadja, Alcest, The Angelic Process, etc. Justin decides to use his sonic powers to perfect his songwriting skills (as left by the last Godflesh album) and give out way for pure emotion to flow through it all. Contemplating life by it's sorrow and it's ecstasy, a song like stand out "Transfigure" explores feeling like crap in such a way that by the time the first verse is repeated, it's more of a celebration instead of a lament, finding hope in loss being a contradiction worthy of the sound within Conqueror.
1. Rhys Chatham - A Crimson Grail (For 400 Electric Guitars)
The composer delivers to Paris a concert like no other could have been done; multi-guitar compositions are nothing new and Glenn Branca can tell you they can be limiting, so when Rhys Chatham, master minimalist, wrote a piece for 400 six stringers, one could only imagining another Guitar Trio or an Ascension Part II even; but, in fact, the sound ended up being something different. While i can only imagine how amazing it would have been to witness the performance live, the recorded version is something that shines on it's own and proves the power of the piece easier; when played at a low volume, A Crimson Grail becomes a meditative ambient piece of sublime and delicate detail, but when the volume is cranked, the weight of so much would and steel wires comes over you and you are crushed by it's intensity; in other words, this work is as ethereal, envolving and profound as any of the very best drone, instrumental/post rock or ambient albums and as pulverizing, dark and challenging as any of the top avant-metal, noise or heavy psych records released this year. A true work of art.
AFS v. 377 ~ The Power of Contempt
10 months ago