Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Extravaganza: Noteworthy Albums of 2012

So this is probably the entry everybody's been waiting to glance over and pick fights about. It's the albums that made a huge impression on me this year in one way or another. Due to the large number of albums included, I'm just leaving links and images for your viewing/digesting pleasure. If you want to know my particular thoughts about one of these albums in great detail, you can get in touch via facebook, email, or twitter. I'm always happy to discuss my taste in music.

A Forest of Stars- "A Shadowplay for Yesterdays" (Lupus Lounge)

A Pregnant Light- "Hear the Slow Slow Shadow" (Colloquial Sound Recordings)

Ash Borer- "Cold of Ages" (Profound Lore)

Crowhurst- "No Life to Live" (Self-Released) Read the BMAB review

Death Fortress- "Pulling Ancient Stone" (Fallen Empire Records) Read the BMAB review

Dressed in Streams- "Azad Hind" (Colloquial Sound Recordings)

Hell- "III" (Eternal Warfare)

Horseback- "Half Blood" (Relapse Records)

Kuxan Suum- "Kuxan Suum" (Fallen Empire Records) Read the BMAB review

Neurosis- "Honor Found in Decay" (Neurot Recordings)

Pig Destroyer- "Book Burner" (Relapse Records)

Rectal Hygienics- "Even the Flies Won't Touch You" (Depravity Label) Read the BMAB review

Sutekh Hexen- "Behind the Throne" (Wohrt Records)

Trist- "Nostalgie" (Fallen Empire Records)

Unknown Artist- "RH-12" (Rhinocervs)

Vemod- "Venter pa Stormene" (Terratur Possessions)

Venowl- "Gnawed Gristle and Bone" (Ominous Silence) Read the BMAB review

Wulkanaz- "HNI" (Wohrt Records) Read the BMAB review

Also, here are a few of the albums I enjoyed but only listened to once or twice, but expect are of equal quality to those on this list:

Converge- "All We Love We Leave Behind" (Epitaph)

Fauna- "Avifauna" (Pesanta Urfolk)

Gaza- "No Absolutes in Human Suffering" (Black Market Activities)

The Great Old Ones- "Al Azif" (Les Acteurs De L'Ombre Productions/Antithetic)

Krallice- "Years Past Matter" (Self-Released)

Make A Change...Kill Yourself- "Fri" (Black Hate Productions)

Mgla- "With Hearts Toward None" (Northern Heritage)

With that, my magnificent list is finished and so is this year. Since Black Metal and Brews was just a fledgling website in 2012, expect grand things in the year to come. I'm grateful to all my readers, the labels, breweries and artists who have contributed their music and beverages to this blog, and to my close friends and my partner for listening to me ramble about this blog endlessly. You guys have given me a reason and an opportunity to continue writing, and I am grateful for every new person I meet because of this blog. Thanks for being around this year, and I'll see you tomorrow for the start of the next year.

Year End Extravaganza: Review of Cigar City's Moat Water

As we wrap up the year's festivities this evening, it's time to raise a toast of sorts to the things that make our lives better. I can't think of a better way to do so than with a beer honoring the Skate Park of Tampa's 20 year anniversary, which falls in 2013. Even though Cigar City is far younger than the Skate Park, they've crafted a very mature beer for this special occasion. It's a dark, delicious stout, with smoky hints of vanilla and dark coffee melting into a smooth maple finish. The legend behind this beer is that there's a drainage ditch behind the Skate Park lovingly referred to as "the moat." A liter of the water from the infamous moat was taken back to the brewery where it was mixed in with the batch of beer, providing the name (and a sense of dread) to this delicious beer. While the drink sounds dangerous, welcoming in a new year with a small and delicious risk is quite suitable and appropriate. Drink safely and in good health. Here's to another year of stellar beers and music!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year End Extravaganza: Non-Metal Albums I Loved in 2012

Today is a day on which I share some tunes I don't normally get to share. While I do spend about 85% of my time listening to ugly, misanthropic, and otherwise dissonant music, I also appreciate songs and artists of most genres. I've compiled a few of the albums that were released this year that I felt were worth listening to more than once or twice. I'm sure I'm forgetting some obvious and awesome albums, and I'm sure I'm not nearly as well equipped to write about this kind of music, but you're going to check out this small handful of albums. You might even enjoy some of it. Don't worry. Nobody will judge you.

Clams Casino- "Instrumental Mixtape 2"
Clams Casino is a producer from New Jersey. I'm not normally a hip-hop connoisseur, but I'm a big fan of electronic music in most of its forms. As an instrumental mixtape, this album collects some of his finest beats and removes the vocal lines that may distract listeners like myself. If you're curious about hip-hop and rap but aren't always fond of the lyrical delivery, this album's a perfect place to start.

Comfort Woman- "Summer Demo"
Comfort Woman is a group I can't really describe that well. The songs are catchy and off-kilter. The vocals are just really raw, but not in the whole harsh black metal way. It's more of a punkish apathy, or just a very open-hearted sort of delivery. This album's just really emotive and addictive for me. I've listened to it a good handful of times since I stumbled across it. Check it out on their bandcamp and download it if you like it.

Endangered Blood- "Live @ Squidco Bootleg"
This band's entry is basically stolen from a BMAB favorite blog, The Static Fanatic. Endangered Blood are a jazz-like quartet featuring Jim Black, Oscar Noriega, Chris Speed, and Trevor Dunn. I don't have quite the vocabulary for what they do, but it's pretty stellar and I can't stop listening to it. I initially grabbed this as a fan of pretty much anything Dunn-related, but this transcends even what I had expected. It's as chaotic as it is soothing. This is everything I wanted it to be and more. Check it out over at The Static Fanatic.

Igorrr- "Hallelujah"
If you aren't yet familiar with Igorrr's schizophrenic brand of breakcore, this album is as good a starting point as any. Focusing heavily on baroque-era sounds, Igorrr also throws in everything from snippets of death metal to choral chants to flamenco style guitar. There's pretty much nowhere this album doesn't go, which would be catastrophic in the hands of a lesser musician, but Igorrr keeps things just focused enough to remain wholly enjoyable from start to finish. This is almost "extreme" enough to put with the metal albums, but is just too left of center to really include with the metal releases.

Kirk Fogg- "2049"
With his new album of intergalactic trance, Kirk Fogg takes us far into the future and on a serious journey. I definitely don't have the vocabulary or experience with the genre to fully explain why this album appeals to me, but there's a sense of true exploration here. The music constantly builds and surges in an empty space that Kirk Fogg has crafted for the listener to live within for the 70-ish minutes of this album. The music's pace is definitely upbeat, but this album feels entirely mellow. The speed of the music feels more like it's pulsing around the listener rather than rushing the listener along. Perhaps my words show how little I understand this music, so it's best to just link you to the free download.

Tollund Men- "Door"
Tollund Men are the kind of group that don't really fit into just one category in my mind. For a project named after one of the most famous bog bodies, this EP is very appropriate. This is dark, fuzzy, distant post-punk or new wave inspired music at its finest. Each of the three tracks excites me from start to finish, leaving me eager to flip the record over and start again. This was purchased as a gift for my partner, but there's no doubt in my mind that we are both equally obsessed with this talented group. Definitely looking forward to more in the year to come.

Trust- "TRST"
In severe contrast with the last album mentioned, Trust appeared out of nowhere this year with a dense, full and slick album of stellar darkwave and electropop perfection. This is probably the most commercially viable album on any list I'll ever make, and I'm completely happy with that. Trust are one of those groups who are so brilliant that I don't mind sharing them with hordes of club kids and bubblegum pop fans. In fact, I hope these guys take over the world. The slightly spooky tones and warm synth flourishes that are scattered throughout this album would definitely be an improvement on most popular music these days. This one will be stuck in your head for weeks, and you won't mind a bit.

Ulver- "Childhood's End"
Yes, this is a cover album. Yes, I'm pretty sure that Ulver is my favorite band ever. Yes, I love them enough to be sure to call them out if this was a complete waste of time. This isn't a complete waste of time. Instead, this album serves as a stellar piece of psychedelic space pop and a shopping list for me to catch up on great music from the 60s and 70s that I hadn't yet heard. While this may not be the best representation for a brand new listener, this is absolutely worthwhile for anybody with an interest in psychedelic music of any nature, or anybody who has listened to and enjoyed any of Ulver's output from the past decade.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year End Extravaganza: Split Albums of 2012

Split albums seem to be regaining popularity in the extreme underground lately. They provide a great opportunity to hear a new artist while also obtaining new tunes from an artist you already love. If you're adventurous like me, oftentimes a split album is an easy way to discover multiple new bands all at once. As with my last list of concerts, I feel there were many stellar split albums released this year that deserve a mention on this blog in one way or another, but I'm not really inclined to prioritize. I will also apologize for not providing full details on each split here, but each of these was worth mentioning in its own way and I think I can let the music speak for itself wherever possible. Also, yes I have twelve releases on this list rather than a rounded number. I could have listed an even greater amount, but I'm trying to show something resembling self-restraint here.

A Pregnant Light/SADOS- "The SkyConspired Against Thee Before Thy Bones Had Dried" (Colloquial Sound Recordings)
This split was the second release from the ferocious A Pregnant Light, and so far the only utterance from the jagged and intriguing black monument of SADOS. Each group provided one lengthy song for this split, and it's a monumental experience. The dichotomy between these two artists shows the perfect nature of a split release.

Adversarial/Antediluvian- "Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries" (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know some of my favorite keywords are filthy, hideous, and fuzzy. This swampy death metal release lives in the middle of some unknown territory directly between all of those terms. It's ugly and wonderful in every way I'd want. Adversarial and Antediluvian each contribute three menacing tracks, so grab this split while it's still available.

Batillus/Whitehorse (Vendetta)
As a fan of both extreme music and extreme beards, I've long held a soft spot in my heart for Australian death/doom maniacs Whitehorse. This split was my introduction to Batillus, and I'm quite grateful for it, as their contribution here is equally crushing and fantastic. My only regret is that they didn't accompany Whitehorse on their tour dates down here in Florida. Next time, Batillus, next time.

Cara Neir/Ramlord (Broken Limbs Recording)
This split caught me slightly off guard, I'll admit. I grabbed it on a whim, having heard just a bit of Cara Neir's music before, but I was quite pleased. In fact, I wrote a review of this album a few months ago that will do it better justice than this abridged snippet could. Check it out.

Barghest/False (Gilead Media)
This monster of an album would be a likely contender for album of the year if I were making such a list, split or not. To put it simply, Barghest's violent and scathing assault is the perfect complement to False's ethereal yet driving black metal. There isn't a bad moment on this album, and I'm always eager to flip it back over and play the other side when it's finished. If you don't already own this in some format, get on it.

Fossils/Winters in Osaka- "Celestial Hieroglyphs" (Cardinal Records)
This fantastic noise collage came into my periphery somewhat by accident. In a series of clicking "related videos" on youtube, I came across the sampler for this split and was sold. It's beautiful and scratchy. It's definitely on the safer end of the noise spectrum for those not yet comfortable with the harsh noise wall business. There's a good bit of sonic experimentation and trickery occurring here, which is perfect for me.

Grave Upheaval/Manticore (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Another split from Nuclear War Now! that embodies my love of ugly, murky metal. Grave Upheaval are a mysterious group with members of the legendary Portal. The music is exactly what you'd expect for anything associated with Portal, but on the more primitive side of things. Less technicality, more horror. Manticore play more of a blackened death assault, with vocals that verge on the decipherable and a slightly less dense sound, but make up for it with unrivaled aggression.

Hell/Thou- "Resurrection Bay" (Pesanta Urfolk/Gilead Media)
Neither of these bands should be too foreign to most folks who are keeping an eye on the metal underground as a whole. Hell provides an ominous descent into despair and misery with their unique brand of churning sludge. Thou follow up with a ritualistic and jagged dirge of their own. The whole affair is tortured and violent, as you'd expect from either group. It's a stellar introduction to either of these bands for those not yet initiated.

Horseback/Njiqahdda/Venowl/Cara Neir (Handmade Birds)
This massive split is another album that just blew me away this year. I've subjected other folks to it on the road, I've forced my friends to sit and listen to it in my room, and I've written a review of it that says everything I could say here and more. Give it a read.

Sadness Saturn/Golden Raven (Handmade Birds)
This fantastic cassette holds the distinction of being the very first album I reviewed here on Black Metal and Brews. It's still an exciting and challenging listen for me, and it's interesting to read back my old review and see how differently I was writing just a few months ago. It's only fitting that this winds up on my list for the year's end.

Trist/Nuit Noire (Fallen Empire)
This 7" was one of those albums that took me by surprise. I'd heard the name of each group countless times but never really bothered to listen. As you can tell by the review I wrote last month, I regret not having heard these groups earlier.

Yellow Eyes/Monument (Sol Y Nieve)
As with a handful of these wonderful albums, this one already received high praise on my blog a couple months back. This also received high praise for its packaging from my friend Jon, who runs The Inarguable. The tape is as beautiful as the packaging it's been given. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Year End Extravaganza: Awesome Concerts BMAB Attended in 2012

As an avid concertgoer and music enthusiast, I do my best to get out any time a noteworthy band comes to my area. Cash isn't always good over here, but when I can afford a concert, I get out and attend it. I'm not about to prioritize the shows I attended, as all were amazing in their own way. Instead, here's a chronological list of ten amazing concerts I attended this year.

3.21.12--Alcest & Deafheaven @ Crowbar. Tampa, FL
Say what you will about "blackgaze," "hipsters," or any other trend in music you dislike, both of these bands put on quite a good show on their tour this year. While Deafheaven's vocalist has a stage presence that disarms and confuses many metal purists, I feel that the sincerity and suburban disgust of their music is more rebellious than any amount of corpsepaint or spooky subject matter. Similarly, Alcest's somewhat soothing musical textures have earned a degree of criticism from folks hoping Neige's earlier material would come back to the forefront, but I really enjoyed seeing them live as they are now. Songs both old and new delighted, and it was incredible to finally see this band after years of listening to them.

4.23.12--Melvins & Unsane @ The Social. Orlando, FL
Many of the shows I'm listing here had more artists than I indicate, simply because I'm only naming the bands  that were worth writing about/featured prominently. For this show, however, there were no other supporting acts. Unsane simply opened the show up with their working class noise rock madness, featuring guest drumming from both of Melvins' drummers. Watching the legendary Dale Crover play songs like "Scrape" with Unsane was a massive treat, to say the least. After Unsane's assault was Melvins' set of equal immensity. I've been listening to both bands for the better part of my life, so it was wonderful to catch them together in such a high energy show.

6.2.12--Sleep, Psychic TV, & Oxbow @ Ybor City. Tampa, FL
These three legends played together as part of a festival here in Tampa that featured many other greats, who sadly played at times that clashed with my ability to be in four places at one time. Sleep came back from the dead this year, seemingly out of nowhere, and their resurrection in the live arena is something I still can't believe I witnessed.  Adding to the magic of Sleep was my second encounter with the ever-intimidating and beautiful Oxbow and an hour plus psychedelic jam courtesy of Psychic TV. While I'm not big for corporate sponsorship, I'm thrilled I got to see some of my favorite bands for free.

6.20.12--Whitehorse & Collapse @ Brass Mug. Tampa, FL
As far as shows in Tampa go, it seems that a lot of our concerts specialize in traditional death metal and little else. Having the opportunity to see bands like the local crusty chaos of the (recently deceased) Collapse play with the hideous churning death/doom/noise violence of Whitehorse was a rare treat. My good friend Julio and I attended the show together, and you can read his review of it over at Doommantia.

7.28.12--Void Meditation Cult & Cellgraft @ Brass Mug. Tampa, FL
Void Meditation Cult (formerly known as Sperm of Antichrist) performed one of their very infrequent live shows here in Tampa, which was quite fortunate for me. Their Beherit-worshiping black hymns sounded even better in a live setting, and seemed to win over quite a few converts who hadn't yet heard their music before. This was also Cellgraft's second to last show, and they annihilated the audience in short time with their grinding fury. While they broke up too soon in my opinion, it's clear they already had managed to make quite a mark on the grindcore community.

7.31.12--Agalloch & Taurus @ Orpheum. Tampa, FL
The fact that Agalloch had never managed to play Florida before came as a great surprise to me. As a former resident of California, I often heard about Agalloch tours and the like in the past, but never quite had a chance to see them. It was fitting enough that I finally managed to catch them live after I moved across the country. They played a bit of everything one would hope to hear and their set was lengthy and fulfilling. Opener Taurus also managed to impress me with their droning psychedelic doom. I didn't have the cash to pick up an album from either band at the show, but now that the holidays are ending, I'm pretty sure I deserve to treat myself to a copy of their record.

10.16.12--Swans @ The Social. Orlando, FL
Seeing Swans two years in a row has been a huge treat for me. While 2011's performance was violent and ritualistic, this year they gave an equally intense, but more spiritual and welcoming show. Opening with a song so new it wasn't even on this year's double length album, they played up some of the more psychedelic and folksy influences that were present on The Seer. It was great seeing them play two entirely different sets a mere year apart. I hope that I'll have the opportunity to see them again in 2013 to see how they've evolved yet again.

11.30.12--Possessed & Druid Lord @ Crowbar. Tampa, FL
Far more surprising than Agalloch's lack of prior Florida shows was the fact that this turned out to be Possessed's first time visiting the state, despite Tampa's death metal legacy. Orlando death/doom horde Druid Lord were among the openers and impressed me thoroughly. I've long been an enthusiast of the genre, and Druid Lord put on one of the finest shows I'd seen in quite some time. When Possessed took the stage at the night's end, it was everything one would hope from such a legend. The band played every classic song with an intensity I can only imagine they had back in the 80's.

12.14.12--Floridian Winter & Church Whip @ Cafe Hey. Tampa, FL
Not to sell this amazing show short, but I posted a review of this last week, and it'd be useless to copy/paste the whole thing into this post. Give it a read.

12.15.12--Pig Destroyer @ Churchill's Pub. Miami, FL
As the final show I'll be attending this year, I cannot put into words how amazing it is that I saw Pig Destroyer. Ever. In my life. Anybody that knows me personally is aware that Pig Destroyer were one of the bands that drove me to start creating music of my own, so it's not hyperbolic to say that finally seeing Pig Destroyer live may have been the single musical highlight of my year. The band played almost every song I'd hoped they would play, and they gave top energy the entire time. To view their whole set, check out this video courtesy of SFLHC.