Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gay or Not Gay?*--Winds of Plague

Every Tuesday I wake up early and got some breakfast with a group of friends of mine at the venerable Kirby Lane Cafe in Central Austin; since it's Taco Tuesday at my new job, I've stopped eating breakfast at Kirby Lane in favor of eating a thousand breakfast tacos purchased by my bosses.  This situation leads me every Tuesday into the uncomfortable realm of what I refer to as "the too-much-coffee effect," wherein I drink about a gallon of coffee and subject myself to the horrible aftereffects of diuretic overconsumption, namely several horrible-smelling bowel movements that suck up most of my morning.  Since this is becoming a Tuesday ritual for me, I decided that today would be a good day to post my inaugural edition of "Gay or Not Gay?*" where I explore the music of bands that people generally seem to hate (or at least on the avenues that I frequent) and dare to ask the question, "Is it actually horrible music, or are people trumping up a band's collective crappiness to reflect the musical times in which the tr00est and most kvlt of us exist?"  By special request, this first edition will focus on the music of Winds of Plague.

Winds of Plague are generally lauded as the worst that the once-lauded genre of metalcore has to offer; I've literally never seen Winds of Plague get any good press, so obviously I've never really listened to them for fear of growing and vestigial vagina or becoming brain-damaged to the point that I take up hardcore dancing and skinny jeans.  With the lingering memory of my most recent bodily evacuation in mind, I sit here before you, dear reader, and admit that I am currently engaged in listening to tracks posted on Winds of Plague's Myspace (when are they finally going to take Myspace out behind the barn and blow its brains out, by the way?).  What I'm hearing is...well...

Considering that I treat my body as a playground/dumpster for all of the most disgusting and poisonous consumables, I'm honestly surprised how little terrible music (at least to my sensibilities) I listen to anymore.  It's been a long time since I moved past the idea that symphonic metal (power, black, et al) is in any way acceptable, and even longer since I found the breakdown a vital part of any viable musical composition.  Winds of Plague exhibit both of these traits in spades, which takes me back to the days of yore when As I Lay Dying and Stratovarius were in heavy rotation (maybe I shouldn't have outed myself like that...) and irony was funny and not an irritating, overwrought lifestyle choice.  I might have loved Winds of Plague in my formative years; their accessible (read: boring) riffing colored heavily with keyboard choruses singing "ahhh ahhhh"'s and basses dropping like my pants after 8 cups of coffee.

Now, to address the original question:  Gay or Not Gay*?  Answer: Pretty gay, but not as bad as many metal news outlets would lead one to believe.  Allow me to explain, since I feel like this post is increasingly proving to you, fair reader, that I am irreparably False and Ungrim.  It's not really that Winds of Plague are terrible at what they do, it's more that what they do has been done much, much better.  There are some pretty tasty sweep-picking riffs on songs like "Angels of Debauchery," *cringing at that title*, which leads into a softer dynamic passage and epic lead passage that would be at home in any song written by Luca Turilli or Timo Tolkki (I'm not going to look up spelling for either of those names).  The song then descends into a passage that my old band would have been particularly proud of, which is a terrible, terrible thing.  The song "Reloaded," likewise begins with a laughable Ion Dissonance-style "talk-scream" salvo, followed by a riff that's okay from a distance, the way that girl walking down the street is kind of hot until you get a good look at her moustache and pants-bulge visible from twenty paces.  Their intentions are respectable-ish, but they fall back on outdated cliches of the genre while eschewing aspects like "good song structure."

When I accidentally clicked on the first song on Winds of Plague's Myspace player, it brought up a menu of "Songs Similar to 'Chest and Horns'," which displayed in the number three spot a song by The Devil Wears Prada.  This is a telling harbinger of severe mediocrity against Winds of Plague, since The Devil Wears Prada likewise appeals solely to twelve-year-olds and other people with poor taste in music.  That Winds of Plague manage to do certain passages very correctly is a surprise; however, if they were to pare down their music only to their good riffs, their discography might indeed contain two or three very short songs.

The verdict: They are no Chiodos, but Winds of Plague by and large meet the hype of being lame and uninteresting.  If you'd like something else that is Winds of Plague-related to offset the music you may have just subjected yourself to (like I did), go to Metalsucks and observe their former keyboard player's totally righteous hooters in all their glory.  I don't need to tell you it's NSFW, right?

*The term "Gay or Not Gay?" is not a libelous statement against homosexuals.  It is a colloquial term that describes something that is sub-par, unfortunate, or generally annoying.  So please don't be gay by denouncing my use of the word.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Since You Didn't Ask Me - Magrudergrind

Welcome to the inaugural edition of my hottest new segment, "Since You Didn't Ask Me," in which I will weigh in on the br00talest kvltroversies and all matters of general falseness without any prompting or anyone ever asking me what I thought.  I love the innerwubs!

Unlike most Americans, I spent today in seclusion from the outside world; the mere concept of Black Friday makes me sick to my stomach, and as such, I didn't so much as enter a gas station today just to be sure that I didn't get attacked by some old ladies for trying to buy the last Dr. Pepper or something.  I'm sure that all of you who would look at this agree that Black Friday all by itself is reason enough for every other nation on the planet to hate America.  What does all of this have to do with Magrudergrind, though?  "What are you getting at, you anti-American Obama-supporting terrorist?" is what I assume you just said out loud to your computer screen (I hear it all the time in face-to-face exchanges, at least).

See, the newest kvltroversy on the metallo-webs and all across the br00talsphere is that grind luminaries Magrudergrind, hailed as grind-genies for 2009's stellar self-titled effort, have crossed the grind-line over to the dark side, recording and releasing a free (!) album that was paid for and released by--wait for it--Scion, the car company that brought us such horseless carriages as the Purple Sparkly Refridgerator Box and, more recently, Sparkly Refridgerator Box REDUX.  That's right.  Acting against everything that Napalm Death has ever stood for, Magrudergrind allowed a large subsidiary of a larger corporation to subvert them by paying their recording budget, getting them promotions for the record, and even releasing it for free so that getting it for free (which we all would have done otherwise) is no longer stealing.  Outrage!  Intrigue!

Now, what does this all mean to us, the casual theives of the music that we love (but won't buy)?  Answer: Literally nothing.

That people are outraged by Magrudergrind taking Scion's offer to record an album and have them foot the bill is laughable at best, and completely retarded at worst.  Record labels "pay" for bands to make records all the time; the hook is that bands, upon recording said album, get to be under the label's thumb and won't make any money off a record until they recoup the label's investment.  Anyone who follows extreme music should understand how laughable a concept this is, since the biggest bands sell so few records that any American Idol participant would literally be burned at the stake by his or her own PR people for having such shitty sales.  Also considering the fact that most of the money that any sucker (like me) pays for a physical copy of an album on CD or vinyl or any medium goes to the distribution company, then pays the cost of producing the plastic (or whatever the physical medium is made of), and after a while the label makes $.60 off of my $18 purchase.  Finally, the labels get to promote themselves on the back of the record any band on their roster produces, as well as advertising themselves in any and all promotional materials for said band (and one band having an ad all by itself isn't very common anymore either).  But you already knew this, because you aren't one of the idiots I was talking about up there, right?  Right.

The most common and misguided argument against this arrangement that Magrudergrind made with Scion is that Magrudergrind are shilling themselves out to a giant corporate slug that just wants to crack a new demographic for their car sales, and it is therefore wrong to do business with them.  All of these people who think this is the case, I would like to be the first to welcome you to America, where literally everything is an advertisement, and literally nothing exists except for the sole purpose of making some anus-face money so he can buy things that were advertised to him by someone else.  Little known fact: I actually started this blog as a convoluted (and misguided) way to advertise for Keebler, which is the greatest company with the greatest products (gotta get me some of that E.L. Fudge!) on the planet.  As I reach for another delicious Club cracker, made with love and care by the tiny, poorly paid hands of cartoon elves in a tree, I reflect upon how few things in the United States are not geared toward getting someone to fork over their hard-earned cash in exchange for something.  The answer is....no, those things don't exist.

And, upon listening to the record, one has to admit that any accusations of "selling out" are mystifyingly unfounded.  I don't think Scion actually knew what they were getting into with Magrudergrind; they may have thought they were approaching Mastodon and made a terrible, terrible mistake.  Magrudergrind are seriously brutal, and their sound has not been compromised even a little bit by their partnering with Scion.  Also, so few people listen to Magrudergrind, the advertising is seemingly a waste.  If it weren't for the kvltroversy surrounding this whole situation, the ploy would be likened to paying an Afghani woman to get a Scion tattoo on her calf.  Literally nobody would ever see it.

As I sit in my comfy den, my lips glistening with the crumbs from another delicious Keebler Chips Deluxe Rainbow cookie, made with the best candy-coated chocolate to create a taste that kids and adults can both agree on, I realize that Magrudergrind is the first in what will certainly be a long line of bands to decide that letting a huge corporation foot the bill for recording while never having any pressure to meet recoup costs is better than being under the gun only to have your faggy fans subvert you by illegally downloading the same music.  Let it go, America; you can't have your rampant consumerism and eat it too.

As for a review of the record, Magrudergrind's newest effort is as good as the fun and fun-to-eat Keebler Scooby-Doo Graham Crackers, which have the fun shapes and satisfying crunch that with make your family smile.  In other words, it's badass.

Brooklyn Vegan had it up for download recently (which is how I got it).  Follow this link to see if it's still up; otherwise you're going to have to pay shipping and handling for it, or just wait four minutes until someone posts it somewhere for immediate gratification.

Here:  Live the Corporate Sponsored Thunder

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Slaves!

Thanksgiving is upon us, and as such, I'm going to spend the day testing the limits of how many deviled eggs I can eat before the rest of my family realizes that there are deviled eggs and making jokes about farts and boners with my brother.  It's going to be awesome, just like every other day of my life.

I hope that all of you have similarly amazing days, and avoid the D.U.I. (or, in Texas, D.W.I.) like you would avoid the Noid (if you were a pizza).  Whoever reads this is awesome, and should rest assured that I won't be nearly coherent enough to post anything else until the day that America shows just how greedy and terrible it can be, more commonly referred to as Black Friday.  Celebrate avoiding any and all major retailers that day with me, because I'm an angry loner and crave constant attention from anyone and everyone, including you.

Black Friday will, incidentally, be the debut of my newest segment, titled "Since You Didn't Ask Me."  This inaugural segment will feature my sentiments about the new Scion-sponsored Magrudergrind EP.

Eat something!  Out your cousin!  And let Reginald Veljohnson be the harbinger of your holiday season!

\m/ \m/

D.I.S.-Critical Failure (2010)

This has been a very crusty year for me.  The inclusion of Black Breath, Converge, Tragedy, Early Graves and D.I.S. to my lexicon of musical nerdery has stoked the flames of my decades-long mania for the purest and most beautiful convention of punk and metal alike: the hallowed D-beat.  Anybody who is familiar with me as a person will probably be well-aware of my frantic, insatiable desire for more D-beat; indeed, it could be empirically proven that I suffer from what top scientists have lovingly christened the "D-boner."  As such, I've been getting back into hardcore, the musical genre that I surreptitiously combed World Records for in my adolescence.  D.I.S. embody everything I currently and formerly adored about hardcore.  They straddle the line between the punk version of hardcore with vocals that harken back to Agnostic Front and F-Minus (also known as the clean-scream, the shout, or I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Mongo-Vocals), and the metal version of hardcore that features detuned guitars, double bass hurricanes and sweet, shreddy soloing.

D.I.S. came to my attention in an UpFront feature in Decibel Magazine earlier this year, and the columnist for my most revered publication used all the right words to describe the band to get my D-boner throbbing and begging for the touch of that sweet thundering drum pattern.  Early searches for the band to find some kind of myspace or stream so I could stroke my D-boner proved fruitless; such a non-descript name makes it hard to find information on Interwebbies, particularly if you're like me and give up immediately if what you're looking for doesn't pop up in the first five items in a Google search.  This didn't stop me, though (yes it did).  About a month later I was having a sweatlodge session in San Antonio and was handed off a copy of the new D.I.S. album, sending my heat-addled brain into a frenzy and causing me to pitch an immediate D-tent.  Thankfully, the music didn't disappoint, and my freshly renewed mania for hardcore were allowed to continue unimpeded.

In my favorite manner, Critical Failure wages war upon the senses and thunders through ten tracks of splendidly furious hardcore.  D.I.S. tend toward a punk rock style of riff, heavy on the power chord and light on melody.  The thick, thunderous din of Critical Failure would best be described by citing a heavier version of Disfear without the shredded-throat ruckus of Tomas Lindberg, or Tragedy without the meandering song structures.  If this record had come out when I was a depressive, mopey high-schooler, I would have eaten in up, and would almost certainly end up with a regrettable and ill-advised D.I.S. tattoo on my face.  Thankfully I discovered it as an adult, where the worst I can do is have dreams about the band that creep me out in waking and then keep to myself and ponder what it means to dream of being in a sleeping bag with five crusty heshers.

Now I have to go have a fully-clothed cry in the shower.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Anaal Nathrakh-In the Constellation of the Black Widow (2009)

Given today's political climate, the fact that extreme music is so poorly received by the average American citizen is truly mind-boggling.  I've been asked why I could spend my valuable time listening to something that is so angry and hateful sounding by someone who just turned off the Glenn Beck program.  GLENN BECK.  The irony of the question hit me so hard in the gut that I crapped blood that night and have stress dreams about being lectured on what is unacceptably hateful by a faithful Fox News Channel viewer.  Incidentally, I'm usually also in my underwear and standing in front of my sixth-grade class while this happens.

Anaal Nathrakh stand out as figureheads in the extreme music pantheon; common definitions of what "extreme" is generally don't take Anaal Nathrakh into account, because by comparison virtually any other band bear a closer reseblance to The Monkees or Suzanne Vega.  In the Constellation of the Black Widow is a testament to that form of extremity in the best possible way.  Allow me to reflect upon their sweet, sweet intensity for a moment....ahhh.  That was nice.

I remember the first time I ever got to experience Anaal Nathrakh's whirlwind aural assault: I was sitting in my easy chair with headphones on, and about thirty seconds into the first song, the rest of the world melted away.  I closed my Webmonet browser so that I could better understand what I was hearing.  I had to take a reprieve from the album about midway through to text my good buddy Van Damned (of Crustcake fame [name drop!]) that I was, thanks to him, enjoying the most intense musical experience of my life.  I listened to the album through in this fashion twice and was immediately hooked.

The album starts off with the churning maelstrom that is the title track.  The vocals that Anaal Nathrakh employ remind me of a Japanese torture movie I was once subjected to.  Picture a girl strung up by her wrists in a shed; the ties that bind her wrists cut deep crevasses into her skin and show no remorse and have no give.  This girl is accompanied by an older lady, or mistress if you will.  The mistress is heating up irons in hot coals and using the white-hot tips to burn the girl's armpits.  That's what the vocals on any given Anaal Nathrakh song sound like.  The music is dusted with an ethereal haze that hangs around it like the fog in Scotland (I assume, since I've never seen it), or the thick fart-smelling ozone that hangs around my hometown of Bakersfield, CA.  The mix of the instruments are reminiscent of the Three Goats Gruff children's tale; the troll under the bridge might very well have used this album to grind up bones in order to make his bread.  Actually, that's ridiculous, because any troll that listens to this album would give up his life of evil and become an investment banker to avoid having to cross paths with whatever beings created this chilling squall.  And rightfully so.

The standout track of the album is "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul," which takes on an industrial bent that conjures images of crazed, chainsaw-wielding sex robots running amok in a fully-staffed pipe-welding warehouse.  Justin Foley of the Austerity Program waxes philosophical about taco riffs on Metalsucks.net (what you should be reading instead of this crap); my vote for Thee Taco Riff would be the main riff for "The Unbearable Filth of the Soul."  (Image of me stroking my chest and face in ecstasy, real creepy-like).

That Anaal Nathrakh are termed as a black metal band seems unfair and mostly downright misinformed.  That said, I tend to disagree with commonly agreed upon genre-fication of music and like to relabel things that I like to something that suits my palate better.  In this case, I choose to think of Anaal Nathrakh as Industrial Hate Grind, because black metal makes them seem too lame, like a couple of dudes philosophizing about how nobody but them know the true meaning of the word "hate," and that everyone else are just poseurs or just generally false and un-grim.

I can understand how most people would perceive this fawning collection of buzzwords as a negative review, but it is exactly the opposite of that.  Glenn Beck viewers, THIS is the musical extremity that mirrors your lazy, ignorant political extremity.  Except it's good and doesn't do things like destroy America or make people throw tea in the ocean.  So leave Muse alone.  They seem like nice dudes.

I was going to recommend you visit Anaal Nathrakh's myspace page to experience the fury, but it doesn't appear that they have one, which makes me like them even more.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Djent is the newest craze among the masses.  Metal's newest force to be reckoned with, Djent tends towards one of two subcategories among its practicioners:  1) Shitty, or 2) Meshuggah.  Cloudkicker is the newest Interwebulous sensation that falls (allegedly) within the confines of the Djent microgenre but defies the subcategories of said subgenre in that Cloudkicker is neither 1) Shitty, or 2) Meshuggah.  In fact, I would argue Cloudkicker's inclusion in the Djent microgenre considering they don't attack the sound the way that Periphery, Veil of Maya, or even RXYZYXR tend to.  I would actually, at the most extreme, qualify Cloudkicker in the heretofore-unheard-of sub-micro-quasi-genre of Ambidjent Metal, as coined by my close compadre and associate Ed.  Even after dumping Cloudkicker into this totally fake, fabricated-as-a-joke-before-ever-listening-to-Cloudkicker genre, I don't feel like their metal meets the minimum qualifications necessary to qualify a piece of music as having Djent-like qualities.  In fact, I would consider them more in league with the prog-minded Animals as Leaders, or the less-shreddy Scale the Summit.

Cloudkicker exudes many of the normal prog qualities in spades, including time drops, thick instrumental textures completely saturated with effects, and being Instrumental, which is qualification enough to call a piece of music "prog," "proggy," or "completely lame."  Where Cloudkicker differentiates himself (as this is a one-man bedroom band in the purest form) is in riff quality.  Whereas most bands feel the need to attack the listener with a thousand riffs per song (hello, Protest the Hero), Cloudkicker takes an almost doomy approach to the riff.  Where a lesser band might think that a high-quality, ridiculously heavy riff might run the risk of becoming played out, Cloudkicker takes the doom approach of attacking the riff ad-nauseum, forcing the swirling mass to drone on in a seemingly endless tide of texture and color.  This kind of repetition, coupled with the absence if vocals, allows the music to take a drone-like quality that somehow enhances the riff itself.  Indeed, adding a vocalist (or Vokillist) to the mix would ruin the vibe, like when your grandma shows up to your birthday party after you've already killed a few righteous brewskies.

The clean parts interspersed within the body of Beacons allows for a welcome bit of breathing room among a thickly-textured and bone-crushingly heavy album.  That the dude who comprises Cloudkicker seems to be riding the lonesome trail by himself seems a shame; Cloudkicker could be great shakes among the Djent-frenzied and the totally-stoney crowds alike.  Cloudkicker's swirling maelstrom of heaviness hints at a greater promise for the future: that Cloudkicker will exist until he runs out of viable ideas, and then will fade away into the Interwebmosphere, where assholes like me can relish the days and nights we spent together wondering why the legion of "Djent" bands couldn't have done it so correctly, seems a crying shame.  Go to Cloudkicker's Bandcamp website and give him some money to show him that you're better than the masses who value what they can steal more than what they can elect to pay for.

Listen/Download: cloudkicker.bandcamp.com
Buy it, asshole.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Top Ten Albums of 2010 Extravaganza

It's been an amazing year for albums, both those that have been released and those that were promised and then put off for another day (I'm looking at you, Necrophagist).  In the spirit of the season, welcome to my highly-touted Top Ten Albums of the Year 2010 List Extravaganza, presented by H.E.B. and Seagram's 7.
I had a difficult time remembering albums that debuted this year; usually it's so simple to just throw something together, because up until just recently, I hoarded back issues of Decibel magazine and made detailed notes about what was coming out at any given time.  My recent work schedule and work-related distractions have secretly conspired against my normally impeccable ability to remember every album I bought/discovered and what my initial impressions of said albums were.  Lame.  This year, there was a lot of really great music that came blasting through my modestly-priced computer speakers, and my blown-out but still usable car stereo system.  Here are my Top Pixxx, in no particular order, other than the order that I gave them to signify how much I liked them from best to worst.  Or best to least best.

1) Cephalic Carnage-Misled by Certainty: Hydro-grinding my face into oblivion, Cephalic Carnage did exactly what I expected them to do with their newest album this year, which is be completely badass and make me wish I had the wherewithall to smoke weed the way they do.  Deathy, doomy, grinding and truly inspired, Cephalic Carnage remind me why I went gay for them four years ago: because they're better than everyone else.
2) Black Breath-Heavy Breathing: I know this one will catch some flak from certain weiners in my life (William Randolph Hubbell), but this album struck me hard.  I had the pleasure of experiencing Black Breath live before listening to their recorded material (I started with the Razor to Oblivion EP), and they impressed me from the beginning with their crusty, D-Beat laden attack. Super angry and able to channel my inner punk rocker while still quenching my thirst for The Heavy, Black Breath wrote a masterwork of an album.
3) The Red Chord-Fed Through the Teeth Machine:  I love the Red Chord; that many critics and fans have slapped them with the perjorative "Deathcore" tag seems unfair, like a well-behaved child at Christmas who receives nothing but socks and novelty underwear.  Their off-kilter approach to the best kind of metal--death metal--never fails to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for the genre, which tends to run amok in the vast, directionless fields of mediocrity if left unchecked.  Great riffs and throat-ripping vocals made this album a heavy contender for my #1 spot; they'll have to settle for #3 on some unknown guy's (formerly) Facebook page top 10 list that maybe 3 people will ever read for any reason.  Sorry, Red Chord.
4) High on Fire-Snakes for the Divine:  I got to play Matt Pike's fabled 9-string guitar during SXSW.  I don't mean I got to play the Matt Pike signature model, either.  Matt Pike himself handed me the guitar that he used to write and perform masterpieces like Bastard Samurai and Fury Whip (which wasn't on this album, but on Death is this Communion, which also ruled hard).  Snakes' production was slammed as spotty and inconsistent in early reviews, but this record grew on me a great deal.  That High on Fire took risks like using riffs that don't sound like High on Fire riffs, and including one especially ill-fated guitar solo (I won't name it, but it's pretty easy to find if you listen to the album) prove that they aren't past their creative peak.  This is great news for us fans, because Death is this Communion was so amazing that I, for one, could understand if they were just plumb out of ideas for any new records and just started recording Lady Gaga covers or exclusively playing wedding receptions.  Thankfully, they've still got something going on upstairs.
5) Bison B.C.-Dark Ages:  Bison B.C. is awesome.  So awesome.  I have had the pleasure of seeing them live no less than five (!) times in 2010; three times during SXSW and twice just generally touring around.  That they are amazing and heavy live is no secret; that they are so nice to their fans is no surprise (they're Canadian).  That the music translates so nicely to the recorded medium is refreshing, and Dark Ages never disappoints.  Running the gamut from sludge to crust, Bison unleash an diverse and never-boring aural assault that nearly knocked me out of my ancient office chair the first (and immediately second) time I listened to it.  I can't wait for them to revisit Austin; I need about 5 Bison B.C. shirts to properly display to the general public how big a fan Bison has gained with Dark Ages.
6) Coffinworm-When All Become None: I don't want to bore you with the specifics, but Coffinworm are dark.  Like, DARK.  Doomy and suffocating, When All Become None won me over from the first spin and accompanied me through some seriously dark times while I was working for the Hospice medical equipment company.  Coffinworm reminded me that, while stuff does indeed suck, hiding from the ugly truth isn't an option.  Coffinworm are a force to be reckoned with, and that I had to miss their performance during SXSW at Hoek's Death Metal Pizza haunts me to this day.  But they'll be back, and I'll be there to buy a shirt covered in siguls and their relatively-legible logo.
7) Iron Thrones-The Wretched Sun:  Thanks, MetalSucks, for opening my eyes to so much amazing (Iron Thrones, The Armed, et al) and disappointing (The Ocean, I see you over there) music.  Iron Thrones won the No Label Needed contest (or whatever it's actually called), and with good reason.  It's because they take the Between the Buried and Me prog attack and lace it liberally with the shimmering sludge of Isis and fuse it together to create excellent, arresting music.  Iron Thrones are at turns a meandering jazz band and a metal band so heavy that you have to make sure to listen to them with your legs and not your back to make sure you avoid serious injury, and The Wretched Sun ruined my world for several weeks because I couldn't escape the opening track, Like A Moth to Flame, no matter where I went.  And it's a hot buy, too; I think you can even get it for free from their bandcamp page (I threw down eight ducats on it because I liked it so much), so go check it out now.  NOW.
8) The Howling Wind-Into the Cryosphere:  I'm not much for black metal, but The Howling Wind are amazing.  I remember reading on Invisible Oranges, the superlative metal blog run by the inimitable Cosmo Lee, that the guitarist/frontman Ryan Lipynsky, was something of a guitar god.  "My balls! I would know a guitar god from ten miles away!" I thought to myself; after all, I'm highly trained and pretension runs in my veins like the alcohol I make sure to ingest on a nightly basis.  "I'll be the judge of that," I continued in a strange inner monologue seemingly ripped from a Shakespearean tragicometragedy.  Turns out, Cosmo isn't joking.  Lipynsky doesn't shred the way an Yngwe or a Petrucci might.  Instead, he invokes demons and forces the guitar to speak incantations to the listener.  This is American Black Metal at its finest, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds for such a great band.
9) Intronaut-Valley of Smoke: I'm a huge Intronaut fan.  That 2008's Prehistoricisms took my life by storm is no surprise considering the heady thickness of Intronaut's musical textures and my affinity for anything that anyone labels as "proggy."  Augment that sound with the unparalleled bass playing of Joe Lester, whose playing takes Intronaut from "pretty good band" into the coveted realm of "UUUGHHH, SOOO GOOOOD."  And that's a big deal.  Valley of Smoke took me for a ride that was both strange and powerful.  I hope the accolades for this particular band continue to roll in, and not just because I am for some reason Facebook friends with Sacha Dunable (I hope he reads this! [He won't]).  Intronaut are a true powerhouse of a band that consistently make records that draw me in, and Valley of Smoke is just another fantastic chapter in what will one day be their legacy, and I hope it's still an early chapter.
10) Ludicra-The Tenant:  This one was tough.  I actually, if you can imagine, had a surprisingly clear-cut top 9 albums of 2010, but what would triumph as number ten was a mystery to me until just recently.  Indeed, it took a good bit of listening to decide what would complete my list, and upon revisiting Ludicra's The Tenant just today, it became clear: I screwed up.  The mere fact that this album passed by me unnoticed since March 16th (!) makes me sick to my stomach.  This is the other black metal tome in my list, and it's American, so it obviously doesn't play in the normal tr00/kvlt parameters of the European black metal genre.  Ludicra take great pains to deliver a captivating and unpredictable experience in The Tenant.  That I allowed myself to miss out on this album for as long as I did makes me truly terrible; you should also feel this way if you have yet to meet The Tenant.

Notable mentions should go to D.I.S., Cloudkicker, Dillenger Escape Plan, Woe, The Armed, and Tyrant's Blood for making amazing albums that got edged out.  However, if this were a top 20 list, they would all be included, in addition to selected fare by Kylesa and Thou.

The most notable mentions I wanted to make were for the albums that I know I'll love but haven't gotten to hear yet.  Those are as follows: Withered-Dualitas, Arsis-Starve for the Devil, and Complete Failure's newest album, which I can't remember then name of but won't Google for no good reason.  I can say factually that I would love these three albums, but haven't been able to purchase them or borrow/steal them from any of my friends yet.  You may now return to your regularly scheduled life, and make sure you go listen to this awesome music before I physically assault you over it.  And if there's anything I missed, feel free to verbally abuse me, because I have nothing better to do than answer Facebook (now Blogspot) rants.

A Brief Introduction and Un-Needed History

The other night I was getting my drink whiskey on, a standard activity for me on any given Friday night.  Having been underemployed for the last few months, I was searching for something the internet could do for me that wouldn't cost me any money whatsoever; I had blown my entertainment budget for the month on my bottle of Seagram's 7.  I had also been burning time and staving off the crushing despair that comes with working a crappy commission-only sales job and making literally no money for two months by exploring the myriad albums that I had listened to during the year 2010 and putting them in a list from best to worst.  That's right.  I had caught the Top Ten Albums of the Year list fever that invades the webmosphere and Decibel Magazine's pages at the end of every calendar year.  I posted it on my Facebook, because I was getting a solid buzz going by the time I finished it and I thought people might care what I have to say about a bunch of albums that they will never listen to.  Encouraged by friends' reactions, I started this ridiculous blog today, for no good reason, and I assume that nobody will ever read it.  But I don't care about that;  I just wanna ROCK and RAGE, like this:

Hell yeah.

My second post will be a reproduction of my Top Ten List in its entirety, because I don't have anything else planned to post about right now.