Saturday, February 16, 2013

Best somewhat metal(ish) albums 2012

The Pirate Ship Quintet

Rope For No-Hopers
Preview: You're Next

The Pirate Ship Quintet is a six-piece post-rock band from Bristol, England playing post-rock / contemporary classical / screamo. I found these guys a few year back with their self-titled debut EP. Especially the Pirate Ship song stuck in my head for weeks, mostly due to the astonishing combination of cello, trumpet and the ordinary instruments. Mostly their songs are instrumental, but there are subtle screams in the background and they sound a bit sludge in my ears. The contrast may sound strange, but it actually works. 

Rope For No-Hopers is their first full length featuring five compositions and a total running time of 48 minutes. The songs are pretty much guitar driven, but the cello arrangements are done masterfully and the flow of the songs is interesting. These guys won me over with their stellar musicianship, atmosphere and songwriting. If you crave for post-rock with a new twist, you should definitely give these guys are try.

Les Discrets
Ariettes oubliées...

Image yourself sitting in Paris (actually Lyon as this is where the band originates) sipping your precious red wine with baguette in some small cafeteria where the pale brick-walls accompany your quiet moment and the subtle autumn wind tickles your chin. That's pretty close how I feel when I put Les Discrets on. There are hints of shoegaze / post-rock but the sound is very fragile, light and airy. They are masters in painting a world where the atmosphere is soothing and dreamy.

The mastermind Fursy Teyssier is a very artistic person and a talented painter. He has e.g. created Alcest's Écailles de Lune album cover and has also played bass in Alcest's live in 2010. You can find some of his other works from this location. Ariettes Oubliées features astonishing sounds and extraordinary artwork (ordered myself the art book version presenting Teyssier's fabulous paintings). It is a gentle journey towards the night where you gaze at the sky as the last rays of sunlight fade out and disappear in the horizon.


Anathema like Katatonia changed it's style a long time ago from death doom to atmospheric/depressive rock. They blew me away with their previous album, We're Here Because We're Here, and I thought he couldn't top that...well, I was wrong. Weather Systems would be in my TOP5 releases if I would combine the metal and not-so metal albums together, but as it is a really tough job I decided to keep the genres apart from each other. Maybe next year I can blend them all in one single list and cover 50 to 60 albums. 

Weather Systems is the finest non-metal Anathema album to date. The opening duet, Untouchable Part 1 & 2 are the finest songs Danny Cavanagh has created and in my books two of the finest songs created last year. However, I firmly believe they can only get better. Weather Systems has received a lot of praise in the media and these guys really deserve it. Anathema is now in top form with Cavanagh brothers on fire and the beautiful voice of Lee Douglas. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. It's like what Vincent Cavanagh, Danny's brother, said at the end their last concert in Tampere: "Go and check our merchandise over there at the end of the concert. There is so much we have done already, but there will be so much more we will do in the future. Thanks."

Killing Joke

Preview: In Cythera

I had no idea who Killing Joke was when I accidentally found myself in their gig in Ilosaarirock a few years back. At that time they didn't connect with me totally, but there was something about them that stuck with me. In 2010 their previous album Absolute Dissent received a lot of praise and it also ended on my album rotation. Especially The Great Cull, In Excelsis, European Super State and the last song, Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove, with its reggae kind of sound was great. 

MMXII is their 15th studio album to date featuring ten post-punkish tracks. They follow the same sound created in Absolute Dissent, which is a good thing if you ask me. To some extend the synthesizer melodies are dark and doomy, the guitar is a bit down-toned and the overall vibe is industrial. Coleman's vocals are top notch and the production is great. Most memorable songs for me are Pole Shift, Rapture and In Cythera.

One funny thing I have to comment here. As these guys have been around from 1978, they have stripped down all unnecessary tricks from their live act and the guitarist Geordie Walker with his ridiculous hat looks like he's in a wrong concert. The live act pretty much relies on singer Jaz Coleman's charisma and energy. I've seen them now three times and so far they have delivered every time. I'd say they are pretty much respected as they have been in many festivals together with the nastiest black metal acts. If you happen to spot Killing Joke on a rooster, be sure to check them out, you might be surprised.



Preview: Bermuda Riviera

AtomA was created from the ashes of Slumber a few years ago. Slumber had only one album in 2004, Fallout, but I am sure all death doom lovers remember it quite well. It is one of the finest albums in the genre and I strongly recommend to check it out!

AtomA is a totally different chapter and the sound is atmospheric and electric. The hardcore metal heads probably stay away from this record for that reason, but give it a chance. I have been spinning Skylight close to 20 times now and I like it very much. The title song is the only one featuring harsh vocals and fast drumming, the others are more synthesizer driven with clean vocals. The genre label could be post-rock or space/atmospheric rock I would say. Why do I care about the genres so much? Actually I don't, but if you are reading this I am trying to save you some time by trying to describe what you are about to experience. 

Skylight is a great album from start to finish. The message here is sinister: the world is about to end due to humanity's greed, deceiving and loathing. We need to find a shelter for the survivors and fight for our existence. My personal favorites are Skylight, Highway, Bermuda Riviera and Cloud Nine. This a great disc to have in your car. I urge you to put it on when the first rays of spring are about to blind you. As the atmosphere surrounds you, within minutes you'll find yourself tapping the steering wheel and painting landscapes in your head. If you find yourself speeding due to the music, do not blame me! Drive carefully.

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