I see many of these lists this time of year and always read with interest at what gets the plaudits, this time I actually feel compelled to compile my own version. What has become apparent over certainly the last few years is the sheer volume of music that now gets released. Bandcamp has got a lot to answer for! The unfortunate side effect of this is some very good stuff indeed gets overlooked - it is nigh on impossible to keep up. Hence where I see the value in these end of year roundups. This year's best is still likely to be pretty damn good in 6 months time so the top tens of the year are a worthwhile exercise. A snapshot in time if you will. Judging by my google reader backlog of all the music blogs I follow I have enough to keep me going for next year already! Onto my list, based on music I have actually invested listening time in and in no particular order other than my top three:
1 - RWake - Rest
This made the top spot narrowly from Yob as it contained the single most visceral song I have heard in quite some time. "It was beautiful but now it's sour" is the track in question. Haunting, devastating and epic in scale. This album delivers on many levels, the lyrics read as poetry. The music is razor sharp and crushing yet fragile in sections. Just a brilliant album.
2 - Yob - Atma
A tremendous album from start to finish, albums like this are meant to be listened to as a whole piece of work. Thats not to say you can't dip in and out but it really does warrant a full play through. So many layers you can tell a craftsman has created this work. I was lucky enough to see them play live recently and this is a band very much at the peak of their considerable powers. Atma indeed.
3 - Wo Fat - Noche Del Chupacabra
Early on in the year this was my favourite release. A thick swampy mix of heavy blues channelled through voodoo amplifiers running at full tilt, psychedelic riffing intertwined with scorching lead guitar and the groove. This album is shorter than their previous two but has reinforced them as one of my favourite bands. No question. What it lacks in duration it more than makes up for in density, another record where real craft has been applied. Gentlemen I salute you.
Graveyard - Hisingen Blues
Not quite surpassing the debut but coming close. The mighty mighty Graveyard.
Premonition 13 - 13
Wino. That is all. This song not on the album but my favourite of theirs.
Black Pyramid - Stormbringer
Forgetting the recent split and subsequent weirdness, this EP is a testament to just how good this lineup of this band were. RIP the Pyramid, long live the Pyramid....
Russian Circles - Empros
Have loved this band since their first album. Everything they do they do very well indeed. The dynamics are outstanding, the riffs and the structure allow the music to shine. Superb.
Kraken - Demon In The Barn
Surprise of the year, this demo available free from soundcloud has been on constant replay. Captures the void left by the lack of recent Witchcraft. Superb.
The Heavy Eyes - Heavy Eyes
Loved the demo, the album did not disappoint. Heavy rock excuted flawlessly and a blueprint for retro pentatonic riff mongering. Excellent.
Thorr Axe - Wall of Spears
Songs about wizards. That again is all.
Orchid - Capricorn
The sublime demo got them noticed. This album certainly delivered, the ultimate sabbath worship album.