Sunday, 12 January 2020

2019 End-Of-Year List from Sean McGuire (Sing The Nation Electric blog)

We're nearly halfway through January already, so this is coming out a little later than planned. Back in late November/Early December last year, I asked via social media if people wanted to submit their EOY lists for inclusion on there blog. Sean, having been a returning reader for god knows how long now was the first person to bite the bullet, so here's his list.

TOP TEN METAL/HARDCORE/PUNK ALBUMS IN 2019

This list relies heavily on recommendations by, and must therefore acknowledge credit to, Landon Wonser, frontman of Tacoma, WA's CZAR, a band which is extremely likely to appear on one of these lists the next time they release something.


10. Not Your Friends - Constructing A Mental Breakdown (Math/Grind/Screamo)

When you have a band that casually dunks on half the black metal that came out this year in less than 2 minutes ("It Is Happening Again"), you gotta include it on some kind of list. This Pennsylvania wrecking crew plays a savage set of songs that take a scalpel to the patriarchy and then beat the wound with a baseball bat. Proceeds from album sales go to Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.


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9. The Central - Van Dyke's Brown Crystal

This odd couple has never been in the business of sounding like other grind duos around the world. True to form, VDBC doesn't compromise their carefully honed brand of chaos. In fact, this time around, these grind freaks add some more ornaments to their particular style of home decor. Go knock on their door. They're always welcoming guests.


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8. USA Nails - Life Cinema

"I am a human traffic light," snarls the lead at the beginning of a noise rock album that's so precise and well-oiled that it fools you into thinking it's not one. Gawd, every groove and every rhythm is on point. "It's Ordinary" might be the best cut of the lot, but it's not easy to make that call. Each song captures humdrum monotony and the fierce revulsion to that humdrum monotony, all at the same time. It's a vibe.


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7. The Callous Daoboys - Die On Mars

What a party. "Contrail Crucifix" has the breakdown of the year; don't @ me. Everything you've ever wanted from mathcore and metalcore in general can be found in this album; it's sassy without being obnoxious, feral without being incoherent, and angsty without repeating itself. In a year that some called "twenty ninescene", the Daoboys have my vote for prom king and queen. 


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6. The St. Pierre Snake Invasion - Caprice Enchante (Post-hardcore but chunky)

Remember all that chatter online about who should fill the void of the Dillinger Escape Plan? I used to think it was Cleric, but I think it's actually these guys. Cleric is their own terrifying beast and the St. Pierre Snake Invasion have all the lyrical flourish and ostentatious showmanship that truly defined the Dillinger Escape Plan. You ever hear something like "Braindead" that makes you wanna scream and strut at the same time? Boogie down, baby.


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5. Parliament Owls - A Span Is All We Can Boast (Post-hardcore but like proggy)

Listening to this album made me realise something: when people used to tell me what they loved about A Day To Remember, teenage me imagined something that sounded like this-- or at least something that made me feel like this. The cleans are gorgeous and the compositions are huge and the heart is on the proverbial sleeve. I can't not love it.


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4. Jute Gyte - Birefringence (Black Metal/Prog Metal)

This one-man project is loud and labyrinthine. There's bands with 5+ people in them who try and fail to sound this wild. Birefringence feels like another victory lap by a dude who's leaps and bounds ahead of his peers. Keep up if you dare.


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(Harm Remissions)

(Their Holes Aroused By The Splinters Carved From Their Teeth)

3. Fawn Limbs - Harm Remissions/Their Holes Aroused By The Splinters Carved From Their Teeth

Thanks to Mathcore Index, it's been really really really hard picking my favourite releases under that umbrella. Fawn Limbs takes the cake over everybody else because A) their savagery just doesn't sit still and B) their work ethic doesn't sit still, either, considering that they put out TWO stellar releases this year which I'm totally counting as a single album. 


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(Calling Whitetails To A Tuned Bow)

(All Tiny Breasts Crushed Beneath The Shadow)

2. Those Darn Gnomes - Calling Whitetails To A Tuned Bow/All Tiny Breasts Crushed Beneath The Shadow

They don't wanna be called metal, but sometimes you don't get to choose who loves you. Layers and layers of jazz, improv, grind, and straight-up noise are soaked in haunting vocals and poetry until your eyes are hollow and your face is golden and your mouth is coming apart at the seams, just like that glorious cover art. Even without its accompanying 2019 release: "All Tiny Breasts Crushed Beneath The Shadow", this was gonna be a highlight for the year. Together, it's one of the spookiest audio experiences this year.


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1. DISPOSSESSED - WARPATH NEVER ENDED (Black Metal/War Metal/Death Metal)

There's this assumption that goes around that politically charged albums get inflated treatment from listeners solely because of the statement and not the music. If DISPOSSESSED can't kill that assumption, nothing can. It's a raw, terrifying, and necessary listen. Feedback-soaked riffs and venomous vocals make this the kind of black metal that laughs disdainfully at corpse paint. Even without DISPOSSESSED's ethos, it'd be one of the best releases out there. But it doesn't stop there. These guys have done something incredibly important by taking an art form steeped in European history/ideals and using it to express the pain, sorrow, and rage left in the wake of European colonialism. These guys are not here to comfort your white guilt; they were too busy recording the most rebellious metal album of the year.


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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Guttersnipe - Ode to Spongehouse
Dead Kiwis - Systematic Home Run EP
Detach The Islands - The Burden To Become Fact
Friendship - Undercurrent
Ground - Mourn Innocence
Misery Index - Rituals of Power
Unfurl - Waking the Void
WRVTH - No Rising Sun
Mussel Boy - Cookout
Plaxenta - S/T
Pariah - If The Ocean Rejects Me
Psychic Graveyard - Loud As Laughter/The Next World EP
Shin Guard - 2020
Thank - Please EP
Pelican - Nighttime Stories
Sachiel - Return To Nothing
Child Abuse - Imaginary Enemy

I just want to say a big thank you to Sean for sending this list over and for allowing me to publish it. Please go and visit his blog here - https://singthenationelectric.wordpress.com

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