Thursday 7 January 2021

2020 Year End List: Joe Allen (Kurokuma/Bible Basher)

Here's the second 2020 year end list, this time from Joe Allen of Sheffield based sludge/doom bands Kurokuma and Bible Basher. As with Mikey previously, Joe's got a much more eclectic taste in music than I have. His year end list; however, is very much focused on heavier music and it's a great read. Check out it out below and my thanks go out to Joe for sending this across for me to publish:-

Ummon by Slift

Coming out in February, as soon as I heard this I knew it would be one of the best things all year, and here it is sitting pretty on my list. This is superb, playful psychedelic rock from the power trio from France. One of those releases where each song is a unique creation in its own right but the flow and overall feel of the album is unified. The cover art is also spectacular and vibes perfectly with the tunes. I can see this becoming a cult classic in years to come.

Endless Detainment by Serpent Column

One to rearrange your head when you're in the mood. The drummer snakes in and out of time and the whole band coalesce around this; it's not rhythm but absolute chaos. There's not too much else like it, but its soul is black metal; it's truly evil and rabid. When the release crescendos around the titular track, you're rewarded with one of the hardest riffs of the year, confidently hammering itself into your skull like a galvanised nail.

Intermittent Damnation by Ona Snop

Slick Leeds fastcore from the guys with the primary colour logo. This band don't look serious, but the music is seriously good. Catchy, pit-friendly riffs that mostly last for 4 seconds interspersed with blast beats and vocals that are tortured/fun. It's great. Mosh and smile at the same time. Makes one long for gigs to come back.

Lesions Of A Different Kind by Undeath

The OSDM revival is in full swing, emphasis on the swing - this album grooves. The production pops hard and it's all kinda danceable to be honest. The title track opens with a rototom fill, then drops into a riff that has insane energy and drive. The guttural vocals never let up. Backed by the Maggot Stomp label as well as Prosthetic, these guys have been everywhere this year and for good reason.

Opulent Decay by Spell

I came to this band via For None And All released in 2016; reverb-soaked occult rock à la Blue Oyster Cult with touches of Rush and Hammers of Misfortune. The production is vintage and the playing not what you'd call tight, but it creates an amazing fluid/lucid feel. The riffs often feel straight out of the 70s, and I fully appreciate how spot on the artwork is. Also the way the tracks don't stick to just one style - the accapella ‘Ataraxia’ is one great example of that. Love it.

Terminus by Jesu

Justin K Broadrick has always been a genius but by now he's a master. His music bleeds feeling, strong and direct. Every instrument and effect wielded like an artist at the height of his powers. Jesu takes the emotion and effects/electronic manipulation of shoegaze and adds dashes of the low-end of metal - some might call it doomgaze. Another collection of songs from Justin to get lost in; simply luscious escapism.

Mercy Machine by Maggot Heart

I was a big fan of this band's previous LP, Dusk To Dusk from 2018, and for some reason I missed this at its time of release. Via social media I realised it existed more recently and it's very similar to that previous album, but I'm not complaining one bit. Post punk mixed with old school heavy metal, fronted by the snarling vocals of Linnéa Olsson. She's been around the gig circuit for a while now, and it shows. Maggot Heart drips attitude. Quality through and through.

The Great Flood by Rope Sect

Love this band. Melodic death rock from Germany that's gothy and post-punky in parts. The production is restrained, using distortion minimally, for example. The result is a natural sound with a ruggedness and haunting ambience. There's a real depth and mystery here than many projects lack. A cult band that seem to be growing with each release and it's great to see.

Your Fault by Horse the Band

I have waited for over a decade for new material from Horse the Band, and listening to this EP it's like they never went away. Their music and lyrics resonate at a level far beyond pretty much anything else for me. Part of it is the history and the nostalgia I have with and for them and the hours and hours I've spent watching Earth Tour. This band mock anything other than true expression. Wild, experimental, synth-driven metalcore that's daft and deadly serious at the same time. This EP has whetted my appetite for more from them once again.

Training Resource #5 by Under

Another EP, and much like the above EP on this list, it feels almost like it mocks the listener through its confidence, talent and vision. Under are easily one of the most underrated bands operating in the UK, a true hidden gem. Their music exists outside of trends, obtuse but extremely rewarding. The angular sludge is maintained here, but with raw production from guitarist, Simon Mayo and a Black Flag cover, this has a hardcore punk instinct. It's what punk might sound like if it was played by truly talented musicians letting loose, and I love it.

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