Part of being a columnist at BMA for, I think, 22 or 23 years now is that I can go back through old issues and have a look at a wrap-up not only the year that was but, being 2019, the decade that was.
I started 2010 with one child and living in Ngunnawal. Now the decade closes out with three kids and I’ve just spent the last two weeks moving into the 3rd house for the decade and, hopefully, the last god damn move ever.
Thanks to Issuu.com I was able to go back and review my favourite album of each year of the 2010s for fun.
2010 kicked off with High On Fire’s Snakes For The Divine. I actually got to hear this earlier than its release thanks to a crazy turn of fate when a friend of mine was dating Kerry King of Slayer’s guitar tech, Armand. Armand lent a bunch of Slayer’s classic ’80s era amps to Matt Pike for that album, and Armand had it on a iPod Classic. I went to Slayer and Megedeth’s show at the Hordern in Sydney and, instead of actually watching Megedeth, I put big headphones on and listened to that. Armand has since passed away. RIP buddy. And so has Slayer now. RIP again.
2011 I selected Looking Glass album III and started a run of Marcus De Pasquale albums in 2010s that made the top of my list. I have listened to these records as I moved house to have a contemporary think about them. It has a bass heavy mix, but not in a boomy way; it’s just the mix favours the bass. I think it has the best guitar solo of the 2010s on the song Electric Mistress. Shores of Carcosa also features a melody that haunts me in a good way.
2012 I went for some particularly nasty Aussie grindcore. The Kill’s Make Them Suffer was their first album with Super Happy Fun Slide vocalist Nick, and the guitar-drums-vocal stripped back line-up was utterly ferocious. Jay is still the best single kick drum grind drummer in the business, and Robbie is one of grindcore’s absolute maestros and a killer killer player to boot. The band is still active, and Jay recently started a bit of a grind supergroup with Tony Forde (Blood Duster), Dave Hill (Fuck I’m Dead) and Rohan (Captain Cleanoff) called Remains.
2013 I chose Queensland extremists Portal and their album Vexovoid and it haunts me to this day. I thought Morbid Angel and Altars of Madness was as extreme and as Lovecraftian as music could get 24 years prior to this. I was wrong. Atmosphere; an almost complete suffocating lack of accessibility; a deep artistic vision; stage attire that included wearing clocks on the singers head yet still coming across with nothing but dread. A landmark band and their best for the decade too. [And for a bonus picture of some rather fetching Vexovoid leggings, scroll to the bottom of the page – BOSSMAN AL]
2014 I went with Pallbearer’s Foundation of Burden. The other big metal media have almost all chosen their first album Sorrow & Extinction and placed it high on their end-of-decade lists. For me, though, this one is Billy Anderson’s best production of the last 20 years. The fact I listened to it for my review driving down the Clyde in thick night time fog helped, and its sheer songwriting prowess is the king. A spine tingler in spots still.
2015 was my second Marcus De Pasquale album of the 10s and his first with then new band Witchskull. I spoke to them about an upcoming demo and they were going to Sydney. I urged them to consider Jason Fuller at Goatsound in Melbourne. They listened, and recorded something that had magic in it. Vast Electric Dark got them on a great road and one we will go down again later in the list.
2016 marked two years in a row of Marcus De Pasquale fandom and the 2nd Looking Glass record of the decade with Volume 4. Recorded at Infidel studios locally, having another listen to this, I was awed at the songcraft, the scope, and the talent of the individuals making up a record that is just top to bottom a masterpiece. It’s criminal this band is not more widely revered.
2017 I selected Elder and their Reflections of a Floating World. The easiest way for me to summate this album is that three years later, every time the riff that kicks off after the ambient intro on track 2, The Falling Veil, I get a full on goosebump-on-the-arm moment. Then I get another one with the riff on the first chorus. Then I get jealous because it hurts my brain how these guys seem to have a classical musician type ability to write really long dynamic pieces of music with so much content and very little repetition.
2018 I went back to the Marcus and Looking Glass fan town, but I think this one made a lot of other lists – Coven’s Will, made in Brooklyn’s Studio G with Billy Anderson. This is a great story of Canberra musicians taking on the world, recording an album with no label but with the self belief in the material and the balls to invest in themselves, in the process making an album that became only the second Australian band to be signed to Rise Above Records.
So here we are in 2019 and the decade is done. So what do we have on my year list to add to these killer albums?
I’ve never been a Slipknot fan. They had a big year. Nor Tool. They came back after 13 years. Drone isn’t particularly my favourite flavour of doom, but I did actually enjoy Sunn album Life Metal this year.
Brutal wise, Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation, Gatecreeper – Deserted, and the sloppy delights of Cerebral Rot album Odious Descent into Decay were all fun. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave was killer, and locals Mental Cavity bought the year home in style with Neuro Siege.
Australia had an outstanding year with Dispossessed – Warpath Never Ended with the riff from Bloodied Inflorescence haunting me for months after seeing them play in February. Hard-Ons – So I Could Have Them Destroyed, The Neptune Power Federation – Memoirs of a Rat Queen, Witchcliff – Rust, Ploughshare – Tellurian Insurgency, Lucifungus – Akuma Kin, Dickie Birds s/t, King – Coldest of the Cold and Holy Serpent – Endless topped my Aussie releases for the year.
My top 5 for 2019 though came down to listens. This is what I had album wise. Have a killer 2020, hope to see you for another wrap-up in 2029.
5. Saint Vitus – 12 Years In The Tomb
Scott Reagers returns after Wino was sent home from the Saint Vitus European tour on drugs charges. Reagers is arguably the voice of the band, as heard in his return in the mid ’90s on Die Healing. A triumph.
4. Thelma & The Sleaze – Fuck. Marry. Kill.
I found Lauren “LG” on Instagram a couple of years back. Ferociously independent southern garage rock is about as far from brutal as it gets. This album appeals to my DIY sensibilities and while the production is not shiny and glossy, the songcraft and earnest honesty comes through in spades. I’ve harassed her to come and play in Australia but she hates flying so it will likely never happen. But if a band EARNED respect in 2019, it’s this one.
3. Orodruin – Ruins Of Eternity
I reviewed this last issue for a full rundown – Little Lord Fauntleroy vocals; not a brutal guitar tone; 16 years since the first album. There’s no reason I should have played this back-to-back since I got it. I did. It’s incredible COTD-stamped song writing, melody, and guitar harmonies with just the right amount of Sabbath worship. I loved this album and had it come out a month earlier it would likely have been number 1.
2. Henry Fiats Open Sore – Fiat Currency
Also not brutal. A punk record from Norway. It has the best three songs in a row on an album in 2019 with The Monotone Pt 2, Have Love Will Ferrell, Don Wanna Meets The FBI and I gave it a bloody flogging. It’s a rollicking listen for fans of Turbonegro and good punk rock in general with some great guitar playing.
1. Torche – Admission
This surprised me. I didn’t think this was the most heaviest record I listened too this year. But I listened to it the most. The reason was the spoiler track. Now the title track is a corker, and the whole album is really really fucking good. But Slide was the spoiler track. It is a Melvins-ish broken riff with an infectious melody and a super-super smart song structure that bookends the song and it appears I listened to it more than anything or any other song this year. So Torche wins 2019. Good on ’em.