Editor’s note: Does she even work here anymore? Is she even alive? Who the hell is that? Are some of the questions I will gladly add to the FAQ section on the Jenny Oh section. But for now, all I can say is the bitch is back! For the time being and horrendously late to the album of the years party. While many are getting ready to pump out their mid year reviews by now, I shall lay this on you anyway dear reader. Thanks again and you have not seen the last of this plague. 😉
Honorable mentions: Rotting Christ- The Heretics, Gaahls Wyrd- Gastir-Ghosts Invited, Abbath-Oustrider, Darkthrone- Old Star, Mgła – Age of Excuse, Die Klute- Planet Fear, Prison- Still Alive, Necrochamber- Ceremonie for the Dead, Okilly Dokilly- Reneducation, Eluviete- Ategnato, Skold- Never is Now, Mork- Det Svarte Jud, Amon Amarth- Beserker, Possessed- Revelations of Oblivion, 1349- The Infernal Pathways ,Cemican- In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli, Mayhem- Deamon, Rings of Saturn- Gidim, Mo’ynoq- Dreaming in a Dead Language , Overkill- wings of war.
- Tyr- Hel (Metal Blade Records)
The quartet stormed into this list somewhat unexpectedly. Upon review, this collective’s latest title wowed yours truly and slowly conquered the J’Ohster! Even if you feel a little “meh” about Viking metal, you will be finding yourself humming and having a track of theirs stuck in your head…and dare I say your heart? Too cheesy? Okay maybe you’re right but hear me out.
Hel has grit and plenty of glory throughout each track, the best of all worlds! What more could you want from an album? From battlefield worthy songs such as “ King of Time,” “Against the Gods” and “ Empire of the North,” to the ode such as “Sunset Shores” and “Ragnars Kvæði.”
Tyr concocted an album that Oden himself would praise and not just because each track is one that many generations will sing about but because the pit would be pleased by these odes too. Skol to Tyr!
- Cattle Decapitation- Death Atlas (Metal Blade Records)
I have a confession to make, deathgrind and grindcore have never been my cup of tea. However, Cattle Decapitation and their latest installment was a release that swayed me. Death Atlas was an acquired blend that allows itself to be savored and digested and it’s so damn delicious.
These fellow San Diegans unleashed this latest apocalyptic installment on the world and it was well worth the four year wait. Cattle Decapitation played like it was their last time and Travis Ryan’s versatile vocals continue to be the pinnacle of this concept album.
The quintet created a fitting soundtrack to the apocalypse that is sure to remain a favorite even after the four horsemen have taken us all and have made us into their personal slaves. It’s cool though, as long as this record is blasting while we eternally chill by the fire it won’t be so bad.
- Rammstein (Self titled, Universal Music Group)
As you may or may not have read the Klown’s review, we both had initially decided to exclude this album because we were worried that that “b” word was going to cloud our judgement. That’s right, “bias.” Though “bitchin’’ was a good guess but still, wrong! Anyway, we were dealt with an interesting outcome.
The mass legion of fireballs (I think that’s what we would call ourselves?) patiently waited nearly a decade for this release. To say that it was highly anticipated is an understatement, and finally the German shock rockers unleashed their arsenal on to the world and it was… good. Though this release was still critically acclaimed, it certainly caused a flurry of mixed reactions among fans, including yours truly. No, this is not a rant piece nor a love song but an analysis.
The sextet worked their magic and produced a great record with quality tracks, however, this particular album felt different. Sure this release was relatively softer than its predecessors and the boys continued to experiment which is a key element that makes them so great, however, upon many sleepless nights as to why this did not tickle my lady pickle too much, I figured it out. This record felt like an Emigrate album. Nothing against my boy Richard, I love Emigrate! However, balance is key in every compromise, wouldn’t you agree?
This self titled set off a few time bombs within disgruntled fans, and it was a lit release for others. For yours truly, it was a nice album that took some time for me to warm up to. Yours truly was not too hot and bothered by it but it’s certainly not one to make me spontaneously combust. I will be fond of it, just like any decent step parent is fond of their political kin.
- Kampfar- Ofidians Manifest (Indie Recordings)
Norwegian black metallers return with this installment in which they ‘Manifest’ greatness. Their eighth studio album isn’t just another black metal album to bang your head to, it’s also a record that will serve as a good muse. Kampfar added some theatrical elements to the mix and it is glorious.
These seven tracks are each a wonder of their own with great hooks, plenty of build ups fueled by Dolk’s rabid growls and proclamations which compliments this dramatic record. A track that is a prime example and that yours truly enjoyed was “Dominans” which was escalated to pure haunting bliss by Agnete Kjølsrud who is the lead vocalist of Norwegian rock band Djerv. Also check out the fitting finale in “Det Sorte.”
These seven tracks are as hypnotic as the gaze on the slain bastard (possibly Medusa?) on the cover. Dare I say this record left me a bit petrified with wonder? And slithered its way into my head and now on to this list? Terrible snake references aside, this was an album yours truly played on loop for sometime and still am.
- Lindemann- F&M (Universal/ Vertigo Berlin)
Well hallo again Mr. Lindemann, so gut to see you my liebchen! Ooh and you too Mr. Tägtgren! Okay, this might be a bit of a public declaration of my undying love to Till Lindemann and a bit of a love song to this record. PSYCHE! I have no musical talent! But I will tell you why I liked this release.
This gruesome twosome’s sophomore release was predominantly Pain-esque, softer, and experimental. In terms of balance, this was a good example of that. Pain’s musical format is complimented by my hubby’s… I mean… Lindemann’s signature baritone vocals. Thirsty comments aside, “Ach So Gern,” “Knebel,” “Mathematik” (though yours truly prefers the version that features rapper Haftebehl) are perfect examples of the type of musical genres these two are willing to do, and can do so well.
F&M was a great follow up to their debut and it was such a delight to not only be surprised by the announcement of this release but to see these two virtuosos continue to bloom in their creative union. Till death do them part!
- Fleshgod Apocalypse- Veleno (Nuclear Blast)
For the record, the Klown doesn’t even know that these classy troubadours ranked at this high. Though I’m certain he knows now! What can I say about this record that has not been said by the Klown? The trek of this release took me by surprise. To clarify, the J’Ohster is a casual fan and dabbled with FA but the superb production of this record had me eating out of the palm of their hand and well I am ready to fully commit to them!
Fleshgod Apocalypse begins this haunting new journey with “Fury” and the singles “Carnivorous Lamb,” and “Sugar,” and does not fizzle. The elegant record never misses a step in this brutal ballroom, and don’t be fooled by the symphonic intermissions and operatic vocals, the rest of Veleno weaves a string of ferocious and melodic hymns with great eloquence. In addition to these original tracks, they treat listeners to a well done cover of Rammstein’s “Reise, Reise,” and a haunting but beautiful rendition of “The Forsaken” from their 2011 Agony release.
Not all can successfully distribute a mish mash of theatrical elements with metal’s heaviness, not that this applies to FA because they are pros at this and have proven it over and over in their trajectory. Fleshgod Apocalypse’s brand of symphonic death metal has always had a major bite and grandeur but now with longtime member Francesco Paoli reascending to the mic, their sound feels refined. Now that the collective has turned this new leaf and with the same faces at the helm, it is a divine beginning.