Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Durf's Töp 15 Albums of 2017

Why hello again!  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all here, talking about my Töp Non-Metal Albums, EPs, and Songs of 2017.  What's that you say?  It WAS just yesterday? My, what a long day it felt like!  While I truly enjoy writing about genres other than metal, and love foisting songs onto people, today's list is the big to do.  When I started writing for Brutalitopia, my first post was a year end list.  We write for Brutalitopia because of our love of and passion for metal, and it's incredible to have the opportunity to get to listen to SO MUCH metal over the course of the year.  Some of it falls away after a listen or two, some of it sticks around for a bit longer, and even fewer stick with me for the whole year, bouncing into and out of my head at work, and entering regular rotation into my commute or gym soundtracks.  These are the albums I've listed here: fifteen metal albums that have remained a vital part of my year since the first (or, admittedly, second) time I listened to them.  I hope that you'll enjoy this list, that it will perhaps introduce you to a band or album that you haven't yet heard that you then grow to love, like I do.  So, without further ado, here are my Töp Fifteen Metal Albums of 2017.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Durf's Töp EPs, Non-Metal Albums, and Songs of 2017

It's crazy to think another year has come and gone so quickly, even if parts of this year did feel like they were taking forever...  But we're here, at the end of another year, which means it's time to talk about all the music we loved over the past twelve months.  This is the first of two posts I'll have on the matter; this one deals with non-metal albums, EPs, and songs, while the metal list will come out whenever Mick deems it time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Exclusive Interview - Ethan Lee McCarthy (Primitive Man)

This past Friday, Mick and I ventured forth to Chicago's Cobra Lounge, one of the city's truly great, unheralded venues, for one of the most extreme shows we've ever seen.  After a couple stellar craft beers from All-Rise Brewing, we were fortunate enough to bear witness to the heavy ugliness of Denver's Primitive Man and the glacial doom of Seattle's Bell Witch.  I had been set to see both bands before, before being stuck at work and then stuck on my honeymoon, so the show was a culmination of years of waiting.  And I gotta say, it did not disappoint.  Bell Witch was profound, playing the first half of their monstrous track/album Mirror Reaper.  There is a lot of quiet in the album, and it would be easy to lose the audience, but (short of one or two drunkards) Bell Witch held the audience in the palm of their hand, everyone swaying with rapt attention.  As great as Bell Witch was, Primitive Man was the highlight for me.  One of the heaviest, nastiest sets I've ever borne witness to, the trio was louder than they had any right to be, absolutely pummeling their instruments and the audience.  I've seen a fair share of heavy bands at Cobra Lounge, but it wasn't until Friday that I actually worried about the structural integrity of the place.

After the show, though, is when things got real good, as Mick and I had the absolutely delightful opportunity to speak with Ethan Lee McCarthy, the guitarist, lyricist, and vocalist from Primitive Man.  In our chat, we covered the Denver music scene, the best Chicago pizza, and why Kansas City is just fronting about how cool it is.  It was a blast to chat with Ethan, and I hope you enjoy it.  Primitive Man and Bell Witch are on tour now; you really owe it to yourself to see them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

All Pigs Must Die - Hostage Animal

Every music fan I know has a musical sweet spot, the middle of a venn diagram wherein resides the music they absolutely fucking love.  They may "listen to everything (except country!)," but it's that intersection that represents their absolute favorite musical sensibilities, regardless of genre.  For me, that melting pot looks something like a stew of slow- to mid-tempo, atmospheric, ten-plus minute songs with progressive shifts, strong melodies, a bit of groove, and harmonizing vocals.  I love bands and songs that stray from those tendencies, but when an album lands right in that sweet spot... that's the fuckin' jam.  There's a comfort there, a knowledge that you as a listener have heard enough to know what you like.  I bring this musical g-spot up because to me, the only thing better than finding something new that fits into an established idea of "favorite" music is finding something new that doesn't check any of your Favorites boxes, but still gets your head banging, your pulse racing, and your motor running.  From the title of this post, I'm obviously talking about Hostage Animal, the third full-length from All Pigs Must Die.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence

I'd wager pretty comfortably that the majority of metal fans out there started their journey with bands that they would now consider mainstream. If somebody tells you their first endeavors in metal occurred by just happening upon a discography of a band like Immolation then that somebody is either a flat-out liar or a unicorn. Like it or not, as is the case with other genres of music, the mainstream is a piece of the puzzle that forms the holistic view of metal. It's normally here where bands are referred to as "gateway" bands. Trivium was such a band for me. 2005's Ascendancy, the crown-jewel of their discography, showed early high-school me that there were much heavier things to be discovered other than the slew of radio-cuts from Metallica and Slipknot I was primarily caught up in at the time. Over the course of their next five albums, Trivium played a balancing act with Matt Heafy's screaming:clean vocal ratio, effectively experimenting with each extreme of that spectrum and much in-between. With The Sin and the Sentence, the band has found a sweet spot in their sound by focusing their efforts in the dead middle of that aforementioned spectrum; something that should appease both camps of their fan-base.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Shroud Ritual - Five Suns

An interesting thing about instrumental music is the way it's judged as its own genre, as though a lack of vocals is the most notable characteristic of the music.  And while certainly instrumental music does provide a different listening and live viewing experience, I feel like labeling bands as simply "instrumental" lumps them all in together, as though they all sound the same, which is erroneous on multiple levels.  From the black metal of Tempel, to the post-metal riffs of Pelican, to the driving soundscapes of If These Trees Could Talk, instrumental bands are just as varied and cross-genred as their vocal counterparts.  Of course then there are bands like Shroud Ritual, a one man project out of Washington D.C.  Five Suns, the band's debut album, manages to blend and transcend genres, leaving instrumental as the easiest, laziest way to categorize their thoroughly unique sound.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Since the release of their self-titled demo in 2011, Seattle's Bell Witch has become one of the most talked about doom metal bands in the game.  Conceived as a bass and drum duo, Dylan Desmond and Adrian Guerra made their two instruments sound inconceivably large, crafting long, dynamic, intensely heavy doom tracks across their demo and a pair of LPs.  After 2015's Four Phantoms, Guerra left the band, with Jesse Shreibman taking over on drums.  As the new duo was beginning the writing process for their first album together, Guerra tragically passed away, which impacted the album in a profound way.  When such a devastating, monumentally personal event is intertwined with a record, it can become hard, even impossible, to extricate the two from one another.  On October 20, Bell Witch returns with Mirror Reaper, the composition of which, the band says, "sought to match the complexity and weight of these events."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Exclusive Interview - Rebecca Vernon (SubRosa)

This past weekend, comrade Durf and I were lucky enough to catch Salt Lake City's own SubRosa as they were playing the very last show of their tour opening for Wovenhand. The band has garnered plenty of notoriety over the past few years. 2013's More Constant Than the Gods and last year's For This We Fought the Battle of Ages have paved new paths for creating a different kind of heaviness within the doom metal genre; giving their compositions more emotional weight than just audible weight. We sat down with guitarist/singer Rebecca Vernon and just by chance drummer Andy Patterson to talk shop about the band's beginnings, their development over the years, and the tight-knit Salt Lake City music community.

Read the full interview after the break!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brutally Short #7 : Cormorant, Falls of Rauros, GOLD, and Brand New

Welcome to another edition of Brutally Short, the not at all gimicky or lazy feature where we at Brutalitopia compile a group of reviews that are far shorter than our normal, endless word vomit.  The albums contained in Brutally Shorts aren't here because they're bad; quite often there are albums here that deserve far more words from far better writers because of how good they are, we just either didn't see them until now, forgot to write about them, we had a child and the responsibility of caring for a newborn person takes up, like, an inordinate amount of time, or (usually) spent another week rewatching Parks and Recreation on Netflix while drinking scotch instead of actively working to run a blog.  No one said we're good at this.