Ahh…sod it, I was going to leave the second half until tomorrow (and build up the suspense!), but I’ve just cracked open my third beer and I don’t have to work tomorrow. So, here we go!
5. Stara Rzeka – Cień chmury nad ukrytym polem
This band from Poland produce a seemingly impossible mix of acoustic folk, Krautrock rhythms, snarling black metal and space jam drone that can only be described as astonishing.
I found out about them after reading an interview with the band and was instantly captivated and blown away in equal measures. They manage to weave the disparate elements of their sound so seamlessly into one another that they can subtly change from gentle folk to roaring lo-fi black metal without anyone noticing. This album was one of those rare pleasures for me this year: a band and album that I knew nothing about taking me completely by surprise. Just don’t ask me to pronounce that album title!
Listen to it in it’s entirety here and support independent musicians for a mere 5 Euros if you like what you hear.
Here’s the opening track which features pretty much the whole spectrum of their sound:
4. Robedoor – Primal Sphere
That fact that supreme drone merchants Robedoor are still producing quality albums 20-odd releases over a plethora of LPs, split CDs, cassettes and CDRs 8 or 9 years into their career is a feat in itself.
This record (limited edition vinyl of 400 copies – download code included!) is a welcome return to their original cavernous drone sound, but is shot through with enough memorable motifs to make it accessible without compromising their sound. I’ve got most of their vinyl releases (about 8 or 9 LPs) and this is definitely up there with the best of them!
Somewhat inevitably, you can hear the whole thing here. This is the opening track:
3. David Bowie – The Next Day
I’ve mentioned a few times on the ‘Spill over the last couple of years that I’d been (belatedly) getting into Bowie in a big way, so, like everyone else on the planet, I was pretty excited when he dropped “Where are we Now” back in January.
I didn’t hold out much hope for the album though and held off buying a copy until last month. How could I have doubted the great man?!! The Next Day is simply a great great rock record. There are maybe one or two superfluous tracks, but every other tune, from the rocking opening title track to the unsettling closer “Heat” is a stone cold Bowie classic that stands up to any of his previous tunes and work as simply great tracks in their own right.
2. Savages – Silence Yourself
THE WOLRD USED TO BE SILENT
NOW IT HAS TOO MANY VOICES
AND THE NOISE IS A CONSTANT DISTRACTION
THEY MULTIPLY, INTENSIFY
THEY WILL DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION TO WHAT’S CONVENIENT
AND FORGET TO TELL YOU ABOUT YOURSELF
WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF MANY STIMULATIONS
IF YOU ARE FOCUSED YOU ARE HARDER TO REACH
IF YOU ARE DISTRACTED YOU ARE AVAILABLE
YOU ARE DISTRACTED
YOU ARE AVAILABLE
YOU WANT FLATTERY
ALWAYS LOOKING TO WHERE IT’S AT
YOU WANT TO TAKE PART IN EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO BE A PART OF YOU
YOUR HEAD IS SPINNING FAST AT THE END OF YOUR SPINE UNTIL YOU HAVE NO FACE AT ALL
IF THE WORLD WOULD SHUT UP
EVEN FOR A WHILE
WE WOULD START HEARING THE DISTANT RHYTHM OF AN ANGRY YOUNG TUNE – AND RECOMPOSE OURSELVES
HAVING DECONSTRUCTED EVERYTHING
WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT PUTTING EVERYTHING BACK TOGETHER
It’s high-minded statements of intent like this that made me fall completely in love with Savages this year. The look, the sound, the lyrics, the attitude: Savages made me feel like a teenage music fan and buy the NME, put a poster up on my wall with blu-tack, get a page boy haircut and start a fanzine. Come on sheeple, put down your smartphones, shut down your twitter account, take a step back and appreciate the moment for what it is – silence yourselves. Music fans of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your wi-fi connections!
1. Watain – The Wild Hunt
Over their previous four albums Swedish black metallers Watain have quietly been becoming the best band in metal, and big favourites in the Panther household…well, not in the household, I usually have to listen after everyone else has gone to bed! However, with their fifth record The Wild Hunt, they may well have just catapulted themselves into the stratosphere. The Wild Hunt is nothing short of a masterpiece. It has all of the elements of underground and authentic black metal that they have built their reputation on, but adds an extra element of accessibility via the album centrepiece and crossover track “They Rode On”, which sounds a lot like mid-period Metallica and could have been the lead track on their Black album. If mbv was the album I played to lull Mrs Panther and wee Nichika to sleep, this is the album I put on after they had gone to bed and I was left alone with nothing more than a cold beer and my own thoughts. Merry Christmas and infernal hails one and all!