How thrilled I am to be able to kick off this blog with the much coveted Three Paper Music Awards for 2008!!
Yes it’s a bit late, but hey, StonerRock.com just published theirs, so get off my case, man.
The reviews below are not as long as they would be if I was reviewing them one at a time, but I’ve assessed each according to my key criteria of production, songwriting and creativity.
For the last couple of years these articles have appeared on the Northcote House blog, so go check that out if you’re interested in them.
OK, let’s get into it, starting with number five…
#5: Cog – Sharing Space (Difrnt Music)
A gentler, spacier album from Cog, as you’d expect after the evolution they showed in 2005’s The New Normal.
Sylvia Massy again delivers a faultless production job, with clearly recorded vocal harmonies and the occasional influence from electronica contributing to an atmospheric sound.
In a gutsy move, the band opens the album with the ten-minute epic No Other Way. There’s a couple of catchier singles near the centre of the album – What If? and Bird of Feather, but the real gem is late in the album – a beautiful, soulful track called Bitter Pills which the band have been using to close their gigs of late.
And while the heavy parts are less frequent and slightly less angry, in some ways their sparseness makes them all the more effective and rewarding.
#4: Dozer – Beyond Colossal (Small Stone Records)
Splashy cymbals, thundering tom rolls and soaring crescendo choruses have become signatures of the Dozer sound in recent years, perfected triumphantly on 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens. While Beyond Colossal doesn’t venture too far from this formula, it’s an excellent follow up all the same.
Greater emphasis on vocals and harmonies, some experimentation with song structures (including a song in 3-4 time called Exoskeleton Pt. II, which had me recalling QOTSA’s Hangin’ Tree), and the confidence and patience that come with wisdom and experience all make this a worthwhile listen.
This album was released overseas in 2008, although we couldn’t get it here in Australia until 2009. Whatever, I’m calling it a 2008 album. In fact I’m calling it one of the best, which is why you’ve just read about it in this article!
#3: Metallica – Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.)
I’m hardly the person to ask when it comes to an objective review of an album by Metallica. I’m one of those rare people who basically like everything they’ve ever done. Yes even Load and Reload.
So of course I like this too. Rick Rubin takes over as producer, and gets them sounding as precise and metallic as a band with their name should.
And no, it’s not a return to their roots. The band keeps the groove in their riffs which they explored in the late 90’s, as showcased in Cyanide and the instrumental Suicide and Redemption.
And yes they rip themselves off over and over throughout this album, but if you can’t rip yourself off, who can you rip off?
Their best album since St. Anger.
#2: Disfear – Live The Storm (Relapse)
Angry, angry death’n’hardcore from the mighty Swedish noise merchants Disfear.
Uffe Cederlund (Entombed) really settles into the band on this release, and his overpowering wall of guitar noise – engineered on this occasion by Converge’s Kurt Ballou – will be highly sought after by fans of late 90’s Entombed who still crave Uffe’s crunch.
And while the obsession with d-beats limits their songwriting options at times, there are enough quality riffs in this album to do the sound justice, and the rasping screams of Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) provide the edge.
Sorry Relapse – you only made it to #2 this year.
#1: Torche – Meanderthal (Hydra Head)
Is there a genre called Pop-Doom? Well, there is now! What should we call it? Dop? Poom? Whatever it’s called, it’s great. Meanderthal by Miami’s Torche is testament to that fact.
Low-tuned molten guitars provide the heaviness, but as well as big riffs they play some of the most delightful melodic pop you could imagine, all filtered through the crisp, bright production of Kurt Ballou (again!).
This album has great songs and a great sound, and would interest a wide range of listeners, from those who like the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr, through to fans of heavier stoner stuff like Kyuss or even Isis.
For it’s wide-ranging appeal, genre-creating creativity and all round awesomeness, this album gets the inaugural Three Paper Album Of The Year Award for 2008!! (Applause!…)
Gig Of The Year: Pig Destroyer at the Arthouse – Thu, 30 Oct 2008
The Arthouse remains one of the best pubs to see a band in Melbourne. Hmmmm, how convenient that my new house is just up the road…
Pig Destroyer visited the Arthouse in late-2008, and huffed and puffed and nearly blew this mighty old pub in.
One man riff machine Scott Hull was simply mind blowing. That he manages to extract such a powerful sound out of one instrument speaks volumes about his technical prowess and artistry.
Special mentions also to Modest Mouse, the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Soundtrack and the Yacht Rock series on Youtube for providing much enjoyment through 2008 and beyond.
Hope you all enjoyed the article.
Check back soon for more!