Best of 2013: 5 and 4

power trip cover

5. POWER TRIP, “Manifest Decimation” (Southern Lord) — The thrash metal revival hasn’t done a thing for me, because what I hear from almost every one of these bands is not the spirit in which I grew up. So yeah, maybe it’s some personal bias having grown up in the 1980s when thrash was at its creative apex that I have such a hard time getting into young thrash and crossover bands because they just don’t cut it for me. Not their faults, necessarily, because they weren’t breathing the same air and drinking the same water as bands like Exodus, Forbidden, Death Angel, Testament, Nuclear Assault, Metallica, and Anthrax. I don’t hold it against them that they don’t get it because, really, how could they?

Then a band like Power Trip comes along, and it feels like, finally, a young band has gotten it. The songs are fun, catchy, and violent in a great way, and they are tracks that make you want to start the largest circle pit in civilization organically, not because some macho asshole singer told you to do so. I’ve gotten as much pure enjoyment out of “Manifest Decimation” as anything else I heard this year, and if I needed something to get my juices flowing or a record to kick my ass into gear while I was running, this was the one I turned to pretty much every time.

From the blast of an opener in the title track to the impossibly infectious “Heretic Fork,” that has riffs galore, to “Conditioned to Death,” that has a chorus that should make you want to start throwing haymakers, to the insane “Power Trip,” that’s the best band-titled song to come out in two decades, this thing is a full-on riot. If this record makes you want to open up all the beers in the house, tear down the walls, break the lamps, and lie in a pile of sickness when it’s all over, then chances are you totally got the spirit of this thing too. So I guess the thrash revival isn’t a total waste because it brought us Power Trip, the band that re-ignited my faith in this style of metal living on through the ages. May there be many more from this band, the best new thrash band to come along since the 1980s. Hails, boys. (June 11)

To buy the album, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/store.php

RS Cover Final

4. FELL VOICES, “Regnum Saturni” (Gilead Media) — Are there any bands that makes you feel like they’re truly not of this world, or at least of this plane of existence? I feel that way about Santa Cruz, Calif., black metal space warriors Fell Voices, who seem to be inspired by sounds that most humans cannot comprehend and soundscapes that are beyond the capabilities of most modern artists. Their records are journeys through the body, soul, the cosmos, and time, and you have to devote yourself fully to what they do in order the comprehend. It’s a must, and if you completely engage, your life as a metal fan never will be the same again.

The band’s third album “Regnum Saturni,” a 66-minute galactic monster, is their finest work to date, combining their penchant for storm-shrouded black metal, devastating and penetrating drone, and the chaos from other eras, perhaps of times that we have not personally witnessed yet. You talk about bands that are ahead of their time, and Fell Voices qualify as that outright. Thing is, they’re doing dark arts so far and above what so many other bands are doing right now, they might not even survive as humans to live in the era where they can truly call other musicians and bands contemporaries. That’s how good they are, that’s how beyond comprehension their music is, and that’s how vitriolic and mind-blowingly creative they are as band. And let’s also take into their account their reluctance to speak to the media (the only reason we didn’t feature an interview) and relative personal obscurity beyond the carefully planned shows they play, and that level of mystery just blows into the stratosphere.

“Regnum Saturni” is comprised of just three tracks–“Flesh From Bone,” “Emergence,” and “Dawn”–that take you from front to back, and all are weaved together by an electrified noise thread that pulsates and could leave you in a trance, hardly able to snap out. On the other hand, if drone causes you anxiety, this record will wreck your life because of its heavy-handed devotion to making your eyes roll into the back of your head. The songs also are full of infernal glory, cascading melodies, and devastating shrieks and shouts that sound like they’re signaling the end of existence. This record is so massive, so great, so world-toppling, you really have to hear it for yourself to fully grasp its weight. And by the way, its vinyl treatment is one of the nicest of the entire year, and package is as sturdy and mighty as the band itself. It’s a must have for anyone who dares call himself or herself a fan of modern black metal. Or metal at all. (June 1)

To buy the album, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/

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