Wednesday 1 January 2014

Aaron Pickford - Top 25 Records of 2013

Well, what a year 2013 has been.  Since I joined The Sludgelord over 18 months ago, there have been many changes, both in terms of contributors and the overall attitude towards the music we feature.  As I am sure you are aware the variety of music we feature has grown, as The Sludgelord has grown.  Put simply if we feel it is good enough and deserves your attention, we will share that music with you; whether it gets one view or 100 views.   We like to think there is something for every fan of metal, cept Djent maybe, ha-ha!! 

Based around the solid commitment from Steve Howe, who probably averages around 5 reviews a week, The Sludgelord wouldn’t be what it is today.  I work along side Steve to keeping this juggernaut steaming along, have reduced the work I do in terms of reviews, focusing mainly on the social media side of things, keeping the facebook page active with regular update (now nearly 3150 like) and also talking crap on twitter, oh and we have recently added a instagram account.

I do write the occasional review, of which some will feature in my Top 25 end of year list.  Other highlights of which there are many, include the many interviews I have done, my first live review, (Nails at Manchester), watching Conan at their gig in Sheffield in front of 30 people and hooking up with the guys from Tombstones in Nottingham and obviously raising over £600 through our Eyehategod auction, bittersweet moment, for obvious reasons.  Very cool!!  So many highlights, there are too many to mention, but to cap it off for me, getting to hear new Slomatics, was a personal highlight.  Watch out, it is stunning!!

We now have an amazing team of contributors and every person who has contributed something, I am grateful to you.  It is a bit of cliché, but there is no ‘I’ in team and I have to give special mention to the dedicated team members I have worked with specifically, given that I post their reviews on a weekly basis. 

Richard Maw, Matt Fitton, Chris Markwell, Phil Weller, Dominic Walsh  and Lucas Klaukien your contributions this year cannot be under estimated, no one gets paid for this, but your dedication and commitment is the reason Sludgelord is what it is today.  Cheers guy!!  It is a pleasure reading your reviews and a publishing them, so thank you.  Also hearty mentions to our resident Bostonian contributor from Gozu, big Gaff himself.  See you a Roadburn, big guy.  Anyone I have missed, your contribution was no less appreciated and everyone who has contributed something, I am grateful.  Finally, Steve, you the man!! 

Now, the music is what it all about.  So, here is my Top 25 Records of 2013.  When I say records, some of these were not full length albums, hence the reference to records.  Personally speaking, I didn’t want to focus on a specific genre or genres of metal, this is my list based specifically upon enjoyment, amount of times played and just an overall vibe I got from the records.  It is by no means a definitive list, but these records moved me in some way and it is all about subjectivity.  The hardest part for me in compiling this list was the fact I have not listened to many records on repeat, but here it is.  As always, show your support to these bands, whether it is buying a shirt, DD, CD or vinyl.  Cheers and see you on the other side.  Aaron. Ps I cheated a little by having a few bands sharing a specific placing, so I really have more than 25.

25). All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Chaos

For me the best release by Southern Lord this year.  It is a rager from the outset and blisteringly heavy.

24). Mutoid Man – Helium Head

Cave In and Coverge members = catchy, heavy, poppy, hook laden and just a brilliant listen.  Watch out of the brilliant cover of The Manimals too.  Genius. 

23). Crypt Lurker - Baneful Magic, Death Worship and Necromancy Rites Archaic

Recommended following a brief twitter conversation.  Listened on Bandcamp. 5 minutes later bought the vinyl.  Slow, crippling sludge doom.  Easily the best release of it’s kind this year. 

22). Beastmilk – Climax

Thought I would hate it, yet this record is seriously addictive and is a record of the highest quality. Post whatever you wanna call it, but it has swagger and serious attitude.  Ones to watch for sure.

21). Blackout – We Are Here

Putting the R in riff and D in doom.  Art work says it all.  Can’t recommend it enough. 

20). Warwolf – Crushing The Ways of the old

Just fucking pissed off and heavy. 

19). Gozu – The Fury of a Patient Man

Not as riff heavy as their debut IMO, but with a vocalist as talented as Gaff who turns in a stellar performance, shitloads of groove and fuzz , it deserves your attention.  2014 brings the vinyl edition and their debut European Shows.

18). True Widow – Circumambulation

Just a breathtaking record, hypnotic and fuzz laden.

17). Primitive Man – Scorn

Two words.  Face Melting. 

16). Scientist – S/T

Ex Yakuza man, Eric Plonka delivers what I think is one of the best instrumental metal record of the year. 

15). Carcass – Surgical Steel

Nearly 20 years since Heartwork and this is as good, if not better.  Comeback of 2013.

14). Secrets of the Sky – To Sail Black Waters

Black metal, sludge, doom, post metal, mix it together and you get a stunning debut.  

13). Clutch – Earth Rocker

All killer and no filler.  Putting them back on top where they rightfully deserve to be.

12). Sadgiqacea – False Prism

A massive sounding duo, fusing black metal, sludge, doom and so much more.

11). Armed for Apocalypse – The Road Will End

A stunning return after a 4 year absence, filled with riffs Kirk Windstein would be proud of. 

10). Vista Chino – Peace

Creating a new era for themselves and delivering an album that we all hoped they were capable of.  Not immediate by any means, but you invest the time and this record delivers in spades.  Garcia never sounded better. 

09). Avatarium – S/T

Who needs Candlemass when you get an album like this.  This record delivers on every level.  Did I mention the vocals are amazing.

08). We Are Knuckle Dragger – The Drone

This record will totally divide opinion, with its unrelenting discordance, but It is just brilliant. 

07). Tombstones – Red Skies and Dead Eyes

Tombstones return with a warmer and heavier sounding record.  Again if you like your doom laden with bass and fuzz, this is the best of its kind this year. 

06). Cult of Luna – Vertikal

A Masterpiece and arguably their best work to date. 

05). Voivod – Target Earth

Took me by surprise just how good this record is.  Not for everyone, but people who know the band, cannot fail to love it.  Refreshed, rejuvenated and arguably a career best nearly 30 years on

04) =. Goya – 777 & Curse The Son – Psychache

Goya - This band came to my attention from nowhere and completely blew me away.  Shit, Electric Wizard are not  making records this good.  Recorded live with few overdubs.  Fans of Electric Wizard, Sleep, you need this band in your life.   

Curse The Son – I could not pick these two record apart.  Expect a monumental vinyl release from STB Records next year and it is well deserved.   Quote from the bandcamp page says, “guitar tone and the rhythm section just smashes your bones”.  Couldnt agree more.  Get downloading

03).  = Conan/Bongripper Split 12” & Kowloon Walled City / Battilus Split 7

Conan / Bongripper Split - Released to coincide with their UK dates, two of the heaviest bands on the plant do not disappoint.  In the words of Spinal Tap, turn up to 11.

Kowloon Walled City / Battilus Split 7 – I literally received this record a few days ago and I must have played it ten times back to back, hell I even exposed my kids to it.  Cover songs are often a lottery, sometime bands go for a like for like interpretation and others, such as Type O Negative, covering Black Sabbath, reinterpret the music completely, with a varying degree of approval.  Anyway, this split is up there with the best I have ever heard.  Godflesh and Ministry are the bands being covered and goddam do both bands nail it.  Swapping vocalists for each track to add a cool twist on this project, for me the highlight is Batillus covering ‘Lava’ by Minsitry, that is not to take anything away from KWC, because their track is killer, but Batillus own this track, bucketloads of head nodding grooves and a definite floor filler.  Make no mistake if you like both of these bands, you won’t be disappointed.  

02). Batillus – Concrete Sustain

Taking the best eletronica from Ministry, fuse with sludgey as fuck riffs, with bleak snarling vocals.   Concrete Sustain is a must have.  Oh and it has a shit ton of groove too. 

01). Phantom Glue – War of Light Cones

You may be thinking Phantom Who?  But this band, really are worthy.  The record kicks off with one of the best riffs of any record this year and it just carries on delivering.  Noise rock meets sludge.  This record pulverises.  FFO Old Man Gloom, Zozobra,