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Untitled Document

Dear Maelstrom faithful,

Whew! Another year, another anniversary. This time, it’s #7 for Maelstrom. What material does #7 correspond to? Plastic? Cardboard? Crayon? In terms of zine lifespans, it’s probably more along the lines of silver.

We skipped an issue while I was away on tour, which means that Maelstrom #60 is a whopper at 119 reviews. We have two interviews, one with video game music metallers Powerglove, and the other with Dendura. We were also going to run my chat with record producer Colin Richardson, who tells about how he got Carcass’ guitars to sound as they do on Heartwork, but damned if I can find my digital recorder in all this remodeling mess. We’ll have to save it for next time.

Something that you should be sure to check out this month is the report from the 2007 Dubai Desert Rock festival, which will allow you a glimpse of what the metal life is like in the Middle East.

This month, we're giving away a split grind/hardcore CD on the Japanese label Bloodbath Records. The album in question is GESEWA (Jap) / UTTER BASTARD's (USA) Rising Sun Fuckers / Kusottare Yankee. We really dug Gesewa's demo years ago (read about it in our pages), and those few tracks are also on here, but mastered.

To win, be one of the first to answer the following correctly:

Name one of the members of either Gesewa or Utter Bastard that appear on this album.

Good luck!

The anniversary issue also conveniently co-incides with our end of 2007 issue, which means best of lists galore. I know I’ll be scrutinizing these to know what records that I hadn’t heard of to buy.

Happy 2008!

Roberto Martinelli

Roberto Martinelli’s favorite albums of 2007

1. Ruins of Beverast, The – Rain Upon the Impure: The music-collector, metal-head, record-buying, list-making nerd facets of my multiple personalities had been looking for that fifth album to round out the Top 5 All-Time Best Black Metal Album list. Found it. (by the way, I know that this album is a 2006 release, but I hadn't heard of it till last year AND we were sent it to review as a new album in 2007)

2. Virgin Black – Requiem Mezzo Forte: A stunning marriage of two of my favorite musical things: metal and classical, except the classical is all done by actual, acoustic instruments, and the vocals are performed by highly adept opera singers. The album is like hearing a soundtrack to the tragedy (and glory thereof) of war.

3. NeObliviscaris – Demo 2007: I try not to consider that what one band deems a “demo” severely outshines the “studio album” of most any other metal band. They can call it what they want. No other album this year made me hold my breath with excitement and also vindication — that someone did make the kind of music I want to hear within the metal context.

4. Wrath of the Weak – Wrath of the Weak: I love the out-of-nowhere underdog. It didn’t come more so in 2007, as Wrath of the Weak was the sole black metal project on a noise label. The one-man band nailed the tone of the raging, necro storm that simultaneously was relaxing and meditative.

5. DGM – Different Shapes: Simply, Different Shapes is 2007's best power/progressive metal album.

6. Pagan’s Mind – God’s Equation: What I had hoped would be the best album of the year (again, see 2005's list), but #6 ain’t bad... but take into consideration that the ranking and my suckerdom for this band correlate.

7. Jesu – Conqueror: Pure bliss. Jesu made its downtrodden sound more pop and simple, and as depressing as it’s purported to be, it’s actually rather uplifting and relaxing.

8. Symphony X – Paradise Lost: It may not be the best music overall that this band has done, but for damn sure it’s the best overall album Symphony X has put together, and it rips.

9. Circus Maximus – Isolate: The second album by these other Norwegian prog metallers (see Pagan’s Mind... does Norway do every style of metal as good or better than anyone else?) showed that the debut was not a fluke. Original genius with outstanding vocals.

10. Akercocke – Antichrist: It’s hard to top Choronzon in these departments, but Antichrist shows once again that you can be extreme metallers and still write catchy, proper songs.

11. Locus Mortis – Voust: A black metal torrent on full blast, it was a good ride to let this Italian group overtake me.

12. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone: Hey, three Maelstrom staffers can’t be wrong.

13. Helloween – Gambling With the Devil: Yeah, I’m also a sucker for this group, and for cheesy, gay power metal in general... but Helloween does sing-along, forever memorable choruses better than anyone in the genre, and this album is a great piece of work.

14. Wuthering Heights – The Shadow Cabinet: The idea of turbo-jigs married to prog metal, and with one of the genre’s most awesome singers (Patrik Johansson) appeals to me, and The Shadow Cabinet finally sees Wuthering Heights get its asses in gear and put out an energized, gonzo album.

15. Gorefest – Rise to Ruin: Partially to round out the list to 15, and partially because I’m a sucker for amazing, clear, heavy production. Rise to Ruin was sonically impressive, and my roomate came in and got stuck in the room, nodding his head in profound admiration.

Record that should have been on my tops list but didn’t make it/disappointment:

Stars of the Lid – And Their Refinement of the Decline: Tired Sounds of the Stars of the Lid is my favorite album of all time. The follow up sounds even better, but the music is far less interesting. What a shame...

Joshua Gottlieb’s 75 Pontifications and Obfuscations of 2007

– Criteria: altered from previous years as Roberto instituted the “Josh Rule” wherein the best ofs had to, in fact, have been released only in the calendar year. Evidently I was up to the task…
– Creature Comfort: in a year where I grew increasingly frustrated with finding music that rocked my little world I still managed to come up with a list that sprawls like the Midwest plains on a road trip from hell. Or something to that effect.
– Discomfiting Realization: I bought, absconded with, and/or obtained three hundred fewer CDs than in 2006.
– Discomfiting Realization, The Sequel: the ole CD collection still increased by half a thousand.
– Greatest Revelation: my fourteen-year old niece’s discovery, and subsequent obsession with, extreme metal, the best conversational snippet with her being: “Gorgoroth’s quite good but Cannibal Corpse is kind of one dimensional.” Damn near brought a tear to my eye and warmed my black heart.
– And The Winner Is: Down’s III: Over the Under. Let’s see, a five year gap between albums, a frontman about as stable as acid and base commingling on a mule train through a prairie dog shanty town, the near wholesale destruction of the band’s hometown and the salient fact that supergroups, as a rule, devour large quantities of rhino cock. Recipe for suckage, right? Yet here they go and churn out a record that echoes the past while staying firmly rooted in the present, giving all the young ‘uns a schooling on how to rock, pulverize and, dare I say, emote without a dash, whiff or trace of irony or eye liner. Brilliant.

The Top Ten:

1. Down – III: Over the Under
2. Baroness – Red Album
3. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
4. Year of No Light – Nord
5. Chalk, Andrew – Goldfall
6. Sunny Day in Glasgow, A – Scribble Mural Comic Journal
7. Austerity Program, The – Black Madonna
8. Alcest – Souvenirs D’Un Autre Monde
9. Jakob – Solace
10. Jesu – Lifeline

Fifteen That Could Have Cracked the Top Ten on Any Other Day (in random order):

Wormwood – Starvation
Angelic Process, The – Weighing Souls With Sand
Ea – Ea Taesse
Ufomammut / Lento – Supernaturals Record One
Rosetta – Wake / Lift
Ministry – The Last Sucker
Nadja – Radiance of Shadows
Wolves in the Throne Room – Two Hunters
Venetian Snares – My Downfall
Alchemist – Tripsis
Angel Eyes – …And For a Roof a Sky Full of Stars
Simulacra – Eidolon
Gnaw Their Tongues – Reeking Pained and Shuddering
Souvenir’s Young America – An Ocean Without Water
Tigertailz – Thrill Pistol

Another Fifty That Found Heavy Rotation and Sloppy Kisses (alphabetized):

Akercocke – Antichrist
Alabama Thunder Pussy – Open Fire
Amiina – Kurr
Atavist / Nadja – 12012291920 / 1414101
Basinski, William – Shortwavemusic
Big Business – Here Come the Waterworks
Bjorkk, Henrik Nordvargr & Beyond Sensory Experience vs. Kenji Siratori – Hypergenome 666
Deathspell Omega – Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum
Earth – Hibernaculum
Editors – An End Has a Start
Eluvium – Copia
Gainsbourg, Charlotte – 5:55
Gnaw Their Tongues – Die Mutter Wahlt Das Todtenkleidchen
Gog – Noriah Mills
Harvey, PJ – White Chalk
Hey Colossus – Project: Death
Human Quena Orchestra, The – Means Without Ends
Jesu – Conqueror
Kleinbach, Wilhelm – The Funerary Notebooks of Herr Gratchenfleiss
Lesbian – Power Hor
Lifelover – Erotik
Minsk – The Ritual Fires of Abandonment
Mnemic – Passenger

Monarch! – Dead Men Tell No Tales

Monster Magnet – 4-Way Diablo
Monument of Urns – Cruelty
Morkobot – Mostro
Nadja – Thaumogenesis
Narrows, The – Benjmain
Neurosis – Given to the Rising
Ocean, The – Precambrian
Orenda – The Funeral
Pelican – City of Echoes
Place To Bury Strangers, A – S/T
Red Harvest – A Greater Darkness
Ruins of Beverast, The – Rain Upon the Impure
Rwake – Voices of Omens
Snares (Venetian Snares) – Sabbath Dubs (10”)
Stars of the Lid – And Their Refinement of the Decline
Timony, Mary Band – The Shapes We Make
Today Is The Day – Axis of Eden
Torche – In Return
Transmission 0 – Memory of a Dream
Tulsa Drone – Songs From a Mean Season
Type O Negative – Dead Again
Virgin Black – Requiem Mezzo Forte
When – Trippy Happy
Windmills By the Ocean – S/T
Wraiths – Plaguebearer

Ignacio Coluccio’s best of 2007

Best of 2007:

2007 was one of the best years for music that I personally had the luck of living in. Another damn near perfect Tokyo Jihen album, a new, albeit short, Joanna Newsom release, Dax Riggs' triumphal return and Reverend Bizarre going out with a bang, and definitely the best bang I've ever seen a band go out with. As good as it was, it also had its fair deal of disappointments: the good but not up to their level Fiery Furnaces, Arcade Fire's albums, LCD Soundsystem, and Burial's overhyped-to-hell-and-back albums that weren't really so good. Anyway, with just one metal album, this is my own top 20 list. (Order's quite a bit random, take it with a grain of salt, and know that they'll be ranked based on personal preference, too, and not just pure objective analysis)

01 - Tokyo Jihen - Variety/Senkou Shoujo: Just one year away from Adult, Variety's a big change: much less jazz, much more western rock, and most of all, no Shiina Ringo compositions here. It's brilliant anyway. And... Senkou Shoujo, the little 20-minute DVD with their "Osca" and "Killer Tune" videos that introduces one of the best tracks of the year, "Senkou Shoujo." It's been a good year for us Shiina Ringo cultists.

02 - Joanna Newsom - Ys Street Band EP: So far, she's recorded nothing but masterpiece after masterpiece (hell, even her first EP thingy destroys most folk artists out there) and I'm not really expecting it to change. This EP in particular is great if only for the new song, “Colleen,” easily the top 2007 track. Now, I can't choose this as the best 2007 release since it's just an EP, but it's the best thing I've heard all year (and probably the thing I've heard the most all year).

03 - Shiina Ringo - Heisei Fuuzoku / Dai Ikkai Ringohan Taikai no Moyo: Shiina Ringo's short return to her solo career gave us two releases to listen to for weeks: the original sound track to the movie "Sakuran" (kind of), and yet another DVD documenting her jazz-orchestrated remakes of pretty much every single "hit" of her solo career and some lesser known songs ("Gamble", "Poltergeist"...). Both share many songs, including many identical versions, and we had heard some of them already, but those new orchestrations and songs turned Dai Ikkai... and Heisei Fuuzoku into a must for us Ringo fans, and those identical remakes were just too good for us to care. A perfect combo to remind those who think that anything made in Japan is just bubbly 8-bit pop, cheesy techno para-para boybands and bad hiphop that there's actual music there.

04 - Dax Riggs - We Sing of Only Blood or Love: Dax Riggs, if you know his music, you love it. Be it his metal band Acid Bath, his criminally underrated rock band Agents of Oblivion or his most well known Deadboy and the Elephantmen, Dax Riggs has always released concise, down to earth albums with some of the best vocals ever found in rock. And I just can't explain how good We Sing of... is. Leonard Cohen-ish Bob Dylan-ish Deadboy-ish Dax Riggs solo stuff with body (and distorted guitars!), one notch above Deadboy and the Elephantmen, showing that even Dax Riggs can get better over time.

05 - Reverend Bizarre - III: So Long Suckers: No contest, the best doom and metal album of the year. Double album, that is. Brilliant just like every single Reverend Bizarre album, filled to the top with crushing bass and guitar riffs, a great thick production, epic vocals like Candlemass' From the 13th Sun, and long, long songs that actually go somewhere. Did I mention five-minute bass solos? If you're at all into metal, you'll like this, trust me, as it's easily the most epic album released in years... and the most original traditional doom album ever recorded. They are no longer the Doom Over the World stoner doom band, they are completely original and they've thrown away most everything academical. And now that they've broken up, I doubt we'll see doom this good for quite a long time. Gah.

06 - Battles - Mirrored: To this day, I still hate the fact that I missed them when they were playing 20 minutes away from here. I know that now that they're well known in the indie circle you might doubt their talent, but do yourself a favor and get it. If you're into math-anything, I mean. Great, great, GREAT math-rock with actual melodies, and a fair deal of postmodern angular rhythms and loop pedals.

07 - Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?: Best straight-forward pop album of the year, bar none. Inhumanly catchy psychedelic indie pop but with a certain ‘60s sound, some incredible vocal harmonizations and a whole lot of fun. I know, it's a trendy thing now to like Of Montreal, but they really are good baroque pop, especially if you're at all into catchiness.

08 - Polysics - Karate House: Tied with Of Montreal's for 2007's catchiest record, Karate House shows a much more pop-oriented Polysics than the usual Devo worship, but with the same weird time signatures and all around incoherent structures, this time with actual choruses.

09 - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times: The best avant-garde rock album released in quite a long time, nothing more, nothing less.

10 - 9mm Parabellum Bullet - Termination: Saying "original J-rock" is pretty much like saying "vocal post-rock" these days, but Termination is an original release that comes as the culmination of everything started in their previous EPs. If emotional but heavy rock with polymeters and weird time signatures here and there is your thing, you should know about this crazy, out of the norm rock band that sometimes records some normal songs.

11 - Carla Bruni - No Promises: So... yes, she's going to get married to a president. And she's all over the news, and she's now known by pretty much everyone who watches TV or reads newspapers. Trust me, it was weird for a fan of her musical work to see her everywhere for some days, and I know that her albums will probably sell much more now... but that's a good thing. No Promises is a near perfect modern folk album with some seriously flawless and sweet songs.

12 - Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone: They are one of the leading post rock bands nowadays, and for a reason. That reason being that their heavy parts are as gorgeous as they come. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is just another Explosions in the Sky album, with everything that it means.

13- Blonde Redhead - 23: Alternative, but note grunge-oriented, rock with some of the best songs released this year, both weird and incredibly accesible.

14 - Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity: indie, artpunk, twee, whatever, Deerhoof has always been awesome, and it's because of releases like this that they are loved by many (yet not nearly as enough) indie fans. And they're getting even better.

15 - Secret Mommy - Plays and

16 - Winning - This is an Ad for Cigarettes: two awesome free-jazz / free-rock / free-something indie albums that you should buy and play one after the other to see just how postmodern rock can get without sounding amateur.

17- Keiko Matsui - Moyo: Just like every single Keiko Matsui release, the perfect mix of new age and smooth jazz, with some terrific piano parts and some of the best new age compositions ever.

18 - God is an Astronaut - Far From Refuge: Great great great great post-rock, but you surely know that if you're at all into post-rock, right? More varied than most post-rock releases, but still using the same sounds you know and possibly love.

19 - Polyphonic Spree, The- The Fragile Army: theatrical, complex yet at the same time singalong indie pop, The Fragile Army summarizes most good things about indie, from the catchiness to the fun.

20 - Waerloga Compilation- Radio Rivendell: Ok, ok, I know, unexpected, but this is way too good, way too cheesy and way too nerdy not to mention. Nerdiest compilation ever, and that's precisely why it's one of my favorite compilations, and, no contest, the best medieval / RPG-soundtrack-thingy compilation ever released (and maybe the only good one).

Mladen Škot’s top list

Music, and especially metal is supposed to be art, not a competition (say it's not so and I'll kill ya). Therefore, my favorites of 2007 will be listed in an alphabetical order. Now that you've read my excuse for not wasting my time on numerating the albums, here is the list. What the hell, here are the lists. Maybe some of them aren't exactly works of art, but if it says, "I am what I am and thou shouldst accept me or get lost," has tremendous personality, originality, adrenalin or it is just fun to have around, it is in. Instead of trying to explain why, I have sub-divided my top 45+1 into categories, to make things clearer — and they are, as follows:

The "essential listening of 2007" top 20:

Abigor - Fractal Possession
Akercocke – Antichrist
Aluk Todolo - Descension
Carved in Stone - Tales of Glory & Tragedy
Countess - Blazing Flames of War
Deathspell Omega - Fas-Ite, Maledicti, in Ignum Aeternum
EgoNoir - Der Pfad Zum Fluss
Funeral Mist - Salvation (re-issue)
Furze - UTD
Katharsis - VVorldVVithoutEnd
Limbonic Art - Legacy of Evil
Marduk - Rom 5:12
Mayhem - Ordo ad Chao
Rotting Christ - Theogonia
Ruins of Beverast, The – Rain Upon the Impure
Striborg - Nefaria (and all the awesome re-issues)
Valkyrja - The Invocation of Demise
Vision Bleak, The - The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey
Vital Remains - Icons of Evil
Yakuza - Transmutations

The "maybe it is essential, maybe it isn't, but it's damn great to have" top 15, in alphabetical order:

Abruptum - Evil Genius (re-issue)
Arsonists Get all the Girls - The Game of Life
Behemoth - The Apostasy
Blood of the Black Owl - Blood of the Black Owl
Drautran - Throne of the Depths
Evil Masquerade - Third Act
Furze - Necromanzee Cogent (re-issue)
Furze - Trident Autocrat (re-issue)
Gamma Ray - Land of the Free II
Graveland - Will Stronger Than Death
Moonspell - Under Satanae
Paysage d'Hiver - Einsamkeit
Revelation of Doom - Shemhamforash
Thrudvangar - Zwischen Asgard und Midgard
Vinterriket - Und Die Nacht Kam Schweren Schrittes

The "I've played them more times than I expected" top 10:

Das Ich - Panoptikum
Korpiklaani - Tervaskanto
Lake of Tears - Moons and Mushrooms
Manowar - Gods of War
Mind Propaganda - The First Strike
Municipal Waste - The Art of Partying
Nightwish - Dark Passion Play
Sodom - The Final Sign of Evil

Black Dahlia Murder, The - Nocturnal
Tony Naima & The Bitters - Dismember

Finally, the "fuck off" top 1:

Manowar - For Fans for Christmas

Brandon Strader’s favorites of 2007

2007 really seemed like a mixed bag. There was one album, however, that stood out for me throughout the year, Kaipa’s Angling Feelings. It features the talents of Hans Lundin, Per Nilsson, Morgan Agren, Jonas Reingold, Patrik Lundström, and Aleena Gibson. Angling Feelings is one of the most incredible prog rock albums I’ve ever heard.

In the second spot for 2007 is Powerglove’s Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man. It’s really astounding.

Here are a few2007 releases that I really enjoyed in no real order.

Novembre - The Blue
Circus Maximus – Isolate
Behemoth - The Apostasy
Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient
Dial – Synchronized
Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
Iron Fire - Blade of Triumph
Magnum - Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow

Mechanical Poet - Creepy Tales For Freaky Children
Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura
Nightingale - White Darkness
Novembers Doom - The Novella Reservoir
Sigh - Hangman's Hymn
Sirenia - Nine Destinies and a Downfall
Swallow the Sun - Hope
Therion - Gothic Kabbalah
Vitalij Kuprij - Glacial Inferno

Chaim Drishner’s best of 2007 and why

2007 has been most notable for its abundance in everything post: post hardcore, post metal, post black metal. From Dirge to Year of No Light; From Acrisia to Baroness, post-metal and atmospheric hardcore were the dominating force in the underground, infusing new blood into its stagnation. This and more: the black metal excellence of Wolves in the Throne Room and Spell Forest raised the standards for quality with the strange but only natural inclusion of post-rock and shoegaze elements have reigned the underground. These are my nominees for the best of 2007:

Onslaught - Killing Peace
Because there wasn't a better thrash album this year.

Rwake – Voices of Omens
Because intelligence, harshness and positivism walk hand in hand.

Sunn & Boris– Altar
Because this is something completely different, and classy, and so not Sunn O)))

Grimm– Heksenkringen
Because melodic and cheesy black metal has never sounded that good.

Dark Messiah- Rise of Black Dawn
Because this is the EP of the year – Part I

It Will Come - 47/Bound
Because Sacrilege (UK) has never sounded this good since Sacrilege.

Ride for Revenge - The King of Snakes
Because this is just fucked-up dark drumming-galore

Year of No Light – Nord
Because the ocean has never looked so vast as it has with those guys.

Acrisia – Acrisia
Because this is simple, pure fun.

Baroness / Unpersons - A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk
Because this is the best split of 2007.

Dimentianon - Hossanas Novus Ordo Seclurum
Because black/death metal has long since sounded this good.

Dirge - And Shall the Sky Descend (re-issue)
Because this is the re-issue of 2007 - part I

Evoken - Embrace the Emptiness (re-issue)
Because this is the re-issue of 2007 - part II

Across Tundras - Dark Songs of the Prairie
Because it wasn't included in the best-of list for 2006 and had to be included in SOME best-of list.

Hierophant - The Tome
Because this is the re-issue of 2007 - part III

Worship – Dooom
Because this is a phenomenon of its own.

Fen - Ancient Sorrow
Because this is the EP of the year – Part II

Dirge - Wings of Lead Over Dormant Seas
Because I'm fucking speechless.

V:28 - VioLution
Because apocalyptic death metal has never sounded this luxurious.

Voodooshock - Marie's Sister's Garden
Because this is the epitome of excellence in song-writing, execution and vocal-approach.

Arbeit - Zum einem neuen Licht
Because WWII has never sounded this good.

Knell, The – Harm
Because it made me proud to be an Israeli.

Svartsyn – Timeless Reign
Because this is what vitriolic black metal is all about.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Two Hunters
Because this is black metal art I could have listened to a thousand times in a row.

Spell Forest - Lucifer Rex II - Celebrare a Furvum Luna in Martis
Because black metal now has a new king of melody, cacophony, chaos and beauty.

Abigor - Fractal Possession
Because a new dark star in the black metal skies is (re)born.

Entombed – Serpent Saints
Because too much time has passed since my ears bled to the sounds of such a bad-ass and in-your-face album.

Pal Meentzen
’s favorite metal releases of 2007 – in random order

1. Gorefest – Rise to Ruin (excellent dutch death)
2. Horna - Pimeyden Hehku (vinyl version) (Finnish black)
3. Ildra – Þær Swefende Hæleð Licgað (demo 3) (promising new Pagan one man BM from UK)
4. Hellveto – 966 (Polish symphonic BM)
5. Tjolgtjar – Holnijimnjok (“the lunatics have taken over the asylum”)
6. Xasthur – Defective Epitaph (Japanese version)
7. Obscurus Advocam - Verbia Daemonicus (Great bm debut from France)
8. Colosseum - Chapter 1: Delirium (amazing Finnish doom with ace grunts)
9. Kruger - Redemption Through Looseness (best neuro-metal release, from Switzerland)
10. Ophidian Forest – Redbad (original lo-fi demo from bm pagan world)

Larissa Glasser’s 2007 Top Ten

I say phooey and good fucking riddance to 2007, mostly because I didn’t enjoy music or even writing as much I should have. This was mostly due to a personal setback that I have yet to fully recover from. Whatever, the past is played out, metal still flows freely through these veins, and what bits of dried offal I can salvage from last year are hopefully ones that you also managed to chew or choke on.

1. Neurosis – Given to the Rising CD (Neurot Recordings): the sound of perseverance, revisited. Neurosis’s heaviest and most majestic release since Times of Grace, this slab of incredible doom sails over a world of spiritual decay, doomsday machines, and the most subtle of tonal shades.

2. Metalocalypse – Season One DVD (Williams Street / Warner Bros. Home Video): I mean, really. What WOULD happen if a half-Scandinavian / half-American death metal band became the world’s twelfth largest economy? I can only hope the results would be this superb. And watch out for their lawyer. He means business.

3. Metalocalypse / Dethklok – The Dethalbum CD (Williams Street): I was skeptical as to how Brendon Small’s television material would translate to a standalone CD, but I think it’s that and more. The Queen / Behemoth influences shine through a bit more clearly here, partly with the assistance of live drummer and Death / Dark Angel / Strapping Young Lad alum Gene Hoaglan, along with a lot more focus on the songwriting, rather than visual antics of the show. Standouts include “Murmaider,” “Go Into the Water” (perhaps my favorite funerary march of the entire year), and of course, “Thunderhorse.” GO FORTH AND DIE!

4. Shellac – Excellent Italian Greyhound CD (Touch and Go Records): A new Shellac release is always worth waiting for. It’s been seven years since 1000 Hurts. As with bands like AC/DC, you pretty much what to expect, but Steve Albini’s spontaneity keeps this project fresh. Beginnings and ends of songs deliberately fall apart, gnarly jack knife guitar tones seethe with contempt, and no lyrical punches are pulled when it comes to the battle of the sexes — “Genuine Lullabelle” is a prime case in point. “Be Prepared” swaggers with beer hall bravado before a sudden detour to math videogame psycho-jazz, “Kittypants” defies the odds and actually turns out to be a nice, Pixies-like instrumental, and “The End of Radio” is the best sonic portrayal of Armageddon since the extendo-version of “Warhead” by Venom.

5. Rasputina – O Perilous World 2CD (Filthy Bonnet): Like Shellac, Rasputina is one of those projects where I see a new offering on the store rack (often unexpected), and buy the slab instantly. Melora Creager’s personnel have varied greatly over the years, but her twisted vision had downright adventurous songwriting approach have never faltered. She is obviously the one in command, then as now, and cello / cabaret / chamber rock has never sounded so good. On this double CD, Rasputina is stripped down to her and drummer Jonathon TeBeest, but their sonic arsenal sounds bigger than before. Songs touch on everything from Fletcher Christian (Mutiny on the Bounty), child soldiers in present-day Africa, the Iraq War (but not ham-handedly so), deathbed requests, and much more. This project may sound extra-terrestrial to the uninitiated, but Rasputina can never be accused of being boring. My year of wading in pig-shit-up-to-my-neck was a little more bearable with this CD running on repeat.

6. Skeleton Witch – Beyond the Permafrost CD, (Prosthetic): Sometimes you see an opening band that really grabs you by the short and curlies. This happened at a Dying Fetus show not long ago, Ohio’s Skeleton Witch really impressed me with their hyper-abrasive, old school thrash-mash of Kreator-mort. Bearded, blood soaked, and big-bellied, their first full length on Prosthetic Records brings great control and vision to the metal beast. Impressively balanced between rawness and precision, Skeleton Witch is my favorite cudgel beating of the year.

7. Amputator – Deathcult Barbaric Hell CD, (Foul Productions): Their name is without ambiguity: a king of Hell, down-to-basics, bloodthirsty moniker that a fifteen year old boy could come up with for a comic book character drawn in study hall. The sound? Pummeling Hellhammer thickness, insane black thrash that I propose even runs neck and neck with early Impiety — no small feat, considering the chasm that lies between Singapore and Rhode Island!

8. Rome – Confessions d'un voleur d'âmes CD, (Cold Meat Industry): Rome’s militaristic folk outing touched me deeply this year. Layer upon layer of brooding and melancholic texture folds in on itself, evoking a sonic landscape of sheer regret and loss. A fitting sentiment. Leonard Cohen needs to watch his ass.

9. K. Meitzer - Dark Matters CD, (Old Europa Café): Lays out a pilgrim’s progress through the deepest reaches of regret and misfortune. Superb dark ambient. To paraphrase the film “Magnolia,” we may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.

10. Striborg – Ghostwoodlands CD, (Displeased): A very acquired taste, my black metal brussels sprouts. Yummy! And grim.

Avi Shaked’s selection of top 2007 releases:

1. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet: A masterpiece that reveals more and more of its finesse and keeps on growing with every listen.

2. Morglbl – Grotesk: Most possibly the liveliest jazz-rock fusion release in quite some time.

3. Winds – Prominence and Demise: Finally, Winds got it right, and delivered an album packed with strong songs that carry the band’s unique approach to progressive metal.

4. Midnight Peacocks – Shalosh: An adventurous collage by a distorted, modern musical collective.

5. King Crimson – The Great Deceiver, Vol. 1 & 2 (Reissue): The truth is I have yet to obtain these reissues (each is a 2CD set), but I am familiar with the music they consist of (the entire musical content of the expensive, long out-of-print box-set of the same title). Now, with a price that is right and a widespread distribution, everyone can (and should!) put their hands on these brilliant live recordings by the amazing lineup that yielded such important works as Larks' Tongues in Aspic and Red.

Alisa Z’s top ten of 2007

Watain - Sworn to the Dark
Marduk - Rom 5:12
Immolation - Shadows in the Light
Chimaira - Resurrection
W.A.S.P. - Dominator
Otargos - Kinetic Zero
Behemoth - The Apostasy
Dew-Scented - Incinerate
Rotting Christ - Theogonia
Nifelheim - Envoy of Lucifer

Bastiaan de Vries’ best of 2007

Field Music - Tones of Town
Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian
Oxbow - The Narcotic Story
Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
Cue - Wedding Song
Do Make Say Think - You, You're a History in Rust
Logh - North
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Swan Lake - Beast Moans
The Sea and Cake - Everybody
Kim Hiorthoy - My Last Day
Sleeping People - Growing


Highlights of this issue :

118 Album Reviews including:

- ALUK TODOLO Descension



- EVILE Enter the Grave

- EXODUS The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A

- HELLOWEEN Gambling With the Devil


- PAGAN'S MIND God's Equation

- WASP Dominator

- WINDS Prominence and Demise


- ZOMBIE, ROB Zombie Live

3 Live Reports including:


All Rights Reserved 2004.