When darkwave legends Lycia returned from the musical wilderness with Quiet Moments in 2013, it was widely hailed as a stellar comeback for the band. While I certainly enjoyed the album, I couldn’t help but feel that they were just warming up. Quiet Moments is unquestionably a good record, a great record even, but it also struck me as the work of an artist attempting to fully regain their footing after some fairly lengthy gaps between releases (seven years between Empty Space and the Fifth Sun EP, three years between Fifth Sun and QM).
Last year, Gainesville, FL’s Ars Phoenix put out one of the best darkwave albums I’ve heard in quite some time in the form of Violent Rain, a release that combined robotic synths with an icy, sinister vibe to create a delightfully dark yet catchy and at times even danceable take on the genre. I revisit the album often, so I was quite excited when the band e-mailed to inform me that they had some new material out in the form of a split with fellow Floridians Burnt Hair titled Shinju (“double suicide” in Japanese).
I haven’t really heard much straight-up death metal that tickles my fancy in 2015, so it was a pleasant surprise to get a copy of Negative Vortex’s Tomb Absolute in the mail from the ever-reliable Caligari Records. Indeed, the Oakland, CA-based quartet kicks up quite the storm of burly ‘n’ bulldozing DM on their debut demo, which will surely appeal to fans who can’t get enough of the genre at its most crushingly traditional.
Caligari Records has only been active since 2013, but in that time the label has released an ungodly slew of excellent metal with no allegiance to any particular subgenre. Indeed, the only thread that seems to tie Caligari’s releases together is an ear for quality, and that quality continues to run over the cassette label competition, this time in the form of No Life, the second demo (first EP?) from Boston black metal bruisers Human Bodies.
Many moons ago Relapse Records introduced me to noise. That’s probably a bit hard to imagine for younger folks that only know the label as the beard metal stronghold it is today, but trust me, way back when Relapse was releasing some seriously bonkers shit. You see, Relapse used to have a sub-label called Release Entertainment and it was to noise, dark ambient and experimental music what Relapse once was to death metal, grindcore and the like.
Few bands have captured my attention in 2014 quite like Full of Hell. I had the pleasure of witnessing the quartet’s devastating, show-stealing live set back in August and was blown away by their combination of relentless intensity and determination to push the envelope of grind/hardcore deep into the realms of harsh noise. It was like someone had thrown Jane Doe-era Converge in a blender with Release Records-era Merzbow and set that motherfucker to liquefy; easily one of the most simultaneously challenging and exhilarating live experiences ever. Needless to say, when I caught wind of the announcement that they had signed a deal with Profound Lore and their debut for the venerable label would be a collaboration with the aforementioned Japanese God of Noise himself, anticipation was through the roof and then some.
How in the blue hell did I manage to get even this far into the THKD Top 100 without covering a Danzig album?! Granted, the list is in no particular order, but given my Danzig super-fan status, you’d think I would’ve touched on one of the man’s records within the first few posts. The bands/artists you love the most are always the most difficult to write about and let’s face it, I’ve already devoted a fairly exhaustive amount of digital ink to the goddamn mighty GD (here, here, here, here… need I go on?). What’s left to say about my love for the man and his music at this point?