1. Batillus - 'Concrete Sustain' (Seventh Rule)
Concrete Sustain is a powerful and intense doom record with enough industrial touch to make it stand out amidst the hordes of doom bands blindly basing albums solely on tone. While Batillus do utilize the destructive power of sonics and monumental riffs to enrapture the listener with dense reverberations, the added layers construct an intangible nuance to make it a deep hearted experience.
Concrete Sustain filters the hard edged and bleak urban landscape through heartfelt and meaningful industro-doom, cementing Batillus near the top of the heap. Put on your best heavy-lidded scowl and prepare to sustain and dominate.
2. Intronaut - 'Habitual Levitations' (Century Media)
Polyrhythmic pyrotechnics explode in the skies of the organic production as the album summons prog metal, modern jazz and smoky jamming. The usual comparisons come to mind such as Isis, tesseracT, and Kylesa, but Intronaut has smoked itself up to a higher plain on Habitual Levitations.
Through the cannabistic plumes, the precision of a Meshuggah, the power of an Orange amp and perhaps the backstage shadows of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Intronaut have cooked up the perfect stew, where every element complements the other and magnificence is served.
3. Clutch - 'Earth Rocker' (Weathermaker)
Over the last couple of releases, Clutch took the dusty road down to the Delta and rejoiced in the bluesy origins of rock music. But while the blues are ingrained in every musical juke and jive as well as Fallon’s characteristic vocals, Earth Rocker has more in common with the unstoppable rock ‘n’ roll landslide that was 2004’s Blast Tyrant. And like this record, there is a perfect fire lit under each one of Clutch’s power players, and because of the upsurge in energy, the overall pace of Earth Rocker is electric.
There must be high octane in the waters of Maryland, as there is clearly something other than pure rock fury fueling these perennial road-dogs at this stage in their lives. Let’s be thankful for whatever is driving this band forward, because it sure as hell makes Earth Rocker kick harder than a mule on steroids and, consequently, makes Clutch the best rock ‘n’ roll band around.
4. Nails - 'Abandon All Life' (Southern Lord)
Abandon All Life will be the angriest 15 minutes and 23 seconds you’ll hear all year. Nails combine the abrasiveness of powerviolence with grindcore’s manic bursts of blunt force trauma, and top it all off with the heavy groove of Scandinavian death metal.
Out of Abandon All Life’s ten tracks, four of them clock in under the minute mark, while another four clock in under two-minutes, and all of them feel like swift, calculated overhand rights straight to the cranium. But Nails doesn’t just want to bludgeon you senseless with these abrupt attacks without any reward; they’ll often throw in a memorable breakdown or two that’ll leave you crawling back bleeding and toothless practically begging for more.
5. Six Feet Under - 'Unborn' (Metal Blade)
Loaded with groove, very clean, tight, focused musicianship, and excellent variety with lots of tempo changes, Unborn is the album that Six Feet Under should have recorded years ago. Backed up by a ferocious, thick production and strong, varied songwriting, Unborn also features a very strong vocal performance from Chris Barnes, who actually sounds reinvigorated on Unborn, almost as if he senses that a new beginning for Six Feet Under is at hand.
Unborn is a pleasant surprise, to say the least, from a veteran band that, in the past, never quite realized their potential. It could be that Unborn is the beginning of that realization. If you gave up on Six Feet Under years ago, I strongly urge you to give this album your time.