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01.08.15 Mmxiv Review 06.30.14 2014 Midterm Review
01.13.14 My Favorite Records Of 2013 01.13.14 Top 10 Concerts Of 2013

My Favorite Records Of 2013

My favorite records of the year. There's no real order 'til about #13. Enjoy
38Young Hunter
Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain

Young Hunter returns to 2013 with an impressive EP. Embers at the Foot of Dark. Mountain sees the stoner/desert rock treading even darker territory than before across the 3 tracks on this EP. The opening tracks starts with a ominous drone before some vocals and wicked harmonized guitars come in. Then the whole band comes in and the enter desert jam that as groovy as it is ghostly. The second track starts off with a really western guitar lick that dances. The band comes in with some wicked sound organ and guitar lines that just add to the desert feeling. The song keeps a pulsating rhythm throughout, giving you the feeling that you?re on a getaway train. The final song on the EP is a bit looser than the first, centered around a drum jam that was a blast to hear when I saw these guys last year. It still has an overall dark vibe, but it also has some vibrant clean guitar licks and an overall uplifting vibe. Young Hunter proves on this EP that they?re the desert rock band to watch out for. Grab this EP at their bandcamp for name your price.
37The World is a Beautiful Place...
Whenever, If Ever

Every so often, you see an album cover that really intrigues you and you have to know the kind of music that is accompanied by such an album cover. I felt that with the cover for Whenever, If Ever. The image of the young man jumping into a lake, to me, symbolizes an attempt to preserve the youth that a lot of us try to preserve as we age. That itself can be a metaphor for the recent 90?s emo-revival that The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die is currently leading. The World Is A Beautiful Place is a 8-piece rock band out of Connecticut. The band incorporates usual rock band instruments, but also incorporate plenty of synthesizers, trumpet and cello, which I absolutely love hearing in rock music. The band fuses elements of 90?s emo, current indie rock, and post-rock crescendos and climaxes. The product is stunningly beautiful and full of raw emotion. Tracks often buildup and transition into each other as if they were one seamless piece of music. All the vocalists sound complete sincere and the multiple vocal lines going on at once really add another layer to the music. A lot of the songs are slow brewing post-rock tunes that explode into really cheery sounding tunes that are really youthful and a ton of fun to listen to. The album captures every emotion that?s connected to being young and discovering your place in the world and trying to leave the biggest impact you can. If you?re into 90?s emo and post-rock, definitely check this album out.
The Inheritance

If you were bummed about Opeth turning into dadrock, then fear no longer: there?s a new band that can take Opeth?s place as Sweden?s resident progressive death metal band. The new title goes to Dan Swan??s newest project, Witherscape. If you didn?t know, Dan has worked with Mikael Akerfeldt, both in death metal band, Bloodbath. This is the first Dan Swan? project I?ve heard, and I have to say I really like what he did on the record. The Inheritance features two musicians: Swan? on vocals, keyboards, and drums and Swedish musician, Ragnar Widerberg on guitar and bass. The alum is full of sounds, with lots of acoustic guitar passages, awesome progged out moments, and crushing death metal riffs, and atmospheric passages. Dan Swan? also showcases his vocal ability with one of the meanest death growls I?ve heard and some awesome clean vocals. Everything on the album sounds great. If you?re looking for awesome progressive death metal that sounds like a mix of good Opeth and old 70?s progressive rock, this is what you need.

If you?re in need of tasty stoner, riffs, look no futher. Windhand?s major label debut, Soma, is chockfull of tasty, monstrous fuzzed out riffs, a la Electric wizard, that will hit harder than a semi. Another thing I?d like to note about Windhand is that listening to them was the first time I legit couldn?t tell the vocalist was a woman. Even listening to the record now, I can?t tell the person delivering these psychedelic vocal melodies was a woman until the 4th track, Evergreen, because it?s an acoustic jam. That?s right, there?s an acoustic jam on this record and it?s layered with beautiful, soaring vocals over a sorrowful chord progression that never changes, but never really gets old. All the other songs on this album are heavily distorted and hit you in the face with mouth watering riffs that sound like they were manifested from of an occult ritual. The only problem with the album is the last track, Boleskine, is 30 minutes long, and it really doesn?t need to be. The last riff last like 15 minutes, which is a bit excessive. But other than that, this album is awesome. Monster riffs, psychedelic vocals, and even more monster riffs. If you like Electric Wizard, there?s no reason you shouldn?t have already heard this.

Every now and again you?ll hear that a few great musicians are working on a collaborative project and you can?t help but be fucking stoked. That?s what I felt when I heard that members of Yob, Hammers Of Misfortune, and Ludicra were getting together for a record. Vhol is a black metal/crust project featuring Mike Scheidt on vocals, John Cobbett on guitar, Aesop Dekker on drums, and Sigrid Sheie on bass. Vhol?s music is absolutely face-melting. Along with the aggressive sounds coming from the black metal and crust punk influences, you also get sounds inspired by traditional metal and power metal. John Cobbett?s song-writing ability completely shines all over the record, and he proves yet again that he?s one of the best the Bay Area has to offer. All the songs on here are complete rockers and highly melodic. You?ll find yourself whistling or humming snippets of the album all day after giving it a listen. Aesop?s drumming is on point as ever and Sigrid?s bass playing shines through on plenty moments on the record. Not to forget, Mike?s vocals, which go from his powerful belt to more aggressive shouting. This album is just a really fun ride that truly kicks ass. If you want some awesome black metal/crust with traditional metal influences, check this record out.

When most people think of math rock, they probably think of really sporadic rock music with shredding guitars and ADD drumming, kind of like Hella, but that?s not the kind of math rock present on This Town Needs Gun?s new record. TTNG are a trio, consisting of a guitarist, bass guitarist/vocalist, and drummer from Oxford, UK, that take the technical musicianship of math rock and combines it with the song-writing of emo and indie rock. I say bass guitarist because the instrument the bassist/vocalist is playing is called a ?Bass VI?, meaning it?s an instrument that?s strung like a guitar, but is tuned down on octave, so it sounds like a bass. It?s a really interesting instrument and they get some cool sounds from it. Most of the sounds and tones on the record are clean. The songs are all mid-pace, calm and pretty soothing actually. The vocalist has a really nice clean singing voice, in kind of a middle range. The hooks on these songs are usually pretty catchy, and the bright sounds on the record do put on smile on my face even though the songs aren?t necessarily happy themselves. Overall, This Town Needs Guns presents a really interesting take on math rock with this record, keeping the atmosphere calm, cool, and collected while still showcasing impressive musician ship.

If you have any clue as to what kind of music I like, you?d know that I?m very much into groovy stoner metal and really atmospheric, ethereal forms of metal as well. So the idea that there?s a style of hip-hop production that?s heavy on groove and atmospheric goodness, while retaining hip-hop trademarks I love like soul samples, sporadic hi-hats and booming 808 bass drums would naturally excite me. And that?s what I?ve discovered thanks to Louisiana producer, suicideyear. I?m totally aware that cloud rap stylings have been around for quite some time, but this was my first exposure to the style and I?m really digging the material. Almost all the lead melodies on these tracks sound like they could belong club bangers, especially with the heavy use of trap-rap style hi-hats and bombastic 808s, but the keyboard sounds suicideyear uses are really calm and soothing, so it gives the songs a really chilled- out vibe. When I hear these songs I can?t help but kick my feet up, relax and bob my head. Maybe do a little cookin?. If you?re into cloud rap, definitely check this out.
31Rin Tin Tiger
Splinter Remedies

San Francisco alt folk-trio Rin Tin Tiger are a band I discovered my first year at SJSU. Thought they?re from San Francisco, they frequently play San Jose and they quickly became my favorite group that?s a part of the indie rock scene that?s happening in the south bay. Their style is a unique take on folk-rock, playing a wide array of material from folky love ballads, up-beat dance-along rock songs, summer time tunes and even some heavy folk-rock tunes. And all of the songs have a really strong lyrical center and focus, with topics that vary from past loves, social commentary, and other topics that I haven?t spent enough time deciphering to get. The musicianship on the album is great. Guitarist/vocalist/harmonica-shredder Kevin Sullivan gives some of is best, guitar and vocals performances on this record, bassist Sean Sullivan gives shows how diverse a bass player is, from laying down moderate bass tracks on the softer tunes and laying down the stank of tracks like Michelangelo and Precaution. Overall, you get just about everything you might want from folk-rock record and more on Splinter Remedies, from ballad tracks like Haunted Now, upbeat smack downs like Michelangelo, and even a song that shows up djent bands on dissonance with the track Precaution. If you dig alt rock, indie, or folk, give this a whirl.
30Raw Geronimo
Dream Fever

Raw Geronimo are a 6-piece rock ?n? roll outfit from LA. The band?s songwriter, Laena Geronimo, is the daughter of Alan Myers, past Devo drummer. Raw Geronimo combine elements of alt rock, surf rock, pop, soul and tribal drumming to create some really cool tunes, ranging from soulful ballads, dance-punk jams and surfed out rockers. The band is really dynamic with their use of guitars and a bunch of different kinds of percussion that really add to all of their tribal moments. You wouldn?t think white folk would make such spiritual sounding tribal jams. They?re not unlike what you might hear out of a voodoo gathering in the bayous along the Mississippi River. So with a wide array of sounds to craft some really interesting alt rock tunes, Raw Geronimo?s Dream Fever is an interesting listen that?ll have you moving no matter where you are.
The Circle And The Blue Door

London psychedelic rock group, Purson, put out a hell of a debut record with, The Circle and the Blue Door. Band leader, Rosalie Cunningham, has a knack for crafting together all sorts of cool psychedelic rock tunes and has the voice to go along with it. If you?ve seen this band?s name paired with occult rock bands, ignore those who tried to convince you these guys are occult. Purson?s sound focuses more on the circus-y side of the spectrum of psychedelic rock. There are also a lot of nautical sounds too. The circus elements comes in a lot of the interesting melodies in Purson?s music, and there a lot of samples of circus music cut into the music, usually at the end of tracks. The kinds of tracks range from rocking tunes like Well Spoiled Machine and Leaning On A Bear, psyched out jams like The Contract, ballad-like tunes like Sailor?s Life?s Lament and Tragic Catastrophe. The whole record has a retro/nostalgic feel to it that?s just impeccable. If you need more female fronted psychedelic rock, look no further, because this is the best this year has to offer.
28Protest the Hero

After a more than successful crowd funding, Protest the Hero had some big expectations to fill with their 4th record, Volition. And they did just that. If you don?t already know, Protest the Hero are a Canadian progressive metal band. Their take on progressive metal is really technical and highly melodic fast-paced tunes. The guitar playing could is reminiscent of neo-classical stuff. The musicianship on their records is always incredible. This time around, it seems that the band has combined the highly melodic tendencies that were apparent on Scurrilous and combined the really aggressive elements that were on Fortress and staying true to their original hardcore punk influences. The album also sees the reintroduction of harsh vocals to PTH?s music, as it was completely left out on Scurrilous. Another cooling thing about the record is that it features Chris Adler of Lam of God on drums. You?d almost never recognize it though because he fits Protest the Hero?s sound so damn well, which only shows that he?s definitely one of the better drummers in modern metal. The album also features other cool features from people who donated to their fundraising campaign. The album also features vocalist Jadea Kelly on a lot of tracks, and she sounds just as angelic as ever. I was originally worried about this idea but none of the fan feature sound overwhelmingly mediocre. Another really cool thing I feel they threw in on the record was the callback to their 2008 hit ?Sequoia Throne? on the track Animal Bones on this record. Like with every record, this album features a lot of diversity in the tracks. Songs like Clarity, Plato?s Tripartite, and Underbite are more on the aggressive side of things, tracks like Mist and A Life Embossed have a lot of epic tendencies. All the songs features tons of shredding riffs, highly melodic playing and singing, and are catchy as hell. The only negative thing I felt about this record is that it wasn?t until a 4 listens or so that I felt some tracks definitely stuck out more than others, but that just means every track is about the same level of badass. If you like progressive metal, check it out.
27Lord Dying
Summon The Faithless

Portland sludge metal outfit, Lord Dying, bring some havoc with their Relapse Records debut, Summon The Faithless. The 4 piece borrows heavily from early High On Fire and?. That?s it, really. Lord Dying sounds like early 2000?s High On Fire with modern production. Not to rip on them or anything, because there are some seriously badass tunes on the record. Hence why I even bothered to list them in what I see as some of the better records of the year. The tones are great, the riffs are in- your-face brutal and some of the guitar work is really impressive. If you?re looking for straightforward sludge/stoner metal, these are your guys.

Leucosis are an atmospheric black/doom metal band out of Santa Cruz, California. Their self-released, self-titled album is full of great atmospheric black/doom metal. The six tracks are all pretty long, the shortest being 9:22. The album is full of doom jams that slowly eat their way into your brain and intense black metal passages that capture some of that lo-fi feeling but the music is still easy to make out. The music really builds on atmosphere and creates some soundscapes that border beautiful and horrific. The album is full of melancholic riffs that build and explode into epic riffs that you can?t help but bob your head to. The only real problem with this album is its length. It?s 68 minutes long, and to be frank, relays a little too much on repetition to get the point across. There are some absolutely great moments like the intro to Anaesthesia, the intense black metal passage in Taiga and the guitar sweep driven doom outro of Aponea. But a lot of the tracks do sound kind of similar, so at times it can drag if you aren?t 100% vibing on it. But if you?re looking for awesome atmospheric black metal with elements of doom, dig this.

Savannah sludge metal veterans, Kylesa, presented their 6th(!) studio album this year with Ultraviolet. As alluded to on their previous release, Spiral Shadow, Kylesa has continued substituting the in-your-face, hardcore vibes that?s apparent on their earlier releases with more experimental, psychedelic vibes. Singing covered in reverb is now more prominent than ever, the tones are features just as much modulation as they do fuzz and distortion, and overall, most of the songs are a lot more relaxed, and aren?t nearly as aggressive as their older material. Even so, Kylesa still retains heavy, trudging riffs (Unspoken, We?re Taking This) and fast- paced face melting tunes (What Does It Take, Vulture?s Landing), they just throw in elements of psychedelic rock and early noise rock to give their already signature sound a new dimension and a new appeal. If psyched-out sludge metal sounded appealing to you, definitely give Ultraviolet a spin.
Habitual Levitations

Stoner/jazz/post-metal giants Intronaut?s new album, Habitual Levitations, sees the band delving deeper in their more laid back, soothing sound. Since the introduction of clean vocals on their last record, it seems that Intronaut has only furthered that gesture, with their being almost no harsh vocals present on Habitual Levitations, but that doesn?t take away from their ability to write some of the gnarliest riffs in post- metal. The heavy moments on this record aren?t as unrelenting as on their first couple of records, but they still hit hard, and they?re used brilliantly in juxtaposition with the jazzier, clean parts of the songs. Now-a-days, Intronaut seems to have a really clear sense of direction with the material, building some of these songs up in ways similar to post-rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, adding onto previous ideas and ending the songs with climactic conclusions. But there are some songs that do end with jazzed out jams, filled with Joe Lester?s amazing bass playing, like Harmonicon and Milk Leg. On this album, Intronaut has abandoned the use of harsh vocals, but has retained every aspect that makes this band so special. Riffs are still heavy as hell, the clean jazzy parts are still angelic and post-rock like crescendos are just awesome. The only difference is that they?ve decided to focus more on the cleaner (strong emphasis on ?er?) post-rock parts for song-writing than filthy sludge. If you?re looking for awesome post-metal that gets jazzy, you need Intronaut.
23In Solitude

Like many Scandinavian metal acts, In Solitude embrace the darker things in life. Unlike a lot of Scandinavian metal acts, In Solitude?s music is actually haunting and chills the listener to the bone. Originally seen as one of many Mercyful Fate worship bands coming out of Europe, In Solitude presents a new sound on Sister. This time around, they have a more gothic rock sound, bearing similarities to Samhain, along with some post-punk sounds as well. Throughout the record, the young band crafts a bunch of sinister rock tunes with infectious hooks, eerie vocals, and killer riffs. There are still elements of their earlier sound present on the album, strongly heard on the track Horses In The Ground, but overall In Solitude does a masterful job of mastering a new style of music and still honing in past influences to create a horrifically beautiful record. If a mix of 70?s metal and gothic rock sounds awesome to you, you need to hear this record.
Pearl & The End Of Days

San-Francisco prog/sludge trio Grayceon has one of the weirdest line-up's you'll hear of, featuring a guitarist who doesn't use a pick, cellist/vocalist, and a drummer. The most interesting thing about their sound is that the cello takes the roll of the bass, giving low-end, but is still provides a lot of the bands melody. Grayceon expanded further in this dynamic with a monster of an EP this year: featuring two tracks; one clocking in at 10 minutes, and the other at 17. Pearl and The End Of Days sees Grayceon stepping into more aggressive territory, but the band still retains their quirky prog, highly melodious and sludgy tendencies. Pearl starts off with an ominous intro, the blasts into some fairly thrashy goodness for a bit, before going into the typical Grayceon sludge jam. End Of Days is an epic piece, that features every signature Grayceon you know and, with a meaner tone than ever before. This EP has some really badass material, so if cello based sludge metal sounds cool to you, get this one now.
21Earl Sweatshirt

There was a lot of anticipation for this record. Shortly after 15-year-old Earl released his 2010 mixtape, EARL, he was sent to a boarding school in Samoa. After about two years, he returned in 2012, and since then people have been highly anticipating Earl?s debut album. After a year of waiting, Doris finally dropped and showed that Earl?s rapping skills have greatly improved from his already impressive mixtape. The album has an overall dark vibe, using really spacious beats that focus on low end and a lot the songs feature really dark imagery, but it?s not as childish what?s presented in his earlier work. Earl?s use of assonance is as apparent as ever and his word play is extremely impressive. Tracks like Burgundy and Chum give us a window to Earl?s emotions and perspective of what he?s been feeling since his return. Other tracks like Centurion are reminiscent of his older work, getting a little graphic. Other tracks like Whoa and Molasses are just Earl having fun and displaying his ability. The production on the record is pretty good too, featuring a lot of production from Earl and also featuring production for Tyler, The Creator, RZA, and BADABADNOTGOOD. Overall, Doris sows that earl is still a great young rapper to keep your eye on and definitely met many people?s expectations.
20Dead In The Dirt
The Blind Hole

This is probably one of the most ridiculous albums I?ve heard in a while. In a completely good way, mind you. Dead In The Dirt are a powerviolence band from Atlanta, Georgia, and their music is some of the noisiest, chaotic, and bi-polar out there right now. Some things you should know about this band and the record before I go in to more details are: they?re only a three piece, and the album features 22 songs in 24 minutes. From that you know you?re in for a ride. As you can guess, many of the songs here are short blasts of hate-filled rage and it?s absolutely heavy and unrelenting. The band uses a mix of death growls and hardcore screaming and both sound great. And the tones are absolutely righteous. The band combines sound from grindcore, hardcore, and sludge metal, and they switch from on style to the other at a moments notice, see Swelling. There?s also a profuse use of feedback. In fact, the track Strength Through Restraint is practically all feedback and it?s absolutely manic. Between having your face pummeled buy non-stop carnage, you get some oddball tracks like Caged, that features what sounds like a church bell and uses delay to it?s advantage to resemble what it might feel like to be in solitary confinement. The short tracks are sweet and to the point brutality, and the ?longer? tracks (2-3 minutes) are actually well structured songs that combine sludge and hardcore beautifully. The album closer, Halo Crown, sounds like somebody getting sucked into a black hole, ending with feedback, trudging drums and the vocalists screaming until it all turns into noise. The Blind Hole is an impressive record that fits in just about every flavor of ?angry? you can imagine. Listen to this and start punching holes in your wall.
19Danny Brown

Detroit rapper, Danny Brown, is probably one of the most unique characters in hip- hop right now. He raps with a high-pitched voice, has impeccable style, raps over some of the zaniest beats I?ve heard and covers a wide array of topics in his music. On his commercial debut, Old, Danny displays all of these characteristics more than ever. The album comes with a dichotomy; the first half of the record, Side A, being more introspective and more representative of Brown?s older style; and the second half of the record, Side B, being chockfull of EDM inspired party anthems centered around drugs and such. The production throughout the album is absolutely phenomenal. The record mainly features production from Brown?s main man, SKYWLKR, along with a lot of contributions from Paul White, and some tracks feature production from Purity Ring and BADBADNOTGOOD. And the first half of the record features some awesome performances from Danny Brown. On tracks like Torture, Lonely, and Gremlins, Danny Brown covers his upbringing in the ghettos of Detroit and paints really vivid pictures of the hardships he and his family went through growing up. And Side B has some great tracks like molly anthem, Dip and the closest thing you?ll hear to double bass in hip-hop on Kush Coma. I think my main issue with Old is that the dichotomy is so strong and apparent. While there was something similar to this on his 2011 mixtape, XXX, it didn?t seem as forced then as it does now. On top of that, there are some tracks on Side B of Old that I didn?t think were that great, mainly Way Up Here, featuring Ab-Soul, and I also didn?t think the album was quite as quotable or lyrically as impressive as XXX. Overall Danny Brown?s Old is a fine hip-hop record with exceptional production and great material from Danny Brown?s more introspective/serious side and his party side but the strong dichotomy from the first half to the later half in both lyrical content and sound kind of brings it down.
18Childish Gambino
Because The Internet

This was the one of the last records I checked out from this year, and I was pleasantly surprised. Childish Gambino is comedian Donald Glover?s rap stage name. He makes a poppy style of hip-hop that?s full of absolutely genius one-liners. With Because The Internet, Glover released an 80+ page screenplay to go along with the concept of the record, but I?m too lazy to read that so I?m basing my opinion on solely the album (crazy concept, huh?). I haven?t had too much time to really dive deep into the concept of the record, but from what I?ve gathered, there?s a decent amount of social commentary regarding the internet, songs about girls and love, and drug dealing. I?m not sure how it all ties together, but that?s kind of beside the point right now. What really impressed me with this record is the stellar production. Gambino is the main producer on the record, working with Ludwig Goransson and a feature from Thundercat. It?s all original production, not just sampled stuff. The album features beats with a lot dark synth sounds with some industrial sounds and weird vocal samples. There?s a sax solo at the end of WORLDSTAR and a guitar solo at the end of The Worst Guys, which is pretty cool and works really well. In about the middle of the record the album takes a bit of poppy turn, but it?s done really well the songs are incredibly catchy. But staring with The Party it goes back to these dark beats that are magnificent. The last songs go back to brighter, poppier sounds and it?s just infectious. Overall, Because the Internet is full of witty rapping and amazing production. I can see myself getting even deeper into this as time goes on
17Chance The Rapper
Acid Rap

Every now and again, a record comes out and shows you a complete fresh take on a genre that you?d never expect to hear. As I am new to hip-hop, this may happen to me more often than others, but this mixtape presented a lot of idea that I haven?t heard before that really resonated with me. Chance The Rapper is a 20-year-old rapper out of Chicago and Acid Rap is his second mixtape. Acid Rap features some of the best production I?ve heard in a while. Chance selected great beats that completely matched what he was going for on every song. The album features a lot of soul, RnB and jazz type beats, along with some more unconventional beats for some tunes, like the atmospheric stuff on Paranoia or the pseudo-trap beat on Smoke Again. Chance himself is a fantastic rapper and signer, showcasing really witty lyricism and fantastic delivery on every song, with a really unique voice. His sense for hooks and his ability to make everything extremely catchy is uncanny. It?s almost impossible to listen to Acid Rap and not have at least one song stuck in your head for hours. Another thing I love about this record is how positive and uplifting this record is. While there some tracks that are about typical young rapper stuff; Smoke Again and NaNa; plenty of other tracks are really introspective and a few tracks are about love and other feel good topics, but it isn?t cheesy. Chance comes off really sincere on tracks like Cocoa Butter Kisses, Everybody?s Somebody, Lost and Acid Rain. With a mixtape that?s highly infectious and fits every feel good mood, Chance The Rapper put out my favorite hip-hop release of the year.

One of the more interesting black metal releases of the year, Castevet?s Obsian adds progressive and avant-garde elements to atmospheric black metal. The trio consists of Ian Jacyszyn on drums, Andrew Hock on guitars and blackened vocals, and Nicholas McMaster, also in Krallice, on bass and death growls. Although the record is only a short 35 minutes, it packs in a lot of different soundscapes and atmospheres. The album is primarily really dreamy and desolate, focusing and building on atmospheres with dense guitar chords and odd time signatures. Another thing I love about this record is the amazing bass performance by McMaster. He uses the instruments in many different ways, from using it as a melody instrument, building dissonant atmospheres with it, and overall just writing some really original and unique sounding bass lines throughout the entirety of the record. With odd song structures, desolate atmospheres, and awesome instrumentation, Obsian proves to be one of the most interesting atmospheric black metal releases to come out this year.
15Bosnian Rainbows
Bosnian Rainbows

Bosnian Rainbows is the latest project from Omar Rodr?guez-L?pez, known for his work in At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Bosnian Rainbows are an indie rock band that features a lot of experimentation and electronics. The band features Omar on guitar, Teri Gender Bender on vocals, Deantoni Parks on drums/keyboards, and Nicci Kasper on synthesizers and keyboards. That?s right: the drummer plays drums and keyboards simultaneously and there?s no bass player. But I didn?t know that they didn?t have a bassist ?til I saw them live. Their bass synth sound is really convincing. The record features a wide array of songs, each having really unique intricacies. There?s all sort of sound manipulation, from sporadic uses of guitar layered in effects, odd keyboard sounds that resemble static being used as a melody, and vocal sampling, the album presents a lot of cool ideas. But don?t think it?s all experimental music piece, all of these songs are rock songs that features verse/chorus structures. There are upbeat songs like Torn Maps and Always On The Run, slower pieces like Eli and Turtleneck. Most of the songs have elements of it all, but are usually mid-paced rock songs. Overall, this record has a lot of interesting sounds to offer and features some of the most interesting musicianship I?ve heard in a long time. With the exception of Teri, each musician is doing at least two things at once, and it sounds just as cohesive live as it does on record. If you?re still butthurt that Omar broke up The Mars Volta and want everything else he does to sound like Volta, this may not be for you, but if you?re interested in hearing some of the most interesting rock music that come out this year, check this out.
14 Boris

Boris, possibly the world?s most diverse rock band, starts off the year with a vinyl only release, Pr?parat. Like many Boris releases, Pr?parat has a lot of different sounds and textures on display, but this album feels kind of like a sampler platter. It seems as if all of these songs could?ve just been jams that they rehearsed like 3 times and then recorded. That?s not a bad thing though because Boris writes some of the tastiest jams ever. The first 4 tracks are more post-rock /minimalist rock in style, similar to Feedbacker, featuring bright guitar sounds and deep crescendos. The next couple of tracks are heavy-as-hell, sludge sluggers. The first one, Method Of Error, is kind of spastic and not really centered, but the next track, Bataille Sucre is an awesome stoner jam. The rest of the album is more laid back Boris, and it?s a chill way to end the album. Overall, the album kind of feels like Boris on autopilot, but Boris on autopilot is a lot better than most bands trying their best. Dig it.

My first experience with Leer was when I saw them open at the San Jose top of the Gaza/Code Orange Kids/Full Of Hell tour back this time last year. I was really impressed with their set. Leer plays a brand of music that fuses math rock, screamo, and hardcore and overall has a really poppy, infectious sound. You can think of it as Piglet+American Football+Page 99 or something of that matter. So when I heard they put out their debut album this year, I decided to check it out and was treated to some of the best stuff I?ve heard this year. Leer is a 5-piece band out of San Jose, and they?re fairly young guys. The vocalist is still in high school I?m pretty sure. And it shows in the music, in a good way. The band crafts some amazing screamo that?s filled to the brim with bright, lush tones, amazing musicianship and raw emotion. The vocalist screams his heart out over all of these tracks. The album has tones of moods, from booming angst, poppy fun, and introspective climaxes. It?s really amazing to see how many styles this band successfully pulls off while keeping the sound completely original. If you dig math rock, mathcore, screamo, or post- hardcore; you need to this album.
12Pray For Teeth
From The Dry Edge Of The Shore

Pray For Teeth are a three piece out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They started out as a hardcore punk band, but have changed directions into a more atmospheric sludge/post-metal direction. I discovered them when I saw them play with Children of God and Centuries back in October. Their set was absolutely crushing, and I really got into their single the released this year, Swallow The Ground. So when I heard they were also releasing a full-length, I was excited to hear it, and I was pleased. From The Dry Edge Of The Shore features 4 songs and they?re all absolutely crushing songs. The band sounds top-notch on the whole record too. All the guitar and bass tones are great, ranging from glistening and beautiful to crushingly heavy. The vocalist also has a hell of scream that fits the music perfectly and send chills down my spine on certain moments on the record. The songs feature tons of sounds, from post-rock crescendos, heavy hitting sludge riffs, and even moments with really beautiful, glistening chords covered in echo. Given their recent change in sound, these guys have a really good ear for making some awesome post-metal with great crescendos and phenomenal climaxes. The riffs are heavy, the leads are beautiful and all around this record is just great. If you need some fresh post-metal, get this.

Whirr are probably my favorite band that I?ve discovered this year. They?re a Bay Area shoegaze group, featuring 3 guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a different female vocalist on each release. They play a wide array of shoegaze/90?s rock stylings, from down-tempo rock that?s full of fuzz and reverb, or more up-tempo songs that are loud. All of their material has elements of shoegaze effects, and 90?s emo melody, and really softly sung vocals. On their latest EP, Around, Whirr focus their efforts and crafting really dark, heavy music that sounds really melancholic and sorrowful. The material is just as loud and melodic as their past material, but there isn?t a big emphasis on 90?s sound. In fact, with how heavy some of these riffs are, I wouldn?t be surprised if they were listening to some sludge and doom around the time they were recording this. A lot of the melodies are full of sorrow and stay in your mind for hours. Even with the new dark sound, there?s still a lot of shoegaze sounds on the record, with glistening clean tones and completely fuzzed out chords. The music is still really emotive, and could very well fit as the soundtrack to laying in your bed wide awake at 2 in the morning pondering all of life?s nuances. So if really dark, heavy shoegaze/emotive rock sounds cool to you, listen to this EP.

Fen are a atmospheric post-black metal band out of London. They get the name Fen, from a marshy flatland area of England called The Fens, where they grew up. They embody the atmosphere of The Fens in their music. I first got into them when I heard their sophomore LP in 2011, Epoch. I originally gravitated toward Fen over other groups that play this style of music because they seamlessly combine elements black metal, post-rock, folk, and at time progressive rock, so perfectly and have such a definitive sound. They progress on all of these sounds on their latest record, Dustwalker. This time around, it seems they put an emphasis on the more serene sounds of post-rock. Many tracks on the album features long clean passages full of acoustic and clean electric guitars and clean vocals. The track Spectre is actually entirely post-rock sounding, with no black metal sounds at all. Other tracks show Fen taking a more melodic approach to black metal, like the track, Wolf Sun. The musicianship on the record is as good as ever, with plenty of great guitar work ranging from black metal riffs to plucked folk chords, interesting bass lines, and fantastic drumming that perfectly fits every mood and color presented on the record. Dustwalker also has a fair amount of electronic use, from keyboards to a lot of e-bow melodies, which give the feelings that you?re at the top of a hill, surveying a great land mass while breathing in crisp air. Yet again, Fen prove to be one of the best bands to truly meld black metal with post-rock and give a definite sound to the label ?post-black metal?. If you dig atmospheric black metal, you need to listen to this record.
Colored Sands

Gorguts are one of many classic death metal bands that I never really got into when I was first exploring extreme metal. I remember downloading a few of their records to familiarize myself with some of their material because I was going to see them open on the Death To All tour in 2012. While I thought their earlier work was decent death metal, I never really got into their acclaimed record, Obscura. But after seeing them live, I was really impressed with their sound, but still didn?t really revisit their material. So when I heard they had a new album coming out in 2013, I was definitely interested. And when I heard the album, I was blown away. If you don?t already know, Gorguts are a Canadian avant-garde/technical death band that was founded by Luc Lemay in 1989. While their original material was standard death metal, their later releases saw them experimenting with odd time signatures, a lot of dissonance, and unconventional song structures. The current line-up of Gorguts is Luc Lemay with Kevin and Colin of Dysrtyhmia and John from Origin. The new line- up breathes some new life in the band, but Luc?s wicked song writing is still what?s most prominent in their sound. Their new album, Colored Sands, sees Gorguts taking off from where they last were, with a monster of an album. Each song is built from dense riffs in odd time signatures and are really dissonant and thick. The musician ship on the record is highly impressive, featuring some of the best guitar and bass work I?ve heard all year. And the tone these guys get is just massive. The bass lays down such a thick foundation and the guitar sounds are wicked. Most of the tunes range from 6-8 and each song packs a punch. Even the song The Battle of Chamdo, which is a piece written for a violin quartet, is extremely eerie, and shows that Luc Lemay can do more than just metal. Overall, Colored Sands shows that Gorguts still has it after a long break, supplying some crushingly heavy avant-garde that?s riddled with dissonance and crushing riffs. If death metal is your thing, I?d be surprised if you haven?t heard this already.

Pure evil. That?s what comes to mind when I listen to Usnea?s debut record. Usnea are a doom metal from Portland 4-piece that combine the hellish sounds of funeral doom metal, sludge metal, and black metal to craft some of the most wicked sounding metal to come out all year. The band themselves describe their sound by stating, ?Oppressive tone and volume combine with lyrics searching for meaning in a world full of oppression, human hierarchy and bleakness and fueled by the anger and despondency that are its by-product... perhaps in the liberation of negativity we are truly freed.? Across the two tracks on the record, Usnea uses both high black metal shrieks an low death metal grunts and write trudging doom metal riffs that give the listener goosebumps and let them sit and brew to build a hellish atmosphere before bursting into fierce black metal passages that tear you apart. Even though the record is only a little over 30 minutes along across its two tracks, Usnea does a fantastic job of delivering some of the heaviest, and most evil sounding metal I?ve heard all year. This album would probably rank higher if the two extra tracks that come with the digital download of the record were technically a part of the album, as those tracks are just as competent as the two album tracks. But even so, the fact that Unsea leaves such a huge impact in only half an hour with their brutal riffs is a feat. If you?re looking for unrelenting, heavy as hell funeral doom metal, this is your album.
Abandon All LIfe

The best was to describes Nails? sound is ?hatred ad infinitum?; endless hatred. Nails are a 4-piece powerviolence out of southern California and they put the power and violence in powerviolence. If you?re not familiar with that genre tag, it sounds just like that name. If you want a legit description, it?s a combination of hardcore punk and grindcore with elements of sludge metal thrown in to create some of the heaviest and most brutal music the world has to offer. In my opinion, Nails have perfected the art on their sophomore LP, Abandon All Life. Across 10 tracks in just 17 minutes, Nails deliver some of the most brutal and hate-filled music I?ve had the pleasure of subjecting myself to. Their tone on the record is absolutely brutal. Nails use the HM-2 Heavy Metal pedals that?s popular amongst Swedish death metal acts to create brutal buzzsaw tones, and guitarist/vocalist Todd Jones has one of the meanest screams out there. Songs on the record range from shorts blast of shear grinding rage like the tracks Cry Wolf and Absolute Control, slightly longer tunes that throw in some heavy, slamming riffs like God?s Cold Hands and Abandon All Life, to longer tunes that features heavy hitting sludge riffs that crush your bones to dust like Wide Open Wound and the album?s devastating closing track, Suum Cuique. The pure rage and hatred that give this album such a definite sound is just way too massive to ignore. If you?re into fast, brutal music, not having heard this record yet should be a crime. So do it.

Your Bay Area funeral doomsters, Lycus, hit the nail on the head with their debut album, Tempest. Lycus combines sounds of both funeral and traditional doom metal with sludge and black metal to create really haunting and sorrowful music with an aggressive edge. The most unique thing that Lycus does is have three different types of vocals on the record, often times with two going on at a time. The band uses Gregorian chant like cleans, guttural lows, and haunting shrieks to deliver lyrics full of sorrow and despair. The chanting vocals often feel like drones in the background that only build eerie atmospheres to accompany devastating riffs Across the three tracks on the record, the band displays weeping doom riffs that develop into hellish death metal and black metal passages, before returning to sorrowful doom passages. The songs almost resemble being caught in a tempest storm, with calm beginnings the turn into ravishing waves that eventually calm down and take the ship down it. They way the band develops eerie atmospheres is remarkable; especially on the title track that features violin accompaniment that weeps over the guitar?s sinister melodies. The record is the finest funeral doom metal album of the year, combining mournful doom melodies with heavy sludge riffs and punishing black metal passages. If you like doom metal, listen to this.
5My Bloody Valentine
m b v

My Bloody Valentine are a special band. Over a decade since the release of their seminal album, Loveless, people from all around the world are still discovering it and being highly inspired by it. Bandleader, Kevin Shields, changed music forever with the way he manipulates sounds, turning his music into thick walls of sound, and creating sounds you?d swear were keyboards with guitars. The band went on to be regarded as one of the innovators of the shoegaze genre and inspire rock bands for year to come. When they got back together in 2007, I?m sure people everywhere were super stoked, and since then I?m sure people have been wanting to hear new material, as Kevin Shields had reported to be working on new material. In late 2012, plans were made for the album to be released before the new year. Later in December 2012, they announced it was complete and mastered, and on January 27th, 2013, Kevin announced at a live gig that the album ?might be out in a 2 or 3 days?. After a lot of anticipation, the record was finally dropped on February 2nd, 2013. After 22 years since the release of Loveless, My Bloody Valentine?s third LP, entitled ?m b v? delivers some of the best music 2013 had to offer. While a lot of people were probably hoping for Loveless Pt. 2, that isn?t what?s in store on ?m b v?. This record sees Kevin Shields breaking new ground, and making on overall quitter album, but there?s still plenty of awesome noise manipulations and the songs themselves would still sound great if they weren?t slathered in effects. The Loveless line-up is in full effect: Kevin?s guitar playing is as sharp as ever; Bilinda Butcher?s voice is still absolutely angelic, Debbie Googe?s bass lines are as fuzzy and groovy as ever and Colm ? C?oso?ig actually gives complete drum performances as opposed to being sampled as he was on Loveless. The first thing noticeable about ?m b v? is that the production sounds modern, which indicates that you?ll be hearing a new My Bloody Valentine. The songs all have about the same mid pace through out the album. The first half of the record sounds like songs that could?ve been written after Loveless. The first track, She Found Now, starts the album off on a slow note, with a track that?s nothing but shoegazing guitars and soft vocals. The next track, Only Tomorrow, is a more upbeat song with drums and bass, and already shows the band starting to toy with sound like they?re known for. Some of the guitar effects are bright and other sound shattered, and the band puts the vocals through effects at the end of the chorus, and the sound it produces almost mimics a slide whistle going up. The rest of the first half is definitely standard rock songs with all the sound manipulation that My Bloody Valentine is known for. The track Who Sees You features the infamous ?vacuum sound? with the main guitar melody. The last three songs of the record see the band unveiling material that is unlike anything My Bloody Valentine has done before. There?s drum and bass like drums used on these songs, and a large use of the e-bow on the closing track, Wonder 2. Unfortunately the song ?Nothing Is? is kind of a clunker. It?s really just a 2 second sample of distorted guitar with a drumbeat played for like 3 minutes. But other then that, every song on the record is badass. Overall, My Bloody Valentine made a hell of a comeback. All the songs, save one, are amazing testaments to the My Bloody Valentine legacy, proving that Kevin Shields still knows how to write and make some of the most interesting rock music the world has to offer.
4Children Of God
We Set Fire To The Sky

Many bands work on a dynamic where there are a couple of definite sounds and moods to their music. A lot of metal bands switch off between clean and pretty passages and then more aggressive sections. Children of God choose a bipolar sound that switches between pure rage to completely crushing sorrow. Neither side is pretty. Across the 28 minutes of their debut album, Children of God give one of the rawest performances I?ve heard all year, combining elements of powerviolence, doom metal, black metal, and post-rock to create really emotionally charged music that leaves a lasting impact on the listener. The reason I likened their sound to being bipolar is because these shifts in sound practically happen on a moments notice. While some tracks features post-rock like buildup like the two parts of From The Sky, other tracks like Unrelenting Storm switch from hardcore riffage to doom metal trudging at a moments notice, making the shift in sound ever more powerful. The first half of the record is comprised of shorter songs, with the longest being just shy of 4 minutes. Some of these shorter songs also feature really awesome ideas that you don?t hear in other hardcore influenced music, like the e-bow outro of From The Sky to the tribal drum outro on Awaken. The last songs on the record are longer, each exceeding 5 minutes, with the longest going at almost 7 minutes. These two feature post-rock like buildups and atmosphere before blowing up into sonic fury. The production on the record is top notch too. Every instrument sounds excellent, and the vocalist?s scream is earth shattering. One moments of the record where it?s just one or two instruments alone, like the drum+vocals intro on Offer, it almost sounds like you can hear the band in the studio, right in front of them performing the songs. It?s incredible and creates an almost intimate feeling with the music. Everything about this record is really well executed, from a production stand-point to song-writing. We Set Fire To The Sky is one of the most emotionally charged records I?ve heard in recent history, and it?s as beautiful as it is hostile. Listen to this.
3Light Bearer
Silver Tongue

UK post-metal band Light Bearer are one of best bands out there that tell a narrative both through their music, and with their music. Vocalist/lyricist, Alex CF, uses Light Bearer describes the narrative as ?a metaphorical story about the dawn of enlightenment, based upon a number of interpretations of the Judaeo Christian version of the casting out of Lucifer and the fall of man from the book of genesis.? In their first LP, Lapsus, the story of the fall of Lucifer is told. After Lucifer refuses to bow before man, as he only bows to his maker (referred to ?the false god? by Alex CF), god casts Lucifer from heaven. After this, Lucifer is enlightened of the falsehood his god spoke, and decides to try and spread his word. Lapsus ends with Lucifer gathering followers and being cast to hell. As a result, the album sounded like betrayal and anguish. Silver Tongue stars with Lucifer trying to spread his word against the false god. The character of Lucifer is making an effort to shed light on the lies the false god has told, and through this album, his efforts don?t go unheard. As a result of the story, the music displayed on Silver Tongue has a much angrier tone. A lot of the heavier sections of the music feel to be more a derivative of crust, but they ultimately retain an overall sludgy tone. The soaring leads over the heavy riffage are as fierce as they are beautiful. Alex CF?s shouts are more powerful than ever. But just because the album sounds angrier than any other Light Bearer material doesn?t take away from any other aspect of their sound. Light Bearer still retains all the beauty and elegance of post-rock that?s found in their sound. Deep crescendos and glistening leads are ever present, only intensifying the heavy riffs that pummel the listener as the songs run their course. There?s also more use of strings with plenty passages featuring violin and cello, both clean parts and heavy parts. The album also features a lot of brass instrumentation in the beginning and end of the record. The use of traditional instruments adds another layer to their already thick sound. The most interesting song on the record is the self-titled concluding track. The album starts off with a serene passage that?s almost reminiscent of the clean melodies featured on that latest Baroness record. It later erupts into an epic post-hardcore like riffs that?s got a really bright and positive attitude. I think this because lyrically, the narrative tells about Eve and her pursuit to spread the knowledge that Lucifer has bestowed on here. This epic sound is something else that is new to Light Bearer, and they pull it off so well. Overall, with a interesting narrative, riffs that are heavier than ever and beautiful post-rock sections, Light Bearer?s sophomore effort just goes to show that they?re the best post-metal band of this decade. If you like post-metal, you need to hear this.

2013?s favorite (metal) album. I first fell in love with Deafheaven when I heard their debut record, Roads To Judah. The way the band combined post-rock and black metal was truly beautiful. When I heard they were releasing a follow up record in 2013, I was excited. When I heard the lead single off the record, Dream House, I knew I was in for amazing record. When it dropped, I loved in immediately. But I noticed I wasn?t the only one. In fact, I was one of many. People everywhere where infatuated with Sunbather. From the metal realm, and from far outside the metal realm, Sunbather was getting praise and accolades. Let?s hear why I think why. The first thing I think is worth mentioning about Sunbather is that it sees a strong influence of shoegaze. While some could say there are some shoegaze sounds on their debut, I don?t think it was nearly as noticeable as it is Sunbather. Every track features moments with huge guitar swells and walls of sound being created by guitarist Kerry McCoy. This new feature added to Deafheaven?s sound definitely turned some heads. Another thing about Sunbather is that it attracted a lot people from the hardcore community. I think this is due to the fact that each of the album?s 4 main songs features a catchy refrain at the end of the song that is an open invitation to sing-alongs. The band also introduces a lot of new things to their sound with this record. The track Vertigo features a really lush intro with a really clever use of delay and beautiful use of an e-bow. The song also features the first guitar solo on a Deafheaven record. So with the band keeping true to their black metal and post- rock beginnings, and introducing sounds from shoegaze and screamo, and overall having a bit of a poppier sound, the band presents a lot for people to like, and reaches to a larger audience. But what really makes Sunbather so amazing is the execution of the record. It?s really impressive considering that the whole record was written only by guitarist Kerry McCoy and vocalist George Clarke. Roads to Judah was a full band effort, but with the whole band leaving save the two original members, full creative control was left up to Kerry McCoy, and the fact that he so seamlessly combines so many different sounds to creative something so cohesive is incredible. And don?t go thinking that because there?s a strong shoegaze sound and more pop sensibility that he record isn?t heavy. The black metal influence is still strong and tracks like Dream House, Vertigo, and The Pecan Tree feature some of the band?s fiercest moments, with unrelenting tremolo picked riffs and George Clarke screaming his head off. Another interesting addition to the album is the transition tracks on the record. While Irresistible is a nice conclusion to Dream House, the other two aren?t anything too great. Please Remember does feature some nice acoustic guitar work, but Windows is purely Godspeed You! Black Emperor worship with the samples of the street sermon and a drug deal. But those don?t matter because the 4 main pieces of music are so badass. Deafheaven perfectly meld black metal, shoegaze, post-rock and screamo to create some of the most beautiful music 2013 has to offer. If you haven?t listened to this record (HOW?) and you dig post-black metal/blackgaze, listen to this now.
More Constant Than The Gods

Every now and again, a record will come out that compete floors you with how emotionally charged and authentic it is. The album seems to be a perfect representation of how the members of the band were feeling at that time, whatever it was they were feeling. That?s what I felt with this record, whole-heartedly. SubRosa are a unique 5-piece sludge/doom metal band from Salt Lake City, Utah. As if being a doom metal from Utah wasn?t interesting enough, the band?s line-up is 3/5ths are women and two of them play violin. With this interesting combination of musicians, SubRosa?s 2011 record, No Help For The Mighty Ones, presented some of the darkest and heaviest doom I?d ever heard. The riffs are heavier than tectonic plates, the melodies are full or sorrow and the way the violins are incorporated is nothing short of genius. The vocals are clean the vocal harmonies the three women on the record supply are amazing. So when I heard SubRosa announced they were releasing a new album, I was really excited, but I wasn?t expecting to get hit with this massive of a record. More Constant Than The Gods is unlike anything I?ve heard before. SubRosa still retains all the dark wonder that?s present on their debut, but multiplies it on this record in tons of new ways. The most noticeable thing they do on this record is feature some male vocals on the opening track, The Usher. The vocal trade off that happens over a guitar line with soaring violins is beautiful and you can truly feel the sorrow in their voice. This then erupts into a heavy-as-fuck riff while violins are still creating demented melodies that weep over these riffs. The doom assault continues the next track, Ghosts Of A Dead Empire, which features what is probably the heaviest riff of 2013. The sick violin melodies played on this track only make the song ever heavier and darker than the riff could alone (which is saying something). The next track, Cosey Mo, is actually kind of a sludge jam that?s as heavy as it is groovy, in the darkest way possible. Fat Of The Ram starts with a desolate and atmospheric intro, similar to Attack on Golden Mountain from their debut, then turns into a doom extravaganza with assaulting violins. The next track, Affliction, is one of the most unique metal songs I?ve heard all year. The main feature of the song is a demented, dissonant riff that actually comes from a distorted violin. It took me a good amount of listen to finally figure that out. The final track on the record is definitely the most interesting thing SubRosa have done. The track isn?t a metal song. It features piano, guitar, violin, hammered dulcimer and flute. The song starts with a piano bass line and melody that?s ever so melancholic. Soon after a harmonized flute melody comes in, and you can hear some faint violin in the background. The singing on this track is full of emotion, especially when the harmonies kick in. The song builds up tension before exploding with a distorted guitar chord pedaling while an explosive flute solo busts out of nowhere. Puts anything you heard on the new Blood Ceremony to shame. After this the vocals come back in with flute and violins playing as the guitar continues to pedal. The song ends with the guitar pedal, flute, violin, and a wicked hammered dulcimer melody. Definitely one of the most interesting songs I?ve heard all year. More Constant Than The Gods is the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, dark, and heavy album I?ve heard all year. The riffs beat you in the face, but what really shines in the emotional places this album goes to. Singer/guitarist/songwriter Rebecca Vernon dedicated this album to her mother that passed away in the last few years, and you can hear that in the music. There was a lot of energy and emotion put into making this record, and it shines. It?s obvious this served as a cathartic outlet for her. Music this mournful couldn?t be more beautiful.
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