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9 Month Game of Catchup (Sept. - Nov. 2017)'s seriously been eight months since I've done monthly roundups, and I'm nine months behind. Procrastination and business have killed me on that end, but you guys deserve this. I'll be posting stuff like this for the next few days until I post May 2018's. Because Sputnik crashes your list if you take too long making it (it crashed for me last night), I'll edit and update it for each month I finish it. I should be done in an hour and a half or so. Here goes:
By Request Only

-- September's Best Songs --
97White Moth Black Butterfly

10. “Symmetry”: Alright... I realize that I haven't done one of these since October and all, but maybe it's better that I reviewed this specific track at the dawn of winter. Nearly all of the production, sound effects, pianos, and strings give this track a chilly atmosphere. The backing vocals and the random pounding of the drums on the second verse surprisingly usher the vibe of a Northern tribal sound, creating an isolation in that same atmosphere. As a stranded, freezing person would need, though, the lyrics and the vocalist provide the warmest blanket possible. In a hypnotic and somewhat sexual fashion, Jordan Bethany steals the show with her delivery full of light and allure acting similarly to a Will-O'-the-Wisp, except she has... good intentions, maybe? Just go listen to the track (also the whole album, but more on that later) and possibly hypnotize yourself to it.
96Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun

9. “Twin Fawn”: The longest track on Hiss Spun also feels the grandest. Build-ups, huge atmospheres, and a hammering climax make this track far away from being bashful, or anything like an actual fawn. Mrs. Wolfe holds back no anger or feeling in her performance or lyrics, which is the place of words for hauntingly creative, but subtly realistic imagery. This proves that Chelsea Wolfe knows how too much fantasy can ruin the impact of the track and how being too blunt can ruin it just as badly. She meets a perfect middle ground in that sense, but, again, she doesn't hold back anything while doing so, especially in the instruments. The guitars and bass crunch this track into several fine pieces. Also, the ending of this song was kinda overdue on this album, but it sure doesn't disappoint.
95Arcane Roots
Melancholia Hymns

8. “Matter”: I actually didn't care for Melancholia Hymns too much. There was a lot of glossy production and electronica work on there that I really wish would've been thrown in the garbage can in a replacement for more instrument-led, catchy, and powerful tracks like “Matter”. The guitar and the drums take turns blazing the scene in the verses and the chorus respectively and the vocals have an Einar Solberg sound to them except with a slightly less distinct voice. That allows him to blend with the atmosphere of the guitar and bass, however, so it actually works more in the track's favor. When the synths lead, they serve a great purpose for once and give a bit of character to the declining resolution. If you're looking for a highlight that stands out from the album so much that it's the only song you remember from there, look no further than Arcane Root's “Matter”.
94Ariel Pink
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

7. “Do Yourself a Favor”: Ahh, lo-fi, how interesting of a genre are you? How do you sound so amateur yet sometimes have more distinguishing features than the most cleanly produced music? “Do Yourself a Favor” is a track off of an album riddled with baffling ideas, and it may not even be less baffling than the songs on there. However, there's a very careful taste of performances here, like slowly aged wine. This track is irresistibly catchy (with the verse being just as catchy as the chorus, which I found kinda interesting), but the vocals are an odd case. They seem to deteriorate in quality throughout, especially in the second verse when Ariel Pink goes off tempo and out of key, but there's a charm they contain that makes them a highlight in a way. The instruments all play a 60's Simon and Garfunkel type sound, complete with whistling, shakers, fuzzy acoustic guitars, and flutes.
93Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

6. Open Mike Eagle - “(How Could Anybody) Feel at Home”: In quite the different way to “Symmetry”, a hypnotic power exists in this song. Despite being filled with tons of intriguing synth effects, production, bar flows, and flute playing, it's the gray emptiness that captivates. Considering the lyrics and a fitting imagination on an overcast day, Open Mike Eagle knows how to place listeners into his imagery of loss and misdirection. Part of the success for these themes come from his personal experience from the destruction of his former home and childhood places in Chicago, asking himself and anyone with this loss (possibly permanently), “How could anybody feel at home?”
92Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun

5. “16 Psyche”: This track has gotten mountains of acclaim, considered by many to be the best song on Hiss Spun. I'll just go ahead and confirm that. Expect that same, consistent, middle-ground imagery I discussed on “Twin Fawn” again, but with arguably more impressive songwriting as Wolfe “plays” with the passion of sex and how its temporary and obsessive nature can affect the psyche. The chorus is fantastically catchy and heavy, and its transition to and from the verses couldn't have been executed any better. For being a track with fairly basic song structure, its pacing is excellent and there's hardly a moment that doesn't impress. The bridge also exemplifies Wolfe's vocal abilities quite spectacularly. More falsetto on her next works, maybe?
Laila's Wisdom

4. “Jesus Coming”: I honestly think that a very real risk went into writing a song like this. It could have easily dragged, it could have easily been very sloppy, it could have easily been cheesy and forced, and it could have very, VERY easily been disjointed and confused. It was almost set up for failure in at least one of those areas. But it's not. In fact, it's one of the most reflective and patient songs in a month filled with provocative artists like Protomartyr and Open Mike Eagle. I guess the place to start on the success of this track's concept is in Rapsody's interaction with the sample. It's the prime example of the song's common practice of purposefully breaking up the bars' flows to act as if it's recording raw and genuine reactions and conversations. Now I'm usually not a fan at all of repetitive samples in hip-hop, but I see a greatly effective purpose in keeping the music simple to replicate the repetition the tragedies and incidents that Rapsody pours onto the page.
Laila's Wisdom

The ending makes another extremely impactful decision by omitting lyrics for around 45 seconds to allow the listener to reflect on the cooperation on the stories. That, my friends, is how songwriting is done.
89Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

3. “Hymnal”: “(How Could Anybody) Feel at Home” dared the remaining ten songs on Brick Body Kids Still Daydream to top it, and in fact quite confidently. That confidence would be shattered into pieces when the next track, “Hymnal”, displays its first seconds with ever-enticing key and bass warps. Arguably the better track of the two, it almost feels like a continuation of “(HCA)FaH” taking that gray wandering into a tiring darkness with the opening line, “So sleepy...” Open Mike Eagle adds a very large piece to the religious theme by delivering his bars humbly, but with gradual conviction. This conviction takes its most prominent form on Sammus's delivery with her bars obviously having more consistent flows and a less reserved voice. In contrast, the gradual conviction in the voices are disguises for the constant reference to doubt about their own beliefs in both OME and Sammus's lyrics. They question their success and abilities on this song multiple times even when mixed
88Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

with a few self-praising lines. What closes this “hymn” is also very significant and it provides a much-needed solution to the conflicting doubts of the rappers, “Now please, go be who you dream of”. Despite dreaming in the track's sleep, it is absolutely true that you should make the decisions on your own doubts and praises and how they define you. In a pattern with “Jesus Coming”, this is fantastic songwriting at its core. Also, nice Fleet Fox reference there.
The Tower

2. “The Tower” [Title Track]: On several occasions, there's nothing better than a block of world-class cheese. I've always been interested in indulging in the tastiest cheddar, brie, camembert, or you-name-it kinds of cheese out there. The title track to Motorpsycho's new hour-and-a-half long record The Tower has just provided me with an aural slice of that cheese, and it's nothing but joy. This track couldn't have been more laughable lyrically, but the huge and purely grandiose performances and production somehow make it all the more badass. It's all there in a fashion that's quite similar to Devin Townsend. Another important thing to note about this song is how it essentially changed expectations for stoner rock. Yes, I know, this track's album is honestly more littered with psychedelic and progressive rock cores, but there's no denying the leading bass and desert-like guitar riffs on this song. The guitars even solo away and race to the sky for over three whole minutes,
The Tower

which is a fairly routine part of stoner rock and metal, but there's a defined structure and direction here. Even the better stoner rock bands I've heard this year like Elder and Samsara Blues Experiment lacked this that held back a disappointingly large amount of potential. However, Motorpsycho wasn't making the same mistake with this track, and that was only the impression of The Tower's opening track. I'd wait for what's to come in unadulterated glee...
Relatives In Descent

1. “A Private Understanding”/”Half Sister”: You could probably write a well-detailed and philosophical essay about these two songs (Half Sister in particular, but more on that later) based on the insanely rich story and songwriting presented in them. Hell, Papa Universe wrote a 1,500+ word analysis on “A Private Understanding” alone. I'm going to (key word:) try to mention at least a couple of aspects of that song that he hasn't already discussed. However, the main focus will be on its spectacularly powerful relationship with the album closer “Half Sister”, which is another song that certainly can't be ignored at this point. Both songs revolve their most intense moments around the summary of their messages, which lets those moments act as wake-up calls for listeners to hear the explanation of the cryptic, seemingly disconnected puzzle pieces throughout the songs. The instrumental focus from the verses of both songs is one in a handful of differences that define
Relatives In Descent

the identity of each song's sound. You have the opener's production focus on the disjointed gallop of the drums while “Half Sister” centers the verse mixing on the Western guitar, which works for a song that tells three separate stories. Just to blush over the instrumentation a little more, I'm going to mention how damn good is bass introduction is about halfway through “Half Sister”. It does so much for setting up the emotional resolution. Alright, now let's dive into the lyrics. Both songs are filled with religious allegories, societal stagnation, and conflict, all of which oddly run in the same vein as the previously mentioned track “Hymnal”. I could go all day with how contextually rich each lyric is in the songs, but if I had to pick a few key lines, they'd be, “In the lowest deep a lower depth”, “Call me 'Heraclitus the Obscure', Constantly weeping because the river doesn't move”, “And he was affected profoundly, But he could never describe the feeling”,
Relatives In Descent

“He's now on display for a lesson, for the kids to always do your best, do your best always”. This duo of works shows that our individual private understandings are battling others and preventing a progress in a unified understanding, or the understanding that Elvis so desperately tried to find in Flagstaff, or the understanding that Jesus Christ was crucified for sharing. And that is the truth. That is the truth that's reaching out her giving hand to the listener. If you do not accept, she'll wait forever, but you become the stuck cist of a problem. You become the ghost and the horse, eternally feared by the next generations to come. If you accept, it's in your power to possibly change the truth and make the river flow again, and even though the songs themselves don't really even know if that's even feasible in the slightest, she's trying to reach you because she knows you can at least do something.
By Request Only

-- September's Best Albums --
You're Not You Anymore

10. 7/10: Ahh, the casual tiny hardcore record. The two leading adjectives are actually the main reasons why I find this album a tad overrated, but there's no problem in having a little depressing fun here and there and that's exactly what this is. Excellent and diverse guitar melodies can be found all throughout and the singer knows how to make his messages convincing. I particularly like “Arms Like Teeth” and “Haunt Me” for each strength respectively. Counterparts hardly ever lets up or slows on this album until the closing track, which successfully blends the record's visceral intensity with new atmospheric production. I guess a short album deserves a short write-up, so I'll leave it at that.

9. 7/10: My first listen of this was...unfavorable, to say the least. I was on a loud lawnmower with headphones that weren't loud enough to completely block the motor drone. On most albums, I usually don't hear any different when I go back for a second listen, but this was different. Constant drone and synth overlay meant that I only heard “AAAAHHHOOOHH” from the synths with melodies that stuck out like a sore thumb. Unimpressed yet uncertain about the experience, I go back for another spin and realize the synth's and production's gorgeousness. This is another album that people got a little too excited over, but the overwhelming beauty of tracks like “Siiville Nousu” (especially the ending) and “Lahja” are too irresistible to deny. The diverse production choices on here are excellent. A couple of my favorite examples are the drum production of “Nainen” and basically everything about “Siiville Nousu”. Even for an album as ambient and spacey as this, no one would expect the title track's

sleep music-type sound, but it somehow works on a record of this style. If anything, this is album is a great precursor for the upcoming winter.
Collective: The Shape of He to Come

8. 7/10: This is probably the weirdest black metal album I've heard all year. How many black metal albums this year can you truly say have production quality that's right in the middle of potato and squeaky-clean? How many of those albums also have the same percussion and guitar sounds as this one does? It all sounds very homemade for sure but in quite a majestic and almost spiritual way. The implied themes basically give the album a boosted and unique experience. An interesting thing to note on this record is the individual song quality. The shorter, interlude-like tracks are actually some of the best that this album has to offer as they specifically explore foreign instrumentation and odd songwriting structures. If you want to see the best of the album summed up into a single track, listen to the longest cut here, “Upon Veltheim's Throne Shall I Wait”, because it's very, very good.
Victory Lap

7. 7/10: Well, this album was really pleasing considering that I'm usually not the type to delve into the political hardcore punk scene. There maybe many typical themes and instrumental structures that go along with that scene, but it's all done at a best-effort rate, and that I can endlessly appreciate. What I just said, though, didn't mean that this album was all by-the-numbers. “Cop Just Out of Frame” is an instrumental delight, “Adventures in Zoochosis” is a closer that nicely wrapped in political charge and good production, and the very well-written “Nigredo”. What also helps this album quite a bit is the band's experience. It's obvious throughout the record that Propagandhi have been at this for years and that they know how to mix current political themes, the current hardcore sound, and their signature sound together with few seams to be found.

6. 7/10: Unlike the last album on the list, this is in a genre that I'm quite familiar with. Despite the technical expectations of a prog death album like this, the album really isn't all that complex or rhythmically diverse or anything like that. Instead, Awaken focuses on songwriting consistency and atmosphere. I think the quality is better off for that, especially when Fleshkiller still manages to write awesome riffs in that format. That's evident in the bookends, “Inherit” and particularly the title track. This established formula also gives Fleshkiller a grounded identity as a signature sound as there hadn't been too many metal bands this year before this release that have put a very high priority on consistency and plane-level pacing. Yeah, the album could technically be more interesting, and yeah, the album gets really cheesy in certain areas, but this was one I really enjoyed my time with.
75Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun

5. 7.5/10: This album has rightfully taken the reigns on the goth scene of 2017, and it does so in a personal, confessional, and heavy way. Chelsea does what she has always seemed to do, and that's surrounding her stories with the dark range of low-tuned guitars, grimy bass, and an unassuming voice. The aforementioned tracks “16 Psyche” and “Twin Fawn” take these ideas to epic and relentless territories, but there's also plenty of variety to be found in the overall style. “Offerings” is the most obvious industrial track, but this works because you can tell it's Chelsea's industrial-influenced cut. “Vex” plays around with harsh vocals and lighter guitars that become appropriate for the song's theme. Speaking of lighter guitars, “Two Spirit” calls back to the acoustic nature of some of Chelsea's past work right before arguably the most haunting song here in the closer “Scrape”. Chelsea Wolfe once said that these songs were like a “personal exorcism” to her,
74Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun

and I think this has worked to where it's not just such for her, but also for other disturbed and troubled listeners.
73Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

4. 7.5/10: Here's another album I've clearly expressed appreciation for with my favorite songs from there, but there are several things to take away from the entire record. To start, the inferred idea behind the instrumentals of nearly all the tracks here might be the most impressive aspect of this album. Open Mike Eagle made this album about his old, recently demolished housing project that he lived in as a kid. Many of the instrumentals have nostalgia-flavored electronic percussion and synths so that nostalgia applies itself to the memory part of the album's concept. They captivate the listener in such a way that the unfamiliar lyrics reach out to them as if they had experienced this situation before. That's exactly how songwriting should be mastered in a concept, and that kinda makes the entire album worth at least a spin. Not everything is thrown back in memory and psychedelia, however. Open Mike Eagle gets a bit more intense and modern on “No Selling...” and “Brick Body Complex"
72Open Mike Eagle
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

with different styles on each track. This is one of the better rap albums of the entire year, and if you like looking through the eyes of who's basically a disappointed kid, then get on this.
71White Moth Black Butterfly

3. 8/10: The first time I listened to Daniel Thompkins was on his contribution to the title track on Earthside's A Dream in Static back in 2015. His voice absolutely blew me away and I was surprised to find out that he had been working with TesseracT in the meantime. While I am far from a fan of TesseracT at all, I was excited for this project by him and Keshav Dhar from Skyharbor because this was an experimental pop record, and I thought that their voices and backgrounds could really work without the typical prog wank of their other material. Needless to say, it's fantastic, and the shockingly vast influences really hold their ground on this record. The three-part ambient track calls back to the prime days of Sigur Ros and the more rhythmic tracks like “Rising Sun” and “The Serpent” remind me of early Dredg. The various instrumentation throughout complements some of the songs' sensual feelings like on “The Sage” and the title track. The album's flow is fantastic as you get a similar
70White Moth Black Butterfly

experience from each track without being stale in musical style. Now that I've heard from Keshav Dhar, I need to get into some Skyharbor someday.
Relatives In Descent

2. 8/10: If one fact about this band has been completely proven true from this record, it's that they are not a “fake” post-punk group. They know that they're not post-punk just to insert themselves in some sort of revival or just to make themselves misleadingly unique, but they're post-punk because it's simply the best way to spread their message and songwriting. I love the way the guitars and drums are produced because the snare drum, hi-hat, and what not maintain the same sound throughout the entire record while the guitar is permitted to go into different atmospheres, but only when it feels appropriate to do so. The bassist also takes up an excellent presence here, especially in “Windsor Hum”, “Corpses in Regalia”, and “Half Sister”. This album also contains one of the best lyrical concepts of the year. Protomartyr makes it obvious that they're concerned with the misinformation or the “fake news” of the world, and that is a modern issue to question the world's trust with.
Relatives In Descent

They don't wanna go surface level with this concept, though. The real depth behind this concept is a commentary on truth's philosophy, and how it causes corruption like we have seen in history and today. Nearly every part of this idea is discussed and Protomartyr discusses this idea in several different manners. They can be straightforward about their themes, tell creative stories in relation to truth's conflictions, and draw historically-charged allusions. Even when such a subject is as carefully thought out as it's written here, the album still manages to have high replayability because of my enjoyment with it.
The Tower

1. 9/10: How does something like this even happen? This sudden project drops just a year after the successful and critically acclaimed Here Be Monsters. I can assume the only explanation for the quickness of this massive 84-minute release is that the album consists of songs cut from albums record in the past 25 years. Even with that realism, I don't really believe that theory considering how immaculately performed and recorded this album is. The Tower is probably the best prog rock record of the year (eat it, Steven Wilson) even when taken out of the context behind its insanely fast release time. I find great substance and musical worth in all the songs here, and that's especially impressive considering the production and songwriting sounds like a 70's King Crimson album. Despite that influence, this is still obviously Motorpsycho with strong stoner rock vibes, jam rock additions, and even a bit of Black Sabbath metal touch on “A.S.F.E.” The ballads “Stardust” and “The Maypole”
The Tower

are fantastic tracks that support diverse instrumentation and an excellent guitar-voice match. They serve as perfect warm-ups for the last three epic rides, each one better than the last. “Ship of Fools” is the perfect closer for the album: one that hovers over the listener in bombasticness and grand scale. Afterwards, you realize that Motorpsycho proves age as just a number with their nineteenth album still going as strong as they've ever been.
By Request Only

-- October's Best Songs --
64Big K.R.I.T.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

10. “Drinking Sessions”: So when Big K.R.I.T. released his mighty long album 4eva is a Mighty Long Time, I found it increasingly difficult to find a highlight that would inevitably make this list. The track that I ended up being the most intrigued with was “Drinking Sessions”. Indeed, this song does have solid beats and production, but what really steals the show is the songwriting and Big K.R.I.T.'s completely energized delivery. He gets himself into a drinking session and rambles on about family, racism, the music business, and pretty much every relevant problem under the sun. The songwriting rids the filler from these topics, however, and melds them into interesting metaphors and stories. You could say that his flow and the music should have been more jagged and broken to represent the imbalances of being drunk, but the lyrics and vocal performance already take care of that. Big K.R.I.T. starts off with much to say and in a frustrated manner,
63Big K.R.I.T.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

but he slows, slurs and repeats in the end. I really doubt that a substance-based concept like this hasn't been done before by many different rappers, but I just appreciate how well this is pulled off.
62Ne Obliviscaris

9. “Intra Venus”: This seven-minute venture encapsulates much of what was enjoyable about Urn. Foreign and classical instruments, of course, play a key part on this track and the bassist does an outstanding with its consistent presence. The drummer totally pounds the double bass on the growled sections and chorus, and he gives the jazz fusion section in the middle of the song such a smooth and even feel. That's not to mention the vocalist, gives his best versions of Ne Obliviscaris here. It's all so epic and undeniably awesome without having either of those characteristics work against it.
Codex VI

8. “Herr Grapplefinger's Secret Stash Box”: Oh man, was I not a fan of Codex VI. It all felt so drawn out, excessive, and, worst of all, so boring, though that's not to say that quality was completely absent on there. “Celestial Intoxication” was a fun ride, but I'm primarily grappled (pun absolutely not intended) by “Herr Grapplefinger's Secret Stash Box”. Unlike many of the songs on that album, there are different evolutions that go through the nine-and-a-half minute course. The noisy sound effects constantly change and captivate, the flute playing by Raja Ram adds layers of atmosphere, and there's a little funk flavor in this song that really deviates it from other Shpongle tracks. Also, I can't even imagine how wild this song would be at live shows, and that's with considering the other live clips I've seen online.
A Wake In Sacred Waves

7. “Within Chanting Waters”: Much of A Wake in Sacred Waves has such an impressive number of enticing factors to it that it effortlessly drags you into the depths of its Atlantis-like world. Many of my compliments with this epic track match up with that of its respective album, but much of its uniqueness comes from its ability to handily manage the timing of instrument and concept inclusions. The piano, for example, makes its first leading appearance three minutes into the track, but still right before the major tempo change (which is a surprisingly bold atmosphere change). It seems like such an odd move, but Dreadnought knows how to make compositions subtly lead up to moments like that which most progressive metal bands can't quite pull off as well. The horns were a fun extra to add on to the jazz fusion-laced percussion and the riff writing on this is very rich and dense. I also love when this song doesn't dip its toes,
A Wake In Sacred Waves

but rather dives into various metal subgenres to get a distinct sound blend.
Of Erthe and Axen: Act II

6. “Walk With Me O Winged Mother”: In an album filled with all different elements of black and progressive metal, the highlight of Of Erthe and Axen: Part 2 surprisingly starts as a beautiful folk piece. Both leading male and female vocals add such a rich, fantasy-like setting along with the fluttering flutes and the swelling violins on display. This beauty lasts the entire track, don't get me wrong, but the tranquility doesn't. The track's middle shifts into epic symphonic black metal which then shifts into something that almost sounds like a darker Dream Theater. It's so easy to jam to the riffs here as they somehow don't interrupt the flow or become far too jarring of an alteration. “Walk With Me O Winged Mother”'s grandiosity doesn't stop there, however, as the vocalist continues the symphonic heaviness through the last minute of the track. It's one of the most unique black metal songs of the year that's not short on allure or ambition.
A Wake In Sacred Waves

5. Dreadnought - “To Luminous Scale”: Everything said about “Within Chanting Waters” can be magnified with this beauty of a piece. Dreadnought sticks a little more to their root prog metal guns on this one, but it's a very expansive, relentless, and unapologetic venture of Dreadnought's signature sound. Kelly Schilling as a vocalist easily gives off her most mesmerizing and best performance here. Guitar and drum playing are, once again, erratic yet spectacularly disciplined within the songwriting's orders.
As You Please

4. “Discrete Routine”: As You Please was a competently decent album, but nothing on it just shone of true greatness and, besides the title track, did it honestly shine the potential of true greatness. Oh yeah, except for this song. I've read about tons of acclaim for this track as one of the better alternative rock songs of the year, and I really don't disagree with those claims. Mystery fills this song to the brim, hence the cleverly named title “Discrete Routine”. It can be discovered (or undiscovered, considering it's a mystery) in the lyrics and subtle instrumentation in the first half. The vocals are extremely good and the power of the climax's instruments doesn't bash their quality one bit. Speaking of which, the climax is one of the most powerful of its kind in 2017's alternative rock scene, but it achieves this success through simplicity. Nothing's even close to technically complex on this song, but it's all so potent,
As You Please

especially that leading guitar riff over the vocals on the climax.
From Silence to Somewhere

3. “Foxlight”: I can technically still be considered a huge fan of any progressive rock for two reasons. Firstly because it's my most rated genre in my pie chart (which is somewhat unintentional), but also because I appreciate its tendency to expand as far as the world lets it and the lyrics are occasionally those that are not unlike historical opera plots. Wobbler is a 70's roots faithful type of band with both of these qualities and the talent to show for it. However, they are in an unfortunate case with the first three tracks on their newest record where they either exceedingly bore me or screw up their pacing in hilarious fashion. Then “Foxlight” comes in with the 5/4 acoustic riff and Wobbler then suddenly gained the skill on how to keep a consistent flow within a song. The technical playing on here is excellent and the vocalist is quite strong for prog rock standards. Its songwriting is action-packed without being too self-centered to share the fun with the listener.
From Silence to Somewhere

Where this track starts to pick up its legendary status is during the second half with the amazing guitar and mellotron playing. This is where I see the band finally embracing this album not with utter seriousness, but with a light heart that's full of passion, especially with the overpowering synths and galloping drum beat that ensue on the final minutes of the track. It just all makes for a little pure awesome.
52Ne Obliviscaris

2. “Eryie”: Pretty well in the same realm as “Walk With Me O Winged Mother”, this track begins as a gorgeous folk-flavored piece with spectacular vocals and wonderful instrumental choices. Also similarly to the previous track on Urn, “Intra Venus”, jazz fusion makes a strong presence in some sections. There have been clues throughout “Eryie” that hint towards a possible classic status in the symphonic death metal scene given its aural callbacks to the great songs of the 90's, but the riff at around the four-and-a-half minute mark really kicks that feeling off at full throttle. And I believe that gives it an ever-so-slight edge over the aforementioned tracks. This is the best work out of Urn, and I don't really doubt that it's one of the greatest from Ne Obliviscaris as a whole.
Mass VI

1. “A Solitary Reign”: I felt like this glorious track was the final stage of an evolution that occurred in Mass VI. This is the result of an unbelievably enormous improvement even on the latter half of the record. With this track, Amenra discovered how to write classic moments onto Mass VI that are on par with some of the most famous post metal works out there. One of those said moments can be found within a second of starting “A Solitary Reign” with its unforgettable riff. That section and the next three minutes play out like a masterpiece. The vocalist's performance here is easily the most effective and powerful on the entire album, and the timing of both his cleans and harsh vocals were flawless. The middle section is undoubtedly doom flavored and relentless but it's groovy and fairly optimistic sounding as compared to the rest of the track which hints at the kind deathly sounds we're working with here. Its ending doesn't disappoint either with its gradual bpm/intensity speed-up.
Mass VI

The production of this piece is tormentingly dark, brutal, and hopeless, and that helps the string work somehow become alive and dead at the same time. One criticism I'll ultimately give Mass VI is its gimmicky nature, but “A Solitary Reign” takes that label to its advantage like what most post metal should be doing.
By Request Only

-- October's Best Albums --

10. 6.5/10: It's a decent Bones tape. Nothing better, nothing worse. If there's an obvious issue with many of these albums, it's the shortness and incompleteness of the tracks, especially here when the longest song (also the album's best song) is slightly over three minutes long. However, I can't complain too much because there are some great cuts from this record. The one-two punch from “HolySmokes” and “YouAreNowBeingWatched” makes for a nostalgic and trippy listen. The aforementioned “SometimesTheUglyTruthCanBeBeautiful” is an excellent track with smartly written lyrics and elevated vocals and production (especially considering the total drab of other songs on here). So this isn't bad but just listen to the miles-better NoReedemingQualities if you want to see Bones at the top of his game.
As You Please

9. 6.5/10: I obviously adored “Discrete Routine”, but that song heavily carries an honestly average album. It's fairly generic alt-rock with a few elements that make As You Please stand out just enough above the crowd to be at least a little relevant. I do like the visceral band performances on some of the songs, especially in the hooks. This is most evident in tracks like “I Forgive No One”, “Fever Days”, and “Ugly Luck”. There are other times where Citizen breaks their own conventional formula, like on the title track, the closer, the aforementioned “Discrete Routine”. This maybe an unwanted lookback into a band's entire career, but if that means a decently good record, why should I try to stop myself from listening to it?
Of Erthe and Axen: Act II

8. 7/10: Truth be told, I should've liked this album more than I did. The sheer ambition in this symphonic metal project checked a lot of boxes for me, but I find the songwriting of the first half so lacking. It's well performed, no doubt about that, but over twenty minutes of underwritten metal gets tiring pretty quickly. What really sets the record to high standards is the overwhelmingly superior second half. As I've said, the beauty and drive behind “Walk With Me O Winged Mother” is undeniable. I'm also impressed with the quality of the intermission-like piece “Through Caverns Old and Yawning”, which combines symphonic choir and piano structures with modern production, and all in just over two minutes. The closer is the thick, heavy, and epic track that the band has seemed to be leading up to at this point, and it's definitely worth it. You can rightfully assume that my favorite aspect of this album is the effort and time earnestly spent into this project,
Of Erthe and Axen: Act II

so please do them a favor and give both parts of this project a spin.
Rose Azura Njano

7. 7/10: Cunninglynguists is a group that had way more back catalogue than I thought they would. Apparently, they've been in the top-tier underground rap game back in the 2000's, so I thought this record would be a good opportunity to test their creative outlet. I can say that they passed this test with flying colors (totally intended). For a conceptual representation so random (girl with color synesthesia is symbolizing American racial struggles), the group finds a consistent, yet interesting way to address their concerns. I think this aspect of Rose Azura Njago is where the collective's experience really comes into play as they know they're own style so well that they can successfully apply that to a wide variety of themes. This is also the case for the record's songwriting with explorations of 90's hip-hop throwback in “Violet” and pop with “Oh Honey”. Cunninglynguists's dreaminess is capitalized on the closer where electronic jazz instrumentals and hypnotizing vocals
Rose Azura Njano

make for arguably the trippiest track on the album. I find it kinda humorous that my favorite song on here is subtitled “(B Side)”.
42Rina Sawayama

6. 7.5/10: October was a great month for me (had a birthday, just started dating, etc.), but it was a terrible month for the music I listened to. So I guess my confusion over this album's categorization alleviates the painful mediocrity. See, I don't typically include EP's into this list, but I have to make an exception here considering: A. I thought this was a full release for the longest time, and B. I realized that only after I gave it an in-depth look. Anyways, this is a highly entertaining indie pop release that I'm glad has ended up getting as much press as it has. The beats are infectious with hints of tasty disco influence mixed with an R&B core. Rina herself is a convincing pop star as she obviously comprehends her topics by building different sounds around their appropriate topics. I know that all artists are expected to do this, but Rina just makes this task seem so easy. I can't believe that I got into a song featuring Shamir; I thought that would never happen.
41Big K.R.I.T.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

5. 7.5/10: What a massive release from the underground southern rapper. Like, this is about as long as last month's The Tower from Motorpsycho, and I considered that quite a lengthy experience. Just like that album, however, Big K.R.I.T. never manages to overstay his welcome despite lasting a “mighty long time” and a bit part of that is the double album's concept. Big K.R.I.T., or Justin Scott, uses each half of the double album to present his alter egos, who are, of course, Big K.R.I.T. and Justin Scott. Big K.R.I.T. explores the mainstream and fun side of himself while Justin Scott represents a philosophical and pondering side to him. Despite my own expectations, I actually enjoyed the Big K.R.I.T. end more. The beats are infectious and the chorus melodies are irresistibly catchy. “Confetti” and “Aux Cord” are highlights of this half, but for completely different reasons: the former for its message and melodies and the latter for its production and atmosphere.
40Big K.R.I.T.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

That's the way a lot of this album's quality works, and it's all refreshing for a rap album because it shows Big K.R.I.T.'s ability to understand the depths each composition's parts. This flow's aura isn't quite as present in Justin Scott's half, but replacing that are pianos, R&B-driven pieces, and introspective writing. The aforementioned “Drinking Sessions” is the best example of these qualities. By the way, the interludes are hilarious.
39Ne Obliviscaris

4. 7.5/10: It seems that I have already covered a considerable part of this apocalyptic album with the two songs I discussed in my best tracks list. You can infer by my rating that the rest of the record isn't nearly as fun or interesting to talk about as those songs, but also infer from that rating that nearly every song here is at least decently engaging. Filled with distinctive instrumentation, technically masterful performances, and captivating compositions, Urn has completely grasped the compositional side of its own entertainment. What it didn't quite perceive was pacing, considering each end of the album became quickly slow and a little mundane in their runtimes. I'm not using this to take away from the midpieces, though, because those are some damn good songs right there.
38The Rural Alberta Advantage
The Wild

3. 7.5/10: Here's a record that I randomly decided to shove into my waiting list at the end of the month. I was completely expecting an average folk record with a few salvageable moments, but the huge variety of styles within this fairly short album propelled it into some amazing territories. Granted, the band's ability to do this is boosted by the intended lack of consistent concept throughout the album, but we, of course, know that not all records have to be concept albums or similar to be great. The Rural Alberta Advantage uses this fact to their...advantage. They shift the existing consistency of lyrical concepts to their core sound within the influences they implant here. It makes for a diverse and great listen. The album's first half easily displays the band's muscles as they seamlessly shift through genres of indie rock (“Bad Luck Again”), punk (“Dead/Alive”), and even straight-up alt-rock (“Toughen Up”). Although the record becomes a bit formulaic at the other end,
37The Rural Alberta Advantage
The Wild

“Wild Grin” is fast, energized, and a designated highlight. Both this band and I know that this was never supposed to be a monumental release, I mean, they're definitely not Fleet Foxes or anything, but we also both know that they can make enjoyable folk rock and that's really all I'm asking for from them.
Mass VI

2. 8/10: It's really easy to say that this post-metal Converge. That influence is particularly clear on this album, between the production, harsh vocal notes, and even the lyrics parallel with the classic Jane Doe (A gruesomely told broken relationship). Amenra is obviously a totally separate outfit, but then you can ask, “Now is this album made by Amenra or a post-metal Converge?” Thanks to brilliant songwriting and powerful charisma from lead singer Colin van Eeckhout, this album is definitely made by Amenra. No other personalities could really make something like “A Solitary Reign” or the excellent closer “Diaken” or, hell, the entire album. There's really not much more to say here; it's just a group of people continuing to perfect their extremely unique craft. Oh yeah, I actually heard Neurosis member Scott Kelly talk about Amenra and his encounter with them, and he noted that, despite Amenra's music being ridiculously heavy,
Mass VI

they were actually really shy when discussing their work. Classic metal personalities, eh?
A Wake In Sacred Waves

1. 8.5/10: I really can't blame you if you're confused by how high this album ranks on my list. On a surface and solely compositional level, this is an interesting, but meandering progressive metal album that doesn't do much to deviate itself from glaring peers. Not only is that an issue with many of this record's listeners, but the production is admittedly a little muffled. In regards to whether any of this was under Dreadnought's control, I think this band knew exactly what they were doing every step of the way through. I believe they chose this type of production for an old-school prog metal feel without abiding by any tropes of that era. What also helps make this production choice be as relevant as it is are the band members' performances. They know that quality in the metal world isn't all about what you play, but it's how you play it and make it sound post-recording. The vocals and piano are blending themselves in with the music, only emphasizing themselves when necessary.
A Wake In Sacred Waves

This alone almost carries “A Drifting Reign” as this characteristic allows for a beautiful and fitting ending. Jordan Clancy, the drummer, is so underrated in his performances. The bookends have some of the most mesmerizing and technically dizzying work I've heard all year. I think part of my love for this album can indirectly stem from the fascinating backstory behind this record and its themes. This album's based entirely on nature and the water element, which, by the way, perfectly explains the distinct production. The songs are written about fantastical protagonists, communicating with oceans, and predator-prey relationships. You can hear these stories take place in the whimsical music, but the sound replaces unrealistic punch and processing with naturalism. Now I'm obliged to listen to the rest of their catalog because they've apparently already had two “elemental” albums before A Wake in Sacred Waves, both of which being as well received as this one.
A Wake In Sacred Waves

Now's a time for me to throw an unrelated pun in here “Dready or nought, here I come!”
By Request Only

-- November's Best Songs --

10. “1755 [Title Track]” - We're starting off November with a treat of a title track from Moonspell's latest release. Despite the Portuguese-speaking band being a goth-ish a black metal outfit, this song hints a bit of Dream Theater influence that mixed the two metals into an efficient alloy. For evidence of this influence, look no further than the 23/16 chorus and opening riffs, both of which happen to flow smoother than the 6/4 verses. Though what makes the chorus so listenable isn't the odd time signature, but it's the overblown yet catchy orchestra performance. In fact, the string section of the “orchestra” drives a significant portion of the track adding symphonic layers to an otherwise only decent song. The mixing between the violin solo and the congas in the mid-section is very well done. The guitarist takes a backseat to the violins throughout the majority of the track, but it joins the bassist in dominating the riffage.

9. “Hyperion” - Yeah, maybe I did just mock 6/4 earlier by being outclassed by a 23/16 passage, but this particular 6/4 cut bangs and soothes pretty hard. The guitar passage on here does such a fantastic job at ushering those hard-hitting and calming qualities without ever losing its balance. However, some of that success has to do with the simple yet very effective songwriting and complimentary lyrics. The production on does this track tons of favors by making all the instruments sound very sharp and crisp throughout. I also enjoy its centralization of the drumming near the end of the track. It's focused in such a way as to where you start to imagine the drummer's motions through the sequence, but not in a way to take you out of the track's atmosphere.
.​.​.​You Are Mostly Nowhere

8. “By Jaw and Fang” - More 6/4 obsession coming right up. “By Jaw and Fang” is a kick-ass metalcore piece that is a superb showcase of a performance from the rhythm section. Both the bassist and drummer bring tons of flavor to the backing of the track while they are also able to show off their skills a little bit. After the intro, most of the track is pretty fast-paced and all instruments do plenty to make it an interesting listen. I personally dig the mundane-sounding strumming section near the end as I can't think of another band that's done that concept in a more interesting or cooler way. All in all, this is a mature, big-boy jam that you should give yourself a few neck cricks from headbanging to.
The Dusk in Us

7. “Eye of the Quarrel” - Converge once again manages to make chaos beautiful even after decades worth of discography. This thrashy, kick-in-the-teeth number packs mountains worth of intensity in a short and sweet 2 minute, 15-second runtime. All members truly shine here and absolutely no one holds back their efforts. Both Kurt Ballou and Jacob Bannon display their experience in the best ways possible through their powerful performances. It would be a crime to not also mention Ben Koller's insanely frantic drum playing. It's quite a crazy illustration of the story that Bannon tells on here, but that's what Converge has always been about, right?
Predator Reign

6. “The Savage Covenant” - The debate has gone on for years: Are death metal and black metal supposed to be recorded in low quality as their pioneers were or are they meant to completely clean up? I personally don't care as long as the production choices fit the songwriting well. That's the case with this homemade-sounding cut from Degial's latest record. None of the instruments, particularly the drums, are refined to the point of losing any raw intensity. There's no need to try to force any clam or emotional moments on here, either. It's all just good old-fashioned death metal with magnificent guitar work. The lyrics don't wuss out either as the singer growls about “vulturous deaths” and “extermination commands”.
25King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

5. “The Fourth Color” - I still, to this day, haven't given Gumboot Soup a listen yet, but “The Fourth Color” from Polygondwanaland is one of the band's best releases from 2017. The entire song is completely mesmerizing and works amazingly as a closer to its record. I like how everything is made to sounds like an 80's video game here from the SFX-sounding snare hits and guitar playing. I think this adds yet another intriguing aspect about this band's diversity and how their production choices can bring out a great variety of atmospheres and references despite being fairly unclean in their recording. It's the sound of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at their very best.
24James Holden and The Animal Spirits
The Animal Spirits

4. “Thunder Moon Gathering” - I can safely come to the conclusion that this record was like a giant electronic jazz campfire song. This is the time when all the campers go out at midnight and rave under a full moon, probably under influence of drugs, but no one cares since it's a camping trip. The balance of the jazz and electronic melodies is flawless and they bleed together without any questionable performances. Excellent grooves are riddled all over this song and it displays the absolute best aspects of the record's sound. This isn't technically the centerpiece of the album because it's track number 6/9, but its placement is perfect because it expands on the established formula of the songs before it while hosting an atmosphere that continues those on the previous tracks.
23Charlotte Gainsbourg

3. “Les Oxalis”: Even though it's almost an eight-minute-long track, it opens like a simple indie disco pop tune. The truth is that there's way more to unpack here than you would expect. We should break down the “tune” itself, first, which has a “night in the city” sound to it. I imagine myself with this track at a 90's burlesque show in the middle of New York, and it's excellent. The piano melody on here goes in and it hardly stops, Charlotte Gainsbourg's vocals are great, and the 80's pop percussion addition made the retro vibe that much more fulfilling. Gainsbourg's performance on the hook is magnificent and she makes sure those French-spoken lines stick your head. We come to a close at the five-and-a-half minute mark – or so we thought. A cute spoken word section with a woman and child starts to play and the child's adorably flawed ABC song is sampled over a dream pop-like ballad melody. Considering the “Les Oxalis” is a closer,
22Charlotte Gainsbourg

this is a great way to close out both the song and the album. Here's a question I bet you'll ask: Why is this section included? It obviously has to parallel with the song's lyrics as a whole, so let's crack open the translations real quick... and it ends up being about Gainsbourg's visits to her sister's grave. Well, my bad for thinking imagining the nightclub features, but as Gainsbourg herself said, “it totally made sense”. I think it showcases her ability to be over her death and the memoriam at the end adds emotion to the lyrics by not making the contrast distractingly stark. It's just an awesome, awesome track.

2. “The Gate”: Despite my mixed opinion on Utopia and how hit-and-miss I thought it was, I'm still very intrigued to check out the rest of Bjork's discography. I realize there's likely a vast difference from the rest of her work to this release, but I can easily see with this album why she has gotten mountains of praise over the years. Two particular pieces I have to mention are the title track and “The Gate”, but while the flute playing and nature sounds of the former are joys to listen to, I think the latter is where Bjork takes her experimental music and tries to expand it into transcendentalism. This isn't done in an irritatingly pretentious way, however, as Bjork knows how to genuinely share her feelings with the listener. It's just shared in a bizarrely cosmic and seductive manner. I love all of Bjork's subtleties on here, too, like her “r” rolling, the “my silhouette is oval” line (it's referencing exactly what you think it is), and the constant change in line timing

that slips under those sucked into her atmosphere. Not that this advances the quality of the song any, but Bjork's music videos are always superbly made, and this one was definitely no exception. I know many people overrate several pop pieces as “those of the future” and what not, but I feel that this case can be accurately argued with this track even with Bjork's already outstanding status.
.​.​.​You Are Mostly Nowhere

1. “When Ocean Meets Sky: Cutting in a Corner's Circle”: The three Farias's known as Name have created a rare dilemma here. This is the one song on the album with the most post-metal influence in their primarily metalcore category and it actually becomes not only their best song but one to note for the entire year. I seriously can't name many artists who take a one-track risk that both completely pays off and opens up whole new possibilities for a band's direction. On the compositional side of things, all the performances here are absolutely insane. Wes, the vocalist, steps up by miles with his showing, Jeremy, the bassist, is at the top of his game, and Armando, the drummer, pulls off some of the most incredible drum playing of 2017. Armando utilizes so many styles and rhythmic techniques here between several paradiddles, a rimshot section, blazing fast blast beats, and the playing on the climax. It's amazing at being both atmospheric and relentlessly heavy during the first half,
.​.​.​You Are Mostly Nowhere

mixing those post-metal and metalcore genres with full awareness of both genres' characteristics. The second half buildup is just the right length going into the climax and both are strikingly satisfying. It just goes to show how underground music can totally defy norms even with a fairly inexperienced catalogue (this song was from their first album in seven years and only their second release) and how bands can take control of a year that's somewhat weak in metal.
By Request Only

-- November's Best Albums --
Predator Reign

10. 7/10: Ah, good ole' fashioned death metal, hyperblast and blast beat pound. Relentless, brutal, and fast, Degial takes the opportunity to show off their songwriting capabilities through coming up with really creative riffs and instrument playing. “The Savage Covenant” does kinda rule above all other songs in this aspect, but everyone does a well-enough job to maintain the fun in further replays, especially on the last two tracks. It's bloody fun, that's for sure.
15Count to Altek
She Will Fly With You Forever

9. 7/10: At this point, I'm starting to get the formula behind Count to Altek, King Green, and what not by listening to so much of their work, but I'm somehow still never bored when listening to them. All of the records I've heard so far by them have taken extremely interesting angles on their experimental jazz style despite taking part in it for numerous albums. She Will Fly With You Forever is no exception to this, now boasting an electronic ambiance that amplifies the beauty shown in the title and cover. The production maybe is the same and the totally erratic drum playing is still here, but this succeeds in sounding like an entirely new album. I'm especially a sucker for the jazz-centric tracks like “You Hold Every Tomorrow” or “The Lyre Placed Among the Stars”, but there now seems to be a release for everyone by these guys. This may not be my favorite one from them, but I can guarantee you that I appreciate all that these guys have put out recently.
14Merkabah (PL)
Million Miles

8. 7/10: The #8 spot is reserved once again to a band that should've made a better record than they did. The concept sounded godlike; a jazz-post rock record mixed with prog rock and avant-garde elements? Yes, please! The problem ended up being indulgence; there happened to be too much of a good thing. That good thing got excruciatingly tedious throughout the first half of the record. It was a troubling sign to find out that “Solar Surfer”, the opener, was gonna be much better than the upcoming songs, even with the fantastic bass playing in “Lion's Throat”. Then come the last three songs to save the album from the depths of mediocrity. “Pitchblende” brings a nice changeup with a funky attitude to the Million Miles jazz structure, “Glaucous Gardens” ends up being my favorite song off the album for having a believable compositional atmosphere with extremely intriguing instrumental passages, and the giant buildup known as “Ex-Imperial”.
13Merkabah (PL)
Million Miles

Despite my gripes with this, Merkabah shows amazing potential with the great parts of this record and I wouldn't be surprised if they completely blew me away the next time.

7. 7/10: If you ever ask for advice or suggestions on how to make a comeback album after 20+ years in hiatus, these guys might give you a solid answer. Granted, this definitely isn't the most distinctive album in the world or anything of the like as even the lyrics seem to just be about a complicated relationship. Quicksand capitalizes on this fact by taking their 90's identity and blending it with modern rock structures and production. What you have is a great listen that's reserved and dense exactly when it needs to be. Great choruses and melodies are also scattered throughout the project with some of the best being in the three-song stretch between “Cosmonauts”, the title track, and “Hyperion”. I haven't done too much research on the thoughts of this by fans of the 90's Quicksand. From what I can tell, they're pretty positive about this and I'm positive about it so we're all declaring positivity. Yay.
11Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Soul Of A Woman

6. 7.5/10: Even I feel grateful when posthumous releases get the respectful developments they deserve. This particular frontwoman is someone I'm unfamiliar with, but some history on her shows her impressive significance in the soul scene. That significance, fortunately, carries itself into this record and into some absolutely grand performances on tracks like “Matter of Time” and “Girl! (You've Got to Forgive Him)”. A really cool part of this album is the way that the instrumental variation is spread. I swear that's there's at least unique instrument on every track ranging from congas, steel drums, organs, and violins. I'm also digging Mrs. Jones's attitude on some of these tracks like “Rumors” and “These Tears (No Longer For You)”. This might be Sharon Jones's final release, and I'd be satisfied with this ending, even with the little experience I have with her past music. Rest in peace and may your soul and soul music live on for generations to come.
10King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

5. 7.5/10: Wow. Four albums in 2017 and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Co. happen to release their best album this year. I'm as surprised reading that as you are, but KG/LW have been doing these rapid-fire releases for long enough that it's pretty logical to find reason in their works' quality. Polygondwanaland, however, is a bit of an odd one in the crew's discography. There's definitely a couple of surefire concepts that include self-references and ancient geography, but they replaced the complex sound concepts with KG/LWisms. Perhaps this proves evidence that King Gizzard doesn't have to force themselves faithful to a concept to make an album good. Their identity's now stable enough to make a great record like this. Almost child-like music accompanies the fantastical lyrics with vast varieties. Examples can be found with the flute in “Loyalty” and the extra percussion on “Searching...” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have one more album this year
9King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

to uncover in a staggering time of one month. I'm excited to see if they continue to hold up.
The Dusk in Us

4. 7.5/10: Oh look! A new Converge album! I was coincidentally discussing these guys in my Amenra write-up, but since they're now on the scaffold, let's talk about some things with this album. If you see my ratings for Converge's most recent releases, you'll see that my score for each coming album since Axe to Fall has incrementally dropped. That doesn't really make me worried for Converge's future or anything, but I am seeing where some of that drop is coming from. More and more of Converge's experimentation, in harsh terms, is starting to “fail me” either in boredom or consistency issues. What Converge hasn't lost an ounce of, however, is themselves. Converge still brings their punkish metalcore in full on this record. The aforementioned “Eye of the Quarrel” and the dizzying “I Can Tell You About Pain” are the dazzling highlights of this formula. Splitting the formula occasionally are the patient, long-winded tracks like the awesome title track
The Dusk in Us

and the underrated “Thousands of Miles Between Us”. This record just further seals Converge as a revolutionary figure in metalcore, and they will continue to do so until Jacob Bannon finally kills his vocal cords. I'm getting kinda worried about that dude.

3. 8/10: META may be one of my favorite album titles of the year, and I'll explain why. So this post-metal album is not “meta” at all. In fact, it's almost as far from “meta” as a band can possibly get. Take the typical post “meta”l band that have clearly let themselves approach the likes of ISIS, Neurosis, and other pioneers a bit too closely. One'll listen to it and it's probably competent post-metal, but the listener will ask “Where's the uniquity? Where's the replay value?” These relevant questions can be effectively answered by a band like YLVA, one that fuses their sound with so many influences that it creates the album's direction. The first couple tracks actually resemble the compositional and production ideals of last month's Dreadnought. This was when I realized how great this muffled, sorta lo-fi production can sound on certain acts, but that's a conversation for an entirely different day. The production almost seems to improve throughout the record,

but taking place of that are long and extremely patient sequences. This is particularly the case for the middle of the album where YLVA swandives into some Swans-like territory, and it brings a modern edge to the beloved sludge metal aspects of bands like the previously mentioned ISIS and Neurosis. The final track, “Widowed” brings YLVA back full circle to its beginning, familiarizing themselves with the sound of the first couple of songs. Despite its occasional flaws, the way this band writes their music and album direction is unlike anything I've seen before, and it's a neat record to check out because I haven't heard that much press on them.
.​.​.​You Are Mostly Nowhere

2. 8/10: Ok, it's obviously been a really good month for the metal world, but now I would like to talk about something I would call “hardcore metalcore”. I'm not saying that Name's genre is hardcore with that description, but it's used in the context of being so damn heavy and tantalizing. The harsh vocals, excellent drum playing, and magnificently-produced guitar give tons of advantages to the already impressive compositional choices. …You Are Mostly Nowhere acts an experience of growing as it goes from the directionless and uncertain “Adsum...” to the fully realized “Bailey Cedric...” In that journey Name discovers intriguing metalcore fusions of genres like thrash, jazz, and post-metal, just to name the most noticeable. This ride is just as satisfying as it is quality assuring. All songs, mainly the two previous cuts, are indulgences for jamming on. Much like YLVA, this group has gotten little buzz since their release, so I assure you that expanding your
.​.​.​You Are Mostly Nowhere

November metal experience with this album is seriously worth your time.
2James Holden and The Animal Spirits
The Animal Spirits

1. 8.5/10: What a warm welcome to the growing world of James Holden. As an unassuming guest to this album, I can confidently say that my stay satisfied me to the point of multiple returns. Seriously though, this record is absolutely awesome by another rather unknown musical mastermind. This is electro jazz at some its finest, complimenting simple melodies with subtly moving instrumental performances and beyond outstanding production design. The album also benefits from several psychedelic touches here and there, specifically in “Pass Through the Fire”, “The Beginning & the End of the World”, and the title track. Some songs calm you from the wonkiness of the album, though, mainly referring to “Each Moment Like the First” and the first half of the title track. Since I evidently adore this album, now I can consider myself an animal spirit. Wait a minute...that just reminded me of the “What animal are you?” trend quiz thingy. I guess I'd be a dolphin,
1James Holden and The Animal Spirits
The Animal Spirits

and I'm sure James Holden would approve of my decision.
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