dynamic range police

Reviews 37
Approval 97%

Soundoffs 44
News Articles 59
Band Edits + Tags 450
Album Edits 1,691

Album Ratings 926
Objectivity 86%

Last Active 12-22-22 5:40 pm
Joined 04-05-14

Review Comments 9,841

01.15.24 Sab's nice 2023 list 01.01.23 Sab's cozy 2022 list
12.27.21 Sab's smol 2021 list 12.31.20 Sab's tiny 2020 list
10.22.20 Italy under curfew01.06.20 Sab's mini 2019 list
12.26.18 Sab's slim 2018 list12.31.17 Sab's fast 2017 list
08.31.17 Mountain and sea // digs of old and new01.04.17 Sab's cute 2016 list
01.01.16 Sab's lazy 2015 list07.04.15 Toto last night

Sab's nice 2023 list

Here we are again. This year I decided to give time only to what I *really* wanted to hear, not based on reputation. I also realized that I'd rather give a shot to the new super modest Yes album instead of spending time in trying to digest many hyped extreme metal releases that went in one ear and out of the other 0.5 seconds after I stopped listening. On top of that, I slowed down a lot near the end of the year -which should have been the time for a final "sprint" instead- so I ended up not checking some stuff that I wanted to check (sorry yeule, Afterbirth... D:). Anyway for every album I will link one song that is a favorite of mine and/or a good introduction. The albums early on labeled as shoutouts are, indeed, just shoutouts and they have not been digested or properly heard in full.
Qui noi cadiamo verso il fondo gelido

---Just a shoutout---

// post-industrial, ritual ambient

// Adding this right at the start of the list because I never listened to it, but I bought an unexpected CD copy on Jan 4th 2024 so hey why not! I loved the last studio album.

99Maisie Peters
The Good Witch

---Just a shoutout---

// pop

// Sometimes you find a pop song that makes you want to like its album, but it turns out it's harder said than done. That's what happened here, and the song is "Coming of Age". It's got other stuff I can dig ("Run" bangs), but I feel baited.

Machine Destroy

---Just a shoutout---

// djent, nu-metal?

// Vocals sound like Jonathan Davis, except when the singer reaches for a higher register. That, coupled with the mechanical and atmospheric-ish sound, makes this closer to an hypotetical Korn album than I'd expected. Some weird guitar solos too. Lyrics are probably best ignored, but this is fun enough.


---Just a shoutout---

// doom metal, stoner, gothic-ish(?)

// It's a very simple album, pretty much just slow riffs forever. However it is pretty serviceable because it combines the Black Sabbath heritage with gothic-flavored clean vocals and prominent bass guitar, all with a low budget production that I can appreciate.

96Catacomb (France)
When the Stars are Right

---Just a shoutout---

// death metal

// Hey! The same Catacomb of 1993's cult EP In the Maze of Kadath. Surely deserves a shoutout for being their first LP ever, even if I'm honestly not too moved by it (dare I say that thing: "it doesn't have the same magic anymore").

95Skeletal Family
Light From the Dark

---Just a shoutout---

// goth rock (ish?)

// Cool to have them back! 1985's Futile Combat remains a sweet Siouxie-esque album to this day. This new one is an enjoyable listen, but I didn't hear all of it because it felt a bit toothless, a bit too easy.

94Il Cerchio d'Oro
Pangea e Le Tre Lune

---Just a shoutout---

// prog rock

// This doesn't move me too much but I stuck around because of the band's history. They formed in the 70s but never managed to get a record deal, thus disbanding. Somehow, Il cerchio d'oro returned. This is now their fourth album published during this second life. It's not bad, just a bit of a chilled out easy listen even in its more complex moments. Polite is a good word for this one.

93The Rolling Stones
Hackney Diamonds

---Just a shoutout---

// pop rock, blues rock

// Come on, they deserve a shoutout. "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" would be a nice enough swansong if I hadn't heard that they may have another album in the makings.

92Thomas Bangalter

---Just a shoutout---

// modern classical, ballet

// I wasn't invested enough to hear the full thing, but it didn't leave a bad impression on me. I feel the negative review by The Arts Desk mirrored my uncultured swine thoughts, which basically says that Bangalter imitated 19th century ballets very well but lost his own voice in the process. However that review also noted how certain elements do feel modern, like the use of repetition in a minimalism way, which I was glad I was not making up lmao. So let's say I agree with the words by The Arts Desk, but at the same time I very much enjoyed what I heard. A clear highlight would be movement five "Les Amazones", in which I hear a clear spark of Baltager's ex-Daft Punk creativity with the heavy repetition embellished by counterpoints. Movement six "L'arrivée d'Alexandre" also left an impression, not so much at the start but rather in its last third when it finally builds some tension.

91Le Orme
...and Friends

---Just a shoutout---

// prog rock (core band doesn't have an electric guitar player!)

// Whew! Seems to be a 27-track gran finale for the historic prog band founded in 1966, featuring collaborations from various members and friends indeed. I will be honest I didn't manage to get to the whole 2+ hours thing, but this deserves a spot in the list in case I never get the chance of featuring a new studio album from them. Even if the songs I've heard feel safe compared to the classics, but that's not unexpected given the year. Special mention for the long "Prog Garden Medley" featuring the iconic neapolitan prog band Osanna.

90Il Balletto di Bronzo

---Just a shoutout---

// prog rock, zehul

// ...and let me add another surprise for Italian prog: 2023 sees the release of the first true BDB album, with full participation of founder Gianni Leone, since the 1972 classic Ys. It's got a dark zehul-flavored sound and I will have to return to it sooner or later. This one most likely deserved to be an actual entry!

89Ryuichi Sakamoto

---Just a shoutout---

// ambient, modern classical

// RIP.


---Just a shoutout---

// visual kei, alt/art/industrial idk rock

// Another RIP: obligatory shoutout due to Atsushi Sakurai's passing. The sprawling discography ends with an album that seems pretty promising. I will for sure come around to it properly, sooner or later.

87Regal Lily

// j-rock

// After meeting them with 2020's cool bedtime story, Regal Lily have become a reliable provider. However I have to be honest, I had hoped they'd blossom into something shoegazier and quirkier but they seem to have settled into being just nice j-rock with (sometimes) a touch of added distortion. Perhaps I believed too much in the bookend songs of the debut LP?


// dancefloor d'n'b, alt metal

// A pretty light EP, even lighter than the previous one in my opinion. "Silent Spinner" is probably the most interesting with the poppy industrialy sound, but "Colourfast" is the banger for me. Also cute how they made a spiritual sequel to "Self vs Self" (without touching the og tho).

85Serpent's Isle
Old Saltwater Passages

// dungeon synth

// Serpent's Isle is always reliable to provide oceanic melancholic dungeon synth to do anything to. There's also another publication from 2023, though I like this one a bit more.

84Jethro Tull

// folky prog rock, RockFlute

// There are much worse ways to add more albums to such a long discography. It's proggy, it has audible rock guitar presence, it's got the Flute. Very minor album, but perfectly serviceable. And it's not like Anderson could magically sing like his young self, which no doubt limits his creativity.

Mirror to the Sky

// prog rock

// The title track is by far the best Davison song so far, and I really like the intro/outro parts of "Luminosity". "All Connected" is also fairly evocative of the whole stargazingy feel that actually doesn't stop just at the artwork. This atmosphere is surely the album's strength, because the easy listening feel somehow lends itself rather well for some space-ish coziness. Howe's sustained syle of guitarwork fits the imagery well, see the last couple minutes of "Luminosity". The use of strings too. Not that bad of an album imo, even though Davison's vocals can get pretty tough to bear.


// dm, death doom

// It's just 28 mins, if you have any interest in the genre you can find the time for a peek.

81In Flames

// melodeath, alt metal

// Honestly? Not every clean chorus hits the mark and the more sadboi vocals aren't the best, but all in all I don't mind this album. You likely won't enjoy it much if you hate modern In Flames, but they definitely tried a bit harder for this one. Favorite song is probably "The Great Deceiver", with a nicely tight and lively harsh vox chorus. Some ear candy solos and fun drum parts peppered through.


// heavy metal

// Solid, Enforcer being Enforcer. Very catchy choruses, an AOR smell here and there.

79Klo Pelgag
Sieste Sur L'oreille Droite

// chamber folk, chanson

// She's back with this short EP plus a new single (dropped on November 2nd), so I suppose there's going to be an LP soon. This one is a cute, very short, very understated, appetizer.

78Steve Lukather

// AOR

// I was very interested in this being treated as a bridge (hence the name) between Toto and Lukather's solo albums. The Bandcamp page treats it as the closest thing we could get to a new Toto album (after the Susan Porcaro lawsuit kinda killed the band), given the presence of Toto members and friends including David Paich, Joseph Williams and Simon Phillips. Unfortunately I don't feel that too much in practice! The album/singles artworks made it seem more interesting than the final result, which sounds like Lukather doing his bluesy hard rock thing without much fanfare. Actually there's a strangely low presence of instrumental goodness other than the occasional short guitar solo. Weird! I'm writing this overly harsh, but as a huge Toto fan I can't help but find it underwhelming. It feels like the... least ambitious record he has ever done?

Metafyzika barbarstva

// pagan black metal

// Malokarpatan side-project. I still hum certain folky melodies from the debut album, so I had to check this new EP. This has a more cavernous sound but without losing the evocative synths/folkiness. The midde track is dungeon synth.


// halloween prog rock

// And here I thought they were long done! Malombra is a prog rock band, sure, but as implied (Malombra is a 1881 gothic Italian novel, the artwork here recalling one of its movie adaptations) they also have a gothy and doomy touch here and there. I would recommend the debut album instead, but T.R.E.S. can count on matured musicianship/production that might make it more accessible compared to the rougher beginnings (even if the vocals here don't sound like Robert Smith anymore, which was definitely a charming part of the sound haha).

75The Beatles
Abbey Road

[entry for the new song "Now and Then"]

// baroque pop

// Hey this is pretty okay! I like the ride-happy drums + strings combo. Kind of sounds like a song they could have written had they randomly reformed in the 90s. Even the artwork looks like a random minor album lol, the one that would've include "Free as a Bird" too. Honestly all in all a pleasant surprise for me.


// gothic rock, darkwave

// Nick and Greg go back to middle era Paradise Lost! I waited for this. Unfortunately I don't think this touches any of the electronic-adjacent PL albums in general ('97-'02) in quality. It's enjoyable, but it doesn't possess neither strong songwriting nor strong production (it's so dry!), which are both extremely important for a project like this, I'd say. I'm afraid it'll remain just as a cute novelty with some cute highlights.

73Pat Metheny
Dream Box

// post-bop, chamber jazz

// After 2020's late-classic tour de force From This Place (his modern classic?!) and 2021's suites for classical guitar Road to the Sun, Pat's new 2023 offering is much less ambitious but still worthwile as always. It's an extremely intimate record consisting of tender solo tracks, with almost only his guitar. Perhaps not made for a full active listen as it's more than one hour long, but it's a great companion as background/commuting music. Especially on rainy days.


// screamo, mathcore

// There's only one problem that stops from loving Storm{O} (or just Stormo now, I guess), and it's how the vocals often feel like the singer is singing in slow-motion even if the instruments are going hard. Anyway I'd be lying if I said this didn't rock.


// metalcore, nu-metal

// "This album is a nostalgic tribute to growing up in the 90's with nu-metal as the first genre I latched on to, moved away from for nearly 20 years, and then came back to with more appreciation and love for the genre than I did as a kid. A lot of different sounds from the genre shape this album along with influences from other heavy music like industrial metal, grind, and metallic hardcore." It feels a bit heavy to digest for being less than 40 minutes long, but it rocks. Love the gritty harsh vocals, a bit of an old Mastodon feel to them. Also, it's name-your-price:


// stoner metal

// Stoner metal albums are a dime a dozen, but this one is worth including I think. Just solid.

69Our Throne
Withered And Forgotten

// atmospheric black metal

// A new atmo bm duo featuring An Autumn for Crippled Children's singer/guitarist. It's much closer to actual bm compared to AAFCC's later output. Not essential, but worth spinning!

68Coil Cloud
Towers of the Empty Orbits

// blackgaze

// And this is another side-project of AAFCC's "M" like the entry before, but this time it's a solo project and the spiritual sequel of his prior project called Cold Body Radiation. Again it's not terribly essential, but it has less emphasis on the guitars thus letting the rest speak up more. This makes it a pretty ethereal synthy post-y listen. The AAFCC core post-punky post-rocky blackgaze roots are the same, but the shade is worth a spin.


// thrash metal

// It's Overkill. It thrashes, it's dynamic enough, it's solid, D D Verni's bass rumbles, Bobby Ellsworth does the classic Udo vocals flawlessly as if he wasn't 64. Some tasty guitar riffs/solos too. That part in "Twist of the Wick" with church choir and tolling bell leading up to a guitar solo is happiness itself.

66Kalia Vandever
We Fell In Turn

// basically ambient...

// ...made with trombone! Droney music to get relaxed by/to.

65Sleepwalker (JPN)

// avant-metal garbage...

// ... that pleasingly scratches my head like a scalp massager tool in the hands of a manic man. The normal-er track 2 is strangely alluring too.


// hardcore - heavy metal - blackened thingy

// I wasn't sure about giving this a shot but that artwork was calling me hard. Honestly? As soon as that melodic bass started playing in the first song I was glad to have pressed play. They sound they carved for themselves is a little "occasional" in the sense that it is neither fully fun nor fully heavy ("Fedrekult" is your go-to if you want to start with the bm side), but it can work.

The Future Never Waits

// space rock, space ambienty

// Pleasantly surprised by this, I didn't think I'd listen to the whole thing. It spends a lot of time in evoking a spacey atmosphere, making for a product of a higher level than what the artwork may lead you to believe. The opening titletrack, 10+ minutes long, is basically full ambient! And it all flows nicely throughout. Chapeau, such a long-standing band. Dave Brock is a hero.

62An Autumn For Crippled Children

// blackgaze with a post-punky touch

// My favorite band in blackgaze has been having difficulties lately, namely with their 2020, 2021 and 2023 albums. I have a theory that they used a lot of creative juice for the excellent The Light of September and now they've been a bit unsure about how/if to move forward. And yet as soon as I press play I'm greeted by the post-punky bounciness and synths of "Missed" and I'm right at home. It's a pretty good album really, just perhaps their single least unique work ever (the production doens't help). The 2021 one at least had a winter atmosphere to make it more unique whereas this one doesn't have a particular identity. Still, it's an AAFCC album meaning it's good stuff.
I invite you to check the two side-projects that debuted this year as they're both stronger to me: Our Throne and Coil Cloud (the latter being a reset/reboot of Cold Body Radiation).


// midwest emo, math rock, screamo

// Cute! Just a short EP for the big price of 1€:

60Soft Machine
Other Doors

// rym overlords say jazz-rock

// I pressed play out of curiosity, to see how SM are holding up. It's pretty nice! Pleasant, hazy, brainy. It sounds subdued, but I think it's gotten a little too cold of a reception.

Live: The Eastern Forces of Evil 2022

// sigh's weird black metal

// This live sound isn't that flattering for Sigh's studio material, and the execution of some songs in general is way less charming than the originals ("Shingontachikawa" is pretty obvious, no?), but having the band hammer down song after song with this more down to Earth feel isn't a bad experience at all. "The Soul Grave" rocks hard here.

58Jon Hassell
The Living City

// tribal ambient, avant-garde jazz

// Oh man, I'm still bummed by Hassell passing because I loved his 2018 work Listening to Pictures. 2023 marked the release of a couple of archival works, of which The Living City is the one I chose to explore better. As per Bandcamp: "The Living City captures the Jon Hassell Group in September 1989 performing as part of an audio-visual installation inside the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York City, with Brian Eno mixing the band live. Eno had designed an audio-visual installation in the 10-story glass-vaulted pavilion, inspired by the hunting, ceremony, animals, and weather sounds of the Ba-Ya-Ka pygmy tribe from Cameroon gathered by Louis Sarno." All in all it seems to me a pretty minor release, but Hassell is always a pleasure. In this album's case, because of the underlying funkiness that drives the music.


// indietronica, microhouse

// Very breezy and lowkey. Can get groovy ("Is That How You Feel It"). Great mixing and subtly memorable synths make it a respectable time. The linked song "Where It All Leads" has my favorite melody, but I also want to mention "I Saw You" for its use of a catchy organic drumbeat.

56Poison Ruin

// punk

// You ever wanted a punk album with a few dungeon synth bits? It's pretty fun. Medieval punk. The production is dirty but every instrument cuts through so I find it a fun dirty garage stylistic choice. I just hope the sound gets fleshed out more in future releases because it really feels like a starting point (dungeon synth arguably underused; the closer is nice but not very connected with the rest; things like this).

Cerebral Circus

// hardcore punk

// This has a primary tag of hardcore punk, but the metal influence and constantly harsh vocals make me think of this as more of a, idk, metalcore affair? Maybe my ideas of punk are simply very old, admittedly. Anyway it's rocking.

54Mort Garson
Journey to the Moon and Beyond

// moogsploitation (what are you guys doing to your moog), prog electronic, soundtrack

// An archival release gifting us more stuff from the man behind Mother Earth's Plantasia. Some of the comfiest music you've likely heard in 2023, with that hint of cosmic mystery as seasoning. It includes the soundtrack to the live broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing (which was presumed lost). As the Bandcamp page says: "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Moogkind". More information:

Determined To Strike

// avant-garde death metal with free jazz (horns included)

// Props for trying to have jazz fusion and free jazz integrated in a way that sounds genuine and not just slapped on for rigid sections. This is admittedly pretty brutal (unless it crosses your line into clown music lol which I can totally see happen). However I'm not too into the final product. I can't tell yet if it's the good kind of messy (aka adjustable with future relistens) or the... just messy kind of messy. Link below is the closer "Disturbing the Advances" because it felt like the most succesfull concoction in the album (although the guitars are strangely soft in that one). Final position in the list will basically be decided on a whim lol.

52Carbon Based Lifeforms

// psybient, space ambient

// Need some background or emotional support music? This is a great one to try out. A spacey chill out session.

51Aleph (MN)

// future garage?

// I'll leave you with the rym tags for this one, because there seem to be a lot of little influences that make it a nicely varied listen even if the main rainy bassy sound stays coherent. Elements of ambient, dubstep, d'n'b, idm... what I know is that it goes down like a glass of water and it leaves me thirsty enough for another sip. I'm tempted to link you the closer, even if it doesn't exactly represent the album.

50Kara Jackson
Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love?

// singer-songwriter

// Sometimes a great cover is all I need to give a shot to something I wouldn't usually check out, and I'm glad I did because this is really cool. I love the warmth of her timbre and the songs are much richer than I expcted. The last couple of minutes of "Dickhead Blues" with the vocal harmonies, strings and xylophone was totally unexpected. A certain psychedelic undercurrent surfaces here and there ("Therapy"). Pretty beautiful and larger than I imagined ("Free").

Clouds of Confusion

// melodic death metal

// This cult band from the Netherlands is back with a new, solid, album. Meaty mdm with a symphonic flavour.

Intra Apogeum

// coldwave, synthpop

// If I'm fully honest, I'm afraid I loved the artwork more than the music. However, if you need a coldwave/synthpop fix do consider this one. I'm vibing. The drum machine sounds maybe a bit cheap-ish in places, but the synths in contrast sound nicely natural and at times remind me of early Depeche Mode. "Elementy Umysłu" is a good example for the synths. The bass ("Tu i Teraz"!) and guitar act like a glue throughout the album too. I also appreciated Patrycja Proniewska's vocals (lyrics are in Polish).
Spinning this to finish the list, I'm realizing that the album actually picks up steam throughout making it an interesting grower, so I'll gift a few spots for that. And the bass! It's a good time.

47Caterina Barbieri

// prog electronic, Berlin school, ambient

// Pure synth lines layered goodness, with nothing else around them. At first it may sound empty, and the randomly bombastic intro track may turn you off, but try to let it set itself. It keeps great company.

46Witch (ZMB)

// zamrock

// "Zamrock was a genre of Psychedelic Rock that existed in the 1970s in Zambia, mainly throughout the Copperbelt region." Well, turns out the genre is not completely dead yet. Witch formed in 1971, their last studio album was in 1984. Talk about a comeback! Zango is a good time, lively, funky, percussive, full of vocal hooks. Don't go in expecting noodly jammy psych at all, some songs dip into reggae and boogie. I'm new to zamrock but judging by the tags I suppose this album is on the easy side, considering other albums have tags like garage rock.

45Ascendant Vierge
Une nouvelle chance

// hard dance/trance with operatic female vocals

// The hardest band in the universe. Nah jk, but I have fond memories of a friend blasting the absurd banger "Petit Soldat" while driving through the Dolomiti mountains. So, I had to check a new album (and on Spotify its got a live version of "Petit Soldat" included)! Lo and behold, more bangers for me to slam my head into.

44At The Altar Of The Horned God
Heart of Silence

// ritual ambient black metal

// Bets a lot on creating an hypnotic ritualistic sound through rigid beats, and it employs a lot of clean vocals. It's not devoid of full-on black metal (see the t/t), but you'll be disappointed if that's what you want to hear. Personally I welcome the shot at this, even if I don't always love the results (for example I'm sure that the first song turned off a lot of listeners). "Guardian of the Threshold" is a great one on the ambient side, followed by the pure bm piece "Anointed With Fire". I will likely link the t/t below because of its more diverse nature.


// melodic death metal

// Never heard of this Swedish band; had to check because the artwork had the feeling of a semi-forgotten classic, but the year said 2023. Well I had fun! Blackened feel, synthy shymphonicy backbone, a few clean vocals parts, a few catchy solos. Doesn't hurt to give this a shot.


// emoviolence, grindcore

// 14 songs in 14 minutes, crazy banshee vocals and raw sound.

41Tomb Mold
The Enduring Spirit

// prog death metal

// This album has gathered some heated hate for some reason, but I don't really see why. I mean, I do "see" it: noodly ass salads with some shameless influence like the Cynic-like soft fusion bits in "Will of Whispers"; what I don't see is how could any dm-head not find it fun! The vocals are great and the cavernous dm sound in general is still there, plus the production is beefy while still sounding pretty organic. It's a pretty juicy package for me. Granted a lot of it didn't stick in my mind very precisely but a lot of praised dm doesn't either, so.

40Kaizo Slumber
How Are We Feeling Today?

// digital hardcore, industrial hardcore, gabber...

// I guess my dude found new drugs after the previous album, because this one makes the jump from hardcore breaks to digital hardcore. Like headbutting a wall, but fun. There's literal speedcore! "Kaizo Blunder" could be a great point of entry for the album with its catchy vocals.

39Kaizo Slumber
Kaizo Slumber Found Dead in Miami

// digital hardcore, nu-metal

// and you know what? Not only Kaizo Slumber went digital harcore, but there's also these EP that dips into... nu-metal! I'll put it in this spot of the list for handiness, but I prefer the other longer release. Still, I'm loving this artist.

38Depeche Mode
Memento Mori

// dark synthpop

// Argh, you'd think by now DM albums would stop being brickwalled but sadly it's not the case. I would have listened to this a lot more if it didn't sound so tiresome. Anyway, onto the music. Thankfully, the album itself is pretty good! "Ghosts Again" is a great single, catchy and genuinely emotional I'd say, and it was followed by the industrial dirge of "My Cosmos Is Mine" which was also promising. Well, the rest offers cool stuff too: "People Are Good" mixes a very Kraftwerky sound and a downcast chorus with delicious effect, while "Never Let Me Go" has goth rocky guitar but also an uplifting vocal bridge. "Soul With Me" is a great death-themed Gore song. Still overall I feel this album is a little too lethargic ("My Favourite Stranger" feels weirdly slowed down to me, why!) and lacking melodies, coming from a band that used to be masters at synthpop composition. But I'm being harsh because I adore this band.

Smiling Pools

// guitarless post-punk, art punk

// This is a three-piece band with just drums, bass and violin! And everybody sings, blending both male and female vocals. It kind of feels like a personal reimagination of the dreariness of early Cure in something very different. It's a rather chill record on the surface, at least in the less tense songs, but the pointy violin (but also love the melodic break in "Failing") and alienating effects keep it nicely weird in a... cute way? Furthermore it sounds quite great, especially that thick bass guitar. The sound it creates by being rooted in just drums and bass at its core is addicting. Seems to be getting really sleeped on!

Sky Void of Stars

// gothy alt metal

// It's like they went more radio rocky but also pulled a NITND throwback at the same. And it works! "Colossal Shade" and "Drab Moon" (the first chorus with just doom riff and synths is sooo good) definitely scratch an interesting itch. People often speak of comfort zone with late Katatonia (even TFoH somehow... ?), but I think they're actually alienated instead. Stuff like the handclaps(!) in "Opaline" is aggressively weird coming from Katatonia; this is surely some of their poppiest material to date. Like literal pop influence. Sadly the FFDP production does it no favors (ugh), but other than that I think this is neat. Some sweet and at times surprisingly long guitar solos add spice too. The TFoH-y "No Beacon to Illuminate Our Fall" ends the standard album on a strong note, even if it makes me wish it had more of that. Also the chorus of "Author" is sooo catchy!

35Minor Science
Absent Friends Vol. III

// ambient

// ooh this paints an interesting picture. It's "otherworldly" I guess, but there's also some kind of "dirt" underneath. Track "Dread the Evening" for example has this liminal pensive feel that should relax you and yet there's a certain tension in it, mostly notable in the buzzing sounds that creep up throughout. The next track "Sun Turn" keeps this and multiplies both aspects, with both a denser texture and more invasive disturbance. "The Dinas Walk" then offers a more active listening experience with keyboard, percussion and ear-catching bass. Very cool package. The artwork here is strangely fitting: a simplified alarm clock in a style that makes it almost abstract.

Due In Color

// breakbeat, atmospheric d'n'b, ambienty (downtempo?)

// Sometimes an album just declares right away that it's going to be great. "Jaim" opens the album with a slow ambienty number in which the drums appear and disappear throughout, sometimes for a little crash, other times to set a short beat. The drum sound is great, sounding like an actual drumkit; tracks like "Audieze" definitely have crossover appeal. I will say though, the length ends up diluting it a little. That, and the slower stuff in the middle ruins the momentum for me. Probably could've shaved a bit of runtime from most tracks? Most reach and surpass 5 minutes. Still, really cool album nonetheless.

33Homunculus Res
Ecco l'impero dei doppi sensi

// canterbury scene prog rock

// Nice, I was eager for a new album. I feel this one doesn't capture the comfy/hazy/twilighty sound as greatly as the previous album, and maybe the songs fluctuate more in quality, but it's still very much recommended. Jazzy, energetic but at the same time cozy-sounding.

32Packed Rich
Warp Fields

// wonky, atmospheric d'n'b, ambient

// Mang this just ~floats~ through and cleanses the ears. Textures are somehow both muted and warm, with crisp beats popping out of the more muted base. "Release", with its jazzy bass, was the moment I realized I was really liking this. It does sound spacey, but the contemplative kind.

Between Dread and Valor

// power metal

// At first this sounded like usual Galneryus fare of guitar hero (and keyboard hero) power metal. As self-referential as still welcomed, like they somehow always manage to be. I was ready to write it off for now, but then the pros started appearing. One thing in this album's favor is definitely how short it is for them, just around 41 minutes (what is this? an EP?). Another one is the catchiness of many keyboard parts/tones. The drumming also feels tastier than usual too in places, which makes sense since I hadn't heard this drummer yet. But the most welcomed thing of all is that they SLOW IT DOWN for a good deal of it, and I don't mean ballads! "Let Us Shine" for example is pretty much a heavy metal piece with catchy keyboards (and a damn sweet guitar solo). "With Pride" and "Bravehearts" are also notable for being more than just more lightning-fast power metal. Even the actual power ballad is nice!

30Tropical Fuck Storm
Submersive Behaviour

// experimental rock, art punk, psychedelic rock and other RYM tags

// One of my fav new bands strikes again as usual. Actually three songs out of five were already in last year's Moonburn EP (and they're still sweet!), but we do get ~23 minutes of new stuff. The star is obviously the 18-minute long cover of Jimi Hendrix's "1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" which has a bit of everything: usual TFS chaotic catchiness, instrumental noodling and abstract parts (also is that... fuckin Hatsune Miku vocaloid?). I feel both EPs(?) can coexist as different experiences.

29Paradise Lost
Icon 30

// gothic metal

// A fun experiment for a righteous cause (owning the songs). I'm putting it relatively high because it's still the mighty Icon. Icon on steroids, with shinier details, a professional drummer (not necessarily a win though? Like what happened to the intro of "Shallow Seasons"? It's not even doomy anymore!) and stuff like how the clean backing chorus of "Colossal Rains" now has a newfound presence. But I'm not putting it higher because I can't fully make up my mind up about it. Holmes tries his best vocally but the way his layers are mixed to beef him up is distracting. It sounds like a gang of people at times, lol. And well, it's all louder in general which comes at the cost of losing the original's warm production and gaining a pretty invasive modern drum sound instead.

Dove si muore davvero

// emo (emocore?)

// Quercia's second LP sees them refining and maturing their formula into a very enjoyable offering. Love the rattling bass like in "Affogare", a song that also closes with a neat post-rocky coda telling you to not underestimate the rest of the album. "Chiasso" would be another great example of the use of post-rocky elements to make a smoothly flowing song. Track 10 features Øjne, a screamo band known for their very well received 2017 album (Prima che tutto bruci) who also published a new EP this year in case you are interested.

// name-your-price: (Øjne's stuff is also n-y-p!)
27Cirith Ungol
Dark Parade

// heavy metal, doom metal

// You've got to hand to them, formed in 1976 this band has been quality over quantity. Vocals are still remarkably intense and especially the lead guitarwork is top-notch.


// atmospheric sludge metal

// "Inspired by classical music, free jazz and drone" standing by Bandcamp. Fully instrumental, always (slowly) moving, nicely enveloping, well produced and also well mastered. Not the most mindblowing music ever, but it's reliable stuff in a neat 40-min package. Oh, speaking of Bandcamp, it's name-your-price.


// melodeath, folk metal

// Are you joking, this is sooo catchy! The early combo of "Veil of Sin" and "Scarred by Sadness" assaults you with the folk metal happiness riffage, and right after that you get "No Words Sad Enough" which is a ballad much stronger than I'd expected (love the soloing!). Then "Serve the Untrue" brings the melodeath business back. This isn't my territory but this one is undeniable; it's like it takes my preconcepts and executes them so nicely I just have to surrender to it. Beefy. Bonus mention for "Taken before Given".

24Xiu Xiu
Ignore Grief

// death industrial, dark ambient, spoken word

// Less mindlessly abrasive and more actually enveloping than what you could expect from rym's tags.


// post/art/jazz/prog - rock (pick yours)

// I'm not as floored by this EP as the whole world seems to be, but I can see why it's so loved. This getting catapulted into some fame can't be too bad of a thing. Let's see what they can do for the full-length debut.


// canterbury scene prog

// Very welcoming melodies, rich sonicscape (check the bass!), great ebb and flow type stuff. Kind of straightforward in a good way; nothing I'd call indulgent here, just taking its time. "Bushnell Keeler" is so nice, echoes of Camel for sure. But the highlight has to be the long (but not longest) "You".

21Craven Faults

// prog electronic

// The very long opening track is exactly what you'd expect and honestly a bit heavy to digest fully, but after that it's all smooth sailing! Contemplative and rich, with a certain pastoral quality, Standers is another CF keeper. The whole run of tracks 3-4-5-6 is a win, and the very short track 2 is a welcome "interlude" too.
Oh and if you want more know that he then dropped a 74-min long track called "May Birching".

20Public Phone School
Public Phone School

// synth punk, powerviolence

// Rules! Love the balance in the mix with the synths as protagonists. For a 12-min EP, this does everything right. Stoked for a debut LP.

Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts

// death metal, death doom

// Such a trustworthy band I could cry. The single "Throatsaw" was already promising because it was legitimately one of their catchiest songs ever and the chorus showcased Reifert's vocals in top form. I remember the snippet also ended with the start of a faster section that sealed the deal for my hype. Guess what: the album is here and it slaps. Cherry on top is the crisp production that doesn't forget the bass, which gets a melodic spotlight right away in "Rabid Funeral"'s doomier second half. There was also another Static Abyss album in 2023, so if you want more "Autopsy" you can check that out too... even if I'm still convinced that's, like, literal Autopsy warm-up excercises.


// psychedelic folk/rock/pop

// When "Cold & Bored" opened the album almost feeling like a direct sequel to their 00s poppy trilogy, with Beach Boys-esque harmonies and all, it felt so right and circular! It doesn't recapture the indie feel of the 00s trilogy, but Yay is mostly a detour from their current indulgent prog psych sound: it's short, chockful of acoustic guitars, and has a psych pop sheen. It's cute! BUT! Being part of one of the best discographies ever, Yay automatically falls down into being one of the band's lesser works.

17Triangulo de Amor Bizarro

// shoegaze, noise pop

// What a nice find! The genres are "misleading" in the sense that the album feels quite varied. Like, it opens with a poppy danceable tune ("Estrella solitaria") and then it gives you a sweet unexpected tribute to Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" ("Cómprate un yate"). Then the "Huele a colonia chispas" is the kind of distorted banger you'd expect more. Then "La Espectadora" switches tone again for a more sentimental affair. And so on. Very pleasant first experience with this band, def won't be the last.

16GoGo Penguin
Everything Is Going to Be OK

// nu jazz, jazz fusion

// More great stuff by this piano-driven (nu)jazz trio. Their previous album was fun, no denying that, but I think this new one feels deeper. They reduced the overall energy in favor of a more comforting and new age-y sound, and I'm really liking it. "Soon Comes the Night" for example is a minimalist track that blends simple piano with an industrial drumbeat, and is appropriately followed by "An Unbroken Thread of Awareness" which is even more airy and soft (the lonely bass playing is the glue in that one!). And so on. That said the stars are still the livelier fusioner tracks like "Glimmerings" and "We May Not Stay", with their catchy piano, blissful fretless bass and energic drums. Love the lil' synths too, in general, like in "Saturnine" or "Parasite". All in all a very solid package even if I can understand not finding it terribly interesting as a whole listen by more cultured jazzheads (I'm a swine so I'm happy).

O Monolith

// art punk, post-rock

// In a certain sense this doesn't even feel like it was released now, because it possess a "classic album" aura that shines ever since the chorus of opener "Swing (In a Dream)" and keeps appearing throughout the album's alienated mood swings and crescendos. I'm probably making it sound grander than what it is, but I mean it's still *flips dictionary* quite coolio. Squid's debut ended up slipping through my hands, but I'm glad I managed to catch the album this time.


// avant-prog, avant-garde metal

// Chaotic, jazzy, with anxious spoken parts, Nemesta is the kind of "neurotic nightmare prog" that fans of King Crimson's heavier/weirder stuff shouldn't miss. It's also quite short, which works wonders for its replayability. It's also name-your-price:

13Daniela Pes

// art pop, electronic

// Produced by Iosonouncane, Spira is our first foray inside Daniela Pes' world. It's a place made of often minimal electronic sounds in which floats her voice singing in a made-up language (made of Italian, Sardinian, and Pes' own words). Giving it a chance will reveal more meat than what may seem at first, like the otherwordly turn of "Carme" or the faster pace of "Làira". I had the occasion of watching her perform but I missed it, sadly.

12The Necks

// avant-garde jazz

// 76 minutes of The Necks doing their thing, atmospheric wandering jazz with minimalistic structure. You may think it's too much, but the performances are good enough to make it solid all the way through! Bonus points for "Forming", fans of Bohren / dark jazz must not let that track go unnoticed.


// avant-garde black metal

// Black metal influenced by Turkish folk music, which lends itself insanely well to extreme metal.

Novo Oružje Protiv Bola

// thrash metal?

// What is this? It rocks! I don't know what they're singing about, lyrics being in Serbian, but this is some really catchy-and-technical metal that could please both fans of old and new metal. The music is a techy salad tied together by the energetic vocals. I don't know if it's the language itself of the singer's youthful timbre, but this albums kind of sounds... Japanese? Anyway, I like how this album captured my attention right from the vibrant artwork that ended up reflecting the content pretty well: I guess the core can be described as thrash, but the rym tags also include power metal and post-hardcore. And it makes sense! It's a cocktail of energy.

Dusk to Dawn

// shibuya-kei, jazz pop, soft rock

// Oh my. Relaxing, comforting, whispery, but still relatively rich. Spacious production, perfectly fit. You'd think being 70+ minutes long it'd get boring, and yet it keeps rolling on. Sometimes it's jazzier, sometimes it chambery, etc (track 9 for example has a bit of funk); the variety also very much benefits from the having both male and female vocals. Aggressively cute album. Some magnetic drumming too if you like it chill and tasty shuffling away. Having some songs sprawl longer without fading out on instrumental parts would have been even more awesome though.


// alternative r&b (?)

// This meshes influences like breakbeat, downtempo, UK bass and ambient pop into something that sounds fluid and welcoming, very good. The breakbeaty "Happy Ending" was sweet, but the moment I knew I was loving this was in track 3-4; the bass in "Let It Go" makes the song float along so well, and the transition into "On the Run" is a chef's kiss moment. And the vocal harmonies in "Contact"? And everything about the title track. Give this a shot.

7Aksak Maboul
Made to Measure Vol. 48

// imma leave it to rym here lol: prog pop, art pop, prog electronic

// I threw it on as background music, but exactly with the track "Talking with the Birds" I realized I was loving it! Bandcamp says: "a 63-minute, continuous suite of fifteen pieces, which could be described as an experimental audio play. [...] genre-hopping tendencies: strands of electronica, pop, jazz, collage, techno, ambient, improv, krautrock, contemporary classical & systems music are merrily woven together, in the inimitable Aksak Maboul style." Indeed, it sounds like one long abstract theater(?) play with all kinds of electronic goodness and spoken word (and singing) parts for the actors. I'll need to come back to it. For now, it's wildly approved!

6Mandy, Indiana
I've Seen a Way

// post-industrial, industrial techno

// Woah, this kind of sounds just like the cover art. An industrial soundscape, dark yes but not in the literal sense of not being well-lit. In fact the abrasiveness is often achieved with a grating thinness of the buzzsaw sounds. To that you can add the often spiraling/bouncy vocals (in French, despite the song titles) that make this quite infectious in its own way. The part from ~1:50 onward into "Drag [Crashed]" being a perfect example of all that. It's an anxious-sounding album for sure, but the trebliness of the beats (and sound in general) gives it a strangely alluring quality (dare I say... danceable here and there? See "Injury Detail"). It's like a dangerous liminal place. I also enjoyed a lot the inclusion of more organic-sounding drums and noisy bits, which too contribute to everything I've been writing.

5Avenged Sevenfold
Life Is But a Dream...

// prog/avant-garde metal

// The Stage propelled them into proggy brilliance and this goes beyond, prompting comparisons to artists Mr Bungle and Daft Punk. Make no mistake though: weirdness-aside this is very much an evolution of The Stage. With bonus vocoder and sudden dynamic twists. Shadows' vocals are clearly the weak point, but I survive them. Wackerman is an excellent technical drummer (wildly underused in Bad Religion!) and Synyster Gates keeps playing some of his best solos ever. I was scared too by "Nobody" as a single, even with its awesome solo, but overall this shlaps ahrd. The thrashy middle part of "We Love You" goes for days, and "Cosmic" is one of their best songs ever. "Cosmic" definitely has a King Crimson root I'd say, I especially think about Island's t/t crescendo. The "G.O.D" trilogy is also a brainy career highlight. Oh, and it's yet another A7X album with decent mastering, keeping the streak that started with HttK!

4Bekor Qilish
The Flesh of a New God

// avant-garde black metal

// Killer technical dissonant bm with an helping of atmospheric passages and synths. Great bm vocals to boot. Every instrument shines, an obvious example being "Unearthly Dominions": not only it features a lengthy synth solo followed by a lengthy guitar solo... it does so succesfully! The solos in general deserve a specific mention because they are always striking. If the mentioned guitar solo in "Unearthly Dominions" is on the soulful side, then the one in "Unobtainable Transformations" is played in that weird-but-somehow-melodic style that makes me think of Fripp (think "St. Elmo's Fire"), and I also loved the rhythm chords underneath it. There's also "The Flesh of Terror", which once again has a spot both for synth and guitar, before "Infinite Self-Reflecting Circles" adds the sax to the mix. And if you are tired of the word "solos", "Unaware Gods" is a shorter cathartic piece to rest your ears for a breather.

3Steve Lehman & Orchestre National De Jazz
Ex Machina

// experimental big band

// I'm surprised by the gushing reception by jazz critics. Let's get to it: this features an AI (Dicy2) playing together with the big band ensemble. It provides sinister electronic sounds in response to the musicians (check "Les Treize Soleils"' intro), and sometimes it mirrors the texture of the instrument it's answering to (check "Chimera"'s intro). When Dicy2 is at its most palpable, it really makes me wonder how I feel about it. And yet, Ex Machina is actually a banger jazz record. They mean business, the great opener "39" makes it clear. No diss to Lehman's sax, but I think Koerner's drumming ties it all together. Ultimately the winning quality is that Ex Machina can simply be a lot of fun, like when "Jeux d'Anches" around ~3:50 becomes the weird big band equivalent of the Psycho shower scene. "Los Angeles Imaginary" is also another highlight, that rhythmic change around 5:00 stopped me in my tracks

2John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy
Evenings at the Village Gate

// post-bop

// ...but if you only have one jazz album in you for 2023, it has to be this one. Not Coltrane with Eric Dolphy and Elvin Jones casually dropping a new classic on our heads! I'd feel like a cheater by putting this at the top of the list, so I won't haha. Quite literally right as you press play you know these guys' level as "My Favorite Things" slides in. In this recording the drums can be louder than the other instruments but it's far from a deal breaker... in fact, this is some drumming holy grail stuff.

夢​之​駭​客 Dream Hacker

// post-industrial, art pop

// It's not the hellish mechanical trip of Ming Ming so at first I was a bit unsure, but I quickly got used to it. I love how smooth it feels, both production and how it flows along to the end. It's definitely more accessible, heck it's even b o u n c y in places, but not in a bad way. The tribalish "Overlap" is interesting too. This may win her some new fans I feel, the singing is surely friendlier at least. I love how the soft intro + minutes of drone in the opener feel like a gateway to transition into the album's world. It's an album made of apparently simple elements, with awesome attention to atmospheric layers, that strung together form a faultless listen. It's only 32 minutes long which was a bummer at first, but then I realized how well it plays (and replays!) like a single journey.

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