Posts Tagged ‘Anhedonia’

I love doom. 2015’s doom has been in some places, magnificent. It is the most primal and emotional subgenre; the closest to the progenitor riffs of Iommi and ghostly wail of Ozzy. There has been some triumphs this year in this genre, and here are the Killchain top 10. It contains some of the same albums I put forward to the Sleeping Shaman as my top ten, but some have changed.

10. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – The Night Creeper: A last minute addition to the list, where the Deadbeats swoop in to amaze with their groove ridden psychedelic doom. The journey continues deeper into the bowels of doom

9. A Dream of Poe – An Infinity Emerged: An album designed to wring pure emotion from you in every way. Crooning vocals, mourning riffs and a creaking atmosphere builds into one of the gloomiest pieces of gothic doom art this year. Affecting in the most primal way.

8. Thorr-Axe – The Gates of Winter: Another masterpiece of riffing, a crushing swing of the doom sword to smote the enemies below. Thorr-Axe blend some hardcore tinges into their swelling post metal/doom mix, and the result is a heady album of bludgeon and glacial power.

7. Paradise Lost – A Plague Within: Yorkshire doom masters bring the heavy, the gothic melancholy, and just about everything else in their arsenal to create a monolithic slab of deathly doom majesty. Another prime example of how the golden oldies never fail to amaze or deliver.

6. Pentagram – Curious Volume: A triumphant return for one of doom’s legends. ‘Curious Volume’ sees Pentagram regain their place as one of doom’s figureheads with swaggering groove, achingly heavy riffs and Liebling’s soulful croon sounding better than it has in years. Don’t close the casket on them yet…

5. Shrine of the Serpent – Shrine of the Serpent: A pure evilness abounds in this three track crushing death/doom from these US newcomers. This is the sound of misery crushing you into nothing, with a fetid stench of death about every riff and every vomited incantation. Doomed to destroy

4. High on Fire: Luminiferous: RIFFS! That’s pretty much the whole modus operandi for High on Fire, and ‘Luminiferous’ delivers a metric fuckton of riffs. Matt Pike and co have always possessed this primal power in voice, riff and drum, and ‘Luminiferous’ may be their most definite statement yet.

3. Lucifer – Lucifer I: The sultry, smoky occult doom stylings of Lucifer bring me back to the feelings of joy last year when I encountered Mount Salem for the first time. The groove and the simple beauty of each riff is hypnotic, while the vocal hooks keep you from wandering. Stunning.

2. Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower: The band you rely on to fill Electric Wizard’s space when they’re off watching horror movies and smoking weed. Windhand have an uncanny knack of writing these dense, monolithic riffs that rumble through your very bones. Psychedelic groove that drags you to the void

1.Undersmile – Anhedonia: The scorching primal beauty of ‘Anhedonia’ is clear for everyone to see. Balancing heft with glacial beauty, melancholy with crushing power of riff, Undersmile’s 2015 effort was one of the finest records in any genre I got this year.

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I did a full genre by genre breakdown last year, and while I’ll try to put that together in the next few days, I thought I ‘d start with my overall favourites. I spent 2015 listening to a shitload of independent, underground stuff, and a lot of older stuff. My favourite non-2015 record of the year was ‘British Steel’, closely followed by Accept’s superlative ‘Balls to the Wall’. It was clearly a classic metal year.I’ve also not heard anywhere near as many of the records I wanted to. So there’s probably been a few good ones you’re wondering why are missing. Tell me, so I can find them!

I’m adding a late disclaimer to this; at point of writing I haven’t heard the new Baroness record. It’d probably be in here, but its not fair to these other great records to stick it in just because I’m guessing how good it is.

10. Zgard – Totem: A Ukrainian windswept masterpiece of folky black metal. ‘Totem’ proved that while fellow countryman Drudkh has perfected the style, there are still bands that can challenge the supremacy. Majestic.

9. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within: What can be said? Yorkshire doom lords return with one of this year’s finest pieces of gothic misery. Proof that you can always rely on the old guard to bring it.

8. Plague Rider – Paroxysm: Only EP to make this list, English tech death stars Plague Rider makes this kind of mind bending death metal look easy. I cannot wait to hear what is coming next.

7. Islay – The Angels Share: German melodeath underground heroes Islay have written one of 2015’s most impressive records. ‘The Angels Share’ is an odyssey, owing debts to At the Gates and Amon Amarth, but always remaining their own.

6. Heathen Beast – Trident: One of India’s brightest hopes, and one of their most talented acts, Heathen Beast bring to you scathing, black metal with enough unique ethnic touches to make them stand out and be instantly recognisable.

5. Chiral – Night Sky: In a year where Sivjr Yar pushed him close, Chiral brought out my favourite black metal of the year. Epic in scope, majestic in execution, and truly heart-wrenching at points, ‘Night Sky’ is how atmospheric black metal should be done.

4. Undersmile – Anhedonia: A scorching, dynamic slab of proper British doom. Melancholy and bleak, but always vital and alive. ‘Atacama Sunrise’ is one of my favourite songs of this year, and it is my top doom record of 2015.

3. Shrapnel Storm – Mother War: In a year of epic death metal, Shrapnel Storm’s album kept getting played. Maybe it’s satisfying my craving for more Bolt Thrower, I don’t know, but maybe its just because it is a crushing machine of riffs and death. Love it.

2. Necrocosm – Damnation Doctrine: In any year where there WASN’T a new Nile record, this would have been my top record. I love the complexity, the unhinged savagery but also the supreme melodic flair with which these guys kill. ‘Damnation Doctrine’ needs to be the death metal record you hear this year

NUMBER ONE: Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed: I love Nile. I love everything they do. I loved this album before I heard it. But then I did. I heard how Karl Sanders and co had brought their signature sound to yet more intricate, punishing and most importantly GREAT death metal. Writing songs for themselves should be what they do more often, we are all just lucky to hear it.

Did I miss anything essential? Please let me know and I hope you seek out and support all the artists here.

 

Originally published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/u/undersmile-anhedonia-cd-lp-dd-2015/

Undersmile are one of the UK’s brightest hopes in the doom scene. Having bulldozed everyone with their stunning debut, ‘Narwhal’, the band are now unleashing their 70+ minute opus ‘Anhedonia’, to an eager public. ‘Anhedonia’ is proving to be a much more experimental force than Narwhal was, trading up savage distortion for haunting acoustics.

Opening with the looming thunder of ‘Labyrinths’, which rumbles through a ghostly acoustic start into a hypnotic looping dirge of clean guitars and haunting vocals, it’s a strange feeling to someone so used to crushing doom expectations. But what Undersmile are doing here is building the anticipation for what is to come. When the track starts to plunge into heavier depths, the clean vocals stay and that just accentuates the bottom heavy density of the riff. Then the floor caves in and you fall into the void.

The melancholic acoustics bring to mind Cult of Luna’s superlative ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’, and there is a rather bare, naked vulnerability to the album that yet gives nothing away. ‘Sky Burial’ is full of tar thick riffs, eerily echoing vocals and some delicate clean guitar moments. It’s refreshing to hear doom that has dynamics, not just relying on simply crushing guitar. Music that explores the shades of grey between the black and the white is always more interesting, and Undersmile don’t rely on being a one riff pony.

They also don’t fall into the trap of trying too much with their music and being left behind. Each song is a journey, a pleasure odyssey though the mind, replete with calming rests of troubled silence, to a crashing of dissonant riffs. It’s kinda hard to explain in parts, as each song is affecting in its own way. The ghostly ‘Song Of Stones’ is my own particular favourite track, although is it pushed close by the staggering melancholic beauty of ‘Aeris’ but to be honest the album works well as a whole piece, be it with stabbing riffs of heaviness or the tranquillity of the clean guitars. There is definitely an atmosphere of misery, of bleakness that permeates every note that is played. It isn’t depressing though, it almost seems more wistful. A desire for what was. For what could have been.

‘Anhedonia’ is a wonderfully crafted album of ‘doom but not as we know it’ metal. The mood and the heavier moments scream classic doom, while the softer moments add subtle layers. Undersmile are a band that have tapped into something rather special, and ‘Anhedonia’ is a towering piece of a legacy that will stand for a long time. When they’re heavy, Undersmile are very heavy (check out the Paradise Lost-esque opening riffs of ‘Atacama Sunrise’ or the crushing nihilism of ‘Emmenagogue’), but their true worth lies in the impressive grasp of dynamics. Even in their quieter moments, Undersmile are more doom than most.