Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted by Mike Rancic
Kylesa grabbed everyone's attention with last year's 'Static Tensions,' a pummelling mix of crust and sludge, anchored with tight production and even tighter songwriting. Without taking any pause, they've returned with another stunning effort, one that delves further into the psychedelic leanings of their last record. The band's sprawling sound is its own unique blend of dueling drum kits, vocal juxtapositions and psychedelic textures. Never sounding stale or repetitive, 'Spiral Shadow' turns post-hardcore on its head by choosing depth over wallop.
4. Alcest, 'Écailles de Lune'
This is the most beautiful metal album you'll hear all year. Though Neige's project has more in common with shoegaze -- soaring vocals, swirling guitars and lots of melody -- his black-metal influences are undeniable. Coupling something so fierce and unwieldy with a style as serene as shoegaze allows Neige to be as dark as he wants without having to venture into macho or meathead territory, allowing Alcest to evoke a real sense of melancholy. Wall of sound? More like bottomless pit.
In the past few years, metal bands have been reclaiming the much-maligned saxophone as the instrument of destruction it truly is, freeing it from the confines of lame '80s signifier. 'Blackjazz' is an excellent example at just how devastating and unpredictable this instrument can be -- especially when it's used by a band as manic as Shining rather than, say, Huey Lewis and the News. This album is jagged, complex and volatile, and is sure to keep your head spinning.
A bar band in a metal band's body, Bison B.C. are definitely the headbanger's choice for 2010. While similar bands like Mastodon tend to get lost in the plot when it comes to ridiculous concepts, Bison B.C. prefer to keep things simple by tempering their heavy punch with a more down-to-earth approach to their lyrics. Their music oozes sludge but has more in common vocally with hardcore, making Bison B.C. something of a Black Flag-cum-Sabbath outfit, and 'Dark Ages' one hell of a heavy record.
If you want to know where black metal is and where it's going, Enslaved are ground zero. These metal vets are continuing their 20-year career amid a barrage of blast-beats, prog-rock passages, clean vocals and guttural growls. The band continues to experiment with melody here, though they use it sparingly and with great attention to how it functions structurally. 'Axioma Ethica Odini' sees Enslaved in top form, highlighting the fact they remain one of the few bands in metal consistently releasing great work.