BPMHILL’s Best Albums of 2021

As it turned out, 2020 was only part one of a difficult and frankly batshit time to exist on planet earth. Fortunately, through all the muck that was 2021, we’ve been graced with some truly stunning works of art. These are the albums that were able to blend all the pain and beauty this year had to offer. Here are the albums that I continue to spin since release and will be spinning for the foreseeable future:

Best EP’s:

  1. Bodom After Midnight – “Paint the Sky with Blood”
  2. Cult of Luna – “The Raging River”
  3. Soen – “The Undiscovered Lotus”
  4. Enslaved – “Caravans to the Outer Worlds”
  5. Insomnium – “Argent Moon”

Best Live Albums:

  1. Ulver – “Hexahedron: Live at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter” & “Scary Muzak”
  2. The Pineapple Thief – “Nothing But the Truth”
  3. Enslaved – “Cinematic Tour 2020”
  4. Devin Townsend – “Galactic Quarantine”
  5. Paradise Lost – “At the Mill”

Best Vinyl Variants:

  1. Opeth – Blackwater Park 20th Anniversary & In Cauda Venenum Connoisseur Edition
  2. Esa Holopainen – Silver Lake
  3. Ulver – Vargnatt reissue
  4. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite
  5. White Ward – Love Exchange Failure reissue
  6. Freddy’s Nightmares OST
  7. The Ocean – Phanerozoic I & Phanerozoic II reissues
  8. Between the Buried & Me – Colors II, Come Ecliptic reissue, The Parallax II reissue
  9. Agalloch – Pale Folklore & Bloodbath – Resurrection Through Carnage reissues via Nesi Media
  10. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works & Miss Machine reissues

Best Studio Albums:

This definitely was not the easiest year to pick a best of list. I enjoyed a ton of albums but ultimately narrowed it down to twenty that have stuck with me for a variety of reasons. There are certainly some that didn’t make the cut and I’m still likely exploring those and haven’t quite figured them out yet. Devin Townsend’s The Puzzle/Snuggles and Swallow the Sun’s Moonflowers being a couple of examples. There are also a few that came very close like Maiden’s Senjutsu and Mol’s Diorama but ultimately I had to cut somewhere so here we are.

  1. At the Gates – “The Nightmare of Being”: What do you mean Carcass isn’t #1?? Well what can I say other than At the Gates put out the album that really defined this year for me. The dudes put out some of their best riffs and catchiest songs to date. “Spectre of Extinction” is easily one of the best songs they’ve written and a track I simply can’t stop listening to. Not only that but ATG went full prog and I’m a damn sucker for that. Check out “The Fall Into Time” for one example of this. This is epic, brutal and exactly what I want from one of the classiest Melo-death bands around. Songs to Listen To: Spectre of Extinction, The Fall Into Time, Eternal Winter of Reason
  2. Harakiri for the Sky – “Maere”: One of the most emotional and heartfelt albums this year comes from Harakiri for the Sky who took things up yet another notch with “Maere”. The album starts with a proper banger in “I, Pallbearer” and doesn’t let up. Songs to Listen To: I, Pallbearer, Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, Song to Say Goodbye
  3. Between the Buried & Me – “Colors II”: Very few bands would risk making a sequel to one of their most beloved albums. Count on BTBAM for fully embracing it and making an album that while attached to the core of the original Colors, is really its own beast entirely. It’s an incredibly varied album and truly distinct. It doesn’t rely on its sibling and yet clever traces of the DNA are woven in. This is how you write a sequel. Songs to Listen To: Revolution in Limbo, The Future is Behind Us, Bad Habits
  4. Leprous – “Aphelion”: While the last album, “Pitfalls”, was somewhat a change of pace for the band, Aphelion manages to mix the sound of that with some of their earlier albums and creates one of their finest moments yet. This has potential to become one of my all time favorites from the group and I’ve yet to grow bored of a single track. Songs to Listen To: Nighttime Disguise, The Silent Revelation, Silhouette
  5. Rivers of Nihil – “The Work”: Rivers of Nihil pulled off quite an ambitious record with “The Work”. This could have easily gone poorly with a fairly big leap from what they did on “Where Owls Know My Name”. Fortunately with this innovative band at the hull, we’re treated to a great blend of genres and excellent songwriting. Songs to Listen To: Clean, Terrestria IV, Wait
  6. Deafheaven – “Infinite Granite”: I’ll admit this one has been all over the map for me but I feel very comfortable where it stands on my list now. I was lucky enough to see the band perform the album front to back live and it changed the full experience for me. If you’ve previously written it off, I highly recommend catching Deafheaven’s 2022 tour if they make a stop in your city. Songs to Listen To: Great Mass of Color, Mombasa, In Blur
  7. Steven Wilson – “The Future Bites”: Possibly my most decisive choice here (along with Deafheaven) but where “To the Bone” felt like a warm up for this direction, Wilson fully commits to an electronic sound. For my money, it works brilliantly. That isn’t to say I don’t miss his guitar led albums like “The Raven that Refused to Sing” but this is still a prog album in its own way. Just perhaps not what most are used to in the traditional sense. There are plenty of masterful tracks to discover here for the open minded. Songs to Listen To: King Ghost, Man of the People, Eyewitness. Note: I’m cheating a little bit as Eyewitness isn’t from the album proper but one of the many great tracks that was recorded during the sessions. How it isn’t on the main album is beyond me as it’s wonderful.
  8. Dream Theater – “A View from the Top”: Did you really think Dream Theater’s latest wouldn’t be on my list? Admittedly, I don’t know if this one will stick with me as much as their last album, “Distance Over Time”, did which is why it’s lower down the list. Regardless, it’s a damn fine collection of songs by one of the best bands out there. Songs to Listen To: Answering the Call, The Alien, A View from the Top
  9. Mastodon – “Hushed & Grim”: This is an overwhelming and lengthy listen and yet it’s absolutely stunning. It may be awhile before I can claim it’s their best since “Crack the Skye”, but I can say with certainty that the band sound on top of their game. This was only further solidified when I saw them perform several of the tracks live earlier this month. Songs to Listen To: Pain with an Anchor, Pushing the Tides, Gigantium
  10. Tribulation – “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”: I was debating as to which album would ultimately get the final slot in the top 10 and I found that out of the rest of the top 20 here, this is the one I came back to the most. Though it may not beat out 2015’s “The Children of the Night” in the bands discography, it’s a very solid album. Plus the vinyl exclusive track “The Damphir” is one of the best Tribulation songs period. Songs to Listen To: Hour of the Wolf, Leviathans, Funeral Pyre.
  11. Khemmis – “Deceiver”
  12. Vola – “Witness”
  13. Archspire – “Bleed the Future”
  14. Wolves in the Throne Room – “Primordial Arcana”
  15. Spiritbox – “Eternal Blue”
  16. Cynic – “Ascension Codes”
  17. Gojira – “Fortitude”
  18. Carcass – “Torn Arteries”
  19. Soen – “Imperial”
  20. Perturbator – “Lustful Sacraments”

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2 + 2 Reviews: Thanksgiving Week Edition

Pardon our lengthy delay on this column. Both George and I got incredibly busy over the last few months but we’re back just in time for the holiday week. We decided to cover one album and one song each. George covered Mastodon’s new album and one song from the recently released Iron Maiden album. I covered Between the Buried and Me’s Colors 2 and one song from Dream Theater’s latest album. Anyhow, get that last minute turkey/Tofu Turkey shopping done and settle in for a few reviews from us.

Mastodon: Hushed and Grim

GF: A new Mastodon release is always something that I look forward to.

Have their last three albums measured up to their first three? Perhaps not, but at the same time, even those have tended to get at least a solid few weeks of constant listening from me… sometimes more.

While a bit too long and slightly unfocused, I thought, “The Hunter,” had some magnificent music on it— including one or two of the band’s best songs. “Once More Round the Sun,” was pretty underrated for my money, and perhaps the album where they figured out that they could write arena-worthy hooks with the best of them. “Emperor of Sand,” was something that I enjoyed quite a bit too. The quieter moments almost outshone some of the heavier stuff, and Brent Hinds continued to solidify his status as modern day metal’s most exciting soloist.

Those releases bring us to today, with, “Hushed and Grim,” an album that has rightly been hailed as their best work since, “Crack the Skye.”

This is a long album, but it goes down easy. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, I feel like it touches on just about everything the band has done, and done well, over the course of their career. 

While Scott Kelly’s once mandatory guest slot is dearly missed here, new collaborators pop in to fill the void, chief amongst them young country phenom Marcus King, and OG metal titan Kim Thayil.

In both cases, these gentlemen provide some rather brilliant lead guitar work, with the former injecting some down-home flavor into the Brent Hinds-led, “The Beast,” and the latter, adding a patented sonic exorcism, to “Had it all.”

As this album is so long, there are AMPLE opportunities for solos, and Brent Hinds plays like a man possessed all throughout the album. His uncanny, one-of-a-kind, fretboard slip-and-slide routine is still unlike anything practiced by his contemporaries. Here, he’s as good as he’s ever been, turning in career-best performances on songs like, “More Than I Could Chew,” and the album’s final three songs, most notably, closer, “Gigantium.”

Though the album has its more uptempo numbers, its overriding vibe is heavy, and sorrowful. A tribute to late band manager Nick John, these are sad songs reflecting on loss: songs that sound most honest when they’re crawling as opposed to running. The melancholy found on the slower numbers is beautiful in its own particular way, and the half-time numbers allow Mr. Hinds his best opportunities to flay his guitar alive.

While Hinds is certainly the star of the show here, it’s a bit of a bummer that he only has a few vocal turns on the album. Mastodon has become the Brann Dailor and Troy Sanders show in the singing department, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I do miss his voice. Dailor in particular is more than happy to pick up the slack, and his singing only continues to improve. If he’s not the best singer in the group at this point, he’s just behind Hinds.

With its greyscale cover art, save for a spare hit of gold, “Hushed and Grim,” is not only an astonishing piece of metal, but the perfect soundtrack for the bleak skies that we experience here in the midwest, during the fall. If you’re feeling down, this is an album that invites you to lean into your feelings, and be at peace with them.

Where the band goes from here, I’m not quite sure, but I feel as though they have certainly come upon a new stretch of their path. I’m very excited to hear what’s next, and I’m very thankful for the fact that they were able to channel their grief into such a tremendous piece of art.

Iron Maiden – The Parchment

GF: I feel like sometime around 2006, Iron Maiden very comfortably glided into what I’ll call mid-tempo Maiden mode.

This might sound like a knock, but it’s not. Save for the opener, “Different World,” their album, “A Matter of Life and Death,” was almost exclusively, full of numbers that stopped just shy of the band’s trademark gallop.

The frantic speed under which the band used to operate had been replaced. Here, in its stead, was epic proggy grandeur. It was a cool transition that 100% worked– it allowed the band to continue to make thoughtful and exciting music at a point in their career where most folks have run out of gas.

The music found on their most recent album, “Senjutsu,” cruises very comfortably in the new lane that the band carved out for themselves 15 years ago. These are long songs… knotty songs… that feature ample fireworks from the band. Of particular note, is the playing that we’re treated to, courtesy of Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain, who steal the show.

While it’s ludicrous to expect men in their late 60s to go at things with the fury that was on display for songs like, “Gangland,” “Aces High,” or, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” I did find myself wanting to hear the band mount up just ONE more time on the album, and I feel like they got as close as they’re going to get during the grand finale of, “The Parchment.”

The song has three guitar solo sections. The best of course is the final one, and the proceedings kick off at the 9:52 mark. After a particularly epic, and proggy climb to the top of the mountain, (aided by a motif that recalls the verse riff of, “Hallowed be Thy Name,”) the band is finally ready to plant their flag, and show everyone what the business is.

As time has gone on, it’s become a bit harder for me to discern Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s leads, so until we’re graced with a live version of this, I’m not gonna know who plays the second solo (but it’s probably Murray). That said, I think we can all safely say that it’s Mr. Gers who fires the first shot across the bow in the song’s final solo section.

And wow-wee, what a shot it is.

In the past, I’ve seen mumblings criticising his soloing within the band, as folks say it sounds a lot like Rainbow-era Ritchie Blackmore. I don’t think that’s necessarily unfair, but in recording this, he’s proven that he’s transcended.

Even Ritchie wasn’t cooking this kind of shit.

Here, rampant whammy bar abuse, and speedy runs galore, feel like a shotgun blast to the head, as Gers’ tone is absolutely WHITE HOT. It sounds like perhaps he’s playing through a cocked wah, but whatever it is, he’s rolling out the most vicious shit of his life. At its most frantic, it sounds like he’s trying as best as he can, to literally disembowel his guitar. 

It recalls Pete Cosey, when he played the Osaka afternoon show, back in 1975– fully diabolical.

Against a boosted tempo, and killer rhythm work from the rest of the band (check Nicko McBrain’s Bill Bruford-indebted cymbal work) it might be his most picture-frameable moment as a soloist within the band E-V-E-R.

The solo that follows is more tempered, and reminds me of the spaced-out bliss that we were treated to on “Powerslave.” It’s classic Maiden, and the ideal piece of punctuation for the longest (and for my money) most epic cut on the album.

Between the Buried and Me – Colors 2

BH: I recently got back from seeing the band in my first concert since the Before Times and boy did they put on a show.  While the setlist mostly focused on celebrating The Great Misdirect record and their 21 years of being a band, they’re clearly excited about the new record.  And they absolutely should be.  This may very well be the Paddington 2, T2, Empire Strikes Back-all rolled into one-best Sequel we could have possibly been lucky enough to receive.  

While it’s somehow not the only sequel record of the year (I’m looking at you The Night Flight Orchestra), Colors 2 has been easily one of the most anticipated albums of 2021.  Any time Between the Buried and Me put out a new record, it’s reason for excitement but Colors 2??  Colors is not only one of the bands best efforts but also one of the defining prog metal albums of all time.  

“Monochrome” starts off the album in a somewhat traditional manner for the band (and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all).  A soft key-laden intro that eventually gives way to the overall heavier direction this album will go in.  It’s a really nice lead-in to one of my favorite tracks on the album, “The Double Helix of Extinction”.  Tommy’s vocals are as harsh as ever and then how about that break around the two minute mark with the basketball game sound fx, mixed with some great percussion work from Blake.  Also, while I wouldn’t normally be into a band shouting their name on a song, it works really well in this instance.  It feels like a perfect live song too.  Next up is the single, “Revolution in Limbo”, which was really the track that made me feel most confident about a Colors sequel pre-release.  It reminds me of elements from “Sun of Nothing” from the OG Colors but is really its own thing.  

The other single, “Fix the Error”, we covered a bit here but I’ll just say it has only grown on me further since then, particularly as the band played it live.  Blake nailed the solo section all by himself and it was glorious.  “Never Seen/Future Shock” is one of the two longest songs on the record but it glides by for me.  There’s also an Affinity era Haken section here in the first four minutes that made me super amped.  Paul’s guitar work on this song is really impeccable.  I would say this album is loaded with memorable riffs and licks but really dig everything he does on this particular track.  Oh and then there’s the incredibly beautiful final two minutes of the song that remind me of sections from the Alaska era.  “Stare Into the Abyss” feels like a transitional song leading into the back half of the album but it certainly makes an impact with a catchy chorus and a brutal final minute. “Prehistory” AKA the song with Crash Bandicoot SFX!  I love this track and it pairs really nicely with the following track “Bad Habits”.  This song is another favorite and has a great callback to “Ants of the Sky” from Colors I both lyrically and in the structure of the song itself.  Tommy once again delivers great vocal lines throughout this track.  Also at the five minute point of the song, there’s a really top-tier bit of musicianship with everyone that takes us through to the final minutes of the song.  

I’m not sure why “The Future is Behind Us” became initially controversial between fans but for my money it’s a definite favorite song here.  The 80’s vibes here kick so much ass.  The keys mixed with Tommy’s vocals and chorus is so insanely good.  Plus any song with a Ferris Bueller reference gets major props from me.  “Turbulent” feels a bit like a second act to “The Future is Behind Us” and has Blake go properly mad on his kit in the second half.  “Sfumato” is a one minute track that primarily sets us up for the finale similar to what “Viridian” did for “White Walls” on Colors I.  

The final song on Colors 2, “Human is Hell (Another One With Love)” doesn’t attempt to be “White Walls” part two.  Instead it sets its own path of monstrous destruction with a fifteen minute runtime that never overstays its welcome.

I’ve got to say Colors 2 is one of my favorite albums this year and this may be one of the best albums the band has done to date.    

 

Dream Theater – Answering the Call

BH: I thought about reviewing the entire new Dream Theater album as it’s really good (and who knows maybe I still will) but in the meantime, highlighting one of my favorite cuts on it entitled Answering the Call. 

Before I jump into it though, I want to point out that this is the fifth album since Portnoy left the band and fifteenth overall.  It’s impressive that the band keeps creating innovative new music and pushing their boundaries.  It’s not easy losing such a key member of the band and fortunately at this point, drummer Mike Mangini has really gelled with the group.  He’s a phenomenal player anyhow but between this album and their previous, Distance Over Time, he’s really come into his own with the virtuoso musicians in the band. 

Anyhow, this song is one hell of a banger and actually has some Octavarium vibes on it which as a long time fan, is greatly appreciated.  That opening riff is super catchy, the chorus is strong and the outro (and build to it) might be one of the strongest moments in a DT song in some time.  It reminds me of a Gojira outro and is really heavy.

When I gave the new album its first spin, I was immediately drawn to this track.  It’s classic DT through and through.  I also noticed that not only with this song but the majority of the album, the band is doing a great job of balancing the technicality with accessibility. 

Jordan’s keys here are mostly subtle layers and work nicely alongside Petrucci’s riffs.  Also, Myung is really crushing it.  I really dig his interplay with Petrucci on the previously mentioned outro. 

For whatever reason, part of the fanbase has felt Labrie is the weak point with the band but quite honestly Dream Theater wouldn’t be the same without him.  He has a knack for catchy vocal lines and he still sounds top-notch.  Particularly on this track he’s really on his game.

Dream Theater remains one of the most important bands in the prog space and Answering the Call further proves this is the case.  

2+2 Reviews: Memorial Day Weekend Edition (Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, Esa Holopainen, An Autumn for Crippled Children)

Welcome to the Memorial Day Weekend Edition of 2+2.  I was out of town this weekend, relaxing by the ocean which has done wonders for me but also delayed this post.  Anyhow, I’m so glad to have a bunch of new tunes to jam while I watch the waves knock down some unsuspecting beach-goers.  Excited to share these very tunes from Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen and An Autumn for Crippled Children.

Mastodon Forged by Neron

BH: It’s so good to have another new Mastodon track.  Between “Fallen Torches”, “Rufus Lives” from the Bill & Ted Face the Music soundtrack and now “Forged by Neron”, we’ve had several solid singles in between full length records.  

While Emperor of Sand wasn’t among my favorite Mastodon albums, I’m very excited to hear what they’ll do next.  If these three singles are any indication, the new one should be pretty damn good.  

“Forged by Neron” is the lead track for the Dark Nights: Death Metal Soundtrack based around the DC comics.  The soundtrack will also feature Greg Puciato, Gunship and Chelsea Wolfe (which we discuss below) so Mastodon are among great company.  

Anyhow, I really enjoy this track overall.  Troy’s vocals sound great here and the lead riff hits hard.  The more I listen, the more the song’s hooks dig into me.  I will say I wish the ending wasn’t quite so abrupt.  It has some uneasy build-up but then just stops suddenly.  Still, I do keep going back to the track so there’s enough here to keep me happy until the next album.     

George, what do you think of Mastodon generally speaking?  What does this track do for you, good or bad?  I know you initially had trouble getting into certain aspects of this track…Can you elaborate and have things changed for you over more spins of the song? Also, were you already familiar with the Dark Nights: Death Metal comic series and now soundtrack? 

GF: I’ve been on Team Mastodon since late 2006. Shortly before I went to college, I saw the music video for, “The Wolf is Loose,” and something clicked for me. While I wasn’t initially jazzed about the half of the song that featured the harsh vocals, Brann Dailor’s Billy Cobham-turned Superman drumming had me hook, line, and sinker. As I dove deeper into their music, I actually came to appreciate the harsh vocals more, and to this day, “Blood Mountain,” reigns as my favorite album of theirs. 

This song makes some unconventional choices with regards to melody, and certain passages (especially within the chorus) don’t resolve on the note that my brain sees as the, “logical choice.” At first, this is kind of frustrating, as it’s like, “erghhhh, why can’t you go a step or two up?!”, but because of this, you’re listening in a way that’s more intentional, and I appreciate that.

I also had a hard-time with the solo at first, but now, I’m on board. Brent Hinds have started to veer into Kerry King-style atonality in certain spots these last couple of years which hasn’t always been my favorite thing, upon first listen. After understanding what time it is, with regards to the song as a whole though, I think his playing is right on the money.

DC put out a soundtrack with some of these same artists a few years ago, which yielded a couple of songs that I really liked. “Brief Exchange,” which saw Chino Moreno, Tyler Bates, Gil Sharone, and Mike Elizondo team up, was definitely the highlight of the set. I still play it to this day.

I’m excited to see this soundtrack continue to roll out, as both this song and Chelsea Wolfe’s track are magnificent.

Chelsea Wolfe – Diana

GF: Ooh, boy– the supreme Scorpio empress of sunless lands did a song about Wonder Woman?

Sign me up.

This shit is a certified cooker– a song that will (hopefully), fully-catapult Ms. Wolfe towards the limelight, giving her the large audience she deserves.

The Tom Morello-esque guitar theatrics that open the song deliver a jolt to your ears right off the bat, and provide the perfect counterpoint to Chelsea’s breathy, delicate, yet tortured vocals that follow.

Ms. Wolfe’s vocals recall Amy Lee of Evanescence, but they’re heavier. It sounds like the weight of a mountain rests upon her chest, and it’s going to take everything she has to obliterate said mountain, and free herself.

Of particular note here is the chorus, which has a turbo-charged addition, the second time it comes around. Here, we get to see Chelsea go full-on banshee, with all sorts of blissful chaos weaving in and out of stereo behind her. 

It’s truly incredible– a powerful moment that stopped me dead in my tracks, the first time I heard it. I can only imagine how fun that section was to mix, and play around with, in the studio.

Brandon, how did you first hear of Chelsea’s work? Have you been a fan for awhile?

What parts of the song stuck out most to you, or, what did you find most satisfying in here?

BH: I actually first heard about Chelsea when Pain is Beauty released in 2013.  I believe her label, Sargent House, had advertised for it on one of the albums I had bought from them.  She also made an appearance on a Russian Circles album that I adored and then was featured on a Deafheaven track a few years back, so she has continued to be on my radar.  

Anyhow, I really have only heard certain songs from each of her albums over the years so haven’t fully explored her catalogue.  “Diana” certainly proves why I need to spend the time.  

I think what really struck me out of the gate was how damn twisted this song is.  I expected it to be dark but it really creeps me out in a good way.  The off-kilter piano does wonders for me.

Also when we hit the chorus, I was just really blown away.  If we ever get a truly gothic film version of Wonder Woman, this had better be the end credits song.  

“Diana” gets pretty chaotic but Chelsea keeps it firmly together and her voice is really something special.  Additionally, I do hope if there’s another season of Twin Peaks to come that David Lynch hires her as a musical guest as she would fit right into that world.

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen – Ray of Light

BH: Esa Holopainen is primarily known as the lead guitarist and a founding member of the insanely influential and awe-inspiring band, Amorphis.  

While his main band have been hard at work on the next release, Esa found some time during the pandemic to work on his first solo effort and it really has an incredible collection of vocalists.

One of my favorite tracks is “Ray of Light” which features Einar Solberg’s (Leprous) soaring vocals.  This has some gorgeous melodies within and Einar is on top form here, locking in nicely with Esa’s composition.

Though it’s unlikely we will ever see a tour of Esa’s solo album (at least stateside), I’m secretly hoping Amorphis and Leprous will tour together and I will get to see this song performed.  

An Autumn for Crippled Children- Melancholia

GF: You ever have songs come across your radar where the second you hear the first note, you know you’re going to love it?

This was one of those songs for me.

This song was made to blast at sunset on the highway, while driving in a drop-top, somewhere out in LA.

I guess that means that traffic has to be moving, which– is a big ask, but it’s possible if you just think hard enough about it!

The guitars here are sun-kissed in the most beautiful way you could ever hope to imagine. On top of that, the 80s new wave synths that soar behind them, are kind of the greatest thing in the world.

In some ways, I feel like this is predicting where Deafheaven will most likely find themselves at some point, if they give up the blastbeats. 

Until then, An Autumn for Crippled Children are riding in this lane by themselves, and the open road ahead of them is glorious. I can’t wait to listen to more of their music.

Metal in the Morning – Mastodon’s “Fallen Torches”

This week’s column focuses on Mastodon‘s new track and music video, “Fallen Torches”, which is featured on their compilation album, “Medium Rarities”, just released today.

I’ve been a fan of Mastodon since I discovered them in 2004 with their masterpiece, “Leviathan”. They’ve been releasing consistently great albums since then and have a new studio album in the works. In the meantime, they put together “Medium Rarities” which pulls together 16 tracks that have been featured on soundtracks, vinyl singles or are unreleased.

“Fallen Torches” could have easily been on one of their main studio releases as it’s a top notch track. It features Scott Kelly (Neurosis) on guest vocals, who has appeared on almost every Mastodon album. You may recognize him from tracks such as “Aqua Dementia”, “Crystal Skull” and “Scorpion Breath”. Anyhow, this is a total banger and one of their heavier tracks in some time.

Check out the music video here: