2009 Wrap Up and 2010 Preview

First I would like to say that I’m not going to do an obligatory top 10 list of albums of the year nor decade. It’s rather pointless and I doubt anyone cares about my favorite albums of the year and whatever arbitrary numbering system I’d assign them. That said, there were a lot of good metal albums put out this year, and if you’re looking for some metal to check out that you might have missed (the real purpose of all those top 10 lists) here’s some for ya. A new Black Sabbath Heaven And Hell album, The Devil You Know, that had music as good as the cover art. I’m a sucker for anything with Tony Iommi on guitar though, so maybe I’m a bit biased. There were some stand out albums in various metal sub-genres, like Anaal Nathrakh‘s In The Constellation Of The Black Widow, PsyopusOdd Senses, Monoliths & Dimensions by Sunn O))), Shrinebuilder‘s self titled album, the unpronounceable ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ by Arckanum, the Blue Record by Baroness, Black Cascade by Wolves In The Throne Room, Winter Hours by Tombs, Dark Castle‘s Spirited Migration, Existence Is Futile by Revocation, Urgehal‘s Ikonoklast, Syrach‘s A Dark Burial, Hypocrisy‘s excellent A Taste Of Extreme Divinity, Milorg by Vreid and the totally underrated A Pyre Of Lost Dreams by Black Wreath. If you can’t find something new to check out from all that, well, you’ve got similar metal taste to me, congrats.

2009 also had some great come back albums, Unanimated‘s In The Light Of Darkness, Alice In ChainsBlack Gives Way To Blue, Immortal‘s All Shall Fall, Beherit’s Engram, Pestilence‘s Resurrection Macabre, Goreaphobia‘s Mortal Repulsion and Asphyx‘s Death… The Brutal Way all lived up to fan expectations (for the most part, can’t please everyone of course). I really liked the new sound Samael has on their Above album, not really a come back or return to form, but they are definitely worth listening to again after years of screwing around with an industrial sound. 2009 was a huge year for thrash. There were albums released by 80s thrash legends such as Slayer‘s World Painted Blood, Megadeth‘s Endgame and Kreator‘s Hordes Of Chaos which led the way for a neck spraining mob of newer thrash band releases such as Skeletonwitch‘s Breathing The Fire, Blood Tsunami‘s Grand Feast For Vultures, Warbringer‘s Waking Into Nightmares, Mantic Ritual‘s Executioner and Havok‘s Burn. And while it’s not a metal sub genre in and of itself, there were quite a few good instrumental albums out this year that I found myself listening to a lot, the self titled Animals As Leaders album, Russian CirclesGeneva, Pelican‘s What We All Come To Need, Dysrhythmia‘s Psychic Maps and Scale The Summit‘s Carving Desert Canyons are all worth listening to. There weren’t too many releases from the local DC metal scene this year, but there were some of note. There was a new album from Dying Fetus titled Descend Into Depravity, Hatred released Burning Paradise, Gravewürm released Funeral Empire, Ol Scratch released The Sunless Citadel, Magrudergrind released a self titled album and there’s also the previously mentioned Animals As Leaders instrumental album.

Now that’s not to say there weren’t any duds though. Without a doubt the biggest disappointment of 2009 had to be Reveltaions Of The Black Flame by 1349. This album is hardly even black metal any more, hell, there’s a fucking Pink Floyd cover on it. It was co-mixed by Tom Gabriel Fischer of Celtic Frost, which a lot of people seem to think was a big reason it stunk, but he wasn’t the one writing the songs. The record is uninspired, the songs are not well thought out and for a band with Frost, one of the best drummers in all of metal, they squander his abilities. I can handle bands trying something new and changing their sound, and I can deal with slower and more abstract music, but this let down of an album is up there with Cryptopsy‘s wet turd The Unspoken King and Metallica‘s self titled “black” album. Another disappointment this year was the Root Of All Evil album by Arch Enemy. I really like the older Arch Enemy material and was hoping this album would make newer fans more familiar with the pre-Angela songs, thus allowing them to add more of these songs to their live set. Sadly this album of re-recorded songs will probably not do well with newer fans because, honestly, it stinks. It’s over produced to the point of a loss of all emotion, energy or intensity. It sounds like a band just going through the motions like a bunch of robots. The new Suffocation album, Blood Oath, was a bit of a let down to me too. For a band that is known for having revolutionized the death metal genre, basically merging brutality with technical musicianship, their new album goes for a simplified, catchier sound that just isn’t on the same level as their older material.

Now lets get past 2009 and take a look at what 2010 has got coming up for us. Fear Factory has reunited with a new line up (including Gene Hoglan on drums) that could be interesting. Their new album is to be titled Mechanize and should be out in early February. The new black metal ‘super group’ of sorts, Ov Hell, has their debut album, The Underworld Regime, out in early February also. The Crown has reformed with almost all of the original members back, but they have a new guy on vocals, Jonas Stålhammar. Hopefully they’ll have a new album out this year (or at least tour). The infamous Varg Vikernes will have a new Burzum album, Belus, out in the spring, his first release since being released from Norwegian prison for the murder of Mayhem‘s guitarist Euronymous. Darkthrone was recording in the fall so they should have a new album out soon. Japan’s Sigh will have a new album out on January 19th titled Scenes From Hell. This will be their first album with their female vocalist/saxophone player, Dr. Mikannibal and I’m curious what this already bizarre sounding band will come up with next. Overkill will have their new album, Ironbound, out at the end of January. Greece’s Rotting Christ has a new album, Aealo, out February 15th. Borknagar will have a new album, titled Universal, out in late February. Early March will see the release of Dark Tranquillity‘s new album, We Are The Void (I guess the album cover artist is a fan of goatse). Catamenia says their new album will be out in the spring, and Watain says their new album will be out by the summer. The reunited Atheist said they would record their first album of new material since 1993. Autopsy is reunited so maybe if we’re lucky they’ll put out some new material too. Local band Misery Index should have a new album out in May and hopefully Modulus will make their newly finished album, Perfection Through Manipulation, available to the masses soon.

As far as metal concerts in 2010, the biggest story by far is going to be the festivals with the big 4 thrash bands all playing together, but so far these are just scheduled to be festivals in Europe. Of course everyone is hoping a tour with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax will come to the states, maybe these European fests are just to test the waters, see how well the bands work together before they all decide on a true tour. The reformed Decapitated should make their way to the US to tour at some point (one would think). Hypocrisy has said they have gotten their US work visas approved so they should be setting up another tour soon. Surely several of the bands with upcoming releases that are mentioned above will be touring to support their new albums in 2010. There’s already several tours scheduled to come by the DC area, which you can find out about on my Upcoming Concerts page. The biggest will of course be the Maryland Deathfest in May but there’s still plenty of of good shows before then too. Of course venues like Jaxx and Sonar will have their share of metal shows coming to the area, but there are also some gigs coming to less likely venues in 2010, like the Black Dahlia Murder at the Rock And Roll Hotel and Jucifer at the Black Cat. Hopefully they’ll get good turn outs and the venues will continue to host more metal shows.

Thanks for having read through this marathon of a post, it’s almost done, you’re in the home stretch. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I’m hoping I’ll still be running this blog and get to write another one of these year end wrap ups next year. I recently got rid of that ugly old logo but I still want to work on the site’s appearance more and possibly buy a URL to redirect to here so I can make like bumper stickers with an easy to remember web address that doesn’t end in “wordpress.com”. I’d also like to propose a resolution to all the other music bloggers, commentators, critics, etc… out there. Stop calling metal bands “the mighty”! Really, it’s stupid and half the time you say it about lame ass bands like “the mighty Dragonforce” or some shit. There’s plenty of adjectives to describe metal bands with that actually make them sound distinct from every other metal band on the planet, like brutal, technical, atmospheric, minimalist, energetic, grim, thrashy, etc… Seriously, stop it with “the mighty” crap unless you want to start calling every non-metal band “the pussy”. Come to think of it, that might actually be a pretty awesome trade.

Well, that’s about it. I probably won’t have another post until some time in January unless something interesting before then really needs a post about it. I will keep the Upcoming Concerts page up to date, and I’ll continue to keep an eye out for any new torrents for the Downloads page. I should be going to see Behemoth at Jaxx in early January so I should have a review of that up if nothing else before then. I guess if you’ve got any questions, suggestions or requests for things you’d like to see on DC Metal in the new year, or if you just want to tell me how much the site (or me) sucks, leave a comment below.

Maryland Deathfest VIII Running Order Announced (sort of)

By far the biggest underground metal event every year in the area, and arguably the United States, is the Maryland Deathfest at Sonar in Baltimore. The Maryland Deathfest isn’t until Memorial Day weekend in May, but they start planning it usually around 10 or 11 months before then. Their website has listed most of the bands that will be playing in 2010 for a while now, but just today they announced the full scheduled line up of bands, and the running order. Well, sort of. They list which day each band will be playing on, but the set times are not listed yet. The website says the set times will be listed “no later than 1 month before MDF.” Individual day tickets are now on sale too, though I think I’m going for a 3 day pass (I’ll save a whopping $4, fuck yeah!). You can get them here. One nice thing is the ticket price listed is the actual price, no service fees ($40 for the shorter day Friday, $47 for either Saturday or Sunday or $130 for a 3 day pass). There are going to be multiple stages, and if they run things similarly to last year, the headliners won’t actually play last. Last year they had an outdoor stage on the street in front of the venue. That stage is where the headliners played, but their sets ended before midnight and the indoor main stage still had a few bands play after that. Since Maryland Deathfest VIII is still a while off you can bet some bands will cancel by then, or have visa troubles (like Marduk did last year) or maybe even break up before the show. It’s not set in stone and things can change by then. Hell, their website even has a post dated with tomorrow’s date that DRI has been added to the line up. A message from the future, creepy. Anyways, the bands are all listed below under the day they’ll be playing, and you can click any band’s name to go to their MySpace page and give them a listen if you want to check them out.

Friday 28 May 2010
D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
Trap Them
Birds Of Prey
Jesus Crost

Saturday 29 May 2010
Blood Duster
Sadistic Intent
The Chasm
Verbal Abuse
Total Fucking Destruction
Fuck The Facts
The Communion

Sunday 30 May 2010
Nirvana 2002
Malevolent Creation
From Ashes Rise
Capitalist Casualties
Captain Cleanoff
Circle Of Dead Children
Black Breath
Honkey Kong

Bands whose names are struck through have canceled and will NOT be playing Maryland Deathfest as previously reported. My most recent update of this page was on 27 April 2010.

The full schedule including set times has been released and can be seen on the Upcoming Concerts page.

Jaxx Redesigns Its Website

Northern Virginia’s best metal club, Jaxx, gave its website a long due update. The site is no longer tagged “DC’s Euro-Metal Home” and gone is all the neon green. The site seems to be much cleaner and better laid out, though it seems to have lost almost any sense of its distinction. The old site was really dated and ugly, but it at least looked like you imagined a Jaxx site would. That said, I can’t blame them for trying to update their image some, the website being a part of that. They painted over all the glam rock band names they used to have in the main room and I sure didn’t complain about that. With the recession really hitting the entertainment industry in general, combined with bands scrambling to figure out how monetize their music with CD sales plummeting, there just aren’t as many tours going around. So Jaxx has become more diverse to make up for it. I’ve seen reggae and j-pop and various other completely non-metal events on the calendar, and I think they want to adjust their image to something that isn’t tied directly to metal in order to reflect that. On one hand this seems reasonable, I just hope it doesn’t backfire and alienate the dedicated fan base that’s already there. I’d imagine it won’t too much, as long as Jaxx continues to get some of the best metal bands that come to the region. I wonder if they’ll bring back parts of the page like the Jay Page and the staff photos page, I thought they added a more human element to the site and to the club itself, so it doesn’t seem like some faceless corporate entity (which it’s not). There’s a bit of talk about it all on the Jaxx forum. The website admin has been checking the forums pretty regularly and he responds quickly and helpfully to suggestions, comments and questions on there, so let him know what you do and don’t like. If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t check out the new site yet, well, do it now: www.jaxxroxx.com.