End of year lists? I shit ‘em. I’m not doing one, partly because I haven’t heard every piece of music this year and there is always always something that comes totally out of left field and blows away what I thought was great from each year. See: Man’s Gin’s Smiling Dogs in 2010, Liturgy and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan in 2011 and Frisk Frugt’s weirdness from last year. Basically, fuck your Gregorian calendar and all its idiosyncratic nonsense. The year ends at the solstice anyway motherfuckers. That be the change, from shorter days to longer ones. Really we have two years every 365 days. One where it gets progressively better (culminating in the summer solstice) and another where it gets progressively darker and worse and worse until Christians come along and build a church in the middle of your circles, breaking up the laylines and forcing you to spend the following thousand years standing in WalMart praying to a god nobody really believes in that they’ve still got those funny mittens you think you saw because the person in the office you secretly harbour a smouldering loathing for might like them and you haven’t got him anything yet. Way to go humanity in general and Jesustianity in particular. Instead of some pathetic end of year list just designed to rile up fanboys, I’m going to just spend the month of December chewing in detail through some of my fav records of this year. Singles, EPs, whatever. Surf the 2013 tag to find tons more of this stuff. We won’t be rehashing anything [except your tired descriptions of things – Ed], so if you want to know why Deap Vally are great or Savages are something you should hear or Heliotropes are still my absolute darlings, then go back and read it!
Why not open with grief, nihilism, emptiness and hatred with the Blind Hole, the best grind album of the year from Dead in the Dirt. This isn’t a surprise. Everyone (cool) has exclaimed why a spectacular piece of grind this album is. I still keep the grind genre at arm’s length until it gets over a very nasty case of goregrind (don’t even google it, don’t give them the traffic), but every so often someone returns absolutely to the feedback-heavy punk-politick of genre progenitors Napalm Death. There were rumours that in early Napalm Death the guitar strings were so de-tuned they would sometimes stick to the pickup magnets, drenching venues and sound booths in waves of painful distortion. The Blind Hole is packed with these kinds of whines and blasts of totally left-field distortion, scything straight past your ear and reverberating right off your spinal column.
Nails’ Abandon All Life earlier this year wasn’t great, so it’s nice to have someone else to fill the boxes of heaviness and brevity. Like Nails, Dead in the Dirt are influenced by sludge and drone as much as grindcore (they’ve played with Sunn O))) don’tcha know), and few songs have the million-miles-an-hour quality of a lot of Pig Destroyer’s ilk, that creates a breathlessness and hastiness which diminishes the impact. Few songs trouble the three-minute mark, and there are few stylistic flourishes. Like the music, the lyrics are bare-bones and without flash. For the most part literal, political and nihilistic.
Despite the band being straight-edge vegans, the music is brutal enough to talk them out of their back-room kicking in any respectable venues (not that respectable venues allow this kind of noise). It’s empty, brutal, wearying, atonal. In the most pure form it is an assault on the ears, ruthlessly paired of any extraneous material that doesn’t assist in that one goal. It won’t turn any fans, it isn’t meant to. It’s the purest expression of metal-as-anger of the year, and you should definitely seek it out.
Written under duress by Steven.