Misanthropic Generation (2003) Disfear
Disfear’s sound is adrift somewhere in that nebulous scream-mo/punk/metal area that defies easy categorization. From Sweden, these guys have been sporadically recording some of the heaviest, fastest, meanest sounding music since the early 90s. With 2003’s MISANTHROPIC GENERATION, they pushed the sound firmly into the metal mainstream. Part subversive, part horror influenced, and part angst, the songs never let up. From beginning to end, they pummel your senses with battering drums, coupled with smart bass lines, and devil may care guitar work. The lyrics, mostly angry rasping roars, are designed to make you think. For punching and kicking yourself into an exhausted pile of sweating, quivering flesh and bone, this is the kind of music that works for me best.
Watershed (2008) Opeth
These guys really know how to throw progressive metal on its ass and make it bleed melody and harmony. The guitar work is astounding, and although this isn't blues in any way, shape or form, there are moments that almost sound like The Allman Brothers have haunted their studio. The addition of orchestral sounds fits like a smooth silken glove in between rumbling bass lines and thundering drums. This is Opeth's Dark Side of the Moon. I have a review copy, but this fantastic album will be out later this month. Get it! Love it! Live it!
In Rainbows (2007) Radiohead http://www.radiohead.com/deadairspace/
Once more, Radiohead proves with their latest release, IN RAINBOWS, that a band which strives to break their own sound is a band that creates magic. IN RAINBOWS isn't a monumental departure from the last two albums, but it's obvious they've found a niche of sorts and are trying to find all its boundaries, while still creating melancholic and politically aware songs. They really know how to lay down all those neat little blips and tweaks that make an ordinary song something different and special- i.e., Eno- and Lanois-esque. There's a rich layered electronic keyboard ambience to every song, commingled with mostly restrained, yet still powerful, bass lines and guitar work. And yet…there is a deceptive simplicity to their sound. At times it belies description, a description that somehow steals the magic by putting it into words.
As usual the star of the music is Yorke's unmistakable voice-as-instrument. He moans with true emotion, sending echoing wails in the background that cause the small hairs on your arms to stand at attention. His lyrics are haunting and beautiful- a perfect match for the soundscapes created.
Despite all the carbon copies that have tried to perfect the Radiohead formula since THE BENDS, no one comes close to making the kind of music RADIOHEAD does. IN RAINBOWS may have the distinction of winning several awards this coming year, and may find its place in history as a one of a kind album by a one of a kind band.