Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CHUCK RUSSELL'S TOP 5 RECORDS OF 2013 (for now anyway)

5. AUGUST BURNS RED - Rescue & Restore  I just saw these guys last week in Birmingham and it was wild! (That's were I got this pic btw) My only complaint was that they didn't play Redemption. There aren't  any real weak points in this record, it's unmistakeable ABR, there just aren't many surprises either. I still love it, and will probably only love it more the more I listen to it, but I think Leveler was much better honestly. This disc debuted at #8 on Billboard, in spite of the fact that the mainstream, 'Christian rock' scene & hypocritical communist snob punk/HC scene are all pretending the band doesn't exist. It reminds me of Pantera's Far Beyond Driven reaching #1 with basically no support at all from the music press, MTV, or radio. You would think the idiots in charge of the industry would catch on by now, no?

4. NOFX - Self-Entitled 
Yea you read that right, I ranked NOFX ahead of August Burns Red. After all these years, these guys can still write/play punk songs better than 98% of anyone still (erroneously) calling their band 'punk rock.' I think it's more of a testament to how stagnated punk rock is/has been for the last 15 years or so than the band's talent, but that's an entire blog entry (maybe even a fuckin book) unto itself. The opener 72 Hookers is probably the best track, but it's not all downhill after #1. Each song has it's own personality, distinct from the others. Best of all there's still no goddamned SKA! Coaster was half greatness, half filler, this one is 75% greatness I'd say. The quotient would probably be higher if not for the fuckin goddamn liberal politics. (STILL writing songs about Regan & Thatcher? Pussy ass COWARD shit in my book) I suppose you gotta take the bad with the good. Too bad bands like NOFX would rather continue to flog the skeleton of punk rock than try anything new or different. I really miss passionate punk that actually meant something. Oh well, hippies gotta 'stick it to the man' and Democrats gotta keep getting elected somehow!!

3. Impending Doom - Death Will Reign
I love this band. Their last record Baptized In Filth made my Top 10 last year. I may even venture to say that record was a tad better, but I've obviously had much more time with the former. This assault on the senses isn't as diverse as BIF, but what it lacks in diversity it compensates for in passion. You can tell when musicians/songwriters are truly 'into' what they're doing or 'going through the motions' so to speak. I suppose that's one of the reasons I appreciate this band's work as much as I do. Most of the songs on this one are mid tempo chuggers with grind parts thrown in here and there to keep things interesting. I guess I should also mention this is a Christian band. The song topics are pretty narrow in scope, mostly narrating the struggle of being a Christian in today's disgustingly corrupt society. I don't consider it a bad thing, as you can see Brook Reeves is bearing his soul in many of these verses. "My life is a constant struggle/My life is a constant fight!" sounds simple, but anyone walking The Path will agree it's as true as it is honest. I really can't wait to see these guys live.

2.Carcass - Surgical Steel
I swore up & down since hearing this last month it would most certainly be my Album of the Year. It's obviously not, but only because another Death Metal legend decided to do the impossible and not only make a record I like more than this one, but do so with only TWO original members! But enough about that record, this is Carcass' time. I've already blogged a review of this one last month, so I guess my enthusiasm has waned a bit. The only word I can think of to describe this piece of art is 'perfection.' As I noted before, even Jeff Walker's snarls have improved. The music/lyrics are as brilliant as they are violent. It's like Hannibal Lecter decided to start a band. You will hear shades of the past hear and there, as Cadaver Pouch Conveyer System may remind you of Carnal Forge,   be not mistaken. This is no throwback record or attempt to please fans with nostalgia. It is Death Metal perfection, plain and simple. The only gripe I can think of is Ken Owen isn't behind the kit, and I can't help but wonder if the final product would've sounded different had he been involved. Aside from that, flawless.

1.Deicide - In the Minds of Evil
Yes, I'm about as surprised as you that the blasphemous Floridians managed to edge out Carcass for the (not) coveted title of Chuck Russell's 'Album of the Year.' Now, I know all you guitarists or prog/core hairstyles are saying "I bet they couldn't play any of such and such band's songs! All their riffs are simple powerchords blah blah" and I don't give a fuck. I do appreciate technical ability to a certain extent, but I suppose I value the ability to write a coherent song more. I've really grown weary of all this tech-death shit. I don't have the time to listen to your twelve fuckin minute guitar wank fests, Between the Buried and Me. How about I just assume yall can play guitar/bass/drums like, really fuckin good? That would save me lot The shit has gotten out of hand. It doesn't help that everyone who can hold a guitar is in a band now, the technical/mathcore/whatever the fuck it is needs to die off already. I don't know how many other ways to tell some of these guitarists that no one besides other guitarists care to hear you demonstrate how great you can supposedly play. You have no style, and your shit isn't memorable. It doesn't make me want to headbang. Deicide on the other hand, have nothing to prove, other than the fact they they aren't big fans of Jesus Christ or Christianity, I suppose. Every song on this disc makes me headbang. I haven't bought a Deicide album since Serpents of the Light, way back in 98, so this is a reunion of sorts. They were one of my favorite bands growing up. Once Upon the Cross still remains one of my all-time favorite Death Metal albums. The first time I heard them was the Legion album, and honestly, the opening track 'Satan Spawn the Caco Demon' scared the bejesus out of me! In case you don't know, their lyrical direction was uber-Satanic in the early years, and has apparently morphed into more of a 'never ending contempt for God/Christ/Christianity'-sorta direction. The guitar riffs are memorable and catchy. The aggression is over-the-top, even by Deicide's standards. I also love the drumming. Asheim is the only other original member besides Benton, and he's as precise and volatile as ever. The only gripe I can come up with is the vocals get a tad monotonous, as I'm used to Benton's deep roars being accented by his trademark unsettling, inhuman mid-range shrieks. Benton helped pioneer the low/high pitched trade off Death Metal vocal style literally everyone and their brother uses nowadays, so I suppose that's why he doesn't use the highs as much. Anyway this record takes the cake for its vehemence, memorable riffs, great drumming, and efficiency. It really is a breath of fresh air among all the prog-tech bullshit ruling the metal scene these days. Hopefully this helps inspire a new breed of 'meat n' potatoes'-style Death Metal bands. If you can actually write/play good riffs and songs, there's no need for all the wankery, kids.

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