Sunday, December 26, 2010

BEST OF 2010! (part 6)

La Vierge Noire
(Nuclear War Now!)

Like a virgin. Touched for the very first time. Cauchemar arrives from Montreal, Canada as a lightning shaft of illumination rending the musty ossuary of modern mediocrity! This power trio offers up anthemic French invocations shrouded in the purple metal majesty of doom, made all the more mysterious by the fact that I don't understand a word of it. Well, that's not entirely true. I nailed the first word of Le Volle D'Isis without Google Translate but that's only because I already had to look up the word "sepultura" two decades ago. Cauchemar's sepulchral rocka rolla crawls forth from the same crypt as Italian horror hordes Death SS and Black Hole with creepy dynamics giving way to galloping rhythm and haunting melody. Annick Giroux's vocals emanate a refreshing humility and an understated sensual power that tempers the muscular advance of Francois Patry's iron riffs and Patrick Pageau's confident plodding. Midnight Shady refuses to dumb us down with growls, grunts, shrieks or false operatic femininity. In fact, she sorts the men out from the boys with dignified restraint and all while laying it down on the four string altar. Hard to pick a favorite as this entire 12" is flawless, if only too short. Austere aesthetics reflects the band's modest no-frills approach. As a matter of logistical criticism, clear vinyl makes it virtually impossible to tell what side is what or where the fucking grooves are in a candlelit room. Purple vinyl would've been perfect. Still, I feel shiny and new. Like a virgin.

Honorable Mention:

From The Devil's Tomb
(Ajna Offensive)
Weapon released one of the classics of 2009 with Drakonian Paradigm and this year they returned with their sophomore strike. This record is a mixed affair for me because the compositions and musicianship (and artwork) are superior to anything the band has ever manifested in almost every way but these new hymns are ultimately undermined by surgical ProTools production values. It goes without say that these earnest disciples have very lofty ambitions and they clearly set out to create a timeless leviathan of a record. It falls short only in the obnoxious sound, especially the clickety-clackety drums which stutter in the foreground and occasionally distract from the amazing solos and absolutely infectious riffing. Where's the ETERNAL FIRE? When I'm invoking the glorious majesty of KALI I don't wanna hear my daughter hammering away on an old typewriter in the next room. Actually, my daughter is in the next room hammering away on an old typewriter. But you get the idea. I also miss the weird demonic chorus/gang vocals of Serpent Ayat and hope they'll resurface on the next one. Despite these shortcomings, Weapon has once again succeeded in unleashing one of the year's best.