25 of the best things I may never have heard…Posted on Thursday, December 31st, 2009 @ 3:36pm » permalink
On January 1, 2010, I'll have been doing this website in one form or another for 10 years. One of the only (arbitrary) goals I set for myself when I launched the original site on January 1, 2000 was that I wanted to stick with it for "at least" a decade, so I guess I succeeded! Looking back, it's kind of crazy, especially considering the workload I maintained for the first four years of the site – writing up to 100 full-length reviews a month (covering every single item that showed up in the mail for at least two or three years) on top of various interviews, etc. I have no fucking clue how I was able to do that for so long, especially since I can barely pull together four or five write-ups a week these days. Life really can change quite a bit in a decade.
As such, Aversionline has stripped down and changed a hell of a lot over the years. I don't write about nearly as much as I used to, I've gotten bad at responding to emails (My apologies if you never heard back from me!), it can be tough to find the time to update the site regularly… but I still truly appreciate everyone that has ever taken the time to send me a CD, send me an email, post a comment, or simply check out the bands that I've been babbling about all this time. I can't imagine I'll be able to keep it up for another 10 years, but I love discovering new music and (hopefully) helping others do the same, so… we'll see!
To "celebrate" all this, I've looked back through my archives and tried to pick 25 of the best bands I've been exposed to as a direct result of doing Aversionline over the past decade. This is not a "Best Albums of the Decade" list. These are just 25 bands I've been introduced to in the last 10 years that I may never have had the chance to appreciate otherwise. Could I have selected more? Sure. Am I forgetting some mandatory selections that probably should've made the cut? More than likely (my memory's not so hot). But regardless, these 25 artists/songs have made enough of an impression on me to warrant more attention here, and I hope you'll enjoy 'em.
If you just want the tunes, the complete list of tracks and a single download link for the entire set is below. Under that I've provided links for the bands/labels/purchasing (where possible) and written quick little blurbs about each track if you want to explore further.
- 357 Justice "Triumphant Pills"
- Agalloch "As Embers Dress the Sky"
- All Else Failed "In Our Defense"
- Allegiance "Just Let Go"
- Analena "In Theory and Practice"
- As Friends Rust "Where the Wild Things Were"
- By a Thread "Walkway"
- Elements DEC "The Game Ain't the Same"
- Dead City "Goddamned"
- Disillusion "Fall"
- Down My Throat "Burn"
- Fall of the Leafe "A Waiting Room Snap"
- Full Court Press "All That Remains"
- Garrison "After the Fight"
- Hiretsukan "Barrel Roll"
- The Joy Formidable "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade"
- Koma "Like Coming Home"
- Make Do and Mend "Insomniac Jams"
- Maudlin of the Well "Undine and Underwater Flowers" (excerpt)
- Misery Signals "Five Years"
- The Movielife "Pinky Swear"
- Parallax "Momentum"
- Solid Ground "Get Used to It"
- This et Al "Wardens"
- Whiskey Rebels "Create or Die"
357 Justice "Triumphant Pills"
From the "s/t" CD (2001), released by Hater of God.
Purchase: @ Interpunk
I think this one was released before I was really familiar with the Hater of God label, but I saw it in a used bin after I had gotten a few packages from 'em and picked it up immediately, since I knew the Hater of God stamp was a mark of true quality. Sure enough, this disc is jam packed with super meaty rhythms, burly vocals, and sick dissonant riffs that make for a killer listen. Very underrated.
Agalloch "As Embers Dress the Sky"
What I said about it then: "I am in a certain state of disbelief, as this is one of the most moving things I have ever heard…"
This was actually one of the first CD's I ever received in the mail for review, and it made an enormous impact on me right away. That impact has remained firmly intact ever since, as "Pale Folklore" is still one of my favorite metal albums of all time. I've praised this record on numerous occasions here over the last decade, but I still encourage anyone unfamiliar with its greatness to seek it out immediately!
All Else Failed "In Our Defense"
From the "This Never Happened" CD (2004), released by Abacus Recordings.
Purchase: @ CM Distro
I was familiar with All Else Failed from their earlier years, but wasn't an enormous fan of that work, so had this disc not showed up in the mail one day, it's unlikely that I would've checked it out on my own. What a shame that would've been, as the material herein was such a gigantic step forward for the band. More ferocious yet more melodic, and shockingly catchy at times, I listened to this thing almost nonstop for a bit there. Some of the lyrics really hit me at that point in my life as well. And I still love it, too. Such a great record…
Allegiance "Just Let Go"
Possibly the single best hardcore release of the decade. It's that good. I'm not a huge fan of the band's other work, but somehow the planets aligned for "Overlooked" and everything fell into place perfectly. This is the kind of shit that makes you get butterflies in your stomach with every listen. Excellent songwriting and completely raging energy that makes you want to knock motherfuckers' heads off. Perfect.
Analena "In Theory and Practice"
And this one's possibly the single best screamo release ever! I don't know what it is, but something about this style makes it really hard to balance acerbity with a truly moving sense of feeling, but Analena totally nailed it here. Several of the songs on this album (especially this track) achieve that perfect mix of urgency and emotion. I was completely blown away by this album, and can't recommend it highly enough.
As Friends Rust "Where the Wild Things Were"
What I said about it then: "This is awesome stuff. If their other records are this good then my dumb ass has been missing out…"
My dumb ass was definitely missing out. This is still the best thing the band ever released, though. Creative lyrics, ridiculous catchiness… I'm all over it. Sure, the recording could've used a little help, but the best songs on this release are so god damn infectious! You can't argue with that level of songwriting quality. This is another one that didn't leave my rotation for a good bit.
By a Thread "Walkway"
I think this was the first CD I ever received in the mail for review… and I never even reviewed it! A friend hooked me up during the three or four months of preparation before the site launched, but I just wasn't that into it at the time, and didn't revisit it until a few years later when the band blew me away on a compilation. I don't know what the hell my problem was in late-1999 when I first checked this shit out, but… this is one of the most underrated emo/indie bands ever. Period.
Elements DEC "The Game Ain't the Same"
From the "Win or Lose" demo (1996), self-released.
Best unsigned band ever? Very possible. As an enormous fan of Agents of Man, I was extremely curious to hear some of the members' prior band, Elements DEC. When the band's vocalist hooked me up with their two demos, my jaw was on the fucking floor. It still causes me physical pain to recognize the fact that such incredible music was never given the chance to be properly heard by as many listeners as I know would appreciate this shit. I must have listened to those demos hundreds of times in the years that followed.
Dead City "Goddamned"
This is one of the albums from this list that would absolutely be among my "Best Albums of the Decade". No doubt. Hopefully anyone taking the time to read this is already well aware of my love for Dead City, as I've raved about them a number of times in the last few years. Seriously, any fan of hardcore that can listen to a song this vicious and not be into it… I just can't hang with that at all. This is one of those elite tracks that makes me want to just put my fist through the wall and start wrecking everything in sight. Fucking masterpiece.
Another severely underrated one. Crazy album, too. Take a base of killer melodic Swedish death metal and toss in all kinds of crazy progressive influences and a little bit of unexpected weirdness and you've got yourself a monster. I had no reason to think I was gonna like this disc but I was completely floored. Too bad the band changed quite a bit afterwards. I tried repeatedly to get into the follow-up, "Gloria", but just couldn't do it. Oh well!
Down My Throat "Burn"
I think this is the disc that kicked off my infatuation with the Finnish metallic hardcore scene. Powerful songwriting, great production, loads of chugging riffs, those ultra burly Euro-style vocals… how could any fan of this style not be all over this!?
Fall of the Leafe "A Waiting Room Snap"
From the "Volvere" CD (2004), released by Rage of Achilles Records.
What I said about it then: "This record totally boils down to songwriting, though. Even the few lackluster moments are brought back to fine form by amazing choruses…"
That's still true, and this song perfectly exemplifies such a statement. I'm not gonna lie, I have at least four other albums by these Finns, but this is the only one I ever listen to these days. That's not to say the other albums don't hold up, it's just that "Volvere" is hard to compete with since its best songs are so fucking good. Tell me this song isn't incredible. You can't!
Full Court Press "All That Remains"
Belgium's "European E.Town Concrete". Not a completely accurate representation of the band, but fair enough, and there's not a god damn thing wrong with that. Amongst a number of very solid releases from Gangstyle Records, this is probably the label's finest hour. I really wish these cats had stuck around for another full-length…
Garrison "After the Fight"
What I said about it then: "My main gripe with this CD is that I often find myself waiting for the choruses to repeat again, but as Garrison continues to further their songwriting techniques I expect great things from them…"
That was just me being a dumbass again. Another Revelation Records release that didn't hit me until a few years later. And then one day, it just clicked. For the longest time I thought there was only one killer song on this CD, and now I have over half the album rated four or five stars in iTunes. What the hell was wrong with me!?
Hiretsukan "Barrel Roll"
Like Analena above, this band hits that perfect balance of intense, caustic aggression and off the charts feeling and emotion. I don't even know what more to say. Amazing.
The Joy Formidable "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade"
From "A Balloon Called Moaning" CD (2009), self-released.
Purchase: @ The Joy Formidable
Another of the more recent bands to make the list, this style falls outside of my normal listening spectrum, but the band is so excellent that I was hooked instantly. They tend to give away their material for free quite a bit, and have yet to write a bad song. I was so excited to get exposed to this work, and am always looking forward to hearing more.
Koma "Like Coming Home"
What I said about it then: "…I'm not kidding, it's a crime that I'm not hearing more about this band. What gives?"
I was introduced to Koma (now Khoma) through a compilation and knew I had to hear more. Their sophomore full-length wasn't nearly as spectacular, but "Tsunami" is still a superb slab of moody, atmospheric "metal". This song in particular just crushes my life to bits…
Make Do and Mend "Insomniac Jams"
From the "We're All Just Living" CD (2007), released by Restless Minds Records.
Purchase: This one might be out of print, but if you contact the band on MySpace I'm pretty sure they'd be willing to work something out with you (downloads, etc.).
Love. This. Band. I wasn't 100% sold at first, but, again, I was being an idiot. I now fully worship everything they've recorded to date, and can't wait to hear more. This is one of the greatest songs ever written in the history of all living things, and has already become the most played song in my iTunes library. So, so good.
Maudlin of the Well "Undine and Underwater Flowers" (excerpt)
From the "My Fruit Psychobells… a Seed Combustible" CD (1999), released by Dark Symphonies.
Purchase: @ CM Distro
What I said about it then: "From total doom/death metal to convincing 70's prog rock and authentic jazz passages this band can and will pull off nearly anything they wish…"
Another selection that has stuck with me from way back in the first year of the site. Admittedly I haven't listened to the band's other work very often since those days, but the core of this song is such a mesmerizing representation of the band at their peculiar finest that I had to include it. These five minutes are another rare passage that instantly hit me in that all-too-rare manner.
Misery Signals "Five Years"
Easily one of the best "metalcore" releases of the decade, where crazy diversity and technicality are helped along by badass riffs and solid songwriting.
The Movielife "Pinky Swear"
What I said about it then: "…I was singing along to some of these tracks before they ended on the first listen! Unheard of! It's just that catchy!"
Pretty much everything this band released was great. If you dig absurdly catchy pop-punk type stuff and have never really checked this band out: Do it now!
From the "Mediums & Messages" CD (2006), released by Counterintelligence Recordings.
Purchase: @ Interpunk
Another band that I've continued to express amazing feelings for in recent years, and another album from this list that would undoubtedly make it to my "Best Albums of the Decade". If you've still never heard Parallax, absolutely check 'em out immediately, and buy the fuckin' CD while you still can.
Solid Ground "Get Used to It"
Right up there with Allegiance as possibly the single best hardcore release of the decade, I don't care what anyone else says. This kind of no frills, in your face attack is what really hits home for me. I've raved about this band/release/song before, and I always will. How can you not love this? I'm seriously having to restrain myself from smashing my computer into a million pieces right now!
This et Al "Wardens"
From the "Baby Machine" CD (2006), self-released.
Purchase: @ Amazon.com
Another completely out of nowhere submission that I didn't expect to like at all, and ended up fuckin' loving it. It's a cryin' shame that this band called it quits already, as just like their UK countrymates The Joy Formidable, they never wrote a bad song.
Whiskey Rebels "Create or Die"
From the "Create or Die" CD (2004), released by GMM Records.
Purchase: @ Whiskey Rebels
One of the best songs I've heard in the last 10 years, from a highly underrated band that has sadly not released anything new since. At the end of the day, I don't give a shit what anyone else thinks is cool, what gets all the hype, etc. I only care about whether or not it's actually good music, and this track is such a fitting example of that. The chorus is so insanely heartfelt, and I just feel like everyone should be able to appreciate that type of thing!