2019 has been a year full of interesting albums and longtime comebacks from bands and artists of every kind.
This is my very first article written fot this new personal blog, said that, i think it’s important to point out that this list (and all the others that i’ll post in the future) is not intended to be a chart with a first and a last position, it’s just a selection of 10 really good 2019 albums accompanied by a short description i’d like to recommend to everyone who opens this page.
Alcest “Spiritual Instinct”
Follower of Kodama (2016), this new record is a really good comeback for the french duo leaded by Neige and it’s the first one released by the colossal metal label Nuclear Blast; But beside that it dosen’t show big changes in the band’s sound and the fewest new things are all well managed like the heavy distortions that recalls a really massive post-metal sound in the vein of Neurosis and Russian Circles balanced with super rock Emma Ruth Rundle-like moments (Sapphire is the best example and it shows an almost perfect and genuine songwriting).
It’s always good to see projects that started from the very underground like Alcest getting always bigger and mainting a very honest and coherent artistic identity.
American Football “LP3”
With a strong excitement from the band’s die hard fans, the new American Football’s wait has been undoubtely worth. Anticipated by the hypnotic Unconfortably Numb with the special contribution of Hayley Williams from Paramore, the album gives the same relaxed, sleepy and emotional atmosphere of this single track for its whole duration. Beautiful, thirlling, quite and very intense, perfect to enjoy during a train/car/whatever travel when it’s dark outside.
Blanck Mass “Animated Violence Mind”
With its weird aesthetic, the new Black Mass’ album is a disturbing travel across very catchy tunes and more aggressive outbursts. Love is Parasite’s videoclip is a true gem of weirdness and its scenes seems taken from David Lynch or David Cronenberg’s movies accompanied by perfectly crafted melodies.
Giving a listen to this albums means diving into a very eclectic electronic sound that switches from EBM moments with harsh screams to piano driven cinematic soundscapes with overwhelming singing (listen to House vs House if you want a proof of what i’m saying).
Blood Incantation “Hidden History of the Human Race”
If the previous Starspawn was one of the most well realized extreme metal albums of the last 5 years (and believe me it was), with this new one the four piece band from Denver has been able to reach a higher level with impeccable songwriting and hypnotic passages. The heavy parts still shows a massive and almost perfect approach to guitar driven outburst, but with a totally unique taste for experimentation. The whole album sounds like a cosmic trip across astral planes in a semiconscious state.
A special mention goes also to the cover art by 70’s painter Bruce Pennington that gives the album a sci-fi and Philip K.Dick-esque aesthetic (interesting fact – there are two other albums around using this cover: Agony’s Apocalyptic Dawing and Alec Empire’s Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5, both released in 1995).
Elizabeth Colour Wheel “Nocebo”
After a series of really interesting minor releases, the US based 5 piece band has finally released their debut album Nocebo, one of the most interesting rock albums of the outgoing year.
Elizabeth Colour Wheel is with no doubt one of that bands that sounds like nothing else already existing with a unique formula made of shoegaze sparks, noise rock outbursts, metal oriented parts with fast drumming, slow heavy passages and cinematic epicity. If you want to hear explosive guitar distortion accompanied by a unique and super flexible female vocal work you’re going to discover one of your next favourite bands and albums.
Here we go, it’s been 4 years from The Ark Work’s release and the quartet from Brooklyn leaded by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is finally back with another impressive record. Even if a first listen will suggest a comeback to the roots this is not entirely true, for sure black metal screams are back and many atmospheres from the Aesthetica/Renihlation period can be felt, but the fine use of electronica made of glitches and MIDI sounds started with the Ark Work is still present and it’s perfectly matched with the rest.
Also the massive use of classical instruments such as harp, strings and piano (there are even some exotic instruments like hichiriki and ryuteki) takes Liturgy’s music to another level of high quality composition exploring new musical horizons and strange a-rhythmic sections accompanied by the usual philosophical tables and concepts that makes the “Liturgy experience” so characteristic.
After two almost perfect albums was not so easy to make a new record on the same level, but the new Deceiver is without any doubt a strong confirmation of the band’s ability to write impeccable songs.
Following the usual direction halfway between shoegaze and post-punk this release is a pure concentration of 90’s alternative rock euphoria, from the harsh pop lines of Skin Game to the beautiful melodies sorrounded by fuzzy soundscapes of Lorelei. DIIV also confirms their impressive ability to switch from massive bass driven fast parts to slow and dreamy moments full of chrystalline guitars and ambient backgrounds.
If you don’t know this band and you’re into My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth or The Cure you should definitely take a listen to all their three albums.
Ştiu Nu Ştiu “Sick Sad Love”
Dark, sad, hypnotic and gloom are just a few ways to describe the incredible experience offered by this album entitled Sick Sad Love which is an overwhelming experience across the sound of madness and melancholy.
The band, Ştiu Nu Ştiu, is an obscure and underrated project from Sweden crafting a very original sound that takes inspiration from post-punk, darkwave, gothic rock and a few metal moments taken on a very high level. The album is a true hidden gem and it’s full of very various but always impressive songs, check the incredibly beautiful post-rock melodies of Sick Sad Love, the hypnotic heaviness of Sibirien or the massive experimentation of Slack Fyrarna to get an anticipation of the whole experience, you’ll find some of the most intense and well made songs recorded in 2019 you could listen to.
Of course also the rest of the discography is highly recommended to check, there are two other impressive album on the same level of this new one out there.
Sadistik “Haunted Gardens”
With his very unique experimental hip-hop, Sadistik (stage name of Cody Foster) has always been one of the most interesting and talented outputs offered by the genre.
This new Haunted Gardens is a beautiful mix of dreamy and depressing atmospheres with poetical lyrics, fast rapping and aggressive beats.
The instrumental work is nearly perfect, confirming this album as one of the most intense things released this year you could find out (try 8/12 or Pet Sematary if you wanna drown into synth layers), and if you listen to it with lights off and calm around it will swallow your heart.
Lyrics are also incredibly well made offering very emotional, reflective and mindblowing verses:
“A thousand people surround us inside of me’s only lonely
The fireflies used to visit to sit on my skin I miss it
When mystery dissipated you drifted into the distance” (taken from the song Eden)
Drab Majesty “Modern Mirror”
The previous The Demonstration has been my absolute favourite album released in 2017 and impressed me with its synthwave perfection; well, the new Modern Mirror is another masterpiece, confirming the direction of the previous record adding a distinctive dramatic emphasis to the slower moments (Oxtocyn, Noise of the Void) and addictive vocal lines impossible to forget in a very 80’s way (The Other Side, Elipsis).
The Los Angeles-based duo is showing album by album an unbelievable ability to create with its music a dreamy place where guitar and synth lines are perfectly merged as one, combining flanger arpeggios and spacey catchy melodies as a unique breathaking and chilling experience.