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Best Albums of 2015

 

 

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Album: Empress/Abscess
Artist: Immortal Bird
Genre: Grindcore
Origin: Chicago

Listen to To a Watery Grave

This album pairs well with Hopadillo IPA by Karbach.

Somehow, every time I put on this album or crack open a Hopadillo I think, "this isn't bad."  Then, in an instant, it's all gone.  The deep seated pangs of withdrawal start creeping through the marrow of my bones and all my mind can focus on is getting more.  On my weaker days, I have been known to start this album over immediately or sneak into the garage and hope that no one noticed that I’m already on my second beer before the head in everyone else's glass has had time to settle.

 

Album: Songs from the North I, II, III
Artist: Swallow the Sun
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Rooms and Shadows


This album pairs well with Japanese Green Tea IPA by Stone.

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How long should an album be?  They say a good paper or article is like a skirt, it's long enough to cover the relevant material and short enough to still be interesting.  Most people take this advice to mean that, given the appropriate amount of effort, shorter is better.  We've all been there, you open a 22oz bottle of imperial, barrel aged, something infused, double, chocolate/coffee/vanilla, bourbon, limited edition, burtango, and all you can think is, "Wow, that is great.  I would have loved a few sips of this while I contemplate life while sitting next to the fire, but since I opened the bottle, I guess I have to finish it."  The Japanese Green Tea IPA is not like that.  It is a journey.  Each taste opens up new flavors and sensations.  As it warms up, the full bouquet expands and tells a story.  "Songs from the North I, II, III" is the same way.  At first, you might think, "Zomg, that is a long album!" (albums?) but give it a chance.  There is a clear progression that, given the appropriate measure of attention, makes it clear that there is a narrative and a purpose.  Swallow the Sun were not simply trying to make a long album.  There is no filler.  If your album only needs be 30 minutes long, then make a 30 minute long album.  If you have over two and half hours of a musical story to tell, then do it.

 

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Album: One Man Army
Artist: Ensiferum
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to One Man Army

This album pairs well with Prairie Gold by Prairie.

There are three kinds of people in this word: Those who LOVE Ensiferum, those who got burned out listening to them too much in the early 00's, and those who are secretly lizards hiding under a thin layer of human skin.  Prairie Gold is the same way.  I have met men who claim that they used to love sours, but then they drank too many and now they just don't desire them anymore.  These men are weak.  They will die off in the first wave of the human uprising against our secret lizard overlords.  After they fall, the rest of us will ride into battle to the majestic, galloping riffs of Ensiferum's empowering music!

 

Album: Stellar
Artist: Der Weg einer Freiheit
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Germany

Listen to Repulsion

This album pairs well with The Honesty of Reason by Southern Star.


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The intersection of art and power can be found in The Honesty of Reason and Stellar alike.  There is so much going on that you can't help but grab the nearest human you can find by the collar and passionately explain to them how much of reality they have completely failed to comprehend.  This beer and this album deserve to be appreciated over and over again.  On the surface, they are great.  However, there are several layers waiting to be explored by those with sufficient attention to detail.  At a cursory glance, you might think you understand what I'm explaining here, but until you take the time to savor the intimate details and explore everything that exists in these two works you will never know.

 

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Album: Vænir
Artist: Monolord
Genre: Stoner Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to We Will Burn

This album pairs well with Founders Breakfast Stout.

You wake up later than expected.  Normally the mid-morning rays of sunlight stream through the window and force you to enter the realm of the living, but the sky is gunmetal grey.  The laden clouds are doing a top notch job of blocking out most of the photons that normally strike your heavy eyelids and force you to remember that the world continues to revolve around the sun.  You drank too much last night, but the tell tail signs of a hangover don't seem present.  After glancing at the time on your phone, you decide to roll out of bed.  As you wander into the kitchen an overwhelming sense of hunger overtakes you.  Time passes.  You realize that you have been staring into the refrigerator for an indeterminable amount of time.  You imagine the expensive, cold air pouring out of the fridge like so many ping pong balls spilling out around your feet.  Instinctively, you close the door.  It's Saturday and the thought of the weekend brunch at your favorite pub makes your mouth water.  As you pick a lightly worn shirt out of the pile and pull on yesterdays pants, you think about nothing other than the nourishment that eggs, cheese, carbs, and deliciousness will bring you.  Pulling up to the first red light, it hits you; the reason you are not hung over is probably that you are still a little drunk.  Eh, no one gets pulled over for drunk driving on a Saturday morning.  You pause in the parking lot before killing the engine.  The sound of Monolord flowing from your speakers has never sounded more pertinent.  Somehow the patter of raindrops striking the windshield seems to match the eternal drone of Vænir.  After the song ends you walk into the bar.  The smell of bacon and fried potatoes greet you.  There are less than half a dozen people sitting at the bar and you pull up a stool next to someone who is watching women's beach volleyball on the TV off to the right.  Thoughts about saying some sort of vapid platitude are brushed aside as he takes a deep swig of a beer that is darker than the night, and he gazes back at the fit women diving into the sand on the forty-two inch screen.   What to order?  Is there a wrong decision at this point?  Everything on the brunch menu looks amazing.  Just as you narrow it down to two options, the bartender strides over and makes eye contact.  "What'll it be?"  Before you can answer, the person to your right turns around.  "He'll have the Founders Breakfast Stout."  The fear takes much too long to sink in.  Shock is screaming in your subconscious, begging to be heard through the dreary haze.  As you stare into your own eyes, you mutter, "Yeah, I'll have the breakfast stout."  You turn away from yourself before you do and glance down at the menu.  The eggs Benedict sounds good.

 

Album: Aphotic Veil
Artist: Exgenesis
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to Cloudburst

This album pairs well with Oak Aged Yeti.


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Most oak barrels are made out of trees that are 100 to 200 years old.  It kinda puts your whole life into perspective.  There is something ancient sounding hidden in the subtle interludes of Aphotic Veil, that also makes you realize how short your life really is.

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,
“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”
What benefit do people get from all the effort which they expend on earth?
A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth remains the same through the ages.
The sun rises and the sun sets; it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.

Exgenesis understand the Teacher more than most people who do their time in seminary, and I would argue that the good people at Great Divide do as well.  We are all but a vapor, nothingness, lost in the wind.  The world is, and has been, and will continue to be.  All that we have is to make the most of our time on this earth.  A deep seated knowledge that permeates our most private thoughts tells us that there is more to follow this short life, but yet, we hope that what happens in the here and now must have some everlasting value.  If you relax, pour an Oak Aged Yeti, and listen to Aphotic Veil, you will live a more meaningful life.

 

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Album: Singularity
Artist: Enshine
Genre: Atmospheric Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to Dual Existence

This album pairs well with Cantillon Gueuze.

"In the 18th century, a Benedictine monk, dom Pérignon, discovers the champaign method by blending different non sparkling white wines. One century later, a Brabant brewer blends different lambics and brings about a spontaneous fermentation in the bottle. The Gueuze is born."

Singularity by Enshine speaks to the desire to uncover hidden knowledge that only the Belgians understand.  Everything that is required to make the perfect beer already exists.  All the pieces needed for the best metal album are already available to us.  The act of making a great beer or an amazing album is not one of creation.  It is a work of discovery.  When you drink Cantillon Gueuze and listen to Singularity, you are not partaking in anything new.  You are simply learning to appreciate the work that has gone before. 

Do not let this be misconstrued as petty sentimentalism.  Everything is additive.  What is the best age to live in?  It's this age!  We have learned from all those who went before us.  We must give them respect, but at the same time we must recognize that, at one point, they were just like us, looking to those who came before, consuming everything beneficial, and discarding everything that is useless.

I want to live on in the future.  Our lives are short.  Are the accomplishments of your life counted among those that will be remembered by future generations, or will your entire existence be discarded?  When you listen to Singularity, you are faced with this question. 

 

Album: Saros
Artist: Wovoka
Genre: Sludge Metal
Origin:  The desert outside of Los Angeles

Listen to Lament

This album pairs well with Walloon by Southern Star.

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The saros is a period of approximately 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours, that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon.  Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. 


Southern Star and Wovoka understand that anything worth consuming is something that must be steeped in knowledge of the ancient and the exigent.  When listening to this album and / or drinking this beer, one's mind will drift, not into the vapid doldrums that pop music and American lagers descend, but into thoughts about our place in the vast landscape of history and the universe.

 

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Album: Ungod
Artist: Morgoth
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: Germany

Listen to Snakestate

This album pairs well with Josh The Revelator Double IPA by Clown Shoes.

“One nation, one aim.  Somebody to acclaim.  You follow your leader.”  Josh and Morgoth revealed his forthcoming at nearly the same time.   There is no better narrative that describes the Antichrists ascension than the Lyrics to "Snakestate."  Toss back an amazing Clown Shoes IPA and revel in the prophetic bath of nationalistic hate put forth by Morgoth.  This will come to pass; the world we knew has passed away.  What side will you take?  Is it better to be tortured and suffer till death of the side of the righteous, or will you join me on the side that might hath made right?  All hail God Emperor Trump!  This is the dawn of the Antichrist!

 

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Album: Under the Red Cloud
Artist: Amorphis
Genre: Melodic Folk Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Death of a King

This album pairs well with Big Bad Baptist by Epic.

 

Epic is a word that is often overused.  However, every time I listen to "Under the Red Sun" it is the word that comes to forefront of my mind.  There are a plethora of good albums and beers that I will never hesitate to recommend, but not many can live up to the title of "epic."  It takes more than a modest effort to produce something that inspires and fills you with a desire to go forth and do something great.  Listening to this album and drinking this beer is a motivational experience.  This world is forever attempting to beat you down and fill you with existential and cosmic terror.  Music and drink can provide a healthy dose of perspective, but deep down we all know that there no substantial difference between a realist and a pessimist.  The lyrics of "Under the Red Sun" by themselves are quite depressing.  Big Bad Baptist is heavy and dark.  Yet, there is so much lurking in the subtlety.  Vapid feel good music and light drinkable beer are an excellent way to delude yourself.  A normal dark chorus and a typical heavy beer can bring about an honest, albeit depressing, perspective.  It takes so much more to make you see the world as it really is, and say, "challenge accepted!"

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Mar 10, 2016 6:20pm [ 1 ]

Challenge Accepted!

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