Key track: “The Focus”
6) Shining, International Blackjazz Society (Spinefarm)Initially wasn’t as keen on this one as their previous release, One One One, but it was only because that record started with such an absolute banger (“I Won’t Forget”) and this one’s a bit more on the out-there side. It’s a dense record; this one is about three quarters free jazz, but the rest sounds like Nine Inch Nails, and it 100% works because Shining owns their craziness and doesn’t compromise on it.
Key track “Last Day”
5) CROWN, Natron (Candlelight)
I’m a huge industrial fan, and the Godflesh-style (their previous record made it into my top 10 for last year as well) formula of huge, barely holding it together detuned guitars and bass droning over a drum machine scratches the same itch that I think most people have more for stoner doom. This band is terrifyingly heavy; “Tension of Duality” has a middle section that gives me chills absolutely every time I hear it. There’s also an acoustic song that’s vaguely dancey, in a real Sad Bastard kind of way, and that’s as perfect as the brutal bits.
Key track: “Serpents”
4) Leprous, The Congregation (InsideOut)This record is coming from the Porcupine Tree school of “accessible prog.” Their tenure as Ihsahn’s backing band only surfaces in a couple moments of true heaviness over the course of the album, so it’s more along the lines of a 70’s prog act like Yes or King Crimson, but their hooks are razor-sharp on top of being such a brainy band. Brilliant.
Key track: “The Price”