We often joke that our Deputy Editor, Hugh Platt, is a surly little so-and-so who doesn’t like anything. This isn’t true. He’s a surly little so-and-so who doesn’t like very much. Thankfully, the stuff he does like, he likes very much indeed. As with all our contributors, we’ve strong-armed him into choosing the the 10 records that got him the most excited over the last year – check them out after the jump.
10. Deftones – Diamond Eyes
If you’d told me at the start of 2010 that the new album from one of the contenders of my favourite band of all-time, would only just scrape the number 10 slot on my Albums of the Year list, I’d have struck you down where you stand. It’s low placing in my Top 10 is more down to the quality of the rest of the year, rather than any failing on the part of Deftones though – Diamond Eyes retains the delicate intricacies that Deftones first introduced a decade ago with White Pony, but marries them to the dense, buzzing riffs of Stephen Carpenter more effectively than anything they’ve done since.
9. Rinoa – An Age Among Them
Of all the British bands that called it a day in 2010, Rinoa are the one that I’ll miss the most. Rinoa were a post-rock band with just enough of a hardcore disguise to keep them out of the clutches of the beardies and weirdos. Their debut long player, An Age Among Them, is both ambitious and progressive, to the extent that the only song on it that dips below a 6-minute run-time, that of the climatic Memory, is left feeling too short. Rinoa will be missed, sure – but it An Age Among Them they sure as shit left an impressive epitaph.
8. Kvelertak – Kvelertak
Kvelertak sprung from nowhere in 2010 to rapidly become one of the acts I’m most looking forward to seeing again in 2011 (someone surely has to book these guys for a festival next summer, right?). The band’s self-titled debut has all the balls and bluster that Scandinavian rock has been sadly lacking since Turbonegro hung up their sailor caps, and a tri-pronged guitar delivery that can deliver shitkicker solos without sacrificing any intensity off the core riffing. Most of all, it has a sense of fun to it, something that heavy music almost never dares approaches without adopting the sour taste of comedy metal.
7. Astrohenge – Astrohenge
Wordless and all the better for it, Astrohenge’s sensational debut was reassuring proof that a band who excel at live delivery could also deliver it from the studio. Their self-titled debut gave Astrohenge even greater opportunities to demonstrate how wide their already diabolically-diverse musical palate is – creating a near-perfect example of a grower album in the process. While listening to it for review back in the Summer, each listen I found myself re-assessing and re-evaluating my views, as with each spin new and previously unheard nuances were revealed, be it the manner Hugh Harvey and Matt Rozeik’s guitars could leapt from stonecrusher riffs to feather-light licks, or how Oliver Weeks could make his keyboards provide a delicate tickle or a discordant storm as required.
6. Black Breath – Heaving Breathing
Much has been made of Black Breath’s channeling of early Entombed, but the focus on it has detracted from the fact that the ten tracks that make Heavy Breathing aren’t just death metal hero worship. Black Breath have given their collective obsession with Swedish metal and given it a crucial dose American swagger to tip it into something very special indeed. Not a second is wasted on Heavy Breathing – whether it’s the nasal, blackened tone of E. Wallace and F.Funds’ guitars changing gear into a deep punishing groove on ‘Black Sin (Spit On The Cross)’, or the swampy, sweaty sludge of ‘Unholy Virgin’, this album is 100% calculated to bring about bruises and bangover. A record of ceaselessly malevolent cunning.
5. Ramesses – Take The Curse
Ramesses’ Take The Curse sounds as dusty as a corpse’s coughing fit, and prolonged exposure to it will leave you feeling like you’ve just cleaned your ears out with a rusty coffin nail rather than a cotton bud. Creaking and evil, rather than crushing and br00tal, Take The Curse sounds anachronistic and British in equal measure, playing the gruff and doomy metal on their own terms, not those dictated to them. It is a record that will wither and dessicate you – there’s nothing quite so satisfyingly draining from the class of 2010.
4. The Armed – Common Enemies
Yep, technically it’s not an album, but I’ve played this EP a fucktruck more in the last 12 months than most of the albums that have landed on my desk. Everything about The Armed screams punk-as-fuck, but at the same time the band sweats with modern savvy and a ferocity that can’t be faked. At the same time, the band are ruthlessly contrary – they recruited former-Dillinger Escape Plan and current-Coheed & Cambria drummer, Chris Pennie, for a guest slot on Common Enemies, but rather than incorporate his stickwork into one of their more mathish tracks, instead his contributions are on ‘Second Hand’, the subdued, gather-your-breath track before the EP’s punishing sneer of closing song, ‘Woodenlung’ . If you haven’t already, download it now for free from The Armed’s official website.
3. Bastions – Island Living
And my number 3 choice is also an EP. Back in May, Bastions sent us the EP they released prior to Island Living, and as you might well have read, we went suitably apeshit. The Welsh quartets’ all-or-nothing approach to UKHC rightfully saw them go from strength to strength in 2010, with the magnificence of Island Living proving to be the band’s finest work to date. While earlier work by Bastions brought about comparisons to Cursed, Island Living took them beyond that. The almost Cult of Luna-esque delivery of ‘The Great Unwashed’ showcased the blood’n’spit intensity that rages within Bastions. With the release of their debut album, Hospital Corners, due sometime next year, this band is going to seriously fuck up people’s perceptions of what British hardcore is capable of.
2. Chambers – Old Love
Full credit has to go to Thrash Hits’ editor, Raziq Rauf, for the discovery of Chambers – but I’ll let him tell that story. After months of blasting out Chambers’ Earthquake Sessions demos, my expectations for Old Love were high, and it was with immense relief that it exceeded all of them with consumate ease. Like a drunker Every Time I Die, Chambers’ debut album growls out a 35-minute rant against those that wronged them: former friends, former lovers, and probably even some guy over in the corner that just happens to be looking at the funny. Frontman Dan Pelic’s vocals resonate like the gruff bark of an attack dog.
All this just makes the realization that with the rest of Chambers booting Pelic out of the band back in October, that we’ll never get to see these songs played live in any approximation even slightly resembling that of the recorded versions even more depressing. Still, at least we’ve got Something About Death Or Dying to ease the pain.
And so to Hugh Platt’s album of the year….
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis
So I guess this ain’t a surprise, is it? The Dillinger Escape Plan’s put on not only my top live performance of 2010, but they also recorded the album of the year too. I almost feel aggrieved at having to explain just what it is about this album that makes it my favourite album of the last 12 months. From the deceptively-gentle opening chords of ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’ that almost immediately explode into a blitzkrieg of fury, to the sweeping and cathartic closing comedown of ‘Parasitic Twins’, this is a Dillinger album that tugs at a whole gamut of emotions within the listener, building on their past successes but still never feeling like the band are falling back on paths they’ve previously explored.
Ever since the release of Option Paralysis back in March, it has rarely been far from my stereo. With Option Paralysis, The Dillinger Escape Plan have not only crafted a record that sees them lose the Calculating Infinity-shaped millstone that they’ve never quite been able to shed (despite the brilliance of Miss Machine and Ire Works), but sees them shatter that burden indefinitely. It’s position as my top album of 2010 was never in doubt.
Later on this afternoon, we’ll have the Top 10 of the bigwig himself, our editor – Raziq Rauf. And in case you missed any of our other Top 10 features from earlier this week, here’s Tom Dare’s brutal Top 10, as well as part 1 and part 2 of all our other contributors’ choices.