40. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution
Highlights: Get a Therapist...Spare the World, Powder Burn, Global Good Guy
It really sucks that I have to put this album so low, because by all means, it's a pretty good album. It's just that it's very average for someone who is well versed in the grind/death metal world. While Brutal Truth is known for having some of the best grindcore releases around, Evolution Through Revolution just seems to be complacent by going through the numbers in creating an album. One thing I noticed, which kind of seems silly, is that the songs themselves on average are too long for typical grindcore songs. They seem to lose their punch quickly. If they were more towards the death metal side of the spectrum, maybe it'd be for the better, but it's not, and they just sound too strung out.
But the Brutal Truth you know and love is still alive on this CD. Kevin Sharpe still has great vocals that are a staple of the genre, and a couple of gems shine through. It's just too bad that the music to fit the vocals sounds like it's something that's already been done before and done better by either Napalm Death or Pig Destroyer. Again, this isn't a bad album, just extremely underwhelming. Show this CD to new Brutal Truth fans to get them into their older, better releases.
39. Xasthur - All Reflections Drained
Highlights: Maze Of Oppression, Masquerade Of Incisions
I'm a fan of this type of black metal usually, but something went wrong on this release. A band like Wolves In The Throne Room creates epic soundscapes with their music. Xasthur here just kind of uncomfortably noodles in and out of several different types of this kind of black metal that he usually is a master of creating. The album doesn't create a mindset for the listener other than waiting to hear the big payoff, which ultimately never comes. And the production is the other big tiff. Although Xasthur is known for his bad production, it ultimately holds the music back and keeps me from really getting into the music and losing myself in it. Bad production can't be the only reason that happens: the LLN had notoriously bad production, but all of those releases had heart. Xasthur didn't put his heart into this album.
That's not to say this release is without its merits, though. Maze Of Oppression does a good job (halfway through) of creating a creepy/beautiful atmosphere. But enjoy the vocals while you can. They are extremely absent more than they should be on this album. Masquerade Of Incisions is another good one, assuming you last through the long intro. All Reflections Drained should be viewed as a more experimental side to Xasthur. Although this was a miss, I have no doubt Malefic will get back on track soon.
38. Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions
Highlights: Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia), Aghartha
If you weren't a fan of Sunn O))) before, this album probably won't change your position. But if you are a fan of Sunn O))), you'd probably like it. But I'm put off because it is more experimental than it is drone. Yes, it's interesting to see how they incorporate a choir and stringed and horn instruments into their music, and yes it can create a unique and creepy vibe through the music (what Sunn O))) album DOESN'T?), but there is little in the way of heavy drone/doom in this album. Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia) is extremely heavy, and Attila Csihar's vocals are inhuman as ever, but something seems to be lacking. A layer underneath the music that gives it its' foundation, perhaps.
This album will be the dividing point among Sunn O))) fans: fans who like them because of crushing drone, or fans that like them for more experimental noise. The album, in my opinion, would be much more in favor of the experimental fan. Although the drone is there, it's not nearly enough to satisfy the crushing power you'd expect from this crazy group.
37. Suffocation - Blood Oath
Highlights: Come Hell Or High Priest, Images Of Purgatory, Provoking The Disturbed
Suffocation is a great band, there's no doubt about that. But whereas their self-titled album a few years ago was filled to the brim with brutality and unrelenting death metal, it seems the legendary band has taken a step back on this album unfortunately. They seem to want to add the "brutal" to their "death metal" genre with this release, because it seems like the mid-paced riffing of bands like Devourment have become the focus, rather than the fast paced stuff from their past albums. That's not a huge loss, though. The songs themselves are alright, albeit disappointing in the long run. Some of the guitarists just seem bored throughout the album.
Come Hell Or High Priest, on the other hand, sounds like a staple Suffocation song through and through. The guitars and drums work here to induce as much headbanging as possible. Images Of Purgatory is another neck-breaker with awesome solos. However, it's not enough to bring this album to greatness. It sits comfortably with being "good" and maybe that's alright for Suffocation right now.
36. Whole Wheat Bread - Hearts Of Hoodlums
Highlights: Bombs Away, Lower Class Man, New Age Southern Baptist Nigga From Da Hood
Hey, it can't be all metal all the time, can it? Whole Wheat Bread created a pretty addicting pop/punk album, although it is paper-thin. Although criticizing a pop/punk album for depth seems stupid, the songs on this album will make you jump, make you smile, but they don't provoke very much else. And, honestly, that's what I expected from this album. Bombs Away is an a dark anthem for street life and songs like Girlfriend Like This remind Whole Wheat Bread's audience just how junior high they can be in their songwriting: "I don't care if it burns when I piss/I ain't never had no girlfriend like this/I don't care what nobody say/If you don't like her, you're probably gay"
The only large fault I can find with this album is that the actual "punk" moments on this record are far and few between. While Lower Class Man and I Can't Think might induce some pretty awesome circle pits, compared to their last album, this is not a punk album. It seems Whole Wheat Bread might be stretching the pop/"punk" title a bit thin, but for now, it works.
Also: there's a song called "New Age Southern Baptist Nigga From Da Hood". "I'm down with Jesus/He is my homeboy/He smoke the reefer/He break the law"