Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Idol Threat's Top 20 Albums of 2016

The goal was to have this list out before March, and it looks like we just made it under the wire!  There was a lot of great albums this past year including an actual solid release from Thrash Metal pioneers Metallica, another scorcher from Deftones, MIA's final album AIM and A Tribe Called Quest's double-album masterpiece "We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service!"  However, Idol Threat is here to highlight the lesser known, but you all know that already.  So here is Idol Threat's Top 20 Albums of 2016 in no particular order (see the full list by clicking on "the jump"):

Gonjasufi – Callus 
Sumach Ecks aka Gonjasufi is a wholly unique being.  Hailing from Chula Vista, California, the half Mexican half Ethiopian yoga teacher got his start with San Diego Hip Hop crew Masters of the Universe.  He rose to prominence after an appearance on famed experimental producer Flying Lotus' album Los Angeles, which gained him the notice of independent UK label Warp Records.  Warp released his debut album “A Sufi and a Killer” in 2010 and has released his subsequent two albums; including his latest “Callus.”

Gonjasufi is a vocalist unlike any other, his ragged singing haunting the tracks like a mystical haze, his delivery often times alternating between insightful and pleading.  Sumach does away with the samples that normally inhabit his production, yet it still remains decidedly lo-fi and psychedelic.  The music here fuzzes, drones and echoes around his raspy voice as cavernous, dub-like drums combines with distorted guitars that snarl out broken melodies, with buzzing synths and the occasional sitar joining them.   While Gonajsufi handles all the production, former Cure member Pearl Thompson lends his guitar stylings to a couple of tracks as well.   

This record is very much about the ills of society and self and can easily be seen as a reflection of the world we’re in today.  Callus can be seen as a result of becoming numb to the world’s pain, but I prefer to feel like it’s more of a hardening to it.  This record scrapes at the core of our woes and simultaneously steels us from them. Gonjasufi has always had a sound of his own, but his latest has seemed to distill all his influences into something new altogether.  His darkest album is also his greatest.

65daysofstatic - No Man's Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe 
65daysofstatic has been releasing quality music for nearly 13 years with every release nearing perfection. In fact, if I heard their last album “Wild Light” months earlier than I did it would've easily made our 2013 Top 20 list. The Sheffield, England instrumental band's infusion of electronic elements into their music has made them a unique standout from peers such as Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You and Mono. This 2016 album only further solidifies their place amongst their post rock contemporaries.

Music for an Infinite Universe is their latest album which also happens to be the soundtrack to survival video game No Man's Sky. This is the second soundtrack they have done, with 2011's Silent Running technically not a soundtrack but more of a re-score of the 1972 film of the same name. 65Daysofstatic's music is cinematic, majestic and energetic making it a perfect fit for the action-adventure sci-fi of No Man's Sky. Normally when soundtracks are made for film or video games the music released is rather sparse and lacking without its visuals, but that isn't the case here. The impressive feat that the album can stand alone on its own merit is only overshadowed by the fact that this level is held up across a double-album.

Whether its skittering, distorted electricity or Rob Jone's drumstick acrobatics the drumming on No Man's Sky provides a great backdrop to the reverb-drenched guitars, pianos, crescendos, synths and samples provided by 65dos. Sci-Fi references are also scattered across the album with titles such as Asimov, Monolith and Hypersleep. When listening to No Man's Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe adjectives such as relentless, transcendental, ethereal and epic comes into mind as 65dos plays the full gamut of their career across 2 discs of what may be their best work yet.

Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows 
I'm sure that almost every artist or band feels that their next album is their best, it should be a given for musicians who constantly strive to better themselves and push the envelope. Even still Richmond, VA post-sludge band Inter Arma must have felt that their latest release was something special, an even greater progression than simple evolution. Paradise Gallows proves not only to be Inter Arma's magnum opus, but one of the best post metal albums to come out in quite some time. Inter Arma brings black and death metal into the tried and true combination of atmospheric sludge to devastating effect, a testament to the versatility of vocalist Mike Paparo and the dexterity of the band. 

Harvey Milk howls, black metal shrieks, bellowing growls and even droning chants envelop the sonic landscape, which at times resembles a desert wasteland and at others the victim of a destructive hurricane. Tempos twist from trodding hooves to rolling thunder to excruciatingly slow crashes. Thrash riffs, acoustic passages and even southern rock solos can also be found buried deep in the doom that permeates the album. Despite the diversity there is a certain constant sheen of sludge that is both stratospheric and cavernous that ties everything together. Progressive doom, heavy psych, post death metal – whatever you call this album it is clear that its one of the best fusion of different metal genres out. 71 minutes of metal has rarely been so varied and succinct.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Over 400 Labels & Artists Join Bandcamp in Donating Friday’s Profits to the ACLU #NoBanNoWall

We've been busy trying to finish up our 2016 year end list, and we weren't going to post anything else until that was done.  However, Bandcamp has made a pretty important announcement and we felt that this needed to be shared.

Today any purchase made on Bandcamp will have 100% of their share of the proceeds donated to the American Civil Liberties Union, who are working to oppose Trump’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States. Over 400 artists and labels have joined them in offering to donate their Bandcamp profits today to the ACLU and other organizations in support of immigrants and refugees. 

This is an incredible gesture in a time when the ACLU needs our support the most.  We try not to get too political in here, but we feel that this isn't just about politics but basic human decency.  So if there's anything you thought about buying on Bandcamp please do so today, and check out a partial list and links of labels participating after the jump: