Oh boy. Honestly, I probably should have waited until all my year end lists published before diving into albums I had lofty expectations for. Oh well. The good news is, out of the five albums I previewed (which is definitely the wrong word to use here) back in January, four of them have been released and the fifth definitely won’t be anytime soon. If ever. So I can talk about most of these! Shall we?
Tribulation – Down Below
This certainly was a delicious start to the year, wasn’t it? I really don’t know if I can name someone that didn’t enjoy this in some capacity. Tribulation followed up The Children of the Night very, very well indeed. The thing is, when Down Below first dropped, I was all “holy shit this is even better than Children of the Night!”. But that enthusiasm has diminished somewhat over the course of what has been a very impressive year in metal. Not that that changes much.
Was I disappointed by Tribulation? Fuck no. Down Below is brilliant. Because Tribulation.
Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest
So this is a tricky little number. When ILYAYD was released, I listened to it twice, got annoyed, and never returned to it. One less-than-positive review after another on the interwebs seemed to validate my reaction, even though social media is literally the worst thing about metal. But, out of mostly boredom, I returned to this sucker about a month and… it wasn’t so bad? It feels like a collection of mostly incomplete ideas, frankly. Even if I approve of the ideas overall. Which is interesting… given how much the Behemoth sound has evolved over the years, the one thing that has always been consistent was their ability to craft a cohesive collection of tracks. This strays from that. There are other elements to it that I don’t quite vibe with, but it still feels like a modern day Behemoth record and I do like many of the sonic explorations they dive into. Hm.
Was I disappointed by Behemoth? Well, yes. But in looking back, I really don’t see how this could have matched The Satanist. And I’m also disappointed in Nergal’s excessive social media use. Give it a rest.
The Ocean – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
I shouldn’t even need to add a write-up for this. To even pretend there was a chance that I wasn’t going to immediately fall in love with this record would be ridiculous. Chris and I have different levels of enthusiasm about this beast and, clearly, mine exceeds his. SO. MANY. MOMENTS. Especially in the closing “Permian: The Great Dying”. I’m done with this write up. The Ocean is the best and Phanerozoic I is just another example why.
Was I disappointed by The Ocean? I mean, I’m sad my super deluxe box set hasn’t arrived yet. But that’s about it. The Ocean wins forever. Now go away.
Tool – … … …
*Screams into the void*
… Moving on.
Was I disappointed by Tool? Yes, because A Perfect Circle isn’t Tool (as much as I enjoyed that effort). But also, is anyone ever not disappointed by Tool anymore?
Panopticon – The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
Nine Circles covered this vocally, but over a year opinions can be adjusted. As immense as this effort is, and as much of a burden as it can be to sit through two hours of music, only Panopticon can put me through something like that successfully. I’ve grown to love both aspects of this album: the black metal and the folky Americana stuff on the back end. In fact, back in the early stages of the year, I stated that I preferred the latter half of the record. That’s changed. The more organic, unpolished black metal tracks are executed perfectly and absolutely drive home the passion and emotion contained within the tracks. But then again, I somewhat despise humanity and disappear into the woods whenever my days allow me to do so, so there’s that connection as well. This album both reminds me of that serenity while simultaneously throwing me into a pit of despair about working in an office full time. Whatcha gonna do?
Was I disappointed by Panopticon? No, but this thing hits me in a far more emotional way than previous efforts, and that sometimes makes me sad.
And that’s a wrap! Honestly, I don’t know why I’m so pessimistic all the time. For the most part, I’ve been very happy with the music that has reached my ears in 2018. Have thoughts on any of the above releases? Share them! (with yourself – I don’t give a shit).
“Ein Bier… bitte.”