Hammer Smashed Awards 2009

Another year gone, and more classics have been unleashed. Some of my all-time favorite bands released new stuff this past year... Immortal, Om, Sunn O))). But what's awesome about this year is that it belonged to the new breed. New faces, little guys...unknowns. Hell, our album of the year was limited to 100 copies, heard by almost no one...but that does not change a thing. It just confirms the whole reason that HSJ exists.

And I know these lists are subjective... so don't get caught up on the numbers. Just get as many of these as you can because these were all incredible.

Album of the Year:

1. Austerity "self-titled"

Absolutely crushing. As soon as I heard this, my ears perked up, and my soul froze. This album is one of the coldest, starkest pieces of music I have ever heard in my life. It is a statement against every single trend in music today. Whilst channeling ambient, doom, drone, and black metal, it is none of those things. It is a creation that belongs right beside the greats... Winter, Worship, Nortt, Corrupted....and now Austerity. 76 minutes of icy brilliance. Hails...

2. Dragged Into Sunlight "Hatred For Mankind"

So what kind of stones do you have to have as a death metal band to start your debut album with an 11 minute song? Big stones brother... huuuge. That this CD is awesome is no surprise, as these guys had been destroying people with these songs live for well over a year now. What is surprising is just how far they surpassed the expectations. This is a goddamned monolith, a killshot blazing across an entire scene with more ferocity than any other band on the planet could muster right now. Completely mandatory... an instant classic.

3. Skagos "Ast"

Cascadian black metal is absolutely not a trend. Or should I say that the "trend" is that there are some absolutely amazing bands making their own brand of black metal up in the Northwest. Ast is not your average black metal release. So many things going on in every epic song. Listen once and you will be impressed...listen a few more times and you will be mesmerized. Everyone knows who the bigshots are in the Cascadian scene, but you better do your research, as you just might be surprised who the BEST bands are. An epic (and classic) American black metal release.

4. Yoga "Megafauna"

I'm not sure there is anything more that I can say about Yoga. While the journalists and labels struggle for words to describe their wholly engrossing new sounds, I just sit back and wonder how far they can take it. This is, after all, their debut full-length...and already they are millions of miles ahead of the curve. Keep your eye out. At any point, Yoga could release the greatest record ever.

5. Teitanblood "Seven Chalices"

Oh, how it warms my cold, damaged heart to see a band keep the true spirit of death metal alive... like the days when there was nothing but necro everywhere. No technicality in sight. The essence was all that mattered. Teitanblood have their own sound, I'll give 'em that. But this album is a special tip of the cap to those of you who remember shitting yourself over Necrovore and Morbid Angel demos. A great album that will no doubt top many lists this year, and for good reason.

6. Dark Castle "Spirited Migration"

Bring the fucking heavy, man. Somewhere between traditional doom and ultra doom is where I usually like my stuff (think Warhorse.... gruff but tuneful), and that's about the orbit that these guys have. Great riffs and spacious sounds abound, and even though it's massive, it has that clean sound like these guys could be huge at some point. They deserve to be for sure.

7. Eagle Twin "The Unkindness of Crows"

Gentry comes back in style with a dizzying array of riffs and sounds on Eagle Twin's amazing debut. Easily the best thing that Southern Lord has put out in a long time. Lots of twists within the heavy framework make this one a grower. Something new is revealed with every listen.

8. Diocletian "Doom Cult"

Wait, they didn't spell Cult with a "K"? What the fukk is wrong with these guys? Well, all you need to know about these cats is that this album is every bit as pummeling as Teitanblood...maybe 99 of 100 percent if you know what I mean. A truly blown out record that tells me that these guys are fucking insane, and their next album will hopefully kill us all.

9. A Death Cinematic "A Parable On the Aporia of Vengeance..."

Wow... a truly scathing, post-nuclear drone monster that needs two massive discs to properly tell the tale of what happens after we all blow ourselves to kingdom come-the-fuck-on. You'll notice a few big drone names missing from this list.... and with little guys like this, they'd better step it up. One of the most immersive listening experiences you can have. Massive.

10 (tie). Materia Aurora "Winter Glow"

Ah yes, that haunting, snow-covered ambient that I can't ever seem to get enough of. A beautiful album that will no doubt be calling me more and more as winter settles in. Beyond brilliant.

10 (tie). Locrian "Drenched Lands"

Yes, two number tens, as this just had to make the list. A blackened drone journey that blew everybody's minds this year. For a truly dark experience, you could definitely do worse than Locrian....stellar.

Honorable mention ( just missed it)... Altar of Plagues, Hallowed Butchery, Cliffsides, Gog, Wrnlrd, Clubroot, Diamatregon, Stonehelm, Ash Borer, Sleepwalker, Skyramps, Mark McGuire, Barn Owl, Robedoor, Funeral Mist, Beherit, Weapon, Katharsis


N. said...

Can the 'Austerity' release be fully heard somewhere? I'm quite intrested in that one...

Anonymous said...

Not that I'm aware. There are a few good chunks of it on their myspace though. There first CD is amazing as well. Label is sold out so hit up the band.

I believe its myspace.com/austeritas

Krumbled Kookie said...

I haven't heard your numbers 1 or 2 (working on it), but I would have had to put the Skagos tape at the top of my list. And your point about Cascadian black metal is absolutely true - it's not a trend, because there are some really amazing bands in the underground up there doing brilliant work. Skagos is only one of them, but they are one of the very best.

Great list, by the way.