FIDLAR Are Sillier Than Ever On “Almost Free”

FIDLAR first properly entered the public consciousness in 2013 with their self-titled debut album. An energetic garage punk affair with lyrics focusing around themes of drug use, depression and general debauchery, FIDLAR’s lyrics have always been on the cringey side but their debut had a level of charm and strong, simple songwriting which made it the soundtrack for angsty teens experimenting with drugs and skateboarding everywhere.

Almost Free has FIDLAR flex their versatility as a band. The group plays with a varied palette of sounds with the band dipping their toes in hip-hop, blues, and even gouse music, amongst other styles. The album also boasts a warm and full production style that contrasts nicely with their earlier lo-fi leaning endeavours.

This album also stands out as FIDLAR’s most hilarious album to date. When the listener puts on Almost Free they are immediately hit with the group trying to do a cool hip-hop track complete with aggressive, yet cringey vocal delivery and cool dad-rock worthy blues licks. A truly strong start for the band if they were aiming to make their funniest album yet. The problem here is that it’s unlikely the band were trying to make funny music (with the exception of By Myself but we’ll get to that). However, the blend of sounds the band has adopted over the years mixed with the still cringe-ridden lyrics makes a lot of Almost Free just unintentionally funny.

Too Real features lead vocalist Zac Carper giving out hot takes about current American politics and society today with an attitude that can only be described as too woke. The bridge section sees Zac spitting venom about flaws in both left and right leaning politics in a progressively angry tone. After some awkward ranting the chorus hook enters “Was that too fucking real?!” the listener is left thinking No. Not Really.

By Myself, arguably the silliest track on the album starts with Carper on acoustic guitar singing the song’s chorus, solo: “I’m cracking one open with boys, by myself”. Now ignoring the glaring fact that the boys in FIDLAR have based the hook of their song around a long dead meme there seems to be a level of irony built around the track that’s a bit refreshing. By Myself proves that FIDLAR are able to laugh at themselves from time to time and also shows a level of self awareness they’ve never shown before (Carper can even be heard laughing at his own bad joke). However, when the song launches into the verse section and adopts a cheesy house beat the self awareness disappears and we can be treated to FIDLAR running a dead meme song into the ground for just under four minutes.

This is all quite unfortunate as a level self awareness would greatly benefit FIDLAR’s music at this stage in their career because in some ways they seem to have developed into an unironic parody of themselves over the years.

When this album isn’t being edgy it tends to just be downright bland. Tracks such as Can’t You See and Flake have very generic indie aesthetics especially with the former which sounds like a track written by any local Arctic Monkeys influenced band ever.

Almost Free is far from terrible with songs such as Alcohol and Called You Twice been stand out tracks. The band are obviously competent songwriters and skilled musicians but it’s the band’s blend of cliched ‘cool’ blues riffs, generic indie stylings, bad integration of hip-hop and the all round cringefest that is FIDLAR lyricism that really makes Almost Free stand out as FIDLAR’s most unintentionally funny album yet. – Liam Toner (@tonerliam)

The 12 Days of Halloween

The best time of year is upon us and it is time to celebrate all things spooky.

Watching horror films and putting up macabre decorations is a good start to getting into that Halloween spirit, but we find it’s just as important to have a spooky soundtrack to boot. So until Hallow’s Eve graces us on the 31st of October Transistor will be bringing the spook in early with the 12 days of Halloween.

Each day we’ll be updating this piece to post some of the darkest and eeriest sounds that have been committed to music from a variety of different genres and styles but all with the same shared goal: to create music that unsettles the listener, explores the occult and in general, conjures the Halloween spirit into the listener. – liam toner (@tonerliam)

Day 12 – Static Age by The Misfits

At the end of the day, it’s night. But also, at the end of the day there’s only one band you need to listen to on Halloween and that’s the Misfits. Misfits were a punk band formed 1977 in New Jersey and would become internationally loved as a cult band thanks to marrying of punk music with horror themes. Early in their career, their dedication to horror would have them arrested for grave-robbing after a gig. Although over the years The Misfits would go through a plethora of members with several good albums under the belt there best album would be 1996’s Static Age. Although released in 1996 Static Age should have been their debut as it was recorded in 1978 but no labels wanted to put it out which is such a missed opportunity as Static Age stands as one of the greatest punk albums of all time.

There are many reasons to why this album stands out as their best and one of those reasons is consistency. Listening to the album is such a thrill as were giving anthem after anthem with probably only Theme for a Jackal being a missable track. As the album features the bands early material they’re still wearing their influences on their sleeves but unlike other punk bands of the time Misfits influences added up to a very interesting sound. Many of the compositions (all by vocalist Danzig) take riff and chord progressions from rock and roll, rockabilly and doo-wop and mixed with Danzig’s vocal’s sounding like a gritty mish-mash between Jim Morrison and Elvis make for a potent combination. The icing on the cake for the band is, of course, the morbid, b-movie inspired lyrics.
The track Hybrid Moments which is essentially a punked up 50s song with a twist shows the band at their most infectious with hooks-a-plenty and a song that is just emanating raw energy throughout the tracks brief length.

Another fan favourite would be Last Caress. This song stands out as one of the most Ramones sounding songs the band has done but it’s Danzig’s vocal work on the track that makes the track so exciting. Although the lyrical approach of the track was apparently to be as edgy as possible it’s the juxtaposition between abhorrent lyrical themes mixed with high energy poppy punk that makes this track downright amazing. It’s hard to listen to the vocal break near the end where Danzig bellows out the track title without getting chills down your spine.

 

Day 11 – Christian Death’s Only Theatre of Pain

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In the late 70s/early 80s goth rock music would be pioneered in England with bands such as Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy but across the pond a similar sound would be developing under the moniker Deathrock, where Californian band Christian Death would influence and inspire the whole scene thanks to their debut album Only Theatre of Pain.

Whereas the UK goth scene favoured low baritone singing to create moods, vocalist Rozz Williams’ vocal style would be much more whining and manic and at times Williams would create tortured soundscapes by layering his pained moans. While the modus operandi of the group would be anti-Christianity, lyrics would also allude to graveyards, Satan and necrophilia amongst other antagonistic topics which creates a lot of chilling imagery in the band’s work. The other thing that made the band really special was the guitar work from Rikk Agnew. Agnew originally played with punk band The Adolescents but the approach he had to guitar in Christian Death would perhaps be his most powerful. Making use of guitar effects regularly Agnew would create all sorts of haunting atmospheres with weird lead lines, solos and guitar manipulations. His unique style is particularly good on the track Spiritual Cramp a song based around a punkish dirge with a completely eerie and strange solo.

Following from Spiritual Cramp comes Christian Death’s most renown song Romeo’s Distress. The song has a morbid pop sensibility to it that makes the track totally infectious but still retains an evil spooky quality that makes it essential listening for the Halloween period.

Day 10 – Obscure and Forgotten Horror Rock of the 60s

There was a weird time in the early to mid-60s where (mostly) American rock and roll bands decided to make songs about monsters, horror clichés and in general, Halloween flavoured topics. A lot of the examples of these songs were made by small bands that only ever released singles here and there. Fortunately, in today’s day and age, we have Youtube, a platform for all of these forgotten gems. This spooky phenomenon was very scattered and doesn’t seem to originate from anything or anywhere in particular and as such a lot of these types of songs vary in style. In this playlist we have for you today you’ll get a blend of surf rock, rockabilly, blues, garage and rock and roll all related by their ghoulish themes.

Day 9 – Drei Lieder op. 25 by Anton Webern

Anton Webern was an Austrian composer that in the first half of the 20th century would become known for his unsettling and avant-garde compositions. Webern was a student of Arnold Schoenberg and would take a lot from his teachings, but Webern would become most known for his use with the serialism technique. Serialism, as created by Schoenberg, is a guideline for creating atonal melodies. It is done by taking all 12 notes in an octave and arranging them in random orders without repeating any notes.

This means that the melody will never find a tonal centre as all notes are used equally. Drei Lieder op. 25 is made for two instruments: piano and female voice. Both the voice and the piano make use of the serialism technique and in doing so create a skin-crawling and creepy piece that would be the last thing you’d want to hear when exploring a graveyard at night.

Day 8 – Funeral Parade by Part 1

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Part 1 are a bit of a strange band. They came out of the UK’s late 70s/early 80s Anarcho-Punk scene, home to such overtly political bands such as Crass, Flux of Pink Indians and Conflict. Part 1 would be regulars to the Wapping Autonomy Centre (also known as The Anarchy Centre) where many of these bands spent their time and put on charity gigs. Despite all this, the band’s sound would be separated from all of their peers’ thanks to its macabre subject matter and ghostly sound.

The band never managed to get too much recorded in their short run but their EP Funeral Parade is a mostly forgotten goth-punk banger. The songs are held together by hypnotic post-punk basslines and at times the bass is the key melodic element. Throughout a great deal of the EP the guitars (soaked in chorus/flange effects) just scream with feedback like banshees; in fact, feedback is used fantastically as a compositional element throughout the EP and is what creates such an eerie vibe throughout. Reading the tracklist gives us an early indication of what type of sound the band is creating with tracks such as Graveyard Song, Ghost, and Salem. One of the only things that might be recognized as Anarcho Punk is the vocals, a gravelly bite which keeps the tracks aggressive and punky making the bands spooky tone sound downright evil.

Day 7 – King Night by Salem

Salem are an American group whose debut album King Night, released in 2010, would gather a lot of attention for being a pioneering album in the Witch House genre. Their sound would blend chopped and screwed samples, trap style beats, ethereal operatic vocal samples with synth-laden instrumentals. This blend of sounds creates very dense soundscapes expertly blending between darkness and pop sensibility that would make the album one of the most interesting releases of that year.

Although other artists in this style would go much deeper into the occult themes and imagery it’s fair to say that this album would be a starting point and level of excellence that witch house artists would aspire to reach. King Night most importantly has an overall spooky and arcane vibe yet in a very modern way that makes it ideal for this time of year.

 

Day 6 – Memphis Rap

Memphis in the 90s was home to one of rap music’s spookiest subgenres – Memphis Rap. The groups that would come to define the style favoured dark instrumentals, 808 drum kits and fast double time and triplet flows (Memphis Raps influence on modern trap music is understated but huge). Groups would regularly sample horror movie scores and a great deal of the music was laced with a chilling, ominous atmosphere.

Many Memphis groups struggled to get much recognition and as such acts quite often relied on a D.I.Y. ethic in order to put out mixtapes. This led to many of the classic releases of the time being lo-fi in nature. However, this lo-fi quality at times added an extra depth to the music and adding to the mystery.

Three 6 Mafia

Of all the Memphis groups Three 6 Mafia would become the most commercially successful in the scene thanks to their debut album Mystic Stylez. Boosted by higher production value and by radio play of the track Da Summa Three 6 Mafia would become the face of the Memphis rap sound and would help inspire many artists for years to come.

The instrumentals on Mystic Stylez are rife with creepy atmosphere with most of the group contributing to production. DJ Paul brings a special flare to some of keyboard and synth lines due to his background as church organ player.
The title track of the album is the best representation of the groups unique sound and Lord Infamous’ triplet flow verse would make Migos blush.

“Mystic Styles of the ancient mutilations
Torture chambers filled with corpses in my basement”

 

Tommy Wright III

Although never quite attaining the success of Three 6 Mafia, Tommy Wright III was, to many, just as significant as the former. Wright would also heavily flirt with satanic themes, lyrics about murder as well as with the rapid-fire flows and eerie beats that Three 6 would use. On the cover for his Ashes 2 Ashes Dust 2 Dust mixtape Tommy can be seen standing in a graveyard with a shovel in his hand as if he’d been out graverobbing and stopped for a quick photo. His track Gangsta Forever is a strong representation of his talents as a rapper and the instrumental is nothing short of spooky.


Criminal Mafia

Criminal Mafia never came anywhere close to the level of modest success that the two previous artists but their Crucifixion mixtape stands out particularly for its totally lo-fi sound. The grainy and dusty sound quality of the tape gives it a very mysterious aesthetic. The songs all sound ancient as if this was a tape that was discovered in the dark woods with nobody knowing it’s origin.

 

Day 5 – Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett

When it comes to Halloween music there’s nothing that’s quite as iconic as Monster Mash. The song is your generic 50s doo-wop dance song but with a totally campy Halloween twist. The lyrics tell a story from a mad scientist’s perspective (Dr. Frankenstein’s most likely) of a monster he created coming to life and dancing “The Monster Mash” a dance that would become a fad amongst all your classic horror monster tropes such as zombies, ghouls, and vampires. The Monster Mash even made Dracula himself jealous as it usurped his dance craze the Transylvania Twist. The production takes the song just a little further with added B-movie horror sound effects spread throughout the track.

There’s nothing deep or ground-breaking about this track but Monster Mash is undeniably just a lot of fun and to this day is still considered by many THE Halloween song.

Day 4 – Bauhaus

Bauhaus are forever remembered as the forefathers of the goth rock genre. Forming in the late 70s alongside the rise of post-punk, Bauhaus would take the sounds emerging at the time and push them into much darker more theatrical realms. Vocalist Peter Murphy’s voice (a sinister baritone) would be mimicked by a huge number of bands following in their footsteps.

The band would release four albums over their initial short career but their debut In the Flat Field would stand out as their best with songs such as Dark Entries being a standout track with its high energy minimalist riff, smutty lyrics and the great backing vocal chant in the second chorus.

Bauhaus are one of those bands who are known for starting out at their peak and deteriorating in quality as they progressed. It’s easy to see why people think this when you take into account their very first single Bela Lugosi’s Dead. The track is an almost 10-minute-long masterpiece.

It starts with the clicking of percussion that is manipulated with delay effects to create bizarre and eerie sounds and then is joined by the bass guitar. The bass plays a very simple creeping bassline that varies subtlety while the guitar slowly starts to join the mix. The song consists of this unsettling instrumental until 2:50 when Murphy’s vocals finally kick in and hen they do it’s completely worth the wait. His baritone voice sings of Bela Lugosi the Hungarian actor whose performance in the 1931 adaption of Dracula would become legendary, particularly for giving birth to the stereotypical accent that Dracula would forever be associated with.

This track is a true goth rock anthem and is probably one of the best songs ever written around vampiric themes. Perfect for Halloween.

 

Day 3 – Dracula’s Music Cabinet by The Vampires of Dartmoore

It’s hard to find much information about this strange band other than they were a German band blending elements of jazz, blues, surf rock and psychedelia and their album Dracula’s Music Cabinet would be there only known release. Despite this, the band would be remembered in some circles as a cult band of freaks who created a soundtrack to a non-existing horror film and would stand out as one of rock music’s best forgotten, spooky gems.

You won’t find this album on youtube but Spotify and Apple music listeners should be able to hear it in all its glory.

Day 2 – T.S.O.L.

T.S.O.L seemingly started as a standard American Hardcore band in the late 70s but their magnum opus would prove to be 1981s Dance With Me. Some found their transition from straight punk into more gothic/deathrock material jarring, but the early blooming of deathrock on this album would make this record standout above a lot of the other hardcore releases at the time.

Tracks such as Code Blue would have vocalist Jack Grisham sing about no longer trying to get off with the girls at school, but instead, Grisham now fantasises about Necrophilia and breaking into the mortuary to enact his morbid fantasies. Silent Scream with its dark post-punk stylings featured lyrics stating, “I’m the cobwebbed stairs, the ancient bones…I’m the demon cowering in the corner”.

The title track Dance With Me stands out as a perfect closing track. The bridge section of the song breaks down into a single note pulsing bass line backed up by chorus drenched minor chords from the guitar. This builds into a climax where the songs main lyrical theme returns:

Dance with me my dear
On a floor of bones and skulls
The music is our master
The devil controls our souls”

Despite half of the album’s songs not quite embracing the spooky vibe of some of the standout tracks on here it’s quite easy to see why Dance With Me can be considered a horror punk classic and an album perfect for Halloween. We’ll leave you with this quote from vocalist Jack Grisham.

Yeah, we dug up some graves, but we dug up graves even before the first record. All that crap, like breaking into mortuaries – we’d done that before. Look at the first TSOL record, it thanks to the church PA – we’d been busting into churches and desecrating the altars. We’d steal the PA and spraypaint the altars.” 

 

Day 1 – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins originally planned on becoming an opera singer, but when that didn’t work out for him he began to sing for blues bands. However, he took a lot of opera’s theatricality into his stage presence which would have him donning crazy stage clothes and macabre props.

His stage performances along with his wild roaring vocal style on the track I Put a Spell on You would have him considered the father of ‘shock rock’ and he would inspire countless artists from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson. These days, I Put a Spell on You is considered a Halloween anthem and has been covered by countless artists.

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Now that you’ve got enough music to soundtrack the day, fling your costumes on and go hit up the graveyard and, most of all, Happy Halloween!

 

Ghostemane struggles to keep things lively on ‘N/O/I/S/E’

words fae liam toner (@tonerliam)

With songs like Mercury: Retrograde going viral, Ghostemane‘s spooky aesthetic and rapid-fire flow have made him an artist worth keeping tabs on.rating 5

Over the past few years, the Florida rapper has managed to gather a great deal of attention in the modern trap scene, in no small part due to his sound encompassing influences from industrial to hardcore, all the way to Memphis rap which was all wrapped up in a black metal aesthetic.

His aforementioned popular single came from his 2017 album Plagues and although the album would show a lot of potential for the young artist due to his uniquely dark style, Plagues would still leave much to be desired for. Coming into 2018 and with his newest album N / O / I / S / E,  there was a feeling of cautious optimism that all Ghostemane’s talents and unique qualities could come together and result in something truly great.

Unfortunately,  N / O / I / S / E falls flat throughout most of its runtime with there being one element that seems to be holding Ghostemane back, that being songwriting. His tenth release actually features great production, arguably some of his best, but the bare bones of each track aren’t as fully developed as it could be which is quite a shame.

Many of the tracks are short in length and don’t develop into much else after a couple of verses: the track Flesh starts with Ghostemane’s signature dark ambient styled atmospherics and into a hardcore breakdown section. This intro serves the track well, putting things into full swing, but after only about 30 seconds of the young star actually rapping, the track falls silent and then goes back to hardcore breakdown section before the track fizzles out at a measly 1:19. This track could stand out as one of his best if he took more time to flesh out the track (no pun intended) with another couple of verses or a vocal hook but the track finishes almost as soon as it starts and it comes across as such a missed opportunity.

A fundamental flaw with this record is that while Ghostemane’s blend of genres is very well done, it seems he is too stuck to the traditional hip-hop way of songwriting. A hip-hop track can be based around one sample for the whole track and still be amazing. However, with Ghostemane’s shorter song lengths and minimal rapping on each track, each song struggles to go anywhere properly exciting. This can be seen on the track The Singularity which sees Ghostemane dip his toes into a fully industrial/goth style song which bares obvious similarities to some Nine Inch Nails work. The song is based around a simple four on the floor kick drum beat which goes between Ghostemane’s singing and then the same beat but much more pummelling and distorted. The song is very interesting on first listen but ends in just over two minutes and no change is made in the basic melodic idea or the structure of the song. This again leaves the listener with a dissatisfied feeling and it’s this feeling that carries on throughout most of the album as almost all of the tracks suffer from these same flaws.

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This ultimately makes the album a bit of a slog due to these criticisms being apparent on nearly every song. The instrumental tracks Intro.Desolation, Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and My Heart of Glass all suffer as well, with the latter being based around a simple guitar riff that seems to build up tension in its repetition only for the tension to blend into more industrial noise which leaves the album on an anti-climactic end. However, this is quite a fitting end for an album that left this impression track after track.

Overall N / O / I / S / E proves to be a disappointing release that could have been so much more. This tends to be a common theme through most of Ghostemane’s work and it’s genuinely a bit sad because he really does have a unique and interesting sound going for him – sadly, he fails to deliver something truly special or consistent.

 

 

Album Review: Merzbow & HEXA – Achromatic

words fae liam toner (@tonerliam)rating 8

Recently a friend of mine asked me how people tell the difference between good and bad harsh noise music. A fair question as for non-listeners of the genre a top 10 list of the best noise albums must seem like a list of top 10 TV static screens or a list of top 10 loudest power drills. However, nearly 40 years into his career Japanese noise musician Merzbow has released almost 300 albums where some are considered absolute staples of the genre such as Pulse Demon and Venereology (not to mention his discography with numerous collaborators) whereas many more fall into forgotten obscurity.

This newest album titled Achromatic is another collaboration, this time with the group HEXA. HEXA are an industrial/dark ambient group featuring Jamie Stewart of cult indie experimentalists Xiu Xiu and Lawrence English. HEXA’s most recent output was a sort of soundtracking of David Lynch’s factory photography. The pair created music that was droning and mechanical, creating lifeless soundscapes that perfectly fit Lynch’s photography.

The title Achromatic itself is a good hint of how the album will sound. Western music typically is made up of twelve semitones and is the basis for all our scales and chords. These twelve notes together are known as the chromatic scale. What Merzbow is doing with this title is giving the listener fair warning that what they’re getting into is a piece of music that is devoid of melody and rhythm and is reduced to something that is purely textural and, thanks to HEXA, rather atmospheric.

The album is split into two parts. The first side Merzhex being produced by HEXA and the second half with the track Hexamer was produced by Merzbow. This choice was quite an interesting move as it gives each a distinctive sound and it allows the listener to see how each artist interprets the work. The core of this release is made up of a few elements: the sonic chaos of Merzbow’s feedbacking harsh noise and HEXA’s low droning synthesisers and distant industrial sounds.

Despite being a noise project Achromatic is basked in atmosphere (at times it sounds like field recordings are being used) and it’s this atmosphere that makes the album so interesting. The combination of the two artists sounds complement each other greatly and throughout listening I find myself imagining all sorts of scenes and environments. HEXA’s droning dark ambient elements form the base of the whole sound, creating an atmosphere and giving the music a sense of slow progression. Merzbow’s signature noise elevates the atmosphere to something truly otherworldly, at times it becomes quite hard to even tell the different elements apart as they combine to create a maelstrom of blaring sound. The combination of these sounds gives the album an ice cold and impenetrable vibe.

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Merzhex 2 sounds like being trapped in a huge glacier in the arctic. While trapped inside you can hear the winds batter off the sides and the slow rumbling bass synthesisers imitating the cracking, groaning sound of the glacier moving slowly across the Arctic. Merzhex 3 conjures up the image of a desolate and unforgiving frozen wasteland. H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ came to mind when listening to this track; a story where a group of Antarctic explorers discover a mountain range in a treacherous environment even larger than the Himalayas. In further discovery, they find a mysterious and ancient alien city where the explorers would discover secrets that would lead them to death or utter madness.
Since there is nothing else to go off except from basic titles this album is infinitely interpretative and allows the listeners mind to run free as they are engulfed by the cold sounds of buzzing and cacophonous electronics

Reviewing industrial and harsh noise music can be a fruitless activity. For a start, trying to describe the musical qualities of something devoid of musicality and essentially being a form of anti-music is slightly pointless and honestly, a wee bit daft. Noise also tends to be highly divisive and the idea that some people actively enjoy and even try to review, some would find laughable. To some listeners, the experience can be cathartic and mesmerising but to others, it’s simply one thing: not music, and in a way, they are correct. It would be untrue for me to claim that Achromatic is a brilliantly composed piece of music.

However, what Merzbow and HEXA have released here makes for an engaging listen that also works as a blank canvas to derive your own meaning from. Or maybe you’ll just think it sounds like a big loud pile of nonsense, either way, the combination of each artists sound and the excellent production make this one of the more stands out releases in Merzbow’s gargantuan discography and if you have an open mind then it’s well worth checking out.

Grouper gets lost in its own atmosphere on Grid of Points

words fae liam toner (@tonerliam)

rating 6Liz Harris is an American musician and songwriter who since 2005 has released 12 albums and three EPs through her solo project Grouper. The Grouper sound Harris has crafted over the years has varied from album to album, but on each release, you’ll always find some key elements: reverb washed production, feathery vocal delivery and an overall tone of dreamy melancholy.

Harris’ music often features field recordings and everyday sounds along with tape hiss that gives her music a much more personal quality that a lot of fans have come to love. Her most ambitious project to date is probably her 2007 album A I A: Alien Observer, an ambient drone influenced album with Harris’ signature vocal style on top that creates an otherworldly spacey atmosphere where the listener can easily lose themselves in its dreamy haze.

Grid of Points is Harris’ newest output and clocking in at around 22 minutes the short album has a much more stripped-down approach than some of her other work. Similar to her most recent album Ruins, each song is mostly just Harris’ soft vocals and a piano. The production is atmospheric as usual, with all sounds engulfed in reverb which creates overtones that soar over the mix and add to the ethereal quality of the tracks. Harris will utilise her signature vocal harmony style and you’ll also hear the tape hiss throughout, meaning it has all the key ingredients of a Grouper album.

The first track is a short acapella number which sucks the listener in to the downtrodden mood of Grid of Points and sets the moody tone for the rest of the album. Each track onward just features Liz and her piano. The tracks are slow and sparse, devoid of any flashy musicianship made with the intention of creating atmosphere.

With this comes my issue with the album, however. The stripped-down sound Harris is going for on this release exposes the songs to be very minimal and vague without a strong sense of progression. With all the elements of each track being so understated and washed out it can give the music a lack of substance. The music often falls into the background, leaving the listener to forget about the subtleties of Harris‘ songcraft. Now this would be fine on an ambient record, but on a stripped back solo piano album the understated qualities leave something to be desired. It could be argued that the lack of standout musical features on this release is what makes it good, but it couldn’t have hurt to have chord progressions or themes that are a bit more developed and interesting. All of the songs were said to be written over the course of a week and half, and at times it shows.

Although the music on here can suffer from being a bit sonically reserved, it is far from unenjoyable. Harris’ silky voice is a warm presence that, accompanied with her sparse piano playing, makes for a very pleasant listen. Blouse is a particularly beautiful song that did grab my attention on each listen and probably stands out as the best song on the album. The humming engine sounds at the end of the brief album also add a rather relaxing quality. If anything, this album absolutely delivered on how peaceful it was intended to be.

Grid of Points is an album that, while very pleasant and nice to listen to, doesn’t leave a huge impact and won’t likely be remembered as one of Grouper’s more memorable or ambitious releases. However, will probably be just great for the loyal Grouper fans.

 

Suicidal Tendencies deliver disappointment and boredom in equal measure on new EP ‘Get Your Fight On!’

by liam toner (@tonerliam)rating 3

When first hearing that Suicidal Tendencies were releasing a new EP, the expectation was a collection of mediocre hardcore punk tracks performed by a cast of past-it middle-aged guys; upon listening, it becomes very quickly apparent that not even those expectations have been met.

Suicidal Tendencies’ golden moment in their long tenure came in the form of their 1983 self-titled album which blended sounds from both the early developing thrash metal movement and the sounds and energy of the American hardcore scene to pioneer the sub genre crossover thrash. The band went on to put out a slew of quality releases through the rest of the 80s and gathered a considerable fan base. Going to hardcore shows today you’re still likely to spot somebody with a trucker cap sporting the word ‘Suicidal’ beneath the visor.

The first glaring issue with this EP right off the bat is that this release clocks in at 45 minutes long, which is an absurd length for an EP. This might not have been so bad if 45 minutes of new Suicidal Tendencies was engaging and interesting, but they dropped the ball on that as well. We, the fortunate listeners, are treated to ten tracks. Two of these tracks (#1 and #4) are re-recordings of songs from vocalist Mike Muir’s 90s solo project Cyco Miko, the 6th track is a Stooges’ cover and the last four tracks are all different versions of the same song. This leaves us with three new, original tracks not including the four versions of Get Your Fight On.

The opening track Nothing to Lose is the strongest track on here for sure. It’s a high energy slice of crossover thrash with some really solid riffing and lead guitar work that, on the first listen, raises hopes for the EP actually being not too bad before progressively nose diving as it continues on. The only issue with this particular track, however, was some of the cheesy “let’s go let’s go” backing vocals.

Unfortunately, Nothing to Lose is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cheesy vocals and lyrics. The subsequent two tracks consist mostly of mid-tempo funk rock grooves allowing members of the band to rap over, which lets the cringe-worthy lyrics really shine through. There’s just something inherently silly about a bunch of middle aged guys writing childish lyrics about not taking shit from anyone and hating authority, but you’ll find plenty of that on here. The most cringe-inducing song on the EP is definitely Ain’t Messing Around and although you can see the band were trying to come across as inspiring and free thinking, the result was a lot more unintentionally hilarious than the band would have planned.

When Dave Lombardo’s name appears on the drumming credits for this Suicidal Tendencies release, it’s hard not to get excited to see what he would bring to the table. Lombardo played on all of Slayer’s classic 80s albums where he set the stage for how most drummers in thrash metal would play, as well as solidifying himself as one of the most influential metal drummers of all time. Unfortunately, though, his talents can’t make up for some of the lacklustre songwriting on the EP. As mentioned earlier, the second half of the EP features 4 versions of the same song. Two feature different vocals, while one is just a backing track for a four minute bass solo and the other for an equally long guitar solo. It’s mind boggling to think why the band decided putting all four of these tracks on here would be a good idea. All they do is bore the listener beyond belief and take the EP up to a ridiculous 45 minute run time.

Despite Suicidal Tendencies being a band of very talented musicians, what they have put out here is awfy disappointing – featuring sub par songs, cringe-inducing lyrics and instilling an overall feeling of boredom on the listener.

Album Review: With Doom We Come by Summoning

By Liam Toner  (@tonerliam)rating 8

Summoning are a symphonic/atmospheric black metal band from Austria who, after one traditional 2nd wave style black metal album in 1993, morphed its sound into the synth-heavy epic take on the genre that opted for programmed percussion and stripped back on the guitar riffs to form that signature Summoning sound. With Doom We Come sticks to the usual formula the band has finessed over the years wherein the guitars leave behind an evil and dissonant tremolo picking style of most black metal and opts for more melodic musicianship that functions more as a textural element than anything else. Textural is the key word in describing the band’s sound, as guitars, vocals, and synth after synth are layered on top of minimalist structures creating the long, epic, fantasy-inspired tracks that have become synonymous with the band’s sound.

At this point it feels necessary to put in a disclaimer here as although Summoning’s music can be thought of as majestic, ethereal and heroic, it can also come across as cheesy, campy and downright nerdy (in the best way of course). The band have spent their career making songs about J.R.R.Tolkien’s rich lore-filled back catalogue set in the fantasy world of Middle Earth and generally have more in common with Dungeon Synth than they do with Darkthrone, so bear that in mind.

Tar-Calion opens the album and is an instrumental track that lures you into the cinematic atmospheres that will continue throughout the album. The core sound of the track utilises the harmonic minor scale, which is found in traditional Arabic, Egyptian and Indian music, as well as other Eastern cultures. This scale, when used by Summoning, conjures up images of a mysterious far-off land in the listener’s mind and overall sets the scene for the epic journey to come.

The vocals first come in on the second track Silvertine and coarse and raspy they may be, the vocals come across intelligibly, which benefits the music well as it allows the listener to become immersed in the bands’ images of icy, mountainous landscapes and the realms of Tolkien’s works that so heavily inspire the band. The vocals come off as jarringly strong on the album in general and nearly steal the show on tracks such as Night Fell Behind which is a personal high point on the album as its darker, more melancholy tone gives the track a mystical quality that stands out from the more uplifting atmospheres present on the other tracks.

Summoning tends to keep song structures quite simple and minimal as usual on With Doom We Come, sticking to the same slow tempos throughout each track and not even making many changes with the chord progression in tracks that can last up to 10 minutes long. This would come across as a demerit to the band’s sound if they weren’t so adept at letting different instruments come and go to keep the songs’ energy moving. The band will break at times and just let the synths play to give the long tracks some breathing room before the rest of the instrumentation joins in again. Other times, immaculate choir singing will be introduced and grasp your attention again. On Carcharoth, Summoning employs a very uncharacteristic technique for them in the form of a grandiose key change that takes place halfway through the song and lifts the track to even more fantastical heights.

The production on With Doom We Come is a lot warmer than the tinnier sound you would find on the bands earlier releases. And although raw lo-fi textures have always better suited the genre of black metal, the rich, spacious production fits Summoning’s own aesthetic far better and allows the lush layers of synthesisers to shine through the mix.

With Doom We Come clocks in at around 1 hour and 5 minutes, which you might be inclined to think is perhaps a wee bit too long. However, you’ll likely find yourself able to sit through it all without growing bored. Plus, each track is so crucial to the album’s overall sound that removing any songs from the tracklist would severely detract from the album, as each track stands out well on its own.

Summoning manages to bring a great level of quality on this album despite the fact that you could argue that they’ve been releasing essentially the same album again and again over the years. But this just goes to show how timeless their nostalgic, medieval sound is, and will probably continue to be.  If you’ve never heard a Summoning album before and you are prepared to embrace the goofy fantasy elements of black metal, then With Doom We Come wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

 

 

The BLINKCLYRO Christmas Wishlist!

Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat, we’ve had a fantastic year in music, and Morrissey’s still a fucking twat.

Despite the fact it’s been a scintillating year in the music industry, everyone here at Blinkclyro is salivating at the chops, begging for more in 2018. So we tasked our finest writers (that’s all of them) to write a letter to that nice man who lives at the North Pole, asking him for some musical gifts in the new year.

Those who failed to write letters will receive a copy of Divide by Ed Sheeran and will be forced to watch hours of Liam Gallagher footage, A Clockwork Orange style.


I would like double the amount of albums King Gizz managed this year. 4 (5?) just isn’t enough and I wanna hear them do a doom metal album. Some new Sigur Ros material would be lovely too, and could you throw in a Courtney Barnett / Kurt Vile UK tour while you’re at it! Please, could you also make Ed Sheeran go away, just for a year, I’m begging you.” – Rory McArthur (@rorymeep)

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“Hey Santa,

 I would like some new stuff from Chance the Rapper and The Wytches. It would also be great if Sky Ferreira could make a musical comeback and if someone could tell Weezer it’s not 1996. PS. I would also like to join Brockhampton, Thanks! x” – Isabella McHardy (@isabellmchardy)

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“Well, the same as every year, I want a White Stripes reunion, but that’s not happening anytime soon so I’ll settle for new La Roux and Drenge albums please and thanks, Santa! x” – Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

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” I would like a new Biffy Clyro album where half of it doesn’t sound like Hanson doing a Biffy Clyro impression. I’d also like Kanye West to release at least some of the collaboration’s he’s teased. Kanye with Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert and Kendrick sounds lovely and I’ve done the washing all year Santa PLEASE” – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

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“Hey, Santa: Really excited to see what Frank Ocean has to offer considering he said “you’re gonna love 2018”, would love some more surprises from artists I haven’t heard before bringing out albums that I love and also albums being released by some of my all time favs like Bring Me The Horizon and MIKA!” – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

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“Dear Santa,

I’d like the new Father John Misty LP nearly as much as I want the press cycle where he bullies just about every journalist in music. CRJ following up the best pop album (and b-sides collection) of our times wouldn’t go amiss either, and, if I’m not being too greedy, a few reminders throughout the year that Frank Ocean still exists.” – Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

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“Dear Santa, some new material from Danny Brown would be quality! Also, hope to see The National finally recording a studio version of Rylan. Please though, for the love of god, somebody put LG in the bin. Cheers x” – Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

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For the bland white boy house/techno scene in Glasgow to become more interesting and inclusive: give us diverse lineups but like also maybe Gabber yaaas” – Liam Toner (@tonerliam)

“For LCD Soundsystem to do a Brockhampton and drop 3 masterpieces in one year, and for Eminem to retire to his slippers and anger management classes.” – Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

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“For Kanye West to get his finger out and give us that Turbo Grafx 16 LP he’s been promising. A new Death Grips LP will make me a very happy boy: as would the swift death of boring Lad Rock – cheers big man” – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

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“I would like to see a Muse album that isn’t complete garbage, an Ozzy Osbourne Birmingham gig and maybe some lost Motörhead tracks, I’ve been a good boy! But more than anything, I want Lemmy to rise from the dead.” – Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

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Well then.

We can confirm to Santa that all of our writers have been very good boys & girls this year, so we’re confident that all these musical wishes will appear under our trees, on our radars, and turned into quality content for your viewing pleasure.

Whoever you are (as long as you’re not a Nazi), whatever you believe (as long as you’re not a Nazi) and whatever you listen to (as long as you’re not a Nazi who listens to Catfish), we wish you a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a musical New Year!

Top 50 Songs of 2017

We’ve been fairly negative this week, what with the moaning behemoth that was our ten worst tracks of the year list, but let us assure you that music in 2017 hasn’t been terrible: in fact, it’s arguably the strongest it has been since the glory year of 2015. There’s still another week to go before we give you the round up of the records we couldn’t get enough of but until then, the BLINKCLYRO team have a treat for you.

This year’s Top 50 Songs list marks the first year where it isn’t just Liam compiling his favourite tunes: all the writers for the site have submitted their top 10 tracks of the year and after compiling them, tallying the points and laying them out, this post before you is the end result of that. So strap yourself in, relax and prepare yourself for a bucket load of great tunes that’ll make you feel blessed to have ears.

50. Blaenavon – Orthodox Man

First heard in 2015 when played to a crowd of under twenty, Orthodox Man has remained very much the same between then and now. However, now played to sell out crowds it has become somewhat of a fan favourite and it is clear to see why. It is fun, it is exciting, it gets the crowd going. What more could you want from a debut record single?

49. The Xcerts – Daydream

What sets The Xcerts out from others is the vocal style, and Daydream is no exception. Murray Macleod’s Aberdonian accent beams through the track and the catchy riff and drums make it a dance along track. Throw in that beautifully constructed bridge and you have yourself an upbeat pop rock song, that is sure to send the Xcerts flying into 2018.

48. The War On Drugs – Holding On

Holding On is a highlight pick from the new War on Drugs album and makes for easy listening with a dreamy feel across the instrumentals and vocals. The fact that this song stands out on A Deeper Understanding, which is an already amazing album, testifies to the quality of the track. The winding journey that the track takes you on is definitely one to remember.

47. The Mountain Goats – Unicorn Tolerance

This funky pop track off this year’s Mountain Goats album is remarkable in both its familiarity, in terms of lyricism from Darnielle, and harmonised chorus, taken straight out of the bands previous works; it is notable too for its difference, with a very chill melodic pop beat going through, and an almost dreamlike feel, making something that old fans, as well as Mountain Goats VLs, will get.

46. Pip Blom – Babies Are A Lie

Hailing from Amsterdam, Pip Blom have been around for around half a decade now yet continue the evolution from, as they put it, the girl with little guitar to a full-on band that hit their stride on this tune; a chill track that eases in with a simple introduction and lets its hair loose on its earworm of a chorus.

45. Benjamin Clementine – Phantom of Aleppoville 

From this year’s I Tell A Fly, delivered by the avant-garde maestro Benjamin Clementine, this is very much a high point experimentally for the album, with a lon sweeping intro, blending in classical music, after an anxiety inducing chant early on with the track’s lyrics really shining as the song reaches its end.

44. The Smiths Street Band – Birthdays

I feel overwhelmed so I wanna be alone but then when I’m alone I feel lonely” were the words shared on the Australian rock outfit’Instagramam about Birthdays, a romance heavy tune that features on the band’s frankly underrated LP More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me. Transparent and deeply emotive, The Smiths Street Band manage to effortlessly discuss issues of mental health and desire over this tight 3-minute odd track.

43. Idles – Mother

2017 was a fantastic year for Bristol outfit Idles, and their single Mother punched and kicked straight into the music communities consciousness. With scathing, growling lyrics from frontman Joe Talbot, the song was a perfect shot of heavy guitar music arrived with aplomb this year. This track stands out on their excellent album Brutalism for its much-needed commentary on the social fabric of our country.

42. Woes – Losing Time

Opening with an excellent sounding pop punk riff, Losing Time doesn’t hesitate to go huge. The vocals are reminiscent of the bands’ self-titled EP released last year, and both singers vocals blend brilliantly to create a beautiful harmony. The bridge of the track slows right down, with lead vocalist David Jess passionately shouting, before getting back to business: Woes are definitely one to watch in 2018.

41. Tommy Genesis – Tommy

While there’s a solid bit of production in the form of a Charlie Heat beat, Tommy‘s main draw is the display and establishment of herself as an aggressive and hyper-sexual rapper who can stand her own ground. With the bravado and confidence that Tommy Genesis holms, we wouldn’t be surprised to see her come out with something major in the near future.

40. Dua Lipa – New Rules (Initial Talk Remix)

It’s no secret that Dua Lipa seemingly came out of nowhere to deliver one of the biggest pop tunes of the year, one with a great sense of empowerment. Initial Talk thought that New Rules was missing something and decided to give it a dollop of 80’s gloss, an odd decision but one that works very well for a song that could have easily found itself sang by the pop juggernauts from that decade.

39. Enter Shikari – Undercover Agents

Easily one of the best tracks off The Spark & one of the most accessible Shikari songs, Undercover Agents is a bouncy number that’ll get the whole floor howling at the moon. Is it a song about Facebook or Instagram, or is “I want to see your body” covering for something else?

38. N.E.R.D – Lemon

Though it could be argued to be more the “Pharrell and Rihanna show” rather than a full-blown N.E.R.D comeback, this song is still a bonafide club banger. Just like the lyrics, the production bounces along with deep 808 bass kicks and a high popping synth, while in the latter part of the song, Rihanna raps with a swagger that is seldom heard.

37. Rostam – Bike Dream

Aeronautical oranges, continental paintings, an uxorious pair of boys. These are some of the images that populate Rostam’s Bike Dream, the fanciful second track of his excellent debut Half-Light. Atop the synth-drum dynamo powering the song is the exultation of Rostam seeing himself in the myriad New Yorkers ambulating around 14th Street. Amid the chaos, Rostam reaches the bittersweet summation of his many romances: “Telling me something or nothing, never the one thing I wanna hear”.

36. St Vincent – Slow Disco

Near the culmination of Annie Clark’s neon pop masterclass, Masseduction, sits one of her finest songs yet. An emotionally affecting powerhouse, Slow Disco stands out as a work of stripped back beauty amidst the sea of oddball experiments. On first listen it may just seem a welcome variation from the robotic and futuristic sounds of the rest of the record, but with time it reveals itself as the albums powerfully vulnerable highlight.

35. Vistas – Retrospect

Latest single Retrospective is everything we know and love this Edinburgh pop-rock outfit for. Opening up with the catchiest of riffs, the nod-along melody kicks in with frontman Prentice Robertsons’ spectacular vocals create a happy, feel-good vibe. The band has worked tirelessly the past two years and it is now all beginning to pay off with this tune being evident of the progress they’ve made.

34. Protomartyr – My Children

The second single to be released from their latest album and one of the most complete songs they’ve recorded yet, Protomartyr have managed to distill almost every aspect of their music into a deeply satisfying 3 minutes and 42 seconds. An ominous, mumbled intro gives way to angular guitars as anti-frontman Joe Casey delivers a caustic take on issues of growing old, remaining childless and the implications that might have on his legacy.

33. Alex Cameron – Runnin’ Outta Luck

Who would have thought that a satirical concept album based around the trials and tribulations of toxic masculinity and fragile egotism could be so catchy? The third single from 2017’s delightfully playful Forced Witness epitomises the thematic musical and lyrical consistences that run deep through the record via a bombastic, synth-embellished sound that recalls the classic rock and pop of the 1980s with an unrelentingly ear-worming chorus.

32. Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

2017 marked the year that the members of One Direction stepped out on their own and released their debut solo material, and unarguably the best track born of the hiatus has come from unofficial band leader Harry Styles, who boldly emerged with Sign of the Times, a 5-minute epic which channels heroes Prince and David Bowie, effortlessly building from a solemn piano into to a rock opera without breaking sweat. Styles vocal performance is enthralling throughout, growing with the track from a brooding opening before howling “WE”VE GOT TO GET AWAYYY” in the epic climax, the track’s escapism aided by a choir and a glam-rock guitar tone elevating Styles’ already huge vocal into the stratosphere.

31. Clairo – Pretty Girl

Clairo seems to be fitting in remarkably well to her newfound position as a self-aware, bedroom pop artist. As you may expect, Pretty Girl is a relationship influenced song but one that finds pleasure in pointing out the flaws of superficially lead ones with a simple music video only exasperating the simplistic charm that she delivers in bucketloads.

30. Phoebe Bridgers – Funeral

A cut from her debut album, this track from Phoebe Bridgers is a real story of Bruce Springsteen proportions, delivering a thought-provoking, heartfelt and genuinely sad song, involving the artiste singing at a funeral: just as morbid and depressing as you would expect but with a glimmer of beauty.

29. Peach Pit – Being So Normal

Described as being “chewed bubblegum pop” by, well, themselves, Peach Pit manage to leave a muffled indent with this eponymously titled track off their debut LP; the lead smooth vocals may sound exhausted but when backed up by warm guitars and an undeniable crisp production, it’s hard not to feel yourself mellowed out and enthralled.

28. The Vegan Leather – Shake It

This paisley disco-pop outfit’s debut single was one of the hottest Scottish indie hits of the year, almost anthemic in its delivery; with a fantastic dance beat to accompany it. One of the most notable elements of the track is the harmonies between male and female fronts of the band, Gian and Marie respectively, working together to deliver a positively electric track.

27. King Krule – Dum Surfer

Dum Surfer, from King Krule’s album The Ooz, amplifies the very darkest aspects of his music. The lyrics are aggressive and unsettling. Krule’s deep and brooding voice matches the violent imagery which contrasts starkly with the jazzy saxophone and abundance of percussion. It sounds like nothing else but manages to stand by itself as one of the best tracks of the year.26. Young Fathers – Only God Knows

Young Fathers provided the backbone to the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack. Included was the beautifully layered track, Only God Knows. Accompanied by Leith Congregational Choir, the trio from Edinburgh create three and a half minutes heart pounding, distorted bliss: it’s impossible to not find yourself smiling when this song comes on. Not only does it undeniably bring the other songs from T2 together but also establishes the versatility of Scottish hip-hop.

25. Lil Peep – Save That Shit

The “Pt. 1” affixed to Lil Peep’s debut album Come Over When You’re Sober will forever serve as a reminder of what Gustav Åhr’s career might have been. A sense of death’s rapid encroachment pervaded much of Peep’s music, and last month, a fatal overdose granted his self-fulfilling prophecy.

Standing out among Åhr’s robust oeuvre is Save That Shit, a maudlin breakup song featuring spidery post-grunge guitars, tightly-wound trap drums, and Lil Peep’s trademark gruff whine. The details of the couple’s relationship are in constant flux: “All she want is payback,” “You ain’t getting nothing I’m saying, don’t tell me you is,” “Do I make you scared? Baby, won’t you take me back?

The optimist in him wants to salvage the relationship, but the realist in him knows he can’t save that shit.

24. Corbin – Giving Up

When Corbin dropped his album Mourn earlier this year, it showcased his soulful vocal talents over moody and mournful cloud rap and RnB beats which have stuck out in our minds over this year though Giving Up is the track that has remained at the forefront of our minds.

The synths create a very downtrodden atmosphere to begin with and bring you into a state of melancholy where you can then be lulled by Corbin’s silky smooth voice. The drums kick in about 2:30 into the song which lifts the track considerably but the depressive quality of this track just gets stronger as Corbin’s vocals become more powerful and desperate near the end.

Taking into account the song’s lyrics’ focus on suicide makes this track a total emotional barrage, but a fucking good one.

23. Sorority Noise – A Portrait Of

Although Sorority Noise have teased listeners with lyrics and themes meaningful enough to rip your heart from your chest, 2017’s A Portrait Of is when the depth of the band really hit home. All of YNA_AYT is a journey into the deepest crevices of your conscience, but when the sophomore track opens with “I’ve been feeling suicidal..” you know you’re going to be in for an emotional ride.

Roaring a mid-section poetical giving reference to living his life as a continuation of theirs, Cameron Boucher truly opens up here and by the end of the track you’re left speechless, in tears or both.

The instrumentation is not ghoulish, nor is it an overly slow ballad to emphasise the lyrics, it is standard Sorority Noise in-your-face riff-topia with cutting hooks, dominant drums and quite frankly an elegant yet boisterous glue holding everything in place.

22. SZA – Drew Barrymore

Throughout her debut album CTRL, SZA discusses both relationships with others and herself with remarkable honesty and this is most evident on Drew Barrymore.

An ode to SZA’s favourite actress, the song’s themes are reminiscent of Barrymore’s iconic roles of women finding their identities. Similarly, on the track, SZA admits her insecurities and instead of being embarrassed by them, she sees a piece of herself in one of her biggest idols.

It is rare to see such difficult emotions towards relationships expressed so directly and with that comes sincerity that makes this track resonate so deeply; anyone that’s ever felt inadequate will both appreciate those feelings described so accurately and also a reminder that even people as talented as SZA feel the same way.

21. Mount Eerie – Real Death

Artistic expressions of death and grief are rarely ever as direct as they are on A Crow Looked At Me, an album dealing with the of passing Mount Eerie mastermind Phil Elverum’s wife Geneviève Castrée at the age of thirty-five. Yet in the opening track, Elverum insists that his record is exactly not that: “Death is real… it’s not for singing about, it’s not for making into art”.

With every word his cracked and pained voice utters, the listener gains only a minute sense of what it must be like to have been put through such a traumatic ordeal, and then shift through the aftermath. It’s a song so heartbreakingly beautiful that I struggle sometimes to listen to it in full – but I’m still glad that such a succinct statement of personal loss exists in today’s world.

20. Everything Everything – Desire

Desire feverishly builds, reaching a chorus featuring so many layered vocals, it sounds like an entire choir made up of Josh Higgs’ indulgent falsetto. The guitar riff at times rings like early naughties math rock in the best possible way and topping it all off are some very on brand Everything Everything lyrics “I am a pencil pusher with the pencil pusher blues“.

The beat stomps on through from the start, breaking at times into a delicate two-step instantly transporting you to a sweaty dancehall. It’s a song that makes it near impossible not to dance; some of the best indie pop we’ve had all year.

19. Kirin J. Callinan – Big Enough (Ft. Alex Cameron, Molly Lewis & Jimmy Barnes)

This is one of the rare songs on this list that has to be heard to be believed, especially in conjunction with its fabulously grandiose music video. Country twangs, EDM drops, heavy metal screams and a fist-pumping, chest-burstingly triumphant list of arbitrary countries, continents and states for a conclusion that, similar to marmite or self-immolation, will change your life for the better or the worse.

The reason it works and not devolve into the aural equivalent of a thirteen-way pile up on the M8 is the strength of the songwriting and the dynamics of the production, both of which create an addictive cocktail of a serotonin rush that never fails to lift your spirits. That, or make your face cringe so hard it cracks in two, but if it does that then you probably hate fun.

18. LCD Soundsystem – tonite

If James Murphy and co.’s first two comeback singles were intriguing yet divisive, then tonite firmly solidified the validation for their return to the stage, whilst simultaneously setting the scene for the album upon which it settles into snuggly in the middle third.

Lyrically, Murphy rearms his iconically ironic New York cool stance but with an updated penchant for the self-aware, allowing himself to deprecate the stagnant state of the charts without ever falling into the “Old Man Yells At Cloud!” trap that haunts many of rock music’s elder statesmen.

Pounding behind the words is a groovy instrumental that takes its cues from Daft Punk and The Human League, and reaffirms LCD Soundsystem’s place on the dancefloor, and indeed our hearts. We’ve missed you, Murphy.

17. The Menzingers – Thick As Thieves

With February’s After the Party, Scranton natives The Menzingers reached a career peak. A wonderful record bursting at the seams with shout-a-long slices of life, it establishes the band as a bonafide grade-A rock outfit. An ode to reckless abandon, Thick as Thieves encapsulates all that is great about the album.

The whole track just drips with an endearing sense of nostalgia and sincerity, with vocalist Greg Barnett gleefully yelling of ‘building castles of cans and bottles’ without a trace of cynicism or irony. The chorus, perhaps the best the band has ever come up with, seems tailor-made for crowds to scream back at the stage; it’s just joyous.

If you can get it out of your head, you’re not human.

16. Remo Drive – Yer Killin’ Me

What a belter this track is. A slice of raucous, driving, almost poppy emo from the Minnesota 3-piece Remo Drive’s beauty of a debut album Greatest Hits (killer title).

There’s such an infectious venom in frontman Erik Paulson’s vocals and lyrics that you almost can’t help but be subconsciously pissed off at whoever’s wronged him.

The mathy breakdown towards the end of the track is delicious as well. Yer Killin’ Me is a perfect introduction to the world of Remo Drive, and one that would easily fit into your running playlist or your moody playlist. Brilliant.

15. Lil Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3

The king of emo rap’s magnum opus. XO TOUR LIiF3 by Philadelphia’s own Lil Uzi Vert manages to walk the tightrope between depressing as fuck and club banger with aplomb. Flexing about his car one minute and lamenting a failing relationship in the next, this is a deceptively complex slice of hip-hop from one of the most exciting MCs of 2017.

Mr. Vert explores concepts that most modern rappers wouldn’t dare touch, the likes of how maybe drug abuse isn’t that good and suicide. On a surface level it’s a cracking trap track, but if you listen to the lyrics it’s a sad portrait of a man who’s a bit lost in the world of hip-hop. And that’s what makes it so good.

14. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Open Water

Choosing a highlight from King Gizzard’s extensive set of 2017 releases is no mean feat. From tightly wound prog to loosely held together jazz pop, the range this band have displayed this year trumps what most bands achieve across their whole career.

Way back in February, the group released the finest of these efforts, Flying Microtonal Banana, and with it, Open Water, the seven-minute colossus that stands as the jewel in the crown.

Bursting with pitch black imagery and fluid, winding licks, it sees the band really push themselves to their limit. Their drums had never been quite so ferocious before, the atmosphere never quite so delightfully disorientating, and the end result rarely quite so brilliant. 

13. Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut To The Feeling

Carly Rae Jepsen‘s transition from early 2010’s meme to critically applauded pop artist has been one of the most interesting moments over the past few years and this cut for animated flick Leap continues the trend.

We could easily discuss the effortlessly ascending and descending bits of production that tie into the Canadian singer’s wonderful pipes or her delivery from hushful whispering to ambitious proclamations; the hook, line, and sinker of Cut To The Feeling is just how bloody fun it is and in another dark and dreary year, we need more of these than ever.

12. The National – Day I Die

Bryan Devendorf herein stakes his claim as one of indie’s pre-eminent percussionists, kicking off one of the highlights of Sleep Well Beast with a frenetic drum intro. Relentlessly uptempo and featuring guitar licks reminiscent of The Cure, themes of marital affairs are navigated with reference-laden lyrics.

Matt Berninger boasts that, “Young mothers love me, even ghosts of / Girlfriends call from Cleveland“, although he’s clearly still more concerned about the no-mans land his current relationship occupies, struggling to understand where exactly things stand.

During the bridge, further context is given to “great uncle Valentine Jester“, a character visited previously and, as it happens, someone who Berninger shares a lot in common with, particularly when he gets “a little punchy with the vodka“.

11. Lorde – Green Light

Fresh from a break-up, Lorde’s second album, Melodrama, explores dealing with losing someone for the first time and all the thoughts that come with it. The first single, Green Light, starts desperate and heart wrenching.

The song opens with her raw, slow vocals and simple piano, but builds quickly to a fast dance anthem, flinging her reputation as a moody teenage songstress into the mainstream. The sincerity in her vocals mixed with the constant change of pace creates a warmth inside your stomach. It’s a song to cry but also to move on to. Lorde is showing us how to dance through the pain.10. Frank Ocean – Chanel

Frank Ocean is famed as one of modern music’s lyricists for his complexity and deft storytelling talents. However, Ocean throws this subtlety out of the window in the mic-drop of an opening couplet to surprise single Chanel – “My guy pretty like a girl / and he got fight stories to tell”.

This sets the tone for Chanel’s lyrical tone – it’s part bashful, part confessional, varying as Ocean drifts between singing and rapping – displaying a mastery of each. The dreary beat is the perfect bed for Ocean’s varied delivery, and transitions into perhaps Ocean’s most iconic hook yet – “I see both sides like Chanel” – another lyrical masterstroke as he flips hip-hop’s obsession with brands into an expression of sexuality.

9. Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

Stormzy seems like one of the nicest guys in music, but Big For Your Boots is a definite warning to anyone tries stopping his rise. His flow is incredible throughout the whole song, and some of the lines are solid gold.

Had a peng ting named Amy telling me to come round hers on a Valerie ting“. Sublime. The whole of GSAP was one of the standout albums of 2017, but this was the biggest diamond in the jewelers.

8. Paramore – Hard Times

Where do you start with the summery, pop anthem that is Hard Times?! The emo, pop-punk icons of yesteryear seemingly flipped their iconic style on its head and replaced it with a neon light complementing, almost sickly pink doused, upbeat classic.

Hayley Williams’ voice sounds as good, if not better, as their Riot! days and the re-addition of founding drummer Zac Farro adds a warming, sentimental value for the old-skool Paramore fans.

What we have is effectively an infectiously catchy piece of pop elegance from someone who was the antithesis of Hard Times. A fluorescent burst of colourful chaos, synths galore and a something that is a simple yet strangely complex arrangement of upbeat fun.

7. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Father John Misty’s third LP is comfortably the most lyrically ambitious release this year – providing social commentary on the grandest scale imaginable. This is best executed on the record’s stunning title track where Josh Tillman gives his perspective on “the comedy of man” – beginning with the birth process and arriving at religion with a lot in between – on the most grandiose score Tillman’s voice has ever graced.

The lyrics are the star of the show here, however, with Tillman addressing the human race at large with observations like “their illusions they have no choice but to believe”, however, the lyrics never take themselves too seriously, especially as he smirks “how’s this for irony?” in a subtle nod to his Father John Misty persona.

6. Brockhampton – Star

In a year where BROCKHAMPTON dropped three albums, there were several stand-out tracks that defined their year but none more memorable than STAR.

This track has a unique theme with its constant pop culture references. From Dom McLennon’s rapid-fire name dropping from Matthew McConaughey to Liam Neeson to Ameer Van’s bragging about being “the black Tom Hanks” and being “kingpin like Jay Z, dance moves like JT”. The track finishes on perhaps their strongest verse of the year as Kevin Abstract pronounced himself “Heath Ledger with some dreads” in a hilarious yet vicious verse that mixes references to pop culture and his own sexuality with ease.

America’s newest boyband have been on fire this year and that’s no more evident than on STAR.

5. Gorillaz – Ascension (Ft. Vince Staples)

When Vince Staples strutted onto the stage unannounced midway through Gorillaz’ sold out Hydro show, it was clear that the already fantastic gig was about to reach a new level. Staples’ stage presence was electric, his short frame covering almost every inch of the arena’s huge stage.

Somehow, the Long Beach MC manages to convey that energy as well on record as he does live on apocalyptic banger Ascension. Beginning with a quick-fire Staples verse atop a wartime air horn which soon gives way to Staples’ nonchalant attitude to the end of the world with the lyrics “the sky’s falling baby / drop that ass ‘fore it crash”.Gorillaz latest record Humanz was criticised for being too guest-heavy, but with Staples in such electrifying form, you can’t blame Damon Albarn for giving him the spotlight across his 2 lightning-quick verses.

As much as Staples is on fire, this still feels like a Gorillaz track. An Albarn verse is interspersed between Staples’ and is the perfect foil: Albarn sounds his age in contrast with Staples’ youthful exuberance: his verse darker, gloomier and more measured. He is happy to give the spotlight back to Staples who trivialises the apocalypse once more; with Staples on the mic, the apocalypse has never seemed so exciting.

4. Vince Staples – Yeah Right (Ft. Kendrick Lamar & Kucka)

Wouldn’t you know it – two tracks featuring Vince Staples back to back and boy, does the man deserve the high rankings on this list; anyone with a vague knowledge of Odd Future will have been made aware of the rapper’s potential and while he’s released some solid solo material, this track off Big Fish Theory certifies that there’s gold in them there hills.

Packing in the stellar production that can be found over the course of the entirety of Vince’s sophomore LP, Yeah Right teases the listener with his trademark delivery and a subdued instrumental before it’s released like a pack of lions with Detroit techno coursing through their blood. The sheer velocity of the bass borderlines on untenable at moments which adds to not only the power this song possesses but how closely this album walks the line between experimental and excruciating.

Then there’s that Kendrick verse which may possibly be the best guest bars to have been spat all year with an abundance of meta, serious, humourous and braggadocious lines that’ll etch themselves into your cranium. Tie in that bridge by Kucka which has a reminiscent tinge of old school UK Grime and you’re left with one of the greatest hip-hop tunes of the year.

3. Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete The Kisses

Already known for being able to essentially do anything, Wolf Alice proved that once again when they defined the modern love song with Don’t Delete The Kisses.

Ellie Rowsell’s lyrics have never been better even though they are the most sentimental she’s ever written. “I might as well write all over my notebook that you ‘rock my world!’” she admits in one of two verses Rowsell delivers in an almost talkative tone that mimics the thoughts going through her head; it somehow encapsulates these thoughts that everyone experiences in a creative way.

Don’t Delete The Kisses is unashamedly lovesick and cliché, and it’s confidence forces a massive smile onto your face as Rowsell’s closing words “I see the signs of a lifetime, you til I die” would manage to touch even the most cynical of hearts. The second single from sophomore album Visions of a Life, such an instant classic was unprecedented and will be hard for Wolf Alice to top but for now, they can revel in the success of creating a song that will undoubtedly remind a whole generation of fans of the person that they love.

2. Tyler The Creator – 911 / Mr. Lonely

True to form, the 10th track of Tyler’s widely acclaimed comeback project Flower Boy is a two-parter – a reoccurring theme across each of his albums. It’s a perfect synopsis of the dichotomy between the two different personalities of the record – one side is airy, melodic and full of summery optimism; the other, introspective and brooding.

The beauty of this track and, indeed, the rest of the album is the way Tyler reconciles these aspects and lays them bare so candidly. Perhaps one of the most apparent throwbacks to earlier, darker material such as Goblin, he alludes to his erstwhile depression throughout – in 911 he takes a philosophical approach, realising his own experiences can help him relate to others. Portraying a soothing voice on the other end of the phone, perhaps an emergency call handler, he introduces himself: “My name is Lonely, nice to meet you”.

Soon, though, he finds himself the one most in need of reassurance as he lapses back into despair in Mr. Lonely. The beat becomes dark and snare-heavy as he condemns his outwardly loud and brash personality, also questioning whether materialistic pursuits have ever really helped to alleviate that omnipresent feeling of loneliness. The last line cuts the deepest of all: reaching for a friend “so I never have to press that 911”.

1. Kendrick Lamar – DNA.

Regardless of your opinion on DAMN., light 7 or not, there’s no denying that 2017 has very much been the year of Kung Fu Kenny himself. From the teaser track The Heart Part IV tearing apart America’s newly elected toddler/President to his comeback single Humble, along with its subsequent meme value, to the hotly discussed topic of how his fourth LP should be played, there are very few artists who managed to stay relevant for all the right reasons in 2017.

A constantly evolving artist, think back to K Dot on Good Kid, m.A.A.d City or the existential, jazz poet on To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar is the most important figure in hip-hop at the moment and certifies this perfectly with D.N.A. An introspective and aggressive behemoth, this track serves not only as a reflection of himself as an idolised and sought after celebrity (Only Lord knows I’ve been goin’ hammer / dodgin’ paparazzi, freakin’ through the cameras) but it’s so much more than that.

True to his roots and heritage, D.N.A is primarily about Kendrick as a black man and in a year where race was the focus of some of the most despicable moments of the year in America, its message is more important than ever: the feature of a Fox News anchor stating that his music “has done more damage than racism ever has” only provokes him into becoming the passion-driven, bar spitting activist that music needs more of.

As he ends on some vicious lines, the inclusion of “peace to the world” could be taken literally or be a homophone for the slang for a gun; either way, the intentions are made clear on a song that seems to sum up this year into a claustrophobically tight 3 minutes, six seconds. 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/111518578/playlist/4T1V1dcSEhkDsZcyny9CWY


So there you have it, our definitive list of the best songs we’ve heard all year. I’d like to thank the following people for contributing not only their rankings which helped make the list but also the little write-ups they did for each track: 

RANKED: The Top 10 Black Sabbath Songs

For nearly fifty years now, Black Sabbath have been worldwide heavy metal superstars, widely touted as the genesis of all metal music. From humble beginnings in Birmingham as the Polka Tulk Blues Band to their final concerts at Birmingham’s Genting Arena in February, Black Sabbath are one of the biggest, most well known & legendary bands ever. Whether it’s Tony Iommi’s iconic riffs, Geezer Butler’s unmistakably brilliant bass playing the, or the instantly recognisable Brummie drawl of Ozzy Osbourne, everyone knows who Sabbath are, as the original heavy metal band. Who knew that a horrific workplace accident that cost Tony Iommi his fingers would shape part of history, but low tunings & heavy, doom-laden riffs are now the hallmarks of heavy music. Yet here we are, with the blueprint for all metal.

Sabbath have written & released countless iconic songs over their five-decade career, but the time has now come to narrow it down to just ten songs. Your hosts for this evening, and eventual targets of abuse because we didn’t include your favourite are Liam Toner (@tonerliamOliver Butler (@notoliverbutler).

10 – Snowblind – Vol. 4

Liam Toner: I don’t think I’ve ever heard cocaine described so beautifully before until I heard this track. Full of winter metaphors such as “crystal world of winter flowers” you might not have immediately guessed this was a song about a stimulant drug if the word “cocaine” wasn’t whispered blatantly to the listener at the start of the track. The song does actually have some quite pretty instrumentation throughout with the string section near the end and Iommi’s arpeggio chord progressions around 1:40 into the track.

Oliver Butler: By the time Vol. 4 came around, Sabbath were global superstars & enjoying the excesses that rock and roll stardom could only offer. During the recording of this album, the band ended up with more snow than the Alps, and wanted to call the whole album Snowblind as a wink to their new nasal neighbour. That bridge in the middle is an iconic Iommi riff, the sort that you hum out loud and tap your foot to at a moment’s notice. Whilst plans to call the album Snowblind were quickly put on ice, the band give a shout out to the “COKE A COLA” company in the album’s sleeve notes.

9 – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

OB: Another iconic Sabbath song here, and another classic case of them playing two songs at the same time, with a heavy, doom laden riff moving out the way for a chilled out acoustic section. It really feels like Ozzy hit a peak with his vocals on this record, especially with him shrieking “You bastards!” on this track. Do you recognise the bridge? Of course you do, it’s every modern-day metal breakdown you’ve ever heard, another part of the blueprint that Sabbath unknowingly put down.

LT: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has an interesting dynamic going from the big and heavy main riff into the very relaxed and chill sections with softly plucked acoustic guitar creating an almost serene vibe. This serenity doesn’t stay for too long however and when this song goes into it’s bridge section. The shock of heavy riff sections into soft sections that takes place in most of the song is trumped by the sheer power of the riff heard at the bridge section. Dirty, dark and palm-muted this particular riff can be compared to breakdowns you find in metal and hardcore music years down the line. Sabbath influential as always here.

8 – Fairies Wear Boots – Paranoid

Oliver Butler: Looking back on it, Sabbath were always on the cutting edge, and it’s no surprise they were superstars, with Fairies Wear Boots being a prime example of what made them so damn good. FWB just feels like a jam, but with such coordination, chopping & changing tempos, chord progression & vibe to really change the feel of the song, straight from the stoner rock intro into the jaunty verse & chorus, complete with a screaming Iommi solo. There’s a reason they’re still at the forefront of people’s minds 50 years later, and it’s because of innovative sounds like these.

LT: Fairies Wear Boots shows the band at its best. The bands ability to easily change from musical idea to musical idea effortlessly in to sections that vary in style, tempo and tone is inspiring to take in. Every member of the band really shows their chops here, if it’s not TonyIommi’s bluesy lead riffs and melodies then it’s Geezer Butler’s busy bass playing and they all pull their weight fantastically and show you how tight of a band they really are. Sabbath in their early days could regularly play up to 6 to 8 sets a night quite often just jamming most of the time you can really see how this turned the band in to a well-oiled machine on this track.

7 – Symptom of the Universe – Sabotage

LT: Sabbath reminding us how ahead of their time they are as always on this one. The main riff of this song is a sound people would soon have to get used to when the sounds of Thrash Metal manifested a few years later. Punk band Doom would open their first Peel Session with a cover of this as well turning it into Crust Punk anthem which speaks volumes about the stretch of influence one Black Sabbath riff can have on music as a whole

OB: Sabbath is easily the foundation that modern metal is built on. There’s probably kids in metal bands today who think that Sabbath are a bunch of old men that your dad listen to, but little do they know what coarses through their veins, and as our man Liam Toner just referenced, this riff could have easily been placed onto one of the many thrash metal bands that broke through a decade later, and it wouldn’t have sounded out of place. It’s not so much Sabbath being ahead of their time, it’s more a case of them setting everyone else’s watch. It’s another classic case of Sabbath playing two songs at once, with the thrashy riff making way for a cool, sweetly picked acoustic bridge. Why? Tony fucking Iommi, that’s why.

6 – Iron Man – Paranoid

LT: Tony Iommi grabs the listeners attention at the beginning of this track with droning whammy bar sounds before the song erupts in to it’s main riff. Iron Man perfectly blends heaviness with catchiness in this song and Ozzy, singing lyrics on top about a great iron giant following the melody and rhythm of the riff itself is nothing short of anthemic. Although this main riff is probably a bit overplayed in people’s minds  due to it being a favourite riff for beginner guitarists often heard in music and guitar shops the rest of the songwriting on the track is far too interesting to ignore. At around 3:40 in the track the band plays a descending scale pattern that switches in the blink of an eye into a slow pummelling groove you can’t help but appreciate how much chemistry this band has.

OB: Bewwwwwwwwwwwn, bewwwwwwwwwwn, bewwwwwwwwwn, DER, DER, DER DER DER,DERDERDERDERDER, DER DER DER. Even typed out, you know how that riff sounds. Despite the fact that Randy Rhoads rolled his eyes when Ozzy suggested playing this in his solo outfit, the simplicity of Iron Man’s riff is what makes it iconic. But like many Sabbath riffs, they were simplistic in their composition, but with the innovative downtuning giving it a demonic presence, every Sabbath riff struck with the force of an atomic bomb. Best bit of this song though? Definitely the ending, beginning with Geezer’s rattling bass and ending with Tony’s howling solo right over the top.

5 – Hand of Doom – Paranoid

LT: Hand of Doom starts with quite a mellow bluesy vibe letting Geezer Butler’s smooth bass playing lull you into a false sense of security so when the distortion and the drums really come in that same riff now hits you like a tonne of bricks. A few minutes into the song and then the band fall into this very static head bang worthy groove. As this song ramps up it’s intensity throughout it always goes back to Geezer’s bass line. This is dynamics at their best.

OB: Anyone who say Sabbath aren’t blues influenced need to take a long, hard look at themselves to be honest. Geezer Butler’s smooth, muted bass intro feels like you’re slowly sinking into a cushy red leather armchair, with the band kicking in all as one feeling like you’ve just been booted off that chair by four angry Brummies. It’s the way the dimly lit smoking bar is incinerated by a fireball that makes this song an iconic Sabbath song. If you’re looking for a good place to start with Black Sabbath, Paranoid is easily one of the best records to absorb yourself in.

4 – War Pigs – Paranoid

OB: Just the whole fucking Paranoid album man, look at this list, listen to the album and you’ll understand why this list is more or less Paranoid’s track list. The album was originally meant to be called War Pigs, and the chap on the front cover is a War Pig. However, the band needed a single from the album, and hey presto, Paranoid was born.

War Pigs is another song that’s still as lyrically relevant today as it was when pen was first put to paper on this song. Right from the slow intro that’s had millions of hands clap along to it, right to the solo at the end, there’s few songs as anthemic as this.

LT: It’s hard to get a song as iconic as this. When this song gets in to its main section with those fast and precise 2 chord changes it creates a great feeling of anticipation during which Ozzy’s expressive vocals fill the gaps in the music as the piece builds into the absolutely devastatingly powerful riff that’s nothing short of an absolute classic.

3 – Electric Funeral – Paranoid

LT: It’s the bass wah on this track that really makes this song stand out. An already dark and heavy riff in it’s own right but the wah gives the main riffs an extra catchiness factor that keeps this song in your head. The song then shifts into a seemingly different song where the instruments pick up the pace and turn into a bluesy frenzy.

OB: Geezer Butler’s use of the wah still feels innovative to this day, with Electric Funeral being a prime example of this. Of course many bass players have used wah before & since, but nothing feels as cutting edge as this. It’s the slow, stoner vibe at the start that really makes this song, but the way it breaks from a slow, stomping groove into a total ragefest is textbook Sabbath.

2 – Black Sabbathh – Black Sabbath

LT: This is where it all begins. An eerie church bell rings out and then you’re hit with a crushing, dark but most importantly evil guitar riff that chills you to the bone. Black Sabbath is without a doubt the first heavy metal song created. The aforementioned riff is based on a tritone (sometimes known as the devil’s interval) and ever since it actually becomes a challenge to find a song in almost all metal genres that doesn’t feature this style of riffing. The song actually manages to get creepier in the verses when Ozzy’s haunting lyrical delivery describes scenes of fear of satan himself. To top it all off the last section of the song breaks off from its dirge and into a great mid-tempo groove section as the song comes to climax.

OB: What a way to start off your recording career as a band. Whilst Evil Woman, Don’t You Play Your Games With Me was the first Sabbath song to crawl into people’s ears, this is the first song that transformed the band then called Earth, into the heavy metal godfathers that are Black Sabbath. That doom-bringing tritone riff with Ozzy’s apocalyptic lyrics layered over the top is the reason it’s widely touted as the first ever heavy metal song, and that growing riff at the end makes it one of the best introductions to a band you’ll ever hear. From the mouth of Geezer Butler, this song was written at a rehearsal when they were still playing 12 bar blues as Earth, then when this song dropped at one of their gigs, the crowd went wild, and as they say, the rest is history.

Ooooh here we are folks! Nine awesome songs have been covered, but now we get to the final one, the one that both of us have argued & agreed that is the best Black Sabbath song of all time. What do you think it is? What’s yours? Be sure to tell us in the comments so we can roundly agree with you or roundly deride you for your wrong choice.

But before we announce the best Sabbath song of all time, we’d like to give honourable mentions to Changes, Cornucopia, Zero the Hero, Heaven & Hell, Zeitgeist, God is Dead?, Planet Caravan, Lord of this World, Under the Sun/Every Day Comes, N.I.B, Dirty Women and of course, Paranoid. You are all filthy, dirty rifferoonies, but unfortunately, this hall is for the GOAT-tier Sabbath tracks, and the GOAT-iest of all GOAT tracks is:

1 – Children of the Grave – Master of Reality

LT: This song is dark, it’s heavy, it’s menacing and just has so much power behind it. The lyrics spark images of revolution in the mind and the backdrop drop of this song really makes this a soundtrack to bring down governments too. At the same time the song sounds totally apocalyptic as well and especially when that mammoth riff in the middle section comes in. This is Sabbath at their absolute best, each musician on their own is doing some great creative work here but this song isn’t about the individual musicians it’s about each member coming together to make something truly mighty and timeless, never losing it’s edge.

OB: Right from the muted intro into the stomping riff, through to the emphatic finish, this is one of the definitive Sabbath songs. Like most Sabbath songs, it’s the little idiosyncrasies that make this song, from Geezer’s fiddly bits in the verse, Tony’s riff that make a three piece feel like a five piece, Bill’s little fills on the drums and of course, Ozzy’s iconic voice acting as a call to arms. Despite the fact it was written over 40 years ago, many of Sabbath’s song, especially their political & anti-war songs still pack the same punch today as they did when the needles first hit the grooves of Master of Reality.