After the ground shattering Panopticon, the band got into more Tool-ish kind of prog territory on this one. That wasn't a surprise, since the band already moved from Boston to Los Angeles couple of years back and got friends with Justin and Tool camp in general. They also did a short tour together.
Dulcinea and 1000 Shards were great Isis tracks, but it was Holy Tears that shone the most and showed why Isis were so special. It also emphasized the importance of the synth in the band, cause the midpart was one of the best atmospheric pieces all year. And when the distortions kicked back in... Yeah, Isis not were just good at it, they were the best. Aaron Turner also improved his voice by singing some parts as well and not just growling, howling or shouting the words. The rhythm section of the band was more stable than ever and Aaron Harris's drumming was so powerful I started to play air drums with him whenever I put In The Absence Of Truth on.
Oceanic and Panopticon remained the fans' favorite albums and In The Absence Of Truth opened a new chapter of the band. Isis developed their sound in some other directions. It was a subtle change, but still enough to keep thinking men metal thrilled again.
Wow. We were long term fans already but this one really kicked our arses. My Twin was the ultimate hit single Katatonia finally wrote. The production got better, being more organic than Viva. The distortions got super punchy and the atmosphere of the songs got deeper and more layered. July was another track that I liked to play all the time while I was DJ-ing. Soil's Song was a nice miniature and In The White had a hook that wasn't grabbing you on a first listen. Katatonia finally started to break big with this one and we, the fans were so glad. We even managed to see them live in Belgrade for the first time.
The perfection of those songs got ruined a bit by some of the fillers on the album, but it didn't seem to matter that much at the time. Katatonia were back strong and that was the most important.
This was a collection of some tracks off the Analords, brought together for this compilation. I know, this was a compilation, but the last year's Analords were so good I had to include this in the 2006 list as well.
The interesting thing was that these versions were slightly different, as the songs were turned to a digital form for a CD - the original mixes and .wav files are done in 24-bit for vinyl and then transferred and compressed to 16-bit for a CD release. The previous Analords were all analogue, since they were transferred from tapes to vinyl directly (maybe some DAT in between). So, some tracks lost the grittiness of a 180 gram vinyl but got those clinical metallic edginess of a digitalia instead. Another interesting thing was that lots of fans wouldn't agree that these ten tracks were the best ones to pick up off Analord series. Some Analords were even missed completely, for example 02 and 11, and some would agree those were among the best ones - I knew I was sad finding out there was no Redlof here. But this compilation got me interested in some other tracks that I didn't notice before - Cilonen became a newfound favorite pretty much soon. Reunion 2 gave my nerves some good stormings as well.
So, this compilation would be a perfect start for an Aphex Twin newbie. Also it's good for someone who wouldn't have will, time (or enough blotters) to check out all forty two tracks off the vinyl Analords.
4. Sunn O))) & Boris - Altar (Southern Lord)
This was a marvelous collaboration. The weirdos really got onto something here. The feedbacks and the sustains of Sunn O))) got clashed with the psychedelic noise of Japanese Boris. The result was not only heavy, it was wonderfully doomed as well. Ambient parts were also played, the drones seemed like a delicious pink cream helped by the chocolate Moogs. The drums were also played. Occasionally, but still.
Altar had some guest appearances as well, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden finally got himself up from some swamp and played some drones of his own in the final Blood Swamp. Akuma No Kuma brought back the beautiful old days of John Carpenter making music for his own films, such as The Fog or The Thing. Moog was the word. The tubes of the amps were also very warm, and there were many of them. One of them even managed to escape to get into the inside of a tree (pictured on a cover). Altar was not only the best fitting collaboration but also the finest doom moment since Electric Wizard's Dopethrone during the whole 2000-2010 era.
5. Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet (Kranky)
6. Cult Of Luna - Somewhere Along The Highway (Earache)
Finland was this cold motherfucker of a song that summed up everything Cult Of Luna were about - thunderous drumming and the dynamics (courtesy of early Neurosis) with added sense for atmosphere to water the earth down a bit. At the other hand, And With Her Came The Birds was this beautiful piece that announced the first days of Spring. Only to enter Thirtyfour, the best song Cult Of Luna ever wrote. The finest ten minutes of the album. Dark City, Dead Man was the incredible closer that married the two movies of the same name in a tasty mush of desolation and eerieness.
What was more fascinating about this album was that the band recorded it in that old one, two, three, record! way and it certainly added the organic form of a live band playing the stuff, not just them sitting one by one at the mixing console and playing some riff over and over again until it sounded right. This presence of the whole band grooving at the same time was what was needed to add pork to the meat and Cult Of Luna succeeded in achieving it. I liked the idea of recording the band live so much I decided to to do the same thing with Consecration recording .avi three years later.
This album quite literally saved my life. A whole year later after this album was released I broke up with a girlfriend (well, she broke up with me) and it left me devastated, since I loved her so much and all that. It wasn't that I wasn't expecting it, but I just couldn't face it at the time. The devastation was so huge it fucked me up pretty much. I couldn't eat or sleep properly, or get out with friends either. There was just me and this record.
Even the opener 9 Crimes brought a tear to me eyes. Although Sleep Don't Weep was the one that crushed me infinitely with every play. It was the irony of listening to Damien singing don't and me doing exactly that, weeping all cats and dogs, alive or dead. I just couldn't get my shite together and this song really helped me cure my soul again. There were days when I walked the empty streets with headphones on and this song... I'm still thankful that no one saw me during those days, as miserable was such a lollipop happy-go-lucky word at that time for me. Lisa's voice that took over at the second part of the song was caressing me like an angel's whisper. Couple of days (or was it weeks? Depression made time seem longer) later, when I started feeling numb and not sad, I knew I was going to recover soon.
Rootless Tree was another track that really kicked out this mixed feeling of anger and affection. I like to play it nowadays with Amaranth. Me, My Yoke & I was this miniature that all of a sudden grew into a gigantic mammoth of kicking rock. They say that December is the most depressive month of the year and the snow got some more sense while I had this album on. And some Nick Drake too (Pink Moon and Danny Cavanagh's interpretation of Nick Drake's songs I got from Duncan the year before). After discovering 9, I also got more into Antimatter and decided to bring the guys over to Belgrade to play. And we had a great time. Thank you Damien.
The Wolf Is Loose was the best metal track of 2006. Yup, they managed to do it again. The drumming was even more insane than before. Sleeping Giant was the best track though, in the sense that it evolved the guitar playing in couple of ways at once - prog, rock, acoustic and whatever else intriguing and imaginative that comes to mind. Circle Of Cysquatch had these huge leads that reminded of old Metallica and why they were so good in the first place.
Bladecatcher was this excellent track that always made me smile with its glorious vocal effects. Colony Of Birchmen had Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age fame on guest vocals, while Neurosis' Scott Kelly did a guest appearance on Crystal Skull. Cedric of The Mars Volta fame had a funny guest spot in Siberian Divide (funny voice effects again). while the album closer, Pendulous Skin was such a good chill track with a 70's feel all over it.
Blood Mountain had an amazing production. Remission and Leviathan sounded great too, but Blood Mountain really went one step further with its sound. The album as a whole was a bit tough record to listen to in one go, but Mastodon made the words riffs and metal sound cool again and the public started to notice it.
9. Enslaved - Ruun (Tabu)
These Vikings went doing some prog shit for some time and it really started to work. Not many black metal albums could take my attention for longer than two minutes and Ruun really brought the faith back. The album was organic and dry. So dry the whispers and the echoing vocals got some weird new dimension. If Opeth were a death metal band doing the prog thing, Enslaved were the black metallers flirting with the prog legacy as well.
Path To Vanir was this excellent symbiosis of black metal roots and Snorre's discordant riffing (from the band Thorns that had great self-titled album back in 2001) vs. the prog of old King Crimson records, with some touch of mellotron added. Emperor were long gone by now, Ulver were gone almost completely electronic and retro and Enslaved were keeping the black metal flag alive and well.
Postrock hipsters and pussies didn't like the band going the other direction but I loved it. Cause Mogwai showed they were proper band caring for music only and not fucking trends and genres.
Every track off Mr. Beast was good. Some were great. Auto Rock was a great piano opener, Acid Food fucked with the country folk acid and some cheapo drum machines. It also had some vocals again. Travel Is Dangerous was reminiscent of earlier works while the closing We're No Here was a grand sounding thing. It would happen to be a great gig closer too, as Kobajic and I would witness ourselves two years later in Zagreb.
I Chose Horses showed guest appearance of the singer of Envy, post- band from Japan. It was something closest to a ballad Mogwai would make and Glasgow Mega-snake just burned every unbeliever in glorious fire of heavy fuzzed out distortions and serpentine smoke of cymbals.
In all honesty, this wasn't a record as good as the other gathering records were. Sure, it had Anneke and she delivered well, but somehow we already heard all of this before. The stellar and youthful days of Nighttime Birds and How To Measure A Planet? were long gone, while Souvenirs was a minimalist, downer record. This one seemed to be downer too but for some wrong reasons.
In Between and Alone were good tracks, but good just wasn't enough for The Gathering. Maybe Anneke felt that something went wrong too along the way and decided to leave the band after this one. Too bad but good at the same time - it's always better to leave one half-baked album than make dozens of them while still believing the band is stronger than ever etc. The band got some new singer later but that wasn't just the same Gathering, so Home remained the band's swansong. At least in my book.