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Year-End Thoughts – 2008

by Cosmo Lee

So much music comes out now that it’s impossible to have a bad year in anything. Take metal, for example. Approximately 234,827,358 metal records (give or take several degrees of magnitude) came out in 2008. If you couldn’t find 10 to like among those 234,827,358, you weren’t trying hard enough.

Though 234,827,358 records negates the notion of a bad year (and perhaps the very notion of a year), it also means that year-end lists now have basically infinite variation. 20 years ago, things were a lot simpler. In 1988, your year-end Top 10 list probably included some of these records: Megadeth’s So Far, So Good…So What!, Metallica’s …And Justice for All, Slayer’s South of Heaven, Testament’s The New Order, Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, and Voivod’s Dimension Hatröss.

Dead Congregation – Morbid Paroxysm

Now the sky’s the limit, as lists from various luminaries show below. (For more, see Pitchfork’s year-end column, which includes my Top 10 in the form of haikus; Phil Freeman (Metal Edge); Adrien Begrand (Decibel, Metal Edge); The Left Hand Path.) Still, patterns emerge. People really liked the Nachtmystium and Torche records, though neither made a dent on me. The latest Leviathan and Origin records also got deserved props. But the name that popped up the most was Dead Congregation: Athenians doing death metal right. If one aggregated metal year-end lists across the Internet, Dead Congregation might be the surprise winner.

What were your favorite records/things of 2008?

– – –

Aidan Baker (Nadja)
Andrew (
Chris Bruni (Profound Lore)
Cosmo Lee (Invisible Oranges, Decibel, Pitchfork)
Dave Adelson (20 Buck Spin)
Dave Haley (Psycroptic)
Dave Schalek (Metal Runs in My Veins, Live4Metal)
J. Bennett (Decibel)
Jess Blumensheid (Invisible Oranges)
Mel Mongeon (Fuck the Facts)
Nick Green (Decibel)
Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth, Total Fucking Destruction)
Rob Milley (Neuraxis)
Ryan Adams (from Filter magazine)
Wrath (Averse Sefira)

– – –

Aidan Baker (Nadja)
Sun Kil Moon – April
Wovenhand – 10 Stones
Boris – Smile
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!
Thisquietarmy – Blackhaunter
Jesu – Pale Sketches
Pyramids – s/t
Evangelista – Hello, Voyager
Retribution Gospel Choir – s/t
Genghis Tron – Board Up The House

Top 5 people I’d like to collaborate with
Caspar Brotzmann
Stina Nordenstam
PJ Harvey
James Plotkin
Warren Ellis

– – –

Andrew (

ASRA “The Way of All Flesh” CD

22 minutes of totally pristine grindcore mayhem. This was their debut, and sadly they’ve already broken up. A damn shame!

Bison B.C. “Quiet Earth” CD

Incredibly energetic hardcore/punk-infused rock from a band that I had never heard of before. This one took me completely by surprise and really hooked me in. I love it when that happens…

Celestine “At the Borders of Arcadia” CD

Crushing debut from this Reykjaví­k, Iceland outfit. They’d be huge if they were from California or something like that. Way more people should be all over this one. Awesome.

Cynic “Traced in Air” CD

I hate everyone who claims that this album is better than “Focus” (probably my favorite album of all time), because to state such is completely ignorant. But that being said, it’s fucking Cynic! The wait was all too long. Far from perfect, but a very solid album from one of the most amazing bands ever.

The Death of Her Money “Spirit of the Stairwell” CD

SuperFi Records drops some obscure gems here and there, and this UK group is one of ’em for sure. A wide range of influences swirl around here, and the results generally bash your head to the ground and then scrape it across the pavement… with care.

J. Bannon “The Blood of Thine Enemies” one-sided etched 7″

A lot of people seemed to be iffy on this one, but I was all over it from the first second. An utterly incredible song. Chillingly somber and powerfully moving.

The Joy Formidable “Austere” 7″

I still have no idea how you’d accurately classify this band, and it’s way outside my normal realm with its poppy indie/new wave action, but the songs kick ass. They’ve yet to record a track that’s not catchy as hell, and I’m always excited to hear more.

Make Do & Mend “We’re All Just Living” CD

This might have come out in 2007, but I got a copy and wrote about it way back in January, so… it’s on the list. I was sort of torn on this EP when I wrote it up, but now I’m 100% in love with it. “Insomniac Jams” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life, and by far my favorite song of 2008. No doubt.

Reign Supreme “American Violence” CD

The best 12 minutes of straight up, no bullshit metallic hardcore all year. Fact.

Subrosa “Strega” CD

Easily the most intriguing release of the year for me. Dark, weird, and highly effective. You’ve really got to check this band out for yourself to get a feel for the eerie types of sounds they’re exploring, and that’s pretty damn rare these days.

– – –

Chris Bruni (Profound Lore)
01. NIGHTBRINGER – Death And The Black Work
03. LIFELOVER – Konkurs
04. OCRILIM – Anwyn
05. LEVIATHAN – Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
06. NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!
07. DEAD CONGREGATION – Graves Of The Archangels
08. AURA NOIR – Hades Rise
10. SKEPTICISM – Alloy

– – –

Cosmo Lee (Invisible Oranges, Decibel, Pitchfork)
01. ASG – Win Us Over
02. Brave – Monuments
03. Grand Magus – Iron Will
04. Nasum – Doombringer
05. Austrian Death Machine – Total Brutal
06. Daylight Dies – Lost to the Living
07. The Rotted – Get Dead or Die Trying
08. Fuck the Facts – Disgorge Mexico
09. Byzantine – Oblivion Beckons
10. Dead Congregation – Graves of the Archangels

Best of the rest, alphabetically
Averse Sefira – Advent Parallax
Brown Jenkins – Angel Eyes
Cynic – Traced in Air
Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull
Keep of Kalessin – Kolossus
Khold – Hundre År Gammal
Meshuggah – ObZen
Neuraxis – The Thin Line Between
Origin – Antithesis
Trap Them – Seizures in Barren Praise

Top 5 Shows
01. Landmine Marathon
02. Fuck the Facts
03. Today Is the Day
04. Black Anvil
05. Iced Earth

– – –

Dave Adelson (20 Buck Spin)
Necrovation – Breed Deadness Blood
Pig Heart Transplant – Hope You Enjoy Heaven
Skepticism – Alloy
Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part I: Fourth World War
Portishead – Third
Skullflower – Taste The Blood Of The Deceiver
Skip James – 1931 Sessions
Sex Vid – Communal Living
US Christmas – Eat The Low Dogs
Extortion – Sick

Top 5 Bands I Want To Do A Record With
Iron Lung
White Mice
Destroyer 666

– – –

Dave Haley (Psycroptic)
Top 5 Memorable Occurrences on Tour for Psycroptic This Year

  1. Breaking down in the middle of Arizona, and experiencing the desert firsthand
  2. Playing Laser Skirmish, and all of Psycroptic getting beaten by little kids playing it
  3. Being shown firsthand how expensive the US hospital system is, after having to take Joe to the hospital in Florida
  4. Cam dancing drunk in a bar full of Nigerian gangsters who didn’t really appreciate him being there
  5. The horrendous smell of the tour van after we finished the Australian tour we just completed

– – –

Dave Schalek (Metal Runs in My Veins, Live4Metal)
01. Krisiun – Southern Storm
02. Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull
03. Nachtmystium – Black Meddle: Assassins Pt. I
04. Toxocara – The Great Rebellious
05. Leviathan – Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
06. Prostitute Disfigurement – Descendants of Depravity
07. Decrepit Birth – Diminishing Between Worlds
08. Defloration – Necrotic Nightmares
09. Bloodbath – The Fathomless Misery
10. Origin – Antithesis

– – –

J. Bennett (Decibel)
01. Graveyard – Graveyard
02. The Devil’s Blood – Come, Reap
03. Black Mountain – In The Future
04. Pyramids – Pyramids
05. Torche – Meanderthal
05. Harvey Milk – Life… The Best Game In Town
06. Pilgrim Fathers – Short Circular Walks In Hope Valley
07. US Christmas – Eat the Low Dogs
08. Nachtmystium – Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1
09. Ancestors – Neptune With Fire
10. Darkthrone – Dark Thrones and Black Flags

– – –

Jess Blumensheid (Invisible Oranges)
01. Plague Bringer – Life Songs In a Land of Death
02. Coffins – Buried Death
03. Fistula – Burdened By Your Existence
04. Moss – Sub Templum
05. Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull
06. “Four Burials” compilation off of Battle Kommand Records
07. Graveyard – Graveyard
08. Dystopia – Dystopia
09. Harvey Milk – Life… The Best Game In Town
10. Torche – Meanderthal

– – –

Mel Mongeon (Fuck the Facts)

Best albums released in 2008

  1. Impure Wilhelmina – Prayers and Arsons
  2. Genghis Tron – Board Up the House

2008 albums that I should listen to more in 2009 because they seem rad

  1. Unearthly Trance – Electrocution
  2. Bison B.C. – Quiet Earth
  3. Gojira – The Way of All Flesh

Albums most listened to in 2008 (released prior to 2008)

  1. Gadget – The Funeral March
  2. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works
  3. Antigama – Resonance
  4. Year of No Light – Nord
  5. Kylesa – Time Will Fuse Its Worth

Biggest nuisance of 2008

  1. The Canadian elections (or how to spend money to get a status quo)
  2. Any crap about the celebrities (from magazines to entertainment TV shows, etc.)
  3. Spam

Most useful object

  1. Gravol (there has been a lot of pucking (Ed. note: Canadian for puking?) this year for some obscure reasons)
  2. Can opener key chain (if you don’t have one, make sure you hang out near someone who does)

Best drink

  1. Red Wine
  2. Light beer
  3. Red Wine

Best places to go

  1. The beach : you can swim for free, it’s awesome on the road
  2. The mall : on the road: it’s warm or cold, depending on what you are escaping from outside, and you can kill time for free
  3. Dirt cheap ugly grocery stores : they don’t pretend to sell you anything else than the food, and it’s cheap

– – –

Nick Green (Decibel)
01. Harvey Milk – Life… The Best Game in Town
02. Nachtmystium – Assasins: Black Meddle Pt. 1
03. Genghis Tron – Board Up the House
04. Wetnurse – Invisible City
05. Torche – Meanderthal
06. Eluveitie – Slania
07. Protest the Hero – Fortress
08. Gojira – The Way of All Flesh
09. Death Angel – Killing Season
10. Intronaut – Prehistoricisms

– – –

Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth, Total Fucking Destruction)
Insek “Maaiers” cd
Abiku “Left” cd
Abiku “Right” cd’s Brutal Beatings V.1 compcd
Misery Index “Traitors” cd
Spoonful of Vicodin “pill poppin'” 7inch vinyl
Total Fucking Destruction “Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction” cd
Black Ganion “First” cd
FU “Love Children” cd
Old Head 2008 demos cd-r

– – –

Rob Milley (Neuraxis)

Top 5 albums of 2008

  1. Testament – The Formation Of Damnation
  2. Opeth – Watershed
  3. Ihsahn – angL
  4. Cynic – Traced in Air
  5. The Faceless – Planetary Duality

Top 5 Places to Eat in the US While on Tour

  1. San Antonio, TX : restaurant at White Rabbit venue, best chicken wings and calzone ever tasted!
  2. Philadelphia, PA: restaurant that served the best Philly cheesesteak subs ever tasted
  3. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX: to the friends of Dave (tour manager for The Faceless – Planetary Duality tour), best ribs ever tasted!
  4. Denver, CO : to Leonard’s (Cephalic Carnage singer) great Mexican cooking, spiciest meal ever tasted!
  5. Modesto, CA : tried the famous “In-N-Out” burger, delicious!

– – –

Ryan Adams (from Filter magazine)
Testament – The Formation of Damnation
Krallice – Krallice
The Killers – Day and Age
The Smiths – The Sound of The Smiths: The Very Best of The Smiths
Metallica – Death Magnetic
Mariah Carey – E=MC 2
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP
Ihsahn – angL

– – –

Wrath (Averse Sefira)
Things you won’t find while touring the UK
01. Hot tap water
02. Widespread intolerance for Cradle of Filth
03. Paper towels
04. Sunlight
05. A public place where someone isn’t communicating by yelling
06. An unedited version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
07. A person who eschews slang
08. Delicious regional food

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