Kaala's Top Albums from The Year of the Rooster

2017 was a wild year. Against my many protestations the earth insisted on completing its pointless journey around the sun and we here at Kaala have all aged appropriately, except for Jharrod, who is aging backwards in accordance with the witch's curse he earned by running over a witch with his car. I personally have entered my forties and recently discovered hair growing out of my ears, something I knew would happen eventually but is still shocking to witness. Our bodies are such horrible, disgusting things, and they betray us more and more as the years transpire. And a year in the Tokyo scene feels longer than others, the time stretched and strained by events too numerous to detail here or anywhere. Friends came and went, new groups assembled from the remains of the previously dissolved bands, and a staggering number of new albums were released. Here at the beginning of 2018, where we are all year older and a year wiser (except for Jharrod), we look back now upon a year's worth of new albums and pick the best of the best. It is our hope that these collections carry you through 2018 all the way through to its end. It used to be that one could predict with ease that the year would end on December 31st when the clock passed 11:59pm, as had all its previous brothers, but the way things are going so far in 2018 the year -- and human life on earth, for that matter -- could end far more abruptly than expected. Enjoy these albums while you can.

Jim Broadly, editor-in-chief


Jharrod

  • Anatomia - Cranial Obsession


    I wrote about Anatomia’s latest offering of Sludge drenched Death Metal just a few months ago so it’s no surprise that Cranial Obsession has made my list of top releases for 2017. Layering foreboding soundscapes and riff progressions in between mid-tempo Death Metal sections, this release will transport you to a hellish realm of ominous emptiness and despair. These Tokyo-based veterans have fine tuned their sound to deliver a sonic experience that bends the lines of reality. Their live performances are just as incredible, leaving audiences entranced and wanting more.

  • Floaters - Waiting for Amnesty


    The Yokohama based Stoner Doom trio Floater’s first full length Waiting for Amnesty was easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. And it barely made this list due to the fact it was released to the public at the very end of December. Floaters always put on the most heavy and excellent live performances. I wondered if they could carry that same sound and aggression over into the studio, and boy they did not disappoint. Waiting for Amnesty is filled with heavy grooves and fuzzy head banging inspiring riffs. Mossa’s (Bass and Vocals) vocals sound like he downs his whiskey with chunks of broken glass, shouting with nihilistic glee. Hell there are even some quality moshy parts in there for good measure. Though Waiting for Amnesty just barely made the list for 2017, it took its place due to the sheer quality and heaviness of what it offers. Fans of Weedeater will no doubt love this release.

  • Friendship - Hatred


    Powerviolence/Grind outfit Friendship had a good year in 2017 that was topped off with their full length Hatred. Though they’ve gained some international recognition over the past year, for the uninitiated these guys are unrelentlessly heavy and violent. The percussion is absolutely primal, with chaotic noisy guitar phrases overlaying heavy breakdowns. This release grabs you by the throat and shakes you to the core until the very last note. There isn’t a single point on Hatred where the aggression lets up. It is a fury of blasting percussion and pit blasting breakdowns. I challenge anyone to listen the song “El Chapo” and not want to start breaking shit with a sledge hammer. This is a must for any fans of Hardcore Powerviolence and Grindcore.

  • Special Mentions: Lost Without Grenade’s Blind Survivor and Su19b’s Neutralize



Matt

  • Evil - Rites of Evil


    For me, Evil’s been one of the most exciting bands to watch over the last 4 or so years due to their Blackened-Municipal-Waste meets Sarcofago-That-I-Actually-Like sound, their youth (they started when Ryo, band leader and vocalist was just 19), and their meteoric rise in comparison to other bands of at least the same if not higher calibre. Is Evil perfect? Probably not, but there’s a certain panache ingrained in their music, be it folly or exuberance, that is at once infectious while also hinting at greater things to come.


    And with those qualities they have released their first full length album, Rites of Evil, on NWN Productions. A pretty fuckin’ explosive leap out of the gate, but if you look at their history of gigging, you’ll see that Evil’s actually been on this path for quite a while. If memory serves me correctly, their first show was at Gotsu Totsu Kotsu’s Saitama Slammer, their 2nd show was at our own Blood Rite Vol. 2 with Coffins, their 1st split (with Lurking Fear) was at Asakusa Extreme 28 where Sabbat opened for them... you get the picture: pay attention to this band.

  • Butcher ABC - North of Hell


    Butcher ABC’s and its constituent members have been a staple of Japan’s scene for over a decade, reliably playing out with local and touring acts, booking gigs, hosting beer or vegan food parties, etc. etc. etc. But while everything about the band’s sound (grinding Death Metal fucked up on the fumes of Bolt Thrower-infused gasoline) and performance (Gasmasks! Aprons! Skateboards!), there’s one thing that’s bugged me for some time… release a goddamn album!


    Split after demo after live EP, Butcher ABC has succeeded in pushing my buttons since at least 2003 in refusing to get their shit together. Until now, that is, and fuck was it worth the wait! Drenched in glorious aural upchuck assembled by our favorite recording studio, Studio ChaosK (fans will remember this edifice from the early days of Kaala Radio), this album delivers on all fronts, providing the listener with a soundtrack perfect for marching into the apocalyptic scenarios we all hope 2018 won’t bring to our doorstep. If you pick this one up, prepare to march ecstatically past the point of no return.

  • Dhidalah - No Water


    One of the first releases of 2017 (Bandcamp says January 27, 2017), I like to think that Dhidalah’s No Water somewhat heralded the entire year to come, regardless of genre. Nepenthes and Floaters, Friendship and Storm of Void, the general theme throughout the year seems to me to have been heavy, and this 2-track, 25-minute affair takes that heaviness away from the infernal and towards the celestial.


    If you’re an Earthless, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk, or Eternal Elysium addict, (to name a few) No Water is the right drug for you and then some. Psychedelic solos and pounding grooves all filtered through a psychedelic haze build over the entirety of this release, making it an excellent companion for a solo motorcycle adventure or circle dance around a bonfire.


Audrey

  • The Donor – All Blues


    Last summer had its share of excellent shows and it was hard to keep it to just once a week. The Donor's new record release party was one of a kind, with a mind-blowing line up including Fight it Out and NoLa. I had never seen The Donor play before and I didn't know what to really expect, but oh my Batman did they deliver. I remember standing in 20,000v, astonished by the charisma of the three piece and trying to process how good and nasty all of this was making me feel. I obviously got the record but I was afraid I'd be less fond of them on record than performance. Surprisingly enough, All Blues is easy to listen to, alternating between fast, shredding songs and more contemplative, heavier tracks but still very coherent. I honestly tried to do my cardio training on the first 6 songs of the album and it turned into the meanest “rage run” of 2017 (and trust me I have a lot of anger). The last 3 songs of the album might open a door straight to hell so listen with caution. “Drag in Draw”, the darkest, heaviest track, is by far my favourite of the album. You can pick up or order a copy at Disk Union.

  • Worship Pain - Acts of Worship


    First thing first, let me start by saying that when I saw Worship Pain for the first time, I was already sold (like most people who were there) because half of them are from Funeral Sutra and the other half is from Retch. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting me in person, you know how much I love Funeral Sutra. So naturally when I heard members were working on another project, I got really enthusiastic. Even more so when I learnt that it was Retch’s Thom on the drums, who is a musician I respect as well as a great artist (he designed the cover of the album) . So I went, I saw, I got my mind blown away and I threw my money at them for a record that I knew I would listen to a bit too much. I was right, I did listen again and again, never getting bored at how carefully well-written this album is. It progressively drags you to a dark, tortured place. Slightly more “rock” than Funeral Sutra and Retch are, Worship Pain keep it deep anyway . Acts of Worship is a good album to listen to if your plane crashes and you want to go straight to Valhalla like a good soldier of the Apocalypse. Picking a favourite one is tricky, but I have to go with “The Male Gaze” as it is my favorite live.

  • Special mentions : GxFxFx first demo and Fight it Out/ Saigan Terror split 7” ep

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