The Top Five of the First Half of 2009, Post-Script

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

If you read this page regularly, thanks. If you put any stock in the opinions here presented, thanks even more. I don’t delude myself into thinking there’s some grand impact being made, but if you check out a CD or download something or go to someone’s MySpace because you saw the name or the link here, I think that’s fucking awesome and appreciate it more than I can say. Once again, here’s my list of the top five albums so far this year:

1. Los Natas, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad
2. Wino, Punctuated Equilibrium
3. Truckfighters, Mania
4. Heaven and Hell, The Devil You Know
5. Goblin Cock, Come with Me if You Want to Live

By way of honorable mention, I’ll point out Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2009 demo and CandlemassDeath Magic Doom. There are others. Lots of them.

But the time for looking back is over, at least for now. The rest of this year will bring new records from Yob, Clutch and (hopefully) Masters of Reality, and a shit ton more, so there’s still plenty to look forward to and enjoy when the release dates come. I’ll do my best to keep up with it all, and if you stumble back this way at some point along the line, then thanks again.

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TFFH09 #1: Los Natas, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

I think this might be the most-used image on this site so far. I wonder how you find something like that out. I bet Google could do it. Stupid omniscient Google. In any case, this record rules.Yeah, this was fairly obvious after the interview with Sergio Chotsourian went up last Thursday night, but I’m pretty sure nobody’s paying attention anyway and even if they are, it bears repeating that Los NatasNuevo Orden de la Libertad (Small Stone) is the finest album to come out so far this year. Number one on the Top Five of the First Half of 2009. The multi-directional Argentinian rockers have stripped down their sound to its barest essentials and rawest form yet, lending the music an intensity never before attained in the band’s storied 16-year tenure.

The songs are approached with a revolutionary fervor and a feel of overdriven underground punk that complements the Los Natas sound perfectly. There’s a dirty sophistication to the heavy parts, and the several acoustic and Western or South American-inspired interludes show that although Nuevo Orden de la Libertad is clearly a record with something to say, time and thought have been given to aesthetics as well. As I mentioned previously, it wasn’t an easy call between this and Wino‘s Punctuated Equilibrium, but in the end, it was the immediacy of these tracks that put them over the top.

By way of sampling the album at its finest, here is the video for the title track of Nuevo Orden de la Libertad. Whatever else you do today, make sure you listen to it and please, please, don’t miss out on this record.

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TFFH09 #2: Wino, Punctuated Equilibrium

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Fucking awesome.If adventure is his destiny, as doom legend Wino asserts on “Smilin’ Road” from his first-ever solo record, Punctuated Equilibrium (Southern Lord), then we’re all just lucky to be along for the ride. With songs from as far back as his days in The Obsessed in 1979, one of the genre’s most potent personalities and most seminal artists crosses creative paths with his past in bands like Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand and even Saint Vitus. Joined by Clutch drummer Jean Paul Gaster, it’s a once-in-a-decade kind of release. And I’m still fighting over whether or not it should be number one on this list, even as I type.

Despite the shadow cast over the album by the recent and untimely death of bassist Jon Blank (Rezin), the spirit of the music elicits a transcendent joy that is simply too powerful to be ignored. Even at its heaviest moments, as on the speedy title track, there is a humility and wonder in the performances bound to bring a smile to the face of anyone with ears and half a brain. Punctuated Equilibrium, with explanatory liner notes penned by Wino himself, is a special release in an amazing discography. There is only one Wino.

While I can’t imagine there are any interested parties who haven’t yet heard this record, here’s opening cut “Release Me” from Punctuated Equilibrium. One listen and you’ll be hooked.

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TFFH09 #3: Truckfighters, Mania

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

That's a pretty powerful trio. (Photo courtesy of knew right from the second I put Mania on to review it that it was one of the best albums I’d hear this year, and I stand by it. These days I rarely get to listen to music for purposes other than this site (not a complaint), but when the occasion arrises, Mania is a constant. Swedish stoner rockers Truckfighters have moved onto a level of Nice.craftsmanship and genre expansion few bands can ever claim to know and not be lying. Their tracks are both memorable and intricate, guitarist Dango‘s tones are fuzzed out and the vibe is a damn good time.

It would be no challenge to sit here all afternoon and wax poetic about how much this record rules, but the simple fact is Truckfighters made a killer album and deserve whatever acclaim they can get from it. There will be those who yearn for the simpler days of the debut, Gravity X, or its follow-up, Phi, but if you miss out on Mania you’re doing yourself a disservice. That’s just plain science.

In an effort to further prove my point and in keeping with what has revealed itself to be the format of this feature, here is the video for “Monte Gargano” from Mania. Should strike a chord with any fans of racquetball or big sexy ladies out there.

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TFFH09 #4: Heaven and Hell, The Devil You Know

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

They look pretty solemn. I guess they're disappointed at being number four. Geezer says, "I can't believe I dyed my hair for this!"Number four is kind of a no-brainer, and I’m honestly surprised you didn’t see it coming. The Devil You Know is the first studio release with the lineup of Ronnie James Dio (after whom the couch-dwelling little dog Dio is named), Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice since Black Sabbath‘s 1992 album, Dehumanizer. Of course, today’s Heaven and Hell band is a different animal than the Sabbath roster that birthed the album of the same name in 1980, but The Devil You Know shows there’s still creative life in them yet. If nothing else, there’s “Eating the Cannibals.” That shit rules.

Hail this guy.Fueled by the power of Tony Iommi‘s moustache, The Devil You Know achieves everything a Heaven and Hell studio album should; songs ranging from fast rockers in the tradition of “Neon Knights” to creepy doom numbers like “Bible Black” or the excruciating closer “Breaking into Heaven.” Yeah, we all know it’s ProTooled to death, but as far as corporate metal goes, this is still the best you’re going to get.

In the spirit of sharing, here’s “Bible Black.” Any interested parties can also find about 7,000 live versions on YouTube. This one’s right off the album.

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TFFH09 #5: Goblin Cock, Come with Me if You Want to Live

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Don't know where or when this shot was taken, but it pretty much sums up the live show.It got mixed reviews and, like its predecessor, flew under the radar of most heads, but Goblin Cock‘s Come with Me if You Want to Live — released in February — has some of the coolest songs I’ve heard in the last six months. What’s best about it is there is no filler. Goblin Cock packs eight minutes’ worth of doom into a three minute song Rob says hi.and makes it catchy to boot. Plus, there’s practically nothing serious about it, but it’s not irono-douchebaggery either. The album hits just the right balance of humor and killer riffs.

The hooded and masked project of Pinback/The Ladies/Optiganally Yours (and solo) singer/guitarist Rob Crow, Goblin Cock strikes a rarely achieved balance of dooming out and having fun that appeals, admittedly, to the skinny-pantsed, thick-rimmed post-grad set (Crow‘s pedigree is also a factor), but quality songwriting and a lack of chic posturing makes Come with Me if You Want to Live more than just forgettable hipster metal pablum. As I said in my live review of their show in NYC a while back, the thing about hipster metal is that people make money playing it. One listen and you know there’s no way Goblin Cock are bringing in the cash.

If you haven’t yet, give the record a shot. For your ease in doing so, here’s “Ode to Billy Jack,” one of my favorites from Come with Me if You Want to Live.

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The Top Five of the First Half of 2009, Introduction

Posted in Features, Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Come the end of 2009 there’s going to be all kinds of lists and best-ofs. Not just here, everywhere. All the more since it’s the end of a decade. The 10 Best Dumps I Took in the 2000s, and so forth. Not that this is any less self-inflating than that, but at least I’m willing to say that the top five of the first half of 2009 (TFFH09) list I’ll be unfolding over the next couple days is totally subjective and ultimately meaningless. That said, I hope you dig it.

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