Casting our eye back on some of the best aggressive releases we missed in 2013.
Music lovers in Toronto are spoiled for choice in this city. With so many opportunities to see excellent live music and so many ridiculously talented artists working hard to put out new releases, not catching everything is inevitable. Aggressive music hailing from Toronto, including heavy metal and hardcore, had a banner year in 2013, and despite our best efforts to keep up, there were a few exceptional releases that slipped by us. Here are some heavy offerings from 2013 that are definitely worth your time and attention.
IRN — IRN (self released)
Originally released in April of 2013, the self-titled debut from doom-laden sludge-wielders IRN is far more suited to a dark and slushy winter. Composed of a single, titanic track (it runs nearly 18 minutes) entitled “Adrift Between Burned-Out Villages,” IRN drags its ponderous weight across the soundscape with the relentless crawl of a glacier. There is something foul to the tone, and the thick, anguished gargle of the vocals seems ice-splintered. This EP is the perfect soundtrack to dragging your carcass to work during the worst of the polar vortex, knee-deep in dirty city snow.
Crimson Shadows — Sails of Destiny
The past year was a triumphant one for epic power metal warriors Crimson Shadows. After securing a coveted slot at Germany’s Wacken heavy metal festival by winning the Canadian edition of the Wacken Metal Battle international battle of the bands competition, Crimson Shadows went on to claim the prize in the international finals as well. In the process, the band picked up a slew of endorsement deals and, most importantly, a record contract with the venerable Nuclear Blast. As you can imagine, the EP it released this summer is appropriately triumphant. Combining the epic narrative scope of power metal with the sheer breakneck speed of death metal, Sails of Destiny reflects the group’s usual penchant for songs inspired by the battlefield, and adds to it a fascination with the stories of the sea. Tales of naval battles, adventure, and piracy abound, driven by an energy that also helped propel the band’s career to the next level. We can’t wait to hear what these bawdy, battle-scarred fellows come up with next.
Pyres — Year of Sleep
While the two genres seem antithetical to each other, Pyres has successfully experimented with combining the weight and gravity of sludge with the searing energy of hardcore. A blistering, pitiless engagement with the depths and breadth of depression, Year of Sleep is a journey into the mind at its darkest and most destructive. There is a writhing, relentless frustration to the record that continually threatens to boil over into violence, tempered with a dragging weight of hopelessness. It’s rare to find a record that simultaneously captures the burning desire for self destruction and the exhausting inertia of a depressive episode, but Year of Sleep manages to navigate these depths with subtlety and insight. The centrepiece of the record is the ten-minute titular track, which is all the more emotionally harrowing for its loveliness.