Mathcore Index’s Best of 2018
There were so many incredible releases this year I was having a bit of anxiety about leaving some stuff out, so apart from my top 10 full-lengths I also did a comprehensive roundup of EPs and honorable mentions that I believe deserve just as much attention as the LPs listed below. Finally, this list was determined by a combination of Bandcamp, Spotify, and Last.fm (go ahead and laugh, charted 10+ years of listening) and naturally my level of enjoyment, so rest assured your boy gave this a lot of thought. Let’s go.
10) Vein – “Errorzone”
This is such an obvious choice, and although I might get some hate for including something that is supposedly nu metal tinged (one breakbeat does not nu metal make), this is a really fun album with some great moments that translates to an incredibly energetic live show, and it cannot be ignored.
9) Ken Mode – “Loved”
I slept on this album for far too long, and the moment I decided to give it a chance it very quickly began working its way into my top 10, especially after hearing that instant classic of a chant: “Stop giving me hope.”
8) Cult Leader – “A Patient Man”
7) The Armed – “Only Love”
The story behind this album alone is the stuff of legends, and with the help of Ben Koller of Converge, The Armed very successfully reinvent themselves in a fashion similar to that of Genghis Tron, bringing forth 11 tracks of all enveloping, wall of sound electronic driven metal that should be allowed to wash over the listener at max volume.
EDIT: should also mention the extremely powerful visual aesthetics of their music videos, which are not to be missed.
6) Carnival Ghosts – “Charitable Design”
I said from the beginning that Carnival Ghosts, the new project from Paul Hundeby of Arms and City of Ifa, would be releasing the sleeper hit of the year, and here we are. Hundeby, who also engineered the album, teams up with longtime friend Christian Starr of Charleston’s Innerout to bring 10 tracks of emotive and technical post-hardcore with highly memorable and infectious lyrics. Beautiful album art by our very own Karl Frandsen, who has graciously lent us his art to all 5 of our compilations.
5) NoiSays – self-titled
Alright, so full disclosure: I helped put out this record, but I absolutely love it this much. Baltimore’s NoiSays are at the forefront of their flourishing local scene, and have frankly breathed new life into the mathcore scene itself with absolutely next level musicianship and compositional prowess. If you’re a fan of the eclectic mathcore / grind /screamo / post-hardcore stylings of The Number Twelve Looks Like You, The Heartland, and The Fall of Troy, this is about to be your new favorite band. The CD has also not left my car since receiving it, so you can catch me on the 101 slapping out “Honey, Cops Killed the Dog.”
4) Sectioned – “Annihilated”
Pedram Valiani is a busy person. Apart from writing and recording music with Frontierer, he also writes music for Sectioned, a sister project which, in a live setting, is comprised of 4/5 members of Frontierer. Despite sharing a similar lineup in a similar chaotic and metallic context, Sectioned manages to distinguish itself just enough from Frontierer, with a slightly less bombastic and over the top sound in favor of more straightforward passages and breakdowns. Even if you disagree with everything I just said and think the projects sound identical, I would say to you it doesn’t matter, because the feedback breakdown in “Our Starved Lives” alone is enough to give this album a chance.
3) Frontierer – “Unloved”
“Loved,” “Only Love,” and “Unloved.” Noticing a trend here? You’re probably not surprised to see this following the previous album, and for good reason. Mesmerizing, explosive, and full of memorable hooks, “Unloved” does not attempt to reinvent what we heard on “Orange Mathematics,” but rather continues to punish us with more even more abrasive and jagged rhythms. Valiani not only proves here that he is an anthemic and chaotic riff producing machine, he also shows us his versatility as a producer, peppering even more electronic elements and interludes for what one might consider a more complete “album experience.” Fans of Meshuggah, Car Bomb, and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza should be following this band closely.
2) Delta Sleep – “Ghost City”
Here I am again, showering Delta Sleep with praise. They’ve become an essential part of my life and listening habits since discovering them, and last month I had the distinct honor of interviewing what has become one of my favorite bands.
1) Daughters – “You Won’t Get What You Want”
This might seriously surprise some of you, as I didn’t really attempt to hide my initially less than favorable reaction. However, after spending time with the album, and especially after seeing the material performed live in San Francisco, my appreciation has grown immensely. Daughters yet again reinvent their sound, or at least expand greatly on the direction of their previous self-titled effort, adding elements of no wave and industrial and embracing what I would consider a more minimalist approach. This is everything self-titled should have been, with far better song writing and flushed out ideas that overall feel more complete. The throbbing opener of “City Song,” which initially turned me off with its industrial elements, now seems to fit perfectly before the mesmerizing “Long Roads, No Turns,” and “Satan In the Wait.” The album hits a slower pace with “Less Sex” and “Daughter” (which recall Nine Inch Nails), but they are ultimately much needed breathers from the terrifying intensity displayed on tracks like “The Flammable Man,” “The Lords Song,” “Ocean Song,” and the album’s near-perfect finisher, “Guest House.” The true brilliance of “You Won’t Get What You Want,” however, is not just in the music, it’s the message so artfully embedded in the lyrics of “The Reason They Hate Me” and the album’s title itself:
“Don’t tell me how to do my job / you gimme gimme son of bitch.”
Daughters are here to uncompromisingly create the art they want to create, and they will not be slaves to the convention of releasing a homogenized catalog of similar sounding albums. If you’re expecting another “Canada Songs,” you won’t get what you want.
Some EPs I really enjoyed:
MouthBreather – “Dollmeat”
standards – self-titled
Arms / Seizures split
SeeYouSpaceCowboy / secondgradeknifefight split
The Central – “Sick and Dying”
Fero Lux – “Cheap Funeral: For You / For Me”
Euclid C Finder – self-titled EP / “A Standard Basis For the Set of All Discontent”
Accident Prone – “Deep Wound Red”
Faus – “Apestate”
Shame – “Failure to Understand the Human Condition”
Fawn Limbs – “Towing Heads” / “Languor” / “Thrum”
Good Game – “Good Luck, Have Fun”
Invalids – “Fulfillment” EP
meth. – “I Love You”
Chamber – “Hatred Spoken Softly” / “Final Shape / In Search of Truth”
Potion – “Diaphonized”
thecheeseburgerpicnic – “Venom”
Coarse – “I”
Sense Offender – “I”
Goshen – self-titled
Goner – “My Experience Has Molded Me Into the Failure You See Before You”
Czar – “Minus”
Juan Bond – self-titled EP*
A Dozen Black Roses – “Mental Threshold”
Lower Automation – “Shoebox Companion”
Jesus Horse – “It Was the Blurst of Time”
Clavel – “Monuments of Grief”