Christopher Owens ๐ŸŽต with a round up of 2023 for his Predominance series.

With many concerns raised about the correlation between Spotify’s payment system for artists and the various costings which are choking touring acts, it seems that we have hit a critical consensus about how we want to consume music easily but we’re not willing to rock the boat because, after all, it’s easier to stream than play the physical copy.

Personal circumstances regulated my ability to head to many this year, but I still did pretty well. 10 seen for the first time (Black Flag, The Residents, Unsane, Ratos de Porao, Wolfbastard, Jesus Piece, Paranoid, Gel, Stiff Meds and Total Chaos) plus three Killing Joke gigs (meaning I've now seen them 29 times with the Albert Hall show more than likely being the final one) and two Swans shows (bringing the total to 13).

Everything was reviewed on here in 2023 and they are all records that have stuck with me, in some shape or form, throughout the year. That means I loved them. And so should you.

20. ExEverything – Slow Change Will Pull Us Apart

It’s a bold move using a lyric from a famous 80’s pop song as the title for an album and an even bolder one referencing the late, lamented Fight Amp for your band name, but this Bay Area group know what they’re doing. Playing music that retains the controlled chaos of math rock and noisecore without the jarring inaccessibility of either, this debut LP rewards the listener on each spin.




19. Pus – II

Hailing from Peru, Pus play a sick mix of hardcore, death rock and blackened thrash. This LP puts them in the same league as Devil Master. However, Pus’ sound is a lot thrashier and, due to the production, have a trebly and overwhelming guitar sound (exactly what is needed). It would be cool to hear more of the death rock influences come through but, regardless, a fantastic debut LP.



18. Machiavellian Art – Indoctrination Sounds

Described as a mix of Albert Ayler and Spacemen 3, this is a punishing listen. Mixing Stooges garage rock, the mid paced rhythms of sludge, the cacophonous saxophone of Sun Ra and the heaviness of both doom and shoegaze shouldn’t work but, in these hands, not only does but will overload the senses as well, making it proper psychedelia.



17. Kelela – Raven

Long awaited, Kelela has created the American equivalent of Burial’s ‘Untrue’. Deeply atmospheric and haunting music that sounds just at home in the clubs as it does through a pair of earbuds on a wet Tuesday afternoon while sitting on the bus. Vocally, she articulates a desire for a rebirth (both personally and politically) while retaining a balance between sultry and aloof. Amazing.



16. Pound Land – Violence

Returning with a sixth album of sludgy, psychedelic industrial punk, as well as featuring Steve Watson of Iron Monkey, Pound Land continue to let us know the state of the nation in a way that Sleaford Mods would kill to. Heavy without resorting to metal cliches and with electronics that sound dirty, ‘Violence’ is their best record to date as well as their most challenging.



15. Blood Moon Wedding – An American Nightmare

A collaboration between Zounds songwriter Steve Lake and Antler Family driving force Mia Dean, this is an astonishing record that flirts with neo-cabaret, gothic rock and alt-country. Billing itself as a road trip of horrors through an alternate reality in the sprawling deserts of America, this is the sort of record that Nick Cave should be making. ‘Wanted’ is one of many highlights due to its combination of Alien Sex Fiend and Bonnie and Clyde storytelling.



14. Disciplinary – Porkwind

Described in the press release as a “Dual bass and drums hardcore noise-punk riff assault from North East England…” who have put together “A raging debut that rips hard”, I cannot help but agree with this assessment. Running in at under 25 minutes, it’s like Sete Star Sept knocked the grindcore on the head and started playing noisy hardcore instead. ‘Less Fun’ is the key song on here.



13. Swans – The Beggar

The 16th record from Michael Gira and his long-suffering band of merrymen, this album carries on the more melodic flourishes of 2019’s ‘Leaving Meaning’ but the experimental edge is much more pronounced this time around, such as in ‘The Beggar Lover (Three)’ which is the longest single track the band have recorded. Elsewhere, Gira demonstrates that his creative fire will never desert him.



12. Khanate – To Be Cruel

For their first record since 2009, the notorious Khanate pick up where they left off, which means feedback laden doom stretched out over 20 minutes a track with Alan Durbin’s despair laden shrieking about how “things all around/they hide and are still/the faces are blank/stifled their shrill stab of the voice.” Powerful material for the brave and thumbs up to the Swans referencing title.





11. Marthe – Further in Evil

Described in the press notes as a solo bedroom project for broken souls who can’t find piece, this is the debut record from Italian goth/crust musician Marzia under the Marthe banner. Operating in that murky swamp between crust punk and black metal but certainly leaning more towards the latter, songs like ‘Dead to You’ and ‘To Ruined Alters’ take the primitive, cavern sound of epic crust and the shrill, atonal vocals and guitar tone of black metal to create a moody headbanger of an LP.





10. Godflesh – Purge

Six years on from ‘Post Self’, Godflesh return to the fray with a record that combines the succinct attack of ‘Post Self’ with the post punk leanings of ‘A World Lit Only by Fire’. Songs like ‘Mythology of Self’ still bulldoze the listener into oblivion, but it’s the astonishing closer ‘You Are The Judge…’ which lingers longest in due to its hymn like passages that are both ethereal and disturbing.





9. Dave Lombardo – Rites of Percussion

Amazing, this is the legendary drummer’s debut solo record. Anyone expecting a variation on Reign in Blood will be disappointed as Rites… allows him to indulge his esoteric tastes. More a soundtrack to an imaginary film, tracks like ‘Interfearium’ manage to reference old horror soundtracks while still being eerie and ‘Warpath’ features an intense, metallic groove that would make Test Dept jealous. Not what you might expect, but Lombardo was much more eclectic than the average metalhead.





8. SQURL – Silver Haze

The fourth album from noted film director Jim Jarmusch’s avant-rock outfit, this is a succinct and deeply invigorating mix of Earth style post-rock and Galaxie 500 style dream pop, with tunes that are both beautiful in all their griminess and with a sinister undertone, as if waiting for something awful to happen. Guest spots from Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marc Ribot add light and shade to the mix.





7. Bruxa Maria – Build Yourself a Shrine and Pray

There’s no fucking around on this, the third full length from these London dwelling noise merchants. Going for more of a Melvins feel (plenty of hi-hat work, sludgy riffing, slower tempos, off kilter vocals) as well as incorporating plenty of hardcore/noise rock fury marks it out as an exciting, bludgeoning listen, with ‘Blind Side’ being the standout due to the (dare I say) soulful singing.





6. JAAW - Supercluster

Made up of members of Therapy?, Sex Swing, Petbrick and Squarepusher, JAAW deliver a record that is akin to Am Rep era Helios Creed jamming with Converge. The vocals are buried in the mix, making the listener notice just how pulverising the bass is and how the sparse electronics, coupled with certain guitar lines, embody an atmosphere of despair without ever being bleak. Life affirming.





5. Torso – A Crash Course in Terror

With Graham Bywater of the late Possessor in the driving seat, you know you’re in for something special. Torso specialise in pulverising rock that straddles the line between metal and noise rock, somewhere between ‘Meantime’ era Helmet and ‘Crack the Skye’ era Mastodon. A record for beer drinkers and hell raisers with their thinking caps on, and ‘Sinking Spell’ is utterly immense.





4. Teeth of the Sea – Hive

With a cover referencing ‘Blue Monday’ and Frank Herbert, London based Teeth of the Sea deliver their first club friendly record. Opener ‘Artemis’ is a hypnotic nod to Vangelis while ‘Get With the Program’ is an up tempo thumper with vocals with questioning, almost hectoring, vocals. ‘Butterfly House’ gives up an uplifting and pretty arpeggio line. A much more commercial proposition but it suits TOTS, plus there’s still plenty of menace in numbers like ‘Megafragma’. Two thumbs up.





3. Venera – s/t

An unusual collaboration between Korn guitarist James Shaffer and filmmaker/producer Chris Hunt, this LP blends the ethereal, the dissonant, the heavy and the rhythmic. Mainly instrumental, tracks like ‘Ochre’ (with vocals from HEALTH legend Jacob Duzsik) and ‘Swarm’ provide a haunting and moody soundtrack for the coming autumn. What’s refreshing here is that both Shaffer and Hunt never allow one particular mood to dominate, shifting between introspection and discordant.





2. False Fed – Let Them Eat Fake

Picking up where Amebix left off, guitarist Chris ‘Stig’ Miller and drummer Roy Mayorga are joined by Discharge/Broken Bones vocalist JJ Janick for a dark, epic and apocalyptic record. ‘The Tyrant Dies’ begins with a nod to Killing Joke before turning into an all-encompassing atmospheric monster of rage and anger. ‘The Big Sleep’ sounds like it could have been an outtake from Amebix’s ‘Sonic Mass’ and ‘The One Thing…’ is an uplifting, pastoral number offering hope. Amazing stuff.





1. All Out War – Celestial Rot

My album of the year since February. For a band who have been going for over twenty-five years, the brutality and speed on display here is astonishing, with d-beats, divebombs and crunchy, metal riffing that is utterly invigorating. This is the record that the likes of Hatebreed should be making today. 25 minutes of ferocity from veterans who know what metalcore should sound like.



⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

Predominance ๐Ÿฅ Top 20 of 2023

Christopher Owens ๐ŸŽต with a round up of 2023 for his Predominance series.

With many concerns raised about the correlation between Spotify’s payment system for artists and the various costings which are choking touring acts, it seems that we have hit a critical consensus about how we want to consume music easily but we’re not willing to rock the boat because, after all, it’s easier to stream than play the physical copy.

Personal circumstances regulated my ability to head to many this year, but I still did pretty well. 10 seen for the first time (Black Flag, The Residents, Unsane, Ratos de Porao, Wolfbastard, Jesus Piece, Paranoid, Gel, Stiff Meds and Total Chaos) plus three Killing Joke gigs (meaning I've now seen them 29 times with the Albert Hall show more than likely being the final one) and two Swans shows (bringing the total to 13).

Everything was reviewed on here in 2023 and they are all records that have stuck with me, in some shape or form, throughout the year. That means I loved them. And so should you.

20. ExEverything – Slow Change Will Pull Us Apart

It’s a bold move using a lyric from a famous 80’s pop song as the title for an album and an even bolder one referencing the late, lamented Fight Amp for your band name, but this Bay Area group know what they’re doing. Playing music that retains the controlled chaos of math rock and noisecore without the jarring inaccessibility of either, this debut LP rewards the listener on each spin.




19. Pus – II

Hailing from Peru, Pus play a sick mix of hardcore, death rock and blackened thrash. This LP puts them in the same league as Devil Master. However, Pus’ sound is a lot thrashier and, due to the production, have a trebly and overwhelming guitar sound (exactly what is needed). It would be cool to hear more of the death rock influences come through but, regardless, a fantastic debut LP.



18. Machiavellian Art – Indoctrination Sounds

Described as a mix of Albert Ayler and Spacemen 3, this is a punishing listen. Mixing Stooges garage rock, the mid paced rhythms of sludge, the cacophonous saxophone of Sun Ra and the heaviness of both doom and shoegaze shouldn’t work but, in these hands, not only does but will overload the senses as well, making it proper psychedelia.



17. Kelela – Raven

Long awaited, Kelela has created the American equivalent of Burial’s ‘Untrue’. Deeply atmospheric and haunting music that sounds just at home in the clubs as it does through a pair of earbuds on a wet Tuesday afternoon while sitting on the bus. Vocally, she articulates a desire for a rebirth (both personally and politically) while retaining a balance between sultry and aloof. Amazing.



16. Pound Land – Violence

Returning with a sixth album of sludgy, psychedelic industrial punk, as well as featuring Steve Watson of Iron Monkey, Pound Land continue to let us know the state of the nation in a way that Sleaford Mods would kill to. Heavy without resorting to metal cliches and with electronics that sound dirty, ‘Violence’ is their best record to date as well as their most challenging.



15. Blood Moon Wedding – An American Nightmare

A collaboration between Zounds songwriter Steve Lake and Antler Family driving force Mia Dean, this is an astonishing record that flirts with neo-cabaret, gothic rock and alt-country. Billing itself as a road trip of horrors through an alternate reality in the sprawling deserts of America, this is the sort of record that Nick Cave should be making. ‘Wanted’ is one of many highlights due to its combination of Alien Sex Fiend and Bonnie and Clyde storytelling.



14. Disciplinary – Porkwind

Described in the press release as a “Dual bass and drums hardcore noise-punk riff assault from North East England…” who have put together “A raging debut that rips hard”, I cannot help but agree with this assessment. Running in at under 25 minutes, it’s like Sete Star Sept knocked the grindcore on the head and started playing noisy hardcore instead. ‘Less Fun’ is the key song on here.



13. Swans – The Beggar

The 16th record from Michael Gira and his long-suffering band of merrymen, this album carries on the more melodic flourishes of 2019’s ‘Leaving Meaning’ but the experimental edge is much more pronounced this time around, such as in ‘The Beggar Lover (Three)’ which is the longest single track the band have recorded. Elsewhere, Gira demonstrates that his creative fire will never desert him.



12. Khanate – To Be Cruel

For their first record since 2009, the notorious Khanate pick up where they left off, which means feedback laden doom stretched out over 20 minutes a track with Alan Durbin’s despair laden shrieking about how “things all around/they hide and are still/the faces are blank/stifled their shrill stab of the voice.” Powerful material for the brave and thumbs up to the Swans referencing title.





11. Marthe – Further in Evil

Described in the press notes as a solo bedroom project for broken souls who can’t find piece, this is the debut record from Italian goth/crust musician Marzia under the Marthe banner. Operating in that murky swamp between crust punk and black metal but certainly leaning more towards the latter, songs like ‘Dead to You’ and ‘To Ruined Alters’ take the primitive, cavern sound of epic crust and the shrill, atonal vocals and guitar tone of black metal to create a moody headbanger of an LP.





10. Godflesh – Purge

Six years on from ‘Post Self’, Godflesh return to the fray with a record that combines the succinct attack of ‘Post Self’ with the post punk leanings of ‘A World Lit Only by Fire’. Songs like ‘Mythology of Self’ still bulldoze the listener into oblivion, but it’s the astonishing closer ‘You Are The Judge…’ which lingers longest in due to its hymn like passages that are both ethereal and disturbing.





9. Dave Lombardo – Rites of Percussion

Amazing, this is the legendary drummer’s debut solo record. Anyone expecting a variation on Reign in Blood will be disappointed as Rites… allows him to indulge his esoteric tastes. More a soundtrack to an imaginary film, tracks like ‘Interfearium’ manage to reference old horror soundtracks while still being eerie and ‘Warpath’ features an intense, metallic groove that would make Test Dept jealous. Not what you might expect, but Lombardo was much more eclectic than the average metalhead.





8. SQURL – Silver Haze

The fourth album from noted film director Jim Jarmusch’s avant-rock outfit, this is a succinct and deeply invigorating mix of Earth style post-rock and Galaxie 500 style dream pop, with tunes that are both beautiful in all their griminess and with a sinister undertone, as if waiting for something awful to happen. Guest spots from Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marc Ribot add light and shade to the mix.





7. Bruxa Maria – Build Yourself a Shrine and Pray

There’s no fucking around on this, the third full length from these London dwelling noise merchants. Going for more of a Melvins feel (plenty of hi-hat work, sludgy riffing, slower tempos, off kilter vocals) as well as incorporating plenty of hardcore/noise rock fury marks it out as an exciting, bludgeoning listen, with ‘Blind Side’ being the standout due to the (dare I say) soulful singing.





6. JAAW - Supercluster

Made up of members of Therapy?, Sex Swing, Petbrick and Squarepusher, JAAW deliver a record that is akin to Am Rep era Helios Creed jamming with Converge. The vocals are buried in the mix, making the listener notice just how pulverising the bass is and how the sparse electronics, coupled with certain guitar lines, embody an atmosphere of despair without ever being bleak. Life affirming.





5. Torso – A Crash Course in Terror

With Graham Bywater of the late Possessor in the driving seat, you know you’re in for something special. Torso specialise in pulverising rock that straddles the line between metal and noise rock, somewhere between ‘Meantime’ era Helmet and ‘Crack the Skye’ era Mastodon. A record for beer drinkers and hell raisers with their thinking caps on, and ‘Sinking Spell’ is utterly immense.





4. Teeth of the Sea – Hive

With a cover referencing ‘Blue Monday’ and Frank Herbert, London based Teeth of the Sea deliver their first club friendly record. Opener ‘Artemis’ is a hypnotic nod to Vangelis while ‘Get With the Program’ is an up tempo thumper with vocals with questioning, almost hectoring, vocals. ‘Butterfly House’ gives up an uplifting and pretty arpeggio line. A much more commercial proposition but it suits TOTS, plus there’s still plenty of menace in numbers like ‘Megafragma’. Two thumbs up.





3. Venera – s/t

An unusual collaboration between Korn guitarist James Shaffer and filmmaker/producer Chris Hunt, this LP blends the ethereal, the dissonant, the heavy and the rhythmic. Mainly instrumental, tracks like ‘Ochre’ (with vocals from HEALTH legend Jacob Duzsik) and ‘Swarm’ provide a haunting and moody soundtrack for the coming autumn. What’s refreshing here is that both Shaffer and Hunt never allow one particular mood to dominate, shifting between introspection and discordant.





2. False Fed – Let Them Eat Fake

Picking up where Amebix left off, guitarist Chris ‘Stig’ Miller and drummer Roy Mayorga are joined by Discharge/Broken Bones vocalist JJ Janick for a dark, epic and apocalyptic record. ‘The Tyrant Dies’ begins with a nod to Killing Joke before turning into an all-encompassing atmospheric monster of rage and anger. ‘The Big Sleep’ sounds like it could have been an outtake from Amebix’s ‘Sonic Mass’ and ‘The One Thing…’ is an uplifting, pastoral number offering hope. Amazing stuff.





1. All Out War – Celestial Rot

My album of the year since February. For a band who have been going for over twenty-five years, the brutality and speed on display here is astonishing, with d-beats, divebombs and crunchy, metal riffing that is utterly invigorating. This is the record that the likes of Hatebreed should be making today. 25 minutes of ferocity from veterans who know what metalcore should sound like.



⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

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