Although we sometimes take it for granted in the streaming age, music is a luxury good. When Submotion Orchestra play, that fact becomes perfectly clear. Their albums always sound expensive, high-class cultural excursions made for the benefit not of the super-rich, but all of us mere mortals.
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As the music industry slows down, its alternative end hibernating while the pop-enamoured mainstream hungrily ogles Christmas shoppers, the time has come to look back on a seriously strong year for organised soundwaves. For me, it’s been heavy, intense, and a hell of a lot of fun thanks to the releases listed below.
With so many exceptional contenders in the running for the top spot, the thought of ranking them in order of quality is plainly ridiculous. So instead, I’ve picked out three releases that had memorable impacts on me when I first heard them, and assembled the others in alphabetical order.
The Pretty Reckless’s Who You Selling For – along with previous effort Going To Hell – is conclusive proof (if it were honestly needed in 2016) that women belong in rock music, and are fully capable of kicking ass. The sexists of the music world are like Wile E. Coyote; they’ve run off the edge of the cliff, nothing surrounds them but empty air, they’ve looked down, and they’re panicking. Sonic Boom Six’s The F-Bomb picks up where that image leaves off – it’s cheeky, chirpy, happy and hard-hitting (sometimes simultaneously), addressing a wealth of gender-related issues and providing a great ska-fuelled party soundtrack as only Sonic Boom Six can.
Musically, Dissociation is The F-Bomb’s polar opposite. The Dillinger Escape Plan’s swan song is crammed with brutal and ultra-experimental mathcore – but it’s also Dillinger’s most delicate and diverse album. The Dillinger Escape Plan are living proof that you can achieve great things without compromise, by sticking to your guns and just going for it.
Beyond that point, you’re free to dive into an epic range of albums including solidly grooving rock sets, monolithic slabs of military-grade metal, and progressive masterpieces. Since I’ve not reviewed many EPs this year, I’ve also included a pair of extended-playing mind-blowers in the form of Dorje’s Centred And One and Toska’s Ode To The Author. Dorje specialise in utterly idiosyncratic rock tunes with added progressive spice, while to me, Toska (made up of Dorje’s backline, namely guitarist Rabea Massaad, drummer Ben Minal, and bassist Dave Hollingworth) represent the future of instrumental metal.
Both Dorje and Toska are bands on the rise – and they fully deserve to hit the same peaks enjoyed by the biggest names on this list.
There’s little more to say; for me, this list represents the top albums of 2016. Enjoy the full reviews linked below, follow TMMP on Twitter, subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel, and stay tuned for more world-class music next year!
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Camden High Street is a busy place at the best of times. Bargain hunters crowd its world-famous market; tourists take selfies in front of outlandish shopfronts; alternative fashionistas strut around in their latest cutting-edge purchases.
Add in Camden Rocks, a twenty-venue, two-hundred-band music festival stretching from the vicinity of the Roundhouse down to Mornington Crescent, and you’re talking the coolest kind of chaos imaginable Read more…
When most bombs drop, they cause widespread destruction and suffering.
The F-Bomb does the opposite.
Sonic Boom Six’s latest album is creative, liberating, and above all else supportive of those who continue to endure discrimination even in the year 2016. This is made clear from the off through the feminist-friendly No Man No Right and anti-racist tune From The Fire To The Frying Pan, the latter of which shows that while Sonic Boom Six don’t approve of Britain First and co., they still understand how even the most well-meaning people can get sucked into their orbit and seduced by extremist bullshit Read more…
Submotion Orchestra’s new album Colour Theory is one of the albums of the year. Granted, it is only February, but I can very safely say that Colour Theory is going to take some beating. Seriously.
Colour Theory has been on near-constant repeat at TMMP HQ after hitting a 100% home run in this full-length review. It’s a genuinely spectacular album – and for this interview, TMMP got SubMo keyboardist Taz Modi talking about the story behind Colour Theory as well as stage invading DJs, keytars, onstage livestock and spaceships… Read more…
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
Over the course of three stellar albums (2011’s Finest Hour; 2012’s Fragments; 2014’s Alium), Submotion Orchestra’s signature sound has been explored in detail and depth. A peerlessly idiosyncratic mix of bass-heavy dub, soul, classical and jazz influences, it’s never been less than spellbinding, immersive, and classy. Since day one, the Submotion Orchestra sound has won over an ever-increasing mass of critics, fans, and tastemakers.
On paper, it would have been very easy for Submotion Orchestra to play it safe on Colour Theory. The normal thing for established bands to do is Read more…
After the recent loss of David Bowie, the rock world needs all the unique and exciting oddness it can get. With Anarchytecture – their third album since reforming in 2009 – Skunk Anansie continue to contribute exactly that.
Although rock is the dominant flavour present on Anarchytecture, there are plenty of extra spices floating in the mix. Skin’s vocal is, as always, unmistakable – and curious listeners can expect a healthy amount of dub vibes and electronic elements alongside the big riff monsters and vulnerable ballads that tick Read more…
2015 has been a big year, soundtracked by a slew of spectacular albums. Picking an overall favourite was a pretty stressful task – and in the end, Jon Gomm’s gorgeous collection of live fan picks and what is, in my opinion, the definitive modern-day Joe Satriani album both had to go on top.
Deciding who would ultimately top the tree was made infinitely easier by putting them in alphabetical order by surname; if you put a gun to my head and demanded I choose between Jon Gomm and Joe Satriani in terms of quality, you’d just have to shoot me. They’re two sides of the same coin, Jon Gomm representing the acoustic world, Satriani the electric. Put together, these guys represent almost unparalleled guitaristic virtuosity.
In joint second place, you’ll find a whole host of alphabetised winners who would each be done a terrible injustice were they to be placed in a lower position. From legends with glittering careers spanning decades to stunning comeback albums and a fair few brand new names facing bright and hopeful futures, TMMP’s top albums of 2015 are all here.
Dive in – there’s a lot to get stuck into – and follow TMMP via Twitter for more from the world of world-class music in 2016!
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Looking back on a big year for metal, Lithium Dawn’s brand new Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension marks them out as genuine innovators. I’ve already ranted at length about it in this review – and here, Lithium Dawn discuss the story behind the new album, their plans for 2016, and more…
You’ve managed to spice up an epic prog-metal mix with some unique flavours of your own. So, I have to open with an old cliché: Who were your influences while you were writing your new album?
Well, [the] earliest influences that informed our sound were prog rock/metal bands like Porcupine Tree, Tool, Opeth, Meshuggah, and some of the newer bands like Tesseract and Periphery. Deftones and Korn were also a big influence early on.
Our founding members, Ondrej Tvarozek and Matt Benoit, actually met on Korn’s message board back in the early 2000s. As we were making this new album though, we embraced a lot more of our experimental influences: reggae, psy-dub, and other electronic music played a big part in that, particularly artists like Ott, Shpongle, Younger Brother, John Brown’s Body, Stick Figure, and many others.
Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension is about to be let loose into the world. What thoughts and feelings are floating around the Lithium Dawn camp right now?
We’re all just excited to have people finally Read more…
This is one of the most inspiring metal albums of 2015.
With the first part of Tearing Back The Veil, Lithium Dawn have set out to stretch the boundaries of tech-heavy progressive metal. It’s an ambitious task, to say the least; with luminaries such as Meshuggah, Karnivool, Periphery, Tool and Tesseract already forging new paths into the future, it’s easy to overlook the underground underdogs out there, and assume that everyone bar the legends are paying lip service to progression while actually playing catch-up.
One of the most attractive aspects of the prog world is the fact that anything goes. It’s like watching a Thunderbirds rerun from the ’60s: “Anything can happen in the next half hour!” We expect twists, turns, and tangents – but Lithium Dawn don’t just live up to that expectation. They go beyond it, into the Read more…