It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2019 rapidly approaches and we somehow end this decade- we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been another crazy year filled with plenty of highs and lows- it’s the releases that have once again pulled a lot of people through the year.
Now in it’s 9th year, we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists. Telling us their most loved events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
This summer we introduced the readers to a fairly new band with huge potential- Mairu. Formed in the North West of England in April 2018, the band blend introspective ethereal atmospherics with anthemic grooves, exploding crescendos and crushing doom. They play what they consider instrumental post-metal, primarily influenced by such bands Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Pelican, Mastodon and Deftones.
MAIRU are a band filled with insanely talented musicians and together the four boldly push their deliverance into new realms, as they blur the lines between post-metal, post-rock, doom and progressive rock. We hand the site over to Ant of Mairu to talk about more about their year in music….
Top 5 releases of the year:
Tool – Fear Inoculum
This is an album that the entire band can agree is either top of our lists or at least in our top five for this year. Quite possibly one of the most highly anticipated albums of the decade and with good reason. Tool proved once again that they are head and shoulders above their peers and all pretenders. A masterclass in progressive song writing at its best.
Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear
One of our biggest influences stylistically, this was another big release for us all and it didn’t disappoint! Songs like ‘Nightwalkers’ and ‘Lights From The Hill’ show that CoL refuse to rest on their laurels and still have plenty left to give us. A major inspiration for us and a worthy addition to their catalogue.
Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
I discovered the Dais records roster after getting heavily into American EBM duo Youth Code a few years ago. Drab Majesty quickly became one of my favourite bands that Dais put out and the one that I kept going back to. I love their blend of post punk, dreampop and darkwave. ‘Modern Mirror’ was the first album of theirs that I looked forward to being released and anticipated, their other two albums having already been available by the time I discovered them. ‘Modern Mirror’ didn’t disappoint, its dark, atmospheric, brooding and intensely catchy.
Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
‘Spiritual Instinct’ is a more introspective and streamlined sounding record compared to some of the rest of their discography, it has its own identity and it proudly displays their ability to craft great songs. Some of the guitar tones on this album are simply gorgeous and although it may not be my favourite album by them (in fairness, ‘Kodama’ had such a massive impact for me that it would be pretty impossible to top) however its a brilliant album all the same.
Mastiff – Vermin
Absolutely savage is the best way I can describe this album! I’m excited to hear what they come up with next as I think its only a matter of time before someone like Deathwish snaps them up. If you haven’t heard it yet, this album sounds to me like Converge hate fucking Crowbar. Its nasty, its ugly, its hate filled, its HEAVY!
The best show we have played this year:
We’ve been very lucky so far, 2019 was our first ‘proper’ year of gigging after a one off ‘testing of the waters’ home town show in 2018. Its hard to pick just one however I’d probably go with supporting Frontierer and Hundred Year Old Man at Temple of Boom in Leeds. It was a pretty crazy day for us after playing a matinee set earlier that day as part of Tramlines Festival in Sheffield and then racing over to Leeds to play that evening. So many things could have gone wrong but everything came together perfectly. We played one of our most energetic sets to a packed room and the atmosphere was intense. I think one was of the biggest compliments we received was that someone said they had actually paid to see a different gig in one of the venues other rooms but when they heard us start playing they instantly snuck in to catch us and didn’t want to miss out haha!
It was also another opportunity to play with HYOM who are incredibly atmospheric and powerful, definitely a band that we hold in very high regard. We even got looked after and fed with some top notch vegan burgers, can’t complain!
The best gig we have attended this year:
I’m biased because two of my all time favourite bands were playing however I’d say Supersonic Festival in Birmingham. I cannot understate the influence that both Neurosis and Godflesh have had on me and my playing. To see them both together in such a lavish and ornate building as the Birmingham town hall was a spectacular experience and felt more unique than the standard festival stage.
Highlights of the year:
Releasing our debut EP in April and seeing the reaction that it has got from around the world. When we started this band in April 2018 we had no idea how fast it would come together and take off. I think a big part of it has something to do with all us have been friends for years and three out of the four of us have been playing together in another band called Kusanagi for a long time meaning communication isn’t a problem and we could side step a lot of early band pitfalls and focus on what matters. The EP was very well received and it helped get us on some pretty high profile gigs as a result.
Artist to watch in 2020:
Antre (pronounced Ant-er) are without a doubt one of the best bands we have ever had the pleasure of playing with. They are a black metal band from Nottingham and their live performance is absolutely crushing. Their front man furiously parades the stage (or lack thereof) like a man possessed which conjures images of Dark Funeral being fronted by Agnostic Front as crazy as that sounds. Great band, definitely looking forward to crossing paths with them again and one to watch for sure!
Best discovery of 2019:
Brutus! Incredible band, a few of us had the pleasure of seeing them supporting Cult of Luna recently and its fair to say I enjoyed both bands equally. They are an amazing power trio with a huge presence live. Their 2019 album ‘Nest’ is phenomenal.
Plans for the New Year:
Next year we will finish writing our debut album which we are planning to release sometime mid-late 2020 through our new home Trepanation Records.
Thank you Mairu, looking forward to hearing more from you in 2020 and congratulations on such a great year!