What’s the point of writing music if you don’t have anything real to say? My ten favorite records of the year contain the urgency to talk about what’s wrong in this world, how hard it is to be strong when everything seems to drag you down, the anxiety of building relationships between people, but most of all, about the hope that we’re not alone dealing with this brutality. To me, these ten records are the best sonically representation of 2019.
Marika Zorzi is a freelance journalist, PR and social media manager. She is the deputy editor of Gazette Musicale, the metal web editor of New Noise Magazine and she currently collaborates with Evil Greed. Her articles are featured on Rolling Stone, CVLT Nation, Gazette Musicale, Idioteq, Music&Riots, New Noise Magazine and Invisible Oranges, just to name a few. Her carrier is based on supporting underground music in every possible way.
10. ENDON – BOY MEETS GIRL
I found out about Endon at the beginning of the year when they released this record through Thrill Jockey. Boy Meets Girl is the soundtrack to an imaginary horror film about love told in a very particular way. Sometimes love is terrifying, and Endon talk about their sonic love story as a real nightmare. This is not just the most significant amount of noise put to record, but there’s care in every detail. It’s hard not to hear some Dead Kennedys influence, and that’s a plus. I like this record because it’s a love story about the anxiety to trust someone, the fear of being hurt again. Love isn’t easy in 2019, and Endon’s perspective makes “Boy Meets Girl” real and special.
9. CHELSEA WOLFE – BIRTH OF VIOLENCE
Chelsea Wolfe’s music is like an old friend to me. I have a very special relationship with all her records. The thing that I really like about this album is the reclusive nature of the recordings. The result is an album that sounds like a cry of pain and a protest against American cultural shifts, the brutality of the human being and patriarchal society. Since its release in September, I’ve been listened to it on vinyl at home after a long day or a long week when I just wanted to hide away and stay by myself.
8. BIG BRAVE – A GAZE AMONG THEM
Southern Lord Recordings
The first time I saw Big Brave was in 2017 during the Southern Lord recordings Europe fest in Amsterdam. I was impressed by the power of their sound: doomy, minimal and spacious. In March, I found out they were ready to drop a new album. I put on the first track and I knew from the first minute that I was listening to one of the best albums of 2019. “A Gaze Among Them” is simply beautiful, and we just need beauty sometimes.
7. SUNN O)) – LIFE METAL
Southern Lord Recordings
The first thing I loved about this record was the name. When I talked with Greg Anderson, he told me that when something is positive or bright or happy, for the band, it’s life metal, not death metal. The sound of the music they’re creating is brighter, and the overall aesthetic and feeling of it aren’t so gloomy and dark. It’s still heavy, but it had this epic, shining light feeling to it. Life Metal is an enormous, meticulous, back-to-basics album that shows just how compelling those basics can be. Depending on what you need, this album is a shield or a cape, a timely exercise in either retreating from the outside world or facing it with hope.
6. FULL OF HELL – WEEPING CHOIR
The thing I like the most about these guys is the collaborative nature of their records. “Weeping Choir” is not an exception. “Armory of Obsidian Glass” is one of my favorite songs of the years. This track is a rare drone-heavy track with Lingua Ignota’s beautiful backing vocals. Lyrical themes incorporate death and decline with hope and persistence. This variation creates a claustrophobic loop, an incapability to escape from the constant repetition of life’s ongoing process of cyclical dualisms.
5. BLOOD INCANTATION – HIDDEN HISTORY OF HUMAN RACE
Dark Descent Records
With cryptic, ethereal lyrics and classic 1970s artwork by Sci-Fi god Bruce Pennington, “Hidden History of the Human Race” is both an analysis of the nature of humans, and an incursion into the realms of progressive, brutal and atmospheric Death Metal. I’ve always appreciated the D.I.Y. attitude of the underground subculture, especially I’ve always been a big collector and fan of fanzines. When I found this insert inside the vinyl, I went crazy. This is another reason why I like Blood Incantation. In this era, where the internet reigns supreme, they do not forget the past. I am still absolutely impressed by this group of musicians that can consistently create engaging, original, and even emotive music.
4. GOLD – WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING?
I’ve always used music as a soundtrack for every moment of my life. It’s like magic; it can change the mood of every situation. It makes a dark street less scary; it turns a boring drive into something fun or an ordinary moment into an unforgettable memory. Since I have been in Berlin I have often found myself listening to this record when I walk around. It makes me feel powerful. “Why Aren’t You Laughing?” talks about mental health problems, women empowerment, and all the violence in this world that is impossible to ignore. I can’t get enough of the fantastic atmosphere and sound this band was able to create.
3. CLOUD RAT – POLLINATOR
We can’t escape from our obsessions about social media and our phones, to our feeling of impending doom because of global warming, and anxieties about growing up seeing that all our relationships slowly and inexorably change. I’ve been following this band since their first European tour in 2013, and “Pollinator” is what underground music needs now: an album that is overtly political and transgressive but also sad and melancholic. While the conflict has always been present in nature, the scale of human violence, toward ourselves and the world around us, has created an imbalance that only continues to grow, manifesting as barrens tracts in the heart of our planet’s ecosystems. This band has something to say, listen to them.
2. MIZMOR – CAIRN
There’s a quote by Albert Camus that says, “In the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself”. The world pushes against us in so many ways, and we need to find a way to survive the pressure, all the disappointments, and the obstacles. Life is not easy, but it’s worthy of living. That’s the message I like about “Cairn”. A.L.N. was able to create with Mizmor, an album that is a gigantic, sonic journey through the human existence. When you feel lost, follow the cairns along the path and find your way. (Thanks Liam).
1. LINGUA IGNOTA – CALIGULA
Profound Lore Records
CALIGULA is my record of the year for a simple reason: I was waiting for someone like Kristin to tell my story in music. This record is so real that every song is a vivid memory that returns to the surface. The truth is that I can’t listen to it in its entirety because it touches some places inside me that I want to forget. The sonically power of CALIGULA is as strong as the urge to scream how moral and physical violence is unfair. No human being, and no life deserves to suffer because of someone else. No one.
Photo in the cover by Yannik Vargar