Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Wish I'd Heard It Then

I was just reflecting, as I began really sorting things in early preparation for this year's top albums list, on how much better my picture of metal this year is than the one I had last year. I honestly don't know if this has just been a much better year, but what I do know is that I barely filled out my top 10 in 2011, and I'm already having to cut albums I really enjoyed just to get this year's list down to 25. And there are still a couple months to go before the year is over, with several big releases yet to come (not least of which are the long-awaited Wintersun follow-up as well as the first Neurosis album in five years). In large part this is because I'm just way more active in exploring new music this year, as I've easily listened to three or four times as many new albums as I did last year.

In reference to this post's title, I've noticed, as I've continually trolled for new listening material, that I've encountered a number of records that I really wish I'd heard last year. My end-of-year list would have been far stronger for their inclusion. Some, like Verinen Saagat  by Valtyr, got their moments of attention early this year before there were enough 2012 albums out for me to shift to exclusively reviewing those. Not long ago, though, I encountered possibly the most glaring example yet of an album I deeply wish I'd heard in time to include it on last year's list.

In April of last year, the Canadian prog/tech death metal outfit Beyond Creation released their full-length debut The Aura.  This record is, without exception, the best death metal release I've heard from the past two years. It's powerful and intense, it features dynamic and inventive shifts in tone and tempo that are more fluid and effective than any I've heard in any death metal album I can think of, and it has the single greatest use of bass I have ever encountered in any extreme metal release of any kind. In short, this album is insanely, impossibly good. It would have shot to the top of my list for last year if only I'd heard it in time. Since I've stopped reviewing albums from last year, and this obviously can't make my 2012 list, I really just wanted to give the record special mention rather than allow it to slip between the cracks, because frankly it's a release I think any serious death metal fan will be richer for hearing.

The YouTube video below contains the full album.

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