Recommendations of the Fall

I have this friend, whom I've known for fourteen years or so now. Let's call him Jan, shall we -- the name may or may not have been changed. "Jan" loves music, although he doesn't perhaps listen to it quite us much as I do, and certainly doesn't buy records and check out new bands as much. Anyway, apparently feeling the need for some new music to listen to, he asked me (about four weeks ago already... oops) for some recommendations, for a list of records he could and should enjoy. After finally coming up with such a list, I figured I'd publish it here, just in case anyone else finds it useful.

Now, in order to be able to help out this Jan fellow, we naturally need some basic knowledge on his musical tastes and preferences. He comes from a firm metal background, having listened to a lot of the heavier stuff over the years, but that's not all he likes and I got the impression that he'd like to expand his tastes further. So let's treat him to a few great metal albums but throw in some curveballs as well, okay?

Another aspect to consider is the fact that Jan is a drummer. So he may at times pay special attention to what's happening behind the kit, but I'm sure he's looking for interesting music, not just interesting drumming. He's also shown a penchant for vocalists whose style could be characterized as being over-or-close-to-the-top in one way or another. What I like about the man's taste in music is how he's not at all interested in what's cool or popular, in what is somehow socially acceptable to like. If he likes a band, he likes it, regardless of it being a mainstream or an underground act.

I'm making the bold assumption that Jan has been reading this blog, so I'm not parading records I've already written about. I can't of course be a hundred-percent sure about what the bugger has been listening to, but let's hope most of these are new acquaintances.

Baroness: Blue Record (2009)
Is this cheating? I know I just said I wasn't going to list records I've already written about... well, technically I didn't write about this one, I just briefly mentioned what a brilliant album it is while writing about Baroness's latest release. I can't imagine Jan (or anyone else with half a brain or quarter of a heart) not liking Blue Record at all. There's this great, mysterious allure to the album, something that's harder and harder to come by these days -- or so it seems. Oh and those melodies... forget about it.

Bat for Lashes: Fur and Gold (2006)
There are two main reasons why I believe Jan will like this album. Firstly, he has a proven track record of liking female singer-songwriters. (I briefly considered cutting that sentence short at "proven track record of liking females", but opted against it. This time.) Secondly, Jan is, to use an accurate term, a fantasy nerd. Putting one and one together, Natasha Khan's mystical songwriting and enchanting delivery should do the trick. Fur and Gold is a magical album, capable of taking the listener -- hopefully Jan, in this case -- to places where heartbroken heroines ride off to the sunset.

Carcass: Heartwork (1994)
Jan is something of an Arch Enemy fan. I'm not sure if this has more to do with their music or with Angela Gossow -- if it's the latter, the potential effect of this recommendation is somewhat diminished, but what can you do. Carcass was the death metal band where the Arch Enemy mastermind Michael Amott earned his spurs. While Amott wasn't the principal songwriter in Carcass, he played his part, and I guess he has put the lessons he learned with these Liverpudlians into good use with Arch Enemy. Heartwork is Carcass's finest album.

Gojira: From Mars to Sirius (2006)
"We try to create music that's just like a whale: big, heavy and intelligent", said Gojira's singer-guitarist Joe Duplantier back when promoting From Mars to Sirius (with its whale cover and all). I think we can applaud the French quartet for a job well done regarding that goal. The album is crushingly heavy and thought-provoking, the latter quality springing from the progressive compositions and prodding lyrics. Mario Duplantier's (yes, they are brothers) angular and kickdrum-heavy drumming style should please Jan's ear, and if any of the band's pro-nature themes rub off on him at all, that's an added bonus.

Ignite: Our Darkest Days (2006)
I didn't forget to mention how Jan seems to like (some) over-the-top vocalists with pipes that are out of this world, did I? Good -- step forward, Zoli Téglás. Fronting the Orange County melodic hardcore band Ignite, Téglás howls across socially and politically charged lyrics like a man on a mission. Which I guess he is. While his vocal style is definitely special, it's the overall strength of the band and their songs that counts. Our Darkest Days is a standout record. By the way, Jan, I just got a copy of Ignite's new live DVD, we should watch it some day (if you end up liking this album at all).

Karnivool: Sound Awake (2009)
Progressive. Epic. Interesting. Monumental. Skillful. Oh and Australian, since Jan is going to ask.

Primordial: The Gathering Wilderness (2005)
Primordial blend black metal (which Jan, on average, is fond of) with their native Ireland's folk music (which I believe Jan also likes). So... this recommendation can't be a total disaster, right? There's an overwhelming sense of melancholy in Primordial's epic songs, and the rebellious sentiments should stir something within Jan's pagan heart.

Propagandhi: Potemkin City Limits (2005)
Songs about war crimes and war profiteering, about treatment of aboriginal peoples, globalization and oppression. Want to look into any of that, Jan? If not, I guess you can always just marvel at the ferociousness and vehemence with which said songs are delivered. But I'm not sure the guys in Propagandhi would appreciate such an easy way out. (P.S. It's okay, I sometimes ignore the lyrics, too.)

R.E.M.: Automatic for the People (1992)
Jan -- like me -- really liked The Decemberists' latest album, The King Is Dead. This encourages me to nudge him towards R.E.M. -- after all, R.E.M. was one of the main influences behind The King Is Dead, and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck even played on three tracks on the album. Automatic for the People is among R.E.M.'s finest releases, a comforting blanket to wrap around one's shoulders.

Social Distortion: Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (1992)
The vertebrate creature we've been calling "Jan" also has a thing for straight-up, honest rock n' roll. No frills, high energy. Or at least I think he does. (I mean, he used to sing 'Bad Boys Are Here' by Peer Günt all the time back in the day. Probably still does, when he gets a little tipsy.) Well, it doesn't come much more honest and frill-free than Social Distortion. And Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell is their best album, in my opinion. Can't go wrong with that.


  1. Anonymous3/11/12 11:00

    Who is this Jan person?! From what you say he seems like an intelligent, funny, excellent drummer and good looking guy. When I grow up I wanna be just like Jan!

  2. When I'll be this "Jan" person!?