The 2013 Arsies: January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

Some administrivia: in my quest for running an impartial tournament, I've settled on using a simple approach to filling my seeded single-elimination bracket. Beyond a handful of early standouts, the albums are placed in pseudo-random order, and the logic of the bracket takes care of the rest. It does a pretty good job of keeping the rounds balanced and interesting all the way until the very end.
I only mention this as a means of defending myself from allegations of unfairness, chiefly for pitting Enslaved against Gojira.
It's not that Enslaved isn't a worthy adversary. Their latest album RIITIIR is a dense, interesting, challenging grower, and the culmination of everything they've done before. Each track is well-steeped in their black metal roots, but the album is so progressive and mind-bogglingly unpredictable that it defies comparison. On any given track, you might find hints of Ihsahn, Opeth, latter-era Carcass, or Mastodon. I'll give you one example in the track Veilburner, but if you only listen to that, you'll get just a sliver of the scope of the entire album. Trust me: you owe it to yourself to give this album at least two listens (preferably on different days).
Nevertheless, Gojira's L'Enfant Sauvage is a singlemindedly vicious album. It's decidedly monochromatic when compared to Enslaved, but what a tone it achieves. Track after track on here sound like wounded beasts riding a runaway train. Even the album's single bit of filler, the two-minute The Wild Healer, is moody and engaging, and a welcome eye of the storm. Frankly, it's hard to imagine any reasonable opponent to Gojira in this first round who wouldn't have amounted to much more than cannon fodder. As luck would have it, that duty falls to Enslaved. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten (and I'm still likely to keep listening to RIITIIR well into the new year).
Tomorrow: Shadows Fall go up against Jeff Loomis.

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