Published Dec 17, 2013This year, it seemed like everybody wanted to talk about death, decay and conflict. From Matthew Herbert and Vatican Shadow's meditations on war to Leyland Kirby's Watching Dead Empires In Decay eulogy, there was no shortage of darkness and gloom. These five albums illustrate this proclivity for darkness.
To see more of our coverage of the year in music, head over to our 2013 in Lists section.
5 Albums of Post-Millennial Tension:
New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
●The third and final instalment of Stetson's New History Warfare trilogy might be optimistic by album's end, but the journey is anything but. It's a gruelling instrumental concept album of war and loss, in which the Montreal-based avant saxophonist delivers his most punishing, and also finest solo record to date.
The Haxan Cloak
One of the most terrifying albums of the year, Excavation doesn't pull any punches. Wearing its intentions on its sleeve, the cover art features a noose against a black background. Conceived as an aural exploration of the journey after death, producer Bobby Krlic occupies the uncomfortable space between Burial and Demdike Stare.
Tropic Of Cancer
(Blackest Ever Black)
Aptly named UK label Blackest Ever Black led the way this year in genre-defying music to unease the soul — from the moody, almost-techno of Raime to their less electronic cousins Tropic Of Cancer. Restless Idylls is a album of slow, brooding post-punk that evokes dark wave and early Factory Records in equal measure.
On his sophomore album, Baths' Will Wiesenfeld surprised us all with the darkness of his vision. Don't let his uptempo electronic pop sound deceive you: Obsidian is a lament on mortality and medieval misery. Close study of the lyrics reveals a world of gothic horror concerning the black plague and emotional turmoil.
With its references to Abu Ghraib, Tim Hecker's piano-sampling Virgins was another album that warned you what you were getting into based on artwork and titles alone. An unsettling work even for Hecker, Virgins captures the Canadian drone artist at his most intense and provocative.