Best to get this out of the way first: Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Blessed Yule Tidings! Merry Chalica! Happy Festivus! And well wishings for all other denominational engagements during the winter seasons! Phew! Alright, grab your eggnog and holiday chocolates, Everything Is Noise is getting in the spirit!

This year we asked our writers to pen a letter to good ‘ol musical santa, asking for a record from this last year that they might have missed out on. Our merry man of the hour, from henceforth we shall call the great Inter Claus, gave all the good kiddies treats from his bag of aural goodies. The result you see below is a collection of thoughts and reactions to the goodies received.

So let’s keep in the spirit and join us on this journey as we all discovers something a little new!

David Rodriguez

Zommm – Reality is an Illusion

‘One day, I wrote to the elusive Inter Claus
Asking for a black metal gift and without pause
He put an album by Azerbaijan’s Zommm
Called Reality Is An Illusion right in my palm

Blending regional folk and blackgaze metal
The general mood is one of strained mettle
Lyrics screamed in a language I can’t understand
Still you can hear pain and emotion at hand

The intro song “Lights” is ambient and progressive
“Shining of the Solar Moon” is tense and aggressive
Guitars are ceaseless, reverberating, and pretty
Not overly distorted – ‘twould be a pity

The Azeri instrument tar makes a quaint appearance
Emboldening the music without interference
This album is cohesive and rife with beauties
I wouldn’t have found it in my normal duties

Reality Is An Illusion was right on the nose
My reaction is positive – in fact, it glows
Lo, I must say I enjoy this immensely
I thank Inter Claus for my gift intensely’

Jake Walters

Yazmin Lacey – When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees

Some things just never go out of style. One such thing is a smooth beat and sultry melody. Well, Yazmin Lacey has both of of these in spades on When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees. At five tracks, it’s a succinct affair but wastes no time sliding into some sensual grooves with “90 Degrees”. Bass lines, harmony, and note perfect R&B mood, it’s a winning combination. The lovely piano driven “Burn & Rise” is a laid back lounge jazz tune that oozes fancy cocktails.

Perhaps this albums greatest strength is the pace. It serves a nice little escape that doesn’t get in any hurry, but also won’t take up too much of your time. If you find yourself off put by the hustle and bustle of your daily routine, Yazmin Lacey might just be able to help out with that. Grab your favorite snack, and pop this on, you’ll feel better.

Rodney Fuchs

Distances – Diableries

The record starts very hardcore-driven while evolving its melancholic vibe, and with an atmosphere that instantly reminded me of Amia Venera Landscape. The use and work with the violin adds a very interesting and ambient vibe to the partly chaotic songwriting. The vocals are slightly black metal influenced and sound very harsh and aggressive. This all ends up in one of the darkest records I might have listened to in 2018. The ambient passages draw a red line in between the ten songs and make it a cohesive and exciting piece of music. At parts, Diableries reminds of Ne Obliviscaris due to the violin that never takes off the focus of the guitars. Only the drums nag me with their digital effects that clearly sounds like the same VST that German band Ancst uses. This unfortunately stands in contrast to the very raw sounding instrumentals. Anyway DistancesDiableries is a good record that I probably would’ve missed. Luckily Inter Clause got me to listen to it!

Valentin Bock

Winter Dust – Sense by Erosion

Winter Dust describe their fourth album, Sense by Erosion, as an album “where every song is like a slow walk, at times through hostile territories, to reach a moment where things finally make sense“. And while I’m not a huge fan of such bloomy descriptions, I have to admit that this hits the nail on the head. Coincidently, when I was listening it for the first time, I was having a walk through a forest for which Sense by Erosion felt like the perfect soundtrack. Winter Dust always seem to find the right balance between heaviness, emotional parts, and bits of relaxing ambience that allow you to catch your breath before delving right into the next track.

The whole record is a lovely little post-rocky gem whose overall atmosphere is ideal to get lost in and just drift away with the music. Thank you for Inter Clause, I’m more than happy that I discovered this!

John Westbay

Manatree – Engines

‘Twas the night before Christmas, though nothing under my tree,
I went and checked my inbox, and a CD was picked for me.
My heart is bare due to no Minus the Bear,
So I checked out Manatree because the suggestion was there.

Their new album Engines immediately caught my ear,
Some nice and fun math rock to end my year.
I got a few glimpses of Pinback if I had to compare,
Catchy hooks and clever guitar work, it’s all there.

Gentle vocals and guitar blend in through the mix,
While the drummer illustrates the beat with his sticks.
The tempo on Engines is relatively slow paced,
But each musician efficiently fills the space.

Though this album did not change my life,
It’s always good to check out something nice.
If you needed some chill math rock and asked me,
I’d say check out Engines by Manatree.’

Vidur Paliwal

Hangman’s Chair – Banlieue Triste

Inter Clause clearly knows two very important things when it comes to me. Firstly, my love for everything slow and sludgy, and secondly, that I just moved 7000km, leaving India to move to Paris. Forming in 2005, Hangman’s Chair is a Parisian band who released their fifth full-length, Banlieue Triste, in 2018.

Rooted in doom metal, the band is not afraid to explore, bringing in elements of sludge and industrial metal. This results in a record that manages to convey multiple set of emotions – everything from sadness to even hope. The sequence of “04/09/16” / “Tired Eyes” / “Negative Male Child” midway perfectly captures the wide palette Banlieue Triste offers. Taking one through a tale of tragedy, to a archaic ballad of sorrow (in collaboration with Perturbator), and finally offering a glint of hope as the smog over the city lifts off and one finally gets a breath of fresh air.

Banlieue Triste is perfect for the cold dreary winters ahead. Spin this album, sit back and close your eyes. The world around you will feel a whole lot less gloomy.

Spencer Adams

The Living – Drinking From The Trough of a Tyrant’s Piss

With my time at EIN, I have begun to find a multitude of different genres and styles of music that I had either heard of and had no care for, or some that I had never encountered. I have recently found a love for the post-rock and experimental rock that groups such as LENIO and Go March. I had seen The Living before, but never put any effort into giving them my attention. Thanks to EIN’s little helper Inter Claus, I have been given a fantastic reason to give them a try, and nearly immediately regretted not giving them my attention before. There is so much creativity and maturity exuding from this short album. Tracks such as “Vivaldi” and the title track showcase their strengths so well, with their atmospheric tones and bravery towards multiple styles contained within a song. “Mask” is probably their most straight-forward song, but that does not take away from its ingenuity. Even as I build my AOTY list, it’s hard not to have this included, and really helps illustrate my own personal tastes expanding past what I am used to.

Ashley Jacob

Blu & Nottz – Gods in the Spirit, Titans in the Flesh

For the past few years, in between absorbing the finest treats of metal and electronic, I’ve also been on a personal quest to prove to myself that 90s New York hip hop is NOT the only hip-hop capable of giving me goosebumps. Imagine my delight when Blu & NottzGods in the Spirit, Titans in the Flesh arrived gift wrapped at my front door.

Two tracks in and I was headbanging, and the rest is history. You see, I love heavy drum beats. I love psychedelic sampling. I love talented rapping and vocals etched with conviction, minus the cliches found in a fair dollop of mainstream hip-hop. I know it’s out there. My trouble was always trying to find it amidst the great sea of stuff. Looks like my hip-hop journey has finally found the accelerator. Now to get hellishly retrospective and find all the great stuff that I have clearly missed.

Tim Fleskes

ASBEST – Driven

Christmas came a little earlier at Everything Is Noise, but our presents weren’t delivered by that bearded guy who watches you sleep. Instead we got our presents from our PR/Music Encyclopedia/part time God Emperor Inter. My little heart wanted nothing more than some noisey, atmospheric shoegaze, and Interclause delivered! I’ve received Asbest’s record Driven. This swiss trio combines elements of shoegaze, noise rock, industrial and post-punk to produce a grimey, inorganic sound. “Driven”, the first track on the record, paints them in a dissonant, sludgy manner at first but gives way to other facets of the band later on, when almost synth like drones and falsetto vocals pierce the listener’s ears in the most rounded way imaginable. The flooding and ebbing of noise with various degrees of complexity makes Asbest one of those project that can make a lot out of the little sounds they use. Thank you, Interclause.

Andrew Bernstein

Hæster – All Anchor No Sails

Hæster have approximately the same level of subtlety as an anchor dropping through the rigging on a sailboat. Yes, put All Anchors No Sails onto a scale and you will get an ‘AF’ reading. Hæster play what post-metal would sound like if it had more of a disciplined doom-y edge. In fact it might be mistaken for pure doom were it not for the dynamically quiet parts and the shades of Amenra screams of despair.

All Anchors No Sails might be Hæster’s debut album, but the veteran musicianship on it is the product of ex-members of what reads like a random list of Belgian metal and alternative rock bands: Aborted, Nemea, Dedicted, Customs, Death Before Disco, and Horses on Fire. To hear this album in December is to feel ashamed at having missed out on one of the better doom opuses of 2018 – the album was released in October.

Michael Martin

Splashgirl – Sixth Sense

I wanted a new listening experience to something like the self-titled Tatran album; extremely creative, a bit ‘out there’, but ultimately accessible to a wider audience. Inter Clause provided me with Splashgirl’s newest album titled Sixth Sense. This Norwegian trio is far from your standard jazz act. Piano/synthesizers, swing percussion, strings, and a bit of brass provide an often calm and blissfully cinematic experience that enters a noir realm. However, some of the tracks evolve into large and somewhat free form climaxes with off-kilter sections which remind me of Animal Collective or Panda Bear. No matter what is going on during the album, from the opening track “Carrier” to the closer “Sedna”, the listener is swept from reality into this epic journey. It is almost impossible not to lose yourself in these songs. This is a smartly written and mature album. If I had to sum up Sixth Sense in one word, it would be “hypnotizing”.

Robert Miklos

Verlorener – Verlorener

Verlorener, the brainchild of Emil Werstler (former guitarist of Chimaira and Dååth), is a very interesting departure in style and sound compared to Emil’s former musical activities. Verlorener goes into an eerie and twisted world with its soundscapes. It comes across as a very energetic, weird, quasi-orchestral mess of jazz licks, electronic and industrial tinges, sliding guitars, and various other oddities – it’s extremely refreshing.

The eponymous debut, clocking in at just a little over half an hour is a veritable roller coaster of everything you’d never think of meeting as a mix. Imagine a record made by Trent Reznor that’s like Postmadonna‘s Valis but with a deconstructed approach and the spooky vibe of Kayo Dot‘s Blue Lambency Downward. But really, even this comparison falls short of the delivery of this album. Verlorener is a unique trip and it is a must for people that are into eclectic, avant-garde styled creations.

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