While the year ending 'Best of' lists that circulate in the space of music, film and culture are important, and often times come with a healthy bit of prestige in being listed, the Knotfest editorial team is trying to take that approach with a bit more frequency. Maybe it's because we are all impatient, or maybe we are all just especially excited to share quality content with the readers, but we have opted to highlight some of our selections every month, rather than waiting for the end of the year.
Operating less as critics and more as fans, this following list of entries runs the gamut - music, film, television, culture - it may align with heavy culture or it may be heavy culture adjacent - nonetheless, if it is on this list, our suggestion is that its worth the time to check out for yourself.
Here is a quick recap of the best October had to offer from the world of contemporary pop culture.
Daeva - Through Sheer Will and Black Magic...
Thrashing black metal with an early Celtic Frost atmosphere and some very welcome guitar histrionics. It has a sickened, all-enveloping sound for which producer Arthur Rizk should be given credit for working his (black) magic yet again.
The Bear - FX Networks
I watched The Bear, which finally landed on Disney Plus in the UK. Fantastic performances, tight-as-a-drum writing and some choice cuts on the soundtrack. I also enjoyed Matty Matheson's T-shirt choices, which included Power Trip and Harms Way.
Boston Manor - Datura
I'm a sucker for a good concept album so it's no surprise that Datura reeled me in. The story spans over one dark evening beginning at dusk; it's atmospheric, seamlessly constructed, and wonderfully balanced between moments that feel sinister (like the title track "Datura (Dusk)") and songs that make you want to sing along (I'm looking at you, "Passenger"). According to the band, this is only part 1 of 2, with the second album's story taking place the following day. The way the final song ends is a perfect cliff-hanger for the next chapter. I can hear inspiration from Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, and Garbage - aka three of my all-time favorite bands - in the latest iteration of their distinct sound that only Boston Manor could pull off.
The Playlist - Netflix
Aside from my unyielding dedication to 90 Day Fiance, this show caught my attention for obvious reasons. The series captures the story of Spotify and how it became the mega-streaming monster that it has become. As someone constantly curious about how new technology impacts the way we consume music, this piqued my interest because I didn't know the backstory until now, despite being an app that I use every day. Although Spotify's practices and artist compensation structure have their concerning moments and this is told in a less-than-accurate drama style, it is still a solid watch for music fans.
Lorna Shore - Pain Remains
Anyone who knows me knows exactly what I would pick for the month of October. Pain Remains is one of the most emotionally evocative albums I have heard in an extremely long time. If, for some strange and unusual reason, you haven't listened to it, drop everything and go now!
Suzy's Taqueria - Stayton, OR
I'm going to highlight a standout food. The small taco truck, Suzy's Taqueria has some of the best food you can get in Oregon. The family that owns the truck are exceedingly nice, using their time to raise money to help those in the community, while also giving us amazing tacos. If you're ever in Oregon, make the trip to tiny little Stayton. Most metal tacos in Oregon if I do say so myself.
Darkthrone - Astral Fortress
Fenriz and Nocturno Culto’s unrelenting production of high quality cult metal in the guise of whatever they’re currently obsessing over will remain one of the great reliable sources of joy till the day they retire - which it seems like only death might force them to. A little over a year after Eternal Hails…… (the ellipses are very important) took the current Doomthrone kick they’ve been on into its spaciest and most obscure form, Astral Fortress returns us a little closer to home, frostier and more Nordic with its cover art of an ice-skating Fenriz surely the spiritual essence of Darkthrone for those not making the mistake of expecting them to not have any fun. Eon 2 even has a bit of something they haven’t experimented much with in a decade: flair.
All Quiet on the Western Front - Netflix
The scariest movie of the year is this new German adaptation of one of the most celebrated anti-war stories ever told, released on Netflix here in the English-speaking world, but with a scope that very much joins the likes of 1917 and Hacksaw Ridge in cinematic immersion into the most terrifying of environments. The trench warfare of WWI will always be one of the most harrowing things you can put on screen and in an era when nationalistic ground warfare in Europe is returning, it’s a particularly poignant reminder of what that really looks like. Pair it with Anaal Nathrakh’s 2018 WWI album A New Kind of Horror and you’ll be shaken for weeks.
AFI Live at SOMA (San Diego, CA)
Took the 2 hr drive down to San Diego from LA to AFI at SOMA. As the lights dimmed the crowd started to chant “Through our bleeding, we are one!” At my age, and I’m assuming the rest of the crowd, I was glad they were on stage promptly at 9:30. They started with "Miss Murder" and then spanned their catalog from Bodies all the way back to Shut Your Mouth and open Your Eyes and Black Sails in Sunset. AFI put on a memorable show as always.
Tales of the Jedi - Disney+
Tales of the Jedi is a 6 episode anthology series that follows characters from the prequel trilogy. I really love all the extended universe stuff Disney is doing. They’re basically printing thrown money because these stories are infinite but, I’m here for it. Growing up a huge Star Wars fan, I always wondering what the hell was going on “off camera”. I wanted to know the stories of all the random aliens and characters in the background. The little kid in me is happy with how they have brought these stories to life.
The Making of Omens - Lamb of God
It seems bizarre to say but most documentary films about music tend to showcase everything else, but the music. It's the connective tissue in the narrative, yet it's never really the star. Director Sebastian Paquet does an exemplary job of underscoring the kind of craftsmanship that remains core to Lamb of God - while capturing what actually goes into recording an album in the same room with everyone.
For hours and hours and hours.
It's tedious, it's physically exhausting and yet an obvious labor of love that has positioned Lamb of God as one of the best in the game for good reason. More than twenty years in and still showing the new generation how it is done. The film, the album, the band - top tier.
Killer Mike - "Talk'N That Shit"
The last solo effort Killer Mike dropped, R.A.P. Music, was a decade ago and that was the album where he first linked with EL-P... we all know how that turned out. In the ten years since, Mike has changed the game with Run the Jewels, become a beacon for his community and a pillar of culture on a universal level. He is loved, respected, and when he's on the mic, still very much feared. That is evident with his latest cut in "Talk'n That Shit" - three minutes of bravado booming bars that put rappers on notice - Mike is in fact, a venerated figure in the public eye, but when he steps microphone, he's still not the one to fuck with. Teaming with DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia, the tandem showcases two legends at full stride.
The Turnstile Love Connection Tour
A monumental tour for a lot of reasons, but getting to experience Turnstile at this unprecedented moment in their career is unlike anything else. There’s a truly special energy being set off in every single place they’re playing; their music gets people moving and going crazy in the a wild yet wholesome way. Witnessing kids overcoming security to climb stuff and stage dive is unreal in venues of this size. Way too much fun.
Lorna Shore - Pain Remains
The go-to pick for the month. A huge year of anticipation for the world’s hottest deathcore band miraculously managed to live up to the hype when it came down to it. Pain Remains in a brutal metal masterpiece, their best album, and a new gateway for a generation to get into heavy music.