Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014 - Top 40

2014 has been a pretty decent year all things considered. Work still to be done but I feel like I can actually do it now. This post though is about the heavy music from 2014 and here's my annual top 40 rundown of the best of the year.

40. Dread Sovereign - All Hell's Martyrs

Epic doom metal. Held together by a passionate vocal performance from Alan Averill. The songs are all a bit too long and not always interesting but Averill delivers one of the stand out vocal performances of the year and helps in making this album more than just another novelty doom project.

We Wield The Spear Of Longinus

39. Mustasch - Thank You For The Demon

Easily their best release since The Latest Version Of The Truth from 2007. This is some catchy, modern hard rock. Nothing more.

Thank Your For The Demon

38. Question - Doomed Passages

New old school death metal band from Mexico that manages to stay away from the million Incantaclones. These guys don't do anything new but their songwriting displays a maturity that is surprising and most welcome. I'm really looking forward to see how this band develops its sound. One of the better debuts of the year.

Universal Path Of Disgrace

37. Usurpress - Ordained

Layered and at times, intricate songwriting and Usurpress are heading in a slightly new direction. It's not an immediate, overpowering beast like Trenches of the Netherworld but it is a grower.

Fan The Flames Of Madness

36. Necrophagia - White Worm Cathedral

The return of Mirai to Necrophagia has changed things around again for the better. This sounds like the logical successor to Harvest Ritual and it's a fun set of songs.

Angel Blake

35. Salem's Pot - ...Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien

Heavy, psychedelic doom metal. 3 long jams and a little over 30 minutes of music. Impressive little debut.

Nothing Hill

34. Koulemanlaakso - Tulijoutsen

This is some massive sounding Finnish death doom that isn’t afraid to take a few chances. These Finns have class.

Tuonen Tähtivyö

33. Fistula - Vermin Prolificus

Fistula manage to sound heavier and nastier. This is one sick sounding sludge album and that's not a bad thing at all.

Harmful Situation

32. Desecresy - Chasmic Transendence

Slugathor by another name, pretty much. Huge riffs, vocals submerged in muck and some great Finnish death metal.

Cyclonic Mass Consumption

31. Fukpig - This World Is Weakening

Essentially a re-recording of the previous album "3" with some new band members are 2 new songs. Fukpig play a blackened, noisy grindcore that isn't usually my kind of thing but there's something about this band that I absolutely love. This World Is Weakening is an angry, heavy album that just got a lot of plays.

This World Is Weakening

30. Serpentine Path - Emanations

The band has just moved slightly away from their sludge roots and shades of mid-period Obituary creep in to the sound on Emanations. A bit more death metal than their debut and some really good songs here.

Disfigured Colossus

29. Fungoid Stream - Prehuman Shapes

Lovecraftian Funeral Doom. There's nothing out there that sounds like Fungoid Stream. The use of keyboards and the guitar as a textural element makes for an unsettling atmosphere and the leaden pace only heightens it.

All In One and One In All

28. Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet

Occult black metal from Greece. This is the band's second album but first I heard from them. It reminds me of early Root at times particularly with some of the riffs and the vocals. It's one of the few black metal albums that I listened to a lot of this year and has great replay value with the complex songs revealing new details on each play. 

Revival Through Arcane Skins

27. Take Over And Destroy - Vacant Face

This band had a very good album last year with Endless Night but this year, the band has seriously upped their game. Vacant Face is the kind of schizophrenic, difficult to pin down album that would normally annoy the crap out of me but the band makes all of their disparate influences work. The songwriting has progressed to a point where all of their influences have merged and the band has it's own unique sound. Sort of like a hardcore/ sludge band that loves Tiamat's Wildhoney, Emperor's Anthems and some good old classic rock. 

Terminal Burrowing

26. Monster Magnet - Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Lost Patrol

They took the ho-hum songs from Last Patrol, added, subtracted and messed with them and the result is an album that's actually better than Last Patrol.

The Duke

25. Dephosphorus - Ravenous Solemnity

I haven't seen a lot written about this album. The follow up to the critically lauded debut "Night Sky Transform has more depth. These songs have a muscular swagger to them and some of these riffs are pretty fucking fantastic. They've progressed a fait bit from their cosmic grind sound and this album is all the better for it.

Ravenous Solemnity

24. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Yet another very good Primordial album. Not much else to be said about this one. Would have placed a lot higher in another year.

Where Greater Men Have Fallen

23. Apostle of Solitude - Of Woe And Wounds

This Chicago doom band had a very promising demo and then a couple of albums that were a bit inconsistent. Of Woe And Wounds is a great leap forward for the band. Apostle of Solitude is rocking out with classic heavy metal tropes added into some pretty massive doom metal. Very good stuff.

This Mania

22. Ride For Revenge - Enter The Gauntlet

This is either some really serious shit or a twisted parody. Ride for revenge don't do half measures. The band pay attention to song writing for the first time and the result is an album that is powerful and hypnotic. 

Dead Insane

21. Voices - London

high brow concept album from Akercoke almuni. It's got a strange and captivating mood and the band are unafraid to experiment and move from black and death metal to Antimatter like acoustic songs and spooky spoken word bits. It caught me quite off guard and it's become a favourite. 

The F**k Trance

20. Death Penalty - Death Penalty

Gaz Jennings from Cathedral with a couple of people from Serpent Cult doing a Maiden meets Witchfinder General kind of thing. It's retro but very enjoyably so and the production gives these songs some real bite. 

Immortal By Your Hand

19. Taurus - No/ Thing

I never really cared for Dark Castle much but this is some very good experimental sludge/ drone/ doom with electronic elements and a vaguely eastern tinge to the heavy heavy riffs

18. The Flight of Sleipnir - V 

3 albums in 3 years and TFoS have managed to achieve an amazing level of consistency. The production has been consistently weak and the songwriting has been consistently strong. V might be their strongest outing yet which makes the production even more frustrating. Still it's the songs that count and V has plenty of good ones. 

17. Capilla Ardiente - Bravery, Truth and the Endless Darkness

Another band I thought was done but returned with a memorable slab of classic doom metal. Capilla Ardiente has expanded into a proper band and these songs build on the sound created in Solve Et Coagula but this is a huge progression. The roughness has been smoothed over, the songs go through different moods and there's some really fine musicianship happening. This is great, epic doom metal. 

16. Greenleaf - Trails and Passes

Some more line up changes and the sound changed a bit too. 70s rock meets 90s alt rock with catchy tunes and pleasant vocals. It's a lot more stripped down compared to Nest of Vipers and I loved it. Swedish stoner rock. 

15. Blood Farmers - Headless Eyes

New Blood Farmers album after almost 20 years. The Sabbath is strong in them and this album hits all the right spots. Beautifully crafted, heavy, melodic and atmospheric, Blood Farmers have created something really special with Headless Eyes.  

14. Herder - Gods
There's melodies galore here. And riffs. Wrapped up in an aggressive sludge cocktail that is great great fun. Herder came out of nowhere and delivered one hell of an album.  

13. The Wounded Kings - Consolamentum

The last couple of albums were pretty inconsistent but Consolamentum has grown on me with every listen. Great doom metal and a memorable vocal performance.

12. Grand Madus - Triumph And Power

Catchy heavy metal. Another great set of riffs and a superb vocal performance. Grand Magus has released some very good albums in the past but they've never sounded this fun.

11. Morbus Chron - Sven

The more I listened to this, the more I started to like it. The vocals are still problematic but there's very little of it. Album 3 will be interesting

10. Riot - Unleash The Fire

Damn this is awesome. The band plays with passion and there's an emotional heft to this album that is backed up by killer songs. 

9. Howls Of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye

Cosmic horror death metal. This was the most exciting death metal album I'd heard in a long, long time. Like Voivod and Demilich had a baby.  

8. Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

This one caught me completely by surprise. It's the tightest set of songs Ralf Hubert's done in a long while. The vocals are strong and the music is just solid right through. Heavy metal that's technical without being overbearing. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any links online apart from a full album rip. It's only 40 minutes long. 

7. Giant Squid - Minoans

This band has come a long way since Icthyologist. The songwriting is way tighter and the experimentation is nicely integrated. Wow.

6. Godhunter - City of Dust

The melodies on this album. It's strange and catchy and original. Great songs, great use of samples and far superior to just about every high profile sludge release this year

5. The Skull - For Those Which Are Asleep

Eric Wagner's back. He sounds great. As do Jeff Olson and Ron Holzer. With a little help from a couple of veteren guitarists of doom, The Skull has crafted a memorable set of bluesy doom metal songs that stay in my head long after the album's done. 

4. Ogre - The Last Neanderthal

I thought this band was done and then one day the promo for this album landed in my inbox. Happy daze. The year's best stoner rock album. 

3. Solstafir - Otta

I don't really know what to call this band anymore. It's magnificent music. The songs are epic, melodic and at times just really catchy. It's like Solstafir still has the coldness of their black metal roots but they've somehow made it seem welcoming. Otta is a cold embrace that is tough to resist. 

2. Lord Mantis - Death Mask

The addition of that dude from Abigail Williams had me quite sceptical to begin with but holy shit. Slightly blackened, slightly industrial, noisey sludge. Haha. It's the year's angriest record and easily stomps all over 2012's Pervertor. Lord Mantis has delivered an angry, ugly and heavy as fuck album that is not for the faint of heart. 

1. Thou - Heathen

Louisiana doom of the thickest, filthiest kind but still holds a sense of beauty. Thou managed to top Summit. They had a pretty awesome year with the collaboration with The Body and the Algiers compilation but with Heathen, the band has really moved to another level. They've let in a tiny bit of light into the darkness this time around and the songs are all the better for it. This is the band's best full length yet and that is really saying something. 

2014. Not a bad year.