(We are grateful to Austin Lunn for accepting our invitation to share his favorite releases from 2014.)
There are a lot of releases this year that I have really enjoyed….so in no particular order here goes:
Wheels Within Wheels – Thirty Five Thoughts to Nineteen Elements
Mesmerizing, horrifying… a blown-out, hypnotic soundscape forming beauty out of the ugliness that man has made. This record, as all WWW records, is not for the faint of heart, but if you like blackened, doomy, droned-out dirges, this is for you. Don’t miss out.
Skogen – I döden
Skogen has always been Sweden’s answer to Drudkh for me. They really picked up steam at Svitjod, but this new album takes it a step further. It echoes Ulver’s Bergtatt and has a depth and soul to it that so many black metal records lack. I love this record.
Saor – Aura
I feel like a jackass listing an album I contributed to, but my contribution was only putting a pulse behind Andy’s passionate, rallying, yet mournful battle cry to his home land. This album was a joy to be a part of and Saor is one of my favorite bands. They are the band I have been waiting to hear for years and years. Like Scotland’s answer to Kroda… traditional instruments blended effortlessly with emotional metal.
Falls of Rauros – Believe In No Coming Shore
My favorite band has released what is now my favorite album. This album will always be a legendary record to me. Something I will compare everything I hear in the genre to…. Emotional, well written and organized, well recorded without being overly produced… it is perfect.
Waldgeflüster – Meine Fesseln
Germany’s finest. This album evokes a similar emotion in me that Believe In No Coming Shore does. It is personal, emotional, nature-inspired, passionate, well-recorded…. the song writing is amazing…. It was an honor to be asked to add my vocals to one of the songs, and something I will never forget. Waldgeflüster is one of my favorite bands, and the creative mind behind it, Winterherz, is one of my favorite people.
Stilla – Ensamhetens andar
Stilla are incredible… this album brings back the ghosts of Kvist, early Ulver, and Ved Buens Ende… there is an eeriness and progressiveness to this album. It’s truly an astounding album.
Nasheim – Solens Vemod
I have waited a long time for this album. When it finally came it was worth the wait. Drenched in atmosphere, vicious at times then soothing…. this is brilliant black metal…. somewhere between In the Nightside Eclipse and Hvis lyset tar oss.
Woman Is the Earth – Depths
Raging, passionate, atmospheric. Reminds me a lot of Merkaba’s brilliant Bones of the Sacred Forest and Fauna. Amazing American black metal.
Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity
The album cover alone is worth owning this album. If the triumph of “Whisper of the Elements” doesn’t fill you with a sense of joy and wonder, check your pulse.
Vaiya – Remnant Light
Vaiya is meditative, introspective, personal music. Somewhere between Blood of the Black Owl and Fauna… it’s deep, trance-inducing black metal drenched in humidity, deep forests, and spiritual exploration. This band never disappoints me. And Congratulations to Rob and Rams on the new addition to their family!!
Krigsgrav – The Carrion Fields
This album is criminally overlooked. Reminds me of Hail Wind and Hewn Oak by Falls of Rauros, but with better recording. It has the unique sound that American folk/Black metal has become known for, but with some Brave Murder Day thrown in there for good measure. A fantastic release.
Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
The Memoria Vetusta series is my favorite Blut Aus Nord stuff. This is by far my favorite of the series. The drumming is fucking amazing, the songs are so well written… the LP packaging is incredible and the Necrolord art is, as usual, stunning.
Agalloch – The Serpent and the Sphere
This band has been one of my favorite bands for a decade and when I heard the album for the first time, I was really caught off guard. It wasn’t what I had expected it to be… it was shocking at times. The album is heavy… really heavy… with death metal parts, less driving dark metal… proggier passages, sparse acoustics… triumphant instrumentals. It grew on me and with every listen I understood it more and more.
They opened their tour in Minneapolis and I brewed a beer for them in their honor. They helped design the beer and contributed to the concept behind it…. Working with them and getting to know them has truly been a pleasure for me and their performance that night was unforgettable. Agalloch are among America’s finest bands, metal or not, and every bit of attention they get is deserved ten-fold.
Posthum – Black Northern Ritual
Ever wonder what Enslaved would have sounded like if they had kept recording Below the Lights over and over again? Here it is. Posthum are amazing. I couldn’t wait to get this record and I love it. Lights Out was amazing, so it’s only fitting that they came back with an equally strong album. Check it out.
At the Gates – At War With Reality
All of my friends are complaining about it. I don’t give a damn. This rules and At The Gates rule.
Eternum – The Devouring Descent
This album has been played over and over at my house. It is stylistically similar to a lot of Polish black metal, but has these amazing, sparse acoustic passages. Perfect production and amazing artwork. This album builds and takes its time to create atmosphere… the tempo and sound reminds me of Agalloch’s “I Am the Wooden Doors” sometimes… really an amazing record.
Owl’s Blood – Cold Night of Meditation
Raw black metal drenched in moonlight and atmosphere. Awesome.
Bhleg – Draumr ást
Somewhere better Nattens madrigal and Filosofem, but with clearer production.
This record evokes the 90’s Scandinavian black metal sound, with sparse ritualistic parts and droning atmospheres, varying tempos and mid-paced sections. It is a great album.
Fen – Carrion Skies
Fen’s last album Dustwalker was fantastic. But this is a totally different animal… it’s more brutal, more complex. Heavier… this may be their finest album. It is hard to tell… as their discography is so full of amazing records.
Vukari – En To Pan
Amazing EP. Heavy and atmospheric… spectacular performances by every member. These guys kick ass live.
Endlichkeit – Endlichkeit III-V
Perfect winter-worshiping black metal. I’m looking forward to their next tape that will be released shortly.
Ifing – Against This Weald
Perfect for fans of Ulver, Windir, and Bak de Syv Fjell. These guys have taken the Michigan woods and mixed them with 90’s Norwegian forest-worshiping black metal. Brilliant.
CD and Vinyl Reissues:
Steve Earle – Townes: The Basics LP
A great man paying tribute to a great man. This was a 2014 Record Store Day release of the solo acoustic tracks from Mr. Earle’s brilliant 2009 tribute to his friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt. I love Texas songwriter stuff, and Steve Earle been a favorite of mine for the past couple years.
Ulver – Trollsk sortmetall 1993-1997 BOX
The trilogy is crucial. The remasters sound fucking amazing. Who cares about the hype with the mail order fiasco… listen to this stuff. In my mind, Bergtatt is one of the best black metal records of all time.
Dødsengel – Mirium Occultum DLP
Dark, atmospheric, and grim. Dødsengel are awesome.
Vemod – Venter på stormene CD
Finally got my hands on the CD version of this once it got reissued. This album is absolutely amazing and I listen to it a couple times a week, easily. Perfect atmosphere.
Merkaba – Bones of the Sacred Forest LP
Kentucky’s finest. These guys were an experience to behold live, and this version of the album has improved sound by Colin Marston. This record is the best black metal record to come out of Kentucky and I highly recommend you get it while you can.