(We welcome our old friend deckard cain back to the site. He brings us his list of the 50(ish) best albums of 2014, listed in no particular order, despite the appearance of numbers.)
And yet another morbid year turns to dust, leaving only ashes in its wake. Dread sells on the television, nations bathe in the crudity of oil, religions find legitimacy through violence, virus and vermin swing the scythe ever so swiftly, and the world inches ever forward to becoming an all encompassing panopticon.
Our lives are doomed. But there is beauty in doom. And music in all its glorious manifestations (let alone metal) keeps our sanity at bay. 2015 was good for metal. And so shall it be with each passing year. More doom equates to more room, nay more cause for metal to remain relevant.
Imagine. Several years from now, as humanity is laid decimated or completely brought to naught, an alien species lands and scours the land for the remnants of a civilization that once was. They find amidst the rubble of a once glorious city, caked in the dust of the preceding eons, a curious looking circular disc. With the words etched, stark in their prophetic reach, “The Dead of the World”.
And with that I start the first entry in my list.
1. Ascension – The Dead of the World
This is a grower. Consolamentum was a force to be reckoned with and this is no better, but it takes multiple listens to understand this beast. When you do, the spell that it casts shall contort and maw you from within.
2. Oraculum – Sorcery of the Damned EP
Chile is slowly turning into a hotspot for metal that draws inspiration from the old guard. The best proponent of this cause, or at least the latest I’ve come across, seems to be Oraculum. They play OSDM funneled through layers of grime and gravel back to the days of ‘metal’ yore.
3. Zaum – Oracles
Psychedelic doom that is closest to an actual religious experience. Replete with Middle Eastern melodies and drone effects, this is something that you should listen to.
4. Voices – London
The word ‘Akercocke’ would suffice to turn quite a few heads in the general direction. Well, it did in 2012 when Voices was formed out of the ashes of Akercocke, only so to end in disappointment. Voices’ debut for me was an utter failure. From the Human Forest Create A Fugue of Imaginary Rain, as the title would suggest, saw a band striving too hard at something, the end result being an album largely tepid.
But London is a total turnaround. There are shorter songs that see them being more concise and far more effective. The spoken segments and eerie melodies add to the wealth of music on here.
5. Corrupt Mortal Altar – Mechanical Tides
A sludgy grindcore debut that belts out riff after kickass riff.
6. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall
A close contender for the death metal album of the year. Solid uncompromising musicianship yet again.
7. Herder – Gods
This one came out of the blue and has clearly become one of my favorites this year. Eastern melodies in contrast with sections that almost crush the listener, this stoner/sludge release is something I will come back to for a long time.
8. Harakiri For the Sky – Aokigahara
Melodic, mid-paced, jumpy black metal and, oh yes, complete with the compulsory bit of foreboding of course!
9. Trenchrot – Necronomic Warfare
Unspeakable Axe’s best release yet, a classy deathrash treat.
10. The Mire – Glass Cathedrals
Just when you thought that post-metal was dying, you have The Mire. It may not be as sprawling and intricate as Cult of Luna’s swan song, but I find this to have tastier melodies and thus a spot several points higher than the former.
11. Arctic Sleep – Passage of Gaia
New-Age doom? Probably, and for that reason it might turn quite a lot of those old school doomsters off. Instead, it might find love amongst more of that latter-day Katatonia audience. Regardless, the atmosphere that this album creates is wondrous, to say the least.
12. Mantar – Death by Burning
‘Motorheady’ and ‘Tragedy-ized doom? Absurd? Maybe but this is so much fun.
13. Brood of Hatred – Skinless Agony
The Tunisian Gorguts, I’d call these guys, or they are just deeply influenced by said band, and yet they hold their own to penetrate any end-year list out there. They’ll kill off Myrath if they follow this this path. Stellar debut.
14. Winter of Sin – Violence Reigns Supreme
Melodic black metal in the vein of Dissection, only heavier.
15. Vainaja – Kadotetut
Sludge that claws its way through rind and bone to enter your head.
16. Phobocosm – Deprived
Songs that Incantation and Immolation never wrote. Now that alone will turn a few heads. Oh, but there’s more than that here.
17. Exalt – Pale Light
Personal choice for the best hardcore release of the year. Unlike Plebeian Grandstand, Exalt emanate a sort of controlled chaos and makes it all the more powerful, contrary to what people might think.
18. Obscurity – Vintar
For me, Amon Amarth have faded. Gone is the charm that they once held. But all hope is not lost, at least not on the style that they popularized. Obscurity’s Vintar might have well taken up the mantle in that regard.
19. Descend – Wither
This is the year’s replacement for a new Be’lakor or In Mourning record.
20. Locktender – Rodin
Drawing inspiration from concepts that are far greater than just ‘grand’ and yet pulling it off without the usually sure accompaniment of ‘extra cheese’. A hardcore/post-rock/post-metal hybrid that is dramatic as much as it is engaging.
21. Hexis – Abalam
Bludgeon. Repeat. Bludgeon.
22. Zom – Flesh Assimilation
Quick gun blackened death (please leave Behemoth out of this).
23. KYPCK – Imena ne stene (Translation: Names on the wall)
Have been a follower of the band from 2008, and with their 3rd full-length they still don’t seem to disappoint. Doom metal that is draped in the harsh climes of the Russian motherland and ideologically fed by the even harsher Eastern front of the Great War.
24. Woods of Desolation – As the Stars
I rate the releases from Saor and Nasheim, both on the same roster, lower than this opus. ‘D’ has outdone himself again. Atmospheric black metal at its finest.
25. Psycrence – A Frail Deception
A depressive yet proggy debut from Greece, close on the heels of stellar releases from Aenaon and Hail Spirit Noir.
26. Algebra – Feed the Ego
“Reminds me of a bit of No More Color-era Coroner, and at times of Beneath the Remains-era Sepultura, all conveyed along a fine line drawn between technicality and simplicity resulting in a record that is methodical in its aural onslaught”, and yet so much fun.
27. Thou – Heathen
Thou’s lyrics, a certain essay style and not the typical verse, have always appealed to me. Their left-leaning take on society almost stands on its own as a piece of criticism. Add to it one of the most skin-scalding variants of sludgy doom, and you’ve got yourself a band that excels in every department. Their latest release Heathen is much slower and darker.
28. Nero Di Marte – Derivae
Their last album frankly was a bit of a dampener, personally. I found it was more of an opportunity wasted where they clearly tried to be something along the lines of Hacride or Gojira, while not putting their own spin on it. You could say that this year they seemingly tried to sound like Ulcerate, but I guess they’ve found where they finally fit. I’d say they’ve hit gold. A much more atmospheric Ulcerate I’d say.
29. Auroch – Taman Shud
Short, crisp, and potent death metal.
30. Black Monolith – Passenger
Criminally under-appreciated. Raw, relentless, roaring, and yet emotive black metal.
31. Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden
Of more immediate appeal than their debut and yet never tiring. I am ordering a copy ASAP.
32. Hideous Divinity – Cobra Verde
Both SepticFlesh and Hour of Penance were major disappointments in light of how much I enjoyed most of their previous releases. There were a few handfuls of great songs, but then not enough to warrant a revisit, while Hideous Divinity’s sophomore effort comes chock full of it and more than makes up for the loss.
33. Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry
More Fathers of the Icy Ages – sounding than anything, which is my personal favorite. So this got inducted into the list by default.
34. Godhunter/ Secrets of the Sky Split
Two actual songs. More powerful than actual albums.
35. Nux Vomica – Nux Vomica
Emotive hardcore/crust that’s got post-metal’s expansive songwriting and a great ear for melody.
36. Adimiron – Timelapse
Again, their debut sounded more like an effort with cold feet, but this time they are on solid ground. Sounds like a well-thought-out mix of Hacride and Klone, but more interesting than any of afore-mentioned bands’ releases.
37. Thaw – Earth Ground
Black metal with an almost thick, sludgy tone that veers around in seemingly randomized dissonance, which is in fact meticulously planned-out segments much akin to Deathspell Omega’s.
38. The Chant – New Haven
If you are a fan of Anathema, Junius or Katatonia then this’d be more in your zone. An excerpt from a review of mine:
“You could describe it as a potent seed of everlasting despair that when sprouts, release a miasma of submissiveness that the listener will succumb to, and yet revel in. Embrace this pall of gloom..”
39. Horrendous – Ecdysis
If I were to pick anything as the album of the year, then this’d be my preferred choice, although not outrightly so. The Chills was indeed a great release; Ecdysis is its development that further cements their place as a band to be reckoned with.
40. Lord Mantis – Death Mask
Caustic grime. More potent than Pervertor.
41. Devil Sold His Soul – Belong + Betray EP
An odd one definitely, but their particular brand of forlorn post-hardcore is something I lap up.
42. Nightfell – The Living Ever Mourn
I was pulled into this by Tragedy, the band of course. But this was not what I was expecting and maybe it’s better that it wasn’t. Contrary to anything remotely hardcore, this is sludged-out doom dirges embellished by some great melodies.
43. Tellusian – Collision
With the extinction of ‘Mastodon’ (which was long overdue), it’s always good to turn to newer pastures. Tellusian is not exactly Mastodon, far from it I’d say, and yet it embodies the spirit that Mastodon’s Remission had and put in a bit of latter-day Torche into it as well.
44. Deceptic – The Artifact
Probably the most mainstream-sounding out of all the records mentioned here. But is it good? A more watered-down version of Textures perhaps? Yes to both, and at times even irresistibly catchy.
45. Morbus Chron – Sweven
Death metal that is truly original, markedly so by its definitely jazzier and ‘softer’ quality. The last of those qualities is something that’s never been attributed to death metal before, and that alone should tickle your curiosity.
46. Rosetta – Flies to Flame EP
Its heartening to find the band back in the flow after their terribly lackluster previous effort.
47. Sectu – Nefarious
From strength to strength. Brilliant sophomore effort from Sectu. Triumphant death metal.
48. Svartidaudi – The Synthesis of the Whore and Beast EP
An extremely enticing piece of their full length, which will hopefully be out in the new year.
49. Folkearth – Balder’s Lament
Funnily, the only folk metal on this list, and a very good one at that.
50. All the Empires of the World – Sunscraper
Breathtakingly beautiful, atmospheric post-metal.
51. Infestus – The Reflecting Void
The last record I really listened to, so late in fact that I started listening after a mention of it in one of the posts in ‘Infectious songs of the year shoutout’ here at NCS , which then lead me to Andy’s review about it. It gets better with each listen and will probably turn out to be the black metal record of the year for me.