Category Archives: Art
I did no reviews last year. Therefore, I’m going to still do a top 10 list and disappointment list for 2014 releases. Without further ado, here goes my ten favorite releases from last year:
10: Junius – Days of the Fallen Sun EP: Stunningly heavy and dense without ever having to go into traditional metal tropes, Junius’ short release burned up my headphones for quite a long time in 2014.
9: Bloodbath – “Grand Morbid Funeral”: Yes, please, more with the heavy and the dark and the genuinely old school feel and vibe. I completely enjoyed this album.
8: Alcest – “Shelter”: Dream pop at its finest, but the overall sound lost contrast quickly when the intensity was removed.
7. Agalloch – “The Serpent & the Sphere”: A band, whose music is typically dense, melancholic, and reminiscent of the sky just before the clouds break, offers up a serving of the coldest, darkest music they’ve done to date in my opinion.
6. Devin Townsend Project – “Z2: Dark Matters”: Campy, original, filled with fart jokes, and evoking a 50s radio play, this album’s jaunt through Dev’s witticisms is fun if not a touch too saccharine at points.
5. Behemoth – “The Satanist”: Ranked this high due to the sheer factor of sarcasm dripping from Nergal’s voice in the first track: “Blow your trumpet, Gabriel!” I was never a fan before, but I find that I am now.
And, because I’m a massive and amazingly terrible writer that cannot make up his mind, I have 4 albums in a tie for the first spot, depending on my mood (which will be listed below) and these are in no particular order:
1d.) Causalities of Cool – “Causalities of Cool”: Dark, melancholic space country rock? WTF, Dev? This album has seriously some of the most amazing textures, rolling noise, and themes I’ve heard in a long time. Here’s “Ether” from that album that demonstrates this wonderfully:
I found myself gravitating to this when I was feeling extraordinarily stressed or needing to reflect.
1c.) Opeth – “Pale Communion”: Holy shit, it’s not a jangled mess of riffs and thoughts. While I enjoyed Heritage, it was like a sentence fragment. Here’s “Moon Above, Sun Below” from the album:
I found myself going to this one when I needed the melancholy feels from Opeth and when I wanted something openly and unrepentantly creative.
1b.) Solstafir – “Otta”: This album defines Iceland in my mind now. It is stunningly gorgeous, filled with texture, and wonderfully performed. Here’s “Lagnaetti” from the album:
Similar to Casualties of Cool, I found myself coming to this album as I could when I needed a bit of stress relief. Even the abrasive moments are wonderfully performed and never out of context or character.
1a.) Tritypkon – Melana Chasmata”: Oppressively heavy, stunningly depressive, and at times hauntingly beautiful, the album hits a progressive metal fan right in the gut and does everything it needs to do well. Further it has a love poem dedicated to Emily Bronte on it. I enjoyed their first album greatly, but I didn’t get overwhelmed by it.
I came to this album again and again just because I wanted to hear it. It appealed to times when I was down, but also times when I needed to explore a different headspace.
Biggest disappointments of 2014:
1.) Soen – “Tellurian”: Their first release, “Cognitive,” stunned me. It was an amazing album. This album I listed to maybe to or three tracks and switched to a different band and never went back.
2.) Encoffination – “III: Hear me, O Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs)”: This album was on the list because if you are going to name yourself with something as off the wall as this, then you better damn well be good. They weren’t.
3.) Mayhem – “Esoteric Warfare”: These are the fathers of Norwegian Black Metal? Eeeeeesh.
Two Albums that Blew My Fucking Mind:
1.) Primus & the Chocolate Factory: Like listening to the soundtrack only (no pictures) of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on LSD. I need not say more. Listen to this album.
2.) Cynic – “Kindly Bent to Free Us:” Like listening to the soundtrack of peace and harmony on LSD.
It’s that time of year for me; I like waiting until the very, very last minute before I write these just to snag a chance of listening to any albums that sneak their way into the current year. Last year, I had my mind fairly made up by December 1; this year was completely different. There was so very, very much to enjoy. Without further ado:
10. Anciients – Heart of Oak: I love the Vancouver, BC/NW US metal scene. It’s amazing, and Anciients did absolutely nothing to disappoint on their first full release. Alternatively, heavy and melodic, the band’s efforts are wholly rewarding (Review).
9. Black Crown Initiate – Song of the Crippled Bull: A damn fine approach from the PA metal band. This was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year simply for its desire to push past the conventions and build something of their own. I’m looking forward to their full release (Review).
8. Scorned Deity – Adventum: Operatic, tense, seething, and soothing, Scorned Deity’s release this year hit me like “Into the Nightside Eclipse.” Their brand of metal evokes an Emperor with refined American sensibilities (Review).
7. Leprous – Coal: Ever evolving, Leprous hits you with their sounds from every different direction. This is a heavy, dark album that never quite gets too over the top in tone or strength. “Coal” marks their steps away from Ihsahn and his solo career and into their own light (Review).
6. Witherscape – The Inheritance: What do you get when you mix old school early 80s heavy metal with death/doom? This. Witherscape’s release this year was a wonderful joyride composed of nostalgia and awesomeness. I loved nearly every minute of it; though Dead for a Day brought it down a few notches here (Review).
5. Deafheaven – Sunbather: An album I had to experience alone and think over to truly understand, Sunbather is a wail of textured noise and fury centered around a nearly ironic and idealistic view of the American dream. The band executes to near perfection metal gaze sounds, and seems to be reaching for an answer to the questions of what happens to the children when things fall apart (Review).
4. Gorguts – Colored Sands: A concept album about the plight of Tibet? Yes. It’s beautifully done, well written, pensive, violent, and all those myriad things that go with such an emotionally charged subject (Review).
3. Katatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned: When I first saw this, I didn’t take it seriously. I’d just seen the band live and their metal sets from Dead End Kings was spot on, tight, and heavy. But, this remastering worked. It’s very nearly better than the original album, shedding a far more vulnerable light toward melancholy than their heavier approaches (Review).
2. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen: I believe this album will be looked back by those that have only considered it as its basest level and be viewed as a landmark experimental creation. Unlike Ihsahn, who typically takes ideas from his previous albums, rephrases them and then moves forward from there, this album seeks to create something that stands right next to Eremita instead of after it. Beautiful from start until finish, this is genuinely one of most introspective albums of the year (Review).
1. The Fall of Every Season – Amends: A genuine, beautiful and bright album, The Fall of Every Season’s lyrical themes, musical qualities, and generally powerful scale made it stand out from the other albums released this year. Heavy when it needs to be, fragile when it reveals itself to the listener, The Fall of Every Season truly made a magnificent piece of work (Review).
For my stat nerd self, here’s the break down of nationality: 3 bands from Norway, 2 from Sweden, 2 from Canada, and 2 from the U.S.
Best Non-Metal Albums of the Year:
Bruce Soord with Jonas Renske’s Wisdom of Crowds
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away
Ghost’s Infestissumaum (sorry, this was Prog Rock, not metal).
Best Songs of the Year:
Biggest Disappointments of 2013:
No new Cynic album (yay! 2014); The Ocean’s Pelagial; Steven Wilson’s “The Raven that Refused to Sing”