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.