As the dreaded Judge Dredd, I have to admit that I did a pretty poor job of keeping up with the Metal world this year - especially in the last few months of the year. Despite this unpardonable sin, 2014 was a pretty amazing year for me. I spent the first 8 months finishing up my final year teaching English in Korea, and I then traveled for 3.5 months around SE Asia and Australia before getting home right in time for the holidays.
I am not going to be my usual verbose self this time around, because I'm focusing on job and grad school applications, but I certainly wouldn't fail to post my top 10 albums of the year! I'm sure I'm forgetting some albums...but fuck it.
10. The Melting Sun, by Lantlos
Metal lives on in Lantlos' newest. Some of the songs get a bit
repetitive, but it's nonetheless a strong release.
9. At War With Reality, by At The Gates
I'm sure that some people thought that "At War With Reality" was going to be a flop. Others probably that it would be great. I don't think anyone thought that this would be an instant classic like "Slaughter of the Soul"...and it really isn't. It lacks the immediacy, energy, innovation, and the sort of "right place at the right time" feeling of their previous effort. Nonetheless, a solid follow up to one of the most influential Metal albums of the last 25 years.
8. The Conjuring, by Wo Fat
If you're a musician, you know that you listen to what you like, and likewise play what you like to listen to. I think Wo Fat is probably how one of my old bands would have ended up sounding like if we had not broken up (and if I had been a better singer). Some of the best Psychedelic Stoner Rock/Doom Metal this side of the bong.
7. Sweven, by Morbus Chron
I remember not liking this or their previous effort, 2011's "Sleepers in the Rift", when I first heard them, but once I really started listening to the intricacies of "Sweven" beneath the somewhat lo-fi production, I became a believer. I don't think this is QUITE as game changing as most everyone seems to think it is. One reviewer mentioned this album alongside "Formulas of Death" by Tribulation (one of my Top 10 from last year) as ushering in a new form of innovative Death Metal. Like Tribulation, they are definitely doing something a little different, but there is definitely a huge mid-period Death influence going on. Still, a solid offering.
6. Promulgation of the Fall, by Dead Congregation
there are three types of Death Metal that I enjoy: Progressive Death
Metal with a focus on song writing rather than incessant noodling (a la
Obscura and Cynic), Avant-Garde Death Metal (a la Gorguts), and
evil-as-shit Death Metal (a la Morbid Angel and Immolation). Dead
Congregation fits very comfortably in the latter. I haven't had time
recently to compare "Promulgation..." to their 2008 offering, "Graves of
the Archangels". I remember liking "Graves..." quite a bit, but
"Promulgation..." just seems so much more dynamic and deeper...and yes,
5. Ape of God, by Old Man Gloom
best and most expansive Old Man Gloom album since their "Seminar I/II"
dual release. And like Forest Gump, that's all I'm going to say about that.
4. Satanist, by Behemoth
Behemoth's first album in five years. Is it their magnum opus? I would say so.
3. The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah
Technical Death Metal. Who would have thunk it? After their 2013 EP,
"Nomadic", I was super dupes excited about a new full length. Even if
the production on the album is a little weak, they indeed delivered the
goods. Very much looking forward to future releases with these guys.
2. Longhera, by Gridlink
Discordance Axis' swansong,
"The Inalienable Dreamless", is undoubtedly one of the albums that has
most influenced me, musically speaking. Not only did I imitate Rob
Marton's speedy, spazzy, oddly jazzy guitar work, but I also imitated
Jon Chang's abstract, metaphorical, hyper-literate lyrics. Chang's
lyrics in Gridlink are much more linear, but now, nearly 15 years later,
Gridlink's swansong is nearly as brilliant as "The Inalienable
Dreamless". Easily the best grindcore album of the year.
1. My Game Doesn't Have A Name, A Pregnant Light
remember when this guy's EP, "Domination Harmony", came out in 2013 and a
rave review on Invisible Oranges led me to check it out. Musically, it
was right up my alley, but I just couldn't get past the vocals, which
could be sort of described as untrained hardcore vocals...buried in
reverb. The music on "My Game Doesn't Have A Name" is SO FAR up my alley
that I couldn't give a shit about how the vocals sound. But actually, I
think the vocals have markedly improved since "Domination Harmony".
Although I could without most of the lyrics. They are so adolescent that
I just know I would have written similar lyrics as a
seventeen-year-old. Despite this gripe, this is my favorite album of the
year. It's also the most surprising album on my list this year!
Honorable Mentions (in no specific order)
Citadel, Ne Obliviscaris
Here in the Headlights, Wizard Rifle
Sacred White Noise, by Thantifaxath
Foundations of Burden, by Pallbearer
Grand Morbid Funeral, by Bloodbath
An Unending Pathway, by Atriarch
Language, by The Contortionist
Derivae, Nero di Marte
Death Mask, by Lord Mantis
Labyrinth Constellation, by Artificial Brain
Roads to the North, by Panopticon
Non-Metal (in no specific order)
Guilty of Everything, by Nothing
To Be Kind, by SWANS
Bestial Burden, Pharmakon
Our Love, by Caribou
Syro, by Aphex Twin
"What Is This Heart?", by How To Dress Well
Keep On Doing What You're Doing, by You Blew It!
Home, Like Noplace Is There, by Hotelier
Never Hungover Again, by Joyce Manor
1984 (Paxam Singles), by Ryan Adams
Deep Fantasy, by White Lung