Thursday, January 8, 2015


WHATTUP SHIT HEADS!!!   Fashionably late as always, your boy Wulf is back in the motherfuckin house to bring you his list of the top 10 metal albums of 2014 like every other goofy metal blog and website out there this time of year...
As a bonus, I also heard some albums, that, while not exactly "metal", still are worth mentioning (you'll see what I mean later).
As a quick note, I'd also like to mention that Judge Dredd kind of called it way back in 2010 with the whole post-death metal thing.    Read his post, and then also check out all the stuff that's been catching a lot of attention lately (Morbus Chron, Artificial Brain, Tribulation, the return of Gorguts, etc.).   Hell, even Job for a Cowboy is starting to get more "out there" in terms of experimentation (their latest album, "Sun Eater", was actually pretty good!)!   It's going to be interesting to see where all of this goes.
Anyway, while I wouldn't say it was a strong year for metal as a whole, a lot of great stuff still came out!   I'm still not too sure about the order of my albums, but whatever, they're all really good!!  Enjoy!!

10.   "As the Stars" - Woods of Desolation

I'm honestly surprised this wasn't on Judge Dredd's Top 10!!  For fans of sad, shoegazing, beautiful, longing, haunting, Graduation Day black metal (I believe Mark of the Beast came up with that one) can't go wrong with this one!  Australia's answer to early Alcest (think "Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde"), Woods of Desolation is a one-man band (D.), except for this album the band is also rounded out by Vlad (from Drudkh) on drums, Balam (from Pestilential Shadows) on bass, and Old (ex-Wardaemonic) on mournful, tortured vokills.   Beautiful, but depressing stuff.   Fans of early Alcest, Svarti Loghin, Deafheaven, Nontinuum, etc.
You can listen to this album here.

9.   "A Skeletal Domain" - Cannibal Corpse

I don't know how in the fuck Cannibal Corpse are so consistent.   A lot of people will argue that these dudes are only able to still make music because they just put out the same album over and over again, and while there is a grain of truth to that, I challenge any death metal band to release records like this that are as consistently catchy, well-produced, and FUN as pretty much anything Cannibal Corpse has ever released.   Of course, this album is no exception to the rule, with all the trademark bone-crunching riffs, skull-smashing stomps, all complimented by Corpsegrinder's throat-shredding vokillz.   I have absolutely no idea how he can still sound as good as he does, let alone have a voice at all!!   Another fine edition to the Cannibal Corpse discography.

8.   "Svn Eater" - Lvcifyre

No, no, not THAT "Sun Eater"!  THIS Sun Eater (or "Svn Eater", whatever) is by Lvcifyre (or "Lucifyre", I'm so sick of it with this u/v bullshit) and is some really great, evil, black/death metal by way of the UK, even though none of the dudes in the band are actually British (apparently, T. Kaos and Cvltvs are Polish and Menthor is from Portugal).   You can tell in the music too, as it sounds kind of like a mix between Cultes Des Ghoules (Mark of the Devil from CDG is actually a guest vocalist featured all over the album), Deathspell Omega, and maybe Dead Congregation...definitely more mainland European metal rather than British metal of this style (Akercocke, Cradle of Filth, Anaal Nathrakh, etc.).   Anyway, I should probably also mention that this album is really kind of weird upon first starts off pretty slow and takes awhile to get going (although Mark of the Devil's vokills are, as always, fucking killer), but by the third track ("Liber Lillith") you should get the idea of what the band is all about.   As a bonus, the lyrics are really evil and go perfectly with the sort of "cavernous" death metal vocal style and overall sound that's becoming popular nowadays.   Oh, and Menthor's drumming is really fast...if you want to hear some of his other blisteringly fast drumming, check out his work on Enthroned's latest album, "Sovereigns".
This album cover is so good!!  I highly recommend listening to the title track while staring at the fucking AWESOME cover art (or you could read along with their lyrics, that's cool too).   It makes me want to immediately grab an axe, put on some armor, and just head over to that unholy temple to investigate whatever evil shit is going on in there.   Just look at that sky!!  Shit's obviously getting serious.   Or I guess you could just watch the music video (or check out their whole album here), which I've embedded below:

7.   "Cthulhu" - Ceremonial Castings

The first track off this record ("The Great Old Ones" (you can actually listen to the whole album for free here)) might be my favorite song of the year.   I highly recommend listening to this song while following along with the lyrics (very well-written) or just staring at the album art.   It's so good!!  Also, fucking perfect vocals, especially when he goes "CTHULHU BE REBORRRRRNNNN!!!"   I actually know a lot more about the H.P. Lovecraft mythos from metal lyrics and role-playing games rather than the actual stories themselves, as I'm not very good at reading and get too confused by his weird writing style.    Anyway, this song fucking rules!!  The rest of the album is great too, but do yourself a favor and at least check out the first track!   Also, killer drumming, Blood Hammer is a fucking beast!!  It's a shame these guys broke-up right after putting this out :(   R.I.P.

6.   "Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry" - Blut aus Nord

Everyone's been losing their shit over this album, but honestly I think it's kind of overrated.   That being said, it's still really good!!   Lots of beautiful, icy melodies this time around ("Paien" might be one of my favorite black metal songs of all time!) to go along with the typical winding, twisting, meandering Blut aus Nord-ness that his fans are used to at this point.   Also, I don't care what anyone says, I've suspected that BaN has been using programmed drums for many years now (I'm not even sure if W.D. Feld or GhÖst are even real people, but I could be wrong), so this album finally including an obviously real (and extremely talented drummer, Thorns) is a breath of fresh air and matches the album's style perfectly.   This album takes a few listens to really get into because the tracks are so labyrinthine, but I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you've only heard Blut aus Nord's more recent albums (which tend to be more weird and vaguely industrial-ish).  You can listen to the album for free here.

5.   "Roads to the North" - Panopticon

Although the first track kind of sounds like early 2000s melodic death/metalcore for some reason (think As I Lay Dying), overall this album is great!  I remember a long time ago I was talking with my buddy Brad (see Accursed Wound) about folk metal, and he was curious as to if there were any folk metal bands out there that only incorporated American folk (as opposed to 99% of the rest of the folk metal bands out there which are pretty European folk-based, even the ones from the United States!).   At the time the only thing I could really think of were bands like Agalloch (eh...not really), Across Tundras (not really metal), and maybe some others that didn't really fit the bill.   Little did I know that sure enough, there was an up-and-coming black metal band that would be exactly what we were looking for!
Panopticon seems to have come out of nowhere, exploding onto the USBM scene with their killer breakthrough album "Kentucky" in 2012 (really should have been on my "Best of 2012" list, but for whatever reason it wasn't).   Anyway, I can't believe it took Austin Lunn only 2 years to come out with this album as well, given that he's the only member (handling like 9 instruments on this record, organizing the guest appearances, recording, writing lyrics, artwork, etc.), PLUS also being involved in like 3 or 4 other bands as well.   Incredibly impressive, especially considering that this album is really good!
   Anyway, if you're interested in listening to some bluegrass/Americana-infused melodic death/black metal, then by all means check this record out!  Some tracks are even just straight up bluegrass!   Perfect for drinking beer or whiskey with some friends, warming up around a wood burning stove on a bleak winter evening!   You can even listen to it for free here!

4.   "Engineering the Void" - Soreption

   As a general rule, I think tech-death is pretty fucking boring.   Guitars endlessly noodling around, wimpy drums clicking around and being clever, bland vocals, I hate all that shit.   So why am I into Soreption, with a boring metal band name, cheesy art that looks like it was selected from a stock power metal album cover generator, and has a lot of the characteristics that I just said I hated?

Did you check out the video?!   See what I mean?!   It's so catchy!  They've got that sort of ultra-crisp, twisting staccato of old school Decapitated going on, which I love and don't think enough bands are doing right now.   Just compare it to, say, Guttural Secrete (R.I,P.), or some classic Origin, for example and you'll see what I mean.   Sure, the shit is ludicrously complex, insane, and more brutal, but for my money tech death is all about the crunch and the delivery.   To take it to the next level, let's compare it in terms of character classes in a generic fantasy RPG.   If I want to play a tech-death-style character, I want my dude to be more of a monk/rogue/assassin type...he's all about the finesse, the precision, the critical hit from a sneak attack.    So many other tech-death bands go for the more "brutal" approach (Barbarian), and it's obvious that so many people are into that style.   For me, it's just too much, and if we're going to listen to "barbarian" death metal no one fits the bill more than brutal slam bands like Devourment.   
Anyway, there's nothing really much else to say other than I was really surprised that I enjoyed this album so much!  It's chock full of solid, crunchy riffs, and is a lot of fun!

3.   "Follow the Black Smoke" - Earth Rot

Besides putting out my favorite metal music video of the year (see below), I was completely blown away by these dudes when I saw them open for Dark Tranquillity in Seoul early in 2014.   Similar to Pestilential Shadows (see below), this is another Australian metal supergroup comprised of Perth underground death/black metal scene vets that came together to obliterate us with their potent blend of death/grind with a healthy dose of black metal and sludge/groove.   Sounds kind of weird eh?   They honestly remind me of a more black metal influenced Blood Duster for some reason... great riffs that make you want to get really fucking drunk and headbang (at least, that's what I did when I saw them live), plus an obvious sense of humor underlying it all.   Just kind of depends on the song, as the band's mood definitely changes a lot over the course of the record (just compare "Black Tears" with "Stares of Semipiternity").   This is a killer band, a really fun album, and I'm honestly still surprised they aren't signed yet (unless that's what they're going for)!!  If you're into death metal, black metal, or grindcore check these dudes out!!   You can listen to the whole album for free here.

2.   "Promulgation of the Fall" - Dead Congregation

I don't really know what else can be said about this album that hasn't been said already... it's brutal, evil as FUCK cavernous death metal, "cavernous" being a big buzzword in the metal underground right now for this style that's been becoming more popular recently.   You're essentially taking the mysticism and aesthetics of black metal. but realizing that yeah, black metal is honestly pretty goofy when it comes down to it and death metal is a bit more least, in the metal scene.   If you really zoom out and look at the big picture, pretty much ALL of metal, regardless of genre, is really silly and there's no way around it (which is maybe the biggest reason why I love metal in the first place).   Anyway, this album fucking rules and will kick your ass and blah blah... one of the best metal albums of the 2010s for sure!   You can listen to the album for free here.

1.   "Ephemeral" - Pestilential Shadows

Ahhh, good ol' Pestilential Shadows!  I seem to have caught Australian black metal fever ever since I lived in Sydney for most of 2012 because by now you've probably noticed that this is the third Australian entry on my list.   To be fair, I actually never listened to Woods of Desolation until this year, and Earth Rot weren't even a band until last year.  That being said, I am perhaps somewhat biased towards these filthy cunts (that's how they talk in 'Straya mate!) because:  A.   They're (or at least they kind of used to be, most of the dudes on this album are relatively new to the band) a Sydney black metal supergroup, comprised of some of the city's most talented BM artists and are a pretty big deal there.  B.   They put on a killer show when I saw them at The Devil's Arcana, ending with the bassist literally destroying his bass on stage at the end.   C.   The album is really fucking good and speaks for itself!   This album's pretty much got it all in terms of what I like in black metal- a dark, brooding atmosphere, haunting, beautiful melodies, and a sense of urgency, intensity, and mysticism all thematically tied together with concepts such as the occult and death anxiety.   While they certainly have their own sound and style, I feel like their sound can be described as combining the best of Deathspell Omega's grandiosity, the darkness and bleakness of Secrets of the Moon, the violence of Watain, and even at times random stuff like the sorrow of Agalloch, the black 'n' roll of mid-era Darkthrone, and the sad beauty of post-black metal like Woods of Desolation.   
Combined with top-notch production, musicianship, songwriting, and awesome artwork, this is an album I'll be coming back to a lot to check out.   If you ever find yourself in Sydney, take a chance and listen to this album while taking a stroll through a sketchy part of town after dusk ;)

Some of my favorite non-metal albums of 2014:

These albums aren't exactly "metal" per se, but are definitely still involved in the overall underground scene one way or the other.   

"Terrestrials" - Ulver / Sunn O)))

Are you guys familiar with George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire Series" (or the "Game of Thrones" TV show if you're a poser)?  Well I bet you never would have imagined, but I'm a huge fan (FINALLY almost finished with "Dance With Dragons", took me long enough)!!  Anyway, I have absolutely no idea why, but for whatever reason this album makes me feel like I'm on some sort of hallucinogens while in one of the those really exotic cities in Essos like Qarth, Meereen, or maybe even Vaes Dothrak.   I thought this album was really cool!  Psychedelic, fairly bizarre, experimental, kind of stuff!   You can check out the whole album for free here.
"Guilty of Everything" - Nothing

I'm usually not a fan of this type of music, but I enjoyed this album!   Also, you don't have to feel like a wimp when you listen to this because one of the dudes was in jail for awhile (maybe a clue to the title of the record?).   I really like the song "Get Well" a lot.   Enjoy the whole album for free here.
"Minoans" - Giant Squid

While I can't stand the cover art, I thought this album was overall really cool!   Being a history dork, I really enjoyed the lyrical theme (this time centering around the Minoans (duh!), the ancient people of the Greek island of Crete and their inevitable downfall) and concept of the record, along with the creativity and experimentation that comes, as always, with every Giant Squid release.  Check this out if you're a fan of progressive, experimental, or just weird rock/metal.  Enjoy the entire album for free here.

"Babymetal" - Babymetal
I don't care what anyone says, I don't care if they're a gimmick, I don't care if they're considered metal or not, I think Babymetal are fucking great!  Their music is a blast (I'm sure it's really fun live!), the songs are catchy, and their music videos are awesome!!  Fukk tha haterz!!

Dungeon Synth:

You really thought I would end this post without talking about dungeon synth??  You're fucking crazy!!  It hurts me to say it, but I actually enjoyed these albums more than most of the metal I heard this year :(  I guess I'm getting soft in my old age! 

"Within the Land of My Imagination I am the Only God" - Erang

I feel like I've discussed Erang enough on here these past couple of months or so, so you can read my thoughts on the album here.   Top notch neo-dungeon synth for a new generation of adventurers!!   Enjoy all of Erang's music for free here.

"Norforagel - Thull" - Splendorious

I just found out about Splendorius (horrible name, sorry), and was amazed at how well their style faithfully emulates old-school Mortiis!!   This is fucking perfect!!  Definitely going to be the soundtrack to my next RPG sesh!!   You can listen to the whole album for free here (this was surprisingly hard to find!).

"Wandervogel des Waldes" - Lord Lovidicus

While Erang's "Within the Land of My Imagination I am the Only God" is my favorite dungeon synth album of 2014, this is a very, very close second.   While I'm a big fan of Lord Lovidicus' more recent output (starting with "Forgotten Ruins"), I've always felt like he was no match for Erang.   This album proved that I was a fool for thinking so!   Lord Lovidicus has come a long way, and "Wandervogel" is easily his best album and one of the greatest dungeon synth albums of all time (especially the second half, it's truly killer stuff)!  I guess some might be critical of the change in sound (the older stuff used to be more lo-fi and cheesy), but this album proves that Mr. Lovidicus is still on an upward trajectory.   As always, great background music for dungeon exploration in your favorite fantasy tabletop RPG of choice.   You can listen to all of Lord Lovidicus' music for free here.

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