Archive for December, 2014

2014 in review

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Now my previous lists have been specific to genre, but this is my ultimate top 20 of the year. It’ll include some records that you won’t have seen in previous ones as, for example, I only really heard two good power metal records this year, so I can’t really make a list from it. Also, where do you categorise certain bands, like Triptykon, who cover a wide spread of genres? Anyhow, my top favourites of the year are as follows:

20. Killer Be Killed – S/T – A supergroup that combines equal parts of their bands to create awesome

19. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power – Riffs of stone and hooks of great magnitude, the title track alone is one of my favourite songs of the year.

18. Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity – Another record of spellbinding black metal from England’s finest. Windswept and vast

17. Edguy – Space Police – Catchy as hell and stupidly anthemic, Tobias and the squad bring some RAWK to their power metal greatness

16. Electric Wizard – Time to Die – A suffocating, occult riddled drag down doom alley. Evil and heavy as fuck

15. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun – A big improvement over The Hunter and Mastodon’s prog doom trip extends further

14. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – A follow up to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ was always going to be difficult, but the True Mayhem brought out another stormer

13. At the Gates – At War With Reality – Thank fuck we finally have the follow up to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. They put all copycats to shame.

12. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod – NOLA sludge titans send Joey LaCaze off with one of their most superlative records yet. Angry, harsh and utterly devastating

11. Decapitated – Blood Mantra – Poland’s finest sons of death continue their streak of blinding records with yet another punishing exercise in tech death

10. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum – Nasty, abrasive and skullfuckingly epic in parts, Anaal do things their way, and better than most

9. Inter Arma – The Cavern – A Spellbinding 45 minute trip through the mind of one of post metal and doom’s brightest sparks. Wonderful

8. Hour of Penance – Regicide – Always brutal and relentless, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of this record the longer the year has gone on. Death to all!

7. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall – Nasty, lurching death metal chaos, belching death and pestilence to all

6. Whalerider – Thanatos – A surprise late entry, and its been on constant rotation. A stormingly good rock record with doses of psych doom weirdness too

5. Panopticon – Road to the North – Soaring and scorching black metal, vast and hypnotic. Epic black metal is the theme this year, and its great

4. Sabaton – Heroes – I fucking love this band. No one writes more anthemic metal tunes than this. Fantastic record and catchy as hell

3. Mount Salem – Endless – A starkly beautiful trad doom record with perfect vocals and atmosphere. The fact it is third on my list is testament to its quality

2. Behemoth – The Satanist – The rebirth of a legend and a triumphant return. Any other year this would’ve been the best by a country mile

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata – Nothing could beat the pure misanthropy, despair and heaviness wrought from Tom G Warrior. A simply monumental release

2014 would struggle to live up to last year for major death metal masterpieces. 2013 saw the return of Carcass and Gorguts, along with stunning records from the likes of Ulcerate, Portal and Autopsy. There hasn’t been anything particularly to rival those releases this year, but what we have had has been some very good records, from some very good bands. So here is the Killchain picks for death metal records you MUST hear from 2014:

Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall

Obituary – Inked in Blood

Decapitated – Blood Mantra

Aborted – The Necrotic Manifesto

Benighted – Carnivore Sublime

Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral

At the Gates – At War With Reality

Cannibal Corpse – The Skeletal Domain

Cannabis Corpse – From Wisdom to Baked

Entombed AD – Back to the Front

Hour of Penance – Regicide

Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails

Incantation – Dirges of Elysium

Vallenfyre – Splinters

Vader – Tibi Et Igni

Vermin Womb – Permanence

There’s a few I’ll have missed, as I’m still catching up with this year’s releases. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Job for a Cowboy’s ‘Sun Eater’, so that might have been a late edition. I also want to mention the awesome Sentience demo and Live Burial’s debut EP as two fantastic death metal releases for the year, and bright hopes for the future

I first came across Armies, Chilean black thrash heroes,a while back when I was linked to their first demo, ‘Slave of Torment‘ earlier this year. I’ve just found they’ve posted two new tracks from their upcoming EP ‘Expectation in Solitude’ on their YouTube page and I thought hell yes it’s time for some new stuff. ‘Slave of Torment’ has been spun a few times this year, but has been buried under a lot of others I’ve received. Listening again to it before this reacquainted me perfectly with their sound; nasty, loud and very very black.

The new tracks are also along the same lines. ‘Fatal Existence’ opens with some seriously old school Sodom esque riffs before tearing off into a blackened thrash assault that’ll sear the flesh from your poor bones. This is raw, black thrash in the way only South American bands can pull off. I’m always amazed and yet heartened by the fact that bands from South America stick quite rigidly to the old school Hellhammer/Bathory/Sodom axis when writing their metal. Who needs fucking evolution eh? ‘Rotten Feelings’ is another clattering, chainsaw riffing beast. This kind of blasphemous, raw metal avoids all subtlety and heads straight for the jugular, tearing and shredding all in its path. It has whetted my appetite for the new EP, especially if it’s half as good as ‘Slave of Torment’ was.

I’m fitting in a bit less here than my previous black metal list, simply because there hasn’t been as many great doom records (that I’ve heard this year at least) in 2014 as I’d hoped. I write a bit for Sleeping Shaman and my choices for reviews have been a bit uninspiring in the past few months. No fault of Lee who runs it, but it just seems that the whole doom/stoner scene is spinning its wheels in the sand and not going anywhere. However, there have been some seriously good records in the genre so I managed a list:

10: Grand Magus – Triumph and Power: These guys never fail to write a brilliant doom record, every time. They have riffs hewn from stone and anthems of steel and blood. Wonderful

9. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun: A stunning comeback from the somewhat lackluster ‘The Hunter’, Mastodon have written yet another prog-doom-rock masterpiece. As anthemic and complex as anything they’ve written before

8. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod: I shouldn’t have to explain this, so I won’t. Sludge gods do it again

7. Electric Wizard – Time to Die: Less immediate than ‘Black Masses’ but every bit as malevolent and grindingly heavy. Brilliant

6. Inter Arma – The Cavern: I called this the new Mastodon when I reviewed it earlier in the year and I stand by it. Twisting, heavy and beautiful

5. Kuolemanlaakso – Tulijoutsen: Finnish death/doom majesty from the voice of Swallow the Sun. Stunningly heavy

4. Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden: Achingly heavy and poignant, a true heir to Cathedral’s throne

3. Nux Vomica – Nux Vomica: A draining, Cult of Luna meets Discharge monster of sludge, doom and crust punk violence. Monstrous

2. Boris – Noise: Not technically doom on this release, but my favourite shape shifting Japanese band have pulled out another classic album

1. Mount Salem – Endless: I called this months ago, and I’m still right: ‘Endless’ is still my favourite doom record of the year. It mixes classic Pentagram riffs with the powerful, mournful voice of Emily Koplin to staggering effect. I’ve listened to this I don’t know how many times this year, and I’m still not sick of it!

Special mention go to Pilgrim’s ‘II: Void Worship’, Ides of Gemini ‘Old World/New Wave’ and Godhunter’s ‘City of Dust’. You guys were close but not quite. I recommend you check out everything here, as they are all awesome!

Mountains Crave are a band I heard a few months back, and have been eagerly awaiting a full length release since I first heard them. They’ve got their debut release available here on No Fun Intended Records bandcamp page, and it’s just too late to get on my favourite demos of 2014, as I haven’t had enough time to fully digest it, but it. Is. Great.

First of all, the artwork is stunning. I bought a patch off the band a while back, and I’ve always thought the logo looked good, but the record cover is a beautiful monochromatic image. It’s similar to ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ for the intricacy and the fact you always see something new when you look at it. The record starts with a soothing, ambient intro called ‘Watcher by the Threshold’, which also throbs with an underlying menace, a vibe of uneasiness as it builds towards a crescendo. First track proper, ‘These Spirits Listen’, I’ve heard before, but only as a live version. The recorded version contains all the masterful sense of evil but the dynamics are clearer and more spacious. The song breathes, and is a rousing slice of combative black metal.

‘The Violet Hour’ is a slower, suffocating piece, building the atmosphere from the start with its measured intro. The addition of some violin work nearer the end of the track adds that little bit of something special. ‘City of the Immortals’ is the track Mountains Crave previewed their EP with on Facebook, and you can tell why. It is a strong black metal track, relentless in its assault but also possessed of some excellent song writing. Mountains Cave have maturity beyond a simple demo band. Their music is fluid, dynamic and interesting. Thank Thor for some interesting black metal that doesn’t rely on the simple buzzsaw and actually tries to be something more.

Closing with the titan ‘River, Breeze, Soil and Flame’, which opens with gorgeous acoustics and soft violin work, was a stroke of genius. It then expands into a vast odyssey of soaring black metal replete with raw vocals that enhance the surrounding beauty. Black metal like this is the spirit of the mountains, of the forests and of the North. Watch Mountains Crave, I see them being huge in a year or two. Buy the SHIT out of this release!

I’ve recently started my own radio hour on the Funereal Drone Live radio show. The guy that runs it, Matt, was kind enough to give me an hour on a Tuesday night to ‘play anthing I want’. It was very kind of him, considering the calibre of some of his other shows that he does. The full list is here. My first show was last Tuesday, and I just went all out on a full riff fest. I get an hour and featured Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth, Nile and others. My focus was on the riff, as it always is. This week I feature some of my favourite discoveries of the past year. Not all, sadly, as I only got an hour but it still features top quality artists like Chiral, Slaughter Throne, Skiddaw and Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta, along with some highlights from Indian metal, namely Born Rude and Eyes of the Martyr. These are all bands who I’ve enjoyed this year, and feel should get some more exposure. Hope you can all tune in. The link is here, just download the Live.FM radio app and search fro the Funereal Drone and it’ll be live as of 10pm GMT every Tuesday night. I’ll post the full tracklist on my Facebook later on. Cheers!