Posts Tagged ‘Mastodon’

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

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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!

I plan to spend most of December catching up on as many records from 2014 that I’ve missed so that my end of year lists can be a bit more researched and accurate than they would be if I wrote them now. However, I know for a fact that this is a list I can put together now. There’s a definite number of records I keep coming back to from 2014, and many will feature again in lists in a month’s time. But for now, here are my most played records of 2014:

1. Mount Salem – Endless: A hauntingly brilliant doom record, and probably my favourite discovery of 2014. A full blown contender for my favourite record of this year, Mount Salem are something very special.

2. Killer Be Killed – S/T: A supergroup that matches the term in every way. ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ is up there with my favourite songs of the year too

3. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun: A storming comeback from the masters of prog doom

4. Behemoth – The Satanist: I see these guys in 10 days time for the first time, and the newest record has been one of 2014’s most astounding achievements

5. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata: Another harrowing trip into the darkness of Tom G Warrior. Bleak and beautiful

6. Edguy – Space Police: My girlfriend’s favourite record this year I believe, and ‘Love Tyger’ is the stupidest brilliant song of the year. It’s so FUCKING catchy. I love this record

7. Sabaton – Heroes: I see these guys in only 6 days’ time and I think their newest record has their strongest collection of anthems since The Art of War. ‘We saw crosses grow on Anzio!’

I’ve read a few of these lists already in the last month or so, and even though I am now perpetuating the idea (how long before we do ‘best of so far’ lists every month?), I think it is still viable as a point of interest. 2014 has been a pretty damn fine year for extreme music already, and we’ve just reached August. Now, advance warning here, I am NOT including any of this year’s record which I haven’t heard yet. So, as good as the new Wolves in the Throne Room record is supposed to be, as I haven’t heard it yet I will not pass judgement. It’s inappropriate, and unfair. No doubt it will appear in my ‘year-end’ list if its as good as I’ve read. Any way, top 10.

10: Origin – Omnipresent: I only heard this for the first time last night, and I’ve already ripped it twice since. Origin do tech death with astonishing violence and masterful dynamics. It’s a vicious, sleek death metal record that will flay skin from bone.

9: Obituary – Inked in Blood: Now, I am lucky enough to be reviewing this for my good friends at Sleeping Shaman, and so I’ll keep the details to myself but nonetheless it is top 10 material, no doubt.

8: Killer Be Killed – S/T: This is a definite highlight for me, a supergroup that matches it’s potential astoundingly. First track ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ starts almost every playlist of mine at the moment

7: Arch Enemy – War Eternal: Arch Enemy release a new album after losing their most iconic weapon in Angela Gossow. Thankfully, Alyssa Gluz-Whyte is more than up to the task and this is a new melodic death metal classic

6: Vader – Tibi Et Iti: Polish death metal legends create yet another ripping, tearing death metal album full of death and metal. Well, it’s never gonna be anything else is it? Brutal

5: Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun: Mastodon may never equal ‘Crack the Skye’ but ‘Once More Round the Sun’ is the progressive coupling of grace, crushing riffs and catchy ass songs. Love it

4: Mount Salem – Endless: A surprising album for me, a debut of a female fronted doom band that has captured my imagination. Vocals are lush, riffs are huge and the whole air of the occult makes the complete package.

3: Triptykon – Melana Chasmata: Tom G. Warrior’s mesmerising journey into the darkness is awe inspiring at every turn. No one should have been able to better ‘Eparistera Daimones’, but he did

2: Boris – Noise: A band that can rarely do wrong, and rarely fits any kind of genre or structure. Boris ARE my favourite band, and ‘Noise’ is an elegant record that takes all their myriad sounds and condenses them into one beautiful whole.

1: Behemoth – The Satanist: What more can be said? For Nergal to return from leukemia to music is miracle enough. To create one of metal’s most defining records in the 21st century is even more staggering. Dripping with evil, twisting black metal in new and malevolent ways and leading the armies of darkness into the light, ‘The Satanist’ will take some beating this year.

 

But we still have new Electric Wizard to come…

Albums that are the aural equivalent of herpes. That’s today’s discussion. I should clear that up actually, because it sounds a bit dodgy. Basically it’s about bands (and records particularly) that keep coming back to the top of the listening pile. They won’t go away. We’ve decided here at the Killchain that this year’s most herpes-esque albums have been Killer be Killed and new Mastodon. I know personally I start most days with a quick blast of ‘High Road’ and Wings of Feather and Wax’; they are both simply two of the best songs of the year. They are catchy but heavy as shit. Quoth the Geary:

Sounds Like Herpes.

I know what you are thinking. But no. Its not a time to reflect upon questionable choices made once upon a beer. It is in fact to think about those albums which keep giving you a little something each time you return to the well. This has been inspired by two albums released this year which has been regulars in my headphones, car and anywhere else i can play them. Firstly Killer Be Killed and then the mighty Mastodon ( both given superb reviews here) Below will be some of those albums, in addition to the above, for me. I should note that there is no time stamp here, just glorious riffage.
Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed
Mastodon – Once More’Round The Sun
Wilson – Full Blast Fuckery
Capricorns – Ruder Forms Survive
Cult Of Luna – Salvation
Down II – A Bustle in Your Hedgerow
Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal
Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones
Clutch- Earth Rocker
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Let Love In
This is of course in no way exhaustive, and personally I’ve got to add in Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Kill’, Nile’s ‘Annihilation of the Wicked’ and Iced Earth’s ‘Horror Show’ but Geary makes an excellent point. No matter how good an album is, if you come back to it constantly even years later (Down II is how fucking old? Really? It’s STILL brilliant) then that is the true test.

Probably one of 2014’s most eagerly anticipated records, certainly by me, and one of only a select few that I could see pushing Mount Salem off the top spot from a personal point of view. Full disclosure: I FUCKING love Mastodon. Ever since I head ‘Blood and Thunder’ from ‘Leviathan’ 10 years ago, they have been one of my all time favourite bands, a band whose records I devoured as soon as they were released. But, can ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ stand tall with the likes of ‘Leviathan’, ‘Crack the Skye’ and the imperious ‘Remission’?

First of all, check out that artwork. It’s the definition of an acid trip gone wrong. It’s stunning, and is genuinely making me want to buy the vinyl edition to truly appreciate it. The album opens with ‘Tread Lightly’, an urgent acoustic guitar emerging from silence before the main riff kicks in. It lacks the heft of traditional Mastodon album openers, but since when does this band conform to stereotypes? ‘Tread Lightly’ is more of a majestic reassurance that thunderous prog is still the name of the game here. Troy Sanders has clearly benefitted from his stint in Killer Be Killed already; his roar is clear and firm, providing the accessibility that the music generally doesn’t. Spiralling guitar lines, a trippy solo and we’re off to a triumphant start.

‘The Motherload’ keeps the tempo high. It’s a very psychedelic song, driving singlemindedly forward, replete with odd vocal effects. So far, ‘Once More Round the Sun’ is a much more refined, less thunderous than ‘The Hunter’. Single ‘High Road’ is one of the band’s most anthemic cuts. With a soaring chorus and a damn heavy verse section, it screams ‘instant live classic’. Say what you will, Mastodon probably write the heaviest radio friendly singles you can get. This is fighting with (ironically) Killer Be Killed’s ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ as my favourite song of the year. It’s got that trademark Mastodon stomp, and a chorus to die for.

The title track is heavier, with the first instances of odd time signatures. It’s a short, sharp burst of what I refer to as ‘Earth Mastodon’. It’s heavy, thick and less complex, as compared to ‘Space Mastodon’, that drop in every progressive nuance you can think of. It’s unashamedly catchy as well, and has those trademark Mastodon moments of spirally guitar melodies underpinned by another virtuoso drumming performance. ‘Space Mastodon’ comes to the fore in second single ‘Chimes at Midnight’, which launches into another dimension. An airy riff soars amongst the clouds, before the force comes back in and kicks it into a higher gear. Another driving slice of thunderous doom, picking up where ‘The Hunter’ left off. ‘Chimes at Midnight’ is probably the most ‘Mastodon’ song Mastodon have ever written.

‘Once More Round the Sun’ is by far Mastodon’s most commercial record. But with most bands that would be a disappointment. With Mastodon, you get some of the catchiest and most memorable songs they’ve ever written, but they never sacrifice that exploratory instinct. This is a record with plenty of weird moments (see ‘Aunt Lisa’), as well as some simply lush vocal interplay. Mastodon may have left the primal roar of ‘Leviathan’ behind, but they’ve embraced a much more adventurous and unique clean vocal style. ‘Asleep in the Deep’ has guest vocals from Valient Himself of Valient Thorr, and while a slightly underwhelming track, has some excellent moments of vocal interplay. It’s a softer, much more melodic track than we are used to, and maybe that’s why I’m a bit unexcited by it.

‘Feast Your Eyes’ showcases some more of that Mastodon groove, and is another fast paced stormer. The band seem to have definitely picked up the speed on some of these tracks, and this one has that brilliant spiralling guitar harmonies that I love so much. ‘Aunt Lisa’ sees the return of those weird ass robotic vocals from ‘Blood Mountain’, while the song pulls out some mathcore structuring and some cool, gang chant vocals at the end. If there was any doubt that Mastodon were embracing the RAWK a bit more, they are now put to rest. ‘Ember City’ thunders along with its soaring choruses, while ‘Halloween’ is another psychedelic juggernaut. ‘Once More Round the Sun’ ends with the obligatory appearance of Neurosis’s Scott Kelly, contributing vocals to epic closer ‘Diamond in the Witch House’.

Mastodon have defied all expectations and produced their most ambitious work since ‘Blood Mountain’. It isn’t as heavy as ‘Leviathan’, nor as epically progressive as ‘Crack teh Skye’. But what it is is the next evolutionary step in Mastodon’s astonishing body of work. A band who couldn’t write the same album again if they tried. Thank FUCK for Mastodon showing us that commercialism doesn’t mean sacrificing defining characteristics nor musical integrity. ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ is a staggering piece of modern progressive metal.

If there was ever a supergroup that NEEDED to live up to the strength of its members, it’s Killer Be Killed. I hate that term supergroup. It instantly brings connotations of superior results than the bands from which its members are drawn. Bringing together members of Mastodon, Soulfly, The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Mars Volta should, on paper, lead to some staggering results but of course, we all know what high expectations can do to a band. Fortunately, Killer Be Killed live up to the hype, and then some.

‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ opens the album strongly. It’s instantly memorable, and brings together all parts of this collaboration perfectly; the surreal vocals of Sanders, the propulsive power of Cavalera and the soaring clean vocals of Puciato. It’s a year highlight track for me thus far. ‘Face Down’ follows with a more aggressive attack, powered much more by Cavalera’s style of metal; uncompromising and straightforward. Ending with a thunderous, Mastodonian rumble gives it an extra kick; Mastodon haven’t been this heavy in a while, and personally I miss it a bit.

‘Melting of My Marrow’ blends sublime prog with earthshaking groove. Killer Be Killed begin to sound almost like a metal fan’s experimental wet dream. What would Mastodon sound like with Max Cavalera on vocals? How good does Puciato and Sanders sound over good old fashioned groove metal? You can hear, almost down to the notes written, who was responsible for what part on the record, but they blend them all together without sounding disjointed at all. ‘Snakes of Jehova’ feels like a missing Dillinger track, lost from sessions between ‘Miss Machine’ and Ire Works’ with some guest musicians.

‘Killer Be Killed’ is a deceptively simple album. With three quarters coming from such wildly adventurous bands, you feel like mnd expanding cosmic prog metal mentalness is about to become unleashed, but it never happens. Perhaps that’s Cavalera’s influence keeping it grounded in solid, metal foundations. That may read like a criticism but it really isn’t. The chugging intro of ‘Curb Crusher’ leads into one of the best songs to come out of groove metal in years; strange considering the participants. But that is where Killer Be Killed works so well.

Be it the Mastodon chug of ‘Save the Robots’ or the Dillinger-esque of ‘Fire to Your Flag’, the band becomes more than just the sum of its parts. It becomes the embodiment of the all star jam, those times at live shows where a guest vocalist comes on to cover something with another bands. Except the songs are new and exciting, and the players are some of the most important in modern metal. It is time for Killer Be Killed to stand up and be counted as a credible challenger to Down and Shrinebuilder as one of the best ‘supergroups’ of all time.