Posts Tagged ‘Panopticon’

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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Scottish black metaller Saor‘s second record ‘Aura‘, after last year’s breakthrough ‘Roots’, is in a word breathtaking. One of those artists that you hear and then you look up and go, ‘Really? Only ONE guy made this?’ It’s a wow moment. Saor came from Arsaidh, a name change but not a stylistic change. Saor means ‘Free’ in Gaelic, and this record is certainly free. Free of all the one man black metal project trappings.

The production is top notch, infusing Saor’s work with that crucial warmth that lacks in a lot of black metal. This isn’t black metal designed to invoke the frosted North. This is black metal that stirs the souls from misted mountains and ghostly heather. It’s atmospheric and ethereal, while at the same time being full of harsh black metal riffing. There is a great sense of space; songs like ‘Children of the Mist’ breathes, coupling some soaring atmospherics with crashing black metal.

The album art exemplifies perfectly the imagery conjured up by tracks like the title track and the epic closer, ‘Pillars of the Earth’. It merges the chaos and rawness of black metal with the delicate touches of folk and Celtic music. This music FEELS like its cover, in the same way Emperor did on ‘Nightside’ or Panopticon (Austin Lunn from Panopticon drums on ‘Aura’) does on ‘Roads to the North’. The title track itself is a dramatic, powerful statement to the beauty of the Holy Land (as us south of the border Scots refer to it). It works on a subconscious emotional level, making you feel alive and free.

I’m adding this record to my must haves from 2014. It is a great mix of delicate acoustics, soaring black metal and ethereal atmosphere that I just dig at the moment. Scotland’s answer to Wolves in the Throne Room? Quite possibly.