I've really let this blog go to seed but thought it only good, right and salutary to at least post a list of the beast of 2014. After all, I might slack off but heavy metal never does...and boy have there been some rippers this year.
10. Stargazer - A Merging to the Boundless
Stargazer may not release albums with the greatest of regularity, but when they do it is sure to be an event worth remembering. I think Merging to the Boundless may be their best so far taking the Mesopotamian veneration of classic Morbid Angel even further East and, pardon the pun, merging it with the boundless guitar yowls of their countrymen Destroyer 666 and some unhinged tech patterns worthy of Unquestionable Presence or Piece of Time Atheist. I love the feel of this album and as usual the bass heroics of the Great Righteous Destroyer are noteworthy.
9. Old Wainds - Nordraum
If you don't know Old Wainds by now do yourself a favor, listen to this one. Have a good friend beat the shit out of you for not listening to it sooner, then listen to every single album they've ever made till you want to beat the shit out of yourself for the same reason. These Russians continue to be the unheralded masters of scalding cold black metal fury. What Immortal would sound like if they went less Manowar and more Blizzard Beasts.
8. Voices - London
Voices makes their second consecutive trip to the Beast of List and for good reason. London is a beautifully brutal, terrifyingly frenzied piece of work.
7. Mortuary Drape - Spiritual Independence
A lot of the big boys reappeared this year after a long hiatus and MD was definitely one that I was most excited about. I've had a love affair with these Italians ever since I heard Secret Sudaria waaay back when (that snare!) The Drape's ability to combine classic heavy black metal with historical occult themes gave them a mystique, and an otherworldly atmosphere that was uniquely theirs. The last album 2004's Buried In Time was quite good, but lost a little bit of that occult feel in favor of a thrash heavy attack and more modern production mode. I'm happy to say that Spiritual Independence has them dropping the modern tropes and concentrating on the things that made Tolling 13 Knell and Secret Sudaria so successful, mainly the dual bass attack, (occasional bass as a lead instrument!), and the mid-tempo buoyantly bouncing throughout the crypt groove that really defines this band and defines Mediterranean Black Metal as a spectrally sinister macabre entity. 30 years on and this crew continues to develop the sound that they obviously love...it does my blackened heart good.
6. Sammath - Godless Arrogance
Powerful, scathing and unrelenting black metal from these Dutch masters. Amazing that Sammath retain a level of catchiness even as their onslaught reaches a feral pitch.
5. Varathron - Untrodden Corridors of Hades
Another black metal big boy returns this year with an absolute triumph. 2014 era Varathron is much more Alexander the Great galloping through the colonnades than their swampy ritualistic beginnings, but the change in sound suits them well. If you want a metal album with a grand, powerful atmosphere this is the one.
4. Stíny Plamenů - Propadlé Vody
Blasting Czech black metal from the sewers, some of the quirkiest and most interesting riff-writing you're likely to hear this year.
3. Dimesland - Psychogenic Atrophy
This is hitting me right in that sweet spot between Voivodian futuristic cyber-trash, clinical sci-fi death metal and no-wave industrialized hell-scapes.
2. Arnold Veeman - Nait Meer
To me Arnold Veeman represents one of the most underrated, obscure progressive death metal bands of all time...Mon'strum. The fact that he is still putting out incredible music, but twisted classical chamber pop instead of twisted classical death metal, speaks volumes to his incredible talent! The voice, the atmosphere, RIO instrumentation, interesting arrangements, its all here in spades. More people need to know about this man and his visionary work.
1. Kenn Nardi - Dancing With The Past
Nardi does a hometown St. Louis boy proud. Even though I would have loved the hell out of a new Anacrusis album, I think this double album of Nardi's personal recordings is even better. Some songs hit on the symphonic tech-thrash that Anacrusis was nailing on Screams & Whispers, other tunes dip into goth, post-punk and all manners of introspection. I haven't stopped listening to this for over a month and with so much incredible material presented on this double album, there is no danger of growing tired of it. An essential and monumental release from one of the finest songwriters out there.
Gargoyle - Geshiki, Pest - Burial, Survival Knife - Loose Power, Master's Hammer - Vagus Vetus, Satanic Warmaster - Fimbulwinter, Old Pagan - MaledictusS, Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen, Enthroned - Sovereigns, Abigor - Leitmotif Luzifer, Manimalism - Manimalism, Mysticum - Planet Satan, Incantation - Dirges of Elysium, Labyrinthine - Ancient Obscurity, Ingurgitating Oblivion - Continuum of Absence, Dub Buk - UBRX, Animus Mortis - Testimonia, Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io, 1349 - Massive Cauldrons of Chaos, Falconer - Black Moon Rising, Prong - Ruining Lives, Sinister - The Post-Apocalyptic Servant, Neneh Cherry - Neneh Cherry, Waxen - Agios Holokauston, Howls of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye, Hashe - El Espiritu del Arbol Muerto, Kriegsmachine - Enemy of Man, Jumalhämärä - Songless Shores
Vestiges Among the Weirdcong
Doctor - The Doctor is In, Aastraal - Tuba Mirum Spargens Sonum Per Sepulcra Regionum, Coget Omnes Ante Thronum, Totale Vernichtung - Ritualmordlegenden, Microburst - Occulting