Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Year's Best 2014

1. Blood Farmers – ‘Headless Eyes’
Just like Curse the Son’s ‘Psychache’ the previous year, ‘Headless Eyes’ grabbed my attention early on and never quite loosened its grip. The album is worth its weight in gold due to the opening track, “Gut Shot,” but this is no one-trick-pony. The entire album is solid from start to finish. Tack on a kickass cover of David Hess’ “The Road Leads to Nowhere” from The Last House on the Left and you have one stellar release from a band that has been absent for far too long (review HERE).

2. Yob – ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’
I’ll admit, Yob’s ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ wasn’t an instant hit for me. I miss the heavier psychedelic influences that were played out in abundance prior to the band’s initial dissolution. But, in the end, the brilliance of Mike Scheidt, Aaron Reiseberg, and Travis Foster cannot be denied. This is one of the heaviest albums released by the band, maybe only rivalled by ‘The Great Cessation.’ It’s grim and bleak, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the closing track, “Marrow.”

3. Cardinal Wyrm – ‘Black Hole Gods’
This is probably the most unique doom album of 2014. Pranjal Tiwari’s vocals are sonorous meditations that majestically speak of long-forgotten lore. The band has definitely spread their wings and come into their own since the release of their impressive debut, ‘Another Holy Trinity.’ ‘Black Hole Gods’ should be available on vinyl later this year courtesy of Svart Records. I can’t wait to hear where this three-piece goes next (review HERE).

4. Pallbearer – ‘Foundations of Burden’
If I had not spent an extended weekend hiking at twelve and thirteen thousand feet while jamming this album I’m not sure I’d be ranking it so high. ‘Foundations of Burden’ is suggestive of wide open spaces where their debut, ‘Sorrow and Extinction,’ was claustrophobically heavy and dense. Disappointment quickly dissipated and the beauty of this album could not be ignored. Seeing and hearing the material performed only helped to cement this as a favorite of 2014.

5. The Wounded Kings – ‘Consolamentum’
It’s not surprising that this album is in the top five. The Wounded Kings have long been a favorite and ‘Consolamentum’ is a return to form of sorts. The lead guitar playing is, like on the band’s first two albums, razor sharp (review HERE).

6. John Gallow – ‘Violet Dreams’
John Gallo is, simply put, a maestro. The man draws inspiration from a multitude of sources and makes something new, yet recognizable. ‘Violet Dreams,’ like many of Gallo’s other projects, takes the listener to strange, unexplored worlds. A killer album of doomed-out weirdness. Here’s hoping that either Blizaro or Orodruin puts out a new release in 2015. Hell…hopefully they both do (review HERE).

7. In the Company of Serpents – ‘Merging in Light’ EP
In the Company of Serpents is a two-man demolition crew and ‘Merging in Light’ shows the band on an upward trajectory of creativity. The EP is acerbic and heavy, yet tuneful. The only complaint that can be levelled against ‘Merging in Light’ is that it’s not a full-length album (review HERE).

8. Electric Wizard – ‘Time to Die’
To be honest, I think this is the best album Electric Wizard has ever released followed closely by ‘Black Masses.’ It’s seedy, grisly, and, at times a sonic mess. This is the stuff of an innocent acid trip gone woefully awry (review HERE).

9. Slomatics – ‘Estron’
Slomatics’ ‘A Hocht’ has become one of my favorite albums of all time and ‘Estron’ is a worthy follow-up. The band has a penchant for being impossibly heavy and still remain catchy. ‘Estron’ may not be as trippy or varied as ‘A Hocht,’ but it’s still a stellar release (review HERE).

10. The Skull – ‘For Those Which Are Asleep’
Despite having high expectations for The Skull’s debut I could not help but approach ‘For Those Which Are Asleep’ with a bit of caution. Trouble’s discography, particularly their first four albums, are doom metal masterpieces. Hell, even the often maligned ‘Simple Mind Condition’ has some redeeming qualities. ‘For Those Which Are Asleep’ manages to successfully recapture much of that early Trouble magic and, in its own way, establishes its own identity (review HERE).

11. Goya – ‘Satan’s Fire’ EP
Seedy, distortion-strewn psychedelia and bludgeoning riffs are Goya’s modus operandi. ‘Satan’s Fire’ is an addictive slab of sleazy stoner doom. Their split release with Wounded Giant is also killer. Definitely looking forward to the band’s sophomore full-length hopefully to be released this year (review HERE).

12. Apostle of Solitude – ‘Of Woe and Wounds’
To be honest this album probably would’ve ranked higher on the year’s best list had I gotten my hands on it sooner. I’m still wrapping my head around this one. With ‘Of Woe and Wounds’ Apostle of Solitude continue to hone their craft and the album displays some magnificent dual guitar harmonies and many of the band’s heaviest moments. An awesome album as expected.

13. Reino Ermitaño - ‘Conjuros de Poder’
Reino Ermitaño’s ‘Veneración del Fuego’ is still the album to beat, but the band issues a worthy follow-up with their fifth album overall. ‘Conjuros de Poder’ is a bewitching album that is steeped in mysticism and, of course, riffs (review HERE).

14. Lucifer’s Fall – ‘S/T’
Killer tunes and melodic, well-placed leads sum up Lucifer’s Fall’s self-titled debut. Phil Howlett takes a slightly more traditional approach to his songwriting compared to his work with Vertical Chamber Apparatus favorite Rote Mare. The results are simply beautiful (review HERE).

15. Bretus – ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’
Bretus’ sophomore effort is definitely a darker release compared to their debut, ‘In Onirica.’ With H.P. Lovecraft as their spiritual guide Bretus take the listener down a dark path that is equal parts doom and straight up old school metal (review HERE).

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