2014 was not a bad year for music releases at all. It was tough to narrow my list down to 10 favorites (which will most likely change by the time I am done writing this!) But, this year I’m going to keep my main list limited to lp’s. Then we’ll throw out a few honorable mentions for some various 7″, demos and a few lp’s that didn’t quite make the cut for me. There were a ton of great releases this year and there is a lot missing from this post, but I’m sure lots of other “best-of” lists will cover the gamut.
10. INCANTATION – Dirges of Elysium
While not as strong as their last release, Incantation delivered a slab of heavy death metal that they are known for. If anything, Incantation are always consistent in their delivery. While the days of “Onward to Golgotha” are behind us, Incantation are still showing that they are still one of the leaders when it comes to US Death Metal. Also, major props because John McEntee lives in Johnstown!
9. IMPETUOUS RITUAL – Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence
The thing about death metal, is your either “get it”, or you don’t. It’s really that simple. Impetuous Ritual are one of a rare breed of Death Metal in the veins of PORTAL, ABYSSAL, MITOCHONDRIAN or VASAELETH. Impetuous Ritual combine the death metal version of “atmospheric” vocals with a thunder of blast beats and brutally grinding guitars. I listen to a lot of death metal when I need to concentrate on work, and this one found itself being at the top of my most-listened this year.
8. MUTILATION RITES – Harbinger
When it comes to the whole NYC Black Metal “scene”, there is only one band that does it for me, and that’s Mutilation Rites. Their debut on Prosthetic records took right up where their last LP left off and raised the stakes a bit higher. Vomit-like vocals over a swarth of mud driven guitars showing that there are still some black metal bands in the US that know how to bring it.
7. DEAD CONGREGATION – Promulgation of the Fall
May as well get the last of my death metal records on the beginning of this list. DEAD CONGREGATION hail from Greece. Their first lp was so-so, but “Promulgation of the Fall” saw this band stepping up and delivering a powerful onslaught of deathmetal. One of the better death metal releases of 2014.
7. THE OATH – The Oath
Take one part female vocals, add in a bit of occult-rock and a heaping pile of doom, and you got THE OATH. This record is close to being a perfect record in it’s genre (whatever that is.) Adding to the mystique of this record was that less than a few hours after it was released, the band broke up – never to record or be heard from again. This is a great listen and is going to have some longevity in many people’s playlists.
5. WARPAINT – Warpaint
Here is where you, the reader, go “wait what?”
I tried to get out of my comfort zone a bit this year, and this was a huge payback for me. I never even heard of this band until I went to see them in Philly with my wife Val and only about 2 songs into their set did I realize that it fell right in line with some of my other tastes outside of metal. The band is mega-talented. Unique enough to fall outside of the realms usual alterno-pop crap and they have a big enough dose of shoegaze that find myself listening to this at least once a week. Hope they can find their way to Pittsburgh for a show soon. Plus, my god, Emily Kokal? Geeze oh man.
4. CODE ORANGE – I Am King
What I like best about Code Orange is that their music pushes boundaries and is different from what you would expect for any of the genres they happen fall under. This isn’t hardcore by a long shot, and it’s not quite what you would expect for a metal band either – it’s something in between, all to it’s own. Combine this with the fact that they are so young and it’s scary to think that the best of this band is still to come.
So many people looked forward to this record and none of them really knew what to expect from it. It was one of the few releases that didn’t really leak early either, so the first time anyone really heard it was when it was streamed a few days before release day.
Code Orange come from the hardcore scene and musically they are so far beyond anything else coming from this genre right now. This record also crosses over enough that metal heads are liking it too. These kids are busting their asses, recording some seriously good music and surprising every single person that listens to it – and – doing it all on their own terms.
3. MIDNIGHT – No Mercy for Mayhem
Cleveland’s MIDNIGHT are really just a rock-n-roll band at heart. Black and dark and tinged with just a hint of old-school Venom, but rock and roll nonetheless. Not much more to say about this then it rocks. Highlight tracks include “Evil Like A Knife”, “No Mercy for Mayhem” and the glorious “Woman of Flame”. The live version of “All Hail Hell” is sweet also.
2. GODFLESH – A World Lit Only By Fire
The last thing I would ever expect to have on this list would have been this GODFLESH lp. I always appreciated this band, but was never really a huge fan. When I heard they were releasing a new lp this year I figured I would give it a spin at the least. Now I can’t get enough and it’s in constant rotation in my apartment. Great record that leaved me kicking myself that I skipped seeing them when they were in Philly earlier this year.
1. MAYHEM – Esoteric Warfare
One of my absolute favorite bands. Every record from MAYHEM is different and Esoteric Warfare is a beast all to it’s own. I think that MAYHEM is an acquired taste – I can totally see how folks would hate this record. After Blasphemer left the band (he wrote all of their last masterpiece “Ordo Ad Chao”) lots of folks wondered if they could still put together a good record. With “Esoteric Warfare” MAYHEM shows that they still have it. Can’t wait to see them in January.
Favorite Demo’s & 7″
- Both split 7″ from ADVENTURES
- NECROT: The Abyss
- DEATH INJECTION: Don’t Care
- WAR EMBLEM: Constant Defeat
- PISSGRAVE: Demo
- SABBATH ASSEMBLY: Quaternity
- MANSION: We Shall Live
- STERILIZER: Sterilizer
- RASPBERRY BULBS: Privacy
- NACHTMYSTIUM: World We Left Behind (Yes, really!)
This may be my last music post on my personal blog. Along with a few other contributors, I’ll be launching “Not Worth A Nickel” in the new year, and music blog dedicated to extreme music in all forms.
So there it is. I’m sure I left a few things out but these are the standouts for me for 2014. What were yours?