Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Sludgelord Presents: Daniel Jackson's Top 25 Records of 2014

25. Freedom Call - Beyond

I will always remember 2014 as the year I learned to embrace traditional heavy metal and power metal. This album is downright joyful and it’s one I turned to whenever I need a spiritual lift. Top notch power metal.

24. Abigor - Leytmotif Luzifer (The 7 Temptations of Man)

Ferocious and often completely unhinged black metal. It’s slightly less progressive than 2010’s ‘Time is Sulphur in the Veins of the Saint’, but the narrower focus makes this album more cohesive than its predecessor and therefore better in my book.

23. Vanhelgd - Relics of Sulphur Salvation

More restrained than most in the speed department for a death metal band, and the riffs are able breathe and leave a lasting impact as a result. Not just any band could make this approach work, but Vanhelgd has mastered this style

22. Necrophagia - White Worm Cathedral

A bit of a surprise for me as I’d kind of given up hope after a string of releases that didn’t click with me at all. This one’s supremely catchy and the classic horror schtick is through the roof (in a good way).

21. Generation of Vipers - Coffin Wisdom

This one crept up out of nowhere. I’d never even heard the name prior to this one landing in my inbox, and beyond the massive heaviness, you’ll have a difficult time finding a band with a better rhythm section or just rhythm in general for a post metal band.

20. Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

This is the first Judas Priest album since Painkiller that’s really resonated with me. The one-two combo of ‘Halls of Valhalla’ and ‘Sword of Damocles’ is a deadly one and the album’s highlight, but there’s plenty more greatness to go around. It’s great to have them in such a strong form again.

19. Bastard Sapling - Instinct is Forever

This was almost guaranteed to end up on my list just for existing. A love letter to the less necro side of 90s second wave black metal. This album scorches from top to bottom, though ‘Lantern at the End of Time’ is one of the great songs of the year.

18. Slough Feg - Digital Resistance

Though very different musically from Freedom Call, Digital Resistance gives me a similarly joyful feeling every time I listen to it. There’s no band that sounds like Slough Feg in 2014 and that’s a testament to just how creative they are.

17. Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

Wonderful atmospheric black metal. Not so heavy on the atmosphere that it loses ferocity when it’s aiming for it. Mare Cognitum are a similar hemisphere as Darkspace, but wisely very different and willing to change things up.

16. Nux Vomica - Nux Vomica

In my review of this album, I thought it would have to be a hell of a year for Nux Vomica to end up out of my top 3 for the year. Turns out it was a hell of a year, but this is still an elite level sludge/crust hybrid, with a better grasp of melody than most.

15. Midnight - No Mercy for Mayhem

This band seems to be incapable of doing much wrong in my mind. Sleaze upon sleaze, Venom upon Motorhead; this band is going to be a consistent favorite for years to come at this rate.

14. Panopticon - Roads to the North

They’ve somehow managed to improve upon the Kentucky formula with the bluegrass and folk elements being performed at a higher level and the inclusion of mid-90s Gothenburg death metal riffs being a great new addition to the overall direction.

13. Mortals - Cursed to See the Future

Even being in the top 15, I may have underrated this album when I look back on this list over the years. Blending black metal and sludge driven by brilliant rhythm choices and riffs that are layered but not over-busy. They’re a must-watch live, too.

12. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li

There’s so many elements melted into one cohesive sound with The Great Old Ones, that it’s damn near impossible to give a truly accurate description of them. The base is post metal and sludge, but you’ve got tons of black metal and even some Daylight Dies style melodic death-doom. You’ll just have to listen to it.

11. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

Thick, melodic doom with its heart belonging to 70s and 80s metal and hard rock. They’ve got a lot of appeal outside of the metal bubble, likely because they’re gifted songwriters and can craft a merciless hook, but it is what it is: a metal album that places more importance on melody than worrying about metal purism.

10. Diocletian - Gesundrian

This is something else. See, I’m a huge fan of Angelcorpse and bands along those lines. This is the ugliest, nastiest version of that style of death metal. Albums like Gesundrian are why I’ll never really get into ultra-polished death metal acts. This is just too much more engaging.

09. Artificial Brain - Labyrinth Constellation

Talk about a fully-realized band concept from start to finish! They sound just like their album cover looks. It takes the feel and atmosphere of Gorguts/Immolation/Ulcerate and combines it with this awesome mechanical bass tone that sounds like a android freaking out. Not the most eloquent description, but it’s the best one I’ve got.

08. Nightfell - The Living Ever Mourn

An excellent marriage of Tragedy-style crust with Mournful Congregation style doom melodies resulting in a fantastic new death/doom metal band. Because the two styles haven’t really been blended very much, it sounds fresh and interesting despite its relative orthodoxy.

07. Skull Fist - Chasing the Dream

Very much stuck in the past, but still overflowing with youthful exuberance. Tremendous heavy metal songcraft with top-tier consistency from top to bottom. Might be a bit glam-sounding for some folks, but this is the year I’ve wholly embraced 70s and 80s metal in a way that I never have before, thanks to the awesome 80s Essentials series that Last Rites published this year. This hit that same sweet spot in a big way for me.

06. Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise

Showing that there’s no need to get into post-anything in order to keep black metal moving forward, Thantifaxath have created a sound that avoids being derivative while still being clearly black metal. It’s unnerving, jarring, and harrowing; which black metal rarely is anymore. If ‘The Return’ is a classic Universal monster movie, Sacred White Noise is Martyrs.

05. Dawnbringer - Night of the Hammer

I’ve written a lot about this album, but in a nutshell it comes down to this: Dawnbringer wring every drop they can out of each and every riff and do so while keeping everything so simple and memorable that everything on the album means something. Sure on the surface its a combination of classic heavy metal and doom, but the care that goes into it is in a class all its own.

04. Morbus Chron - Sweven

I struggled with the order of the top 5 quite a bit. Any of these albums could justifiably be at the top. In Morbus Chron’s case, they’ve have taken a foundation of early Death and built from that wild, visionary sound that indicates that they’re not done exploring. Experimentation is a beautiful thing when it’s successful.

03. Horrendous - Ecdysis

A lot of people have heaped praise on this one and deservedly so. Ecdysis and Sweven have been neck and neck for me ever since I got a hold of Ecdysis in the early fall. Neither is really better or worse than the other, but a tie is a cop out where one isn’t needed. I’ve given the slightest of edges to Ecdysis because there isn’t a song on Sweven that quite matches up to “The Stranger”. It might be more conventional than Sweven, but the narrowest of songwriting margins favors Horrendous.

02. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

It’s hard to come up with something to write about Primordial that hasn’t been written about them by people much smarter and more eloquent than I will ever be. If you’ve heard Primordial over the last 10 years or so, you have a general idea as to what this will sound like. This is on par with To The Nameless Dead if not better, which would make this one of their two best albums to date. Not to mention they’ve recorded their best song to date with Wield Lightning to Split the Sun

01. Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

This is the best complete album of 2014. While many of the albums on this list are a tremendous collection of songs; Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry feels like a singular journey from start to finish. Melodic black metal rarely reaches this level of depth and intricacy without becoming something else entirely. A magical album from the opening note.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Sludgelord Presents: The Best of the Beard 2014

Black Moon Circle - Black Moon Circle

One of the best psychedelic albums (bands) of the year. For a few months, it was never far from my turntable. Pure space rock!

Blood Farmers - Headless Eyes

 Such a balanced record, heavy…groovy… trippy. If Pink Floyd dug horror movies, this would be their “Wish You Were Here”

Blues Pills - Blues Pills

After a couple of EPs, this album sees Blues Pills reach their full potential. Fun all the way through, this is a great rock and roll record. Please just stop re-recording “Devil Man”.

BoneHawk - Albino Rhino

Strong, steady grooves, killer guitar harmonies, catchy vocal hooks. BoneHawk is almost what you wish QOTSA still were. One of the best independent releases of the year.

Brank Bjork - Black Power Flower:

The grooviest album (possibly ever), Brant Bjork is officially the hippest cat in the room. Prior to its release, I didn’t know what to expect and frankly, was pretty indifferent about the whole thing. Now I can’t stop listening. This album always puts a smile on my face and a shake to my strut. Can you dig it?

Child - Child

Look up the definition of “heavy blues” and here they are. Fucking brilliant throughout. Amongst a pretty transient rotation, it hasn’t left my iPhone all year.

Conan - Blood Eagle 

Conan's best work to date. Heavy as fuck and with plenty of riffs to keep things moving, this album is as brutal as it gets. The sound of violence.

Corrosion Of Conformity - IX 

Possibly the final chapter from the reformed “Animosity” lineup, as Pepper is said to be returning to the fold. As happy as I am about that, I’ve loved what COC has done over the last few years and this album is an excellent exclamation point to this riff-tastic era in the bands long history.

Electric Wizard - Time To Die

Love it… hate it… It’s the Wizard at their darkest and most depraved. Sometimes more noisescapes than outright riffage, I dig the shit out of it.

Foghound - Quick, Dirty & High

With killer, simplistic riffs and catchy-as-hell-sing-along hooks, Foghound has made a party album that is a breath of fresh air and a whole lot of fun. It amazes me that this band hasn’t been picked up by a label. Vanrock of the highest order!

The Golden Grass - The Golden Grass:

On the lighter side of the heavy psych spectrum, The Golden Grass just craft great rock tunes that sound straight off the 70’s AM dial. This album will be the summer jams for years to come.   

Hornss - No Blood, No Sympathy

Neanderthal sludge rock with enough weird to make a Melvins fan proud, this was a sleeper hit in my world and a very welcome surprise. It’s raw as hell and a damn good time. Break out the bongs and the battlejackets!

Mamont - The Valleys Below

What?!? The singer left? Killer EP of Swedish stoney grooves and bluesy licks, I hope they find a way to forge on.

Mars Red Sky - Stranded In Arcadia

Man, I don’t really know what to say about this album… It’s the sound of the moon reflecting off the glassy stillness of Lake Eerie on a cool summer night… on mushrooms.

Melvins - Hold It In

Maybe the most fun Melvins album ever! The Butthole injection (get it?) brought new life to the old Melvins formula. The heavy stuff is as heavy as ever and the noise is supreme, but there’s something different going on here. This album is as good as (and similar in it’s scope to) anything they released during the Atlantic years.

Monolord - Empress Rising

The heaviest album of the year. Riff worship at it’s finest. It was a classic the second the needle hit the wax. Easily RidingEasy Records best release to date.

Mothership - II

I saw them live last year and was blown away by how heavy they were, this album captures the essence of that experience. The road has done wonders for this band and they’ve delivered a jaw-breaking slab of heavy Texas riffage. Amazing job all around.

Mount Carmel - Get Pure

These cats just plain rule. “Real Women” is by far one of my favorite albums and although this is a bit of a 180 from that, it is just as good, if not better. And check the skills on these dudes! Chops for days…

Salem’s Pot - …Lurar ut dig på prärien

Those crazy kids just keep getting weirder and weirder, and I fuckin dig it! The heaviness subsides a bit to make room for a more psychedelic edge, but they’re still dark as hell and twisted up in knots. Hail Satan!

The Scimitar - Doomsayer

Darryl Shepard and Co. pick up right where Black Pyramid left off and deliver an excellent album full of thick, tasty riffs, articulate arrangements and rock solid doom. Throw in a top notch Motorhead cover for good measure, let’s party!

Slomatics - Estron

Yeah… just epic… fucking epic! If this album came out later in the year, it would be on the top of every list. Brilliant record in every way… also never left my iPhone.

Slow Season - Mountains

Huge fan of their debut and psyched to see this album get the proper vinyl treatment from RidingEasy Records. They are to Zeppelin what Orchid is to Sabbath, and that is a major compliment in my book. Absolutely slamming classic rock album, it will be a favorite for years to come.

Swamp Machine - Mondo Magic

These dudes just broke up, total bummer! Was looking forward to this album and loved it right off the bat. I always wondered why didn’t the band get more attention? I thought this album was incredible from day one. It’s what traveling through a collapsing star sounds like.

Wo Fat - The Conjuring

Wo Fat are the kings of heavy Texas fuzz! These dudes rule, this album rules. Heavy psych… blues… jams… fucking riffs!!!! They’ve mastered the sound, it’s unlike anything else…. IT’S FUCKING WO FAT, MAN!

Yob - Clearing The Path To Ascend

This list has been arranged alphabetically because I don’t really believe in ranking releases in a “Best Of” order. Besides, my choices would change almost daily…. Except for Yob. “Clearing The Path To Ascend” is the album of the year and “Marrow” is the song of the year (decade?). Admittedly a novice when it comes to Yob’s catalogue, at first listen it was hard to escape hyperbole. After a few listens, it became clear. With “Marrow” being the emotional and musical apex, “Clearing The Path To Ascend” is an extremely important album that transcends classification of genre and reaches beyond the limits of my vocabulary. It’s just too goddamn good for words.

Listen to Electric Beard Of Doom: Episode 40 – The Best Of The Beard: 2014 on Saturday, December 27th at:

10am EST on Core Of Destruction Radio (www.coreofdestructionradio.com)
5pm EST on Grip Of Delusion Radio (www.gripofdelusion.com)

Or listen to any episode… anytime… anywhere at: http://www.mixcloud.com/ElectricBeardOfDoom/