Grymm KittyMan, so much has happened in 2014, aka my second year writing for Angry Metal Guy. Having my very own office away from the boiler room (which reeked of desperation, sadness, and decaying flesh… kinda like your local Abercrombie & Fitch with less Axe body spray), seeing familiar faces leave, welcoming in a new batch of talent… it’s been a pretty hectic year. So hectic, in fact, that we’ve gone from one review a day (on average) to fitting in two consistently, and our output has been increased without sacrificing yet another minion quality to achieve such goals. That’s thanks to the hard work, dedication, and insane amounts of creativity of the editors and my fellow writers here at Angry Metal Guy.

But for all the talk about our increasing output, it’s you, the readers, the commenters, and the fans of the website, that are making this happen. We’ve legitimately become a major thing, and it’s all thanks to you folks for reading, commenting, and sharing the website to friends, family, and fellow metalheads. So thank you all, and let’s make 2015 an even better year, shall we? So, without further ado…

Blut Aus Nord Memoria Vetusta III 01(ish): Blut Aus Nord // Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry – Vindsval showed no signs of slowing down production in high-quality atmospheric black metal. With a new drummer in tow, Memoria Vetusta III added yet another essential album to their already impressive repertoire.

Dark Space III I#10.  Darkspace // Dark Space III I – Production woes aside, these Swiss aliens have mastered the gentle art of making the listener feel like they’re suffocating slowly in space, all while fearing the dark unknown that is the great void. Scary, exhausting, claustrophobic, and extremely paranoia-inducing, III I made a hell of an impact on me. In space, no one can hear you throw the horns.

Dawnbringer_Night of the Hammer#9.  Dawnbringer // Night of the Hammer – This one almost slipped through the cracks, but having purchased it out of word of mouth, I’m quite impressed with Chris Black’s command of many instruments and his incredible songwriting. With homages to doom and traditional metal, as well as a cool nod to Mercyful Fate in “Funeral Child,” Night of the Hammer is a grower that reveals more and more as the hooks dig deeper into your skin.  Also, COOLEST ALBUM ART OF THE YEAR.

Shores of Null - Quiescence 01#8.  Shores of Null // Quiescence – What do you get when you cross doom-infused death metal with Alice in Chains-style vocal harmonies? You get the debut from Italian doomsters Shores of Null, an album full of great melodies, crafty songs, and amazing vocals by Davide Straccione. There are big things in store for these guys, mark my words.

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata#7.  Triptykon // Melana Chasmata – Tom G. Warrior and crew dropped an atmospheric bomb with Melana Chasmata, trimming away some of the fat while remaining ever so potent in terms of build-ups and drenching the listener in a thick fog of darkness and depression. It meanders a bit here and there, but it was a huge improvement over Eparistera Daimones.

Darkest Era_Severance#6.  Darkest Era // Severance – Steel Druhm praised these proud Irish lads and lass, and with good reason. Sounding like a heady mix of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, sprinkled with the pride of Primordial and some incredible vocals by frontman Krum, Severance upped Darkest Era‘s stock big time.

Mors Principium Est - Dawn of the 5th Era 01#5.  Mors Principium Est // Dawn of the 5th Era – Yes, this is a late entry, but I gotta level with you… since hearing this album, I would listen to albums for review, and then immediately switch over to Dawn for some melodic death metal goodness. There’s not a single bad song on here, the solos are phenomenal, and those hooks.  THOSE HOOKS. And oh, to mirror what AMG said, AFM Records, stop releasing their albums in December after year-end lists are solidified!

Primordial Where Greater Men Have Fallen 01#4.  Primordial // Where Greater Men Have Fallen – Ireland’s greatest export (UWho?) returns after the minor slump of 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, showcasing a stronger focus, heavier songwriting, and more anthemic vocals by A. A. Nemtheanga.  AMG‘s Laws of Diminishing Recordings be damned, this was a welcome return to form.

vainaja-kadotetut2#3.  Vainaja // Kadotetut – Easily the most impressive debut this year, Finland’s backwoods religious cult made a huge impression on me this year.  Despite the horribly brickwalled production, the songwriting cut through like the words of a charsimatic madman, convincing you to drink the doom/death Kool-Aid for salvation. If you do decide to partake, however, do yourself a favor and get the vinyl version if you can. You’ll thank me later.

Godflesh A World Lit Only By Fire  01#2.  Godflesh // A World Lit Only By Fire – The Comeback Album of the Year. After being away for 13 long years, and with Justin Broadrick also helming the beautiful Jesu, nobody was prepared for the monolithic beatdown that A World Lit Only By Fire would administer. Sheer mechanical, cold ugliness, and one great way to make a return.

#1.  Pallbearer // Foundations of Ruin – It takes a special kind of album to really tug at my heart strings while remaining crushingly heavy, and Foundations, while being a deep album full of twists and turns, brought about both despair and hope. From the incredible songwriting to the addictive riffs of Devin Holt and Brett Campbell, as well as Campbell’s amazing vocal harmonies, Foundations has no peer, to be simply blunt. It’s easily among my favorite albums of all time, and one that can be enjoyed in bits and pieces, as well as from start to finish. Beautiful and honest.

Pallbearer_Foundations_Of_Burden

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Nebelung // Palingenesis – Stark, beautiful neo-folk with airy whispered vocals in German.
Hail Spirit Noir // Oi Magoi – For those who want their Satanic hymns with a ton of class and some good vino.
Opeth // Pale Communion – What Heritage should have been. Also, “River” is breathtaking.
Anaal Nathrakh // Desideratum – Visceral, maniacal, and anthemic.

Disappointments of 2014  (in no particular order):

At The Gates // At War With Reality – Mind you, this isn’t a bad album. It’s just merely okay, but the problem is that this album follows 1995’s influential Slaughter of the Soul. Yes, it’s its own creation, I get that, but I don’t get the love showered on this album elsewhere.
Eye of Solitude // Dear Insanity – How do you follow up Canto III, my #2 pick of Album of the Year last year and one of the most lauded funeral doom metal records in recent history? If you said “with a single meandering 50-minute song,” I’d stare at you like one of my cats does when he’s monorailing the sofa.

Song o’ the Year:

Triptykon // “Aurorae” – Folks, this is how you build a song up. One simple-yet-catchy drum pattern, one layer of guitars after another, and you keep building until you have an explosive pay-off near the end. One of Tom G. Warrior’s finest moments, and a song I’ve been listening to at least three times a day since first hearing it.  Massive.

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  • An entirely respectable list.

  • Ben

    Do you think it’s coincidence that 7 of your top 11 are albums are those that you reviewed?

    I know some of your choices would be top picks regardless of the reviewer, but I still think it’s interesting and would like to see if it’s a recurring theme across other reviewer’s lists. I wonder how many other albums would also be considered top 10 worthy had your reviewing duties made you put more time into them. (Or were you just lucky and got to review all the good ones :P)

    • Grymm

      You make a good point.

      Between reviewing what I’m given and my work schedule outside of AMG, it’s difficult to put more time into other albums (and for the record, Opeth, Nebelung, Origin, and Horrendous *barely* missed this list). Usually, I’ll put time into other records on commutes to and from work, and give it my full attention then. This year, especially the last three months of six-day work weeks, made it near impossible.

      I’m hoping to rectify that this upcoming year. :)

      • I think generally, when one of the writers raves about an album, the staff will give it a listen to see what the fuss is all about. Some of my favorite records of the past few years were reviewed by other AMG members.

        That said, you do spend more time getting intimately familiar with the albums you get assigned so some favoritism is unavoidable.

      • Ben

        Fair enough. I’m sure no one realistically has enough time and energy to listen to everything thoroughly. Heck that’s part of why people want to read reviews first anyway. And even if you had the time, why listen to something new when you’re still enjoying something else?

        I wasn’t trying to be critical by the way, I just found it interesting and felt like pointing it out. If anything, it provides good variety between people’s lists and lets readers see what they might have missed out on because they haven’t put the time into it, (that certainly applies to me anyway).

        • Grymm

          Oh, don’t worry. I didn’t take it as critical at all. It will be interesting to see other lists on here in the next few days, though!

        • Kronos

          It will be interesting indeed. My list is going up later today and I think Grymm and I have mentioned one album in common. That’s not to say I don’t like his list though, because there isn’t an album on here that I don’ like, just a bunch that I haven’t had time to listen to.

        • Grymm

          And as an aside… guess who just listened to London by Voices for the first time this week?

          *aiming two thumbs at myself*

          Had I heard this album last year, it would have landed in my Top Ten easily… but it releases in two weeks here in America, so there’s still hope! :-P

    • Kronos

      It’s definitely a theme in my list. There are a few good reasons for this though:
      1) As Grymm pointed out, it can be difficult to find time to listen to stuff that’s not on our list of albums to review.
      2) Most of the time, we choose what we’re going to review, so there is always a good chance that we will like what we review. When one of my favorite bands has a new album coming out, I usually try to snag it and usually get to unless someone else gets it first.
      3) As Grymm pointed out, mere exposure effect means that we’re more likely to like any album that we’re forced to review simply because we have to listen to it a bunch of times.

  • This is a great list. I will second your Vainaja on vinyl comment. Primordial was my AOTY and Vainaja and Godflesh made my top 10. Darkest Era definitely needs more love.

    • Grymm

      Vainaja on vinyl is just absolutely massive.

      • James Ingold

        I was a little worried that it would be forgotten come list time because it was released so early in the year and the criminal mastering on the digital version. Very happy I was proven wrong.

        • Grymm

          Nah, Kadotetut still gets some heavy playtime here in the Grymm office.

  • lacsativ

    Gotta admit, Aurorae is one hell of a song.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I wonder what would’ve happened if MPE hadn’t been shoved away an kept as a side note in 2012. I feel like 5th Era, as freaking good as it is, is still not as masterfully crafted or stupendously catchy as …and Death Said Live.

    Other than that, I like the list, even though your top 3 would be nowhere near my top 10, haha. Perhaps I need to listen to Foundations of Burden again because I just don’t see what’s so fantastic about it..

    PS: Into the Lair of the Sun God’s artwork beats the new one easily.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Grymm, I think I speak for many when I say thanks for this site and all the work you guys do. I check in every day, and there’s almost always something new and interesting. I’d like to say you’ve filled my house with great sounds, but, with three daughters, I usually have to endure Katy Perry and Bruno Mars (I usually get my Metal fix at work thanks to headphones). Many of the reviews at AMG are small literary gems (like Steel Druhm’s review of Orange Goblin’s latest). Thanks again, and here’s to another great year!

    • Grymm

      Thank you for the kind words, and glad you can get your metal fix somehow!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Great list, Mr. Grymm. Pallbearer didn’t click with me when I first listened to it, but your description makes me want to go back and give it a few more shots.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Do, its one for the ages!

  • Kryopsis

    One of the reasons I like this site so much is because there are some genuinely good albums I simply can’t get into, like Pallbearer’s Foundations of Ruin. At that point the AMG reviews are especially useful because I can use them as listening guides and appreciate subtleties that I would otherwise miss.

    Completely unrelated but damn is ‘Aurorae’ amazing. It manages to be both subtle and powerful with that slow but purposeful buildup. I particularly like that guitar tone.

    • Grymm

      I LOVE “Aurorae” SO MUCH.

  • Luke_22

    Need to check out Darkest Era and Vainaja asap. Cool to see Shores of Null on your list. Enjoyed it earlier in the year but kind of fell the wayside for no particular reason. I’ve heard a few grumblings about Foundations of Burden not quite living up to the debut but I agree with you 100 percent, it’s an absolute masterpiece. Also thanks for the heads up on the phenomenal debut ep from Vehemenz earlier this year.

    • Grymm

      Vehemenz was pretty damn good!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    At last GODFLESH being given it’s due respect!
    its pretty extraordinary when you consider that 2014 had two pioneering characters like Broadrick and Warrior releasing albums that could well be their best.
    Shores of Null must have grown on you since you reviewed it. I passed at after Layne Staley reference though looks like I need to add that to my catch up list.
    Hi fives, hope to see some more Grymm comments pieces in the new year.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    i agree with song of the year

  • euthanatos

    Great list, and 100% in agreement with “Aurorae” for best song. Probably the song I listened to the most this year.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    I, sir, am in 90% agreement with your list…bloodbath for shores of null. But hey that would be my list! This is quite a good one too.

  • Shawn Cypher

    It’s about time someone named Pallbearer their AOTY :)

    • Shawn Cypher

      I think a good bit of the reason Pallbearer clicked with me so much this year is it literally released about 4 days after my last girlfriend broke up with me. It was a really hard time for me, and it was just nice that something came out that kind of shared that same feeling… the album bonded with me in a way.

      The heavy despair in that album just sinks it’s teeth into me and won’t let go. But it’s also exhilarating to have that “release”… I’m trying to learn all the lyrics, because for some reason it’s one I find myself wanting to sing along to. I can’t sing, though.

      • Grymm

        Funny you should mention how pivotal that album’s release was in terms of its timing with a major event in your life.

        Right around the release of Foundations of Ruin, it was the sixth anniversary of my Dad’s passing from a long illness. I love good doom metal anyways, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Certain songs just resonate with you (in this case, “Watcher In the Dark” and especially “Vanished”) in ways that explaining won’t do enough justice. Even my closest friends didn’t exactly know what the big deal was until I conveyed with them just what memories the music conjured up. Hell, one of them even cried after I told him.

        Music, GOOD music, will make you feel that.

        • Shawn Cypher

          So very true… sometimes people don’t understand why things will click until they hear the stories.

          It sucks when some stuff hits home so hard that you have to skip it. I know I’ve had that happen before. It’s like “Let’s not pour salt on this wound just yet”

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    I’m going to agree that At War With Reality is disappointing, although I acknowledge that it may not be completely fair because it will be compared compared to a classic album like Slaughter of the Soul. Perhaps At The gates themselves have set the bar too high to come up with another classic almost 20 years later.

  • You know Grymm, one of these days you will have to head over to MFi HQ so we can swap notes. I’m pretty positive we would have a blast doing so. Great list. Nice to see a Nebelung mention too. So good.

    • Grymm

      I’m down with that!