Man, 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…
(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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.