Thumbs up: +43
Only my absolute favourite stuff from 2014.

Resisting the urge to dump everything that sounds potentially good here so I can actually write about the stuff I'm sure I do like. However, all the potentials can be found here should you wish to sift through them.

Some memorable album artworks (apologies if you're viewing this in 720p. Better get scrolling):








Lots more here.


Created by: !J.O.O.E.! | 05.04.2014



1. /---------------------------------\\ Top 25 Albums Of 2014 (No Specific Order) //---------------------------------\
2. Emptiness - Nothing But The Whole
It's not often I'm convinced something is AotY material after only a couple of songs but Emptiness make that an easy proposition with 'Nothing But The Whole'. I'm pretty sure I knew them from their previous album 'Error' which was some very good blackened death metal. Here, to say they've "matured" in song writing would be an immense understatement. There are flecks of that blackened death feel here and there, but they've progressed their sound into far more polymorphous territories, and the result is a meticulously detailed, highly varied tapestry of songs and structures, all tightly bound together by a singular dark atmosphere. It's quite something - http://tiny.cc/9yjmgx
3. Tyrant of Death - Ascendancy
I thought I was going to go the whole of 2014 without hearing a killer industrial metal album. Luckily I spotted this then. Effectively some kind of heavily industrialised djent (or djent-ish) and black metal, or some variation of that with some SYL shades. The production is spot on and matched only by the nail-to-the-wall drum programming. Songs effortless splice effect and sound together without ever being overbearing or uneven, and contribute greatly the dizzying heaviness onslaught whilst also maintaning a sense of melody - http://tiny.cc/ew1nqx
4. Igorrr - Maigre [Collaboration]
It was hardly a surprise but Igorrr's collaboration with Ruby My Dear turned out as excellent as one could have expected. It's a tour-de-force of playful and bombastic structures, sounds, styles and samples; of the strangest kind. Has some of the most straight-up breakcore elements in his work yet, but as with everything else he's associated with there are calmer, emotional moments laden with Baroque goodness. In all likelihood this will become my most played record of the year, so by default I suppose it should be considered the best as well - http://tiny.cc/kdnpqx
5. Sevendeaths - Concreté Misery
It's not metal, but I don't think many people would take issue with that considering how good it sounds. Quite beautiful retro-electronic, akin to Tangerine Dream, only progressing the sound further. Conjures up science fiction landscapes drenched in a 70s and 80s movie veneer. If that doesn't float your spacecraft then you ain't no friend of mine. As the year has progressed this has seen itself become a watermark considering how many good and great retro-electronic albums have been released. This maintains a unique beauty above all others - http://tiny.cc/0o1udx
6. Birds Of Passage - This Kindly Slumber
Drone-cum-ambient with a pop sensibility of the most delicate nature. Music that's little more than a mist floating above a woodland path, with a ghostly, gentle female whispering inhabiting it. Haunting ambiance, perfect music for when you awake before the sun comes up. Another album which has gained value as the months rolled by. One of my go-to albums when music is sounding a little too harsh and I need to reset myself - http://tiny.cc/wv7pqx
7. Necro Deathmort - Martian Cartography
Moving away from his usual droning dark ambient soundscapes, this around Necro Deathmort offers up a moody, pounding techno album. It's really nice to hear something so conventionally rhythm-based also have such a large emphasis on atmosphere and ambience and it doesn't surprise me that it sounds so damn good considering who's doing it. Definitely the kind of thing that would be played in scummy, alien nightclubs. I could definitely see Commander Shepard dancing to this - http://tiny.cc/7mo5dx
8. Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers
Deathspell Omecore. That's pretty much how I would describe this. There's quite a bizarre amount of cognitive dissonance going on here. At almost every point here it feels like I'm listening to a brilliant new Deathspell Omega record, but at the same time it's clearly not. Ravaged hardcore rasps permeate, just about, the flailing, blackened discordant riffs to create an instantly recognisable but ultimately different approach to the Ved Buens Ende riff. Great band name too - http://tiny.cc/syfgex
9. Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
How many originators / bands inhabiting the very earliest of specific genres, still define the genres they began nearly 30 years later, and even more effectively so than their modern equivalents? Sweet fuck all, that's how many. Mayhem are a rare exception. God these guys are good. This album is seriously noteworthy. Extraordinary technical skill, attention to detail, clever and unique songs, immense sense of dynamic structuring and of course a vocal performance only Attila could deliver. A perfect progression from Ordo's sound whist maintaining enough of it to please. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's an Ordo topper, but given the amount of anticipation levelled at this the fact it's not disappointing in any way is an achievement in itself - http://tiny.cc/j0rjgx
10. Noûs - ἀηδής
It feels like I've been waiting all year for that one killer blackened droning sludge number, and finally it arrived in the form of Australia's Noûs. Comprising only a 20 minute long track but then really that's all your doctor would ever prescribe you as I'm sure any further exposure would cause permanent damage. As it transpires 2014 was somewhat underwhelming with regards to blackened sludge and doom. Lord Mantis, Coffinworm and Indian failed to match their previous outings so this was truly a panacea to that - http://tiny.cc/of5pqx
11. Menace Ruine - Venus Armata
Whilst they're still there, mostly hiding in the corner of your proverbial eye in the background, the noise-soaken drones play a support role to Geneviève's exceptional and unusual vocals. This is the closest the band has come to revisiting The Die Is Cast which is something I'm quite happy about and the folk without folk music qualities shine through here magnanimously and the result is a strange and unusually sentimental affair. - http://tiny.cc/72vrnx
12. Tipper - Forward Escape
If Aphex Twin was the surprise album of this year of that style then this is the surprise find. Frankly I enjoy this much more due to the more organic and warm tones and despite the glitchy nature it's still has a minimalist spaciousness about it. Complex in design but quite specific in its intent. If you like being chilled out whilst having something to engage your brain to then this is electronic music you should probably try out. - http://tiny.cc/mxvrnx
13. Black Rain - Dark Pool
(Not to be confused with the linked Glam band) Now this is something I wish I could find more of. Techno-industrial that eschews all semblance of cliche-ridden cybergoth tendencies, beats and synths. Instead this errs much more toward a purer industrial sound, concentrating on dirty and dark atmospherics with no fear of using repetitive and punishing percussions, thick Lustmord-ian ambience and moody, understated electronics. A shapeless yet finely tuned album, and all the better for it. - http://tiny.cc/ynvrnx
14. Audrey Horne - Pure Heavy
Even I have that itch I need to scratch where I yearn for easy-to-digest mainstream metal and rock, and Audrey Horne fulfil that need perfectly. Rifftastic, anthemic and even a bit cheesy, Pure Heavy kick out heavy metal, hard and alternative rock tunes like there was no tomorrow. It's hard to deny the effectiveness of their songwriting and this is the perfect music for your mp3 player. Something that doesn't require a whole lot of thought to enjoy. Cheers guys. - http://tiny.cc/3rvrnx
15. Darkspace - Dark Space III I
Probably Darkspace's most "predictable" album yet. I think that's a good thing though. All the songs pretty much go exactly where you want and expect them to. Chords progress in typically Darkspace-ian fashion which means they're massively melodic and euphoric on top of that ambient background so you get a great interplay of harsh and melodic throughout (though this is by far their most digestible album because of how much focus there is on those melodies). In the same way those great chugging sections break up the structure nicely, as do the harsher, driving black metal blasting passages. Very much gives me a similar feeling to Monolith's 'Interlude Second' EP at quite a few points here. Deep and cosmic stuff. - http://tiny.cc/tqvrnx
16. Owl - The Last Walk
I've been a follower of Owl since the beginning more or less, but even so I've never felt they put out something brilliant as a contiguous whole. That is until this perfectly formulated EP. Big, spacious sound with lots of swirling ambience. Nice heavy but not overwhelming guitars that are almost drone doom at points, and there's also a nice industrial-esque bit in the middle. Vocals are nice too. Remind of something off a Jesu record a bit (and musically too). Like it. I guess it sort of feels like a big cross section of something bigger though but it's hard to mark it down for that - http://tiny.cc/jta3px
17. Anatomy of Habit - Ciphers + Axioms
Extremely interesting and discordant industrial / doom / post-metal with Virus-ish vocals. Two 20 minute tracks. Heavy as sin; eerie and disconcerting stuff. The latter half of the second track descends into some nice soundscaping. I love the way it maintains a sense of dread throughout, especially the first song which traverses in perfect progression a path of percussive driven, suspense-filled terror, ending up in a drone-like crescendo before collapsing once again back to where it began - http://tiny.cc/sy92px
18. Schammasch - Contradiction
I'm really glad some bands are realising that you can inject a deathy, black metal aesthetic into music without having to play at a constant fast and punishing pace which lets you do so much more with what's available to you. Because of that this album utterly reeks of moody atmosphere, variety, subtle (and not so subtle) melody, nuance, generally just very dynamic compositional skill and attention to detail. Little details really make it stand out too, like hidden acoustic guitars hidden underneath heavier moments, like that flamenco-ish bit mz mentioned, sneaky little electronic textures where it would never be expected, gorgeous Gregorian chants - not original but used in a way that doesn't even seem to imply ominousness like other bands usually do - rewarding euphoric melancholy, and at times it sounds like you're listening to super-heavy atmospheric sludge, and other times something straight off a Triptykon album - http://tiny.cc/a992px
19. Kayo Dot - Coffins on Io
From such a band with possibly the coolest album name ever you would expect something seriously out-there. In actual fact this is probably the least weird I've ever heard the band. Despite that this could be might favourite album of theirs that I've heard. What we have here is an understated prog rock album with some electronic influence ala Tangerine Dream et al and a little Pink Floyd-ian psychedelia. Apparently influence from darkwave and gothic rock too. The vocal delivery is also rather subdued, even during its more theatrical moments. Aside from a few intentionally disjointed deviations (primarily on 'The Assassination of Adam' which I think would have been best left off the album) this remains a brooding and thought-provoking record. - http://tiny.cc/euksnx
20. Taurus - No/Thing
Female-fronted duo of highly experimental droning psychedelic sludge and doom. That's about as well as I can describe this collaboration between a member of each Dark Castle and Purple Rhinestone Eagle. I particularly love the Blut aus Nord-ian bendy riffs which sit exceptionally well within the absolute mire of screeching and wailing vocal feedback, free-form percussion and a curious Eastern and meditational vibe amidst the swirling ambience. Also has Wrest doing vocals in the last track in typical monstrous fashion. Incredible stuff but not for the uninitiated - http://tiny.cc/unjoex
21. Infestus - The Reflecting Void
Everything Infestus do they do better than everyone else in their field of so-called "atmospheric" black metal. Their production and sound is the most rich, punchy and intense without being remotely overproduced, they balance epic melodies with moody, foreboding rhythms and riffs better than anyone else does, the drums have more personality, the vocalist is more confident and annunciates better, as well as sounding like a throaty Mikael Stanne (never a bad thing), and they just write better and more dynamic songs. Pretty safe to say this is the best black metal record I've heard this year so far - http://tiny.cc/vwhkex
22. Peter Christopherson - Time Machines II
Legendary English experimental band Coil released an album back in the late 90s called 'Time Machines' which consisted of 4 songs composed supposedly under the influence and / or inspired by 4 experimental psychedelic drugs that the band were sent by "international chemists," whatever that means. This album appears to be some kind of follow up by Coil member Peter Christopherson who passed away during its production. I'm unsure of any details surrounding this record beyond that, apart from the fact it's been released in an expensive USB, pewter / leather pack, but what I do know is that it's an incredible experimental drone record. Quite immense array of compositional techniques, textures and intensity - http://tiny.cc/apr3dx
23. Arizmenda - Tliltic Tlapoyauak
Usually I couldn't imagine including a compilation on a best of year list but then this is a compilation of Black Twilight Circle bands (bands on Crepusculo Negro and Rhinocervs labels) so you can expect a Borg-level hive mind consistency and style relation going on here. 16 tracks at nearly two hours long, this is a mostly black metal affair with some doom and death metal thrown in. You can expect raw as-you-like sound but with modern approaches in freeform, heavy layered and psychedelic structures. Some of the best artists currently making music so this is a total must-have - http://tiny.cc/ythtnx
24. Disemballerina - Undertaker
Rarely do I hear something as well conceived as it is composed. I don't know much about this kind of music, if one could even pigeon-hole it, but as a cinematic piece of classical driven folk music this is highly complex in its emotional delivery and seemingly devoid of cliché because of it. From subtle sadness to equally ambivalent apocalyptic evocations, you'll have to decipher how to feel yourself. - http://tiny.cc/d0vrnx
25. The Cosmic Dead - EasterFaust
An absolute monster of swirling psychedelic krautrock and a visual feast of kaleidoscopic colours, patterns, shapes and sounds. Any attempt at rational thought while listening to this will result in nothing less than a total short circuit of the mind. Naturally the only way to approach this is to let it take ahold of you as you tumble down the rabbit hole. Far out, man - http://tiny.cc/3wawdx
26. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite
A fantastic record that Wolves alluded to with their also excellent previous album Celestial Lineage. Here we see them floating away from their metal roots and conjuring a peaceful and ethereal haze of droning ambient and mature electronic fuzz with subtle hints of Sunn O))) in the background. Reminds me of the works of Tangerine Dream and even the utterly magnanimous Murmuüre at points with an almost free-form beauty. It's Wolves, Jim, but only vaguely as we know it - http://tiny.cc/3vqsix
27. /---------------------------------\\ Best Of The Rest //---------------------------------\
28. Morbus Chron - Sweven
* These guys appear to want a piece of the action that Tribulation got last year with their phenomenal The Formulas of Death album. Like them, they see themselves merging an old-school aesthetic with a modern twist. Death, thrash and progressive metal is blended harmoniously with mature songwriting and superbly organic production to create superlative atmosphere. At times this even gives off an At The Gates vibe, which is great seeing as they apparently do it better than At The Gates did this year. - http://tiny.cc/2b1udx
29. Nasheim - Solens Vemod
If you've been missing the golden days of Drudkh, are pining for the emotionally charged atmospherics of Fen's debut, or feel like Walknut's sophomore will never arrive, then this is truly the album for you. And what a blinder it is; dense and foreboding with a subtle, folky darkness that harkens back to Negură Bunget's 'n Crugu Bradului' - http://tiny.cc/rc1udx
30. Dephosphorus - Ravenous Solemnity
Grecian, space-themed blackened grindcore. As good as it sounds. Far more song-based than your average grind outfit; this record displays an impressive amount of technical mastery and songwriting variation, not to mention a rich and satisfyingly juicy sound. - http://tiny.cc/id1udx
31. Atlas Machine - Elysium
"Ambient black metal" is one of the bandied around terms you'll see these days, but Atlas Machine take it to the most literal level, chopping up segments of intensely thick metal in equal measures with spacious ambient and downtempo electronic music. Nothing of the "dark" variety you often see associated with black metal. For that reason alone this is a bit of an oddity, and a great sounding one at that - http://tiny.cc/ka1udx
32. Bong - Stoner Rock
Bong poke fun at the stoner rock genre by entitling their umpteenth record just that, despite sounding nothing like the sound associated with it. In reality though this is probably closer to "stoner rock" than anything that's fallen out the genre. If you know Bong you'll know what to expect: lengthy tripped out voyages through the vastness of space, your sitar being your faithful companion - http://tiny.cc/6f1udx
33. Slough Feg - Digital Resistance
Pretty much the flag bearers for interesting and highly personalised sounding heavy metal. Slough Feg lost a bit of their momentum with their previous album which often became lost within itself, lacking memorable character, but here they make a return to form and deliver, once again, songs that stay more readily in one's memory. Maybe a little thin on the production / guitar tone front but easily forgiveable when they write such good tunes - http://tiny.cc/xh1udx
34. Gnaw Their Tongues & Alkerdeel - Dyodyo Asema
* What do you get when you combine two of the darkest, most delicious bile spewing musical entities that are Gnaw Their Tongues and Alkerdeel? Something sinister that's for sure. Subtle blends of insidious doom, drone, black metal and dark ambient create an aural landscape dripping with death and disease. Even some melancholic melody seeps through. Start 2014 the right way; listen to this - http://tiny.cc/0j1udx
35. Blut Aus Nord - Debemur MoRTi
Debemur Mortii's surprise 100th album release (I think). If you've stumbled onto pretty much any of BaN's recent work then you'll know what to expect here as it's very "standard" where his sound is concerned. Highly industrialised, dissonant black metal that doesn't sound like anything else you've ever heard before outside of the band - http://tiny.cc/tk1udx
36. Warforged - Essence Of The Land
Stunningly good extreme progressive metal EP that combines elements from black metal, hardcore and of a variety of technical metal outputs that ultimately winds up being far more atmospheric than one might expect it to be, owing partially to subtle use of ambient and intertwining melodic leads. Still ballsy as fuck though - http://tiny.cc/cl1udx
37. My Useless Life - Negative Memories
Far from being the biggest DSBM fan, the fact I love this should probably stand as a testament to how good it is. As a friend of mine once said about this: "They're not riffs, they're cadences of futility." Sounds about right to me, this is some paradoxically uplifting and melodic music - http://tiny.cc/em1udx
38. Hooded Menace - Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze
Two moderately lengthy tracks of rabid deathly doom. Not original, nor innovative, it is however wretched as sin and most satisfying to give oneself up to. Which of course you all really want to because being naughty is better than being nice. Menacing, and hooded. Or something. - http://tiny.cc/fn1udx
39. Nadja - Queller
It's amazing that after so many records Nadja can still deeply impress. This isn't to say they're reinventing the wheel here; this is still Nadja's trademark approach of taking dreampop and shoegaze to the extreme levels of ambient drone, but it's done with such aplomb that the floaty, fuzzed-out dreamscapes sound as good as they always have - http://tiny.cc/xp1udx
40. Merkabah (Poland) - Moloch
Even in 2014, when metal is morphing and twisting, bringing something new and unique out on practically a daily basis, some things still remain more unique than others. Poland's Merkabah are one such example. Some kind of bizarre, avant-garde jazz post-metal. It's deliciously challenging and genre-crushing far beyond human comfort- http://tiny.cc/l442ex
41. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li
More Frenchies. The sophomore of Lovecraft-inspired black metallers is a monolith of ultra intense walls of dissonance / harmony interplay. The result is a textured, sometimes epically melodic yet challenging, culmination of their potential that I was lucky enough to experience on a pre-release demo of their first album. They've evolved into a peerless entity - http://tiny.cc/at1udx
42. Moloch - Verwüstung
I'm not altogether familiar with Moloch but from what I understand the band dwell a lot in dark ambient soundscapes. This album, however, is more like old-school black metal sandwiched between a dark ambient intro and outro. Normally something so tired and tested wouldn't make such a list but it's been a while since I was so impressed by old fashioned black metal. Extremely well made stuff - http://tiny.cc/aw1udx
43. Omnerod - Ivory Dune
Still not entirely sure what this is. Extreme progressive metal would come closest, but I think they outdo even Psygnosis in the experimental stakes. Every song quite literally offers something new, be it ambient, djent, death metal or some curious combination of all these things, or something else entirely. Definitely a testament to originality in its most purest form - http://tiny.cc/yw1udx
44. Deadly Carnage - Manthe
Coarse, scorched, post-black metal. I can't say this will win any originality competitions but there's a distinct strength in its songwriting and delivery that's kept me coming back. Could be those searing shrieks, or could be the hints of melancholy scattered throughout. Who knows. It's good though - http://tiny.cc/wy1udx
45. Howls of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye
To think I very nearly let this one slip by. This is truly WEIRD stuff. In my head this is what !T.O.O.H.! would sound like if they played raw, blackened death metal. That might not be that accurate, but there's something about the queer, bendy riffs snaking off in random directions that make me think the mad Czechs would do something rather like it - http://tiny.cc/mz1udx
46. Conan - Blood Eagle
I won't pretend this is a perfect record; some of the tracks clearly aren't as strong as others, but the ones that do hit all the right notes hit them very hard indeed. It's difficult to deny the pleasures of the ultra-heaviness and sexual rhythms on offer here. Have to say Conan also managed something very difficult which was to impress me with a music video, which can be seen in the link. Could spawn a whole series from it I reckon - http://tiny.cc/107vdx
47. Epistasis - Light Through Dead Glass
What even is this? It's hard to say. Seemingly loosely based in black metal, but contorted toward the avant-garde, drawing upon sludge and doom's ability to bludgeon, atonal TKDE-like jazz inflections, the odd, classic OSDM riff (see: 'Witch'), amongst other things, all compacted into a sub-half hour experiment curated by a vocalist somewhat reminiscent of Lord Mantis. The whole thing should sound like a mess but really this is as organic and meticulously constructed as anything else I've heard. I don't know what it is but it's beautiful. - http://tinyurl.com/p89h7tt
48. Pye Corner Audio - Black Mill Tapes Vol​.​4
Another retro sort of electronic number. Lots of classic ambient techno synth going on, minimalistic in presence but with a variety of great, often groovy and filmic textures. Debatable when this was released (Bandcamp and RYM say 2013, official Facebook and Discogs say 2014) but I love this kind of thing though so it makes the list - http://tinyurl.com/n9eytks
49. David Andree and John Mason - Call, Response
I love ambient music, but it can be very boring. Creating something out of very little is a challenge and is really based on one's ability to manipulate on a very subtle level. 'Call, Response' might be the first album of its type this year that's attracted me. Feels like a soundtrack to an atmospheric, indie puzzle platformer like 'The Swapper'. Ethereal and painstakingly nuanced - http://tinyurl.com/pmjnoqh
50. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
I don't remember much about the debut, so can't really compare, but going on the merits of this album I can say it's a hugely impressive one. Extremely well crafted mixture of mechanical thrash, pounding, angular doom with a somewhat subtle gothic edge and a general tone and atmosphere I've only really known with Tom G. Warrior related material. Pretty astounding vocal performances too. Could do with having 15 minutes shaved off but on the whole I'm a big fan of this - http://tinyurl.com/pe3dxzj
51. Ø - Konstellaatio
It's pretty incredible what artists can do, can make us visualise, by utilising minor components of music and sound. The most very minimal ambient and techno here creates surprisingly huge soundscapes which emphasise the gaps of silence in between as elements of the compositions themselves. That sounds pretty pretentious but then I suppose this is pretty pretentious music - http://tinyurl.com/q46e8v3
52. Suffering Quota - Suffering Quota
Holy walls of grinding noise. Deathy, hardcore-ish grind that really holds nothing back in terms of sheer intensity. Not exactly rewriting the book on ingenuity but sometimes you just want things short, sharp and impactful, qualities which this has in absolute droves. Extra points for its sexy album artwork too - http://tiny.cc/2731dx
53. Terra Tenebrosa - V.I.T.R.I.O.L. - Purging The Tunnels
In typical fashion, Terra Tenebrosa scoff at the idea of genre conventions. This 20 minute EP is an inscrutable journey of industrialised, avant-garde primitivism, an unsettling ambient aura encircling it at every juncture. Not really a band one can describe with any ease, they're probably best experienced first hand. Not an easy task, but then it never is - http://tiny.cc/3ag2dx
54. Krusseldorf - Fractal World
Soft, geometrical shapes in pastel colours bouncing gently off your grey matter. This is uncomplicated ambient IDM with a pleasing emphasis on subtle melodies, without being especially abstract. Pretty ideal for relaxing to, I can't imagine how anyone could ever dislike this style of music really - http://tiny.cc/86r2dx
55. Motoi Sakuraba - Dark Souls II OST
More than likely to be my favourite game this year, its soundtrack is definitely an integral part of its immense quality. While regular travel and exploration is reliant on ambient, atmospheric background sound, the bosses themselves orient on foreboding orchestral and jarring choral theatrical scores. Motoi Sakuraba has created some of the best soundtracks to games, and Dark Souls II is definitely no exception - http://tiny.cc/mgx2dx
56. Impetuous Ritual - Unholy Congregation Of Hypocritical Ambivalence
Arguably the best thing from both Impetuous Ritual and Portal since Outre'. Whilst Portal takes death metal to a place of pure nightmare, Impetuous Ritual keep it more secular whilst taking old school death metal to the absolute extreme, just before before falling off the precipice into almost pure ambient noise. The riffs really shine through the walls of sound and positively reek of morbid ominousness, but there are also frequent notes of doomy melancholy seeping through from time to time. It's really quite an immense thing - http://tiny.cc/vmwaex
57. Oat Oaks - OSBRIV
I don't even know what this is. Released on cassette by some Russians. Crappy name, AWFUL artwork (that's paradoxically pretty rad), but damn, the music is something else. Some kind of ambient, droning black metal that almost seems to have an 80s synthwave vibe to it, ambient electronic oriented instrumental tracks that wouldn't look out of place on Boards of Canada's 'The Campfire Headphase', psychedelic noise rock soundscapes and who knows what else. It's very weird but works together in unity very well, and speaks to me in a big, big way - http://tiny.cc/9iqeex
58. Krieg - Isolation / Transmission
A few years ago I couldn't have envisioned Krieg making a best-of list of mine, but since I randomly decided to check out their 'The Isolationist' album I've had one eye on them ever since. They seem to experimenting away from their typical raw and hate-filled black metal toward something else. This really nice (but far too short) EP sees them playing with melancholic rock with aching, winding background leads contrasted with raspy vocals. The result is really quite pleasant - http://tiny.cc/bojfex
59. Grey Widow - I
* Boy randomly discovers super-ultra heavy sludge doom band with black metal and drone doom elements. Boy falls in love. Boy then discovers that said band is playing in town he's living in in 2 weeks. Boy then discovers band is actually partly from the town he lives in. Boy is happy. This shit is fucking heavy and nasty and oh-so good. What Electric Wizard would sound like if they played blackened sludge - http://tiny.cc/zskfex *
60. Yellow Eyes - The Desert Mourns
Running out of adjectives to describe all the great black metal being released this year. This is another short EP, clocking in at 15 minutes, and consists of relentless, uncompromising and dissonant modern black metal that's thicker and more dense than Paris Hilton. If you like your wall-of-sound black metal that pulls it off with intelligence, subtle melody and furious bravado then this is for you - http://tiny.cc/j88gex
61. Ghoul - Hang Ten
I swear the last time I listened to Ghoul they were little more than Carcass wannabes, but on this great little EP they seem to draw on Misfits even more than before. The result is a seriously fun thrashy and punky upbeat number. Lots of bodalicious and infectious groovy hooks whilst retaining their meaty sound. Top notch surfin' - http://tiny.cc/jxciex
62. Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly
To me Mekong Delta have always been somewhat of a beacon in a barren thrash landscape and one of those bands I often wonder as to why they aren't many times more popular than they are, especially considering how long they've been going, made as many records as they have and been as consistent good as they are. I suppose though calling this thrash isn't quite right, more like technical / progressive speed metal with classical and heavy metal leanings at times, to my ears anyway. Aside from sounding a little too cleanly produced everything about this is right, the songs are diverse and interesting and somewhat Voivod-ian, the clean vocals are absolutely spot on. Also a contender for the worst cover art of all time - http://tiny.cc/871yex
63. Dead Congregation - Promulgation Of The Fall
I find it very difficult to imagine anyone eagerly awaiting for a follow up to the immense 'Graves of the Archangels' will be disappointed with this. Everything that made that record so great is here in droves, along with even darker nuancing and depth. Songs are all brutally punishing as well as murkily toxic with clear influences ranging from Morbid Angel to Incantation. Naturally it's treated to a fantastic production job too, which is something the latest Incantation cannot attest to... - http://tiny.cc/eoqhfx
64. Major Parkinson - Twilight Cinema
The circus has come to down! Oh no wait, it's just Major Parkinson. Very wacky, weird and peculiar prog rock with cabaret tendencies and a ton of other influence. Somehow it's all very catchy, bouncy and fun from the get go despite the constant influx of sounds and shapes. Haven't really enjoyed something like this since the last Diablo Swing Orchestra album. The last thing you've expect to come out of Norway - http://tiny.cc/95kpfx
65. Ravcan - Chernobyl Disaster
Jackpot. I'm not gonna lie: of all the themes and subject matters available in music the nuclear power plant disaster of Chernobyl is just about the coolest one (who hasn't dreamed of visiting Pripyat's abandoned theme park?). Ravcan, on the bleakly entitled 'Chernobyl Disaster', perfectly depict exactly that. Radiation soaked, industrialised dark ambient, drone and noise soundscapes conjure up ominous and tangible visual imagery of the abandoned and desolate nature of Ukraine's doomed city. It even features Merzbow on one of the tracks. Ironically glorious - http://tiny.cc/4mwyfx
66. Cult Leader - Nothing For Us Here
Searing, blistering and caustic blackened hardcore with pronounced sludge elements. You can't really say fairer than that. Have heard quite a few bands of this ilk in recent times but I think these guys take the proverbial cake in sounding as vicious as possible. Sexual album artwork too - http://tiny.cc/j5z1fx
67. Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus - Spirit Knife
Jeremy Irons has a band! Actually no, he doesn't. This bunch of hippies decided it would be cool to use his name in their band. Fortunately their band is pretty fucking good. Summery-y, jamming, psychedelic rock that keeps it very fun and accessible, due in large part to the fantastatique vocals and memorable melodies - http://tiny.cc/5d01fx
68. The Oath - The Oath
Well even though female fronted occult rock / doom is becoming pretty old hat these days The Oath somehow manage to dominate pretty much everything I've heard from the sub-genre. Vocals are absolutely spot on but what makes this better than anything else is the total focus is stupidly ass-kicking riffs. Tons of classic doom hooks and relentless heavy rocking pacing. Ballsy as fuck if you ask me, and quite frankly two of the hottest band members I've ever seen. Just a shame they split after this, but they're got themselves a pretty flawless discography because of it - http://tiny.cc/gw4ogx
69. Skáphe - Skáphe
Suffocatingly dense, wall-of-sound ambient black metal with embedded murky dissonance. Lots of bands seem to want to play this contorted, Portal-esque form of black metal these days and few manage to pull it off without sounding like amateurish noise. Skáphe, whoever they are, balance sounds marvellously, making their plane of hellish fuzz transparent to a world of complex sounding freeform instrumentation below, and even conjure a few Gnaw Their Tongues-esque moment while doing it - http://tiny.cc/4d44gx
70. Ψυονξηε - Multicolored Libricide
Barely 6 minutes long, more addictive than crack and displaying more creative chops than most full lengths. This utterly compelling Japanese marvel combines black metal, punk, grind, death and a zest for truly organic production which culminates in something that begs to be put on repeat and left so for a long time. The bouncy song dynamics, melody that you want to engorge yourself on and a deliciously raw mixing job has already earned this a place in my favourite numbers this year - http://tiny.cc/64qsix
71. Whisper Room - The Cruelest Month
Headphones + maximum volume. It's the only way to listen to music such as this. The second album of Aidan Baker-related ambient is just that. Shimmering, gently percussion driven soundwaves expanding omni-directionally, coating you like a skin of calm contemplation. Surprisingly detailed through instrumentation and effects, this is music to be enjoyed by all - http://tiny.cc/s4rsix
72. Doctor Livingstone - Contemptus Saeculi
* Goosebump-inducing blackened hardcore. Like their French contemporaries, Plebeian Grandstand, they dwell in the modernised fusion of these two extremely complementary areas of music, but unlike them they meld their inescapably abrasiveness sound with lashings of groove, effusive and moody melodies and deliberately dynamic and playful songmanship and generally keeping it more punky. It's bouncy, and grindy, and lovely and you need this - http://tiny.cc/2zytix *
73. Funereal Presence - The Archer Takes Aim
A one-man project of the drummer of Negative Plane who goes under the guise of "Bestial Devotion" (hmm....) and funnily enough this really couldn't sound more like Negative Plane if it tried. Clearly he's been taking some lessons from Mr. Nameless Void. It's really not a bad thing though; frantic, old-school feeling black metal with a heavy occult and psychedelic aura. Perhaps a bit less ostentatious than Negative Plane but all the flourishes are there in some degree. Check it out if out you like Negative Plane. The clean vocals are particularly nice and there's a new-era Darkthrone urgency about the whole thing - http://tiny.cc/w74tix
74. Slugdge - Gastronomicon
So that band that sings about slugs went and made another great record that even tops their debut. I'll say it again: no other band I know has the ability to inject as much fun into a serious business genre like blackened death / sludge as they do. They effortlessly seague from bounding blasts of energy, catchy, cavernous grooves to memorable melodies and hooks. They're a tower of unstoppable riffs that places interesting, varied songwriting at the forefront of their music and not just relying on a novelty theme - http://tiny.cc/96guix
75. Bölzer - Soma
The inordinately well-known now (relatively speaking) Bölzer carry on their extremely high quality and rather unique forays into old-school death metal with a modern twist. It's hard to pin down what make them so special. The riffs are thunderous and have an almost sludge quality about them whilst keeping that OSDM tone, but there's also a black metal vein running through it as well. All done in a vaguely unconventional but extremely satisfying way. - http://tiny.cc/sxhuix
76. Earth - Primitive and Deadly
If you ignore Mark Lanegan's rather awkward and phoned-in contribution to this, and focus more on Rabia Qazi's conversely fantastic turn, then you'll likely love the rest of Earth's stunning darkly psychedelic take on their modern sound that harkens more back to the Bees than it does the Angel's missteps. Great to see Earth back on form. - http://tiny.cc/c2vrnx
77. Halberd - Remnants of Crumbling Empires
Supposedly this is a collaborative project born out of the staff (or members, I'm not sure) of Metal Archives. Quite an interesting concept considering the mixed feelings people have about the website, and while I have no doubt that many of the glowing reviews already received on MA are from friends, they are largely deserved. An intriguing mix and doom and death metal which whilst not being particularly innovative actually ends up sounding quite unique and distinctive. Definitely worth a look. - http://tiny.cc/tzvrnx
78. Phobocosm - Deprived
Part Portal, part Deathspell Omega, all bastarding hell-fest. With one leg firmly entrenched in old school death metal Phobocosm aren't afraid to step out into other territories either. They certainly remind me of a whole bunch of bands that employ blackened dissonance and cavernous aesthetics but they certainly know how use influences to make one smeg of an impact with pure variety, dynamics and even the odd melody here and there. This is a bit of rollercoaster. - http://tiny.cc/azvrnx
79. Aphex Twin - Syro
So last year we had a surprise visit by Boards of Canada and this year it's Aphex Twin's turn. In fact the result in both cases is quite similar. Aphex Twin's Syro is undoubtedly music of the band everyone loves, though it's somewhat sterile in its delivery. I think "Safex Twin" is the most applicable phrase here. Perhaps he spent too much time honing and refining it that a little of the emotion got left behind, but that being said this is still Aphex Twin, and whilst it's not quite as praiseworthy as critics have painted it, it's still a large sight better than most of his peers' work and thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing. - http://tiny.cc/jyvrnx
80. Milo - A Toothpaste Suburb
* I don't listen to a huge amount of hip-hop, and usually when I do it's something offbeat and unusual in sound. This is certainly abstract in sound, though extremely enjoyable to me being drenched in trippy downtempo and IDM proclivities and remaining quite relaxing. Lyrically this is pretty impenetrable; mostly verbose and bizarre inoffensive thought explosions which I'm perfectly fine with as it fits the tone of music quite nicely. Go with the flow. - http://tiny.cc/swvrnx *
81. The Contortionist - Language
* Another genre that doesn't take up a lot of my time is progressive metal. However when a band uses lashing of ambient soundscaping to accompany any progressive nature then my interest in it increases exponentially. Despite taking what I would consider a risky road in terms of vocals The Contortionist totally nail the execution here. Managing to totally avoid embarssing wailing it's kept backgrounded and soft and the emotional delivery is spot on. To me this is this year's slower and more contemplative rendition of last year's brilliant Level 3 by Last Chance to Reason. Thank God for that. - http://tiny.cc/3vvrnx
82. Perturbator - Dangerous Days
So yeah, "synthwave", probably the most prolific subgenre to kick out albums this year from what I've observed. There are literally dozens of them, all basing themselves around cult 70s and 80s nostalgia, ostensibly because this kind of music is easy to make by anyone with a computer. That being said I love the sound and Perturbator are probably the best of the lot. In fact they're on the Blood Music label, who have an otherwise entirely metal roster of bands. If you like cheesy, sci-fi themed retro electronic music then you might like this. - http://tiny.cc/auvrnx
83. Electric Wizard - Time to Die
As much as I learned to love Black Masses it was always painfully thin in sound and marred by vocals too acerbic for the band. With Time to Die the Wizard seem to have gone full circle and delivered something that's as massively heavy as Dopethrone whilst maintaining the pure green haze of Witchcult Today. This is a magical combination and while it hardly pushes the band forward in terms of innovation it still allows them remain supreme as the premier stoner band of the generation. Not least because this is the closest they've come on record to how they sound on stage. - http://tiny.cc/ktvrnx *
84. Occultation - Silence In The Ancestral House
Occultation's debut, Three & Seven, initially wowed me with its Negative Plane-styled female fronted doom. However the album quickly wore off as it seemed a little predicated on novelty (a definite risk with Nameless Void's guitar style, as unique as it is). On Silence In The Ancestral House however, the emphasis on memorable songwriting is far more apparent. I can say with reasonable confidence that this album will be with me a lot longer than its predecessor. That's evolution folks. - http://tiny.cc/usvrnx
85. Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind
Well spin my nipple nuts and send me to Alaska, what a surprisingly good album. Honestly thought this band would die with me only liking Instinct: Decay but I get this album completely. Lots of nice melancholic riffs and melodies (and solos), stripped down rock-y, post-punk-y percussion, catchy songs, nice organic sound, subtle nuances of psychedelia. In fact I think this is better taken as a rock / post-punk record than a black metal one as it succeeds more in that vein. - http://tiny.cc/upvrnx
86. Myrkur - Myrkur
Oh yeah, it's that band with the woman in. Apparently that's still a big thing in music. Truth be told this is a black metal project by a single woman, which is slightly unusual. However the important thing is the music, which turns out to be pretty good. It manages to balance well-written black metal with a raw edge and a folky melancholy and with wonderful, distant angelic vocals. Seemingly though it's not for everyone which I suspect is because it's a little too Burzum-ish for people who don't like it rough, and a little too Alcest-y for people who like it kvlt. In other words wimps and men with massive cars need not apply. - http://tiny.cc/qovrnx
87. Combat Astronomy - Time Distort Nine
I've currently only listened to this the once, mainly owing to the fact it's about 73 hours long, but if you've interested in a lengthy bout of experimental, even ad-hoc, noise rock, free-jazz, industrial djenting, droning drone and probably a few other things then make a slot in your schedule for this. It's not as direct and brilliant as last year's Kundalini Apocalypse which was both more focussed and mental but this is something ideal to throw on in the background whilst you do your string theory homework. - http://tiny.cc/ikvrnx
88. Rosetta - Flies To Flame
I'm not actually too familiar with Rosetta but this half an hour long EP makes me want to check them out further. If there's one thing I appreciate in music nowadays is the ability to create the illusion of vast space and that's exactly what this does. Lots of ambient and instrumental layering and the clever use of extremely embedded vocals give this a very three dimensional aspect and the fleeting melodies add extra dimensions on top of that. One of the better post-metal things I've heard this year - http://tiny.cc/9l0rnx
89. Panopticon - Roads To The North
It's bands like Panopticon that make me realise how sucksville most "atmospheric" black metal has become. While most of them toil away with the same trite sounds and melodies Panopticon continue to blow them away with extraordinary explorations of massive walls of intense black metal, epic melancholy and that ever distinctive bluegrass fusion. Even the somewhat masturbatory soloing doesn't feel out of place, nor the almost metalcore-ish moments on the opening track. A masterclass in brilliance. - http://tiny.cc/0uksnx
90. Deaf Center - Recount
To say I love Deaf Center's unique brand of classical-laden minimalism and ambient music would be an understatement. 'Own Splinters' is one of my go-too albums when I find myself awake in the early hours so I was pretty delighted to see this appear on Spotify. While this doesn't approach the highs on said album this two track record does contain that easily discernible sound that I enjoy so much. A nice nostalgia-driven rekindling of an album I adore, rather than an EP-length record that I will listen to purely for the music on it. Hopefully the next record will be a little more expansive. - http://tiny.cc/nblsnx
91. Wrekmeister Harmonies - Then It All Came Down
* An expanding microcosm of experimental drone and numerous other nuances, which begins with the calm ambience of gentle intent, and gradually crescendos through drifting mystical female vocalisations, post-rock inflections and violin disharmony, to the crushing metallic Sunn O)))-isms where the tone and emotion shift intensely and everything collapses in on itself. Despite such a dichotomous ending the journey is completely logical and organic, and leaves quite an impact on the listener - http://tiny.cc/mgo8nx *
92. Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter
Slipknot: the Peter Pan of metal. It seems people eventually stop remembering how to enjoy them, instead get it into their head that they've somehow gone down a dark road but to me this sounds like something released between Iowa and Vol. 3. Granted it's too long and contains a couple of cringeworthy tracks but they manage to cover all grounds here from early album aggression through to the hook-laden melody of later stuff, with a decent deal of success - http://tiny.cc/g492px
93. Lotus Thief - Rervm
* New project from Otrebor (Botanist) on drum duty and ex-Botanist member Bezaelith on everything else, songwriting included. I'll be honest: this knocks the last few Botanist records right out of the tree. Melting pot of post-rock, black metal, cosmic and space-like ambient and even some grungey alternative metal grooves. Overall it sounds atmospheric, psychedelic and epic as fuck. And then the icing on the cake are Bezaelith's vocals which elevate this even further. Lvx and Discordia are perhaps minor lulls on the album but that doesn't denigrate the overall impact of it - http://tiny.cc/b192px
94. Nero di Marte - Derivae
A great progressive metal-oriented take on what Ulcerate have been doing for the past few albums. While Ulcerate clearly take a death metal path in all its destructive glory, Nero di Marte take a much more introspective glance whilst being no less dark and ominous all the same. This is no Ulcerate clone though, with parts reminding me of Akercocke in their cleaner moments, and bits of Gojira splattered about the record, and even at times it reminds me of Leviathan's creepy instrumental ambience of 'A Silhouette In Splinters' - http://tiny.cc/xka3px
95. Monomyth - Further
Another psychedelic space jam session to add to the list. When it's done right it's hard to get bored of psychedelic music, and while this isn't anything out of the box it's still an instrumental pot of joy. Unlike some other bands *cough* Blues Pills *splutter* it's not afraid to get in the deep end and let itself sink, which for me is generally how I grade and differentiate between the mass of psyche-bands around. Jump down the rabbit hole, don't poke your head in and out - http://tiny.cc/qtf3px
96. Odraza - Esperalem tkane
Debut from two-man unit straight out of a Poland, which seems to be a hotspot for black metal at the moment. From the beginning this endears itself as an acerbic and vitriolic entity not unlike Cobalt, but as the album progresses they show they aren't afraid to play with mood. You have your standard DsO dissonance (apparently this is mandatory in any modern black metal band) but you also have atmospheric acoustic intersections as well as some jazzy, proggy, almost Opethy moodbreakers too. Suffice to say they do more than enough to stand out from the crowd - http://tiny.cc/42a5px
97. Nurse With Wound & Graham Bowers - Excitotoxicity
Another entry in the enormous Nurse With Wound discog. As per his usual standard this is a kaleidoscopic tumbling mixture of industrialised sounds and noise, bizarre intermixed samples, tinkering piano and much more besides. Sometimes sounding like a soundtrack to a J-horror, occasionally something akin to a Fantômas composition, and other times just coming across as purely random. Even so the duo manage to create something listenable and atmospherically compelling, for a certain mood, should you find yourself in it - http://tiny.cc/npl7px
98. Peoples Republic of Europe - Course Oblivion
I remember first hearing these guys back when Juche was released, sometime around 2004, back when I had a particularly big interest in rhythmic noise and powernoise. My attention has dwindled a bit since then, partly because good bands of that sound are hard to come by and these guys seem to go a bit poppy for a while. Course Oblivion, however, seems to be a bit of a jump back to their early days. Not as grinding and noisy, but this is a nice mix of hardcore industrial and powernoise on a nice atmospheric bed of sounds - http://tiny.cc/uvm7px
99. Desiderii Marginis - Hypnosis
For as long as I can remember knowing dark ambient, as well as loving it, Desiderii Marginis have always been there. I can't pretend that they're in any way original or unique any more, they are however one of the most consistent artists the genre has seen and I count them amongst the top 3 or 4 to ever exist. Weaving tapestries of airy, wide-spaced textures they straddle the lines of creepy and contemplative thought and implicitly understand the art of making effective, and affecting, ambience - http://tiny.cc/x0n7px
100. Vircolac - Codex Perfida
Stupidly impressive first demo from these Irish folk. A kind of OSDM with a ton of black metal injected into its veins, with a few moody atmospheric pills swallowed for good measure. Always nice to hear the bass in a band like this which especially contributes to the deep, rumbling sound they've adopted. Shame it's quite short but they make up for it by nailing the song variety - http://tiny.cc/y1tnqx



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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mz - 15.12.2014 at 03:43  
Written by Alex Fenger on 15.12.2014 at 03:33

Written by mz on 15.12.2014 at 03:28

26 albums on your top 25 section.

No, it's because the first spot is taken up by his banner-thing


Haha shit, shame on me then.
!J.O.O.E.! - 15.12.2014 at 04:21  
Written by mz on 15.12.2014 at 03:28

26 albums on your top 25 section.

What Alex said =P In fact I'm so finicky that I removed two albums from the list so it doesn't appear to go over 100 entries.
Vombatus - 15.12.2014 at 11:57  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 12.12.2014 at 13:19

Yeah it really does. I feel a bit uncool having it there and wish I could replace it with Gnaw Their Tongues or something, but I have some nice memories of listening to it whilst walking along Brighton beach whilst the sun goes down. Curse you memory association.


At least they can't accuse you of being a close-minded elitist that only listens underground cavernous experimental black metal

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