2014 Cont.


Cos, y'know, same shiz different year. Ran out of space again so will post final album opinions in comments.

Created by: musclassia | 28.09.2014



1. Infestus - The Reflecting Void
2014 [9.1]
2. Dirge - Hyperion
2014 [9.1]
3. Nero Di Marte - Derivae
2014 [9.0] - Such an intense follow-up to their brilliant self-titled album last year. Lacking the hookiness of Time Dissolves or Resilience, or the consistency of the self-titled (Pulsar is a bit below the rest), nevertheless the freeform songs combined with dark, convoluted, technical and often slightly dissonant sound develops a thoroughly unique, hugely impressive atmosphere. Difficult to characterize, arguably best summed up by the staggering Simulacra, a firm contender for AOTY from a band with a strongly realised individuality.
4. Steve Rothery - The Ghosts Of Pripyat
2014 [8.9] - Second Chernobyl-themed prog album this year, and similarly impressive to Philippe Luttun's effort. A delightful instrumental chilled-out atmospheric prog rock release that is pleasant listening from start to finish.
5. Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere
2014 [8.9]
6. Ortega - Crows
2014 [8.8]
7. Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun
2014 [8.8]
8. When Icarus Falls - Circles
2014 [8.8]
9. Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel
2014 [8.7] - Portal Of I was a very promising album that required work to become more cohesive and less OTT prog, a transition that I feel happened here, despite suggestions from some feedback here. Despite being 3 large-scale efforts, the songs are well-judged, consistently entertaining and regularly moving, with well-balanced extreme parts, nice guitar/violin melodies and pleasant cleans. The segues between segments feel smoother this time round, and the production adds a well-judged sheen to bring together a really nice piece of work.
10. Moanaa - Descent
2014 [8.7] - A really fine atmos-sludge album featuring all the expected post- landmarks (a tough, angry metallic sound and harsh vocals shifting to and from softer moments including acoustics via well-timed crescendos and climaxes, etc) but which is very well-written and with a tough, mean-spirited sound that dominates the album. One of the stronger post- albums this year.
11. Lunatic Soul - Walking On A Flashlight Beam
2014 [8.7] - Before I heard this album, I knew I was a Riverside fan, what with their incredible discog, but after listening to this, my first Lunatic Soul album, I know that I'm generally a Mariuz Duda fan.It takes a bit of time to build up momentum, with this subdued, atmospheric form of progressive rock, but even the early songs are very nice. However, following Pygmalion's Ladder, the album goes from great to really quite excellent, with 3 beautiful final tracks.
12. Philippe Luttun - The Taste Of Wormwood (Voices From Chernobyl)
2014 [8.7] - A really outstanding solo effort demonstrating real maturity, in writing lengthy prog that displays Dream Theater-esque technicality in several moments, but focusses more upon expansive atmospheres, using guitars and keys to flesh out songs. The vocals are a range of male and female cameous meshed together, all of which do their job well. Having an Ayreon-ish vibe, but being more personally moving than any Ayreon release, serious melodic prog album of the year contender.
13. Arctic Sleep - Passage Of Gaia
2014 [8.6] - Thoroughly pleasant fusion of, amongst other things, post- and doom, with a seemingly melancholic yet uplifting atmosphere pervading through the album. The vocalist has a really nice warm yet distant sound and has some fine vocal melodies. Female vocals, acoustics and other elements pop up on occasion to add extra flavours. Overall a really fine album that plays an enjoyably unique style, showing bands can separate from the crowd when playing post-related metal.
14. Sleepmakeswaves - Love Of Cartography
2014 [8.6] - Update: may have been slightly overenthusiastic following the initial listen, but it's still a really nice album.
15. Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails
2014 [8.6]
16. Fen - Carrion Skies
2014 [8.6] - A major step up from Dustwalker and potentially the band's strongest effort since The Maledictions Fields. A great mix of atmospheric, melodic, yet tough black metal with enticing percussion and well-balanced softer and harsher parts.
17. Anubis Gate - Horizons
2014 [8.5]
18. Mechina - Xenon
2014 [8.5]
19. Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive
2014 [8.5]
20. Slugdge - Gastronomicon
2014 [8.5]
21. Spectral Lore - III
2014 [8.5]
22. Cormorant - Earth Diver
2014 [8.4]
23. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen
2014 [8.4] - Interesting new release from these guys - less inspired than The Gathering Wilderness and To The Nameless Dead, but more varied than Redemption..., with tracks varying from traditional Pagan black marching, to black furies, and from airy, cold, slightly post-y tracks to more Viking metal-influenced pieces. Imperfect but thoroughly engaging and a continuation of this fine band's excellent current streak.
24. Haken - Restoration
2014 [8.4] - Although they can occasionally get a bit 'wanky-proggy' for their own good, Haken are establishing themselves as a reliably great melodic prog band. I still don't think they've made anything since Aquarius that has toppled their debut, but this is a very neat EP with two pleasant 'shorter' songs and a very accomplished epic in Crystallised.
25. Behemoth - The Satanist
2014 [8.4]
26. Devin Townsend -
2014 [8.4] - Stupid narration and a slight drop in disc 2 compared to disc 1 hold this back from being truly great, but a hugely fun album with some really nice pleasant and different music on disc 1 that feels like it pulls together Epicloud, Ghost and Terria, and some stupid but fun material on disc 2 reminiscent of the original Ziltoid combined with Epicloud and Deconstruction. Possibly my favourite Devin release, at the very least my favourite DTP album.
27. Quantum Fantay - Terragaia
2014 [8.4] - Instrumental music can be compelling if done right! Space-tinged world music prog, whilst offering extended track lengths, focusses more on interesting melodies, arrangements and non-standard instruments (didgeridoo, Chinese instruments, whatever opens up Azu Kene Deke Lepe) to produce a fine piece of work, with space-y synths/electronics filling the background but allowing the core band/guest instruments to drive songs. Proggy but distinctly song-focussed and very out there, fine piece of work.
28. Rintrah - Salt Of The Earth
2014 [8.4]
29. Horrendous - Ecdysis
2014 [8.4] - Hugely impressive take on the death metal sound, with plenty of OSDM mixed with many diversions into melodic, progressive, mid-era Death and more, whilst remaining very cohesive.
30. Panopticon - Roads To The North
2014 [8.4] - A highly diverse and rather experimental atmospheric black metal, it really covers the whole spectrum from stripped-down BM fury with some truly agonizing screams, sometimes accompanied by other non-standard instruments or a sombre atmosphere, to parts where country parts raise their heads, to many people's delight, and other folkier segments as well. A post-/gaze soft section at the beginning of The Long Road Part III perhaps didn't work well, but everything from the black, to the country, to the sad strings, and everything else produces a fascinating multi-faceted atmospheric black odyssey that is highly commendable.
31. Northern Oak - Of Roots And Flesh
2014 [8.3] - A really interesting and somewhat different take on folk metal, incorporating prog and meloblack firmly into their sound. There is also the permanent use of flute, producing introducing accompaniments to the music and adding a nice flavor, whilst other folk instruments pop in and out in little cameos. The music can occasionally miss a note, but across the album there are far more hits than misses. Also, I adore the artwork.
32. Dreamgrave - Presentiment
2014 [8.3] - Imperfect yet impressive dark prog debut encompassing the traditional prog hallmarks of lengthy, freeform songs, multiple extreme/clean male/fem vocals, healthy dosage of piano and Rudess cheesy-keys, and hitting multiple stylistic points including extreme parts, more melodeath moments, chilled-out emotional prog, classic prog bombast, and even soft semi-ambient parts. The vocals are generally well done, and each component of the sound is generally on form, although the softest parts can sometimes pass from tender into dull. The songwriting is also imperfect but hits many fine moments, and offers a high level maturity for a solid debut release.
33. Hark - Crystalline
2014 [8.3]
34. Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era
2014 [8.3] - High quality slab of energetic, catchy yet powerful and aggressive melodeath a la mid-era Dark Tranquillity, with strong guitar work and composition, even if not that original.
35. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
2014 [8.3]
36. Terra Tenebrosa - V.I.T.R.I.O.L. - Purging The Tunnels
2014 [8.3]
37. Darkspace - Dark Space III I
2014 [8.3] - With music varying between muted ambient/industrial sections dominated by SFX and BM encompassing abrasive wall of noise and more expansive, melodically-inclined sounds, the solid base is lit up with synth/lead guitar accompaniments to provide the hooks and flavors to win the audience over, producing a neat hour of muted ambient BM.
38. Opeth - Pale Communion
2014 [8.3]
39. Emptiness - Nothing But The Whole
2014 [8.3]
40. United Progressive Fraternity - Fall In Love With The World
2014 [8.3] - Very solid prog rock effort in a vaguely similar vein to perhaps Spock's Beard, with a clear song focus but with lengthy runtimes and, in Travelling Man, a capacity to explore 'epic' ventures. Some songs work better than others for me (personal preferences for Intersection, The Water and Travelling Man to e.g. the last couple songs), but for the most part pretty ace.
41. Septicflesh - Titan
2014 [8.3] - The hype has been turned down on Septicflesh this time around but the quality still remains. The first track is a bit too orchestra-driven, but the balance between metal and orchestra through the rest of the album is even enough to allow both to shine. There's also a fair amount of variety, with TGM's style overrunning into the first half of this album, but then dark cabaret-esque Confessions of a Serial Killer and some unusually subdued sections in the final tracks offer enough divergence to keep it fresh. The clean vox aren't great but don't have too negative an impact, and all in all it's rather enjoyable.
42. Pet Slimmers Of The Year - Fragments Of Uniforms
2014 [8.3]
43. Eden Circus - Marula
2014 [8.3] - An intriguing, emotionally-charged post/alt/prog/whatever album with an individual sound that draws upon non-standard song structures that (sometimes) utilise the soft/hard post- trademark but often follow different structures. Both crunchy and moving heavy riffs, interesting drumming, soft melodic segments (especially the guitar licks on great closer Playing You) and more, capped with Keenan/Molko/more vocals that need work but have a lot of raw emotionality to them. Not easy to classify, but whilst it starts off somewhat slow, becomes very easy to like by the end.
44. Schammasch - Contradiction
2014 [8.3] - Some high-quality extended-length atmospheric blackened death metal, with an oppressive atmosphere throughout delivered by menacing vocals, sinister extreme-edged guitars occasionally bursting into extreme frenzies, and appropriate drumwork. The album runs for a very long time but remains engaging throughout due to high compositional quality, quality maintenance of atmosphere and use of restraint when unleashing the fury, making it one of the stronger extreme metal releases this year.
45. Pink Floyd - The Endless River
2014 [8.3] - Predominantly ambient PF in style of perhaps Animals, it does feel somewhat underdeveloped, in the manner that a post-humously release might be, but offers up some very pleasant listening and is an honorable addition to the band's catalogue.
46. As We Draw - Mirages
2014 [8.3] - A highly intriguing mix of post-hardcore and atmospheric sludge metal, with an opening 10+min track starting off as post-metal but slowly introducing the hardcore aggression and vocals (that start off grating but become more tolerable during the album), and intriguing dissonant guitar which adds flavour to the album. Following that track, there's a mix of shorter songs alternating hardcore and post-elements e.g. the hardcore Hata Bromosa and the sludgier Panic. The very oppressive Shipwreck acts as a standout track, but whilst it can be hit and miss, and the vocals can get tiring, this is an interesting take on both genres that offers up a new viable musical avenue to explore.
47. Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith
2014 [8.3] - Not quite as good as Spectral Lore, but in a similar plane of quality when it comes to ambient/atmospheric black metal. In between the furious BM parts there's more than enough euphoric segments full of moving tremolo melodies. Could perhaps be a bit more adventurous but generally very nice.
48. Allegaeon - Elements Of The Infinite
2014 [8.2]
49. Vintersorg - Naturbål
2014 [8.2] - I admire and sometimes enjoy Vintersorg's black/folk/prog hybrid, but rarely get drawn into those albums. This one made a bigger impact than most of their work however, with more pronounced folk elements that work well alongside the black metal that comes and goes in prominence during the album, and the progressive nature of the sound. The proggier, folkier parts with nice melodies and rich clean vocals work better for me, but the harsh parts still work good. I'm still not quite able to totally give into it, but their most impressive that I've heard since Till Fjalls.
50. Ordinance (FIN) - Relinquishment
2014 [8.2] - A pretty diverse mix of various black metal parts, from murkier grim atmospheric parts, to aggressive forceful parts, to more melodic segments. It stays very true to black metal throughout, but each part is composed and performed to a high standard, and the diversity keeps the album fresh and entertaining throughout.
51. Ghost Brigade - IV - One With The Storm
2014 [8.2] - A solid continuation of their fairly distinct sound. Heavy, ever-so-slightly doom-y, with a somewhat melancholy feel, but with plenty of melody and some aggression also included. The range of the band is shown off quite nicely in the 3-song stretch of Electra Complex (extended, regularly post-rock-driven 'epic'), Stones and Pillars (dark, heavy, aggressive and slightly sinister), and Anchored (fairly typical Ghost Brigade featuring their trademark mellow, melancholy sound of sad guitar riffs and melodies, atmospheric clean vox with occasional extremity). Lesser than Isolation Songs, but a step up from their latest.
52. Tombs - Savage Gold
2014 [8.2]
53. Coffinworm - IV.I.VIII
2014 [8.1]
54. Triosphere - The Heart Of The Matter
2014 [8.1] - Possibly the most enjoyable power metal album I've heard since Seven Kingdoms' The Fire Is Mine. Great vocals, concise yet interestingly-arranged songs, great instrumental work and melodies, I rarely care about power metal any more but I enjoyed this first minute to last.
55. Inquisitor - Clinamen I Episteme
2014 [8.1] - Solid sophomore effort with plenty of piano still present to accentuate or contrast the harsh, yet skilful and sometimes melodic black metal on display. Additionally has several more subdued moments with clean vocals, or backing-free creepy lead guitar playing, to add emphasis to some heavier parts. Very nice effort and bitchin' artwork.
56. Evenoire - Herons
2014 [8.1] - Strong symphonic power metal band with strong fem vox, interesting softer moments and use of flute and synths, and decent metal riffing. Perhaps somewhere between Seven Kingdoms and Nightwish, never outstanding but regularly enjoyable, one of the best 'standard' melodic metal albums this year.
57. Insomnium - Shadows Of The Dying Sun
2014 [8.1]
58. Serdce - Timelessness
2014 [8.1] - An example of the 'all-over-the-shop' prog approach, this form of prog death hits upon Orphaned Land-style eastern elements, melodic keys-driven sound like Symphony X and even Winds, and later on obviously Cynic-inspired music rounded off with some Kalisia-esque moments. This form of prog-death is inferior to Kalisia, due to the somewhat unfocussed, slightly incoherent nature of all this style-shifting and a slightly emotionless sense to it. Still, within the hour runtime there's some very enjoyable moments and the shifting sound does prevent it becoming stale.
59. Morost - Solace In Solitude
2014 [8.1] - A melancholy yet imposing atmosphere produced throughout this album, with gloomy-yet-driven riffing, powerful growling vocals, neat lead guitar work and enjoyable keyboards offering both atmosphere and interesting lead displays, plus often audible bass, all coming together within well-written songs to provide a nice slab of dark, progressive extreme-yet-melodic metal.
60. Nader Sadek - The Malefic: Chapter III
2014 [8.1] - Despite initially being quite unassuming, 2011's In The Flesh eventually became one of my favourite DM releases (and certainly my most played) from the last 5 years. This EP is an interesting addition, featuring 3 fairly typical but well-written DM explosions before a final extended song featuring some slowed-down sections, nice solos and even the appearance of cleans from (I assume) Travis Ryan, producing a fine finale to the EP.
61. Nightbringer - Ego Dominus Tuus
2014 [8.1] - Pretty engaging slab of black metal despite its hefty runtime, operating throughout with a cold, angry vibe but with a fairly accessible production. The music shifts between angry blasting and more restrained atmospheric sections, with synths emphasizing and adding to specific moments. Does have a tendency to blend into one amorphous shifting blend if you don't pay attention but pretty solid overall.
62. Ethereal Riffian - Aeonian
2014 [8.1]
63. Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us
2014 [8.0]
64. Bast - Spectres
2014 [8.0]
65. Neurotech - Infra Versus Ultra
2014 [8.0] - Any melodeath that once inhabited their sound has left, and with this my first taste of the band, I'm not complaining. The melodic, electronic- and atmosphere-heavy music would not be improved by intensity, as any metal is mostly background or filling out the sound whilst the electronics dominate songs' directions, from subdued pieces, to 'epic' sorrowful stuff and even the almost dance-like nature of Sacrifice. The semi-robotic, soft yet empassioned vocals are great, and bring everything together into a very accessible and highly pleasant experience.
66. Aenaon - Extance
2014 [8.0]
67. The Flight Of Sleipnir - V
2014 [8.0] - Another solid folk/black/stoner/doom combo, not quite as good as Saga and less immediate with longer songs, features heavy riffs with some really nice melodic leads and The Mantle-esque acoustic folk-y moments in between (see: Archaic Rites).
68. Tyrant Of Death - Ascendancy
2014 [8.0] - Interesting mix of industrial electronics and metallic cruch, extreme tendencies and prominent melodies within extended songs, like The Project Hate but with croaky vocals in place of growls and female cleans. Effective.
69. Beyond Creation - Earthborn Evolution
2014 [8.0] - A high-quality tech-death album in which technical talent and melodic nous are displayed alongside extremity, with prominent bass and hectic guitar playing. However, in the end a bit similar to too many other tech-death bands, so even if they're at the higher end of the quality spectrum, it's all a bit too unmemorable to stick with you.
70. Revocation - Deathless
2014 [8.0] - An Ouroboros-lite core riff base with a high proportion of pleasantly varied instrumental time, it's a slightly amorphous album to sate concrete opinions on but screams talent and offers plenty of enjoyable moments. The core base isn't too exciting, but its regular divergences from said base are consistently well-written and enjoyable.
71. Equilibrium - Erdentempel
2014 [8.0] - Not as good as the masterpiece Sagas, but good performance, quality writing, fine use of keys and occasional folk instruments, and a measure of diversity between fast (Waldschrein), majestic (Wellengang) and plain weird (Wirtshaus Gaudi) songs means that despite not delivering their strongest work, Equilibrium are still a respectable force in the folk metal scene. (Also, 'Aufbruch' ain't quite 'Mana', but it's still a very fine long instrumental worthy of inclusion in any listening to the album).
72. Words Of Farewell - The Black Wild Yonder
2014 [8.0]
73. Helevorn - Compassion Forlorn
2014 [8.0] - Not a great fan of the style or female vocals of the last track, but the rest of the album supplies plenty of pleasant, melancholily melodic, quasi-extreme gothic doom in a manner that occasionally brought to mind "Shining Human Skin" by Mar De Grises, not a bad reference point to hit.
74. Herder - Gods
2014 [8.0]
75. Psygnosis - Human Be[ing]
2014 [8.0] - An intriguing album, and one that leaves a lot to take in on first listens. Extended track lengths with well-constructed flows into each segment, full of Gojira/Nero Di Marte-esque borderline extremity alongside atmospheric parts and melodic interventions, both instrumentally and vocally. In addition, electronic sounds popped up every so often, with variable results. Ultimately, I need to give it more listens to give a proper verdict, but I liked what I listened to and imagine anyone looking for well-structured, ambitious, intense but not violently extreme progressive music should at least slightly dig this.
76. Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind
2014 [8.0] - Silencing Machine, my intro to the band, was uneven but generally enjoyable. This is a step up, with a couple (4 & 7) of tracks lacking, but generally a high quality level with welcome variety between hooky riffs, cool solos, and the 'epic' closing moments, even if a mid-tempo, catchy and accessible brand of BM dominates the album. Easy to like but less easy to explain, does nothing remarkable yet still sounds good, a strong finale to this ill-fated project.
77. Redwood Hill - Collider
2014 [8.0] - Predominantly post-metal with black elements that generally follows the genre tropes but black-laden segments and a general BM-esque influence on atmosphere adds some individuality to the sound. Without being truly distinct, it has just enough to avoid becoming a copycat, and has effective sludge-y riffs and build-ups even if the softer moments and transitions are underdeveloped. Not perfect, but particularly on Tabula Rasa, very effective post/black.
78. Goatwhore - Constricting Rage Of The Merciless
2014 [8.0]
79. Wayfarer - Children Of The Iron Age
2014 [8.0] - A fairly typical yet well-written 'nature' atmospheric black metal album, with an imposing yet atmospherically space-d BM core combined or contrasted with well-utilised acoustic guitars to add nature flavor. Occasional tribal drum cameos add a nice touch, and the artwork is great, In summary, a well-done retread of previous folky atmos-BM more than an individual statement of intent, and one which needs a bit more compositional work, but solid.
80. Harakiri For The Sky - Aokigahara
2014 [8.0]
81. Wildernessking - The Devil Within
2014 [8.0]
82. The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites
2014 [8.0] - As someone who generally doesn't have much interest in standard heavy/doom metal or retro takes on classic genres, this retro-heavy/doom metal EP is surprisingly enjoyable, with lots of good riffs and nice guitar leads connected by some very strong songwriting, pulled together by some somewhat limited but quite interesting female mid-range doom-y vocals.
83. Voyager - V
2014 [8.0]
84. Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity)
2014 [8.0] - My first taste of the post-Alvestram band, and despite negative reception of recent records, I rather liked this very lightweight melodeath intensity-wise, relying solely on extreme vocals for that classification over prog/power. I highly enjoyed the clean vocals, performed well with nice vocal lines, and the music in general is nice to listen to, with a pleasant general style and some slight variety between uptempo songs, happy upbeat ones and more nuanced, expansive songs. Not especially adventurous or dangerous, but compared to most recent Gothenburg-style melodeath this one is definitely one of the stronger albums I've come across.
85. Helms Alee - Sleepwalking Sailors
2014 [8.0]
86. Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
2014 [8.0]
87. Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io
2014 [8.0] - Very pleasant semi-ambient atmospheric journey, heavy on electronics and with limited vocals (of which I'm not a fan), it sounds a bit like How To Destroy Angels but more compelling, and more up my street that Choirs Of The Eye ever was.
88. Nadja - Queller
2014 [8.0]
89. Xerath - III
2014 [7.9] - Solid mesh of polyrhythmic prog/math riffing, prominent symphonics effectively utilised in multiple ways, nice occasional solos and breaks from riffing, with vocals on top delivered either in competent scream/shouts and cool Devin-like cleans. Well-constructed songs with a clear soundbase but divergences into 'epic' atmospheres or more conventional riffing offer enough variety to avoid the lengthy runtime become overpowering. All told, solid release.
90. Krokodil - Nachash
2014 [7.9] - Undersold by their live performance, this supergroup's brand of progressively-inclined sludge utilises intense riffing influenced by early Mastodon amongst several other artists, as well as sludgy grooves and barked vocals, but also several prominent melodic inclinations, including a clean chorus on the stoner-esque Sun Riders, and softer, expansive parts occasionally popping up to counteract the heavy parts or even infuse some atmosphere alongside the heaviness e.g. final track.
91. Winterfylleth - The Divination Of Antiquity
2014 [7.9] - Really nice folky/atmos-black with occasionally 'meh' gaze-y moments a la Deafheaven, but mostly featuring pretty folk interludes and accompaniments to semi-intense black or more melodic and sorrowful emotional parts (end of Foundation of Ash).
92. Blues Pills - Blues Pills
2014 [7.9] - Some very enjoyable blues-y hard rock with psychedelic elements, full of neat riffs and fun grooves, topped with energetic and powerful vocals.
93. Nero Di Marte - Split MMXIV [Split]
2014 [7.9]
94. Cool Cavemen - Funkloric Trip
2014 [7.9] - Its metalness is questionable, but its outrageous versatility is jawdropping. Less serious/'comedic' acts that play around in multiple styles need to be capable of writing in multiple styles - these guys most definitely are. Funk rock, french hip hop/rock, country rock, folk songs, latin-style music and even big Broadway musical parts all found here played well, with the standout song the latin track Mozart Est La. However, almost every song works to at least some degree. Perhaps resulting in a slight lack of cohesion, the outstanding musical range of this act deserves at least a tip of the hat.
95. Wo Fat - The Conjuring
2014 [7.9]
96. Rishloo - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth
2014 [7.9] - Reminiscent of a more accessible and metallic Mars Volta, some rather eccentric and engaging alternative metal best demonstrated by the brlliant Dark Charade, although slightly hit and miss.
97. Lascaille's Shroud - Interval 02: Parallel Infinities - The Abscinded Universe
2014 [7.9]
98. Intervals - A Voice Within
2014 [7.9]
99. Hedvig Mollestad Trio - Enfant Terrible!
2014 [7.9] - Bought based on the strength of the bookending tracks, those two tracks are clearly the strongest on the album but the whole package is decent. Instrumental jazz rock with stoner-like riffing and great musicianship in here but used in the context of actual songs rather than technical displays e.g. Pity The Children is a chilled-out mid-tempo track that shifts from moderate-paced riffs to smooth jazz-y guitar. With Laughing John a clear standout track, there's still enough solid riffs, jazz-y melodies and enjoyable feats of technical prowess to make the whole half-hour runtime engaging.
100. Devin Townsend - Casualties Of Cool
2014 [7.9]
101. Saor - Aura
2014 [7.9]
102. IQ - The Road Of Bones
2014 [7.9]
103. Rosetta - Flies To Flame
2014 [7.9] - Despite issues with songwriting, the music is so enjoyable it almost doesn't matter. Track 2 is a redundant extension of guitar sounds from the end of Soot, but tracks 1 and 3 feature some very uplifting and melodic post-rock, albeit sometimes sounding directionless. They depart from the more aggressive sound associated with Rosetta, a sound which only really appears on closer Pegasus, the arguably best-written track on the album. Altogether, a very pleasant 30 minutes of music.
104. Bastard Sapling - Instinct Is Forever
2014 [7.9] - Entertaining black metal that switches between fult-pelt blasting and mid-tempo marching, and which remains sufficiently melodic to avoid being particularly abrasive. Not really at all original, but enjoyable for genre enthusiasts.
105. Fórn - The Departure Of Consciousness
2014 [7.9] - A pretty neat black-tinged doom-y sludge album, with some interesting atmospheric/ambient segments broken up by periods of grim black-tinged sludge and heavy but more melodic parts. Not always compelling but regularly interesting and pretty well-composed, a good debut effort.
106. Vesania - Deus Ex Machina
2014 [7.9] - Nice dramatic symphonic black metal, operating in a slightly tamer form of ETD-DCA Dimmu Borgir and whilst not reaching that quality level, still offers some nice mid-tempo keyboard cabaret, dramatic tortured vocals and decent BM riffs, this should be rather enjoyable for anyone looking for a symphonic black fix.
107. Descend - Wither
2014 [7.9]
108. Major Parkinson - Twilight Cinema
2014 [7.9]
109. Old Man Gloom - The Ape Of God
2014 [7.8] - Part II is more typically post/sludge, but varies between more warmly aggressive, colder bitter (note closing minutes) and even some post-rock-infused moments. The quality is more consistent here, and even if it pales next to Isis, demostrates Turner is capable of writing well within this style.
110. Bask - American Hollow
2014 [7.8] - Enjoyable, varied stoner metal, mixing between heavy riff-driven parts and lighter jingly parts, held together by competent and diverse vocals. All in all a good fun effort.
111. Swallowed - Lunarterial
2014 [7.8] - A doomy death journey that builds from some fairly unremarkable early songs whose main noteworthy features were occasional lead melodic elements and some pretty horrid semi-cleans to contrast the decent extremes. However, the single track 'Libations' that comprises the second half of the album is a major journey of extreme metal, with an OSDM sound conjoined to doomy parts, fast intense parts, manic lead guitar frenzies and a cacophany of wailing noise towards the end. Okay first half and great second half makes this a solid old-school doom/death package.
112. Clouds - Doliu
2014 [7.8] - A rather accomplished atmospheric melodic/extreme doom album, leading off with a pleasant piano introduction before kicking into heavy, sorrowful early-Swallow The Sun-esque semi-extreme doom. Tracks vary the levels of growls/clean vocals, heavy/quiet phases and guitar/piano control of the tone, but generally keep a fairly consistent sad-but-not-hopeless sound that can get rather heavy but always remains accessible. Some songs overrun or stay on certain parts for too long, and the soft, quiet, clean-vox/keys bookending 'If These Walls Could Speak' are rather redundant, but for the most part this is a good effort.
113. Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry
2014 [7.8] - Very generic yet well-done and rather enjoyable atmospheric melodic black metal.
114. Nightingale - Retribution
2014 [7.8] - Any previous gothic elements from their former work must've vanished by the time I discovered them here, as the music is mostly a 80s prog/classic rock, streamlined twist on something resembing previous Swano work like Witherscape and Moontower. Songs are relatively simple and no-frills, revolving around verse-chorus melodic songs with prominent keyboards working well on certain songs such as the closer. Softer songs sometimes drag, but the slight crunch on tracks such as The Maze works well and lifts the music. Dan Swano's voice is as rich and lovely here as ever, and now without a growl in sight, and he brings his quality assurance to songwriting and melodic nous too, resulting in an ultimately pleasant and well-performed effort that should satisfy Swano fans, even if not his best work.
115. Sanctuary - The Year The Sun Died
2014 [7.8] - Against my low expectations, this is really quite enjoyable. Warrel Dane sounds great, a fact I somehow often forget, and the instrumental work is nice, especially the really great guitar solo work, the clear standout element of the album. With good songs throughout, I personally rank I Am Low, Frozen, and the title track highest.
116. Mechina - To Coexist Is To Surrender
2014 [7.8] - More of the same, so still rather good, but the lack of variety in their recent sound is worrying.
117. Sólstafir - Ótta
2014 [7.8] - Perhaps a step up from Svartir Sandar, but I'm still not quite on board. Often dimmed and focussed on slowly shifting atmospheres over big shows, and regularly utilising piano/strings/sustained guitar notes orfeedback to push songs along and provide atmosphere, shifts to fuzzy stoner/sludge riffs or guitar melodies work well. Songs also vary between piano/strings-driven softies like Nattmal, rocky tracks like Middegi, and atmospheric shows like Non, in which metal guitars and other instruments unite to build a big dramatic climax. Vocals shift between sung and semi-shouted styles, all singing in Icelandic, and are fine if not stunning. Overall, the music is pleasant, distinct, well-composed and performed and with a decent balance of different instruments and styles, but struggles to consistently enthrall with its regularly subdued nature and I remain yet to be won over by Solstafir. Personally, the most convincing song was BM-influenced bonus track Tilberi.
118. Mortals - Cursed To See The Future
2014 [7.8] - A pretty sweet black/sludge metal romp, which starts off with flat-out BM rampaging but manages to move between up-tempo cool BM riffs, slower murky BM grooves, and even brief glimpses of melodies, before rounding out with a large chunky closing riffs.
119. Trepalium - Voodoo Moonshine
2014 [7.8] - Tight, well-balanced mix of extreme metal and groovy jazz building on the likes of Insane Architect from H.N.P. and making a consistently strong EP out of it. Vocals offer both intensity and rhythm appropriate to the sound mesh, and pounding-yet-groovy riffs, all intertwined with Western Saloon-style piano licks and solos and some nice other instrumental camoes, are finally topped with nice instrumental guitar work to bridge it all together nicely.
120. Ocean Districts - Expeditions
2014 [7.8]
121. Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly
2014 [7.8]
122. Process Of Guilt - Process Of Guilt / Rorcal [Split]
2014 [7.8] - More intense than this year's Nero Di Marte split, but similarly solid, feautring raw, murky mid-to-full-tempo BM from Rorcal, and an extension of the Faemin sound from Process of Guilt PoG's compositions are arguably more interesting with more advanced rhythms than Faemin, with that album's cold feel slightly turned down yet still pleasant. Not a split for smiles, but good in its own mean-spirited way.
123. Bölzer - Soma
2014 [7.8]
124. Electric Wizard - Time To Die
2014 [7.8] - HEAVY, fuzzy, occult-y stoner doom built around long, repetitive songs featuring slightly sinister clean vocals and slow, repetitive riff grooves. An impressively heavy but not necessarily engrossing bass wears you down over lengthy songs, resulting in surrender to the grooves, and occasional well-utilised lead guitar segments add some nice spice.
125. Morbus Chron - Sweven
2014 [7.8]
126. Trioscapes - Digital Dream Sequence
2014 [7.8] - Quirky and ambitious, this jazz fusion effort is a stylistic departure from Dan Briggs' other band BTBAM, but lacks for none of that band's musical adventurousness and willingness to lay down lengthy, elaborate tracks. Not quite as great as that band, but very enjoyable and others up both fun and atmospheric moments.
127. Corpsessed - Abysmal Thresholds
2014 [7.8]
128. Pallbearer - Foundations Of Burden
2014 [7.8] - Fairly solid long, slow, melodic doom.
129. Menace Ruine - Venus Armata
2014 [7.8] - Difficult to love, but pretty admirable, with long, free-form songs, built around sustained guitar notes and subtle melodies, benefiting greatly from a moving, haunting vocal performance breathing life and additional atmosphere into the slightly menacing but ultimately threadbare musical base. Works better as background music than something to focus on, but this subtle atmospheric giganto-piece works well as background music.
130. Down - Down IV - Part Two
2014 [7.7]
131. Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage Of Stars
2014 [7.7] - An extreme progressive album that offers some competent but unremarkable Allegeoen-esque melodeath and similarly okay more black-tinged extreme parts, conterpointed by interesting quieter sections and well-realised melodic parts with very pleasant clean vox.
132. Atriarch - An Unending Pathway
2014 [7.7] - A rather compelling black-tinged extreme doom album, with the black represented by tone, atmosphere and vocals, albeit a typical blast/tremelo cameo introducing Bereavement. The ugly guitar tone brings some atmos/avantgarde/industrial BM bands to mind, and add a nice spin to slow drum-driven chasms joined by slow sustained guitar leads and slightly off-key eerie cleans and odd extreme vox. Some slight song variation regarding the extents of grimness they drop to, capped off by the funeral doom-ish, slightly Wormphlegm-esque closing track Veil, adds something to the album. The clean vocals need work, and the band's strengths could lead to a superior future release, but this was a fairly impressive extreme doom release.
133. While Heaven Wept - Suspended At Aphelion
2014 [7.7] - Seemingly a major departure from previous work by the band, a pretty enjoyable and quite atmospheric prog/power album perhaps similar to Theocracy but rather different to other bands in the genre. The sequence of short songs at the end probably could've been fused into a single grandstand track, but their choice. Pretty pleasant all in all, although I want to see what their doom work was like to compare.
134. Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion
2014 [7.7]
135. Nasheim - Solens Vemod
2014 [7.7]
136. Soen - Tellurian
2014 [7.7] - More distinct than their debut, which came across as a semi-Tool tribute, and they maintain solid musical abilities, plus their singer has added some Mariuz Duda to his Maynard Keenan homage, which works well. Still, whilst it's rather individual, it comes up just slightly short on song quality, at least on first listen, to be great.
137. Long Distance Calling - Nighthawk
2014 [7.7]
138. Spectral Lore - The Quivering Lights [Split]
2014 [7.7] - Decent EP split featuring a lot of dark neofolk with the inclusion of some intense yet melodic black metal mostly on Spectral Lore tracks. Pleasant listening but can get a bit repetitive and undeveloped at times.
139. Spectral Haze - I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains
2014 [7.7] - A decent psychedelic stoner release with a heavy fuzz bass and driven writing but some teething issues in finding a satisfying sound. However, it comes together well on the grandstand final track.
140. Evergrey - Hymns For The Broken
2014 [7.7] - Decent, emotionally-charged, song-orientated, keyboard/synth-driven prog metal, but not quite at the level of the first few albums. Some nice songs on here, especially Barricades and the last 2, but a few slightly pedestrian, if reasonably pleasant, songs as well.
141. At The Gates - At War With Reality
2014 [7.7] - Starting off with a SotS cast-off-sounding track, after 8 minutes the first interesting riff/solos appear and the band gradually comes into its own, resulting in a superior second half with regular hooky riffs, grand melodics parts and interesting song set-ups. There's also a decent instrumental that works well in the context of the album, albeit no 'Into The Dead Sky'. The 'epic' melodic feel of the final track best surmises their strengths in this comeback. The vocals are sometimes pretty horrid and the drumming unremarkable, but the band remains capable of writing convincing extreme melodic riffs and leads and avoid releasing SotS2014, ultimately resulting in a justified comeback album.
142. Inter Arma - The Cavern
2014 [7.7] - In comparison to the somewhat cold and joyless previous album, this single-song EP I found more approachable. The 'black' in their sound is for the most part absent, the music instead predominantly dwelling in two camps; slow, crawling heavy guitars and speedier parts with hooky accompaniments, including lead guitars that at times approach quick and technical. With quite a lot going on in the song, most of it is fairly enjoyable, and all in all it's a decent effort.
143. Lethe - When Dreams Become Nightmares
2014 [7.7] - Pretty interesting mix of subdued atmospheric electronica alongside elements of several other genres, including the presence of metal sensibilities and distorted guitars on several tracks, including the standout cut Come Look At The Darkness With Me. The vocals are predominantly soft and female but do include other voices during its runtime. An interesting blend of ambient electronic music and rock/metal amongst other things.
144. Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out
2014 [7.7] - Very predictable but reliably entertaining old-school thrash in a manner that even I can dig.
145. Sivyj Yar - From The Dead Villages' Darkness
2014 [7.6] - Decent and pleasant yet somewhat raw and underdeveloped Agalloch-like semi-melancholy black metal.
146. Sedna - Sedna
2014 [7.6] - Decent blasting/midtempo BM first two songs, a slightly eerie interlude and a final well-structured, slow-burning grower of a post-y BM track makes this a decent release. The final track is the clear standout and definitely worth listening to.
147. Atomikylä - Erkale
2014 [7.6] - Decent psych album with a mix of stoner/blues grooves, instrumental weirdo explorations and dronier, more atmospheric expanses of sound, culminating on tracks 1 & 5 with restrained explosions of sounds and anguished vocals. Tracks 1 and 5 are strongest, using the various elements to make fine pieces, but the tracks in between meander too much and deviate from a solid sound to something less engaging. Good with worthy moments but flawed as a whole package.
148. Xandria - Sacrificium
2014 [7.6]
149. Giant Squid - Minoans
2014 [7.6] - A quite different post/sludge/stoner release. The metal side involved hoarse stoner metal-esque lead vocals with some cleaner singing interspersed, with both vocal sides done adequately. The metal riffing involved slow, deep, fuzzy guitars trudging along, sounding decent but demanding a better production. The melodies came primarily from a mix of guitars and non-metal instruments, particularly strings but occasionally other orchestral instruments, and were generally quite interesting. The unusual song arrangements found on the album act as its greatest strength, being regularly quiet with ~50% of the album 'heavy'. Whilst the overall experience wasn't very compelling, it was quite intriguing and nicely different.
150. Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings
2014 [7.6] - Reminiscent of Mr Bungle-lite, a range of uncommon musical styles incorporated into palatable songs without the chaos of Mr Bungle, resulting in fun quirky tracks with some personality.
151. Threshold - For The Journey
2014 [7.6] - Like their previous album, I enjoyed it on first listen, but I fear repeat listens may result in lost interest like the last album. It's not something I'm wholly enthusiastic over, but the songs are well-written, the vocal lines are regularly nice, and the lead singer is good, even if not my favourite. It all comes together as a solid piece of melodic prog from veterans in the field, albeit not especially my cup of tea.
152. Overkill - White Devil Armory
2014 [7.6] - Similar to Accept, whilst songs have the expected vocal energy and crunchy riffs associated with the band, they're generally not that gripping or hooky, and radiate a 'done before and better' feel. Likely won't disappoint modern Overkill/retro-thrash fans, but doesn't quite match up to previous works.
153. Axxis - Kingdom Of The Night II
2014 [7.6]
154. The Contortionist - Language
2014 [7.6] - Melodic hooks offer direction and engagement to listeners, and I wish new prog bands would learn to use them more. There's times on the album where the music is pleasant but rather directionless. Plus, the extreme parts don't work great. However, quite a few part deliver really well-working ambient prog metal, culminating in the final two tracks, which offer some extremely moving moments that lift the album to another level. There's definite promise, but like so many modern bands in the vein of Periphery and Tesseract, they need to convert their technical abilities and appreciation of expansive sounds into actual well-written songs, as the last couple of tracks in particular demonstrate their potential.
155. With Our Arms To The Sun - A Far Away Wonder
2014 [7.6] - Pretty enjoyable (almost entirely) instrumental post-rock/metal album with songs including post-rock jingle, post-metal drumming and heavy buildups, and occasional vocal cameos (extreme and clean), it's generally good but lacking that special something.
156. Tengger Cavalry - Ancient Call
2014 [7.6] - A rather promising but quite rough Chinese folk metal album, with well-utilised local folk instruments and melodies working well with the metal aspect and generally well-written, entertaining songs. Whilst they might lack resources, the production does still hamper the sound, and the metal side needs developing to let this band reach their full potential.
157. Anaal Nathrakh - Desideratum
2014 [7.6] - I'd anticipated a wall of extremity from the band's reputation, but it appears this is a departure from their previous sound. Basically furious melodic black metal with some (iffy, almost like extremified modern Friden) clean vocals and even occasional industrial/electronics interlaced. It's fine and quite enjoyable, but has pretty much been done before and is kinda one-note even if hooky.
158. Vanden Plas - Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)
2014 [7.6]
159. Progenie Terrestre Pura - Asteroidi
2014 [7.6] - An interesting aside to their space black metal debut, an ultimately non-groundbreaking yet still quite enjoyable electronic ambient 25ish-minute EP. I hope their next effort is closer to U.M.A., but this is still nice enough as a side-effort.
160. Yob - Clearing The Path To Ascend
2014 [7.6] - Four lengthy, thunderous stoner/sludge doom songs with little variety in the decent core sound that struggles to maintain interest over the hour-long runtime. Tracks 1 and 3 particularly don't offer anything much that 2 (Nothing To Win, an 11-minute pounder that ends just before it outlives its riff lifetimes) and 4 (Marrow, the closer that at times diverges from the heavy-fest to softer atmospheric ventures) don't. Generally decent HEAVY doom but a bit lacking to be truly great.
161. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-li
2014 [7.6]
162. Nibiru - Netrayoni
2014 [7.6] - A bit too drone-y for my liking, but nice and heavy yet spaced out, with Qaa-Om Sapah a particularly compelling track.
163. Igorrr - Maigre [Collaboration]
2014 [7.6] - Intriguing mix of intense electronics with more classical-style music and dramatic semi-operatic vocals, I can see the appeal but the electronics are too in-your-face for me to stand for too long, and without having much knowledge of electronic music to properly comment on it, it personally comes across a slighty arbitrary fusion of the 'classical' parts and the electronics with a bit of fucked-up thrown in for good measure. As the furthest thing from an authority figure on anything related to this, I prefer Caravan Palace's electronic-French classical/folk fusion.
164. Old Man Gloom - The Ape Of God
2014 [7.6] - Part I of this double-bill offers a mix of standard post/sludge, some hardcore sludge in Fist Of Fury, noise/SFX-based ambience in Simia Dei/The Lash's intro, and other deviations from the standard post- sound, resulting in a quite interesting and arguably more varied release than Turner's Isis work; however, it is slightly short on quality.
165. Witherscape - The New Tomorrow
2014 [7.6] - Pleasant EP featuring interesting new song, solid acoustic re-interp of Dead for a Day, and a few nice covers.
166. Hannes Grossmann - The Radial Covenant
2014 [7.6]
167. Silent Planet - The Night God Slept
2014 [7.6] - Intriguing if not fully accomplished unmelodic metalcore (compared to the popular genre bands). This doesn't follow typical harsh verse-soft chorus x2-bridge-repeat genre conventional structures, instead having relatively structure-free songs predominantly revolving around screams with occasional cleans. The screams are good, the cleans okay if a little lacking. The music itself is rather technical and crunchy, but more in the Periphery/Born Of Osiris new-prog style than e.g. PTH, BTBAM. Songs are fairly uncluttered despite the active nature of the guitars. It has a nice heavy feel without going full-out deathcore, solid technical capabilities without showing off, and decent writing for their chosen style, with intriguing lyrical topics. However, it lacks something to help the songs stand out or make real emotional impacts, namely hooks and focussed aggression, like too many new core/prog bands.
168. Epica - The Quantum Enigma
2014 [7.6]
169. Idol Of Fear - All Sights Affixed, Ablaze
2014 [7.5] - An interesting release that has one foot in black metal but regularly departs from that sound into other, more melodic territories that I'm not quite sure how to classify. The production does make the whole sound a bit weak and the writing still needs developing, but a release that perhaps signals promise for a truly distinct release in the future.
170. Transatlantic - Kaleidoscope
2014 [7.5]
171. Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral
2014 [7.5] - Standard Swedish OSDM with intially off-putting but eventually rather endearing croaky growls by Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost. It's fairly fun but nowhere near as compelling as Resurrection Through Carnage or Nightmares Made Flesh.
172. Tuomas Holopainen - The Life And Times Of Scrooge
2014 [7.5]
173. Rigor Mortis - Slaves To The Grave
2014 [7.5] - A fairly generic thrash album with an unremarkable vocalist saved by the consistently great solo guitar work from the now departed Mike Scaccia and instrumental departures from pure thrash e.g. the atmospheric section of Poltergeist save the album. The closing track is overly long and takes to long to kick off, but from Scaccia's opening guitar solo is becomes enjoyable. Stands as a testament to Scaccia's capability to lift a dull thrash album to something respectable.
174. Ancient Ascendant - Echoes And Cinder
2014 [7.5]
175. Job For A Cowboy - Sun Eater
2014 [7.4] - Sound crunchy tech-death, with some meaty riffing, solid technical skills, and interesting melodic deviations. However, for the most part, it doesn't really offer all that much new to the genre, so it will probably appeal more to enthusiasts. Still, the final track deserves a mention for its slowed-down, stomping pace and interesting guitar leads.
176. Crowbar - Symmetry In Black
2014 [7.4] - Rarely compelling or astounding, but regularly enjoyable sludge that offers up Southern grooves, occasional hardcore bursts, nice guitar melodies and even a (subpar for the band) soft venture on Amaranthine.
177. Falloch - This Island, Our Funeral
2014 [7.4] - Decent, pleasant post-rock, folk and perhaps black-influenced metalgaze producing nice warming atmospheres but ultimately let down by songwriting limitations and weak, if well-meaning, cleans.
178. Galneryus - Vetelgyus
2014 [7.4] - Decent flamboyant melodic power metal with a theatrical keyboard sheen and decent Japanese vocals, but lacking hooks to make it great beyond the technical capabilities and bombast, ultimately offering little of new worth.
179. Jakob - Sines
2014 [7.4] - Decent, somewhat varied instrumental post-rock release, varying between heavier (1,3,4,5) and lighter tracks (2,6,7). Resolve acts as a neat extendedheavy piece; in constrast, strings pop up in Emergent,and Darkness presents pleasant synth-y sounds with 'In The Absence Of Truth'-esque drums and ethereal guitar melodies. Howeverm Sines just offers atmospheric synth/guitar noise. The variation is nice and each attempt is consistently well-done, it's just not all that compelling for the style, bar Resolve and Darkness.
180. Primordial - One And All, Together, For Home
2014 [7.4]
181. Oruga - Blackened Souls
2014 [7.4]
182. Kauan - Muistumia
2014 [7.4] - A decent if perhaps unnecessary re-recording of earlier songs. Several of them seem to have been 'heavy-fied' and 'metallified', and perhaps not to their benefit. The album shines on the final couple tracks, where the dainty piano melodies and soft, melancholy atmosphere prevails. Fine, but I don't know if it adds much to the albums the songs come from.
183. Omit - Medusa Truth, Part 1
2014 [7.4] - Featuring the light, picturesque vocals juxtaposed with slow, heavy doom riffing of Repose, but less compelling and with an overwhelmingly long 26-minute monotonous closer. Track 2 is rather strange with some very unusual instrumental/vocal arrangements however, and is worth checking out.
184. Horn Of The Rhino - Summoning Deliverance
2014 [7.4] - The most hardcore-ish aggressive sections of full-blown sludge always put me off, and the first song opens with several minutes of repetitive pounding accompanied by exaggerated black metal-esque vocals that form the meat n' potatoes style on the album. A couple of other tracks feature this all-out pounding, but there's also a fair share of cool darker and slower riffs throughout, alongside a large proportion dwelling in the doom part of sludge, offering some decent doom with Ozzy/Cornell-esque clean vocals. There's a fair amount of cool stuff in this album, but nothing that reaches greatness and it's let down by the tediousness of the hardcore parts.
185. Woods Of Desolation - As The Stars
2014 [7.4]
186. Dominia - Theophania
2014 [7.4] - A decent addition to their discog, but one slightly bogged down by sub-standard gothic elements with trudgey slow riffs that hold back the band's majesty, displayed on The Final Trip and In Solitude.
187. Amogh Symphony - Vectorscan
2014 [7.3] - So much chaotic shit going on here I cannot begin to even attempt to explain, most of it non-metal, but with some brief OTT tech death metal blasts occasionally popping up. As far as the rest of it goes (sax jazz. Indian melodies, random sound effects), some of it works better than others but generally the whole package is very difficult to emotionally connect to IMO.
188. Mono - Rays Of Darkness
2014 [7.3] - The 'darker' companion piece to The Last Dawn, this one starts of very promisingly with a rather neat first track, with a more downbeat emotional feel and more pointed build-up, rather than the shimmering feel of the other album. However, between the return of the shimmer feel but with extreme vocals on track 3 and the aimless noise of track 4, it loses almost all of the momentum from the first track before its over, ultimately failing to feel like much of an improvement on the hardly-noteworthy 'lighter' half of this double release.
189. Pain Of Salvation - Falling Home
2014 [7.3] - As far as the changes for this semi-acoustic reinterp go, of the songs I previously knew changes were of varying levels - Chain Sling, a rather redundant choice, has hardly been altered since Remedy Lane, whilst the songs off the Road Salts acquired new things. Concerning their other songs, I quite like some of them, but others less so (e.g. Spitfall). Regarding the covers, I don't know Perfect Day, but the half Broadway-half Reggae reinterpretation of Holy Diver was highly odd. And the new song is nothing much. So, compared to other reimaginings of older material, it's less redefinitive than most, but PoS are so nice to listen to that it's enjoyable anyway.
190. Earth - Primitive And Deadly
2014 [7.3] - Improved as the album progressed, track 1 was impossibly dull and I wasn't a fan of track 2's vocalist, but I was more fond of tracks 3-5's vocalists and mix of sllloooowww trudging riffs with Southern-tinged overlaying guitar.
191. Decapitated - Blood Mantra
2014 [7.3] - Time and misfortune has separated this band from Winds of Creation in style and quality, but whilst I never finished Carnival is Forever, there are good parts to this album, demonstrating the groovier death metal sound they operate in now. Personally, the straight-forward heavy tracks found towards the beginning of the album were kinda dull compared to what they once achieved at full-pelt. However, the tracks that depart from their past sound, including Nest and its more atmospheric moments, and particularly the great Blindness, based upon slowly crescendoing guitars bubbling under some intense drumming and slowly introduced guitar leads on top, offer some previously unheard diversity and are actually rather a treat.
192. Tummler And Solomon - You've Worn Out Your Welcome
2014 [7.3] - Decent slow fuzzy heavy stoner that improves on the tracks where it becomes more expanisive and dynamic, most notably 'Climbing Up The Curtains' but also 'A Righteous Offering' and 'Handfed By Ghosts'.
193. Sxuperion - Through Cosmic Corridors
2014 [7.3] - Impressive solo attempt at successfully producing atmospheric death metal, but one which perhaps needs some refining - the distribution to atmospheric/ambient keys/electronics/samples/muted guitar segments amongst lo-fi death metal pounding could do with a bit more work (two slightly redundant SFX closing tracks), and the DM is suitably imposing and aggressive but perhaps could be worked upon a bit. However, there's some nice moments scattered throughout where intensity is bubbling under restrained guitar leads or electronic sounds that work well, and there's definite promise here, best displayed on the title track.
194. This Social Coil - After The Day Before
2014 [7.3]
195. Carcass - Surgical Remission / Surplus Steel
2014 [7.3] - Continuation of Surgical Steel with some reasonable variation in songs to help them stand out, particularly Livestock MArketplace. Ultimately dry and effectively a cutting floor combo.
196. Benevolent - The Covenant
2014 [7.3]
197. November-7 - Awaraxid 7mg
2014 [7.3] - Female-fronted melodic modern-heavy metal with occasional keyboards and some background industrial presence, offering mid-tempo, crunchy riffs and melody mostly provided by the quite powerful vocals and with the occasional instrumental appearance e.g. on Black Veil. Fairly pleasant with some good hooks and a talented singer, but drags towards the end and acks enough inspiration to rise above.
198. Conquering Dystopia - Conquering Dystopia
2014 [7.3]
199. Accept - Blind Rage
2014 [7.2] - Whilst opener Stampede promised a 'more of the same but well done' impression, most of the intervening running order until the solid closer has a fairly pedestrian feel to it, albeit punctuated with strong moments. The consistently enjoyable lead guitar/solo work provides most of the strong moments, but whilst the package likely won't disappoint modern accept fans, its unlikely to be a modern classic.
200. Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls
2014 [7.2]
201. Empyrium - The Turn Of The Tides
2014 [7.2] - A quaint little neofolk release with some pretty piano and acoustic guitar playing, with the occasional input of distorted heavy guitars and hoarse vocals as a counterpoint to the soothing semi-narrated vocals predominant on the album. However, when all's said and done, it does get quite boring and aside from the rather good With The Current Into Grey, it's generally not that memorable or remarkable.
202. Irreversible - Surface
2014 [7.2] - A pretty standard post-metal album with all the soft/heavy stylistic elements you'd expect, however done satisfyingly well. The two real divergences from complete normality are a pretty cool guitar lead section halfway through the final track, and an interminably dull closing couple of minutes with pointless narration layered on top.
203. Mono - The Last Dawn
2014 [7.2] - A typical shimmering-guitar loud-soft-shifting post-rock album in the vein of the band's lighter earlier stuff and bands like Explosions In The Sky. Inherently pleasant but ultimately unremarkable, it's not at the level of Hymn To The Immortal Wind.
204. Auriga - Reflection Of The Majestic
2014 [7.2]
205. Ea - A Etilla
2014 [7.2]
206. Grey Widow - I
2014 [7.2]
207. Gazpacho - Demon
2014 [7.1]
208. Appearance Of Nothing - A New Beginning
2014 [7.1]
209. Indian - From All Purity
2014 [7.1] - Black/sludge/doom mix admirable for its sheer nasty filthiness of it, but whilst the antagonism of it has its charm, and there is definitely a number of neat doomy grooves in here, it does become rather one-note over the whole listening experience, and it lacks that certain something that allowed Coffinworm to rise above admirable to become embraceable.
210. Anathema - Distant Satellites
2014 [7.1]
211. Eyehategod - Eyehategod
2014 [7.1] - I do like the southern rock stylings and slow/mid-tempo groovy riffs, but the repetitive aggression of the hardcore segments just doesn't work for me. The sparsely arranged slow burner Flags and Cities Bound produces an esoteric experience with its own particular appeal. An angry and mean album supplying decent groovy riffs and doomy sections, but with a hardcore side which just doesn't appeal to me.
212. Dephosphorus - Ravenous Solemnity
2014 [7.1]
213. Monolord - Empress Rising
2014 [7.0]
214. Hail Spirit Noir - Oi Magoi
2014 [7.0]
215. Blood Stain Child - Last Stardust
2014 [7.0]
216. Vermin Womb - Permanence
2014 [6.9] - A brief little gemisch of various extreme elements (death, grind, bit of sludge). It is a bit short and mainly an exercise in extremity, but everything is played well, the vocals are suitably horrific, and there is enough mixing up of pace and style (particularly on the murky final track, in comparison to the obvious grind of Setting Standards) to just about entertain over the 18 minute length.
217. Lantlôs - Melting Sun
2014 [6.9]
218. Melvins - Hold It In
2014 [6.8] - Weird mix of Melvins-esque sludge and alternative hard rock songs, pretty eclectic and fairly well-written, but kinda forgettable.
219. Into Orbit - Caverns
2014 [6.8] - Perfectly okay post-rock/metal lacking the substance of the stronger releases in the genre.
220. Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
2014 [6.8] - Appropriately heavy, but honestly aside from the groovy 'Shut Me Down', not all that interesting.
221. Laster - De Verste Verte Is Hier
2014 [6.7] - A cavern of blasting black metal fuzz. It's perfectly okay, but even though I'm no genre expert, I can't quite tell what makes this stand out, as it sounds very genre-entrenched and unvaried.
222. Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon
2014 [6.7]
223. Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds
2014 [6.7] - A generally enjoyable effort, but one with too many sub-par tracks and unnecessary vocal excesses to live up the band's previous strong work.
224. Greenleaf - Trails And Passes
2014 [6.6]
225. Thou - Heathen
2014 [6.6]
226. Kypck - Имена на стене
2014 [6.6]
227. Alaskan - Despair, Erosion, Loss
2014 [6.6]
228. Wijlen Wij - Coronachs Of The Ω
2014 [6.6]
229. Blut Aus Nord - Debemur MoRTi
2014 [6.6]
230. Palefeather - Palefeather
2014 [6.5]
231. Freak Kitchen - Cooking With Pagans
2014 [6.5] - Adequate, generally well played, but ultimately quite annoying technical modern-sounding hard rock with a decent but grating vocalist, personally more enjoyable on mellower/lead-driven songs than general riffy stompers.
232. Alcest - Shelter
2014 [6.5]
233. Amaranthe - Massive Addictive
2014 [6.4] - Still retaining the catchiness and 'fun' feeling of the last album, but with a drop in the consistency and quality of songwriting, with too many uninspired, by the books songs that fail to rise beyond moderately fun background music.
234. Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
2014 [6.3]
235. Rise Against - The Black Market
2014 [6.3]
236. Qualaceans - Capture Of Ziz
2014 [6.1]
237. Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter
2014 [6.0]
238. MaYaN - Antagonise
2014 [5.7]
239. EnkElination - Tears Of Lust
2014 [5.6] - A few brief moments, but generally unoriginal, uninspired, muted vanilla fem-goth metal.
240. Murmur - Murmur
2014 [5.4]



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments

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Comments: 13   Visited by: 54 users
24.11.2014 - 00:53
Góral
Combo Breaker
A nice list. A few great items here. I'm also pleased to meet another "generally Mariusz Duda fan"
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11.12.2014 - 16:18
gnirpz
Nice effort for the comments! I like the variety in genre you got here. Nice work.
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07.01.2015 - 12:02
Ilham
Giant robot
Written by deadone on 07.01.2015 at 07:26

Thank you very much for a very interesting list. Love the comments.

Good luck in 2015.

I would have thought 98% of these albums wouldn't interest you.
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07.01.2015 - 12:42
musclassia
Written by deadone on 07.01.2015 at 07:26

Thank you very much for a very interesting list. Love the comments.

Good luck in 2015.


Thanks man! I've got through pretty much everything I've seen rec'd for 2014 so far, and I probably can't add anything else I come across cos I'm sitting right on the character limit ha.
Gonna do a half-decade summary list or two soon and then get cracking with 2015!
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08.01.2015 - 00:07
Ilham
Giant robot
Written by deadone on 08.01.2015 at 00:01

They don't but I enjoyed reading about them.

Even when I buy Terrorizer or whatever, I'll read every article even if I hate the band or the sound. It's all interesting. And sometimes one gets excited enough by an article to want to try something different (e.g. keen to try out Sólstafir due to an interview where they talked about "misanthropic banjos" even though I generally don't like that kind of stuff).

Damn you should read more lists then haha. Maybe someday we'll show you that not everything that hasn't sold millions of copies is shit .
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16.01.2015 - 08:06
Susan
Smeghead
Dreamgrave - Presentiment
"Imperfect yet impressive"

So nice to see this here! And I agree 100% with your opening phrase. I actually just discovered this band TODAY thanks to fellow staffer Jason. I immediately bought it

It was introduced as "recommended if you like To-Mera" but I'd say "recommended if you want something far more interesting than To-Mera." It was simultaneously mature/refined and child-like/curious.

Lots of other nice descriptions on your list. I agree with some and disagree with others but it's always refreshing and enjoyable to read such thoughtful comments by someone with similarly varied tastes. Thank you for that.

And +1 for including Morost, one of my most underrated albums of this year
----
"A life all mine
Is what I choose
At the end of my days"
--The Gathering "A Life All Mine" from Souvenirs
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16.01.2015 - 10:18
musclassia
Written by Susan on 16.01.2015 at 08:06

Dreamgrave - Presentiment
"Imperfect yet impressive"

So nice to see this here! And I agree 100% with your opening phrase. I actually just discovered this band TODAY thanks to fellow staffer Jason. I immediately bought it

It was introduced as "recommended if you like To-Mera" but I'd say "recommended if you want something far more interesting than To-Mera." It was simultaneously mature/refined and child-like/curious.

Lots of other nice descriptions on your list. I agree with some and disagree with others but it's always refreshing and enjoyable to read such thoughtful comments by someone with similarly varied tastes. Thank you for that.

And +1 for including Morost, one of my most underrated albums of this year


As someone who's tried a couple of To-Mera albums without getting particularly won over, but who got into Dreamgrave almost straightaway, I definitely agree with you there! I actually found it by randomly stumbling to AngryMetalGuy, which I rarely go to so quite lucky I went at the right time.

And Morost was very good too, and I have you to thank for that recommendation with your review!
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16.01.2015 - 10:23
JohnDoe
Account deleted
Nice to see someone showing Steve Rothery some appreciation!
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16.01.2015 - 10:28
musclassia
Written by Guest on 16.01.2015 at 10:23

Nice to see someone showing Steve Rothery some appreciation!


Every time I DL'd a prog-type album off of Amazon it was always the top recommended 'if you like this...' album, I didn't bother checking it out for a while but eventually curiousity compelled me to try it out, and my only regret after was how long it had taken to convince myself, it's brilliant.
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16.01.2015 - 10:32
JohnDoe
Account deleted
Written by musclassia on 16.01.2015 at 10:28

Written by Guest on 16.01.2015 at 10:23

Nice to see someone showing Steve Rothery some appreciation!


Every time I DL'd a prog-type album off of Amazon it was always the top recommended 'if you like this...' album, I didn't bother checking it out for a while but eventually curiousity compelled me to try it out, and my only regret after was how long it had taken to convince myself, it's brilliant.


hope you go and listen to some Marillion now
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16.01.2015 - 10:42
musclassia
Written by Guest on 16.01.2015 at 10:32


hope you go and listen to some Marillion now


I've got so many other things to try and get through, but I'll add it to the list of stuff to check out. What would you consider their best album to check out (and if they're one of those prog bands that had a prog-out phase and a more commercial phase a la pre- vs post-Gabriel Genesis or Fragile v 90125 Yes, I'd be interested in the best from both eras)?
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16.01.2015 - 11:23
Urs Blank
I don't want to interfere but JohnDoe is right

I suggest you try either Misplaced Childhood (with former frontman Fish, very 80's sounding Neo-Prog with theatrical vocals and lush keyboards) or Brave (with current singer Hogarth, more mellow, which contains some of the best Rothery's work with the band, maybe closer to The Ghosts Of Pripyat). Needless to say Marillion is a must check if you're into Progressive Rock and into Rothery's playing.

Interesting list by the way
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16.01.2015 - 19:25
musclassia
Written by Urs Blank on 16.01.2015 at 11:23

I don't want to interfere but JohnDoe is right

I suggest you try either Misplaced Childhood (with former frontman Fish, very 80's sounding Neo-Prog with theatrical vocals and lush keyboards) or Brave (with current singer Hogarth, more mellow, which contains some of the best Rothery's work with the band, maybe closer to The Ghosts Of Pripyat). Needless to say Marillion is a must check if you're into Progressive Rock and into Rothery's playing.

Interesting list by the way


The only song I've heard from Marillion, Kayleigh, seems to come off Misplaced Childhood, so that seems a reasonable place to start, and I'll try out Brave too if it's within the same area as Ghosts, thanks for the recs and feedback!
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