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50. Gates – Bloom And Breathe

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Stream: ‘Not My Blood’ (5:56)

Many have taken to calling Gates “Thrice with post rock”, which, while meant as a compliment in most cases, does a massive disservice to what they’ve created with Bloom and Breathe.  Gates have crafted a deeply affecting and unique album which deserves to be heard on its own merits – not by way of piggybacking or association with the now deceased (or not??) post hardcore band. Bloom and Breathe’s swirling melodies make a foundation which allows for huge moments, placed in such a way that allows for it to wash over, creating a sense of catharsis. So much more than the sum of their parts, Gates have put together something special with their sophomore release. They may not have been on too many radars before 2014, but over 50-minutes they prove themselves to be a must-listen. — Josh Fountain

49. Manners – Pale Blue Light

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Stream: ‘Binge’ (2:29)

Manners so perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to be depressed, alone, and under the influence; it’s kind of scary. There’s a connection that’s felt with the members of Manners through their music; like these guys aren’t just dudes that make catchy…

10. Cult Leader – Nothing For Us Here

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Stream: ‘Skin Crawler’ (2:52)

What happens when your lead singer is accused of a heinous crime and the event begins to overshadow your music and message? It was quite simple for the remaining members of Gaza as they moved their sound literally from one band to another.  Gaza’s three remaining musicians took no time in re-establishing their grind influenced hardcore in Cult Leader on their introduction EP Nothing For Us Here with a new singer (who sounds exactly like the accused singer of Gaza).  Even the title doesn’t stray far from the Gaza hate-fueled lyrical themes that studied political and religious crimes against the world. Looking at the EP itself, ‘God’s Lonely Children’ is a feedback drenched intro that helps rocket the next four tracks into warped, off-kilter grinding riffs and metalcore beatdowns that will surely please anyone looking for an intense, yet interesting take on hardcore.  It’s not until ‘Driftwood’ where we can finally breathe and allow ourselves to pick up our teeth and take in the glorious use of slow dynamics, showcasing a brooding melody that ends up knocking us to the ground. Fans of Gaza, you need not worry because we now have the mighty Cult Leader. — Karl V.H.

9. xSPONGEXCOREx – How Tough Are Yah?

The temperature was rapidly falling, dipping well below 0° Fahrenheit, with the wind chill shooting even further into the negatives as the tall buildings lining Main St. in Worcester, MA funneled the stiff wind down the street’s narrow corridor. Fitting weather for a metal show, indeed. In fact, New England seems to always conjure up something interesting to welcome Swedish melodic death metal titans Dark Tranquillity to the area, as last February when they played the very same venue it so happened to dump 2 feet of snow only a few hours after the show ended. This time there wasn’t any snow, just an icy chill that signaled not only Dark Tranquillity’s presence, but also the long-awaited return of Insomnium to North America. I missed their last stop in New England in 2007 when they played at a now-shut strip club in my home state of New Hampshire to support Above the Weeping World, so seven years later I certainly wasn’t going to miss this tour.

It’s arguably the greatest melodic death metal duo in the world, making this tour arguably the greatest melodic death metal tour ever, so I eagerly awaited the show. Before the doors opened at 6:30 I walked a few blocks down the street to the local pizza place to get something to eat, and to my giddy dismay I recognized two familiar faces as soon as I walked in the door. Insomnium vocalist Niilo Sevänen and guitarist Markus Vanhala were sampling some mediocre, greasy…

It was the 5th of December. A rather warm (for December), reticent evening was taking shape in Tallinn – uncharacteristically quiet even. It wasn’t a harbinger of things to come though, not for me at least, as in a few hours, Finnish melancholic metallers Ghost Brigade and their supporting cast would light up the stage over at rockclub Tapper, making sure some highly season-fitting dark music was heard that night. It’s not every day you get to actually meet one of your favorite bands, much less develop a conversation with them for a good thirty minutes. That’s exactly the kind of break I caught though, and what follows is what transpired during our chat. It should be noted that the interview was done at a great little Mexican bar called Ancho in Tallinn’s Old Town, and that everything but the time it took place was more or less improvised. That was the intention all along though, so instead of reading out aloud questions carefully constructed in the safety of home’s walls, what is transcribed here was originally a rather free-flowing, hey-i’d-like-to-learn-more-about-you-guys conversational interview with Wille Naukkarinen (guitars) and Veli-Matti Suihkonen (drums). Ghost Brigade’s new album IV – One With The Storm was released on the 7th of November, and was one of my highlights of the year (while also peaking as the Finnish metal album of the year in their local Inferno magazine, and ending up #4 on Finnish critics’ all-genre end of the year list). Check out the…

Four years have lapsed since the Croatian stoner act, Stonebride, has released a new album. Following two successful LPs and several tours, the guys needed some time off to sort out their lives and decide what directions should follow next. So, they took it easy for a while and worked on new material at a slower, but steady pace. Nevertheless, 2014 was a busy year for the band, as they finished and revealed their 3rd studio effort, Heavy Envelope, while touring all around Europe to promote it. Since they are one of the coolest groups in the genre, I wanted to talk more with them about several subjects. I managed to include my interview in their schedule and drummer Steps found the time to answer my questions:

It’s been a while since you guys have released new material! What happened during these 4 years?

A lot of things. There was no break/pause, it’s just we took a slower pace than usual :) , kidding. Band members were busy with their personal lives and work obligations, especially during 2010-2012. A month long tour took place in 2010, right before the beginning of summer. There were serious recapitulations of what we wanted to do as a band in the future and how to move forward with all things necessary to keep what we have in the long run. We didn’t stop doing rehearsals or crafting ideas. It was only a matter of adjusting the schedule that…

Hello, friends. If you made it here without any malware warnings, breathe a sigh of relief.

As is the yearly tradition, I hope all of you were “Down with the Christmas” this week, no matter what festive holiday you celebrated:

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Stream: The Paybacks – “Down with the Christmas” (3:55)

Credit to Doug Savage at savagechickens.com. Die Hard is an awesome Christmas movie!

Similar to my entry last year (save for removing the EPs section), I’m going to split this entry between what I’ve called “The Jom Expansion Pack” (i.e., 25 albums that missed my Top 25 for whatever reason, likely because they’re solid albums that I spent an appreciable amount of time listening to again and again, but exhibit some quality that justifies their placement in the Expansion Pack, and/or I totally missed an album or two (or five… or more) albums by a nautical mile and heard them way too late in the year to give them ample consideration for the staff year-end feature).

In the Expansion Pack, the albums are in alphabetical order by artist name — if I tried to organize this into a Top 50, it’d be 2017 by the time I figured it out (given my typical output, anyway). When cultivating the Jom…

Rather than boring Sputnik’s readership with a numbered list of all the metal albums I liked and then spending three paragraphs bitching about how much metal sucked this year and how xSPONGECOREx is neither funny nor well made, I’ll instead bore you with a wall of text regarding the dichotomy that was metal in 2014. You see, this was one of the truly great years for metal – perhaps the best one in over a decade – but it was also filled with a smattering of laziness or just plain filth. Not filth in the way Innsmouth spewed out disgusting death metal riffs on their fantastic Consumed by Elder Sign, but filth in the way In Flames basically smeared some melodic guitar riffs with feces and then recorded Anders Friden crying and babbling as if he mistook a piss-flavored lollipop for a tasty and tangy lemon one.

So there was a lot that really isn’t worth mentioning in 2014, but for the sake of making this blog a presentable length I’m going to go ahead and talk about them anyway. As if we needed more of an indication that Agalloch were falling off their own bandwagon they managed to somehow defy expectations and release an album that was worse than Marrow of the Spirit. I’ll admit it: Marrow wasn’t all bad, in fact there are tons of moments that were pretty damn good, it’s just that it was all surrounded by moments where the band decided “Well, we’ve already…

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10. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

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Stream: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (3:16)

From the opening punch of the track of the same name, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a haymaker of unapologetic transgender perspective made to come across in one of the few avenues of emotion we humans actually comprehend and respect: music. If Laura Jane Grace simply wrote a press release, or an essay, or spoke at a convention, it wouldn’t mean a damn thing, but the thousand pound hammer of “You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you like they see any other girl / They just see a faggot” set to a marching, military snare beat is a statement that will wake people up and make them take notice.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues isn’t comfortable, but I’ve got to imagine it’s nowhere near as frightening and downright dangerous as it must be to actually live as a transgendered individual in our modern society. But the…

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30. The Antlers – Familiars

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

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Stream: “Intruders” (5:25)

By now, everyone knows what to expect from a record by The Antlers, and Familiars sees the American indie rock/dream pop outfit choosing not to buck that trend by tunneling even deeper into the niche that they’ve been carving for themselves since 2006’s Uprooted. That being said, if results continue to be as good as this, few will complain. “Palace”, Familiars‘ opening track and lead single, is a ringing endorsement of the band’s default setting, with its multifaceted arrangements and striking lyrical play (“Now he hangs your mirrors separately/So one can’t show you what the other reflects,” whispers vocalist Peter Silberman at one point) finding a precise balance between melancholy and erstwhile nostalgia. Elsewhere, “Intruders” is a masterclass of the dramatic musical narrative: “Well this is my house/So fuck your doubts and your cute battalion,” intones Silberman poisonously over a bed of swelling strings. For a group of artists who have always specialized in the art of being subtle, these are…

50-31 | 30-1110-1

50. Thou – Heathen

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Unofficial Facebook]

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Stream: “Into the Marshlands” (6:58)

Thou have been creating some of the most soul crushing doom metal ever set upon human ears for the last several years. Heathen is no different. It’s an unholy manifestation of distorted guitars and the burliest of burly riffs. Yet, Heathen also expands the New Orleans doom-mongers’ sonic palate in new atmospheric directions, with mournfully layered chords creeping their way into even the heaviest of places. It’s an unrelenting triumph to the emotion that is able to be coaxed from extreme music. –Adam Thomas

49. Kenn Nardi – Dancing With the Past

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

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It’s been a pretty good year for music. We had quite a few bands get back together and make some excellent music. There was also quite  a few other artists that just continue to churn out quality releases, and of course there were also a few surprises. Anyway, different people use different criteria to make their end-of-year lists. Some want to worry about an album’s impact on a genre or how unique an album is. Me — I only worry about how much I enjoyed listening to it. These are my top 25 most enjoyable albums of the year.

25. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution

[Spotify] // [Review]

RIYL: Technical Death Metal with emphasis on the bass.

I love technical death metal just so long as the technical doesn’t overpower the death. This is one of those rare bands that manages to straddle the line between the two elements without losing track of either. My favorite thing about this album has to be the bass playing. It’s all over the music and is mixed right up front. Some might find that a bit overbearing, but it’s right where it should be.

24. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum

[Spotify] // [Review]


As the release calender winds down for the festive season, and as we gear up for the big year-end features, this will be the last new releases post for the year.

As such, this post will cover all scheduled releases for the whole of December and January. Please note that all release dates provided are current at the time of posting, though are subject to change. All information is based upon their physical North American release date (where possible). This post will continue to be updated over the coming weeks as any new releases are announced or are postponed ( *cough*The Carter V). Both the album streams section and the Last FM charts will be updated accordingly as well.

If you happen upon a new release being announced that you don’t see here, please feel free to post in the comments section and it will be added. The same goes for any streams that become available after posting.

Stay tuned for the upcoming Staff end of year feature as well as the best of 2014 feature as decided by the entire userbase; head here to find out how you can cast your votes. Apart from that, enjoy the upcoming holidays and we will catch you all again in February 2015!

And as always, please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

2 December
AC/DC – Rock Or Bust (Columbia)
Little Envy – Little Envy (South By Sea)

As the curtain closes on 2014, it’s difficult to fathom just how amazing of a year it was musically. This is a statement that seems to ring true for a lot of people almost every year, as we look back at the music we’ve acquiesced since January and marvel at the strength and diversity of the collective whole. Maybe we’re all too simple to please. Perhaps we just know what we like and pursue it with reckless abandon. Either way, I personally think that 2014 is one of the best years for music in a long time. So instead of drawing up a plain looking top 25 list (which I almost did), I’ve decided to do something unnecessarily over-the-top and showy to commemorate how I feel about 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first annual Sowing’s Music Awards (SMA). Only the worthy have been nominated, and only the best out of those will receive the somewhat coveted (but not really) SMA trophy, which I can only imagine would look something like this:

Only the most brilliant artists will get to line their trophy cases with these! But without further ado, I present to you the first category. Thank you for reading on – if you choose to do so – and I hope you enjoy the 2014 SMA’s.



The Nominees:

Bleachers: Mainstream pop, perfected. The effects are slick and stylish, the choruses are out-of-this-world, and the hooks are…

Starting from today (November 30), in conjunction with Clawhammer PR, Sputnikmusic has the exclusive chance to host a stream of Vancouver-based Astrakhan’s new EP A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin, set for a 12” vinyl release on December 12 via War on Music Records. It is the band’s third EP, featuring two new tracks and two (“The Pillarist” and “Rest In Depths”) that you can also find on the band’s digitally released 2013 EP The Pillarist. Astrakhan play a hybrid form of sludge/stoner metal with a garage vibe and a progressive edge. You can hear a bit of Baroness in there, a bit of The Sword, and a bit of Kylesa, but you’ll also hear a lot of what makes Astrakhan a force of their own. For a band “born out of years of failure, frustration and stifled creativity,” the band members have sure found their feet in Astrakhan. The way the band melds sludge, garage rock, and spacey stoner vibes together is enviable: Astrakhan have a clear vision of the kind of music they want to create, but unlike a lot of young bands, they also have the chops to make that vision come to life. A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin is a true teaser in that sense: being a mere 20 minutes long, it generates appetite, it commands attention, but before you know it, the album has come to an end. There’s so much promise here, a full-length by these guys could really kick ass and…

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 25th, 2014. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Amadeus Awad’s Eon – The Book Of Gates (Power Prog)
Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)
Bella Novela – Telemtery (Self released)
frYars – Power (Fiction Records)
Kaledon – Antillius: The King Of The Light (Scarlet Records)
Kevin Hearn – Days In Frames (Roaring Girl Records/Fontana North)
Savages & Bo Ningen – Words To The Blind (Stolen Recordings/Pop Noire)
Scapes – One:Unseen:One (Nihil Ultra)
Snowday – As We Travel (Self-released)
Submotion Orchestra – Alium (Counter Records)


Album Streams:

Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers

Savages & Bo Ningen – Words To The Blind

Snowday – As We Travel

Submotion Orchestra – Alium


SputnikMusic’s Most Played Artists of the Week (according to Last.FM):

Staff :

1. TV On The Radio
2. Damien Rice
3. Foo Fighters
4. Pink Floyd
5. Azealia Banks
6. Taylor Swift
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
8. John Frusciante
9. Freddie Gibbs
10. Cloud Nothings


1. Nas
2. The National
3. Brand New
4. Bon Iver
5. Neutral Milk Hotel
6. Japandroids
7. The Smith Street Band
8. American Football
9. Meek Mill
10. La Dispute


1. Run The Jewels
2. Radiohead
3. Brand New
4. The National
5. Pink Floyd
6. Aphex Twin
7. Kendrick Lamar
8. Weezer
9. Flying Lotus
10. Modest Mouse

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