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 Lists
01.08.15 Mmxiv Review 06.30.14 2014 Midterm Review
01.13.14 My Favorite Records Of 2013 01.13.14 Top 10 Concerts Of 2013

Mmxiv Review

Hey guys, I did another one of these. Like last time, I wrote these to post on ranother site, so some rof the blurbs will appear to be pretty long, but I feel rlike they're not as wordy as last time. This list rwill be my top 10 rEps/Demos/Tapes/Not-quite-albums and then I'll have my top 30 albums of rr2014. Thanks in advance for checking this out.
40Anopheli
A Hunger Rarely Sated


Anopheli are a sludge/emo/crust band featuring members of Light Bearer, Monuments
Collapse, and Torso. Another thing important to add is that the band features cello in
their sound. On their debut EP, the band displays heavy post-metal riffs you?d expect
from dudes in Monuments Collapse and Light Bearer, but get plenty of hardcore riffs, d-
beat breaks, and post-rock melancholy with the cello adding a lot to the mix. The band
also incorporates back and forth vocals between Alex CF and bassist Jasmine and both
deliver vocals just as emotionally intense as the music on display. Overall this EP is a
great collaboration between tons of talented artists and if you like any of the bands I
mentioned above, post-metal or thinking man?s hardcore, check this out.
39Vermin Womb
Permanence


Vermin Womb is the latest project from featuring Ethan McCarthy, who is
also in Primitive Man. Much like Primitive Man, Vermin Womb?s music is full of skull-
crushing, soul-tearing, bone-shattering hatred for everything that is, has been, or will
be. Unlike Primitive Man, Vermin Womb plays a mix of grindcore, death metal, and crust
with a little sludge thrown in the mix. Across the EP?s run time, the band lets out a total
sonic onslaught with grinding riffs, death metal groove, killer vocals, and tons of
feedback.
38Flesh Born
Han


Flesh Born are a violent screamo band out of Denton, Texas. Their music is
sonic realization of ?Han? which is ?a concept in Korean culture that has no direct English
translation. Minjung theologian Suh Nam Dong describes Han as a ?feeling of unresolved
resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the
overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one's guts and bowels, making
the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right
the wrong?all these combined.? The 8 tracks on this EP range from short bursts of
pained emoviolence, longer bursts 90?s screamo, and some doomier material like Gloom
and The Fever of Feeling. Overall, Flesh Born achieve some of the most violent yet
emotional music I?ve heard in a while.
37Night School
Heart Beat


Night School are a new garage pop band out of San Francisco. Featuring Alexandra
Morte, previously of Whirr, the band incorporates lo-fi fuzzy garage rock riffs, 60?s pop
melody and doo-wop-y vocal harmonies all soaked in a respectable amount of reverb.
The songs on this EP are short and catchy as hell. Songs like Best Friends and Birthday
always bring a smile to my face and make me want to go on a tandem bike ride with a
pretty girl from the coffee shop. The music here is just too bright, fun, and infectious to
ignore, and the garage production adds a really nice dynamic to the sound.
36 Whirr/Nothing
12" Split


Whirr and Nothing are two bands at the forefront of the whole shoegaze
revival/movement/shoegaze bands in the 2010?s thing. Both released fantastic records
this year, and they both share a member in Nick Bassett, who plays guitar in Whirr and
plays bass in Nothing. They also released this split which has some of the bands? best
material yet. Whirr?s side of the split features Ease which is a faster paced tune that?s
got a driving bassline and some killer leads. Lean is one of the more lush songs they?ve
written recently. Nothing?s side of the split is where the release really shines, as it
contains the heaviest material Nothing has ever released. Chloroform is a super catchy
and July The Fourth absolutely pummels you with heavy Nirvana-esque riffs. This split is
next level.
35Bison B.C.
One Thousand Needles


Bison are one of my favorites sludge bands and their latest EP is badass.
The EP consists of two tracks: One Thousand Needles, and Calm, Friendly and Euthymic.
Both clock in at a little over 9 minutes. The first track sees Bison sounding more
triumphant than ever, as to say to Metal Blade, ?we didn?t need your damn deal,
anyhow?. The riff they use for the first and last part of the song is one of the most
beautiful things I?ve heard all year. The second track is a little more rockin?, but is also
very triumphant with the long intro, beefy middle and sludged out ending. If you like
High On Fire/Kylesa type sludge, you?ll dig this.
34Suicideyear
Remembrance


Suicideyear is a hip-hop producer out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The beats he produces
are categorized as cloud rap, and they?re often made of very atmospheric, airy and
serene synth lines, and featuring the rattling hihats and booming sub-bass of trap rap.
On his EP, Remembrance, Suicideyear says this material was inspired by his trip to
Florida, and the landscapes over there. I think it?s fairly noticeable as a lot of the tracks
are very tropical sounding and seem like the perfect soundtrack to sitting at the beach
late at night, surrounded by palm trees and having a smoke. But the album isn?t
something to just chill to, there?s a lot of interesting things happening musically too. The
first track channels Baba O?Riley with the melody line that?s made using the 808 Cowbell
sound, and tracks like U S features some interesting beat changes, and he covers My
Bloody Valentine?s When You Sleep. It?s not a remix, he actually remakes it. Overall, this
is one of the most pleasuring releases I?ve heard this year. If you like chill electronic
music, check this out
33Thou
The Sacrifice


If you don?t know Thou by now, for shame. They?re only the most prolific sludge band to
come out in recent years. This EP is made up of material that didn?t quite make the cut
for the full-length they put out this year. The material present here is a little more blunt
than their album material, but it?s still badass with it?s raw sludge and crazy screamed
vocals. Also, there?s a Nirvana cover. Badass.
32Ellorsith
1959


Ellorsith are a blackened death metal band out of Scotland. Their debut tape features
some of the most twisted, dark and mind-bending metal I?ve heard all year. The concept
behind the tape is the Dyatlov Pass Incident, where north of the Ural Mountains in
Russia, 9 cross-country skiers all died mysteriously. After a thorough investigation
yielded little information, the Russian authorities deemed the cause of the skiers? deaths
was an ?unknown compelling force?. That term has led to tons of controversy and
conspiracy theories, and is fitting for the music Ellorsith write. It?s very mystic and their
riffs evoke eerie images of being lost in northern landscapes. I?d recommend this if you
dig Deathspell Omega.
31Predatory Light
MMXIV


Predatory Light are a new black metal band featuring members of Ash Borer and
Drought. They play primal black metal with elements of doom and psychedelic
tendencies. Their debut demo features two songs. The first, Changing Skins, has the
most intense black metal riffage I?ve heard all year and features some doom groove. The
second track, Spiritual Flesh features more of the same but has these huge psychedelic
walls of sound that build up as the riffs intensify. It?s like getting sucked into a wormhole
and being shredded alive. The production is just that right amount of lo-fi and the vocals
are absolutely nuts ranging from deep death metal growls to the perfect black metal
vocals. This is some of the best black metal from 2014, I can?t wait for a full length from
these guys.
30Alvvays
Alvvays


Alvvays are a new indie rock band from Canada. The Toronto psych-pop quintet
incorporate sounds from psychedelic rock into their sound, with lots of synth and vocals
soaked in reverb along with some slower, more melancholic tunes. But that said there
are still a lot of very young, poppy sounding songs with playful guitar melodies, driving
choruses and lyrics about 20-something-year-old debauchery. Overall, it?s a really
enjoyable album.
29Antwon
Heavy Hearted In Doldrums


San Jose rapper Antwon?s 2014 record, Heavy Hearted In Doldrums is his best to date.
The south bay area rapper is known for songs with references to sex, drug use and his
past. He often raps over cloud rap beats and beats that heavily sample 80?s pop. This
record features some of this best beat selection featuring beats from past-collaborators
like Shawn Kemp, Cities Aviv, Froskees, and Walsh but also features production from
some greats bedroom producers like Suicideyear and Lord Pusswhip. It also features
verse from the like of Lil Ugly Mane, Wiki of Ratking, and Heems of Das Racist. The
record is full of bombastic songs about sexcapades, and more atmospheric introspective
songs. If you like weird hip-hop, consider checking this out.
28 Idylls
Praying For Terrene


Coming through with a record that sounds like the sonic equivalent of going mad on PCP,
is IDYLLS with Prayer For Terrene. The Brisbane band play a strain of metallic hardcore
that?s full of crazy noise, feedback and use tons of really dissonant harmonization to
create of the most intense and unsettling records out. The Kurt Ballou production also
make this one of the heaviest sound records of the year. With all crazy noise going and
the intense playing this record creates a chamber of psychic violence. Along with all of
that, the records incorporates some elements of post-rock and psychobilly with tracks
like Fagged Out On The Beach and PCP Crazy. This record is fucking nuts.
27Helms Alee
Sleepwalking Sailors


Helms Alee graze 2014 with a follow up to their awesome debut. This time around the
Portland sludge-pop trio up the song-writing and riff game and write some of their best
material yet. The musicianship on this record is a great improvement from their last
effort, and it?s obvious the band have become a super tightknit unit and really play off of
each other in a very musical fashion. Many of the tracks start with humble melodies
before exploding into huge sludge riffs that have post-rock elegance. And the guitar and
bass tones on this record are to die for. If you like sludge with pop sensibility, you need
this.
26Bones
Garbage


Bones is a 19-year-old rapper out of LA. He?s become well known over the last couple of
years by constantly releasing music online for free and putting out tons of VHS recorded
music videos for his short 1-2 minute long songs. While he started out with sound that
was pretty much emulating 90?s west coast hip-hop, over time he developed a darker
sound and imagery, rapping over dark cloud rap beats. Garbage is his hardest hitting
mixtape yet, featuring some of the most bombastic beats he?s rapped on yet. But there?s
also a lot of very mellow tracks with beats that heavily sample guitar or are made up of
nothing but a floating keyboard drone and an 808-drum beat. While lyrical themes on
the record don?t expand that far from typical hip-hop topics; weed, his squad, his lyrical
ability, his come-up; his delivery is what gives the album variance as he either uses a
very energetic flow, a talking, monotone flow, and he also does some singing and ever
hardcore screaming. Overall I think Bones is one of more interesting figures in internet
hip-hop right now
25Woods Of Desolation
As The Stars


Woods of Desolation are a prominent figure in the post-black metal world and with their
latest LP, As The Stars, their?s an obvious emphasis on the post-rock elements of the
sounds. While all the black metal elements like shrieked vocals, tremolo picked guitar,
and blast beats are still very present, the song writing takes a much more triumphant
and positive turn. The chord progressions are very uplifting and the guitar melodies soar
over the music like a shooting star. Black metal really shouldn?t feel this good.
24Pallbearer
Foundations Of Burden


Pallbearer need no introduction. These traditional doom metallers have been making
waves in the scene since their stellar debut, From Sorrow To Extinction. And with their
follow-up, it seems they?ve convinced everybody who wrote them off at first they?re a
force to be reckoned with, and their appeal has seen some reach in music circles outside
of metal. While I can appreciate the crushing doom that Pallbearer unleashes on this
record, I didn?t feel that what they offer was much better than the debut. Besides the
small keyboard track ?Ashes?, the material on both records is the same. Not to say that?s
bad, but it seemed like most thought this record was on an entirely different plane,
which I just don?t see. That said, the riffs here are beautiful and crushing and the band
seems to be playing out a little more. Overall, an excellent doom record.
23The Body
I Shall Die Here


The Body make some of the eeriest and grating sludge around. The avant-sludge duo
are well-known for creating a harsh sonic medley of sludge mixed with industrial and
harsh electronics. This record sees those elements pushed to a new extreme, as the
band collaborated the dark ambient producer, The Haxan Cloak. On it, The Body create
truly evil, brooding atmospheres, that start from a place of deep sorrow and end up
exploding into hysteria. There are some elements to their sound that might be a little
trying for some people, like the harsh sounds from the electronics or the extremely
grating yells that guitarist/vocalist Chip King belts out, but if these things don?t bother
you, it really adds to the emotional intensity of the record. If you?re looking for
emotionally scarring sludge, this is what you want.
22Phobocosm
Deprived


Montreal death metallers Phobocosm?s debut record is some of the darkest death/doom
metal I?ve ever heard. The band?s sound is mostly that of a death metal band, with lots
of intense, fast riffing, double bass, and insane gutturals, but it?s all put through layer of
dense doom fog. The production is absolutely suffocating and really adds to the
heaviness of the riffs on display. The riffs are absolutely unforgiving in brutality and act
as the soundtrack to complete decimation of all that is pure. If you?re into the death
metal stylings of bands like Incantation and Immolation, you have no excuse to not
check this out.
21 Punch
They Don't Have To Believe


Punch are/were(???) a hardcore punk band from San Francisco. They?re well known for
their extremely aggressive sound that combines elements of hardcore punk,
powerviolence, and thrash. All together their music is fast and mad as fuck. Most of their
songs aren?t longer than 90 seconds, so you get tons of short bursts of cutthroat riffs,
pissed off vocals, the occasional breakdown, and delicious, delicious feedback. One thing
I have to note is how awesome their bass player is. He?s got a fantastic tone and his
lines are very present in the mix and as a part of the songs as well. If you need truly
merciless thrashcore that?s all killer, no filler, you need Punch in your life.
20Triptykon
Melana Chasmata


Triptykon were one of the first bands that showed me just how dark and gloomy doom
metal can get. Their debut record was the first record I heard that was incredibly heavy
doom that also had elements of black metal and gothic metal and is one of my favorite
records. So like many other people, I was highly anticipating Tom G Warrior?s follow up
to what some consider to be his best work. Melana Chasmata had a lot to live up to, and
while it may not surpass Epariseta Daimones, it?s still a worthy successor. The record
start with wicked feedback while double bass drums onslaught fades in and the riff
onslaught begins. This record focuses a bit more on the black/death metal riffs, but is
still heavy on suffocating doom riffs. The production has me convinced I?m drowning in
funeral fog. The later half of the record is heavy on a lot of the gothic sounds, namely
tracks like Waiting, Aurorae and In The Sleep Of Death. Overall, this record is still an
astonishing display of gothic doom, I just had my expectations a little to high.
19 Ion
ION


San Francisco black metal new comers Ion supply one of the craziest and most original
black metal records of 2014. The album?s black metal moments on this record are some
of the intense, dense, and mind-warping music I?ve heard all year. The riffs are full-
throttle madness, with tons of layered guitar parts that build this huge sonic vortexes.
The drumming is some of the craziest I?ve heard in while, there?s a lot of intricacies in all
the blasting. It?s like you fused Ludicra and Emperor together on steroids. Another thing
Ion does that no other bands are doing is they incorporate ambient/soundscape music in
their sound, often tagging guitar driven ambient at the beginning or end of these tracks.
At time I feel like there?s a little too much of that, like on the track Embers, but that?s
just because I?d love to hear more of this crazy progressive black metal they?re dealing
on when not doing the ambient stuff. Overall though, this record is one of the most
impressive debuts I?ve heard this year, and one of the most forward-thinking black metal
records I?ve heard in the last few years.
18BADBADNOTGOOD
III


BADBADNOTGOOD (commonly referred to as BBNG) are an instrumental jazz trio from
Toronto, Canada. They became well known in the music world for uploading videos of
them playing jazz interpretations of hip-hop beats on YouTube. Their latest record, III, is
actually all original material though. One thing that?s noticeable about this record is all
the additional instrumentation they use. At their core they?re a piano, bass, and drums
trio, but their piano played doubles on guitar sometimes, and there?s lots of horns on the
record too. Another thing is a lot of the music is more composed and less
improvisational. While there are songs that do feature long improvised solos, a lot of the
tracks on the record feature no solos and are just composed pieces. That being said,
their compositional skills are up there with some of the best in jazz and even just the
music business, with tons of really smooth instrumentation, really catchy hooks, and
awesome musicianship. Above all of that, the production on this record is suberb.
Everything sounds crystal clear and there?s tons of neat effect on the drums. This is the
coolest jazz(y) record I?ve heard all year
17Morbus Chron
Sweven


Morbus Chron are a progressive death metal band out of Sweden and their sophomore
record, Sweven, is one of the nuttiest death metal records I?ve heard in years. While
once could easily point to bands like Death and Atheist as obvious influences for the
band, Morbus Chron take from their books and expand a lot more and breath the life into
the meandering genre that is prog-death. Amidst the crazy riffs, there album has a very
eerie, nightmarish atmosphere through-out, evoking feelings of madness. And admist all
the twisted riffs, are some very jazzy sounding guitar lines which are all surprisingly
creepy as well. This some truly righteous stuff that I almost have a hard time calling
death metal because it?s unlike any other death metal record I?ve heard. If you like prog-
death or are simply looking for some truly unconventional, outside-the-box death metal,
this is mandatory listening.
16Forn
The Departure Of Consciousness


Boston doom-newcomers enter the year with one of the stronger doom LPs. Despite the
LPs short length by doom standards, the four tracks that make up the majority of the
record are some of the heaviest released by any band this year. Like most of their
contemporaries, Forn mix together doom, sludge, and black metal in a cauldron and
what comes out is evil, Lovecraftian doom that rises to destroy all in a time efficient
manner. The riffs are unrelenting in their heaviness and brutality and the vocalist uses
some of the gnarliest gutturals I?ve heard along with pained black metal shrieks and
combined evoke a sense that the world as I know it will soon be enshrouded in thick fog
before the shadow of a figure rises above the horizon and crushes everything within a 5
mile radius of me alive with one swoop. This is shit is sick.
15Drunk Dad
Ripper Killer


Drunk Dad doesn?t only have the best band name of 2014, but their they do the best job
of ?band name sounds like band?s sound?. The noise punk quarter?s debut record is one
of the chaotic records of the year. The band incorporates old school hardcore, noise rock,
Melvins-esque, and some free-form noise to create of the most hectic records I?ve heard
all year. Through-out the record, the tracks sound like every negative shade of drunk:
pissed-off, lethargic, self-loathing, and absolutely messy. So you can expect to hear fast,
aggressive shit; slow noisy stuff, and some sludge jams. The drumming on the record is
really impressive too. So if you?re looking for a record that doesn?t give a fuck, Drunk
Dad doesn?t give a fuck.
14Nothing
Guilty Of Everything


Nothing are a shoegaze band out of Philadelphia. They?ve made quite some waves this
year, being the first shoegaze band signed to Relapse Records, touring/being best buds
with Whirr, and also having an insane live show. But most importantly, their music is
phenomenal. Combining shoegaze sounds with 90?s alt rock and grunge, the band?s
music is very pleasant while simultaneously being huge and loud as fuck. There?s
variance in the tracks from the slowburners like Hymn To The Pillory and the title track,
faster cuts like Bent Nail, and sonic sucker punches like B&E and Dig. This is about as
crushing as a band can get without playing metal or hardcore. This album is guilty of
being badass.
13Cities Aviv
Come To Life


Cities Aviv is the most creative mind in hip-hop right now. From the production to the
rapping, no other artist comes close to meeting Cities in ambition and originality. Cities?
sound is rooted in the 80?s soul music he cuts most of the samples for his beats from. On
tracks he produces he often cuts a lot of vocal samples from 80?s music, chops them into
small fragments and splices them together so they create a very chaotic and jumpy vibe.
Other beats are very airy and ethereal and create a soft, uplifting atmosphere that are
fitting for Cities? positive lyrics. In his rapping, he makes a lot of references to social
media and current trends in hip-hop, but overall his message is to stay positive and
perpetuate the real. This is the most captivating release in hip-hop in 2014.
12Artificial Brain
Labyrinth Constellation


There are a lot of shitty tech death bands. And a lot of shitty tech death bands like to
write songs about space. Such is not the case for Artificial Brain. They?re actually quite
good, and do a better job of sounding cosmic than most bands other bands that are tech
?death?. Artificial Brain are a death metal band from New York that take influence from
the likes of Gorguts, Demilich and Ulcerate. The band?s playing is very technical, but
never masturbatory. One thing I have to note is the fantastic bass playing one the
record. Also, the vocalist?s gutturals sound like a black hole, it?s fucking nuts. And with
Colin Marston producing the record, the band?s tones sound absolutely top notch. This is
the cream of the crop when it comes to death metal this year.
11Bread Club
Alive//Well


Bread Club are an emo band out of San Jose. Their music to me is very a pure musical
translation of all the emotions people go through in their late teens/early twenties. The
music is very angsty and young, but can also be very introspective. The musicianship on
the record is very notable. The guitar playing is actually fairly technical and the two
guitarists are almost never playing the same thing. There?s lots of counter point,
harmonization, or they?re playing off of each other. The bass playing is really good and
fairly prominent in the mix. The vocals range from high, kind of nasally singing, some
screaming, and talk-y vocals. The fast, angsty tracks just feel so full of life, even if
they?re not exactly coming from a positive place. The slower tracks are really good too.
If you like emo, check this out.
10Wreck and Reference
Want


Every now and then you come across a record you can?t simply explain with things like
genre tags. Sometimes bands have a sound that is truly unique. Wreck & Reference is
one of those bands. Wreck & Reference are a two-piece experimental/electronic music
group loosely based out of California. One member plays drums and the other creates
samples from tons of manipulated and obscured source material. Sometimes it?s easy to
tell what the samples are; piano, strings, choir vocals. Other times you have no idea
what you?re listening to. But all the sounds they create all have one thing in common, in
that they?re used to create very dark, eerie, and unsettling atmospheres that come from
places of utter sorrow and depression. With most songs they establish an obvious verse
section and chorus section, so it?s not just complete madness. Both members provide
vocals, which range from pained screams, shrieks that wouldn?t be out of place in a
black metal setting, and gothic spoken word. With all of these elements, Wreck &
Reference create some of the most interesting and disturbing music released all year.
9Thantifaxath
Sacred White Noise


Thantifaxath released the most impressive debut record from any band in 2014. The
Canadian experimental black metal group craft some of the most off the wall and off
kilter black metal I?ve heard. Amidst all the evil sounds they conjure with conventional
black metal tools like tremolo picked riffs, shrieks, and blast beats, they also incorporate
tons avant, angular riffing in both the guitar and bass playing. They?re also no stranger
to incorporating some very eerie synth work to add to the already creepy atmosphere
they build with their twisted black metal. Along with being spooky, some of the riffs the
band plays are just plain mean. Not exactly ?brutal?, but they go beyond eerie and are
aggressive and suffocating. The track Eternally Falling is made up of atmospheric guitar
and some very wicked violin playing, which is a nice break from all the menacing riffing,
and the way it transitions into the track Panic Becomes Despair is executed perfectly and
quite fitting given the track?s title. Overall, Thantifaxath create the most eerie, evil,
bleak, and forwarding thinking black metal I heard all year. I can?t wait to hear what
they do next.
8Indian
From All Purity


In 2011, Indian released their record Guiltless. I thought it was a decent effort, but at
the time it was a bit too harsh and noisy for my tastes. I downloaded their latest effort,
as it was getting some hype, and it blew me away. The Chicago sludge band?s fifth
record is one of the angriest, most visceral, punishing, hostile records I?ve heard. Indian
craft dense songs with a few riffs that repeat over and over again in an endlessly brutal
fashion that?s also kind of hypnotic. The production on the record is absolutely hellish at
all times, especially when the band uses noise. One of the most interesting tracks on the
album is the noise track, Clarify. The songs start off with twisted guitar feedback and
then a thick swamp of feedback and noise rests as the vocalist lets of pained screams on
top of it as it progressively gets noisier. But the real highlights are the heavy as fuck riff.
Some are so good that the track, Directional, is made up of just one riff that is repeated
over and over and over throughout the song?s 6 minute track length. Overall, this record
is one of the most brutal and punishing listens I?ve experienced. This is disgusting stuff.
In the best way possible
7Giant Squid
Minoans


Giant Squid?s first full-length in 5 years was well worth the wait. The band returns with a
new line-up, featuring the return of keyboardist/vocalist Andrew Southard, from the
Monster In The Creek days, and they welcome Zack Farwell, of Grayceon, on the drum
kit. With this line-up they have a fresh new sound that?s as heavy as ever but way more
accessible and catchy. While tracks like Minoans, Mycenaeans and Phaistos Disc still
retain the quirky, heavy as fuck sludge that we?re used to from Giant Squid, the whole
record has kind of a Mediterranean spice to it. This is fitting because Minoans is a
concept record about the Minoan civilization that occupied the island of Crete from about
2000 BCE-1470BCE. The record features a lot of Mediterranean melodies and even
features a bouzouki, which is a mandolin-lie instrument native to Greece. The album also
features a lot more vocal melodies, now that there are three vocalists in the band. The
best use of this are the interweaving melodies on the intro to the title track. And with
Southard back in the mix, there?s tons of awesome keyboard/synth work on the record
too. Overall, while this isn?t as ambitious as some of their previous work, this seems to
be Giant Squid at their peak when it comes to delivering catchy avant-sludge that
doesn?t waste anytime delivering the goods.
6Cormorant
Earth Diver


When frontman Arthur von Nagel decide to leave the band in 2012, there were many
unfaithful that Cormorant would be able to put out another record as good as their first
two. I, for one, knew that the rest of the band was more than capable of writing another
amazing record, and they did just that. And with the addition of Marcus Luscombe on
bass/vocals, I?m sure they?ll continue to put out awesome records. While Earth Diver
may not be quite as epic or grandiose as its predecessors, it?s still an awesome slab of
weirdo progressive black metal. One of the most noticeable differences between it and
other Cormorant releases is that it?s much angrier. They definitely sound more black
metal than ever, channeling some Ludicra on many of these tracks. There?s also some
doom-laced riffs on the record. And all of the kooky prog riffs you know Cormorant for,
like the spurts of blast beats and crazy bass stuff in the Pythia, are still widely present.
And with the last two tracks, it?s still completely evident that Cormorant can still write
very epic music. Another thing to note is that the album features a lot more vocals from
guitarist Matt Solis. He does a lot of singing, death metal growls, and screaming on the
record, and the dual vocal attacks from Marcus and Matt are some of the most vicious
moments in Cormorant?s music. Cormorant?s new record doesn?t only wipe out all doubts
from the unfaithful, but completely crushes all previous notions of what Cormorant was
and ushers in a new era where Cormorant are a well oiled prog black metal machine that
are more than capable of continuing to release some of the best forward thinking black
metal in the game. All hail.
5Usnea
Random Cosmic Violence


Usnea are one of the most promising doom metal acts in recent years. Last year they
released one of the most stellar debuts I?ve heard in doom, and just a little over a year
later they follow it up with the most tormenting and evil record of the year. Their sound
has been bit more honed on this record, focusing more on crushing doom. The first track
starts with esoteric ambiance as an ascending bassline creeps up before a massive riff
blows your speakers and your mind into oblivion. As the song progresses they permeate
the main riff in many ways before fading into obscurity as the driving, tribal drums keep
the track going before they?re distorted and fade away as well. The second track, Healing
Through Death, wastes no time and assaults you from the very start, with one of the
heaviest riffs they?ve ever unleashed. The title track, start off with acoustic guitar and
very sorrowful clean singing, then electric guitars and drums come in and play the same
riff clean, then it gets distorted. This track is also the only track to features a black metal
section but when it hits, it?s the most brutal point of the record. The last track starts off
with the most dissonant and eerie piece of music they?ve written and it leads into a more
sludgy than doomy jam, but even so the riffs are pulverizing. All in all, if you?re looking
for awesome doom with hints of sludge, black metal and some funeral sounds, Usnea is
the band you need to start worshiping.
4Boris
Noise


If you don?t know who Boris are by now you live under a rock. For those who live under
a rock, Boris are a sludge/drone/doom/experimental metal trio from Japan. The band
has covered tons of styles of music since their inception, covering sludge metal, stoner
rock, drone, j-rock/pop, post-rock laden sludge, and incorporate tons more in their
music. Their most recent record, Noise, is somewhat of a best-of record where you get a
platter of everything Boris does best and it?s all new material. The albums 8 tracks span
over a multitude of styles, from thrash metal, heavy atmospheric sludge, j-pop, and
stoner metal. While Boris has visited all these sounds before, the band sounds just as
fresh as ever and all of these songs absolutely rip. The band?s guitar and bass tones are
as colossal as ever before, Atsuo?s drumming is extremely tight, and the riffs are huge.
The first two songs are the more upbeat stoner rock Boris, the middle two tracks are
more atmospheric sludge, Taiyo No Baka is catchy as hell j-pop, Angel is like a Flood-lite
(AMAZING), and Quiksilver is a pissed off thrashing Boris opus. The material on this
record is just as soulful as any material before, as evidenced in Wata?s soaring guitar
leads on tracks like Angel and Heavy Rain. This is the majority of Boris? overall sound
condensed in one package that is up there with their best releases. Boris are the most
prolific band in metal and one of the best.
3Whirr
Sway


Whirr are a shoegaze band from Oakland, CA. From the start, their aim has been to
make loud rock music, and they accomplish just that on all of their releases. Distressor
sees the band writing mid-paced melancholic songs with thick walls of guitar, swooning
guitar melodies and angelic, soaring female vocals. Their debut album, Pipe Dreams,
expands on these ideas and also sees the band incorporating songs with faster tempos
and poppier hooks and melodies, while still maintaining the melancholic feel of their
older work. Their second EP, Around, sees the band taking a new approach to their
dense sound, writing songs that are slower, heavier, and darker than ever before. And
now with Sway, we see Whirr incorporating all of these elements and using all of them to
make their most cohesive and most realized album to date. The new album comes with
some changes to the band?s dynamic. The first and most obvious change is that the band
no longer incorporates soaring female vocals in their songs. Guitarist Loren Rivera now
takes vocal duties, but he?s been singing on all of their releases, he was just underneath
the corresponding female vocalist on that record (it should be noted they had a different
female vocalist on each record). Another new element that Sway presents to the table is
that while on all their previous releases guitarist and respective found, Nick Bassett, was
the one to write and arrange most of the songs. But on Sway, a bulk of the songs were
written by other members of the band, and we see the band act as a fully functional
collaborative unit. And with that, we get a variety of different feels and moods on this
record, but they all distinctly feel like Whirr. From the most upbeat tracks like ?Press?
and ?Lines?, to slower, heavy hitters like ?Mumble? and ?Heavy?, or the title-track, which
suspends the listener in a warm bath of blissful haze for a little under seven minutes.
Every track has something different to offer, but all of them deliver an atmosphere that?s
very delicate yet crushing, melancholic yet blissful. These songs straddle the border of
euphoric and dismal in a way that?s so seamless that you can?t help but wonder if this is
a record you put on when all is lost or if there?s still hope yet. Whirr have accomplished
something that?s truly beautiful and amazing. #freewhirl
2Thou
Heathen


With their most recent record, Heathen, Thou have crafted a monolithic beast that at its
very core is amalgamation of every negative emotion that is a part of the human
experience. Anger, pain, hatred, sorrow, wrath: these are your companions on this evil
journey Thou take you on over the 74-minute run time of this record. While Thou are no
strangers to hate fueled sludge, most of their records are fairly concise. The songs are
still sort of long, but it?s over in 40 minutes. The only reason this record lasts so much
longer is because Thou allow their monstrous riffs to really brew and soak into the
listener?s mind by not just playing slower than ever before but letting the riffs really
breathe longer. A lot of the songs also incorporate intros longer than before, with some
taking up to 4 minutes to get the ball rolling. But there is never a dull moment on
Heathen. Every move they make is orchestrated perfectly to create one of the most
sonically crushing albums of the 21st century, and definitely the most crushing record of
this current decade, let alone this year. It is also to be noted that this band is still a
sludge band, so while these riffs are slow and dark, some still have that
bluesy/Eyehategod flavor to them, so really they?re a double threat for not just being
pulverizing, but also damn catchy and badass. Along with the skull crushing riffs and
bleak atmosphere that encapsulates this whole record, Bryan Funck?s vocals are
venomous and vicious, and his lyrics are vehement and vexed. His tortured screams are
that of societal disgust, revolution, and despair. Overall, this record is one of the most
emotionally crushing records of the year. Everything about it is dark, bleak, and hateful.
Sludge has never been so disgustingly good.
1Lantlos
Melting Sun


Back in 2010, when post-black was starting to really make waves on the internet, there
were a few bands at the helm of the movement. Two of those bands were Alcest and
Lantlos. Both bands were noted for featuring vocals from Alcest front man, Neige, but
some people credited him for the greatness of both bands. In all reality, the genius
behind Lantlos has always been Markus Seigenhort, aka Herbst. Lantlos has always been
his project, it?s just that two of their records featured vocals from Neige. So when it was
announced that Neige would step down from Lantlos to focus all efforts on Alcest, some
people questioned what Lantlos would do next. And for the most part, people were left
wondering. While 3 years really isn?t much time, that was the time that lapsed between
the release of Lantlos? record, Agape, and their most recent effort, Melting Sun, and the
fans didn?t hear much out of Herbst in that time. I was actually really surprised when I
heard he released a new Lantlos record. Since then much has changed with this band.
Like Alcest, Lantlos have dropped all elements of black metal in this new record. There
are no more bleak black metal riffs, no more shrieks, and no more blast beats. Unlike,
Alcest, Lantlos still able to write a truly captivating, beautiful, breath taking, and
triumphant record in the wake of their black metal sound. In my opinion, Alcest?s new
record was a really boring try at shoegaze with songs that don?t go anywhere and it?s
just drowned in reverb. With Lantlos, there is noticeable change in the mood of the
record. Markus went on record to say that when he was 16 and started Lantlos, he was
very depressed and felt out of place no matter where he was. The name ?Lantlos? is
actually German for ?without homeland?. He used Lantlos as on outlet for all of his
negative emotions. Now-a-days, according to interview, he?s much happier, and it shows
with this new music. Lantlos, now a full band, is much more a mix of post-rock, post-
metal, and shoegaze with this new record. The riffs that build these songs are very epic
in nature, and the way the band fleshes out each riff is beautiful. The musicianship on
the record is outstanding, with great lead guitar and bass playing on the part of Markus.
The guitar leads are very Godspeed, but with most rock background, and the bass
playing is marvelous with tons of great independent lines as well as just great foundation
for what?s happening on top. And Felix Wylezik?s drumming is some of the most
impressive I?ve heard all year. While the band might be repeating a riff for a long while,
Felix?s drumming keeps everything fresh with his intricate fills and other subtleties.
Markus now takes vocal duties, and he has a very subdued baritone but it fits the music
completely. Along with superb songwriting and performances, the production is fantastic.
The whole record is under a haze, but everything is still crystal clear, and very dynamic.
This is a feel good album. Instead of lonely winter alley ways, Lantlos? music now alludes
to summer days, being care free and enjoying life. This record isn?t just the soundtrack
to the triumph of overcoming depression, but also the soundtrack to somebody
transcending and becoming fully realized.
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