Another list appears, let us skip the preamble and get down to brass tacks. I will have more on the way.
Various Artists – One And All, Together For Home (2014 2CD) – First of all, this is a folk music album. Even though Primordial, Drudkh and Winterfylleth appear on this recording, they aren’t playing even one shred of their usual black metal style. But that’s not a bad thing, as Primordial’s amazing cover of “Dark Horse On The Wind 5:35” stands alone from their normal blackened/doom and sets a new precedent for the band altogether. The same can be said for their cover of “John Barleycorn 7:16” which seems a great tribute to the green man, replete with a beautiful female backing vocal. Again, this isn’t the normal kind of black metal that you’d expect from these acts, but it is truly refreshing and it’s guaranteed that you haven’t heard a compilation like it from these artists. There are some others here like Kampfar, Haive and Mondovolland and some even manage to bring guitars in anyway, so it’s not completely traditional. Additionally, some of the other bands here still manage to dig into their black metal reserves so you’re not going to be at a loss for heaviness on the record either. Just don’t expect every track to be loaded with the same sort of material that you would normally expect from these acts. It’s especially interesting to me that some of the biggest bands here aren’t actually playing metal, while the lesser-known acts (at least to me) still are. Rest assured, this is one of the best mixtures of folk and metal that I’ve heard in a long while and I think it’s going to greatly appeal to those who like their folk music with a bit of a darker twist. The Grim Tower highly recommends One And All, Together For Home and I highly recommend that you get your hands on it. It’s definitely the best folk album that I’ve heard all year, or in several; for that matter.
(2 Discs, 17 Tracks, 87:00)
Misery Index – The Killing Gods (2014) – We all know that the lyrical content in Misery index is that of a conspiratorial nature and being a believer in some of these conspiracies, let’s not get into that here. I’ll admit that I haven’t heard this one in a while, but on this re-listen of the record I’m finding a rather structured, yet punishing piece. The frontman (we should all be well aware of who he is) seems to command a hoary growl, whilst striking leads and mighty solo efforts vomit forth from this monstrosity in such an artistic and warlike manner that it’s a shame the record didn’t get that much recognition. But it’s kind of easy to denote the thrash influence on this death metal beast, which doesn’t really try to be anything more than it is. There’s a little bit of technicality to appease those fans as well, but as a whole Killing Gods is pretty damn solid. If we want to really pick it apart, we’ll find a lot of songs that don’t really seem to differentiate from the formula all that much, but I guess the listener of this album (who’s no doubt looking for a headbang-fest) won’t really be all that concerned with the similarity. Though I’ve heard better this year, I’ve certainly heard worse than this and it’s definitely not the worst record that you could receive in your stocking this year. A bonus cover of Ministry’s “Thieves Of The New World Order 2:07” sends it off on a good note. Chances are that you’ll be listening to this while reading articles on Prison Planet or David Icke’s website. Makes for fine lizard hunting too.
(13 Tracks, 45:00)
Feed The Rhino – The Sorrow And The Sound (2014) – Sadly, this is going to be one of those bands that I delete after the listen, as I don’t find there’s anything in it for me. Basically these guys offer a lot of core that would be more interesting for the younger crowd and I guess it’s more like Bring Me The Horizon in that aspect. These bands can be great, and I’m sure there are people who are fans but it’s not really my thing. There’s Dillinger influence here as well as Every Time I Die and several other proggy metalcore punk acts, but aside from some nice melodies, I don’t really care for it. Stuff like this will be falling by the wayside in the coming year.
(12 Tracks, 41:00)
Musk Ox – Woodfall (2014) – If you like soft and sorrowful folk music, then these gentlemen certainly have the soundtrack to your mourning. There are a few sections when things rise in a bit of a brighter sense, but for the most part it is a very calming experience that to some might feel as if they are mourning a loved one or have just watched a sad film and are watching the credits roll. Woodfall has “sad credits music” written all over it, but that’s not to say that it isn’t good. I guess it’s kind of like Empyrium in a sense; where the music itself is a bit droll but nevertheless invigorating. Each of these tracks are quite lengthy and seem to be made for a time of quiet reflection, or possibly even to soothe one into a peaceful slumber. Usually saying that a record would put one to sleep could be taken as sort of an insult, but that’s not the case here where the mood and purpose seems to be exactly that of a therapeutic calming. It’s a bit of a change from the bludgeons of heavy metal, which might serve as a bit of a cool down for the brain and could possibly help one to achieve a more restful sleep. I used to play an album of this nature on repeat for hours at a low volume while I slept. It did seem to help me to have a much better rest, so perhaps it is worth a try for you as well.
(5 Tracks, 66:00)
The Swan King – Last So Long (2014) – This Post Rock trio aren’t all that bad to be honest and I think if you’re looking for a little bit of Queens Of The Stone Age mixed in with Dillinger and perhaps even a slight little tinge of Neurosis, then you’ll find something here. It’s not really my thing, but I’d consider entertaining it over some of the more popular rock albums that are out there, like Fall Out Boy or Imagine Dragons. At least these guys put a little bit of art into their riffs, which makes the shouts stand out among what amounts to an indie rock inspired approach to metal. The record isn’t all that long, but it is entertaining enough for an evening and I’m sure that the new school will generally approach it more than some of us who have been here awhile. But knock yourself out and give it a try if you feel so desired.
(8 Tracks, 30:00)
Until Dawn – Horizon (2014) – Until Dawn make a type of modern metal that sounds just as you might expect, with thrash elements mixing in with a gruff vocal tone that somehow sees the use of metalcore leads and clean vocal choruses. Sometimes the band mainly utilizes the clean vocal style in the lieu of current Trivium, which they remind me a great deal of in the first place. It’s still a bit of a raw effort, but there’s enough material here to chew on and show listeners what the band is capable of. Even a ballad creeps in on “DNR 6:12” which shows that the guys have a modern rock accessibility just as well as metal. If you’re a fan of modern metal than I’m sure you’ll find this effort potent enough with it’s mixture of core influences, thrash and melody. It’s definitely better than the recent Trivium effort, at any rate.
(13 Tracks, 54:00)
Verbum Verus – Melkiresha (2014) – Some people really get into their black metal rather deeply, which seems to be the focus of this Netherlands based act’s third ritual opus. It is supposed to be the completion of the three-part adoration to the great dark lord, and by the sound of it I’m sure he’s quite pleased. There’s a lot of Deathspell flowing through here, as you have that sort of progressive nature melding in with acoustic melodies and the occasional selection of blast beats. Additionally there is plenty of room for atmosphere and theatrics, making Melkiresha a rather basic ritual black metal album. There’s nothing here that I haven’t heard from other bands in the same style, but there’s nothing here that really sounds bad either. It sounds like it would appeal to fans of French ritualistic black metal and has all the building blocks that you would expect from this kind of music. It’s still black metal, but vastly wrapped in the realm of art and ritual theater. It could be more of a spiritual experience than a musical one, but there are still plenty of places in which to bang your head to the drums and the threatening scowls. If you accidentally passed it by, now would be a good time to add Melkiresha to your occult black metal collection.
(6 Tracks, 35:00)
Locust Dawn – Oculus Omnituens (2014) – Locust Dawn is a project by Matt Jones and it’s certainly an occultic work in the truest sense of the word. This is not an “anti-illuminati” album, rather it seems to embrace the concepts of occult illuminism. The record has a static-feel in all of it’s rawness, which sometimes embraces electronics and other times, brutal death metal. Matt can growl with the best of them and his drum programming skills are certainly well expressed on the disc which doesn’t seem to sit still too much in one genre and that’s what I like about it. Even though there’s a hefty amount of static in the recording, the record from a musical perspective is rather quite potent and it delivers something more than what some of the larger brutal death acts are doing these days. Perhaps you may not care for the industrial sound and electronic effects, but when I hear this record I immediately hear signs of something truly remarkable. It’s still at a very rough stage and will upset people who don’t like programmed drums, but let’s face it – one guy did all of this by himself. What did you do this year? I thought so. So give it a listen and tell me what you think. That’s what the comments section at the bottom of the page is for, after all. The record is a strange and interesting mix of brutal death metal, melody and electronic atmosphere which should appeal to more adventurous listeners. A cover of Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never To Always 5:24” follows at the end of the disc, albeit in a rather heavy (yet still melodic) nature. If you’re a fan of Ministry, Cannibal Corpse and Fear Factory, then you might find something to like here.
(10 Tracks, 54:00)
Nefandus – Reality Cleaver (2014) – It’s always interesting when you hear the kind of black metal album that starts up like an Elvis tune and that’s exactly what I’m getting here. There’s an obvious blues influence here and it seems to have gotten mixed in with the tremolos on album opener “Verses From The Chaoverse 3:38” which coupled with the blasts (which appear later in the track) offer up a very different sort of black metal style. Unfortunately though, the band doesn’t manage to delve back into Elvis territory with the rest of the record, which sounds just like you’d expect for a black metal album. That’s not a bad thing though, especially when the band try to add some of their own touches to the formula, despite the fact that their frontman still needs a little bit of work and he’ll get better over time. Is it the kind of record that seems deeply rooted in the classics, which I’m not complaining about; but it doesn’t really seem to do all that much in hindsight. Have you ever flipped through the different tracks on an album in order to hear something that catches your ear? Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing here with Reality Cleaver. Great name, but sub-par presentation I think and that’s not going to do much for the record as a whole. Nefandus have enough talent to matter, but as soon as they stop playing around their record collection; I’m sure that we’ll hear something really unique and exciting. It’s alright to make a black metal album, but I just don’t understand why some bands would want to make a record that sounds like albums that have already been released. Oddly enough though, female vocals are utilized on the album’s closer “Scorn Of The All-Mind 4:46” which shows me that there might just be something here other than standard black metal, as with the Elvis influence. Give it a shot anyway, especially if you like black metal with a little something different. Not quite an overhaul, but bits and pieces of something more to surface in the future.
(8 Tracks, 36:00)
Kevlar Skin – Transmigrator (2014) – The fourth release from these Spanish death metal vets sounds like a death metal record ought to sound. While definitely crushing, it also seems to have a good sense of structure and purpose, showing that these guys have evolved far beyond the cut and paste style that seems to compose a lot of death metal discs these days. It’s the kind of death metal that dips into technicality and experimentalism, which offers a unique approach to the music that may or may not appeal to some listeners. There aren’t any clean or female vocals on the record, but it’s got enough experimentation in the vein of overall song structure that it doesn’t need these things. The listener will put it on and get exactly what they’re expecting with a few bells and whistles to that formula, which is never a bad thing. Kevlar Skin have a familiar approach that doesn’t come off sounding stale and I think that you’ll enjoy the little over an half an hour of music offered here. Give it a spin if you’re looking for a brutal yet refreshing experience. They can only get better from here.
(8 Tracks, 34:00)