Hey, do I still have an account on this site? Can I even remember my password? OK, it’s been a little while since I’ve done any blogging around here, but I wanted to put my year-end top 10 lists some place for posterity–where people would actually read ’em. Lemme just say that 2014 was the craziest year in recent memory for me, and if I ever pull a Ricardo Troggi and start making movies about my life, this’ll be where I begin. And hey, if nothing else, it’s bound to have a bitchin’ soundtrack. Here’s some of the music that fuelled my madness:
Accept – Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast): “Far from being over-the-hill dinosaurs, these guys have tapped into the sound of classic Accept, making this the Metal Heart to Blood of the Nations’ Fast as a Shark and Stalingrad’s Balls to the Wall. And yes, that Metal Heart’s still beating!”
Apostle of Solitude – Of Woe and Wounds (Cruz Del Sur): “Not that any of this stuff is meant to sound cheerful, but AoS always has a way of layering an extra helping of agony in there, which is readily apparent…”
Blues Pills – self-titled (Nuclear Blast): “They aren’t heavy rock all the time, but this record has the depth of feeling that you don’t often hear on amps-pushed-to-11, blast-beat-your-face-off albums nowadays. … hey, I could see ‘em going over pretty well if Witchcraft or Graveyard were to bring them over to these shores.”
Coffinworm – IV.I.VIII (Profound Lore): “File this one next to the new Indian and soon-to-be-released second Lord Mantis… incidentally, both from Chicago. And remind me not to visit the Midwest!”
Comet Control – self-titled (Tee Pee): “It doesn’t take this new outfit very long to blast off, with eight-minute “Blast Magic” opening off. There are certainly shades of QFF here, but the overall effect is more far-out, Elephant Stone jamming with Acid Mothers Temple.”
Corrosion of Conformity – IX (Candlelight): “Mike Dean is still one of the most garbled growlers in the game, but with riffs this tasty, it doesn’t really matter.”
Fu Manchu – Gigantoid (At the Dojo Records): “…the same sparse verses and great grooves of classic Fu, Scott Hill’s surfer drawl leading us into a heavy, groovy chorus, ending with a super slow-mo section that’ll have ya going under the hood for an instant replay.”
Graves at Sea/Sourvein split (Seventh Rule): “The split EP is as essential to sludge metal as cough syrup and Southern Comfort. And for these two long-dormant acts—particularly the former—this concoction of an EP goes down like a mixture of those two elixirs.”
Lo-Pan – Colossus (Small Stone): “You could probably file this one under “Stoner Rock” with its big, fuzzy riffs, heavy grooves and soaring vocals… although it’s not necessarily something you’d hit a bong to.”
Mos Generator – Electric Mountain Majesty (Listenable Records): “Man, this album started off as one thing, and ended as something else. It’s sorta like having steak for dinner and lobster for dessert… and I loves me some lobster!”
And, lest you think I mostly listen to bands whose names begin with the first few letters of the alphabet, Imma start off this Top 10 list right smack-dab in the middle:
YON GRUESOME TENSOME
10. Ogre – The Last Neanderthal (Minotauro Records): I saw what was supposed to be this band’s swansong, their last-ever gig at the Born II Late doomfest several summers ago. They were so stellar that the show stopped for an intermission/barbeque break afterwards–and their then-final album, Plague of the Planet, was certainly no slouch, either, edging out Black Pyramid for my top record of ’09. Five years later, the band captured a similar vibe on its comeback effort…only this one’s not about giant killer robots.
9. Godhunter – City of Dust (The Compound): Every once in a while, a sludge-metal band will come outta nowhere (in this case, Tucson, AZ) and simply shock the shit outta me. If Eyehategod and Grief combined to form a politically-motivated outfit and were subsequently dropped in the middle of a desert state where it’s more or less illegal to be Mexican, you’d get something that sounded like City of Dust.
8. Earth – Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord): I’ve said it twice on this site already, but let me reiterate that the day Dylan Carson went electric again was cause for celebration in La Casa del Gruesome One. 🙂
7. The Shrine – Bless Off (Tee Pee): After stealing (some of) Red Fang’s road thunder last December, The Shrine kicked out this set of jams in early ’14, which I then proclaimed as my first contender for album of the year. Several months later, it still makes the cut. Picture Black Flag going toe-to-toe with Fu Manchu–and Red Fang sulking on the sidelines–and you might be feeling blessed off, too.
6. Today is the Day – Animal Mother (Southern Lord): Steve Austin’s music is often hard to categorize, unless you just file it under “Awesome.” Kinda bummed I missed the TITD/EHG tour in Chicago…but then again, I would’ve had to get my ass down to Chicago in the first place.
5. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot): OK, I know for a fact that I’m not the only Hellbounder who has a massive crush on this album, so without spoiling anything, I’ll just say it’s a really heavy vegetable. 😉
4. Crowbar – Symmetry in Black (eOne): Not that there hasn’t been anything new of note to come from the Downtunda Riff Triangle of stoner/sludge/doom lately, but my top five is dominated by some of the old masters of the sub-genre(s). Crowbar’s career can be spelled out through some of its record titles (ie Time Heals Nothing, Lifesblood for the Downtrodden), but they continue to crank out quality low-tuned, slow-played songs that’ll crush yer skull, figuratively as well as…well, y’know. I don’t come in your office, either!
3. Brimstone Coven – self-titled (Metal Blade): Although it was issued by one of the biggest metal-only imprints in existence, I felt this album really flew under a lot of radars. It probably doesn’t help that you won’t see Brimstone Coven touring as a part of the latest big magazine-sponsored metal tour…but I had the chance to catch ’em live at the Days of the Doomed festival, and they were definitely the talk of the afternoon, if not the whole, 14-hour doomed day. Basically, if you’re into occult throwback rock, whether it’s Blood Ceremony or Electric Wizard, you ought to seek this one out. Who knows, your local mega record chain might still have a couple unsold copies…
2. Orange Goblin – Back from the Abyss (Candlelight): I’ll admit, I didn’t expect a career-defining album from Orange Goblin this late in the game…until I pressed play. Back from the Abyss takes the best parts of all their prior records and serves ’em up on one tasty platter that’ll have ya beggin’ for seconds. And after nearly two decades of givin’ ‘er a go, these guys finally quit their day jobs to become dedicated musicians some time in the past year. I think they might make a career of this music thing, just yet. 😛
1. Eyehategod – self-titled (Housecore Records): Simply put, this is what sludge is supposed to sound like. The semi-obscure sub-genre was still largely the domain of disaffected stoners and burned-out hardcore kids as nu-metal reigned supreme at the time of EHG’s last full-length, all the way back in Y2K. Take a decade and a half’s worth of addiction, arrests, one gigantic fucking flood and an untimely drummer’s demise, stick it on a piece of (in my case) see-through white wax, and you’ve got a record that was in the making before some of these bearded hipster bands could even tie their own shoes. Let’s just say I can’t imagine this one not being in Hellbound’s year-end Top Five–I’m just a little miffed they didn’t ask me to do the write-up.
But hey, I’ll live to fight another day. Look for my TOP 10 CONCERTS OF 2014 on New Year’s Day, provided that Canada doesn’t lose to the USA or something. 😉