Hellbound’s end-of-the-year metal coverage begins today! We asked our staff for their best of 2014 picks and now we’ve compiled the results. From now till the early days of the new year, Hellbound will be featuring these selections, beginning with our own version of the definitive list: the 20 best metal albums of 2014. Here is your first taste, the five records that came in in the #16-20 range.
What I like most about the new Earth album is the return of the heavy riff. The band has mostly dabbled in Americana for the last little bit—and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light suite. But when Dylan Carson cranks up his amps again, you really feel it, right from the get-go on album opener “Torn by the Fox of a Crescent Moon” and on the equally-heavy “Even Hell Has its Heroes.” There’s even echoes of the band’s drone days on tunes like “There is a Serpent Coming” (featuring guest vocals from Mark Lanegan), “Rooks Across the Gates” and “Badgers Bane,” especially in the outros. Primitive and Deadly is a more mature Earth that melds elements of the old and the new—y’know, kinda like COC tried to do with their self-titled comeback album… minus the garbled Mike Dean grumbles, natch.
(Read Greg’s full album review: hellbound.ca/2014/09/earth-primitive-deadly.)
THE GREAT OLD ONES – Tekeli-Li (Antithetic Records)
Every year there seems to be one band that’s plucked from the shadowy depths of obscurity and into the hearts and minds of the awestruck metal collective. In 2014, France’s The Great Old Ones seemed to be that band. Their sophomore effort Tekeli-Li practically swallows you with its heaviness, its weight akin to deep sea diving with steel-toe boots. It’s dark and isolating yet mysteriously beautiful, taking the listener on a journey downward to the aquatic depths of post-black metal bliss.
MORBUS CHRON – Sweven (Century Media)
After delighting traditional death metal enthusiasts with their 2011 Sleepers in The Rift debut, this Swedish quartet takes a bold step towards something completely different on their sophomore full length. Instead of delivering another album of awesome Autopsy imitation, Sweven extends their musical palette to include lots of clean guitars, progressive instrumental interludes and more out-of-the-box songwriting than you’d expect from a band whose first EP was called “Creepy Creeping Creeps.” This is a dense listen, one which takes many different turns, but those with a feel for the adventurous will discover a churning psychedelic metal classic that absolutely rates amongst this year’s best.
THANTIFAXATH – Sacred White Noise (Dark Descent)
What a banner year for Dark Descent Records. Claiming the sweet spot between old school death-grin grit & forward-thinking, Pitchfork-friendly esoterica has paid great dividends for the Colorado Springs-based indie in 2014, allowing it to offer some of the year’s finest full-length offerings. And, to me, no in-house project better illustrates this noteworthy cycle like Thantifaxath does. Hailing from Hogtown (but don’t hold it against them), this unholy, anonymous prog-black trio unleashed a hellish amount of underground buzz in 2011 with their sold out 16 minute demo tape. Now, with their full-length debut Sacred White Noise, Thantifaxath have served notice to hipster critics and the kvlt alike: petty subgenre boundaries (to say nothing of the ongoing pseudo-tension between TROO & FALSE) can’t obscure the power of their beguiling, utterly chaotic creative maelstrom.
(Read Matt Hinch’s review: hellbound.ca/2014/08/thantifaxath-sacred-white-noise.)
VADER – Tibi et Igni (Nuclear Blast)
Relentless, pummeling Polish death metal of the highest degree – Vader’s Tibi et Igni is one of my faves and my #1 album in 2014. While 2011’s Welcome to the Morbid Reich was an uneven affair, Tibi et Igni sets the record straight and puts them back on top of the death metal heap. I like to call them the Slayer of Death Metal: they know how to write a good metal song and vocalist Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek has one of the more distinctive voices in death metal. Each tune on this album is killer with no filler, and the standout is “Triumph of Death,” which is like an 80s thrash tune loaded with crunchy riffing à la Slayer. I have played this one the most in 2014 and that is why it sits at my peak position. Vader shows no sign of wearing down and continue waving the flag of death metal proudly.
Hellbound’s Top 20 albums of 2014 continues on Monday, December 29 with albums fifteen through eleven.