2014: Decorticated expectorate of alloy decomposition.

ARCHIVES This post is an archived “Best of the Year” list from another website where I spent about seven years documenting my listening habits. After a break from the site in 2018 and a total exodus in 2019 these lists were collected, saved, and are now presented largely untouched. Please note that these thoughts, opinions, and general comments were not only written (up to ten) years ago but largely for a small audience of friends and fellow record collectors. They are not complete, not retrospective, a little self-conscious and not intended to be professional in voice. The re-posting of these lists are by the request of a small circle of online friends and should not be taken seriously as criticism.

2014 was the year my readership doubled on the site which I frequented and a few folks kindly welcomed me into their communities, online and otherwise, as a result. Though the intent is still casual, these are a little bit more professional and my choices were deliberated for much longer. I’d also become involved in some Los Angeles-area punk and metal promotion during the three years I’d lived nearby CSUN.

“This year I’ve moved 900 miles, gotten married, changed careers and music has remained a reliable constant in process of a great deal of change. Been enjoying some stuff outside of my comfort zone but not much. The year in releases has provided quantity over quality, decent variety overall. I will mention some runner-up albums/bands that are worth pointing out: Varathron “Untrodden Corridors of Hades”, Occultation “Silence in the Ancestral House”, Okkultokrati “Night Jerks”, Zoldier Noiz “Regression Process”, Floor “Oblation”, Pyrrhon “Mother of Virtues”, Domains “Sinister Ceremonies”, Diskord “Oscillations”, Mesmur “Mesmur”. Otherwise I’ve sorted these in order of comparative value”


LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

Verberis is absolutely brutal, brilliant and raw in the same way that Bølzer was when they first burst out with the Roman Acupuncture demo. The style here is perhaps closer to something like Verminous or Beyond (Germany) with frantic thrash informed death/black metal that is hammered out in an almost cybernetic fastidiousness. Though I think a full length from this band might just sound like Sacrocurse or something similar, this EP is short and powerful in just the right way. I look forward to hearing more from this band, even if they just re-record this music a little cleaner.”

LABEL(S):Those Opposed Records

“One of my favorite black metal releases discovered later in the year. Darkenhöld describe themselves as ‘epic/atmospheric medieval black metal’ and they are fittingly very French to top it off. Of course all of the songs are about castles and such but it is the flow and melody of this album makes it one of my favorite melodic black metal albums of the last decade. It is one of those records I can leave on repeat for hours and hours each day. Clearly still hyping on this release so, I’d put it higher on the list if I had a better idea of its longevity in my collection.”

TITLE:Raising the Corpse
LABEL(S):Underground Defenders,
Iron Pegasus

Ripper is a purist death/thrash band from Chile that leans heavily into the period of late 80’s thrash-to-death transition for extreme metal. I am a huge fan of Kreator‘s Terrible Certainty and the way that album bridges the more viable melodic ideas that would come in Kreator‘s fourth and fifth albums. Ripper takes the raw-yet-refined style of that album and touches upon primitive brutality of Death‘s Scream Bloody Gore. Referential or not, this album is too satisfying to overlook.”

LABEL(S):Season of Mist

“These Icelandic folks have outdone themselves, and made some of the better post-rock/post-metal I’ve heard. There are atmosludge, prog-black, post-punkish undertones to it all, though. If you like previous records they’re all subtly referenced in some way (some better in the bonus tracks). Ear-catching stuff, long and involved songs, high drama, and one of the only “current” and polished bands I would bother with.”

LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin

“Oz band featuring members of StarGazer and Mournful Congregation. A death metal band with a simian approach to riff craft and melody; On one hand they do a sort of clattering early 90’s death/grind sort of guitar/drum interplay but then touch upon thrash and classic dungeon crawling death heavily. Stalagmire is about on par with their previous two albums in terms of catchiness, but freshly present. I think I will always have the most love for Slubberdegullion but this still rules. See also: Innsmouth.”

TITLE:Primitive and Deadly
LABEL(S):Southern Lord

“I’m not a big fan of Earth, instrumental rock music is so rarely fulfilling on a personal level, nor is it memorable beyond guitar exercises or in their case stoney-droney creepin’. This album could be my gateway to rethink my longtime avoidance of Earth as it is an exceptional release. I love the songs with Mark Lanegan (!) and the almost tribal repetition of both layered guitars and simple riffing. The whole experience is long, trance-inducing… Relaxing and unsettling at once.”

TITLE:Consumed by Elder Sign
LABEL(S):Abysmal Sounds

“Mid-paced death/doom with black metal vocals and some emphasis on melody that is comparable to Sacriphyx or even Sorrow. I enjoy this album for its atmospheric horror, [the walls surround me covered in deep-set hate-filled eyes] and evenly paced approach to this style that blurs black/death and doom in a very cool way. The music is meandering and nuanced enough that it takes me somewhere else, familiar yet cold. I think describing this as kin to Necros ChristosDoom of the Occult but in an old school Greek black metal context is fitting enough. One of the cooler things I’ve heard so far this year and always a consistent spin when I decide to pick it up.”

TITLE:Ego Dominus Tuus
LABEL(S):Season of Mist

“Black metal that takes cues from Emperor‘s peak guitar work and drips with riffed-out dense compositions that are elaborate multi tiered events. I’m usually done with a Nightbringer session around the 40 minute mark, and the rest I have to set aside for later but not with this one. I’d recommend this for fans of late 90’s black metal and its transition into orthodoxy/occult idealism, something like Acherontas.”

TITLE:Riddle of Steel
LABEL(S):Debemur Morti Productions

“This makes up for the last Morrigan album being kind of flat after a while, and provides a little hope for viking/folk in my regular rotation while I’m uninterested in what Nokturnal Mortum and Primordial might bring. The gist of this is that it invokes Hammerheart era Bathory without going full-bore Nordland. Perhaps this is a style over substance choice on my part but that isn’t really a knock against the songwriting just that it is rare to find this brand of “viking metal” that isn’t tied to black metal or grog hall howling.”

TITLE:Morbid Dimensions
LABEL(S):Duplicate Records,
Hell’s Headbangers Records

“These Norwegian death metallers have refined and up-scaled their Autopsy-fied approach to a “1993” level of clarified Sci-Fi exploration. What does that even mean? This is still forceful and brutal in personality, but also pensive and adventurous to be considered modern. Execration aren’t as mainstreamed as Stench or Morbus Chron in terms of the recording but they do offer a similarly ominous & elevated experience and an overall captivating death metal journey. I would feel wholly comfortable recommending this semi-progressive style of death metal to fans of those other two bands I mentioned, especially considering tracks like “Ritual Hypnosis” which are spellbindingly crafted. I think this is perhaps as close to fellow Norwegians Obliteration‘s album from last year as we can get but with far better songwriting.”

TITLE:Sacred White Noise
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

“Hmm, this is what I imagine a band like Virus (Nor) would sound like if they returned to a more classic black metal instrumentation and style. That isn’t to say this is orthodox, in fact the jagged Voivod-enlightened guitar playing and death howls of this band are somewhat unique. Thantifaxath is the kind of band you might want to write off because of their name and album art, which looks like a cheap gothic doom metal record, but the music itself is mesmerizing. Huge potential here.”

TITLE:Chasmic Transcendence
LABEL(S):Xtreem Music

“I wondered for several months whether or not Desecresy deserved a mention on this list, and this note is more or less my way of convincing myself to keep listening to it. The same way Cauldron Black Ram gets away with simple riffs and a few surprises on their album so does this group. These guys have been at it forever, they were more or less formerly Slugathor and you get some of that tank blasted heaviness within their signature cavernous atmosphere here thanks to suffocating vocals, heavy riffs, and liquid melody in the form of guitar leads. Songs like “Cyclonic Mass Consumptor” are unforgettable. No real innovation in this music, who cares eh, but somehow a completely distinct entity otherwise.”

TITLE:At War With Reality
LABEL(S):Century Media

“Your reaction to an At the Gates album coming out after nearly twenty years hiatus will ultimately depend upon a combination of expectations and nostalgia. I think the material here is occasionally overworked, over-thought and slightly underwhelming in the same way that Alice in Chains‘ return to recording was several years ago. The music is written in such a way that capitalizes upon the more distant, melodramatic moments from albums like Slaughter of the Soul and (less so) Terminal Spirit Disease. It is clear these guys are no longer the twenty-somethings that were fueled by different goals, this is a moneymaker and a job for these professional musicians, but that doesn’t stop this from being a fantastic record.”


LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

Ecdysis has some of the best album art of the year right off the bat. This is actually some kind of melodic death metal in the same way modern Dismember albums are, those old Swedish death metal albums (pre-In Flames breakout) seem to have informed Horrendous‘ larger transformation on this ‘step it up’ record. This isn’t an Uncanny or Afflicted record but you get my meaning, but there are moments of exploration centered around that foundational movement from buzzsaw to dual guitar melodies and melodic death epics. “Weeping Rules” is a perfect example of a God Macabre type of song that ventures into progressive riff territory without going too far, they reel it in back towards depressive buzzsaw guitar doom in an expert way.”

TITLE:Atomic Temples
LABEL(S):War Anthem Records

Bombs of Hades might be a project of a former God Macabre/Utumno guitarist but this isn’t just straight up death metal and instead constitutes his explorations (along with other accomplished musicians) within death metal/crust punk and some death ‘n roll moments. This album really shines best on the long, Amebix-like tracks (“Cadaverborn” and “Atomic Temples”) which offer something different to bands like Mammoth Grinder and Acephalix. I had a lot of fun with this record, and since I haven’t found my mandatory Dismember clone to add to the list in a few years, this guitar tone will have to do.”

TITLE:Caverns of Katabasis
LABEL(S):Craneo Negro Records

“Probably one of the best album covers from 2014 if not somewhat unoriginal. I was told this was going to be an EP but at 42 minutes in length it is longer than most death metal albums (~35 minutes). Though a lot of people really enjoyed Symptom‘s first album Opulent Atrocity I found this follow up hit way harder. Caverns… really shows Symptom emphasizing their talent for atmosphere which fans of Disma should appreciate. A fantastically dark and raging death metal album that must be heard at least once.”

TITLE:II: Void Worship
LABEL(S):Metal Blade Records

“Though their first album basically sounded like a tuned-up revision of Reverend Bizarre‘s material this second album basically upends that idea with some faster tracks in the mix. It is basically just a big, dumb and very heavy doom metal album that sticks to its guns in the best way possible. Pilgrim doesn’t attempt anything too drastically new here and I think that is just fine since I loved Misery Wizard and this one is just as good if not better in most respects. Those bored with the modern Finnish standard in traditional doom might not find much to like here, but I loved it.”

LABEL(S):Southern Lord

Martyrdod stepped up their game on this second album and brought some death/black extremity to their hooks outside of their more accessible crust punk sound. Elddop apparently translates to “Baptism of fire” in Swedish and while all of that means very little to me it does give a loosely cathartic theme to these catchy songs, there is a lot of passion going into this music and you can feel it as the record spins.”

TITLE:Relics of Sulphur Salvation
LABEL(S):Pulverized Records,
20 Buck Spin

“This one nearly beats out most of the contenders for my favorite Swedish death metal album of the year so far, with one or two big exceptions. Instead of returning to the Sunlight Studios sound of Church of Death they’ve gone for a more reasonable production sound that is influenced by black/death like early Necrophobic, and there are elements taken from Autopsy‘s Mental Funeral. A ballsy death metal album overall, but you can no longer confuse these guys with something like Entrails as one might in the past, they go a few steps beyond the usual imitations. The title track and “May the Worms Have Mercy on My Flesh” are a sledgehammer combo and highlighted the album enough to make me purchase it.”

TITLE:Foundations of Burden
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records

Pallbearer‘s debut album was one of my favorite things from 2012 and has become one of my favorite doom-related albums of all time, so I’m not surprised that this is one of the best things I’ve heard this year on the realm of decidedly modern doom metal. It doesn’t have the despondent heaviness of Pilgrim, or the traditional ‘rocking’ feel of Vestal Claret but they are able to recreate the magic of Sorrow and Extinction here. This music emotionally resonates with me because I’m a miserable, bitter person to some degree and I like when an album can hit my awful vibe.”

TITLE:The Ocularis Domination
LABEL(S):Australis Records

Sadism have been a consistent band throughout their long career, having started as a dark death/thrash band back in 1989 and releasing the hugely underrated death metal classic “Tribulated Bells” in 1the early 90’s. The albums that came after refocused on a sound that took influence from Morbid Angel and, with the exception of 2002’s groove metal influenced Summon I really enjoy all of this bands material. With the 12 year break it seems as if this band has undergone some changes to their sound, notably a different approach to riffing, which now reminds me of Death‘s Human in some respects, but also has some of the personality you’d hear on previous album of theirs like A Dwelling of Gods. There is a sort of progressive feeling to the riffing, which doesn’t deliver the immediate darkness and rawness you’d expect from Chilean death metal today but then again, it makes for a fucking killer record.”

TITLE:Sights of Suffering
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records,
Rawforce Productions

“While I think Sadism‘s return from the aethyr was more modern and clinical, Atomic Aggressor‘s first full-length does a better job fulfilling certain obligations to their long, legendary history. A band that formed in 1985 and found the root of their sound in Possessed and Pentagram (Chile) alongside very few others this is 80’s death/thrash metal done right. I appreciate some new things I’m hearing, though, considering the small amount of material they’ve ever released past 1991. A lot of sharp solos, classic thrash inserts, and tons of ballsy riffs that could only come from the brutal spirit of South American death metal.”

TITLE:Wizard’s Spell
LABEL(S):High Roller Records

“This is a really commendable effort in recapturing the true essence of evil, Satanic 80’s speed metal in it’s earliest NWOBHM influenced spawning. It feels like a record that came out a year after Show No Mercy, crafted with a wild spirit to it that is exciting to repeat. From the blistering opener, to the 5 minute instrumental that follows, into a catchy thrash song after… the flow of this record just feels absolutely ‘right’ and is a near-perfect example of how to do speed metal right. Features some guys from Deathhammer and this is equally “for fun” sounding.”

LABEL(S):Agonia Records

“I would like to lump this album in with this idea I have for a “new old school progressive death metal” style alongside Tribulation, Morbus Chron, and Horrendous but this is something a bit more intentional and experimental at once. I’m curious to see if people like this more or less than Tribulation (I believe this is Jonathon Hulten‘s band, he does all the art for the insert) or Sweven. I will say this has a more ‘present’ production, some of the more rock oriented structures that The Formulas of Death had, but overall much more bold, blackened and aggressive.” [Note: This is one of my all-time most listened to albums since this was published in 2014]

TITLE:Doomed Passages
LABEL(S):Chaos Records

“The more I listen to Question‘s Doomed Passages the more I come to appreciate their careful crafting of old school metal influences. There is a lot more variety to be found within this record than the usual fare, though the drumming isn’t always as tight as I’d like it to be the riffs certainly are. This is surely going to be underrated this year due to it being a debut from a young band but if you are a fan of old school death metal this is one of the best.”

TITLE:Idola Specus
LABEL(S):Sepulchral Voice Records

“It should be no surprise that Germany’s long standing Drowned have produced a sinister, filth-laiden debut considering this group has some association with Necros Christos. What was surprising to me is that this band has been around since about 1993 and while they have a body of work behind them, it took over twenty years to put together a full-length. This sort of death metal is completely up my alley (as evidenced by my love for bands like Krypts) and though I suppose there are easy comparisons to make this band create their own ominous atmosphere. In many ways this album blocked Dirges of Elysium from having any impact as a ‘comeback’, the underground just has better options for a certain mood. Does it hold up to their demo releases and EPs? Decide for yourself I guess, I like it all.”

TITLE:Promulgation of the Fall
LABEL(S):Martyrdoom Productions,
Norma Evangelium Diaboli

“One of the best bands to surface in the last decade, their early Incantation-esque approach has been sorely missed. This time around the riffing takes on a more sludgy and oppressive texture, more death/doom heaves than the previous album at certain points and better incorporation of elements of post-Covenant Morbid Angel to great effect. I feel they’ve channeled Gateways to Annihilation briefly on this record and I find the whole experience stunning. I’m not sure that it will best what they’ve done before, but compliments it for a fantastic follow-up.”

TITLE:The Archer Takes Aim
LABEL(S):Sepulchral Voice Records

The Archer Takes Aim manages an astonishing trio of feats, of which most artists cannot hardly manage one: Credible nods to orthodoxy, interesting guitar patterns that offer trance-like originality, and songs over ten minutes long that are worth a shit. In fact the vacuum of blackness that is these four pieces is sometimes too demanding a spectacle for me; I wouldn’t want to break up these near perfect tracks but I think “Gestalt des Endes” is a touch too long. Madness unlike anything else.”

TITLE:A Merging to the Boundless
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions

StarGazer are one of my favorite bands in general, their Atheist influenced progressive take on technical and atmospheric black/death metal is stunning on every release and this might be the best thing they’ve done yet. A big bonus here for me is the cleaner recording quality compared to the previous album, nothing is obscured and the guitars have a piercing tone. The first half of this record feels like a more relaxed take on ‘The Scream that Tore the Sky’ material, but I also get hints of ‘Swallowed in Black’ era Sadus throughout. I didn’t think there would be a contender to dethrone Morbus Chron this year, but this might just edge it out over time.”

LABEL(S):Century Media

“This is one of my favorite newer death metal bands and I was kind of unsure what to expect with their recent signing to Century Media and the serious tone of the song-titles. I’d forgotten all about the oddball prog-death direction they’d begun to take on A Saunter Through the Shroud but, with that EP for context, this atmospheric/progressive death metal direction makes perfect sense. Morbus Chron have pushed outside the boundaries of Autopsy inspired death metal and landed somewhere far from anything I’ve ever heard. This recalls a similar phenomenon enjoyed by Oranssi Pazuzu‘s earlier stuff, it is aesthetically extreme metal, but it incorporates influences from modern rock, progressive metal, and has a very unique spaced-out tone throughout. The closest thing to Sweven is probably countrymates Tribulation‘s Formulas of Death, I guess, which also pushes the boundaries of heavy rock and death metal but not exactly. This one took a while to sink in.”


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