Thursday, 18 December 2014

Abandon Hope, Ye Who Watch X-Factor

Albums Of The Year:
The Metal Edition:
The Only Edition That Matters

Considering it is halfway through December now I have decided to do my Best Albums of the Year list because I expect I will be in a food coma in the coming weeks.

This won't be a top whatever countdown, it's just some of the albums I have enjoyed this year. There may or may not be a film version of this. It would depend on whether I can remember what films I've seen. But I may leave that until into the new year because I still got time to watch films. Plus I still have to see the conclusion to The Hobbit and I will not see it in 3D after the utterly terrible looking Desolation of Smaug last year. Has everyone now realised how awful 3D is? Captain America was the final straw. And I had to see that in 3D because I wouldn't have been able to continue watching Agents of SHIELD otherwise. If you're still paying to see films in 3D then it is all your fault that it hasn't died out. And I might as well blame you people for all the shitty CGI. Get control of your life for fuck sake.

Behemoth - The Satanist

Where better to start than with the Satanic blackened death metal band Behemoth. This is their follow up the the awesome Evangelion and the comeback album after their singer/leader Nergal's battle with leukemia. The video above is the song Pro Ora Nobis Lucifer, "Pray For Us Lucifer", a sentiment I think we can all get behind. As you can hear in the video (also try the title track), Behemoth stand out from the black metal and death metal bands by having a heavy groove to their sound.

BabyMetal - BabyMetal

The thing with BabyMetal is you either like it or you don't. For the enlightened among us we really love it. How can you not like a song about chocolate? It may be sung in the J-Pop style but the music is heavy and it all just works. Some may say it works better than Symphonic Metal but those people would just be Aishling. The song above isn't as catchy as Headbanger!! or Gimme Choko!! and it does have an electronica sound in it which really only Rammstein can get away with but the reason I'm putting it up is for the breakdown in it. After the little rap part (which I don't have a problem with probably due to my time with Nu Metal) there is a humongous breakdown that most all metalcore bands wish they could dream of.

Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed

When members of four different awesome metal bands come together you expect great things. But when Max Cavalera of Soulfly, Troy Sanders of Mastodon, Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan and Dave Elitch from The Mars Volta you get a kickass album. All three vocalists bring their own distinctive voices to the songs. They even take turns singing the melodic parts but as you would expect Greg is the most melodic as you can hear in this song. At first I did find it too poppy sounding but with more listens comes a greater appreciation of it and it adds to the song itself. For a melodic Troy listen to Melting Of My Marrow. Also, how many riffs does Max Cavalera have in him? He has written over 20 albums.

Down - Down IV Part II

I think I've said before that Down achieve more in an EP than what most bands can do in a full length album. Down continued with their plan of releasing an EP instead of an album which is a great idea considering they usually take five years to release an album. But Part II came out within two years of their last EP. With any luck we'll get more Southern Doom in the near future. This EP is the first release not to feature Kirk Windstein who sadly left the band. Not to worry, as this is still Down down to the core. Everything that makes Down who they are is here. The groovy riffs, the heavy drumming and of course Phil. Plus there is a very Sabbath influenced song in Conjure. Fucking A.

Crowbar - Symmetry In Black

Kirk Windstein left Down to focus on his original band, Crowbar. I can forgive him because Crowbar are awesome. You know when the T-Rex walks in Jurassic Park and the water ripples? The same thing happens when you play a Crowbar song. These are riffs that only get better the louder you play them. This isn't for your sensitive ears. If you can't handle the heaviness/loudness then go join the people in the Ed Sheeran wanker brigade.

Arch Enemy - War Eternal

So, a strange thing happened earlier this year. Angela Gossow announced her departure from Arch Enemy to focus on the managerial side of the band and just as quickly as she had left Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist had taken her place. The album is a return to form. I had felt they became very stagnant with their previous two albums but with Alissa coming in they seem to be reinvigorated. She doesn't use her melodic singing voice on the album but I hope that she does on the follow up. To hear what she sounds like check out Thank You, Pain by The Agonist. But make sure you listen to the version with Alissa because they also got a new vocalist and re-recorded that song.

Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun

Mastodon released one of the best albums of the year. Of any genre. Unfortunately they don't get any recognition because they don't have wimmins shaking their asses in their videos... Oh wait... Nevermind. But they still are overlooked. Once More 'Round The Sun is less riff-heavy as their previous albums but their song writing makes up for it. Like The Hunter before it it takes a little longer to get into but listen to the album a few times and it will gradually unlock your ears to the magnificence of Mastodon. Almost every time I listen to it I end up with a new favourite track. Also, I met Brent. I now know what people feel when they find Jesus in toast.

Orange Goblin - Back From The Abyss

Orange Goblin released my favourite album of 2012, A Eulogy for the Damned. And in those last two years I saw them live twice. They were amazing. They followed that up with Back From The Abyss. This album I had on repeat for a long time. It broke my Mastodon listening cycle. Whereas Eulogy sounded like it could be the soundtrack to a horror film this one sounds more like a Grindhouse soundtrack. The opening track, Sabbath Hex (so-called because if you don't like Black Sabbath you should be cursed), is a good indicator as to how the rest of the album plays out. Fast and in your face. And The Devils Whip is pure Motorhead fanboyism. My favourite track is Heavy Lies The Crown. Probably because it's a song for/about Vikings.

Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Slipknot finally returned this year! And they returned minus two members but with another kickass album. When they released The Negative One a while back it reminded me of Iowa era Slipknot. It had the heaviness, the aggression and, most importantly, the record scratching. They followed that up with the above video and I wasn't loving it much at first but it plants a seed in your head. One that grows and tells you there's more to see in the video and that makes you listen to the song again and it grows more and you listen some more. And some more. And then you realise that yes, that IS a keg hit or two you heard in there. And finally the plant grows out of your brain and you love it. That analogy sucked. The album itself opens with a very sombre track that, if you know what happened, is very emotional for that reason. But after that track the band bring the heaviness. There are a few mellowish songs which I don't have a problem with because Corey Taylor can show off his range any way he wants and it's always good. Even when singing the Spongebob theme.

Machine Head - Bloodstone and Diamonds

The best way to round out the year is with a new Machine Head album. Orange Goblin stopped me listening to Mastodon. Slipknot stopped me listening to Orange Goblin. And Machine Head stopped me listening to everything. I had this album on a constant repeat for two weeks after it came out. In the first weekend I must have listened to it over ten times. It is that good. Since Through The Ashes Of Empires Machine Head have become an unstoppable force of metal. Listen to it and The Blackening back to back and you may come out of it alive. If you're lucky you will become a devout Headcase. I guess I'm one since I named my blog after their first album.

You couldn't ask for a better opener than Now We Die. It's heavy, melodic and has a string section in there. I've read some comments about people saying they hated the song after hearing the chorus. God forbid a band would add violins to a song. If you're scared of something new then stick to your deathcore bands. They'll never do anything new or shocking. Anyway, you should listen to this album. There's a song on there, I can't remember which one, maybe Game Over, it reminds me of Supercharger (the album that nearly destroyed the band) but that album is much better than people say. It unfairly gets a bad rap. Also, in Game Over, when you realise that the person's grave he will piss on is their former bassist the song becomes a bit angrier. Give the album a go and if it's not for you then try AC/DC. You can listen to their whole back catalogue in one song.

Black Steel And Iron

There are some other albums that came out this year that I haven't properly listened to so I didn't include them and others that I just never got round to getting or listening to. Some of these are:

Opeth - Pale Communion
Electric Wizard - Time To Die
At The Gates - At War With Reality
Devin Townsend - Z2
Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls
Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

If any of you have listened to any good albums this year then let me know in the comments so as I can check them out.

I'll leave you with this Goatwhore video. A band I discovered from watching NOLA: Life, Death, & Heavy Blues from the Bayou. A series of documentary videos that you need to watch. Enjoy.

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