Daniel Keating Best-of 2014Wednesday, 17th December 2014
Moving into the “songs” portion of my year-end list, I’ll say that I’m getting tired of bands leading off albums with something less than their best. This is subjective, of course, but I find many bands kicking things off with something that’s OK, and delivering much stronger material 2 or 3 songs in. In a time where there’s never been more content available, the smart thing to do is to grab a listener right away. Unfortunately, our collective patience isn’t what it used to be.
The following are a selection of songs from 2014 which I hope serve to both reinforce my selections above, as well as to turn you on to something you might have missed…or to help make up your mind that “this guy’s taste in music is total shit”.
1. Shores of Null – “Souls Of The Abyss” (from Quiescence)
Well, they’re my top pick this year, so I’ve gotta spread the love. It’s a no-brainer.
2. Ered Wetherin – “Song of Yavanna” (from Tides of War)
Maybe my favorite song of the year, Ered Wetherin’s “Song of Yavanna” is from the debut All Song Ceased EP released this year. This epic atmospheric black metal project is by the same Swede behind Lustre. Fans of bands like Summoning must take a listen to this. Likely a “best of” album were it a full release.
3. Blut Aus Nord – “Hùbris” (from Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry)
From the BAN split EP released this year, “Hùbris” is among some of the very best BAN material I’ve heard. Their three tracks on the Triunity split are simply fantastic. Here is one of those.
4. Emptiness – “All is Known” (from Nothing But the Whole)
One of the most interesting releases this year came out of Belgium, from the death metal band Emptiness, on their release Nothing But The Whole. Sounding like nobody else out there, this album is strange, very dark, and seethes with an almost darkwave kind of vibe, a la death metal. Very cool stuff, and very well-received to boot.
5. Furia – “Zamawianie Drugie” (from Nocel)
Here is some fresh black metal, in the same spirit as perhaps Taake, but with a bit more atmosphere and other rock tendencies. This album was a great find.
6. Sólstafir – “Lágnætti” (from Ótta)
Ótta is, without a doubt, one of my favorite albums of the year. A tough decision to leave it off my list, but at least I can pay homage to this stellar work of atmospheric post-rock here.
7. Deadwood – “Soiled” (from Picturing a Sense of Loss)
Great stuff from this German band, with similarities to Totalselfhatred and Imperium Dekadenz, two awesome bands in the melodic and depressive black metal genres. Their 2014 debut is definitely recommended, listen to a track here.
8. The Morningside – “Ghost Lights” (from Letters From the Empty Towns)
I was glad to get acquainted with this Moscow band, unknown to me until recently. Kind of like Carcass meeting old Metallica, the album is packed with great riffs and a fantastic rhythm section. It’s something all metalheads should enjoy.
9. Vinterbris – “Ash Aligth” (from Solace)
These young fellas from Bergen released their second album with Solace this year, and it’s really quite impressive. Playing an aggressive, melodic black metal, these guys sound terrific and play with all the chops of seasoned vets. I’m looking forward to whatever is next in their bright future.
10. Nachtmystium – “Epitaph for a Dying Star” (from The World We Left Behind)
If this is indeed the troubled band’s swan song (as was reported), then “Epitaph for a Dying Star” is a pretty good, haunting note to go out on.
Biggest Surprise of 2014: Faith No More announce plans for new album. After making some live appearances here and there, news broke that a new album was finally in works, and recently a new single has been released (“Motherfucker”). While I’m not sure how I feel about the song, I will say it’s interesting…nevertheless, one of the best and most influential bands in my lifetime are back, and this was an awesome surprise to countless fans, myself included.
Biggest disappointment of 2014: Opeth’s Pale Communion. No doubt easy prey for us unevolved old-Opeth fans – I can’t say I had high hopes that I’d like this to begin with, but still. Seeing that Blackwater Park is now almost 15 years old, perhaps I just need to get over it. Maybe it would be easier if this prog rock band was called by a different name.
Best Cover Art of 2014: Emptiness – Nothing but the Whole. The second I saw this one I wanted to listen to it. Even before I read any reviews of the album I knew I needed to check it out, and am glad that I did.
Most Anticipated release of 2015: Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror. When power metal is done right, it’s hard to deny…and there is not a much bigger deal in the PM camp than a new Blind Guardian album. A classic band.
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