Matthew Bowling Best-of 2014Friday, 12th December 2014
A list of ‘best songs’ is always a kind of nightmare for me because I never really approach albums for their ‘song’ value, but rather the experience I’m left with as the album as a whole. Inevitably though certain songs do emerge on repeat and stand out more than others. This isn’t a ‘ranking’ so much as it is the ten songs I’ve listened to the most across the year, give or take.
1. Behemoth – The Satanist (from The Satanist)
2. Mastodon – The Motherload (from Once More Round the Sun)
3. Trent Reznor – Technically, Missing (from Gone Girl)
4. Highlands – Beauty (from Dark Matter Traveller)
5. The Great Old Ones – Behind The Mountains (from Tekeli-li)
6. Artificial Brain – Bastard Planet (from Labyrinth Constellation)
7. Crosses – Bitches Brew (from Crosses)
8. Nero Di Marte – L’Eclisse (from Derivae)
9. Opeth – Eternal Rains Will Come (from Pale Communion)
10. Lord Mantis – Three Crosses (from Death Mask)
Biggest Surprise: A combination of two November releases. On the one hand the complete rebirth/newfound progressive joy that is Job For A Cowboy, an album that is a hyper-melodic and adventurous joy from beginning to end and lost out on my top list (much like Ne Obliviscaris) only because of the strength of the year and less because of any lack of merit. The other biggest surprise comes from the Norwegian improvisational jam band Øresund Space Collective and their two and a half hour marathon of space-rock/beard worship Music For Pogonologists. Absolutely killer (and exhausting).
Best Newcomer of 2014: Not having a traditional newcomer for 2014 (which is weird, really, the first time it’s ever happened to me), I’ll instead highlight an untraditional pick for a band I came into anew: The War On Drugs. Like some giant amalgamation of big rock themes, 80s feels, and a title more than befitting the album’s title Lost In The Dream, it’s a monster of a release, even though an absurd number of the songs eclipse the 7 minute mark, the album itself melts by with barely a glance.
Biggest Disappointment of 2014: Easily the ongoing disintegration of Jake Bludd’s personal life and the subsequent mediocre ‘swansong’ Nachtmystium album that is/was The World We Left Behind. Stripped of competent song-writers and left to his own blown-out indulgences, the album was an experience in a life exhausted and all good things thrown away. If he had been able to focus all that waste into a tangible musical experience it might have produced a defining point for the decade and genre. Instead it’s just a chore to listen to that dissipates from memory as soon as the bloated closer runs its course. The one highlight: “Voyager”.
Best cover art – The Great Old Ones. Though Behemoth almost claimed this one too initially, once this cover was revealed it became a clear winner with The Great Old Ones and the PHENOMENAL job they did on Tekeli-li, for nothing sets off a phenomenal album like equally phenomenal cover art. This version being from the limited edition vinyl that lovingly adorns my wall. Two runner ups: Blut Aus Nord with the spectacularly old-world vibe on Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry and both regular and the vinyl-version cover of The Satanist.
Most anticipated release of 2015 – Steve Wilson. Each of the past five years has for me seen a marked improvement over the year that preceded it so I’m on track to die beneath the weight of win that is like as not to occur in 2015. That being said, early in the year my currently most anticipated release will come in the form of a new and heavily female-vocal influenced Steven Wilson album, brought to life by the same touring band he’s had for a couple years now and the same group behind 2013’s spectacular The Raven Refused To Sing. The best surprises tend to be those you do not see coming, however, so onward unto discovery and annihilation.
Here’s a Spotify playlist that Matthew would like to include to paint a more elaborate picture of his listening habits.
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