Tis The Season: Part Four
Part four of Tis The Season welcomes Max Rotvel, head-honcho of Metal Bandcamp, and Dan Kaplan, creator and co-host of Horns Up: A Weekly Metal Podcast. Max is taking a different route with his list below, noting albums that struck a cord from across the last 12 months. While Dan has kindly provided a countdown of his favourite albums from the past year.
Cheers if you’ve been following this Tis the Season list madness. I hope, like me, you’ve discovered something you missed during this year. There are a couple more posts featuring lists that gracious contributors sent in to Six Noises upcoming, and then I’ll throw my picks for the year at you as well. My thanks to Max and Dan for contributing to Tis the Season, and here are their picks.
Max Rotvel (Metal Bandcamp)
This is not a best of 2014 list in any objective (or even subjective) sense. It’s simply a chronological list of 12 albums I keep coming back to for various reasons. A Bandcamp diary of 2014.
22 January 2014: Wildernessking – The Devil Within
28 January 2014: Fluisteraars – Dromers
3 February 2014: Nightfell – The Living Ever Mourn
16 April 2014: The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-li
27 May 2014: Emptiness – Nothing but the Whole
13 June 2014: Profetus – As All Seasons Die
16 June 2014: Vassafor / Sinistrous Diabolus – S/T
20 June 2014: Blut aus Nord / P.H.O.B.O.S. – Triunity
1 August 2014: Labyrinthine – Ancient Obscurity
30 September 2014: Nightbringer – Ego Dominus Tuus
14 October 2014: Swallowed – Lunarterial
1 November 2014: Falls of Rauros – Believe in no Coming Shore
This is the album that spoiled my music listening for more than a month. Every time I heard something new, no matter how good it was, all I heard in my head afterwards was the lovely guitar melodies of Believe in no Coming Shore.
Beneath the sheen of sheer loveliness, the music tugs at your heart. As Justin Collins wrote in his review “The emotions expressed range through melancholy, righteous anger, hope, fear, triumph, and all the other feelings that we don’t necessarily have words for”
When you hear the triumphant second guitar solo in “Spectral Eyes” it feels as if the whole album has led you to this moment. The gentle title track rounds off the album, and beckons you to take the journey again.
Dan Kaplan (creator and co-host of Horns Up: A Weekly Metal Podcast)
(10) Tombs – Savage Gold
Mike Hill and Co. continue to do my favorite borough proud. Savage Gold is an angry, insistent beast of an album that’ll simultaneously completely suffocate you and leave you wanting more. Fantastic effort from top to bottom.
(9) Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity
Another marvelous set from the Mancunians. I’ve been going back and forth on whether it actually manages to top The Threnody of Triumph, but that there’s even a debate tells you all you need to know. Some fine, cold, brutal, and ultimately wonderful black metal here.
(8) Sólstafir – Ôtta
I love a good change-of-pace album, and more often than not this year, the stunningly pretty Ótta ended up being mine. Sólstafir’s moody, atmospheric side may come through first here, but it makes their occasional forays into true heaviness (e.g. “Nón”) all the more cathartic. Tremendous listen.
(7) Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite
Allegaeon’s brand of death metal strikes the perfect blend between melody and technicality, and they book-end their third album with what ended up being two of my favorite tracks of the year–“Threshold of Perception” and “Genocide for Praise: Vals for the Vitruvian Man.” Goddamn was this thing fun.
(6) Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
An absolute stunner. Pallbearer’s sophomore effort recalls classic, Sabbathian doom and it never runs out of earwormy melodies to suck you in with. It might be Brett Campbell’s haunting vocal work, or perhaps his and Devin Holt’s weeping, trudging guitar lines–however Foundations grabs you, good luck breaking free.
(5) Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere
Not sure these guys could do any wrong if they tried. Agalloch’s fifth full-length is perhaps the band’s leanest set yet, but standouts like “The Astral Dialogue” and the stunning instrumental “Plateau of the Ages” easily cement Serpent‘s place among the year’s best.
(4) Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
Thomas Gabriel Fischer simply does anguish on a different level from the rest of us. That anguish comes out in full force on Melana Chasmata, as Fischer serves up some of his heaviest, bleakest stuff to date. A consistently refreshing, listenable album.
(3) Behemoth – The Satanist
My favorite Behemoth album? Quite possibly. Nergal channeled five years’ worth of personal hell into the band’s most satisfying and sonically diverse album to date. Forty-five tremendous minutes.
(2) Cretin – Stranger
An absolutely ferocious effort. Marissa sounds positively demonic on here and it’s all kinds of wonderful. I’ll admit to not being the biggest grindcore fan normally, but this one was compelling from start to finish.
(1) Panopticon – Roads to the North
A deeper, more complete album than I heard from anyone else in the genre this year. Introducing outside elements into extreme metal can be a very hit-or-miss venture, but Austin Lunn completely nails it with his incorporation of Americana / folk influences here. Just fantastic stuff.