2014 has been my first full year of writing for The Sleeping Shaman. I say “full year” when really I’ve typed up about one thing a month so I’m not exactly churning stuff out. Still, it’s been fun and a welcome opportunity to find out about new releases and new bands while they’re still actually new. Much of the stuff I was introduced to this year was via this site one way or another. So, if my Best of 2014 seems a little obvious to some, I can only apologise.
Dune‘s Progenitor was one of my first reviews of the year and their hook-stuffed sci-fi sludge still puts a skull-in-a-space-helmet grin on my face every time I listen to it. Their two track follow-up Aurora Majesty released last month continued very much the same vein; it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s catchy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Melvins Hold It In was as Melvins as Melvins can be, but with the added bonus of Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus bringing some full-on Independent Worm Saloon era Butthole Surfers into the mix. It sounded just as good as a mix of those two could and should and if you don’t like the sound of that I can’t help you.
Having been indifferent to their previous release to the point of not actually quite remembering if I’ve even heard it all the way through, I was pleased to hear Entombed – *cough* excuse me – Entombed A.D.‘s Back To The Front sounding like… well, more like Entombed than they had for a while anyway. While it’s no Surgical Steel in terms of miraculous return to form, it’s a decent album and the new stuff definitely didn’t sound out of place amongst their back-catalogue when they played the Roadhouse in Manchester last month.
Mansion‘s two 2014 releases, The Mansion Congregation Hymns Vol. 1and Uncreation, were definite highlights for me; highly-polished gloomy Doom rock with female vocals and lyrics about a historic Christian cult. Yeah, that ticks lots of boxes for me. Mansion have their own sound, their own shtick, and seem to be sticking with it, converting more Mansionites with each new release.
I’d never even heard of Fossils before I reviewed their Flesh Hammer album, but it’s become one of my go-to albums for typing to. Especially if I’m up against a deadline. Short, tight, drum and bass noise rock that verges on industrial it’s so precise and machined. It doesn’t fuck around and it bears repeating.
Similarly, Khuda‘s Molasses Constricts The Clinostat would have been a record I’d completely missed out on were it not for reviewing it for the site. Another duo, this time guitar and drums, with a completely different sound and approach. Layered, looped riffs and agile, agitated drums creating clever, sharp, emotionally charged instrumental post-metal.
Earth Primitive And Deadly is a record I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about. It’s definitely one of the most noteworthy things released this year, and undeniably it sounds amazing. However, I still can’t decide whether the vocals add an extra dimension to Earth‘s sound, or detract from the immenseness of the music. Plainly, there’s more of a classic rock thing going on in Primitive And Deadly than in past Earth releases, and Carlson and co. are obviously having all kind of fun with that. I’m still listening to it, trying to get my head round it, and I do really like it, it’s just… different. And different is good, I suppose.
Space Witch‘s two-track riff monster Debut is an hour-and-a-bit of huge and heavy, instrumental, psych-doom that almost passed me by, but which is now playing on repeat as I type.
What else was good in 2014? Gonga and Beth Gibbons covering Sabbath suddenly got loads of unlikely interest, didn’t it? It sounded pretty good too. Oh, and Carcass posing for those grinning pictures with Babymetal. “It puts a smile on people’s faces. That’s what music’s about, isn’t it? Enjoying it and not being so serious.” Nicely said, Jeff.
Scribed by: John Reppion