It’s that time again, when we, music lovers, choose the best albums of the year – the ones that stood out the most. It’s always a fun activity, and this year is no exception. So, here are my top ten.
10. DNMF – S/T
I had the pleasure of reviewing this album for The Sleeping Shaman; here’s what I wrote: “All in all, this is a great effort and those who love drone and experimental forms of jazz will certainly find it compelling. In fact, everyone who is into unconventional song structures and takes delight in discovering new talents within the field of avant-garde music should check this out“.
9. Mono ‘The Last Dawn / Rays of Darkness’
Mono have always been one of the most creative bands of the post-rock genre, but they take their creativity to a whole new level with this double album. While Rays Of Darkness contains the darkest and bleakest music the Japanese group has ever come up with, The Last Dawn is much more hopeful and optimistic. However, both have one thing in common: they are beautiful pieces of (mostly) instrumental music.
8. Hexis ‘Abalam’
Listening to this Danish group’s music might give the impression hell has relocated to Earth. Their sound is a chaotic, aggressive and schizophrenic fusion of black metal and hardcore – think of Celeste, for example – and this album takes the listener on a groundbreaking sonic journey.
7. Pallbearer ‘Foundations Of Burden’
Pallbearer have become one of the most beloved doom metal bands as they have managed not to sound like anybody else. Even though their music is heavily based on doom, they are drawn by many different things as music fans and aren’t afraid to try new things if they feel like it. And, in my opinion, it’s what makes them so talented and exciting to listen to.
6. Today Is The Day ‘Animal Mother’
Today Is The Day have always been a unique band: their sound is extremely diverse, rooted in noise rock and incorporating influences from alternative rock, progressive, hardcore and many other genres. Their music is full of unusual time signatures and unpredictable transitions between melody and brutality. On Animal Mother they use the same formula and give the fans an extremely inspired effort- perhaps their best since Temple of the Morning Star. Steve Austin – the mastermind behind the project – had to cope with the death of his mother during the recording sessions and therefore sings with tremendous passion, making the listening experience even more intense. If you haven’t listened to Animal Mother yet, don’t waste anymore time!
5. Godflesh ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’
This is the first Godflesh album in 13 years, and it’s safe to say the industrial metal pioneers haven’t lost a step. The machine-like groove that characterized the band’s sound when they first started is back, and this new album sees Justin K Broadrick and GC Green returning to their roots while still creating something new. This is not a pointless nostalgic trip – this is the sound of a well-oiled machine .If you are a fan of Streetcleaner or Pure, then you are in for a treat!
4. Yob ‘Clearing the Path To Ascend’
One of the best doom metal releases of 2014, in my opinion. Mike Scheidt continues to be an amazing and versatile singer, and Marrow is probably one of the best things Yob have ever recorded – the light at the end of the tunnel, in contrast to the darkness of the first three songs. I’ve also heard people compare it to Pink Floyd’s Echoes and, to be honest, I agree, because they both feel like a memorable cosmic journey. Marrow is also heavily influenced by Mike’s solo work, which goes to show how important it is to explore your creativity and get out of your comfort zone. However, the whole album is great and it’s not surprising that so many fans of heavy music have praised it.
3. Wovenhand ‘Refractory Obdurate’
It’s always tough to describe Wovenhand and fit them into a category; after all, their music includes neofolk, post-punk, gothic rock… a blend of several styles, really. However, that is part of their charm and one of the things that makes them so unique; that and the spiritual atmosphere that David Eugene Edwards – a man whose relationship with religion is incredibly strong – is able to implement. Listening to his voice and music can be described as an almost sacred experience and this album – which is possibly one of their heaviest – is simply amazing.
2. Swans ‘To Be Kind’
What can we say about Swans? Their second run as an active band has been very exciting: not only do we get to see them live – and trust me, it’s an unbelievable experience – but we get to listen to new studio efforts. And To Be Kind is nothing but marvelous. Some of these new songs were played live before being officially released, and so the stage became the studio for Michael Gira and his band. Musically, Swans are… well, Swans. Their body of work is extremely eclectic, ranging from soul crushing industrial to dark and brooding folk songs or even overwhelming orchestrations, but one thing remains constant: their intensity. It does not matter what Gira decides he wants Swans to be – it’s always cathartic. And that’s exactly what this album is. We could say much more about it, but To Be Kind is over two hours long and well, with a band like Swans, there are so many details that summarizing in a few lines the quality of their work is almost impossible. But fuck, aren’t they awesome?
1. Grouper ‘Ruins’
This is definitely my favorite album of 2014. Recorded in Portugal (I have to admit this is a cool fact), Ruins invites the listener to explore, once again, the intimate world of Liz Harris, which is certainly fantastic: sad but poetic, melancholic but delicate. On her 10th album, the Portland native offers eight amazing tracks, featuring her beautiful and angelic voice, haunting piano melodies and an intelligent use of tape loops.
And this is it. Have a great 2015!
Scribed by: Jorge Miguel