Welcome Scribbler Metalheads and music fans in general! Old Man Feind can’t help himself and is constantly on the lookout for new music especially metal, obviously. I’ve been doing a “Best of” list for a few years now which is mainly an opportunity for me to look back at everything that I listened to. I hear a lot of absolute garbage but for about the last decade I’ve noticed something that makes me smile to no end, metal keeps expanding and getting better. This year was no exception so over the next couple of days I’ll rundown my Top 15 based on my own personal taste. If your list matches mine get in touch with me because you’re one awesome sumbitch!
Before I dive into my first 5 picks for the year let me give you a few more thoughts. It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago (it really isn’t) that I was limited to hearing pretty much only what I could afford to buy so unless you were an industry insider it was impossible to hear a vast sample of everything out there. In other words a top 10 list for me in my youth would have been damn near impossible because some years I couldn’t afford that many new albums. Today it’s different because of the lovely internet. I am able to hear basically anything I want, anytime I want and it’s common practice for bands to allow you to listen to an album at least a few days prior to its release to entice you into buying it. Also there was a big change this year as Cult & I get sent some press releases and I get forwarded some from Doommantia to review for their site. The problem for me now is not a lack of new music to listen to but enough time to listen to all I get sent. You have no idea how many new young bands follow Cult & I on Twitter asking us to listen to their music in hopes we’ll share it/review it on the site. While we appreciate it, in all honesty, we just can’t get to it all. As we grow and things change perhaps that will change but for now we get to what we can and review what we like. I know there are reviewers/writers out there that love to rip on a band for being awful, Cult & I are not of that variety. As editor here I choose what to post and what not to post so if neither of us like something I see no need to post it at all. We share what we like and we like a lot as our tastes run pretty wide through all genres of metal. We don’t consider ourselves journalists of any sort, we are just fans and it’s as fans that we approach any album (or movie) that we review. Quite honestly our time is valuable and we see no need to waste time on something we don’t like.
Perhaps I went on a little long there but it’s important to me that anyone out there reading our drivel understands how we approach our jobs here. Now in regard to metal specifically, I’ve noticed over the last several years, since about the turn of the century anyway that there really hasn’t been a bad year for metal. Perhaps it’s just due to my increased use of the internet pretty much exclusively for finding music that makes it seem that way but honestly it’s been awhile since I heard anyone complain that there wasn’t that much good that came out. I mean I saw one minor complaint about this year that there wasn’t “that one album” that just knocked your socks off which I do agree with to an extent as I really didn’t have one that just knocked me on my ass like there had been the last couple of years. However, when I started looking through what I had listened to this year and how much of it I would put into consideration for the best of the year even I was a bit taken aback. I’m looking at my list right now and still can’t believe it! I ended up with a list with 62 albums on it and I know even that is an incomplete list. I knew what my top spot was but other than that it was basically close your eyes and pick, they’re all good. So what I’ll share with you this week is my Top 15 but understand there were a ton of others that could have easily made it in, some of which I’ve shared on the site already, and regardless of what number I put an album at with a couple of exceptions these are pretty much all tied just for being fucking awesome. My list is based on my own taste so again if yours matches mine in any way, for one your nuckin’ futz and two contact me since obviously we have much in common at least musically. So enough of my babbling on and on, here’s the first five on my list…
Some of you are scoffing right now, “But Feind Mastodon isn’t even metal any more!” To you I say look up top there, does it say the Top 15 “Metal” Albums of 2014? No need to scroll up, it doesn’t. I’ve been a Mastodon fan since I picked up Leviathan which seems came out longer ago than it did. In that time I’ve only seen one band change their sound as much as Mastodon have and that’s Opeth. Where Michael Akerfeldt has taken Opeth from a kickass death metal band to playing essentially 70s style prog rock (Pale Communion was an excellent album from this year too btw), Mastodon changed a little more slowly from metal to progressive hard rock. The real difference between Opeth and Mastodon is Akerfeldt’s vocal range which is truly astounding but Opeth is a different discussion. Mastodon actually started to change, evolve if you will, after Leviathan starting in flashes on Blood Mountain before embracing the change to being a full on prog band with the masterpiece that is Crack The Skye. Their last album, 2012’s The Hunter, is a favorite of mine and those crying that “Mastodon isn’t metal anymore” can STFU already, good bands change and evolve over time or do you think The Beatles weren’t a good band? Once More ‘Round The Sun is not as good as The Hunter which I know was in my top 5 that year but it was still damn good. I’ve listened to it several times and so should you. I really can’t think of a better band to start a best of the year list with as Mastodon are truly all around one of the absolute Best of the Best. Besides who but Mastodon can get away with mixing metal and twerking? Yup, nobody else.
The First Single/Vid
The now infamous twerking video!
I’ve been meaning to do a full review of this album for some time but it seems I kept putting it off and now here we are at the end of the year. Cult was the one who introduced me to Misery Index shortly after we became friends. The Killing Gods is the only pure death metal album in my Top 15 of the year because to call what Misery Index do “pure death metal” is incorrect. To me pure death metal would be what Cannibal Corpse or Aborted put out this year (and part of my Best of 2014 selections) which is exactly what held them out of my Top 15. While I love those bands and the albums they produced this year for just being brutal fucking death metal, there is a point in listening to a full album like those where I tend to tune out a bit. I’m not going to sit here and say “it all sounds the same” because it doesn’t but as it is all similar I tend to lose focus/interest about half way through. That is not the case with Misery Index as they add in enough extra goodies to the brutality to keep your ear interested all the way through. I won’t pretend like I’ve listened to their full back catalog yet but from what I have heard The Killing Gods is, IMHO, their best album to date. Hopefully you agree.
Fallujah play death metal of a different color. They set themselves apart from the pack by adding prog to the mix making them a new millennium Atheist (the Swedish progressive death band people) though really sounding nothing like Atheist who you’ll hopefully see on my Best of 2015 list next year as they are supposed to be hard at work on the follow up to Jupiter. Also in a lot of ways I find Fallujah to be the Tool of death metal. Their brand of death metal isn’t just all brutal all the time, its good thinking music at least for me personally. There’s plenty here to satisfy your death metal itch but there’s so much more there as well. Fallujah’s songs are layered and intricate instead of just pummeling and brutal all the time as the genre is known so well for. Fallujah are a breath of fresh air into the death metal world which is a genre that definitely needs it. Cannibal Corpse mimics are a dime a dozen but Fallujah do their own thing and are rapidly blazing their own path through the droll world of death metal.
Sun Eater, at least for me, is Job For A Cowboy’s best album hands down, no question about it. JFAC burst on the metal scene with their extreme brand of deathcore a few years ago while all the members were still in high school and some not even old enough to have a driver’s license yet! Damn! Seeing them grow and evolve from that point to this year’s Sun Eater has been a metal filled pleasure. Along the way a few members have been replaced as people that young grow and change vastly but instead of falling apart JFAC brought in some metal vets as replacements and what came through on Sun Eater was pretty amazing. They are now, at least to my knowledge, the first progressive deathcore band. The songs on Sun Eater are no longer just brutal assaults on your eardrums but brutal assaults with plenty of nuance that take more than one listen to fully digest. The end result is something unique, one of a kind and I can’t wait to see how the band progresses from here to whenever they drop their next album probably around 2016 or ’17.
Revocation are a band that just never seem to put out a bad album like ever, seriously! They never fail to land somewhere on my Best of the Year list somewhere and once again Deathless is no exception to that apparent rule. They combine some of the best of parts of thrash, death metal plus a whole lot more making their albums just a fast and furious brutal assault on your little eardrums from start to finish. However, that is a bit of the problem. Revocation while always in my Top Ten or Fifteen of the year have never been #1. Why? Because their albums are pretty much a full on assault with only slight nuances here and there. Some of the songs will have a catchy part or chorus but it isn’t maintained for a full album. That is really a minor complaint but it is the explanation for why Revocation have never landed my top spot. These Bostonians are still pretty young so if they keep making music I’ll keep listening since it is always fantastic whether it lands in my top spot or not. One thing is for absolute certain, Revocation never disappoint and Deathless isn’t disappointing in the slightest.
So that’s Old Man Feind’s first five Best of 2014 albums, tomorrow I’ll post up #10-6 and then Wednesday the Top 5. Any guesses as to the #1 or think you can guess all 5? I absolutely guarantee that you can’t guess all 5 regardless of order. Although if you’ve read my drivel since we started this site you may get at least a couple of them right. I have talked about all 5 here over the course of the year so perhaps somebody can figure it out though I doubt it. Feel free to let me know what some of your favorites have been this year whether they’re metal or not. This is the first year I can think of in a long time where my Top 15 can technically all be called metal though some wouldn’t put that label on Mastodon at the moment. That is honestly a rarity for me but it does happen occasionally and it seems the case this year. All of this is highly subjective as I have my own taste as you have yours so feel free to share away. Perhaps one of your favorites is something I haven’t even heard which is always welcome as I search for more to listen to. It’s been a heluva year for metal so I hope you’re as excited about the future as I am.
Spin It In The Pit or Burn It On The Spit
Album Reviews: Feind strives to bring you what you won't find on every other metal outlet letting you know what I think is worthy of your time.
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