Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Sludgelord Presents: Steve Howe's Top 25 Records of 2014

25). Servers – “Leave With Us”

UK Sludge/Stoner Rock Band who impressed me with their Stadium Sized riffs. Fans of Mastodon, Baroness and Foo Fighters need to check this out now.

24).  Prosperina – “Harness-Minus”

Welsh Rock/Metal Collective who are very hard to describe. Parts Kyuss, Parts Isis and Parts Tool for one hard-rocking mix.

23). Witchrider – “Unmountable Stairs”

Newly signed to Truckfighters record label. These guys have it all. Passion, drive and a blistering debut album that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

22). “Space Fisters - Vol 1”

Another fantastic band from France to check out. If you're into Sabbath, Sleep, Mars Red Sky and Kyuss. Then venture into the world of Space Fisters. Heavy Psych/Stoner/Fuzz of the highest order.

21). Horsehunter – “Caged In Flesh”

A new name in total brutality. Australia's Horsehunter is a band to keep an eye on. Newly signed to Magnetic Eye Records. Listen to this record if you're feeling brave enough.

20). Karma To Burn – “Arch Stanton

Karma To Burn return with their best album in years. Arch Stanton proves why Karma To Burn are the Kings of Instrumental Stoner Rock/Metal.

19). OHHMS – “Bloom”

OHHMS debut album is 32 minutes of fantastic Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Hard Rock grooves with great vocals to match.

18). Aleph Null – “Nocturnal”

Aleph Null finally release their debut album. It's a brilliant mix of Grunge, Stoner and Sludge with swarms of Psych Rock. These guys are going places.

17). Sigiriya – “Darkness Died Today”

Sigiriya return with their 2nd album. With a new vocalist, these guys sound better than ever. This album is packed full of excellent sing-along anthems.

16). Steak – “Slab City”

Steak - One of the UK's finest upcoming Stoner Rock bands. An excellent debut album that will appeal to fans of Kyuss, Orange Goblin and Clutch.

15). Monolord – “Empress Rising”

Monolord. What more needs to be said about this album. One of the standout debut Doom Metal albums you need to hear.

14). Conan – “Blood Eagle”

Conan's 3rd opus continues their epic journey to become the world's heaviest Doom Metal Band. Accept no substitute.

13). Sloath – “Deep Mountain

Sloath return after a lengthy absence to release an album full of mysterious droned out Fuzz, Smoke and Noise. Play this one loud.

12). Lotus Ash – “The Word Of God”

Lotus Ash. A band that came out of nowhere to impress me. Stirring mix of Drone, Doom, Stoner, Ambient and Sludge. Someone release this on Vinyl.

11). Mastodon – “Once More ‘Round The Sun”

Mastodon always release great albums that get people talking. If it's their music or insane music videos. These guys never disappoint me.

10). Wo Fat – “The Conjuring”

Their 5th album and possibly their best album to date. Swampadelic Rock at it's best.

9). Tilts – “Cuatro Hombres”

Tilts release their 2nd album. A thrilling blend of old-school hard rock anthems and high voltage Stoner riffs.

8). Floor – “Oblation”

Floor return with their own brand of Doom-Pop. It's a heavy dose of blissful and crazy doomedelic poppy riffs.

7). Brant Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band – “Black Power Flower”

Brant Bjork returns with a stunning album. This is what Vista Chino should have released in 2013. Pure Genius

6). Monster Magnet – “Milking The Stars”

Only Monster Magnet could release a re-imagination of last year's “Last Patrol” and return with an even better album.

5). L'Ira Del Baccano – “Terra 42”

This year's best Instrumental Rock album with an album that ventures into the far reaches of Space. 6 years in the making. It was worth the long epic wait.

4). Hark – “Crystalline”

From the ashes of TAINT, comes HARK with their intense Sludge/Stoner Metal hybrid sound packed full of groove.

3). Pallbearer – “Foundations of Burden”

Pallbearer release a weary and emotional album that will bring tears to your eyes.

2). Bast – “Spectres”

Blackened Sludge Metal from one of the UK's most creative bands

1). Yob – “Clearing The Path To Ascend”

The Best Doom Metal Band return with another gloomy and even uplifting offering.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Sludgelord Presents: Richard Maw's Top 25 Records of 2014

2014 has been an extraordinary year for music. There have been some truly excellent albums released. What follows are my favourites. As usual, I have based choices on how much they have been listened to and enjoyment, not on musical worth per se

25). The Wounded Kings- “Consolamentum”

Haunting doom with depth.

24). Robert Plant- “Lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar.”

Plant refuses to be typecast and constrained by a band he was in for just over a decade many decades ago. Good for him. Led Zeppelin is young man’s music, I have always thought. With Plant now pushing on towards 70, he should be commended for still creating unpredictable albums. He is in a purple patch right now; long may it continue. 

23). The Skull- “For Those Which Are Asleep”

Doom in the vein of Trouble- no surprises, but great performances and songs are to found.

22). Mark Lanegan- “Phantom Radio”

Lanegan sidesteps again, adding his rich and smoky tones to yet another quirky collection of songs. 

21). Bast- “Spectres”

An assured debut that I really should have listened to more. If I had, it would probably be further up the list. Black metal meets doom in an innovative way.

20). Autopsy- “Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves”.

Slow and fast death and doom. Yet another good album from these elder statesmen of the death metal world.

19). Obituary- “Inked in Blood”

A hungry return from the Florida death metal veterans, groove firmly intact

18). Yob- “Clearing The Path To Ascend”

Quite stunning. A huge achievement, and a record that will most likely grow in influence and stature as time passes

17). Drive By Truckers- “English Oceans” 

Another roots rock record from Alabama’s finest. The Stones are channelled to good effect on a handful of tracks, while darker vignettes inhabit the album elsewhere.

16). Crowbar- “Symmetry in Black.”

Punishing sludge-core from the Deep South. One of their best.

15). Blackfinger- “Blackfinger”

A rather melancholy album which in a strange way reminded me of a more direct Type O Negative.

14). Serpentine Path- “Emanations”

Deathly doom of monumental heaviness. A fine album.

13). Exodus- “Blood In, Blood Out”

The ripping return of the Bay Area thrash bruisers.

12). Zombiefication- “Procession Through Infestation

Left field death metal. I did not invest enough time in their previous effort “At The Gates of Eternal”. Subsequent listening revealed it to be a superb album. I did not make the same mistake with this and got it on regular rotation. Interesting and unusual stuff from these Mexican madmen.

11). Machine Head- “Bloodstone and Diamonds”

20 Years into their career, Machine Head made this solid modern metal record. There are some cracking tracks on here- Night of The Long Knives is particularly vicious. Maybe they will never top Burn My Eyes, but bands of their stature are needed; they act as a gateway and a beacon.

10). AC/DC- “Rock or Bust.”

Business as usual in the DC camp. Three chords, three minutes and 100% enjoyment. The album, as per, focuses on the good times. Oddly, these party-hearty songs are lent a vague gravitas by the absence of Malcolm. It seems to be saying: “Enjoy today, as you just don’t know what is coming your way tomorrow.”

09). Ichabod- Merrimack

Uncategorisable stuff from these US men of sludge/psych/rock/metal. One of the lesser known albums on the list, perhaps, but don’t let that fool you; it’s also one of the best.

08). Winterfylleth- “The Divination of Antiquity.”

English Black Metal of epic scope and power. Evocative of landscapes and history, this is a wistful and well thought out album.

07). Hirax- “Immortal Legacy” 

Absolutely belting thrash with hooks and a resolutely old school heavy metal feel. They tour the UK for the first time in March 2015. I cannot wait.

06). Conan- “Blood Eagle”

Slow and Crushing, UK doom at its finest.

05). Cannibal Corpse- “A Skeletal Domain”

One of their best albums. Massive sound, massive songs. Vicious.

04). Opeth- “Pale Communion”.

No death metal here- pure prog is on the menu instead. It is musical and complex stuff, with the more familiar melodic elements of Opeth present and correct.

03). Orange Goblin- “Back From The Abyss”

A storming return from one of the (now classic) British bands. You can't escape The Devil's Whip!

02). Overkill- “White Devil Armory”

Yet another excellent Overkill album. It does not quite match “Ironbound” for me, but even so it is one of their best, and thus one of the best albums of this or any year.

01). Grand Magus- “Triumph and Power"

A raiding party of warriors descending on Lindisfarne from Longships while brandishing (Gibson) axes would still not adequately convey the sheer heavy metal-ness of it all.

Honourable mentions have to go to Eyehategod (I just haven't listened to it enough!), Ophis, Slough Feg, Mayhem and Midnight. All of them made great albums but I just haven't invested the time.