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.