Monthly Archives: January 2015

Hi folks it’s been a while! I’m back to deliver my top 10 albums and gigs of 2014 but I do plan on eventually finishing the reviews from US trip of 2014 (including MDF) as well as a more amusing look at all the useless metal paraphernalia I’ve collected over the years. The following list is also at Cacophemisms along with lists from some other fine chaps so make sure you check out the excellent site. Enjoy.

Bethlehem
1. Bethlehem: Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (Prophecy Productions)

I must be mellowing with age as later Bethlehem (much like recent Katatonia) just always seems to be playing even though I have over 240 days (!) worth of music in my library. After seeing them only play old stuff live and the harsher Stonkfitzchen EP I was expecting a return to the depressive black doom of old but this is their most mellow album to date and very much in the vein of Schatten aus der Alexander Welt and Mein Weg. The highlights for me are the vocals from Guido Meyer de Voltaire who has an excellent range of deep gothic vocals to growls to screams and also the beautiful guitar work from Olaf Eckhardt (sadly the 2 blokes who have left Bethlehem). Great album that I’m sure I’ll continue listening to for many years.

 

Pallbearer
2. Pallbearer: Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore Records)

These lads can do no wrong and this album stayed in my car for weeks after I first obtained it. This is just exceptional doom with superbly intricate songwriting, epic heaviness, great leads and beautiful mellow sections. I suspect a crossroads and a deal occurred around 2008 when they formed the band as music shouldn’t be this consistently great. Can’t really pick a favourite song however the main riff of Watcher In The Dark is a mandatory fistclenching headbanger and the slightly more forceful feel to the song sets it apart. The hype this band receives is well worth it.

 

DeadCongregation
3. Dead Congregation: Promulgation Of The Fall (Martyrdoom Productions)

Good old fashioned blasting death metal bliss! Exceptional song writing and execution with masterful use of melody and great dynamics. The song Schisma is a prime example of intense speed with wonderfully climactic leads and a heavy as buggery middle slower section. Incredible album and this, Bethlehem and Pallbearer should all be equal number 1 really.

 

Bolzer
4. Bölzer: Soma (Invictus Productions)

Much like their Aura EP, this took a while to sink in but I’m certainly glad it did as the 2 songs are as powerful as earlier work. They have an odd style with plenty of tough riffs as well as heaps of tremolo sections that for some reason always remind me of fast stoner rock. Great use of different vocals too which lend a ritualistic feel to the songs. So glad I saw these guys twice at MDF this year as for a two piece they were astounding live. Bring on the album!

 

ThouHeathen
5. Thou: Heathen (Gilead Media)

It took a long time for these chaps to finally click for me but they certainly did with this album. I’d almost call it languid sludge as they take as long as they damn well please to get to the point yet someone manage to stay interesting the whole time. I rarely read lyrics these days as they are usually woe-is-me, pussy slashing or ritual goat sodomy style but Thou have very interesting and thoughtful songs. Bloody awesome atmospheric sludge.

 

Godflesh
6. Godflesh: A World Lit By Fire (Avalanche Recordings)

Out of all the reuniting extreme bands it was Godflesh that I was happiest about, partly because I had never seen them live, but also because I was keen to hear more music from the duo. Well I saw them live at MDF in 2012 and they were amazing and now I have the excellent Decline & Fall EP and this new album so I’m a happy chappy! Bludgeoningly heavy with quite a few nods at most of their earlier works. My only complaint is that the bass doesn’t seem as loud or snarling on the album as the EP (especially on Playing With Fire). Can’t wait to see them live in Australia although I’m praying for side gigs so I don’t have to go to bloody Soundwave.

 

SuperHappyFunSlide
7. Super Fun Happy Slide: Drop Your Pants And Grind (Blastasfuk Records)

Catchy grind with screamed and pitchshifted vocals is one of my favourite things in life and Super Fun Happy Slide certainly deliver on their 2nd album. Seems they are not the most prolific writers though as I noticed that half these songs are on a rehearsal demo of theirs from 2006 plus it was recorded in 2009 but only just came out. Lazy bums! Extra points for sampling Alf from Home and Away and Shaun Micallef too. Killer grind and about as close to my precious Magnacite that it gets.

 

Mournful
8. Mournful Congregation: Concrescence Of The Sophia (20 Buck Spin)

I’ve been a fan of these blokes since I picked up their Weeping demo at Impact Records 20 bloody years ago (damn I’m old) and I think they just get better and better. Everything is stellar but the lead guitar work on this is just superb with “soaring” being the most appropriate cliché I can think of. I long to see them live again in their 3 guitar glory although I suspect it will be a while. It’s a shame this is only 30 minutes worth of such exquisite grief.

 

Horrendous
9. Horrendous: Ecdysis (Dark Descent Records)

Wonderfully odd thrashy death metal that stand heads and shoulders above their debut album The Chills. This really sounds like it should have come out of Florida in the early 90s with the Atheist/Death guitar/bass noodling and the tortured throaty vocals that are quite van Drunen-ish at times. I love the Swedish guitar sound too which is quite reminiscent of Black Breath (and of course the bands BB are borrowing from). Really nice artwork too which makes me wonder why I haven’t bought this on vinyl yet. Quite a shame I missed seeing them play a pre-MDF gig this year as my train arrived too late.

 

StarGazer
10. StarGazer: A Merging To The Boundless (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

As much as I admire The Great Righteous Destroyer and The Serpent Inquisitor’s other bands, I always love that StarGazer seems to be their outlet for the weirdest aspects and while 2010’s A Great Work Of Ages never really quite grabbed me, this newie is exceptional. Highly intricate and always changing, their music maintains a tough heavy metal feel while allowing the instruments to wander quite far from the path with the bass the most exquisite and adventurous.

 

Honourable Mentions:
Arizmenda: Stillbirth In The Temple Of Venus
Autopsy: Tourniquets, Hacksaws & Graves
Corpsessed: Abysmal Thresholds
Diocletian: Gesundrian
Doombringer: The Grand Sabbath
Innsmouth: Consumed By Elder Sign
Internal Rot: Mental Hygiene
Jig-Ai: Rising Sun Carnage
Pantalones Abajo Marinero: Heridas Por Armas Blancas
Swallowed: Lunarterial

 

I’ve also decided to produce a top 10 gigs of the year list however this doesn’t include Maryland Deathfest which will be reviewed by itself soon.

Top 10 Gigs:
1. Neurosis (Manning Bar, Sydney)
“Intense” is about the only word I can use for this performance which was flawless and made many long time fans very happy. I hope we don’t have to wait another 20 years for them to tour.

2. Twisted Sister (Starland Ballroom, New Jersey)
I was expected TS to be good, really good in fact, but they were outstanding and I just couldn’t stop smiling! Perfect setlist and so much energy. The only downside was having to drink bloody Budweiser. My 14 year old self was ecstatic and my 40 year old self was pretty bloody happy too.

3. Conan, Looking Glass (Basement, Canberra)
This gig was LOUD!!! The sound was perfect and the sound guy knew just which bits to max the bass to and create a chest rattling rumble that I hadn’t felt since my very earliest gigs. Plus they are a killer band and played Satsumo. Shame they kicked the drummer out after the tour as he was the most talented part of the band. My hearing was rooted for days after. Looking Glass played mostly new songs which all kicked arse which is a good sign for the next album.

4. Undergang, Cauldron Black Ram (Basement, Canberra)
Danish death metal juggenauts Undergang kicked lots of arse as did CBR who cranked out Devil Bellied on request. Very glad I saw Undergang as I couldn’t remember if I saw them at Chaos In Tejas or not and I love their releases. Quality sludgy death metal done right.

5. Swans (Music Hall Of Williamsburg, New York)
I was very happy to see Swans in their native New York and I was even more happy to snag a seat as they play for bloody hours! They mostly played new songs and bugger all really old stuff but they were spellbinding and Gira seemed in a good mood too which was a surprise.

6. Jig-Ai, Cripple Bastards (Basement, Canberra)
I was too slack to head down to Melbourne for Obscene Extreme this year mainly because Jig-Ai were playing in Canberra! They were incredible and CB were better than I remembered from MDF 2007. Several of us tried to work out if the Jig-Ai singer was using a pitchshifter pedal but couldn’t see one so we were scared that he could make those sounds naturally.

7. Coffins, Ilsa (Saint Vitus, New York)
Plenty of doom in my favourite NYC venue with one highlight being some bloke in the crowd asking “so is this one of those loud gigs? like a rock band?” just prior to Coffins obliterating everyone. Plus Coffins played Slaughter Of Gods which is my fave song of theirs. Ilsa were nice and heavy too with some killer mid paced sections.

8. Pseudogod, Wrathprayer (Beat Kitchen, Chicago)
Pseudogod sounded pretty average at MDF however they smashed it at this club gig with a super intense set of barely controlled chaos. Really fun gig where I got to scoff great beer, meet artist Putrid (who had a better knowledge of early Aussie metal than me), watch the Blackhawks win, and laugh at Necros Distractos doing her arm flailing thing on the side of the stage.

9. Anathema (The Metro, Sydney)
I love modern Anathema as well as the ancient death doom they started with so I was happy with the later era set which thankfully included my favourite recentish song A Simple Mistake. The sound was perfect too and the crowd were way more keen and lively than I expected.

10. Cruciform, Psychrist (Basement, Canberra)
First gig back for Psychrist after reforming was a corker with barely any cobwebs showing. They only played the EP and first album material but the songs sounded as timeless as always. Kel was back on vocals and put on a great display of rolled eyes and grimaces. I’d forgotten how great the EP songs are with Tears Of The Deceased standing out as well as an extended version of Spiral. Cruciform are another recent reformation and were also in fine form although they didn’t play my favourite song Gutter which was a shame. I actually really wish they still remembered how to play the newer songs they played before splitting originally as there were some humdingers! Both bands are playing in Sydney soon at the Under The Southern Cross festival on 24 January at the Bald Faced Stagg so check them out.

 

Well that’s enough rambling for now so thanks for reading. Up soon will be reviews of MDF 2014 and various other US gigs I attended as well as a look into my hoarding obsession of metal goodies.