Year end lists are something I both hate and love at the same time. Every December, I get excited about every webzine putting out lists of what they deem to be the best of the best releases in metal and other genres. But I find that this excitement doesn’t last very long, because as days pass by, the lists by different zines start to look very similar containing the same old albums that everybody has become aware of by that point. This redundancy turns my love for year end lists into hatred. So this year, I’ve decided to do something different with my list. I’m gonna list out those albums that are eclipsed by the shadows of the bigger releases. I can assure you, that the following albums are actually as good as (if not even better) the usual big albums you tend to see on such lists. So without further ado…
Restricting this list to just 10 titles was a hard job. So these are some of the Honorable Mentions that just did not make the cut. Nonetheless, these albums are as good as the other titles…
Aurora Borealis – World Shapers (Black / Death Metal, Xtreem Music)
Super Fun Happy Slide – Drop Your Pants and Grind (Grindcore, Blastasfuk Records)
Shroud of the Heretic – Revelations in Alchemy (Death Metal, Blood Harvest)
10. Jig – Ai – Rising Sun Carnage (Grindcore, Bizarre Leprous Productions)
If you know and love these Czech grindsmiths, then you know and love fun. This is probably the album that I had the most fun with this year. This is one of those albums that you throw on and just get the pit started. Nothing complex, nothing sophisticated, this is basic grindcore with death metal overtones. ‘Rising Sun Carnage’ is the grooviest grind record you’ll come across this year. Get your grind on!
9. Kataplexis – Downpour (Technical Death Metal / Grindcore, Galy Records)
Canada gives us yet another band that is technically adept, in the form of this quintet from Calgary. Kataplexis take mind bending wizardry of technical death metal and then fuse it with grindcore, which results in some face melting heaviness that is technically superlative. The band’s second full length, pummels the listener mercilessly through 11 tracks. It does it in a way that you want to endure it again and again, just for its brilliance.
8. Valdrin – Beyond the Forest (Melodic Black Metal, Blasthead Records)
This is a band that evokes strong nostalgic memories of bands like Dissection and Emperor. This is not a clone band, no. Valdrin have developed their own style of layering subtle melodic tranquility with harsh black metal abrasiveness in their debut album. The hooks on this record dig so deep and the atmosphere is hauntingly enchanting. An album where aggression and melody truly embrace..
7. Septekh – Plan for World Domination (Thrash / Death Metal, Abyss Records)
The album’s title may sound like the band is making big claims. But the music here proves that they may indeed be capable of such a feat. The band borrow elements from across the spectrum of heavy music including traditional heavy metal, thrash metal, groove and death metal. They mash it all up in a way only the Swedes can, to create one of the most entertaining albums of the year. The albums has a bit of everything, from headbang worthy thrash anthems to foot stomp worth funk tunes. Take a bow Septekh. You truly went down in style.
6. Entartung – Pecata Mortalia (Black Metal, World Terror Committee)
This is black metal in it’s most grotesque incarnation. This German duo return back to the roots of the genre to deliver raw, maddening music. So why is this so high in the list you ask? The reason is the attention to detail that has gone into the album. For a black metal album, it’s rare that every small inch is chiseled to perfection, which is the case here. This aspect gives the grotesque music, a type of dark beauty. Gothic chants, clean guitars and the atmosphere, only add value to this memorable record.
5. Howls of Ebb – Vigils of the 3rd Eye (Black / Death Metal, I, Voidhanger Records)
I regret not checking out this album earlier in the year and not giving it a proper review. Brought to my attention by another year end list, this is one of the most bizzare albums you’ll hear this year. The music is a very progressive form of black / death metal and the progressive element gives the albums a very twisted sound. The dissonant riffs and the very unorthodox song structures makes this record sound like the music of very demented and twisted circus act, all this while maintaining the dark heaviness the genre is known for.
4. Dhwesha – Sthoopa (Death Metal, Dunkelheit Produktionen)
2014 saw these Indian Bolt Thrower devotees finally launch their much anticipated debut record. This is a band that I’ve had the opportunity to catch live on quite a few occasions and everytime, it’s been a blast. I was hoping that they would catch the magic of their live shows on the record and they’ve gone and did just that. The studio treatment even adds to the quality of their music. If simple, riff based death metal is what you expect, then this is the record for you.
3. Joey Molinaro – Say at Last – Who Art Thou? (Orchestral Grindcore (?), Self Released)
Gridlink’s ‘Longhena’ according to me, is the best grind album you’ll hear in the next few years. Joey Molinaro was a part of that record where he lent his violin skills to a track. Researching about this guy, I found out that he had his own solo release this year as well. When I heard this release for the very first time, it sounded wrong. It’s like listening to grindcore except, the guitar parts are replaced by a violin and bass replaced by what sounds like a cello. Madness, isnt it? But the more I listen to the album, the more addicted I get. The music is an orchestral descent into pure insanity. It’s very experimental and not an easy listen in any way. With each listen, it makes more sense and it continues to grow. This is a visionary record that may spawn a new genre.
2. Rintrah – Salt of the Earth (Progressive / Psychedelic / Stoner Metal, Self Released)
Bandcamp is a goldmine for discovering new bands. Rintrah is one such band that I stumbled upon in a baked stupor. The music played by the band has a very layered style to it. A vague description would be stoner metal overlaid by psychedelic post metal elements overlaid by progressive tendencies. You get the idea. It’s unpredictable as well, in that it alternates between clean calming acoustic sections, to heavy bass driven distortions when least expected. It is easy for one to get lost in all the elements involved here. A beautiful work of music this is.
1. Multinational Corporations – Jamat-al-Maut (Grindcore / Crust Punk, Salute Records)
This EP hit me like missile from across the border. The Pakistani duo have conjured up one of the most pissed off records this year. The music is pure old school grindcore which leans more towards its punk origins. Everything about this record is perfect from the guitar riffs to the angry hate filled vocals. The lyrics are a particular highlight of this record (but you do need a knowledge of Urdu to comprehend whats being spewed). This is an album that’ll make you want to tear down your nearest authoritarian establishment, which is exactly what a grind record ought to do.