By Calen Henry. Here is a list of a few albums I really liked from 2014 that I either didn't see at all on year end lists, or that I thought were underrepresented on them. Vukari play what is best described as "atmospheric black metal" featuring long, slowly building passagesBy Calen Henry.
Here is a list of a few albums I really liked from 2014 that I either didn't see at all on year end lists, or that I thought were underrepresented on them.
|Artwork by Mike DeStefano from Vukari|
Vukari play what is best described as "atmospheric black metal" featuring long, slowly building passages, culminating in blistering black metal explosions, but they frequently employ post-rock chords rather than the typical black metal voicings, so the result sounds like Mono covering Agalloch. It's great. The approach makes for a record that sounds familiar and cohesive, but also novel. The post-rock leanings, and the black metal fury both shine through without completely mixing.
The mixing for the album is what really brings it ahead of a band like Deafheaven, for execution. All the different part sounds right in the mix. The instruments and vocals are present without anything being overpowered, and the band has gone for clarity, over raw, lo-fi black metal, which suits the style perfectly. Absolutely my favourite band in the style.
|Artwork by Ogino Design|
Gloson's mix of metal and post-rock is eerily similar to Vukari's but with doom rather than black metal. They mix crushing doom sections with more ambient, clear guitar driven sections. Like Vukari, they often employ post rock chords, but know how to keep the doom, and worship the riff, while experimenting. It always comes back to monolithic riffs, first and foremost with the post rock experimentation adding to the downtuned assault, rather than taking over.
It's also worth noting that the EP is generally either free, or hovering around $1. It's absolutely unmissable at that price. Bonus: the album art is fantastic.
|Artwork by Metastazis|
Black Anvil come from the NYC black metal scene but, unlike some of their city-mates, play blackened thrash with a progressive edge, and the addition of all-the-things, including, but not limited to:
- wah drenched leads
- shredding leads
- tapping leads
- gang vocals
- clean as well as rasped vocals
- a gunshot
- shouted “1-2-3-4” before one of the aforementioned styles of lead
To be fair, this was on a few best of lists, but not enough! Darkest Era have an amazing musical and compositional gift in that they are able to write and perform traditional metal, but make it sound indelibly Celtic, without actually being folk metal. Oh, plus, it’s got a wicked black metal edge in some of the drumming and guitars.
|Artwork by Valin Mattheis|
The best description of Old Man Wizard, is “sounds like the album art”.
It’s mostly proggy doom, but everything about it is a bit weird. The guitars are a bit too twangy for doom, the vocals are kind of folky, the drums have kind of a punk rock gallop going on, and some of the melodies sound like they’d be right at home in a campy 80s fantasy movie score. For all the prog weirdness, though, the songs are really catchy. A bit like Darkest Era just sound "celtic", Old Man Wizard just sound “weird fantasy”.
Also, it’s pay what you want, so there’s no excuse not to check them out.