Simon Glacken has a distinguished, primarily progressively focused roster, that ticks all the Ghost Cult boxes in style. From Post-Rock, to Progressive Metal, to old school Death Metal, representing some of the big-hitting labels (Kscope, Peaceville amongst many others) as well as several interesting, independent acts (Telepathy and Jo Quail, for example) if an album comes in from For The Lost, it is guaranteed quality…Continue reading →
We have a LOT of time for UK Sludgey Hardcore/Metal act Allfather. Not only is their new album And All Will Be Desolation (Rotting Throne) a beast of a record, they also possess an arsenal of MASSIVE riffs, and those riffs also kill fascists. It’s true, it’s damn true! Staunchly political, and marrying this to a love of underground HEAVY music, spearheading a campaign to share and promote their contemporaries and those they love and share ideals with online, it only made sense to ask vocalist Tom Ballard to talk us through some of his favourite EPs of 2018. Continue reading →
Continuing our round-up of the very, VERY best albums of 2017, we pick things up where Part 1 left off… So, without further ado, immerse yourself in our recommendations of our favourite and the absolute best albums of the year, as we bring you Part 2 (25 – 2) of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year (2017) countdown:Continue reading →
Casting a beady eye over the albums that shaped the soundtrack to our Ghost Cult Albums Of The Year List for 2016, one thing becomes obvious… there are no dominant stylistic trends, no bandwagon sub-genres, other than a plethora of bands looking to push boundaries, whether that is to create new sounds or to refine and redesign. Intelligence, integrity and progression is king, and challenging and interesting approaches to designing and creating music are prevalent, with the deconstruction and cerebral reconstruction of heavy music an ongoing and fascinating development.Continue reading →
Heavy music. We don’t just love it, we breathe and live it. And we want you to drink in every album that made the list of our favourite albums of 2016. Heading to the business end, to find out even more of the very best of the very best of this years’ heavy music, read on…Continue reading →
Our goal is to bring the latest genre-pushing work from heavy and underground music’s most innovative artists directly to you, and the end of year “Album of the Year” list is a time-honored tradition that enables us to do just that. Added to the fact that we’re a big bunch of geeks who love a list, the Ghost Cult countdown also helps us highlight the bands and albums that have not only made the biggest impact on us this calendar year, but showcase the releases that have stirred something deeper and more visceral in the hearts of the Ghost Cult team.Continue reading →
A bit of kitchen sink album, this one – prog, power, death, bits that sound like Extreme (the band), a concept that makes Demanufacture look like a children’s story (OK, it is hardly the most developed story anyway…) and part 1 of a trilogy I’m keen to see if it can keep up with the level of this first one.
The album I wanted ‘At War With Reality’ to be, but with a metric tonne of breakdowns (or possibly beatdowns – I still get them confused) on top. Blistering with Gothenburg tinged spiky riffing, dual guitars flying, full on vocals and some good old fashioned metal aggression, Old Wave of Swedish Melodic Death Metal style. No remorse, no repent, no let up, no problem!
I have always had a very strong dislike of Opeth. Then they released an album that doesn’t sound like Opeth. Now loads who did like them, don’t, and loads who didn’t like them, do. Not normally a massive prog fan either, but this album is really good. AND somehow I’ve now started to get into the older stuff I’ve never liked before like Blackwater Park and Still Life. Weird, innit.
21, Overkill– White Devil Armory (Nuclear Blast/eOne)
Continuing their brilliant run of form that near matches their classic first 3 albums since signing for Nuclear Blast with another energetic, full-on, thrash classic. Really loving the vitality but above all the quality of the tunes. Always had a soft spot for Overkill and well chuffed they’re still flying the flag louder and harder than any other “old school” thrash band. Proud to review this one here.
Set your HM-2 pedals to kill… Really enjoyable old school Death Metal romp. Plenty of Dismember, plenty of Entombed, bit of Morbid Angel in places, and just sounds like a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing having fun with metal they love. ‘sGot big riffs. And I like Nick Holmes vocals on it, too. More cookie monster than cookie cutter and add a distinctive edge.
So, I split the two albums out and Dark Matters was in the ‘Not Quite…’ list. It took me a little while and a few listens to forgive Sky Blue for not being Epicloud. But seeing as Epicloud is probably my favourite album released in the last 10 years it was always going to be difficult. Sitting very much in the Addicted, Epicloud pop-metal end of the DTP arsenal, it can’t help but be a great, enjoyable listen. I just think he perfected it last time around, so this has a touch of diminishing returns. Still think it’s bloody good, like (hence it making the top 20).
‘im from Mastodon, ‘im from Dillinger, another ‘im from somewhere else (can’t be bothered to google it, sure someone will say below) and a Max Cavalera relegated to side-man all pulling off (tee hee) a bloody great album of riffs, grooves and big old tunes. Lovely stuff.
17, Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade)
The first track is possibly the greatest chest-beating Heavy Metal track of the year, resplendent (I’ve always liked that word) in its’ Bathory meets Manowar glory. After such an blinding start the album could only struggle to live up to expectations. It is bloody good though, and the last track is also amazing. Does what Primordial do, and does it well. One I reviewed, too, so you can check that out here if you like
OK, still haven’t fully gotten grips with this one – it’s not long been out, there were other albums to cram in before end of year, reviews, life, all that, plus it’s a pretty long album and there’s a lot of music going on (contrary to popular belief, your average Machine Head track isn’t as bone head as many think these days), so sticking this one here. I know it’s good, I know I like it, just not lived with it enough to know how much.
Still, I know it brings the riffs, diversity, some intelligent song-writing, some really cool choral and non-metal touches, and I know I’ll like it more once I spend some time with it and the songs separate out.
No, it’s not as heavy as Painkiller, but it does sound like a mix of everything they’ve done til now. Just lashings of good, solid, classic Priest with plenty of nods to their 70s and early 80s stuff (though no Turbo, unfortunately)
And, you know, songs and shit. Good job all round and damn fine album.
The one where they brought it all together, tying up all the threads that make up Fen and producing their best material to date with every track. A sound of a band with confidence and making a statement about who they are. More focused, more “metal” than the last and their definitive release to date.
Note this is MY albums of the year… and by that I mean favourite not “best”. The perception that most people don’t give a monkeys about post-Colony In Flames is completely overridden by the fact that they’re loads more popular now than they were then (though popularity isn’t a measure of quality etc, I know…) It’s just the undergroundzz innit.
According to itunes, this was my most listened to album of 2014, and, yep, I dig it. It doesn’t do anything particularly different, amazing, new or unexpected, but is a step up on everything post-Come Clarity, for me.
Above all I just think it has a load of good songs. And I like good songs. Even more than I like spazzy-jazzy tech metal. Much more than I like spazzy-jazzy tech metal, to be honest… I dig it. Most of you on here will scoff. The band won’t care either way. And neither will I…
Excellently crafted “serious” metal, with a great album dynamic that moves through and between post-Black Metal, UK Doom and post-metal, but doesn’t sound inconsistent or forced. I have Steve Patton of Sea Bastard to thank for bringing these to my attention. Really glad he did. I reviewed here.
This album still intimidates me. I probably could (should?) have this higher in my list, but I very rarely want to listen to it cos it’s hard work. Rewarding, but horrible hard work to listen to. Probably the most extreme, all out clusterfuck of the modern-tech “jazz” Ulcerate/Gorguts/Deathspell Omega influenced death metal albums of them all. This was the highest mark I’ve given anything in a review since I gave Insomnium‘s demo 10 back in the late 90’s (and the only time I’ve had an online slagging for giving a band a great review!). Takes death metal almost to the point of not being music any more.
Just don’t call them free-form… (which I actually didn’t… You can read what I did say here)
10, Edguy– Space Police: Defenders of the Crown (Nuclear Blast)
I really like this. It’s dumb, cheesy fun, yes, but it’s well put together, catchy – I still have a fair few of the songs and riffs bouncing around in my head – good, enjoyable entertaining rocky power metal. Cheesier than the stuff that’ll be on the board that will come out with the port at my folks an hour after Christmas dinner, and I love it for that.
Also, it has the best song Van Halen have(n’t) written for 20 years. Reviewed this one here.
Came to this late in the year as was unsure about its mammoth length (fnarr etc). Atmospheric black/death cleverly sprawling over 85 minutes, it certainly doesn’t drag, filling every one of those minutes with quality.
Was very impressed with these at Bloodstock, the discovery of the weekend for me, so couldn’t wait to check out the album particularly once you hear they’d chucked in a concept to it. Wasn’t disappointed, indeed they exceeded my expectations. Discordant and unsettling and well worth a checking if you haven’t already.
And for the record, I’ve never checked Akercocke beyond seeing them live at the LA2 as a support band 15+ years ago, so no fanboying from me.
Not much to say, other than a massive return with a massive batch of massive songs.
As I said in my review for Ghost Cult: “The Gray Chapter is a statement of intent, a mountain-strong collection of hate-anthems to stand with Slipknot’s best.
All Killer, No Filler, And then some. .5 punches hard, deep and long, undeniably their most consistent album since Iowa. Nine may have become seven, but if you’re five five five, then they’re (still) six six six. ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ is an album of some significance.”
It’s a close run thing, but I think I love the classics of black metal more than those of death metal, yet, other than those 90’s gems, I have very little time for black metal – mainly because it tends to involve the aping of the same 5-10 albums again and again (ad infinitum). It’s not a hard and fast rule, there are bands / albums of BM nature I’ve picked up on and very much enjoyed over the last 15-20 years, and this year brought forth a couple of beasts. I’ve already mentioned Fen, but there was also this British classic that brought joy to my ears. Running a gamut (good word) of sentiments and feelings, being more human than a lot of black metal dares to be, ‘Divination…’ excels dynamically, melodically and emotionally. Distinctively Winterfylleth, this is their best yet.
The most hotly anticipated modern death metal riff-fest of the year did not disappoint in any way shape or form. Power, grooves, and, well, riffs. Riffs that came armed with big meathooks. Some cool Slipknot-y and industrial touches here and there, but this was all about great *heavy* metal. I like the overall sound on it, too, dragging them out of the “death metal” pack and making them sound more in a field of one. Which, I guess is where they now stand…
Another band I’d never been massively bowled over by in the past who impressed me this year. Something to do with the fact they actually have songs with hooks and interesting things going on in them. The album gets better as it goes on, peaking in a brilliant crescendo of ‘O Father! O Satan! O Sun!’.
Added to the music, aesthetically this album is great (cover, production, photos, the official vids as well) and can see why it’s wracked up a number of album of the year awards, including the Ghost Cult Magazine official writers AOTY.
Paul Alan Ryan spun me a couple of Revocation tunes way back at the start of the year, and I was impressed, so had my eye out for this release. Once it hit, the mix of intelligent thrash, Death (Official) and definite lashings of Mastodon in the melodies and approach all wormed its way under the brain to become one of my go to albums in the second half of the year and one that I’ll keep going to into the new year. Really good modern, technical thrash with a touch of (when they were good ‘Rust In Peace’ era) Megadeth in there too. You’ll do me.
Was late to the Mastodon game, arriving some point around 2009 and ‘The Hunter’ was their first “new” album for me. Despite loving a bit of Leviathan and a bit of Crack The Skye (but not so much Blood Mountain), for me, their simpler, rockier stuff definitely suits them and they’ve really come into their own recently as OMRTS picks things up where Hunter left them off. Just tune after tune after tune after tune with swagger and hooks galore and distinctively ‘Don. Also, they have a song called ‘Diamond In The Witch House’ which does it for me in spades.
Two in a row for Sólstafir. Hats off! Svartir Sandar romped it for me in 2011, and by golly, Iceland’s finest have only gone and bloody gotten even better! Last time around it could be argued the album went on a touch too long and the vocals weren’t quite up to the level of the rest of wares on offer (though only by a smidge), well, those minor gripes have been consigned to the bin.
Now, post-rock isn’t exactly my bag of gravy, but Sólstafir delivers atmosphere, emotion and deep feelings, while the dynamic journeys of each track on Ótta pull you along for the ride.
A beautiful, magical album. As I say, it’s not my usual bag. Scroll through my ipod and there’s little similar on there, but Sólstafir have a way of speaking to me. Truly. Deeply.
The waiting is over, and Ghost Cult Magazine is delighted to announce that our official Album of the Year for 2014 is Behemoth‘s modern day classic The Satanist (Metal Blade / Nuclear Blast).
Released on 3rd February to immediate critical and fan acclaim, the bands tenth album progressed the blackened death metal sound that had formed the background of their successful career to date and propelled them to even greater heights.
Even back then writer James Conway predicted the album would do well in terms of our end of year list:
“It’s clear that a whole lot of thought and talent has gone into the crafting of The Satanist. The songwriting is clear and consistent, the band sound tight and utterly in control and the album feels like a glorious declaration of victory. Far from rehashing old ideas, Nergal and his cohorts have crafted a concoction of songs with a stunning level of variety, power and bite. This is their best album to date and an early contender for album of the year. Welcome back and fuck cancer!” You can read the 9/10 review in full here
Speaking to Senior Editor Ross Baker, main man Nergal said at the time:
“The fact that I am healthy and I have the deadliest weapon that Behemoth has ever created in my hands makes my life complete. When people listen to The Satanist, it will stimulate them in many different ways.”
It isn’t just the fact that Adam “Nergal” Darski had successfully recovered from leukemia, this is no award given out of sympathy, but a celebration of an excellent record. In an age of good, The Satanist is great, an album of significance. Starting out with the writhing ‘Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel’ through to the epic closer ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’, not just the best track Behemoth have ever produced but one of the best extreme metal songs of the modern age, The Satanist is a dark, complex, aggressive, challenging and intriguing record that ticks every Extreme Metal box imaginable.
No hyperbole, a truly great album, worthy of the title of Album of the Year 2014.
In amongst the big boys now, with the Official Ghost Cult Top 10 Albums of 2014. Kicking off with albums 10 to 6, these were the attention and headline grabbing albums that provided the soundtrack to the year…
10. DEVIN TOWNSEND – Z2 (HevyDevy/InsideOut)
Not one but two aural explosions from everyone’s favourite Canadian ADD sufferer. Disk 1 showcases the epic pop-Metal melodies expounded on Epicloud, in a vibrant collection of melodies, twists and simply great tunes, while Disk 2 is the long awaited Ziltoid sequel, a more symphonic and aggressive take on the original. Devin has shown, once again, that no matter what project fills his head, he is a pure musical genius, with 3 albums (technically) in our Top 50.
“Double albums are notoriously difficult beasts to grapple with. If there’s a suspicion of ‘all filler, no killer’, that’s perhaps understandable given some of rock music’s recent inglorious past when it comes to musical heft. The common consensus on this sort of exercise ranges from how to edit Use Your Illusion (Geffen) into one digestible chunk; realising that, yes, Fleetwood Mac really did do ALL of the drugs when recording Tusk (Warner Bros) and, frankly, even Corey Taylor must think that there is way too much padding on House of Gold and Bones (Roadrunner). Breathe easier, then, as this is not a sprawling, indulgent mess. Z2 is indulgent and there is a LOT to get through but Z2 is two records being issued simultaneously rather than some attempt at a single, 23 song epic.”
9. AT THE GATES – At War With Reality (Century Media)
After a gap of 19 (NINETEEN!) years the Fathers of the Gothenburg sound released the follow up to one of the greatest extreme albums of time, the genuine legend that was Slaughter of the Soul (Earache). That they didn’t embarrass themselves is one thing, that they were able to ignite the flame of excitement in older fans and pick up newer ones, whose favourite bands swore by the altar of ATG is testament to their quality.
“At War With Reality is a genuinely worthwhile listen and worth the 19 year wait. It still sounds like At The Gates, not the razor-focused Slayer-worship of Slaughter of the Soul, although those moments are still present, but an all-encompassing At The Gates that draws from the band’s entire back catalogue. At The Gates have shown the world that they’re still the most powerful force in melodic death metal. At War With Reality does more than just prop up the band’s legacy, it enhances it.”
8. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)
Doooooooooooooom, beautiful doooooooooooom! Melancholy, poignant, mournful and emotive, the second album from Arkansas’ Pallbearer set new standards in textured 70’s styled doom, twining haunting, reflective leads, heart-felt impassioned lyrics and vocals, and down-tuned crashes.
“Superlatives and panegyrics are thrown around like confetti these days, and mostly for albums that just don’t deserve them. Here is an entity beyond words. The blend of crushing weight and sadness that twines with an almost paradoxical ascension to light throughout this quite magnificent set is sublime and inspirational. This willingness to puncture doom’s boundaries and travel outside them surely hails Pallbearer as the most important band of their genre right now.”
7. TRIPTYKON – Melana Chasmata (Century Media / Prowling Death)
The sound of decomposition in thick, gloopy, stained riffage, the darkest end of despair in musical format, the sound of utter personal devastation hammered relentlessly into your ears as Tom G Warrior continues the styling first unveiled on Celtic Frost’s swansong, Monotheist. Beyond the gloom, beyond the end of the universe, lurks Triptykon’s second opus magnificum.
“Still gloriously innovative at 50, the enigmatic and death-obsessed Thomas Gabriel Fischer returns with his latest and possibly most enigmatic incarnation. The darkly expansive Eparistera Daimones, the first Triptykon album, displayed a panoply of musical styles. Remarkably, sophomore suite Melana Chasmata sees a deeper mining of that creativity, reaffirming the band’s reluctance to be confined by any musical barrier and confirming the triumphant second coming of Gabriel’s most inventive, diverse and impressive guise.”
Perhaps the most hotly anticipated “pure” Death Metal release of the second half of the year, this Polish hate machine did not disappoint, with a career and genre defining masterpiece, adding to their impressive canon with an absolute killer of cemtex-infused vocal growls, blistering drumming, colossal grooves and excessive riffs. But this was no old school rehash, the Krosno krew enhance their wares with industrial touches, and an insinuation of Slipknot showing this is a thoroughly modern and quite exceptional Death Metal band.
“With this much skill at their disposal, looking back it almost seems embarrassing that they were ever doubted. To use a lazy comparison, Decapitated are like (Marvel Comics anti-hero) Blade; they possess all of the strengths of Death Metal and none of its weaknesses. And it’s increasingly evident they cannot be killed. Quite simply Blood Mantra is one of the finest Death Metal albums to be released now or ever and it’s difficult to see how it can be topped. One thing is for sure; Vitek would be proud.”
…And so we continue with our countdown of the Official Ghost Cult Top 50 Metal releases of 2014 by bringing you Albums 20 to 16. As we get closer the top, the sheer unadulterated quality of the albums covered is astounding, and every one of our Top 20 should proudly sit in your collection already. And if they don’t, you should get investigating immediately…
20. VOICES – London (Candlelight)
A truly fucked-up concept album that mirrors the underground and back alleys of a fragmented urban dystopian hell-hole, a dark, horrible atmosphere is conveyed through blackened, deathly, atmospheric riffs and a harsh tale is unveiled and delivered in a deliberately contemporary discordant genius.
“The roots of the majority of this unit may have history together in Akercocke (David Gray, Sam Loynes and Peter Benjamin all previous members) but this is still a new band in some sense of infancy, yet with an already formidable reputation and artistic vision. London is a tremendous feat which not only surpasses expectations, but buries them deep underground, an album that sees Voices as not only one of the UK’s but the world’s most forward thinking and captivating extreme acts, and should be seen as a benchmark release. Huge in scope and style, but pulled off with astonishing effect.”
19. CANNIBAL CORPSE – A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade)
Thirteen albums in, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cannibal Corpse’s Death Metal powers should be on the wane. However, summoning the energy and vitality that bands half their age struggle to muster, an extremely high level of musicianship is utilized to produce powerful, slamming riffs without descending into showboat territory, and once again the Corpse show why they reign in gore.
“Bringing more violent, gory goodness that only Cannibal Corpse can create, what makes this album stick out and not sound like “just another Cannibal Corpse album” is the sheer evil and eerie direction that the instrumentals and lyrics take you. A Skeletal Domain from start to end is a roller coaster of terror, aggression, and more blood than a pit of zombies and has shown the world that Cannibal Corpse is still on top of their death metal game and just how evil these guys can be.”
Formerly known as Code Orange Kids, this sophomore effort is one hell of an aural growing up. The grit of Neurosis and the dervish of Converge mixing elements of drone, post-Metal and post-Hardcore, all captured in crushing sonic perfection by the ubiquitous force du jour Kurt Ballou.
“Overall, Code Orange have proven on this release that they are no longer kids, as I Am King shows the makings of a band not content to just sit in the realms of safety and complacency. But a band ready to expand their sound and not afraid of experimentation to broaden their horizons. At times heavy, trippy and crushing all at the same time, I Am King is what all follow up albums should strive to be”.
Sprinkling more accessible moments such as twin guitar breaks and the occasional cleaner bellow and working intelligent dynamics into their aggressive, technical (without being techy) melodic Death Metal, Boston’s beasts of the underground and unknown have made their mark with another critically acclaimed album that should place them well and truly in the ranks of more modern Death Metal bands who make a difference.
“This four-piece death metal outfit has been dismantling dictators through their onslaught of epic death metal for years now and they continue to get better and better. Revocation’s newest release, Deathless has certainly pushed Dave Davidson and the gang up another notch on the death metal ladder. Ten tracks coming in at around the 48 minute mark will still leave you itching for more, even if all of that shredding has melted your face. Just when I thought this band might have been getting close to their ceiling with the previous self-titled release, Deathless has come around and shot right through this proverbial ceiling and into my ears, and boy does it feel good.”
16. WINTERFYLLETH – The Divination of Antiquity (Candlelight)
The best bands have their own distinctive, defined sound, a series of identifiers that mark who they are while expanding and progressing their style. On their fourth album, Winterfylleth achieve that elusive mix of laying down a career defining opus that intrinsically delivers every aspect of the core Winterfylleth melodic, epic Black Metal sound, while pushing past the boundaries of everything they’ve produced to date.
“Winterfylleth, whose odes to Blighty’s ancient past have struck a chord with those searching for a bit more meaning in their homegrown talent, are a joy to behold. After three albums of high quality “English Heritage Black Metal”, Winterfylleth are sitting pretty and new album The Divination of Antiquity looks set to continue their ever-so glorious reign. In a scene renowned for gimmicks and plagiarism, their brand of sweeping, epic black metal just keeps revealing more with each release.”