The reunion of the classic Deliverance line up is hotly anticipated with a sold out crowd ready to greet Pepper Keenan and the rest ofCorrosion Of Conformity.
Kicking the night off in fine style were London based bringers of sludgy despicable metal Hang The Bastard, and boy were they sludgy. Looking like the Born Too Late-era Saint Vitus (only with less convictions for holding onto Walter White’s stash) and sounding just as punishing, like a wave of grim descended upon the venue. Drawing mainly on their last album Sex In The Seventh Circle the five piece slam through their 45 minute repertoire of heavy lumbering riffs and ear piercing vocals against a constant wall of nothing but uninterrupted feedback. The simple stage set up of red lights throughout added to the hazy almost bleak red room from Twin Peaks feel to the evening, if only instead of weirdest the backwards talking dwarf was replaced by riffs that made your brain want to dribble out of your ears. The fact the PA in the venue was blisteringly loud didn’t half improve the bands’ set, making a hypnotic wall of sound that crumbled each time the bands rumbling bass sound kicked back in.
Playing a set comprised of In The Arms Of God and fan favourites Wiseblood and Deliverance this evening has a greatly celebratory feel from the off as ‘These Shrouded Temples’ and the stomping ‘Señor Limpio’ kick tonight into gear.
Keenan grins from ear to ear as fans raise their fists and voices for ‘King Of The Rotten’ and underground hit ‘Albatross’ which threatens to take the roof off. Woody Weatherman clearly enjoys having his fellow riffmeister back in the fold, trading off licks while Messrs Dean and Mullin hold down the groove with an almost telepathic ease. There are plenty of surprises too. ‘Goodbye Windows’ is given its live debut and ‘Broken Man’ is aired for the first time in nearly twenty years. A stellar performance which receives a rapturous reception, the North Carolinians reputation as a jewel in the crowd of underground metal was cemented tonight.
The London-based five piece’s second EP and first to be distributed through Century Media certainly shows promise and shows that there may be more to come from the band in the future, but in fact the EP only helps demonstrate that the band are not completely ready for the big time just yet. If being thrust into the mainstream is to be compared to going out for a night on the town, lets say, a fellow rising British band such as Marmozets would be in the taxi on the way to club, whereas Zoax would still be at home trying to get their shoes on by comparison.
Is Everybody Listening? (Century Media) does have its positive moments though, the album is a frenetic and frantic beast throwing the listener all over the place in that diet Dillinger way that a band like Architects has pretty much perfected. Make no mistake though this is certainly a lot less heavier than Architects, there’s more a frenetic almost indie tone to it, which shares a lot in common with Marmozets.
When listening to this, the album that kept coming to mind was the recent début album from Beartooth. It’s not as heavy or as in your face as that, though it certainly has one toe in the great sea of indie rock, though with a great connection between bottled insanity and sweet yet weighty choruses.
Overall, Is Everybody Listening? is certainly not going to set the world on fire and is far from the finished product, but has enough about it that I would be shocked if this ends up the best release put out by this band by the end of their career.
More of a brief wind than the hurricane some had forecast it to be.
As the monolithic behemoth of a tour featuring Slipknot, Korn and King 810 strides across Europe at this moment, Cold Snap’s new album World War 3 (Eclipse) seems the perfect accompaniment. If you played this album to anyone in that crowd they would think, wow 2002 will indeed live forever.
Cold Snap is an amalgamation of everyone who seemed to be big at the time of the Japan/South Korea World Cup. It has the rhythm section and drum sound of White Pony (Maverick) era Deftones, the vocals of Corey Taylor circa self-titled Slipknot album (Roadrunner), and the overall industrial aggression of Obsolete (Roadrunner) era Fear Factory (in a time before they were).
At first the sound does have hints of the recent Djent sound, but then when the chundering riffs kick in you realise that this is indeed paying homage to Burton C. Bell and co rather than doing directly for the more current range of bands they could have taken influence from; if you listen to ‘Only One’ or ‘Me Inside’ you’ve pretty much heard the tracks on here.
If you liked balls to the wall Nu Metal without some of the despicable rapping then this maybe for you. There are plenty of downtuned moments dispersed in between the barrage of Dino Cazares off cuts that make up the majority of the album. You could never criticise the album for lacking punch or aggression, but there is a quarrel with the album lacking originality. This is a record whose influences all cut off around the same time people started to buy clothes that weren’t four sizes too big for them.
Overall, as a fan of the genre, World War 3 is an enjoyable listen but it doesn’t progress any further than being a massive nostalgia trip. If you at any stage wore a baseball cap and some shorts big enough to catch basketballs in them then this album will certainly take you back to that time, the only problem is that the original albums will already do that for you and are of incredibly better quality.
Some albums are meant for mass appeal. And then there are some albums that sound like they were created to disperse the entire population as far away from it as humanly possible. District of Dystopia (Nomadic Fortress), the new album – their seventh – from the two piece Sludge/Drone monoliths that are Jucifer, is certainly an album that falls into the latter part.
With its constant barrage of impenetrable mix of sludge and what seems to be the sound of the Elder God’s on a hungover morning, Jucifer have created an experience that is likewise punishing and oddly satisfying at the same time. Sure it might sound like the apocalypse put through several Marshall stacks, but it’s engaging and never strayed from my attention the whole time it was on, and is still an album that I can recall days and weeks after first listening to it. Overall, although the NOLA tinged sludgy vibes and the sheer sonic weight brought on by these two bringers of despair, guitarist/vocalist Gazelle Amber Valentine and her husband, drummer Edgar Livengood, is something that must at least be admired if not necessarily enjoyed.
If the sound of the Armageddon coming at you in the form of feedback sounds good to you give this a blast, you will not regret it. 8.0/10
Despite being a tad on the over melodic side and not packing maybe the crunch of their early work, to be blunt its still fucking Mastodon. You cannot argue with tunes like ‘The Motherload’, ‘Ember City’ and ‘High Road’ for sing-along anthems, as well as the stunning ‘Diamond In The Witch House’ featuring Scott Kelly (as always). The album still has riffs in abundance and what more is there really to say, its Mastodon.
Royal Blood – Royal Blood
The Hype train surrounding Royal Blood was coming close to being overloaded with jizz cannons and jizz cannon maintenance equipment, with it all coming to the conclusion we maybe preparing to appease the gods and sacrifice them for the corn harvest (South park reference).But in all honesty even without the hype trains none stop momentum, this album would have deserved its place on this list for simply its overall quality. Royal Bloods brand of Bass and Drum (never Drum & Bass) provides all the Queens Of The Stone Age/ White Stripes swagger you could want, whilst making one hell of a racket for just two blokes.
Code Orange- I Am King
Doomy, Droney and at all times a crushing experience, Just like Tripytkon’s album was like living inside a H R Giger painting, Code Orange’s album I Am King is like transcending the plains of reality in a David Lynch film and experience all elements of the spectrum and so much more at the same time.
Trap Them – Blissfucker
2014 is the year where Trap Them emerge as one of the brightest shining lights in the world of extreme metal. Nasty, dirty riffs smothered in the Entombed guitar tone played with super precision and grit. With Blissfucker, Trap Them show that they are fast becoming one of the most in form and aggressive bands in the world.
Mongol Horde – Mongol Horde
Frank Turner’s return to hardcore could not have been any sweeter. Packed will all The Refused and At The Drive In post-hardcore vibes and riffage, Mongol Horde deliver a fun blast of anarchic punk that no matter what context I hear it in makes me want to wreck the place up. Also I challenge you to find two better lyric topics than Natalie Portman’s tapeworm leading a revolution and a the bastard child of a horse and a rhino being a unicorn.
Against Me! –The Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Nowhere near the heaviest album to come out this year, but might just be the most powerful. Against Me where already being hailed as one of the best songwriters in the world before the news about Laura Jane Grace became public earlier this year, but on this album they have surpassed themselves. Grace’s brutally honest and poignant lyrics as well as an album packed with soaring choruses create one of the most emotional albums of the year.
Young And In The Way – When Life Comes To
Savage black metal-tinged hardcore, which some say is becoming over done with bands such as Tombs already well established in this field. However its Young And In The Way who absolutely nail the sound of raw black metal crossed with razor sharp aggression spewing from every pour of this album.
Marmozets – Weird & Wonderful Marmozets
Put simply, the most exciting band to break through in 2014. Sounding like a mish mash of System Of A Down, Rolo Tomassi without the electronic parts and a slight indie tinge to their guitar tone, Marmozets have made the biggest impact in terms of my opinion of them. At the start of the year I had no idea who they were and now they are barely ever off my iPod. A frenetic ball of fun and high pitched energy from start to finish, Marmozets have proved themselves to make a serious impact.
Slipknot – 5. The Gray Chapter
Safe to say the return of the year. With all that has gone on in the past six years since their last release many people thought Slipknot were done and ready to be condemned to the scrap heap like so many fallen bands before them. But the new crazy Nine motherfuckers from Iowa returned in a big way, silencing critics and delivering their most savage and best album since IOWA. From the world conquering ‘AOV’ to the haunting electronic flourishes of ‘Killpop,’ to the already festival anthem in waiting that is ‘Custer,’ .5 The Gray Chapter is not just a return but it is a statement to the bands intent to remain one of the biggest and best bands metal will ever have.
Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds
After the post release kicking that Unto The Locust received (unjustifiably in my opinion, its not The Blackening but in all honesty could have lived up to that hype) Machine Head seemed backed into a corner as people began to talk down the bands achievements and their prospects going forward. So like a rabid wolverine backed into a corner, Machine Head did what they were always going to do in retrospect, come out fighting and tear everyone face off with their sheer magnificence.
Bloodstone & Diamonds is not just the best album of 2014, but might be a serious contender to being better than The Blackening. The album oozes riffs like a UKIP candidate oozes bullshit, the album has a return to out and out pace whilst still maintaining the complexity of the bands poster Supercharger work.
That’s without getting to the quality of the song writing on this album, with the likes of ‘Now We Die’, ‘Killers and Kings’ and especially the trash magnum opus ‘Game Over’ which may sound like Rise Against playing a Slayer song, but is still magnificent in the live arena. With the likes of ‘Beneath The Silt’, which sounds like if you rammed Deftones and Down into a jam room together and ‘Sail Into The Black’ sounding like Sunn0))) with notes showing the bands willingness to experiment is still as rampant as ever, Bloodstone & Diamonds is the song of a band at the top of their game, but most importantly reminding everyone in the whole world how good that top of their game is.
…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.”
Deathwish Inc is currently on the top of their game, the Real Madrid of the metal world if you will. Their trajectory and ability to find some of the most cutting edge and intense and boundary pushing bands the genre has to offer. Only this year the label have produced the likes of Young And In The Way and Cult Leader, bands who have both released staggeringly brutal and intense albums, rivalling anything released this year in terms of in your face snarl or quality. Code Orange (formally Code Orange Kids) are a band following in the trend set by their Deathwish label mates with their sophomore album I Am King which shows the bands’ progression from hardcore rookies on their first album Love Is Love/Return Is Dust (Deathwish Inc) to full blown masters of their craft on their sludgy, hypnotic and savage second release.
The band have certainly spread their wings and soared into the unknown on this release, with key experimentation taking place such as the band dabbling with more soundscapes and at times even elements of drone. All this whilst not straying too far from the path that made them the up and coming ones to watch on their first album. Despite listening to the odd Neurosis album and taking a few tips from the returning king of savage production Kurt Ballou, I Am King sees the band do what all good follow up releases should do; take what made the previous release work and expand that idea until it is fit to burst before adding new ideas and experimentation.
This is exactly what Code Orange have done on this album, taking their post-Hardcore meets Converge sound and ramping up the sludge and Neurosis elements almost to breaking point, which at times makes the album one of the most punishing listens of the year. Plus there are the new forays into drone and other experimental music provide new ground for them to build on the next album.
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.
When it comes to going in blind on a release it can be the best or the worst of times for a listener, On the one hand you can discover an absolutely storming new band, or you might come across (as I have many times in the past) discover an album that could be vastly improved by sending the CD case out to the reviewer blank with nothing but an apology note and some chocolates.
All I Want (Nuclear Blast) by Swedish female fronted doom five piece Avatarium luckily falls into the first category. Its sweet yet substantial sound fills your ears with enough melody, crunchy drone and riff to keep even the most melodic rock or gnarly doom fan satisfied. The first two tracks are recorded in the studio, with the latter three recorded live, especially pack the punch all tracks hope to deliver on their first listens, with the album’s title track providing to be the highlight of the release with its soaring vocal line and clearly Sabbath influenced riffs.
It would be easy to make connects to the likes of Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult as touchstones for the band’s sound, which borrows heavily from the 60’s/ early 70’s early hard rock scene. But the album owes a great debt to the likes of Jefferson Airplane (certainly not Starship) especially in front women’s Jennie Ann Smith’s epic vocal range, she really has a great set of pipes on here and she shows it off throughout the five tracks on offer.
Overall, All I Want is a great EP from the group and shows a lot of promise in what is to come. The sweet mix of the almost Janis Joplin vocals and the low end of the 70s hard rock influenced doom under it makes a great pairing as they effortlessly work against each other, packing just enough low end and bottle to stop it from falling into the weak end of the spectrum.
It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the end of another year packed tighter than Joey de Maio’s loincloth with incredible genre-pushing, eardrum-violating, neckache-inducing metal.
So we can begin to tell the story of a year which saw us give more top marks than any other year so far (and more 2’s and 3’s out of 10, too!), a year that left us inundated with so many great releases, we sought the opinions of our esteemed and respected writing team and we offer forth their albums of the year.
The countdown to the Official Ghost Cult Magazine Album of the Year for 2014 has commenced. Please consume and enjoy the results of our 2014 Writers’ Poll. We hope it will introduce you to some of the incredible works of art you may have missed that we have had the immense pleasure of listening to and writing about this year.
In our first installment we bring you albums 50 through to 41.
50. HARK – Crystalline (Season of Mist)
Genre-bending aggression with doses of Doom, Prog, Psychedelia and Hardcore. Heavy as a very heavy thing.
49. THE HAUNTED – Exit Wounds (Century Media)
“The album is filled with urgency and manages to be relentlessly heavy without compromising on those insanely catchy riffs. The Haunted have come back stronger than ever… easily the band’s best effort a decade” DAN SWINHOE 9/10 Full review here
48. THE WOUNDED KINGS – Consolamentum (Candlelight)
“Favouring lengthy yet subtly evolving guitar workouts that never lapse into repetitive dirge territory,The Wounded Kings go about working their dark, smoky magic with grim elegance… Simply put, The Wounded Kings are the quintessential English doom band “ JAMES CONWAY 8.5/10 Full review here
47. SCHAMMASCH – Contradiction (Prosthetic)
“The quality of this album is obvious right from the beginning. Schammasch have created a record both challenging and endlessly refreshing, a truly remarkable sonic journey from beginning to end.” CAITLIN SMITH 9/10 Full review here
46. AUTOPSY – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves (Peaceville)
“Tourniquets… continues in gnarly, raw and near sludgy death metal vein, but maintains their run of high quality and in fact tops anything that has come from their return.” CHRIS TIPPELL 8/10 Full review here
45. KROKODIL – Nachash (Spinefarm)
“With a heavy dose of Mastodon in its veins, Krokodil are a groove juggernaut that pummels all in its path with its three guitarists of fury” DAN O’BRIEN 9/10 Full review here
44. INTER ARMA – The Cavern (Relapse)
“The sheer gravity and fulminating power of much of the music here is oppressive yet it carries the weight easily, this blend of raw animal force, aching melody and immeasurable creativity marks out this fantastic band” PAUL QUINN 10/10 Full review here
43. DEVIL YOU KNOW – The Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast)
“(with) all the promise of a powerhouse, and it delivers on all fronts. The songs are well-crafted, nicely developed and excellently executed.” LYNN JORDAN 9.5/10 APRIL ALBUM OF THE MONTH Full review here
42.BLUES PILLS – Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)
“…a record that understands and curates its heritage and lineage but is fresh, contemporary and massively memorable. This is the record that you’ll be recommending to your friends for months to come” MAT DAVIES 9/10 Full review here
Making a mark in the northern metal touring scene over the past couple of years, Scouse thrash ensemble SSS (short, sharp shock to their friends) have finally got into the studio to record their new album Limp. Gasp. Collapse.(Prosthetic); the bands fourth full length release in all. As most thrash album bands do when releasing an album, the band reached a crossroads of whether to change or improve their sound, SSS stuck rather than twisted, and this release sees the band continue their chugging thrashing sound, only adding additional chug!
Limp. Gasp. Collapse. continues the bands’ now signature blend of Slayer and Anthrax inspired trash metal sound combined with the beatdowns and snarl of early metallic hardcore bands like Biohazard and Stampin Ground, which leads to a heavy sound with enough pace and aggression to stop it becoming lumbering at any point.Though the sound might be on the straight and narrow side of metal (doubtful this release will be getting a dubstep remix edition any time soon) and possibly on the straight side of the revival thrash scene with not one message of beer pong or destroying a menagerie of zombies on a skate board made from kryptonite, but at what they do, SSS are really damn good.
Like most bands in the genre, SSS quickly find a gear and stick to it on Limp. Gasp. Collapse. The album then ploughs through the rest of its run time with no thought of slowing down for the innocent bystanders stood in its path. In truth the album finds top gear about 45 seconds into the first track ‘For Your Own Good’, and from then on it’s a carpet bombing of chugging thrash riffs at a frantic tempo from there until the end.
Overall, Limp. Gasp. Collapse. is a slice of dense, heavy thrash that oozes dirt from its many chunky riffs on display. The album eclipses most of what its peers are doing currently in the scene, on top of having a booming production and in your face sound that really grabs you by the ears like a rabid escaped ape.
If thrash is your genre then you could be doing a hell of a lot worse than SSS.