(Editor’s Note: In a series of articles by the greater staff of Ghost Cult that will carry us through the end of the year, various writers will bring you readers their musings and observations on the year that was 2014 in metal and other heavy music.)
173. That’s how many of this year’s metal releases I’ve partaken of. Seriously. That’s not counting the twenty-odd re-releases, and another twenty-odd ‘splits’ and other offshoots. If I didn’t love this thing so much, there’d be some serious burn-out…
That’s one reason why albums such as the monumental efforts from Primordial, Anathema and Slipknot, among many others, came nowhere near to breaking my top twenty for the year. Godflesh is number 61, for Chrissakes…the main driver, however, is the fact that the bone-rattling lower chord had arguably its finest year since Tony Iommi first picked up a guitar. Prior to a certain single track EP bursting my mind and making it inconceivable to believe that anything else will matter, like, ever, my top five consisted of some of the best doom-centric albums this century has thus far produced.
Devon’s (UK) supreme low-end inventors, The Wounded Kings, headed my list for eight months with their mammoth, sprawling Consolamentum (Candlelight), before a staggering twin-pronged attack arrived from across The Pond. First, Pallbearer’s expansive, crushing Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) briefly preceded the beautifully moving yet heavy as a manhole cover Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot) from the spiritual weight of YOB; before the pair flattened venues together across the UK in surely the greatest live pairing these shores have seen for a generation. Only the black-tinged, edgy melancholy of Latitude Egress’ To Take Up the Cross… (Art of Propaganda) punctured the realm of the weighty chord before, right as the chimes began to sound on 2014, five guys from Virginia released a one-song EP which could change the face of heavy music forever. Inter Arma’s The Cavern (Relapse) is a sprawling masterpiece which blends the staggering power of sludged doom with the adventurous elegance of Floyd, and makes 45 minutes sail by in an instant. The planet-shuddering coda, both monolithic and euphoric in its emotion and power, positively screams out to be heard.
As well as having the great fortune to hear this handful of brave, resonant additions to the ‘metal classics’ canon, the experience has been reinforced by witnessing four of the five in a live setting and, thanks to Messrs. Baker and Tovey, sharing chat-time with some of them also. 2014 has been, for this ageing scribe, a fair shout for the most powerful and influential period in metal, and what a privilege its been to feel so involved.