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
When Howard Jones parted ways with Killswitch Engage in 2010, his departure sent waves throughout the music world due to his sudden departure. His absence throughout that time period was kept well hidden over the year.
But when Devolved drummer John Sankey and All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato started jamming together in 2012, they began seeking out vocalists for their then unnamed project.
So how did he find himself involved? “Just through mutual friends. They sent me the demo.”
“It was weird. I was definitely hiding for three years. No cell phone…no nothing. For three years I disappeared and it was great!” he said.
So he found himself back with a new band and with new bandmates since his departure from Killswitch Engage in The Devil You Know. “It wasn’t like I realized it. I got the music and I met the guys. We made a demo and it kept going from there. All of a sudden ‘holy crap I’m doing this again?’ It just kinda happened. I’m in a much better place now.”
The Devil You Know played their debut show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA on February 15, 2014 in front of an eager, yet curious crowd of fans who wanted to get their first look at the new band. They debuted songs from the Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast) album, which this was the first time Jones had stepped onto a stage in a few years.
“I was thinking ‘oh my god…I’m doing this again. This is weird.’ That was pretty much what I was thinking. I had fun. I was trying not to think it. I didn’t think about it too much. It was definitely like ‘holy crap…I can’t believe I’m doing this again after so many years of not doing this.’ I seriously thought I was done.”
Jones claims towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage, he was battling depression and signs of bipolar, which stunted his ability to maintain his sanity. But he claims it was an issue he was dealing with and had nothing to do with his former bandmates.
“Trust me. There was nothing wrong with the band. It was all me. I was nuts. I was manic depressive and bipolar and everything else. I’m sure I was driving them insane and I was going nuts. So I’m done.”
So how close was he from entering the funny farm? “Oh wow. Probably when I went there…and was in one for about a month. I don’t think I ever told anyone that.”
“Dude I was gone. I’m on good prescription medication. I was definitely in a place for a month. I went nuts. I’ve never told anybody that!,” he added, laughing at himself.
So he explains how bad things got towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage:
“So here’s what happened – we started writing the album that Jesse (Leach) just did. We met at Adam [Dutkiewicz]’s place and we were going over ideas. ‘So let’s meet for two weeks…and let’s come back at noon tomorrow.’ And I just didn’t come back. That’s what happened. I talked to them a week later…’we should move on without you because you hate this.’ No I’ll still do the job. No big deal. ‘You hate this. You don’t wanna do this anymore.’ And I was like…yeah….you’re right. That’s what happened.”
“It was nothing to do with them. It had everything to do with me. I was severely depressed and very bipolar and everything else. The thought of doing another album and going on tour for another couple years…it drove me insane. I was done.”
He also dealt with issues with diabetes, which also hindered his health. “That definitely happened. I was dizzy for a week. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was walking up the steps, I passed out and broke a finger as I fell down the steps. I was walking up the steps and passed out and then broke a toe when I fell down the steps. I completely passed out in my bathroom and my friend threw me into his truck and took me to the hospital. I went into a coma for three and a half days. I woke up and didn’t know my name for 48 hours. It was pretty screwed up. My short and long term memory was gone for six months to a year. Basically I watched a lot of TV and read a lot. It came back. I didn’t remember songs I did with Killswitch. It was bad. But now I’m doing very well.”
The Beauty of Destruction became an album of songs largely about Jones’ struggles, and easily became a heavy, emotion driven record that is heard immediately. “What I wrote for this album is so personal. I’ve never written anything this deep before. Basically the past five years of my life, that’s what I wrote, especially if you listen to the last song on the album, ‘Surprise In the Darkness’, that was the last three or four years of my life. It’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. But it’s the truth. That’s my life. This album was my life.”
Producer Logan Mader helped Jones sort out his ideas throughout the record. His guidance helped shape the songs on the record and creating powerful sounding songs that are felt as much as heard.
“Logan definitely had great ideas. We really worked well together. He’s awesome. Seriously it was awesome working with the guy and then he became one of my really good friends. He basically saw I was going through and what I was writing, he got it. We would go to lunch and said ‘this is what you’ve been going through, isn’t it?’ Yeah. What was awesome was we finished writing the album and went fishing. It was awesome. Logan definitely helped out. This album is personal.”
“Yeah it’s basically a diary. It really is. I know it’s goofy to say that, but it really is.”
Musically, between the four other players in the band – Sankey, guitarists Artusato and Roy Lev-Ari, and bassist Ryan Wombacher – they created a diverse record that brought a vast sound to the band.
“Writing new stuff differently…this band doesn’t sound anything like All Shall Perish or Fear Factory or Devolved or anything like that. Of course I sound like me. Some of it sounds a little like Killswitch or Blood Has Been Shed, but I really did try to do things differently. That’s why more than half of the songs I pretty much sang. It’s a different album. We really wanted to do something different. It wasn’t like ‘we’ve gotta try to not sound like everything else.’ Let’s try to write an album we’re happy with and doesn’t sound what we’ve done before. That’s what happened.”
“That’s what’s awesome. I’ve been lucky when it comes to that, like playing with the guys in Killswitch which were amazing, and then these guys who are absolutely amazing. We did the whole album ourselves and it’s been awesome. Being on stage with those guys, it was so much fun. I’m a lucky guy. That’s pretty much what I think.”
So who’s the devil in the Devil You Know? “That’s all me. I came up with that. There’s times when I’m a terrible person, and that’s where it came from. I always try to be a better person but there’s times where I’m awful. So I’m the devil you know. That’s where it came from.”
They recently visited the Soundwave Festival in Australia, in which people got their first taste of the band. While most fans had no idea who the band was or had heard any music, they still made a first impression that got attendees figuring out quickly who they were.
“Oh they had no idea what was happening. People started recognizing me. ‘Hey I know that guy! I’ve seen that guy before. That black guy looks kinda familiar.’ It was kinda like that. It was fun and weird the position we were in. We played right after Rob Zombie, and right before Avenged Sevenfold. It was very strange. It was like ‘we’re this band you don’t know…so let’s have some fun.’ And buy our record…eventually. It worked out. We had a blast and of course I made fun of people the whole time. That’s what I do. I was going to town on people. It was terrible! I was like ‘I’m the worst human being ever!’”
Now it’s the Americans’ turn on the Revolver Golden Gods tour, headlined by Black Label Society. “I cannot wait. Down played Soundwave and I got to hang out with Phil a bit. That dude is amazing. I absolutely love Zakk. That dude is a great guy. And plus both bands are awesome. I can’t wait to hear Zakk do a bunch of guitar squeals. I’m stoked.”