Archive for the ‘Raison D’etre’ Category

The Black Captain’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Oi Magoi is a strange and clever creature. The melding of black metal with early ‘70s psychedelia, prog rock, and touches of Hammer horror kitsch has a more natural and less forced quality than the debut. The result is something slippery that’s quite difficult to nail down, yet quite fun to try. The band has produced something distinctive from the bulk of heavy music around today, and certainly from the more typical sound of Greek heavy metal. With ironing out the odd kink, Hail Spirit Noir could go on to be a special cult favourite amongst heavy music fans. Not quite sure it’s worth the 666 Euros as listed on Bandcamp, but good on them for trying!

9. KAYO DOT – Coffins On Io
A tortured and thoughtful sci-fi noir hybrid of suave neuromanticism, 80s darkwave, and frenetic prog rock, Coffins on Io is an outstanding work by a daring and divisive musical treasure. It demands being listened to in its entirety, continuously revealing details and emotions within the densely packed compositions with each play. Even with their best record yet, it is simply too much to expect near unanimous love. Thankfully for those who are exhilarated by music that keeps the listener on their toes, it’s not in Kayo Dot’s nature to seek out those types of dreams. The ones they share with us are far, far superior.

8. OCCULTATION – Silence In the Ancestral House
The New York trio mixes apparent influences from Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath, NWOBHM, and just an edge of goth on this theatrical gem released through Profound Lore. Nameless Void from Negative Plane supplies riffs that tick all the boxes for any heavy metallurgist, driven on by the solid drumming of Viveca Butler. Annu Lilja puts in an amazing vocal performance alongside her wonderful bass grooves, elevating the band’s sound into an epic haunting occult rock gem. Produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, Silence In the Ancestral House is is chock full of great moments for fans of old school metal with a few twists.

7. FVNERALS – The Light
Swoon at the brilliant production and elegant compositions of gloomy yet multi-faceted post-rock on this debut LP from Brighton’s Fvnerals. The expansive sound created by hypnotic synths, guitars that drift between deliberate dirge-like mantras and shimmering jangly strums, and down-tempo drumming is crowned spectacularly by the haunting, sensuous surrender to despair of vocalist Tiffany. Together, the three musicians have swept well beyond the suggested potential of their EP. Their capacity for deep, meditative mood of such moreish grimness is impressive. A bright future beckons for these souls calling from the shadows.

6. INTER ARMA – The Cavern
Is this the most metal thing that has ever happened? Just under 46 minutes of riffs, all from the top shelf and surpassing pretty much anything else Inter Arma have tried their hand at before (which is really saying something)… The Cavern is a masterpiece that never once feels tired and overdrawn at any point across its epic journey. Engaging from start to finish, the moment you start to make a sarcastic Spinal Tap dig you are slapped hard in the face mid-sentence by another mind-blowing progression, with the opus continuously evolving into something better as it blazes away. The musicianship is breathtaking, full of surprises and soaring melodies amidst the whirring savagery. If you’ve yet to explore this, plan to set the required time aside and be thoroughly rewarded.

5. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden
Wearing their hearts on their riffs, there is smoothness to Pallbearer’s doom that avoids the sense of pastiche that is so pervasive in metal. Whilst their debut was certainly a great effort,Foundations… sends Pallbearer hurtling into the echelon of heavy divinity. Pallbearer’s gift for crafting layers of melody to achieve their intensity on Foundations of Burden will leave you speechless. The songs are free from the staple production values of a heavy record. It’s not that it hasn’t been done before, just so rarely this well. “The Ghost I Used To Be” and ‘The Watcher In the Dark’ are magnificent highlights, showcasing the immensely pleasing irony of just how elevating doom metal can be for the spirit.

4. BEHEMOTH – The Satanist
It seems Behemoth are a love/hate proposition. For those who decry an independent music reviewer praising such polished, slick production and a record that took Satanic death metal into the upper regions of the American charts for the first time ever, I say nick off and have a pow-wow with the Poles who want to jail the band, the Russians who deported them, and all the other gatekeepers. The Satanist is pure excellence, driven by shameless ambition, total lack of self-consciousness, and intense tribulation Nergal has experienced over recent years. The pride taken in the band’s work shows clearly in its outstanding, bar-setting production for death metal. A landmark work in the genre, and one that will create even more expectation at their next step… which Behemoth will gladly meet head on.

3. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend

And now, reaching the point where virtually nothing separates the albums on this list going forward, YOB’s Clearing the Path to Ascend was virtually undisputed amongst aficionados of independent heavy music as one of the best albums of the year. Crowned by a song bound for a timeless regard in the world of heavy music, “Marrow”, the rest of the album gradually emerges from the blinding supernova of the closer across multiple listens to burn slowly into the mind as one of the most outstanding albums made in heavy metal history. Scheidt can make it seem as though drawing upon an utterly deadly riff is as easy as breathing for him, and is quite happy to let you have it methodically and relentlessly over a period of time where other bands would have played twenty different ones. This is doom deep in a trance. YOB is meditative. YOB is introspective, and deeply moving in its sincerity. On this record, YOB is godlike.

2. MERKABAH – Moloch
Somewhere in the Abyss, there’s a room packed with the souls who lost their way searching for a volatile sound blended from the extremities and sanity-proofed experiments on the fringes of jazz, hardcore, post-rock, and psychedelia. They stand transfixed by a sense of imminent disintegration, engulfed by volatile transmissions of psychosis, spread outwards upon a incendiary command of sound and vision by the five demonic vectors that make up the perfection through chaos that is Merkabah. The band’s Moloch is a pitiless and unforgiving pleasure, provocative and asphyxiating in its brilliance. Within the tremendous invention and intensity of the songs, there is the deep sense that, at their peak performance, Merkabah must be an incredible live band. I have half the mind to travel all the way to the bristling cauldron of exceptional music these days that is Poland simply to find out. Without question, this release from way back in March was one of the most unique and captivating albums of 2014.

1. RAISON D’ETRE – Mise en Abyme
For those who know the man’s work, it’s pretty much a given that anything Peter Andersson releases under his project Raison d’Etreis going to be bloody brilliant. After a 5 year break between releases, Andersson produced not only the best album of 2014, but the best of Raison d’Etre’s catalogue across the 22 years of its recorded existence. Mise en Abyme is the singularity, effortlessly sucking you into the deepest recesses of your psyche. Four tracks, adding up to just a skerrick under an hour, provide the ideal soundtrack for witnessing the abandonment of reason that characterizes our times, the anthem for the stench of humanity as it wantonly destroys itself and everything it comes into contact with through ingrained hagiographic values of greed and self-importance. The drones and ambient frameworks are filled with incredible detail, transporting the listener inwards with the purpose of introspection and self-discovery. Whether it is peace or panic,Mise en Abyme will show you things about yourself you may never have known were inside you. This is a supreme soundtrack for being placed within the abyss (the translation of the album’s title), befitting a year when elements within humanity too often showed their bottomless capacity for sinking into decrepitude.

Check back later in the week as the rest of our writers’ count down the best releases of the year.