Archive for the ‘Sun Kil Moon’ Category

Noiseweek: We Lost the Sea, Sunn O)), High on Fire and more

Friday, June 12th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Sunn O)) have launched a new Bandcamp page to document their live recordings. The collection spans from 2002 up to their most recent UK run last month, with each show going for $5 a pop.


Buzz Osborne tore into the latest contribution to the Kurt Cobain mythos at The Talkhouse last week, calling Montage of Heck “90%” bullshit. Now Osborne has elaborated on his critique in an interview with Riff You, questioning why people would ever believe Courtney Love and claiming people’s incredulity towards his position stems from his lack of wealth: “One of the biggest problems I’ve had with this scenario is that I am not really rich. If I was really rich, the respect with that would come…people would believe me more. Because I’m not, they don’t believe me. So be it. That’s 100% the truth. If people think I am gaining something from this, they’re out of their minds.”


High on Fire Talk Aliens, Acid and Why New Album ‘Doesn’t Suck’ | Rolling Stone

“I read a David Icke book, and it kind of woke me up a little bit. It doesn’t mean that I believe everything David Icke has to say, but I definitely don’t disagree with the guy when it comes to certain esoteric aspects of how I perceive the world. There’s too many credible people who have been abducted by aliens. There’s too many things that have been written in ancient scrolls and ancient tablets, things that Zecharia Sitchin brought to light. I’ve been to Peru, I’ve been to Egypt… a civilization builds ziggurats and pyramids that we couldn’t build today, and you’re going to tell me that they used stone-age building materials? It doesn’t make any sense. There’s a lost history of mankind; I find it fascinating, and I tend to sing about it.”

Mark Kozelek and Feminist Guilt: Why I Won’t Boycott Sun Kil Moon | SPIN

“So, what do I do now that Kozelek has directed his infamous ire at a peer? Am I supposed to be surprised? I’m not. I didn’t need a chauvinistic email to reveal it. But are the events of the last week — year, even — supposed to make me cut ties with Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon indefinitely? Is it my duty to embargo his music as a woman?”

Music Festivals in Your Thirties | The New Yorker

“St. Vincent opens her show with an announcement read by a Siri-like computer voice stating, “Please refrain from capturing your digital experience.”
Twenty-year-old me thinks, “Boo! How am I supposed to enjoy this show if I can’t hold up my phone to record it, thereby blocking everyone’s view, and then never watch it again?!”
Thirty-year-old me thinks, “Sensible and pragmatic. I approve.””


We Lost the Sea — A Gallant Gentleman

The first track from We Lost the Sea’s third album opens like the beginning of a eulogy — somber, reflective and reverent, with gentle guitars that ripple like breaks in still water. But what emerges as the track unfurls is triumphant, as choral harmonies breathe vitality into the song’s earnest tones, and before long this is not a eulogy but a celebration of life and triumph and, quite simply, one of the most moving pieces of post-rock I’ve ever heard. A naive reading would suggest this is a tribute to the band’s late frontman, Chris Torpy — in any case, it’s a remarkable deployment of post-rock’s sensibilities and an exciting preview of what’s to come. Departure Songs is out July 23 through Art as Catharsis.

Goatsound Studios cover Black Flag’s Damaged

Last month, Jason PC Fuller of Melbourne’s Goatsound Studios / The Ruiner gathered together 15 artists to reinterpret Black Flag’s Damaged to benefit Sea Shepherd. That collection is now available on Bandcamp under pay-what-you-want pricing, though aficionados are encouraged to donate as all proceeds go to Sea Shepherd. The collection includes a rare vocal performance from Hotel Wrecking City Traders on “Thirsty and Miserable,” a plodding sludge cover of “Police Story” from The Ruiner, a ball-busting rendition of “Gimmie Gimme Gimmie” thanks to Acid Vain and contributions from The Kill, The Sure Fire Midnights, Watchtower and more.


Jerusalem In My Heart — If He Dies, If If If If If If

The next release from Constellation Records is the second record from Jerusalem In My Heart, a transcontinental, multi-lingual collaboration between Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and Charles-André Coderre. Much of the Constellation Records catalogue remains mysterious to me, owing to the diversity and multi-disciplinarian tendencies of its various artists, but there’s a beauty in that mystery in this age of knowledge. The above teaser is unsettling but fascinating and ties into Coddere’s visual art practise, which involves re-photographing images and chemically treating them. If He Dies… is out through Constellation on September 4.

FÓRN — Suffering in the Eternal Void

In an act of ultimate doom, funeral sludge outfit FÓRN played a show in a cave, and yesterday, they released their entombed performance as the official video for Suffering in the Eternal Void. Unsurprisingly, the acoustics in a cave are awful, but the visual document is compelling — how many people can say they’ve played in a fucking cave?

Noiseweek: New Order, Kathleen Hanna, Chelsea Wolfe, KEN mode and more

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Believe In A Land Of Love: New Order’s Low-Life 30 Years On | The Quietus

“Even as New Order were gearing up for a new phase in their career, the shadow cast by Joy Division still loomed large on the cultural landscape. Indeed, the bleakness of post-industrial Manchester that informed Joy Division’s music soon spread across the UK like a black, ominous cloud thanks to Margaret Thatcher’s administration. 1985 proved to be a watershed year. March 3rd saw the end of the year-long miners’ strike. The bitterest of British industrial disputes, the strike had seen communities torn apart and the increased levels of violence accompanying the dispute were broadcast with a sickening level of regularity on the TV news. Later in the year, both the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham and Toxteth in Liverpool were engulfed in terrifying riots. Sandwiched in between on May 29 was the Heysel Stadium disaster that saw 39 people crushed to death following crowd violence – an event that was broadcast live on national television and beamed into homes across the world. More than any other year, 1985 can be seen as the year that the lid was finally closed on the coffin of the optimism and liberalism that had been born in the 1960s. But not only that, the Conservative party jettisoned the idea of one-nation conservatism in favour of competition that led Thatcher to eventually declare that “…there is no such thing as society.””

I interviewed Mark Kozelek. He called me a ‘bitch’ on stage | The Guardian

“But in this life, Kozelek trades in sucker-punches. He impugns online “bitching and whining”, but hides behind one-way email exchanges, balks at the idea of his peers speaking about him and issues tirades (and sometimes, sexual advances) from the cowardly remove of the stage, with the get-out clause that it’s a performance. He can use sexually violent language to reduce female critics to the status of groupies, knowing that while male musicians’ misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of “difficult” artists, women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don’t understand art. “The world don’t owe us shit, I learned that real fuckin’ young,” he sings on Universal Themes’ Little Rascals. If anything remains to separate Kozelek from his work, it’s that his music preaches that the least we owe one another is decency.”

Feeling Myself: Kathleen Hanna Get Back to Work | Pitchfork

“At the end of the Julie Ruin’s recent set at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, frontwoman Kathleen Hanna makes for the wings, as if she’s about to let the rest of the band play out the final minutes. It seems like a strange end to her first performance on the continent in a decade, but it’s a feint: She suddenly turns, cartwheels back into the center of the stage, and lands in a perfect split. Within a few hours, a GIF of the moment is circulating online.
Not only is Hanna 46 years old (who among us can truly say they’ve ever been able to do that?), but this time last year, she was in bed, struck down again by a side-effect of Lyme disease. She’s been battling the chronic illness for years—her struggle can be seen up-close in the candid 2013 documentary The Punk Singer—and that latest relapse forced her to cancel what would have been the Julie Ruin’s debut European dates. “There was a period where I could barely do anything except paint watercolors in my journal,” she told me over the phone two weeks before the festival.”


Chelsea Wolfe — Carrion Flowers

Our second taste of Chelsea Wolfe’s forthcoming record is perhaps her most ominous effort to date, replete with a menacing, digitized beat like something out of a disaster film’s trailer. Carrion Flowers is one of several tracks to feature Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan on guitars, returning the favour from Wolfe’s guest vocal appearance on the closing track of Russian Circles’ Memorial. But here, Sullivan’s trademarks are all dialled back — instead, his guitar is barely distinguishable, woven seamlessly into the simple bit foreboding rhythms that dominate the track. Expect this to be a top contender for album of the year.

KEN mode — I Just Liked Fire

The final preview from Success is KEN mode’s most tributary. Between the rapid-fire industrial guitars, Jesse Matthewson’s rabid bile-spitting and the song’s relentless speed, the Canadian trio are more than comfortable exposing their Jesus Lizard influence, but they do it almost better than anyone else (because, let’s face it, about 90% of noise rock bands are trying to write Shot).

Failure — Mulholland Drive

Failure have a tremendous task ahead of them with The Heart is a Monster, their first album in almost two decades. 1996’s Fantastic Planet was almost perfect, and I’d argue that its final five tracks make up possibly the best 25 minutes of music released in the 1990s. Tracks like Mullholland Drive and the previously released Hot Traveler are interesting, but leave me unconvinced — is it worth diluting a tremendous albeit obscure legacy with a comeback record that’s just OK? Then again, Failure have always been an album band, best enjoyed in large doses; Frogs and Macaque and Blank work so much better when placed in the ebb and flow of a 40-minute collection. Mulholland Drive retreads that familiar Failure territory of low-key balladry that’s steadily transforms with powerful guitars, staccato piano chords, unexpected melodic turns and distant atmospheres. And it’s good, but is it good enough?


Chill out with a 20-minute studio set from dream-pop trio Dianas on the latest installment of RTRFM’s The View From Here.

Matthew Tomich’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Life is Noise editor Matthew Tomich closes our best of 2014 series with his favourite records of the year.

10. DORVAL & DEVEREAUX – Dorval & Devereaux

Though the pulsating single ‘Heavy Hands’ is the standout track on this debut collaboration from White Ribbon and Samantha Glass, the 36 minutes of Dorval & Devereaux unfold like a painstakingly crafted hallucination. Ethereal in parts and unsettling others, these are synthetic textures for daydreams and night terrors. If the 90’s Playstation game LSD were to ever see a re-release, this record would make the perfect soundtrack.

9. TINARIWEN — Emmaar

Even though the songs are sung in their native tongue, Tinariwen’s epic desert blues transcends barriers of language and culture. It helps that the Malian band’s brand of rock — a label that does little justice to Tinariwen’s diverse and often spiritual aesthetic, but feels more appropriate than any other term in Western music criticism — bursts with flourishes of familiarity, from Hendrix to Dylan. Emmaar feels like a bridge between worlds, a fact best exemplified by its opening gambit ‘Toumast Tincha’, a riff-filled odyssey that’s equal parts intriguing and recognizable, grooving and introspective. Emmaar is the perfect soundtrack to journeys unknown.

8. ESBEN & THE WITCH — A New Nature

Esben & The Witch do not rush into things. While that leads to some meandering moment on the 14-minute ‘The Jungle’, it’s largely to the trio’s advantage, a record that feels equally consistent and diverse, as if each song is another side of the same story. It’s excellently paced, too, placing its longer, brooding numbers next to its more subdued meditations. The guitars shimmer and distress, while Rachel Davies delivers her most poignant performances on the penultimate ‘Blood Teachings’, where repetition morphs her utterances into mesmerising mantras of near-transcendent proportions.

7. EMMA RUTH RUNDLE — Some Heavy Ocean

Even at her own shows, I hear Emma Ruth Rundle’s fans compare her to Chelsea Wolfe. If they weren’t labelmates and the only two female frontwomen on Sargent House, maybe the conversation would be different. It certainly should be: beyond a fondness for reverb and a penchant for morose, film-noir vocal delivery, Some Heavy Ocean owes little to Wolfe’s recent output. Rundle – who also fronts shoegazing trio Marriages and played guitar in the now-defunct post-rock band Red Sparowes – is stripped bare on her debut solo record, the delayed guitars of her past exploits exchanged for a steel-stringed acoustic, occasional percussion and some synths to hint at the dark clouds ahead. Rundle’s voice strains as it soars in ‘Run Forever’ where the main refrain becomes more desperate and compelling with each repetition: “If we both get caught then we’ll run forever/if we both go down we’ll go down together.” But it’s on the closing track ‘Black Dog’ where Rundle shines, even if the song is brimming with darkness, one of the most lyrically and sonically compelling odes to depression.

6. HELMS ALEE — Sleepwalking Sailors

It’s hard to stand out with labelmates like Russian Circles and Chelsea Wolfe, but Helms Alee are perhaps the best representatives for the Sargent House aesthetic — punishing yet fragile, diverse yet distinct and relentlessly innovative. On Sleepwalking Sailors, the Seattle trio are forever oscillating between moods: ‘Tumuscence’ shifts in tone from boisterous to vulnerable to pensive over the course of a single verse, thanks in part to the shared duties that juxtaposes guitarist Ben Verellen’s animalistic call-to-arms with drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis introspective wail.

But it’s the riffs, rhythms and unexpected turns where Sleepwalking Sailors really shines. As good as this year has been for metal and its various offspring with standout releases from YOB, Earth, Pallbearer, Tombs and so many more, the highlight of this year in metal for me has to be the closing 60 seconds of ‘Heavy Worm Burden’ — a song that transforms from a sludge jam into heart-wrenching transcendence as the low end drops out in favour of wailing, bent guitar strings and sublime sermonizing. I challenge anyone to find a passage of recorded music from 2014 that’s more compelling.

5. DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 — The Physical World

It’s hard to think of The Physical World as a comeback album because DFA1979 never really went away. They disbanded, certainly, but their first run was too short to comfortably fit them into the Reuniters Club – in 2006 when the dissolution became official, they were only five years and one album in. The Physical World came 3 years after the duo returned to the touring circuit and the break has served them well: while 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine flirted with the thankfully-defunct nu rock revolution, DFA1979 sound like a new band on this new record – confident, bombastic and aggressive. It’s middle-heavy – ‘Crystal Ball’, ‘White is Red’ and ‘Trainwreck 1979? might be the duo’s strongest three songs in their brief catalogue — a catalogue that’s sure to expand if the strength of this record is anything to go by.

4. ICEAGE — Plowing Into the Field of Love

Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has one of the most compelling voices in rock music today. Though he flirts with overwrought delivery from time to time, almost every moment in Plowing Into the Field of Love brims with sincerity and intensity, from the playfulness of ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ to the chaos of ‘How Many’ and the desperation of ‘Forever’. It helps that he’s backed by a trio of excellent musicians and superbly crafted songs — the instrumentation on Plowing … are seem permanently off-kilter in the most deliberate way possible, resulting in a record that’s eminently listenable yet always challenging.

3. SHELLAC — Dude Incredible

If there were ever a argument for a band taking their time, it’s Dude Incredible. After more than 20 years, Shellac have not mellowed, but on this record the trio feel more comfortable and assured than they have in years. Dude Incredible forgoes the short-burst punk rock and meandering 9-minute opuses of past release’s in favour of an approach that’s entirely focused, refined and strangely obsessed with surveyors. Easily the best release of their career.

2. YOUNG WIDOWS — Easy Pain

Young Widows’ fourth record marries the subtlety and texture of 2011’s In and Out of Youth and Lightness with the angular explosiveness of their earlier work to masterful effect, running the gamut of noise rock and post-punk without settling into either aesthetic. Few band straddles the line of nuanced tension and apocalyptic paranoia better than this one, and tension is the Louisville trio’s best weapon: songs like ‘King Sol’ bubble with an uncomfortable tension before climaxing in cathartic release at the precise moment they need to. These are songs for bad trips and trephinations.

1. SUN KIL MOON — Benji

Though Mark Kozelek’s year has been marked by petty feuds and pettier insult songs, he was also responsible for one of the most moving and honest records of the year in Benji, an ode to the minutiae of contemporary life that spans from San Francisco to Ohio to Newtown and back. There’s as much darkness as there is light in Benji, though it’s more poignant moments are the most heart-wrenching like opening track ‘Carissa’, where Kozelek uses his guitar and voice to make sense of the accidental death of his cousin in and give her life poetry. Rarely does an album feel like it’s being written and played right in front of you, the stories unfolding in real time as Kozelek seemingly finds the words as he goes to narrate the lives of those around him. Worth countless repeat listens.

Dave Cutbush’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Life is Noise director and host of RTRFM’s Out to Lunch on Thursdays Dave Cutbush counts down his best releases of the year.


Melbourne’s Magic Mountain band unveiled a gem of a debut earlier in 2014 and their polished release built on their strong live reputation. Sparse Hammond-laden instrumentals are captured beautifully on Wilderman. Aggressive and rhythmic in parts and serene and delicate in others, this is my favourite Australian release of 2014. Fans of Earth or Dirty Three will love this, but Magic Mountain Band have their own unique take on a widescreen Australian instrumental sound.

9. SUN KIL MOON – Benji

It is hard to mention Sun Kil Moon or indeed its driving force Mark Kozelek without mentioning the continued (and mostly one-sided) arguments with The War on Drugs and various commentaries on fans and critics. Sometimes it is difficult to work out whether he is genuinely having fun or is serious about his critiques. Either way it has got the music media a-talking and can’t have hurt his public profile. Any publicity…

But if you put aside all the trash-talking, Kozelek has been a songwriting powerhouse for 25 years. Through his solo work and his bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has consistently written some of the best bent Americana and, alongside the likes of Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Bill Callahan, has kept alive a quality and consistency of US country-folk that is at the forefront of songwriters on a global scale.

Benji is a thoughtful social commentary both on the level of the songwriter’s personal experience and those of US society as a whole. This is a great album, a personal album and an album that grows with further listening. Kozelek may have a questionable public persona, but through the vehicle of Sun Kil Moon he has stories to tell and beautiful music to make. Hopefully he will stick to what he is very good at and leave the stupid staging to the likes of Kanye.

8. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden

Ironically Pallbearer hail from Little Rock. Let’s just let that hang in the air for a moment…

The second album from these US metal merchants, like their incredible first effort Sorrow and Extinction, builds on the great breadth and diversity of the every burgeoning Sabbath-inspired doom scene.

Crushingly slow riffs build on a powerhouse rhythm section and Ozzy inspired vocals. It is sometimes pretty hard to fathom how this is a band with only two releases.

A top shelf heavy release for 2014. Who knows what they will do next.

7. APHEX TWIN – Syro

After a hell of a long wait, Richard D. James is back with another strange amalgam of electronics, noise, techno, jungle and noise. And whilst it isn’t a crazy splatter fest like previous albums, Syro should keep fans both old and new happy. Aphex Twin once again keeps a groove going where you think it is going to fall apart. Equal parts disturbing and delighting, this is my favourite electronic album of the year.

6. BECK – Morning Phase

Every time Beck puts out an album it seems to be in my top albums of the year. Morning Phase is just another in a long list of incredible albums from an American songwriter at the top of his game. Although it has been compared with Sea Change, I prefer this album. From the crisp production to the perfect instrumentation, Beck rarely puts out anything less than amazing. Let’s hope the phase continues on into the evening and beyond.

5. ELECTRIC WIZARD – Time to Die

The Wizard returns.

Undisputed leaders of UK doom, Electric Wizard are back and whilst they are not really breaking any new ground here, they have put out another great record with Time to Die. The big difference for me is the drumming. The return of Mark Greening makes a huge change.

But the old themes of drugs, death, Satan are still there and mark it typical of their craft.

Why change the formula when you have already killed it?


4. TY SEGALL – Manipulator

The modern psych pop-rock master keeps pumping out the records. Will he ever stop?

Actually, it seems like Ty did take a little more time over Manipulator. But he really is frantically pumping out the psych rock pop wizardry.

For mine the track Feel is Ty Segall at his best: a great pop song, with just enough 60s sensibility without being totally deritative, catchy as hell and crunchy like a stale gingerbread biscuit. His falsetto vocals and monster lead breaks just add the perfect amount of icing.

Somehow I think that although this is a cracking listen, we have only just heard the beginning of a truly brilliant musical career. Here’s to next year’s top albums. He will surely resurface.

3. TINARIWEN – Emmaar









2. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend

As Alan Watts says at the start of Clearing the Path to Ascend, it is indeed “time to wake up”. And I think much of the world has woken up to the incredible power and beauty of YOB.

This album is grand without being overblown, dark without being depressing, and powerful whilst still being beautiful.

I have really tried to punish myself to the point of getting sick of it, I simply cannot.

It contains the driving song of the year in ‘Nothing to Win’ which perfectly contrasts with the mournful closer ‘Marrow’.

In any other year this would have been my album of the year. This is a doom-laden slice of perfection. An album that should make this band very well known – even to those who would regularly not touch this kind of music on a regular basis.

I love it.

1. SWANS – To Be Kind

SWANS must have made the most spectacular return to music in recent history. Since reforming in 2009 they have released three incredible albums and the latest, To Be Kind, sees them at the very pinnacle of their existence as a band.

Once again like a cult they are lead by Michael Gira on a dark American Gothic journey, one that takes nothing without necessity.

To Be Kind is a wagon laden with essential provisions only. The repetition only disturbs us more… and more and more and more than we could possibly feel. It is psychosis, it is crushing, and on and more and then release…. only to be rolled over again and again until you mind and body and existence have been shattered and trodden on and obliterated. It is revolting and appealing and confronting and compelling. It is SWANS and they have destroyed you.

You are amazed… and alive.

Dave Cutbush is the director of Life is Noise and the host of RTRFM’s Out to Lunch on Thursdays from 12-3PM (+8 GMT).

Life is Noise’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Our staff count down the best records of 2014 — from the heavy to the hallowed and everything in between.

10. TINARIWEN — Emmaar

Even though the songs are sung in their native tongue, Tinariwen’s epic desert blues transcends barriers of language and culture. It helps that the Malian band’s brand of rock — a label that does little justice to Tinariwen’s diverse and often spiritual aesthetic, but feels more appropriate than any other term in Western music criticism — bursts with flourishes of familiarity, from Hendrix to Dylan. Emmaar feels like a bridge between worlds, a fact best exemplified by its opening gambit ‘Toumast Tincha’, a riff-filled odyssey that’s equal parts intriguing and recognizable, grooving and introspective. Emmaar is the perfect soundtrack to journeys unknown. — Matthew Tomich


Excellent songs and production. These guys have finally found a sound that bridges the melodic and the heavy. Pop structures and anthems that deserve to shouted along too at massive European festivals. — Scott Bishop

8. SUN KIL MOON — Benji

Though Mark Kozelek’s year has been marked by petty feuds and pettier insult songs, he was also responsible for one of the most moving and honest records of the year in Benji, an ode to the minutiae of contemporary life that spans from San Francisco to Ohio to Newtown and back. There’s as much darkness as there is light in Benji, though it’s more poignant moments are the most heart-wrenching like opening track ‘Carissa’, where Kozelek uses his guitar and voice to make sense of the accidental death of his cousin in and give her life poetry. Rarely does an album feel like it’s being written and played right in front of you, the stories unfolding in real time as Kozelek seemingly finds the words as he goes to narrate the lives of those around him. Worth countless repeat listens. — Matthew Tomich

7. TOMBS — Savage Gold

Post-metal with more than a dash of black, Savage Gold is dissonant, haunting, extreme – and one of the surprise releases of the year. See also their excellent cover of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. — Scott Williams

6. SHELLAC — Dude Incredible

Dude Incredible simply gets the job done. Clocking in at just over half an hour, the record is Shellac stripped of anything that might be considered superfluous, leaving less a record and more a precise, surgical airstrike. From the prowling bass of ‘Riding Bikes’ to the snarl of ‘All the Surveyors’, Dude Incredible manages to pack real menace into an austere half hour. Nothing is overused and nothing is overdone (both in terms of songwriting or production), a fact that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows Shellac and Albini’s form. — Jack Midalia

5. ICEAGE — Plowing into the Field of Love

Plowing Into The Field of Love is everything people love about Iceage and a whole lot more. The songs still wallow the in same bleak mirth Iceage bathe in, but the dense, nihilistic moods are now littered with the sounds of folk and an undeniable country swagger, which might sound odd to some fans but by damn you wouldn’t have it any other way. This whole album is like a punch in the guts, but it’s the sort of punch you’re grateful for, the one where once you’ve managed to start taking in oxygen again and you reach out and gladly ask for another. It’s bold, aggressive, mangled and so perfectly enjoyable, an example of a band leering ten feet above their contemporaries. — Jack Payet

4. SWANS — To Be Kind

Michael Gira is a without a doubt the scariest human being on the planet. Swans at their loudest and heaviest are a terrifying beast, but it’s the quiet moments of To Be Kind in which Gira seems to be at his sneering, menacing worst. Boasting more than a hint of the industrialism of Einstürzende Neubauten, this is a record I would regularly put on as background music, only to find I’d that I’d either stopped whatever I was doing and that an hour had passed in the blink of the eye. There are certainly worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Additional mention of the cover art, which is either the best or the worst album artwork of 2014. — Jack Midalia


Devin has to be admired, not just for the great music on this album but for the projects he takes on in general, the majority of which are born from his bizarre and brilliant mind. Z2 is a double album (condensed down from 50 songs originally), the first part being a typical DTP “pop metal” album taking elements from Epicloud and Addicted, though it feels more mature. The second half is a War of the Worlds-style rock opera featuring the return of Ziltoid (Devin’s alter ego, a coffee-loving alien hell bent on world domination) similar in musical style to the first Ziltoid album but with a bigger scope and budget. The Ziltoid tale will also be taken to the musical theatre stage next year at the Royal Albert Hall for a show that sold out within weeks. — Scott Williams

2. ELECTRIC WIZARD — Time to Die

It took me a while to come around to Time to Die, especially since vocalist Jus Oborn sounds like he’s singing down the corridor, but it’s the heavy/slow DOOMY riff fest that you want and desire from The Wizard. — Scott Bishop

1. YOB — Clearing the Path to Ascend

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. — The Black Captain

Check back over the next two weeks as we reveal our individual writers’ top 10 records of 2014.