Steel For Brains Best Heavy Music Releases of 2014

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The end of the 2014 is upon us. For many, this means drinking egg nog, eating too much (to ward off the impending deep freeze), and spending time with loved ones. For others, it means collectively gathering as miscreants to hate the very fabric of Christmas. For fans of heavy metal, the end of the year may mean something else entirely. The end of the year is a time, collectively, to look back at the year of music as a whole.

Where did the time go? We gather around the digital watercooler to discuss our favorite albums, the biggest whiffs and flushes, and some of the records we loved that got buried in the shuffle. It also means lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I, for one, am a giant fan of the end of the year (EOTY) and album of the year (AOTY) lists that most music publications release. They are a good reminder of albums I loved and ones I missed but meant to check out. They confirm or rebut our exquisite taste as fans of music, heavy metal, and power electronics. I’m kidding on that last one, I have never seen a PExxx best of. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I just haven’t seen one, yet. They allow us, as fans, to gauge where our taste lies within the metal blogosphere. They tell us who we should like as writers and tastemakers and who we should keep far away from, by comparing those lists to our own chicken-scratching-on-toilet-paper-we-stole-from-work Best Of Lists.

Steel For Brains released its list of the top albums of 2014 this past weekend. It’s a list you should check out (sorry Joe, MasterLord, and W.). Steel For Brains was founded in July of 2012. It has consistently offered intelligent discourse on heavy metal and has also had great interviews with some big names in heavy music. It’s a site you should follow or check out if you haven’t (I’m really sorry guys). Its founder, Jonathan Dick, has been the largest contributor; it now also features regular contributions from the excellent Craig Hayes (of popmatters.com) and others as well. In Steel For Brains fashion, its EOTY list is a monster. It’s comprised of 50 LPs and 10 EPs/splits/demos. Let’s have a look at the SfB list (check out their list for their descriptions and music accompanying each album). These are in alphabetical order, by artists.


50 LPs

A Pregnant Light: My Game Doesn’t Have a Name
Abigor: Leytmotif Luzifer – The 7 Temptations of Man
Agalloch: The Serpent & The Sphere
Alraune: The Process of Self-Immolation
Artificial Brain: Labyrinth Constellation
Atriarch: An Unending Pathway
Behemoth: The Satanist
Blut Aus Nord: Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
Burial Hex: The Heirophant
Coffinworm: IV.I.VIII
Cretin: Stranger
Dead Congregation: Promulgation of the Fall
Diocletian: Gesundrian
Earth: Primitive and Deadly
Eyehategod: Eyehategod [S/T]
Generation of Vipers: Coffin Wisdom
Godflesh: A World Lit Only By Fire
Gridlink: Longhena
Have A Nice Life: The Unnatural World
Helms Alee: Sleepwalking Sailors
High Spirits: You Are Here
Impetuous Ritual: Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence
Indian: From All Purity
Krieg: Transient
Lord Mantis: Death Mask
Menace Ruine: Venus Armata
Midnight: No Mercy For Mayhem
Morbus Chron: Sweven
Nightfell: The Living Ever Mourn
Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden
Panopticon: Roads to the North
Pharmakon: Bestial Burden
Primordial: Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Scott Walker & Sunn 0))): Soused
Swallowed: Lunarterial
Swans: To Be Kind
Teitanblood: Death
Thantifaxath: Sacred White Noise
The Body & The Haxan Cloak: I Shall Die Here
Thou: Heathen
Tombs: Savage Gold
Triptykon: Melana Chasmata
Vorde: Vorde [S/T]
Winterfylleth: The Divination of Antiquity
Witch Mountain: Mobile of Angels
Wo Fat: The Conjuring
Wovenhand: Refractory Obdurate
Wrought Iron: Rejoice and Transcend
Yautja: Songs of Descent
YOB: Clearing the Path to Ascend


10 EPs/Splits/Demos

Cult of Fire: Ctvrta Symfonie Ohne
Gath Smane: Transmuted Marrow
Heresiarch: Waelwulf
Inter Arma: The Cavern
Obliti Devoravit: Oblique Diversions
Predatory Light: MMXIV
Primitive Man/Hexis: Split
Urzeit/Akatharsia: Split
Vassafor/Sinistrous Diabolus: Split
Venowl/Cara Neir: Split


I’m not going to get into every album on this list; look, we have a comments section. As stated, this is a monster. Extreme metal’s subgenres are well represented here. One thing that struck me in 2014, Our Dark Lord’s Year of Hideous Sludge, is how well represented black metal is this list. A ton of great black metal was released this year. I heard albums I dug from Abigor, Alraune, Blut Aus Nord, Cult of Fire, Krieg, and Thantifaxath, and watched the internet collectively fawn over Agalloch and Panopticon.

In my mind, there are two glaring omissions to this list: Psalm Zero’s The Drain and Pyrrhon’s The Mother of Virtues. Personal taste aside, how does The Mother of Virtues not make this list? I can see not including Psalm Zero, perhaps as far as heaviness is concerned, but the list does include Swans’ To Be Kind. The publishing of this list was a great reminder that I meant to check out Primordial; the advance song I heard from Where Greater Men Have Fallen kicked ass and I still mean to listen to album as a whole. Heavier than your favorite metal album this year, Burial Hex’s The Heirophant is a brilliant record I’ve had on repeat for weeks. At my last count, six albums from these sixty will make the cut on my thirteen spots for my Best Albums of the Year. Many more were in the running, and some made the list before they were taken off in the final moments of its creation. Keep on the lookout for that as the Toilet Ov Void prepares to enter the EOTY fray.

What did you love on Steel For Brains list this year? What did you hate? What did they miss? How does the list stack up against your own EOTY list?




 

Thanks to Christian for hooking me up with some edits for this article.

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