TovH’s Best of 2014: HessianHunter, Guacamole Jim, Leif Bearikson, & Stockhausen
The Toilet ov Hell’s writers are running down their favorite releases of 2014. Today HessianHunter, Guacamole Jim, Leif Berikson, and Stockhausen are sharing their top 10 lists. Let’s publicly mock them together:
10. Noble Beast – Noble Beast /// Transcript of actual typical Noble Beast stage banter – “Minnesota! How many of you out there like heavy shit? And how many of you like fast shit? Now how many of you, if there was a Venn diagram with two circles, one representing fast shit and one representing heavy shit, would like the portion contained within both circles, which would be shit that is both fast AND heavy!?!? If that’s you, you’ll love this song – it’s called ‘DISINTEGRATING FORCE’.”
9. Priests – Bodies And Control And Money And Power /// Righteous D.I.Y. feminist/political gothy post-punk from D.C. You’re jamming.
8. Revocation – Deathless /// I thought Revocation’s last release was a big misstep, but on this record they oriented more strongly toward their death metal influence and they sound like a fresh band all over again for it. They still bring the subtle theatrics that made their early releases so charming; the script is just a bit more adult now.
7. Ire Wolves – The Ascetic /// “Hard-stomping post-metal from America’s scalp.” Read my full review of Duluth’s finest here.
6. Oozing Wound – Earth Suck /// Finally there’s more sludge thrash in my life. Stoners like to play fast sometimes too, man.
5. Collapse – Apocalyptic Key EP /// This band is inspiring to me on a dozen levels. Did you even know you needed Dischord-crust in your life? I didn’t before I heard Collapse. Consider this further proof that punk is only dead if you stopped paying attention.
4. Devin Townsend – Casualties of Cool /// My most listened to record to come out this year. IMO Hevy Devy is much better at folk-rock than metal these days. Also, this lady sangs real pretty.
3. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution /// Thanks to this album I am now sexually attracted to the fretless bass guitar. And nothing else.
2. Code Orange – I Am King /// If you know, you know. If you don’t know, get out of the fucking way. MY WORLD. I AM KING.
1. Helms Alee – Sleepwalking Sailors /// Hypnotic undersea sludgeventures with TONE on top of TONE. Helms Alee bring it even harder live than when recorded, so relish any opportunity you get to see this band slay face in your neighborhood.
Cloudkicker – Little Histories /// Cloudkicker just nails it every fucking time, man. Little Histories is tranquil, longing, sorrowful, lonely, and inspiring – all in five little tracks. All hail the king of the 8-string.
Pampers – Right Tonight 7-Inch /// This right here is how you fucking punk rock. I listened to this EP for 12 seconds before pausing the track and hopping on my bike to go to catch their show at 7th Street Entry last month. Right Tonight is 9 minutes of gleeful mania; its only crime is being too short.
Humanfly – Awesome Science /// According to Spotify, my number one played artist of 2014 was Humanfly. My most played album was the album Awesome Science by Humanfly. My 6 most listened to songs are the 6 songs on the album Awesome Science by Humanfly. This record came out in 2013, but it was the absolute defining piece of music for me this year. All other sounds are now held to the standard Humanfly set with this record, and so far nothing has met the challenge. I’m not sure when they will, to be honest. RIP.
10. Code Orange – I Am King: One of my favourite recommendations from the Toilet, Code Orange’s I Am King hits me just where it counts — it sounds heavy. Too many albums these days scoop out all the crushing weight of their guitars, bass, and drums for clarity; Code Orange doesn’t make that mistake.
9. Freak Kitchen – Cooking With Pagans: I know Freak Kitchen is a bit of an acquired taste, and not everybody enjoys them. But for those of us that do, Cooking With Pagans was an absolutely tip-top example of their songsmithing, with IA continuing to blow my mind with insane guitar solos. A stellar rock album.
8. Magma – Rïah sahïltaahk: Yes, it’s a re-recording of a much older piece, but it’s still great to hear that Magma still have the magic over 40 years since their founding. Christian Vander’s playing has grown subtler over the years, yet has lost none of its originality which is such an integral part of Magma’s sound.
7. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun: It’s Mastodon. ‘Nuff said.
6. Charli XCX – Sucker: In all honesty, I haven’t heard the full album yet (because I’m not super famous, so she hasn’t responded to any of my emails requesting an advance copy). However, all the tracks I’ve heard from it I absolutely love. Charli XCX is a pop singer for a grittier audience, and while her lyrical themes are pretty vapid, her music is raw-er and gnarlier than what you expect from pop produced in this generation.
5. Kayo Dot – Coffins on Io: A beautiful, haunting masterpiece. The first time I heard “The Mortality of Doves” I knew this album was going to be a solid contender for my top ten list, and it only continued to grow on me. It has become my go-to album when I need to take a break from the high energy of most of the music I listen to.
4. Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails: This album would have been higher (maybe even making the number 1 spot) if it weren’t for the production. Even so, Fallujah managed to create a glorious, intricate tapestry of sound and emotion on The Flesh Prevails. The album needs to be listened to as a whole, and the listener needs to allow her/himself to become lost in the ebb and flow, the brutality and the beauty.
3. Dirty Loops – Loopified: It probably comes as no surprise that this secured a spot in my top ten. I’ve been bumping Loopified for months and months, and it’s still as fresh and enjoyable as the first time I heard it. I wrote an article about this album — go and check it out.
2. Death Grips – The Powers That B (pt. 1: Niggas on the Moon): Death Grips’ use of Bjork’s sampled vocals on their first installation of The Powers That B showcased a brand new side of Death Grips — which is exactly the reason they keep winning me over, album to album. It’s still a Death Grips album, through and through, but it’s a new Death Grips album, not just in terms of date of release, but in terms of sonic freshness. Also: “Black Quarterback.”
1. Baring Teeth – Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins: As soon as I heard this album, I knew it was my top pick for the year. I’m aware it hasn’t been out very long, but it captivated me from first listen in a way that few albums have ever done. To the casual listener it would sound like meaningless noise; still, I felt a deep sense of purpose in the chaos, a fragile beauty hidden in filth. It challenged me as a listener, yet was not so far beyond my understanding to be unobtainable. It is the perfect balance between listenability and self-indulgence, and though the line it walks is sometimes in danger of leaving the audience behind, it always offers enough to keep those who desire more from music willing to listen and re-listen to unfold the myriad layers of complexity. This is not an album for the faint of heart, but it is an album for those who enjoy fighting through difficulty to reach a reward, and who embrace the struggle as an essential part of that realization.
Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us
Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
10. Panopticon – Roads to the North : How can you go wrong with Kentucky fried black metal? The short answer is you can’t. The fifth full length by Austin Lunn pulls you in with some of the best black metal you’ve heard this year, but keeps you with its beautiful, introspective bluegrass moments.
9. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun : OMRTS feels like the missing link between Crack the Skye and The Hunter. It lacks the impact and all out weirdness of the former, but isn’t as stripped down as the latter. Regardless of where it fits, it is filled with some of the catchiest jams recorded in 2014.
8. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend : If it wasn’t abundantly clear that Mike Scheidt can do no wrong before, it certainly is now. Almost 20 years into Yob’s existence, this feels like their definitive statement.
7. Behemoth – The Satanist : Speaking of bands releasing their best album well into their career. It felt like at points this year people got more caught up in the story behind The Satanist and didn’t let music stand on its own. Not only does stand tall, it towers over Behemoth’s discography thus far and a good chunk of music released this year.
6. Bastard Sapling – Instinct is Forever : Three-fifths of Inter Arma use their power for evil in this years most anthemic black metal release. Listen to “My Spine Will Be My Noose” and just try not throatily wailing along.
5. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata : The opening bass line in “Boleskine House.” Need I say more?
4. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation : Before listening to the lead single from Labyrinth Constellation, “Absorbing Black Ignition” I thought to myself “Oh cool, a side project by the guitarist in Revocation that isn’t Dave Davidson.” That thought was immediately thrown out the window as in one fell swoop Artificial Brain totally outdid anything ever released by Revocation.
3. Inter Arma – The Cavern : An EP!? “Blasphemy!” you cry. I assure you, though, that this is no mere EP. Weighing in at 45 minutes, The Cavern is a singular song that doubles as your new favorite roller coaster. There are the requisite peaks and valleys, but they launch you at space shuttle speeds and drop you like The Superman at Six Flags. Between this and last year’s Sky Burial, Inter Arma have become THE band to watch in metal.
2. Horrendous – Ecdysis : Would you have guessed that the best OSDM album to come out this year would be from the upstarts in Horrendous? A year that saw releases from Autopsy, Obituary AND Incantation? The second that the main riff for The Stranger kicks in you know you’re in for a treat, and Ecdysis never lets up. Every song delivers and stands up to the best offerings from their peers. Oh, and just look at that fucking album art!
1. Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden : Pallbearer songs feel like an epic journey across great sadness. Unlike Sorrow and Extinction, their latest LP starts of with a sense of immediacy (on a doom album? GET OUT). Instead of sorrowful acoustics, you’re greeted with a sorrowful lead and some crushingly down tuned heartbreak. For anyone concerned (or hoping) that Pallbearer was going to be a one and done band, Foundations of Burden has one thing to say to you: Pallbearer is here to stay.
I questioned who I am as a human being several times in the making of this stupid list. I was assaulted day after day with great album after great album, and who knows what kind of damage I cause to those around me (none of whom cares about metal) by talking endlessly about things like plague beasts or stars on right horns of crescents or whatever. We here at the Toilet have suffered that you may prosper; by the blood of our ears are your libraries kept stocked. This is my list.
10. Qualeaceans – Capture of Ziz (avant-garde) Independent
I encountered a huge number of bands this year that really challenged me (in a good way) as a listener, and Qualeaceans was surely one of them. Their debut album is a single, multi-movement work that contains ideas of minimalism, improvisation, aleatoric chance, and straight up weirdness. This thing is a truly surreal experience, and they make me (the dead German avant-garde composer) mighty proud.
9. Secret Cutter – Self Titled (grind/sludge) Independent
Mixing grind and sludge is a delicate art, but this two-guitar-and-drums trio makes it happen in the absolute heaviest fashion imaginable. You heard me talk about them on two separate occasions, so their presence here was pretty much a given. Get this album.
8. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars (progressive death metal) eOne Music
The thing I love about this album is that it’s smart and it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. It’s technical without being “techy,” it has progressive elements without being “proggy,” it simply centers itself on great riffs, maintaining interest, and solid songwriting. It’s a great album to depend on for an always enjoyable listen.
7. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation (technical death metal) Profound Lore Records
You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but I have a confession: I was not sold on this when it first came out. The ultra-low gutturals just didn’t jive with me, but thanks to W. blathering on and on about their majesty, it really, really grew on me. So when list time rolled around, it was a no-brainer indeed.
6. Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues (weird death metal)
Like I said, lots of stuff challenged me this year. Hanging on during some of the more out-there sections of this album is a wild ride, and it’s just so nasty and intoxicating that I couldn’t stop coming back to it. A big thanks goes out to our pal Edward for never shutting up about them. It’s not personal.
5. The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-li (post-black metal) Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions
Huge. Cold. Uncaring. Unshakeable. Unstoppable. This album cemented itself on my top ten from the first pre-release single. There are things beyond the ability of our mortal minds to grasp, and this album puts those things into musical form for us unwashed masses.
4. Baring Teeth – Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins (death metal) Willowtip
2014 saw some excellent releases from weird, nasty death metal bands, and Baring Teeth fought it out for their brand of dissonant, riff-driven bile to rise above the competition. I went on about the great parts of this album in a review, so just go ahead and buy it already.
3. Schizoid Lloyd – The Last Note in God’s Magnus Opus (progressive/avant-garde) Blood Music
It’s like a band took ideas from Cynic, Atheist, 70s prog, early Dream Theater, Kaizer’s Orchestra, and then figured out how to not make everyone hate it. It may sound snooty when you list the influences a listener can hear, but holy cow this album rips its way through some truly, truly fascinating ideas in a carnival freak show of diversity. It was physically impossible for me not to include this on my list.
2. Cloak of Altering – Plague Beasts (electronic/avant-garde black metal) Crucial Blast Records
I remember the day I came across Mories (on my own, Christian can’t claim this one), the dark genius behind Cloak of Altering and a thousand other projects. There was probably lightning and maybe an earthquake, but the point is that it was a transformative moment in which I was suddenly aware of a world that I needed to put inside my ears. Plagues Beasts was released a few months after that initial discovery, and it wasn’t even a question for me. This album is genius, madness, and a giant middle finger wrapped up in one package and cast into the void.
1. Thantifaxath – Sacred White Noise (black metal) Dark Descent Records
I didn’t really have to think very hard about this spot, it always felt like this album needed to be there. To illustrate my point, I bought this album three times: I bought a digital copy on Bandcamp thinking that would be fine, then saw a CD in a store and figured I might as well pick up a physical copy, then I saw a vinyl in a store and obviously had to buy it. This perfectly paced, brutish black metal album finds some places within to include touches of raw death metal, and it is incessantly, never-endingly dark. Get it.
Mamaleek – He Never Spoke a Mumblin’ Word (electronic/experimental black metal) The Flenser
Gridlink – Longhena (grindcore) Handshake, Inc.
Wreck and Reference – Want (experimental/electronic post-metal) The Flenser