Vishal Rai’s Top 5 of 2014

Albums

 

 

Sangharsha1

 

Sangharsha – Bayou

 

Album of the year. When Kshitiz, my old bandmate and current Sangharsha riffmeister, told me they’d be recording with Converge’s Kurt Ballou, I knew something special was brewing. But I didn’t expect the album to be this damn good! For those who came in late, Sangharsha is a New York based hardcore band, with members who all hail from Nepal. Apart from a song or two, all their lyrics are in Nepali.

 

The S/T EP Sangharsha recorded with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations in 2012 was great, but this one took it up a few notches. I can’t even describe the sound here. Besides the hardcore/sludge that they’ve made their base, there are elements of death,black, and even post-metal. Heavy, introspective, and peppered with absolutely beautiful moments.

 

The album takes a turn during the second half of the second last song, Aseena. In a way, it brought to mind what Pulling Teeth did with Funerary. Knowing Kshitiz’s love for PT, it might have even been deliberate.

 

AlertaAntifascista Records from Germany released the vinyl version of Bayou a few months ago; you can stream and order a copy at http://bayou1.bandcamp.com

 

ffo – Bands on the Deathwish roster, Russian Circles, etc.

 

 

 

Ringworm2

 

Ringworm – Hammer Of The Witch

 

Ringworm is one of my all-time favorite hardcore bands. Even if HOTWhad sucked, it would still have made it to my top five. But it doesn’t.

 

Stream: http://ringworm.bandcamp.com/album/hammer-of-the-witch-digital-deluxe-version

 

 

 

bane3

 

Bane – Don’t Wait Up

 

Bane is one of two bands (the other being Shai Hulud) that can choke me up. There’s just something about Aaron Bedard’s lyrics and vocal delivery that can transform me into a naive kid, the way I used to be before things went to shit. Haha. Don’t Wait Upwas an even more emotional affair than usual because it’s the last Bane album. It has some terrific guest spots (Calling Hours) and possibly some of Bedard’s darkest lyrics (Wrong Planet). And I must confess, I did get teary eyed when I first heard Final Backward Glance.

 

Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rENKYdxEByY

 

 

 

CodeOrange4

 

Code Orange – I Am King

 

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from the new Code Orange. I didn’t really understand the hype around them when they still had the Kids suffix, and I wasn’t too fond of their old material. But holy shit, I Am King was something else. Definitely one of the most intense albums of 2014. They even sound like they’d fit right in with the Victory Records roster of the 90s (my favorite era in hardcore) a lot of the time.

 

Stream: http://deathwishinc.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-king

 

 

 

EHG5

 

Eyehategod – Eyehategod

 

I don’t believe I even need to elaborate. It’s no Take As Needed For Pain or Dopesick, but it’s still top stuff.

 

 

 

Other albums that ruled – Today Is The Day – Animal Mother, Skinfather – None Will Mourn, Crowbar – Symmetry In Black, Comeback Kid – Die Knowing, Full Of Hell &Merzbow – Full Of Hell & Merzbow, New Found Glory – Resurrection, Hang The Bastard – Sex In The Seventh Circle, Sumeru – Holy Lands, Homewrecker – Circle Of Death, Hollow Earth – Silent Graves, Generation Of Vipers – Coffin Wisdom, Pharaoh – Negative Everything, Rot In Hell – Ruined Empire, The Banner – Greying, Baptists – Bloodmines, Young And In The Way – When Life Comes To Death, Yautja – Songs Of Descent, Indian – From All Purity, Nothing – Guilty Of Everything

 

 

 

Demos/EPs/Splits

 

 

torn1

 

Torn – Demo 2014

 

Spirit-Filled hardcore fronted by the singer of Advent and other Christian hardcore bands. Catchy and heavy, with lyrics that have a lot of thought put behind them, this demo should appeal to anyone with a love for 90s metallic hardcore. There are parts that sound like Turmoil and others that wouldn’t be out of place on a Buried Alive record. Don’t let the “Spirit-Filled” tag put you off, there’s nothing preachy here.

 

Stream: http://tornhardcore.bandcamp.com/


 

 

gatecreeper2

 

Gatecreeper – Gatecreeper

 

Swedish death metal (or DM influenced hardcore) from Arizona. One listen was all it took to get me hooked, in a manner similar to what Skinfather did with Atheos a few years ago. Members of Gatecreeper also play in Territory.

 

ffo – Dismember, Grave, Entombed, Unleashed, Black Breath, Skinfather

 

Stream: http://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

keeper3

 

Keeper – MMXIV

 

So damn heavy!

 

ffo – Burning Witch, Grief, Meth Drinker, Moloch

 

Stream: http://keeperxdoom.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

 

Forced Order4 GodsHate4

 

Forced Order – Eternal War / God’s Hate – Divine Injustice

 

Forced Order and God’s Hate belong to the vibrant Southern California hardcore scene, and, if I’m not mistaken, both bands recorded at The Pit with Taylor Young. Forced Order features members of Twitching Tongues, Harness, Soul Search and Disgrace; their sound is a throwback to 90s Cleveland hardcore. Think old Integrity and In Cold Blood. God’s Hate has members of Twitching Tongues and Skinfather, and probably a few other bands. Divine Injustice is Troycore-worship at its finest (the band’s even named after a Dying Breed song).

 

Stream: http://forcedorder.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-war-2

Stream: http://godshate.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

xibalbasuburbanscum5

 

Xibalba/Suburban Scum – Split

 

Nothing much to say.Both bands just keep getting better, although I’m more partial to the Xibalba tracks.

 

http://closedcasketactivities.bandcamp.com/album/split

 

 

 

Others that ruled: New Lows – Abhorrent Endings, Blistered – Soul Erosion, Jagged Visions – Beyond The Serpent’s Touch, Annulment – Celestial Mother Of The Handless Path, Graves At Sea – This Place Is Poison, Of Feather And Bone – Adorned In Decay/False Healer, Incitement – Hyena, Converge – Live At The BBC, Benchpress/Martyr’s Tongue, Soul Search/Minus, Graves At Sea/Sourvein, Primitive Man/Xaphan, Whirr/Nothing

 

 

 

EA

 

 

(we’d like to thank Vishal for this write-up. you can check out Vishal’s own Hardcore/Metal band Jugaa here)

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Top Metal Releases – 2013

So, I have finally set down to the incredibly difficult task of naming my top 10 albums of the year, considering how good this year was for music. Extreme metal, in particular. Although I would have loved to listen to more album from other genres, but I think it’s more important for me to explore the classics within them first, before moving on to discover newer, promising acts. Anyway, here is a list of Top 10 albums of 2013, according to me:

 

Tribulation 2013

 

10. Tribulation – Formulas of Death: The Horror was a stereotypical Swedish Death Metal album. Tribulation paid tribute to bands such as Entombed, Grave and Grotesque in the debut album, but Formulas of Death is something entirely different. Shreds of bands such as Necrophobic and Dissection with hints of psychedelia and early heavy metal are dominant in this album. Tribulation sacrifice sheer speed and aggression for “epic” songwriting and well-thought song structures, which is what makes this album so interesting. A very unique album for sure, but stands at the bottom of top 10 due to its tedious length.

 

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9. Sacriphyx – The Western Front: His Majesty at the Swamp? Non Serviam? Wait, this sounds like Varathron and Rotting Christ, but is neither of the two! The Western Front is hellenic Black Metal effortless fused with Death Metal. The production values are pretty much reminiscent of the bands that Sacriphyx draws massive influences from, but the songwriting is far more bombastic and leaning towards the Death Metal side of things. A more accurate parallel would be with the faster, more aggressive songs off Rotting Christ’s first three albums. A really good album that deserves its here.

 

Ulcerate 2013

 

8. Ulcerate – Vermis: This album would have been higher on the list if it weren’t for Gorguts’ Colored Sands (spoiler alert, it’s pretty high on this list). Musically, Vermis sounds like a continuation to The Destroyers of All, but is not as powerful. However, despite that, it is still a very solid album with a lot of memorable moments, which are not immediately catchy, but slowly creep in as the album grows on you. This is certainly a grower, but it took an awfully long time to penetrate through the chaotic nature of the album.

 

Portal 2013

 

7. Portal – Vexovoid: There’s not much to say about this album, except that it is still our beloved Lovecraftian band, but this time with riffs that are easier to digest. This is their most “accessible” album, yet not their weakest.

 

Aosoth - IV - An Arrow In Heart

 

6. Aosoth – IV – Arrow in Heart: 2013 was a very scarce year for Black Metal. However, Aosoth’s Arrow in Heart made up for the lack of good Black Metal albums. The songs here are much more interesting and captivating than those on the previous releases, with the production also tweaked to suit their sound better. The stylistic approach on this album is still the same as with their other releases, but this is definitely a step in a less droning and more varied direction.

 

Altars 2013

 

5. Altars – Paramnesia: Australian Death Metal rarely disappoints. Despite the recent surge in cryptic, dissonant Death Metal, Paramnesia stands out due to its compelling and memorable songs, despite their tendency towards dissonance and unconventional songwriting. There are strong hints of Immolation and Morbid Angel scattered around the album, but Altars anything but ape those bands, making themselves differentiable from the number of bands that do.

 

Bolzer 2013

 

4. Bölzer – Aura: The only EP that I bothered to check out this year, since I received a lot of recommendations for this particular release, and for a good reason. Not often do newer Death Metal bands pay tribute to the old without coming off as derivative or clones. Bands nowadays tend to either play sterile “modern” Death Metal or shamelessly copy Incantation/Entombed/Morbid Angel, right down to the songwriting style. Bölzer take the atmosphere and feeling associated with older bands, but have taken the playing style to an entirely different realm. It is impossible to point out a single band which these guys are influenced by, since their approach to writing songs is new and unique.

 

Gorguts 2013

 

3. Gorguts – Colored Sands: 2013 has been a “comeback” year for a lot of old school Death Metal bands. Convulse, Purtenance and Gorguts, in particular. However, the former two released forgettable and bland comebacks, which I wish never happened. Calling Colored Sands a “comeback” album would be an insult, since Gorguts are clearly not attempting to appease any particular fanbase or cash in to the resurfacing interest in old school Death Metal. Colored Sands is a logical progression from “From Wisdom to Hate”. It is a progression, meaning that it isn’t a tried-and-tested formula meant to draw the interest of an older fanbase and regain relevance. It is not an attempt to try something radically new, resulting in them falling flat on their face. The band has always been intelligent in its transformation, with their sound developing into what it is now, with each release. Colored Sands is not only musically brilliant, but the concept and themes that revolve around the album are very atypical of the genre. The songs are as memorable as they got for Technical Death Metal, with a perfect balance between brutality, technicality and feeling. I doubt I can write enough about this album here.

 

gravemiasma

 

2. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum: I was never impressed by Grave Miasma. Ever. I always thought that other bands, such as Cruciamentum and Dead Congregation were making music along the same lines, at least hundred times better than Grave Miasma. Then this album came along and made me realise what I fool I was. Although this album uses the same formula as other bands that like Incantation a little too much to have their own sound, this is way more memorable and original in comparison to most other bands, barring Dead Congregation. Again, what separates this album from the hundred other Onward to Golgotha/Mortal Throne of Nazarene clones is the sense of what makes a song. The fact that this isn’t just a bunch of reverb-drenched, “evil”-sounding riffs pasted together into songs is a breath of fresh air, and when this style of Death Metal is done thoughtfully, it is nothing but pure bliss.

 

inquisition 2013

 

1. Inquisition – Obscure Verses For the Multiverse: I don’t even need to write anything about this. The best album this year by a long shot.

 

 

There are a lot of other albums that I would have loved to include in this list, but with the large number of excellent releases, it was very difficult to do so. Here are about 5 more releases, which could easily fit into ranks 5 through 10 of the above list:

 

11. Antediluvian – Logos

12. Magic Circle – S/T

13. Lantern – Below

14. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual

15. Krypts – Unending Degradation

 

There are a lot more albums that I enjoyed listening to, such as Obliteration‘s Black Death Horizon, In Solitude‘s Sister, Immolation‘s Kingdom of Conspiracy, Zealotry‘s The Charnel Expanse to name a few, but like I said, it was incredibly difficult to set such a list without missing out on some great releases. I wonder how 2014 would be for music.

 

From guest writer Rohit Chaoji!