I’ve almost been dreading doing this one because of the level of difficulty involved. Decided to just go in and put what came to the top of my mind. Here’s everything from across the board.
Black Rain - Dark Pool
A sorely under-appreciated musician from New York, Stuart Argabright shows that there are great forces that have been at work under most noses for years. Thank you to Blackest Ever Black for exposing more people to Argabright, and Dark Pool is perhaps one of the most brvtal releases of the year. With a soundtrack-like vibe, this record lives and breathes in the shadows. When Protoplasm was released ahead of the album, I knew we were in for something special.
Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
How big of a year was this for Godflesh?? Not only did they return to tour the states and CRUSHED everybody, but the first album in 13 years came out and they didn’t even miss a beat. Justin Broadrick continues to build on his prolific musical output and my favorite part about this record was that it wasn’t pandering to the older fans or sound. “A World” sounded fresh, current and even more punishing than I could have imagined.
Lucy - Churches, Schools and Guns
Dark, complex techno for the cerebral set. Some had issues with “Churches” slight departure from Lucy’s previous full length, “Word Play for Working Bees”, but I loved the new output. It was pensive, heavy and sophisticated. “The Self as Another” and “Illusion of Choice” remain strand out tracks of the year.
Jealous God 04 - Broken English Club
There was definitely some excitement when word broke that Oliver Ho/Raudive would release some new material on Jealous God going even deeper in to his post punk and industrial roots. We just didn’t know how good it was going to be. “Plastic Bag” was a near game changer this year and further cemented the Jealous God label as a premiere brand for dark, underground techno and noise in the post punk vein.
The Body - I Shall Die Here
Many may expect pure Doom when sitting down with this, but it is much MUCH more. This two-piece from Portland has been around a while but this has to be their most powerful record to date. The black atmospherics have more in common with Black Rain than doom metal bands and the production value on this is superb.
Marshstepper - A New Sacrament of Penance
From the far off lands of Tempe, Arizona, dwells a group of up and coming musicians that are producing some of the most exciting projects in music today. Marshstepper is one of the preeminent acts of the Ascetic House collective and for good reason. They create music fans of techno and black metal will both agree on. With bvtalising rhythms and ritual performance pieces, this band may have defined what I wanted in music this past year and beyond. After getting picked up by Downwards North America and doing what may become mythical live shows from LA to New York to Berlin, I could not be more excited about a single project.
Wrangler - LA Spark
Wrangler is made up of Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder, producer Ben Edwards, and Tunng’s Phil Winter. All three have been in the business for quite some time. This record pretty much came out of nowhere for me and wouldn’t leave my speakers for a while. An amazing mix of dark, gothic vocals with an incredible danceability that is nostalgic but still very new. I hope they do another record. Outstanding.
Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry
Arguably one of the most prolific and versatile names in Black Metal since the 90’s, Vindsval’s band continues to show that they are a cut above almost everyone else out there. Not many bands can use the blank canvas of Black Metal and paint something so different, yet so distinctive each time. Some people didn’t like some of the experimentation of the 777 trilogy records and I was maybe one of them at times. However, I always respect their direction and willingness to push the boundaries. “Memoria” went back to some of the older roots but reinvented their punishing, genre bending sound even more. Tracks like “Forhist” remind you that this guy can really compose a song. Beautifully brvtal.
Sumerian Fleet - Just Pressure
Between Wrangler and Sumerian Fleet, we pretty much figured out that time and age mean nothing because both of these acts are producing some of the best material in their careers. Sumerian’s dark wave was so amazingly goth that there wasn’t a loud enough volume on my speakers. Alden Tyrell, Mr Pauli and vocalist Zarkoff hit the nail so dead on the head it’s going to be hard to top. This was was timeless dark wave yet very of the moment.
Bruno Nicolai - All The Colours Of The Dark
A special release by the great minds at Finders Keepers, this is quintessential giallo. Diabolical, devious and sexy all converge in this incredible package which includes red vinyl and an absolutely amazing poster. I nerded pretty hard on horror movie soundtrack re-issues (so much good stuff out there), but this one stood above the pack for me.
Ok there’s 10 of my favorites from 2014.