Swans - To Be Kind: Yeah it was good. Yeah it was kinda AOTY. But everyone else has it on their list so shhhh
Endon - Mama: I'm absolutely sure this would've made top 10 - had I been able to find a copy and listen to it
Trap Them - Blissfucker: A very good chance this would've been on the list too - had it not been a huge fucking let down and arguably the most disappointing album of the year
Triac - Full Length: This would've had a guaranteed spot on the list - but it hasn't been released, and doesn't look like it will be for some time. Alas
All that out of the way, here's the stuff that did make the cut:
'Prayer For Terrene'
Idylls had been one of my favourite Australian bands ever since I first saw them live opening for Punch on their Australian tour. Their debut album, Farewell All Joy was math-y hardcore done right but FUCK after listening to this it can't even hold a candle to this. Prayers For Terrene saw Idylls pushing every element of their sound to the breaking point. The grindcore influence is much more prominent, but so is the noise rock elements. There's more nods to classic Australian punk (see the Venom P. Stinger cover), there's a saxophone and there's just layers upon layers of sound to wade through. Idylls were pretty hard to classify before, but now they've reached dizzying new heights of ambiguity and dissonance. All I can say is that Australia hasn't had a band this intense, loud or crazy before - and I doubt it ever will again. Actual AOTY for sure. Hands down. No competition. Nup. None whatsoever.
'Primitive And Deadly'
Considering it was an album I wasn't excited about at all, Earth's Primitive And Deadly was probably the most pleasant surprise of 2014. Having barely listened to their previous releases, I was still surprised by the inclusion of vocals and a much more psychedelic rock driven sound. That's not to say that Earth aren't as bone shatteringly loud or heavy as the days of yore - because there's plenty of that too. Each of the five tracks on this are repetitive, trance inducing journeys into luscious guitar tones and spaced out riffs. In fact I can safely say that 'From The Zodiacal Light' was my favourite track of 2K14, and Rabia Shaheen Qazi's hazy, chilled out vocal delivery has been stuck in my head for a fair portion of this year. They've been around for years, but Primitive And Deadly proves that Earth are still one of stoner/drone metal's biggest players.
Estuary English has the distinction of being the most venomous, vile collection of recordings I heard all year. Consumer Electronicss (Phillip Best especially) have only gotten angrier and more focused as they've aged, both musically (term used VERY loosely here) and lyrically. Phillip Best's vocals drip with malice, sarcasm and wit as he forces every last syllable out his foam covered mouth. He spits, sputters and screams every known expletive in the English language over broken synth pulses, drum machine beats and shrill blasts of feedback. All this ferocity is channeled into vulgar attacks at modern culture and politics. It's spoken word meets Throbbing Gristle on amphetamine - and it's super good.
Wolves In The Throne Room
Go figure, it takes Wolves In The Throne Room to stop playing black metal for me too reeeeeally enjoy them. Like, don't get me wrong - their black metal stuff is great - but Celestite just takes their, uh, celestial soundscapes to brand new highs. How? Well by ditching the metal, the instruments (for the most part) and milking the nicest, spaciest sounds out of synths as possible. Celestite sits somewhere between Sunn's more quiet output and Tangerine Dream - transcendental ambient music that's as lush as it is melodramatic. If you ever wanted to hear a black metal band scoring a sci-fi film without any blast beats, screaming or tremolo riffs this would be your best bet.
I slept on Raspberry Bulbs previous LP, Deformed Worship in 2013. It promptly became one of my most played albums in 2014.
Then this album was announced.
Unsurprisingly, RB have continued to flesh out their unique combination of post-punk, noise rock and blackened punk - with longer more complex songs and many more ideas present within this album. Privacy has the band moving further away from their 'blackened' influences, and instead sees a much more refined, thought out direction. The inclusion of eerie, weird industrial tracks between every other track on the album is a pleasant surprise too - showing that the band can not only write brilliant punk songs but showcase a diversity of musical styles and their influences.
Abandon featured in last year's top 10 list, and unsurprisingly Pharmakons' 2014 LP, Bestial Burden, is in this one.
New York death industrial musician, Margaret Chardiet, used a near death experience and operation as the inspiration to create the six tracks on this album. Utilizing stark synthesizer textures, samples and apocalyptic percussion, Chardiet's lyrics tackle the fragility of the human body and her health issues - in the noisiest way possible. The meticulous structure and presentation of Pharmakon's previous work remains - more so than before - and incorporates a wider range of vocal styles, samples and sounds. Bestial Burden is a much more diverse collection of tracks than Abandon, but still retains the harsh, uncompromising ethos of the project.
'Full Of Hell And Merzbow'
Full Of Hell/Merzbow
Full Of Hell have come along way since the breakdowns and hardcore riffs on Roots Of Earth..., veering almost directly into grindcore territory. From the very start of their collaboration, the potent combination of Masami Akita's volatile harsh noise and Full Of Hell's salvo of blast beats, riffs and savage vocals grip you by the throat and do not let go. The second disc features Merzbow's contributions in much more detail, with Full Of Hell providing wonderfully unhinged instrumental support - akin to one of their live performances - making for one hell of an uncomfortable, yet hypnotising experience. This is a band who've gone from wearing their influences very heavily on their sleaves to craving their own niche into the genre AND collaborating with arguably the most important contemporary harsh noise artist in the process.
Internal Rot are a three piece grindcore band from Melbourne Australia, consisting of members from Roskopp, Agents Of Abhorrence and Super Fun Happy Slide. Now if that pedigree hasn't got you salivating all over your keyboard, the music will. Imagine shameless Excruciating Terror worship, but played with the speed and intensity of Insect Warfare - but with more groove. It's primitive grind cobbled together with an unhealthy amount of catchy thrashy riffs, more mosh parts than you can shake a fist too and absolutely filthy, raw vocals. Mental Hygiene is the best grind release to come from Australia since Earth.Water.Sun by AoA. Easily.
The Lowest Form
I've sung praises for this band on two occasions on this blog, and I'll be damned if I don't make it three. Negative Ecstasy is rabid, aggressive hardcore taken to its most illogical extreme. This album's a deadly duel between guitar feedback and buzzsaw riffs, with a madman barking over the top and the drums demolishing anything that happens to be in the path. No did it well last year, but the award for UKHC's craziest, gnarliest release definitely goes to The Lowest Form this year.
Since 2008, New York band White Suns have been one of the most obtuse hardcore bands - splitting their time between freeform noise rock, sludgy dirges and experimental, avant-garde tracks. On Totem, they seem to be channeling the frantic, desperate energy of Drive Like Jehu coupled with the intensity of Drunkdriver. Wailing guitars are broken up by crackling oscillators and droning feedback, with sporadic drumming and unpredictable twists and turns. It's the most straightforward and accomplished album the band has released thus far, but it retains the same impact and brunt of previous releases.
Fejhed - Self Titled
Vomir/Poète Maudit - Split
Ben Frost - A U R O R A
Gridlink - Longhena
Six Brew Bantha - Intravenously Commodified
Rort - Warpath
Perspex Flesh - Self Titled
Mob Rules - Nothing Left
Thou - Heathen
Indian - From All Purity
The Body - I Shall Die Here
Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused
Conan - Blood Eagle
Sesso Violento - Molestador
Arizmenda - Stillborn In The Temple Of Venus
Shellac - Dude Incredible
Ted Danson With Wolves - WWTDWWD
Code Orange - I Am
Code Orange - I Am
Code Orange - I Am
Code Orange - I Am
Code Orange - I Am