2015-05-21

Top-10 list of 2014

I JUST CAME BY TO SAY HELLO... (FOREWORD)
Watain live 2015-02-22 in Malmo, Sweden
Over a year has passed since I last wrote a damn thing on this blog. Why, you may ask? Well, it's the same usual excuse people have when they stop doing things online. In my case it has been being buried in studies, moving to a new apartment (twice), finding the love of my life and most importantly; a general lack of interest in both the blog and music.

But hey I'm back! For how long, no one knows. So let's just be happy while it lasts ok? Or be sad, I don't really care. I have a few ideas laying around on what to write about here and I hope that all the people that used to follow this blog still continue to do so. It will most likely be in the same vein as before, with the usual grammatical errors and spelling fuck-ups. Why? Because I'm Swedish that's why.

But first things first - I never did a top-list over the albums of 2014 so that's prio uno. Basically, it was a crap year in music so that's why this list became so short. Also, I almost didn't listen to more than 10 new metal albums for the entire year, so there's probably a lot I've missed. Anyway, not halfway through 2015 and it's already waaaaay better. So let's just put this list out of it's misery asap!

10. Lux Occulta - Kolysanki
Style: Avantgarde metal
Origin: Poland
This is weird. I mean really weird. And sometimes it's not metal whatsoever. Sometimes it's very good when I am in the right mood and sometimes it just feels to damn weird. The tempo changes are out of this world, they use every damn instrument you can imagine and it's all sung in Polish. It's ugly, but in a good way although it sometimes feels these guys are going weird just for the sake of being weird. Compared to Arcturus, Ulver or Solefald, it feels too forced.

9. Stilla - Ensamhetens Andar
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
Quite similar to the band's debut album "Till Stilla Falla" (2013), but with a better approach to song-writing. The band is far from your classic black metal as they use acoustic guitar and keyboards (only for atmosphere mind you) and sometimes remind me of the best nature-parts of old Ulver and Armagedda's underrated "Ond Spiritism - Djefvulens Skalder" (2004). Mostly midpaced, atmospheric and easy-listening black metal makes this a good album - simple as that.

8. Anathema - Distant Satellites
Style: Progressive rock
Origin: UK
It's been a long time since Anathema had anything to do with metal, but since they once started out in that manner, it still feels legitimate to have them on my blog. And how can one deny the sheer beauty in vocalist Vincent's voice? Or the band's incredible song-writing?
On this album, the band almost sounds as vital and as relevant as they did on the amazing "Judgement" (1999). And that alone is a very, very good rating.

7. Entombed AD - Back to the Front
Style: Death metal
Origin: Sweden
Oh stop it. You already know what this band sounds like. L.G. still sounds like a caveman and it's basically the same song-writing approach and sound as it has ever been. The only thing that is different are those two new letters behind the name and the fact that they once more use two guitars. And what a difference that makes (the thing with the guitars, not the letter-part) compared to "Serpent Saints" (2007). They sound more angry and more revitalised than they've done in a long time and that's a good sign. Keep it up.

6. Skogen - I Döden
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
Skogen is actually quite similar to Stilla when it comes to their approach to black metal. Very nature-ish, some clean vocals here and there, atmospheric key-parts (only when it's appropriate mind you), lyrics in Swedish and more focus on melody rather than aggression. Sometimes I also get some serious Arckanum-vibes and that isn't horseshit either. The only complaint I have is that some of the songs drags a bit too much for my taste, thus making the album a couple of minutes too long.

5. Alvenrad - Habitat
Style: Folk metal
Origin: Netherlands
Folk metal sung in Dutch have never been my cup of tea (I still have nightmares from that one time I did the mistake of listening to Heidevolk), but this is surprisingly good. It's no secret that these guys have listened to Vintersorg both once and twice and sometimes it really shows in the songwriting as well as in the vocal-melodies ("Woudakoestik", "Verweven Klauwen"). At other times, they go more aggressive on us ("1911") and the prog-like love for Jethro Tull and other bands are ever-present on the entire album. This is a really promising debut album and I love to hear what these guys will accomplish in the future.

4. Empyrium - The Turn of the Tides
Style: Folk/Progressive metal
Origin: Germany
Let's get it over with immediately; this is far more atmospheric and drenched in keyboards than Empyrium has ever been before. Comparison with the band's first two doom-metal albums are nowhere to be found and even the acoustic guitar-masturbation that was so present on the third album is lacking. All of the songs are basically slow, slow songs with lots of keyboards and mostly clean vocals and choirs, still masterfully done by Thomas Helm. There are sudden outbursts of doom metal, acoustic guitars and growls, but usually when they show up in a song, I am already tired. It's still masterfully done and all the songs are basically great, but I had so high expectations on this comeback-album and I have to say I was a bit let down. Also, I want to hear lots and lots more of Shadorf's voice.

3. At the Gates - At War with Reality
Style: Melodic thrash/death metal
Origin: Sweden
Comeback album of the ages? Whatever your opinion on this band and their worldwide acclaimed "best metal album ever" (you know which one I'm talking about) you can't admit you weren't at least interested in hearing how "At War with Reality" would sound. I was and I liked it a lot. Everyone else has already said that it's basically "Slaughter of the Soul" part deux, but with elements from the band's entire back catalouge and I am inclined to agree with that. Not as catchy as the 1995-album but also not as streamlined. Colour me impressed (but not over-excited)!

2. Behemoth - The Satanist
Style: Black/death metal
Origin: Poland
This album almost made me over-excited though. Thing is, I ruled out this band a long time ago and didn't think they had anything relevant to come up with anymore. They've basically done the same album over and over again since "Thelema.6" (2000). Yes, they haven't sounded AC/DC-exactly the same, but you get my point. What "The Satanist" does is thankfully introducing A LOT more varied song-writing, not so much instrument-wankery and most importantly; more black metal in the mix. This is something that is very refreshing compared to that "extreme metal-thingy" they've (successfully) been doing for so many years. "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" is amazing and "O Father O Satan O Sun!" is epic beyond belief. Easily the band's best work since "Satanica" (1999).

1. Vintersorg Naturbål
Style: Folk metal
Origin: Sweden
If you read this blog, you know that I consider Vintersorg one of my all-time favourite bands ever (I feel like I've already written that elsewhere), so placing "Naturbål" on the top spot wasn't very difficult. It all comes down to this, have you heard this band before, you know what it sounds like. Have you enjoyed any of the two previous albums, you are guaranteed to do the same here.
I of course like it a lot. But I don't love it and I don't feel that it is as strong as it's predecessor "Orkan" (2012) and emotionally and songwriting-wise it has nothing on the band's first three albums. But songs such as "Ur Aska och Sot", "Lågornas Rov" and especially "Elddraken" are to me already classic V-songs, I just feel that they could have been even better. Sometimes it feels like the band writes an amazing melody or riff and then just decides to paste it together with something else, usually inferior. That makes the album halt a bit at some points and I would even go so far as to say that "Urdarmåne" is the worst "real" Vintersorg-song I have ever heard in my life - not counting instrumental tracks, intros and outros. And that really is something...

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