Best of 2014 – Dan’s List, Part Three

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“Part three?” you’re inevitably asking yourself right now. Yep. Remember the three albums apiece that Corey and I did in each of the last two episodes of the podcast? Those are parts one and two. Today through Friday on the blog, you’ll get parts three through seven, followed by our top fours in Episode 33. Oh, and bear in mind, only the final four albums will be ordered.

I know, I don’t get it either. It makes negative sense to break down our Top 25 lists the way we’ve decided to. But whatever, it’s our first time out with this kind of thing—we’ll work out the kinks for next year. Anyway, you’ve gotten six of my favorites from 2014 under your belt thus far—Alraune, Godflesh, Misery Index, Pallbearer, Steel Panther and YOB, for those not keeping track—so now, it’s time for three more. Here goes:

Devin Townsend –  (HevyDevy)

Devin_Townsend_Z2_cover

The double album  is probably Devin Townsend’s most ambitious effort to date. He devotes the first half, Sky Blue, to the infectious, pop-oriented side of DTP. It’s a catchy, relatively straightforward set that occasionally borrows from Dead or Alive and Usher, (not kidding here; listen to “Silent Militia” and the title track if you don’t believe me) before gradually transforming into a serene reflection on love and death. The second half, Dark Matters, continues the saga of his weirdest creation to date: the coffee-loving alien, Ziltoid the Omniscient—who, this time, finds himself at odds with a War Princess (the excellent Dominique Lenore Persi) after stealing a pet creature of hers called a Poozer. The story doesn’t completely hold up, but credit to Devin for introducing a bit more theatricality into his songwriting than we saw in Ziltoid’s first installment; it’s a character and story that definitely merits the extra flair. All told, Z² is a terrific, yin-yang of an album, and a more than worthy addition to the Townsend catalog.

Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade)

WhereGreaterMenHaveFallen-JTT

When you go on the kind of run Primordial’s been on for the last decade or so, constructs like genre classification start to fade from conversation. Which is good, because…what are they anymore? Black metal? Folk metal? Where Greater Men Have Fallen, their stunning eighth album, serves up flourishes of both but never feels beholden to either. Instead, it simply focuses its energies on sweeping you away with its titanic, visceral call to arms. For me, Alan Averill remains the star of the show, his tormented, howling vocal leads recounting tales of lives ripped apart and people wronged. (Note: I tend not to be much of a lyrics guy, but if you’re going to read any metal lyrics this year, read the ones from Where Greater Men Have Fallen. Seriously.) But hats must be tipped to the rest of the band and producer Jaime Gomez Arellano as well: the album also sounds massive, and winds up completely enveloping you in its aura. So far, this one’s played out the way Enslaved’s RIITIIR did a couple of years back, in that with each listen, I’ve enjoyed it more and more.

Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite (Metal Blade)

Allegaeon-Elements-of-the-Infinite

I’ll admit: before Elements of the Infinite, I hadn’t heard of Allegaeon. I was so clueless that I wound up pronouncing their name “al-uh-gay-on” like a simp (it’s actually more like “al-legion”) while singing the album’s praises to friends, co-hosts and really anyone who’d listen. But good lord am I glad to have come across this album. The Colorado quintet brings a perfect blend of melodic and technical elements in its brand of death metal—exploring the former without sounding derivative and the latter without getting overly wanky. And sure, it helps that the album’s book-ended by what became two of my favorite metal tracks of the year—“Threshold of Perception” and “Genocide for Praise: Vals for the Vitruvian Man”—but they’re far from the only crushers on display here. Elements of the Infinite is a searing, refreshingly quick listen, and one of my favorite discoveries of the year.

That’ll do it for today. I’ll be back with three more favorites tomorrow, but in the meantime, keep your appetite whetted with Corey’s post later today, as well as our Quickies. Until then.

-Dan

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up. 

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