Friday at last! It’s time for the final installment of the un-ordered section of my Best-of-’14 list. As we’ve made (hopefully) painfully clear over the past few days, our Final Fours (otherwise known as the yes-ordered section of my Best-of-’14 list) will be out later this afternoon in Episode 33 of the podcast. And afterwards, I’ll probably follow up with a post just listing out our Top 25s in a normal fashion. Think of it as atonement of sorts.
Anyway, enough of all that–here are the last three randomly ordered non-Final Four entries from my Top 25 of 2014:
Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity (Season of Mist)
So I don’t know if I can really play favorites between this album and Winterfylleth’s previous full-length, The Threnody of Triumph—but that I’m even having trouble choosing between them should tell you all you need to know about how good this one is. The Divination of Antiquity brings back everything we’ve come to love about the Mancunians—razor sharp black metal riffs, a healthy sense of melody, and lyrical content that takes you on an ever-intriguing trip through English cultural and folk history. They also brought back producer Chris Fielding (Napalm Death, Electric Wizard) and the choice proves to be as inspired as ever: Divination sounds MASSIVE. From the regular rushes of cold aggression to a healthy dose of change-of-pace tracks (“A Careworn Heart,” “The World Ahead”), it’s got everything you could possibly be looking for in a black metal record.
Thou – Heathen (Gilead Media)
Can we take a minute to reflect on how good a year 2014 was for doom? In any other year, Thou’s Heathen would easily have made the ordered section of my playlist—and frankly, it might have done so on the strength of the stunning opener, “Free Will,” alone. Because got-DAMN. The other nine songs and hour-plus of music here just feel like an added bonus. Hat’s off to the Baton Rouge boys for delivering an album that crushes you any which way it tries to—in its heavier moments; its cleaner, more introspective parts, you name it. If Heathen were the soundtrack to the apocalypse, the end of the world might not be all that bad after all.
Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God (Profound Lore)
Credit to Old Man Gloom for putting out an album whose quality actually manages to outshine the completely ridiculous (and, okay, maybe kind of genius) marketing strategy they had behind it. And yes, though The Ape of God is technically two separate albums, I’m talking about them as one, because if I’m being honest, there’s really not a ton to set the two apart from each other. Both slap you upside the head with their blend of doomy sludge metal, and they’re both completely, admirably immersive in doing so—really, the only difference is that II has four long tracks, rather than eight medium-length ones. For me, the only misstep on this thing is I‘s “Fists of Fury”—not a bad track in and of itself, but such a complete sonic departure from the rest of the album that it ends up just feeling…wrong, somehow. Other than that, The Ape of God makes for a fantastic listen, and one of the best doom albums in a strong year for the sub-genre.
Keep an eye out for Episode 33—with special guest and co-host emeritus Kevin Davis!—later today. Until then!
Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.