Guess what! If you’re a metal fan, your year fucking RULED! Sometime during the summer, there was this series of albums that came out – Altar of Plagues, Deafheaven, etc. – where I felt like metal was about to change forever. AND, I was starting to notice how the bands I grew up listening to, are actually influencing the bands I love today! Fucking ace.
Anyway, let’s GET TO IT.
Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury [blackened atmospheric post-sludge]
ALBUM OF THE YEAR. It’s the most dense, most evil album I heard this year, and I can’t recommend it enough. A total departure from their previous, “atmospheric post-black” stylings – this album is full of intense vitriol condensed into shorter songs.
Botanist – IV: Mandragora [hammered dulcimer black metal]
When I first heard about these guys on NPR(!), I wasn’t really digging the music. Then I saw them live. Then I started listening to this album on repeat. It’s pretty bizarre – black metal stylings with unusual instrumentation. It’s evil in new ways! These songs sound kinda shite at low volumes, so make sure you crank up the volume so you can hear everything clearly.
Deafheaven – Sunbather [hipster post-metal]
OH YEAH, this one was awesome. Hey, it even made the pitchfork top 10! This album is way more post-rocky than their previous effort “Roads to Judah”, which bothered me at first, but the new album is super-groovy, and somehow positive while still remaining heavy. Reminds me a lot of Suffocate For Fuck Sake, and of course my favorite band ever Mogwai, who they also covered last year…
Jucifer – Зза волгой для нас земли нет [not-actually-Russian sludge-doom]
I’ve loved Jucifer ever since I saw them on this snowy day, but their albums have always sucked! Until this one. Whole lotta noise from these two. I’m not sure what they’re screaming about – probably something about setting Pussy Riot free and getting rid of Putin.
Letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful [post-hardcore]
Does this even count as metal? It’s more in the vein of post-hardcore – obviously inspired by Glassjaw. But anyway, I found these songs super-catchy, especially “Empty Elvis”. Really great singer, really cool riffage with a quick-moving punk attitude.
SubRosa – More Constant Than The Gods [sludge-doom]
This band o’ ladies from SLC have been serving up sludgy doom metal for awhile, but this album shows they’ve matured into a real force to be reckoned with. Great if you like ominous howling and fuzzy-as-fuck guitars. When I put on this album, I feel like I’m eavesdropping on a witch coven.
Sadly this one isn’t on Spotify, but it’s absolutely worth tracking down.
The Ocean – Pelagial [progressive metal]
Prog-metal used to be my jam when I was a teenager. Hard to find any that isn’t lame these days. Some of the singing on this album is kinda lame, but they’re pretty damn close to Mastodon on the “non-lame prog metal” scale. Anyway, the good parts!: great riffs, really good dynamics, noticeable themes woven throughout the album, and some awesome buildup to the super-heavy “Bathyaplelagic III: Disequillibrated”. Oh, and I just read that this album is a concept album, and the tracks are named after ocean depth zones, in descending order…so it gets darker and heavier! Fck yeah.
Ulcerate – Vermis [blackened death]
Fuck, this album is DEVASTATING. I already loved Ulcerate for their insane drumming, but this album is just amped up on every level. The drums on here are just unbelievable – tons of insane double-bass rolls, seamlessly shifting into more comprehendable beats.
Other Albums That Were Sorta Okay I Guess
Arkade Fire – Reflector
Baths – Obsidian
Lusine – The Waiting Room
Machinedrum – Vapor City
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Palms – Palms
Rosetta – The Anaesthete
Russian Circles – Memorial
Stomach Earth – S/T
Sweet Valley – SV
Tricky – False Idols
Woe. – Withdrawal
Oh and here’s a Spotify playlist with a bunch of these bands and more: