For the next few weeks I’ll listen through the stuff that appeared with high frequency on other people’s top list from 2014 and post my comments. The album I saw the most had to be Ne Obliviscaris’ Citadel. After a few times through, I’m pretty excited about this one.
This is probably the best insertion of a violin into metal I’ve heard. They don’t fall into some sort of “symphonic” trap where the classical instruments provide minimal support for an otherwise dull metal album. The violin functions as the lead guitar in many of the solos.
The interesting thing is that the soloing works because of the intensity. He uses lots of extended techniques like excessive glissando, sul ponticello, and electronic amplification. The solos come right out of a technical death metal mentality. They get this part right.
Somehow the band integrates the violin into the album as an essential part and not as some excess novelty. They also have an excellent sense of songwriting. The songs vary hugely, but the disparate parts evolve into each other fluidly. They have motifs that they develop throughout the songs.
I keep picking up on lots of wonderful subtlety, like the uses of the different size cymbals. Rather than just whacking a huge drum kit, each piece is carefully chosen for different types of playing.
I’ve only listened to this a few times, so there might not be a lasting effect once this initial excitement wears off, but right now I love it. My only negative is when they remove the violin and go full on metal. The wall of sound over the excessive blast beats feels out of place on such an otherwise subtle album.
The other album is Slugdge’s Gastronomicon. This album reminds me a lot of Wormed, not because they both are bands named after insects that writhe around in mud or because of how they sound. They both like to take extreme music and put a sci-fi theme to their albums.
I know a lot of people don’t take this seriously because of the “inter-dimensional sludge space opera” theme, whatever that means. But don’t let the lyrics trick you. This is some serious sludge. It is probably the best of the genre I’ve heard all year.
A lot of people will think that an album with a “fun” theme can’t really be true metal, but I’d recommend giving this a chance. You won’t even catch the lyrics on the first time through, and the songwriting might be good enough to keep you coming back. By the time you get around to paying attention to the lyrics, you won’t care anymore.
I’ve seen this labelled “blackened death metal,” but there’s bits of everything in this. Again, I’ve only made it through a few times, but I’ve really enjoyed this and am sad it wasn’t in rotation for the official list, because there is a good chance it would have made it.
(Sorry for the brevity, but I’m still travelling. Next week should be more thorough.)
Here’s a sample: