JOE REED’S BEST OF 2014
Best Debut Album: Nothing- “Guilty of Everything” (Relapse)
Although my favorite debut album this year was from North Carolina grind outfit Columns, I’m giving the edge in this category to label mates Nothing for two reasons, the first being that I already covered Columns’ album “Please Explode” for this site earlier in the year. The second reason is that this Philadelphia quartet’s mixture of My Bloody Valentine shoegaze and Sonic Youth / Dinosaur Jr. textures makes them a formidable band in the independent music community and, for many, a breath of fresh air. Rarely does a debut have this type of impact.
Breakthrough Album: Thantifaxath- “Sacred White Noise” (Dark Descent Records)
As vocal as I have been all year about what I feel is a true renaissance happening currently in the black metal genre, Thantifaxath embodies every characteristic pertaining to such a revival of creativity in that genre. “Sacred White Noise” is already a standard bearer for post-modern black metal with its eclectic combination of ambience, ferocity, and unpredictable textures that fuse together to form the kind of uncomfortable atmosphere that black metal should. Visually and musically this record reminds me of what drew me to the black metal genre as a youth without being an uninspired attempt to recreate the past. The most infernal of hails.
Comeback / Reunion Album: Godflesh- “A World Lit Only by Fire” (Avalanche Records)
2014 was certainly a year of big reunions and comebacks in the metal world and for my money none of them hold a candle to “A World Lit Only by Fire” which very well may be the best Godflesh album ever put to tape. Harsh, intense, uncompromising, inspired, and very well put together, the first album by the duo in thirteen years is as impactful as any record in the band’s back catalog. Without the ghost of a “Slaughter of the Soul” haunting them or a production approach that undermined their sonic integrity the way Eyehategod’s self titled album did, Godflesh’s album this year stands alone as a powerful testament to their creativity and significance.
Heaviest Album: Monolord- “Empress Rising” (Easyrider Records)
If metal albums (especially stoner / doom metal albums) were weed, “Empress Rising” is the equivalent of the blunt you hit once and immediately stare at. You’re somewhat frightened, certainly taken aback, and left amazed before your head becomes mush. How heavy this band is borders on the comedic but trust me, they are no laughing matter.
Most Interesting Album: Cold World- “How the Gods Chill” (Deathwish Inc.)
One of the most celebrated and unique acts in hardcore, Wilkes-Barre, PA’s Cold World unleashed their highly anticipated follow up to 2007’s “Dedicated to Babies Who Came Feet First” in October and it more than lived up to the high expectations. Combining hardcore, hip hop, punk, metal, and alternative rock, Cold World crafted an album that is dark, introspective, and memorable to say the least. Regardless of your familiarity with this band, their brand of hardcore, or your musical preferences, the palatability and accessibility of this record makes it easily one of the best albums of 2014.