APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2014

Unlike everyone else, we waited until 2014 was actually over to recount our favorite albums. It’s been a great year for extreme music with a healthy amount of excellent releases.  We saw the return of legends in GODFLESH and AT THE GATES as well as welcome returns from long recording breaks in BEHEMOTH and MAYHEM.  And who can deny the GHOST B.C.-like popularity explosion of Japan’s BABYMETAL?  Crazy shit.  Metal is certainly a diverse genre.

For 2014, the APESHIT goons did not have any unanimous or semi-unanimous album of the year (i.e. 2013’s CARCASSSurgical Steel).  But MAYHEM, BLOODBATH, GODFLESH, and TRYPTIKON were near consensus picks.  Sorry, ENTOMBED A.D. didn’t make it here.

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Irish Heroes PRIMORDIAL Return with Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Dublin, Ireland’s PRIMORDIAL will make their return with Where Greater Men Have Fallen.  The new album is set for a November 25, 2014 release via Metal Blade Records.   Sing along to the title track:

Singer A.A. Nemtheanga elaborates: “Some time at the end of 2013 we sat and began to plot a course for album number eight. We moved camp to a new rehearsal room and the ideas began to take shape. We felt it was time to try a new studio and engineer so we went to Grouse Lodge deep in the middle of Ireland and employed Gomez to come over and work on the new album.” The band’s idea was, of course, to keep the PRIMORDIAL trademarks intact while incorporating a broader, heavier more organic sound. “We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history!”

All-Star BATHORY Tribute Band, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, Set to Release Debut

Twilight of the Gods - Fire on the MountainTWILIGHT OF THE GODS, the super group featuring Alan Averill (PRIMORDIAL), Nick Barker (ex-CRADLE OF FILTH, ex-DIMMU BORGIR), Rune Eriksen (AURA NOIR, NADER SADEK, ex-MAYHEM), Patrik Lindgren (THYRFING), and Frode Glesnes (EINHERJER) have named their debut album Fire on the Mountain. It will hit the stores on September 27th (October 1st in North America) via Season of Mist.  The band originally started out as a tribute to BATHORY following the death of Quorthon and made only live appearances before turning into a full-fledged band years later.

Check out the title track:

All-Star BATHORY Tribute Band TWILIGHT OF THE GODs to Release Original Material

Season of Mist just inked a deal with all-star band TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. Initially joining forces as a tribute band to BATHORY, singer Alan Averill (PRIMORDIAL), guitarists Rune Eriksen (AVA INFERI, AURA NOIR) and Patrik Lindgren (THYRFING), bassist Frode Glesnes (EINHERJER) and drummer Nick Barker (LOCK UP) recently started to write their own material, which should end up on a full-length album some time next year.

The band issued the following statement: “We are proud to sign a worldwide deal for TWILIGHT OF THE GODS with Season of Mist… So first question, why? The idea originally was to piece together an international band to pay tribute to BATHORY. Nothing more and nothing less. A challenge and a homage. We toured the BATHORY set last year and played some festivals here and there. We never say never again but some form of line was drawn under last years triumphant set at Ragnarok festival which made the whole journey seem worthwhile.

“We were asked to re-record BATHORY classics and offered this and that to make DVDs and live albums. Never in a million years was this going to happen… Yet the chemistry was so good between the five members we talked about writing our own material. It seemed a shame to file away the energy and synergy on a dusty shelf somewhere when new possibilities were open to all of us.

“Life after all is about new challenges and journeys so in the month of October the five members of TWILIGHT OF THE GODS convened in Southern Portugal for a writing session. On the back of this a contract was signed and things began to take shape. None of us in our respective bands and pasts have ever played straight forward Heavy Metal and this is what TOTG is shaping up to be… Sure there are some Epic parts and some 70s rock influences but the vast majority of the material sounds truly classic metal.

“Right now we are looking at going into the studio sometime in the first couple of months of 2012. So expect a full on Heavy Metal album crafted by a motley crue with over 40 albums experience within them and two decades each individually sharpening their swords…”

PRIMORDIAL – Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand

When Irish heroes, PRIMORDIAL, finally gained the recognition and success that was well-deserved for their last masterpiece, To the Nameless Dead, it was only natural that the anticipation and expectations for its follow-up would be high. Well, the band have certainly met the challenge with the excellent Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand. While it may not be on the same godly level as its predecessor, it is certainly not very far from it.

Stylistically, this is still PRIMORDIAL and their unique style of Irish folk influenced black metal remains intact. Those familiar strummed guitar chords and rhythms are still there. The songs average around the 8:00 minute mark and are journeys/stories that PRIMORDIAL are known for. Overall, the pace of the album is on the slower end of things. The dead serious tone and the slow pace of most of the songs may weigh down the momentum and energy at times but never the passion behind them.

Vocalist Alan Nemtheanga plays a more prominent role here as his vocals lead the rest of the band more than ever. Perhaps this is due to the guitars/bass parts taking more of a background role on much of the songs. Regardless of the reasoning, Alan Nemtheanga delivers the kind of passionate, charismatic, and profound performance that continues to separate him from the rest of metal vocalists. Few frontmen in metal are such eloquent and powerful lyric writers. One would be absolutely foolish to disregard the lyrics.

The first two songs on Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand start things off a bit more subdued and somber, especially when compared the epic opener of “Empire Falls” from the last album. The energy level rises afterwards though. “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” is the epitome of passion, will, and soul in metal. “God’s Old Snake” has a great sense of urgency and tension. When the tension is released at the peak of the crescendos, it is an awesome moment to behold. “The Mouth of Judas” creates such a serious and grave atmosphere that it feels like the air has been sucked out of your surroundings. Album closer, “Death of the Gods,” is a prime example of how powerful, passionate, and solemn PRIMORDIAL can be. It leaves quite an impression.

They are still hungry. They are still one of the underground’s best bands and epitomize the values and qualities that make this genre of music so great. Lastly, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand is another fine album from Ireland’s greatest metal band. (Metal Blade Records)

PRIMORDIAL – Storm Before Calm (Reissue)

Metal Blade has been churning out PRIMORDIAL reissues in full force because the originals are out of print. The Storm Before Calm reissue deserves some revisiting as there are a few gems on this disc.

Seconds within hitting the play button, the songs have been noticeably remastered with a cleaner sound and heavy hitting production. “The Heretic’s Age” grasps hold quickly with the Celtic inspired/black metal riffing that separates PRIMORDIAL from other bands within the genre. Their mid-paced style always incorporates minor chords and gloomy hooks mixed with great vocal lines. The drumming is more than adequate, and while the guitars keep consistent with the black metal style, it is singer A.A. Nemtheanga who plays an integral part of this band. Nemtheanga’s clean vocal breakdowns alway signify the catchy parts of PRIMORDIAL tracks.

As “Fallen to Ruin” starts with an acoustic intro, the energy picks up and crescendos ever so slightly into a dark and moving piece. Although “Cast to the Pyre” drags the album down a bit, the band segues nicely with each song, and “Suns First Rays” paints a grandiose picture with an excellent black metal feel with hints of Irish influences. The instrumental, “What Sleeps Within,” displays their Irish pride with riffs influenced from Irish folk songs, and once again distinguishes PRIMORDIAL’s unique style from the average folk black metal band from Europe. Towards the latter stage of the album, “Sons of the Morrigan” is quite the gem, as it ends with a brilliant riff that sticks in your head. The last track, “Hosting of the Sidhe,” is just filler, but makes the listener want more, and with longer songs than the average band, Storm Before Calm produces a full experience with only 7 tracks.

While the reissue includes a live DVD as an extra incentive, the songs alone should garner interest for fans of To the Nameless Dead, and reinvigorate old fans that have forgotten about this album. (Metal Blade Records)

PRIMORDIAL Singer Talks About New Album, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand

Irish pagan metal masters PRIMORDIAL have just released the reissue of their classic Storm Before Calm album in Europe. The album is available in a remastered version as a double digipak with new artwork. The package also contains the bonus-DVD, Live at Summer Breeze 2004.

Meanwhile PRIMORDIAL have finished the recordings on their seventh studio album, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, with producer Chris Fielding. It is scheduled for release on April 23rd in Europe and April 26th in North America.

PRIMORDIAL vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga comments on Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand:

“If I had to sum this album up I would say this is the ‘death’ album. Plain and simple. There isn’t exactly a whole concept but many of the themes deal with mortality, how we deal with it. The spiritual structures we place around us to make sense of it. Sex, death, procreation and god. As we get older our relationship to our lives changes, the realization you will not live forever, the grand plan you hoped to uncover never materializes, food for worms and nothing more.

“We are animals, beasts and making peace with that beast might be your life’s work but more often than not he is never tamed.

“Once a wolf always a wolf. We all seek redemption in one way or another, from lies or from truth. Those of us who are godless or faithless often envy the man of faith for his life seems to have an extra purpose, despite the fact that logic, pragmatism, science and realism should crush any sign of faith, we still persist in lying to ourselves. Perhaps the alternative is too much to bear. So the themes of religion, mortality and death occur over and over again, along with continuing themes of alienation, martyrdom, sacrifice, violence and retribution. Occasionally, very occasionally a chink of light breaks through.

“This is our seventh album, you know what to expect, passion, intensity, commitment and sheer bloody mindedness. Don’t expect fantasy or escapism. No remorse, no regret.”

All-Star BATHORY Tribute Band, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, to Perform Live this Summer

The new all-star BATHORY tribute band, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, have announced that they will be performing at festivals in Europe this summer. The band consists of Alan Nemtheanga (PRIMORDIAL), Blasphemer (AVA INFERI, AURA NOIR, ex-MAYHEM), Frode Glesnes (EINHERJER), Nick Barker (BENEDICTION, ex-DIMMU BORGIR and more), Patrik Lindgren (THYRFING).

Check out this video interview, which includes rehearsal clips:

PRIMORDIAL: Passion Aflame

When you think about countries where great metal is from, Ireland might be the last place you’d think of. However, Irish heroes PRIMORDIAL have been paying their dues in the (international) underground scene since 1991 with their unique style of folk/black metal. While groundbreaking albums such as A Journey’s End have drawn the adoration of tried and true underground fans, the band’s new monumental album, To the Nameless Dead, seems to have finally broken through to the rest of the metal masses at large. We spoke to vocalist Alan Nemtheanga about the band’s vision and source of inspiration as well as a host of other topics including their love of BATHORY.

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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2007

It’s been a grossly successful 2007 for APESHIT, and though we find it hard pressed to make that same general claim for metal in 2007, a handful of albums did manage to leave a strong impression on us. We here at APESHIT individually compiled our own top 10 metal albums of 2007 lists for a new “blog” category that we look forward to experimenting with in 2008. Let us know what you think and post your own top 10 metal albums of 2007 in the comments section below. Cheers!

dr.park’s top 10

1. MANES How the World Came to an End

This album really just came out of nowhere and turned out to be one of the best albums in recent years. The album is so deep in its scope, ambition, and execution and is a winner in every facet. Ideally, this should be an underground/indie hit. [Read our full review]

2. ULVER Shadows of the Sun

It’s sounds tired to say but ULVER have done it yet again. Shadows of the Sun is another creative gem. The strong melancholic, subdued atmospheres make for some of the best mood music you can find. [Read our full review]

3. TURBONEGRO Retox

Retox is far better and more solid than their recent efforts. Finally, fans have been given an album that comes as close to their zenith, Apocalypse Dudes, as the band can get. Retox is also prime party music. [Read our full review]

4. MAYHEM Ordo Ad Chao

Just when you thought Norwegian black metal had grown too safe, accessible, and popular, MAYHEM makes an essential album that crushes all. Ordo Ad Chao is a powerful statement of true Norwegian black metal the way it used to be: pure, dark, raw, and evil. [Read our full review]

5. SHINING V: Halmstad

SHINING are one of the best underground Swedish death/black bands that many underground fans have yet to hear. Great riffs, flow, balance and strong vocal presence from band leader and raging maniac, Niclas Kvarforth. V: Halmstad is some of the best (Swedish) metal not coming from Gothenburg. [Read our full review]

6. DIR EN GREYThe Marrow of a Bone

Though most of their U.S. fans are teenage girls with Japanese pop culture fever, don’t let that subtract and detract from this quality album. The Marrow of a Bone is ugly, dark, and has the right balance of hooks and brutality that has allowed it to be another worldwide hit for the band. [Read our full review]

7. WATAIN Sworn to the Dark

To steal a thought from shady rajah: This is the album that DISSECTION should’ve written as their final album. WATAIN keep the flame of classic Swedish black/death metal burning with no peers in sight. [Read our full review]

8. PRIMORDIAL To the Nameless Dead

Ireland’s premier metal band, PRIMORDIAL, have written yet another excellent album of folk/black metal that is so much grander, powerful, and spirited than so much else out there. [Read our full review]

9. MELECHESH Emissaries

If you haven’t heard this band or this album, you are missing out on a lot. There’s nothing like MELECHESH‘s Mesopotamian metal and Emissaries is easily their best album. NILE is good and all but MELECHESH are better at conjuring the ancient rhythms, spirits, and mythology of the gods. [Read our full review]

10. PARADISE LOSTIn Requiem

It’s always a great thing when underground legends can continue to make high quality music so deep into their careers. In Requiem is not your flavor of the month underground metal but who cares…it’s timeless stuff. [Read our full review]

shady rajah’s top 10

1. WATAIN Sworn to the Dark

As the only worthy successor to the departed DISSECTION, WATAIN has carved their own bloody path to black metal glory. Sworn to the Dark is an album filled seething aggression and evil atmosphere that is complex in details, but undeniable in song craft. WAITAIN are a band that’s made black metal dangerous again. [Read our full review]

2. DOWNIII: Over the Under

DOWN‘s third album couldn’t have had a more fitting title, as the band overcame a mountain of adversity. Over the Under successfully captures all the pain, sweat and struggle with all the heat and density of an Louisiana swamp, resulting in 2007’s most heartfelt, honest and real album. [Read our full review]

3. EXODUSThe Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A

A recent thrash metal trend has surfaced ushering hordes imitators still trying capture that classic 80’s sound. EXODUS isn’t it making it any easier for these wannabes as The Atrocity Exhibition drove shards of razor sharp thrash in to the jugular of pretenders everywhere. Nearly thirty years later, these Bay-area bruisers just seem to keep getting heavier, and are keeping true thrash alive and killing. [Read our full review]

4. SHININGV: Halmstad

Niklas Kvarforth has kept the flame of darkness and hatred burning for a decade now, with each album becoming increasingly more complex and intricate while retaining the feeling dread and despair that has existed since the band’s beginning. V: Halmstad is the band’s masterwork, engulfing the listener in darkness. Suicide has never sounded better. [Read our full review]

5. MIDDIANAge Eternal

Formed from the ashes of YOB, MIDDIAN was the vision that continued Mike Scheidt‘s path of doom metal mastery, laying the foundation for the future of sludge. Age Eternal brought the power of slow and the strength of the riff. Unfortunately the band was dropped and forced to change their name, but in their brief moment time, MIDDIAN created a small piece of doom metal history. [Read our full review]

6. DIMMU BORGIRIn Sorte Diaboli

Norway’s premier black metal(ish) super group, DIMMU BORGIR delivered yet another powerful entry in their already considerable catalog, with a driving guitar heavy album that was catchy as it was complex. Having Hellhammer on board didn’t hurt either, as Jan Axel carved layer of intricate drum patterns to enhance the band’s already ambitious anti-Christian concept album. A successful anti-Christian concept album…how awesome is that? [Read our full review]

7. ABORTEDSlaughter and Apparatus: A Methodical Overture

Sven De Caluwe may have lost all his original members, but nothing detered the growling machine. He simply assembled a new death squad and delivered another precise, surgical slaughter of bludgeoning death metal. Relentless and furious yet containing some of the catchiest songs about mutilation written in recent memory, Slaughter and Apparatus continues the band’s excellent carnage. [Read our full review]

8. MACHINE HEADThe Blackening

After dabbling in bland nu-metal for a spell, MACHINE HEAD came roaring back with their return to form, Through Ashes of Empires. But that was just the warm up. The Blackening is the main course, with the band firing on all levels, encompassing MACHINE HEAD‘s most challenging work to date. The Blackening serves as both a defining moment in the band’s history as well as one of 2007’s finest albums. [Read our full review]

9. IMMOLATIONShadows in the Light

These death metal veterans helped shape and form death metal in it’s earliest stages, but the Yonker’s natives still show they have plenty of tricks up their sleeve. IMMOLATION deliver an intricate maze of riffs, complex drum patterns, and heapings of sinister atmosphere…not to mention an ample amount of guitar shredding. Their legacy of death continues to grow. [Read our full review]

10. SOILWORKSworn to a Great Divide

Despite losing a pivotal member with the departure of Peter Wichers, the band nonetheless stepped up to the plate, dove in to their considerable arsenal of hooks, and soldiered on with one of the year’s catchiest records. Balancing song craft and drummer Dirk Verbeuren‘s well thought out drum patterns, Sworn to a Great Divide is full of hooks that stick in your head. [Read our full review]

roycifer’s top 10

1. HIM Venus Doom

These Finns have always been top-notch songwriters, and they succeed again while under the delicious influence of doom. Ville Valo‘s singing and songwriting don’t miss a step, and the band sound at home with the heavier vibe. “Sleepwalking Past Hope” is a magnificent epic of “November Rain” proportions.

2. MAYHEM Ordo Ad Chao

With Ordo Ad Chao, MAYHEM made black metal sound exciting and totally fucking evil again! The album trembles with such unnerving, nihilistic ferocity not heard since the inception of black metal. Hellhammer‘s best performance. [Read our full review]

3. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGEEra Vulgaris

Josh Homme is a music making beast with such a distinct style and vision. Everything he touches, turns into gold. Their best album since Rated R. [Read our full review]

4. SCARVE The Undercurrent

Guitar music hasn’t been this exciting since SOILWORK emerged onto the scene. But SCARVE are not merely a guitar band. Drummer Dirk Verburen really helps shapes the band’s sound and provides a necessary dynamic with his drumming. [Read our full review]

5. CHIMAIRA Resurrection

This was the album that should have followed The Impossibility of Reason. CHIMAIRA have always had a lot of potential and are continuing to show their steady growth as musicians and songwriters. Move over LAMB OF GOD, CHIMAIRA are the true heir to PANTERA‘s throne. [Read our full review]

6. SHINING V: Halmstad

V: Halmstad is uniquely black metal in that it draws a lot of influence from rock and classical music but is pieced together in a very progressive manner. The excellent songwriting is topped by the tortured vocals of Niclas Kvarforth. Suicide never sounded so damn inviting. [Read our full review]

7. MANES How the World Came to an End

How the World Came to an End is an eclectic album for the ages that spans rock, electronic, and hip-hop while still feeling every bit metal. ULVER, eat your heart out. [Read our full review]

8. AMORPHIS Silent Waters

Silent waters was where the band was treading about for a few releases. But their latest album is solid collection of timeless listening. Singer Tomi Joutsen has breathed new life into a group of vets making waves once again. [Read our full review]

9. MARDUK Rom 5:12

Black metal’s ever-black sons of Swedish blackness keep getting better (and blacker) with age. New singer Mortuus‘ is ferocious and has a voice all his own. To quote dr.park, “it sounds like he’s gurgling blood.” Rom 5:12 also marks a newfound reach to diversify and expand their style…and those risks certainly pay off. [Read our full review]

10. ION DISSONANCEMinus the Herd

While the bees were busy buzzing about JOB FOR A COWBOY, ION DISSONANCE were having a ho down of their own. Minus the Herd tops JOB FOR A COWBOY‘s Genesis on technicality, dynamics, and lasting interestingness. [Read our full review]