Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Binge 1/30/2015

Plenty of great releases this week from almost every genre. Grindcore entrepreneurs, Napalm Death, stand tall with their new LP, "Apex Predator - Easy Meat". Following this are phenomenal releases by progressive bands Nightingale and Periphery with "Retribution" and "Juggernaut: Alpha & Omega" respectively. Other releases include albums by Angelus Apatrida, Ingested, Jorn Lande and Trond Holter, Lord Dying, Papa Roach, Sodom, Venom and more! Enjoy and feel free to comment below!

Also don't forget to check out the Top Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014!

Pick of the Week

Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy MeatRecommended Track: Beyond the Pale

Genre: Grindcore
Label: Century Media

Napalm Death have stood at the top of the grindcore heap for over 30 years and continue to adapt their style without sounding desperate. Their 15th LP, "Apex Predator - Easy Meat", continues vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway's adaptation of socio-political tragedies into intense verse. In this case, we find the collapse of a poorly constructed sweatshop building in Bangladesh, wherein 1500 workers were killed. In other words, the "easy meat" (workers) became victims of the "apex predators"(big business). Greenway's passionate growls speak volumes, and the tight backing of Mitch Harris(guitars, backing vocals), Shane Embury(bass, backing vocals), and Danny Herrera(drums) pulls it all together. Songs such as “Dear Slum Landlord” and “Hierarchies” have Greenway singing in addition to his trademark barking roar, while the backing screeches of Harris make "Predator" one of the more lyrically versatile albums the band has released. 30 years is a long time, and Napalm Death show no signs of slowing down.


Nightingale - RetributionRecommended Track: The Voyage of Endurance

Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: InsideOut

Periphery - Juggernaut: Alpha & OmegaRecommended Track: Graveless

Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Sumerian


Other notable releases this week include:

  • 2Cellos - CelloverseGenre: Instrumental | Label: Portrait
  • Angelus Apatrida - Hidden EvolutionGenre: Thrash Metal | Label: Century Media
  • Ascension - The Dead of the WorldGenre: Black Metal | Label: Season of Mist
  • Battleaxe - Power From the Universe Re-releaseGenre: NWOBHM | Label: SPV
  • Battle Beast - Unholy SaviorGenre: Heavy Metal/Power Metal | Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Black Sheep Wall - I'm Going to Kill MyselfGenre: Sludge Metal | Label: Season of Mist
  • The Body and Thou - Released From Love/You, Whom I Have Always HatedGenre: Sludge Metal | Label: Thrill Jockey
  • Diablo Blvd. - Follow The DeadlightsGenre: Death Metal/Thrash Metal | Label: Lifeforce
  • Gov't Mule - Sco-MuleGenre: Blues Rock | Label: Evil Teen
  • Grimoire - L'aorasie Des spectres rêveurs - EPGenre: Black Metal | Label: Eisenwald
  • If These Trees Could Talk - Above The Earth, Below The Sky Re-releaseGenre: Post-Rock | Label: Metal Blade
  • If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest Re-releaseGenre: Post-Rock | Label: Metal Blade
  • Ingested - The Architect of ExtinctionGenre: Death Metal | Label: Century Media
  • Iron Witch - Single Malt - EPGenre: Sludge Metal | Label: Witch Hunter
  • Jorn Lande and Trond Holter - Dracula: Swing of DeathGenre: Heavy Metal | Label: Frontiers
  • Level 10 - Chapter 1Genre: Heavy Metal/Power Metal | Label: Frontiers
  • Lord Dying - Poisoned AltarsGenre: Sludge Metal/Thrash Metal | Label: Relapse
  • The Lone Bellow - Then the Morning CameGenre: Indie Rock | Label: Descendant
  • Night Demon - Curse of the DamnedGenre: Traditional Metal | Label: Century Media
  • Papa Roach - F.E.A.R.Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Eleven Seven
  • Sodom - Sacred Warpath - EPGenre: Thrash Metal | Label: SPV
  • Sumokem - The Madness of Lu Shen Ti Vol. 1Genre: Stoner Doom Metal | Label: Handshake
  • Sweet & Lynch - Only To RiseGenre: Hard Rock | Label: Frontiers
  • Venom - From the Very DepthsGenre: Black Metal | Label: NWOBHM
  • Visigoth - The Revenant KingGenre: Power Metal | Label: Metal Blade
  • Voices - LondonGenre: Progressive Black Metal | Label: Candlelight
  • Xibalba - Tierra Y LibertadGenre: Death Metal/Hardcore | Label: Southern Lord

Thanks for reading and hope you found something new to listen to. See you next Friday for the next Weekly Binge where I will break down more notable goodies.

- The Catalyst

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Binge 1/23/2015

This week is kind of slow with some of the more major releases (Angra, Armageddon) being pushed back to February. There's still a few albums worth mentioning, however. Power/progressive metal fans will love this week as get the debut release by Serious Black, "As Daylight Breaks", along with the stateside release of the fantastic "Get Your Bulls Out" by Messiah's Kiss. Other notables include a releases by The Decemberists, Marilyn Manson, and the return of female indie punk group Sleater-Kinney, among others. Enjoy and feel free to comment below!

Also don't forget to check out the Top Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014!

Pick of the Week

Serious Black - As Daylight BreaksRecommended Track: Arkhenaton

Genre: Power Metal
Label: AFM

Serious Black is yet another European super-group consisting of members from bands like Pyramaze, Visions of Atlantis, Blind Guardian, Helloween, Masterplan, et al. Usually in these culminations we receive a stand out track or two combined with filler. Luckily, Black has defied the norm and released a solid debut. On the one-two punch of album openers/singles "I Seek No Other Life" and "High and Low", vocalist Urban Breed (Trail of Murder, ex-Pyramaze) belts catchy choruses and the listener is instantly engaged. Luckily, the rest of the album is as solid as these two tracks as the band waivers through slow-paced ballads and fast-paced salvos. Each band member's talent shines with guitarists Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge, ex-Astaroth, ex-Mortus) and Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) working in concert, and bassist Mario Lochert (Emergency Gate, ex-Visions of Atlantis) and drummer Thomen Stauch (Savage Circus, ex-Coldseed, ex-Blind Guardian) keeping a steady rhythm. Keyboardist Jan Vacik (D-vision, ex-Dreamscape) shares a particularly wonderful piece with Breed in the title track backed by strings. Super-groups tend to come and go over in Europe, but Serious Black is definitely a case where the combination works and gives a lasting impression.


Messiah's Kiss - Get Your Bulls Out!Recommended Track: Immortal Memory

Genre: Heavy Metal/Power Metal
Label: Massacre


Other notable releases this week include:

  • Arcane - Known/Learned (2-Disc)Genre: Progressive Metal | Label: Sensory
  • Breathless - Return to PangeaGenre: Thrash Metal | Label: Xtreem
  • Dead City Ruins - Dead City RuinsGenre: Hard Rock | Label: Metalville
  • The Decemberists - What a Beautiful World, What a Terrible WorldGenre: Folk Rock | Label: Capitol
  • Lectern - Fratricidal ConcelebrationGenre: Death Metal | Label: Sliptrick
  • Marilyn Manson - The Pale EmperorGenre: Industrial Rock | Label: Loma Vista
  • Satan's Host - Pre-Dating God Part 1 & 2Genre: Blackened Heavy Metal | Label: Moribund
  • Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To LoveGenre: Punk Rock/Indie Rock | Label: Sub Pop

Thanks for reading and hope you found something new to listen to. See you next Friday for the next Weekly Binge where I will break down more notable goodies.

- The Catalyst

Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekly Binge 1/16/2015

Well it's the start of a new year, and with January tends to come some decent releases looking to capitalize on the holiday drought, but nothing outright exceptional. This week, however, sees the stateside release of Witchrider's debut LP "Unmountable Stairs"; a most definitely exceptional release. Also releasing this week is Sylosis' "Dormant Heart" and 6:33's avant-garde debut "Deadly Scenes" along with plenty of re-releases by the label Metal Mind including albums by Candlemass, Clawfinger, and Benediction. See below for a full breakdown. Enjoy!

Also don't forget to check out the Top Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014!

Pick of the Week

Witchrider - Unmountable StairsRecommended Track: SP
Genre: Stoner Rock
Label: Fuzzorama

Witchrider rides fuzzy, Californian waves with an intensity Josh Hommes (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age) could only imagine. The starting half of the album consisting of “OCD,” “One for Five” and “Black” get the dust swirling as tracks "Far From You" and "SP" come in for the sonic kill. Vocalist Dan Dorninger kills the desert sun groove, and the rest of the group rises on the sum of it's parts. Consider this a 2015 release because it's going to most definitely be on a few end of the year lists.


Sylosis - Dormant HeartRecommended Track: Harm
Genre: Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast

6:33 - Deadly ScenesRecommended Track: Black Widow
Genre: Avant Garde/Progressive Metal
Label: Kaotoxin


Other releases this week include:

  • Benediction - Grind Bastard Re-ReleaseGenre: Death Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Benediction - Killing Music Re-ReleaseGenre: Death Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Benediction - Organised Chaos Re-ReleaseGenre: Death Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Benediction - Subconscious Terror Re-ReleaseGenre: Death Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Benediction - Transcend the Rubicon/The Dreams You Dread Re-ReleaseGenre: Death Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Candlemass - Candlemass Re-ReleaseGenre: Doom Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Candlemass - Lucifer Rising Re-ReleaseGenre: Doom Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Clawfinger - Life Will Kill You Re-ReleaseGenre: Rap Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • The Crown - Death Is Not DeadGenre: Melodic Death Metal/Thrash Metal | Label: Century Media
  • Desolate Shrine - The Heart of the NetherworldGenre: Death Metal | Label: Dark Descent
  • Einherjer - Av Oss, For OssGenre: Viking Metal | Label: Indie
  • Exlibris - AfterealGenre: Power Metal | Label: Metal Mind
  • Karma To Burn- Arch StantonGenre: Instrumental Stoner Metal | Label: FABA
  • Pain of Salvation - Falling HomeGenre: Progressive Rock/Acoustic | Label: Inside Out
  • Palisades - Mind GamesGenre: Metalcore/Techno-core | Label: Rise
  • Panzer, The German - Send Them All To HellGenre: Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal | Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Wednesday 13 - Monsters of the Universe - Come Out and PlagueGenre: Horror Metal/Heavy Metal | Label: Self

Thanks for reading and hope you found something new to listen to. See you next Friday for the next Weekly Binge where I will break down more notable goodies.

- The Catalyst

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

Below are some of the best hard rock/heavy metal albums of the year. Putting a list together like this is not an easy task. Many fantastic albums are left off, and even the honorees list fails to encompass the quality releases this year. So my hope is that you will take this list, and listen, tweak, and continue to discover. As an understanding, only full-length studio albums are eligible for the list. EPs, live albums, and re-releases, while many are fantastic, don't make the cut. Put your headphones on and plug into the countdown.

The Countdown

This is it. The cream of the crop of 2014. Enjoy!

Note: Some of the below Youtube players are video playlists. To look at the songs available, press play on the video, then click "Playlist" in the top left hand corner of the player.

  1. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata (Gothic/Death/Black/Doom Metal)Recommended Track: Boleskine House
    Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

    Triptykon released their debut,"Eparistera Daimones", in 2010, and once again former-Celtic Frost frontman Tom G. Warrior redefined genres producing fiery blackened doom. A more introspective take, "Melana Chasmata", is built around a fluid intensity. Warrior's vocals consist of both harsh and harmonic, and the instrumentals follow suit. The album is somehow darker for it. The soft female-led melody on songs like "Boleskine House" clashes with Warrior's violent howlings. H.R. Geiger - who also did the artwork for Celtic Frost's "To Mega Therion" - brings the theme home on his artwork consisting simply of a demonic, machine-like figure hiding in the shadows. Melana Chasmata stands for black, deep valleys, the same place where the listener is soon taken.

  2. Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind (Experimental Black Metal)Recommended Track: On The Other Side
    Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind

    In his last recording with Nachtmystium before moving on, Blake Judd has unleashed a fury of emotions. 2013 was a difficult year for Judd as he was arrested on theft charges related to withholding merchandise from people who paid for it without offering a refund, which would lead to his admission of having a heroin addiction. Rather than continue to make music, and most likely spiral further downward, Judd decided that "The World We Left Behind" would be his final project with Nachtmystium, so he could focus on rehabilitation. The album builds upon experiments present in 2012's "The Silencing Machine" utilizing even cleaner vocals, including some soulful female vocals featured prominently in the slow burning closer "Epitaph for a Dying Star". The record is angry, sad, hurt, and yet there is a prevailing and compelling sense of faint hope for the future. The tonal variety of the album speaks to the hardships Judd was facing during production, and there is an incredible emotional impact as he spits the words:

    Trapped in that dark place
    For too many years
    Never going back
    Never going f**king back
    I am free

  3. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Progressive Black Metal)Recommended Track: Babel's Tower
    Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

    Primordial continues to evolve with each release to the point that it's getting harder and harder to pinpoint the genre to which they belong. "Where Greater Men Have Fallen" is filled with doomy licks, enhanced with the blackened operatics of singer A.A. Nemtheanga. Each song moves at a steady pace, peppered with equal moments of fury and folk. It's a style that needs to be heard to be understood, and Primordial should definitely be heard.

  4. Midnight - No Mercy for Mayhem (Speed Metal)Recommended Track: Woman of Flame
    Midnight -

    Midnight oozes classic heavy metal themes. Encompassing all that is mighty with early thrash/speed metal the group knows what its fan base wants and turns it up to 11 on "No Mercy for Mayhem". Athenar's crunchy vocal work blends perfectly with the high octane music. Slower songs are sprinkled throughout and provide a nice doomy relief as we anticipate the returning onslaught. A fantastic album to pop in and drive to who the hell cares.

  5. YOB - Clearing the Path to Ascend (Stoner Doom Metal)Recommended Track: Nothing to Win
    YOB - Clearing the Path to Ascend

    YOB is known for releasing albums with a small number of tracks, but immense run times. Their 2014 output, "Clearing the Path to Ascend", is no different with four tracks and a length of over an hour. It's sludgy, it's doomy, it's brutally beautiful. The intensity packed into each chord causes earthquakes of olfactory ruination. A patient listener is required, but the payoff is worth taking an hour off, finding a secluded place, and draping yourself in its sonic embrace.

  6. Mortals - Cursed to See the Future (Blackened Sludge Metal)Recommended Track: The Summoning
    Mortals - Cursed to See the Future

    Mortals is made up of three women, Kristen Nosek (vocals/guitar), Lesley Wolf (vocals/bass), and Caryn Havlik (drums). Beginning as a metallic punk band and slowly moving towards blackened sludge, the trio's debut release "Cursed to See the Future" puts many of their contemporaries to bed. Combining elements of black, sludge, doom, and thrash into a perfect cocktail of chaos. Within the first minute or so, any listener with a fervor for the heavy will be found with their jaw on the floor and their finger on the replay button.

  7. Soen - Tellurian (Progressive Metal/Post Metal)Recommended Track: Tabula Rasa
    Soen - Tellurian

    Supergroup, Soen, was formed in 2004, but did not officially announce a project until 2010. The original members consisted of former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez, ex-Death/Testament/Sadus bassist Steve DiGiorgio, Willowtree vocalist Joel Ekelöf, and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis. DiGiorgio departed the group after their 2012 release, "Cognitive", and was replaced by Stefan Stenberg. "Cognitive" was recognized for being very "Tool"-esque; both a blessing and a curse. Many other bands, such as Rishloo and ISIS, had taken the mantle Tool left in their absence and Lopez hoped that Soen would not fall victim to the "like Tool" genre moniker. Enter "Tellurian". The album still definitely has post-metal ("like Tool") characteristics, particularly in its heaviness, but various progressive additions help it stand above such a generalization. The album rips and roars, but acoustic soft spots shine through the intensity creating a very full experience. Tool may one day return with another album, but it's bands like Soen that actively improve and push the capabilities and boundaries of the post-metal genre.

  8. Earth - Primitive and Deadly (Drone/Stoner Doom Metal)Recommended Track: From The Zodiacal Light
    Earth - Primitive and Deadly

    Earth understands the musical essence of dazed, the harmonic embodiment of confused, and the melodic consonance of staring at the purple sky in both amazement and horror. It's light. It's heavy. It's subtle. It's sharp. It's groovy. It's dissonant. It's distinctive. It's... not. Where was I? Whatever. Just give it a listen and you'll *cough* know what I mean.

  9. Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Avant Garde Black Metal)Recommended Track: Forhist
    Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

    Blut Aus Nord's output has been variable to say the least. The third part of their Memoria Vetusta saga, however, is phenomenal all around. The album combines folk, symphonic, and black metal genres to great esteem. So much is packed into each song it's impossible to digest it all on the first listen. The album also works for the passive listener, since the dramatic details are wrapped around a deceptively simple structure. When Blut Aus Nord get it right, they really, really do.

  10. High Spirits - You Are Here (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)Recommended Track: One Thousand Nights
    High Spirits = You Are Here

    Chris Black has had a busy year, releasing three albums from his various projects: Dawnbringer's "Night of the Hammer" (Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Lead Vocals), Metalusafer's "Heavy Metal Hammer" (vocals), and High Spirits' "You Are Here" (everything). The latter solo project released the phenomenal, "Another Night", in 2011, and this year basically topped it with "You Are Here". Mixing punk, 80's anthem, and various other rocking genres, the album provides some of the most pure fun of the year. Each song is full of vibrance, vigor, and catchy lyrics to boot. Another for the drive.

  11. Behemoth - The Satanist (Death Metal)Recommended Track: Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
    Behemoth - The Satanist

    Behemoth's recent efforts have focused on the avant garde with symphonic and operatic additions that transcended genres. The problem, however, is that the group went so big with "Evangelion" (2009) that there was no real hope of a comeback that could top it. Instead, Nergal (vocals/guitars), Inferno (drums), and Orion (backing vocals/bass) come back with a vengeance. Stripping the symphonic to the barest minimum,"The Satanist" finds the group creating pure volatile terror, unleashing the musicianship hidden beneath. A perfect example of a band knowing their strengths and -literally- playing to them.

  12. Audrey Horne - Pure Heavy (Hard Rock)Recommended Track: Let Live
    Audrey Horne - Pure Heavy

    Releasing the acclaimed "Youngblood" in 2012, Audrey Horne return with, "Pure Heavy", an aptly named blast from the past. Mixing 80's and 90's mentalities, the group bursts out of the gates and never slows down. Toschie's vocals are a highlight, but the bands cohesive work also shines. Another rollicking good time from a band who continues to improve.

  13. Misery Index - The Killing Gods (Death Metal/Grindcore)Recommended Track: Conjuring the Cull
    Misery Index - The Killing Gods

    Misery Index is a household name for anyone following the grindcore genre. With "The Killing Gods", the band applies layers to their sound with some clean background vocals to balance Jason Netherton's growls. The album may irk genre diehards, but should eventually draw them in with the intense riffage and quality production.

  14. Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun (Progressive Sludge Metal)Recommended Track: Ember City
    Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

    When I first heard the album opener of "Once More 'Round the Sun", "Tread Lightly", it seemed Mastodon was heading in the wrong direction. Nothing seemed to click and it felt others in the genre had "treaded" similar waters. These fears soon subsided, however, as "The Motherload" got my attention, and then I understood. The group takes a more simplified and direct route this time around with a focus on catchy hooks and indelible lyrics. Choruses in songs like "High Road" and "Ember City" prove that sometimes simplicity can actually feel more dynamic. After several dozen listens not one song has been skipped in favor of another; even the opener has attached itself to my eardrums. The album is full of "singles", but maintains the superior musicianship we have come to expect from Mastodon. Several guest spots including: The Coathangers, an indie/punk band from Atlanta who guest on the rollicking “Aunt Lisa”, Valient Himself from Valient Thorr does backing vocals on “Asleep In The Deep”, and Neurosis’ Scott Kelly can be found on the closing track “Diamond In The Witch House”. Each song is immense, powerful, and addicting. Another phenomenal outing from this seminal group.

  15. Death Penalty - Death Penalty (Heavy Metal/Doom Metal)Recommended Track: Golden Tides
    Death Penalty - Death Penalty

    In 2012, one of the most infamous bands in doom metal, Cathedral, parted ways to many fans dismay. Thankfully guitarist Gaz Jennings wasn't ready to quit the business outright, and started forming a band of his own. Death Penalty is the culmination of that effort. Nabbing Raf Meukens (bass) along with Frederik Cosemans (drums) and Michelle Nocon (vocals) both of Serpentcult. Many wondered if the project would be Cathedral reborn, but instead Gaz utilized his 70's doom influence, namely Witchfinder General, whose debut the band is named after. The tempo varies between straight doom and a more heavy metal rendition with fantastic guitarwork from Gaz. The real shining star of the album, however, is Nocon with her incredible and haunting vocals. A short acoustic song, "The One That Dwells", breaks up the journey, followed by an almost sludgy delve in "She is a Witch"; both of which showcase Nocon's range. I for one cannot wait to see what Gaz and co. have in store for the future.

  16. Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown (Metalcore/Hardcore Punk)Recommended Track: Old Light
    Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

    While "Ex Lives" (2012) wasn't a complete departure for Every Time I Die (ETID) it seemed they were content to ride the more melodic aggressive punk style that made them famous in "Gutter Phenomenom" (2005), "The Big Dirty" (2007), and "New Junk Aesthetic" (2009). This was more than fine for many, but fans who grew attached to the band's earlier work "Last Night in Town" (2001) and "Hot Damn!" (2003) felt pushed to the wayside. With the new album, however, ETID have brought it all together into a constantly changing fit of aggressive riffs and bombastic tones. The Buckley brothers are definitely having fun on this one, and it shows. Keith's vocals have never sounded better, and while he may move to the melodic for a song or two, his energetic, sharp-talk shrieks provide another layer of intensity. His brother, Jordan, is equally aggressive as he plucks catchy rhythms with ferocity. It's the best work the group has put out to date, and the next one can't come soon enough.

  17. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden (Doom Metal)Recommended Track: The Ghost I Used To Be
    Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

    In 2012 Pallbearer debuted with "Sorrow and Extinction", which garnered plenty "best of the year" awards. Nobody could have expected lightning to strike twice, but with "Foundations of Burden" the group has created another magnificent contender and solidified their place among the modern greats. The band's cohesion of classic funeral doom with hints of post-sludge and ambient soundscapes sweeps the listener into a graveyard haze; not soon to be relinquished. Their incredible songwriting prowess continues to grow in quality by volumes. Rather than traipse through the dark and melancholy for the whole album, Pallbearer maintain a sense of hope throughout the album. It's by no means a "happy" experience, but the way the group melds emotions is incredible. Words struggle to describe the feeling of following Pallbearer on their second journey, but let's pray it's not their last.

  18. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em (Psychedelic Heavy Metal)Recommended Track: Running From Home
    Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em

    Named after the british navy officer of the same name, Shovell's second album after the well-received "Don't Hear It... Fear It" (2012) showcases another round of good times. Never holding to a single genre, the group blasts it's way through decades of musical influence quoting, and perhaps sometimes overcoming, everyone from The Who to Stone Temple Pilots. This can be traced back to the top notch musicianship. Vocalist Johnny Gorilla does a fantastic job making psychedelic, and often ridiculous, lyrics seem meaningful and almost revolutionary. Bill Darlington’s drum fills build up the fun, and Gorilla's searing solos help bring forth the rockin' good time. Exceptionally fun music in a time when nightmarish and dreary is 'in'.

  19. Panopticon - Roads to the North (Atmospheric Black Metal/Folk Metal)Recommended Track: Where Mountains Pierce the Sky
    Panopticon - Roads to the North

    Panopticon's perfectly performed brand of black metal meshed with folk has garnered them a lot of praise over the years. With his project, Austin Lunn, has ventured from frozen wastelands to the front porches of the American Midwest (as depicted in the album "Kentucky", a series of folk covers). The introduction to "Roads to the North" consists simply of some footsteps crunching through the snow, but it also sets the stage for what's to come. Cold northern black metal gives way to fiddle and banjo work as the album waivers through intense and humbling. It's a seemingly infinite adventure through the wilderness, and also one you hope will never end.

  20. Witch Mountain - Mobile of Angels (Doom Metal)Recommended Track: Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)
    Witch Mountain - Mobile of Angels

    Witch Mountain have been at the top of the heap when it comes to quality doom with their most recent releases, "South of Salem" (2011) and "Cauldron of the Wild" (2012) garnering critical acclaim. With their third and final LP featuring lead singer Uta Plotkin, the group has released another winner and their most adventurous album to date. The plodding guitars and bumbling drums work alongside Plotkin's poetic verse in album opener "Psycho Animund". Uta's departure haunts the music itself with themes of corruption, dissatisfaction, and desire for freedom. The group is at their best on "Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)" transcending doom all together and creating an almost Zeppelin-style blues rock. On this track, Plotkin is at her most direct and angry, with a more mournful tone on “The Shape Truth Takes”, which features a particularly impassioned solo by guitarist Rob Wrong. The title track is less than a blip of a song at a 3:30 run time, but Plotkin utilizes the somber song to sing her heart out. Where Plotkin and Witch Mountain go from here is anyone's guess, but we can only hope that they continue to make music as impassioned as that on display in "Mobile of Angels".

The Honorees

The following honorees should introduce a wide variety in the best of what 2014 had to offer. Hope you find something you love, and stay tuned to future posts. Can't wait to see what 2015 has to offer!

  • Accept - Blind Rage (Classic Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)
  • At the Gates - At War with Reality (Melodic Death Metal)
  • Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of the Stars (Progressive Death Metal)
  • Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral (Death Metal)
  • Blues Pills - Blues Pills (Hard Blues Rock)
  • Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain (Death Metal)
  • Castle - Under Siege (Heavy Metal/Doom Metal)
  • Coffinworm - Iv.I.VIII (Blackened Sludge Metal/Doom Metal)
  • Crowbar - Symmetry in Black (Sludge Metal)
  • The Dagger - The Dagger (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)
  • Dark Fortress - Venereal Dawn (Melodic Black Metal)
  • Evergrey - Hymns for the Broken (Progressive Power Metal)
  • Floor - Oblation (Stoner Sludge Metal)
  • Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead (Power Metal/Speed Metal)
  • Goatwhore - Constricting Rage of the Merciless (Blackened Death Metal/Thrash Metal)
  • Incantation - Dirges of Elysium (Death Metal)
  • Job for a Cowboy - Sun Eater (Progressive Death Metal)
  • Morbus Chron - Sweven (Progressive Death Metal/Doom Metal)
  • Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel (Extreme Progressive Metal)
  • Novembers Doom - Bled White (Doom Metal/Death Metal)
  • Opeth - Pale Communion (Progressive Rock)
  • Orange Goblin - Back from the Abyss (Stoner Metal)
  • Skogen - I Döden (Black Metal)
  • Sólstafir - Ótta (Post Metal)
  • Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise (Black Metal)
  • Tombs - Savage Gold (Post Metal/Black Metal)
  • Truckfighters - Universe (Stoner Rock)
  • Vader - Tibi et Igni (Death Metal)
  • Vintersorg - Naturbål (Progressive Viking Folk Metal)
  • Wizard Rifle - Here in the Deadlights (Stoner Math Doom Metal)
  • Wo Fat - The Conjuring (Psychedelic Doom Metal/Stoner Metal)

Thanks for reading and hope you found something new to listen to. See you next Friday for the Weekly Binge where I will breakdown the notable releases of the week.

- The Catalyst