At the end of 2014, I began to reacquaint myself with music outside of the metal spectrum. I’d been pretty much completely immersed in the genre since starting THKD back in 2009, and it was time to change things up; variety being the spice of life ‘n’ shit. At the forefront of this change in listening habits has been an unhealthy obsession with Brighter Death Now, the pioneering death industrial project of former Cold Meat Industry head honcho Roger Karmanik. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Karmanik released With Promises of Death, the first BDN full length in a number of years back in October of 2014 via his new label Familjegraven, and it is every bit the sickening listen fans have come to expect from him.
There’s no shortage of great shows happening in Sacramento every month, but the dregs of being a responsible adult often keep me from going to them. When you’re a corporate lackey that gets up for work bright and early at 6:45 AM, going to a show on a weeknight that doesn’t even start until 8:00 PM isn’t really in the cards. But there was no way I was going miss out on Incantation; the death metal legends are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a string of West Coast dates, and with Funerus, Mortuous and Plague Widow in tow, this one was guaranteed to be a rager.
As a reviewer, tons of releases come across my desk every year, but few of them actually make me stop and say “Wow, this album is really something.” Burial Hex’s The Hierophant is just such an album; its seamless mixture of disparate tones and textures is simply unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Please believe it when I say this is not another case of music journalist hyperbole, this is simply one of the most stunningly unique, beautiful and unsettling recordings ever to ravage my unworthy ears.
Earlier in 2014, Caligari Records brought us the debut demo from Denmark’s Demon Head, now the label brings us another round of Danish doom from The Hyle; has Caligari unearthed the beginnings of a retro doom boom in the country that blessed us with King Diamond, only to turn around and damn us with Lars Ulrich? Ok, two bands do not an entire scene make, but given the excellence both Demon Head and The Hyle exhibit on their first recordings, you can’t help but wonder if there’s something in the water over there.
In 2014, heavy metal wore me out. Trying to keep up with the seemingly never-ending flood of new releases and developments in the scene while at the same time attempting to allow myself opportunities to enjoy the music purely as a fan finally caught up with me, and for a good chunk of the year, THKD felt more like a chore than like fun. On top of that, the faux-outrage that lit up my various social media feeds every time someone got their feelings hurt was especially tiresome (although at times entertaining); as exhausted as I am, I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to be offended by everything, or to be convinced that other people are somehow out to ruin heavy metal for you.
In early December, I decided I wasn’t going to do a year end list. It isn’t that I’m all of the sudden anti-list; I still love lists, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it. I gotta be honest, after five years of doing THKD I’m fucking weary, and laboring over a list just felt like yet another metal writing chore. Besides, if you read the blog regularly and follow me on social media, you already know what I liked this year.
Of all the legendary bands making comebacks in the last few years, Mortuary Drape is surely among the most welcome around here at THKD. It’s been ten long years since the Italians last released a full length, and given the fact that there’s not another black metal band on Earth (or beyond) that sounds quite like them, that’s far, far too long. Of course, some misgivings are understandable considering the band that now surrounds drummer/vocalist/mainman Wildness Perversion consists of more recent initiates into the Mortuary Drape uh, fold, but rest assured fiends, Herr Perversion’s still got it on Spiritual Independence; in fact he’s still got it to the point that the album stacks up damn impressively next to stone classics such as All the Witches Dance and Tolling 13 Knell.