Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HMT's Top 5 Albums of 2014 - Review vs Review

So we decided to do something no other site has done before…review each other's Top 5 as we picked them for 2014. We had a ton of music that probably could've made the list but since we didn't want to kick a dead horse we decided to try something strange and new. Professor Fork Tongue comes from a more underground sensibility while I fully admit my tastes lean towards the more commercial/main stream side of things. I took Professor Fork Tongue's top 5 and reviewed each as an album rather than track by track. Professor Fork Tongue took on the not so easy task of reviewing as many tracks of each of my top 5 as he could. Bonus points and that's why they call him the Professor. SO here we go. Remember we listened to a lot of great music this year and if it didn't make our top 5 this time around it's probably because we forced our own hands to just get something down on paper in order to have time to review. Thanks to all of the musicians and bands who contributed to this site throughout 2014. I really thought 2013 couldn't be topped and I was wrong. 2014 in my opinion offered more diversity, ferocity and down right heaviness…I have a feeling 2015 is gonna be a very good year. -grownman

Professor Fork Tongue's Review of Grownman's Top 5

Ok here we go. I'm reviewing Grownman's top 5!
1. The Great American Goodbye  by Arkham
2. Bloodstone and Diamonds by Machine Head
3. Spectral Tower
4. Godmaker
5. Permanence by Deathmole

1. Arkham - The Great American Goodbye

I don't listen to much hardcore but here it goes. 

Mourning In America
Post metal vibe on the opener . Typically not the vocal style to my liking but there's something about it I dig. 

This one is kind of slow but really picks up at the bridge and becomes interesting mainly because of the interesting rhythm section.

Skeletal Machiner
Ok, I don't like this at all. Really whiny vocals over some humdrum music. It only gets worse when he tries to sing a little bit.

Kelly Thomas
I can get down with this. Some nice chaotic riffing and vocals before turning more traditionally melodic. The name Kelly Thomas sounded familiar to me so I looked it up. Check out the case as it's still very relevant with all this cop crap going down. Some disturbing images.

Flag Burner 
This probably the most traditional hardcore track on the album. I'd like to hear a bit more heft behind the guitar. One man's opinion.

Old Money 
This my favorite track so far. I'm generally liking the lyrics this guy is throwing out there. A little different than your typical hardcore fare. Speaking of different from typical hardcore fare, so is 
the rhythm section. Got a bit of a funkyness to it.

All in all I really only dug Old Money and Kelly Thomas.

2. Machine Head - Bloodstone and Diamonds

Now We Die
I feel like I'm listening to Corey Taylor in some of this instead of Rob Flynn. Not feeling the symphonic elements here. Great guitar solo. More of that please. Some Metalcore elements at work here. Haven't listened to these guys since The Blackening. Holy shit this is 71 minutes long!?!? Dear god.

Killers and Kings
This one starts off vicious. Still feel like I'm listening to Corey Taylor. I'm also hearing post LD50 Mudvayne which I'm a fan of but I don't really wanna hear it out of Machine Head.

Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones
The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear all these songs is who or what other band it reminds me of. The songs aren't bad but it's completely overridden by Flynn playing chameleon. When he's doing these whispered vocals he's coming off like a bad Chino Moreno. This of course 
before going into Corey Taylor mode. Has Flynn always sounded like this or does Taylor sound like Flynn. Not sure. I never got into Machine Head.

Night of Long Knives
Ok, I'm gonna try to avoid the comparisions. This is the only song I kind of enjoy so far. Kind of. I was hoping the subject matter would have made for a better song. It's got a dirty, thrashy Toxic Holocaust feel in spots, without sounding like them at all. Man, I'm really trying not to hear other bands but it isn't working.

Sail Into The Black

Skip it. Just skip it.

Eyes of The Dead


Sorry Grownman, I tried. At 71 agonizing minutes I just can't do it.

3. Spectral Tower - Spectral Tower

Ok I've heard some of this before, this is up my alley.

Really haunting sound. Vocals sounds disembodied and almost ghostly. Fits the music well. There's a particular sound here that reminds me of one of my favorite releases of 2013. Check out Tardigrada if you like these guys. They don't sound the same, just have a similar atmosphere.
There's some chanting that really adds to the mode. The symbol work really pops in contrast the the rest of the sound.

Mountain Throne
Picking up the pace just a little. Maybe not. Drum work mid song gets a little funky and brings in an unexpected element. Kind of seems out of place but kind of works also. Whoa. Idon't know if it's acoustic guitar or bass or what but it's out of nowhere and completely works.

Elder Birth
This album is flying by unlike the ol' Machineknot album. Are these drums programmed? Not that it matters, just wondering. Starting to get a little fatigued on the sound at this point. A bit of a change of pace seems to be needed. I'm not saying start playing like Razor or something, just something a little different. Ok the bridge is kind of saving this by stepping up the atmosphere a bit. Hoping for a big 
climax. Never got it.

Not sure if it's meant to be but this almost seems like a continuation of Elder Birth. Hmmm, some really nasally sound vocals way in the back of the mix before leading into vocals that sound like what I imagine a cobwebbed, ancient skeleton exiting it's tomb would sound like. Really cool, spacey outro.

Not much to say about this one. It's in the same style as the rest of the album just not memorable.

This one's very post metal, shoegaze type stuff. Whoa. Then the tempo picks up for a bit for the first time on the album. Wish the drums had a little more thump to them here. Wish some of these songs had more definitive endings rather than just fading out.Sold debut from these guys. Some tweaking and these guys could put out a classic.

4. Godmaker
Check out review of this album from earlier this year.
Godmaker review

5. Deathmole - Permanence

This one is an instrumental album so I won't go track by tack. It's basically post metal and mostly very soothing. It's great to fall asleep to or read to. The kind of stuff you can get lost in. Not an every day listen, it's mood music for sure.

Spectral Lore was my favorite of the bunch Different strokes for different folks, that's why metal is so great. There's something for everyone.

Grownman here, time to review the Professor's Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. John Gallow - Violet Dreams
2. Anguish - Mountain
3. Foreseen - Helsinki Savagery
4. Lord Mantis - Death Mask
5. Black Magic - Wizard's Spell

1. John Gallow - Violet Dreams
John Gallow will "weed" out the everyday headbanger from the connoisseur who really knows when they hear something special. This is a slice of bluesy doom slaying metal you just don't hear anymore. If I didn't know better I would swear this is from 1981 or earlier. Gallow has never followed a trend and is much more of a Hard Rock/Metal alchemist. On this album, he shows you that one can function in the doom world without being a Sabbath clone. Gallows leans more towards the "Tullish" sound of things where sounding "creepy" doesn't necessarily have to go hand in hand with sounding satanic. This is high quality. Good on you Professor Fork Tongue.

2. Anguish - Mountain
Dark Descent is a label I'm really respecting. They've put out a ton of great music over the past few years. Mountain is a great name for this album as its overall feel is that of a large hulking beast.
I can imagine such a beast waylaying anything that stands in it's path. The vocals bring to mind Crowbar's Kirk Weindstein if he was suited up with an armor of old chain mail and dowsed with a bucket of mead. The band makes some nice transitions that allow even the songs that come in at over 7 minutes to feel fresh the whole way through. This is definitely for the folks who enjoy the norse inspired themes and to that I raise my hammer to thee.

3. Foreseen - Helsinki Savagery
    Prof. Fork Tongue shared this a few weeks back (more reason to friend the crap out of him on Facebook) and I hadn't had a chance to actually sit down and listen to it. Thus the reason this album isn't in my top 5 of the year and probably should be. Look at the cover artwork, even if this album completely sucked donkey choad you couldn't go wrong with picking it up. Luckily for everyone within earshot of this album, it shreds.
    After hearing so many crossover albums this year and having mixed feelings about most, this one pretty much nails what many of those lacked. Balls.
   It takes major cajones to take on this genre with so much confidence and fuck it all attitude. How many times have we heard the same embellished "metallica meets nuclear assault meets slayer meets sepultura meets anything that can be sewn onto a denim jacket" riffs and wondered is that all that's left of this era? Like the echoey grunt at the beginning of "Market Target" this entire album is a much needed punch in the gut for a genre that's been coming off to me lately like a two door gremlin with balled tires.
   This album stands alone. There is no time for tongue in cheek ambiguity when it comes to these dudes, it's all shred all of the time. I "forsee" Forseen's Helsinki Savagery being a standard bearer for future upstarts trying to up the irons. To all the new gen Crossover bands, stand notice. 

4. Lord Mantis - Death Mask
    As much as I'd like to say that my dog ate my homework, as soon as I saw this on Prof. Fork Tongue's list I realized that I messed up not including this on my own top 5. IT was definitely floating around in my mind as I perused the lists of releases from this year and what a relief it was to see it on the Professor's list.
   This is hands down one of the best of 2014. With a recipe of demented vocals, fuzzed out distortion and absurd lyrics, Lord Mantis frolics in the cockles of my disturbed heart. This is what got me into Heavy Metal in the first place. It scares me to love this.

5. Black Magic - Wizard's Spell
   This has all the markings of Prof. Fork Tongue's favorite types of Metal. Classic sounding speed metal that's really entertaining. The production is straight up 80's. The galloping rhythm, dual guitar solos and the percussion that's rooted in a more simpler time is a nice switch from the overproduced-thousand blast beats per second sound of this era. The vocals have a really cool range. There are influences that range from Dio era singing to the in your face hardcore punk of the Cro-Mags throughout. This is for the diehards who still long for the days of tape trading, bitching camaros and fist fights at the local drive in.

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