Top 15 Metal Albums, August 2014
Conventional wisdom might suggest this would happen more often, but in this hotter-than-hell month, two of the more repulsive and revolutionary-sounding new metal albums are also two of the more interesting ones — namely, releases from the German band Noneuclid and the Swedish band Morbus Chron. Both start in the general vicinity of death metal and wind up haunting another galaxy entirely. Minnesota's Wolvhammer, who do something vaguely similar with black metal, manage some unsettling moments as well. Or maybe it's just that there's been so much horrible news this summer that dystopian indignation and despair ring true for a change.
Louisiana's betwixt-black-and-death Goatwhore and California deathcore survivors Suicide Silence certainly have their supporters as well, and more power to them. But most of the rest of August's roundup has a somewhat deeper sense of metal history. (Even, in the case of Swedish/French acid-boogie rookies Blues Pills and actual relics from the early '70s Uriah Heep, pre-metal history.) California's Zig-Zags look back almost as far, to a '70s moment before people quite knew what punk was, so weirdos in the middle of nowhere just played metal wrong instead.
Chicago's ebullient High Spirits — the side project of a guy better known for his work in more typically fearsome bands — and Maryland's back-after-two-decades Kix both know the pop metal of the '80s was worthier than modern metalheads tend to give it credit for. So, to some extent, does wrestler Chris Jericho's hobby Fozzy (if mixing Twisted Sister shouts into nü-metal and post-grunge counts). Then there are three veteran ensembles from Germany –- Grave Digger, Tankard and Gamma Ray –- who've been thrashing and/or power-metalling since at least the dawn of the '90s, if not years before. Sweden's Falconer, meanwhile, have mixed flights of folk fancy into Viking melodrama since the turn of the millennium. They've all got their own way to headbang, obviously. And odds are real good that one or more of them will align with your own.