CVLT Nation’s Top 6 Avant Garde Releases of 2014

SIX: Anatomy of Habit – Ciphers + Axioms

When I hear ‘super group,’ I expect half-assed songwriting and a generic compromise between each member’s other bands. It’s because of this connotation that the phrase doesn’t fit Chicago’s Anatomy of Habit. Each member is an underground legend, but Anatomy’s Relapse debut, Ciphers + Axioms, is a brilliantly composed journey through the industry-plagued psyche. The drums, guitar, bass, vocals and percussion all work together to form a whole, but they also push against each other, creating an overarching negative tension.

Ciphers + Axioms consists of two twenty-minute songs, each of which could work as an album in itself. The first track, “Radiate and Recede,” begins with sparse drumming and discordant guitar and piano notes. Percussionist Theo Katsaounis of Joan of Arc places dry cymbal hits that sound like someone smashing sheet-metal with a hammer in the sonic gaps, creating a sense of mechanical churning that continues throughout the rest of the song.

Read full Review Here…Written by JJ Anselmi

Label: Relapse Records

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FIVE: Botanist – VI: Flora

As has been proven for decades now, California’s Bay Area has given rise to a host of black metal bands, among them Weakling, Leviathan and Deafheaven. From Weakling’s vast, meandering sound to Leviathan’s nail-biting dirges to Deafheaven’s genre-blending, the eccentricities that sprout forth from San Franciscan soil appears to be endless. One seed of note is Botanist, whose numerically-organized records craft imagery that is in contrast to the genre’s usual frozen landscapes and dark psyches, instead painting a mythos of a geocentric pantheon consisting of wrathful gods intent on punishing mankind for their abuse of Earth. VI: Flora is the newest canto in a larger body of work. Elegant over harsh, Botanist weaves this collection of eleven into a seamless whole that blooms ever-wider as the album progresses.

Read full Review Here…Written by Bruce

Label: Flenser Records

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FOUR: DREADLORDS – Death Angel

These are busy people. This year alone, No One, Sam and Brian opened for black metal legends Watain at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, collaborated with Mayhem’s Manheim and Hellhammer, put out a full-length album (Fury Nocturnus) and a compilation (Pennhurst/Xesse) under the Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy (T.O.M.B.) moniker, plus another full-length via dark blues act Dreadlords.

Death Angel is Dreadlords‘ long-awaited debut album – their demo hit last year (we reviewed it here ) – and it builds on their early work in expected and unexpected ways. All but one of the tracks from the demo are back in rerecorded form, and one of the first things you’ll notice is how much No One’s voice has improved. Opener “Going To The Well” is a stomping murder sermon that ably introduces the band: bayous blues riffs swimming in distortion and reverb underneath crooning vocals that sound like the bastard spawn of a Satanic orgy involving Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Danzig, King Dude and Chelsea Wolfe.

Read full Review Here…Written by Daniel

Label:Not Just Religious Music

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THREE: BLOOD BRIGHT STAR – The Silver Head

I was fortunate enough to find out about Blood Bright Star when they released their split album with High Aura’d (which you should also check out). It was obvious to me back then that this project of visual artist Reuben Sawyer was mesmerizing music. The blend of psychedelic influences, drone and noise alongside deathrock and krautrock was done in such an intriguing fashion that you simply could not ignore Blood Bright Star. Since then, Sawyer also released Solar Infinite, which further explored the unique nature of the project, and now Blood Bright Star takes things even further into this psychotic analysis with The Silver Head.

“Ash Through Aethyr” starts things off, and the mystical auras of Blood Bright Star take over immediately. The disturbing melodies, alongside the huge bass line, come and greet you, creating a great foundation for the track. Soon the vocals join in and seem as if they are conveying a message from beyond the stars, as Sawyer uses the dreary structure of his song in order to create a ritualistic ambiance. The result is amazing, with the songs sounding so intense. And it feels as if the band is forcing you to pay attention to their music, never blinking.

Read full Review Here…Written by Spyros

Label: King of the  Monsters

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TWO: NOD NOD – S/T

NOD NOD is good good killer music for people with an open mind! There are hardly any words to describe how fucking magical this record is…Ok, imagine if EYEHATEGOD made out with PORTISHEAD, then At The Drive In raised their offspring but only fed the child mind-expanding drugs…the end result would still not be as rad as this band. Their song “Solider” creeps it’s way into my soul and I never want it to leave, because it feels that fucking good! NOD NOD rules, so it’s your job to share this band with all of your friends and enemies. This band is a perfect example of why I love my job so much…NOD NOD is good good…Nuff said!

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ONE: MENACE RUINE – Venus Armata

It has pretty much been two years since the previous full-length of Menace Ruine was unleashed upon this poor earth. To be honest I have still not recovered from Alight In Ashes, where the experimental doom/drone band just took their music to the highest peak conceivable. But that was not enough for an act such as Menace Ruine, and just a couple of years after the release of Alight In Ashes, they return even stronger with their newest album, Venus Armata.

What immediately grabs you about Menace Ruine is the ambiance. And in Venus Armata, the band makes sure they craft the atmosphere of the album in such a way so that it stays with you for a long while. From the beginning of “Soften Our Evil Hearts,” the ritualistic vibe takes over. This ceremonial feeling is a key aspect of the sound of the album, and they employ it wonderfully in various occasions – but it is not the only card up their sleeve. When things need to get darker and more claustrophobic, Menace Ruine can conjure an almost infernal atmosphere; for instance with “Red Sulphur,” with the keys really doing the trick. In other cases, you see the band implementing a tremendous noise background in order to build the dense environment for their song, as happens with “Soothing But Cruel.” And even though the band goes to extreme lengths in order to create such a cruel background, the result is somehow still soothing. Quite an achievement if you ask me. But even then, they can still surprise you with their tribal-esque vibe in the insane “Torture of Fire” and its transition from more straightforward moments to chaotic interludes.

Read full Review Here…Written by Spyros

Labels: Profound Lore & SIGE Records

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Sean Reveron

Sean Reveron

4 Comments

  1. Óðhinn
    April 21, 2015 at 2:34 am — Reply

    Nod Nod. So good. I have spoken.

  2. Our Fortress Is Burning
    January 15, 2015 at 11:13 am — Reply

    I haven’t listened to all of the albums on this list yet, but that Nod Nod album is stellar.

  3. DrGhoulinstein
    December 16, 2014 at 6:47 am — Reply

    Good list, especially impressed by the Anatomy of Habit release.

  4. Ally Hewitt
    December 15, 2014 at 4:25 am — Reply

    Botanist are amazing, great release. Surprised to not see Sunn and Scott Walker on this list, same as Merzbow and Full of Hell

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