Tuesday 27 January 2015

Intravenous Magazine's Best Of 2014

It's time for the obligatory retrospective look at what got us all hot under the collar last year. We're coming in a little later than most magazines, but we've taken our time and had a good long think about what we consider to be the best releases of 2014.

Intravenous Magazine scribes, Joel Heyes, Kev Morris, P. Emerson Williams, and Dominic Lynch, as well as myself count down our personal top five albums of the year. We hope you enjoy and check them out.

Kev Morris

5. Delain – 'The Human Contradiction'

Delain have been a consistently good band since their début, Lucidity. As the years have gone on they’ve matured nicely, relying less on guest stars – and a recent sell-out UK tour shows they can stand on their own feet.
The whole Gothic-Metal fad allowed a lot of average bands a lot more light, but the bands of that ilk who are still going strong aren’t there through good luck alone, Delain are a quality act : sublime dark-pop and despite their distinct sound, always keep things varied.

4. 3Teeth – '3Teeth'

At a time when everyone is bleating about how the scene is dying, industrial is dead, etc. 3Teeth have come along and ripped up the form book. Probably by seeing further than a limited market. Their sound is a nod back to a more retro industrial sound, but bands like this come along all the time. Whilst 3Teeth have the promotion nailed spot on, they also have a quality album to back it up – and created an extremely impressive début.

3. Post War Glamour Girls – 'Pink Fur'

Quality Leeds Post-Punk band, touch of Nick Cave influence and duel male/female vocals. Have never presented themselves to the Goth scene, but their inclusion above many acts that do suggests if they did, they’d be lapped up. They do largely go towards the format of releasing regular singles, but ‘Pink Fur’ was a full length album with not a single bad track.

2. Aesthetic Perfection – ''Til Death'

Denied three in a row! Aesthetic Perfection’s last two albums were both my album of the year for their respective years. ‘Til Death is another great offering, good dancy dark-pop. While they had already released three strong singles from the album, the completed album stands tall – tracks like ‘Ready to Go’ and ‘The New Black’ both would have made great singles, whereas ‘Antibody’ was easily single of the year in 2013.

1. Bird – 'My Fear and Me'

And so… my number 1 album of the year. A Merseyside band called BIRD whose future is in doubt! Updates on their facebook leave questions as of whether they’re changing their name, or continuing at all, they would be a massive loss to leave so early! ‘My Fear and Me’ is a great journey through ethereal and dreampop sounds, with a layer of darkwave. They’d been hotly tipped by the likes of 6Music and are a stunning live band, wooing crowds on their own headline tours and support slots. Truly amazing and overlooked act.

Joel Heyes

5. AC/DC – 'Rock or Bust'

The hitherto ageless Aussie rockers begin to show signs of wear and tear following the retirement of Malcolm Young through dementia and the arrest of drummer Phil Rudd in a haze of guns and drugs. Not that you can tell by listening to 'Rock or Bust', which musters a sense of purpose out of the fading light of their hard rock empire. If the interviews with Angus Young and Brian Johnson didn't move you then you have no heart, and if this album doesn't get you rocking then you have no loins. 

4. Blondie – 'Ghosts Of Download'

New York's post-punk survivors get a cyborg makeover in this fine robopop comeback. 'Rave' in particular kicks into a fine post-Garbage groove and proves to be their best song in decades; remade, remodeled, 'on the road to ruin one more time'. Brilliant.

3. Merciful Nuns – 'Meteora VII' 

This, goffiks, is how it's done. Guitar goth with depth, mystery and punch. Constantly and gloriously impressive.

2. Petrol Bastard – 'Nice Jacket, Dickhead'

I would say these lads from Huddersfield would be able to defecate genius if they wanted to, but they probably already have. This album builds on the legacy of one of the more unlikely success stories in modern dance music – hard hitting and toxic, like a great curry, this is the heir to the PWEI legacy and they're still one of the best live bands on the planet.

1. Electric Wizard – 'Time To Die'

The kings and queen of doom get even heavier here, pushing up the gold standard of crushing riffs, smoky vibes and inherent evil up several more notches. This is a passport to another world, and one which in all frankness is infinitely preferable to this one. I recommend you go there, and take paracetamol.

P. Emerson Williams

5. Wayne Kramer – 'Lexington'

The great one raging with The Lexington Arts Ensemble. It just feels so damn good to listen to this. Howling, grooving, evocative, heating things up, cooling it way down.

4. Disjecta Membra – 'Achromatica' (Expanded Digital Reissue)

This one was originally released nearly a couple decades ago, but the band brought it back expanded and glorious, so it's time to fall in love all over again with the dark charms of 'Achromatica'.

3. Ces Cru – 'Codename: Ego Stripper'

The undergound is the only place to find a flow and a groove these days, and Ces Cru even have moments of layered alchemy that call to mind Stetsasonic. Godemis and UBI have flows all their own. Not the same bounce-off-the-walls immediacy as found on last year's excellent 'Constant Energy Struggles', but this release keeps calling me back.

2. Primordial – 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'

Primordial do everything with so much heart, and each release hits me right in the gut. This album is no exception, it feels more massive every time I place myself in its path.

1. IQ – 'The Road Of Bones'

Somewhere between 'Pallas' and 'Untitled' era Peter Gabriel, but less emotionally raw than the latter and more slick than the rough grandeur of the former, lies this shiny double length neo-prog beast of an album. Somehow something ratcheted up the level of the band's songwriting on this one. They coulda ruled the world with a release like this back in the day.

Dominic Lynch

5. State of the Union – 'My Time Away'

A crisp layer of ‘Apop’ lightness in lyrical form, taken with a swipe of fast tempo. Emotional bitterness twist its way into Synthpop that runs to the highway. A good story from the other side of the Atlantic.

4. Cryo – 'Retropia'

Possibly the soundtrack for a hell in Sweden. Cryo were able to compose by far, the best well scripted mixture of melancholy, fear and sweet evil in a 58 minute session. The captor-victim relationship through slow heavy EBM is to be subtle, intrusive. Definitely my fuel of 2014.

3. HarmJoy – 'Silver Lining Of The Mushroom Cloud'

The name by itself got one’s attention. The 1960s style of HarmJoy combined, with good male vocals and modern electronics were well balanced. The band used a good old bound and gagged theme that goes unnoticed due to serious lyrics, the second meaning remaining hidden.

2. Diary of Dreams – 'Elegies Of Darkness'

Adrian Hates’ ability to take ones ears through a black curtain of romantic tragedy, is always a careful pleasure to be reacquainted with. The tracks however gave more life to death than was expected. A passionate dance of violent darkness was made, though a glove took a hand.

1. Seabound – 'Speak in Storms'

Frank Spinath revived his flagship model of music that whispers into the soft corners of the mind. A worrying thought touching such carved objects, though it was not met by a wind of disappointment. The changes in 2014 Seabound came in placement of added bass. Former Echoes existed, however the modernisation was accounted.

Sean M. Palfrey

5. Cocksure – 'TVMALSV'

News that the duo of Chris Connelly and Jason Novak uniting to create Cocksure left fans of the Wax Trax! sound salivating. Picking up where Revolting Cocks left off, Cocksure unites the beat orientated sound of Novak's work with the “anything goes” attitude of the Cocks, and the result is audio magic. Hopefully Cocksure will be a going concern for the duo and return with a follow-up soon.

4. Blush Response – 'Desire Machines'

The third full length album from Joey Blush, AKA Blush response saw the electro-maestro consolidate his position as one of the most exciting new names in electronic music. Equal parts experimental and dance-friendly, 'Desire Machines' is a bold and articulate statement of intent that will serve to lift Blush's profile even further.

3. Godflesh – 'A World Lit Only By Fire' 

The masters of dark and sludgy industrial metal return after thirteen long years away with a blisteringly heavy slab of an album. 'A World Lit Only By Fire' sees Justin K. Broadrick and B.C. Green back on form with an album that both delivers what long-time fans were lusting after while updating their sound for 2014. Godflesh definitely prove the fire is still burning.

2. 3Teeth – '3Teeth' 

Los Angeles' 3Teeth have burst onto the scene in a big way. The band's début self-titled album has been universally applauded and it's easy to understand why. Not only do the band present a hot old skool industrial sound, but they're also social media savvy and have backed up their music with a clever campaign of propaganda. If they keep up the momentum they have gained from this album cycle there's no doubt they will become one of the top names in industrial rock.

1. Laibach – 'Spectre'

Slovenia's Laibach have been on a mission to subvert and circumvent popular culture for over thirty years, and they just get better and better as 'Spectre' proved. The groups most dance-friendly album since 2003's 'WAT' and their most politically sharp to date. The musical intelligentsia may have caught up with Laibach's seditious ambiguousness thirty years after it was put into motion. But they are by no means part of the establishment. The groups polemic stance will always be at odds with the mainstream. But the band's talent for blending sheer musical prowess and provocative concepts means that they’re as just as relevant in the second decade of the 21st century as they were during their conception at the height of the cold war.

That's it four our personal countdown of 2014's choicest cuts. What were your favourite albums off the past twelve months? Let us know on our Facebook page.  

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