2014 in metal

La Fin Absolue du Monde album cover2014 perhaps wasn’t a vintage year for metal (certainly not up to 2013’s high standards), but there were still some excellent releases. Future generations will no doubt remember 2014 as the year I started reviewing albums for the finest music web-site on the internet, Angry Metal Guy. I did a top 10 list there, and here I’ve expanded it to my usual top 20 plus stragglers (top 20s were customary at the Snakenet Metal Radio forums – 2014 will also be remembered as the year that web-site finally kicked the bucket, which is sad). Since writing my AMG list I’ve listened to Opeth’s new record a lot more and it’s climbed a few positions, knocking Blut Aus Nord out of the top 10.

1. Enabler – La Fin Absolue du Monde
2. Voices – London
3. Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
4. Emptiness – Nothing But the Whole
5. Soen – Tellurian
6. Giant Squid – Minoans
7. Opeth – Pale Communion
8. Gazpacho – Demon
9. Psalm Zero – The Drain
10. Hail Spirit Noir – Oi Magoi
11. Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry
12. Matyrdöd – Elddop
13. Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire
14. Horrendous – Ecdysis
15. Portrait – Crossroads
16. Slugdge – Gastronomicon
17. Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues
18. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
19. Menace Ruine – Venus Armata
20. Solitary Sabred – Redemption Through Force

Spotify playlist (this is missing Slugdge, whose album is on Bandcamp)

Bonus albums:

The Atlas Moth – The Old Believer
Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy
Behemoth – The Satanist
Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral
Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer
Doom:VS – Earthless
Elvenking – The Pagan Manifesto
Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails
Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless
The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-Li
Hoth – Oathbreaker
Impaled Nazarene – Vigorous and Liberating Death
Kobra and the Lotus – High Priestess
Lantlôs – Melting Sun
Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun
Morbus Chron – Sweven
Mortals – Cursed to See the Future
Panopticon – Roads to the North
Persuader – The Fiction Maze
Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Sólstafir – Ótta
Thantifaxath – Sacred White Noise
Vainaja – Kadotetut
YOB – Clearing a Path to Ascend

Loved but not metal:

Devin Townsend – Casualties of Cool
Le Cassette – Left to Our Own Devices
Mild Peril – Matter
Perturbator – Dangerous Days
Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestite

2013 in metal

I totally forgot to post my 2013 Top 20 Heavy Metal Albums list earlier in the year (my lists for 2012, 2011 and 2010 are here)! Good year, was 2013. So, here it is:

1. Beaten to Death – Dødsfest!
2. In Solitude – Sister
3. Stomach Earth – Stomach Earth
4. Altar of Plagues – Teeth Glory and Injury
5. Ayreon – The Theory of Everything
6. Ulcerate – Vermis
7. The Ruins of Beverast – Blood Vaults
8. Oranssi Pazuzu – Vaonielu
9. VHÖL – Vhöl
10. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
11. Beastmilk – Beastmilk
12. Carcass – Surgical Steel
13. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension*
14. Lychgate – Lychgate
15. Sahg – Delusions of Grandeur
16. Gorguts – Colored Sands
17. Alpha Tiger – Beneath the Surface
18. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation
19. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen
20. Kvelertak – Meir

*I’m aware I lose metal points for this one.

Spotify playlist

Bonus albums:

Antigama – Meteor
ASG – Blood Drive
Author & Punisher – Women & Children
Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
Batillus – Concrete Sustain
Coliseum – Sister Faith
Convulse – Evil Prevails
Domovoyd – Oh Sensibility
Doomriders – Grand Blood
Hell – Curse and Chapter
Hybris – Heavy Machinery
Ghost – Infestissumam
KEN Mode – Entrench
Kylesa – Ultraviolet
Magister Templi – Lucifer Leviathan Logos
Monolithe – IV
Nails – Abandon All Life
Orchid – The Mouths of Madness
Portal – Vexovoid
Primitive Man – Scorn
Shining (NOR) – One One One
Sodom – Epitome of Torture
SubRosa – More Constant Than The Gods
Sulphur Aeon – Swallowed By The Ocean’s Tide
The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer
The Meads of Asphodel – Sonderkommando
Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness
Twilight of the Gods – Fire On The Mountain
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control
Voivod – Target Earth
Woe – Withdrawal

2012 in metal

If you’ve met me for longer than about 5 minutes, you will be well aware that I heart heavy metal very dearly. I enjoy most musical styles, but heavy metal occupies a particularly special place in my heart. I also enjoy lists, because nothing gets internet keyboard warriors as angry as a list that is CLEARLY WRONG. Therefore I present to you my Top 20 Metal (and related) albums of 2012, plus a few bonus mentions. I have also compiled the top 20 into a Spotify playlist for you, because I’m nice.

EDIT: list originally for the Snakenet Metal Radio 2012 Members’ Chart

01. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Piñata
02. Hail Spirit Noir – Pneuma
03. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
04. Napalm Death – Utilitarian
05. Jess and the Ancient Ones – Jess and the Ancient Ones
06. Sear Bliss – Eternal Recurrence
07. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
08. A Forest Of Stars – A Shadowplay for Yesterdays
09. Killing Joke – MMXII
10. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
11. Witchcraft – Legend
12. Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
13. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
14. Evoken – Atra Mors
15. Ihsahn – Eremita
16. Enslaved – RIITIIR
17. Baroness – Yellow & Green
18. Meshuggah – Koloss
19. Cauldron – Tomorrow’s Lost
20. Malignancy – Eugenics

Near misses (no specific order, asterisks by particularly good ones):
Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron*
Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God
Vindicator – United We Fall*
Sigh – In Somniphobia*
Tenochtitlan – Sotvorenie Mira
Master – The New Elite
Wodensthrone – Curse
Blut Aus Nord – 777 – Cosmosophy
Unleashed – Odalheim
Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
Gorod – A Perfect Absolution*
Hooded Menace – Effigies of Evil
Krallice – Years Past Matter
Borknagar – Urd
My Dying Bride – A Map of All Our Failures
Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
Dordeduh – Dar De Duh*
Katatonia – Dead End Kings
Nachtmystium – Silencing Machine*
Accept – Stalingrad
Overkill – The Electric Age
Christian Mistress – Possession*
Corrosion of Conformity – Corrosion of Conformity*
Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned*
Kälter – Ubuntu
Monolithe – Monolithe III*
Nile – At the Gate of Sethu

EPs that would have made the top 20 if I were including EPs:
Inverloch – Dusk / Subside
Orchid – Heretic
Deathspell Omega – Drought

Loved but not metal enough:
Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion
Kylie Minogue – The Abbey Road Sessions


I realised that I also have my lists for 2011 and 2010, so if you’re interested (duh, obviously you’re interested), then here’s how I felt about the heavy metal in those years, too.


01. Vektor – Outer Isolation
02. The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicenter
03. Devin Townsend – Deconstruction
04. Opeth – Heritage
05. Beardfish – Mammoth
06. Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s)
07. Blut Aus Nord – 777 The Desanctification
08. Blood Ceremony – Living With The Ancients
09. Mastodon – The Hunter
10. Krallice – Diotima
11. Thy Catalfaque – Rengeteg
12. Primordial – Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
13. Dornenreich – Flammentriebe
14. Taake – Noregs Vaapen
15. Mitochondrion – Parasignosis
16. liturgy – Aesthethica
17. Arkan – Salam
18. Doomsword – The Eternal Battle
19. Symphony X – Iconoclast
20. Forefather – Last Of The Line

Honourable mentions (no order):
Aosoth – III
Burzum – Fallen
Cannabis Corpse – Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise
Decapitated – Carnival is Forever
Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance
Exhumed – All guts no Glory
Red Fang – Murder the Mountains
Rotten Sound – Cursed
Rwake – Rest
Sólstafir – Svartir Sandar
Absu – Abzu
Anaal Nathrakh – Passion



01. Deathspell Omega – Paracletus
02. Aborym – Psychogrotesque
03. Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
04. Star One – Victims Of The Modern Age
05. Ihsahn – After
06. Todtgelichter – Angst
07. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones
08. Ghost – Opus Eponymous
09. Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini
10. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow
11. Sahg – III
12. Melechesh – The Epigenesis
13. Impaled Nazarene – Road To The Octagon
14. Overkill – Ironbound
15. StarGazer – A Great Work Of Ages
16. Griftegard – Solemn. Sacred. Severe.
17. Nachtmystium – Addicts: Black Meddle II
18. Sigh – Scenes From Hell
19. Atheist – Jupiter
20. Finntroll – Nifelvind

Honourable mentions (no order):
Burzum – Belus
Gnaw Their Tongues – L’Arrivée De La Terne Mort Triomphante
Cathedral – The Guessing Game
The Meads Of Asphodel – The Murder Of Jesus The Jew
WolfP.A.C.K. – I
Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits
Rotting Christ – AEALO
October Tide – A Thin Shell
Leng Tch’e – Hypomanic
Lantlôs – .Neon
Keep of Kalessin – Reptilian
Kamelot – Poetry For The Poisoned
Immolation – Majesty And Decay
Galar – Til Alle Heimsens Endar
Electric Wizard – Black Masses
Agalloch – Marrow Of The Spirit
An Autumn For Crippled Children – Lost
Negura Bunget – Virstele Pamintului
Grand Magus – Hammer Of The North
Hesper Payne – Unclean Rituals
Alcest – Écailles De Lune
Celestiial – Where Life Springs Eternal
Deftones – Diamond Eyes


I have been neglecting my writing duties, for which I apologise. Sorry you two.

I’ve been all over the place of late: Copenhagen visiting friends at the end of July, from whence we drove to the Wacken metal festival in Germany (best shows: Nasum, Kylesa, Volbeat). This proved true and brutal, as usual, but particularly so this year because of the mud baths created by the aggressive precipitation. Still managed to come back with a sun tan. After a fleeting visit to Hamburg, I spent most of the next week recovering, then undid most of that recovery with a visit to my sister for birthday celebrations, followed by a truly wonderful gig by Refused in London. I have a total man crush on the vocalist. The return to Newcastle on Monday took six hours: our train broke down. I managed to read a Viz from cover-to-cover though, so it wasn’t time entirely wasted.

This week I have been mostly analysing electrophysiology data from our experimental collaborators (details to follow, tomorrow maybe…), partly using a nice little toolbox for Matlab called Chronux. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be under active development – the last release was in 2008 – as it has some nice functionality, but needs a little tidying up in places (one of the main authors, Partha Mitra, has co-authored a very interesting and useful book on neural data analysis and some philosophical background, but his web-site seems mysteriously inactive). If anyone knows any more details, please comment!

Passed out body

Do not pass out at Wacken

Hey Simon [Sing(h)]

Back in March we did an open mic night at Newcastle Skeptics in the Pub as part of Newcastle Science Fest 2012. It produced some great talks ranging from cyborgs to exploding breasts, all from local speakers, and I suspect we’ll be holding another one in the future. I did a lovely song in honour of the Simon Singh vs. the British Chiropractic Association libel case. You may recognise the tune.

For more information on UK libel law failings, see the UK Libel Reform Campaign.