Ghost Cult Magazine Albums Of The Year 2014 Countdown! #10 to #6

In amongst the big boys now, with the Official Ghost Cult Top 10 Albums of 2014. Kicking off with albums 10 to 6, these were the attention and headline grabbing albums that provided the soundtrack to the year…


10. DEVIN TOWNSEND – Z2 (HevyDevy/InsideOut)


Not one but two aural explosions from everyone’s favourite Canadian ADD sufferer. Disk 1 showcases the epic pop-Metal melodies expounded on Epicloud, in a vibrant collection of melodies, twists and simply great tunes, while Disk 2 is the long awaited Ziltoid sequel, a more symphonic and aggressive take on the original. Devin has shown, once again, that no matter what project fills his head, he is a pure musical genius, with 3 albums (technically) in our Top 50.

“Double albums are notoriously difficult beasts to grapple with. If there’s a suspicion of ‘all filler, no killer’, that’s perhaps understandable given some of rock music’s recent inglorious past when it comes to musical heft. The common consensus on this sort of exercise ranges from how to edit Use Your Illusion (Geffen) into one digestible chunk; realising that, yes, Fleetwood Mac really did do ALL of the drugs when  recording Tusk (Warner Bros) and, frankly, even Corey Taylor must think that there is way too much padding on House of Gold and Bones (Roadrunner). Breathe easier, then, as this is not a sprawling, indulgent mess. Z2 is indulgent and there is a LOT to get through but Z2 is two records being issued simultaneously rather than some attempt at a single, 23 song epic.”

Read MAT DAVIES’ 9/10 review here


9. AT THE GATES – At War With Reality (Century Media)


After a gap of 19 (NINETEEN!) years the Fathers of the Gothenburg sound released the follow up to one of the greatest extreme albums of time, the genuine legend that was Slaughter of the Soul (Earache). That they didn’t embarrass themselves is one thing, that they were able to ignite the flame of excitement in older fans and pick up newer ones, whose favourite bands swore by the altar of ATG is testament to their quality.

At War With Reality is a genuinely worthwhile listen and worth the 19 year wait. It still sounds like At The Gates, not the razor-focused Slayer-worship of Slaughter of the Soul, although those moments are still present, but an all-encompassing At The Gates that draws from the band’s entire back catalogue. At The Gates have shown the world that they’re still the most powerful force in melodic death metal. At War With Reality does more than just prop up the band’s legacy, it enhances it.”

Read DAN SWINHOE’s 9/10 review here


8. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)


Doooooooooooooom, beautiful doooooooooooom! Melancholy, poignant, mournful and emotive, the second album from Arkansas’ Pallbearer set new standards in textured 70’s styled doom, twining haunting, reflective leads, heart-felt impassioned lyrics and vocals, and down-tuned crashes.

“Superlatives and panegyrics are thrown around like confetti these days, and mostly for albums that just don’t deserve them. Here is an entity beyond words. The blend of crushing weight and sadness that twines with an almost paradoxical ascension to light throughout this quite magnificent set is sublime and inspirational. This willingness to puncture doom’s boundaries and travel outside them surely hails Pallbearer as the most important band of their genre right now.”

Read PAUL QUINN’s 10/10 review here


7. TRIPTYKON – Melana Chasmata (Century Media / Prowling Death)


The sound of decomposition in thick, gloopy, stained riffage, the darkest end of despair in musical format, the sound of utter personal devastation hammered relentlessly into your ears as Tom G Warrior continues the styling first unveiled on Celtic Frost’s swansong, Monotheist. Beyond the gloom, beyond the end of the universe, lurks Triptykon’s second opus magnificum.

“Still gloriously innovative at 50, the enigmatic and death-obsessed Thomas Gabriel Fischer returns with his latest and possibly most enigmatic incarnation. The darkly expansive Eparistera Daimones, the first Triptykon album, displayed a panoply of musical styles. Remarkably, sophomore suite Melana Chasmata sees a deeper mining of that creativity, reaffirming the band’s reluctance to be confined by any musical barrier and confirming the triumphant second coming of Gabriel’s most inventive, diverse and impressive guise.”

Read PAUL QUINN’s 8.5/10 review here


6. DECAPITATED – Blood Mantra (Nuclear Blast)


Perhaps the most hotly anticipated “pure” Death Metal release of the second half of the year, this Polish hate machine did not disappoint, with a career and genre defining masterpiece, adding to their impressive canon with an absolute killer of cemtex-infused vocal growls, blistering drumming, colossal grooves and excessive riffs. But this was no old school rehash, the Krosno krew enhance their wares with industrial touches, and an insinuation of Slipknot showing this is a thoroughly modern and quite exceptional Death Metal band.

“With this much skill at their disposal, looking back it almost seems embarrassing that they were ever doubted. To use a lazy comparison, Decapitated are like (Marvel Comics anti-hero) Blade; they possess all of the strengths of Death Metal and none of its weaknesses. And it’s increasingly evident they cannot be killed. Quite simply Blood Mantra is one of the finest Death Metal albums to be released now or ever and it’s difficult to see how it can be topped. One thing is for sure; Vitek would be proud.”

Read JAMES CONWAY’s 9.5/10 review here



Compiled and additional words by Steve Tovey



Decapitated – Blood Mantra



After triumphantly re-emerging from the other side of horror after the truly horrific bus crash of 2007 which claimed the life of drummer Vitek and left front m n Covan in a coma, Polish Death Metallers Decapitated have been on the ascent after 2011’s Carnival is Forever (Nuclear Blast) firmly re-established them as one of the genre’s important bands. Despite a few line-up shuffles, 2014 sees the band utterly at the top of their game with sixth full-length Blood Mantra (Nuclear Blast) the album they have always been threatening to make, and one that should leave the competition choking on (human) dust.

From the second that the searing guitar lines that open first track ‘Exiled in Flesh’ begin until the washed-out, apocalyptic starkness of closing track ‘Red Sun’ fades into the distance, the band seizes you by the throat, shakes every last bit of resistance from your aching body and leaves you utterly spent yet begging for more. The thick, full-bodied production gives each track a monolithic intensity while the subtle yet sinister atmosphere lurking just out of sight in the background gives proceedings an eerie and desolate air not usually found in Death Metal.

But without the songs to back it up, this would be meaningless. Thankfully that is not the case by a long shot.

It’s hard to pick favourites when there are so many choice cuts on offer but the blitzkrieg lunacy of ‘The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation’ should win prizes for sheer intensity as well as most over-the-top song title. The sickeningly catchy riff and merciless percussion of ‘Veins’ is so ludicrously tight and neck-snappingly awesome that it should come with a government health warning, while the chugging brutality of the title track is the kind of song Slipknot would write if they knew anything about heavy music. The accessibility of these songs will no doubt gain Decapitated a whole new legion of mainstream fans, something wholly deserved for not an ounce of integrity or brutality has been sacrificed in the process. They’re just that damn good.

Elsewhere the dead-eyed, clinical technicality of ‘Nest’ flirts with industrial themes before unleashing a gloriously epic solo while the sprawling, progressive riffs of ‘Blindness’ carry us off into the distance to pastures unexplored yet soon to be conquered. All of this would not be possible without the vision and skill of guitarist and band leader Vogg whose talents increase with every record and is firm proof that Death Metal can be innovative and enthralling whilst remaining skull-crushingly heavy and challenging to listen to. Credit must also go to vocalist Rafal Piotrowski who eschews the usual death growl in favour of a hoarse bellow that sounds like he’s coughing up his very soul for all to bear witness to. The rhythm section is flawless, with the new arrivals on bass and drums locking into so many tight grooves it’s almost tempting to believe they possess psychic abilities.

Like their countrymen Behemoth, Decapitated have conquered tragedy and emerged stronger than ever before. However, with no visual aspect to fall back on like Nergal et al, they have had to rely solely on their musical talents to remain relevant in a scene still bursting at the seams. But with this much skill at their disposal, looking back it almost seems embarrassing that they were ever doubted. To use a lazy comparison, Decapitated are like (Marvel Comics anti-hero) Blade; they possess all of the strengths of Death Metal and none of its weaknesses. And it’s increasingly evident they cannot be killed. Quite simply Blood Mantra is one of the finest Death Metal albums to be released now or ever and it’s difficult to see how it can be topped. One thing is for sure though, Vitek would be proud.


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