It appears that this has indeed become one of those sad sack weblogs. One where I infrequently write in it and start the entries with sentences like "Sorry I haven't been updating, been busy with _______" I'll spare you the bullshit and get to what you should really want: my educated opinions on the music that I would bathe in if I could. The purpose of this entry is just to highlight the noteworthy metal albums that have come out thus far. I assure you there is a lot more in store for the rest of the year, so my year end list will look starkly different I'm sure. In no particular order:
1) Arcturus - Arcturian  Yeah, one of my favorite bands has again reformed and released an album. I'm glad they're back, I'm happy that they haven't really deviated from their signature style. That being said, Arcturian gives me mixed emotions. Half of me feels like this is a "going through the motions" album, much like the dismal, watery and apathetic Sideshow Symphonies was. The other half of me feels like this is much better than that, it offers a bombastic and entertaining amount of music & variety to keep me interested. Given my mixed emotions on the album, its a decent effort from one of the best avante garde bands in the genre, and I ALWAYS thoroughly enjoy listening to Simen Hestnaes sing on pretty much anything (aside from Sideshow Symphonies).
2) Fungoid Stream - Prehuman Shapes  This actually came out early in 2014, but it totally flew under my radar. Its my party and I can do whatever I want! I had an intense relationship with their debut Celaenus Fragments about a decade ago and Oceanus didn't do much for me (needs a revisiting though). However, Prehuman Shapes grabbed me by both arms, thrust me down firmly in a chair and unwaveringly beamed foreboding and ominous Lovecraftian nightmares straight to my inner bone marrow. Its an intense and brilliantly crafted album. Definitely pick this up for something different.
3) Ifing - Against this Weald  I'd say that this band shows a lot of potential, and I might be right, but this debut is nearly as good as it gets. There seems to be an arms race right now for bands trying to get this sort of genre just right, and there are some clear champions. Ifing belong right up there among the Gallowbraids, the Falkenbach's and the Irminsul's.
4) Amestigon - Their  This is every bit as great as I knew it would be, based solely on their excellent Sun of All Suns album that has been rather quietly well received since it was released in 2010. This doesn't sound anything like the other bands that Amestigon's members are in (Abigor, Der Bluttharsch, Summoning). Coincidental similarities to Seidr, Falls of Rauros are what I'm hearing here, and I'm loving it.
5) Obsequiae - Aria of Vernal Tombs  I've already written a fair amount about this band, but this sophomore album is monumentally inspired and engrossing. This will definitely be on the top of many year end lists.
6) Darvulia / Sektarism - split  This might be the year's biggest disappointment. Darvulia are one of my favorite black metal bands and this is their final release. This isn't even worth writing about any longer. Buh.
7) Forefather - Curse of the Cwelled  This is every bit is awesome as I knew it was going to be. Though I haven't plundered their discography as thoroughly as I should, this is their best effort that i have heard.
8) Gorgoroth - Instinctus Bestialis  I was about to say I don't clearly understand how or when this band became an utter joke but when I look back, I kind of think they were always floundering near joke-dom. I really like a couple of their albums, but just having well-known members in your band does not good black metal make. Anyways, I tried to download this album and my laptop froze in the process. So I tried it again and the download failed due to a network error. I tried downloading it on my other computer and it failed once again. So I haven't heard this album yet but I'm sure it probably sucks, just like everything Tomas Asklund has a part in.
9) Infera Bruo - In Conjuration  I knew these guys were soon to be a forced to reckon with when I first lain ears on their full length Desolate Unknown. I wont give too much away because Worm Gear will be featuring my full review in the coming weeks.
10) Sviatibor - Dans la splendeur des dieux  I'm going to take another opportunity to rave about this obscure french solo project. Similar to Elderwind and Progenie Terestre Pura, even though his output is already at full throttle, the quality hasn't faltered. This album should put him on the map and I really look forward to hearing future albums.
11) Addaura - ...and the Lamps Expire  I waited three long years for a follow up to their brilliant debut, and all I got was 21 minutes of really good material. Well I'm sated for about another year, haha.
12) Khors - Night Falls onto the Fronts of Ours  I've only half listened to this a time or two, but I can tell its already an improvement upon their last album whose first half was incredible, and whose latter half left something to be desired.
13) Blood Storm - The Stellar Exorcism  Let me preface this by telling you that this is the first time I've been able to make it through an entire Blood Storm album without shutting it off. For some reason this album just seems to hit the right spot for me. I'd describe it as a thrashier Hellhammer or something.
14) Infernal War - Axiom  Either their charm has wore off on me or it has worn off altogether. This kind of black metal is just lost on me anymore.
15) Melechesh - Enki  This band may seem a bit out of character for me but I have a soft spot for their ultimately decadent thrashy melodies. I cant get enough of this band and this new album is surely their best effort. The new / old drummer is band and I'm glad for him, but I'm really going to miss Xul on the skins. He was a perfect fit for this band.
16) Der Weg Einer Freiheit - Stellar  It took me a while but I really warmed up to Unstille in 2012. It was very strong but also showed a lot of promise. Maybe I pumped them up a bit too much in my head but this new one turned out to be somewhat forgettable. My initiation with the band was tepid, so maybe I need to put in a little work to warm up to this one.
17) Grift / Saiva - Split 10"  Another little sample of some top quality Swedish black metal. Looking forward to a Saiva full length. That may tends to the wounds of Lonndom's break up.
18) Dødheimsgard - An umbra Omega  Before I managed to peel myself away from this album, I was all over it like a Baltimore police officer on a jaywalker of color. I'm going to write a full review of this as well so I wont go into too much great detail.
19) Kres - Na krawedziach nocy  I havent had as much time as I'd like to fully consume this album, but I have enjoyed it enough to tell you that it is awesome. In the vein of Wedrujacy Wiatr / Stworz, etc.
20) House of Atreus - The Ichor and the Spear that Follows  These guys are super talented and this album is a neck wrecker. Not really the type of thing I usually go nuts for, but anyone who misses Arghoslent will be pretty happy with this album.