I started off with the intention of simply doing a Top Ten, but when I sat down and looked at what came out over the past 12 months, the list soon grew and grew. There are so many great new bands coming out all the time that it's hard to keep up, but we at Heavy Planet are striving to make sure the best of the new underground crop are brought to your ears. Also what's great about this list is that it's truly international with bands from Mexico, Germany, USA, Wales, Greece, and French-Canadian all rocking to the same beat, whether it's Sludge, Stoner, or Doom, it's a sound that unites us all.
Anyway, here's my favourites from this year, plus look out at the end for my favourite artwork of the year.
20. Grifter - The Return Of The Bearded Brethren
The ever brilliant Grifter returned with their grooviest most solid record to date. There weren't many better records which made me dance my ass off this year!
19. Black Khox - AKAB
19. Black Khox - AKAB
18. Sigiriya - Darkness Died Today
Superb husky vocals coarsing through thick heavy riffs was exactly what we needed to hear, and Sigiriya delivered with ease. Only great things to come from these guys.
17. Planet Of Zeus - Vigilante
Opening track 'The Great Dandolos' has made its way into every playlist i've created throughout the year; just simple, great, thick, rock. Nice!
16. Mothership - Mothership II
It may have only been released at the very tail end of the year, but with these riffs and songs about suprise transexuals, there was no way it wasn't going to make it onto this list. It'll probably kick in just how good this album is once 2015 is fully under way.
15. Horsehunter - Caged In Flesh
There isn't a great deal of Doom on this list, but the debut record from these Australians is too stunning to disregard. Search for a dark place in your soul to bury it.
14. MuckRaker - Karmageddon
Politically charged Helmet-inspired riffs have had me thumping my way around my work and home-life for the second half of the year with great pleasure. RISE UP ALL YOU LOGGERHEADS!
13. Monolord - Empress Rising
Long relentless driving riffs; what more can you ask for?
12. Leather Lung - Reap What You Sow
Thrown my way courtesy of Seth's Sunday Sludge, these Bostonians tick all of the right boxes, so long as those boxes are marked dirty, angry, and full of weed.
11. Gurt - Horrendosaurus
Gurt have the knack of making you feel extremely violated with their demonic vocals and down right dirty guitars. Horrendosaurus was a record i needed to play with the curtains closed.
10. Sumer - The Animal You Are
This record stands out on my list as it's essentially post-rock (just a bit heavier), a genre which no other record this year in the genre has stood out from. Sumer are the new leading light in the British scene, and The Animal You Are is a spellbinding listen.
9. Face On Mars - Face On Mars
Another recent release which has had such an impact on me, knocking many other stoner psych rock records out of the park, and with just being their debut, it makes their effort all the more praise-worthy.
8. The Picturebooks - Imaginary Horse
This visceral blues record from the German duo is a soul clenching record which focuses heavily on vocals and stripped-down laid back sounds that becomes a mesmerising listen. It encompasses your body with every listen. Essential is an accurate description.
7. Cardiel - Local Solo
When this South American duo's debut full-length kicked its way into my ear drums, it was impossible to shift, blending ferocious elements of punk, stoner, psycho-dub, it became an eternal ear-bleeder which brought you back for more and more and more.
6. Rhin - Bastard
Full of sledgehammer riffs and venemous vocals, Rhin's Bastard is a record so full of potential and experimentation that it's suprising it can be contained. Echoing the early excitement of a young Melvins, Rhin are sure to be covering patches on everyone's leather/denim jackets the rebel world over. Awesome record!
5. Bar De Monjas - In Fuzz We Trust
The best Fuzz record to come out this year, by far. Packed full of frenetic head-banging party riffs, Bar De Monjas saw their potential flowing through their demo and grabbed it with both hands (well four of them, they are a duo afterall). Often showing as many pop elements as rock, In Fuzz We Trust was the party record of the year.
4. Mother Corona - Reburn
The Oxforshire bands' second record has been a huge grower on me, having initially made a solid impact with their heavy 70's stoner riffs, repeated listens have revealed greater levels to their musicianship with great songwriting and layered instrumentation that makes Reburn the complete stoner rock album this year.
3. Whalerider - Thanatos
Thanatos is a record dipping its toe into stoner and grunge circles, while carrying psychedelic tendencies, and basically it's brilliant. A proper album that you need to fully divuge yourself into. The German group's debut full-length has raised the bar for every band, for them to basically put up or shut up: Thanatos is that good!
2. Hark - Crystalline
Always to be linked back to the missed genius of underappreciated Welsh rockers Taint thanks to frontman Jimbob Isaac, Hark arrived at the beginning of the year like a breath of fresh air to the rock scene, full of intelligent riffs, mind-bending time changes, and songs that can beat you to a pulp. Their sound is youthful, interesting, and hypnotizing. Crystalline is a game changer.
1. Rodha - Welter Through The Ashes
Again back to Seth's Sunday Sludge for putting Rodha on my radar when they released their demo Raw back in 2012, so i've been waiting for this record for two years, and it is everything I had hoped for: aggression, emotion, driving-rhythms, destructive riffs, heartfelt vocals, raw power. It's not just the sludge record of the year, it's my complete album of the year as it encapsulates everything I love, not just about Heavy Planet, but everything I love about music. Own this record!
Top 5 Album Artwork of The Year
Here's a short appreciation of some of my favourite artwork this year.
5. Okkultokrati - Night Jerks
4. Moss -Carmilla (Marcilla)
3. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite
2. Monster Magnet - Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining of Last Patrol
1. Grifter - The Return Of The Bearded Brethren