Hi everyone, it’s Shmilly again with your second dose of 2014 goodness! Today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite mini-album releases of the year. More than a single but less than a full-length album, you can get a good taste of where the artist is at when they put out a mini. Plus there’s the bonus that you can get your hit in a half-hour chunk without having to cut off half way through. Again, these are alphabetical because I couldn’t be bothered it’s difficult to rank them. Feel free to comment and I hope someone discovers something new here.

abstracts – abstracts

This new group snuck out of nowhere to produce one of my favourite releases of the year. The first self-titled mini from abstracts showcases some fantastic djent composition, and it’s nice to hear some that lets the screaming take a backseat in favour of clean vocals. Sure, it’s in there, but this is a really pleasurable listen with just the right balance of powerful melodies and instrumental tracks. If the video below even slightly catches your interest, I would encourage you to find the whole mini-album. It’s a phenomenal debut from an exciting new project.

Against All Enemies – The Little Light In The Shadow

Some more heavy indie goodness from another band new to me this year. Against All Enemies have delivered a solid first mini with a combination of forceful, hard-hitting numbers and catchy riffs. The clean and harsh vocals are both decent and if this is your style then it’s definitely worth keeping them on your radar. I’ll be interested to see what Against All Enemies has to offer next.

a crowd of rebellion – Calendula

Chaotic post-hardcore at its indie finest. What initially piqued my interest about a crowd of rebellion a while ago was the combination of heavy growling with catchy female sounding vocals (maybe think MAXIMUM THE HORMONE? but without the actual female member xD). Of course, these guys are firmly grounded in a very different genre than MTH, and they successfully bring together a variety of different elements – memorable riffs, heavy breakdowns, and electronic elements – to produce something quite special. For those who are interested, their previous mini-album Zygomycota is also an excellent release. The video below is a song from that one, since the only PV for this one is a ballad xD

GHOSE – Assortment

Sadly GHOSE announced their disbandment this year, but it was a good one to send them off. As well as their first and only full-length album (wait for tomorrow’s list), they released this mini, comprising re-recorded and remastered versions of all the tracks from their previous three singles, and one that was on a split CD with label sharers CodeRebirth. It’s a solid release – despite half the tracks essentially being B-sides, it doesn’t feel like there’s any filler. Plus, as a fan, it’s now easy to acquire their complete discography without having to trawl pre-owned options for the early singles. I also had the pleasure of meeting GHOSE at an entertaining in-store event where I won drummer yusuke‘s signed mirror and cologne in a game of rock, paper, scissors! (I was the only male, and foreigner, fan there xD)

Sadie – bleach

It’s safe to say it’s been a mixed year for Sadie. As arguably my favourite active band in the VK scene (their Madrigal de Maria tour final in January was awesome), I always make sure to buy whatever they put out. Their latest album GANGSTA was an underwheling release, but thankfully, bleach, which came out a few months earlier, is another strong showing. The title track is actually the only new one however: similar to GHOSE above, the rest are all retakes of existing songs in their discography, namely forgotten B-sides and their first live-distributed song oboreru sakana (drowning fish). It’s a mixed bag for me – Sexual affection is an excellent new arrangement, but on the other hand the beautiful nageki no koufuku (the happiness of grief) loses some of its original emotion for me. In any case, worth a listen, especially if you haven’t been a Sadie fan as long as I have.

アルカラ (arukara) – CAO

How about some chilled and funky indie rock? arukara have you covered with their mini-album CAO. I really don’t have a lot to say about this one since it’s not my typical genre of choice, but this was a surprisingly pleasant listen. It’s energetic, friendly to pop-attuned ears, and the composition does a good job of allowing each member to be heard. I’m new to arukara this year, but I’ve been assured that this is a great place to start.

ギルガメッシュ (girugamesh) – gravitation

While it was difficult to really class myself as a girugamesh ‘fan’ in the past – their discography has so many ups and downs that I never really got into most of it – I sensed something changing with their latest album offering, MONSTER. Now the boys have put their heads together, and gathering their years of metal-inspired electro-rock together and throwing some djent sensibilties into the mix, created a phenomenal mini-album that is one of my favourite releases this year. There’s proper screams again, there’s catchy tunes, there’s gorgeous female vocal samples in the chorus of opener Go ahead, and the hard-hitting riffs provide so much energy that it’s a thrilling ride from start to finish. Despite a mixed history for me, girugamesh have finally produced something that is just my taste – so much so that I’m wondering just how they got it so right. I hope they treat us to more of this new refined sound in 2015.

グリーヴァ (Grieva) – 黒イ百合ノ花ト××× (Kuroi Yuri no Hana to xxx | black lilies and xxx)

Another Grieva release on my 2014 list? Why of course. This one came just in time, too – it contains several tracks that were previously available through live-distribution only, which was threatening my bank account until Kuroi Yuri… arrived. In addition to those live-dist songs, Bondage is a retake of a song by their previous band Reload, and taihaiteki kyousou (amusingly translatable to ‘Decadent Mad Funeral’) was Grieva’s very first demo tape (yes, it was literally a casette tape). The mini is rounded off with new acoustic and unplugged takes on two of their best ballads. It’s a great release that really showcases the breadth of Grieva’s old-school inspired VK style and where they’ve come from.


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