The Best Albums of 2014, #14

band0114. The Budos Band, Burnt Offering (Daptone)

I’ve long been familiar with the Daptone label, but primarily when it came to anything related to whatever Sharon Jones had going on. I wasn’t familiar at all with the Budos Band, the Staten Island band with a wicked horn section that had been dabbling in funk, jazz, soul, and especially afrobeat. It wasn’t until I heard what they had in store for their fourth full-length album that my ears perked up. And why wouldn’t they? Their plan with Burnt Offering was to take on heavy metal and interpret through their own unique sound. And not just metal, but the doomy, ominous sounds of the early days, primarily Black Sabbath and Pentagram. Once I heard the new tunes, it was almost too good to be true: here’s a band playing some truly heavy sounding music, but injecting with a level of musicianship, of swing, of groove, of soul that is so rare in heavy metal that it felt like a breath of fresh air. Anchored by guitar, bass and drums, the music wisely avoids going too over the top with the heaviness, which is often a mistake some newer “proto-metal” revivalists make. No, early heavy metal still exercised great restraint, and this album does just that. The guitar riffs are distorted, but not overdriven, while the rhythm section lumbers along with grace and ominousness, acting as an anchor for the lavish horns section to do its thing, as well as the odd organ improvisation. As a result such highlights as “Into the Fog”, “The Sticks”, “Magus Mountain”, and the title track make an immediate, unforgettable impression, bringing a little darkness and theatricality to afrofunk. In a year that was rather weak for “true” metal, the artists who “dabbled” in the heavy stuff – we mustn’t forget Brownout’s amazing album of funk covers – brought some life and energy to a genre that’s been spinning its wheels as of late.