Well, after much agonizing, screaming, and yelling here are the A&GS staff picks for our Top Albums of 2014. I figure FRENCH CHEESE and ERIC THE BULL can be the support acts before The Maestro smacks them upside the head and headlines what will be THE definitive list. What did you think were some of the year’s best? We’d love to hear from you!!
ERIC THE BULL: Unless you were asleep for the entire year, you know that 2014 was full of excellent releases. Getting this list down to a Top 10 was incredibly difficult. I had to leave out some heavy hitters, but here are the ones I listened to and enjoyed most this year:
1. IN FLAMES – Siren Charms: As my all-time favorite band, of course IN FLAMES has to have the top spot. I have enjoyed their musical evolution over my many years of fandom, and Siren Charms is excellent in its unique way.
2. BASTARD SAPLING – Instinct is Forever: Far beyond a “standard” black metal LP, BASTARD SAPLING’s sophomore effort provided a punishing multi-dimensional soundscape.
3. TRIPTYKON – Melana Chasmata: Dark, beautiful, pissed off, melancholic; this record offered it all. TRIPTYKON’s finest work to date.
4. KRIEG – Transient: I love how filthy and cold this album sounds. “To Speak With Ghosts” is one of my favorite songs of the year. Transient is another step in the right direction for these black metal veterans.
5. SATANIC WARMASTER – Fimbulwinter: Fimbulwinter offers the highest production quality in their catalog. This album is rife with frozen atmospheres and powerful songs.
6. YOUNG AND IN THE WAY – When Life Comes to Death: Relentless and visceral, this album sounds disgusting in all the right ways. YAITW made one of the strongest statements of 2014 with this record.
7. CHAOS MOON – Resurrection Extract: Psychedelic-injected black metal that is as violent as it is forward thinking. Resurrection Extract is a work of art.
8. OPETH – Pale Communion: Pale Communion is the perfection of their newly focused, more progressive rock sound.
9. AT THE GATES – At War With Reality: The kings of Melodic Death Metal proved they still own their throne. At War With Reality is much more than recreating albums of old.
10. CYNIC – Kindly Bent to Free Us: CYNIC’s jazz infused progressive rock/metal sound continues to amaze me. A beautiful record overall.
The most honorable of mentions and other albums I enjoyed this year:
MAYHEM – Esoteric Warfare
TWILIGHT – III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb
ANIMALS AS LEADERS – The Joy of Motion
TAAKE – Stridens Hus
BEHEMOTH – The Satanist
PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden
CARNIFEX – Die Without Hope
FRENCH CHEESE: I don’t think many could disagree that 2014 was an amazing year for heavy music; so in order to pick my Top 10 of the past 12 months, I made sure to base my decision on albums that remained stuck in my head, as well as my CD player. These albums were the ones I considered to be game changers:
1. THE CONTORTIONIST – LANGUAGE
2. FALLUJAH – THE FLESH PREVAILS
3. ANIMALS AS LEADERS – THE JOY OF MOTION
4. INTERVALS – A VOICE WITHIN
5. BLACK CROWN INITIATE – THE WRECKAGE OF STARS
6. SET AND SETTING – A VIVID MEMORY
7. TOOTHGRINDER – SCHIZOPHRENIC JUBILEE
8. OPETH – PALE COMMUNION
9. THE HELIX NEBULA – MERIDIAN
10. MASTODON – ONCE MORE ‘ROUND THE SUN
THE MAESTRO: 2014 was a fantastic year for hard rock and heavy metal, with some great pop music thrown in for good measure. I didn’t think we could beat last year, but the records that came out in 2014 pretty much throttled most of 2013’s output. This was a really tough list for me; I had to make some hard cuts. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve had so many albums on REPEAT in a long time. So, without further ado, here are The Maestro’s Top 25 Albums of 2014:
1. PRIMAL FEAR – Delivering the Black – From the very first listen, THIS was my Album of the Year! And 11 months later nothing has changed. Pure metal at its finest. Ralf Scheepers is a God among men.
2. BEHEMOTH – The Satanist – Death Metal perfection on record that also destroys live…’nuff said.
3. TAYLOR SWIFT – 1989 – The songstress proves once again that she is head and shoulders above her peers with her most complete album yet.
4. OVERKILL – White Devil Armory – A career-defining record, and their best since Necroshine.
5. VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS – Adrian Vandenberg and crew knock it out of the park.
6. ROBERT PLANT – Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar – The Tall Cool One shows everyone how it’s done.
7. KXM – Lynch…Luzier…Pinnick. Do I need to go on?
8. EXODUS – Blood In, Blood Out – The best album of this band’s career!!
9. DECAPITATED – Blood Mantra – This record gets played at least twice a week, and live they were phenomenal.
10. JUDAS PRIEST – Redeemer of Souls – The Gods of Heavy Metal remind everyone WHY they are Metal Royalty.
11. ALLEGAEON – Elements of the Infinite
12. WHITE EMPRESS – Rise of the Empress
13. ANCIENT ASCENDANT – Echoes and Cinder
14. HALCYON WAY – Conquer
15. EXMORTUS – Slave to the Sword
16. ACCEPT – Blind Rage
17. WORK OF ART – Framework
18. GOATWHORE – Constricting Rage of the Merciless
19. ABYSMAL DAWN – Obsolescence
20. SILENT FORCE – Rising From Ashes
21. NUKLEAR FROST – Subjugation
22. WINGER – Better Days Comin’
23. SKULL FIST – Chasing the Dream
24. A SOUND OF THUNDER – The Lesser Key of Solomon
25. MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS
MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – Bridge the Gap
AUDREY HORNE – Pure Heavy
HOUSE OF LORDS – Precious Metal
MARTY FRIEDMAN – Inferno
1349 – Massive Cauldron of Chaos
REVOCATION – Deathless
BEYOND CREATION – Earthborn Evolution
HIDEOUS DIVINITY – Cobra Verde
SOULBURN – The Suffocating Darkness
WHEW!!! Making these lists was a workout of monumental proportions. What did you all think of our picks? And what are some of yours? Comment below, please! And if you found something you’ve never heard, please check those bands out!