Yes it’s that time of year again, every audiophile has to neatly organize and rank their releases of the year and well it would just be breaking the tradition if i didn’t join in. In previous years i have counted down my top five EP’s and i will do so again just in much less detail:
5) Carcass – Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel
4) Down – Down IV Part 2
3) Childish Gambino – Kauai
2) Lunar C – Not Good At Life
1) Periphery – Clear
Before we get onto my top 20 albums of 2014 i do want to just say this year has been phenomenal for music, only a few of the big hitters put out releases this year, but smaller bands have just took the crown before the list starts i just want to give shout outs to Exodus, Marmozets, Orange Goblin, Scar Symmetry, Soen and Cynic for some cracking music this year.
20) Savage Messiah – The Fateful Dark
One of this years earlier releases, this one got a lot of playtime from me a while back. Imagine pumped up Iron Maiden with thrash metal elements. The disappointing fact is that Savage Messiah are probably more known for receiving government money under an arts scheme from the conservative government than their kick ass tunes. Well at least Cameron has done one thing right.
19) The Contortionist – Language
I had the pleasure of seeing the insanely talented Contortionist open up for Protest The Hero this year, they’re all a similar age to me with far advanced musicianship. This record is your typical prog metal affair, ambient clean sections, elements of technical death metal and ripping solos. Well worth a late night trip with headphones on and lights off.
18) Decapitated – Blood Mantra
Originally this one didn’t make the cut, but with the live show still in my head after seeing them support Behemoth the night before writing this it seemed criminally unfair not to include this. I’ve given the album an absolute hammering in the last 24 hours. Best of all it holds up. Vogg and the band in general have upped the amount of groove that your standard blast beat wielding band have.
17) Alestorm – Sunset On The Golden Age
You would honestly think by album 4, pirate metal would have ran itself dry and become a stale mockery of itself. The key word here is “fun” this album is an all out party machine, songs like Drink and Wooden Leg! are meant to be blasted in rock pubs and clubs. Additionally whoever in the band decided to add the Taio Cruz cover deserves a medal. Yar!
16) Freak Kitchen – Cooking With Pagans
Freak Kitchen are one of my favourite rock bands of all time, sometimes they get progressive, experimental and techy. Other times they push forward hilarious satire and the remainder is just guitar wizardry. This album without a doubt contains the best song title of this year “saving up for an anal bleach” you can really write a song about anything these days. Check them or to a further extension Mattias Eklundh.
15) Killer Be Killed – Self Titled
What happens when you stick three of the best frontmen of modern metal in a band together? Killer Be Killed. This is probably the best supergroup since Audioslave. The opener also contains one of the best choruses of the year, only slightly eclipsed by Mastodons Motherload. A bit of everything for everyone this album and one i strongly suggest going back to.
14) At The Gates – At War With Reality
This album right here was a blessing and a curse for me, mainly due to it’s predecessor. For those of you out of the loop Slaughter Of The Soul is an absolute masterpiece. Add a 19 year gap and a few albums by The Haunted and you’re back to At War With Reality. This album mainly falls outside of the top ten for two reasons firstly my expectations were far too high, i wanted Slaughter Of The Soul 2 and secondly because the album cover reminds me far too much of goatse.
13) Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral
This year has been absolutely fantastic for the more extreme end of metal. At first i was very cautious when it was announced Nick Holmes would be fronting Bloodbath especially when the singles were released. But listening to the album in context it just works. This album has a old school necro vibe about it and if it wasn’t for another cheeky release it would be the highest ranked extreme album on this list.
12) Sabaton – Heroes
It’s kind of difficult to find a reason to dislike Sabaton, it’s happy power metal but swaps the dragons for tanks to keep things a bit fresh after all the stale cliches of the genre. A handful of catchy choruses and some cool melodic guitar lines, you can’t really ask for much more can you?
11) Intervals – A Voice Within
If you know me, or have read one of these before you know i;m quite into my techy metal with amazing clean vocal lines and well seeing as Protest The Hero, Tesserasct and Periphery haven’t put out any full lengths this year something has had to fill the void when i’m sick of listening to Clear on loop. It’s kind of a shame though we may never hear another Intervals project with the lead singer leaving and a number of the members associated with other acts in the genre.
10) Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow
STILL NUMBER ONE, STILL NUMBER ONE ONE ONE! Sorry RZA you’re number 10 on my list. But i have a lot of praise for this album, i haven’t really enjoyed another Wu Tang Clan record as much as this other than the classic 36 Chambers. Additionally this one took me by surprise, i knew nothing about the release of this album until two days after it came out. But it’s what you expect from The Wu, fantastic lyrics, creative beats and a heap of attitude. Solid.
9) Royal Blood – Self Titled
Following my Rap entry on this list is my Indie wanker entry, this pretty much solidifies me as a false metal fan to those guys who listen to Darkthrone in their moms basement. All in all though this is a shame,, i garuntee you by album two no one will care about Royal Blood. They’ve achieved that classic tokenism from magazines like NME and just fall of the face of the earth after album two like The Darkness did, like Alex Clare did. I can only hope they keep ploughing out the riffs and get in the Red Fang crowd.
8) Behemoth – The Satanist
There were a couple of reasons why this almost didn’t make the list: It was an early release and got forgotten about, i hadn’t seen Behemoth live at this point and perhaps i’m Vladmir Putin. However i rectified that recently, at that moment the penny dropped, i realized not only how important this album was for the band but for extreme metal in general. It’s a eeire atrmospheric monster rather than just your standard 45 minutes of blastbeats. It’s truly uniquie sounding and deserved not only a second listen but a top ten spot on my list.
7) Slash – World On Fire
This album would have landed in the top 3 if it wasn’t for one factor, it’s too long! At 17 songs long all Saul needed to do was cut all the filler and have 40 minutes of bangers which is easily done on this album: World On Fire, Automatic Overdrive, Wicked Stone, Shadow Life, 30 Years To Life, Bent To Fly, Dirty Girl, The Dissident. Done and dusted. That would of been the best Slash album since Appetite For Destruction. Honestly playlist it and tell me i’m wrong.
6) Monuments – The Amanuensis
Our final trip back to techy prog land for the year. What can i say? Chris is the man twisting catchy vocal lines, intriciate guitar work, dynamics from sereen quiet to thunderous roars, this album pushes all my buttons and i strongly suggest you check it out. I’m glad i did especially after i wasn’t a fan of previous effort Gnosis.
5) Machine Head – Bloodstone And Diamonds
I have to say when i first heard this i absolutely detested it, i thought they had bastardized the sound of The Blackening which i hold so dearly in my heart, but then it dawned on me, as a band they need to keep evolving and to keep interesting. No one i know actually enjoys new Slayer, AC/DC or Motorhead albums as you know exactly what you’re expecting. Lifes to short to listen to the same song everday. It took a couple of listens but it clicked with me. Seeing them in the live arena last night solidified it for me, from frustrated to elated with this one.
4) Devin Townsend – Z2
It wouldn’t be a end of year list without some Devin Townsend, not in my part of the woods. We almost had the double whammy as well with Casualties of Cool just missing out on the 20th place spot. The only criticism i ever have of Devin is that he is a “songs’ man and not an “albums” man. It’s his deep hitting personal songs that resonate with me and so many other people and thats why he never quite hits the number one spot. However yet again some of the songs here hit the spot, some of them are far of the mark. NOW BRING ME YOUR EARTHS FINEST CUP OF COFFEE!
3) Slipknot – Vol. 5 The Grey Chapter
The very second Corey Taylors first vocal line hits, you know this is going to be something special. Raw, heartfelt, savage and brimming full of life. This album is a milestone for Slipknot. Battling through the wars without Joey and Paul and really stepping up to the mark. After the stale release of All Hope Is Gone this album blends the agression of Iowa with the massive choruses of Vol 3. It’s a perfect storm and a step in the right direction to becoming the biggest metal band in the world when Metallica, Maiden and Black Sabbath hang up their guitars in the next 20 years.
2) Mastodon – Once More Around The Sun
Brent, Bill, Bran and Troy. Lads you;ve gone and done it again another phenomenal album. My favourite thing about Mastodon is how they can wear so many hats as a band, they’ve shited from sludge metal to prog rock and now just write kick ass party anthems, they have their own truly unique sound these days and it’s something to be respected. Also Motherload is the best chorus of the year. Just try argue with me, you’re wrong.
1) The Hell – Groovehammer
It’s stupid, it’s childish, it’s vulgar but it hasn’t left my iPod, Spotify playlist or record players since it’s been released. A number of masked lads from Watford have just put out the album of the year on a shoe string budget on two stringed guitars. I don’t know what it is whether the songs are really that catchy or i just like the mix of anger, synchopated rhythms and a heavy use of the words fuck and dick. But yeah it’s my number one. Deal with it.