2014 is nearly over. I feel so ill prepared to write this list, but that’s how I always feel. I read other’s lists and think “who the hell is that? I’m missing out!” Maybe some day I’ll have time to listen to all the music as it is released. Until then, here’s a list of what’s been important to me this year. Most of these have a common theme. They transport you into their world. They are art that moves you whether you want to be moved or not. I’m excited to share them with you.
10. The Haunted – Exit Wounds
Anyone who knows me know that The Haunted are one of my favorite bands of all time – specifically the Peter Dolving era. His voice is pure unbridled fury and coupled with the monster grooves from the Bjorler brothers it creates a near perfect sonic experience for me. I appreciate the Marco Ano years but Peter just moves my soul. That being said, I did not expect to like “Exit Wounds” as much as I do. Many of the songs feel like Marco singing Peter parts, but once I got over the initial surprise, I don’t mind that at all.
The hardcore approach that The Haunted has always had is even more in the pocket with Marco’s delivery. I’ve always tried to bring equal parts Pro-Pain and The Haunted into what IKILLYA does and Marcos’ return is an excellent melding of the two. This is still music that makes you want to kick people down stairs, even if it doesn’t pull at my soul like it used to.
9. Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Sex. I really like it. I’m pretty sure many of you do as well. Though it is difficult to get right, I also really like artists that are able to make their music sexy. Chet Faker is not metal. He’s not even rock. I don’t think he has a genre. He just makes sexy music – and I love it. The only artist better than he at it is The Weeknd, but he didn’t put out an album this year so I can’t list him here. Do you and your naughty bits a favor and jam this with your significant other. Then jam them with…. Oh you get the point. Then watch the video below and then go dust off those skates you had in 4th grade.
8. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
Tom G Warrior is an enigma to me. I have a huge amount of respect for him but sometimes his art is lost on me. I dug “Eparistera Daimones” but it didn’t impact me enough to rush to spend time with the new album “Melana Chasmata”. Which was my loss. Once I finally did sit with the album it transported me to a very creepy place. It’s calm and yet crushing; serene and yet evil. If it were a serial killer, it’d give Hannibal a run for his money. It’s heavy in the best sense of the word. The one you can’t well define. My bad for waiting so long, but glad I didn’t miss it all together.
7. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
Every metalhead can point to at least one Judas Priest song that directly affected their life. Most will point you to a stack of Judas Priest albums. Rob’s return over a decade ago was exciting but as much as I’ll defend “Nostradamus” for it’s undiscovered genius, until this year, they hadn’t delivered an album that felt undeniable. “Redeemer of Souls” is every single thing you love about Judas Priest. It sounds classic yet new. Comfortable yet ready to take you on a new journey. It’s yet another landmark album from the heavy metal gods.
Halls of Valhalla
6. Crobot – EP
If you don’t like dirty rock and roll, we can’t be friends. Unfortunately, most of what tries to be dirty rock and roll ends up being so derivative that it physically turns my stomach and makes me want to stop creating art for fear it’ll end up like that. Crobot, is not that band. Crobot is a lightning bolt tattoo you can just barely see peaking out from behind a pair of ripped jean shorts on a bleached blonde riding shotgun on a chopper. Explosive, sexy and just the right amount of dangerous. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live several times this year and I never want them to stop playing every time. Roll down the windows and get a speeding ticket. Thanks for sticking up for us Dave Grohl, but THIS is rock n roll.
Nowhere To Hide
5. Behemoth – The Satanist
Just before this album came out Nergal said in an interview that most extreme bands today don’t know how to make extreme music. I though that it was a bit harsh but maybe deserved shot at modern deathcore and that ilk. It wasn’t until I heard the album that I realized it was a statement of fact, aimed at everyone who plays a guitar through a distorted channel. Behemoth have managed to make an album that is, unsettling. The music in definition is the same thing they’ve done for the past few albums but somehow they managed to deliver arrangements that twist your insides. Like being off balance in a haunted basement at night. Something’s just not right in the world. What an amazing feat that is. They have created a piece of art that is truly extreme, truly moving. You MUST experience this.
4. At the Gates – At War With Reality
This album is still sinking in for me but even in the early listens, it’s an excellent album. Until hearing it I was completely content to just live into my old age with “Slaughter of the Soul,” but now that it’s here, I see what I’ve been missing. All of the brutality they’ve made so famous, all of the groove, and no filler. I’m happy to have them back, and can forgive them for giving us the “final tour” nonsense a few years ago.
Eater of Gods
3. Yelawolf – Trunk Muzik Returns
It’s not often that I truly love anything about rap music, but there are few artists who’ve had a bigger influence on my writing than Yelawolf in the past few years. His complete disregard for the rap norm and never-ending quest to experiment time and again delivers intelligent, creative music. Match that to the fact that he sings of much of what I saw growing up and I’m proud to wear my Slumerican shirt every day. Immersive storytelling, flawless execution and creative delivery – do yourself a favor and become a fan of one rapper. “Life’s a ditch bitch, I’m just good with a shovel”
2. Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken
I was introduced to Evergrey in 2004 with the release of their album “The Inner Circle” and though I have enjoyed their other albums, I never really felt they were as good as that one. Until now. I don’t know if it was the return of Henrik Danhage and Jonas Ekdahl as players or just the chemistry they brought to Tom, but “Hymns For The Broken” is on par with the best they’ve ever done. Hooks for miles carried there by a masterfully executed mix of groove and metal. I’ve always said that Evergrey is power metal Whitesnake and if they keep writing albums like this, they’re going to prove me right.
1. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun
Insomnium have been one of my favorite bands ever since their 2006 classic “Above The Weeping World”. Each album since then, and even the 2 before, are the dictionary definition of mid-tempo melo-death. The perfect mix of melody and brutality – all at the perfect crushing tempo. I was excited for this album but did not expect it to be as good as it is. The addition of guitarist Markus Vanhala has added an extra kick I didn’t even know I was missing. His masterful solos and melodic counterpoint make this their finest hour. There is no other album we listened to more on tour and I’m still not even close to tired of it. Absolutely perfect.
While We Sleep