What a year for the metal community!
Every year around this time, I look back and try to figure out how the next year is going to stand up against the current one. Somehow, the amount of talent that is spread across the metal scene never ceases to amaze me.
Although there were some releases that I knew wouldn’t leave my headphones, there are some that I never expected to reign supreme as they did. This was a year of comebacks, legends making some of their best music, and up-and-comers vying for their rightful place in the halls of metal royalty.
10. Goatwhore: Constricting Rage of the Merciless
Brutal, fast, and punishing is the only way Goatwhore play. On their sixth – and unabashedly best – release, Constricting Rage of the Merciless, they showcase every facet of their trademark blackened thrash. There is no filler here, and all 10 songs stand on their own.
9. Overkill: White Devil Armory
Overkill have always occupied a special place in metal for me. They’ve done nothing but blast thrash for 30-plus years without rock-star-ego breaks or no “I’m-tired-of this-shit” breaks. They are just pure, unadulterated thrash. White Devil Armory hearkens back to their early days, and Bobby “Blitz” Ellworth‘s vocals sound as good as ever! This album is not only one of the ones I listened to most in 2014, but I rank it among my top three Overkill albums of all time.
8. Cannibal Corpse: A Skeletal Domain
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and Cannibal Corpse have never been shy about making death metal, and their gory, churning, razor-sharp, riff-filled songs never disappoint. These guys excel in musicianship and overall production on A Skeletal Domain. It is most certainly their best-produced album and their most solid album from start to finish. It is my favorite Cannibal Corpse album of all of time.
7. Exodus: Blood In, Blood Out
Exodus created a wave in the thrash world when they replaced Rob Dukes with Steve “Zetro” Sousa this year. In my opinion, though, it was a great move. I enjoy every minute of Exodus with Dukes, but I love everything they’ve done with Zetro. The band is as sharp and riff-heavy as ever. They deliver a wall of sound that contrasts Zetro’s shrieking, Bon-Scott-on-acid vocals on this masterpiece. There is no filler and no frills here; just straight-to-the-gut thrash.
6. Judas Priest: Redeemer of Souls
The legends of metal returned with Redeemer of Souls, and it caused quite a buzz. It’s an altogether different album than any that Judas Priest have released in recent years. In fact, it sounds more like the Painkiller-era than their work on the more recent Nostradamus album, sans Rob Halford’s high pitched vocals. The dueling guitars of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner bring the album to life. Judas Priest was my first concert way back on the Defenders tour in 1984, and they prove here that they still have it with the quality metal on Redeemer of Souls.
5. Allegaeon: Elements of the Infinite
Allegaeon are horribly underrated. In my opinion, these guys should be a household name. The intricacies in the guitar and bass mixed with the intelligence of the lyrics form a lethal combination and leave you gasping for more. Hell, the genre-bending and humor in the video for “1.618” should be enough to put Elements of the Infinite on every top 10 list this year, but the quality of the music speaks for itself.
4. Agalloch: The Serpent and the Sphere
Agalloch have the ability to make magic with their blend of folk and death metal. The dynamics presented here are nothing short of amazing! The crescendos and doomy feel of The Serpent and the Sphere are what make it fantastic. Agalloch are about growth and change in their music, and they aren’t shy about making it known. Their albums all deliver an experience, and The Serpent and the Sphere is one fantastic journey!
3. At The Gates: At War With Reality
When At The Gates announced that they would be releasing a new album, it lit the metal world on fire. The founding fathers of the “Gothenburg sound” have made a comeback, and they have done it in spades. Every song is well-written and executed in true At The Gates fashion, and At War With Reality gets better with repeated listens. Simply put, this album feels like it picks up right where Slaughter of the Soul left off.
2. Triptykon: Melana Chasmata
The influence Tom G. Warrior has had on modern death metal is mountainous. Celtic Frost were an absolute monolith, and Triptykon wield a similar flag of honor. His domineering stage presence, along with his quintessential songwriting skills, have made him one of the masters of death metal. Melana Chasmata is a beast of an album, and every God-damned song just crushes, each with its own identity. The album winds through a pit of despair and carries you along with it.
1. Behemoth: The Satanist
Nergal and Behemoth have proven something to the music world. You don’t need to write radio-friendly metal songs to sell albums. They teach a lesson on how to create the most unwavering, evil, and blistering music, but still attract and maintain a fanbase base that supports what they do. The Satanist is incredible songwriting, musicianship, and fury wrapped in walls of riffs and blast beats. Every song presented here is integral to the experience of this album. It just flows from beginning to end. Behemoth have not only created their best album, but arguably one of the best black metal albums to date.