Did another year go by already? How does this keep happening. I promise myself each year that I will make time to listen to more new releases than I did the previous year, but I always fall victim to “No Free Time” syndrome. I wound up listening to even less this year than I did last year. Sigh … anyways, before we get started, I feel the need for a disclaimer or sorts. As with any editorial piece, these are my opinions. These are the 10 albums that were the best of the year to me. If you don’t agree with them, fuck right the hell off. There was an immense amount of releases this year that I wanted to listen to, but just didn’t have the time to. Maybe next year …
10. Sage Francis: Copper Gone
MOSHPIT YE – oh … not yet. Sage Francis took a four year hiatus to refuel, and he came back better than ever with Copper Gone, which is his strongest collection of songs to date. Yes, I know … hip hop on a metal site. Shut up … it’s my list. While the album as a whole is strong, one track stands above the others for me. “Thank You” is one of the most heartfelt tributes I’ve heard in a long while. It hit me on all the right levels. If you’re a fan of intelligent hip hop, check this album out.
9. Necrophagia: WhiteWorm Cathedral
I went into this one blind. I’m the type of tiger that goes to record shops every week and browses for new shit. If something looks cool to me, I’ll pick it up. Just like the good old days before downloading. Yes, I do download, but I always buy what I like. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised by this album. It’s a crushing slab of fun death metal.
8. While Heaven Wept: Suspended At Aphelion
God damn it, I wanted this album to be higher. I really did. I listened to this album for the first time on the 15th anniversary of my favorite album, Dream Theater’s Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory. Maybe I was on a high from listening to the latter so much that day, but when I listened to this one, I felt like it was another progressive metal masterpiece. I felt like it was the one I was waiting for for 15 years. I set out to buy it right away, but the release date got pushed back, and given distribution for anything that isn’t mainstream country, pop or rap is terrible, I eventually forgot about it. I listened to it again a few days ago, and I did not feel the same way as I did the first time. While it is a fantastic progressive doom metal album, it isn’t anywhere near the level of my favorite CD. Oh well.
7. ’68: In Humor and Sadness
When The Chariot broke up, I hated the world. You’re never happy when one of your favorite bands breaks up, especially if you never got the chance to see them live. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for vocalist Josh Scogin to reappear in the music scene. He came back shortly after with ’68, a two-piece noise rock/hardcore band. The stand out here for me is the last track (interestingly titled “.”) which is so intricately woven in its progression.
6. Babymetal: Babymetal
This is the kick in the ass that we needed. This has got to be one of the most fun albums/bands I have heard in my lifetime. Who would have thought that mixing J-Pop and metal would mesh so well together? If every song on this album were as strong as “Ijime, Dame, Zettai,” then this very well might have wound up as my top album of 2014.
5. Devil Sold His Soul: Belong ╪ Betray Ep
I want this release to be so much higher, since this is one of my favorite bands, but being only a five-song EP is holding it back. This is our first taste of the band with a brand new vocalist. While the original vocalist was one of the reasons I loved the band so much, the new one does a fine job of carrying the passed torch. I have “Time” on repeat as I’m writing this list, and I honestly could keep this song on repeat for days.
4. Lonewolf: Cult of Steel
This is another band I knew nothing about before listening to. Where the fuck have they been all my life? One of my favorite sub-genres is power metal, and this satiates my ravenous hunger for it. Just about every song is filled with stellar riffs that will stick with you long after listening. I can’t say enough good things about it, so I won’t.
3. Alcest: Shelter
Another album that I wanted to place higher, possibly even number one. I’ve been following Neige through all of his projects, and Alcest have always been one of my favorites. Shelter ruffled a lot of feathers because it drops virtually all of the “black” in the “blackgaze” genre that they helped create. While not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not a bad album by any means, I’ve forgotten the majority of songs on it. Why is it number three, you ask? “Délivrance” is why. This song is fucking incredible, and may very well be in my top 10 songs of all time. This is one of those songs that I would be content with leaving on repeat forever.
2. Eluveitie: Origins
Ever since hearing “Thousandfold,” I was hooked on these guys. Each new album from them takes me a few listens/months to fully get into, but when the entirety of the album hits me, it hits hard. This whole album is so good. It’s a near perfect mix of melodic death and folk metal. THE CALL OF THE MOOOOUNTAINS!
1. Dawnbringer: Night of the Hammer
If you know me at all, you’d know that my number one album this year is a no-brainer. I’m never really comfortable naming just one band when someone asks me what my favorite band is, since I love so many in genres all over the spectrum. I think though, that I can safely say Dawnbringer is my favorite band in all of metal. Every release (production issues aside) is amazing and proves that heavy metal is alive and well. Chris Black is a fucking genius. He employs yet another vocal style on this album, and it works so well for me. I can’t wait to see what he and the band do next.