How in the hell is it July already? Either I drink way too much or this year is really flying by (I blame alcohol). When it comes to the metal world, the past six months have been packed full of impressive albums week after week. Last year had so many incredible releases that my year end list gave me gray hairs, and 2014 is picking up right where it left off! Luckily this list is not in any order, but with releases coming from Revocation, Judas Priest, Goatwhore, Machine Head, Opeth and many others, this year might top last year’s insanity! But for now, you asked and I delivered. My favorite releases of 2014 so far are below!

Killer Be Killed – “Self-titled”

Killer Be Killed was a project that’s been talked about for years, but finally came together for a massive release. Max Cavalera, Greg Puciato, Dave Elitch and Troy Sanders joined forces for an album packed full of punishing riffs, catchy choruses, and brutal breakdowns, and it’s absolutely brilliant from start to finish. It truly exceeded all expectations.

IKILLYA – “Vae Victis”

IKILLYA is pure heavy metal at it’s finest. From the powerful vocals to the incredible musicianship, and the high energy throughout “Vae Victis,” it’s a record all metal fans should pick up. They’ve grown immensely as a band, and with the new lineup finally coming together, they look absolutely unstoppable in 2014. This is just the beginning.

Mastodon – “Once More ‘Round The Sun”

This is pretty much a given at this point. Anytime Mastodon releases a new album, it’s automatically inserted into my favorites of the year. Predictable? Maybe, but can you blame? With each new record, they push the boundaries of their sound to insane levels, and have created a genre all of their own. The new songs may be catchier than their previous stuff, but it’s still an exceptional record that deserves it’s due.

Crowbar – “Symmetry in Black”

One words. RIFFS. Just when you think Kirk Windstein couldn’t possibly write more incredible riffs, Crowbar unleashes “Symmetry in Black” and ends that thought right away. The power of this record is just off the charts, and with it’s blend of their old and new sound, it’s an onslaught of sludge like no other band can do. I’m still blown away by it each time I press play.

Exmortus – “Slave To The Sword”

Holy fucking head bang! When “Slave To The Sword” hit my speakers, I could not believe what I was hearing. Their style of thrash metal incorporates incredibly technical riffs, blistering solos, and a thundering rythym section, and I absolutely can’t get enough of it. Throw in that they are one of the best live acts I’ve seen in a while, and I’m going to be hooked on Exmortus for a while. This is the future of thrash metal!

EYEHATEGOD – “Self-titled”

We had to wait over a decade, but EYEHATEGOD returned to the scene with an absolutely dirty and disgustingly heavy album this year. This record incorporates all that we loved about this band and more. The riffs, the screams, the power, it’s all there at a powerful level. This is a record that people will be talking about for a long time. It’s that fucking good.

Insomnium – “Shadows of the Dying Sun”

There are very few bands in my mind that simply get it right every single time, and Insomnium is one of them. With the release of “Shadows of the Dying Sun,” they’ve continued to blend their melodic and metal ways into something that will leave the listener speechless. Many bands try it, but Insomnium has perfected it, and this is just another classic in their collection. Honestly, it’s impossible for them to write a bad song.

Tombs – “Savage Gold”

Tombs is a band I’ve only been into for less than five years, but have quickly become one of my favorites in the scene. After hearing 2011’s “Path of Totality,” I thought they couldn’t possibly top it, but they have. “Savage Gold” is one the most well crafted albums I’ve heard in years, and solidifies them as a powerhouse. You can seriously lose yourself in their sound, and for me, that’s priceless. This is one I HIGHLY suggest picking up!

Agalloch – “The Serpent & The Sphere”

I’ve come to believe that Agalloch is not from this planet. Every time they release new music, you expect it to be good, but then it absolutely blows you away. Why they aren’t one of the biggest bands in the world is beyond me. This new album is just another example of perfection from these guys, and I don’t really know what else to say. They truly leave me speechless.

Black Anvil – “Hail Death”

From talking to these guys around Brooklyn, I knew I was in for something special, but had no idea that it was going to take over my daily playlist as it has. Black Anvil has taken their sound to a whole new level, and have released a masterful collection of songs with “Hail Death.” From start to finish, it’s a breathtaking ride, and only leaves you wanting more in the end. For fans of all things evil and heavy, this is a must have for 2014.

Vader – “Tibi Et Igni”

What more can you say in praise of Vader? For over thirty years they’ve released some of the sickest death metal of all time, and they show no signs of slowing down with the new album. They actually seem to be getting faster, and more deadly with their instruments, and for die hard fans like myself, that is a reason to celebrate. All hail Vader!

Behemoth – “The Satanist”

With all the hype around the new Behemoth album, you knew it was going to be good. Except for the band, no one had any idea that it was going to be this intense. From the first track to the last, it’s one of the most driven and passionate releases that I’ve ever heard in my life. Ever. Nergal and company have transformed into giants of the scene, and now they have their masterpiece underneath their belt. This record is violent, honest, focused and has a strength unlike anything I’ve heard in a while. To put it simply, “The Satanist” is an instant classic. GET IT.