…of our new album reviews for 2014! That’s right…this is your last chance to get your new music fix from us this year since we will start out year end honors next week. Will any of these album weasel their way into he running? Well, I’m not going to tell you here. You should know that by now. Get listening!
The Banner – Greying (GoodFight)
Cretin – Stranger (Relapse)
Raskasta Joulua – Ragnarok Juletide (Spinefarm)
White Arms of Athena – White Arms of Athena (Prosthetic)
(Just a reminder: Before doing your Christmas shopping on Amazon – which we know you are going to – please go there through one of the album links on the side. That simple click-through will help keep this podcast up and running. Thanks!)
White Arms of Athena – White Arms of Athena
Have fun in Vegas man!
And, yeah, I totally rocked the new Weird Al this year.
Without further ado, here are my top 20 albums of 2014:
1. Mastodon – Once More Round The Sun
Solid through and through. Not much more needs to be said about this. I originally thought that there were highlights on this album, such as the cheerleaders in Aunt Lisa and the following song Ember City. But as I listened to this throughout the rest of the year all the other songs stand out as great and none of them grow tiring.
2. Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite
Extremely good but I probably like this just a hair less than their last album, Formshifter, which was my number one albums of 2012. But now three albums and one EP in to their career, these guys are putting together a resume to stand as one of the best tech death bands ever.
3. Opeth – Pale Communion
I know you don’t want to hear me talk much about this album, but I’ll just say that this is everything I wanted from an Opeth album at this point in their career in 2014.
4. Pallbearer – Foundations Of Burden
I am not exaggerating when I say that this might be the best doom album ever. That makes it only the fourth best album of the year, but that’s still high praise. It’s slow yet catchy yet does not grow tiring. I could listen to this album over and over again.
5. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars
A great mix of tech, prog, and death. That guitar riff/noodling on “Withering Waves” is the highlight, but the whole album is diverse enough to keep it interesting.
6. Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds
There’s some flaws, and there’s some filler, but this is still Machine Head and it’s still quite good. It’s tough not to compare this to Unto The Locust and The Blackening, of which Bloodstone & Diamonds is not as good as either of those. But songs such as “Game Over” and “Beneath The Silt” still show that Machine Head are at the top of their game.
7. Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel
More concise and consistent than their previous album Portal of I, but Citadel doesn’t seem to have as many high points. That trade off makes Citadel equally as good as Portal of I, which was my number 7 albums of 2012.
8. Devin Townsend – Z2
“He took the song ‘Grace’ from Epicloud and made an entire album of it” according to Nick. I love that. And then the second disc (the followup to Ziltoid The Omniscient) grew on me once I started focusing on the songs and not the narrative.
9. Polar – Shadowed by Vultures
Progressive hardcore? Female vocals on one song and an acoustic interlude on another song? And some catchi-ness? Yes, please.
10. ACxDC – Antichrist Demoncore
If you like Nails… you’ll like ACxDC. Is Antichrist Demoncore as good as Nails? No. But if you are looking for more powerviolence, then this is it (because let’s face it, Nails has only ever released like 33 minutes of music in total). The last two tracks in particular on this album really stand out.
11. Slipknot – .5 The Gray Chapter
Even though there’s some filler in here, there are some really good songs that are immediately accessible. We talk about “radio rock”, but this is “radio metal” even if the only metal radio station is that one on Sirius XM.
12. At The Gates – At War With Reality
I have mixed feelings about this album. This is certainly good stuff, but it doesn’t sink into my bones the way it seems to for other people. When I’m listening to this, I think it is very good, but it just doesn’t leave more of a lasting impression than to rank it higher than number 12 for the year.
13. Exmortus – Slave to the Sword
Wow to the guitar work. I love all that weddly-deely stuff.
14. Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us
This album is certainly a grower. The more I listen to it the better it got.
15. Arch Enemy – War Eternal
Even though I do believe that this could have been better if Alissa’s clean vocals were used for some contrast, there are still plenty of great songs here to hold this up to any other classic Arch Enemy album.
16. Epica – The Quantum Enigma
A nice return to form from Epica that sees this album being my second favorite from them, even if I still think this album might be too long.
17. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
Not as good of a comeback as some other recent old school albums from Black Sabbath or Carcass, but still quite good. There is some filler here, but if you cull the best songs it makes for a nice album.
18. Inferi – The Path of Apotheosis
Unexpectedly good tech death that actually has some hooks but could use a little more contrast to make it really stand out. But still very good.
19. Godmaker – Godmaker
My wife asks: if I didn’t know the guitar player, would I like this album? It’s a legitimate question and the answer is that I wouldn’t even know about this band if I hadn’t met the guitar player. But I can’t change that fact and I do like this sludge-y/stoner-y album.
20. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution
This sneaks in at number 20 due to the bass work alone.
There you have it. I’ll probably have lots more to say about 2014 in the near future, but my top 20 albums list is plenty for now.
Great list!!! I’m surprised you didn’t wait another week to post it, but I can guarantee that we’ll be seeing some overlap. I made a playlist of 41 albums (everything I rated 5 and some 4’s that grew on me over the year) and have been chopping it down. Thankfully I have all next week to continue doing that. Our placement of certain bands will be different (Mastodon and Black Crown in particular), but a solid chunck will definitely overlap.
Ya know what continues to surprise three years in to doing this? At this point, I’d say we know each other and each others tastes in music pretty well, yet you still manage to surprise me. Not just with some albums I wouldn’t have seen earning positions that they did, but with bands that I’ve never heard of. THREE in your top 20 I haven’t ever listened too – ACxDC, Inferi, and Godmaker. I expect to not know half of what Decibel puts on their list (and dislike the other half…), but I just assume at this point that I’d be familiar with anything you’re giving the honors of top 20.
Also surprising: we covered over 200 releases again this year……and there’s still shit we haven’t heard!!
I can agree that I see some predictability in my own list of top albums for this year and some unpredictability. Mastodon, Allegaeon, Opeth, Machine Head, and Devin Townsend are certainly some of my favorite bands, so it isn’t surprising to me to see them all in the top 10. And Ne Obliviscaris fell at the same position their previous album ranked in 2012. But for surprises, Pallbearer certainly was a surprise to me. I thought that their first album wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t even top 20 material for me back in 2012. But with Foundations Of Burden they just took things to another level and really hit it out of the park with this album. Then there’s bands that came out of nowhere for me like Polar and Inferi. I feel as though I’ve pestered you guys enough in the past to give a listen to certain albums. Unless I feel strongly enough to give you an album that I want to hear your opinions on (such as Opeth), then I might mention something to Brian a few times (such as with ACxDC because I’m sure he was aware of them). But often times much of the stuff I listen to that you don’t listen to falls under the category of something more prog than metal (such as Opeth, Alcest, Anathema, or Steven Wilson) or an occasional tech death album such as Inferi or Cytotoxin. I’d say I listened to about 70 albums this year, and you guys reviewed at least 60 of those on the podcast. But I wouldn’t expect you to listen to all those other albums I listened to because that includes the latest Weird Al Yankovich album.
As for the timing of my post? I’m off for the holidays shortly. Vegas awaits!