This is it, freaks! Our Top 20 Albums of 2014! We all know lists are super subjective and semi-bullshit, but they at least make for good conversation/argument and give you some idea of albums that should be worth your time. Also, we are review show…we kinda have to do it.
This time, though, we went strictly with our guts. We each did one draft of our lists before combining them to the final one. No nitpicking and arguing “objectivity” with ourselves. No giving a shit if placing X higher than Y was trve or kvlt. What you see is an honest reaction to going over all 200+ albums we reviewed and picking what we liked best. Obviously our individual lists were longer – and surprisingly diverse considering how many times Nick and I give things the same ratings – but we are both quite pleased with the final rundown. Maybe we’ll share those personal lists later, but for now, get listening then leave us comments telling us how wrong we are so we can tell you you’re probably right, but argue anyway.
- Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars (eOne)
- Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds (Nuclear Blast)
- Black Map – …And We Explode (Minus Head)
- Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (Epitaph)
- Polar – Shadowed by Vultures (Prosthetic)
- At The Gates – At War With Reality (Century Media)
- Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun (Reprise)
- Unearth – Watchers of Rule (eOne)
- Exmortus – Slave to the Sword (Prosthetic)
- Within The Ruins – Phenomena (eOne)
- Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails (Unique Leader)
- Castle – Under Siege (Prosthetic)
- Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer (Profound Lore)
- Crosses – Crosses (Sumerian)
- Bloodshot Dawn – Demons (independent)
- He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit (Tragic Hero)
- Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast)
- Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel (Season of Mist)
- Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)
- Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution (Season of Mist)
Cool list, guys. Lots of comments.
-Your number 20 album was Beyond Creation? What a coincidence, it was number 20 for me as well for all the same reasons you mentioned (which would be the bass).
-I had thought that Pallbearer and Ne Obliviscaris would both be higher on your list, but I can’t really quibble with you on those albums because just making the list means they were good albums.
-It sounds like what Kadavar was for me last year is what Castle is for you this year. That would be a 70s Sabbath-inspired throwback that came out of nowhere that you ended up enjoying but didn’t expect to. I haven’t listened to Castle but I think I am going to have to check it out.
-Was I one of the lists you expected the Fallujah album to be on? That style is typically something I enjoy, but for some reason this album just didn’t sink in for me the way I thought it might. I listened to it a bunch, but it just never stood out as being anything special to me.
-I can’t give you flak for ranking Within The Ruins at number 10 because as I mentioned before, I love that first song on the album. But I would ask you what some of your other favorite songs on that album are. None of the other songs on the album made an impression on me.
-It brought a smile to my face to hear that Nick liked Exmortus so much despite the over the top guitar displays and what can be considered power metal themes of the songs.
-I was pleasantly surprised to see both Mastodon and Polar ranked so high. I completely agree with Nick’s assessment of the Polar album, and I can certainly say that I wouldn’t have listened to Polar if you guys didn’t review it and like it at the time.
-I got the Black Map EP and liked it, but not enough that I had to jump when they released their full length. Plus that album came out at a time when there were tons of other albums being released so I decided on listening to other albums instead of Black Map.
-Other surprises regarding your list are that neither Arch Enemy nor Cynic made the list. Were either of those on your individual lists? (hint: you should post your individual lists).
And finally, a note to metal bands and labels: try to do a better job of spreading out the releases in 2015. I realize that albums are only released once a week, and that no one releases anything around holiday weeks. But that still leaves at least 45 weeks in which to release music. This year saw 9 of my top 20 albums released on only 4 days. Five of your top 20 albums were released on the same day. October 28 saw At The Gates, Dawnbringer, Black Map, Unearth, and Beyond Creation get released. Plus Devin Townsend and Nero di Marte were released on that same day. Then two weeks later the flood continued with Machine Head and Ne Obliviscaris. Yet from January to the middle of June there were hardly any good releases. There were only a handful of albums on either of our lists that were released in the first 25 weeks of the year. I think Nick alluded to this before, that at the half way point of the year 2014 wasn’t looking so great for metal albums. But 2014 turned out to be a pretty good year for metal because everyone waited until the end of October to release the best stuff.
– I expected Fallujah to be on your list as well as some of the contributors on Metalsucks and HBIH. I agree that between praising the album and digging it back out for end of year prep, it didn’t stick with me quite that much. I’m not sure if that is due to the overwhelming volume that Brian and I consume, or if it speaks more directly about the album, but when I did put it back into rotation a couple weeks ago I fell in love all over again…..maybe this time it’ll stick more.
– My favorite tracks on the new Within The Ruins are “The Other,” “Ronin,” “Eternal Shore,” and “Sentinel.”
– Yeah, Exmortus was just undeniably great….despite all my opinions of that genre.
– I’ll put up my personal list in a bit.
– I totally agree with your assessment on spreading out releases. I had four 5’s from January – April (not counting EP’s), and then we had one show in October that saw four 5’s released at the same time. Not even remotely an even spread.
– ditto everything Nick said except the fave Within The Ruins songs. I don’t know what mine are, actually.
– Arch Enemy did not make my initial list, but it was close enough it could have been at 24 or 25. I do really enjoy the album, and it is the most inspired at least since Rise of Tyrants, if not Wages of Sin. That said, it was more of a return to where they should have been…and there were a lot of other great albums this year.
– In the opening slow weeks of January, you should check out that Black Map album. And Castle. You’re missing out. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love Castle; u’re harder for me to read with Black Map.
– Further to the spread of releases: I would like to think there is a strategy of some sort to how labels release albums. I know each label has to run on their own schedule, but it’s not like they are ignorant to what one another are doing. So, while it seems to us that they are fighting for sales, maybe people tend to pick an extra album up when a few are coming out? I mean, they are hurting enough, so you think they would have at least figured out release schedules that make sense. Maybe someday we’ll talk to somebody who can give us insight on that.