12/31/2014

The 10 Best Hard Rock/ Metal Albums of 2014

And, so ends another amazing year for hard rock and heavy metal music. In many ways, this is always one of the hardest lists for me to do. I listen to so many different kinds of metal and so many bands, that whittling it down to just ten and putting them in order, no less, is extremely difficult (and more than positive to cause controversy among my readers). So many great bands, both new and old, put out some of their best, if not their absolute best work, yet, this year. Anyway, let the countdown (and, of course, arguing amongst you) begin now!

10. Carnifex- Die Without Hope- I have to say that when I first heard Carnifex, on their debut album, I didn't think much of them. They weren't bad, but didn't really catch my attention. I thought they were just OK. As time passed though, the band developed and grew. And, low and behold they release their best album yet. Die Without Hope is a deathcore masterpiece, and as such, one of the best in the sub-genre. Brutal, pissed-off, hateful, and filled with aggressiveness to spare. This one of the best albums released this year to fuel a truly savage moshpit. What works so well here is that, yes there are breakdowns. But, that isn't the only reliance of the album. There are some wonderful bits of melody that accompany the savageness, as well as genuine musicianship. I am very excited to see where the band goes from here!

9. Machine Head- Bloodstone& Diamonds- Machine Head continue to release one modern classic after another. I honestly don't think any sane metalhead with discernible taste will argue that the last two albums before this one aren't classics. And, guess what? This one is even better than Unto the Locust! And, it's one of those album that just gets better with each and every listening. Technically sound, with a great mix of the melodic and totally adrenalinizied heaviness, as well as some of my favorite lyrics of the year, is this groove metal at its very finest. 




8. Slipknot- .5 The Gray Chapter- After the passing of bassist and founding member Paul Gray and the departure of drummer extraordinaire Joey Jordison, my expectations for the next Slipknot album were very low. So imagine my surprise, when I hear this album, and it's not only amazing, but ranks among their finest work, ever. It's the perfect mix of both their more melodic work and their heavier and more vicious output. Some of my favorite tracks of the year come from here, including one of the catchiest yet definitely ass kicking singles of the year in "The Devil in I". Plus, the album also serves as a loving tribute to Gray. In all, another classic from a band that has given us many.


7. Job For A Cowboy- Sun Eater- One band that just gets better and better with each every one of their releases, is this one. The album before this, Demonocarcy, was a huge leap in quality for the band. But, I never expected them to reach this optimum level and manage to give us a top 10 of the year album! A technically amazing and complex mixture of brutal death metal and progressively complex songs, this is a band that has grown and matured so much, since their now long gone deathcore days. A perfect example of band that is the future of metal living up that moniker.




6. Suicide Silence- You Can't Stop Me- Like Slipknot, this is a band that I questioned their decision to keep going after the loss of a founding member. Perhaps, I questioned it even more here, as Mitch Lucker was one of most important and beloved figures in deathcore. Well, low and behold, the addition of their new signer, Eddie Hermida has worked excellently for them. They have put one of the very best albums of their career, and in doing so have given us a new subgenre classic. Groove filled, angry, and sure to get you pumped YCSM is this band at their very best. And, considering they are one of the founding fathers of this kind of metal, it is saying a lot. Throw in guest appearances by the respective signers of Cannibal Corpse and Dillinger Escape Plan, and you have one of the most exciting metal albums of the entire year.

5. At The Gates- At War with Reality- Much like last year's release by Carcass, Surgical Steel, these masters of melodic death metal, hadn't put out a release in many a year. But, while, a part of me was hesitant of it, I was very excited for it. And, when I heard that they were going, I got excited hoping that they would give us the type of musicianship that made Slaughter of the Soul a genre defining classic. And, well, man did they ever deliver, just that! And, then some!! Here is the very definition of an album that gets better with each listening. They have made the kind of melodic death metal album that many others strive for but few achieve. This is, I predict, an album that will be looked upon as a classic in the years to come.


4. The Pretty Reckless- Going to Hell- Taylor Momsen already showed much maturity and genuine talent in the band's debut, Light Me Up, a few years back. Well, on their second release they got even better, giving us what is effectively the best hard rock album of the year. Rebellious, smart, hard rocking, and, at times, heartfelt and beautiful, TPR prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. This album has some of the catchiest songs we heard the entire year, like the title track, "Going Down", and "Absolution", the later being perhaps the best rock song written this year. Also further proving her maturity there is a song with anti-gun message in "Why'd You Bring a Shotgun to the Party?" or a deeply dark look into child abuse in "Sweet Things". You tell me of another rock album achieved this all that this year!

3. Triptykon- Melana Chasmata- As dark and bleak of a quality album as you are likely to have heard this year, Melana Chasmata immerses you it's black as fuck atmosphere. Tom Warrior makes his most recent band's second release even better than the album that preceded it (Eparstera Daimones). With long, complex, moody, and crushing music, this one stands head over shoulders of any band even remotely like this. This is a supreme recording of dark and gloomy blackened doom metal that will please the blackest depths of your soul.




2. Whitechapel- Our Endless War- The best deathcore, or any kind of "core", album of the year is also one of the finest releases of the subgenre ever. Whitechapel, without an argument one of the absolute best bands of this kind, has crafted a mature and aurally pleasing album that is way beyond what most of bands like this do in their entire career. Crushing, angry, violent, brutal, and savage, this is this year's definitive soundtrack to an ass whooping. The album hooks you with it's bouncing groove, crushes you with it's heaviness, then delivers multiple death blows with it's utter vicious. Songs like the title track, "The Saw Is the Law", "Let Me Burn", and the dark, brooding, and explosive track, "Digg's Road" rank among the most pummeling, yet completely catchy songs of the entire year.

1. Behemoth- The Satanist- After lead singer/ guitarist/ founding member Nergal won his battle with leukemia, his blackened death metal act came back with their finest release, yet. Which considering the quality of the all the albums they put out before this is saying a fucking lot! Crushing, dark, evil, and heavy music combine with the band's always present Satanic and blasphemous lyrics. There is a continuous feeling of suffocating darkness and ungodly bleakness and anti-christian anger that combine with music that is alternately fast and furious and/ or slow and pounding. Most of the songs on the album of an average length, save for the gloriously evil album closer that is the final track "O Father O Satan O Sun!". Said song is quite simply put the best song written about Lucifer released the entire year. All hail the mighty Behemoth!

Honorable Mentions:
AC/DC- Rock or Bust
Body Count- Manslaughter
Monuments- The Amanuensis
Devil You Know- The Beauty of Destruction

Sister Sin- Black Lotus 
Crosses (++++)- S/T
Godflesh- World Lit Only by Fire


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