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01.01.15 The Best Of 2014 In Metal12.03.14 Metal Of 2014 And Give Me Recs
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The Best Of 2014 In Metal

2014 was another amazing year in the world of heavy metal music, a world which rseems to be ever revolving and pushing boundaries. Honestly it was hard to keep up rwith some of the quality albums that rwere put out this year. So this list is basically rthe best I could do to summarize my 2014 listening rexperience in only 25 albums.
25Darkest Era

Darkest Era ? Severance: This album came as quite a surprise to me, since I had always written these guys off as being a second rate stuck in the confines of typical folk and heavy metal tropes. Well, as of Severance I can say that these Ire landers are truly running wild within these parameters. The songs found on this release are epic yet not cheesy and pay enough tribute to the classic purveyors of this cult heavy metal sound while still being memorable. This album doesn?t stray at all from this formula though however said formula epic it may be. This limits the albums scope a little bit shackling it to this top #25 spot. Still this release is an epic emotionally impactful listen and definitely a reason to keep Darkest Era on your musical radar. Rating: 4.0
Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Goatwhore has always been one of those bands that I?ve always liked but never quite loved. This was mainly due to their ACDC style of approach to the already somewhat crowded group of bands toying with blackened satanic inspired sounds. I?m very excited to say that on their newest album ?Constricting Rage of the Merciless? Goatwhore finally break out of the pack to assume a position at the forefront of Blackened style metal in general. This is mainly due to these NOLA-nites not only perfecting their usual sound but also experimenting a little bit. ?Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh? plays around with a crushing doom influence and is a true highlight of the album while opener ?Poisonous Existence in Reawakening? might be the best song Goatwhore has ever written. Rating: 4.1

Bolzer continues their reign over the kvlt like world of underground extreme metal in 2014 due to a sensational appearance at MDF (which I regrettably missed) but also largely in part to this astounding EP which brings to the table black and death metal as well as something special in the song writing department. While neither of the two tracks on this release quite measure up to the amazing songs found on their previous EP ?Aura? Steppes and the behemoth ?Labyrinthian Graves? are quite an impressive example of Bolzer?s ability to combine typical metal influences with psychedelic elements. Believe me, there?s a reason this 18 minute EP is on a list filled with hour long full lengths. Rating: 4.1
22A Hill to Die Upon
Holy Despair

This album by up and coming blasphemous blackened death metallers A Hill to Die Upon is essentially Behemoth light, but believe they practically over shadow their forbearers on this release. Each track roars by with a darkened fury possessed by all great black metal bands while at the same time crushing and memorable death metal riffage pounds its way into the listener?s brain. This means that while the album has a whole isn?t necessarily original it definitely is memorable. The release is even made more memorable when A Hill to Die Upon branch out from the typical Blackened death influences such as on ?O Death?. Holy Despair definitely serves as a sacrilegious statement of purpose to a slightly overcrowded scene which demands the attention of death and black metal fans everywhere. Rating: 4.1
No Mercy for Mayhem

This year I enjoyed a fair amount of dark and overly serious releases. So it was a quite a pleasant surprise to find this insanely fun hard rockin? album among the other darkened grim releases of 2014. The many 80s first wave of black metal clich?s serve as great counter programming to the aforementioned ?serious? metal releases. But believe me with amazing anthems such as Try Suicide, the Final Rape of Night, and Woman of Flame this release quickly shifted from being just a fun album to take my mind of things to an album I basically jammed nonstop. Midnight do nothing more than salute the legends of old, but they do it with such a unique brash attitude and penchant for catchy song writing you just have to love them. Rating: 4.1
The Serpent and the Sphere

I hate to say it, but Agalloch disappointed me with this release. A band that released such amazingly unique genre defining efforts such as ?Pale Folklore? and ??The Mantle? seemingly merely copies themselves on this release while not really treading any new ground. Still the fact that this so called disappointment is still in the top 20 on my year end list is a testament to just how good Agalloch are. Tracks like ?Dark Matter Gods? and ?Vales Beyond Dimension? are epic beyond compare while Plateau of Ages truly sends the album off in a post rock infused kind of style truly befitting of this band. So in the end is it a misstep for these black metal legends? Yes. But does Agalloch miss a beat in the process? I?d say no. Rating: 4.2
19Beyond Creation
Earthborn Evolution

Technical death metal has recently become a convoluted genre due in part to the number of bands in the scene with similar sounds as well as to the somewhat monotonous music these bands play. I?m excited to say that the next three bands on this list show that it is possible for modern tech death to break out of the mold of excessive technicality just for the sake of technicality. Beyond creation did so by harkening back to the technical releases of old with a superb production, a jazzy feel, and the best bass performance of the year. Some of the songs start to blend together towards the end, but as soon as track nine, Theatrical Delirium, rolls around with its jazz like guitar performance you know you?ve experienced a pretty awesome album. The bass performance in the title track alone puts this on the map. Rating: 4.2
The Flesh Prevails

The second tech death album of the three, was another slight disappointment for my year. Last year with the release of their EP ?Nomadic?, Fallujah seemed poised to take technical death metal and even death metal in general into a new daring direction with beautifully atmospheric and emotionally impactful music. I guess on Flesh Prevails they deliver on this initial promise, but not without a few bugs in the machine. The main thing that held this album back from being a master work would have to be the overly compact production which really goes against what Fallujah were going for with this album. Everything feels tethered to earth instead of free to roam the soundscape as it should. The album does drag on a couple of tracks as well. Still, this is a truly amazing release which is about as ambitious as one can get and on tracks like Levitated, Alone with You/Allure one can see just exactly what these youngsters were going for and respect them all the more for basically achieving it. Rating: 4.2
17Artificial Brain
Labyrinth Constellation

Holy fucking shit?this album will melt your brain and then replace it with a high tech android super computer. This right here, is definitely my tech death album of the year and like the Fallujah album sees the boundaries of the genre being pushed to new extremes. Unlike the Fallujah release though, these extremes are a lot darker and messed up. Labyrinth Constellations zooms past like some kind of trip through space, and not the optimistic bright Star Trek kind of trip but one where you?re on an aged working class vessel with one of Ridley Scott?s Aliens and of course, no one can hear you scream. Admittedly this album does start to sound samey towards the end, but it?s worth it for the psychedelic infused outro to Absorbing Black Ignition alone. Rating: 4.2

I don?t know how these Bostonians do it. This is the third year in a row they?ve made it onto my year end list (Last year they reached the lofty seventh spot) and if Deathless is any indication, they?re not slowing down anytime soon. Deathless shows Revocation stream lining their sound in the death metal direction even more. This has made the song writing tighter and more cohesive. Sadly gone are the days of crazy experimentation (such as utilizing a banjo or a horn section), but they?ve made way for crushing songs that are still quite capable of jamming like a mother fucker, just check out Labyrinth of Eyes or United Helotry. Also a quick shout out to Madness Opus which is one of the best tracks released this year. Rating: 4.2
Clearing the Path to Ascend

Clearing the Path to Ascend: This year I can also say that I?ve officially found the awe inspiring soul crushing power of doom. Yob was one of the bands that helped me wake up to this slow meandering style of metal. And I?d say on the surface this album, is just your typical monolithic doom release. All the songs are longer than the ten minute mark and feature riffs that could crush an elephant. It?s only when closing track Marrow plays that you can see the true genius behind this album that helps to separate it from the pack of other albums released this year. Marrow makes the three tracks the marched before it seem like the long lasting suffering before the ultimate catharsis of Marrow hits you with its innate beauty. ?It?s time to wake up.? Rating: 4.2
Shogunate Macabre

This was one of my first loves of 2014. Insanely gripping melodic death metal with lyrics entirely about the honor of Samurais, and some amazing eastern folk instrumentation added in for good measure is what this album has to offer. Seriously, it?s as amazing as it sounds. Every single track is an epic slice of shogun infused fury and with insanely catchy tracks like Hold the Sword and One Man?s Burden you?ll keep coming back. It?s truly on the ballad esque Lady of the Wind that these samurai shine though. It?s an emotionally impactful epic the rises above the rest of an album as an example of what this band can truly be capable of. I look forward to seeing this potential fully realized, but for now amazing albums like this one are more than enough from these Finlanders. Rating: 4.2
13Morbus Chron

Morbus Chron were one of two bands this year that showed that this new wave of OSDM bands are not just here to pay tribute to the classic acts of the 90s (The other was Horrendous who released the amazing Ecdysis) but also here to break entirely new ground in the world of death. I don?t think anyone could have anticipated just how crazy an album Sweven ended up being, but this release went about as far from its old school roots as it could without completely abandoning them. A crazy psychedelic trip into abstract melodies with a classic Swedish death metal back drop is about the best description I can come up for this album. Sometimes the ambition on this release far exceeds practicality which is why the album wasn?t quite able to breach the top 10. Still with Sweven, Morbus Chron show that they?re a band with an artistic vision far beyond the realm of death metal. Rating: 4.3
12 Mastodon
Once More 'Round the Sun

After the slight misstep that was the Hunter, the Mastodudes are once again back on my year end list. Believe me though, they?re not back on here because they compromised their creative vision. Nope, these dudes from Atlanta stuck it out down the path of sludge and progressive inspired hard rock into the realm of the unknown. In doing so, they?ve created by far the catchiest album of the year. Songs like The Motherload and Ember City have been stuck in my head for weeks at a time. This is not the Mastodon that recorded Leviathan or even Crack the Skye and I think that as of this album, everyone is ok with that. Rating: 4.3

Holy fucking shit?this album is a journey into self-loathing and misery that continues to unfurl with each subsequent listen. Throughout this three song, hour long affair, Bongripper take a minimalistic approach to Doom that on first listen can seem tedious and under developed. But the more time you put into this record the more it hypnotizes you with its monolithic drums, spine pulverizing bass and guitar tone, and approach to long drawn out song writing. This is when tracks begin to hook you, like the insane groove in the beginning of Descent or the trace amounts of stoner melody that?s seen on Into Ruin. All around Miserable truly lives up to its name sake and helped me realize that slower can often be better. Rating: 4.3
10Dead Congregation
Promulgation of the Fall

Dead Congregation literally eviscerated, pummeled, demolished (any descriptive verb for reeking insane amounts of destruction can be inserted here) this year. Literally all it takes to eliminate any doubts about the brutality and quality of this album are the first two snare hits that open Only Ash Remains. After that, it?s all over: your back and neck have been crumbled into a fine powder, your ears bleed by the pint, and you?re mentally floored by the amount of destruction being caused before you. For 40 straight minutes this goes on with only an occasional dissonant harmony to let up the onslaught. Thanks to this album, I would call these Greeks death metal masters and place them among the echelon of acts like Immolation, Incantation, Morbid Angel, and Autopsy. Just jam to some of the riffs heard in tracks like Serpentskin and Nigredo and tell me that doesn?t immediately place them among the ranks of legends. Rating: 4.4
Obulus for Charon

This is probably the least well known band on this list, which is a shame because as you can tell by their placement on said list they are pretty damned good. Noctomb are a local act from Raleigh NC that I can only describe as being a blackened sludge band that has a fixation on jaw droppingly groovy and catchy riffs. What this young three piece ends up with on their debut ?Obulus for Charon? though, is a sound all their own and one of the most unique albums of 2014. Just jam to riff laden tracks like the title track or Soulrot and tell me if any signed acts on big labels possess song writing that good. You can tell these guys have some room to grow, but with a starting platform this good you can for sure say that success is what lies around the corner. Hopefully in 2015 these guys get the exposure they deserve. Rating: 4.4
8Black Anvil
Hail Death

I quite literally have no idea where an album like this came from. I always considered the dudes in Black Anvil a straight forward solid as fuck thrashy black metal act, so when I played this album for the first time and heard the many influences scattered across its hour plus run time I was floored. The band somehow incorporates hardcore shouts, progressive song structures, amazing classic rock guitar solos, and even a catchy chorus here or there among the foreboding black metal atmospheres and the fast thrashy riffage found throughout. The fact that they?re able to incorporate all of these influences seamlessly into one congruent sound further cements the outright talent of the men in this band. Though it does run a little on the long side ?Hail Death? is quite an ambitious album that pays off in spades or in this case, Pentagrams. Rating: 4.4
7Temple of Void
Of Terror and the Supernatural

I had basically finalized the top albums of this list when these doomy deathsters from Detroit came out of nowhere and crashed the party. It kind of made my job a tad harder but believe me, it was worth moving stuff around to squeeze in this gem of a doom death hybrid. ?Of Terror..? moves along at an unstoppable pace with slow but never boring or not pulverizing riffs. The death metal energy is all here, right along with that doom metal somber doom melodies that soar over the heavy destruction occurring beneath. Jam to tracks like Savage Howl or Exanimate Gaze and you can easily see that this is the perfect merging of these two styles. And when the truly go completely funeral doom on closer Bargain in Death it definitely shows that even on their debut album these guys are masters of their craft. Definitely watch for these guys in the future. Rating: 4.5

This is definitely my winner for most epic album of 2014. ?Aura? transports your metal addled brain to the highlands of Ireland themselves. It?s barely past dawn, and there?s a deep mist rolling in over the green mossy hills. If you strain your hears you can hear the faint sound of bagpipes off in the distance. This is the picture ?Aura? paints in hour long run time. It does this by utilizing folk melodies and many different folk instruments that feel most natural along the more abrasive black metal sections. The fact that this all came from the mind of one man, makes it all the more impressive. Also a quick shout out to Austin Lunn of Panopticon for putting in an absolutely thundering drum performance here. The production though, serves as a double edged sword, on one hand it compacts the album making it harder to hear the beautiful folk elements at times but on the other it also helps to nail down the highland like atmosphere of the album. When all of these elements are combined, you?re given the best black metal album of 2014 and an album to listen to whenever an epic soundtrack is needed. Rating: 4.5
Shadows of the Dying Sun

Finally made it to the top five m/!! ?Shadows of the Dying Sun? sees Insomnium further perfect their unique style of philosophical melodeath and take it into new realms of beautiful atmospheres. Seriously, this one of those albums where it?s best appreciated by walking through nature or something metal like that and just focusing on all the soaring melodies and the atmospheres they create. The song writing itself is another highlight and in the end makes the album what it is. From front to back every song is memorable and possesses a unique identity. This Is partly due to the successful incorporation of clean singing throughout the album. This trait takes tracks like Lost to Night, The Promethean Song, and the title track to the next level and make them huge highlights. This also makes tracks where they stick to their melodic death metal guns all the more powerful, like the epic anthem Black Heart Rebellion or the lead single Ephemeral. Rating: 4.6
4Lord Mantis
Death Mask

This album is kind of a departure from the beauty of the previous couple albums on this list. And when I say departure, I mean the antithesis. For this is what Death Mask is, the farthest thing from beauty: pure ugliness and self-loathing projected into the form of music. This album?s sound can only be described as sludgy blackened doom with a hint of industrial influence, and Lord Mantis utilizes every filthy aspect of these genres to craft the horror that is Death Mask. Tracks like the title track and Possession Prayer somehow simultaneously make your blood boil with rage but also make you squirm in uncomfortable fear. It?s been awhile since an album has been able to capture such hostile emotions (The most memorable release to do so would have to be NIN?s Downward Spiral). The magnitude of depravity found on this album is then increased even more by closer Three Crosses use of post metal like beauty to seek redemption after the sins committed earlier during this release. This album is a disgusting filthy abomination against all that is good in this world, and I fucking love every second of it. Rating: 4.7
Melana Chasmata

The trend of dark depressing albums continues with Triptykon?s sophomore effort titled Melana Chasmata. This Greek phrase translates to ?Chasms as black as ink? and is definitely more than fitting for the pits of darkness found buried in this album. The legend Tom G. Warrior has crafted a sound that combines the darkest aspects of thrash, black, and death all into a doom metal back bone. The results are one of the more crushing albums to be released this year. And when you add the depressing weight of the lyrics to the mix this is definitely the most spiritually crushing album of the year. The album wouldn?t be what it is though without the sprinkling of softer more atmospheric tracks among all the self-destruction. Songs like Boleskin House, Aurorae, and the insanely beautiful closer Waiting give Chasmata that extra push it needed to reach the top three on this list, Add this beauty with the pitch black darkness of tracks like In the Sleep of Death, Tree of Suffering Souls, and Black Snow and you have a true dark force to be reckoned with. Rating: 4.7
The Satanist

This was the definitive metal album of 2015 as far as I?m concerned (I didn?t say personal favorite though!). It captured everyone?s attention with shit tons of hype before it was even released with stories such as Nergal?s battle with Leukemia and the band controversy between the band and their home country of Poland concerning their ability to create such Satanic music. What furthered cemented this album as popular album of the year is that the music found on this track actually surpassed all of this hype that was built up around it. And after listening to this release, it?s not hard to see why. On the Satanist, Behemoth abandons all that made them a tedious band on previous releases and craft and emotive album I can only describe as gospel like. Seriously, due to tracks like the insanely catchy Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and the epic as fuck closer O Father O Satan O Sun, the band sounds like they?re trying to emulate a higher power (I?ll let you guess who that power is). Instrumentally the band hits it out of the park as well, with amazing guitar work on tracks like Amen, Ben Sahar, and most notable Messe Noire which possesses probably the best guitar solo of the year. In the end The Satanist deserves all the praise it has received and maybe should even have some more on the side. Rating: 4.8
Foundations of Burden

Finally after almost four thousand words I?ve reached the end of this journey through 2014 in metal. Damn this shit was exhausting but definitely worth it. And waiting at the end of this journey like an old friend is Foundations of Burden. And that?s in the end what separates it from the rest of the albums on this list, it was an album that I kept going back too (and still am.. guess what I?m jamming to as I type this) regardless of mood or metal craving. Foundations was just always there with its dependable doomy groove, beautiful atmospherics, crushing guitar riffs, and somber lyrical themes. I?ve been able to emotionally connect to this album more than any other released this year. Contained on these six sprawling tracks is a unique non aggressive yet still heavy riffing style that truly captured where I was in 2014. The beautiful soaring vocal performance from Brett Campbell also continues to hammer in the utter sadness displayed and emotions on display in this release. These feelings of despair evolve throughout the album ranging from the aggressiveness found during the middle of Worlds Apart to the almost triumphant realization that one can move on from despair found on best song of the year Ghost I Used to Be. Then on closer Vanished this feeling of absolute despair disappears quietly into the night. This is a decidedly un-metal end but for this album which transcends genre tags it is most fitting. So in the end due to its substance over style, its unique approach to doom metal, and its emotionally charged instrumentation Pallbearer claims its rightful spot as album of the year 2015. Rating: 5.0
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