|Jacob Hollows' Top 50 Of 2014|
Another year is drawing to a close. It has been an insane year for music, rinvolving old time favorites to new groups of considerable potential. This list rmay include much -core music, so if you are easily offended by such music, rremember that this is a humble opinion of one of your fellow Sputnikers. In rany case, enjoy!
While still retaining their core sound, a new vocal approach and stronger songwriting
allow these God-fearing New Zealanders an "urgency" unseen in former releases.
When I think of the oft-loathed scene of post-hardcore, feminine countertenor
combined with sporadic heaviness for the anthems of preteen girls come to mind,
including artists such as Chiodos or Sleeping with Sirens. However, Vanna exhibits an
impressive ferocity and fury unseen in this stereotype, one that took me by surprise.
|48||Our Last Night|
Oak Island Acoustic
The counterpart to the 2013 release of the same name, this EP sows the metalcore
group finding their niche in acoustic songwriting and impressively proficient
|47||Boris the Blade|
The Human Hive
Quality deathcore from down under. Nothing that reinvents the wheel, but one that
remains enjoyably energetic, tastefully heavy, and virtually chug-free.
Although far removed from the glory days of "Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are
Here" and "In The Constellation of the Black Widow", this release is satisfyingly dark
and chillingly sinister--an excellent black/grind release from the UK duo accustomed
An effective hybrid of heavy metal and metalcore, this album finds Ohio five-piece
thriving with Iron Maiden-esque vocals over crisp August Burns Red-esque riffing.
Balancing Survival And Happiness
I absolutely abhorred this Texas foursome's previous EP "Youth War" and expected
their debut full-length to be no different. However, in spite of (or perhaps because
of?) incessant chugs, no melody, sludgy production, and a mediocre vocalist, this
release shows an incredibly appealing simplicity and great songwriting.
While the vocalist change between "Beyond the Gate" and "Sons Of Perdition" proved
to be detrimental in the latter, this North Carolina outfit finds chemistry with its
frontman. In abandoning most -core aspects in favor of a more straightforward tech-
death approach, this release is immensely solid.
The Night God Slept
Perhaps more atmospheric than heavy, these Solid State newcomers prove their
worth in a saturated scene with brisk production, somber ambience, great vocals, and
above all, incredible lyricism.
Lacking the punch of "Demigod" (my personal favorite), these Polish blackened death
stalwarts more than make up for it with nearly overwhelmingly sinister atmosphere
and punishing razor sharp riffs.
|40||The Amity Affliction|
Let the Ocean Take Me
Although missing the thematic cohesion of "Chasing Ghosts", these Aussies prove for
a third time an emotional breath of fresh air in a claustrophobic post-
hardcore/metalcore scene with improved instrumentation, subtle electronics, excellent
vocals, and great lyrics.
|39||I Am Heresy|
I have never personally been a fan of mathy hardcore in the vein of metalcore
pioneers such as Converge, Botch, or The Dillinger Escape Plan. However, Nathan
Gray's newest project shows good use of variety, order in the midst of chaos, and
influence from these innovative artists, as well as a uniquely subtle Satanist lyrical
approach that is exceptionally intriguing.
|38||The Ghost Inside|
Continuing where "Get What You Give" left off, this metalcore/hardcore release
showcases an impressively honed balance between fury and heart.
|37||Young And In The Way|
When Life Comes To Death
Effectively blending hardcore, crust punk, and black metal with a disconcertingly
frosty production, this North Carolina quartet has released their most consistent effort
|36||Ice Nine Kills|
The Predator Becomes the Prey
The dual "beauty and the beast" approach to vocals has always seemed to be a
priority for this New England metalcore foursome. However, their newest release
takes it a step further with a complementary lyrical scheme and an improved
technical instrumental tactic.
Mend, Move On
Combining the passion of hardcore punk with the accessibility of pop punk, this
release caught me off-guard with its subtle melody and forceful desperation.
Simple in execution, this UK post-metal group's first full-length is more than the sum
of its parts, displaying monolithic power and sinister atmosphere.
A fitting farewell to one of mainstream rock's premier acts.
A groovy and understated album from an incredibly talented Irish five-piece. Perhaps
not particularly groundbreaking, their approach to metalcore is nonetheless
multidimensionally technical, atmospheric, and immensely enjoyable.
Taunting, evasive, and evocative, ambient post-rock done right.
While "Servitude" was much too mechanical, sacrificing accessibility for technicality,
"Tyrant" balances them, producing one of the best deathcore releases in recent
Blending thrash and death metal, Revocation puts forward an incredibly listenable
release that reminds listers of the utter joy of heavy music.
Roads to the North
"Social Disservices" was mindless rage; "Kentucky" was... well, "Kentucky." This
album tastefully shows finesse in songwriting and arrangement, reminiscent of
beginning releases, providing a stunningly layered and surprisingly engaging listen.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen
I had not listened to these manic Irishmen since "The Gathering Wilderness", but the
passion and atmosphere hearken back to its devastating glory and beautiful
heartache, and in many ways improves upon it.
|26||Kingdom Of Giants|
Armed with a new drummer, this metalcore quintet lets its energy go unbridled much
to its benefit, showing technical melody, excellent vocals, and very little filler.
Beautiful and lush, this album transports listeners to a place of classical simplicity and
Melodic hardcore along the lines of The Cold Harbour, with a healthy dash of emo and
a hint of post-rock. Transcendental and evasively gorgeous, yet surprisingly
This Florida sextet's debut, "Broken Families," while certainly a passionate and
lyrically vulnerable djent-tinged metalcore record, was somewhat impenetrable with
its thick homodynamic tone and inevitable Volumes comparison. With their
sophomore effort, the contrast between melody and brutality is enhanced, providing a
supremely listenable effort from one of the scene's most promising newcomers.
|22||Pianos Become the Teeth|
More along the lines of straightforward emo, rather than their trademark
screamo/post-rock approach, "Keep You" remains an impressively emotional and
serene effort that may redefine the band's sound from loud cathartic desperation to
One of sludge metal's most influential groups return after a 14-year hiatus for a
record that captures everything you love about ugly music. RIP Joey LaCaze.
Guilty Of Everything
Maintaining a controlled approach to shoegaze that encompasses a dark sound with
surprising hopeful aspects, this Philadelphia quartet's debut is astounding and makes
them a force to be reckoned with. Keep an eye out for these guys.
Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
"Atrophy" was a good balance between jazzy wankery and atmosphere--solid but
unspectacular. However, this death metal group takes an Ulcerate direction to
dissonant melody and a Gorguts songwriting approach while simultaneously
maintaining a sound of their own that allows a bleak and haunting, yet complex,
|18||Nero Di Marte|
An Italian post-metal foursome that combines the core approach of Neurosis, the
dissonance of Ulcerate, and the down-tuned grooves of Gojira or Meshuggah. Their
sophomore effort capitalizes upon what made their debut solid and enhances every
aspect, creating derisive otherworldly soundscapes that get under its listeners' skins.
Shadows of the Dying Sun
Incorporating more melody and folk into their core sound, these progressive/melodic
death metal mainstays showcase an incredibly accessible and emotional sound that
surpasses "One For Sorrow" in every way.
Removing all traces of country from her sound, T-Swizzle has found her niche in a
pop sound paired with a self-aware and sharply lyrical theme. She has created a
defining album that will stand as a monument to her career to come.
|15||Death of an Era|
Surprisingly lacking in filler tracks, this politically conscious Ohio five piece's debut LP
is a lyrically aware, musically technical, and vocally powerful (despite some clean
singing mishaps) metalcore/deathcore release.
Hail the Apocalypse
Avatar doing what they do best--creating the melodic death metal soundtrack to
To Be Kind
While "The Seer" remains my favorite Swans album, this influential post-punk crew
has again released a monster of an album, one that heavily megalithic and disturbing.
Apocalyptic in sound, yet more down to earth and organic than previous records.
The pure artistry of this post-metal/hardcore Ohio quartet is impressive--one that
takes its time in creating a wholesome sound that conjures a spectrum of emotions.
Simultaneously angry and hopeful, the sound is crushing one minute, gentle the next.
IV - One With the Storm
While "Until Fear No Longer Defines Us" was a step in the right direction and remains
one of my favorite albums, their fourth LP establishes this Finnish progressive death
group's identity with a crushingly dark sound and improved vocal performance and
|10||I Killed the Prom Queen|
While Ed Butcher remains my favorite vocalist in metal, this Melbourne metalcore
quintet proves all the better without him, embracing a melody and heart unseen in
former albums. The instrumentation is simple yet effective, Jona Weinhofen's cleans
are infinitely better, Jamie Hope's vocals are a capable replacement, and the lyrics are
more genuine. Overall, it has a special place in my heart.
|9||Old Man Gloom|
The Ape Of God I
My first experience with this Santa Fe-based Aaron Turner project, the first "Ape"
serves a relentless post-metal/sludge beatdown. Darker than Isis and as hypnotic as
Blindead, the first album is an exercise in doomy brutality.
|8||Old Man Gloom|
The Ape Of God II
Arguably more effective than the first, the second "Ape" capitalizes upon meandering
walls of sound and mysterious ambience. While retaining the sludgy post-metal
sound, the brutality is more subtle and creepy that the first, and stands as a
|7||Downfall of Gaia|
Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay
Enhancing everything that made "Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes" so good,
chaotic blackened crusty hardcore/post-metal, and experimenting with thicker
production, the notes of sanguinity are more heavily contrasted, with subtle melody
amid the esoteric pandemonium.
Home, Like Noplace Is There
Vulnerability in audio form. Uncouth and raw, it embodies the arrhythmia of grief with
surprisingly gentle emo flanked with desperate hardcore.
Lost Forever // Lost Together
Accessible and expressive, this UK hardcore/technical metal group utilizes technical
song structures, honest and frantic vocals, and a startling lack of filler, Architects'
album stands as 2014's finest metalcore release.
As a fan of "Exoplanet" but a cynic of "Intrinsic", I honestly did not know what to
expect with "Language". Armed with a new vocalist and new thematic approach, it
can be summed up in one word: organic. While preserving the technicality that has
defined The Contortionist since the beginning, the album's focus and philosophy never
exceeds its grasp, allowing it to be one of the most intriguing albums of the year.
Combining unorthodox influences of blues and gospel into his core acoustic sound,
former The Courage frontman has created an expressive and honest album that
allows insight into his story, one of love and heartache, pain and relief, catharsis and
|2||Black Crown Initiate|
The Wreckage Of Stars
Self-proclaimed "blackened tech death" from New England, these (three out of five)
men of the beard have created a tremendously solid death metal album that blends
the technicality of groups such as Necrophagist or The Faceless with the progressive
aspects of groups such as Opeth or Amorphis. Armed to the teeth with amazing
musicianship all around, an amazing vocalist, and astounding songwriting ability, this
album makes it as the best metal album of 2014.
|1||Casualties of Cool|
Casualties of Cool
Innovative and brilliant, Townsend's newest project is a haunting portrait of a darkly
atmospheric approach to blues/country. The entire album shouts subtlety and variety,
complete with smoky vocals, acoustic guitar, tribal instruments, and a creative
theme, and it accomplishes so with much gusto. Perhaps not as demanding as many
AOTY toppers may be, this album still demands our attention, for the mastermind
behind it and the beauty and austerity of the sound created.