Albums of the year:2014 - 16.12.2014

Itttttts Christmaaaasssss!!! So that must mean it’s time for Albums of the year 2014! That snuck up quickly, and thanks to Jim I didn’t forget about it completely. So it’s a double whammy edition, as Jim has kindly agreed to write up his top 10 for the site as well, although it sounds like it could have easily been a top 20, 30 or more.

So here it is, my top 10 metal album releases for 2014:

  1. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black
  2. Valtari – Hunters Pride
  3. Equilibrium – Erdentempel
  4. Primalfrost - Prosperous Visions
  5. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power
  6. Munarheim - Nacht Und Sturme Werden Licht
  7. Shylmagoghnar – Emergence
  8. Edguy – Space Police
  9. Winterstorm – Cathyron
  10. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

Primal Fear - Never Pray For Justice

It’s clearly been a good year for Power Metal for a change. Primal Fear have produced one of their best albums for ages and one that I keep coming back to time and time again. There are some absolute classics on Delivering the Black and I can’t wait to hear some of them live.

Edguy and Winterstorm join their Power Metal brethren, albeit lower down the list. Both have produced quality albums with some kickass tracks, Edguy especially getting back to their best with Space Police. A couple of close contenders who are certainly worthy of a mention are Iron Savior with Rise of the Hero, ElevenKing for The Pagan Manifesto and Sabaton with their latest album Heros. All excellent slabs of Power Metal that have only just missed out due to a few exceptional finds from Bandcamp.

Valtari

Valtari and Primalfrost have been some of my best finds on Bandcamp recently. Valtari especially so, as this one man project managed to evoke that classic Gothenburg sound that so many bands have lost in recent years (I’m looking at you In Flames). Primalfrost are a bit more 'by-the-numbers' melo-death/black metal, but they have some mega catchy songs which use a nice array of styles and influences.

Munarheim

Following the path to the darker side, a quick stop off to listen to Munarheim is in order. A recent find this year on Bandcamp, they blend Blackened Folk Metal with almost lullaby like melodies on their debut album 'Nacht Und Sturme Werden Licht'. No-one was more surprised than me though when via a chance conversation with Jim it transpired that they had done a cover version of The Last Unicorn, an animated film from the 80’s.

Reaching the end of the path to the dark side, we find Black Metal new boys Shylmagoghnar (try pronouncing THAT!) with their aptly named album 'Emergence'. Sitting on the more melodic side of Black Metal, they have a created a superb sounding album that flits between Blackened Folk Metal and outstanding instrumental tracks.

Finally, the first of the three remaining albums is Equilibrium's outstanding Erdentempel album. It sits nicely at number three in my list and was a constant summer album for me. Its mix of upbeat tempos and catchy riffs always brings a smile to my face and gets my foot taping. Rekreatur was a bit of a dip for them, but they have certainly shown they still have the writing capability to produce fantastic albums.

Grand Magus - The Naked and the Dead

Next is Grand Magus with Triumph and Power, an apt name for this album for it truly is a triumph and smacks you hard around the face with its power. JB’s vocals are outstanding, proving he is one of the best singers in metal today. The album is also a great stepping stone for those not overly found of or just getting into metal. It strikes a good balance of heavy guitars and pounding drums, but doesn’t alienate with typical metal vocals. Finally in tenth spot is Judas Priest with their new ‘classic’ album Redeemer of Souls. This album harks back to the days they released pure British heavy metal. Gone are the proggy’ influences found on Nostrodamus, here we have pure, unapologetic, balls-out metal. If you love the classic Judas Priest sound then you will love this album.

Next up, Jim takes you through his top 10 of the year.

In a year where it seems I’ve found the least amount of time to listen to new music, the most amount of amazing new music gets released. Anyway, here’s my top 10 for 2014:

  1. Nadja - Queller
  2. Fen - Carrion Skies
  3. Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
  4. Monolord - Empress Rising
  5. Blueneck - King Nine
  6. Wovenhand - Refractory Obdurate
  7. Lord Mantis – Death Mask / Indian – From All Purity (joint 7th!)
  8. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li
  9. Downfall of Gaia - Aeon Unveils The Thrones of Decay
  10. Yob - Clearing The Path To Ascend

Monolord

Holy Iommi's bus pass Batman, what a year to be doomed to death! Excellent albums from Yob, Triptykon, Indian, Pallbearer, Coffinworm, Electric Wizard, 11 Paranoias (ex-Ramesses/Bong), Orange Goblin, Death Penalty (ex-Cathedral), Lord Mantis (excuse the whole zombie boob / penis thing going on, it's the music that counts), as well as albums from excellent British newcomers Conan and the utterly annihilating down-tuned scuzzed-out riff-fest that is Monolord's titanic debut.

Nadja

Massive props to Bog Oak who more than deserved getting signed off the back of their excellently doomy EP 'A Treatise on Resurrection and the Afterlife', as well as to Nadja who went all warm and fuzzy and embraced song structures enough this time round for the brilliant 'Queller' to become my album of the year. Massive melodies, droney fuzz so warm it'll have Santa’s nuts roasting on an open fire, and to top it off there's a nice owl on the front cover. Coming a close second was Fen's career-defining album 'Carrion Skies' - they’ve outdone themselves here with an hour of top notch atmospheric black metal and it's just about the best music they've ever released.

Godflesh

Third place goes to the huge, HUGE comeback album from Godflesh, once again spewing out industrialised fire and brimstone as if Streetcleaner wasn't actually TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. I reviewed 'A World Lit Only By Fire' earlier in the year: Room13.com

If all that wasn't enough, Wovenhand have only gone and signed to bleedin' DEATHWISH RECORDS and instantly embraced the overdrive pedal... and oh lordy lord the resulting album 'Refractory Obdurate' might just be the best thing Mr Edwards has done since 16 Horsepower.

Downfall of Gaia

Elsewhere, Blueneck's mastery of beautifully crafted post-rock continues with their blinding 'King Nine' album, and France continue to impress the metal underground (which is fortuitous because they're good for f*ck all else... haha only joking France!) with The Great Old Ones taking the whole atmospheric post-metal thing and adding a massive Lovecraftian twist with the storming 'Tekeli-Li'. Speaking of post-metal and the wonderfully bleak landscapes it conjures up, Germany's Downfall of Gaia step it up big time and release their best album to-date with 'Aeon Unveils The Thrones of Decay', which I reviewed recently: Room13.com

Far too many other epic releases to mention, but further big love goes to Agalloch, The Mire, Jakob, North, Musk Ox, Primordial, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Darkspace, Bloodbath, Winterfylleth, Behemoth, Insomnium, Panopticon, Botanist, Earth, Thou, Tombs, Body Count, Broken Note, Gridlink, Today Is The Day, ACxDC, Hexis, Code Orange, Young and In The Way, Eyehategod, Usnea, and probably a hundred more I've forgotten.

So ends our lists of 2014, let us know if you agree or have some recommendations of your own in the comments below. 2015 looks like its going to start off with a bang, Blind Guardian are releasing their 10th studio album, could that be top of the charts at the end of 2015?

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