As another year draws to an end, it’s time to reflect on what the best releases of the year were. And 2014 has been a fantastic year, with so many enjoyable releases. Here’s the top 75 best releases from 2014, some you may already have heard, but some that may have been missed.
Take the rankings with a slight pinch of salt as everything on the list is great, and ranking can be arbitrary. For a full review and a sample of every release on the list just click on the album name. Enjoy!
57. Pythia – Shadows of a Broken Past
A twisted journey through the underworld of our capital city through insane progressive death metal.
A relaxing ambient ambient album with a dreamy ebb and flow to get lost in.
At the time my review of Shelter was fairly mixed, but over the year it’s shown itself to be a grower. Soft and dreamy, some of the catchy melodies here are deliriously gorgeous. Beautiful catchy guitar melodies gel with Neige’s lovely soft voice with just a little melancholy to make this album perfect for a cold yet sunny morning. A lush, beautiful and original album.
Aire’s debut album is a masterpiece of bleak, lifeless, haunting drone. There’s just nothing much that sounds like this release, it’s unique, brilliantly atmospheric, and, just incredibly bleak. There’s so much depth to the recording that you pick up on something new in it every time. Bleak, ambient soundscapes of drone create a vision of absolute nothingness. This is a special album for sure.
Motherload is an absolutely fantastic traditional metal album, from a new band. With riffs and solos that would make Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page proud, their rhythm section has as much groove and cohesion as Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. From the heavy bluesy riffs, to the grooving basslines, frenetic wah-fuelled solos, swinging cymbal crashes, and gritty passionate vocals, this is Sabbath inspired doom metal at it’s very best.
Eschewing her more recent pop direction, Vervain combines everything that’s great about Liv’s career to date. Her velvety vocals soar above music that cover’s the line between the gloom of Theatre of Tragedy, the electronic side of her early solo works and the symphonic metal of Leaves Eyes’ but still has it’s own brilliant sound.
Bluesy hard rock from an insanely fun band and with the powerful voice of vocalist Elin it sounds like Janis Joplin, Hendrix and Led Zep had a jam session, but with modern production.
Just pure brutality from the ever reliable Cannibal Corpse. A wall of heavy sound as intense as headbutting a landmine.
Eyehategod’s self titled is their first release for fourteen years, but they’ve used that time well. Absolutely filthy, twisted and crushingly heavy, EHG’s brand of fucked up sludge is a dose of messed up bluesy sickness. The faint hearted need not apply!
Like Autopsy on LSD, this is filthy death metal with a twisted, insane approach. As technically good as it is is filthy and mental.
My favourite drone of the year, on Balance Beam Bjorn Granzow combines the punishing heaviness of In Slow Motion with the melancholy of For Dear Life in a dense, mournful listen.
Conan’s second album is monumentally heavy. Slow, crushing riffage, soaring battle cry vocals, pounding drum barrages and earth shattering bass make this a must for sludge/stoner doom aficionados. It’s heavy, unrelenting and crushing, yet with memorable songs and catchy riffs. Foehammer alone is one of the heaviest and best tracks of the year so far. And just look at that fantastic album art!
While there have been many great albums released this year, there are few as beautiful as Distant Satellites, and certainly none that gives you goosebumps quite like this. The band have always been known for their ability to craft an atmosphere, but between those haunting strings, gorgeous melodies and beautiful vocals from both Lee and Vincent, they’ve improved on this even further, and the atmosphere and moods created by Anathema on this release are really a thing to behold- they’re so thick they’re almost tangible to the touch. The electronic experiments show the ever evolving nature of the great band too, combining well with their usual style. If you like your rock music emotionally charged you can’t go wrong with this.
We may have had new albums from At The Gates, Autopsy, Obituary and Cannibal Corpse this year, but it’s the debut album from Bristol based Seprevation that takes the title of best death metal album of the year. Ripping solos and a death-thrash edge make it so much fun.
Time to Tell is an album I’ve listened to more and more as the weather got colder and the days shorter. It’s beautiful, atmospheric, and Kari’s beautiful voice and sincere heartfelt lyrics make it the perfect accompaniment for a walk in the cold autumn woods. Her best solo work to date.
t’s criminal that Ex-Libris are unsigned, because their sophomore album is a phenomenal effort. Heavy progressive metal mixed with symphonic sensibilities provide a backdrop for a great concept album. Fantastic guitar playing from start to finish accentuates quality song writing, and Dianne Van Giersbergen’s voice is mindblowing in passion, power and beauty. Underrated magic. Unfortunately several members of Ex Libris have since left the band, but hopefully they can pick themselves up and carry on.
Stream of Passion combine symphonic orchestration with progressive metal, and with the powerful, beautiful voice of Marcela Bovio they make magical, mesmerising music, and their fourth album takes this theme and improves on it yet again. Beautiful, emotional and sincere, it’s their best album to date and a great symphonic metal gem.
The Satanist is Behemoth’s tenth album, and the first in five years since vocalist/guitarist Nergal’s recovery from leukaemia. It’s an absolute masterpiece of extreme metal, and mixes bludgeoning heaviness with intelligent lyrics, and a musical nuance that goes far beyond their peers, cementing their place as one of the most important bands in contemporary extreme metal.
The Human Contradiction is Delain’s fourth full length effort. From the excellent songwriting to the beautiful vocals, they’ve improved on every aspect of their sound and produced an album which just sounds incredibly complete – it’s their heaviest album by far, and they have a more expressive, huge sound than ever before. The symphonic compositions are their grandest since the debut, and its an album that’s catchy, beautiful, heavy and emotional, from a band that have perfected their own style of symphonic metal.
Atmospheric black metal from Scotland’s that’s breathtakingly beautiful and brings to mind vivid pictures of the history and landscape of Scotland.
Lethe’s debut album is a strange trip. Following in the footsteps of such avant-garde metal bands as Atrox and The 3rd and the Mortal,with a dash of Ulver’s eccentricity, Lethe forge a twisted, dark sometimes nightmarish sound, yet all the while remaining dreamy and warm. Metal, trip-hop, EDM and more combine in a great varied release. With an experimental nature and a huge dose of originality, the world needs more boundary pushing acts like Lethe – and Anna Murphy’s voice is fantastic.
This one black metal band will blow you away by the intricacy of the layered guitar and the spacey atmosphere he creates. The best post-black metal release since Deafheaven’s Subather, but one more firmly rooted in black metal and bound to please any atmospheric black metal fan.
Dark Fortress are one of the best black metal bands to grace the scene, and their seventh album seems them put out another killer release. Epic in sound, boundary pushing and varied, V Santura leaves you hanging off his every guitar note. Most lists will feature him somewhere for his work with Triptykon, but it’s Dark Fortress who should be the one’s playing festivals around Europe and getting all the praise. Phenomenal.
The classical trio Musk Ox play sublimely beautiful music on this album, and the interplay between cello, violin and acoustic guitar really blow you away.
Not only is Sacrificium the best album of 2014 , it’s also the best album released by a symphonic metal band this decade. Featured for the second time in this list alongside her performance on Ex-Libris’ Medea, Dianne Van Giersbergen is the perfect vocalist for this style, her voice is stunningly beautiful and powerful in equal measure, while the band’s epic songwriting gels well with fantastic symphonic compositions and a powerful guitar masterwork. A vast improvement from previous works, this album is absolutely sublime and really is the jewel in the crown for symphonic metal. A MUST HAVE for any symphonic metal, this one deserves to be remembered for years to come as an absolute classic.
So there you have it. It’s been a great year, and let’s see what 2015 will bring…