2014 was a great year for fans of heavy metal. Some fantastic tours, big festival shows and a plethora of new material came out from new and old bands to get our teeth into but who stood out from the crowd?
Here are the ten best albums that came out in Heavy Metal in 2014, according to me.
10 – Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun
I had never heard much of this band until reading praise for this album on line and deciding to give it a go. I am glad I did as it is really good. Wonderfully melodic, mixing deep growls and clean singing with haunting and sweeping melody. It is at times sorrowful and sad, then refreshing and spirited and invokes a whole raft of emotions as all great albums do.
Recommended track – While We Sleep
9 – Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity)
The Singularity was announced as being part one of a trilogy of albums dealing with the subject of transhumanists and is Scar Symmetry’s sixth studio release. Sounds a bit wacky as a concept but musically it is far from that and is extremely well written and put together. I have never been that big a fan really of Scar Symmetry but based on this album, I am genuinely excited for the next two instalments. Blending power and death metal together seamlessly, it is really worth a listen. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Recommended track – Neuromancers
8 – Slipknot – 5: The Gray Chapter
So Slipknot returns after another lengthy hiatus. The hype builds to insane levels and then, the album gets some negative press for not sounding note for note exactly like their debut album. In truth, this is a very good metal album that deviates slightly away from Slipknot’s early sound but through maturity and growth. Very decent indeed.
Recommended track – Custer
7: The Duskfall – Where the Trees Stand Dead
The Swedish melodic death metal band returns with their 5th studio album, Where the Trees Stand Dead and sound like they have grown massively over the last few years. Stocking to their old school roots, this album is a brilliant blend of intricate, melodic guitars with brutal, forceful vocals and drums. The album has enough variety in tempo to keep each track feeling fresh and is both beautiful and brutal instrumentally.
Recommended track – We Bleed
6: Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed
A super-group combining The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy’s Max Cavalera, Mastodon’s Troy Saunders & former The Mars Volta’s Dave Elitch. Killer Be Killed’s self-titled debut manages to throw out a sound that combines all of the different characteristics of the band’s members without sounding muddles. With elements of thrash, doom and punk all in there, it is an exciting foundation for hopefully future albums.
Recommended track – Face Down
5: Crowbar: Symmetry in Black
With Kirk Windstein having left Down behind to focus completely on his long term act, Crowbar, expectations were high. Crowbar has definitely delivered and Symmetry in Black is a well-written and well-played album from a band firing on all cylinders. Typically sludgy but with a variety of tones and tempos on offer, the album stays interesting and the riffs are flung at you thick and fast.
Recommended track – Walk with Knowledge Wisely
4: At the Gates – At War With Reality
The first new At the Gates album since 1995 naturally came with a huge amount of anticipation and expectation and delivered in style. After such a long time without a release, it is hard to imagine a band slotting back into the modern metal scene with such ease but it is a testament to this album that they did. Walls of guitars and no nonsense singing make this one of the best metal albums of the year.
Recommended track – The Night Eternal
3: Cavalera Conspiracy – Pandemonium
Cavelera Conspiracy has a sound that holds nothing back. They are fast, heavy and intense but in comparison to the latest release, Pandemonium, their earlier work seems relatively tame, well almost. Pandemonium is a vicious and brutal attack on the senses and is played at incredible speed. Probably their best release to date, this album would probably have been number 1 in a different year.
Recommended track – Father of Hate
2: Behemoth – The Satanist
Behemoth’s tenth album and first since recovering from life threatening illness is nothing short of phenomenal. It is nothing short of immense and has received deserved universal acclaim. It manages to be experimental and daring while simultaneously being as black metal as you will ever hear. Each track is dynamic and feels epic and it is up there with the greatest ever black metal album releases.
Recommended track – Amen
1: Machine Head – Bloodstones & Diamonds
Machine Head’s 8th studio release, Bloodstone & Diamonds, is mind blowing. Through their consistency over the last decade, I expected big things but never expected them to be able to surpass everything they had ever done before. The album is full of instant classics and strikes a fine balance between brute force and intricate melody. With this album, Machine Head have raised the bar for mainstream metal bands over the world. Robb’s voice has never been stronger and the musicianship on this album is nothing short of astounding. Both heavy and beautiful, this is my favourite album of the year.
Recommended track – Sail Into The Black (or pretty much any one of them)