My Favorite Records of 2014

Another year down, another year where my only post is about my favorite records. Fitting.

This year didn’t have nearly the volume of great records that was bestowed upon us in 2013, but there was still an abundance of quality stuff to go around. There’s quite a few surprises in here. Get on with it!

Spoiler alert: I’m still looking for a contender to Yellow & Green for “Album of the Decade.” Maybe next year…

25.) Trap Them - Blissfucker

Grindcore meets crust punk for a bone-slamming ride on the thrash train. I really like these guys. Fast paced record for when you want to let off some steam.

24.) Alcest - Shelter

This record feels like it REALLY wants to just jump out and get heavy at times, but it never really does. And it works. Great songs, a lot of really beautiful musical moments on here. Not quite the same aggression but the feeling is there.

23.) At The Gates - At War With Reality

OG death metal lords are back. What a record. Last year we got a new Carcass and Gorguts record. This year new At The Gates. This album rips. I’m so glad this didn’t suck, I was really anticipating it for a long time. TONS of great guitars in here.

22.) Devin Townsend - Z²

Devin Townsend is on a roll. This is more of a theatrical performance than just “a metal record.” The first album is Devin Townsend Project, the second album is Ziltoid. I thought all the voice acting was really something special, and really made for an incredible listening experience. On the second playthrough I skipped a lot of the skits, but you should give it a full listen at least once. I would love to see this live with a full stage show.

21.) Primus - Primus And The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble

Do you like Primus? Do you like Willy Wonka? If either answer is “yes” you are in for a treat. If both “yes” then you will love this as much as I did. Someone uploaded a version of the movie that has this synced up with the soundtrack and it is great. I wonder how this sounds on mushrooms, which is clearly how they wrote and recorded this. And probably intended for it to be listened to. Weird and creepy, just the way I like it.

20.) YOB - Clearing the Path to Ascend

For some reason I thought these guys were even older than they are. I never got into them before, as this was the first thing I really listened to of theirs. Loved this. Great doom record. I need to visit the catalog soon.

19.) John Garcia - John Garcia

Kyuss’ frontman put out a solo record. It’s as good as you think it should be.

18.) Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

I was greatly anticipating this record, and it was a worthy follow up to Ex-Lives. These guys really capture their insane live show on record. Great tunes. Moor is awesome. Keith Buckley continues his legacy with some great lyrics and delivery. Two horns up.

17.) ✝✝✝ - ✝✝✝

Chino’s voice is magical. He is in so many projects, and he owns every single one of them. I loved the first two EPs, and this is basically a repackaging of those plus another EP worth of material. The new songs are really good. “The Epilogue” is probably my vote for song of the year. If you’ve never listened to this and you like Deftones you have no idea what you are missing out on.

16.) Jack White - Lazaretto

Jack White’s solo stuff is bluesy rock done right, every single time. Such a good record. The discography he is building for himself is the story of legends.

15.) Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed

Supergroups come and go, but Killer Be Killed may be one of the best vocally. Troy Saunders puts out two amazing records in one year, and Greg Puciato further affirms his seat at the top of metal vocalists. And Max does some good stuff, too. The chemistry of these guys is fantastic, I’d really like to see them live. Mastodon fans and DEP fans, this is a little bit different, but some good metal nonetheless.

14.) Floor - Oblation

Sludgy sludge. I -loved- this record. Didn’t really get into these guys older stuff but this seems to be their best.

13.) Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

Arkansas Doom-ers Pallbearer knocked this one out of the park. Every second of this record feels just right. Great record and a great follow up to Sorrow and Extinction.

12.) Insomnium - Shadows of the Dying Sun

Dreary, cold, and dark. This record makes me feel like going on a walk in the winter without a jacket on. It’s hauntingly epic.

11.) Electric Wizard - Time to Die

English Doom legends. I never heard of them before this record other than hearing the name, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a deep catalog. This album is awesome.

10.) Darren Korb - Transistor OST

Yes, this is a video game soundtrack. According to last.fm, I listened to this record about 50 times throughout the year. Darren Korb also wrote the wonderfully amazing Bastion OST, which is equally as good. Ashley Barrett is on a handful of tracks on this one, as well, and her voice shines on each track. Outstanding. Spoiler: I have only played the game for a few minutes to make sure it worked on Linux (as Wasteland 2 needs to finished, first).

9.) Soen - Tellurian

These guys claim Tool as an influence right on their wikipedia page. Influence is an understatement. This album rules. Another supergroup on my list, these guys have former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and Willowtree vocalist Joel Ekelöf amongst their ranks. Ekelöf is a dead ringer for Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt on nearly every track. So much, in fact, that I thought he appeared as a guest. This was the closest we got to a new Tool record this year, and it’s incredible.

8.) Animals as Leaders - The Joy of Motion

Tosin Abasi kicking more ass, as usual. Awesome guitars. Awesome songwriting. Awesome record.

7.) The Pineapple Thief - Magnolia

The theme of the year was “Look at all these bands you’ve never heard of that have lots of great songs.” This record surprised the hell out of me. It’s magnificent. Go listen to the first two tracks (“Simple As That” and “Alone At Sea”) and try not to nod your head to the beat. These British rockers started in 1999 and have put out TEN solid, meaty records in that time. This one kind of has a Radiohead meets dredg approach to the song writing (I guess). Excellent discovery and excellent record. I wish I heard of these guys a long time ago.

6.) Opeth - Pale Communion

I think I was one of the few metalheads that actually liked Heritage. I love this record. If Mikael Åkerfeldt doesn’t want to scream anymore I am perfectly happy with that as long as they keep records like this coming. Forget what you know about Opeth, the screaming and death metal influences are nowhere to be found here. Classic rock meets bluesy prog magic comes together in a holy matrimony of aural bliss. Spin it.

5.) So Hideous - Last Poem / First Light

Another unknown that blew me away this year. The opening track “Rising” sounds like the audio equivalent of a horror movie. Start to finish, this never lets up.

4.) Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity

Best black metal record I’ve heard in a LOOONG time. These guys write some great riffs, and the musicianship all around is top notch. “A Careworn Heart” is as good a song as I’ve ever heard in the genre. Listen to it for yourself, it’s amazing. In fact, I’m listening to this as I write this post.

3.) Mastodon - Once More ‘Round The Sun

One of my favorite bands. I really liked The Hunter. Crack The Skye was one of my favorite records of all time. This is better than both. Mastodon stepped it up on this. Every single song is memorable. “Aunt Lisa” is my runner up for song of the year (that chorus with the ladies from The Coathangers is infectious).

2.) Slipknot - .5 : The Gray Chapter

This was the most hyped record of the year and this actually delivered the goods. I was worried that the loss of Paul and the booting of Joey was going to turn the rhythm section into a joke, but the newcomers rose to the occassion and delivered.

I’m a huge Slipknot fan, and have been ever since I heard the self titled record and saw Clown douse himself with fire twice on that first small club tour in 1999.

It seems like Slipknot has become it’s own genre over the years, turning into something of a giant rock monster in and of itself. I was disappointed with All Hope Is Gone, but it was still ok. But it didn’t have that “wow” factor that their other records did, and this left a bad taste in my mouth for the past few years.

This record made me a Slipknot fan again. The Devil In I is probably my favorite Slipknot song since the s/t record, and you can really feel all the passion and emotion that went into the writing and recording of this masterpiece. Say what you want about Slipknot: there is no denying they have captured a pivotal point in their career and turned a terrible situation into a phenomenal piece of art.

1.) Destrage - Are You Kidding Me? No.

“Are you kidding me? No!” is usually what the conversation sounds like after I have been telling people what my favorite album of the year was. There was no doubt. This came out on March 4th and right after the first spin I was saying “NOTHING WILL BE BETTER!!!” to myself.

Another band I had never heard of before this dropped, Destrage is one frenetic pile of energy if I ever heard one. These Italians are all virtuosos on their respective instruments. Every single one of them. In fact, you should check out this documentary from the “Are You Kidding Me? No.” recording and just watch Federico bang on the drums in amazement. This guy is one of the best drummers I have ever seen or heard. So good.

Their guitarists (Ralph Salati and Matteo Di Gioia) and bassist Gabriel Pignata deserve to be in every single “Best Metal Guitarst / Bassist” discussion going forward. Mature, deep, insatiable riffs combined with really catchy song writing make for some memorable songs.

And their vocalist, Paolo Colavolpe? I find it incredibly hard to believe that one person makes all the vocal noise on this recording. The blitzkrieg delivery comes to a halt for beautiful singing, then right back to schizophrenic barking in the blink of an eye. I’d be greatly surprised if he can pull any of this off live, but I’ll live in wonder for now and just enjoy this incredible recording.

Hands down the best record I heard all year.

Honorable Mentions

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