Indraneel’s Top 10 Albums of 2014
With the year 2014 approaching its’ end and people looking forward to embrace the new year 2015, it’s about time we look back and evaluate the best things to have happened to Metal this year and feel contended about it. Albums like the legendary Judas Priest’s Redeemer Of Souls were anxiously awaited by Metal addicts. While some heartily appreciated the musical approach of the Metal Gods in their latest album, some were left disappointed. On the other hand the eponymous debut album of the new oriental sensation Babymetal revealed some awe-inspiring material which deserves to be taken seriously by “serious Metal-heads!” Albums like Vader’s Tibi et Igni, Crowbar’s Symmetry In Black, Arch Enemy’s War Eternal, Septicflesh’s Titan, Pallbearer’s Foundations Of Burden, and Revocation’s Deathless have been rightfully perceived as some of the strongest releases this year by Metal lovers belonging to different zones of the diverse and rich genre. If Glam Metal fans have been gleeful owing to Steel Panther’s latest output All You Can Eat, Fallejuah’s The Flesh Prevails has been highly acclaimed by the Technical Death Metal camp. Emigrate’s Silent So Long, Overkill’s White Devil Armory, and Eyehategod’s self-titled release, along with lot of other fantastic materials contributed to the “happy” part of the year 2014. While it’s quite subjective, like lot of fellow Metal-heads, I have finally paused to compile a list of my Top 10 Metal albums of 2014 which goes like this:
In words of Marty Friedman:
“I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done with Cacophony and Megadeth, but I was never interested in stopping there. Inferno is the album that fans of my work with those two bands have always wanted me to make. I’ve finally made it, and completely on my own maniacal terms.”
This album is a behemoth among this year’s Metal works. Friedman roped in highly competent collaborators like Children Of Bodom‘s Alexi Laiho, Cacophony‘s Jason Becker, renowned Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, Revocation‘s Dave Davidson and Danko Jones for this project. The flamenco based “Wicked Panacea” is the pleasant surprise of this album bringing together the fluent acoustic magic of Rodrigo y Gabriela and Friedman’s heavy-as-metal distortions. This brilliant record sparking overwhelming Thrash assaults with tracks like “Hyperdoom” or “Steroidhead” gave Metal lovers another reason to rejoice this year.
Yes, this record sounds sort of commercial but the band certainly does not sound sell-outs. We can see Mastodon musically evolving with time and the track list here is consistently admirable. This album by the renowned Progressive Metal group has its’ psychedelic moments, it takes you places and leaves you tempted for another trip in good company of such impassioned riffs, mint-fresh symphonies and cosmic vocals. With this kind of effort Mastodon can turn a non-metal-head’s attention to Metal and that’s a big merit here!
Plagues Of Babylon is heavier than a lot of albums the band previously released. After reviving things in 2011 with Dystopia Iced Earth continues the good work with this album in 2014 that boasts of an even better production. Stu Block tries his best to please Matt Barlow fans with his largely commendable raspy vocal works and some of Jon Schaffer’s riffs on this album deserve great acclaim. While the album might seem to be a bit bloated owing to some of the track durations, overall it undeniably offers fine musicianship. Iced Earth fans would be finally happy to see the direction the band has finally taken and things are looking bright at the moment again.
Back to the roots! A big welcome back greeting to Zetro and finally we see reflections of the aggression Exodus were known for. Sterling guitar solos by the dynamic duo of Holt and Altus and the savagery of the ever youthful Zetro have delivered the long-awaited moment to the loyal Exodus followers. Jack Gibson’s audible bass lends more to the glorious musicianship found in Blood In, Blood Out which is the Thrash Metal album of 2014 to behold!
Machine Head made one of the highlights of their discography releasing their 2014 album Bloodstone and Diamonds. Fans consider Machine Head as musically consistent Metal veterans capable of catering quality music with almost every release. With some poised, successful experimentation, rich production quality, a wide spectrum of Robb Flynn’s vocal abilities, and multifaceted music, Bloodstone and Diamonds totally lives up to the expectations of audiences who were bowled over by the critically acclaimed Unto The Locust.
Pale Communion is endowed with everything that makes a great Opeth record – splendid composition, fascinating instrumentation and beautiful song writing. “Cusp Of Eternity” could have been a better alternative as the opening track instead of “Eternal Rains Will Come” but well, there is nothing much to grumble about this laudable Opeth work. The impressive engineering of Åkerfeldt and fantastic mixing of Steven Wilson make this progressive mastery all the more exquisite!
This year the terrific Polish Blackened-death Metal trio unleashed this well-crafted eclectic album which brilliantly weaves a hypnotic, morbid atmosphere. Inferno’s blasting drum beats, Nergal’s gut-wrenching growls and Orion’s sonically heavy bass tones are all stunningly complemented by perhaps the best production Behemoth ever experienced. After defeating leukemia, the confident Nergal has returned to his fans stronger than ever and The Satanist is a testament to this!
This Napalm Records release is seemingly more explosive than the napalm bomb itself, all thanks to Tony Sunnhag’s soaring skull-splitting vocals and simmering guitar works juggling with Power Metal elements. Following The Beast is a magnificent indulgence of Gormathon in Viking Metal and it cogently establishes itself as a perfect Melo-death follow-up to its’ sublime predecessor Lens Of Guardian. The music of Gormathon is highly recommended if you are a fan of bands like Amon Amarth.
Thirteen years since the release of Hymns in 2001, Godflesh returned with an album that lit the world by fire! Sludgy Industrial Metal full of monstrous riffs, enriched clarity of production, superior composition and Justin Broadrick’s distinctive feral grunts conjures a ritualistic conflagration with thick smokes of nihilism. The classic sound of Godflesh is still intact, cementing its’ place in my list of Top 10 Metal albums of 2014.
This is not only the best album featuring vocalist Mark Tornillo, but also one of the finest albums in the entire musical catalog of Accept, and its’ recognition as one of the greatest albums to be released in 2014 is irrefutable. It is an absolute delight to witness Accept still being the best in what they do best! The ode to Traditional Metal in the form of “Dying Breed” is one of the most enjoyable tracks here, recognizing the monumental influence of pioneers like Black Sabbath, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Judas Priest, Saxon, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Motorhead. The guitar tandem of Hoffman-Frank give the listeners plenty to relish once again. This is one helluva consummate, didactic, solid album by the Teutonic Metal giants and budding metal-heads need more such releases to learn the craft from the masters!