The Heavy Metal Review

The Heavy Metal Review’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

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Yes, it’s now well into 2015 and I haven’t posted on this blog since my ‘Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013’ list. Life happened. However, still like putting these lists together for my own personal review of the year in metal.

Here’s my list starting with No. 10!

10. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed

KillerBeKilled-KillerBeKilled

Most musical “supergroups” tend to sound better on paper than in actual practice. And while Killer Be Killed’s debut, featuring The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, Mastodon’s Troy Saunders and former Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch, does have a few filler tracks, it provides a mostly consistent listen, where the “supergroup” star of the show is the vocal efforts from the three frontmen.

9. Skull Fist – Chasing the Dream

Skull-Fist-Chasing-The-Dream

I’ll admit I was late to the game in checking out Skull Fist’s Chasing the Dream (and it was actually my point of entry for the band’s music). The follow-up to the group’s 2011 debut, Head of the Pack, is an infectious blend of unadulterated speed metal, combined with all the guilty pleasures of the ’80’s glam scene. This album quickly catapulted into my top 10 on first listen. Skull Fist delivers.

8. Opeth – Pale Communion

Opeth-PaleCommunion

While Opeth surprised many longtime fans by going “full prog” (you never go full prog) on 2011’s Heritage, the band dialed things back just a tad on Pale Communion, returning with some heavy moments, while still embracing the new sound. This is the effort of a band perfecting its musical direction and fans that haven’t fully rejected the new Opeth flavor can rest assured there is plenty more awesomeness still to come.

7. Panopticon – Roads to the North

Panopticon-Roads-to-the-North

Black metal is probably the genre I’m least cultured in. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of Panopticon’s latest blackened-folk-metal album, Roads to the North. This is the sort of album that demands your one-on-one attention, which makes it particularly great for long walks or road trips.

6. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata

Triptykon-MelanaChasmata

Where to start? Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata is a foreboding record with the right amount of heaviness to bring back some of those dark gothic emotions that haven’t been felt since Peter Steele left this world and took Type O Negative with him in 2010 (coincidentally that’s when Triptykon released its debut album, Eparistera Daimones). Anyways, no need to go into a back history of the band here, just know that Tom Gabriel Fischer (aka “Tom Warrior” of Celtic Frost fame) is in top form on this release.

5. Horrendous – Ecdysis

Horrendous-Ecdysis

Leave it to Decibel magazine to highlight one of the best under-the-radar death metal releases of the year (Ecdysis landed at No. 3 on its year-end list). In my book, Horrendous may be one of the better traditional death metal bands since, well, Death itself. Keep an eye out for these guys in coming years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the best is yet to come. In the meantime, put this one on repeat.

4. Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

Pallbearer-FoundationsofBurden

I’m not sure Pallbearer should be this high on my list. There’s no doubt Foundations of Burden was one of the most-hyped metal releases of 2015. And when you get that many people talking about your music, you’re doing something right. Opener “World’s Apart” is easily the best song on the album, and I can definitely see the appeal of the quartet’s complex, doom-laden, wall-of-sound approach.

3. Vallenfyre – Splinters

Vallenfyre-Splinters

On certain days, Vallenfyre’s Splinters would be No. 1 on my year-end list. It’s got that slow-burn doom sound. It delivers on the traditional death metal vibes. It speeds things up when you want it too. I believe I read an interview where frontman Greg Mackintosh (longtime guitarist for Paradise Lost) described it as a mixtape of all the parts of extreme metal he loved. And I can totally get on board with that.

2. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

Mastodon-OnceMoreRoundtheSun

Mastodon remains one of the most talked about metal bands outside of metal circles and Once More ‘Round the Sun is easily one of its best releases. I’m a big Leviathan fan, and this album combines some of the catchiness of 2011’s The Hunter with the heaviness of that album, while retaining the best of the prog stylings the group delivered in between. I’m actually surprised this album didn’t end up higher on other metal year-end lists. Believe the hype.

1. At the Gates – At War With Reality

AttheGates-AtWarWithReality

There was a lot riding on At the Gates’ follow-up to 1995’s Slaughter of the Soul. And while At War With Reality may not have the short-burst aggressiveness that made its previous legendary release so popular, it is introspective of the band’s career as a whole, taking some of the more experimental sounds of early releases like Red in the Sky is Ours and With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness and making them more listenable and memorable. The crisp production doesn’t hurt either.

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Written by Eric

April 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

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