Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Josh's Top Albums of 2014

I didn’t listen to nearly as much metal this year as I have in years past, but I hope you can still find something you haven’t heard before here.  Before we go any further, let me remind you that 2014 was a fucking AMAZING year for full-lengths…but not so much for EP’s.

Top 10 EP’s of 2014

Again, keep in mind that 2014 basically flat-out sucked as far as EP selection went…at least in my experience.

10.  FlubAdvent
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal/Experimental

9.  The HealingTranscendence
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore/Atmospheric
Preview:  “Continuance”

8.  Lorna ShoreMaleficium
Genre:  Deathcore
Preview:  “Godmaker”

Some of the most evil deathcore the world has ever seen.  This album would be a lot higher on my list, but I’m *really* not big on the chugga-chugga beatdown stuff that they have a tendency to focus on.  Make no mistake – when Lorna Shore focus on shredding, they make my mouth water.

7.  Empyrean ThroneDemonseed
Genre:  Symphonic Death Metal/Black Metal

6.  AroniousTruth in Perception
Genre:  Technical/Progressive Death Metal

If The Faceless & Fallujah are your thing, prepare to go from 6 to midnight.

5.  Writhen -  Condemned
Genre:  Deathcore/Death Metal
Preview:  “Son of Sin”

These guys sound like an insane mash-up of Wretched, Decades of Despair, and some Thy Art is Murder.  So ridiculously heavy…don’t miss out on this one!

4.  Delusions of GrandeurReclamation
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore
Preview:  “Reclamation”

I’m actually pretty amazed that there were even 3 EP’s that I enjoyed as much (or more) this year, with how good that preview track is.

3.  The RalphFragments
Genre:  Progressive Metal

Easily the most under-the-radar release of the year.  I saw MAYBE 2 or 3 others posting about this album, but it was one of my most-played of 2014.

2.  WarforgedEssence of the Land
Genre:  Blackened/Atmospheric Death Metal

This album made me feel like I was being dragged into the swamp by a monster.  So fucking dark, deep, and spooky.  Just watch that preview video, HNNNGGGHHH.  I thought for sure this album would be a shoe-in for the top EP of the year, until….

1.  ErraMoments of Clarity
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore

This might just be one of my favorite albums of all time, EP or otherwise…seriously.  I can’t recall any album, past or present, that has made me feel like “Moments” on a consistent basis – I’m getting goosebumps even thinking about it.  Plus the chorus of the preview song has probably the first lyrics I’d ever even consider getting tattoed on my body, since they resonate so incredibly strongly:
“The dreams that I have followed are breathing lungs full of air right before my eyes.”

Erra has more than validated their place on the throne of the metalcore kingdom, and nobody else is even close.

1A.  Mandroid EchostarCitadels
Genre: Progressive Metal

This album shouldn’t even be on my list for 2014, since it came out in November 2013, but it wasn’t on my list last year…I didn’t even know this album existed until May of this year, and I couldn’t’ live with myself NOT giving this album the credit it so richly deserves.  You know how I just said that Erra was up there on my all-time list?  Well, so is this album, and perhaps even higher.
Mandroid Echostar sounds like an INCREDIBLE blend of I Am Abomination, Protest The Hero, and Coheed and Cambria, if you’ve never heard them before.  Insane guitar acrobatics, catchy lyrics, soaring vocal melodies, and songwriting and vocal abilities rival ANY of those bands.
“Citadels” has absolutely INFINITE replay value, and it’ll be one of those albums that I’ll still be blasting in my car when I’m old enough to be a grandfather.

Top 30 Full Lengths of 2014

2014 was impossibly good for metal, so a lot of deserving albums didn’t even make the cut in my honorable mentions…sorry if the album you were looking for isn’t on here!
By the way…Unique Leader completely owned 2014.  When you’re a (relatively) small label, and you put out like 7 or 8 albums that are more than good enough to contend in a “Best of” list, you’re doing something right.   That being said…let’s get to the list.

Honorable Mentions

Creatures of HabitHyperion
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Thrash

This band never fails to riff me to death, and this is their best offering since “Beyond the Gate”.  I almost hate myself that this isn’t in my top 30.

AcraniaTotalitarian Dystopia
Genre:  Technical/Brutal Deathcore/Slam

Fuck You And DieElements of Instability
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

Septycal GorgeScourge of the Formless Breed
Genre:  Technical/Brutal Death Metal

BloodbathThe Grand Morbid Funeral
Genre:  Death Metal/Blackened Death Metal
Preview:  “Anne”

So.  Fucking.  Heavy.

AllegaeonElements of the Infinite
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal/Thrash
Preview:  “1.618”

Well, Allegaeon definitely win the top music video of the year for the preview song.

At The GatesAt War With Reality
Genre:  Melodic Death Metal

Genre:  Melodic Death Metal
For fans of bands like Amon Amarth!

The Dali Thundering Concept –  Eyes Wide Opium
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Deathcore/Mathcore

Abysmal DawnObsolescence
Genre:  Death Metal

Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
Genre:  Death Metal/Post-Death Metal?/Atmospheric Death Metal

For fans of Portal, Ulcerate, Gorguts.  Also, this is a side project of one of the guys from Revocation!

ShokranSupreme Truth
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore/Groove/Djent
Preview:  “Dark Desert”

ArchitectsLost Forever // Lost Together
Genre:  Metalcore
Preview:  “Gravedigger”

The SeerThe Seer
Genre:  Progressive/Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal
This album was the hardest of all to leave out of my top 30…

Ageless OblivionPenthos
Genre:  Progressive/Melodic Death Metal

The Antioch SynopsisThe Antioch Synopsis
Genre:  Technical Deathcore

MonumentsThe Amanuensis
Genre:  Progressive Metal

The Top 30 Full Lengths

30.  Hope For The DyingAletheia
Genre:  Metalcore/Death Metal
Preview:  “Acceptance”

29.  Separatist – Motionless & Closure
Genre:  Death Metal/Blackened Deathcore

This was technically two albums, but they were released on the same day, so I’ll just go ahead and count it as one…Anyways, some of the most diverse, heavy, gloomy music of 2014.

28.  Bloodshot DawnDemons
Genre:  Technical/Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  “Demons”

The blasts at 2:52 in the preview song will LEGITIMATELY make you feel like running through a fucking brick wall, guaranteed.

27.  Aeon of HorusExistence
Genre:  Progressive/Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  “Dissipate”

Un-fucking-believable musicianship.

25.  StructuresLife Through A Window
Genre:  Metalcore/Hardcore

Easily the surprise album of the year – I usually don’t enjoy this type of music at all, and I’ve never really been into Structures, but Life is savage.

24.  Silent PlanetThe Night God Slept
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Hardcore/Emotional?

The best metalcore full length of the year….with one exception.  This album also went unbelievably under the radar.

23.  MapmakerAutomation
Genre:  Progressive/Atmospheric Deathcore
Preview:  “Genesis”

22.  Mors Principium EstDawn of the 5th Era
Genre:  Melodic Death Metal

21.  AlterbeastImmortal
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Deathcore

Unique Leader album #1 in the top 21.

20.  Son of AureliusUnder A Western Sun
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

19.  Beyond CreationEarthborn Evolution
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal

18.  ArchspireThe Lucid Collective
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

17.  Hour of PenanceRegicide
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

16.  Invent, AnimateEverchanger
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore

The top metalcore full length of the year, hands-down.

15.  The ContortionistLanguage
Genre:  Progressive Metal
Preview:  “Thrive”

14.  Hideous DivinityCobra Verde
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Holy Shit

Unique Leader album #2 in the top 21.

13.  Inanimate ExistenceA Never Ending Cycle Of Atonement
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal

Unique Leader album #3 in the top 21.

12.  Nero di MarteDerivae
Genre:  Death Metal/Doom Metal/Post Death Metal
Preview:  “Il Diluvio”


11.  NexilvaEschatologies
Genre:  Symphonic/Blackened Deathcore

10.  Hadal MawSenium
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal/Post Death Metal

9.  AbortedThe Necrotic Manifesto
Genre:  Death Metal/Brutal Death Metal/Deathgrind

8.  Fall In ArchaeaAura Magenta
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Mathcore
Preview:  “Aureolin”

If mathy breakdowns or grooves in the vein of Danza have ever been your thing, prepare to have your neck broken.

7.  RevocationDeathless
Genre:  Thrash Metal

Best riffs of the year, hands-down.

6.  SoreptionEngineering The Void
Genre:  Technical/Industrial (?) Death Metal

NOBODY sounds like Soreption.  Probably my favorite overall tech death band right now – lightning precise, basically an all-out onslaught of technicality.  And oh by the way, Unique Leader album #4 in the top 21.

5.  Black Crown InitiateThe Wreckage of Stars
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

4.  Job For A CowboySun Eater
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

3.  InferiThe Path Of Apotheosis
Genre:   Technical Death Metal/OH MY GOD HOW IS HE PLAYING THAT

Never before has an album so totally made me feel like I’m on a battlefield.  And oh…Unique Leader album #5…

2.  FallujahThe Flesh Prevails
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal
Preview:  “Sapphire”

Unique Leader album #6….also, “Sapphire” might actually be one of my favorite songs of all time.

1.  Babymetal – Babymetal
Genre: J-Pop/Power Metal

Just kidding, obviously.

1.  Ne ObliviscarisCitadel
Genre:  Blackened Death Metal/Black Metal

I’m genuinely confused how anybody could have anything else at #1 – if “Citadel” wasn’t your top album from last year, I’m immediately going to assume you either didn’t hear it or you’re deaf, and still didn’t hear it.