Angry Metal-FiThe Year of Our Angry Overlord 2014 has been a crazy ride. One year ago this week I was finishing up one of the most stressful terms of my entire life, and this year has been a rush of teaching prep, reading, researching, and “OMFG.” You have certainly noticed that has been pretty short one Angry Metal Guy in 2014, and that’s been tough for everyone involved I’m sure. A lot of things that I had hoped to review went unreviewed or were reviewed by someone else with an OK, but not nearly as correct, opinion as my own. And many of the records I intended to listen to simply went unheard. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed anything this year, and as you’ve likely noticed, I stepped up most frequently when I had heaps of praise to dump on unsuspecting bands. All of this means that I have, to a certain extent, been absent from doing the hard work of reviewing music that sucks in order to keep up my reputation as being a “cheap bastard” when it comes to rating records1.

In my stead, with cool heads and iron fists, Steel Druhm and Madam X have come through mightily at not only keeping the day-to-day going around here (thus freeing me up to do what little writing I do), but also at enlisting a stable of young (and only slightly opinion-challenged) bucks who have helped us to produce more reviews of a broader variety of bands, and still keep the quality of reviews up. They’ve also brought a wonderful community of awesome new people to talk with, joke around with, and I think the website has taken on a playful tone that has been almost entirely been driven by interactions among writers.  The development of this community of writers has been mirrored by a community of readers who are among the best commenters on the Internet, in my opinion. We have been so extremely lucky to have such an engaged, smart, and level-headed readership. All y’all make this website worth all the hard work.

And as a site? As a consequence of this hard work we continue to grow. We’ve been breaking our own records for monthly views and visitors, and we continue to grow into our 6th year as a metal blog, despite being more frequently given the cold shoulder by big labels when it comes to promotional material. Even in the face of this adversity 2014 has been an extremely exciting and cool year for this blog as an institution. Of course, I would be foolish not to note that the reason we keep growing isn’t just because I’m so stylish and attractive, but also because all you new and old readers keep on coming back. We’re going to continue doing cool and exciting stuff into 2015 unless there is mutiny (always possible when you’re a disengaged and distant despot), or Steel Druhm actually reviews the new Jørn Dracula opera record (at which point I am shutting this shit down).

As a year for metal, however, I think 2014 has been poorer than I’d hoped. On paper there were a number of releases that should have blown my mind, but in practice, the number of albums that did so this year was limited. So what you’re about to read here is a mix of ten(ish) records that really convinced me this year, and either I’m getting old and I am therefore hard to impress, or this has been a pretty off year for metal2. I’m going with the latter. Regardless, don’t let that stand in the way of knowing that this list is made up of top tier records that likely could have been on this list in any other year, too. That there hasn’t been a broad swath of awesome metal that I’ve really enjoyed doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been good material released. That doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t exist, as there are certain things that have been left off this list because they haven’t had the longevity of play necessary in order to be included (Dead Congregation and Archspire, to name two). Still, that in December I’ve been dredging the deep waters of things I never got a chance to listen to in order to see if I’d made any major misses should say something about how I feel about the year as a whole. And on that sour, bitter note: here’s my Top 10(ish) of 2014. Since people are already whining about it before I even posted it, I suspect I’m just as predictable as Druhm. Enjoy!

troldhaugen#(ish-1): Troldhaugen // Obzkure Anekdotez for Maniakal Massez Kronos summed this up best when he said that Troldhaugen is what would happen if Diablo Swing OrchestraUnexpect and Finntroll dropped acid together. This record is an absolutely wild ride of unexpectedly fun and funny music that really just hits the “obscure, avant garde, ridiculous, and awesome” sweet spot that I have found in the aforementioned Scandinavians/Canadians (+Sigh) over the last few years. Troldhaugen came really, really, really, really, really late in the year after talking to Angry Metal Wife’s Dad and he turned me on to them. I thought the best way to handle it was to give them a very special “second #(ish)” spot on this list. In spite of the stupid spelling and the fact that they started off as an Australian band making Scandinavian folk metal, Obzkure Anekdotez for Maniakal Massez gets a special nod for being a special record.

Horrendous Ecdysis 01#(ish-2): Horrendous // Ecdysis — I thought The Chills was pretty good. I never anticipated a follow-up of such excellent quality. I’m fairly certain that I’ll be looking back at this list and laughing that Ecdysis isn’t higher up on the list, but it’s getting a spot as an #ish because it’s hard to deny that it is elite death metal but I’ve only had it for a short time, which makes it tough to rank. Still: ten tracks, 42 minutes, and some of the coolest riffing and best production I’ve heard on a death metal record in a long time. This record evokes the best death metal has to offer and does it stylishly. Already in heavy rotation, I suspect Ecdysis will stay in heavy rotation Casa de Angry Metal Guy. Bonus points for having the (2nd) best art of the year.

Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto#10: Elvenking // The Pagan Manifesto — In some ways The Pagan Manifesto has continued to be my biggest surprise of 2014. I suspect that this will be one of my more maligned picks, given the status of power metal in the heavy metal scene, but The Pagan Manifesto demonstrates how power metal can be so good when executed with vision and conviction. The record is riddled with addictive melodies, engaging songwriting, and an excitement and passion that I haven’t heard on a power metal record in a long time. In some ways, it’s a testament to the character of the band that they chose to start their newest record with a 13 minute epic, and that sense of confidence and strident self-awareness creates an X factor that makes for one of the most enjoyable listening experiences of the year. Yeah, this record has its flaws, but this is as good as europower got in 2014. “A manifesto, indeed.”

Mors Principium Est - Dawn of the 5th Era 01#9: Mors Principium Est // The 5th Era — Put 2014 in your “Book o’ Memories <3” as the year that Finnish Mors Principium Est put out the year’s best Gothenburg death metal record. The 5th Era is chock full of Björriffs, acrobatic guitar work, hooky melodies, and a blasty take on melodeath that keeps me getting out of bed in the morning. Dawn of the 5th Era is littered with some of the best melodic death metal writing I’ve heard in a really long time, blending a feel reminiscent with early Children of Bodom with more Gothenburg fare and avoiding all the excesses of the modern melodeath scene. All of that makes Dawn of the 5th Era a statement album: melodeath can still be exciting, interesting, fun, and—most of all—drive the listener to come back to push play again. This record pops with energy, great songs and doesn’t overstay its welcome; I’ll be coming back to it for a long time.

Hannes Grossmann - The Radical Covenant#8: Hannes Grossmann // The Radial Covenant — There was quite a bit of pretty good technical death metal this year, but The Radial Covenant stands out for me. A sweet blend of fretless-bass driven technical death metal, with a desire to broaden the feel of an Obscura-style sound and vision, The Radial Covenant breaks out into melancholic and novel conceptual pieces. Despite having completely whiffed on this record when it actually was released, it hooked me immediately when I finally did get to it. A beautiful combination of meaty and fun riffs, brutal drive, and even the investigation of gruff clean vocals convinced me that what I was listening to was for real. The Radial Covenant is all about vision, and I think I share a lot more with Hannes Grossmann’s vision that I previously would have imagined. This work might not be the most hip or tr00 of all the death metal coming out this year, but it filled a little techy hole in my soul. Can’t wait for what 2015 brings from Grossmann and co.

Voices London#7: Voices // London — I unfortunately can’t take credit for having discovered this one myself. Instead, I am indebted to Jean-Luc Ricard for picking this one up and compensating for our blog’s collective ignorance. London is masterfully uncomfortable; the perfect blend of Akercocke‘s unique cleans and grindy moments, with a Dodecahedron/Blut Aus Nord dissonance that makes the material feel brutal, nasty, and extreme. There’s an utter darkness and desperation to London and a balance of these different strands that feels new and exciting. I love the rawness of emotion and the arthouse approach to London that gives it a feel unlike anything else. While Dodecahedron makes me squirm, Voices makes me rage. Hitting the sweet spot between the cerebral and the emotional, like so many of my favorite records this year, is what makes London standout. On a closing note: I’m fairly certain that London is the first metal record with spoken word that I have ever enjoyed.

Darkest Era_Severance#6: Darkest Era // Severance As was demonstrated with the previous entry, one of the best things about running this blog with a lot of different writers is how much territory we’re able to cover. When Steel Druhm caught Darkest Era‘s newest record Severance and began advocating its excellence, I took note. What I found when I broke into it for the first time was one of the coolest blends of traditional, ’80s metal with a black metal feel, and a vocalist who reminds me of Primordial‘s Nemtheanga’s absolute best vocal performances. There’s something that is both nostalgic and distinctly modern about Severance, which almost makes it the perfect representation of heavy metal in 2014. At once looking back towards an era when metal bands wrote great songs, Severance sounds thick, heavy and driven, using drumming styles and guitar techniques bands from the era didn’t use. In an era when slick songwriting is a rarity and extremity is everything, Darkest Era counter with a vision that makes them stand out.

Dreamgrave - Presentiment#5: Dreamgrave // Presentiment — Progressive metal with a gothic taste and an underlying thrust of progressive metal ranging between Dream Theater and Symphony X, wasn’t high on my list of expectations for “defining records of 2014,” honestly. And yet here I sit to write a blurb about Hungary’s finest independent band: Dreamgrave. Or, given their position on this list, one of the best bands I heard this year at all. These guys have it in spades: expansive songs, enchanting ideas, beautiful contrasts, and an excitement and hunger that often defines the early work of excellent bands. I expect great things from Dreamgrave in the future, but if this is the only record they ever produce, I’d still be absolutely pleased with their unique contribution to metal. Presentiment is excellent, and you should have no doubt about it.

Behemoth - The Satanist#4: Behemoth // The Satanist — I have never been the biggest Behemoth fan, but The Satanist is a monumentally good record from a band that has been anything but monumental in its recent output. Two things make this record extremely effective: first, the black metal moodiness on this album introduces a twist that makes it both emotional and dynamic; and secondly, the songs are easily the most nuanced and well-crafted the band has ever written. The use of horn and angelic/satanic imagery, as well as the introduction of dynamic counter melody and harmony in the guitar work, lifts The Satanist to a different echelon of recordings compared to their historical output. A lot of people are calling The Satanist a return to form, but I think it’s the best record Behemoth has ever written.

Gazpacho - Demon#3: Gazpacho // Demon — This may be the most difficult choice of 2014 for me. Demon is a truly magical listening experience. It’s a record that is well-balanced, marked by artistically brilliant writing, and a production job so good that it alone is genuinely an enjoyable listening experience. Demon is quiet, reflective and gorgeous, while balancing in moments of thick, heavy desperation. Demon gets under my skin; I’ve listened to it dozens of times, being one of the few records that I just want to lay on back and listen to in headphones. I love the subtle harmonies, the fat bass, and the way these crazy Norwegians build their sound from the barest of whispers to a torrent of impressions and melodies. The dour moodiness is strong in this one, and in a tough year, Demon has been a bright light and a fantastic outlet. This could have been #2 or even #1, so consider it a bit of a tie.

Soen - Tellurian -- art by José Luis López Galván#2: Soen // Tellurian — I expected to enjoy Tellurian, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I do. While arguably the most flawed record on the top end of this list—in that the mix and mastering job will always be a thorn in the side of this release—Soen released what is easily one of the best progressive metal records I’ve heard in the last couple of years. Landing themselves in excellent company with LeprousHaken, and RiversideSoen has developed a distinctly modern progressive sound that benefits from beautiful vocals, a unique musical vision, and an understated intensity. Tellurian isn’t just a great record, it’s a record with staying power because it balances the heavy and the cognitive with the emotional and the delicate. And because of its flaws, we haven’t even seen Soen‘s brilliance unbridled.

#1: Opeth // Pale Communion Pale Communion is a triumph. From the opening noodling of “Eternal Rains Will Come” to the closing orchestral strains of “Faith in Others,” Pale Communion is a testament to the vision of Opeth and the band’s unique voice and style. Successfully balancing the progressive feel of the 1970s with the hard rock and metal influences that once were the foundation of Opeth‘s work was not an easy task, and yet Pale Communion sounds effortless; a perfect synthesis. Pale Communion sounds like Opeth, maybe not the Opeth that produced Morningrise or Blackwater Park, but the sound is unmistakable. All of these different threads make Pale Communion a beautiful balance, a striking statement, with well-crafted songs and landmark production (if one considers that it’s coming from Roadrunner Records in 2014).

In a year when I was underwhelmed by a metal scene that had good moments, but nothing that I saw as defining, Pale Communion feels like the perfect choice for Record o’ the Year. It, like the metal scene, is the product of a band searching for a new identity while looking backwards. However, unlike much of the metal scene, Pale Communion differentiates itself with its amazing production and leads by not giving into the demands of an industry that is slowly cannibalizing itself. There were still metal records that really excited me this year, but Pale Communion is the perfect record for our zeitgeist.

Opeth - Pale Communion

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Dead Congregation // Promulgation of the Fall — Having not been a huge fan of Graves of the Archangels, I gave Promulgation of the Fall a skip earlier in the year. That, it seems, was a mistake. This record is a pummeling wall of crushing death metal. Time will tell if this belonged higher up, but I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
  • Myrkur // Myrkur — For me, I’m less caught up in the hype around who is making the music and/or her metal cred, and more caught up on the way that this EP reminds me of the melodic side of the early Norwegian black metal scene. Particularly the vocal harmonies and pseudo-medieval folk puts me in a distinctly Ulver mood, and the black metal stuff reminds me Kampfar‘s earliest material. Executing a sound that’s “so done” this successfully in 2014, while making it feel novel, is impressive. The combination of lush vocal harmonies and a Scandinavian melancholy encapsulates the subtexts of the early Norwegian scene perfectly without sounding like a retro clone. I love this record, I ordered it on vinyl, and I want more.
  • Cormorant // Earth Diver — I feel a little bad that Cormorant has become a bit of an afterthought on this blog for two records in a row. I purchased this album earlier in the year and have spent some time listening to it. I love the sound and there are excellent songs here. The band still feels like “thinking person’s metal,” and Earth Diver contains two or three of my favorite riffs of the year.
  • Origin // Omnipresent — This record is totally brutal and great. It easily could have swapped places with anything on the bottom half of my list, but I really spent a lot more time listening to other records in the same genre this year, so I thought it deserved one of these mentions instead. Still, a powerful and awesome record.
  • Archspire // The Lucid Collective — Better than the new Beyond Creation? I know, right? But yeah, this album is frantic and exciting even if it’s mushed to an audial paste from a mastering perspective. Say what you want, though, this is some pretty goddamned driven and enjoyable tech death.
  • St. Vincent // St. Vincent — Yeah, this is my “non-metal” Record o’ the Year, which means basically nothing since I listen primarily to metal and don’t have a deep insight into other genres. I love St. Vincent‘s pop, it has inflections of the most experimental and interesting mainstream music, owing heavily to David Bowie, Prince and The Talking Heads. Her sound has changed a lot since she wrote “Paris Is Burning,” but she continues to be one of the most interesting musicians in non-metal music.

Biggest Disappointments: 

  • At The Gates // At War with Reality — I sat down to write a review of At War with Reality a half dozen times during the course of the year. I can’t. It’s not because it’s terrible: it’s not. There’s just something so sad about listening to a new At The Gates record and thinking “Man, I’ve heard this before.” And it’s not because the sound can’t be differentiated from their own previous work—they did an admirable job of not trying to re-write SotS—it’s because everybody under the goddamned sun sounded like ATG for a decade and a half after they released Slaughter of the Soul. So listening to At War with Reality just makes me depressed. Sure there are some decent songs. Yeah fine, there are moments. But this album is nearly two decades late and is pretty inconsistent as a whole.
  • Cynic // Kindly Bent to Free Us — Sleepy music from cynical dudes. I thought from the early release tracks that this sounded good, but this record sounded like a boring and uninspired Muse. Honestly, Kindly Bent to Free Us is just disheartening. But you gotta give them credit for really playing the long game, though. I was definitely fooled. I’m happy for them, though, that Æon Spoke is finally producing records people are buying.
  • Amaranthe // Massive Addictive — Meh. I couldn’t work up the intensity to hate this hard enough to write something. Sure, it sucks. Yeah, it’s soulless. And their strategy of avoiding promo distro to me in order to avoid my review shouldn’t go unpunished or uncommented. But life is too short to spend so much time talking about what a terrible band these guys are. They obviously know what I think by now, so: meh.

Top Five(ish) Best Songs: 

#(ish): Intimate Music from Final Fantasy – “Rebel Army Theme” — If there is a single piece of music that I love more than any other in the world in the moment when I’m writing this, I’m not sure what it is. Final Fantasy II’s magical “Rebel Army Theme” has never before received such an excellent rendition as it received here. The intimate feel and the gorgeous melodies absolutely hit home for me everytime. This is my ring signal on my phone, it is my alarm clock, and it is simply one of the best melodies I can think of.

#5: Hannes Grossmann – “Aeon Illuminate” — Everything about this song is awesome. It’s an amazing opening track for an excellent album, and it balances great, catchy riffage with Maiden worthy guitar melodies and fretless bass gymnastics. Headbangy goodness from front-to-back, “Aeon Illuminate” is an illuminating experience.

#4: Sonata Arctica – “What Did You Do in the War, Dad?” — Tony Kakko cheeses right into my soul. He has a way of hitting sour notes that resonate for me, and “What Did You Do in the War, Dad?” is pretty high on my list of Sonata Arctica‘s Awkward and Unintentional Successes™ (see also: “The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet,” “Letter to Dana,” and “Shy”). In fact, are there any other bands that you can even say that about? Regardless, “What Did You Do in the War, Dad?” is a surprisingly poignant (if awkwardly executed) look at a guy with PTSD from the perspective of his kid. It’s majestically cheesy and weirdly catchy and I absolutely love it. Tony Kakko strikes again. Never change, Tony. Never change.

#3: Opeth – “The River” — In some ways, this is the song that made it hit home just how far removed from “classic” Opeth Pale Communion really is. And yet this is precisely the song that really hit me on my first listen and has stuck with me through each previous listen. “The River” sounds nostalgic, calling up the spirits of southern rock, bell bottoms and bad mustaches (no, not the ’90s, the ’70s!). And yet, as the song develops, I can’t get enough of the gorgeous harmonies, the frantic keys, and the fat, old-fashioned sound. And as the perfect twist on an otherwise brilliant Wishbone Ash song, the last two minutes of the track trot out the Åkerfeldt’s finest åkerriffs and Axe’s double kick. This just a magical song, and even if it weren’t smack dab in the middle of an amazing album, it would be a real standout from the year.

#2: Behemoth – “O Father O Satan O Sun!” — While the lyrics aren’t exactly going to hit you in the feelz unless you’re an orthodox Satanist or something, this track differentiated itself as very special when the clean vocals broke into the verse. Uncharacteristically slow for Behemoth, this track seethes with majesty and brilliance. It is the perfect ending to one of the best albums of the year, and the first time I heard it I knew it was special.

#1: Soen – “The Words” — Autumn is hard in Sweden. There are times when we’re losing as much as 7 minutes of sunlight a day. For those of us who are transplants, it’s generally accepted that this time of year is just mentally hard. I try to do things to keep my mood up and to stay productive, but there is a certain melancholy inherent to autumn. I discovered “The Words” out on a long walk in late fall. Walking through the early evening darkness over fields filled with the remnants of the year’s harvest, this song hit me like a ton of bricks. I fell completely in love with it because it made my heart ache. When the heart wrenching and beautiful video for this song was released, it just confirmed for me what I knew the first time I heard it: “The Words” is the best song I heard in 2014 and one of my favorite songs ever.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. This was a Facebook comment under Soen‘s shared link of my Tellurian review: “4,5 rate? This must be a masterpiece, angrymetalguy is a cheap bstard with album rates.”
  2. It likely doesn’t help, now that I’m reflecting on it, that one of the most explosive genres in metal right now is doom. I have far too short an attention span for most of that stuff.
  • I’m gonna miss this blog when it shuts down due to terminal Jornification.

    • I am now literally dying for your review.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        RIP in peace, Alex.

      • You’ll want to die when you realize that Angry Metal Guy is closing down simply because Druhm selfishly wants to review more fucking Jørn Lande records.

    • Grymm

      I await Calijornication – A Pornstar-Stached Tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

      You *know* it’s coming.

      • Our Fortress Is Burning

        Did you mean “Pjornstar”?

    • JWG

      The destination may not be worth the Jorn-ey.

    • Kryopsis

      Your Jørney ends here!

      • JWG

        I’m quite happy to share credit/guilt for the pun. It’s only luck of the draw by which mine Lande-d earlier.

        • Leave the puns to me. I’m an unpaid professional.

          • James Ingold

            Do you think we were bJørn yesterday? You’re clearly being paid the big bucks.

            Back to the topic, I hope that in the next ca-Lande-r year AMG will be a little less Drac-onian about his Jørn-eign policy.

            (Am I doing this right? Why do I feel so dirty?)

          • You’re forcing it. Maybe “Do you think we were born yesterday? Jørn clearly being paid the big bucks!”

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I feel like on the whole, this year was antagonised purely by poor mixing. Yes, many great albums were released but all of my personal favourites outside of Opeth’s Pale Communion did not sound very pretty. However, one thing that has remained awesome for the year I have attended is this website. The reviews and even the comment section of this site are leagues above in terms of knowledge capacity and well-timed wit than any other website I have been on, metal or not. AMG, I salute you and the community you have formed!

    • Thanks for the kind words and for reading! And there aren’t a ton of amazing sounding albums this year, but there were a few. And like you, my favorites in the metalsphere didn’t really sound so good all the time.

  • swthate

    The River felt like a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover… and I still loved it.

  • I got to listen to that Grossman record. It has been on my “albums that people think I would like very much” list for quite sometime and I keep forgetting about it. Also the Voices recommendation intrigues me.

    I now have to ask this question publicly because I think in the context of your year end list it warrants a little discussion (all around): Has your opinion regarding Heritage improved at all, given your affinity for Pale Communion?

    • No. I think Heritage is stinky. In fact, I would argue that it is specifically because the band wrote such good _songs_ that Pale Communion is my record o’ the year. Despite the fact that the production really makes Pale Communion stand out, what I hated about Heritage was the fact that there were so many good ideas, but that they weren’t consistently executed. So you ended up with a record that really was just an assemblage of riffs. Pale Communion fixes that and then improves the production. Hence “the icing on the cake,” which I (in retrospect) don’t agree with. I think the landmark production is part of what makes the album sound so, so, so good.

    • Reading my previous response, I notcied that I wrote “the landmark production is part of what makes the album sound so, so, so good.” Um, of course it is! What I meant is: the whole package is so good because the production makes it brilliant. If everything was produced that well, the record may well not have gotten the score it got.

  • Kronos

    Not brutal enough – no spheres.

    • Ha! I hadn’t even thought about that. But I thought my list was fairly brutal, actually. Dead Congregation and Archspire and Origin and Grossmann.

      • Kronos

        Yeah, you squeezed some in there.

  • Excentric_1307

    More like, “Perturbed Metal Guy”.

    • I’ve always like “Amiable Metal Guy” myself.

      • De2013

        But where is Happy Metal Guy? Still locked up in his room with his White Wizzard record, quietely enjoying himself, I guess?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Oh hell yeah O Father…sends chills down my spine. The point where the song ‘ends’ and then begins again building in intensity, the monologue kicks in and I end up feeling like a demonic John Belushi in the blues brothers before his final cry of O Father O Satan O Sun…
    Great list, great site congrats on the well deserved success.

    • The one thing that bothers me about the monologue is that he says “FEERMYOOMENT!” instead of firmament.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        “Fear my ointment”? Maybe it’s a buried Satanic message.

      • Eryops

        You left out a couple of Ys in that pronunciation.

        • Fyeermyoomyent?

          • Eryops

            It definitely starts out “Fy…”

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Satanism 101 it’s FEERMYOOMENT not firmament :)

        • Martijn Brugman

          As much as I liked the Behemoth album, I detest people putting Nergal’s lyrics in writing. They are made of encapsulated awesome and everyone should know that , when transformed to written substance, such magnificence is bound to look like spelling and Olde English grammatical nonsense, so do not write them down, ffs

          • This a brilliant defense. Suddenly it all makes sense to me.

  • El_Cuervo

    A good list, as always.

    To conclude the mini-project I started two days ago, I will integrate AMG’s list into the combined list aggregating all writers on the blog: where I scored 1 for an honorable mention, 2 for an ish, 3 for number
    10, 4 for number 9, etc, our Top 10
    (including all posted lists) is:

    10) Origin / Slugdge / Triptykon (19 points)
    9) Anaal Nathrakh / Misery Index (21 points)
    8) Solstafir (22 points)
    7) Opeth / Horrendous / Gazpacho / Ne Obliviscaris (23 points)
    6) Mors Principium Est / Darkest Era (26 points)
    5) Dawnbringer (29 points)
    4) Soen (31 points)
    3) Voices (33 points)
    2) Behemoth (38 points)
    1) Pallbearer (45 points)

    I feel like I should try to draw some conclusions from this regarding frequency of picks and the importance of subjectivity, but I don’t feel like engaging my brain right now.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      well done, thats a solid top ten, lets just hope AMG doesn’t notice Ne Obliviscaris.

      • NeO has been noted and the staff has been fired.

        • Kryopsis

          Out of a cannon? Into the sun?

          • BarryLeFreak

            Once more ’round the sun? XDDD

            please don’t h u r t m e

          • Directly into the sun, actually.

    • Man. NeO and Pallbearer. I really don’t get the Pallbearer love at all. But as a general rule, I actually think it’s a good list!

      • El_Cuervo

        Well you yourself admitted your attention deficiency for doom. There was a lot of good doom / doom-related stuff this year. But hey. It’s all opinion

        • Disqus is screwing things up for me!

      • Grymm

        That’s like me and Behemoth. I just didn’t see what the big deal was with that album.

        • Huh. Yeah, it’s ’cause it’s awesome, that’s why.

          • Grymm

            Yeah, I’ll take Anaal Nathrakh, thanks.

            But good to see Nergal at it again!

          • Also good. But man, not Behemoth good.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        I can be torn on Pallbearer too.

        They are incredible live though, his vocals are insane coming from the stage.

      • Antoine Roth

        Same here. I found the Alunah record much better for instance. Man those vocals.

        • El_Cuervo

          Hence its position on my list ;)

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      Every time I see Behemoth on a list I start to hate that album more and more. It’s like if your friends rant and rave about a movie you just thought was “ok, nothing special” and some deep part of you just starts to really resent it. It really bothers me how much more attention it’s getting than album that were really good.

      Though conversely, no one I know thinks the new AN is any good and we generally consider it to be one of the biggest disappointments this year.

      My own list has some outliers too to be fair (very little love for Nasheim, The Great Old Ones and Lord Mantis across the web) it is interesting how the tastes don’t overlap as cleanly as one might expect.

      • Ah Nashiem. I was this –>||<– close to adding it to my list. I though it might get some Madame X love. And did no one put Gridlink on their list? That was another one that deserved a spot. I feel ashamed.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          I have Gridlink on mine at #6, haven’t been as pleased with a grind album since Nasum’s “Helvete”.

          • Diabolus, very cool. Gridlink deserves more love if you ask me.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        If AN is Anaal Nathrakh, I loved it! 2nd best of the year for me. That filthy electronic prechorus in the title track is still awesome after hearing it 500 times, as is the beginning scream in “The Joystream.” The other songs all rip too. And I thought people generally liked Deathmask? Thought I remembered reading all positive stuff about it, but I could be wrong.

        Oh, and agreed on Behemoth. I just don’t get it either. The title track was cool, that trumpet song had a nifty ending, and “O Father…” was good, but I really had to ignore the lyrical content of the monologue for their “super serious about Satan” gimmick to not be cringe-worthy, and this is coming from the guy whose favorite album of 2014 was Alestorm.

        • JWG

          Quite apart from all the other reasons I dig that Alestorm record, their cover of “Hangover” was an excellent way to compromise with friends on at least one entry from me to a suitable NYE party Playlist.

        • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

          Deathmask just didn’t make it on many (I think I saw it on Steel for brains top 30+) year end lists. I just thought it was superior to Indian, Eyehategod and Coffinworm that came out this year in the same vein.

          Yeah AN is Nathrakh, long time fan of that band here just sad to see them staying the course. Same old same old really takes away from any of their intensity. Desirderatum started up and the only thing I could think was “oh, I’ve heard this at least a dozen times now from these guys… WAH wuh”

          Yeah the Behemoth album isn’t bad by any means, it’s an enjoyable listen and a HUGE step in the right direction for them… but the high marks are strange to me.

          I need to listen to that Alestorm album some more perhaps.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I think it was on Decibel’s list too. I’ve never been much for sludge, but Lord Mantis knows how to make sickening music, and that’s awesome. The time I spent with Death Mask made me uncomfortable, and I mean that in the best way.

            Nergal still really bugs me, and his vocals are pretty weak even on The Satanist, which to me is their best work. His vocals work the best on the title track because it’s not that punishing of a song, I think. And do spend time with the newest Alestorm, it’s miles ahead of their other 3 albums. It’s also a touch less gimmicky than Behemoth, IMO.

          • Angel R. Suarez

            I feel the same on both (re: AN & Lord Mantis).

            Death Mask is just one of the most vile musical experiences I’ve had this year… in the best kind of way.

            And as a huge fan of Anaal, Desideraatum (or however the shitake it’s spelled) just left me ‘bleh.’ The production made it impossible and it just felt like the last 1,200 fucking albums they’ve made.

            I felt it was a 4/5 at first. It felt to a 2.5/5 in about a week.

            Plus, the Behemoth album has a handful of great songs, one triumphantly FANTASTIC song (O Father…) and the rest is just… Meh.

            I’ve listened to ‘O Father’ dozens of times. I’ve listened to ‘Blow Me Off Gabriel’ about 3.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Lord Mantis, oh hell yeah, I almost forgot that was this year! That record is awesome.

        • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

          I think a lot of people did, which is a shame. That album feels dangerous and has that air of “should I even be listening to this?” that is so missing in a lot of music recently.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Despite that Soen record that never hit me like it seems to have hit you, and the fact that I dislike the new Archspire more and more every time I listen to it, I agree with most of your choices. Suprised to see no mention of Sabaton’s Heroes in the disappointments list, seeing as it was pretty boring and recycled melodies from Carolus Rex. Also surprising is the fact that there is no mention of the latest Triptykon or Hail Spirit Noir’s masterpiece, Oi Magoi which was my personal favorite album of 2014. I have listened to it an obscene amount of times and I’m still in love with the creativity and finesse of that particular slice o’metal. Here’s my list for anyone who cares:

    Top 10 albums:

    1 – Hail Spirit Noir – Oi Magoi
    2 – Gazpacho – Demon
    3 – Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
    4 – Panopticon – Roads to the North
    5 – Morbus Chron – Sweven
    6 – Spectral Lore – III
    7 – Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
    8 – Falls of Rauros – Believe in No Coming Shore
    9 – Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution
    10 – Horrendous – Ecdysis

    Special Mention to the Killer Instinct Season One Soundtrack by Mick Gordon and Darren Korb’s Transistor Original Soundtrack which would be somewhere (high) on my list if I were to include them.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Voices – London
    Misery Index – The Killing Gods
    Revocation – Deathless
    Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
    Behemoth – The Satanist
    Mors Principium Est – Dawn of the 5th Era
    Casualties of Cool – Casualties of Cool
    The Algorithm – Octopus4
    Blut aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

    I have yet to listen to Hannes Grossman’s album and a lot of others which I am interested in like Dead Congregation, Thantifaxath and others.

    In all, glad to be a part of this fantastic website with it’s fantastic staff and fantastic community. May 2015 be even bigger and better than last year.

    • This is a pretty good list, I think. This year was hard in some ways because a lot of my “mentions” could have been on the list, too. But it’s at the same time hard to say that there were absolutely real shoe-ins, too (aside from the top 5; but Behemoth surprised me).

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Yeah, this year had a lot of really good releases but very few truly excellent ones. Makes it hard to decide what to actually put on the top 10. On the subject of Behemoth, I feel like the opinion on that album is a bit skewed simply based on the way it ends. O Father.. is a masterpiece of a song, yeah, but the rest of the album, while really good in it’s own right, is not so good that it’d make me listen to it repeatedly.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Yes it starts and ends in spectacular fashion, but I’ve found myself going back to it a lot through the year and it as a whole has really grown me and I never really had much time for behemoth before this.

    • Kryopsis

      I thought you liked the Archspire album at first?
      Definitely can’t argue about Oi Magoi though: it takes great skill to turn Black Metal into lounge music without sacrificing any of the distinguishable characteristics of the genre. I think I listened to ‘Satan Is Time’ and ‘The Mermaid’ more than any other songs this year.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I did. I said in that article that they were consistent but unremarkable and I stand by that. There are a bunch of really good moments in that album but there’s something about that whole aesthetic of that album that bothers me. I think it’s the generic tech death riffs behind the leads or the “fast for fast’s sake” thing. I don’t know, I can’t seem to put my finger on it.

        I must’ve listened to the whole Oi Magoi album up to 40 times this year. It’s ridiculous. I even learned how to play some of the songs haha.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      A lot to like in this list!
      Ive picked up the Hannes Grossman record recently it’s excellent and also the Serdce release as recommended by Kronos they play well together.
      I haven’t noticed spectral lore before looks interesting.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I have listened to Timelessness and I have liked it a bunch. Grossmann’s album probably sounds a bit less like the proggy instrument juggling of Serdce and more like Obscura but either way, I will get it asap.
        Spectral Lore was conspicuously absent from this whole website (they probably didn’t get the promo). Look around, you’ll find some good reviews of it :)

    • I had no expectations for Sabaton. Not only did the band split after the best album, but they’d never released a record I’d given a shit about prior to Carolus Rex. So, no worries.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        That makes sense but I didn’t know about the split. That’s too bad that we’re not going to get more epic records like Carolus Rex from them.

        • Yeah, like the whole band except for the vocalist and keyboardist quit the band and started another one called Civil War. Unfortunately, they downgraded to “standard power metal guy” as their vocalist, so I can’t stand it.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Great list. Not really agree with the ATG comment, but the rest is well deserved.

    • It really is weird for me. Never in my life have I experienced a record quite like that.

      • chris

        My conservative top few albums.
        Exodus – I am a fan of Dukes era and do not mind the extended songs. This is nasty and furious.

        Masterplan- Seems to have been ignored by the power metal fans. Great songs, lead breaks that shred, bass that just holds down the bottom.

        Opeth- Pale Communion had me telling my long term friend and guitar player to put aside Dream Theater and listen to the best prog album since Thick As A Brick and The Yes Album. He surprisingly listened and concurred.
        Bullet-Storm of Blades Udo does r and r.
        Or something like that. Infectious and cheesy.
        Horrendous- I said better then Death on a you tube post and got the reply Blasphemy. I can live with that.

    • I actually think (this is gonna hurt, so please be sitting down when you read this) that all the Mors Principium Est love is due to how mediocre ATG was. I really am in AMG’s camp on this one. I must have listened to the ATG promo like ten times trying to come up with a review other than, “Been there, done that. Meh.”

      • Of course, the sad part is that it shouldn’t happen to the guys who basically made that goddamned sound work. It’s sad in the most horrible of ways. It’d be like if you read Lord of the Rings and were like “Eh, I dunno, feels derivative.”

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into Gazpacho. Musically, it was just cold thin soup (ok, not exactly, I just couldn’t resist). Nice to see Elvenking getting some love on a year-end list. Pagan Manifesto is one of the few metal albums I can play in the house with the wife around (Her: “Is this Bon Jovi?” Ten minutes later: “Are you sure this isn’t Bon Jovi?”).

    • It was very much “is this Whitesnake” imo, but yes.

      But man. Gazpacho. Maaaan.

      • Tarbash

        It really does get under your skin, and I’m very glad it made the list. It’s difficult to describe the range of what songs like Death Room and I’ve Been Walking (Part 2) made me feel. Every song was a journey of sorts, and I’m glad it exists and that it was reviewed here. I’ve been introduced to several amazing non-metal artists on this site, and I couldn’t be happier.

        • I know Gazpacho isn’t metal. But they’re still kinda metal, you know? They’re grandfathered in because I like them.

          • Tarbash

            It definitely has moments of heaviness and passages with metal elements, just as it has elements from a veeery wide range of genres and styles. That alone wouldn’t be enough, but the whole thing seems to be driven by a motive to make the listener ~feel~ something much deeper, which is where it succeeds. When an album can do that, genre really doesn’t mean much anymore. I personally gauge how metal something is by how metal others consider it to be, mostly because the criteria and classifications are too arbitrary and emotionally rooted for me to make a call.

            PS. The role of the dynamic range in making all the elements work well together and allow heavy parts to be heavy and subtle parts to be subtle is undeniable in this one. Without this dynamic, the album would’ve most likely felt more ordinary. This album is a case study in how dynamic range applies to not just just transients in a particular segment, but to the project as a whole.

          • Yes. I completely agree. I do really think that this record wouldn’t have been so effective without the wide dynamics it has. Absolutely adore the sound.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Yea, Gazpacho. There must be something I’m missing. I trust your opnion, and I’m going to keep giving it a spin now and then and maybe the magic will reveal itself to me. Honestly, there’s just so much Metal out there, and only so many hours in a day, that it’s sometimes hard to give albums their due listening-wise. Add on to that all the favorites from years past that one still likes to tap into.

        Pale Communion, though, continues to blow me away. And when Mikael sings “I can’t remember the sun upon my skin”, it sends shivers down me spine. Don’t know why. Just one of many great moments.

        Thanks for a great list, and a great year. Long may you run.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I’ve been giving Demon the attention it deserves, and concur that there’s something especial going on here (I guess my (partly) Norwegian blood is starting to show). As you say, production is a big factor. What a difference it makes when you can hear the contribution of each instrument (so nice to actually hear the clean bass lines in Ecdysis and the Radial Covenant as opposed to faintly picking out some distant rumblings in the background).

        I’m reminded of some of the best re-mastered soundboard recordings from the Grateful Dead. The bass, piano, rhythm guitar, drums, etc. are all clearly defined and you experience each song as an organic whole made of multiple moving parts.

        Giving each instrument equal prominence is kind of “duh” for sound engineers working in classical music. What would a recording of a Mozart quartet sound like if the Viola was front and center and everything else was buried under the prominence of that one instrument?

        Every member of a band deserves to be heard in a recording, and it’s great to hear such well produced albums like, for example, Tellurian and Procession’s last release. I suppose the caveat is Sid Vicious (didn’t they dial him down in the mix during live recordings?).

        I sometimes wish I still bought CDs regularly or was into the whole Vinyl thing. However, for the price of one CD, including shipping, I could probably purchase digital downloads of up to three different artists.

  • swthate

    Most perplexing part of this post, is the lack of horsepower. Where’s the Godsmack?

    • Or Slipknot. I was positive that AMG’s list would reserve at least TWO spots for Slipknot. What happened here?

  • Mike Eckman

    Here is my list for 2014. I’d rank 2014 slightly above 2013 in terms of quality, but both years were far below 2012 in terms of non-stop quality releases. There was not one single album this year that totally blew me away from start to finish that I had in constant rotation for months.

    1. Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel

    I love these guys. I know the staff at AMG is divided on this one, but I am Mister El Cuervo in that this was the album of the year.

    2. Sólstafir – Ótta

    I’ve always hated the label “post metal”, but the more I listen to these guys, the more I feel thats a valid label. I bought a new pair of Audio Technica headphones this year and this is one of my go to albums for immersing myself in a musical soundscape. Purely divine!

    3. Darkest Era – Severance

    DOOOM! Not a year goes by where I need my metal to be full of doom and despair and this is 2014’s contribution to that need!

    4. Threshold – For the Journey

    I’ve been a fan of these guys since I first discovered them in the late 90s, and other than maybe one album, they have never disappointed me. Dream Theater sells a lot of albums, Threshold on the other hand, makes a lot of great albums!

    5. Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen

    This may shock some, but I never really “got” these guys, at least not until now. This album might be my biggest surprise of 2014, and its made me go back into their catalog and I am loving “To the Nameless Dead”, so while its probably unfair to credit a new album for one from 2007, so be it! This is my list, after all! :)

    6. Nightingale – Retribution

    Nightingale, Morgana Lefay, and Lake of Tears were my first 3 underground metal bands I ever “discovered” back in high school in the mid 90s, and Ive been a fan ever since, but I’d say “I” was their last quality release. The last two before that were very “meh”, so I wasnt expecting much from this one, but I think taking some time away from music has really pumped up Dan Swano’s creative juices. First there was Witherscape, then this. Bravo, Dan!

    7. While Heaven Wept – Suspended at Aphelion

    This is another band I could never really get into, and while this album isn’t perfect, the combination of death, clean, power, symphonic, and all the other subgenres crammed into this one disc is a great listen. Theres so much variety on this album, you wont ever get bored with it. Nothing incredibly original or new, but its so well done.

    8. Opeth – Pale Communion

    This is hands down, my most controversial album for me. While this is a huge step forward from “Heritage”, and I appreciate the high production quality of this album, its still so far from “Blackwater Park”, “Still Life”, and the other albums from Opeth’s heyday, but still, this is a good album. Its like classic prog rock metal!

    9. Angra – Secret Garden

    This doesn’t come out in North America til 2015, and it was merely released in Japan on Dec 17th, so it barely qualifies as a 2014 release, but I am really digging this album. I havent paid much attention to Angra in over a decade, but this album is a huge step forward. They have a new singer, and a couple of guest vocalists. Track 7, “Crushing Room” features non other than Doro Pesch herself on one of the best songs of the entire year!

    10. Edguy – Space Police

    I’ll admit it, I’m an Edguy fanboy. Many people don’t like the goofy lyrics and themes these guys display these days, but I love it. Metal has always had a tongue in cheek side and this album really portrays it. Edguy have a mastery way of combining great riffs, catchy harmonies, and completely off the wall lyrics into albums that put a smile on your face!

    #ish. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power

    I had never heard of these guys before this album but Im glad I discovered them. Its so hard for me to really rank a power metal album highly because its all been done so many times over, and this album doesnt really bring much that we havent heard before, but like Sabaton, they have a mastery of what power metal should sound like, but more importantly, when to stop. There is so much excess in this genre that its refreshing for a band that knows their limits. The only reason I didnt rank this album higher, is, for as good as it is, its stuff we’ve all heard before, and its lacking that one or two great songs that push it over the edge.

    Non Metal – Weird Al Yankovic – Mandatory Fun

    Come on. Its Weird Al at the top of his game. I’ve listened to this album over and over again, my 18 month old loves dancing to “Word Crimes”, its catchy as hell, and this album appears to my “inner nerd”. Im a life long Weird Al fan, and it pleases the goofy side of my heart that this guy is still going strong over 30 years after he started!

    Most Underwhelmed: Anathema – Distant Satellites

    Most Underwhelmed #2: Eluveite – Origins

    Most Underwhelmed #3: Sabaton – Heroes

    None of these albums are bad. But one thing they all have in common is they are disappointing followups to great albums. I loved each of these 3 bands previous albums, and other than Sabaton who had a ton of staffing changes, there’s no reason that each of these 3 albums couldn’t have been worthy successors, but each of them fails for one reason or another.

    Most Unnecessary: Manowar – Kings of Metal MMXIV

    How do you take one of the best power metal albums of the 80s and possibly all time, and make it horrible? This album is a manual for how to do that. I actually defended Manowar’s decision to re-record Battle Hymns. For one, that was their debut, it had horrible production, and they mostly left the songs alone. On this album, lyrics were changed, songs were slowed down, and even a song was omitted. Most re-recordings are unecessary, but this one is not only unecessary, its terrible.

    Best Live Album – Lake of Tears – By the Black Sea

    Like I mentioned earlier, Im a life-long Lake of Tears fan and I even like their goofier stuff, like “A Crimson Cosmos”. I would love to see these guys live, but I think this album is the closest I’ll ever come. For someone who is not familiar with their back catalog, this album could serve as a “Greatest Hits” as well.

    Best Album Not from 2014 that I First Heard in 2014: Wolverine – Still

    I discovered these guys around the time around the time “Cold Light of Monday” came out, but I forgot about them afterwards. One day while browsing the interwebs, I saw they had two albums since then so I downloaded both, and of the two, “Still” really piqued my interest! Of any album released in 2014, Ive played this one over and over again. Tracks 3 and 4, “Taste of Sand” and “Nothing More” are two of the most beautiful pieces of music in my library!

    Best Album I Feel I Should Like, but Hasn’t Caught Me Yet: Soen – Tellurian

    I’ve given this album a couple of spins, and I feel like I should like this more than I do. Ive read the reviews on this site and feel as though I should like this as much as you guys, but for some reason, its just not catching me. Maybe if I give it more time, it will, and I’ll have to revise my list, but for now, it just gets an honorable mention.

    Biggest Disappointment: Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds (At the Gates – At War With Reality)

    Unlike the 3 “Most Underwhelmed” albums mentioned above which are actually good albums, but not up to the standard of their predecessors, this album isn’t even good. Its not terrible, but its so generic sounding. After Machine Head’s masterpiece “The Blackening”, they’ve reverted to their post “Burn My Eyes” form and started releasing nu-metal garbage, and theres not even a cool Judas Priest cover to save this one like on “Unto the Locust”. Ugh.

    • I certainly agree with your assessment of the latest Anathema. I listened to Distant Satellites twice and moved on. Very disappointing. Weather Systems was a superb record and the follow up felt like treading water on a similar theme, but without the quality.

      • Wilhelm

        In my opinion Anathema is getting worse and worse with each release, I really wish they would never have come back from hiatus.

        • You didn’t like Weather Systems?

          • Wilhelm

            No, I didn’t care for it. I liked most songs off “We’re here…” but even that album was weaker compared to their earlier releases. – too much of the “all is we need is love” type lyrics too, I can only take so much of it lol

          • Loved Weather Systems, but Distant Satellites was really not good.

          • Antoine Roth

            Agreed, one of my biggest disappointment this year, real bummer…

    • El_Cuervo

      This is real commitment to the comment

      • Yeap.

        Hell I didn’t even knew that you could post something that large.

        • Mike Eckman

          I like to push boundaries! :)

          • jorge

            you seriously must try to be a serious reviewer here at AMG… nice job…
            horns up

          • When the call was put out for volunteers a couple of months back, I seriously considered it as I love metal and I love giving my opinions on things (I am the 8799th highest rated reviewer on The reason I didn’t apply however, is that I have an 18 month old who takes up a ton of my time, so my abilities to meet deadlines would be inconsistent. Plus, even I can’t actually explain what styles of music I like. I love me some good power metal and prog, but I find most prog and power metal to be boring. I typically don’t like a lot of technical death metal, but I love Ne Obliviscaris and Persefone. I also like DOOOOOM, but a lot of DOOOOM bores me, especially funeral and stoner doom. I’m afraid that if I became an official reviewer, my name would be “Mr Finnicky”. People would also hate my writing style because I still put two spaces after a period.

      • Kronos

        A truly eye-opening exploration of the medium.

    • Kryopsis

      Wow, there’s a new Angra? I haven’t followed the band since their 2004’s ‘Temple of Hate’. Definitely going to check out Secret Garden, much appreciated!

      • Mike Eckman

        Yeah! If you’ve been a fan of theirs before, you definitely wont be disappointed. They have a new singer and I think a new drummer. The very first song has a really cool South American/Spanish guitar sounding interlude in the middle of the song that I wish they did more on the rest of the disc, and the aforementioned “Crushing Room” is a killer track, but otherwise a very solid album! I definitely recommend it.

        • Kryopsis

          Yeah, Angra always seemed a little reluctant to play to their strengths. It’s always great when they incorporate classical guitar into their music or have intricate musical passages but it doesn’t happen too often.

      • Mike Eckman

        I’ll probably go to hell for this, but listen to this. I will take this link down in 24 hours:

      • 2015 rest of world. Listening now and am… impressed, actually.

        • Mike Eckman

          See, told you! :)

          • I’ve never heard an Angra record before. I’ve heard songs here and there and was never overly impressed. But that Doro song is awesome. She’s great.

          • Mike Eckman

            They’ve had a rollercoaster career for sure. Some of their albums are brilliant and others are just symphonic power metal wankering. Another of their albums that I highly recommend is “Temple of Shadows”. The tracks “The Shadow Hunter” and “Morning Star” have that South American vibe that I LOVE! Its too bad they don’t incorporate that more into their music. Here is a link:


    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Thanks now that’s a list!
      I love a good live album will check out lake of tears.
      Couldn’t agree more re manOwar and anathema, sheesh Id forgotten about that one so painfully overwrought and boring. I need to add that to my years most disappointing list.

    • Wilhelm

      I’m glad someone else has mentioned Morgana Lefay, an extremely overlooked band; Charles has to be within my top 10 metal vocalists.

      • Mike Eckman

        Ive actually seen Morgana Lefay live twice, and once I not only got to meet Charles, but I sang Rumours of Rain with him on stage! There I was up there, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see a long haired metal dude running up on stage and before I realized who it was, he wrapped his arm around my shoulder and started singing with me. It was a really awesome experience! Theyre playing in the US again this year at Prog Power in Atlanta!

        • Jean-Luc Ricard

          I randomly caught them at Wacken in I think 2005, does that sound right? Anyway, knew nothing about them, but they were a great early-afternoon wakeup band playing to a tiny audience. Must check them out again.

    • Wow man. That was quite the list. I gotta say that Anathema should have been on my biggest disappointments list, but I sort of forgot that it was released this year! Talk about disappointing.

  • Antoine Roth

    I totally agree, it was a pretty poor year overall and my list would ressemble yours quite a bit because there just wasn’t that many great choices… (I think The Satanist is my record of the year. Behemoth, along with Opeth, are the only old favorites that lived up to expectations this year I feel)

    Still, thanks for the great writing as always (as well as for the site and everything of course ^^).

    Btw, I noticed no Primordial, so the record is not such a great return to form afterall ;)?

  • Jm from nj

    This is a great list. I agree with it on many points, namely the Soen album. I was/am shocked at how much I enjoy it, but for the love of god, the final mix/mastering job is atrocious. I would have imagined that Martin Lopez would have loved his snare drum to sound like something other than a piece of paper hit with a ruler. As a drummer myself, it is just atrocious. That being said, the songwriting overcomes this (whereas other albums may have great songwriting, but are unlistenable due to recording of it).

    The one constant refrain I’ve seen in so many lists is the “disappointment” with the new At the Gates. I can honestly say that I haven’t listened to melodic death metal in a long time…probably since “Clayman” came out or some of the Dark Tranquility albums of that time. But the new At the Gates hits those same spots for me. No, it’s not revolutionary. It’s not even pushing the envelope. But the disappointment can simply blamed on its predecessor and the impact it had and I can forgive the band for that. It wasn’t necessarily their fault that this happened. So I’ve tried to take the new album is it is…a masterclass in melodeath (maybe not as good as the Mors album), but pristine songwriting, great lyrics and (imo) great art.

    • Jm from nj

      Oh…and the new Opeth album was great. After they could do no wrong, they hit me with “Heritage” and it pissed me off. It wasn’t the change in sound (“Damnation” remains one of my personal favorite Opeth albums). It was the lack of songwriting. “Pale Communion” reclaims the songwriting prowess and it hit hard. I’d still like to see some more balls in the music though (even if it isn’t death metal).

  • tool

    Wow pity about that wanky prog section in the Opeth track, it was quite nice otherwise. Even Dream Theater rarely gets that obnoxious.
    Dreamgrave was nice, ended on a very good Anathema-y note.
    The Words is pleasant but the Soen album as a whole just seems a tad bland to me.
    My favourite dark moody prog album of the year will have to remain with Ghost Brigade.

    Anyway thanks for all the reviews, they’re top notch, I tend to agree with them, I love the writing and you guys seem to cover every band I could want on my radar.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I always find myself liking AMG’s list the best. Not to discredit any of the other writers, but when it comes to metal, I find my tastes very similar to yours.
    I should kick myself for missing out on Mors Principium Est though – certainly did a much better job than the bland At The Gates album. It’s really a pity, though – there are some great songs on At War With Reality, but there were moments I facepalmed because it was so predictable. It’s like they tried to find the best balance between WFIKTBD, TSD and SotS, but didn’t execute it well enough.

    I think I’ve mentioned how much I love Pale Communion in a previous comment, so I’ll just say that it deserves the no. 1 spot.

    Anyway, great list. This is the best metal blog on the internet and the reviews are always brilliant. Thanks, Angry Metal Guy, for this incredible site :)

  • An excellent list, I shall feed the ones I’ve missed into a Google Music playlist to listen to later. Opeth’s Pale Communion is almost the top of my list too. It’s the credible choice. But the truth is my favourite metal record of the year is Epica’s The Quantum Enigma. Not a fashionable choice perhaps but an honest one – easily the band’s best album. I wish they hadn’t been so heavy handed with the mastering though as there’s clearly a better mix hiding under that compression.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the Troldhaugen recommendation. I’d never heard of them, but any mention of Unexpect and Finntroll immediately gets my attention. Brilliant stuff!

  • Mike Eckman

    Relating to your comments about how the website has grown, I proposed this to you guys on Facebook about a year ago, but I wish this site had forums. Its the playful interaction between the staff and other people who visit here that I like the most.

    While its great that we can add comments to reviews, once a review is more than a couple of days old, comments really taper off, and the board even closes comments on old reviews. Ive gone back to previous posts that I commented on and wanted to respond to something someone said, and I couldnt.

    I really think that some type of angry web forum (ala where we can have our own angry metal discussions, would be awesome!

    • While I’m not sure we have the wattage and/or manpower to run forums, I would like to see the older reviews reopened for comments. Make it so, AMG, or the sheer level of Jornality I will visit on this site will warp your very concept of reality.

      • Mike Eckman

        I’ve moderated forums before, and while I’m not necessarily volunteering to play a similar role on Angry Metal Forums, I think there’s enough quality volunteers here that could handle the moderation. I say give it a shot, and if it fails, then I’ll wear egg on my face while listening to the new Amaranthe as punishment!

  • PropsToOrpheus

    Great list! I appreciated your perspectives on the year as a whole—looking backwards, while attempting to redefine and make something new and progressive. It’s interesting to read a thoughtful commentary on the scene as a whole. Also: I’m glad to see “Demons” on the list. It’s really something special.

  • JWG

    I won’t really be able to assess the longevity of new discoveries and old familiar choices until the end of 2015(ish), but at least at the moment I feel relatively confident in asserting that I’ve found 2014 to be much more fruitful in terms of releases “with legs” than most of last few years.

    Admittedly, this is probably heavily biased by the fact that I just chose to pay more attention than any year previous to what else is out there beyond the easy choices I can find taking up shelf-space at HMV (Canada). AMG has been a huge help in that regard.

    I’d be lying entirely for the sake of undeserved brownie points if I said it was the only help. But it’s only one of two. That has to count for something, right? ;)

  • TminusEight

    Well that caps off an awesome list marathon you guys, the best content and most riveting experience on the ‘net this summer (winter) for sure.
    As for the site, after the AMG revelation this time last year it has surpassed all expectations. For me, an essential daily read. Steel Druhm’s reviews have been a continual highlight, but the whole crew have been dropping excellent content on a daily basis. Incredible. Thank you all.

  • Even though I kinda disagree with the idea of this being a bad year for the big umbrella genre of metal, I agree with the idea of this being a watershed year of sorts. I think it has to do with the unprecedented amount of music being readily and legally available to the general populace via the Internet, it is becoming harder to sort through the rubbish but also is becoming more unbounded to the sometimes rigid constraints of the industry, and it’s beginning to reach more people in a more personal way.

    There still are the releases that are popular and reach huge audiences but there are more and more ways to find and express our personal attachment to those modest but still emotionally touching releases, all this in more of an individual way.

    All the lists and the discussion in the comments have made this more glaring to me. I find it very interesting the readiness we have to point our difference of opinion, and the readiness we have to “fight” our particular points of view. And I just hope that this is a preview of the future with an unprecedented diversity that only can enrich this great community.

    Here’s for an angrier year for this great site in 2015. Congrats to all of you guys.

  • BranMakMorn

    AMG, and team, a heartfelt thanks for your work. 2014 has been the year I’ve come back to listening to copious amounts of music, and this blog played a large part in that. You guys do a great job, and as you said it is one of the few corners of the internet where one sees some actually fun and insightful comments. I’m not gonna give a best-of list (I agree with many on these days’ lists) but just wanted to give a shout out to Abazagorath’s The Satanic Verses as the best straight old-school-but-up-to-date black metal record I’ve listened to this year.

    Keep up rocking guys.

  • Denis Rodionov

    I deeply respect 2014 output by Soen and Opeth. But they look like medieval scholastics, with a greatest skill they research, rediscover and synthesize 70’s prog. Gazpacho, Voices and Troldhaugen generate more musical value.

    • tomasjacobi

      Ok I’ll bite. Please direct me to a ’70s band that sound ANYTHING like Soen.

      • Denis Rodionov

        King Crimson. You can reference almost anything to King Crimson.

        • tomasjacobi

          Nice try, but no, I don’t think so.
          Anyway, happy new year dude :-)

        • Ehhhh… I disagree. You can accuse Opeth of sounding like King Crimson, but really not Soen.

  • Kryopsis

    Really excited to see Archspire in Honourable Mentions. I picked up The Lucid Collective after Kronos reviewed it and it remains a fun and rewarding listening experience. The band clearly owes a lot to the Quebec Metal scene (I can’t help but think of them as a sped-up Quo Vadis) but damn if they aren’t a blast. I have very few regrets this year but one of them is not attending the Fallujah/Archspire concert here in Montreal.

  • Barry Neilson

    Ah man, that top 3 song choice…. Pretty much exactly what i’d go for. O Father is the best on The Satanist, River is stunning and The Words simply mesmerising.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I tend to get hate mail for this, but not much of a prog guy here, and it seems it won your list!! ahahah
    I for one really enjoyed the new Kampfar album, loved the Behemoth’s and absolutelly adored the Voices’ (although my 1st reaction to it wasn’t the best, Jean-Luc Ricard was completelly right about it growing on us).
    My biggest disappointments were Anaal Nathrakh’s (completelly meh album), and Mayhem’s (not really disappointing but more of a confirmation that that is a band that is selling only because there was an album back there in 94, and I say this although I completely love Grand Declaration).
    Now hoping for a nice 2015!

  • Luke_22

    Cool list. I’ve been meaning to check out that Gazpacho album for ages and there’s a few others I need to investigate post haste. Also very grateful that your reviews of Soen, Dreamgrave and Mors Principium Est steered me onto three incredible bands. Cheers.

  • Always a pleasure to read your list sir! I want to like Soen, I really do —- for whatever reason its just not resonating for me yet.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I concur will senior Hell KKK’s comment below. Ive taken a lot out of this year, and found it to be generally really entertaining trip. We had Opeth take us back to a time before climate change and STD’s and a relentless barrage ov orbs, clams and eye watering lyric videos. We had new comers steeling the lime light while heavy weights hit the canvas. There were killer come backs, total surprises, tragic losses and so much good music that Im still coming to terms with July/August…So in honour of a year that laughs in the face of my feeble and failed list making efforts Im queuing up a playlist and having my own private award ceremony…

    AMG Highlights
    There were definitely a few, The Fallujah reviews was a real scoop, Yer metal is Olde love these pieces the Ulver review was a highlight. Steel Druhm defending Stomp 442 hahaha you almost had me, Grymm comments and the angry metal fi pieces are always good reading.
    Most underrated/overlooked –
    Cormorant, Earth Diver – Good to see them finally mentioned here but generally guys don’t seem to get the love they deserve
    Tumbleweed Dealer, Western Horror – An instrumental album that has a broodingly groovy and very satisfying ‘Hills Have Eyes’ vibe.
    Most overrated –
    Indian – From all Purity, Kronos got so excited he lost control of his grammar, maybe I’m semi colon but I find this record mostly boring with patches of irritating…
    Alas Moth – after a listen to this record I can barely recall anything about it
    Enjoy of no award / Most disappointing –
    Agalloch, The Serpent… Madam X said it like it was…so disappointing interestingly it’s on AOTY lists every where,…Oh and Nachtmystium nuff said there.
    Old guys are doing it for themselves, award
    ‘Dad thrash’ champions for 2014…I’ll stand up and give my seat on the bus to Wolf Hoffman and Accept because they nailed it with Blind Rage…Nice work fellas
    Black metal magic award
    Austin Lunn, for his nearly impeccable ‘Roads to the North’ along with his herculean percussion on Saor’s Aura album. To be an integral/key part of arguably two of the best BM releases this year, sir I salute you.
    Ear of the year
    Colin Marston, someone needs to bottle this guy, last year he’s all over Gorguts coloured sands this year he quadruples down producing, engineering and performing on killer releases by Artificial Brain, Origin, Panopticon and Pyrrhon, Don’t go changing dude!
    Deaf Forever – Stinking nasty rockn’roll award
    Mayhen, No Mercy for Mayhem
    Best video award
    Winner has to be Tankard’s RIB clip has it all and despite its obvious low budget it still manages to (shock horror) entertain. 2nd place to Electric Wizard for the ‘Sadio Witch’ clip. Dark, sexy, twisted and all kinds of awesome. oh and motherload…it’s attention getting too..
    SOTY –
    Absorbing Black Ignition – Artificial Brain, a perfect collusion of catchy song writing, groove, brutal tech death, atmosphere and production.
    O Father O Satan O Sun – Behemoth, An epic song, when I first heard it I had the same chill I had when as a pup I first heard Master of Puppets. For me this song is what metal is all about.
    Melana Chasmata, Its a difficult listen, dark, hard, emotionally penetrating and fiercely intelligent. Noctus wrote “the finest effort that Warrior has produced yet” consider that for a second…then re-do your fucking list…:)
    If not for the dark mastery of Melana Chasmata…These bands all made entertaining albums that held my attention and challenged for my top spot
    GODFLESH. Artificial Brain, Opeth, YOB, Panopticon, Tombs, Manimalism, Primordial, Accept, Animals as Leaders, Vampilla, Fallujah, Dreamgrave, Horrendous, Giant Squid, Mastodon, Behemoth, Morbus Chron, Pallbearer and jeez i’m leaving a few out here…

    Looking forward to seeing what this year brings and the AMG take on it!

    • I stand by my Stomp 442 defense!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        You definitely went down fighting…
        It was the AMG parallel universe where SotS was bad and Stomp 442 was good, feathers were ruffled as I recall :)

    • Grymm

      We have to use the “Enjoy of No Award” next year. That is awesome. m/

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Nice list, AMG. Thanks to all involved with 2014 for some great insight and perspective on my favorite thing in life, music.

    Another list to ponder, if anyone cares.
    10. Frostbite – Everything That I Crave
    9. The Grape And The Grain – S/T
    8. Dead Samaritan – The Devil Tunes
    7. Gormathon – Following the Beast
    6. Arctic Sleep – Passage of Gaia
    5. Solstafir – Otta
    4. Noble Beast – Noble Beast
    3. Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon
    2. Kenn Nardi – Dancing With the Past
    1. Kuolemanlaakso – Tolijoutsen
    Death Valley – Fire Swan

    • cirkus-lizard

      Hails for the Kenn Nardi pick.

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        Hails to Kenn Nardi for producing some new Anacrusis for all of us.

    • Grymm

      I still need to check out the Kenn Nardi album.

      Been an Anacrusis fan for a couple of decades now.

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        Do it. Only 28 tracks to digest!

  • Voices London doesnt come out till 1/27/2015 but made your 2014 list?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Ha I guess a different set of rules apply for some.
      I haven’t been able to hear it yet but am really interested. I think it’ll be in a lot of lists next year as well.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      This, and other clues, have made me suspect that some, or all, of the staff are on another continent. I too have been waiting for a stream of the full album. I’ll probably end up buying it anyways given the accolades.

  • Wanted to share my Top 10 for shits n’ giggles. I love the St Vincent on your list. Also, that Horrendous- what a fucking hammer.

    10. Ancient Ascendent “Echoes And Cinder” – “OOOOOOOHHH!!!! RAISE THE CRONE TO BURN AGAIN!!!” Singer has the energy of the dude from Skeletonwitch combined with the dude from Goatwhore. Great death metal, with excellent loud/soft dynamic. I would imagine their live shows are something else. Meanders towards the end a bit hence its end of the list rating, but its still worthy of a listen.

    9. Young And In The Way “When Life Comes To Death” – Way before these clowns trashed that club forever with pigs blood at their nutty gig, I found this gem and instantly took pause. What a furious sounding racket! I regularly pimped this while riding my fat tire bike and pushed way harder than I ever would have otherwise. This is like audio-methamphetamine.

    8. Death Penalty “Death Penalty” – I was a big sell on the new Alunah and Witch Mountain, but this really took the cake. Another nod to Fessy for this one, man this chick smokes. Songs are great too, its not just a sweet female vocalist backed by a ho-hum band. The last chick-fronted metal band that got me this worked up was Christian Mistress. The “Sign Of The Times” single is the best- slithering Cathedral riffs and a chorus that is like brain-taffy.

    7. Wolvhammer “Clawing Into Black Sun” – Such a unique guitar tone, so heavy without being overly distorted. Persistent drumming that anchors it home at points, and then flails wildly at others. Songs that just get crammed in my head and I cant get them out. Never did I see this one making my top ten when I first heard it, but I just cant seem to stop listening to it. This is some dark sounding stuff.

    6. Fall Of Rauros “Believe In No Coming To Shore” – Really fills in the gap for me since the last Russian Circles and the last Agalloch. The musicianship on here is astounding without flash, and the songwriting is equally superb. Another emotional album filled with different moods that I get lost in until the icy shrieks come crashing down. This a very immersive listen.

    5. Horrendous “Ecdysis” – How do you ignore this album cover? So sick! I’d heard Horrendous before and they were cool but in the end mostly forgettable. This sucker is quite a handful- buzzsaw tones like ripping lumber, galloping double-bass that hearkens the spirit of Ken Owen, production that is cavernous but clear and truly nasty-ass vocals.

    4. Nothing “Guilty Of Everything” – So, this is sorta like if Deafheaven had a baby with Hum, only not quite as hipster and like betterer and stuff. Really, this is a release that filled my summer with golden-houred smiles and very, very happy memories. Every open-aired morning and evening commute with this one glowed with shoegazey woozy wussy metal, and I never felt a hint of guilt for loving it.

    3. Dead Congregation “Promulgation Of The Fall” – What a crusher! Uncle Fessy turned me onto this blasted disarray and boy oh boy if this isn’t what good wholesome death metal is made of, then I dont know what is. The damn title track is so bleak and entrenching- if I crank it loud and ponder, I cry meek little tears of metal joy. An instant lock and yet another heavy spinner in my sweet ride.

    2. Lotus Thief “Rervm” – I stumbled on this as a total fluke, having checked it out based on the band name and album cover catching my eye. This cd is very organic sounding, and the music overall is extremely unconventional by metal standards- but is haunting and very emotion evoking. This is another one that I love to accompany me on my commute- I get completely lost in the gigantic soundscape as the album enrobes me in its grip.

    1. Winterfylleth “The Divination Of Antiquity” – I nabbed this early on in the year as soon as I heard it was going to drop. Of everything I grabbed this year, which was a lot – this album, like their others does not ever leave my heavy rotation. Nothing goes better with a bleak and wintery morning drive; or snowblowing during an active storm; or even just chilling in the metal lair enjoying a new craft brew. This is near perfect and I would not change a thing on this album.

    Top EP:

    Wildernessking “The Devil Within” – If this wasn’t a 3-song EP, it would have been Top 10 material. The sound of winter at its absolute worst distilled into a 1-2-3 punch of metal knockout sauce.

    Honorable Mentions-


    The Maelific “Ascension” – Relentless and plodding, this will pummel you into acceptance of its grandness.

    Panopticon “Roads To The North” – Never before Panopticon have banjo and other traditional American folk instruments made black metal so grand.


    Exodus “Blood In Blood Out” – Exodus returns! Souza is on fire! This is the thrashtastic album of the year! Just salt the wound!!!!

    Overkill “White Devil Armory” – I hate Overkill. And incredibly, I love this album. Blitz sounds like a lunatic on this one. Totally urgent pace, what a neckbreaker.


    Pallbearer “Foundations of Burden” – So polished sounding in comparison to their debut. At first, I couldn’t handle the lush sadness, but I have learned the way. I am so jelly of Jack for seeing them live.

    Occultation “Silence In The Ancestral House” – This is what Ghost SHOULD be doing – and this is how its done right. Killer vocalist.


    Monolord “Empress Rising – Electric Wizard was a disappointment, and this one makes up for it in spades. Headphones or good stereo and this is bowel shaking.

    Fu Manchu “Gigantoid” – Yeah, the sk8 stoner veterans have really ripped it up this time around. Swollen pickle!!!!


    Kitties Of Death “Blue Flame” – Hahahaha all I can say is go Bandcamp this – its totally ridiculous but it is fucking good.

    Myrkur “Myrkur” – Really a bummer on inconsistent production song to song, but holy smokes those vocal harmonies are like no other. What a goddess-like voice.


    Bleeding Rainbow “Yeah Right” – Hands down #1 album of the year, even over all the Top 10 metal. This is like bottled sunshine, so damn good!!!

    St Vincent “St Vincent” – I am a granny banger wannabe? Grey hair, quirky hot, and so flipping talented as both a vocalist and musician. Watching her live is like no other, what talent.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yeah St Vincent is so good and I have a serious crush…Birth in reverse I think would make a great metal song. Nick Caves push the sky away was another great non metal release

      • tomasjacobi

        “Nick Caves push the sky away was another great non metal release”

        Yes it was…. When it was released 2 years ago!

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          huh you’re right!
          Time flies…Even so it’s still excellent

          • tomasjacobi

            Yeah, it’s his best since “No More Shall We Part”.
            Nick Cave is one the coolest cats around!

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            I agree Nocturama was where I stopped really following, Grinderman and ‘Push the…’ got me interested again.
            I do love his older stuff. Tender Prey is probably my all time favourite record. All these years on those songs are still so intimidating, Somehow with just a few instruments and words they capture the sound of broken glass, car crashes, despair, corruption, murder, resignation and finally execution.
            Its more metal than most metal records!

          • tomasjacobi

            Couldn’t agree more. My favorite is probably “The Good Son” because that’s where I discovered him, but I truly love all those albums. And as a side note “Live Seeds” is my all time favorite live album.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            At least 5 of the best 10 gigs Ive ever seen are Bad Seeds gigs :)

          • Monsterth Goatom

            I thought Tony Furtado recorded the definitive version of Stagger Lee until I heard Cave’s. Nick is a great artist: not resting on his laurels, but continuing to push himself to new heights.

          • tomasjacobi

            The man is basically in a league of his own.

  • Feeblejocks

    Of course Opeth is AotY around here, though late in the game I did wonder a little whether Soen would take the top spot away. Honestly, I was quite impressed by the metal I heard this year, maybe even more than the past couple of years. Pallbearer, Blackfinger, Gnaw Their Tongues, Titanis, Body Hammer … yeah, I just realized how much of the music I really liked this year would be really hard to listen to for someone who’s not much of a fan of doom.

    Anyway, here’s my (in hindsight, kind of embarrassing) list. I also made a video blog talking about the best albums I heard this year, but that has a bunch of EPs on it, so this is the more “official” list, I guess.

    #ish1: Artificial Brain

    #ish2: Thantifaxath

    10. Baring Teeth

    9. Origin

    8. Dimesland

    7. Hexis – Abalam

    6. Pyrrhon

    5. Panoptitron – Metal Future

    4. Qualeaceans – Capture of Ziz (for the AMG counterpart to this record, see Obake)

    3. Indian

    2. Jute Gyte – Vast Chains (Think Thantifaxath crossed with Dodecahedron)

    1. Abyssal

    Oh, and here’s that blog, if anyone is interested to see how badly I can embarrass myself (note: I defend a deathcore EP. The embarrassment quota is high). watch?v=lgvH_HxAuSA

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Listened to your review think I’ll check out Metal Futures sounds like fun, for a good price…:)

  • Noobhammer

    Hey, I loved that a power metal album was included on here! It’s honestly my home genre, and I can say that with pride. I remember buy Night of the Stormrider and Imaginations from the Other Side and spinning them in my cd player until they were too scratched and I had to buy new copies. I’m really looking forward to reading your “Through The Red Mirror” when/if y’all post it.

    Don’t hide that power metal flag! Raise it, I did for 5 years as the only metal DJ for WKNC outta NC, and though it did make the local death row population want to lynch me due to their murderous obsession for death metal, and wanting nothing to due with songs of sorcery and unicorns.

    • Mike Eckman

      If you like power metal, be sure to check out Angra’s new album.

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        Or Sonic Altar. Or Noble Beast. Both kick the mold off the cheese.

      • Noobhammer

        Oh I totally plan to. “The Voice Commanding You” is always on heavy rotation for me

  • Daniel

    I actually loved ZOM despite it sounding like cosmic space butthole. I <3 groovy caveman death metal.

  • BranMakMorn

    Well, OK, I will ask this (and mine is a genuine question, because much of AMG’s upper list mirrors mine): do we have anything to learn/any conclusion to draw from the observation that most of the albums that got highest placements are — by a series of debatable but defensible criteria — not strictly speaking metal albums? Pale Communion, Demon and Otta (the only one not acknowledged by AMG, but he does list Tellurian which can fill its place) are easily some of the top 5 albums for me this year (and if pressed I’d call them Prog Rock, Art/Indie Rock and Hard Rock respectively) in terms of number of listens, accompanied by more recognizably “metal” titles like Absorbing Black Ignition, The Satanist, and The Satanic Verses.

    I might be wrong, but I’d like to hear opinions. I’m not trying to argue that non-metal albums shouldn’t be acknowledged — hell I discovered Demon (and in fact Gazpacho’s back catalog) thanks to AMG and I am super grateful. Maybe I’m saying that the average quality of metal albums this year wasn’t stellar? Or is it only me?

  • Worldeater

    Maybe there was a lack of mindblowing albums in 2014. As far as i am concerned the past year brought a lot of solid and enjoyable releases that fortified my zeal for metal music. Again i have to express my gratitude to AMG and his faithful flock for separating the wheat from the chaff. Looking forward to 2015!

  • Johan Chandy

    Hey AMG, amazing as always. This is why I keep coming back to this blog, If you review something well I’m pretty sure I am going to like it, I love the staff reviews as well but I find my personal taste in metal to be much closer to yours as I find myself agreeing with you far more often times than not.

    Personally your list really speaks to me especially the best songs. I absolutely love that you have mentioned the Rebel Army Theme, it always moves me to tears, I love this rendition as well as the “FF2 Symphonic Suite Rebel Army’s Theme” version on youtube, two exquisite flavors to a masterpiece.

    This blog exudes quality and is my first go to destination for metal!

    • Head over to Bandcamp and pick up that Final Fantasy record. I love that they have it on bandcamp and we need to support that!

      Thanks for the compliments! And thanks for reading!

      • Johan Chandy

        Will do!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    A great, respectable list! Yet, why am I not surprised that Pale Communion is the AOTY?!!

    • Because it was the only album I gave a 5/5?

      • Doomdeathrosh

        well,,,that or you’re more opeth fanboy than “anything-else” fanboy…

        • I would like to point you to my review of Heritage and my regular bashing of Watershed and complaints about Deliverance before you pin me as an Opeth fanboy.

          • Doomdeathrosh

            Duly noted, not that i wanted to imply you’re biased, simply that it seems this record has impressed you quite a lot after watershed and heritage.

          • Doomdeathrosh

            duly noted, not that i wanted to imply that you’re biased..simply that this record seems to have impressed you quite a lot, after heritage and watershed.

          • Expectations always play a role in reviewing, so my bias may be one of unadulterated joy at enjoying an Opeth record after years of disappointment.

  • BengalyMetalGuy

    I’m not entirely sure I got your pick for album art of the year…would you care to specify please?

  • Good stuff! I think you summed the year up well. Enjoy your 2015!

  • Wilhelm

    Anyone heard the Nightfell album “The Living Ever Mourn”? It has such a classic sound to it, but it’s not derivative of any single band, it’s death metal but has this doomy atmospheric vibe to it, kind of like if you crossed the first couple Cemetary discs with Unanimated and threw in some classic doom/death. One of the best of the year.

    • No. Will look for it.

    • JL

      I just listened to a song on youtube and it sounds killer. Thanks for posting…never heard of these guys.

  • Jo7shua

    Did you listen Saor`s aura album already? , farewell is a great song to autumn`s days. And landmines from rishloo`s new album is also a great song. Although, I am agree with you about opeth and soen.

    Psdt. Falloch`s new album deserve be mentioned. Braham is awesome.

    • Not a fan of Falloch at all, and I did listen to Saor. Fuss. I don’t know really what it’s about.

      • Jo7shua

        Jajaja… Ok. You didn’t like it. That’s usually happens.
        It is like talk about Alcest’s last album.

        • Alcest: most overrated band? Or most overrated band ever?!

          • Jo7shua

            Music is not just about technique; I am afraid to ask to you about Agalloch’s last album. “Pearls for pigs” would be. :D

  • JL

    I disagree with this list almost in its entirety. Not a single album on this top ten would have made it on to my list. Behemoth was a letdown; much, much better extreme albums were released in 2014. For prog, the Soen album is bland and uninspired. Nightingale’s Retribution destroys it in every way possible. Casualties of Cool needs to be at number 1 or 2 due to the songwriting brilliance. Insomnium should be on here somewhere, Threshold as well. As always, thanks for the reviews, the website and the hard work from the team at AMG though :-)

    Oh lists. How you unite us and divide us.

    • Even my Insomnium and Threshold fanboys on the AMG staff didn’t include those records this year. I think my list looks pretty amazing.

      • I included Threshold in my list! Stop misrepresenting me!

        • Eh. You did? I don’t remember that. Confirmation bias in action, everyone!

  • Antoine Roth

    I discovered St Vincent thanks to the Colbert Report, and was surprised that Pop Music could still be this progressive interesting. I completely agree with AMG, it’s a fantastic record and St Vincent is a great artist.

  • Atte Loikkanen

    Soen’s record is funny in a sense since at times, like Katatonia, it just sounds like girls’ music. Then sometimes they are the best thing ever.
    I also listen to Coldplay so who am I to judge for listening to girl music.

    • “Girl music.” I dunno, I think good progressive rock and “downy frowny” music is great, regardless of whether girls like it or not.

  • jorge

    Dear AMG owner, staff and reviewers… from this large and narrow piece of land called Chile I have to thank all of you for a nice heavy year… something goes down my spine just to think that one day our world will end and there will be no more AMG reviews.
    There`s no single day that past without at least a little peak at the work of all the AMG reviewers and really misses on the weekends when there`s less reviews in this amazing website.
    You guys have a spot in my dark… dark… dark… but true metallic heart.

  • Richard Saunders

    Hannes Grossmann is fucking brilliant! But I was lucky enough to see Behemoth live in South Africa (of all places) in Nov 2014. They ripped my fucking head off! It was amazing, to see ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’ live was the highlight of the year.

  • Exitium

    Even though I thoroughly disagree with Pale Communion being great, even for a “prog rock” album, due to this article I was introduced to the awesome Riverside (it being lumped with Soen, Haken and Leprous who are some of my newer favorites). So thanks!

    • I’d like this if you weren’t so wrong about Opeth. ;)

  • Banana boy

    Pale Communion is also my favorite album of 2014. I own it on vinyl and because it’s so cheap ($10.00) I buy extra copies to give to people who I think will appreciate it. What a fantastic album! And guess what!? Steven Wilson had a part in it. Coincidence? Genius!

  • Interesting how you say it had been a slow year of metal, since you said earlier that you didn’t have too much time to listen to it. Like if the most hyped one failed, but the ones that weren’t hyped succeeded, but you didn’t listen to them, can you really say it was a slow year? (Yes, you can still say it was a slow year, just bringing this point up)

  • GardensTale

    I’m only just now starting to get into this community on a particularly slow day at work so long after the fact I just needed to come in here and say…

    … HOLY FUCKBALLS that Troldhaugen album is blowing my fucking brain to shreds! It’s AMAZING!

    • Welcome aboard!

      • GardensTale

        By the way, what’s your policy on guest reviews? I used to write reviews about, oh, 8 years ago for Global Domination, which is now defunct. That site had a bit more of a profane humor style, though. Anyway, I might like to write one every now and then but it would be nice if someone could actually read them, too.