The AMG Staff Picks the Top Ten Records o’ 2014

The-Mexican-WrestlersIt’s that time of the year, folks! Time to unleash a torrent of lists loaded with non-objective, mega-subjective fanboy bias, questionable tastes and flat out idiocy (AMG and Steel Druhm’s lists are obviously the exceptions).

First up are the newbies, who have only just began their arduous AMG apprenticeship. They’ve all put in a ton of work this year, and we’ve rewarded them with scorn, ridicule and derision. Though it’s against our better judgment, we also gave them the amazingly generous gift of year end lists. We apologize in advance for the resulting shitstorms, Alestorms and other such metallic tragedies. And off we go:

L. Saunders

10. Mors Principium Est // Dawn of the 5th Era
9. Mantar // Death by Burning
8. Giant Squid // Minoans
7. Bastard Sapling // Instinct is Forever
6. Artificial Brain // Labyrinth Constellation
5. Revocation // Deathless
4. Anaal Nathrakh // Desideratum
3. Horrendous // Ecdysis
2. Pallbearer // Foundations of Burden
1. Soen // TellurianAMG himself guided me to Tellurian through his insightful review and I’ve been hopelessly addicted ever since. Prog metal/rock is a hit or miss affair with me usually, yet Soen’s emotive, hooky prog has kept me coming back again and again to unlock the album’s many intricacies and revisit such spectacularly written songs as “Pluton,” “Koniskas” and the ridiculously catchy “Tabula Rasa.” I can imagine just how well Tellurian would go down soundtracking a bleak winter, but for now it does just fine contrasting against a baking Australian summer. Tellurian is a near flawless album from beginning to end.
Soen - Tellurian -- art by José Luis López Galván

Honorable Mentions:
The Atlas Moth // The Old Believer
Bloodbath // Grand Morbid Funeral
Gridlink // Longhena
YOB // Clearing a Path to Ascend
Soreption // Engineering the Void

Song o’ the Year: Anaal Nathrakh – “The Joystream”

Jean-Luc Ricard

10. Blut Aus Nord // Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry
9. Hail Spirit Noir // Oi Magoi
8. Psalm Zero // The Drain
7. Gazpacho // Demon
6. Giant Squid // Minoans
5. Soen // Tellurian
4. Emptiness // Nothing But the Whole
3. Pallbearer // Foundations of Burden
2. Voices // London
1. Enabler // La Fin Absolue du Monde – 2014 didn’t produce an obvious stand-out candidate for record of the year, and really, any of my top 5 could have taken the honour. La Fin Absolue du Monde was the album I returned to the most, though. Enabler combined incredible fury, fantastic songwriting, and unforgettable melodies into a metallic hardcore masterpiece that I’ll be listening to for years to come.

Enabler - La Fin Absolue du Monde 01

Song o’ the Year: Godflesh – “Shut Me Down”

El Cuervo

10. Darkspace // Dark Space III I
9. Wolves in the Throne Room // Celestite
8. Animals as Leaders // The Joy of Motion
7. Alunah // Awakening The Forest
6. Gazpacho // Demon
5. Anubis Gate // Horizons
4. Dreamgrave // Presentiment
3. Blackfinger // Blackfinger
2. Pallbearer // Foundations of Burden
1. Ne Obliviscaris // Citadel This will ruffle some Angry Metal Feathers™. A quick browse of the comments sections of my original review and November’s RotM demonstrates this, as our illustrious leader does not remotely understand the hype. To this, I say that I would not have pursued metal music so enthusiastically if I wanted to conform to others’ preferences! Of the record itself, while not an absolute masterpiece, nothing else this year stacks up to Citadel. The beautiful compositions of crushing riffs and dominant roars with the melancholic violin tickled my pickle more than anything else. This was no pyrrhic victory, only success!

Song o’ the Year: Anubis Gate – “Breach of Faith”

Mark Z.

10. Gridlink // Longhena
9. Unearth // Watchers of Rule
8. Nocturnal // Storming Evil
7. Behemoth // The Satanist
6. Downfall of Gaia // Aeon Unveils The Thrones of Decay
5. Panopticon // Roads to the North
4. Idylls // Prayer for Terrene
3. Slugdge // Gastronomicon
2. Fornicus // Storming Heaven
1. Misery Index // The Killing Gods – These ex-Dying Fetus members have always been unfairly overshadowed by their former band – unfairly because, since 2003 debut Retaliate, they’ve been outperforming John Gallagher’s outfit riff-for-riff (I guess, as Dave Mustaine sure knows, anger at former bandmates can be a powerful motivator). As always, these songs have bite, ferocity, and catchiness, but there’s more this time: check the epic flourishes on the title track or the slowed-down numbers like “Conjuring the Cull.” Over a decade into their career, they’re still producing quality music that sounds fresh and invigorating. When people ask me why I love death metal, all I need to do is put on “Gallows Humor.” Innovation? Please. We have fucking Misery Index.

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Song o’ the Year: Behemoth “O Father! O Satan! O Sun!”

Dr. A.N. Grier

10. Doom:VS // Earthless
9. Thine // The Dead City Blueprint
8. Teitanblood // Death
7. Voices // London
6. Anubis Gate // Horizons
5. Origin // Omnipresent
4. Sólstafir // Ótta
3. Mors Principium Est // Dawn of the 5th Era
2. Behemoth // The Satanist
1. Triptykon // Melana Chasmat When Celtic Frost resurfaced with Monotheist, I was positively smitten. When they broke up (again), I nearly drowned myself in tears. And when Tom Warrior (or is it just Fischer now?) revealed that he would push on with a new band called Triptykon and continue where Monotheist left off, my little boyish heart nearly burst with joy. Eparistera Daimones rocked my world with its moody, lengthy and engulfing atmosphere. Shatter continued the plague with three brief songs that were as intense and powerful as their full-length debut, but Melana Chasmata took everything those two releases created and crushed it, smashed it, and rebuilt it into their best work yet.


Song o’ the Year: Sólstafir – “Ótta”

Disappointment of 2014: Machine Head // Bloodstone & Diamonds: Machine Head has come up lately in the AMG interwebs by those members of the mob that are upset we didn’t review the album. Why didn’t we review it? Short answer: we never got the fucking promo. Direct your hate to Nuclear Blast. Promo or not, yours truly used that precious mad-money intended for scalpels, latex gloves and body bags to purchase said album. After a few spins, I came down with a nasty Meh-chine Headache. No true review here but perhaps this will help save you the bucks I lost (I was really looking forward to that model K7X-973274 scalpel).


10. Panopticon // Roads to the North
9. Morbus Chron // Sweven
8. YOB // Clearing the Path to Ascend
7. Earth // Primitive and Deadly
6. Ophis // Abhorrence in Opulence
5. Blut Aus Nord // Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
4. Slugdge // Gastronomicon
3. Voices // London
2. Ne Obliviscaris // Citadel
1. Behemoth // The Satanist – Nergal’s “fuck you” to death and one of Behemoth’s most accomplished records overall. Raw, powerful, but also incredibly introspective.

Behemoth - The Satanist

Song o’ the Year: YOB – “Marrow”

Disappointment of 2014: Soen // Tellurian – I better lay low for a while after AMG Himself sees this. I don’t get the hype, to be honest, and I’ve really tried to like this album. The musicianship is good, but everything else is… meh. To me it still sounds like an uninspired take on Tool’s music. Boring.

Diabolus in Muzaka

10. Hannes Grossmann // The Radial Covenant
9. Striker // City of Gold
8. Entrapment // Lamentations of the Flesh
7. Falconer // Black Moon Rising
6. Gridlink // Longhena
5. Hoth // Oathbreaker
4. Ophis // Abhorrence in Opulence
3. Horrendous // Ecdysis
2. Anaal Nathrakh // Desideratum
1. Alestorm // Sunset on the Golden Age Yes, “bacon powered pirate core” maestros Alestorm made and topped this list, and I’m completely serious. This is, bar none, the most enjoyment I’ve gotten out of a metal album in 2014. Yes, it’s pretty tongue-in-cheek and wonderfully self-aware, but when a so-called “joke” band puts out a collection of songs this well-written, catchy, and downright fun, maybe that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. They’re writing truly great songs that successfully embrace the fun side of metal while still being awesome, which is something that seems to be not so prevalent these days. Alestorm isn’t just a dumb “quirky” band, and Sunset on the Golden Age isn’t a vacuous gimmick record; it’s a testament to the fact that great songs are great songs, regardless of the genre.

Alestorm - Sunset on the Golden Age 01

Honourable Mentions:
Primordial // Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Barbarian // Faith Extinguisher
Body Count // Manslaughter
Bloodbath // Grand Morbid Funeral
Incantation // Dirges of Elysium
Voices // London
Opeth // Pale Communion

Disappointment of the Year: At the Gates // At War With Reality – While it’s not a bad album by any means, the massive hype machine behind this record and the energetic title track that introduced us all to the reunited At the Gates led me to think that this was going to be an ass-kicker of a comeback record. Instead, we got a collection of mostly decent songs (apart from “The Book of Sand,” which just rips), but nowhere near anything that could be considered a glorious return or even a great album. After the initial excitement of it not being total shit wore off, not much on At War With Reality kept me coming back for more.

And there you have it. The minions have spoken (except for Al Kikuras and Noctus who got coal in their stockings this year). Direct all comments, complaints and death threats to the newbies individually, not AMG or the ever affable Steel Druhm.

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