Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

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nickhead

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Edited By nickhead

Metal music, and its many forms, is a major part of who I am today. The first time I heard Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" was a turning point in my life. Fast forward to today, and I'm still consuming anything I can that is labeled as metal.

Normally I just do a top 10 list with friends, but this year, I thought I'd try something new by posting it to Giantbomb! I'm not sure how many duders listen to metal, but maybe I can introduce you to a genre you never gave a chance!

#10 - Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral

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Bloodbath is a death metal supergroup. The lead singer has changed a few times over the years, with a mostly consistent lineup of instrumentalists. This year's release saw a brand new vocalist introduced, of whom I was initially not a fan. But, as with other Bloodbath releases, multiple listens were needed in order to get a full understanding. Grand Morbid Funeral feels more fun, and thrashy, than previous works. But still present are some of the most crushing riffs you'll ever hear. You can check out the full album here. I think this is my least favorite album from them, but it's still a competent release.

#9 - Occultation - Silence in the Ancestral House

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This is Occultation's sophomore album, and man is it an excellent follow up. Their first album was good, but it lost me at times due to some meandering passages within songs. This band isn't heavy in the sense of blast beats and down-tuned guitars, but heavy enough to where you'll find yourself banging your head. Featuring a female lead singer, Occultation builds dreamscapes that are both beautiful and terrifying. The band could be labeled as doom, but there's no sludgy slow riffs here. The guitar is fuzzy and fast, with constant tempo changes to keep it interesting. Check out "Laughter in the Halls of Madness".

#8 - Mortuus - Grape of the Vine

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Another sophomore release, Mortuus falls within the black metal genre - but not due to incessant tremolo picking or blast beats, but from the dismal atmosphere they create. This album has a bit more accessible vocals (only a bit) than their first. Instead of screaming or screeching, Mortuus employs more of a gravelly, quiet, chant - and brings the vocals forward in the mix compared to the previous album. Grape of the Vine is dark and contemplative, with a slower pace than normal in the black metal scene, and is a complete album with no chaff - every song has a purpose. Favorite track: Sulphur

#7 - Behemoth - The Satanist

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I wouldn't call myself a big fan of Behemoth. I've liked certain songs from certain albums over the years, but never did I like an entire album like I did with The Satanist. (Though their previous album, Evangelion, got close). I don't subscribe to any religion, including satanism, so what I took away from this album was 100% the music - fast, heavy and heartfelt. I may not agree with the band's views, but you can feel their conviction, and that alone makes this album an excellent experience. Behemoth has always blurred the lines between black and death metal, and you can expect more of that here. Favorite riff: Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

#6 - At the Gates - At War With Reality

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At the Gates is one of the original Swedish death metal bands, and they had been split up for almost 20 years since their previous release, (and one of my favorite death metal albums ever), Slaughter of the Soul. Comebacks are hard to do, and after last year's triumphant returns from Gorguts and Carcass, there were high expectations for At the Gates. I honestly hoped for more, but this is a great album on its own. I wanted more At the Gates, and that's what they did. Check out "The Book of Sand". If you've never heard of At the Gates, I implore you listen to Slaughter of the Soul before anything!

#5 - Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

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Every time I think Primordial may disappoint me, I end up kicking myself. Can they do no wrong? Primordial shifted from folk-inspired black metal to a more toned-down folk heavy metal band quite some time ago. But let's emphasize heavy. They may have evolved in terms of sound, but their raw energy has not. The lead singer has an epic, empowering clean voice that can devolve into primal, gutteral screams that will make your blood freeze. Primordial has a knack for making me feel like I've been wronged by the world, and that I should stand and fight. A smattering of songs can be found here.

#4 - Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise

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What's this? A band that hasn't been around for 20 years, let alone 5? Thantifaxath is a breath of fresh, but suffocating, air. I had never heard of them until this release, and I'm very glad I did. Sacred White Noise is a progressive, black metal piece that leads the listener down a dark path of despair and hopelessness. But amidst the misery, there is something uplifting about this record, that can only be explained through listening. Check out their bandcamp.

#3 - Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

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BAN is an enigma of sorts. Yet another band that has been around since the 90's, BAN has gone from black metal, to industrial, to experimental, back to black, and so on. The main man behind the project, Vindsval, is superbly talented at juggling multiple schools of thought in music. This year's album is a return to black metal, and is part of a "trilogy" that started all the way back in 1996. This is the form of BAN I prefer: fast, cold and focused. Vindsval is another example of a vocalist who can balance clean vocals with scratchy, grating growls. You can stream the entire album here.

#2 - Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere

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This was a tough call for #2. Agalloch has been pumping out excellent albums for a long time, and they didn't decide to just phone it in for 2014. This is a band that pushes themselves on every release, never quite sounding the same, and always evolving in some way. They're much more than black metal. This album will beat you to a pulp, pick you up with intermediate acoustic passages, until you're carried away again by walls of sound. Agalloch is excellent at creating gorgeous imagery with music alone, a talent not many bands possess. Bandcamp.

#1 - Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity

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In only a short 6 years since their first release, Winterfylleth have gone from a standard folk-tinged black metal band to a top-notch folk black metal band. There was never enough time for stagnation with these guys. Every release saw them refine their sound until they arrived at The Divination of Antiquity, which is their 4th full length in those 6 years. Nothing is perfect, but this album is damn close, and has my favorite closing track of 2014. Another complete, worthwhile listening experience with no wasted space. Check it out.

I'd love to hear some more opinions on this year's metal releases, there were a lot! Here's some honorable mentions that I just couldn't squeeze into the top 10:

Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare listen

Triptykon - Melana Chasmata listen

Morbus Chron - Sweven listen

Impetuous Ritual - Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence listen

And last but not least, my EP of 2014:

Bolzer - Soma

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Bolzer is easily one of the most interesting new bands to the scene. They have a wholly unique sound that I had never heard before, and so far they only have a demo and 2 EP's. I'm anxiously waiting for a full length.

Soma is only 2 songs.

Thanks for reading!

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theanticitizen

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#1  Edited By theanticitizen

I don't know how they're generally received among the metal community but I would also recommend Dir En Grey's [Arche] album. Pretty good stuff

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falling_fast

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#2  Edited By falling_fast

Pyre's Human Hecatomb is rly fucking good

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KaneRobot

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#3  Edited By KaneRobot

Number one is Z2: Dark Matters from Devin Townsend.

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KillEm_Dafoe

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Only one of those I've listened to here is At the Gates. Really good album, perhaps in my top 10 as well. I mean, it's no Slaughter of the Soul, but it's good. Fantastic Anders Bjorler-trademark riffs and solos. Tomas Lindberg's vocals are pretty terrible, though. He definitely doesn't sound as good as he did 20 years ago. Luckily, the music is good enough for me to look past that aspect.

I also do really need to get that new Agalloch record. I fucking love that band and they're the perfect band to listen to during the winter.

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nickhead

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#5  Edited By nickhead

@onekillwonder_: I also thought Tomas sounded pretty bad at first but after a few listens I got used to it. 20 years is a long time for a voice like that haha.

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Aetheldod

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Im a metal fan so yeah we are her on these forums .... I personally thou do not seek music in terms of years (I find that rather useless) and juts go around the web listening to whatever I find .... so in other words didnt listen to any 2014 releases , will do because of this list.

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nickhead

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nickhead

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@aetheldod: Oh I agree, I don't stick to just what was released this year when it comes to what I'm listening to, just within the past few years I've been trying to keep track of what was released.

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AlexW00d

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This reminds me I've listened to a grand total of 5 2014 albums. I've been awful at music this year :(

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AdamT85

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I'm glad to see some metal fans here. I too haven't listened to many 2014 releases, but I'll be giving your recommendations a spin.

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rickyyo

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#11  Edited By rickyyo

EDIT: I also forgot to mention that I need to check out some of the stuff on your list. I've really only heard of 2-3 bands on that list. The rest of them are a mystery to me.

I have some other metal picks but this is the record that stood out most to me.

http://sterilizer.bandcamp.com/

It is a Metal/Industrial/Electronic Hybrid project.

I also liked a live comp album by Ufomammut - XV: Magickal Mastery. But, I much prefer listening to ORO: Opus Alter.

Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

This is also another great album with a distinct style.

Panopticon - Roads to the North

This album has a pure bluegrass track that is pretty amazing. The build ups on this album are super amazing and intense. Also, the entire thing was recorded by one guy as well as all the instrumentation.

Eyehategod - Eyehategod

Also an album I really enjoyed.

Grindlink - Longhena

This album is probably only a once or twice listen. It is some of the most ridiculous abrasive noise industrial metal ... yada-yada. I have ever heard in my life. There are probably only a couple of other albums I've heard that sound this aggressive and they used a ton of post processing to get that effect.

Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right

An album with a lot of interesting ideas in it. It is kinda a punk/metal fusion similar to Kvelertak.

Electric Wizard - Time to Die

Great Doom and Gloom with lots of power chords and riff-age.

Those are pretty much the things that haven't been deleted off of my music rotation. I downloaded all the behemoth stuff I just haven't gotten around to checking it out cause I listen to other genres of music. I tend to operate on cycles when it comes to listening to stuff.

If I had to give mentions to some other albums it would be.

Sunn O)) + Scott Walker - Scoused

Dean Blunt - Black Metal

The Dean Blunt album is hilarious. It has nothing to do with metal but it is still an amazing piece of work.

Also, this: http://releases.seventhrule.com/album/past-21-beyond-the-arctic-cell

Only got through the first track but I can't imagine the other tracks being bad.

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MeMonk

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#12  Edited By MeMonk
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The best metal album this year is Avatarium's self titled record. Avatarium is a spin-off band from Lief Edling, the main man behind Candlemass Song Moonhorse. Very good Doom metal.

Epica's new album Quantum Enigma was also very good. song

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SubwayD

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#13  Edited By SubwayD

My top metal album of the year?

Anaal Nathrakh - Desideratum

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Of course it would be. One of my Favourite Bands Ever puts out an album this year? What else am I going to pick? Predictable, sure, and there were plenty of very, very interesting releases that I've bought this year. It's just that for pure enjoyment, nothing can beat the itch that Anaal Nathrakh scratches.

The end of the world as interpreted through Industrial Blackened Metal/Grindcore!

Here's the list of the rest of the metal albums that I picked up from 2014. Consider all of these honourable mentions, as I've not regretted listening to a single one of them:

  • Behemoth - The Satanist
  • Belphegor - Conjuring the Dead
  • Devin Townsent - Z²
  • FukPig - 3
  • Kampfar - Djevelmakt
  • Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
  • Mysticum - Planet Satan
  • Sequester - Missing Image
  • Taake - Stridens Hus
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FacelessVixen

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Got any recommendations that are closer to tech death or progressive metal that came out this year aside from Earthborn Evolution by Beyond Creation?

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UlquioKani

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Time to attempt to get into Metal again!

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JeremyKO

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That new Pallbearer LP is pretty hot. I'm really enjoying Old Man Gloom's Ape of God double LP too.

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DippedPretzels

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Cool post - every year I go through critic lists (mainstream and metal press) and compile a best-of-best-of metal album list.

However, no weight is given to where the album lands on a top 10 list, it just needs to be listed. The main flaw with this approach is it will favor uncontroversial albums. At the same time, many people did put YOB and Triptykon at #1. So far, I think I've gone through about 11 or 12 lists. Here are the results so far:

10. Agalloch - the serpent and the sphere (4 lists)

9. Godflesh - a world lit only by fire (4 lists)

8. Electric Wizard - time to die (4 lists)

7. Blut Aus Nord - memoria vetusta III: saturnian poetry (4 lists)

6. Thou - heathen (5 lists)

5. At The Gates - at war with reality (5 lists)

4. Pallbearer - foundations of burden (6 lists)

3. Behemoth - the satanist (6 lists)

2. Triptykon - melana chasmata (8 lists)

1. YOB - clearing the path to ascend (8 lists)

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nickhead

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@dippedpretzels: That's a fun idea, I initially had Triptykon on the actual list but after thinking about it I realized, yeah I like it but I don't find myself wanting to listen to it much. I also did not give YOB enough time. I heard one song, really liked it, then never got back to it. That's a band I have not spent enough time with. Only album I really heard a lot was Atma.

Glad to see this! More stuff for me to check out thanks everyone. Top 10's are difficult because there were plenty other great albums, and there's also a few mentioned here that even I never heard.

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Bobby_The_Great

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Devin Townsend Z2 was amazing for me. I'd like to throw a hat in for Sanctuary: The Year the Sun Died, Machine Head: Bloodstone and Diamonds, and fuck the haters, Opeth: Pale Communion. :P

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JordanaRama

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Iron is my favorite metal of 2014.

Just squeaked by aluminum for the honor.

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flasaltine

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I saw The Satanist listed very high on another list for all music genres so that got me to listen to it the other day. I really don't listen to any metal with growling or screaming vocals but I liked it.

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71Ranchero

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#22  Edited By 71Ranchero
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Vonocourt

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Can think of three I listened to:

  • Melvins new album was just more weird shit that was alright, but nothing I would tell people to listen to.
  • Bongripper's Miserable felt a bit stagnate, seemed to just be repeating thier work on Satan Worshipping Doom. Also felt twenty minutes too long, could've made each song five minutes shorter and it would've been better.
  • Giant Squid's Minoans, to be honest I haven't even gotten past the third track before turning it off. One of the bigger bummers this year since I loved their last EP, Cenotes.

Oh, wait, I listened to four, Mastodon's Once More round the Sun. Yeah...naw.

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BulletproofMonk

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#24  Edited By BulletproofMonk

Loved Animals as Leaders, Black Crown Initiate and The Contortionist this year. Enjoyed Opeth, Every Time I Die, Ne Obliviscaris and Lazer/Wulf. A bit disappointed by Devin Townsend, but it's still decent.

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fuddles

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The recent Full Of Hell/Merzbow collaboration album is another 2014 release that's worth checking out that I haven't seen anyone mention here yet. It's debatable that Full of Hell borders on being more hardcore but regardless of that it's still something I feel like a lot of people who like music in the vein of the records mentioned here should check out. Love the Thantifaxath shout out though, I feel like a lot of people slept on their new record.

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ds9143

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@nickhead:

Okay man. I think every single one of those band name's sound stupid and just ridiculous. They sound like death obsessed children.I don't listen to metal. I like a super eclectic variety of music though. I have enjoyed bands like August Burns Red but listen rarely.

I remind you, I consider myself open minded and I do enjoy strange music.

Out of sheer curiosity I fired up spotify and listened to Winterfylleth's latest offering. (since they are who you consider the best this year). I also was kind of intrigued by "Folk Black Metal".

Just, wow. I'm blown away. This shit is amazing. I'm really happy I clicked on this post. Thanks :)

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Slay3r1583

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#27  Edited By Slay3r1583

Man I've never even heard of a bunch of these bands. Anyway here is my top 7 because that's all I've got.

1: Sabaton - Heroes

2: Edguy - Space Police: Defenders of the Crown

3: Hammerfall - (r)Evolution

4: Eluveitie - Origins

5: Sonata Arctica - Pariah's Child

6: Dragonforce - Maximum Overload

7: Iced Earth - Plagues of Babylon

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seveword

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Most of the stuff I've been getting into recently is pretty extreme and is mostly black and death metal of the blackest and deathest variety.

Slugdge put out a slug-themed album called Gastronomicon about ancient alien slugs summoning nightmarish slug-beasts of death and damnation to put a sluggy end to the human race. The drums are programmed and the production isn't the greatest, but it's still an enjoyable, tongue-firmly-in-cheek-but-still-deadly-serious romp through slug-filled pastures. Some of the song titles include: The Sound of Mucus, Lettuce Prey, Invertahate, and my personal favorite, Salters of Madness. It's a 'name your price' on Bandcamp, check it out.

Just a couple weeks ago, Mors Principium Est put out a better At the Gates album than At the Gates did. Well, that might a little reductive...but it's still true.

The new Bloodbath is pretty sick, Nick Holmes sounds evil as hell.

Overkill's White Devil Armory is some good thrash, they're the band that Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth wish they could be (musically speaking, maybe not financially so).

From all Purity by Indian is only 6 songs, but they're so relentlessly abrasive and hateful that you need a shower and a hug afterwards.

Pyrrhon's The Mother of Virtues is experimental, wildly without anything resembling traditional song structures, and hard to listen to, so I quite enjoyed it. It's like listening to jazz-influenced metal without all the bullshit jazz.

Behemoth and Decapitated put out some good stuff, Autopsy and Triptykon were alright, Anall Nathrakh's latest is like listening to Satan hate-fucking a bullet train (that's a good thing), and Panopticon's latest offering Roads to the North might be my album of the year, although Heathen by Thou might be close enough for a tie.

...

Actually, screw all that, Slugdge wins. SALTERS OF MADNESS!

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Justin258

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#29  Edited By Justin258

I listened to that Opeth album and that's about it. I didn't listen to anywhere near enough new music this year.

I've been listening to Ne Obliviscaris's Portal of I over and over for quite some time now so I probably do need to check out Citadel, like, now.

That Occultation song was pretty cool.

EDIT: I bought the aforementioned Ne Obliviscaris album a little while after posting this and holy shit that album is great. I also bought Mastodon's newest album, first I've really listened to them, and I think it's pretty good too.

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Zella

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I am on the side that think's Mastodon's Once More Round the Sun is actually really good. It is what I think The Hunter should have been, certainly a newer sound from them but it still maintains a lot of the sounds of older Mastodon.

Animals as Leader's The Joy of Motion is just as wonderful record too. Such a great blend of technicality and emotion. You can just feel Tosin Abasi's creativity flowing through each song. This one is probably my favourite off the album:

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Language by The Contortionist does some really cool things as well. The whole album is extremely cohesive, through the use of repeated riffs and lyrics throughout different songs.

I also loved Killer be Killed's self titled debut album, it doesn't do anything new really but fuck it is just good head banging metal.

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shinboy630

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#31  Edited By shinboy630

@thesilenttruth: Fallujah's The Flesh Prevails is a good tech death album and Ne Obliviscaris' Citadel is a great prog death album (as well as my overall favorite thing from this year).

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ArtisanBreads

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Thanks for the post. I like Metal but don't listen to many new releases, I'll check these out. Agalloch is my favorite metal band though and this last album was really good, nice to see it ranked high.

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DemiGodRaven

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#33  Edited By DemiGodRaven

I did a dumbass top 31 over at the site I write for. Not going to post it but you guys have a pretty good spread in here of my favorite discs and mine was pretty heavy on the tech-death/death metal in general this year. Anaal Nathrakh was my #1 as well. Black Crown Initiate was great as well. Also, since I haven't seen you folks mention it yet, you need to check out Archspire's The Lucid Collective.

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winsord

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That Behemoth album is pretty good, but admittedly I haven't listened to much else from your list. Amusingly enough, I find I tend to prefer metal bands that others typically refer to as "Hipster Black Metal", like Liturgy, Deafheaven, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc. Usually what that means to me is that I like bands who are willing to blend, or push, metal subgenres. From your list, I figure I'll try out Thantifaxath and Agalloch. Metal in 2014 for me was:

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cornbredx

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Ya, we have some metal fans around Giant Bomb. My favorite this year was Slipknot's .5: The Gray Chapter

I'll check out the ones on your list though. I've not really found any new bands I like in a long time so I'm always looking. The problem for me is so many bands trying to do what other successful bands did, and even more so they do it poorly so I may have high expectations.

I can tell you right now any bands that just garble the lines and sound all the same (like Cannibal Corpse) is an automatic "suck" pile. It's the least interesting form that metal has ever taken next to just about everyone and their mother trying to sound like Metallica.

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Mustainium

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God Ive missed so much music this year. Thanks for the thread, it'll definitely help me catch up.

I'll personally with Mastodon's latest. Such a damn great album.

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JeremyKO

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@fuddles: cool to see full of hell mentioned on this board.

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bassman2112

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#38  Edited By bassman2112

DTP's Z2 for me. I didn't listen to a ton of metal this year, but that album was spectacular. "Earth" is a really fantastic song from that album.

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gunstar

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Not enough Pallbearer up in here

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deactivated-629e75d16e86e

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Z2 from DTP was excellent, Inferi's new album was awesome. Allegaeon - Elements of the Infinite was my all around favorite of the year for death metal. Haken's "Restoration" EP was excellent for a prog metal album, along with Animals As Leaders of course. Mastodon, At The Gates, Behemoth, Black Crown Initiate, and Ne Obliviscaris seem to round out most year end lists on metal sites. They are all pretty awesome, I found Black Crown initiate and Ne Obliviscaris to be the most enjoyable of the critical favorites so far. I also thought Wovenwar's debut was good for some straight pop-metal. Also, Babymetal - the japenese girl metal band, seems to get a ton of buzz on year end lists this year.

I'll put in a shameless plug for my own album released this year, Son of Aurelius - Under A Western Sun, might be worth a listen if you're into more progressive metal.

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nightriff

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No Machine Head? Bummer.

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ICantBeStopped

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Well, I thought that new Epica album was pretty good...

Been listening to Crimson Glory and Saviour Machine otherwise, even though those are not new.

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cocoonmoon

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I'm kinda out of the loop when it comes to album releases this year, but I feel that Gorguts' new album "Colored Sands" should get a mention.

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HH

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@cgeare said:

I'll put in a shameless plug for my own album released this year, Son of Aurelius - Under A Western Sun, might be worth a listen if you're into more progressive metal.

no shit? the farthest reaches was a top album for me a couple of years ago, must get hold of the new one.

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nickhead

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@winsord: hey whatever floats your boat. I wouldn't even consider Wolves hipster. I know people shit on them for being a "Weakling" clone or whatever, but come on, Weakling did one album. Its great, but Wolves has their own thing and its awesome. Although I am totally not into the "Celestite" album haha

@LunarJetman: That was absolutely one of my albums from last year. I wasn't a huge Gorguts fan, I liked some of their stuff, but never dug into them. Colored Sands is just top notch.

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nickhead

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@ds9143: From the outside looking in, yes metal is ridiculous, but if you're into the genre, you know it's mostly tongue-in-cheek - especially with a band like "Bloodbath". There's no way you should be taking that name seriously haha, and they know that.

But you're right about the death obsession. A lot of metal does focus on that, and to me that isn't childish - its a fact of life.

If you liked Winterfylleth, check out Agalloch as well, and thanks for keeping an open mind!

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fisk0

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#47  Edited By fisk0  Moderator

@fuddles said:

The recent Full Of Hell/Merzbow collaboration album is another 2014 release that's worth checking out that I haven't seen anyone mention here yet.

As a big fan of Merzbow, that sounds intriguing. Gotta check that out I guess. I've kinda fallen off metal beyond just listening to late 80's/early 90's norwegian black metal and the occasional Sunn O))) these days.

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Rafaelfc

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I find the lack of Babymetal disturbing.

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