Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersThis year I had the pleasure of reviewing over 150 albums; some on my own, but most with my Metal State partners on our RoundTable review forum.  Despite being a great year in metal I only awarded five albums a best 5 out of 5 rating; four of them made my Top 15.  Those four bands are Revocation, Behemoth, Arch Enemy, Ghost Brigade, and Insomnium.  Arch Enemy did not make my list.  I guess you could say it’s one of those reviews I wish I could go back and change…same thing I said about Khaos Legions.  Arch Enemy has that kind of effect on me; come on strong and then fizzle a little bit.  I still like the album a lot and think it’s better than their last two albums.  All things considered in metal they didn’t make my Top 15 this year.

My average score for 2014 was a 3.7; perhaps a little on the high side on a 5-point scale, but it is worth mentioning that I gave up reviewing albums I seriously do not like.  For me it became a waste of time and energy talking about something I truly found dissatisfying.  My lowest rating, a 1.5, went to four bands; Ceremonial, Dodsferd, Heresiarch, and Shroud of the Heretic.  Sorry guys, your music is probably appreciated in some metal circles just not mine.

Over the last two years, a progressive metal/rock band topped my end-of-year list.  Sleepers Awake last year and Rush the year before that.  Machine Head made my #1 back in 2011 and are on my list this year, but not at #1.  Another thing worth noting is that seven bands on my list this year I heard for the first time ever.   They will have a * symbol next to their band name and album.  Another band that made my list this year was part of an article I wrote some years back called “Bands I Should Like, But Do Not.”  Click here to see the article and the band I have since grown a fondness for.  Lastly, four bands on my list this year are repeat offenders since I started doing lists in 2011.  You already know about Machine Head.  Who are the other three?  One of them is my #1 album.

2014 was a great year in metal in my humble opinion.  There seemed to be way too many releases to keep up with even for the four of us.  Based on what we experienced this year I think you will see a lesser amount of reviews on Metal State in 2015 (at least from me) and hopefully more original content and discussion pieces.  Enough chatter; here is my best in metal for 2015. Enjoy!

15.  Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase I – Neohumanity)* (favorite song; Neohuman)

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 Reading up on the history of the band a little, I can see why long-time fans are at odds with the latest release from Scar Symmetry.  I, however, am a first time listener and coming in from the outside, I find this odd mix of extreme styles interesting.  I mean, it’s like Def Leppard meets death metal.  It’s quirky and melodic and at other times so damn heavy. Other times it’s a little of both.  I am cool with concept ideas for an album or a plan that is going to span multiple albums, but that has nothing to do with why the album is on my list.  It’s different, than most things you hear out there.  And, for that fresh appeal to my senses it makes my list. 

14.  Animals as Leaders – The Joy of Motion* (favorite song; Tooth and Claw)

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Animals as Leaders is another of the seven bands on my list that I have only heard for the first time this year.  Obviously, they impressed me with their progressive/djenty expertise.  The progressive side of their music lets them explore many different musical directions that keeps the instrumental music interesting.  Tooth and Claw is one of the more heavy songs on the album that I like quite a bit.  Overall, I can easily lose myself in this album.

13.  Centinex – Redeeming The Filth* (favorite song; Death Glance)

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Centinex is the first on the list to kick your teeth in.  As mentioned in my mini review; they have an infectious death groove much like Six Feet Under and Obituary, but at a speedier cadence; perfect for the pit if that kind of thing doesn’t physically hurt you as much as it does me.  This album came out of nowhere, but also at the same time a bunch of other death metal albums were released; needless to say Centinex stood out from the pack.

Click here for the Redeeming The Filth mini-review.

12.  Blood & Banjos – Blood & Banjos (favorite song; Anti-Annunciation)

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Listening is believing; yes the heaviest of metal combined with something that is not supposed to work…banjos and bluegrass.  It works and if there were such a category for metal I would call it art metal and it would have its own wing of a museum.  ‘Nuff said on this band; personally I can’t put it to words except to say it’s just cool as shit and I highly recommend checking it out.

Click here for Matt’s review of their self-titled album.

11.  Opeth – Pale Communion (favorite song; Cusp of Eternity)

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Unlike many hardcore Opeth fans, I happen to enjoy the 70s prog-style of Opeth. I am normally not one to embrace significant change in a band, but when it comes to perfecting their craft, Opeth is in a class of their own.  Yeah, sure I would love to see Opeth make another Blackwater Park or Ghost Reveries, but they have decided something else for themselves and when it comes to this prog chapter in their band’s life I think they do it quite perfectly.  Though, this year various forms of death metal has dominated my existence which pushes this esteemed band a little further down my list.  Maybe I am a little progged out.

Click here for our mixed opinions on Pale Communion’s roundtable review.  –Note Chis has since changed his mind about Pale Communion and you can see that confession here.

10.  Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun (favorite song; The Motherload)

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Mastodon is the band that was part of my article about bands I should like, but do not. For some reason it took years for me to appreciate them.  It was mostly the song Curl of the Burl that got me hooked because it was quite catchy.  If Once More ‘Round The Sun is considered to be non-par music by Mastodon enthusiasts, then I guess I like a different kind of Mastodon.  Overall, this album has a good mix of progressive elements that is music to my ears.  Sorry, it just took so long.

Click here for our very similar points-of-view on Once More ‘Round The Sun.

9.  Revocation – Deathless (favorite song; Madness Opus)

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I think the only reason that Revocation is sitting at #9 and not higher on the list is because I just didn’t have as much time to listen to this album as I wanted, but it still blew me away. Having said that; it’s still high on the list despite probably having less listens than the rest of these albums.  Revocation is so underappreciated as far as I am concerned.  Unless I am missing something I just don’t see enough press about this band.  It’s a damn shame because they could be the next biggest thing; up there with Machine Head and Lamb of God tearing it up.  Deathless is a solid album of finely tuned technical progressiveness with a thrash foundation.  Revocation is the future of metal.

Click here for the review of Deathless.

8.  Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral (favorite song; Total Death Exhumed) 

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Despite being a very recent release; the newest of this bunch, Bloodbath came back with a vengeance and made their mark…again.  Having to fill the boots of Mikael Akerfeldt I’m sure was no easy task, but Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) came in and pretty much killed it with his own style.  The new chapter in Bloodbath is pure death metal complete with the gore and all that is impure and a little extra doom for good measure.  Grand Morbid Funeral is a very well-rounded album of varying levels of brutality.

Click here for the review of Grand Morbid Funeral.

7.  SepticFlesh – Titan (favorite song; Prototype)

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I caught SepticFlesh opening for Amon Amarth a few years ago.  I thought it was a very well-played set and I had every intention of checking out their music, but never did…until now.  It wasn’t until Titan that I got my first real taste.  Titan is loud, furious, beautiful, and dangerous.  The Orchestral versions of a few of their songs are ominous and powerful and a nice addition to this uncompromising set of songs.  Since my first listen, Titan pretty much had a spot in my end-of year list.  Overall, it was very well liked by the A Metal State of Mind group.

Click here for our highly positive opinions of Titan.

6.  Behemoth – The Satanist* (favorite song; The Satanist)

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Yet, another band that only got on my radar this year. Why, I have no explanation.  This album pretty much blew the doors off my world; it’s so dark and heavy, yet so awesome.

The Satanist was probably our highest collaborative rating of the year.  It was also probably the shortest review as well in terms of actual words.  Chick here to check it out.

5.  Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails* (favorite song; Chemical Cave)

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I am not sure why I never took a listen to Fallujah’s debut album.  I heard a lot about them, but it wasn’t until I saw The Flesh Prevails was selected for review that I “had” to listen to it.  I am glad I did!  Much to my amazement this album is, musically, a tight piece of work; in some cases it’s like Tool meets Death.  Except for some production compression issues as mentioned in the review, The Flesh Prevails is diverse, complex, and brutally good.  I love their instrumental songs, but overall each song seems to flow down its own path and tell a separate story.

Click here for our highly positive review of The Flesh prevails.

4.  Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds (favorite song; In Comes The Flood)

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My #1 from 2011 makes another high appearance on my list.  Following up Unto The Locust, Machine Head has continued to evolve and amaze…carrying on the thrash metal torch, the fire and the melody that goes along with it.  Bloodstone & Diamonds is another great listen in a line of strings albums since The Blackening.  Losing Adam Duce, no offense, didn’t really seem to hamper the bands progress much, if at all.  If anything they just picked up the pieces and moved on.  Excellent!

3.  Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars* (favorite song; The Human Lie Manifest)

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Well, this album is pretty much mind-blowing which goes to show how I feel about the two albums remaining on this list. I was one of the unfortunate few who missed out on their EP Song of the Crippled Bull, but lucky for me I grabbed their album because I remembered the hype about that EP.  Overall, the album is quite diverse for a band that has a foundation of death metal.  You’ll have to listen to this one a few times to hear the splendor that is Black Crown Initiate.

Click here for Mik’s review of The Wreckage of Stars.

2.  Ghost Brigade – IV – One With The Storm* (favorite song; Electra Complex)

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This last half of the year I was really getting to know Ghost Brigade’s last three albums including this #2 selection.  Yet, another band I have only heard this year and what an outstanding album.  From my short experience with the band, they seem very consistent in releasing quality metal.  If I had heard Until Fear No Longer Defines Us, it would have made my list the year it was released…but, I didn’t even know Ghost Brigade existed. This album is solid all the way though and pretty much gets played every day in my world.

Click here for my review of IV – One With The Storm.

1.  Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (favorite song; The Promethean Song)

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I had my expectations for the latest Insomnium album.  I never figured it would blow me away as much as it did; been sitting at #1 since I reviewed it shortly after its release.  Until Ghost Brigade was released I didn’t really second guess this album’s placement as my #1 at all.  I thought Behemoth or Machine Head might roll up there for a minute, but other than Ghost Brigade’s huge impact, Insomnium clinched this spot and stayed there all year.  There isn’t a song on this album I even remotely dislike while others like Black Heart Rebellion and its blast beats actually surprised me.  I love this album; I really do and still listen to it like it was just released.

Click here for my review of Shadows of a Dying Sun.

Click here for my Top 15 of 2013.

Click here for my Top 15 of 2012.

Click here for my Top 15 of 2011.

Thank you and see you next year!  Metal!

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About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on December 16, 2014, in Best of 2014 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. ChristopherMammal

    That’s a cool selection and a good presentation, Reggie.
    I see five of your selections are in my extended and serialised Metal Top 30.

  2. You’re full of surprises! Never thought I’d see Animals As Leaders, Scar Symmetry, Centinex and B&B on your list. And Mastodon too! You should have let us guess your list before posting it, it would have been impossible, haha. Very diverse list when it comes to styles.

    Good to see Ghost Brigade so high up, and Septic Flesh + Behemoth above Revocation. I think there’s a little black metaller growing inside you. Yay 🙂

  3. Nice picks!!! Pretty much what is on your list that isn’t on mine is on my honorable mention list. It’s really cool seeing Blood and Banjos pop up here, that record is kick ass. Cool seeing Ghost Brigade so high too, I’m glad we guided you towards those guys, their damn good.

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