TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2014
Honorable Mentions: Crosses, Black Label Society, Kyng, I Declare War, Steel Panther, Devil You Know, Whitechapel, The Black Keys, Mushroomhead, Crowbar, Body Count, Arch Enemy, Fozzy, War of Ages, Micheal Jackson, Darkest Hour, Godsmack, Ace Frehley, Wolvenwar, Hellyeah, Overkill, In Flames, Cannibal Corpse, Demon Hunter, Amaranthe, Cavalera Conspiracy, Foo Fighters, and The Smashing Pumpkins
10. Once More ‘Round the Sun– Mastodon
Key Songs: “The Motherload”, “High Road”, and “Ember City”
9. Pale Communion– Opeth
Key Songs: “Elysian Woes”, “River”, and “Voice of Treason”
8. .5: The Gray Chapter– Slipknot
Key Songs: “Sarcastrophe”, “Custer”, and “The Negative One”
7. The Endless River– Pink Floyd
Key Songs: The whole album would make a killer movie soundtrack. I’m not going to pick a select few here. Mostly insturmental.
6. Distant Satellites– Anathema
Key Songs: “The Lost Song, Pt.1”, “The Lost Song, Pt.2”, and “Distant Satellites”
5. The Joy of Motion– Animals as Leaders
Key Songs: “Ka$cade”, “Another Year”, and “Tooth and Claw”
4. Redeemer of Souls– Judas Priest
Key Songs: “Redeemer of Souls”, “Halls of Valhalla”, and “Hell & Back”
3. Watchers of Rule– Unearth
Key Songs: “Guards of Contagion”, “Trail of Fire”, and “Birth of a Legion”
2. Killer Be Killed– Killer Be Killed
Key Songs: “Wings of Feather and Wax”, “Face Down”, and “Forbidden Fire”
1. Bloodstone & Diamonds– Machine Head
Key Songs: “Now We Die”, “Killers & Kings”, “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones”, and “Damage Inside”
BEST NEW BAND: Killer Be Killed
The super group (consisting of members from Soulfly, Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plane, and Mars Volta) made an underground masterpiece. I like the use of three vocalists and how different the album was overall. A good mix of hard rock and metal sound. Not too heavy but still rockin. Unfortunately, this band won’t be consistently putting out new material or even touring due to other commitments. Hell, they won’t have their first show till next year. Nothing wrong with a good side project.
Other nominees: Crosses, Devil You Know, and Wovenwar
BEST COMEBACK: Judas Priest
Parts of this record sounded exactly like 70’s Priest. Very old school attitude album for the Metal God and his men. Without Downing in the band and Halford’s voice not what it once was, it still turned out to be a great album. It was expected to conclude the Priest saga, but Halford has said since the album’s release he is ready to do a few more.
Other nominees: Body Count, Slipknot, and Pink Floyd
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Unearth
Always liked everything Unearth put out, but they stepped up their game big time with this one. Watchers of Rule was a very heavy, in your face type album. Some of their best solos since Oncoming Storm, and there is a case to be made that this could be their best album yet. I expected good and they gave their fans fantastic.
Other nominees: War of Ages and The Smashing Pumpkins
BEST EP: TIE! Down and Solus Deus
Down released part two of their four EP series. With Windstein leaving the band to concentrate on Crowbar, I expected a slightly different sound from them. It’s honestly not too different but Down still brought it. This EP was some of their most sludgy, doom sounding music. It will be interesting what Phil and the guys decide to do for the third one
I’m not too picky with ranking EPs. Since I only bought two this year I decided to split it between Down and this new band I really dig called Solus Deus. For readers that don’t know, this is a band influenced by death metal and western style, 90’s hip-hop. The band includes former members of Bleed the Sky, Chimaira, Evanecence, and Living Sacrafice. This was also their second EP in the past few years. Heavy band with a bounce to their sound. Good for headbanging and headbopping.
BEST SPECIAL ALBUM: Sevendust
I don’t normally have this category at the end of the year but had to add it just for this album. This was Sevendust first acoustic album and it is acoustic done right. Time Travelers & Bonfires was all covers of their older material. Fans raised money to make this album happen, and it did not disappoint. It really shows how underrated the musicianship of Sevendust really is, and with Lajon’s voice its worth every penny.
LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT: Motley Crue
The Los Angeles rockers are in the process of closing the book on their careers for good. After all the drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll, Motley Crue finally had enough. I saw them back in 2012 with KISS. It still stands as the best show I’ve ever seen. One of the few groups of men I can see dress like women and play with bigger balls than most of the so called bands these days. I wish all four them the best of luck moving forward.
LOCAL LEGENDS: Chimaira
I understand not everyone reading this is from northeast Ohio, but I had to show my home area metallers some love. Back in September, almost the whole band all of sudden quit. With the announcement the band would call it quits, it became a very dark day for their fans. For me, it felt like someone took part of my soul and ripped it out. It hurt. But what is more important is that their music will live forever. Destroying and dominating the Chimaira way. There are rumors they are reforming. Whether that’s true or not, I’m a fan for life. Chimaira: 1998 to Eternal.
BEST LIVE BAND: Gojira
This award I give to only bands I’ve seen the past year. I did see KISS again, but decided to give it to the progressive crazy bastards from France. Not only was the show heavy and the band sounded great as a whole, it grooved more than any band I’ve ever seen. Very fun concert and was a steal for the price.
Other nominees: KISS, Def Leppard, HIM, and Breaking Benjamin
MOST ANTICIPATED FOR 2015
(Note: This is my personal list and rankings for albums coming out in 2015. This is just to make readers aware of what is expected to come out. This is just a summary of what I have down so far for next year. Some of these artists may not release a new album till 2016 or beyond that.)
44. Metallica- I do like Metallica, don’t get me wrong. But its hard to take them seriously right now. I really hope the best for their potential release next year. Till then I have them last in my rankings.
43. Five Finger Death Punch- Very possible they drop a new album this coming year. As a fan, I wasn’t very impressed with the two albums they put out in 2013. A lot of fillers and it sounds like they lost some of their touch. Always will hear them out though.
42. 36 Crazyfists- They disappeared for a few years and put out one of their best songs ever. It sounds like they really took their time putting together the new album. Fans will be happy to have them back in action.
41. Def Leppard- Saw them open for KISS back in September. Fun show. They haven’t had a new album in almost seven years. It will be interesting what they bring to the table.
40. Dark Tranquility- Construct was very different from what they’ve done in the past. These guys don’t disappoint so I’m excited to see which direction they’ll take.
39. Disturbed- You read the name right. I’m more speculating than anything else. If not next year, I think it will be 2016 for sure we’ll hear something new from Disturbed. They stressed its just a hiatus and its been four years since it began.
38. Red Fang- Loved the last album. Very doom like with an early Black Sabbath sound. I’m really pulling for another one this year.
37. Trivium- Not one hundred percent sure they’ll have a new release this year, but they have been dropping hints they’re at least thinking about it. Last one seemed to help them gain some new fans. We’ll see if Draimain comes back to produce.
36. Hatebreed- I know they have plenty of tour dates for early to the middle of the year. We’ll wait and see if they want to put out something late in the year.
35. Solus Deus- I heard some rumblings of the thug metallers putting out their first full length album. Hope so.
34. Art of Dying- Good band with an 1980’s hard rock style. I was afraid they were done for good but a new album will drop in the next few months. I have seen them a few times and they show nothing but love for the fans at their shows.
33. Halestorm- Better live than in the studio. Lzzy Hale and her crew have some tricks up their sleeve. Last album gave rock a good name.
32. Fear Factory- They just finished celebrating the anniversary of Demanufacture. Will see if they took some of that old school Fear Factory attitude to the studio with them.
31. Mudvayne- This should be the year Mudvayne returns. Gray talked about a few years ago. I hope that time off results in a monster record.
30. Bullet For My Valentine- Last album was very different. However, the new song for the next album, “Raising Hell”, was heavy as . . . well, hell! Hopefully they go back to their roots like they said they would.
29. Korn- Head’s return was a good thing. They are planning on a heavier album with less electronic instrumentation. Sounds like the old Korn I learned to love.
28. Phil Anselmo- This could be Phil Anselmo and the Illegals or Down. Either way, I’m expecting something heavy from the former Pantera singer.
27. Love & Death- Brian “Head” Welch other band is in the process of making the follow up to their 2013 debut. “Chemicals” became one of the most famous songs on the radio charts in 2012. How many rock and metal bands can say they accomplish that these days? Not the biggest accomplishment I know, but Head and his band deserve the recognition.
26. Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts- After being fired from the Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland had a rough year in 2014. Wait a minute, he didn’t! It was the opposite. Unlike Scott Stapp, Weiland sobered up, did some small tours, and spent plenty of time in the studio. I think the new album will destroy anything STP decides to put out in the future.
25. Children of Bodom- Glad to see these guys still rolling after Alexhi’s health scare. Limit yourself Alexhi, your fans love you!
24. Dream Theater- Since Mike Mangini joined the band, they have been on fire. The past two albums have been some of their best work. I can’t see them stopping any time soon.
23. Dethklok- The last season of Metalocalypse is in production. Usually a new season means a new album will follow. Brendon Small can do it all. It’s just too bad I don’t get to see the real Dethklok experience. You know? I would love to see fans kill each other for a metal album.
22. Breaking Benjamin- I was there when they officially returned. Ben looks healthy and the band was nothing short of lights out. I hope all that time off helped them put together a masterpiece.
21. HIM- Saw them last March. Excellent show. Past two albums have been more rockin than their early stuff. Hope it continues.
20. The Smashing Pumpkins- Billy Corgan took it up a notch with Monuments to an Elegy. Look forward to the second album he put together over the summer.
19. Gary Clark Jr.- COM’ON NOW GARY! This guy has only one album so far. ONE! Time to give your fans something new, Gary.
18. High on Fire- This trio can really bring it. I became a fan after I heard their last album.
17. Van Halen- Part of me is saying this is a for sure thing. Part of me says don’t ever say that about Van Halen. A Different Kind of Truth was a very underappreciated album. Aside for the absence of Michael Anthony’s backing vocals, it showed Van Halen was alive and well.
16. Motorhead- I swear, you can not bring Lemmy down. After a few serious health issues, the badass is ready to hit the studio. He literally lives off of rock ‘n roll.
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers- Many interviews with the band members state the new stuff is very funky and the unnamed producer is pushing them to use their talents in ways they never have used them before. Sounds like fans are in for a treat.
14. Slayer- I’m going to miss Hanneman not being on the album, but he would want me to buy it. Gary Holt is a hell of a person and guitar player. This could be the last album for the legendary thrashers.
13. Meshuggah- They just celebrated their 25th anniversary. Let us hope they have enough juice in the tank for twenty five more.
12. Anthrax- Last album could be ranked in their top three. Joey back in the band has really back that old school Anthrax attitude and sound.
11. Testament- One of the few consistent bands out there. Stellar live and age can’t slow them down. Chuck Billy has compared what they have recorded so far to The Gathering.
10. Tool- Every year they’re in my top five. This year I won’t get my hopes up. They did finally reveal the conflict that is preventing the album from coming out. However, they have been working hard in the studio and that’s progress every fan likes to hear.
9. Gojira- They have been putting together ideas on the road and have come up with Pantera like riffs. Oh, and its Gojira. Enough said.
8. Deftones- For me personally, this is the most underrated band on the planet. The question is, will we see one or two albums from them this year? After Chi’s death they said Ehros would eventually be released. Either way they can have my money.
7. Marilyn Manson- The first album that I will buy for 2015. January 16 is the day the Anti-Christ Superstar will release his new album. Two jams have already been streaming online and I love both of them.
6. Megadeth- Despite losing two members, the band is still around. Rumors of Nick Menza, Marty Friedman, Jeff Loomis, and Dave Lombardo continue to spread. I trust Dave makes the best moves necessary.
5. Alice in Chains- Love Chains but thought The Devil Put Dinosaurs on the Earth was just okay. I’m hoping that was just a small change of pace and they can go back to classic Chains style.
4. Killswitch Engage- I have to put the band that got me into metal in the top five. Jesse’s return was a success. I’m interested to hear the song they put together for the Game of Thrones mixtape. Long live KsE!
3. Lamb of God- After all the hell they went through a few years ago, Randy can now release that anger in the studio. Fans have waited long enough.
2. Iron Maiden- The band said they wanted two more albums before they call it quits. They did limited touring last year and had a lot of down time. Since, they have been very quiet. I think we are in for a big announcement this year.
1. Black Sabbath- Last year and even early this year, if you asked me what will be my most anticipated album for 2015 would be, I would have said Iron Maiden. With the announcement Sabbath would do one more album and call it quits, I made the switch. I loved 13, and I think they can top it. The metal community owes Sabbath everything. I hope to see them on that final tour.