2014 has given me not just some brilliant albums, but several albums that have since become a part of me. From both the signed and unsigned the quality of musicianship in this list is phenomenal. This list could have nearly fifty albums on it, but it had to be thinned out. These are the best of the best. The class of 2014.
I would like to add a special mention for the compilation album One and All, Together, For Home. compilations aren’t allowed on my list but featuring the likes of Drudkh, Winterfylleth and Primordial. I highly recommend it!
Alcest – Shelter: Along with Solstafir I consider this to be my album of the year. I can’t explain why this album takes me aback so much. It feels like watching a flower open, bloom and then fade into the night. It is one of the finest shoegaze albums of recent years Neige has created what I can only consider to be a perfect album. Whilst departing entirely from the extreme vocals I don’t think this really came as a surprise to many. Seeing this material performed live only further cemented this band’s place on my list.
Listen To – Opale
Alunah – Awakening The Forest: I don’t hide my love for this band, ever. These guys are the new Black Sabbath and are as important to today’s rock scene as Sabbath were in the 70’s. Their creeping brand of shamanic doom is ritualistic and captivating, this album is a step forward for these guys and much like Master Of Reality it proves that the 3rd album really is magic!
Listen to – Heavy Bough
Anathema – Distant Satellites: After the release of Weather Systems I wasn’t sure where Anathema could go, that album is a masterpiece and usually after a band deliver perfection they fail to live up to their own hype. BUT! Distant Satellites happens to surpass the excellence of its predecessor. Tracks like Ariel and The Lost Song are simply divine. This is music for the soul.
Listen To – Ariel
Behemoth – The Satanist: These guys need no introduction whatsoever, the Polish Antichrists Behemoth are the finest extreme metal band in the world right now, fact! The Satanist is an exercise in less is more. Its stripped back approach means that the focus lays solely on the band. They have to perform at the top of their game and that is exactly what they’ve done. A stark yet crushing exercise in brutality that can’t help but amaze!
Listen To – O Father, O Satan, O Sun!
Ed Sheeran – X: Yes it’s not metulz and yes he’s a pop artist. But you know what? He’s one of the most talented musicians around at the moment, not just for his own work but for the songs he writes for other artists. He’s a multi talented and soulful songwriter that creates nothing but pure art. I cannot praise this man enough, I really can’t. [Jesus Christ, Adam! – Editor]
Listen to – Bloodstream
Edge Of Haze – Illumine: Finnish melodic tech metal, a new find for this year. These guys completely blew me away with Illumine, its delicate balance between melody and out-and-out crushing riffery is impressive. These guys are all stupidly young and stupidly talented and I’ve no doubt in my mind whatsoever that these guys have a bright and shining future ahead of them.
Listen to – Into The Red Sun
Exist Immortal – Darkness Of An Age: This album is the culmination of humanitie’s failings, a social commentary of where we are as a species right now and through hook laden anthemic chorus’ and crushing verses this album is a fantastic début from this London quintet. Look out for tracks Edge Of Infinity, Desolace and Liberator featuring guest vocals from Sam Rudderforth of The Colour Line. The future is bright for these guys.
Listen to – Edge Of Infinity
Falloch – This Island, Our Funeral: Scotland’s own Falloch are one of the only bands on this list I’d never heard of until their announcement for Damnation Festival, I checked out past releases and it turns out that their 2014 album is actually a masterpiece in post metal excellence. Its poetic charm and sweeping musical passages are soothing and satisfying.
Listen To – For Uir
Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails: I don’t even know where to begin with this album, it’s nothing short of perfect. Its fusion of death metal, jazz and progressive metal is a crucible of sounds. Everything that this album has to offer is necessary and needed, nothing ever feels superfluous or out-of-place. The band switch between using vocals and letting the instrumental sections speak for themselves. This is a masterwork by a band who still have their best years ahead of them.
Listen To – Starlit Path
FVNERALS – The Light: Another new find for me this year, Fvnerals have simply blown me away. This is haunting ambient music at its pinnacle, there is something that is both unnerving yet entirely comforting about the band’s knack for darkness. This blending of shoegaze, drone and gothic decadence is soul music. It is music for the dark times. “Listen to them, the children of the night, what music they make.”
Listen to – Vakna (Stream The Whole Album)
Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun: That feeling when everything about an album slots into place, everything a band has been working on for years all collects together and forms something brilliant. This album is that culmination. Its triple vocalist textures enthrall, the culmination of these textures mean that its broad appeal is only ever going to do the band favours. Mastodon have successfully released a pop album under the guise of a stoner band. Besides, dem riffs. Kudos chaps!
Listen To – High Road
Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel: Up until only a few months ago I’d only ever heard of these guys in passing, always meaning to check them out but never quite happening. Well when their latest release came around I knew it was now or never and I’m so glad that I did. Citadel is a corker of a record, its cinematic soundscapes formed from a multitude of strings, vocals and guitars. This is an album that fans of heavy metal need to experience. Cinematic death metal, this is now a thing.
Listen To – Pyrrhic
Opeth – Pale Communion: If you have to be told who Opeth are then you can’t count yourself as a metalhead, sorry. But continuing their departure from their heavier style that began with Heritage. This latest opus is a delight, it’s actually a masterpiece in songwriting from Akerfeldt and the lads. With tracks like Cusp Of Eternity and Goblin it’s easy to see why this album is on this list!
Listen To – Cusp of Eternity
Pink Floyd – The Endless River: This is an album I never thought I’d get to hear, with Pink Floyd’s last offering coming out only 2 years after I was born and then 20 years of radio silence from the godfathers of Prog. The Endless River is largely instrumental, its ambient beauty transcends anything that any kind of vocal could ever deliver. With a guest narration from Professor Stephen Hawking this is the album I always wanted from Pink Floyd. Collecting all the works of the band since 1994’s Division Bell this album is a final chapter from one of the greatest bands to ever grace this earth. This is a celebration!
Listen To – Louder Than Words
Shores Of Null – Quiescence: Italian blackened doom at its finest is on show from Shores of Null. From the magnificently crushing to the delicately melodic this album reminds me of where Woods Of Ypres would have been were it not for their untimely end. But this album is charming and most certainly an album that you should be listening to. The future is bright for this band!
Listen to – Kings of Null
So Hideous – Last Poem, First Light: So Hideous live up to their name, their brand of ambient black metal is suffocating and oppressive. Its darkened passages contrasted with glimmers of light. This album feels like you’re trapped and a chance of escape is fleeting but gone before you can act. But this album remains consistent and elegant despite being hauntingly bleak.
Listen To – Rhapsody
Sólstafir – Ótta: I have fallen in love with this band all over again, the post metal Icelanders’ time based album is nothing short of perfect. In fact an argument could be made that it is the best album I ever heard. Its ever-growing textures and nuances are forever expanding. An album that rewards repeated listens and even after all this time I can still find new things to charm me that I’d never noticed before. This album goes beyond being my favourite album of 2014 and is most certainly listed in my top albums of all time.
Listen To – All of it. In fact, burn all of your other albums because you’ll never need anything else. But if you want a taste, here is Lágnaetti
Sunwølf – Beholden To Nothing And No-one: At the beginning of 2014 I’d never heard of these guys, despite living only 45 minutes from their hometown of Leeds. Sunwølf play a blend of sludge, post rock and doom. When I reviewed this album back in July I wrote that the album was flawless and this is a sentiment I still share. Its gentle nuances and devastating heaviness make this probably the unsigned album of the year for me. I do look forward to their next release.
Listen to – In The Darkened River I Found The Silence Loom
This Will Destroy You – Another Language: I go all gooey fan boy for this band, but I wasn’t aware they were releasing new material until only a month ago. This album is intriguing and intense. It is also a showcase of the band’s ability to write long tracks without succumbing to the influx of superfluous twoddle that has become a plague on many great post rock bands. This album for me represents my 2014 perfectly and I promise you won’t be disappointed by this record!
Listen to – God’s Teeth