Journo Lists 2014 Part Two: Musings from Queensland, New South Wales and The ACT...

We continue looking at the picks of the year as heard by our team of writers...

Victor Burton

25. Soulfly - Savages (Nuclear Blast)

24. Opeth - Pale Communion (Roadrunner)

23. Decapitated - Blood Mantra (Nuclear Blast)

22. Necrophagia - White Worm Cathedral (Season of Mist)

21. Nunslaughter - Angelic Dread (Hells Headbangers)

20. Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestite (Artemisia Records)

19. Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium (Napalm)

18. Yob - Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings)

17. Unearth - Watchers of Rule (3Wise)

16. Mysticum - Planet Satan (Peaceville)

15. Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds (Nuclear Blast)

14. Iced Earth - Plagues of Babylon (Century Media)

13. Madball - Hardcore Lives (Nuclear Blast)

12. Eyehategod - Eyehategod (Century Media/Housecore)

11. Electric Wizard - Time to Die (Spinefarm)

10. Hitten - First Strike With the Devil (No Remorse Records)

Hitten are the best New Wave of British Heavy Metal band not of the NWoBHM era. Period. The cover art gives a big indication as to the major influences of Hitten, where one can see Iron Maiden and Saxon posters on an alleyway wall. In that alleyway a metalhead is confronting a demon with a guitar in one hand and a glowing skull in the other. Cover art does not always convey whether an album is excellent or not, but with Hitten's great artwork this is certainly the case; the band fly their old school heavy metal flag high and with pride on First Strike With The Devil.

9. Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast)

After the longer songs of the Rob Dukes era, and with Steve Souza back on vocals, Exodus shorten their songs a little and focus on doing what they do best, which is unrelenting, eye-bulging, maniacal riff after riff thrash. The album features a guest guitarist in the form of former Exodus co-founder Kirk Hammett, and guest vocals from the mighty Chuck Billy of Testament.

8. Vader - Tibi Et Igni (Nuclear Blast)

Polish death metal giants Vader keep death metal freshly rotting and looking for brains on their latest album, which in terms of quality is right up there with Vader's classics. It's also surprisingly catchy and the songs, especially Triumph of Death, lodge themselves quite snugly in your musical memory.

7. Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade)

Their best album in years, Cannibal Corpse retain the death metal throne, and in style on A Skeletal Domain. Old school death metal fans may not be particularly fond of the crisp production, but there is no arguing with the quality of these songs. 

6. Arch Enemy - War Eternal (Century Media)

When Angela Gossow announced she was leaving Arch Enemy, fans fretted whether or not her replacement, Alissa White-Gluz, would be able to match Gossow's legacy, and if Michael Amott could write another classic Arch Enemy record. Well, they need not have worried, as War Eternal was more than just a follow up to the last Arch Enemy record, it surpassed it, and was a definite step up for Arch Enemy as a whole. This album has given their brand of melodic death metal a new lease on life.

5. Behemoth - The Satanist (Century Media)

After Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia, the future of Behemoth was seriously at stake. But Nergal fought the disease and reborn anew, he and his bandmembers crafted Behemoth's best and most meaningful album thus far. Seemingly blessed by Satan, since the devil of couse has the best tunes, Behemoth reached their highest artistic pinnacle on The Satanist.

4. Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare (Season of Mist)

Mayhem reinvent themselves and take big risks of alienating their hardcore fanbase with every new album, and this proud tradition continues on Esoteric Warfare. Especially savage, even by Mayhem standards, Esoteric Warfare is experimental, brutal, in your face and yet progressive and spaced out, like a black metal Pink Floyd. Nobody can make the kind of vocalisations Attila Csihar does, and his vocals are absolutely central to the bleak personality of Esoteric Warfare

3. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata (Century Media)

Tom G. Warrior must at some point have drunk from a magical elixir, because no one man could possibly have such talent naturally. Existing beyond any particular subgenre of metal, Warrior and his bandmates have produced yet another groundbreaking metal album as artistically signficant as the H.R. Giger cover artwork that graces its cover.

2. At the Gates - At War With Reality (Century Media)

As with Carcass, there were great expectations placed on At the Gates when they let it be known they were writing a new album. At War With Reality does not dissapoint, and after years of innumerable bands ripping off their sound, At the Gates show the world how melodic death metal should be done. Long may they reign. 

1. Panopticon - Roads to the North (Bindrune Recordings)

Panopticon reshape what black metal can be on Roads to the North, building on the legacy of their previous, critically acclaimed album Kentucky. Instead of trying to ape the much copied Norweigan black metal sound, Austin Lunn situates his music in his local context, which is America, incorporating American folk music and bluegrass in a way that perfectly integrates with cold, atmospheric black metal. Somewhat more personal and introspective than previous, politically charged, leftist focused albums, Roads to the North should be viewed as a contemporary slice of reimagined Americana. Undoubtedly the best metal album of the year, and of years to come.   

 

Matthew Foster

25. Vallenfyre - Splinters (Century Media)

24. Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast)

23. Riot V - Unleash the Fire (Avalon)

22. Nunslaughter - Angelic Dread (Hells Headbangers)

21. Sabaton - Heroes (Nuclear Blast)

20. Eyehategod - Eyehategod - (Housecore/Century Media)

19. Swallowed - Lunarterial (Dark Descent Records)

18. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata (Century Media)

17. Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity (Candlelight)

16. Septic Flesh - Titan (Season of Mist)

15. Ævangelist­ - Writhes in the Murk (Debemur Morti)

14. Behemoth - The Satanist (Century Media)

13. Pallbearer - Foundation of Burden (Profound Lore)

12. Horrendous - Ecdysis (Dark Descent Records)

11. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade)

10. Indian­ - From All Purity (Relapse)

This was an early highlight of 2014. A toxic mix of sludge, black metal and noise rock; if you enjoy the idea of pure hateful bile being forcibly wretched from the darkest part of the human soul, then I’d advise you give this a go.

9. Rotting Sky­ - Sedation (Grimoire)

This one came out of nowhere.This one man atmospheric black metal project seemingly blindsides the listener with a wall of noise, but peel back the layers and you’ll find meticulous  melody strewn amongst the chaos. Only the most cvlt need apply.

8. Accept­ - Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast)

Since they’ve reformed, Accept has been showing the metal world just how it’s done. The energy and song­writing finesse they’ve put into their recent albums beats out bands half their age, and Blind Rage might just be their best one yet.

7. Overkill­  - White Devil Armoury (Nuclear Blast)

Everything I just said about Accept can also be applied to Overkill. White Devil Armoury has songs for days and not a second of this record was wasted on dud material. Kings of the rat bastards indeed.

6. Midnight­ - No Mercy for Mayhem (Hells Headbangers)

Midnight’s rough and ready mix of old school Venom/Motorhead black thrash and roll won over a lot of critical hearts in 2014 and you can count yours truly amongst them. Take off your shirt, drink a beer and hail Satan!

5. Darkest Era­ - Severance (Cruz del Sur Music)

Darkest Era’s Celtic infused brand of traditional metal really came onto its own with this album.The songs here are punchy and melodic but carry a morose weight that makes them a pleasure to revisit.

4. Blut aus Nord­ - Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti)

The conclusion to the Memoria Vetusta trilogy saw Blut aus Nord return to their icy roots and demolish every other act playing this kind of music. The epic, melodic black metal on offer here is some of the best the genre has produced for a long time.

3. Ne Obliviscaris­ - Citadel (Season of Mist)

To anyone that knew them, it was no surprise that Ne Obliviscaris was going to turn out a winner with record number two. However, Citadel exceeded even the greatest of expectations. The end result is stunning, intricate and expansive. Truly a special band.

2. Troldhaugen - Obzkure Anekdotez For Maniakal Massez (Bird's Robe)

There’s no band on this list I feel more proud of than Trouldhaugen. Like a beautiful sombrero wearing zombie butterfly emerging from its cocoon, Trouldhaugen has simply released one of the most dammed fun and eccentric listens of 2014.

1. Yob­ - Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings)

Nothing this year has come close to matching the artistic zenith of Clearing the Path to Ascend. Shockingly honest and gut­ wrenchingly emotional, this is an album about struggling through the very worst and still emerging to find hope. Stunningly realised, this is sure to be an all­time classic.

 

Dazza Goddard, News Editor

25. Accept - Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast)

24. Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls (Columbia)

23. Blue Snaggletooth - Beyond Thule (Own Label)

22. Machine Head - Bloodstone & Diamonds (Nuclear Blast)

21. Mastadon - Once More 'Round the Sun (Reprise)

20. Animals as Leaders - The Joy of Motion (Sumerian)

19. Mothership - II (Ripple Music)

18. Ace Frehley - Space Invader (E1 Music)

17. Kyng - Burn the Serum (Razor & Tie)

16. Blues Pills - Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)

15. Avenged Sevenfold - Waking the Fallen Resurrected (Warners)

14. Hellion - Karma's a Bitch (New Renaissance)

13. The Datsuns - Deep Sleep (Hellsquad)

12. Tesla - Simplicity (Frontiers)

11. Nashville Pussy - Up the Dosage (SPV/Steamhammer)

10. Various Artists - Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles (Numero Group)

A compilation of little known bands predominately from the seventies that were inspired by all things demonic and of the occult (as well as a liberal dash of Tolkien) this album captures the mood of pimply faced teens that would rather sit in darkened basements drinking beer and playing Dungeons and Dragons than wade through the jungles of Vietnam with the ever present danger of taking a bullet to the skull. You're sure to find a hidden treasure amongst the sixteen bands highlighted on this release. Hail Sauron \m/

9. Nitrogods - Rats And Rumours (SPV/Steamhammer)

Turn it up, invite mates over and have a beer or twelve. These blokes from Germany are best listened to loud. Nitrogods deliver a hard rock party on this their second album. Take a liberal dose of Motorhead throw in some psychobilly grooves and you have one of the great party albums of 2014.

8. Bigelf - Into The Maelstrom (InsideOut)

With Mike Portnoy drafted in to handle drum duties Bigelf delivered another marvellous slab of fine sounding prog metal. Think bastard child of The Beatles at their trippiest, Pink Floyd and Saxon and you're starting to play in the same ball park as Bigelf.

7. Zodiac - Sonic Child (Napalm)

While for mine not as strong as their first two abums, Germany's Zodiac still released a cracking album full of bluesy psyche metal. The band know hot to paint a picture with their songs ensuring that there is never a dull moment on Sonic Child and I love the guitarists tone.

6. Grand Magus - Triumph and Power (Nuclear Blast)

As far as I'm concerned these blokes rarely put a foot wrong and released another stompingly good album this year.  Traditional metal at its finest you'll be raising your horns and giving yourself whiplash in no time.

5. Monster Magnet - Milking The Stars (Napalm)

A re-imagining of 2013s Last Patrol provided Dave Wyndorf the perfect opportunity to try a different take on the songs by making some of them darker and experimenting with different instruments, tunings and arrangements. This one delves more into the sixties psych movement but still maintains the Monster Magnet vibe. It's different enough to Last Patrol to feel like a whole new album.

4. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check Em Before Your Wreck Em (Rise Above)

Dirty greasy heavy rock and roll at its finest, Sir Admiral hit all the right notes on this their second release. The boys in Admiral sure know how to fire up a party. Taking their name from a British Admiral who was killed in one of Britain's worst ever maritime disasters these scuzzy fuckers deliver a fine heavy psych trip fueled by a passion for the seventies.

3. The Interrupters - The Interrupters (Hellcat Records)

Soundwave bound and produced by Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame this female led ska band hit their debut out of the park. Fun and infectious and full of bouncy rhythms this album never fails to please.

2. John Garcia - John Garcia (Napalm)

The first solo effort from the main man of Kyuss this is the perfect stoner rock album. John fires on all cylinders on this, producing an album worth listening to again and again. You might not be a stoner but after listening to this you will feel like one.

1. Queen - Live At The Rainbow 74 (Virgin/EMI)

More often than not Queen don't get the props they deserve as far as their influence on metal is concerned. This live album from 1974 highlights all those heavy rockin' tunes from their first three albums, Queen (1973), Queen II (1974) and Sheer Heart Attack (1974). I defy you to listen to Ogre Battle for example and not recognise the metal within.