Favorite 2014 Albums

This list is provisional with no specific order. It's subject to change as time passes and more albums get released. For now, Triptykon's new work tops my chart.

Created by: ManiacBlasphemer | 15.04.2014

1. Mayhem - Esoteric Warfare
No matter how long you have to wait for a new Mayhem album, all is worth the wait as quality wise this group just is not capable of disappointing. Even with the departure of long time guitarist Blasphemer, they can still put some shit together and Teloch is the right man, at the right time and at the right place. Esoteric Warfare is a better produced and more dissonant work than the previous one. It is also the work where Attila sounds a little more akin to the black metal vocal standard. Clearly a highlight for this year.
2. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
If you liked Eparistera Daimones and the last Celtic Frost album, Monotheist, think about this one as an upgraded, improved version of these two albums. You can expect an even more oppressive atmosphere in this record, the same avant-gardist way of playing thrash metal with its doom and gothic undertones. Simone Wollenweider also gives a pretty good vocal performance here as well. In any case, this is one of the most expressive albums of the year.
3. Insomnium - Shadows Of The Dying Sun
These guys have been releasing great quality keyboard driven melodeath since their inception and this new release is no exception. In fact, it might very well be their best in their whole career. This album is full of extremes, raging from very brutal songs to songs that can hardly be categorized as melodeath. A contender for the melodeath album of the year.
4. Behemoth - The Satanist
After 5 years of wait, Behemoth proves that cancer can't be an obstacle in creating good music. With a slight change in vocals, a more artistic approach, and with a doomier sound in several songs, Behemoth is still going strong with probably their best release to date. The Satanist is the perfect proof.
5. Witch Mountain - Mobile Of Angels
The second biggest deception this year is the departure of Uta Plotkin from Witch Mountain (the other one being the departure of Sharie Neyland from The Wounded Kings). Mobile Of Angels is the last album on which she lent her vocal and it is a blast. Witch Mountain has always been a band rooted into traditional doom metal but with some minor elements that made the music they play their own. Uta Plotkin is one of the main attractions of this album, her clean vocal delivery being stellar while her more harsh vocals aren't to shabby either. The only minus I can find with this album is the rather short length (40 minutes). For the last album with Uta Plotkin, I really wanted a longer length.
6. Delain - The Human Contradiction
For me Delain has always been the shadow of Within Temptation for some reason. While Lucidity earned my respect and might've endangered WT's supremacy, the last 2 albums have been sort of hit-and-miss. The Human Contradiction is a living proof that this band, aside from the poppish aspects it still retains, can still possess a trick or two in the song-writing department.
7. Diabulus in Musica - Argia
Even though Delain released a hell of an album, the same thing can be said about DiM. Argia is basicaly a worthy response to THC and proves that changing 2/3 of the band members can have it's own benefits in terms of song-writing. Zuberoa's voice in this record sounds even better than in the previous two and the band as a whole sounds more tight than ever.
8. Evenoire - Herons
Another great gothic metal record released this year. If you followed this band and listened to their debut album, then you won't have any surprises with this one either. A tight gothic metal sound with some progressive elements and folk undertones. If this description does not impress you, then the female vox surely will.
9. Infestus - The Reflecting Void
I never thought that a one man project can put up such a good album. Though at times this tends to be orthodox black metal, you can't avoid saying that this guy does not love experimenting a little bit. The vocal performance is more dynamic, the production is great for the atmosphere of this album (not too low-fi nor too overproduced) and the melodies featured in this work are just damn riveting. This is one of the more dynamic black metal offerings out there and surely is one of the better black metal records this year.
10. Enthroned - Sovereigns
If you folks happen to be shitheads that only appreciate raw and abrassive black metal, then you can just pick Sargeist's new record and avoid this one. But if you actually enjoy another facette of black metal, Enthroned's new offering might be the perfect fit for your this year. A little bit of experimentation, good production quality and a mature sound, this is what characterizes Sovereigns and this is what Enthroned wished to offer.
11. 1349 - Massive Cauldron Of Chaos
This album took me by surprise. Honestly, 1349 has never really impressed me in terms of quality studio material (maybe except for Hellfire) but I have to admit this album is something. They play a sort of modern yet brutal black metal, thrash influenced, reminiscent of bands such as Absu, and they do it well. What makes this album great is the guitar performance, especially the lead guitar which varies from thrashy riffs, to brutal tremolo picks and from time to time, a dose of groove and the drum work, courtesy of Satyricon's Frost. While they may not be inovators, they know how to play good black metal in their own fashion.
12. Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere
Another band that kinda hit themselves in their balls with a new approach. The Serpent & The Sphere has to be the heaviest effort they have put out in their career and for good reason. The neofolk atmosphere that made this band known has been tonned down a bit and is mostly driven by the accoustic guitars. The ethereal clean male vocals have been eluded and a doom oriented sound is monopolizing most of the record. With all these changes, Agalloch remains a band that has skilled musicians in its line-up and still has a trick or two in the song-writing issue, but for someone that appreciated The Mantel or AATG, this might come as a bummer.
13. Sabaton - Heroes
Probably the most anticipated release this year. Sabaton changed their entire line-up (except for the vocalist) before releasing Carolus Rex, their best album since The Art Of War. What to expect from Heroes? Not that much of a different approach, however it features more infectious guitar riffs and solos and the keyboard is much better used here than on the previous release. Sabaton seems to be walking the same path Motorhead walks... if it's not broken, don't fix it!
14. Arcana Coelestia - Nomas
To be honest, I got into Arcana Coelestia because of my interest in hearing a blend between black metal sonorities combined with the ferociously slow funeral doom metal. This is a band that displays a sheer avalanche of evilness. Nomas is an album that reeks of occultism and evilness. The only thing I found lacking in this release is the production which could've been a lot better. Nevertheless, it is an album worthy of listening for those that like their funeral doom a little more brutal.
15. Bethlehem - Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia
Long gone are the days with German metallers Bethlehem were reinventing black metal with their dark sound which later bore a new, as of yet undefined, musical genre loosely titled 'dark metal'. For the looks of it, it is just a more depressive, atmospheric almost gothic like genre, but then again it is pointless arguing about genre definition. The long title means 'Fear of the Number 666" and if you have been following the band after the release of S.U.I.Z.I.D., you will know that they've jumped from a genre to another for the sake of experimenting more musical soundscapes. This one is no different, and gathers a bit of everything they did. While they still do maintain the dark atmosphere, the metal elements are mostly dropped in favor of more hard rock~ish rhythm lines, sometimes combining them with elements of industrial music, doom metal, even some shoegazing moments and occasionaly some more heavy stints. If you like albums with varied songs, then this one is for you. If you love Bethlehem's trademark sound, then I also recommend this album, as they still incorporate that dark, sinister atmosphere even though the metal elements have been mostly toned down or out of the picture.
16. Xandria - Sacrificium
Many people have regreted the departure of Manuela Kraller, me being one of them. But knowing Dianne, and knowing her other band Ex Libris through their newest work (which is great as well) I was sure that she will fit in well within this group. This album is an attempt to please fans of both Xandria styles, the style on the first four albums and the new style from their fifth offering. This album offers you intense and fast symphonic gothic overtures and mellow ballad-like songs in the vein of 'The Dream Is Still Alive'.
17. Impaled Nazarene - Vigorous And Liberating Death
Impaled Nazarene need no introduction and nor does its latest offering. While Enthroned represented a more modern approach to black metal, these finns stubbornly stick to their trademark black metal sound with punk elements. Impaled Nazarene does not wish to experiment on this record nor does it want to venture into new fields, they prefer to keep it brutal, fast and as aggressive as they can. It only worked on Pro Patria Finlandia, but it seems that here it works even better. Give it a shot!
18. Riot V - Unleash The Fire
The death of a founding member of a certain influential band has always been a tough blow. Although in most cases, the said band is laid to rest, Riot (under the moniker Riot V) is still going on without its creator. And boy, it would've been a pity if they wouldn't have done so. Much of what is featured in this album seems like it was written with Mark Reale being alive, and even though the Thundersteel line-up is not here anymore, you get the impression that it never disbanded. Riot might not be able to put out an album as strong as Thundersteel, but they sure can put out solid follow ups. Their previous one was not an accident either.
19. Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out
The departure of Rob Dukes and the reinstating of Steve 'Zetro' Souza has brought much anticipation regarding this album. Rob Dukes brought a more modern feel, almost core~ish feel to the 2000s Exodus who were passing through an excelent period with the impressive Tempo Of The Damned released in 2004. While his outputs were respectable, it lacked that sheer anger and aggressivity that the early albums had. Blood In, Bloot Out succeds in being angry and zelous, although the songwriting from the bands two masterpiece is not rightfuly here. Nevertheless, I can assure Exodus fans that with this record, they've got what they longed for.
20. Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly
A fine prog trash album this year. Mekong Delta plays a form of 80s thrash metal combined with elements from classical music. They tend to make their works more technical without discarding the rigidity of the thrash genre and without ignoring melodic lines either. This album is not much different from the previous one, but youc an witness a degree of experimentation.
21. Holy Moses - Redefined Mayhem
I think that 6 years have passed since this band released their last full length. Was it worth the wait? For a Holy Moses fan, it surely was, as this one clearly pinpoints a change in the band through the title. Yeah, Holy Moses have redefined their identity. This has to be the best album they made since The New Machine of Lichtenstein but with a more complex guitar playing. Peter Geltat is a new that does not say much in this industry, but things are bound to change in the future, as this guy is surely promising.
22. Shear - Katharsis
The reason why I like this band is that they don't stick within the limits of the power metal genre. While they are a power metal band, in their latest offering you can find touches of more than one genre. There are progressive songs, some other songs pay tribute to melodic heavy metal/hard rock of the 80s (Vixen anybody?), others have a subtle gothic touch, others a punk touch a'la Joan Jett. Katharsis is an album where 3 eras meet, the bluesy 70s era, the commercial melodic 80s era and the modern era of today. But all of these aspects are topped by Alexa Leroux's voice which sends a gritty and a melodic performance in the same album. All instruments shine in this work.
23. Ancient Bards - A New Dawn Ending
With this album, Ancient Bards might as well consider that they've released their magnum opus. A New Dawn Ending is a more daring attempt in diversifying their sound and features everything a metal fan desires. A strong symphonic element present in the entire album, some songs are fast power metal anthems, others are slower and more emotional, but all of them flow naturaly. What is great is that this new offering is good as a whole and does not have many tracks that stick out (except for maybe the slow ones).
24. Stream Of Passion - A War Of Our Own
Even today I am still wondering if this band should've been layed to rest after Lucassen left in 2007. Even today I don't have a definite answer. What makes me avoid answering is the fact that the three follow up albums ever since the debut have been average to good, with a couple of songs that have the potential to become classics but also with ones that are just pale shadows compared to the material present in the debut. The newest offering of this band tries hardly to explore new fields, it succeeds on several songs but it also fails on others. Stream of Passion is still in search for their identity it seems, but with this album they might get even closer to finally finding it. If you like your predictable gothic metal with some prog elements, I recommend this record.
25. Edguy - Space Police - Defenders Of The Crown
Now this might be this year's surprise. Honestly, after three failed attempts to deliver quality material, I've lost all hope regarding Edguy and anything Tobias Sammeth related. Space Police though, is an album that combines succesfuly the two styles the band is know for. The early power metal era, and the more commercial rock later period. On this material, both sounds very good, unlike the previous 2 offerings especially and while it still has many inconsistencies, it proves that Sammeth is not yet an obsolete artist. I just hope that they will improve in terms of consistency on the future release.
26. Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry
Blut Aus Nord is a band known for its level of experimentation in the black metal scene, for the usage of avant-garde, industrial and noise music elements especially on the album The Work Which Transforms God. Ever since the release of this album, the band has pushed further into developing their new sound, not thinking twice when it came to experiment with new sound. Every now and then though they go back to their 90s raw black metal roots and release another installment in the Memoria Vetusta series, this time entitled III - Saturnian Poetry. To make things short, if you liked what you heard on the previous two MV outputs, this one will not disappoint. Ambiental, atmospheric, primal yet epic black metal awaits you, although this new release is a bit more friendly to the listener compared to the other albums they made.
27. Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
Godflesh' new opus was probably one of the most anticipated reunion albums of the year 2014. Much to my dismay though, the band is not yet capable of recapturing the elements that made them notorious in their prime time. Nevertheless, the Godflesh recipe is still there, the heavy monochromatic riffing, the gnarly bass tone, the programmed drumming but it misses that menacing atmosphere, the suffocating and emotionless sound that gave me goosebumps years ago when I listened Streecleaner. Those that loved their previous two albums might find something interesting in this album. It is not a bland release, it has some moments of glory, but the thing that made this band important for the genre it represents has been lost in time.
28. Menace Ruine - Venus Armata
This band is more of a novelty to me. By chance I stumbled upon it while hunting for new bands on MA and this one stuck with me. The combination of avant-garde music, ambient drone and black metal intrigued me and I gave their latest (by then) output, Alight In Ashes a shot. It took like 10 listening experiences for me to appreciate the mightyness and the sheer genius behind that album and the same thing happened with Venus Armata as well. Menace Ruine is a band that is not afraid to experiment a lot, but it also holds deer the ambient side of their music which is cold yet evil at the same time. I recommend this band for those that wish to venture into unexplored territory, for the open-minded people and for those that are intrigued by the flavor of metal I described here.
29. Ravenscry - The Attraction Of Opposites
Ravenscry in my eyes seems like a Lacuna Coil clone. But appearence can be decieving. While their music revolves around the goth/alternative rock/metal genres something that Lacuna Coil is already known for, this band uses synths to a larger extent than their predecessors and somehow reproduces some melodeath sounds perfectly to their own style. This band got more consistent since their debut and much catchier as well. For those that love catchy stuff with a great female vox, pick this one up this year.
30. Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo
I have to be honest, I liked Dark Adrenaline, unlike most metalheads. I acknowledge the fact that Lacuna Coil will never go back to the early 2 works and they are not capable of releasing another Comalies (not that I want to). If you liked Dark Adrenaline, you will find the same recipe here as well, though it is played a little bit safe. As highlights I would mention Andreea's harsh vocals which adds something new. Lacuna Coil's latest work has its good songs, but also plenty of fillers yet it is still worthy of your shelf.
31. Sargeist - Feeding The Crawling Shadows
While this album recieved a lot of criticism for its departure from the sound of the previous work, I still damn love my portion of raw black metal in a trv;kvlt manner. Low production quality, old school black metal played by the book, a pretty preidctable vocal approach... only by looking at the cover of this album you realize what to expect. A love it or hate it album.
32. Gamma Ray - Empire Of The Undead
Plagued by misfortune in the past two years, Gamma Ray proves with this album that their glorious days did not go away just yet. Empire Of The Undead puts them once again on the power metal frontline after 2 less succesful atempts. Even though it has taken 4 years for this work to see the light, you can expect a more aggressive approach in term of power metal on this record with a speed/thrash feeling stubbornly following all the songs.
33. Sanctuary - The Year The Sun Died
Another highly anticipated come back album by a band that has been defunct (in name only) for more than 20 years. 25 years ago Sanctuary released their most important opus in their career, Into The Mirror Black, and because of some conflicts with their label that wanted them to adopt a sound similar to the grunge movement, they put the band to rest and formed Nevermore. Now that Nevermore is on an indefinite break, Sanctuary has become the main project of frontman Warrel Dane. What can you expect from the new Sanctuary album? Same thing you could expect from a new Nevermore album. The US power metal days have long been forgotten. However, this album is not devoid of quality although the lack of Jeff Loomis can be felt.
34. Kistvaen - Desolate Ways
Romanian depressive black metal band Kistvaen has been busy recording this new album for a couple of years already. If you enjoyed listening to Unbekannte, you will definitely enjoy this one as well. The only change is in the vocal delivery, which is being done by a different man, due to Stefan Zaharescu' departure in 2012.
35. Starkill - Virus Of The Mind
I remember last year when I got my hands on a copy of Fires Of Life and I was just astounded at the sheer energy and musicianship I could find on that single record from this band. Though a rather young band, Starkill proves that they can keep the quality high with this new opus that pretty much seems like an upgraded version of their debut. What can you expect? An infusion of symphonic metal with elements of melodic death and black metal all of them equally balanced into a brutal yet bombastic result.
36. Epica - The Quantum Enigma
Epica hit the bar high with this new record after a thoroughly disappointing predecessor. The Quantum Enigma might be their best up to date as it is carefuly written and performed. Since Simone was pregnant and made touring impossible, all the members of the band chose to carefuly compose the new album, adding or rejecting new ideas. The result is a staggering effort that employs more guitar solos, less harsh vocals, lengthier interludes and a breath of new ideas coming from a new band member. All these elements are blended perfectly in a pot that materializes in The Quantum Enigma. A must listen!
37. Pretty Maids - Louder Than Ever
While some people might just smash this record to the wall labeling it as a run for money, I have to completely disagree. Pretty Maids has been in top form ever since releasing Pandemonium and its follow-up and this compilation which includes 4 new tracks and 8 re-recorded songs follows the same style set on the previous two works. If you love a more poppish approach of heavy metal, this one is for you. One of the better compilations out there.
38. Mastercastle - Enfer (De La Bibliothèque Nationale)
Italian power metal here folks. Mastercastle is a band which comprises already known members from the italian metal scene, but does it offer anything new? Nope. Just standard european power metal played mostly in a middle paced manner. Even though much of the material is heavily recycled, I can't just ditch it as being uninspired. The guitars and keyboard parts are more inspired and keep the album from being boring, but one thing drives it down, the vocals. Giorgia is not really fit for a power metal band as she barely has some power behind her vocal performance. The overall performance may become ultimately bland, but there is still redeeming quality in this record. Worth a shot!
39. Lux Occulta - Kołysanki
This has to be one of those albums that are really hard to dig and once again fit the 'love it or hate it' category. While listening you may notice that this is an unpredictable avant-garde offering that departed the black metal roots of the early works and it is hard even to label it as metal. Kolysanki is a bold move for a band that has not released anything for 13 years and might alienate even the few fans that have sticked with them. Nonetheless, it took me a couple of spins to truly appreciate its worth. If you truly wish to appreciate this work, forget about the old works of this band and try to not expect anything from it.
40. Nocturnal Breed - Napalm Nights
If you're acquainted with Fields Of Rot, then you will surely appreciate Napalm Nights as both of them have one crucial thing in common: both records possess a tight modern thrash metal sound played right. If there is one thing that these people know is how to write proper thrash compositions. My pick for best thrash metal album this year.
41. Dawn Of Destiny - F.E.A.R.
Another tight power metal offering. Think of this album as a colaboration between Blind Guardian and Nightwish. Dark power metal played tightly with an intriguing concept story and an addictive cover art which deserves to be on any kind of T-shirt. While Shear experimented a bit on their latest work, FEAR maintains the trademark sound of DoD while being more melodic and dark.
42. Noctem - Exilium
Blackened death metal and its finnest hour. Though not as spectacular and elaborate as Behemoth's latest offering, Noctem can always be a archrival for another blackened death metal outfit, Belphegor. It remains to be seen if Belphegor's latest work can top this one but one thing is certain, Noctem finally reached a mature sound with this album.
43. Axxis - Kingdom Of The Night II
Axxis is a rather peculiar pick this year. While they're far from being a relevant force in the heavy/power metal scene, they've been a constant presence for the past 25 years releasing a new album every now and then. Kingdom Of The Night II represent the legacy of this band. It contains 2 CD's with 12 different tracks representing the two eras of the band, the hard rock 90s era and the heavy/power metal 2000s era. With this new offering, Axxis seems to have released their magnum opus after more than 25 years.
44. Acheron - Kult Des Hasses
Another blackened death metal offering this year coming from Acheron after 5 years of discographic inactivity. With a new line-up that includes members from Incantation and Shrine Of Suffering, the sound evolved a little bit and sounds akin to what Deicide has been releasing in their prime time, with an improved production quality of course. Worth a shot.
45. Macbeth - Neo-Gothic Propaganda
Though repetitive and sometimes tiresome and directionless, Neo-Gothic Propaganda, the newest gothic metal offering of Italian gothic metallers Macbeth can still deliver a decent representation of this genre. While their old black/gothic days have long gone, their more commercial sound which is probably inspired by the commercial success of bands such as Lacuna Coil, they can stil deliver a tight performance. While musicaly they don't have much to offer, they compensate it with catchyness.
46. The Wounded Kings - Consolamentum
Consolamentum is a rather peculiar doom metal work. It is slower than traditional doom metal a'la Black Sabbath, less fuzzier than a stoner metal/rock sound and not as epic as Candlemass sounded in their prime time. It maintains a sort of balance between the many facettes of doom metal. A slow offering like this does not really appeal to me, but they have one thing that many doom metal bands don't: they do not stick with the same riff for an entire song, thus managing to be memorable.
47. Vanden Plas - Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)
These guys are very profficient in releasing good concept albums every once in a while. With a career spanning over 25 years, Vanden Plas sounds as fresh as in their prime time though with a modern touch on this album. It does not take you long to be convinced that this album is really worthy of either prog or power metal award this year. It's main qualities are consistency and stability (the band did not feature a single line-up change since its formation). Vanden Plas has the skills and maybe the luck to have not released a single disappointing album and their newest offering continues this tradition.
48. Silent Opera - Reflections
An album where aggressivity and elegance meet. A symphonic gothic/death metal outfit resembling Epica, but with a more modern approach. While Laura Laborde does not have the vocal range of Simone Simons, she can still deliver a splendid vocal performance in the operatic fashion. Beauty of the Beast concept is written all over this record, so if you're into predictable symphonic gothic metal offerings, this one is worth a listen or two.
49. Whispered - Shogunate Macabre
Those that have been following this band since their inception know what they're capable of. They play in a similar manner with what Wintersun showed us in their lattest opus, Time I but they are not copy cats. I would say that this has even more eastern folk influences than Wintersun's release and the Japanese lyrical themes as even more obvious. Thousand Swords was disappointing, but this one will make you regain hope.
50. Castle - Under Siege
The new milenium, and especially on the verge of the second decade of this new millenium, traditional doom a'la Black Sabbath saw a revival (probably triggered also by the band reuniting with Ozzy) and tones of bands playing in a similar manner have popped up, some of them filled with pro's and vision, others just following a trend but managing to put forward a good offering now and then. Castle sits in between. While they are clearly Sabbath inspired, they also try to find their place within this niche. Under Siege is an occult themed album engulfed in a spooky atmosphere created and driven by the female vox, Elizabeth Blackwell. In short, this is a band that knows what's doing and despite the lack of variation, they can put forward a decent to good offering.
51. Lethian Dreams - Red Silence Lodge
Those of you who are acquainted with this band know that not much has changed in their sound since their inception. Though they are more known for the female vocalist that activates in the more renowned Remembrance and also in a solo project called Aythis, Lethian Dreams focuses on the atmospheric side of doom metal something similar with what The Gathering was delivering on Mandylion and its follow up. Worth checking out!
52. Sinister - The Post-Apocalyptic Servant
It has been a long time since a band contemporary with the rest of the pioneering death metal bands impressed with a new, creative and inspirational release. Sinister, though they do not have the notoriety of Cannibal Corpse, nor the technique of Death and nor the brutality of Deicide of Suffocation, they surely blend little from each of these bands but in a clever way (especially lyricaly, abandoning the whole gory or satanic mindless themes). Thrash inspired riffage a'la Slayer and a merciless drumming done by Toep Duin, are just some of the aspects that may amaze you.
53. Shattered Hope - Waters Of Lethe
Those that loved Absence might have some difficulties in appreciating their new work. Absence was more of a tribute to death/doom acts such as My Dying Bride or Saturnus. Water Of Lethe puts emphasis on a more funeral doom sound akin to bands such as Esoteric. Eyghenia's exist earlier this year is indeed a heavy blow, these Greek metallers can still pull out a decent performance on this album despite its many lackings (variation).
54. Crematory - Antiserum
Crematory needs no introduction... currently they're the oldest gothic metal outfit in the scene nearing almost 25 years of continuous work. Antiserum shows the band continuing on their new approach of gothic metal sound with electro/industrial elements. So, if you're expecting something akin to Tears Of Time, you can hold your breath and look somewhere else. One cannot overlook the fact that Antiserum is an even more commercial offering than their previous 2 releases. Neverthless, it is catchy!
55. Nadja - Queller
Another love it or hate it release this year. Drone doom has always been hard for me to dig but Nadja is something different. After countless releases, Nadja started to shape with Dagdrøm and The Perfect World (exclude Flipper as it was kinda weak). Queller is just the proper follow up of these two records. Slow and repetitive, akin to every drone album but with a susprising melodic line that keeps you entertained throughout all the 4 long tracks featured on this record. A contender for a doom/extreme doom award this year.
56. Woods Of Desolation - As The Stars
As The Stars is a rather peculiar album. Those that have followed the career of the mastermind behind this project (alongside his previous projects too) know that he has been proficient in genres such as depressive black metal or atmospheric/ambient black metal (Katatonia anyone?). For a while though he started to experiment with shoegaze and this album takes this experimentation a little bit further. Gone are the oppressive sorrowful atmospheric riffs of these band. You can embrace a brighter side of this band with this album, one that will surely not disappoint.
57. Nightmare - The Aftermath
One of France's most important and long-standing heavy/power metal act. The Aftermath marks the band's 9th effort and presents itself with a modern approach of heavy/power metal reminiscent of bands like early to mid Edguy while being a little more faster in terms of guitar riffage. The strong points of this record stands in the ingenuous song arrangements and the flawless vocal performance done by Jo Amore. An album that will please fans certainly, especially in a live performance, a feast for headbangers.
58. Doom:VS - Earthless
Since Draconian seems to be on a half indefinitely because of Heike's visa issues, Johan Ericson released after 6 long years the third Doom:VS album entitled Earthless. Deep rooted in the funeral doom aesthethics, Earthless has to be the best album released under this monicker. Rather than a step forward, Earthless just takes the formula from the previous output and improves it while not venturing into unknown experimental fields. Crushing as the atmosphere may be, Ericson did not forget about the melodic factor, aspect which is very visible on tracks like The Slow Ascent for example. A great listen and a must buy!
59. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li
One of the best concept metal albums this year revolving around Lovecraftian writings (in fact, all this band does is to adapt Lovecraft's works). With this album, The Great Old Ones prove that a band is capable of improving in the aspects they lacked or wrongly approached on their previous outputs. This new album proves that the French black metal scene is by far, the leading one today.
60. Benighted - Carnivore Sublime
Insanity is the word that can describe the sound featured on this offering. Benighted is known for delivering brutal slabs of death metal with grindcore undertones for a while in contrast with the more blackened sound in the first two works. While this work can get tiresome, this is how extreme metal should sound, played by the book. A contender for a brutal death/grindcore award this year.
61. Enthrallment - The Voice Of Human Perversity
This new album is the 4th full length in the discography of the Bulgarian brutal death outfit, Enthrallment. Muhc like Benighted's newest offering, this one also delivers an extreme performance of brutal death though with a less focues on grindcore elements. Think about early Cannibal Corpse when you listen to these guys. Worth a shot!
62. NeraNature - Disorders
Nera is the current vocalist of the gothic black meta band Darzamat, but she also has a promising solo career. After a criticaly acclaimed debut album that ventured into a more gothic/atmospheric rock sound with a hint of industrial, the same elements are present on Disorders with the difference that this one seems cut in half with less than 30 min of audible experience. If you love 80s goth rock, then Disorders will definitely satisfy you, if not musicaly, then at least Nera, with her fantastic vocal performance surely will.
63. Van Canto - Dawn Of The Brave
My first real encounter with this unusual band. In the past I have crossed paths with some songs, but the whole concept pushed me off a little. Dawn Of The Brave, musically speaking is nothing impressive, but due to the unique approach and the A Capella way of singing, I could finally appreciate this band. Though they did better on previous works, this one deserves a shot as well.
64. Svarttjern - Ultimatum Necrophilia
Another modern black metal offering from a new band. The 3rd installment in Svarttjern's discography, not much has changed since their debut, maybe only the inclussion of some melodic lines in the vein of Swedish black metal bands. True black metal to the core though played in a modern manner without low-fi gimmicks. The only complaint I have is about the length. I think the band could've cut off some 6-7 minutes out of this album as it sounds dragged. If you liked Ragnarok's latest offering, you will like this one too as the same vocalist sings in both bands.
65. Prostitute Disfigurement - From Crotch To Crown
The first album since the band's reunion, From Crotch To Crown is very similar with Enthrallment's newest opus as it sounds very much the same with Cannibal Corpse's early works in brutality. Some hints of Pestilence here and there too, an evil atmosphere. Speed and aggressivity, this is what you should expect.
66. MaYan - Antagonise
Three years have passed since the mastermind behind Epica founded Mayan and released their debut, Quarterpast, which was very similar with his works in Epica. With Antagonize, Mark Jansen tries desperately to remove himself from the shadow of his main project and stick to a different formula that, for the long run, succeds. Where it fails is at balancing the soft parts with the harsh ones. The death metal parts in the albums are played perfectly but the soft parts are generic and tiresome. Still, an improvement.
67. Within Temptation - Hydra
Normally, I should exclude this album from this list, but I just can't do it because of two songs that for me, makes the whole album, Whole World Is Wathcing and Silver Moonlight. I think the song-writing was rushed for this album and unlike their previous release, this sounds even more commercial and directionless. Except for a couple of singles, you can avoid listening this album. For die-hard WT fans only (the whole experience).
68. Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto
Elvenking has been an odd ball for me in terms of power metal. While their debut album blew me away with its energy and melodicity, their following works were one let-down after another. The Pagan Manifesto finally ends the failure streak for this band and brings back those elements that made Heathenreel brilliant: anthemic choruses, a clever blend of folky tunes with unrelentless power metal lines, fast paced songs and with a well chosen production quality. Sometimes, when you just can't seem to find your place within this scene, just be cheesy as hell and the formula might succeed. Sabaton did it with the war themes, now Elvenking does it with pagan lyrical themes. I just hope that in the future, the band will decide to follow this musical line. Can't wait to compare this with the new Falconer album.
69. Arkona - Явь
I had a hard time appreciating this album. While I did love the unserios Arkona from the previous albums, Yav shows a completely different face. The sound is more mature, the overall impression is much more memorable than on the previous one that relied on the cliches of the genre to attract attention. Here, the brilliant song-writing is what mesmerizes the listener. A step ahead for this band.
70. Kampfar - Djevelmakt
Pagan black metal played in an epic manner reminiscent of Enslaved. While in the early days, Kampfar sounded like Windir meets Taake, now they infussed some progressive elements in their sound. A good album, and a contender for this year's folk/pagan department without much hassle.
71. Arkan - Sofia
Boy, did Arkan really hit themselves in their balls with this release. Not to induce everybody into an error, but this record will surely polarize their small fan-base. While not being bad, those that have listened only to Hilal, this album may seem like another band did it. Basicaly, the almost totaly excluded the crushing death metal elements from their music (except for 3 major moments), they switched to using mostly female vocals and their middle-eastern elements can be heard and felt only through the accoustic passages. Even with all these changes, the overall experience is still far from being worse, but for those that were expecting the same unrelentless brutality from the first two release, you can hold your breath. Seems like Arkan is no longer the brutal brother of Orphaned Land, but the brutal sister of Lacuna Coil. Thank god that the female vocals are excelent and they still have something up their sleeves in the song-writing department.
72. Elysion - Someplace Better
Another gothic metal band from Greece. Stylisticaly speaking, they play a sort of gothic metal which reminds of the early days of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation through much more commercialy orientated. The vocals remind of Evanescence's frontwoman. Elysion gathered bits and influences from gothic metal scenes from all over Europe and not only and here you have a pleasing mixture and a decent gothic metal performance. Do not expect any innovations though from this band, they just play their shit good.
73. Primal Fear - Delivering The Black
The contrast between Judas Priest and this band was what haunted them for their entire career. The main issue is that Primal Fear never released an album that can be considered their magnum opus and Delivering The Black follows the same line. Generic heavy metal with nice riffs, great vocal performance and speed metal influences.
74. Lantlôs - Melting Sun
This is the second album after the debut which does not feature Neige in the line-up of Lantlos. Some people might rejoice, especially those that were disappointed with the newest Alcest album, some others might regret it, I however am in the first category. Though the black metal elements are either scarce or nonexistant, Melting Sun is more entertaining and solid than Alcest's Shelter. Neige took with him the black metal standards, but left behind a more skilled and visionary musician with a better understanding of the post-rock/shoegaze elements and with a knack at writing solid yet entertaining song structures. So, if you felt disappointed with Alcest's Shelter, Lantlôs's Melting Sun will surely serve as the perfect compromise for this genre.
75. Stormwarrior - Thunder & Steele
If you wish to go back to the early days of bands like Helloween or Gamma Ray, Stormwarrior is the perfect pick. The songs on this albums are engulfed in energy and speed and they can deliver a pleasing experience anytime, anyday.
76. Aenaon - Extance
Good progressive black metal offering coming from Greece once again (damn, this country is on a roll in more than one genre). While Kampfar preferred to venture into known territories already explored by Enslaved, took another influence, Dodheimsgard. The result is outstanding. An unique approach to prog black metal. A contender for a black metal award this year.
77. Ex Libris - Medea
Some of you might know the vocalist of this band, Dianne van Giersbergen (nothing to do with Anneke, other than the fact that both are from Netherlands). Medea is a concept album revolving around a Greek goddess (again Greece...) played slightly different than generic gothic metal. Not really impressive, but far from being repulsive. Worth a shot.
78. Axel Rudi Pell - Into The Storm
Axel Rudi Pell did much better in the 90s and early 2000s I have to admit, but this album is not bad either. Melodic heavy/power metal with nice riffs, a decent vocal performance. Don't expect anything new from this band. If there is one thing pleasing is that they kinda gave up on making ballads.
79. Rise Of Avernus - L'Appel Du Vide
Until now, the best debut album released this year and for good reason. This band is not your average gothic metal outfit. Hints of Paradise Lost, Dimmu Borgir, later Opeth and Amorphis can be found throughout the entire record. If there are some things that makes this album strong is variation and spectacular song-writing.
80. Ea - A Etilla
Epic funeral doom metal is the proper clasification for this peculiar band. This is their fifth release and it proves to be going downhill compared to their previous ones. The sound on this one remains dark as hell, but inconsistencies haunt it from the beginning until the end. Fortunately, unlike most extreme doom outfits, this 50 minutes long track has some variations, otherwise, it would've been a sure miss for me. Worth a shot.
81. Winger - Better Days Comin
Winger has always been ad odd-ball among the glam/hard rock scene. For me, they are hard to label as hair metal since hair was one of the least aspects you could see in this band's discography. Their songs, both early and new are guitar driven with catchy choruses and great song-writing skills. This album does not fit in the hard rock category, as there are heavier songs such as Queen of Babylon with a more heavy metal edge. This is not a band that tries reinvent itself like Dokken or Europe, but a band that made good overall offerings in their prime time and are just continuing the legacy. If it is not broken, don't fix it!
82. Legion Of The Damned - Ravenous Plague
One word, speed! Legion of the Damned knows to do one single thing and they fucking do it good. They can play great thrash/death songs. While last year, Izegrim made my day with Congress Of The Insane, this year close to New Year, these guys made my day. Fucking unrelentless speed and brutality with a hint of melody. Great album.
83. Prong - Ruining Lives
Prong has been Ruining Lives since the 80s and though they have been on hiatus for a decade, they came back strong seeing that this beginning of the century offers a revival of thrash and crossover thrash genres. Unlike the previous work, this is more vocal driven, which is a minus because the vocalist is not that great. The focus on the vocals kinda strips the aggressivity of the sound a little bit, trying way too hard to be catchy and not brutal. In some songs, it works, in others it doesn't, but overall, this is a decent less than memorable album offered by a band with almost 30 years of experience.
84. Necrodeath - The 7 Deadly Sins
Black/death/thrash veterans Necrodeath have returned with their 11th offering and what a hell of a release. After two albums with an unconvincing and lacking approach, The 7 Deadly Sins washes all the other 'sins' this band has been doing in the recent past. Equiped with sheer brutality a'la early Kreator in terms of riffage, good production quality and a menacing vocal peformance, Necrodeath delivers a hellish album that borders some of the most extreme metal genres. Don't miss it!
85. Steel Panther - All You Can Eat
People might really push me off after seeing this in a list with so many brutal names, but I can't help it, these guys are just fucking funny and obscene. While musicaly they are nothing much, they can put up a good solo, a neat vocal peformance and a good dose of glam/sleaze rock/metal. Even though it is a parody. These guys love to attract attention, and they surely know how to.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by ManiacBlasphemer ]


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Comments: 4   Visited by: 133 users
20.05.2014 - 03:25
Thumbs up! Lot's of descriptive information, keep it up.
24.05.2014 - 18:43
Lots of albums I haven't heard before. Great list!
25.05.2014 - 18:07
Au Pays Natal
I might have to give that Winger album a listen. Seriously.
25.05.2014 - 19:48
Black Knight
Written by tea[m]ster on 25.05.2014 at 18:07

I might have to give that Winger album a listen. Seriously.

Sebastian Bach's album is also pretty good. Didn't add it here yet because I want to give it a couple more spins. Winger though is a good choice. Their latest work is good.

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