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Albums Of 2014 I Hear

Here are the albums coming up in 2014 that I have heard and will anticipate. Like last year, every album will be in order by what I hear first. Reviews and scores for each album to follow as the year goes.

Created by: CobiWan1993 | 04.01.2014

1. Behemoth - The Satanist
[8.55/10] - Okay so I was expecting to hear Alcest's album first, but my copy hasn't come in the mail yet, and it's taking Amazon forever to send it so whatever. As blackened death metal's flag wavers, they definitely emphasize the "blackened" tag more in this album compared to their other recent works (a clear throwback to their earliest scrolls), reminding me a lot of Watain's previous album stylistically speaking, but still distinctly Behemoth. It's good to hear that Behemoth is still able to carry on despite Nergal's previous bout with leukemia and be able to put out a damn good record in the early portion of 2014. Not a bad start I must say.
2. Sunn O))) - Terrestrials [Collaboration]
[8/10] - A very interesting collaboration to say the least, combining the respective talents of Ulver and Sunn 0))) to create a trippy and disorienting ambiance that recalls 1960's psychedelia and modern avant-garde. Whenever I'm just sitting by myself in my room and need to disconnect myself from the outside world, this will certainly put me into a nice daze.
3. Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us
[6.25/10] - I thought this would be a great work at first, but I feel like it progressively gets worse with repeated listens. The vocals are rather bland and get kind of annoying after a while and the guitars lack any real edge or punch to them. The songs discuss very abstract thoughts on contact with extraterrestrial beings and are composed of music that reflects vintage and modern prog/jazz fusion music (not a complaint, just saying). There may not be any growls on here, but it's still an alright work to invest your time with (if you want). But yeah, it comes no where close to Focus.
4. Alcest - Shelter
[8.35/10] - A very nice, serene shoe gaze styled affair. I like the risk these men are taking by stripping away their old black metal style in favor of a more delicate, post rock sound. Neige has composed some very gorgeous and moving melodies that makes a long car ride along the coast all that much more pleasant and life-affirming. I look forward to hearing more albums being done in this style, although if they were to return to their black metal sound on future releases then that would be A-okay as well.
5. Triptykon - Melana Chasmata
[8.25/10] - Triptykon has returned after four years with another winner. The sound is not all that much different from Eparistera Daimones, but still adds some new tricks into the fold, including some acoustic guitar melodies and a sick blues solo during the last song "Waiting". It also has a slightly more laid-back tone with some of their most hypnotizing riffs to date (works great with weed I can imagine). Very good, solid release from these masters of doom.
6. Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere
[8.35/10] - I feel this is probably the band's most "all-encompassing" effort to date. It continues along in roughly the same vein as the sound from "Marrow of the Spirit", while also reaching back to the sounds formed from their previous albums, thus forging a new direction in the process. It's a really hard album to properly dissect and not quite going to be Album of the Year after some repeated listens (and nowhere near such albums as The Mantle and Pale Folklore), though still a solid slab of music in its own right.
7. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
[7.25/10] - I wouldn't say this is one of their finest works or anything, it's rather inconsistent and seems to be pursuing different directions at once (though I think it sort of works in a weird way, perhaps representing the different "stories" of the album). There's some good songs interspersed with some simply "meh" songs here and there that don't leave much impact. For what this album is it works. I admire their experimentation and doing what they want to do as opposed to what the fans want from them, although I hope they don't continue down this more dance-pop route and bring back some organic instruments into the fold (don't end up like Maroon 5 which I have a suspicion they are already treading into).
8. Anathema - Distant Satellites
[8.45/10] - Congrats to this band reaching the tenth album in their career, not many bands make it that far which demonstrates their appeal and dedication to their musical style. This is a nice continuation of the two previous albums albums they did before while throwing in elements from their even earlier work (I'd say barring the early death metal work, though some of the darker aesthetics sort of creep in a bit towards the last half especially with a chilling organ passage). Not necessarily going to top classics like "The Silent Enigma" or "Judgement", but this is still another strong effort for this really good band.
9. Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls
[6.5/10] - I admire this band's endurance and longevity as an important patriarch of metal music, however I feel they should have stopped with Nostradamus and that this album wasn't really necessary to make in my opinion. The production (like a lot of big name albums these days) is not the best and the mastering is way too loud. I liked a few songs (Sword of Damocles and Beginning of the End for example) and it has its moments here and there, but it's nothing spectacular to be honest. Hopefully other people can find more stuff from this album that they can revisit than I have. Overall, I felt a bit underwhelmed.
10. Shores of Null - Queiscence
[7.5/10] - This record is from a newcomer based in Italy that came out just earlier this year, so they won't be on this site as a result. They have an interesting sound that combines different styles from bands like Amorphis, Katatonia, Alice in Chains, and so forth. The sound of the album can be a bit hard on the ears at times and the songs can seem a bit repetitious at times, but the musicianship is solid at least. Considering this is a debut it's a good effort. Hopefully this band can push itself even further with their next albums and really take the world by storm, since they have good ideas and show a lot of promise, they just need to be fleshed out more since it's a bit too "bare bones" for now.
11. Novembers Doom - Bled White
[8.25/10] - Very crushing and emotionally heavy release. Sometimes I have to be in the right mood to listen to the album from front-to-back (considering its nearly 70 minute length), but it's still a highly enjoyable album that the band should be proud of. Definitely a good one to check out for any doom metal fans out there. Some standouts for me include "Clear", "The Memory Room", "The Brave Pawn", and "The Silent Dark".
12. Opeth - Pale Communion
[9/10] - This album runs essentially in the same vein as the previous album Heritage, only the flow is more consistent and the band has a more clear idea of where they want to go musically speaking. Pale Communion also has what you might call a slightly heavier sound than the last album, making this Heritage's evil little twin brother if you will. Not a bad release, in fact it's quite solid and highly enjoyable, and after repeated listens, it has a chance of reaching the top five of 2014 in my personal opinion. Awesome stuff.
13. Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars
[8/10] - Definitely a nice, solid release. A good balance of extreme metal and melodic passages (with a leaning towards the former) that works really well. Definitely a fine cast of musicians that have potential for a promising future.
14. Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel
[9.25/10] - Album of the Year, hands down. Not only is this album just as good as Portal of I, it's even better. The album definitely benefits from having the fat that was present on Portal of I (not that that's really a bad thing) trimmed off, with a more accessible length of about 48 minutes (instead of up to 72). The band has really tightened their songwriting approach and even added some more tricks to the already diverse trade (some moments reminded me of Between the Buried and Me). Cannot recommend this album enough.
15. Pink Floyd - The Endless River
[8.25/10] - Very solid and beautiful ambient work. Might disappoint some people expecting more vocals (since it is mostly instrumental), but I think the music speaks for itself very nicely. The flow is excellent and time flies rather quickly while listening to it. This maybe Pink Floyd's final album, but it is certainly a testimony to all that makes this band so classic and beloved by rock fans everywhere. It's a nice work.
16. Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral
[8.5/10] - Good to see Bloodbath back after about 6 years or so. This is a very grimy, sludgy album that just happens to have a big production budget. Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost makes a fine addition into the fold, and his growl is quite menacing, I love it. Some of the songs take more of a doom-based approach compared to some of the earlier songs in their back catalog, which is a nice stylistic deviation that keeps their sound fresh. I really enjoy this work.
17. Fen - Carrion Skies
[7/10] - I don't know. I think this might their weakest to date (and I love their work). It's probably the tightest they've ever sounded, the production is better, and The Watcher's vocals are amazing as always, however everything just sort of blurs together after a while, since I can't really point to an outstanding standout track that I can revisit again and again like on their earlier albums (Bereft, Carrier of Echoes, Spectre and Hands of Dust to name a few). Some of these songs get rather repetitive after a while and there is not as much musical dynamacy. Definitely a grower that needs some time for me. It's still pretty good, but I don't feel the need to go back to it as often as the previous three albums.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by CobiWan1993 ]

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