10 – Machine Head – Bloodstones & Diamonds
This was always going to happen. Machine Head are a personal favourite of mine, since ‘Through The Ashes of Empires’ this band can do no wrong, Bloodstones & Diamonds changes things up stylistically just enough to be considered a sonic progression. Rob sounds brutally pissed off as well, which is just the way the metal community needs him. Another standout release from the Head and a favourite for sure. I especially like the return of the Machine Head harmonic on ‘Ghosts will Haunt My Bones’. I however feel Rob needs to shake things up even further on their next encounter, that shouldn’t be a problem for him.
9 – Kayo Dot – Coffins on IO
Kayo Dot delivers another curve ball, never one to pigeon hole themselves, Toby Driver & Co try their hands at 80’s synth pop, electronica and Jazz Fusion. The results are as compelling as always, its not as consistent as Hubardo but regardless one of the more interesting releases in 2014. They surely must be running out of ideas!!
8 – Swans – To Be Kind
Brutally long, 2 hrs is longer than most movies I sit through before falling asleep, but there are so many monumental highlights on ‘To Be Kind’. Its as though Swans were building for this their whole careers. It requires immense patience, but the rewards are their in spades. Art, Noise Rock, whatever! I don’t care. this is an absolute must listen for all music lovers. Strap in, get out the popcorn and escape. This is a journey of monumental proportions.
7 – Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire
One of my most anticipated albums of 2014 did not disappoint, the preceding ‘Decline and Fall’ EP was a nice taster for what was to come and damn did ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ do what it needed to do. This was the only Industrial metal release of 2014 that made any impact on me, bleak and desolate. This is a very special album that really got under my skin and into my psyche as the year progressed, its one of those intriguing releases that is a favourite before you even know it.
6 – Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
This beauty came out of left field in the first half of 2014 and very rarely left my cd player. With a sci-fi theme, Labyrinth was an ambitious effort for a debut, its a multi layered affair and one of those records that gently reveals more and more each time. They are my favourite types of albums, its the gift that keeps on giving. Amazing release and surely a band to watch in the coming years.
5 – Rishloo – Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth
December came along and it looked as though 2014 was going to fail to deliver a worthy progressive rock contender, enter Rishloo. What I love about this record is the sense of emotion, ambitiousness and progression. The vocals are without doubt the highlight of the album and have improved immensely since Feathergun, they are still a little full in the mix and a few more instrumental sections would suit, regardless this is a landmark album for this independent band out of Seattle. A real grower, and a few more months with this beauty may have seen this higher. Brilliant!!
4 – Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
ETID do it every second year, they just keep delivering time after time. Now one of the heavyweights in their league, From Parts Unknown makes slight progressive adjustments from Ex Lives. Keith Bucklet is on fire, his vocals sound impassioned and the guitars have their usual grit and crunch and the drumming is as crucial as ever. This is packed full of every thing you have ever loved about ETID. They also drop a bombshell in ‘Moor’ to floor you early on. Brilliant album and its staying power and replay value is important and why this makes my top 10 of 2014.
3 – Morbus Chron – Sweven
Like Artificial Brain, Morbus Cron came out of left field, I had never heard of this Sweedish four piece, but they delivered what I consider to be the Death Metal release of the year. Difficult to categorise, this falls very loosely in the Death Metal mould, but has plenty of variety throughout with plenty of progressive tendencies scattered across the ten tracks. This sound is so dense, the layers upon layers of sound and technique is second to none. the production is perfect and the writing a real standout. There is a definite feeling of outer-worldliness about this, the artwork is stellar and the lyrical content very interesting. a very fine release, not perfect but i think this band will reach it in the coming years.
2 – Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
Doom album of the year, quite easily. Pallbearer released one of the years best in 2012 with their debut ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ it really blew the Doom genre to pieces. It was very interesting approaching the release of Foundations of Burden as to whether they could expand on their sound and style and outdo themselves again. They did!! FoB is crafted so very well, every single minute evokes such feeling, emotion and is very powerful at the same time. The vocals have improved immensely from their debut, shedding the Layne Stayley ‘isms’. The production a standout and each and every other member extending themselves remarkably. An outstanding release that went very close to album of the year for me.
1 – Giant Squid – Minoans
There was not a release in 2014 that told more of a story than Giant Squid did on Minoans, for a run down on this and to read my review see here. What I love about this is the manner in which the storyline and music went hand in hand. equally parts crushing and sombre, historical and creative. Giant Squid are one of those bands that you want all your friends and family to get into, but your equally more than happy to carry the little secret around with you. This is an amazing release, its my top album of 2014 and I’m looking forward to what they can come up with next. Bravo Giant Squid!!