There was no shortage of incredible metal of all flavours to come out in 2014, with everything from young bands putting out sophomore records, to 25-year veterans putting out their next classic. If you’ve been out of the loop, or are curious to explore a new genre of music, here are 13 of the best metal albums from this past year.
Behemoth – The Satanist (Poland)
Topping many “best of 2014” lists is Behemoth’s The Satanist. It’s the Polish veterans’ first album in five years, and their first since their frontman Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. The record is undeniably brutal, showcasing the band’s roots while also exploring uncharted territory. The Satanist is an easy contender for the best metal release of the year. Pitchfork rated it at 8.2, describing the album as “a terrific coil of most everything Behemoth have ever done well, a strangely hopeful vision of hell wrested away from its very grip.”
Hollow – Mordrake (Canada)
Hollow is an incredible band from Montreal that defies traditional genre definitions. Their 2014 release Mordrake adventurously combines elements of black, symphonic, thrash, death, while never failing to be an enjoyable slaughtering of your senses. It sounds raw, and human. And they’re Canadian, which is fun.
Alestorm – Sunset on the Golden Age (Scotland)
On a bit of a lighter note is Alestorm’s 2014 album Sunset on the Golden Age. Alestorm calls themselves “True Scottish Pirate Metal”, and write songs about such topics as raiding villages and stealing people’s alcoholic beverages, and aggressively consuming said beverages. And despite the comical nature of the band, they still manage to write some seriously heavy tunes.
Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall (Greece)
Dead Congregation’s Promulgation of the Fall is unrelenting dark death metal record that doesn’t necessarily focus on breaking new ground in the genre, but rather simply does it really, really well.
Babymetal – Babymetal (Japan)
And now for something completely different. If you haven’t heard Babymetal before, don’t be fooled by your first impression. Merging metal with Japanese idol, these three Japanese teenage girls have created some of the most catchy metal songs without skimping on riffs or furious drumming. It’s legit.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (USA)
Another serious contender for best metal album of the year is Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden. The American doom metal band achieved “Best New Music” status on Pitchfork with a rating of 8.6.
Darkspace – Dark Space III I (Switzerland)
Dark Space III I, from Swiss ambient black metal masters Darkspace, is a cold and bleak atmospheric onslaught that reflects the dark and lifeless expanse of the universe. They are known for writing about space, darkness and cosmic mysticism, and this 2014 release evokes all of those concepts really, really well.
Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Finland)
Shadows of the Dying Sun is the 6th full length to come from the Finnish melodic death metal experts Insomnium, and certainly lives up to their previous releases. Featuring a dynamic combination of unwavering, heavy music and merciless growls, with ethereal symphonic soundscapes, vocal harmonies, and even spoken word. Shadows of the Dying Sun manages to be true to the genre while throwing in some of the unexpected.
Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere (USA)
Out of Portland Oregon, Agalloch released their 5th record The Serpent & The Sphere in May of 2014. Often dubbed “atmospheric folk black metal”, the band incorporates elements of progressive metal, post-rock, black metal, doom metal and more. Since putting out their first full length in 1999, the band has a solid track record, and always finds new and interesting ways of making folk music heavier, grislier, and darker.
Sun Worship – Elder Giants (Germany)
Sun Worship‘s Elder Giants is a journey in atmospheric black metal that offers an extremely dark and aggressive experience that pummels the listener. A review of the album on Sputnik Music described the opening track as “frosty-tinged, blitzkrieging tremolo riffs that melt together and morph into abyssal darkness”, and that description is just too perfect to try and outdo.
Woods of Desolation – As The Stars (Australia)
To throw yet another genre descriptor in the mix, Australia’s Woods of Desolation offer up some amazing atmospheric, depressive black metal. The music is haunting, intense, harsh, and melancholic, but also rich, melodic, and triumphant.
Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails (USA)
The Flesh Prevails is only the second full length album to come from San Francisco natives Fallujah, but already the band is making waves across the extreme metal scene. And, like fellow Bay Area metal-makers Deafheaven before them, many have predicted the band is poised to become the next “it” metal band. Regardless of any hype surrounding this release, the album is solid, and a great contender for year-end album lists.
Slough Feg – Digital Resistance (USA)
Taking a step away from the extreme side of things, Slough Feg’s Digital Resistance is yet another great 2014 release from the United States. Approaching the band’s 25th anniversary, this 2014 release marks the band’s 11th album since 1996. If you’ve never heard of Slough Feg, but like Iron Maiden, Dio, and the new wave of British heavy metal, you’ll probably love this record.