My Top 10 Albums of 2014

Hey everyone, hope you’ve all been enjoying the holidays. They’ve kept me busy and away from this site for the past week which is why I’ve been a little absent on here and twitter lately. So I’m returning with my Top 10 Albums of 2014 list. I did this last year and had so much fun I figured I’d try it again. Admittedly, 2014 was no 2013. Not many major artists released albums that I’d consider up to par, but that just left room for more independent bands this year, which I’m excited about. Just like everything I post on this blog, it’s all based on opinion and I’m aware few people will agree with it, but regardless I’m excited to share my Top 10 list. I’ll be providing videos for each album that I initially considered to be the highlight to each album. Enjoy!

#10 – Alvvays “Alvvays”

Original review found Here.

Based on the first impression I got from them, this self-titled debut album was a tad disappointing and I felt it faded a bit toward the end. However its laid back indie sound made for a good change compared to most of the albums I’ve listened to this year and it has songs such as Party Police and Next of Kin that stand out above other albums that could have potentially taken this #10 spot. Alvvays have some fun moments and some slow moments, all of which have at least a sprinkle of melancholy but it’s toward the end of the album with songs like Dives and Red Planet that I feel the experimentation just gets a bit out of hand.

#9 – Accept “Blind Rage”

Original review found Here.

Few metal bands have driven me the way Accept has in my years of listening to classic metal. When they resurged with Mark Tornillo on vocals about six years ago I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Under him they’ve released some good albums, so needless to say I was ecstatic to have been given their third Tornillo fronted album by Metal Nation Radio to review for both their site and mine. While it isn’t my favourite album fronted by Tornillo and certainly not my favourite album by the band, it still holds true to mostly everything I love about Accept, mostly thanks to guitarist Wolf Hoffman doing a valiant job at keeping the band together with fellow remaining member bassist Peter Baltes. Blind Rage doesn’t disappoint with its fast paced metal tracks like Stampede and Trail of Tears while adding in the off slower doomy tracks like The Curse. Like any Accept fan, I would love if Udo Dirkschneider would rejoin the band, but since that appears to be never happening again, Mark Tornillo is a more than adequate consolation.

#8 – Seether “Isolate And Medicate”

Original review found Here.

While I’m undeniably a Seether fan, if you told me twelve months ago that a Seether album would end up in my Top 10 list for 2014 I’d have had a hard time believing you. Sure their previous album Holding On To Strings Better Left To Fray was one of my favourite albums released in 2011, but I never imagined they’d come close to matching that album ever again. While Isolate & Medicate still isn’t quite Holding On To Strings Better Left To Fray, it still shows a further evolution of Seether that I never would have seen possible when listening to their first four albums. Songs like My Disaster, Words As Weapons (before its frequent radio play got me a little tired of it) and the most different sounding song on the album Same Damn Life are just three examples of this further evolved sound while keeping true to the old depressive sounding Seether songs like See You At The Bottom and still including at least one slower softer song, in this case it’s Save Today. Should Seether’s next album, whenever it should be released, end up on my Top 10 list that year, I won’t be surprised.

#7 – Judas Priest “Redeemer of Souls”

Original review found Here.

I couldn’t have imagined a finer effort by these well aged heavy metal veterans. I was expecting greatness when Judas Priest announced Redeemer of Souls but I’ll admit to being sceptical as to whether they still had it in them, particularly Rob Halford. While it is true that Rob doesn’t hit his highest pitch all that often on the entire album, the band more than suffices with some of the best metal songs released in the bands career such as its title track, Cold Blooded, Dragonaut and my favourite Halls of Valhalla just to name a few. While I was one of seemingly few who thoroughly enjoyed their previous album Nostradamus, I’m still glad that the Metal Gods went back to staying true to what made fans fall in love with them again and again.

#6 – Flayed “Symphony For The Flayed”

Original review found Here.

Flayed is a late comer to this list. Of all bands I have ever reviewed that I had no knowledge of prior; those bands that I’m emailed by someone being asked to listen to and to give a review on, Flayed are without a doubt the best of those bands that I’ve been given so far. I only just received Symphony For The Flayed about a month and a half ago for review, but man what an impression it made on me. I had already had a rough idea of my list before listening to this album but had to rearrange it just to include this hard rocker in. It’s classic blues rock influence mixed with not to intense hard rock caught me almost immediately after hearing the organ intro to opening track Sweet Coverage. Blending in fast and heavy tracks such as Son of Sickness with surprisingly intelligent blues rock songs like the album’s title track make this my kind of album, barely squeaking it past Judas Priest on this list.

For the video provided, skip to the 18:40 mark to hear my chosen highlight of the album

 

#5 – Skull Fist “Chasing The Dream”

Original review found Here.

This one’s just for me. This isn’t an album that changes the face of anything, not music, not metal, anything, but damn is Chasing The Dream ever a good album. From start to finish Skull Fist does not slow down with their not so modern brand of classic speed metal reminiscent of Thundersteel era Riot (one of my favourite metal albums of all time). The guitars on the album are overtly showy and the singing is rather high pitched. Every song sounds like it belongs to the 80’s. Even the production of the album sounds like something out of an 80’s heavy metal catalogue.

#4 – Bloody Hammers “Under Satan’s Sun”

Original review found Here.

I think what makes me feel Bloody Hammers released the finest heavy metal album of the year is that it wasn’t a band that’s been around for forty years and should know better. No, it’s a band that’s been together about two and a half years that captured so perfectly what a doom metal album should sound like. I’ve been given many albums by bands who want to seemingly be the next Black Sabbath and only think they know what it takes. Bloody Hammers seem to not care one way or the other if they sound like anyone else, but also seem to know how to make quality heavy metal and quality doom metal like no other modern metal band can. The Town That Dreaded Sundown sounds like Alice Cooper fronting Black Sabbath if they were in their prime in 2014, while Dead Man’s Shadow on the Wall sounds like a showdown between old and new metal. Glued together with an almost perfect Alice Cooper cover and differently experimental sounding tracks like The Last Alarm, there was never any doubt in my mind that this is 2014’s best metal album.

#3 – The Trews “The Trews”

Original review found Here.

I admitted in my initial review that I hadn’t previously given The Trews a proper chance prior to listening to this self titled fifth full length album of theirs, but that didn’t stop me from giving it a good review. I have since listened to and fallen in love with all of their music, but one thing that remains certain is that I still believe this to be their finest album. Their songwriting is more comfortable than ever, thus the abundance of great rock songs that range from hard rock anthems such as Rise In The Wake to acoustic outputs such as In The Morning as well as powerful love songs such as Where There’s Love. An album such as this could only have been recorded by The Trews. They’ve truly come into their own as a band, and I’d hope more bands would eventually record rock albums as diverse as most of The Trews albums have been, especially this one.

#2 – The Colourist “The Colourist”

Original review found Here.

I’m rather surprised that an indie band such as The Colourist is not only on my list, but is at the number two spot. When I started this blog I didn’t even listen to bands of the sort, but it was love at first listen for me. I mean it’s nothing new to the genre, there is no experimentation or surprises, but the songs are catchy in a way I don’t believe any other album this year has been. The combination of Adam Castilla and Maya Tuttle‘s vocals on each song adds some uniqueness to these mostly fun and free youthful tracks. Songs like Tonight (Young Hearts), We Won’t Go Home and the soft acoustic track Stray Away would not be the same without the chemistry between Adam and Maya’s voices.

#1 – Ume “Monuments”

Original review found Here.

My top choice is one that not many have heard of, but all the same I think I’ve known all year that this would be somewhere at the top of my list. Each song is raw, sounding like a live jam in the studio, giving each track such an authentic and unpolished sound, just the way I like my music. In fact it’s that rawness that puts this album above the rather polished and well produced The Colourist. It’s the rawness that makes tracks like Black Stone and Until The End such appeal to me as a listener, while melodic acoustic songs like Baraphobic and Within My Bones give some diversity to Momuments.

Honourable Mentions

Since this is a top 10 for strictly albums, there have been some fantastic EPs that I’ve been given this year that need a mention, but the two best ones were most certainly The Lad Classic‘s Thunder and Anyone’s Guess‘s March in The Dark ~ Chapter 1. As for full length LPs that fought for the #10 spot, the only major recording band to be considered was Steel Panther with their newest album All You Can Eat. The Pack A.D. were also a consideration as well with their Do Not Engage album. There were also a few independent bands such as progressive metal band Distorted Harmony‘s Chain Reaction, and alternative rock bands Good Knives and Black Map with their A Place Called Doubt and …And We Explode albums respectively. In the end Alvvays got the #10 spot due to its uniqueness, but these albums deserve a mention regardless.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: My Top Albums of 2015 | Rock Review Phil

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