If you’ve ever spent days agonizing over a project, checking and rechecking to make sure that it’s right, finding something at the last minute that changed everything, and then finally deciding that you were just done and had to cut it off, then you understand what it was like finalizing my Top 10 list this year. I have spent days upon days listening to albums over and over, trying to determine what made the cut this year and what could only manage an honorable mention, and it has been maddening. To put it into perspective, four of my five all-time favorite bands released new music in 2014, and of those four albums, only one of them made it into my Top 10. It’s not to say that the other three were bad (all three are very high on my honorable mentions), but rather that there were so many other albums that just impressed the hell out of me. So let’s not delay it any longer. Here it is, my labor of love – my Top 10 Albums of 2014.
I expected this album to make my top 10 this year for a multitude of reasons, and I was not disappointed. As I’ve said before, the technicality that this young band displays simply defies all logical explanation. The last young band to play technically with this degree of skill was Periphery, and we all assumed that they were just a fluke, because only bands with Meshuggah’s years of experience could play at that level, right? Well, Allegaeon has proven the status quo wrong once again. Now, let’s be clear here – Allegaeon is certainly playing up the nerd metal card to the highest possible degree. You can’t write a song about the golden ratio of mathematics and not expect statements like that to pop up. But in Allegaeon’s case, there is nothing wrong with that. Their music is technical to the point of being Dream Theater levels of nerdy, but it still slays. Allegaeon goes far beyond the basics, and they’ve certainly worked hard to earn all of the praise they’ve received.
Key tracks: “Dyson Sphere”, “1.618”
I will admit that I was late to jump on the Revocation train. I got into them last year with their self-titled album, but I probably didn’t give it as much attention as it deserved at the time. With Deathless, however, I was fully enraptured from the start, and now I understand why this band carries the following that they do. A lot of modern death metal just comes across as being bland and repetitive, with the same riffs and structures repeating across an entire album, or even over multiple albums. Revocation avoids all of that with their combination of death metal and thrash, creating a sound that is unique in its execution and inescapable in its appeal. Even the few melodic parts, which would sound out of place on any other album, fit in perfectly to their assigned parts on Deathless. I expect great things from Revocation as they continue to hone their sound, because they already sound miles better than any of their contemporaries.
Key tracks: “Madness Opus”, “The Blackest Reaches”
Upon the release of White Devil Armory, a lot of people complained that Overkill had released the same album three times in a row. While it is undeniable that there are stylistic similarities among Ironbound, The Electric Age, and White Devil Armory, I don’t see a problem with that. After all, why is there a problem with releasing the best thrash album created in over a decade for the third time? Overkill and Death Angel are the two best thrash bands currently active, and their albums have, consequently, been the best thrash releases in their respective years. White Devil Armory is fast, technical, and punishing from start to finish, which is more than the Big 4 can say about their recent output. No disrespect meant to the creators of the genre, but Overkill has been outclassing them for years now, and this is just the latest in a series of better albums.
Key tracks: “Armorist”, “Freedom Rings”