Welcome, one and all, to the Heavy Blog Is Heavy Album of the Year list! This year, we did something a bit different. Instead of running staff members’ top 25 or top 10 lists, we went all sophisticated and created a composite Top 50 list. We’ll leave the statistical games behind the scenes but suffice it to say that we didn’t just vote on the list and its order. More subtly, this list represents the different rankings staff members gave albums on scale of 1-25. After we’re done running the complete list, we’ll also have a section where you can peep each member’s top 10 and an Outliers list: albums that made individual top 10’s but not the final Top 50.
The albums that you see below, from 50-26, are many of which we might call “wildcards.” Many of these albums either took us by complete surprise or are in genres we don’t normally cover on the website. Rather than restrict our list to just metal releases though, we wanted this list to be a true reflection of the full tastes of our eclectic staff.
I’ll shut up now, OK? Head on over the jump for the full list. 2014 was an amazing year and we thank each and everyone of you for being with us for it. We can’t wait for 2015! Let’s get to it.
50) The Contortionist – Language
It seems that everyone has an opinion on The Contortionist’s new album, Language. Most them are drastically different from one another, as well. They range from critical praise of the albums spacy and enveloping approach to the prog formula, all the way to crying foul because it seems like they tore a few pages from Cynic’s musical notebook. I subscribe to the former opinion, but I’ve been around so many people who hold the latter opinion that I began to question whether I was on the right side of it all. I had to really analyze what I loved about this record, and what I came away with was that it made me feel something. Every vocal line masterfully delivered by one Michael Lessard, every synth stroke and every well placed drum hit took me further down the band’s rabbit hole and wrapped me tightly in the atmosphere of the record. I came away from it realizing that I wasn’t wrong for liking the album, nor were others wrong for disliking the album. It was made with the intent to make the listener feel something. It was meant to speak to us in one way or another. In that light, I think we can all agree that it was a success. (Ryan Castrati)
49) Trap Them – Blissfucker
Trap Them sit in a strange place. One that finds them peddling dark, metallic and filthy hardcore in a niche they helped carve out and that seems to become more and more populated as the years go on. However, each entry in Trap Them’s history has been nothing short of a brilliant and solid collection of thick, HM-2 distorted riffs, rapid-fire drumming and an almost anthemic assortment of abstract, horrifying (and still unfortunately unprinted) lyrics. Blissfucker, as its name would suggest, is no different. From the energetic bursts of ‘Habitland’ to the icy march of ‘Savage Climbers’, Trap Them continue to cement themselves as one step ahead of the pack with a ferocious and potent combination of songs that want to get to into your head as much as tear it right off. (Damien Leech)
48) NYN – Eventuality
First, let me preface this by saying Noyan is both an editor of Heavy Blog and a personal friend of mine, so I’ve tried to go into this with as little subjective bias as possible. That said, Eventuality is, in my opinion, the very best technical/progressive death metal album this year, up there with Archspire and Beyond Creation. The sheer amount of “But wait, there’s more!” on this album is a bit overwhelming, in the best ways possible. Just when you think a song is done, it transitions into a surprise surf-metal section (yes that’s a real thing). The amount of passion and talent on display here is evident from the very beginning, and I’m as jealous of the technicality as I am in awe of the songwriting. Don’t miss out on this. (Colin Kauffman)
47) Skyharbor – Guiding Lights
Sounding smoother and sleeker whilst staying inventive and demanding, this latest model from Skyharbor takes the band away from their bumpier, grittier debut. Driven by the triumphant, emotion-soaked vocal of Daniel Tompkins, the album delves deep into the realms of post-rock and dream pop. Earworms like ‘Evolution‘ and ‘The Constant’ suck you in, whilst the sheer beauty of ‘Halogen”s construction and the heart-rending pain that inhabits ‘Patience‘ will demand continuous repeats. The organic ebb and flow of the album ties neatly in with the themes of life, evolution and entropy as they present a work of art that will toy with your senses and reduce grown men to tears. Skyharbor are going places and Guiding Lights is proof that sharing their journey will be something of a delight. (John Skibeat)
46) Babymetal – Babymetal
For all the hate the project gets, BABYMETAL is not only a fine meeting of Japanese idol pop and death metal with a slight electronic edge, but manages to be one of the most well-produced and downright fun albums of 2014. The thick and simplistic riffings underlaid by bubblegum synths create such a stark contrast that it’s impossible not be to taken aback in sheer confusion. Yet, after a while, you find yourself bobbing your head and even singing along despite your (supposed) lack of understanding of the Japanese language, thanks to the soaring lead melodies of Suzuka Nakamoto (Sumetal), or even taking a backseat with the adorably pleasant backings of Moa Kikuchi (Moametal) and Yui Mizuno (Yumetal). Whatever your feelings are regarding the group, one thing is for sure—BABYMETAL has become something of a cultural force and is truly impossible to disregard. (Kyle Gaddo)