And the list marches on. We’ve covered a myriad variety of metal so far and it’s a been a blast. Some of the albums already on the list definitely enjoyed a few more spins, just to remember exactly how good they are. As we charge towards that illustrious top five, the quality is not going to stop. We’re slowly climbing our way towards albums that were either hotly disputed in the group or enjoyed an overwhelming amount of consensus. Brace yourselves, here we go again!
Without further ado, here’s an arbitrarily arranged list of awesome albums from 2014 so far. Remember: it’s okay to not like thing.
Albums that didn’t quite make it, but still ruled:
Numbers – Three || Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun || The Kindred – Life in Lucidity || Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite||
Sud ad Astral – Afterglow || Hannes Grossman– The Radial Covenant || Vallenfyre – Splinters ||
HARK – Crystalline|| Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us || Tellusian – Collision ||
Alaya – Thrones
Alaya’s Thrones is one of those albums that really digs its claws into you and doesn’t let you go until you’ve heard it again and again. This album was a long time coming and the end result is a mature and well thought out release. From the attractive heights of the vocals to the breakneck drums and bass on the breakdowns, Thrones is a fast paced album that doesn’t wait for anybody. Enough throwaways to different styles, like folk music, metalcore and even Japanese music keep the sound fresh and engaging throughout the whole thing. Comprised of several distinct parts, the album is brought together by one uniting fact: emotion and plenty of it. Towards the end, the songs become more robust, with the kick drums suddenly dominating almost every movement. The balance tilts towards the breakdowns, making this section of the album all that heavier. The albums ends on that high and aggressive note, etching itself into the listener’s memory.
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This is not an album. This is a cultural phenomena. Blending the trappings of Japanese kawaii culture with some of the most absurdly catchy metal out there. The singing is performed by three talented singers that also embody the spirit of the band. But make no mistake, this is not amateurish or a joke in anyway. The instruments play a variety of styles including, but not limited to, death metal, thrash and even nu. Throughout Babymetal‘s stellar creation the key factor is being catchy: the production is sweet and to the point, the hooks are plenty and engaging and the vocals, while being in Japanese, strive to be relate-able and interesting. But don’t take it from us. The band has enjoyed global success, touring all across Asia and becoming an online sensation. They’ve even had big names, like Chthonic, make guest appearance at their shows. Click below for a taste but be careful: it’s highly addictive.
The Algorithm – Octopus4
Octopus4 is undoubtedly the album that stretches our genre definitions the most on this list. No one would claim that this album is metal, although it certainly draws a lot from the many genres that certainly are. However, this is an electronic album and a very good one at that. Originally written for a computer game, this album is littered with weird MIDI effects, breakneck electronic beats and synthesized shenanigans that bedazzle the listener. Around its edges though one can find plenty of aggression ,djent-like beats and a “metallic” approach to vocals. Genre definitions aside, this is one of the most innovative albums of the past six months. It cartwheels and dives through lurid song structures, bizarre lyrical passages and even rap. The most amazing thing is that you don’t feel lost for a second, guided a long by the excellent composition and attention to rhythm. Pick up this album for an adrenaline rush, a fast injection of power right to the veins.
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Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
Metal can sometimes be a tad too bombastic and loses the nuance and restraint that can really satisfy the senses. Where others lack this, Artificial Brain make it the unique selling point of Labyrinth Constellation. Vast expanses of tremolo picked, detuned riffs and endless blasts are alien in their realization but this is as close to relaxing as brutal death metal can get. You could be surprised to find that Artificial Brain have Revocation thrasher Dan Gargiulo in their lineup, playing an altogether different breed of nouveau metal here. The production on the album is perfect with a wall of noise that berates and sways, drenched in grime and punctuated with laser sharp guitars. Chances are you have not heard extreme metal sound quite like this before. It can be a bit too much for the ears and guts if not properly prepared for as the vocals can scratch somewhere sensitive and there is very little breathing room throughout the duration. It’s progressive enough that it strays from genre stereotypes but not so much that it becomes something it never aimed to be. Terrifying extreme music.
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Gridlink – Longhena
Very few people expected Gridlink to make one of the greatest grind-core albums of all time, but that’s mainly because not enough people were paying attention. Longhena took the foundation the band established on previous releases Amber Grey and Orphan and shredded it to pieces, along with everyone’s expectations. Few bands could ever hope to craft an album this well written, much less make it their swansong. A multitude of superlatives have been heaped on this album since its release, and all of them are well deserved. No frills, no filler—just pure, violent artistry, contorted by some of the best extreme metal musicians on the planet. Twenty two minutes of anger, hatred, joy, and sorrow. If you haven’t heard this vicious masterpiece yet, you’re missing out. Go buy a copy as soon as possible and support independent music. It’s the right thing to do.
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We’re getting close, dear listeners! Tomorrow marks the last un-ranked group of our little trek and brings that much closer to the coveted final five. See you all then!