mastodon once more round the sun15) Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Fans can argue to Hell and high water whether Leviathan or Crack the Skye is the superior Mastodon album (Come on, guys, it’s Crack the Skye), but the fact remains is that the crunchy nature of Mastodon’s past is long gone, having paved the way for the modern progressive giant that we know today. With Once More ‘Round the Sun, however, we see what some may consider the “missing link” between Leviathan and Blood Mountain, carrying with it the aggression of the former in many places while still enjoying the progressive essence of the latter. Heavier than its predecessor, Once More ‘Round the Sun manages to not only create a threatening atmosphere in key spots throughout thanks to the efforts of the Atlanta foursome, but some of the tracks here could certainly stand and enjoy radio play, which speaks volumes of the odd-yet-charming juxtaposition of riffs. For an album thematically about death, Once More ‘Round the Sun is very much alive. (Kyle Gaddo)



BloodshotDawn14) Bloodshot Dawn – Demons

When Bloodshot Dawn released their self-titled debut, I called them the saviors of melodic death metal. It was the shot in the arm the genre needed, but I had a nagging fear that they would never be able to top their incredible debut. I was so, so wrong. Demons surpasses the S/T in almost every way. The songs are heavier and catchier, the super-long solo section in ‘The Image Faded‘ is crazy (features a bunch of legendary dudes), the polyrhythms, soaring choruses, blast beats… this is everything that melodeath needs to be. While a majority of the genre is stuck in 1995, Bloodshot Dawn are pushing the genre forward while keeping the essentials that make it great. The production is perfect as well, which makes it that much easier to headbang to the crushing rhythms and yell along with the vocal lines. I really can’t say enough positive things about this album, and I love it more and more every time I listen to it. Demons just oozes pure quality from every orifice and is an instant shoe-in to the hall of fame for its genre. (Noyan Tokgozoglu)

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ne obliviscaris citadel13) Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel

Melbourne, Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris may not be the first metal band to employ a lead violin (check out Hung, for instance) but this self-styled progressive/extreme/melodic metal band is certainly one of the most successful at using the instrument to its full potential of brutality. On Citadel, violinist and clean singer Tim Charles shows us why using such a bowed string instrument in heavy music can be so compelling. Instead of being a niche or even gimmicky thing, “Ne O” employs songwriting that pulls people in, that appeals to everyone from the most KVLT black metal fan to those who favor a more progressive and melodic bent to their darkness. It’s that ability to reach out to a fractured metal world that makes this band so prepared to really explode in popularity and creativity going forward. (Brian Shields)

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fallujah-thefleshprevails-620x61912) Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails

2014 was a year in music in which several previously “heavy” acts chose to forgo metal in favor of pure beauty. With The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah proved that there’s no need to choose one over the other, that you can create beautiful, evocative music that is still heavy as fuck. The San Francisco Bay Area-based band added atmospherics, Cynic-style cleans and expanded songwriting vistas, but from the first moment of this record there’s never any doubt that this is Fallujah — a Death Metal band producing music that lives up to and surpasses its 2011 debut The Harvest Wombs. Fresh off a full spot on the Summer Slaughter line-up and a year-ending European tour with Dying Fetus, Fallujah has demonstrated an ability to find a mix of the brutal and the pretty that has achieved both artistic and commercial success, something all too rare in this kind of music. (Brian Shields)


Dark_Matters_Album_Cover11) Devin Townsend Project – Dark Matters

We love Devin Townsend. You love Devin Townsend. Is there really anything more to say about the issue? Actually, there is. Year after year, we are astounded that Devin can continue to impress with his various albums, of which this year he has dropped three. One of the most important being the sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient. This new album, Dark Matters, is much like Devin himself: Complex, funny and driven by a particular brand of insanity that only resides within an evil genius. The epic, which plays out like an old radio play, puts Ziltoid in a whole new story where he is real and ready to take over the Earth for his Ziltoidian Overlords. Within, there are poop jokes, heavy riffing and the return of certain smasher of planets. Prepare your ultimate cup of coffee for Ziltoid and your pants for your shit. This is Devin’s magnum opus, and is so for good reason. (Ryan Castrati)



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