Dead Halfway Thru 2014 Best-Of

Sunday, 1st June 2014

The metal release schedule has five months in the can for 2014, and since December is usually no-man’s land for releases, we are taking time to look back at the releases that were of importance to us. The topsy-turvy, but ultra-persistent world of metal has provided enough us with more than enough (read: way more than enough) releases to comb through during the first-half. The fortunate lot we are to be able to consume so much music in such a short period of time, something that is surely reflected across the top-five releases you’ll encounter below. It’s a two-horse race at the present time, with Poland’s Behemoth (pictured) and Finland’s Insomnium receiving the most amount of love from the staff. Will they hold up come year’s-end? We shall see…

David E. Gehlke
Digital high-fives all around to the staff and our readership for helping this fair little site continue to grow. And there’s more to come, especially in the cosmetic department. For now, nothing totally world-wrecking in terms of releases for this scribe; just a lot of pretty good, lasting releases, but we have another six months to go. And, of course, a lot shall happen in these forthcoming months, specifically new efforts from At the Gates and Judas Priest, which could go a long way toward reaffirming the belief the oldies are better than the newbies. Alas, the below list will no doubt go through some alterations come December, but Insomnium is standing firm, with Slough Feg not too far behind. And don’t sleep on Australia’s Voyager, either…

1. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media)
2. Slough Feg – Digital Resistance (Metal Blade)
3. Shores of Null – Quiescence (Candlelight)
4. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (Century Media)
5. Voyager – V (Nightmare)

Kyle McGinn
After foolishly thinking that 2013 was the apex after a few very solid years of metal, 2014 has already proven to be even stronger in the first half. Sifting through Bandcamp on a regular basis hasn’t helped matters either, with a bounty of hidden gems popping up over there as well. Being able to easily write up a very good top 20 already means there will be a lot of tears come the end of the year while trying to figure out which is the best of the best of the best. The recent Casualties of Cool release, despite its lack of “metal” seems a clear forerunner for album of the year. Though The Kennedy Veil has had a ton of traction, and even with six months of listening, is a near constant spinner in the car. It will be interesting to see how the second half goes, with some big guns dropping between now and then (At the Gates, Allegaeon, Fallujah) as well as some great tours this summer and fall (Septic Flesh/Fleshgod Apocalypse, Eluveitie). By the end of the year, this list will probably look completely scatterbrained!

1. Casualties of Cool – Casualties of Cool (Self Released)
2. The Kennedy Veil – Trinity of Falsehood (Unique Leader Records)
3. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media)
4. Saor – Aura (Northern Silence Productions)
5. Thantifaxath – Sacred White Light (Dark Descent Records)

Matt Coe
We are at the half way point in 2014, and when many say the metal genre is stagnating, I say that these people aren’t looking hard enough for great releases. The choices are endless, and if you are willing to devote modest time through streaming or social media, you can find more than enough music to fit the bill depending upon your favored genre(s) or sub-genre(s) at hand. Again my criteria for a great release is a combination of an initial ‘hook’ factor through the brain/body and then subsequent long-lasting exposure with said records. Here are my top 5 albums of 2014 so far, and I’m hopeful the second half will be just as awe-inspiring.

1. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media)
2. High Spirits – You Are Here (Hells Headbangers)
3. Twilight Embrace – By Darkness Undone (Self-released/ independent)
4. Exmortus – Slave to the Sword (Prosthetic)
5. Gamma Ray- Empire Of The Undead (Armory)

Matthew Bowling
Two-thousand fourteen has been one for the ages, eclipsing most everything that was released in 2013 and the previous several years combined (absurdly gnarly). People can be tempered about it if they want but I am gleefully reveling in how awesome the year has been from a metal point, starting off with killer releases like Avichi’s Catharsis Absolute and eventually segueing into the monster of the year with Behemoth’s The Satanist. The top-tier releases in general have lived up to their expectations or destroyed them completely and a number of unexpected surprises have come out of the wood-work to leave their own marks on this spectacular year. And, I might add, Profound Lore continues to be the most stacked label in the game, bar none.

1. Behemoth – The Satanist (Nuclear Blast)
2. The Great Old Ones – Tekel-li (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions)
3. SUNN O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials (Southern Lord)
4. Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere (Profound Lore)
5. Lord Mantis – Death Mask (Profound Lore)

Daniel Keating
Lists are tough in such a vibrant metal world in which we gratefully exist, excellent music aboundsand paring down to a concise number is sometimes unfair (but fun nonetheless). I decided to list those albums to which I consistently returned to enjoy, not as much weighing critical merits in totality. So, I’ve not listed some releases of ultra­worthiness such as the new ones by Elvenking, Agalloch, Morbus Chron and Primal Fear, for lack of room. And while I have the mic, I have to give props to Sweden’s Ered Wethrin (not to be confused with the other E.R. from Salt Lake City,who also released a solid debut this year of Summoning­esque epics), who released a stellar debut EP entitled All Song Ceased. To these ears, it sounds like a combination of Blut Aus Nord and Summoning, two of my favorites. I can’t wait to hear more material from this band, and from the global metal scene in general in the second half of 2014.

1. Saor – Aura (Northern Silence Productions)
2. Sonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child (Nuclear Blast)
3. Hoth – Oathbreaker (self released)
4. Shores of Null – Quiescence (Candlelight)
5. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media)

Bridget Erickson
Halfway thru the year and the accumulation of releases is already enormous. Some albums are great, others not so great, the usual scope. One high-ranking release is Behemoth’s The Satanist. With all the fuss from blasphemy lawsuits to being apprehended in Russia, Behemoth made extreme metal history. Going on, Septicflesh fans are always wacky when it comes to new SF albums, but we’ve gone wild over Titan. Earlier in the year, someone commented on the review for Arvas – Into the Realm of The Occult: “One of the best bm albums so far!” I agree with that statement 666% percent. Plus, it’s great to see readers posting comments. There’s been countless folk-metal albums released this year, but one of the century’s best is One and All, Together, for Home because it extravagantly shows what folk music is about. Same goes for a large portion of punk because it’s aggravating to see pop influences somehow leaking into it. It’s a good thing Trap Them are here, we needed something like Blissfucker to put raw, unruly, and rebellious chaos back into both crust punk and death metal at a full throttle. Indeed, this year’s been flooded in albums of all sorts, good, bad, pretty, and ugly. Sometimes the ugly ones are good, sometimes the pretty ones are bad, visa-versa. It’s all music, can’t deny that. Out of everything I’ve heard up to this hefty midpoint of 2014, these are my top five.

1. Behemoth – The Satanist (Metal Blade)
2. Septicflesh – Titan (Prosthetic)
3. Arvas – Into the Realm of the Occult (Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum)
4. Various Artists – One for All, Together, for Home (Season of Mist)
5. Trap Them – Blissfucker (Prosthetic)

Joshua Overbey
Well, we’ve almost burned through half of 2014, and it’s turned out to be a pretty exciting year thus far for metal’s faithful. As indicated by my list of the top five albums at the midyear point below, we’ve gotten some knockout records from across a notably wide spectrum, from returning titans to new blood and everything between, including a successful “supergroup” project (keyword: successful). While we reflect on what the year has brought us so far, though, bear in mind that 2014 still has a lot to offer. After all, how often is it that a new Judas Priest album comes out? Here’s hoping the year closes out as strongly as it’s begun, but that is, all things considered, a pretty tall order.

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (Century Media)
2. Behemoth – The Satanist (Metal Blade)
3. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast)
4. Carnifex – Die Without Hope (Nuclear Blast)
5. The Graviators – Motherload (Napalm)

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