Grimby’s Top 25 Albums of 2014

2014 was another great year for real music.  Even the bottom albums on this list are great, and are maybe a riff or a solo away from being top 5.  I’ll count down the list with a brief descriptor:

25. Opeth – Pale Communion: Love these guys, but I think the album was one song away from being brilliant.

24. Wolf – Devil Seed: Solid traditional metal in which they finally (to me) shed the Judas Priest mimicry.

23. Cavalera Conspiracy – Pandemonium: Max returns with this punky thrash after last year’s abysmal Soulfly effort.

22. Gloryful – Ocean Blade: More solid trad metal, reminiscent of Greece’s BattleRoar

21. Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds: This one was a bit of a grower, but it’s good.  Maybe 2 songs too many.

20. Helstar – This Wicked Nest: The always excellent Helstar deliver another consistent heavy metal record.  Not enough wow factor to crack the top 10 though.

19. Portrait – Crossroads: Strange, progressive traditional metal with vocals that remind me at times of vintage Warrel Dane.

18. Edgedown – Statues Fall: Solid power metal, almost Hibria-ish but more melodic.  I loved it a lot at first but it lost a bit of its staying power over time.

17. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun: Their best since Blood Mountain, I was pleasantly surprised.

16. Sabaton – Heroes: Another surprise, I’ve only ever liked the occasional Sabaton song, but this album feels complete, and good headbangin’ fun.

15. Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer: A late discovery that eked into 15th spot, this doom/trad album is almost flawless.

14. Overkill – White Devil Armory: A nice rebound after their last blunder.  Title track is killer!

13. Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite: Arsis-like, and awesome.  Was top 5 at first but lost a bit of staying power over time.

12. Vestal Claret – The Cult of Vestal Claret: Sounds like a time-warp from 1979, all doom and trad.  Check out the epic “Black Priest” for a heavy metal primer.  Like Dawnbringer, this one is almost flawless.

11. Dust Bolt – Awake the Riot: Thrash!  When done right, I can play all day.  This one is done right.  Only one dud kept it from being my favourite thrash record of the year (see #6).

10. Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon: I liked the last one, the first with Stu, but I loved this one.  This is the best Iced Earth record since Something Wicked.  I loved it since the beginning, and it sounded just as great in December as it did when I first bought it in January.

9. Valknacht – Le Sacrifice d’Ymir: As some of you know I am super picky about black metal.  These guys nail it with another near-flawless record.  Hard to say if I like it more or less than their last one, but it’s good.  Title track is epic and awesome.

8. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead: Strangely, I’m still on the fence about the opening track Avalon.  I feel it is either unnecessarily long, or else fails as an “epic” song.  It’s a good song though, and a great album.

7. Sinbreed – Shadows: Solid heavy metal through and through, punched by great drumming.  Sadly it will be ignored like their debut.

6. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out: This seems to be the most polarizing release of the year, with followers either loving or hating it.  It was my favourite thrash album this year, with the title track sounding like an ass-kicking sequel to Exodus’ classic “Toxic Waltz”.

5. DragonForce – Maximum Overload: Their second album with new singer but first one I actually like.  Sounds like a return to form, this is their best material since 2004’s Sonic Firestorm.  Strangely, the bonus tracks do nothing for me.

4. Equilibrium – Erdentempel: These Germans are frustratingly inconsistent.  Sagas was a masterpiece, ReKreatur was not.  Their 2013 EP left much to be desired, so I went into this with low expectations.  They far exceeded them, delivering the best folk metal album of the year.

3. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls: My favourite band delivers yet again.  I was one of the few that liked Nostradamus, but this new record is far better in so many ways.  Strange that KK is gone, but new guy fills the gap nicely.   Rob still sounds amazing.

2. Vader – Tibi et Igni: Reviewing my notes, the first thing I wrote when I heard this was “damn good holy shit death metal”, and I think that best captures it.  I fucking love this album.  It is perfect.

1. Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died: My favourite album of the year can be characterized using many of the words I’ve already used in this post: flawless, perfect, masterpiece, Warrel Dane.  We waited 24 years since their last album, and the wait was certainly worth it!  Great songs, no filler, lyrics smarter than anything you’ve read this year, and strong performances from each band member.

So that’s it!  I’m sure there were a lot of other great albums out there that I just never got around to listening to (or gave enough time to).  Looking forward to another great year for music in 2015!  Sound off with your feedback on my list and commentary.

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