Best Metal Album of 2014 – 4th Annual Loudwire Music Awards
With 2014 in the books, it's time to look back at the metal albums which defined the year. In this category of the 4th Annual Loudwire Music Awards, we're giving you the power to vote for your best metal album of 2014.
Taken from our picks for the 20 Best Metal Albums of 2014, this poll features a wide array of metal styles. No matter your preferred brand of metal, there was something extraordinary to offer any metalhead in 2014. Vote in the poll at the bottom of this post.
The sheer quality of Agalloch's fifth full-length is stunning. This album is heavy in a unique way -- a quiet way. Beautiful acoustic guitar parts surround John Haughm's harsh whispers, while tracks like 'The Astral Dialogue' nail a more familiar metal sound.
Craftsmanship was the key for Allegaeon's third studio album, 'Elements of the Infinite.' The album is likely Allegaeon's best work so far, and we'll likely see more great things from the band's new lineup in the future.
At the Gates returned in 2014 with their first studio album in 19 years, 'At War With Reality.' The raw qualities of 'At War With Reality' endeared fans to the album immediately, as did At the Gates' unique approach to a fresh throwback.
As metal gets heavier, it becomes more difficult to create a truly evil sounding album, but Behemoth's 'The Satanist' is straight from hell, raising goosebumps up until its brilliant finale, 'O Father O Satan O Sun!'. The disc is a masterpiece from beginning to end, with absolutely no filler to be skipped over.
Cynic's 'Kindly Bent to Free Us' has proven to be polarizing, as it's a fair departure from both 'Focus' and 'Traced in Air. The ayahuasca trip that is 'Kindly Bent to Free Us' is full of inventive compositional peaks, such as 'The Lion's Roar,' 'Infinite Shapes' and 'Gitanjali.'
Gems such as 'Collateral Damage,' the album's title track and 'Salt the Wound,' the last of which features guest guitar work from Metallica's Kirk Hammett, confirm Exodus' 'Blood In, Blood Out' as an essential 2014 record.
Insomnium scream triumph throughout their sixth studio album, 'Shadows of the Dying Sun.' To call Insomnium "melodic" just doesn't give the band enough credit. The atmosphere throughout is almost folk-like while filling 'Shadows of the Dying Sun' with enough ambience to reach every horizon.
Epic tracks such as 'Halls of Valhalla' and 'Sword of Damocles' are sure to become new fan favorites, and ‘Beginning of the End’ is expertly written and truly envelops the listener in its soft embrace. Judas Priest reign supreme once again!
While maintaining the band's familiar sound, Machine Head's 'Bloodstone & Diamonds' is also challenging and progressive at the same time. Few tracks on the disc fall under the four-minute mark, but Machine Head fans wouldn't have it any other way.
The album is light on the riffs, but heavy on the hooks. Vocally, 'Once More 'Round the Sun' could be called the band's best effort to date, as Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds and Brann Dailor attack each vocal line with confidence and character. Plus, Mastodon's stellar musicianship remains extremely impressive throughout each cut.
Misery Index's fifth full-length, 'The Killing Gods,' is yet another strong piece of the band's impressively brutal and consistent. The album is almost bipolar in nature, switching from calm to ultra-violent in the recording's first half, but from there on, it's all pulverizing.
The way Overkill can keep classic thrash fresh is astonishing, as monster tracks such as 'Armorist' and 'Bitter Pill' unapologetically prove. Vocalist Bobby Blitz is as sharp as ever, while guitarist Dave Linsk brings the heavy as one of thrash's most valuable shredders.
While trudging along at a snail's pace, Pallbearer keep their music progressive and immersive with 'Foundations of Burden.' The band's multilayered vocals separates itself from the doom pack, creating a more beautiful, hypnotizing listen.
Through many twists and turns, Septicflesh remain grounded during 'Titan,' featuring some of the most evil guttural vocals ever put to tape, a hair-raisingly creepy children's choir, cinematic themes and a level of sophistication above any symphonic death metal act.
With '.5: The Gray Chapter,' Slipknot captured lightning in a bottle, re-energizing the band's rabid fan base. Featuring standout tracks such as 'The Negative One,' 'Sarcastrophe' and 'The Devil in I,' the album taps into hate once again in a fresh and exciting way.
Triptykon's 'Melana Chasmata' boasts unique spoken-word vocals, huge production, crushing guitars and ripping solos. The album delivers a gothic edge to doom and death metal, truly at its best when listened to in full rather than picking out single tracks.
Vader understand their sound, but unlike many of their contemporaries, Vader can stick to their roots and still create exciting death metal with plenty of huge leads and addictive vocal hooks. 'Triumph of Death' anyone?
With some great exposure under Yob's belt, the band unleashed 'Clearing the Path to Ascend' this year, earning praise once again from the metal community. Looking for some deep, deep, deep doom? Yob is your answer.