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THE METAL DEN’s Top 10 Albums Of 2014


Den Headz, 2014 proved to be another great year for metal music all around the globe! It’s always difficult to nail down who exactly deserves these ten spots. After all, hundreds upon hundreds of metal records get released every year. To be included on this list, bands do not need to be signed to a label, and this list is open to all the many various sub-genres of heavy metal music. No EP releases were allowed (so this leaves out DOWN and some others, unfortunately).

What makes a great heavy metal full-length album? It starts with a high level of musicianship and is followed by consistency in songwriting and production. Nobody likes to hear a shitty sounding record or basic guitar solos, right? And who wants to spend money on an album that has one or two cool tracks but then the rest are all clunkers?

Here is TMD’s list of the ‘Top 10 Best Albums’ released in 2014.



#10. AVATAR – “Hail The Apocalypse”
(eOne Music)

Sweden’s AVATAR released “Hail The Apocalypse” in 2014 via eOne Music, and delivered a totally crushing melodic groove metal assault with elements of death and industrial that I am afraid few in the game today can match. The band is led by vocalist Johannes Eckerström, also known as “The Clown”. At times he hits the microphone with frightening growls that are reminiscent of Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe at his most vicious, to be followed by deranged, clean singing that for me is haunting on so many different levels.


#9. EXODUS – “Blood In, Blood Out”
(Nuclear Blast)

Legendary American thrash band EXODUS returned in 2014 with one of their finest releases in years, entitled “Blood In, Blood Out”. Dropped via Nuclear Blast Records, their eleventh studio effort throws down eleven absolutely slamming cuts, featuring vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza back in the lineup – in place of Rob Dukes. Old school fans will love what they hear. Zetro sounds more vicious than ever, and if you have been listening to his recent work in Hatriot the past few years you know that he’s still got the pipes.


#8. OVERKILL – “White Devil Armory”
(eOne Music)

American thrash legends OVERKILL have unleashed their seventeenth studio album, “White Devil Armory”, via eOne Music in 2014. The absolutely punishing collection of eleven tracks finds lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth sounding more psychotic than ever. This is how MEGADETH’s lackluster “Super Collider” should have sounded. I have always felt that OVERKILL was the most underrated thrash metal band of them all. Going to places of deep, pissed off fury in a blaze of face pummeling riffs and skull crushing drumming, Blitz & Co. – along with their vicious hardcore punk influence – truly show the younger thrashers how it’s done.


#7. VADER – “Tibi et Igni”
(Nuclear Blast Records)

Polish death metal band VADER unleashed “Tibi Et Igni” in 2014 – which is a Latin phrase that translates “For You And Fire”. Released via Nuclear Blast Records, it’s the follow-up to 2011’s epic “Welcome To The Morbid Reich” and it’s absolutely fucking brutal from start to finish. The album was recorded at Hertz Studio in Bialystok, Poland and was produced by Wojtek and Slawek Wiesawski. Vocalist/guitarist Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek sounds demonic as hell on this album.


#6. MARTY FRIEDMAN – “Inferno”
(Prosthetic Records)

So much for making pop music in Japan. Ex-MEGADETH lead guitarist Marty Friedman unleashes his legendary neo classical heavy metal shred with 2014’s simply blazing “Inferno” solo album. The instrumental chaos begins with the out of this world album title track that finds Friedman at his finest, speeding up and down the fretboard in an absolutely furious display of guitar acrobatics. This track rocks a seriously sick riff too. Next up is “Resin”, which is a grooving, moody piece that gets your heart pumping. “Wicked Panacea” jumps out after that and features a guest performance by guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Holy shit, the solo Marty breaks out on this one is easily the most all out face-melters I have heard this year. He plays the notes passionately and moves at lightning fast speed all throughout this masterpiece.


#5. ARCH ENEMY – “War Eternal”
(Century Media Records)

Swedish melodic death metal band ARCH ENEMY is back in 2014 with the epic new studio effort titled “War Eternal”. Longtime lead vocalist Angela Gossow is out of the picture now and hot rocking Canadian Alissa White-Gluz (ex-THE AGONIST) steps in to take it all to a new level. I am very impressed by her powerful singing on this ‘Grade-A’ collection of pit starters. It was a noble move by Gossow, who still remains the band’s manager, because I feel Alissa White-Gluz has a much more brutal vocal delivery and will be able to help this band achieve greater things in the future. Joining her for the heavy metal onslaught are guitarists Michael Amott and Nick Cordle (ex-ARSIS). Sharlee D’Angelo handles bass duties and Daniel Erlandsson annihilates the drums


#4. SEBASTIAN BACH – “Give ‘Em Hell”
(Frontiers Records)

Former SKID ROW lead vocalist Sebastian Bach was back for more heavy metal mayhem in 2014 with his fifth solo album entitled “Give’Em Hell”, produced by Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Filter). It’s amazing to me that after all these years this bad mother trucker still has got plenty of fuel left in his gas tank. The album opens with the catchy rocker “Hell Inside My Head”, followed next by the totally goddamn electric “Harmony”, a punk fast thriller complete with a superb guitar solo. Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses) handles bass duties like the musical bad ass that he is, and the drums are pounded by the ever so reliable Bobby Jarzombek. Guitarists Devin Bronson (Avril Lavigne), John 5 (Rob Zombie) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) all appear on the record. Track three’s “All My Friends Are Dead” is very well crafted and while it has a more radio rock feel I must admit I found myself totally blown away by the explosive singing.


#3. BEHEMOTH – “The Satanist”
(Metal Blade Records)

Polish extreme metal band BEHEMOTH released The Satanist in 2014, the tenth studio album by the group which is led by enigmatic lead vocalist/guitarist Adam “Nergal” Darski. It starts off with the doomsday sounding “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” next followed by the rampaging “Furor Divinus” and “Messe Noire”. You get a killer guitar solo by Seth on the latter that gets two horns way up. The rhythm section of bassist “Orion” and drummer “Inferno” is out of this world good. I feel this album will be talked about for many years to come.


#2. MACHINE HEAD – “Bloodstone & Diamonds”
(Nuclear Blast Records)

American groove metal masters MACHINE HEAD rocked 2014 with a new collection of rockers titled “Bloostone & Diamonds”. This is the first record to feature new bassist Jared MacEachern who replaced former bass player Adam Duce in 2013. Produced by vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn, along with Juan Urteaga, the band does not waste any time throwing down with a vengeance. The opener “Now We Die” is a brilliantly written piece that will cut a deep swath through your soul with a touch of both darkness and light in its themes that will haunt and inspire you, followed next by “Killer & Kings” and its jagged-sharp guitar riffs delivered by the one and only Phil Demmel. “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” is another ass kicker that features one of the most fantastic guitar solos I have heard this year. Dave McClain’s drums are on a totally different level on this album. He sounds like he is playing with four goddamn arms. If you are a fan of metal and have not heard this album you’re actually not very metal at all.

BLS Bitches!

#1. BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican”
(eOne Music)

Former Ozzy lead guitarist Zakk Wylde simply blew everyone away in 2014 with his hard rocking outfit BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The ninth album from BLS, this is the first to feature guitarist Dario Lorina, who joined the lineup after guitarist Nick Catanese jumped ship in 2013. It’s clear that Wylde’s newfound sobriety in life has allowed him to become an even more powerful songwriter. From top to bottom, this record delivers on all levels for me. It’s heavy as a ton of concrete blocks crashing down onto your head, filled with memorable melodies and no doubt the listener will find Wylde at the top of his game when it comes to shredding on the six strings. One thing fans will notice right away is that Zakk has pulled back on his use of pinch harmonics. While he has toned down on that aspect of his playing, relying more on straight ahead power chords and a classic style shred, there is no question Zakk still wants to rip it up like a madman. Well he has finally outdone himself here. The speed he is playing at during his solos and his ‘one-of-a-kind’ ability to make every moment more exciting than the last, in my opinion, proves he is clearly the greatest living guitar player.