Another year hath flown by and another year’s worth of metal hath shredded eardrums, shattered bones, jarred brains, and infected minds. Fuck all the posers and whiners, this is the best metal of 2014.

10. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out

Exodus had two really great albums, the first one, far and away the best, and Tempo of the Damned. Now Blood In Blood Out pretty much makes that three. Half of it is great. Of the 11 songs, the first 4, Numb, and the last one are crushing. The rest is mediocre to poor. But I keep going back to those good ones especially the glorious nostalgia of the title track. They’re so good even the modern stale production can’t derail them. Welcome back Zetro.

9. Slough Feg – Digital Resistance

Everything that makes Slough Feg great with added stylistic surprises. Guitars and bass are dished out with conviction and personality. Scalzi’s unmistakable voice delivers. The top notch drumming is a stand out. And a metal song about Vincent Price, neat! Much better than the last record.

8. Hail Spirit Noir – Oi Magoi

Evil, weird, and melodic. Never expected shit like this to come out of Greece. A very diverse record with varying vocal styles, a panoply of classic sounding instruments, and lots of peculiar percussive elements. It’s a lot to absorb and worth it.

7. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata

Darker than fuck. Beastly, huge, sinister. Vocals that rip your spine out. Guitars that will crush the life out of you. Then out of nowhere stunning melodic hooks! Lyrics every bit as deep and black as the music.

6. Calm Hatchery – Fading Reliefs

Complex Polish death metal that gets it right. No noodling and complexity for showiness. Songs that are actual songs, not riffs in a blender. Melody is paramount. Guitar solos are stunning. Vocals have some variety and memorability. Drums are aggressive and tight. They balance modern and classic death metal attributes to great effect.

5. Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Silly me. It took me forever to finally appreciate Primordial. This album brims with passion and verve. It’s like Thin Lizzy steeped in heavy black metal. The guitar tone really bites into you. The drums are like shots to the pelvis. A.A. Nemtheanga is a force, such passionate and raw vocal fury. And his lyrics are heartfelt and brilliant; a mix of anthems to freedom, odes to free thought, and eulogies to the dead.

4. Darkest Era – Severance

Majestic Irish metal of the highest caliber. The melodies are impeccable, the songs diverse, guitars meaty and strong, and the vocals belted out with a thick midrange punch. Above it all the lyrics take you through dark realms of war and melancholy.  A nice surprise.

3. Rigor Mortis – Slaves to the Grave

“I’ll grind your bones, I’ll eat your soul, I’ll use your skull for my dinner bowl.” That is fucking metal. Mind blowing speed riffs. Full on ruthless thrash punctuated with surprising melodic passages. In your face attitude.  RIP Mike Scaccia.

2. California Breed – s/t

California Breed is a three headed monster that chewed up and shit out Glenn Hughes’ last band. How Glenn Hughes found a young axe slinger like Andrew Watt I don’t know. This guy has tone for miles. A real talent. As is drummer Jason Bonham, but we knew that. And Glenn Hughes! Who would have thought this muther fucker would release a record that kicks so much ass at 62 years old! I don’t think his voice is aging as fast as the rest of him.  These three have a magical thing happening here.

1. At The Gates – At War With Reality

Better than Slaughter of the Soul. Not one riff out of place, not one boring song.  Killer melodies, driving rhythms, vicious vocals. Production that breathes yet pummels. And stunning lyrics that give the mind a lot to chew on. A triumph.  Worth the wait.

There you go.  What did I miss?  Disagreements? HAIL!

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