Another year. Another year of great metal, comebacks, surprises, letdowns, and everything in between. For Teethofthedivine, it was a transitional year as staff turnover was balanced by amazing output that resulted in new content virtually every day of the year. Former Internal Bleeding vocalist Frank Rini joined our ranks, and a number of fresh-faced, bright-eyed writers entered the fray, allured by free metal and a chance to have their voices heard. A few of the regular, grizzled denizens remained.

However, it was business as usual getting both old and new staff to get their year-end lists submitted. It took weeks of Liam Neeson-like emails and gravelly-voiced threats (“I have particular set of skills, skills that make me a nightmare for writers like you. Get me your list and I’ll think nothing of it. But if you don’t get your list submitted, I will find you and I will send you an everso slightly peeved Facebook message”) to get the lists all submitted in time.

So without further ado, here are the Staff Picks for 2014. Please feel free to share, comment and add your own list.  Here’s to 2015!

by Staff

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Unlike last year- there was no clear cut album of the year for me. Of the top 10 below, any one of them could have been my number 1 album on any given day, and the other 15 could have been in my top 10.  Tech death and progressive black metal seemed to rule the year (Stargazer, a band that mixed both, flirted with my list late) with dashes of the old school thrown in, but once again 2014 showed that metal is still and quality AND quantity, and shows no signs of letting up.

Dark Descent Records crushed 2014 as they did 2013 with the releases listed below but also the fine likes of Swallowed, Sempiternal Dusk, Thantifaxath, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Phobocosm and Lie In Ruins, and already look to crush in 2015 with early releases from Invisible Force, Desolate Shrine and Ghoulgotha.

Another label, and one I’ve previously been down on for being too samey, Unique Leader Records, absolutely dominated the tech death landscape with a high-profile Fallujah release, but added other quality releases from Internal Bleeding, Near Death Condition, Inanimate Existence, Beneath, Rings of Saturn, Ohmnihility and Alterbeast, as well as my album of the year from Soreption. Season of Mist (Nightbringer‘s Ego Dominus Tuus was on and off my list all damn year) and Bindrune also chimed in with a solid year.

Spectral Lore, Falls of Rauros, Ordinance, Panopticon, Oubliette and Mare Cognitum added some much needed crystalline introspection and atmosphere to the year, while promising newcomers Black Crown Initiate rubbed shoulders with my list regular stalwarts like Bloodbath, Alestorm, Equilibrium and Jaldaboath.

Some big names were missing as the likes of Primordial and Anaal Nathrakh seemed to tread water, while fresh, young relatively new, hungry acts like Sons of Aurelius, Archspire and Inferi commanded my attention, despite lacking big name appeal and recognition critically.


The Elite 10:


1. Soreption – Engineering the Void. (Unique Leader Records). Something about this record just clicked with me- the Meshuggah on steroids stammering, the orchestral injections, the guitar tone. All were just perfect.
2. Vallenfyre – Splinters. (Peaceville). Arguably the dirtiest and heaviest guitar tone of the year, and better song writing and vocals than the mighty Bloodbath. Those Paradise Lost guys had a good year.
3. Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel. (Season of Mist). My first introduction to this supremely talented Aussie metal band that melded tech death, violins and melodic death metal into one brilliant progressive kaleidoscope.
4. Spectral Lore -III (I. Voidhanger Records). Arguably one of the best one man black metal bands in the world now, Ayloss followed up Sentinel with an even more gorgeously layered, evocative and complex slab of mesmerizing riffs. I cant wait to see what he does next.
5. Horrendous – Ecdysis. (Dark Descent Records). Erupting from the cocoon of stale old school Swedish death metal, Horrendous injected some creativity and experimentation into a tried a true sound resulting in a truly special, dare I say classic album.
6. Archspire – The Lucid Collective. (Season of Mist). Even with all the great tech death in 2014, even from bigger names, Canadian youngsters Archspire rose up and ripped my face off with searing complexity, but actually made it memorable.
7. Sons of Aurelius – Under A Western Sun. (Self Released). Vocalist Riley McShane might get more attention for growling in Inanimate Existence, but his clean performance here is simply stunning, adding to the sumptuous shreddage. How a label didn’t pick this up blows my mind.
8. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation. (Profound Lore Records.) A potential game changer in death metal, Artificial Brain not only melded cosmic grinding brutality with atonal tech complexity and ethereal black metal, they got name dropped on Prime Time TV on NBC’s Elementary.
9. Ordinance – Relinquished. (Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions). 3 songs, 20 minutes each and each delivering utterly captivating black metal
10. Bloodbath  Grand Morbid Funeral. (Peaceville). Jorgen Sandstrom next, please?


The rest of 2104’s awesomeness:


Any of these releases could have ended up on my top ten on any given day, and many were before the final list. These are all too good to even be honorable mentions, so they are 11-25 in no particular order.

Panopticon – Roads to the North (Bindrune). A more direct but still American folk laced black metal story of Austin Lunn’s move to Minnesota. The strings that start “Chase the Grain” give me goosebumps every time.
Disentomb Misery (New Standard Elite)Late entry of brutal yet technical swirling Australian savagery. Why are these guys not on Dark Descent?
Corpsessed – Abyssal Threshholds (Dark Descent Records). Monstrous and suffocating, Corpsessed remain the best Incantation clone there is.
Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails (Unique Leader Records)Was a top 10 release when it came out,but simply got bumped. Lavish, mature and complex with some beautiful atmospheres, Fallujah might be the future of modern technical metal.
Inferi – The Path of Apotheosis. (The Artisan Era). Shredding technical and epic, but overlooked early in due to early year release and a ton of bigger name tech death.
Jaldaboath – The Further Adventures of…(D.T.M Productions). Monty Python and Black Adder-ish humor mixed with metal and some of my childhood TV show themes? Brilliant. And “Roland the Farter” is still one of my new favorite songs. Ever..
Equilibrium – Erdentempel (Nuclear Blast). Down right epic and bombastic backed folk/viking metal at its finest. I’m interested to see how Ensiferum and Finsterforst answer.
Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars. (Eone Entertainment). One of metal’s most promising young American newcomers. I’m interested to see how they develop their progressive death metal even further and keep it metal.
Alestorm – Sunset on the Golden Age. (Napalm Records). The Pirate metal stalwarts 4th album reeked of closure and impending changes. I hope not.
Falls of Rauros – Believe in No Coming Shore (Bindrune). Gorgeous, atmospheric, folky, grey metal. A vast improvement from the last album. Out Agalloch-d, Agalloch. “Ancestors of Smoke ” is simply one of the most mesmerizing songs of the year.
OublietteApparitions (The Artisan Era). Insomium meets black emtal? yes please. Good year for Mike Low, also of Inferi no?
Lvcifyre – Svn Eater (Dark Descent Records). More superb, cavernous, crumbling chaos from Dark Descent. IS there no end?
AnnihilatedXIII Steps to Ruination. . (Unique Leader) Got kind of snowed under all of UL’s other releases, but this is my second favorite kind of death metal- big, beefy and commanding.
Mare Cognitum.Phobos Monolith ( I, Void Hanger Records). No coincidence this US one man act shares a label with Spectral Lore, he is the American equivalent and rapidly rising.
Schammasch – Contradiction. (Prosthetic Records) 2 CDs, 90 minutes of under promoted, big, black, droning, ambitions metal that made me forget the already forgetful Triptykon album.

Other Stuff:

Best Vinyl LP: Martelo NegroEquinocio Espectral LP. (Hellprod)
Best Reissues: DeathevocationThe Chalice of Ages (Xtreem Music). How did I miss this the first time around? , Dyscarnate – – And so it Came to Pass. (Century Media Records) How did everyone else miss this the first time around?
Best Reunion: At the Gates At War With Reality. Absolutely Worth the wait. (Century Media Records).GodfleshA World Lit By Fire. (Avalanche Recordings). How did this not get more attention?
Biggest SurpriseJob for a Cowboy Sun Eater (Metal Blade Records). The second best album named Sun Eater and a masterful, career defining tech death shift for former spongebob core pig squealers.
Surprising Omissions Pallbearer, Primordial, Anaal Nathrakh, Misery Index, Origin, Agalloch. Not that any of these were bad, but clearly the old guard has been supplanted.
Biggest let downs Behemoth, Darkest hour, Triptykon.
Best Labels -Unique leader and Dark Descent
The heaviest Thing I heard in 2014: Black Tongue Falsifier/Redux. May literally be too heavy for a CD release.
Coolest New DiscoveriesTengger Cavalry, Valknacht,
Guilty Pleasure: Affiance: Blackout.



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  1. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Hey Adam-

    Where did you find the numbers for your piece about total metal albums being released by year? I’d like to take a gander at that, I was floored to hear there were more metal albums released in 2013 than in all of the 80’s combined!

  2. Commented by: Adam Palm

    Check out the Metal Archives advanced search page. Under the “search albums” tab you can specify a date range and it will spit out everything released during that time with the total number of entries. You can also specify the release type if you want, which is how I figured out that there were 5,905 full-lengths released in 2013 but only 2,939 from the beginning of 1980 to the end of 1989.

  3. Commented by: SRK

    A lot of love for Dark Descent in the staff picks, but to my mind the best thing they released this year wasn’t mentioned: Swallowed – Lunarterial. Totally unhinged.

  4. Commented by: Luke_22

    Really cool reading these lists. As much good shit as I listened to this yesr there’s still tons of stuff to check out. Looking foraard to delving jnto Saor, Archspire and Stargazer especially.

  5. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Thanks Adam!

  6. Commented by: xrefused

    Great lists there is plenty I need to catch up on. Just wanna say that An autumn for crippled children rules, they have been pumping out some seriously bleAK shit every year since 2010, and are basically what the cure would be like if they were a BM band.

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