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

Article Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Jordan Itkowitz

The classic heyday of our favorite genre may have been in the 70s and 80s, but right now is the best time to be a metal fan. There’s more metal today than ever before. I listened to a few new albums almost every day in 2014 and still know that I haven’t heard about half of the year’s releases. I’ve even pretty much given up on trying to stay up to date in other non-metal genres (although I made plenty of time this year for Thin Lizzy and retro-electro). Hope you all find some things here that you’ll love as much as I did.

Top 20

1. Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith (I, Voidhanger Records). I expected to slot Memoria Vetusta III in here, but this one-man black metal act from California eclipsed it for me with this jaw-dropping and otherworldly odyssey. Majestic and melancholy melodies, densely-layered compositions, varied and dynamic pacing, and cold, astral atmosphere that’s absolutely entrancing each time I listen. This joins Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at DuskBlut Aus Nord’s Memoria Vetusta II, and Wodensthrone’Loss as one of my favorite black metal albums, which is reason enough to place it at #1.

2. Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Nuclear Blast Records). Heavy, hooky, sugary and soaring. I’ve always been a big fan, but this is their most confident and complex album yet, with some of the year’s most audaciously infectious choruses. So listenable it moves at lightspeed. I can’t wait for the next chapter in the trilogy.

3. At the Gates – At War with Reality (Century Media Records). 19 years later and it’s as if I’m hearing melodic death metal again for the first time. The sound is as ripping and vicious as ever, but I didn’t expect the songwriting to carry so much weight or atmosphere. I’ll be listening to “Book of Sand” for the next 19 years.

4. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun (Reprise Records). There are few bands that can reinvent themselves so successfully with each new album – and fewer that can maintain their identity even as they claw further into the mainstream. This is Mastodon playing Leviathan as a Foo Fighters album, and they sound as energetic, accomplished, and badass as ever.

5. Morbus Chron – Sweven (Century Media Records). This Swedish act has crafted a sound that blends grimy 90s death metal, shimmery surf rock twang, and acoustic, atmospheric progressive death (think Morningrise-era Opeth), with long and twisty compositions. A truly unique release.

6. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun (Century Media Records). By now, Insomnium has perfected their blend of melodic death/doom, but that’s not an excuse for complacency – it’s a stable foundation for some of their best and most captivating songs yet (“While We Sleep” is probably my most-played track of 2014), on one of their most consistent and satisfying albums yet.

7. Thantifaxath – Sacred White Noise (Dark Descent Records). Terrifying black metal with peculiar riffs, unexpected melodic shifts, and dissonant, oddly epic 70s horror atmosphere. It wormed its way into my brain, festering just long enough each time to bring me back for repeated listens. As bizarre and unsettling as Deathspell Omega, but far more listenable.

8. Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III (Debemur Morti Productions). Its predecessor is one of my favorite metal albums of all time, but this isn’t a straight follow-up. It’s a lot denser and more relentless, to the point of being hypnotic, even overwhelming. It also sounds like nothing else out there, and I’m sure I’ll continue exploring its depths throughout 2015.

9. Opeth – Pale Communion (Roadrunner Records). My all-time favorite band really disappointed me with Heritage, but not because it was a deliberate move away from progressive death – because it just wasn’t a very satisfying album. This is a far more cohesive and confident execution of Mikael Akerfeldt’s prog-rock ambitions, with some fascinating songs and genuine Opeth energy. I’m very hopeful for the next one (so long as it doesn’t take 3 more years to get here).

10. Babymetal – Babymetal (BMD Fox Records). These girls are a phenomenon for a reason. There’s not only real metal, aggression, and virtuosity here, there’s also a devilishly clever and creative kitchen-sink aesthetic at work, smashing power metal, thrash, hip-hop, and deathcore up against those famously derided but oh-so-addictive J-pop choruses. I need to see this spectacle live.

11. Saor – Aura (Fortriu Productions). Awe-inspiring one-man epic folk/black metal that rolls down from the Scottish highlands like thunder, and then soothes with flowing, graceful melodies. A wonderful discovery.

12. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation (Profound Lore Records). Rippling, twisted and mutative technical death that matches its outlandish cover art, but it’s not so alien as to be unlistenable.

13. Portrait – Crossroads (Metal Blade Records). Favorite throwback metal album of the year, with a devoted Mercyful Fate/Iron Maiden sound and killer hooks. If this had been released in 1983 it’d be an absolute classic.

14. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars (E1 Entertainment). This young band from my home state of Pennsylvania are clearly fans of classic Opeth, which means I am definitely fans of theirs. A fantastic progressive death metal debut, and a band to watch.

15. Job for a Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade Records). I never expected to like a Job for a Cowboy album, much less include it in my year-end list, but this floored me with its dense atmosphere, interesting songwriting and structures, and flat-out amazing musicianship. Job well done.

16. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum (Metal Blade Records). The first time I heard that epic Emperor chorus in Domine Non Es Dignus’ “Do Not Speak,” I thought it was such an inspired match for the band’s famously corrosive and chaotic sound. Now, six releases later, the ‘Thrakh has completely incorporated that grandeur into an entire album, and it’s their most melodic and, somehow, their most accessible release yet – and yet it’s still batshit insane.

17. Execration – Morbid Dimensions (Hells Headbangers Records). A creepy, cool-as-hell mix of graveyard Swedish death, crushing Sabbath-y doom, and Goblin-esque atmospherics. Check ‘em out on bandcamp.

18. Oubliette – Apparitions (The Artisan Era). Breathtaking US black metal with gauzy atmosphere, rousing melodies, and lovely female vocals. Another of the year’s most pleasant discoveries.

19. Silent Force – Rising from Ashes (AFM Records). Probably the most conventional-sounding album on my list – it’s pure early 80s hard rock/power metal, like Stan Bush meets Stratovarius – but it’s so satisfying that I had to include it. Hadn’t heard these guys before this year and have been really enjoying their back catalog.

20. Hannes Grossman – The Radial Covenant (Independent). Electrifying technical death from a former member/producer from Obscura and Necrophagist. I don’t know what the future holds for either act, but this is pretty much the next best thing.

Other noteworthy albums for the year: BenightedCarnivore Sublime; Abysmal DawnObsolescence; ArchspireThe Lucid CollectiveSlomaticsEstron; Star GazerMerging to the Boundless; VaderTibi Et IgniGridlinkLonghena; Torrential DownpourTruth Knowledge Vision; SolstafirOtta.

Favorite EPs

1. Vehemenz – Vehemenz (MDD). One of the year’s best underground black metal gems – don’t miss it. The full-length should be excellent.

2. Soilwork – Beyond the Infinite (Nuclear Blast Records). How does a band put out the best album of their career with enough material for a double release, and still have enough great tracks for a killer EP? The closing track is so good it should have been included on The Living Infinite.

3. Cult of Fire – Čtvrtá Symfonie Ohně (Iron Bonehead Productions). Yet another blazing black metal release from these innovative Czech black metallers – this time a completely instrumental and orchestral homage to composer Bedrich Smetana. Mandatory listen for fans of Negura BungetDrudkh, and eastern black metal.

4. Cognizance – Cognizance (Independent). One of my new favorite brutal/tech-death discoveries and a short but welcome follow-up to last year’s Inquisition EP. Cogent and chaotic all at once. Someone sign these guys and get a full album out there!

5. Bolzer – Soma (Iron Bonehead Productions). While neither of these tracks were as earth-shattering as “Entranced by the Wolfshook,” Bolzer is still one of the most exciting new death metal acts of the last few years. Want a full album!

Haven’t Heard Yet but Would Have Probably Been on the List

Triosphere – The Heart of the Matter.
Nightingale – Retribution.
Woods of Desolation – As the Stars.
Soen – Tellurian.


Carcass – Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel (Nuclear Blast Records). How the hell do you follow up a killer comeback like Surgical Steel with this? This is like Swan Song all over again. Doctor, we’re losing him…

Agalloch – The Serpent and the Sphere (Profound Lore Records). Man, I keep wanting to be blown away by this album, but it just sounds tired – a better-produced but unnecessary long-delayed sequel to Pale Folklore. Not terrible by any means, but completely failed to carry me away like previous masterpieces.

In Flames – Siren Charms (Epic Records). Okay, not really a disappointment, since I have had zero expectations from this band for a few years now. It’s just so sad to see them flailing about like this. Help computer.

Most Original Album

Slugdge – Gastronomicon (Independent). A progressive death/thrash/sludge concept album about giant man-eating slugs taking over the world.

Favorite Non-Metal Music of 2014

Fellow Teeth writer Adam Palm turned me onto a French electro artist called Perturbator, who works in a genre called retro-electro, or more affectionately, outrun-electro. It is the pulsating, neon-bleary sound of every post-apocalyptic/sci-fi/zombie/giallo/erotic thriller you’ve ever seen, and probably all of them on VHS in a well-worn cardboard box.

And here I thought that only artists like Zombi were playfully mining the early ‘80s synth sound of Tangerine DreamJohn CarpenterGoblin, and Giorgio Moroder – nope, it turns out there’s an entire genre of these artists. When I wasn’t listening to metal in 2014, I was heading back to 1983, courtesy of Dance with the DeadMakeup and Vanity SetLost YearsBetamaxx, Mitch Murder, KavinskyLazerhawkPowerglove, Palm / | \ Highway Chase, Bourgeosie, and Miami Nights 1984.

Whether you have fond memories of the Vestron Video intro, or you just played Far Cry: Blood Dragon and want to hear more of that soundtrack (that’s Powerglove, by the way), you’ll have as much fun as I did with these retro-electro artists.

Favorite Classic Discoveries

I’m ashamed to say it, but prior to this year, my knowledge of Thin Lizzy was “The Boys are Back in Town” and that’s it. One listen to 1975’s album Fighting (on the recommendation of longtime TOTD poster Biff Tannen) changed all that.

How great songs like “Rosalie” and “Suicide” don’t get frequent classic rock airplay is just criminal, and once I heard the smoky, moody slither of “Spirit Slips Away,” I realized that this is a band with depth far beyond hard rock or early metal. Endless plays of other classic Lizzy albums like JailbreakBlack Rose, and Johnny the Fox soon followed, plus a bunch of Phil Lynott documentaries on YouTube – the guy was one of the coolest frontmen ever. If you’re new to the band, just listen to “Emerald,” the closing song off Jailbreak, and tell me that you don’t hear Iron Maiden’s entire sound encapsulated in those last few minutes.

Inspired by that discovery, I also started digging into Deep Purple‘s back catalog to go beyond “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water,” and that’s where I discovered Stormbringer. Released in 1974, the album has to be one of the great unsung gems of the early metal scene. Many DP fans apparently don’t like it because it’s an odd hybrid of Southern rock, heavy metal, and soul, of all things, but that’s what makes it so unique and memorable. From the smooth, bluesy stomp of “Love Don’t Mean a Thing” and “You Can’t Do It Right,” to the funky, anthemic Motown-croon of “Hold On,” to electric rockers like “Highball Shooter” and the swaggering, badass title track, this is another album I wish I’d heard decades ago. I’ll be sure my kids hear it a lot as they grow up. Maybe James Gunn will put one of these songs on the next Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack so that the rest of the world’s kids can hear it too.

Coolest Cover Art

Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation.
Slomatics – Estron.
Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun.
Bloody Hammers – Under Satan’s Sun.
Horrendous – Ecdysis.
Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith.
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend.
Soen – Tellurian.
Bong – Stoner Rock (also the year’s best band logo).
Hannes Grossman – The Radial Covenant.
Bongripper – Miserable.
Coffinworm – IV. I. VIII.
Splattered – Guttural Species.

Article Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11



  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.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.