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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Adam Palm

2014 saw the music industry fall further into peril and artists become more and more vocal about it as the streaming services with their meager payouts continued their rise to consumer domination. Yet, the underground metal scene seemed relatively unfazed by it all. Perhaps it’s because profit was never its main goal to begin with, but I’d like to think it has more to do with the intense appreciation and devotion of the fans. CDs, vinyl, and even cassettes are still being printed and coveted by many. However, there is one subtle but significant sign that metal may not be completely impervious to the shifting tide. 2014 marks the first year since 1973 that the total number of metal releases for the year has decreased from the previous year.* There was still a staggering number of metal recordings released this past year, but all years prior saw some degree of growth. 2013 could go down as metal’s peak in output. Some thinning of the herd could be a good thing, though. Consider this: the total number of full-length metal albums released in 2013 alone is more than double what was released in the entire 1980s. Personally, I would welcome some quality over quantity. That’s not to say 2014 was lacking quality, but it did seem slightly diminished and late to arrive with half of my top full-length picks coming from the final quarter of the year. Have a look…

Top 20 Full-lengths

1. Blut Aus NordMemoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti Productions)
It’s a rare thing for a band to master a distinct sound. The percentage of metal bands that have been able to do this out of the over hundred thousand that have been in existence is very small. Blut Aus Nord is one of those elite few, but they’re not content with just one original sound. This third installment of the Memoria Vetusta series proves once again that they can do sprawling and beautiful just as well as suffocating and ugly.

2. StarGazerA Merging to the Boundless (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Imagine if members of Morbid Angel, Atheist, and Death had collaborated on an album back in ‘91 — like a progressive death metal Temple of the Dog. As amazing as that sounds, this somehow surpasses that notion.

3. ArizmendaStillbirth in the Temple of Venus (Crepusculo Negro)
All of the truest tenets of black metal are perfectly represented here, but what elevates this above almost everything else released this year are the inventive riffs and the unique feeling they bring to each epic, hypnotizing, unpredictable track.

4. PallbearerFoundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records)
As great as their debut was, this sophomore album surpasses it in every way. This is melancholy doom for the ages.

5. Chaos MoonResurrection Extract (I, Voidhanger Records)
Unparalleled aura of gleaming darkness conveyed through black metal art.

6. HorrendousEcdysis (Dark Descent Records)
Emotive and musical…adjectives that aren’t often used to describe a death metal album. But, this isn’t just death metal; it’s exceptional death metal that’s melodic without being “melodeath,” progressive without being “prog,” and references the origins of the genre without being “old school.”

7. GodfleshA World Lit Only By Fire (Avalanche Recordings)
This crushing, bleak return to form is more than one of the best albums of the year. It’s also one of the best from this band’s entire illustrious discography, and one of the strongest comebacks of any band ever.

8. Unaussprechlichen KultenBaphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath (Dark Descent Records/Iron Bonehead Productions)
With a big, tentacled middle-finger in the face of all trends, these Chilean death worshipers crafted a dark death metal album with just the right mix of tradition, originality, complexity, and memorability.

9. Woods of DesolationAs the Stars (Northern Silence Productions)
Atmospheric black metal isn’t known for being to the point, but this Australian project makes a stronger impact by being just that.

10. Mare CognitumPhobos Monolith (I, Voidhanger Records)
Setting a new standard for one-man black metal, Phobos Monolith travels through dimensions within to above and back again.

11. ThantifaxathSacred White Noise (Dark Descent Records)
Did Botch move to Canada and take up esoteric black/death metal?

12. The Great Old OnesTekeli-Li (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions)
Merging post rock with black metal often results in a lighter sound that negates the black metal element. These French Lovecraft-worshippers prove that doesn’t need to be the case.

13. AurochTaman Shud (Profound Lore Records)
The sounds of Gorguts, early Cryptopsy, and Mitochondrion converge to create this towering monument of Canadian death metal excellence.

14. Grey Skies FallenThe Many Sides of Truth (Paragon Records)
Let’s see, there’s traditional doom, epic doom, stoner doom, death doom, black doom, gothic doom, and funeral doom. But, how about progressive/power/death/doom? I’d say that’s something different and this makes me hope for more.

15. DoombringerThe Grand Sabbath (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Remember how great that Cultes Des Ghoules album was last year? Well, picture that mixed with Bölzer to create a wicked conjuration of occult black/death.

16. Pestilential ShadowsEphemeral (Seance Records)
Expertly crafted black metal from Down Under that’s equally vicious, sorrowful, and expansive.

17. Earth and PillarsEarth I (Avantgarde Music)
These Italians borrow almost too heavily from Paysage d’Hiver (even down to the packaging) on this debut, but it still stands on its own as a thoroughly entrancing piece of atmospheric black metal that offers a slightly warmer take on its source material.

18. Furia Nocel (Pagan Records)
Melancholy, rage, and experimentation collide in a way that only these Polish masters can pull off.

19. AgallochThe Serpent & The Sphere (Profound Lore Records)
These masters of atmospheric metal return with their slowest burn of an album yet. I didn’t expect to be including it here the first time I heard it, but it grew on me. If you initially dismissed it like I almost did, I recommend giving it another try. At the very least, listen to “Vales Beyond Dimension,” which I feel is one of the strongest songs they ever wrote.

20. TriptykonMelana Chasmata (Century Media Records)
The second coming of Tom G. Warrior is possibly the greatest comeback of any metal artist. Back when Cold Lake was released, I’m sure no one could have predicted that he would be creating music this dark, heavy, and unique a quarter century later. This could have benefitted from some trimming of the fat, but it still made my list because of the meaty parts, which are aplenty.

Honorable Mentions

ÆvangelistWrithes in the Murk (Debemur Morti Productions)
Arcana CoelestiaNomas (Avantgarde Music)
Bastard FeastOsculum Infame (Season of Mist)
BloodbathGrand Morbid Funeral (Peaceville Records)
CoffinwormIV.I.VIII (Profound Lore Records)
Ill OmenEnthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Master’s HammerVagus Vetus (Jihosound Records)
Morbus ChronSweven (Century Media Records)
NightfellThe Living Ever Mourn (Southern Lord Recordings)
Totale VernichtungRitualmordlegenden (Darker Than Black Records)

Top 10 EPs

1. BölzerSoma (Invictus Productions)
These Swiss innovators top my EP list for a second year in a row, but I hope it’s the last. It’s time for them to joint the full-length ranks.

2. Hierophant’s DescentThe Apocalypse of Evil (Under the Sign of Garazel Productions)
Innovation is all well and good, but there’s something to be said for mastering an established sound, especially one that’s in short supply. That’s what this Greek trio has done on this all-too-short EP of classic Greek black metal recorded about 20 years too late, but just the right time for us to enjoy it.

3. Blut Aus NordDebemur MoRTi (Debemur Morti Productions)
What better way to commemorate the 100th release from Debemur Morti Productions than with Vindsval’s patented industrial black metal and the best Pitchshifter cover possible? I can think of none.

4. Mournful CongregationConcrescence of the Sophia (20 Buck Spin)
Funeral doom can often become a chore to get through, but not when it comes to these Aussie masters (with the help of Tim Call on drums this time).

5. RippikouluUlvaja (Svart Records)
A debut EP two decades in the making. For fans of the darkest death/doom, it was worth the wait.

6. Orphans of DuskRevenant (self-released)
Merging influences from Shades of God and October Rust could’ve easily resulted in disaster, but these Aussies make it a gothic metal wet dream.

7. Woman is the EarthDepths (Init Records)
Melancholy often comes at the price of aggression, but not in the case of these South Dakota black metallers.

8. OwlInto the Absolute (Zeitgeister Music)
More contemporary avant garde death metal from these creative Germans.

9. ViogressionA Pure Formality (self-released)
These Midwestern death metal legends quietly returned this year and released these four tracks of unusual, moody death metal. If depressive death metal isn’t a thing yet, it is now.

10. OwlThe Last Walk (Zeitgeister Music)
Their second EP of the year explores new territory with 25 continuous minutes of what is probably the most Dead Can Dance influenced doom song ever composed.

Top 10 Demos

1. SkápheSkáphe (Fallen Empire Records)
Amazingly twisted, suffocating black metal from Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica, Lithotome).

2. Ritual ChamberThe Pits of Tentacled Screams (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Dario Derna of Krohm, Evoken (formerly), and numerous other projects single-handedly takes on the current crop of Incantation-inspired death metal and conquers all.

3. SumerlandsGuardian Demo (self-released)
Heavy metal perfection from members of Hour of 13, Vestal Claret, Magic Circle, Stone Dagger, and Eternal Champion.

4. Ardour LoomDemo (Parasitic Records)
Two twenty-minute tracks of vast, atmospheric blackness.

5. EosL’Avalé (Fallen Empire Records)
For the past decade, Quebec has been the breeding ground for the most mesmerizing black metal. This is no exception.

6. SanctuaireHelserkr (Les Productions Hérétiques)
Quintessential Québécois black metal from one of the scene’s originators.

7. Beach PneumaticBeach Pneumatic (Colloquial Sound Recordings)
Xasthur spends Labor Day weekend at the shore.

8. YithYith (self-released)
A superb, gloomy mix of death/doom and black metal.

9. Wreodan HealhLæcig (self-released)
Medieval black metal that plays like a long lost demo from the mid ’90s.

10. Violent HammerMore Victims – Demo 2014 (Shadow Kingdom Records)
The band name says it all. This truly is a violent black/death metal hammer to the face.


Best non-metal album: Decades/Failures002 (Dead Tank Records)

Best song: Agalloch – “Vales Beyond Dimension”

Best reissue: Demilich20th Adversary of Emptiness (Svart Records)

Best compilation: Tliltic Tlapoyauak (Ajna Offensive)

Best split: Forteresse/Chasse-Galerie/Monarque/CsejtheLégendes (Sepulchral Productions)


* As of December 28th, 2014, the total number of metal releases for the year according to Metal Archives is 12,863. The total for 2013 is 14,253. Unless nearly 1,400 have yet to be added, this fact will hold true.



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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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