This was going to be a top 10 list, and even could be a top 15 list. But let’s just cut to the chase, the top 5 are what we all really want to see on these lists anyway, right?
And while it’s a shame that there wasn’t even a metal core album that went #1 this year (Though props to Taylor Swift, there almost wasn’t anyone to hit that milestone this year), that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good music released. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
5. Down – Down IV Part II
I’ve really grown to appreciate Phil Anselmo outside of Pantera over the past year, and that’s mostly thanks to Down. It’s almost like falling in love with Zakk Wylde’s work with Ozzy back in the day, and then finding out he went on to create Black Label Society. It’s a win/win bonus round for all.
No matter what, Down is extremely consistent in writing heavy, southern sludge songs that are beyond amazing. And I’m sure all the other fans of the band were thrilled with this EP. I certainly am, as it’s another solid entry in the band’s discography.
4. AC/DC – Rock or Bust
This might not be completely fair, as I’m kind biased (and almost obligated) to love anything that AC/DC puts out. They’re a huge reason I play guitar, and helped shape how I play guitar. Angus and Malcolm together are easily the best power house duo in rock, so to hear about Malcolm being diagnosed with dementia was truly saddening. He had written several of the band’s best songs, and produced/engineered a lot of the albums. He was pretty much the Australian Jimmy Page on that front.
So with Malcolm out (and what ever is going on with Phil Rudd), a lot of fans were questioning if they should even continue. Of course they should! And from what Angus said, it was a hard process to not have his brother there in the studio or in the writing process. But, the album still turned out amazing! I would even say I like it more than Black Ice, and I really enjoyed that one.
Even though it’s rated to not be the most dynamic album, it still sounds great. There’s an “air” to the music, if you will. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s one of the best sounding albums in a while. Straight up rock’n’roll, no tricks or anything. The songs are outstanding, and Angus is at the top of his game. What else do you need?
3. Nick Johnston – Atomic Mind
As a fellow instrumental guitarist, Nick Johnston is undoubtedly one of the most talented guitarists on the planet, and his third album “Atomic Mind” shows that yet again.
With the backing band of Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann (both of The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, and much, much more), the album just soars. From the licks, technique, song writing, and my goodness… Nicks’ guitar tone, this is one of the best instrumental and best rock albums of this decade!
Also, with guest appearances by Paul Gilbert and Guthrie Govan, it’s a solid 10/10.
2. Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican
Okay… Okay… I know that AC/DC being on this list was a little biased. And to be honest, this is too. Zakk has been my main musical influence for almost a decade, so it’s hard to not love a new BLS record. But, just like with Rock or Bust, this is a solid album.
Social media only built anticipation for this album as Zakk posted photos and videos from in the studio on Instagram, teasing the fans about what was to come. And boy did it deliver.
The opening track, “Fields of Unforgiveness”, is like if BLS and and Alice in Chains collaborated on an song together.
WAIT… Jerry Cantrell and Zakk writing music together… That would be a highlight of heavy metal.
Anyway, the rest of the album is amazing. And all of the bonus tracks (domestic and abroad) are all songs that would have been worth just putting on the album as regular songs. Dark Side of the Sun and The Nomad are two of the best BLS songs in my opinion.
Lately, it’s been teased on Instagram that Zakk’s been writing a lot of new music again, so hopefully a new BLS album isn’t that far away.
I thought The Order of the Black was the best Black Label album of all time, but then CCOTBV showed otherwise, and then told me to go sit in the corner for my amazing stupidity.
A solid 5 fists of fury out of 5.
1. Pink Floyd – The Endless River
Oh my goodness – if you told me a year ago that there would be a new Pink Floyd album (Actually, if you told anyone that), I would have thought you were just trying to pull a fast one on me. But low and behold, about a year later, this CD’s been in nearly constant rotation.
You all should know the story of this album by now. It’s all left over pieces and soundscapes from The Division Bell sessions. And, unfortunately, the last (new to the public) recordings of Richard Wright that we will ever hear.
From the second I hit play, the album constantly sent goosebumps all over my body. It was almost as magical as when I heard Dark Side of the Moon for the first time. The songs really do flow together perfectly, and while it’s bitter sweet that the only song any vocals appear on is the last track, it’s the perfect send off for the album, and what is the end of Pink Floyd’s history, at least as far as new music.
I can’t express how much I love this album. It’s one that, if you could marry music, It’d be my 20th wife.
Lame jokes aside, those are my top 5 albums of 2014.
Honorable mentions go to:
Mastodon – Once More Round’ The Sun
Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (Seriously, I liked this album a LOT more than Wasting Light)
Beck – Morning Phase (Seriously, listen to this album)
Next year’s “Best to come”:
Tame Impala – ??
Melody’s Echo Chamber – ??
Rob Zombie – ??