Metalunderground.com's Best Of 2014 Awards Revealed
Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)
What was old is now new again, as much like with Hollywood returning to Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Terminator, metal heads had a desire for past and present to collide throughout 2014.
This was another year of major reunions and comebacks with the likes of At The Gates, Slipknot, Sanctuary, and Massacre all returning with new material. The long dead Coal Chamber also came back to life, although we won't see an actual release until next year (with varying opinions on to whether that particular resurrection was wanted or needed).
Besides all the blasts from the past, this was a year marked by spectacles in the metal world – some truly unfortunate and others less so. Heavy metal managed to hit the Facebook trending bar and gain exposure to millions when 92 year old actor Christopher Lee released his Metal Knight EP and Christmas single ”Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.”
Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying was finally sentenced after being arrested back in 2013 for attempting to hire a hitman to kill his ex-wife – an act that lead to the creation of Wovenwar, featuring the remaining members of As I Lay Dying as well as a fellow ex-believer from Oh, Sleeper.
This was also the year that included Roadrunner Records botching the release of the first Opeth single from “Pale Communion” and subsequently breaking the Internet. And who could forget Wintersun's infamous rant (perhaps best summarized as “I can't possibly record an album unless its in my own personal studio that someone else has paid for”), which sent a horde of lemming-like fans to send death threats to the Nuclear Blast Facebook page?
Typical metal shenanigans aside, this was actually a solid year for metal overall even past the major reunions. Now moving into 2015, the big question marks are if that Metallica album actually comes out, when Dimmu Borgir is finally going to get around to leaking some new info, and for those of us who have been impatiently waiting since 2012 – when will God Of Atheists finally drop that debut release that we voted most anticipated two years ago?
Before any of those questions come close to getting answers, let's take a look back at what 2014 had to offer for metal fans...
Best Metal Album Of 2014
There were loads of solid albums and even a handful of really stellar ones, which led to some stiff competition in this category during our staff voting. Until the last day of voting, we ended up with a five-way tie between Triptykon, Eluveitie, Mastodon, Scar Symmetry and Behemoth before one band finally nabbed the win by a single vote:
Behemoth - “The Satanist”
This might be the first time EVER in Metalunderground.com history that our most anticipated album from the previous year was actually voted best album the following year – so congrats to Behemoth! This was an album that seemed destined for greatness from the start, forged in adversity between leukemia and lawsuits thrown in front man Nergal's way, especially after the already excellent “Evangelion” release.
While not everyone on the staff agreed that it was top of the year material – the writer who originally reviewed the album awarded it a 3.5 / 5 – most of us put it in our top 5 nominations, which is the mark of a great release with appeal regardless of personal sub-genre preferences.
Job For A Cowboy's “Sun Eater” also deserves a special mention as an album that didn't have any business being as great as it was. If we had a “Most Unexpectedly Awesome” or “Most Improved” category, JFAC probably would have won it.
Best Metal DVD of 2014
After successive wins in previous awards, Devin Townsend's two year reign comes to an end in 2014 as Hevy Devy finally gets dethroned. Continuing the theme of winners earning their spots through trials and tribulations – in this case literally, with front man Randy Blythe going through a trial in the Czech Republic – is Lamb Of God a documentary that even managed to snag theatrical release in some locations.
Lamb Of God – “As The Palaces Burn”
Other noteworth DVDs that saw release this year included Metallica's 3D extravaganza “Through The Never,” The Black Dahlia Murder's “Fool 'Em All,” Between The Buried And Me "Future Sequence: Live at Fidelitorium,” and Katatonia's “Last Fair Deal Gone Night.”
Best Metal Newcomer of 2014
Last year was chock full of “new” bands from established members of the scene signed to major labels, so this year we dug more into the underground for our best newcomer:
This Italian outfit featuring members of DGM released the debut “Risen” album back in June via Scarlet Records, which fused together power, prog, and extreme metal into an auditory extravaganza that speaks of grand things to come.
Other bands nominated included the supergroups Killer Be Killed and Panzer, as well as Gothic outfit Order of Isaz and doom band Northern Crown. A full list of all the newcomers we nominated can be found at the bottom of this article.
Best Metal Performance of 2014
With contributors scattered across the globe in different markets, it can be difficult to nail down a best performer, so when multiple people vote for the same band it means they must be putting on a hell of a show. This year our staff awarded the “best performance of 2014” to the one and only:
Other nominated bands who put on a stellar live show included Ghost, At The Gates, Behemoth, Judas Priest, and Eluveitie.
Most Anticipated Release of 2015
Now that the year is ending it's time to look forward with anticipation to the storm of heavy metal coming our way. In another first for Metalunderground's year-end awards, we had loads of votes for two different bands that left all others in the dust. There was a tie that just couldn't be broken between:
Slayer AND Faith No More
With all that's been happening in the Slayer camp lately fans are waiting with baited breath to see if the band still has another masterpiece in it, while the long-awaited reunion of Faith No More fuels our nostalgia for a time when MTV still played music videos and metal fans weren't so segregated into a billion sub-genres.
While those two far and away took the lion's share of the votes, we're also looking forward to releases from Enslaved, Marduk, Moonspell, and Tool (although not officially announced by the band yet).
During the voting only one of our contributors nominated the presumed Metallica release, and while there's no doubt it will sell well no matter what, it seems like more and more fans of “real” metal have basically given up on anything good coming from these once-legendary metal forefathers, who now are more associated with “I Am The Table” than with anything from the Cliff Burton era. We'd like to hear your thoughts though – do you think Metallica will actually release the album in 2015, and will it be worth hearing?
If you want to dive into the horde of new bands that released strong debut material this year you may have missed, here's the complete list of bands we nominated in the “best newcomer” category:
Monument Of Misanthropy
Orphans of Dusk
Order Of Isaz
Killer Be Killed
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