2014 has been an interesting year for music to say the least. On one hand, people have developed this notion that rock music must sound a certain way, leading to the industry signing bands that sound very similar to one another. On the other hand, there have been bands that have “broken that mold” with some great success. It gives me some hope to where the industry may go. This 2014 top 16 list is dedicated to that fact.
I have to give it up to Chevelle. For better or worse, they have always stayed true to themselves and their sound. “La Gorgola,” in every way, stays true to that statement. It is a great effort from Chevelle and my favorite album since “Wonder What’s Next.”
Heartist is interesting in the fact that they combine so many different elements of alternative, hard rock, and metal into their music. They definitely bring something different to the table in a world where hard rock is beginning to sound the same.
One word. Unique. Islander somehow found a way to bring nu-metal mixed with 311 style jams back into the limelight. As a personal note, it was awesome sharing the stage with these guys. They have a TON of energy on stage and kill it!
Rise Records has a shiny, beautiful, jewel of mystical proportions in their artist roster. Of Mice & Men’s “Restoring Force” is an extremely solid, well thought out album. If one thing 2014 showed, is that “Restoring Force” is bringing Of Mice & Men to the masses.
This album is solid and an easy choice for me. Put Mudvayne, Nothingface, and Pantera into one super-group and, “Hellyeah” I’m there…har har har. When Chad Grey first started Hellyeah, he claimed that it was a band for a bunch of friends to get together, party, and have fun. While it could still be that way, that attitude was portrayed in their earlier music. With this new album, Hellyeah has turned everything around with a more serious tonality. Some songs even sound like they could be a part of a Mudvayne record. I see this as a step in a great direction for the band.
#11: Godsmack – 1000hp
Sully Erna, one of the few vocalists out there whose voice can be recognized on anything he takes a part in. Now, 19 years later, Godsmack is still growing stronger and stronger. “1000hp,” to me, represents a timeline, from the birth of the band to the struggles that ensued, all the way to the future death of the band, which is hopefully not for years to come. It tells a very interesting story, and is worth being a part of your collection.
What could be said that hasn’t already been said about the Foo Fighters? And, that’s a good thing. The Foo Fighters are so well established that they get everyone talking, constantly. I’ve always seen the Foo Fighters as a band that tries to one-up themselves on every album, and “Sonic Highways” is the result of a long and fruitful career, showing their maturity and expertise in their craft. Travelling all over the country to write and record songs, along with their supplemental HBO show, makes this album such a phenomenon.
Ever since I heard “Angel’s Son” and the “Southside Double-Wide” live acoustic album/dvd, I knew how badly I wanted a Sevendust acoustic studio record. Well, here it is for all of us to behold its glory. With “Time Travelers & Bonfires” we get a great sampling of acoustic renditions from back in the days of their self-titled debut to the present, in which they have six brand new songs written for this album.
Nonpoint has been a staple in my childhood ever since their record label debut in 1999, “Statement.” I have personally seen them live many times, and recently had the honor of sharing the stage with them. Great bunch of guys, talented musicians, and songs that have hooks coming to grab you from a mile away. What’s not to like?
Yes, technically this could be considered a 2013 release, but they went back into the studio with a different producer/engineer and re-recorded, re-mixed, and re-mastered the entire album, including a couple extra tracks which were released officially in January, 2014. So, that makes it fair game. The first time I heard Devour The Day, I was intrigued. Much like the band Heartist (mentioned above), they break up the monotony of today’s alternative hard rock and put forth a beautifully crafted album for us all to proudly listen to.
One question: Does everything that Opeth touches NOT turn to gold? Well, guess so. “Pale Communion” is a finely crafted work of art, from every note, every syllable, and every word. “Pale Communion” has the power to almost put you in a meditative trance. While different than any other Opeth album, this record is worth listening from front to back and over again.
I remember Seether when they came fresh off the boat from South Africa, right after they changed their name from Saron Gas. Seether have always put out extremely hard hitting music with deep meaning. “Isolate & Medicate” is no different, and all around, one of the best of 2014.
The Birthday Massacre never ceases to surprise the listener. I, personally, did the review for “Superstition,” which you can check out via the (Review) link above. I believe “Superstition” to be a haunting, emotional rollercoaster of an album. Creativity in writing does not just reach your soul, but the darkest part of it. As always, The Birthday Massacre continues their style of dark industrial pop rock or “new-wave revival” as they state. It is a recipe that on paper, should never work, but instead they make it so natural. The Birthday Massacre are truly pioneers of their craft.
Okay, so this may come as a surprise to some, but to anyone who knows me, knows that I love Sarah McLachlan. There, I said it. I own everything she has ever done, and “Shine On” is no different. What I love so much about this record is that I hear instances of McLachlan almost reminiscing on her past, in sound and mind. And, what you get with “Shine On” is a vast array of McLachlan’s styles that mend so beautifully together.
In This Moment has undergone an extreme transformation with “Black Widow.” I know that this upsets some people, but I see it as a band truly maturing and showing us that they have so many more dimensions to their sound and personalities. “Black Widow” is truly a masterpiece in the hard rock/metal world. You can also check out my review of the album via the (Review) link above.
Okay, what can I say, I’m biased here. Aurin is the band I play guitar in, do backup vocals for, and am a primary composer within. We are a band created in order to bring about raising awareness for mental illness, suicide, poverty, bullying, and all the stigmas attached to it due to our broken system. As four separate people, and as a band, we have gone through and continue to go through many struggles ourselves and continue to fight for everything we achieve, especially now since we have been honored to sign with Pavement Entertainment. I put our album, “Catharsis” as number one on this list simply because of how personally invested we/I are all into it. To me, “Catharsis,” is not only our first real break in this world, but shows that there is hope in the fight to bring awareness to better our system and come together and stand as one. It shows that there are people listening out there that believe. You are not alone.