Hard to believe we’re at the end of another incredible year of music. Even compiling a top 100 list has been pretty difficult, but I (Bradley) am here to guide you through the year’s best albums. I’m sure all other writers have some awesome picks, but here goes nothing. We’ll start from the “bottom” – though these releases belong anywhere but there.
#100: Beartooth – “Disgusting”
A solid attempt for Caleb Shomo and company on “Disgusting”, and though it suffers from a few filler tracks, there’s a few songs here that are outstanding (especially in a live setting) – “One More” and “In Between” being the more notable ones. Relatable lyrics and mature subject matter help their cause.
#99: Nonpoint – “The Return”
Nonpoint has always been one of the most consistent bands in hard rock over the past 15 years, and The Return is a very, very good follow up to their 2012 self-titled album. Vocalist Elias Soriano is one of the better frontmen out there, and tracks like “Breaking Skin” show that Nonpoint’s best may be yet to come, unlike similar bands who’ve faded away.
#98: Save Us From The Archon – “Thereafter”
Technical, yet instrumental prog rock? I can dig it. One of the most proficient albums of 2014, from a musical perspective. Jam the whole thing right here.
#97: Sylar – “To Whom It May Concern”
They’re opening Emmure’s current headlining tour and are gaining new fans with every passing day. Their brand of metalcore infused with electronics and hip-hop flourishes is done better than most bands, and they’re built for the live setting. Don’t sleep on Sylar.
#96: Within The Ruins – “Phenomena”
The followup to 2013’s Elite came surprisingly fast, but it’s the most technical yet accessible album they’ve recorded yet. Also, let’s talk about that album art – it’s god-tier.
#95: Revocation – “Deathless”
Thrash metal? Death metal? I’m not sure what subgenre to put Revocation’s 5th full length (since 2008!) in, but I’m sure of one thing – it’s their best work yet. They’ve been poised for big things for a while, and they’re realizing their full potential. Extremely heavy and technical metal.
#94: Job For A Cowboy – “Sun Eater”
I didn’t expect anything remotely close to what JFAC have achieved with their new album. Anyone who’s been a fan of them for a few years or even since their Doom EP will be thrown for a loop by tracks like “Sun Of Nihility”. Worth listening to even if you hated them before.
#93: Jakob – “Sines”
What’s amazing about this album is that Jakob hasn’t lost a step, even though their last album Solace was released all the way back in 2006. Perhaps the most consistent post-rock band out there currently.
#92: Low Roar – “0”
What happens when the hypothetical mashup of Bon Iver, Radiohead, and elements of ambient music collide? Something close to Low Roar’s second album. Very unique musical experience that will serve anyone who’s a fan of indie rock quite well.
#91: Artifex Pereo – “Time In Place”
Hopefully new listeners come on board to the beauty that is Time In Place, because fans of Circa Survive and HRVRD are really going to enjoy Artifex Pereo. One of the experimental rock scene’s brightest new stars, though they’ve been around for a little while.
#90: Heart In Hand – “A Beautiful White”
Parts of Heart In Hand’s 3rd album, A Beautiful White, are some of the better songs you’ll hear all year – especially from bands coming out of the UK. For the uninitiated, the track “Poison Pen Letter” is a great place to start. Check out the lyric video right here.
#89: To The Wind – “Block Out The Sun And Sleep”
Hardcore still lives. To The Wind is carrying the banner quite well, just listen to “Hands Of The Clock” for proof. They also slayed at Warped Tour this year, so they’ve got a good live show to back up some great music.
#88: Silent Planet – “The Night God Slept”
Silent Planet follows a somewhat typical metalcore formula, but includes some of the best and most intriguing lyrics in a genre often derided for being mediocre in that category. Passion goes a long way – this is one of metalcore’s brightest hopes.
#87: The War On Drugs – “Lost In The Dream”
Tom Petty with lots of atmosphere? Fantastic. It’s on par with 2011’s excellent Slave Ambient.
#86: The Word Alive – “Real”
A strong improvement on 2012’s Life Cycles. Solid, if predictable, slab of metalcore, but there are a few standouts – namely “Play The Victim”. Recommended.
#85: Whitechapel – “Our Endless War”
Whitechapel has turned into a full-fledged metalcore band, and that’s okay, because The Saw Is The Law. But seriously, Phil Bozeman’s vocals have never sounded clearer, and Whitechapel is extremely tight as a unit here.
#84: Blitz Kids – “On My Own”
One of the UK’s brightest hopes (this list is full of them), Blitz Kids may have created the year’s most infectiously catchy song in their single “On My Own”. The Good Youth is full of unfairly hooky rock songs. The future is bright.
#83: Black Crown Initiate – “The Wreckage of Stars”
One of the year’s best progressive and death metal albums, and a strong contender for being the best full-length debut in the heavy music scene. It’s even better than their debut EP Song Of The Crippled Bull.
#82: Volumes – “No Sleep”
The bad news? The album is 10 songs, with 2 instrumental tracks. We waited 3 years for this. The good news – “Vahle” is probably the best track Volumes has ever written, and “The Mixture” is sure to be a crowd favorite in the pit.
#81: At The Gates – “At War With Reality”
How were they supposed to follow up 1995’s instant classic Slaughter Of The Soul? AWWR was the most logical follow up. The production is great, the vocals are more digestible than ever, and the band still shreds harder than their peers.
#80: Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Laura Jane Grace and company roar through a half hour of their best music in half a decade. It’s the statement they needed to make.
#79: Bayside – “Cult”
Another couple years, another consistently good Bayside album. Triumph to the band that never seems to disappoint.
#78: Closure in Moscow – “Pink Lemonade”
Closure In Moscow have gone all psychadelic on us, and the results are fantastic, if tough to digest at first.
#77: Taking Back Sunday – “Happiness Is…”
The best TBS album in a decade? I’m not sure as a whole I can say that, but it’s buoyed by excellent songs like “Flicker, Fade” and the early-career revival of “Better Homes and Gardens”. Maybe they’ll never be the same, and you know what? That’s okay. There’s also a lack of filler here – just consistently solid, sometimes great songs.
#76: The Amity Affliction – “Let The Ocean Take Me”
The ocean and aquatic themes are starting to get tiring, but at least here, it still includes some of their best written and catchiest songs – “The Weigh Down” has lyrics you’ll be humming for years.