Hello and many salutations to all you readers. Hope you've enjoyed reading our reviews just as much as we've enjoyed writing them up, listening to the albums and studied like Big Bang Theory geeks. Anyway, here's my list of my top ten albums in no strict order I appraised in 2014 and see what your opinion is on them....
Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon
Probably unfairly labelled as the poor man's Metallica throughout their 25 year existence as a group, but I've enjoyed Plagues Of Babylon, with a few surprise guests lined up. One of the best early launches of 2014.
Black Label Society - Catacombs Of The Black Vatican
Ok, Ok, so Zakk Wylde's styling has Ozzy written all over it, and yes it's old school metal. but I'm really loving it! It's my top album, and you just have to listen to its content, quality and sharp production to really appreciate. And I might for once swing Eddie Carter towards this.....
Black Stone Cherry - Magic Mountain
With so many metal acts reviewed, it's been a short sharp shock climbing back down the rock ladder. But Black Stone Cherry have laden so many imaginative melodies into Magic Mountain, which sadly I suspect will be overlooked by the many. Still, always worth an hour's listen anytime.
Wovenwar - Wovenwar
A very new act, born out of necessity after As I Lay Dying's frontman Tim Lambesis' very public and undignified act, their debut album is very solid mature piece. All their ghosts of the past are hopefully laid to rest with this fantastic album which runs very smoothly for its full hour.
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey - Going Back Home
Only a week in the making given Wilko's life threatening illness, it made steady progress in the charts and has been widely praised. Like many others, I said this was probably his last hurrah, but with the excellent news that he's been given the all clear, who'd bet against the two recording some more...?
Tuomas Holopainen - Music Inspired By The Life And Times Of Scrooge
Forget Nightwish. There's no trace of metal here, but still plenty of symphonic overtones to delight. Maybe a little highbrow for some, but a welcome break before the 'Wish brains and scriber returns for a new band album.
Anna Calvi - One Breath
The Mercury Prize champions the albums of the UK, and we've been treated to some genuinely good acts. Granted she didn't win, but Anna Calvi I thought put in a superb effort with this polished, classy and inventive piece.
Within Temptation - Hydra
The Silent Force I really loved, it showed the world what fantastic heights Within Temptation can reach, and Hydra demonstrates the maturity of Sharon den Adel and co. Even better that guitarist and partner Robert Westerholt has more featured grunts in it as in the past he's been seriously underemployed.
Epica - The Quantum Enigma
The Phantom Agony is a fine debut for the Dutch symphonic metal concern, but I found it just a little intensely operatic. By comparison, The Quantum Enigma is, erm, a quantum leap from ten years ago, and Simone Simons has done a sterling job in her songwriting and more importantly, making herself more musically approachable to the keen ear.
Babymetal - Babymetal - Will cute metal catch on? Probably not, but Japan, allied with a few Eastern European death and thrash metallers, has come up with this extraordinary outfit which shouldn't work, but does amazingly well. It may be written virtually all in their mother tongue of Japanese, but it all adds to the cult. These three teens not to mention the management could be onto something new here.
Some albums I've part listened to which have been reviewed by other bloggers, but still worthy of a mention, and they're all in the hat for the draw.
AC/DC - Rock Or Bust
Def Con One - II
Mastodon - Once 'Round The Sun
Maximo Park - Too Much Information