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The Woopop-Certified Top 13 (and a half!) Albums of 2014

By Eric | January 1, 2015 11:35 pm

Just like on last years list, I couldn’t limit it to only 10… and again, they’re in alphabetical order, because trying to rank albums or pull an overall favorite is just too damn hard.

Nate plays along with The Tea Party
Nate plays along with The Tea Party.

2014 felt like the year of comebacks. Fuel, Moist, Slipknot, and the Tea Party all released albums after some interminable waits, Theory of a Deadman returned to proper form, while Chevelle and Nonpoint continued the positive momentum they started on prior albums. Beyond those, there were just some really solid albums released by some of my usual suspects this past year. So without further ado, these were the albums that tickled my fancy in 2014:

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

I spun this one quite a bit at work. It’s just more of the classic BLS sound. “My Dying Time” and “Beyond The Down” were highlights.

Chevelle – La Gargola

After what I consider a couple of mediocre albums in the middle of their career, Chevelle has really stepped up their game between 2011’s Hats Off to the Bull and now La Gargola. This one has more than a handful of tracks that go hard; the entire run of “An Island”, “Take Out The Gunman”, “Jawbreaker” and “Hunter Eats Hunter” is especially good.

Crosses – Crosses

This almost doesn’t count, because EP 1 came out in 2011, and then EP 2 in 2012, but it took until February 2014 to get the full album (both EP’s plus some new ones) out. Regardless, this is way more chill than 95% of what I normally listen to. Chino Moreno of the Deftones, and Shawn Lopez from Far put this project together for fun, and Chino put it this way: “minimal and soothing and it’s sort of like the stuff I like listening to when I’m not screaming my head off.” I love “This Is A Trick”, “Bitches Brew”, “Blk Stallion”, and I get “Prurient” stuck in my head all the time.

Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

I have to admit, I didn’t like Ex-Lives nearly as much as some of the others, especially coming off of New Junk Aesthetic, but this one brought me right back. It’s funny, the one track that kinda sticks out like a sore thumb, “Moor”, is the one I like the most, along with “El Dorado”.

Fuel – Puppet Strings

It took 11 years and a complete lineup turnover to get another Fuel album with Brett Scallions singing on it, but it was worth the wait! This album shows that Brett can certainly do his own thing without any of the signature Carl Bell riffs. There’s a couple of instant Fuel classics on here that can slot in right beside the hits catalog, like “Wander” and especially “Cold Summer”, which apparently had been kicking around in one form or another since before Natural Selection. “Time For Me To Stop” is another favorite.

Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds

Don’t ask why it took me forever to really, *really* get into these guys. I was always aware of them, even saw them twice as openers, and yet never invested the time until early last year, when Robb Flynn started his blogs about the 10th anniversary of Through the Ashes of Empires. I finally gave it a good listen and was like “YOU @#$%ING MORON WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS SOONER??”. Went back and got the whole catalog (even The Burning Red and Supercharger LOL), and was excited as hell for this release. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint. This album is fantastic! “Now We Die” starts it with a bang, and it goes from there. “Night of Long Knives” is a cool track, and I like “Game Over” as well.

Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies

As if 11 years between Fuel albums wasn’t long enough, it had been FIFTEEN years since Mercedes Five and Dime was released before Moist put out this new album. “Mechanical” is easily my favorite, as it’s the first song, first single, and track personally voted “most likely to sound like ‘Push’ had been updated for 2014”. There’s some classic-sounding Moist on here, like “Broken”, and “The River”, and then there’s some stuff that could easily be on a David Usher solo album. Pretty solid overall though.

Nonpoint – The Return

“The Return” may as well be the theme of my whole list, and while its the album title, it’s not like Nonpoint hasn’t been putting stuff out consistently. However, looking at 2012’s self-titled and now this one, they indeed have returned to prominence. “Pins and Needles” starts it off hot and heavy, and the album never really quits after that. Lots of good tunes on this one, including “Breaking Skin”, “Misery”, “Forcing Hands”, and “Never Ending Hole”.

Sevendust – Time Travelers and Bonfires

Not that there was ever any doubt that these guys could do their own Jar of Flies type album, especially in light of how good Southside Double-Wide was, but they proved it and then some with the original acoustic (and acoustic-esque) songs on here. “Come Down” is fantastic, “The Wait” is as heartfelt as anything they’ve ever done, and I really like “Upbeat Sugar” and “Bonfire” as well. It’s a role-reversal of sorts, as I’d love to hear these songs fully plugged in! The six new tunes would have been enough to land this on my list, but then there’s six acoustic versions of the heavier songs, including “Denial”, “Crucified”, and “Karma”. My one minor gripe is that we’ve already heard “Trust” and “Black” on SSDW, and they could have picked two more songs we’ve never heard acoustically, but that’s splitting hairs; they still sound great here.

Slash – World on Fire

I’ll trot out my old chestnut again: Myles Kennedy could sing over my cat’s screeching and I’d love it. Singing over a second whole album with Slash and the same band? Yes please!! I liked Apocalyptic Love a lot, and this one beats the pants off of that. The title track is amazing, as is “Wicked Stone”, “30 Years to Life”, and “Bent To Fly” is fantastic. Really, the whole album is; it’s what a modern straight-up rock record should sound like.

Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter

Sure, lets continue with the comeback stories. Six years after All Hope Is Gone, and after the death of Paul Gray and the departure of Joey Jordison, the nine lunatics come back with an album that blows AHIG out of the water, and rivals anything else they’ve ever put out. It runs the gamut from the atmospheric and downright creepy to the full frontal assault you’d expect. “Sarcastrophe”, “The Devil In I”, “Custer” and “The Negative One” are the heavy, and the tribute to Paul, “Goodbye”, is unlike anything they’ve ever done, except maybe “Snuff”.

The Tea Party – The Ocean at the End

One more comeback story! Ten years after the less-than-stellar Seven Circles, the trio got it right with this one. Back to the world music and blues influences that makes the Tea the Tea, this is solid from front to back. “The Black Sea”, “Cypher”, and “Submission” are early favorites, and “The Ocean At The End” is as great as any of their epic tunes.

Theory of a Deadman – Savages

Less of a comeback, more just a return to form after the generic radio-fare that was “The Truth Is…”, “Savages” is Theory getting their snarl back. “Drown” and “Savages” may be two of the heaviest songs they’ve ever done, while “Panic Room” and “World War Me” are solid TOAD tunes as well. There’s the requisite ballads and the country cross-over, but I’ll forgive those in light of how much I like the rest of the album.

Honorable Mention:

Clutch – Summer Sound Attack

This doesn’t really count at all, as it’s an online-only compilation put together for Clutch’s summer tour. Clutch is another band I was Johnny-come-SUPER-lately on. I saw them last December at Montage on a whim, and loved it. Got all the albums, and have been listening to them all year. Earth Rocker came out in 2013, so it’s not making the list, but this compilation of Earth Rocker tunes and a couple of “hits” from mainly the latter half of their catalog (Spacegrass the notable exception) will stand in nicely. Besides, if nothing else, this will make the list because every time I play “Electric Worry”, we follow up “Bang Bang Bang Bang” with Nate flipping out singing “DOMINOES DOMINOES!”

No, they’re not on here:

Black Stone Cherry (not as good as the prior three), Godsmack (same album for the 6th time), Hellyeah (it’s okay), Linkin Park (better than the last two, but eh), Mike Doughty (just missed the cut), Nickelback (LULZ), Seether (it’s growing on me, but see Godsmack)

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