Metal in 2014 is off to a pretty darn entertaining start, what with paperwork-friendly Satanists submitting formal plans for a seven-foot, pentagram-perched Baphomet statue theoretically to be built on the grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol and all. May well never happen, and James Hetfield might even be right to cancel Metallica’s Orion festival because he figures metal’s experiencing some duff times in the U.S., lately. But don’t tell fans of these 15 early-’14 albums.
Admittedly, barely a handful of them come from Stateside bands—and even a couple of those (ex-quasi-cowpunks Nashville Pussy, Deftones side project Crosses) might stretch the “metal” definition a wee bit. (Cali screamo-corers Of Mice And Men might even stretch the “top” definition, where quality is concerned, but their album did go top 5 in Billboard, so stop complaining already.) At any rate, the most compelling music here – Black Star Riders’ German industrial space-metal, Grand Magus’s Swedish power-myth metal, De La Tierra’s Latin American polyrhythmic metal en español — is absolutely worth checking out ASAP.
Not too far behind: Behemoth’s Polish black-metal Baphomet worship; Within Temptation’s Dutch damsel-on-unicorn goth-metal; maybe even Van Canto’s German a cappella metal (?!) and resurrected Brit record-collector faves Leaf Hound’s live-in-Japan acid-boogie comeback, for starters. As for the ambient new set by France’s Alcest—and the equally background-droning joint venture between Norway’s Ulver and actual Americans Sunn O)))—you know, elevators need to bang their heads sometimes, too. If you doze off, you are at least assured heavy dreams.