Most Honorable Mention
Amaranthe - Massive Addictive - 7.0
Xandria - Sacrificum - 7.0
2014 Top Favorites
Phosphene - Any Last Words - 7.0
Heliosaga - Towers in the Distance - 7.0
Anathema - Distant Satellites- 8.0
This band of Liverpudlians has a wonderful way, in almost every song, of slowly picking you up and taking you away on a journey, eventually bring you to a uplifting cresendo of great heights, and then, as fast as you arrived, settling you down to ponder about your current experience. Lee Douglas shines in this release, but is exceptional in both 'The Lost Song Part II' and in 'Ariel', which is one of my favorite songs for 2014! It's simply beauty, put to music and lyrics! Other highlights include the sombre interlude of 'Fireflight', into the title track 'Distance Satellites', and the band track 'Anathema'.
Liv Kristine - Vervain - 8.5
Black Rose Productions, Napalm Records
Vervain seems to vary quite significantly from Liv Kristine's other solo releases, maintaining that 'Leaves' Eyes' feel, without the male vocals from Alex. Even more, Vervain harkens gingerly to long past, incorporating wonderfully dark, Gothic elements withing songs such as 'Love Decay' featuring Michelle Darkness from the band End Of Green , 'Oblivious' and 'Stronghold Of Angels' sharing the vocals with Doro. 'Elucidation' is rather kicky, with a great beat, and the whole collection is finished off with an amazing ballad called 'Unbreakable'! Simply brilliant! Excellent production!
The Birthday Massacre - Superstition - 9.5
Truly an amazing album from this superb gothic synth band from Toronto! More refined than ever, yet consistantly true to their excellent music that they've been releasing since their album 'Blue'.
Just too many gems to mention here save for one of my favorites for 2014; 'The Other Side'! Superstition is head banging one minute, floating on dark clouds the next. It's the excellent production and super lyrics, performed by a band SO together in what they do, which makes me choose this album as my favorite.
Just get this and listen to it!
Epica - The Quantum Enigma - 9.0
Nuclear Blast Records
Epica's newest is ALMOST their best to date (I'm rather partial to Consign to Oblivion by just a bit). This album is both brutal, yet elegant throughout, from start to finish. It has everything you'd expect, from the flurish of exceptional choir and symphonic arrangements, to the abundance of growls and massive double bass, all doused with a healthy portion of excellent guitar work. All this meshes perfectly into a rollercoaster ride of music, completely encased in the brilliant vocals of Simone Simons! Favorites include the opening combo 'Originem/The Second Stone', 'Unchain Utopia', and 'Omen - The Ghoulish Malidy'
Delain - The Human Contradiction - 8.5
Without a doubt, their best effort yet! In fact, they just keep getting better! Charlotte Wessels' signature voice flutters gracefully throughout awesome riffs and beats. Unlike their first release 'Lucidity', where the guests highlighted the album, Delain has leveled out the equation here, where their guests Marco Hietala, George Oosthoek, and Alissa White-Gluz are merely brilliant additions to the bands growing awesomeness. Favorites include 'Stardust', 'Army Of Dolls', 'Your Body Is A Battleground' and one of my favorites for 2014; 'The Tragedy Of the Commons' featuring the vocals of Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy!!
Broken Crown Halo - Lacuna Coil - 8.5
Deeper, darker, harder, and their best since Lacuna Coil's gothic days. Their opening anthem 'Nothing Stands In Our Way' strikes a chord into what awaits beyond. The kick ass vibe carries on through songs such as 'Zombies' and 'Victims', then the bass takes over for one of my favorites this year, 'Die & Rise'. They finish with one of their deepest songs yet; 'One Cold Day', which spanks back to their earlier material. Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro are still one of the best metal combos out there! Broken Crown Halo proves it!
War Eternal - Arch Enemy - 8.5
Century Media - Trooper Entertainment
Very few could do what Alissa White-Gluz did on her appointment as front woman of Arch Enemy. That being able to maintain raw power to the growls, acclimate to a new band far away from her home country of Canada, AND put forth superior vocals on an amazing first album with AE. 'War Eternal' draws it's melodic element from deep within the sterling guitar work, mixing agressively with Alissa's grit. Certainly not short of headbanging material, this album will have you bobbing for demonic joy! Note worthy songs include, 'War Eternal', 'You Will Know My Name', 'As the Pages Burn', 'Stolen Life' and 'Avalanche'!!
November-7 -- Awaraxid 7mg - 8.0
Daily Rock Records
Excellent work here from this Swiss band, especially on 'Acid Life', which honestly has a life of it's own! The superior vocals of Annamaria Cozza flow seamlessly among the hard guitars and beat orientated compositions, and literially excel in the balladish 'Black and White'! Some spit and polish, and this band will be playing along side Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil, not behind them in support! Another visit to the Metal Female Voices Fest would be nice too! Some favorites are 'Acid Life', 'Pieces Of Me', and 'Black and White'!
From Light Rose the Angels - EP - 8.0
A total breath of fresh air coming from North America, FLRTA has a fantastic sound that is reflected in this 7 song EP! VK Lynne's vocals are phenomenal and they work these songs brilliantly among the growls and vocals of Andrew Faust and an extremely tight band performance. All songs deserve acreditation, as they are all great, but 'The Grey Returns', 'Proud 2B' and 'Tear Down the Horizon' stand out! This fantastic performance and great production insure their position within the female fronted metal scene. Really looking forward to a full album release from this gang!
White Empress - Rise of the Empress - 7.5
Another North American creation, White Empress takes death and extreme metal to a new level. Mary Zimmer has upped her talents by many levels with her new band's release. Her clean vocals are great, but her growls are brilliant, and the metal that comes from this band is devilish, with influences coming from Paul Allendar, formerly of Cradle Of Filth. SO wonderful to hear this quality coming from North America. Looking for even better things with the next release!
Elysion - Someplace Better - 7.5
It took almost 5 years since their initial full length offering 'Silent Scre3m', but Elysion's newest was well worth the wait! These Greeks have assembled a sweet album, especially for a southmore release! Contained within are numerous excellent songs such as 'Fairytale' 'Changing' and 'Transparent', where Christianna's vocals are sparkling! 'Made Of Lies' hit my top singles list! Elysion is a new band for me this year, and I'm looking forward to hearing from them again in the near future. BRING IT ON!
Stream Of Passion - A War Of Our Own - 8.0
Whether it would be singing about the joys of love, or the pain, I have yet to see a band express it better, in such a sensual way, than Stream Of Passion. A War Of Our Own lives up to this perfectly as Marcela Bolvio's vocals are spot on at expressing these emotions through each and every song. The lyrics are heart felt, and the metal is top notch with some great conpositions, conbined to bring only the style that SOP can bring! It's signature after all...
Favorites are 'For You', 'Don't Let Go', and the opener 'Monster!!
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Within Temptation - Hydra - 7.5
Aria Flame - A World Of Silence - 7.0