Records of the Year 2014

Below you can find our top 20 Records of the Year from 2014, as voted for by all writers.

1. Swans – To Be Kind

Released via Young God

Released via Young God

Released on 12th May

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Not so much an album but an intense and exhilarating celebration which feels like nothing else in the universe. A primal and rhythmic experience which propels you into another dimension. GODS!

Rich Collins

Throughout the years, Swans have displayed remarkable ingenuity and creativity with many of their album releases. In the past decade, the band seems to be going from strength to strength, producing amazing album after next. ‘To Be Kind’ continues this vein in remarkable fashion, coming across as one of their most experimental and impressive albums to date. Producing an album to follow on from 2012’s ‘The Seer’ didn’t seem like an easy task, and yet Swans delved into the challenge with remarkable confidence, providing an immense album experience unlike any other. It’s grand and bombastic at times, but it showcases Swans as being one of the most creative bands of all time.

Gareth Watkins

2: Mogwai – Rave Tapes

Released via Rock Action

Released via Rock Action

Released on 20th January

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Mogwai continue to surprise and delight. Consummate artists never happy to stand still, ever experimenting and evolving. Rave Tapes continues this anti-tradition bringing more electronic elements and playfulness to the fore. Also: you can dance to this one without head-banging.!

Thomas Laycock

Mogwai’s latest record didn’t shout about its brilliance. If anything, their loud-quiet-loud dynamic was reigned in somewhat on Rave Tapes. But with Fridmann at the controls, and a new lease of life from electronic music, of all the unlikely sources, they quietly went about producing the finest record of their career. The highlights, Remurdered’s funky Moog jam and Repellish’s Satan-on-vinyl tales introduce new elements to the Scottish band’s sound, yet are still distinctly a product of their superb musicianship and understated aesthetic.

Gaz Cloud

3: MONO – The Last Dawn / Rays of Darkness

Released via Pelagic

Released via Pelagic

Released on 27th October

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Glorious and sublime. A welcome return to a simpler, less orchestrated Mono sound. Not without its faults, but these are rendered irrelevant by ‘Recoil, Ignite’, possibly the best song Mono have ever made.

Bruce Cowie

The darkest and most minimal release from Mono in over a decade is also quite possibly their strongest. Splitting it over two themes has resulted in a release that gets better with each listen, and their guitars have never sounded bigger. Listen to ‘Recoil:Ignite’ as loud as you can, on repeat. FOREVER. Also features the first ever Mono track with vocals – which normally I’d dismiss but it’s great. A stellar work, and only pipped to first in my list by a nose.

Nick Dodds

4: Esben And The Witch – A New Nature

Released via Nostromo Records

Released via Nostromo Records

Released on 7th September

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It’s truly something to behold when you find a record that you can describe as “embalming”. A New Nature is an intoxicating, unnerving and seductive record exploring the depths of shadows and darkness in ourselves. A truly rare feat is that of an album that can be as frail as eggshells, yet pummeling on a jurassic scale. With ‘A New Nature’ this three-piece have not only found their own, but evolved into something completely necessary, with absolute potency that stands completely unmatched this year.

Jake Murray

Song to song maintains an impressive and ominous energy and intensity. Beautiful, powerful, stunning; certainly some of this year’s best music.

Dave Gudza

5: Thou – Heathen

Released via Gilead Media

Released via Gilead Media

Released on 25th February

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Eons above the contemporaries of the genre, Thou have crafted a gray sweep of sorrow, discontent and personal discovery. The album boasts beautiful melodies with razor wire aggression. Everything else released this year is small specks on the horizon.

Christopher Luedtke

Thou have always been a very prolific band and they always seem to push themselves into more horrifying territories. Heathen is an absolute beast of an album, which initially might look a bit daunting as it’s very long and very heavy. But give it time and you’ll come back to it again and again and again. As far as this genre goes, Heathen is a beautiful piece of work.

Sander van den Driesche

6: YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend

Released via Neurot

Released via Neurot

Released on 2nd September

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I can count on one hand the number of bands who genuinely earned the term “majestic” this year with their releases, and top of the heap is YOB. After several acclaimed albums in the vein of the band’s monolithic sound, it is no mean feat that the title of “Clearing The Path To Ascend” manages to so succinctly sum up the album’s capability. Each track unfolds in direct relation to the next: “In Our Blood” rouses the band for “Nothing To Win”, which pummels the ground for “Unmask The Spectre” to build the staircase, paving the way for “Marrow” to be the final ascent into the heavens. And every listen is as magical as the first.

Mark Angel Brandt

Thou might have released my favourite album, but YOB won me over with the best track, the truly heart-rending ‘Marrow’. Best listened to under a full moon and a blanket of stars, in the depths of the remotest valley, without another soul around for miles. Trust me. A new benchmark for the doom genre.

Ross Mckendrick

7: Rumour Cubes – Appearances Of Collections

Self-released

Self-released

Released on 18th August

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Appearances of Collections is a labyrinth of vivacity. It is an album of beauty and transcendence that is meticulously crafted but holds no sense of rigidity, leaving plenty of room for wonder.

Karla Harris

Sublime and brilliant post-rock with beautifully-integrated strings. Lovely! My favorite release of the year.

Michael Kegg

8: Cleft – BOSH!

Self-released

Self-released

Released on 10th February

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You see them live, you watch people sing along riffs to an entirely instrumental band. The album’s resplendent with riffs and thoroughly fucking groovy. Get dancin’.

Aicha Boyd

I still don’t understand how one drummer and one guitarist make such a bloody racket. Let alone a such a bloody awesome racket! I’ve seen Cleft play to 10 people in a 30 capacity basement in Manchester. And I saw them at ArcTanGent this year making a tent of what must have been 2000 people going mental and singing their riffs back to them. The first two EPs were excellent, but they didn’t really manage to quite get the edge that their live sound has down on record. Whatever they did while recording Bosh! really worked though, it has a raw edge to it, very reminiscent of their live sound, and tons of fun and energy carry through the whole thing. An excellent debut album, backed up by an outstanding and engaging live show.

Ed Sprake

9: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Released via Reprise Records

Released via Reprise Records

Released on 24th June

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Excellent progressive metal, which nods towards stoner and sludge. Technically demanding yet melodic enough to get mainstream play.

Rob Thompson

In spite of the shocking cover and the shock of old school fans who got upset at the band venturing further into melodic metal, this is for me, Mastodon’s best album yet. Certainly my most played album over 2014, the tunes were earworms, the riffing was concise and crunchy and the much maligned vocals were on the money throughout. A perfect mix of intense metal and big tunes.

Geoff Topley

10. Sólstafir – Ótta

Released via Season of Mist

Released via Season of Mist

Released on 2nd September

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The distinctiveness, the originality, the emotional charge and the stellar instrumental sections that the Icelandic outfit Sólstafir delivers through the new record make Ótta a powerful way to remember the amazing music we enjoyed this year and for me it deserves to be nominated the best album of 2014.

Daniela Patrizi

Many critics were forced to re-evaluate the concept of ‘heavy music’ upon hearing this Icelandic quartet’s sublime fifth album, with an emotional weight and dissonance that completely reconfigures any previous notion of just exactly what the term ‘heavy’ means. Often lazily described as Sigur Rós playing metal, this should merely serve as a starting point for a band that defies genre or easy pigeonholing. A sweeping vista of an album that you could get utterly lost in for days.

Remfry Dedman

11: Behemoth – The Satanist

Released via Nuclear Blast

Released via Nuclear Blast

Released on 3rd February

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12: sleepmakeswaves – Love Of Cartography

Released via Monotreme / Bird's Robe

Released via Monotreme / Bird's Robe

Released on 4th July

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13. Trojan Horse – World Turned Upside Down

Released via Bad Elephant Music

Released via Bad Elephant Music

Released on 13th October

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14: Knifeworld – The Unravelling

Released via InsideOut Music

Released via InsideOut Music

Released on 21st July

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15: Jakob – Sines

Released via Mylene Sheath

Released via Mylene Sheath

Released on 21st October

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16: Opeth – Pale Communion

Released via Roadrunner

Released via Roadrunner

Released on 25th August

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17: Alpha Male Tea Party – Droids

Released via Superstar Destroyer

Released via Superstar Destroyer

Released on 17th June

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18: Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

Released via Jagjaguwar

Released via Jagjaguwar

Released on 26th May

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19: Monolord – Empress Rising

Self-released

Self-released

Released on 1st April

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20: Whale Fall – The Madrean

Self-released

Self-released

Released on 16th December

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