Last Monday I posted the first half of my top ten albums of 2014, which you can read here. In this post I finish where I left off: right at the business end of the list and reveal who has claimed this year’s number one spot.
5. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
This Is All Yours is beautifully delicate, musically intrepid and strangely addictive, and whilst it may not be as focused and clinical as its award winning predecessor, tracks like Hunger of the Pines, Nara and Every Other Freckle, show that the indie rockers’ success wasn’t just a freak accident. Unsurprisingly the blueprint for the record is similar to their debut, with only a few minor alterations creeping in, such as an increased desire to experiment and indulge in some of their more left field ideas. If their ever was a new (or ‘nu’) wave of prog rock, then Alt-J are most certainly it.
4. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed
Rarely does a supergroup equal the sum of its parts, but metal’s most talked about collaboration (which took vocalists from Mastodon, Soulfly and Dillinger Escape Plan and chucked them in with an ex-Mars Volta drummer) most certainly does. Killer Be Killed is directed mostly towards thrash by Max Cavalera, but the involvement of Greg Puciato, Troy Sanders and Dave Elitch, who come from a more experimental background, help to deviate the music into some unexpected areas. However this is definitely not a progressive metal record; it is fast, heavy and will kick you when you’re down.
3. Opeth – Pale Communion
It has been hard for many longtime Opeth fans to swallow the drastic musical change that saw all death metal influences dropped for 2011’s Heritage, to favour classic 70s prog rock instead. However, with its successor, Pale Communion, some of the old heaviness has returned and the traditional prog influences have been reigned in and are applied much more subtly. As a result, this, their eleventh studio album, is the most diverse record that they’ve ever made, featuring orchestral movements, uncharacteristic A.O.R., several soft arrangements and a handful of Wayne’s World-worthy head-nodding moments. Pale Communion is Opeth’s most complete record since 2005’s Ghost Reveries and earns its place as the Blackwater Park of their new era.
2. Anathema – Distant Satellites
This year there has been a lot of attention focused upon Pink Floyd, yet it has been Anathema who have been pushing the boundaries of progressive music in 2014, just as they have been doing since their 2010 comeback record We’re Here Because We’re Here. Distant Satellites is another serving of beautiful harmonies and sustained guitar-work, which has been honed to perfection on this release. Towards the end of the record Anathema also flirt with some light electronics and some drone-inspired movements, which are both executed exquisitely; the only way Anathema know how to do things. If you haven’t heard the ‘new’, progressive Anathema yet (We’re Here Because We’re Here, Weather Systems and Distant Satellites), make it your New Year’s resolution to do so; they’re simply breathtaking.
1. Pineapple Thief – Magnolia
Beautiful, deep and poignant; Pineapple Thief have made their best album yet with Magnolia. Elevated by the success of 2011’s more rock-centric record, Someone Here Is Missing, but inspired more by their earlier heart-wrenching records, Magnolia comes across as a perfect blend of both styles, which has resulted in music that is as dynamic as any Steven Wilson record, but with simple songs that only once exceed five minutes in length. This record is about songwriting and emotion, but don’t let that fool you into thinking its contents is as bland as its distinctly mundane title; there is plenty of decent guitar work on show, as well as orchestral flourishes and chirping electronics, which all come together to make this album 2014’s most complete and exciting record.
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