Dec 052014


PopMatters is a popular culture web site with broad coverage of music, film, television, books, comics, software and video games — you name it. Its articles get picked up regularly by the mainstream media, and it claims a readership of more than 1 million unique visitors per month. In other words, it fits the profile of “big platform” web sites whose lists of 2014′s best metal we usually re-post here at NCS as part of our own LISTMANIA series.

Today, PopMatters published its list of “The Best Metal of 2014″, ranking the chosen albums from #15 to #1. The list was compiled by Adrien BegrandDean Brown, Brice Ezell, and Benjamin Hedge Olson. Like all of these metal lists from big sites whose content isn’t limited to metal, it’s a real mixed bag of picks, and of course the reason we post them here is to generate some discussion/controversy.Also, don’t be fooled — that graphic up there that I lifted from PopMatters is a head-fake. 

I try not to criticize these lists since I can’t even bring myself to make one of my own, but I have to say that Babymetal is not the 14th best album of the year, Judas Priest did not make the 6th best album of the year, and Pale Communion is not the best metal album of 2014. These aren’t opinions; these are facts.

But hey, there are some excellent choices on this list, too, so I don’t mean to be a complete dick. Check it out below.

To see the list with accompanying descriptions and explanations of the choices along with sample tracks or full-album streams from most of the listed albums, use THIS LINK.

15.  Witch Mountain – Mobile of Angels

14.  Babymetal – Babymetal

13.  Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer 

12.  Midnight – No Mercy For Mayhem

11.  Ghost Brigade – IV: One With the Storm

10. Panopticon – Roads To the North

9.  Mournful Congregation – Concrescence of the Sophia

8.  Behemoth – The Satanist

7.  Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire

6.  Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

5.  Agalloch – The Serpent and the Sphere

4.  YOB – Clearing the Path To Ascend

3.  Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

2.  Triptykon – Melana Chasmata

1.  Opeth – Pale Communion


  1. Really? Babymetal? I don’t know whether to be disappointed or impressed. Disapressed? Impointed?

  2. Awful, awful list.

    Babymetal? REALLY?!

    As far as the rest: I was displeased with the new Opeth, which is no surprise since I disliked “Heritage” as well. But Ghost Brigade was a huge letdown. I really enjoyed “Until Fear No Longer Defines Us” and IV loses a lot of what gave that album it’s character. Behemoth was overrated. I bought the autographed special edition and listened to it maybe twice. The only song I found interesting was “O father, O Satan, O Sun” and maybe “Ben Sahar.” But overall it was overproduced and it continued the failures of “Evangelion.” Agalloch is worn out for me, and the new album just seemed like more of the same. Panopticon was a joke. YOB was really good, but Pallbearer was lackluster. New Triptykon was okay. Priest is Priest. Godflesh should have stayed dead. Dawnbringer I’ve never even heard of, but I just checked it out and it bored me. Witch Mountain isn’t really my thing so I have no opinion on them. Same with Mournful Congregation, even though it’s decent for Funeral doom. Midnight is one I’ll have to listen to. Probably the only real surprise on the list.

    Not surprised, considering the site is called “PopMatters.” More irrelevant opinions from the mainstream. Yay.

  3. “Pale Communion” probably is my favorite album of the year, although whether you can classify it as metal or not is a discussion in and of itself.

    • That’s certainly a big part of my (entirely factual) statement that “Pale Communion” is not the best metal album of the year.

      • I wish I could offer an opinion, but I just picked it up at their Chicago show a couple days ago. Which was fantastic, considering I actually saw Mikael growl this time.

        • Hearing him growl is an experience I won’t forget. In my case, it came at the very end of an hour-long set, which was the main reason I left the venue with a smile on my face. The guy has a monster of a voice when he wants to use it that way.

          • Also helped that I finally heard The Moor live, which is my favorite song of all time, and the first death metal song I ever heard. I had chills throughout the whole song, especially when he let on this demonic roars.

  4. Given that Midnight, Panopticon, Dawnbringer and Mournful Congregation are on this list, Im going to guess only one in four of those contributors actually knows what theyre talking about

  5. I was glad to see Witch Mountain, Pallbearer, and YOB in the list. The Priest record seems almost arbitrary among the rest of the list. It feels out of place, like they defaulted to it because it’s a Judas Priest album. It’s not terrible and I’m sure the Priest faithful really like it. I like Pale Communion, it’s a fantastic piece of music. Opeth always push the envelope in a variety of directions. Pale Communon definitely isn’t “Deliverance” or “Blackwater Park,” and it doesn’t try to be. Definitely a Top 5 candidate, but I’m not too sure about that #1 spot. But hey…people would disagree with my #1 choice too. That’s what makes metalheads so special. We’re opinionated to a fault.

  6. I love Witch Mountain so I’m happy to see them on the list, even though I think “Mobile” isn’t quite as good as their earlier stuff. I’ve gotta agree with Islander about the Opeth album, because it’s not metal. I mean, I could even hear metal in Heritage, but Pale Communion is just not.

  7. no Cannibal Corpse? for shame!

  8. Some good albums here as well as some bad ones. Panopticon, Mournful Congregation, YOB, Pallbearer and Triptykon all released very good albums this year however there is no way I would put Judas Priest or Babymetal’s albums on here. In terms of Opeth, I usually don’t really have a problem with them being included in metal lists like this however putting it at number 1 is a big stretch. It says a lot for PopMatters’ stance on metal in 2014 if their number 1 ‘metal’ album is a progressive rock album. Not that I really should care though.

  9. There are some unmistakably solid records on this list (I’ve got the first 10 -except JP- in my own top 50) but #1 in my book is glaringly missing: NUX VOMICA.

    That one took me completely by surprise this year. And apparently I am not the only one. Happily surprised to see STEREOGUM, another pop platform, has NUX VOMICA as its best metal album of 2014, #6 in its all around year-end list:

    They also got #1 probably right: Run The Jewels 2 is total dope whether you like hip hop or not.

    • Totally with you on Nux Vomica surprising me with a fucking killer album. I haven’t even thought about my list yet, but that album is sure to be near or at the top. I need to actually make time for RTJ2 as well – loved what I’ve heard, but I haven’t taken it in all at once yet.

  10. Wow Midnight is kind of the wildcard of the year, suddenly in so many lists.

    • Does my heart good to see Midnight getting attention from so many places. They deserve it, even if they could probably give a rat’s ass whether they get recognized at places like PopMatters, or maybe any place.

  11. Most of the comments above only confirm herd mentality of most metal fans – it is always a big fat issue when anyone fails to include in their list whatever metalherd deems a must-include (some Triptykon, another YOB or any other staple No. i band, i++). I second MetalCollie’s view – most of the metal released this passing year was overrated, overhyped, criminally uninventive, generic and just plain boring. Babymetal issue? – just another idol music factory product that would not have been even noticed if it weren’t for the girls doing “their” stuff on stage, this is the metal counterpart of Justin Bieber, only in greater number. Agalloch should have disbanded to have left some fond memories of their past output, Behemoth – clearly overrated, last record isn’t even well mixed (in some tracks drums seem to be taken from another piece – just not synced enough with the “song”). Godflesh – boring, boring, boring (same for already mentioned Triptykon, YOB, (lots more to follow), also applies to all those tech-death (tekk-deff wankos) bands almost everyone around appears to wet about – sorry, but the latest Cannibal Corpse is more inventive and varied; still have no opinion about the latest Panopticon, but quite frankly his is not anything that wouldn’t have been around for ages in the BM scene. It seems like the most metal and the most exciting release of this year is “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” by the Soft Pink Truth, and a pretty funny and with lots of tongue in cheek at that (attitude-wise, although not in terms of musical form)

  12. Judas Priest? I have trouble with that one, given that I felt it was one of the worst things they’ve done in a long time.
    This list has a few albums I enjoyed but definitely looks pretty much nothing like mine will.

  13. “most of the metal released this passing year was overrated, overhyped, criminally uninventive, generic and just plain boring”

    I listened to about 200 albums from 2014 alone and that’s a small fraction of what was released this year. Another person I know has 1,063 albums from 2014, so I doubt anyone can really say most metal this year was any of the above mentioned qualities. Overrated and over-hyped are such lazy words, nothing is overrated, nothing is underrated. People just don’t like how many people enjoy certain things.

  14. Ghost Brigade \m/

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