2014 has been an incredible year for the heavy music scene. There has been a release out there that can appeal to any music taste and that’s certainly something to praise. As always though, we are here to present to you our favorites of the year and express just how much we enjoyed these releases.
10. Set It Off – ‘Duality’
As much as pop music gets a bad rap (or promotes bad rap), Set It Off made me proud to be a pop fan with ‘Duality’. Unashamedly over-the-top (“The Haunting” starts out as a depressing lament only to burst into a triumphant declaration of superiority), catchy and downright more mature than many of their peers, Set It Off set out to bridge the darkness of our rock world with the conventions and tight songwriting of the mainstream world. The result was absolutely successful with larger than life tracks like “Why Worry” and “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” being a ton of fun.
9. The Amity Affliction – ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’
Taking a page from Bring Me The Horizon’s much-publicized refinement with ‘Sempiternal’, The Amity Affliction crafted an album bigger than anything they’ve previously released. Pittsburgh, Let The Ocean Take Me and Gave It All are already fan-favorites for good reason – They act as anthems for the weighed-down (har har) and weary, something this scene needs more of and something Amity deliver with confidence. A passionate record.
8. Crown The Empire – ‘The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways’
Already being hailed as an overnight success story Crown The Empire had huge shoes to fill with album #2. They instead grew bigger feet and completely outdid themselves with ‘The Resistance…’ The band manifested a deeper, more interesting world with the record, and with it became far better musicians than ‘The Fallout’ ever hinted at as being possible. “Machines” and “Rise of The Runaways”, in particular, should allow CTE to fill any arena they damn well please. But the metallic direction of “Bloodline” and “Johnny’s Rebellion” will please any bonafide headbanger. An artsy wonderland that is enjoyable to explore more than a few times.
7. Of Mice & Men – ‘Restoring Force’
Having grown up in the 90’s Of Mice & Men did what any heavy music fan of that era would love to do: Create an album that could stand with any band they grew up listening to. Not only is ‘Restoring Force’ heaps more mature (You’re sure Papa Roach didn’t write “Identity Disorder”?) but it also showcases a kingdom-minded group of musicians playing music that they genuinely enjoy. The album still comes equipped with signature OM&M bangers such as “Public Service Announcement” and “Glass Hearts” – but the real attraction here is the Slipknot/Machine Head/Mudvayne lovechild that is “You Make Me Sick”. Look out for the album to come Full-Circle in February.
6. Volumes – ‘No Sleep’
Volumes do a grand job of playing unique, emotional djent that rivals their peers and allows them to exist in multiple scenes. ‘No Sleep’ is the band’s second and finest full-length featuring improved songwriting and display of band chemistry. The replay value is high and the grooves are massive as expected (“Neon Eyes” especially jams) but the addition of more clean vocals creates a feely atmosphere that ‘Via’ only semi-explored. Songs like “Erased” and “Up All Night” show that ‘No Sleep’ is more than just passionate music – It’s a collection of personal experiences.
5. Issues – ‘Issues’
Everyone’s been talking about Issues and for good reason: The Georgia/LA-based gentlemen make for a downright ambitious group. The Issues shown on the self-titled record was a band that wanted to appeal to fans of Limp Bizkit, Justin Timberlake and Breathe Carolina alike. The effort is as crazy as it would seem, but the album was more than a novelty – The massive choruses, emotive hardcore expression, electronic-produced melodic soundscapes and heavy low-end guitars crushed, dazzled and entranced the listener in a way that no other band in 2014 did. Each song was different than the last, yet consistent in delivery. Even on album #1 Issues have an identity, as sporadic as it may be, and all of the heart that went into songs such as “Never Lose Your Flames” and “Disappear (Remember When)” should not be overlooked.