Contributions from: Nik Hurwood (editor), Jamie Giberti (sub editor), Dan King, Emma Younger, Claire Frays, Jay Alexander, Greg Latham, Connor Morris, Jamie Kinman, Paul Hurwood, David Gillies and Emily Carter.
It's that time again! Every year the Scribes Of Metal team pick our top metal songs from the year just gone and 2014 is no exception. So without further ado, the top twenty metal songs from 2014, as chosen by us, are.....
Machine Head - Now We Die
(As chosen by Emily, Claire, Jamie G, Connor, Emma and Jay)
Now We Die marked the beginning of the first Machine Head album without founder member Adam Duce. It's also the most popular metal song of the year here at Scribes as over half the staff chose it! Whilst Bloodstone & Diamonds was perhaps not as consistent as it could have been, there's no doubts over Now We Die, which is one of Machine Head's finest songs of this century so far. Huge riffs, great vocals from Robb Flynn, a big singalong chorus and overall a song you just bang your fuckin' head to, Now We Die is everything you would want from a Machine Head song.
Slipknot - Custer
(As chosen by Emily, Jamie K and Connor)
The only band to feature twice on this list, Custer is the first of two Slipknot tracks included and possibly the song most likely on this list to incite something close to a riot when it is played live. The chorus draws the perfect blend between Slipknot's trademark aggression and being ridiculously catchy, while the rest of the song is just as likely to see mosh pits attempting to tear each other apart. Like the next song, Custer sees Slipknot back at their best. Custer was also the second most popular metal song of the year amongst the Scribes family.
Slipknot - The Devil In I
(As chosen by Jamie G and Greg)
The first "official" single to surface from The Gray Chapter, The Devil In I is an enormous anthem with (another) huge chorus and captures the melodic side of Slipknot whilst still remaining crushingly heavy in places. The first sighting of new drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Alessandro Venturella (who outed himself by not covering up his distinctive hand tattoos) also takes place in the accompanying music video.
Architects - Gravedigger
(As chosen by Emily, Jamie K and Connor)
Gravedigger is the sonic explosion of a song that kicks off Architects epic album Lost Forever // Lost Together, the recent winner of Kerrang's best album of 2014 award. With a breakdown around almost every corner and almost hypnotic tech metal style riffing over the ferociously spat vocals from Sam Carter, this song is an invitation to lose your mind, particularly at a live show. One of the best opening tracks on any album of 2014.
Bury Tomorrow - Man On Fire
(As chosen by Jamie G, Jamie K and Connor)
Bury Tomorrow cracked the UK top 40 with the release of Runes back in the Spring and a large part of that was down to the strength of the first single Man On Fire. Dan Winter-Bates gives one of his most assured vocal performances to date alongside the high level of musicianship that one would expect from the UK's most prominent mainstream metalcore band of 2014. Jason Cameron's soaring clean vocals also reach new heights in one of the best British metal songs of the year.
Mastodon - The Motherload
(As chosen by Connor, Jamie G, David and Jay)
With a twerktastic music video for the song (included below) Mastodon reached new heights on songs from this years' masterpiece Once More 'Round The Sun, but especially on The Motherload. A perfect combination of Mastodon's early aggression and rawness fused with their more progressive tendencies shown on Crack The Skye and straight up rock and roll from The Hunter, all weaved together expertly by Bill, Brent, Troy and Brann. Mastodon have never been bigger or better and songs like The Motherload show exactly why that is.
Beartooth - Beaten In Lips
(As chosen by Connor and Emily)
Something that might well appeal to disillusioned Bring Me The Horizon fans is Beartooth's entry to Scribes top metal songs of 2014 (though it might still be too "pop" for some). From the A Day To Remember school of metalcore, Beaten In Lips is a catchy slice of pop-metalcore with a very addictive chorus. A band who make it abundantly clear one of their goals is to have fun, that very much comes across in Beaten In Lips. Beartooth are a band who could hit the big time in 2015, beginning with a slot on the Kerrang Tour. Watch this space.
Opeth - Cusp Of Eternity
(As chosen by Jay, David and Paul)
Opeth's latest opus, Pale Communion, was not the return to their earlier death metal stylings that some had hoped for. It was a masterpiece regardless, and first single Cusp Of Eternity was typical of the wonderful progressive metal, all underpinned by Mikael Akerfeldts pleasant, almost soothing vocals, present on Pale Communion. Next year Opeth celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band. On this evidence they could make it to 50.
Behemoth - Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
(As chosen by Nik and Connor)
The stunning beginning to the jaw droppingly good return from Behemoth, The Satanist, is perhaps the most imposing opening album track of the entire year. This album, and this song in particular generate an atmosphere with the music like few others are capable of, with frontman Nergal in imperious form and the music sounding like it will truly raise demons up from the underworld. A stunning track from an album that pushed the boundaries of extreme metal to new interesting places in 2014.
Bring Me The Horizon - Drown
(As chosen by Emily and Connor)
There's a good portion of Bring Me The Horizon fans who will have uttered a collective "WTF" when Drown was first unveiled a couple of months ago. If Sempiternal was a bit of a departure from their previous sound then Drown was a galaxy away from the early days and the likes of Suicide Season. But give it a couple of listens, and it actually really works. Whilst Oli Sykes vocals will forever remain a marmite feature of a marmite band, there is a really enjoyable song here, complete with a really good use of a choir in the chorus. The die hards may well hate it, but something tells us Bring Me The Horizon won't care.
Within Temptation ft Tarja - Paradise (What About Us)
(As chosen by Jamie G and Claire)
Within Temptation are perhaps the most unlikely of UK mainstream metal successes. Symphonic metal has never really been something to hit the upper echeleons of the charts before, but Within Temptation's Hydra hit the bold heights of 6 in the UK album charts earlier this year, thanks to some very strong songs but in particular the lead single Paradise (What About Us). One of the years biggest choruses, power metal keys and riffs and the chance to hear metal sirens Sharon den Adel and Tarja vocally duke it out pleased an awful lot of people. Within Temptation will headline Bloodstock Open Air Festival in 2015, it's no wonder with songs like this.
Metallica - The Lords Of Summer
(As chosen by Emma)
Shock, horror, a new Metallica song?! Not only a new Metallica song, but a very good one at that. The Lords Of Summer has a very And Justice For All feel to it, albeit with modern day production values. The song has several notable riffs (as one might hope from a Metallica song) and James Hetfield's voice shows no sign of being anything other than his usual charismatic self (though any "Ooo's" are being left for live renditions). The song really comes alive at the mid point with James and Kirk overlapping numerous riffs before Kirk cuts loose.
Hang The Bastard - Sweet Mother
(As chosen by Dan)
Technically this song has been doing the rounds for quite awhile, having first surfaced on a Double A side single release, but the magnificent Sex In The Seventh Circle album upon which Sweet Mother resides only came out in September, so that's good enough for us. Hang The Bastard have had a blindingly successful 2014 and were absolutely flying until singer Tom Hubbard's recent back troubles and Sweet Mother is typical of the excellent work of the 2014 model of Hang The Bastard. All parts are equally impressive with 'The Bastard but a special nod to the riffs of Sam Rice, who will have you headbanging wherever you may be when you hear this song.
Amaranthe - Drop Dead Cynical
(As chosen by Claire)
Amaranthe are derided in many corners of the metal world, being branded Disney metal and other such terms, and they're definitely not for everyone. They are however very good at what they do, and Drop Dead Cynical, the first single from their latest album Massive Addictive sees their infectious qualities reach new heights. Main singer Elize Ryd is on fine form and the increased use of electronic elements which is present throughout Massive Addictive works best on this song. A big success for Amaranthe, Drop Dead Cynical will likely help to propel them to ever bigger levels throughout 2015.
Arch Enemy - War Eternal
(As chosen by Jamie G)
When Angela Gossow stepped down from fronting Arch Enemy to be replaced by The Agonist's Alissa White-Gluz, a lot of people were skeptical as to the band's long term future. Most of those doubts were blown away by the title track to War Eternal, which was the world's first glimpse of Alissa behind the microphone for Arch Enemy. Alissa showed she was more than capable of matching Angela, and the song itself is one of Arch Enemy's most memorable for years, including a face melting solo from Michael Amott.
At The Gates - At War With Reality
(As chosen by Connor)
The long heralded return of the masters of the Gothenburg sound, melodic death metal hasn't been the same without At The Gates. The title track of their first new album in nineteen years is as epic as one might expect, with soaring riffs tinged with that familiar At The Gates sound, an absolutely blistering solo and vocals so fearsome from Tomas Lindberg you think he might reach through your speakers and rip your head off. At just over three minutes this is one of the shortest songs on this list, but it needs no more than that to make it's impact. Welcome back At The Gates, we missed you.
Chrome Division - The Absinthe Voyage
(As chosen by Nik)
Proper old school heavy metal with a rock n'roll vibe courtesy of Scandinavia and with no less than Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir, Chrome Division have pulled off an absolute corker in the shape of The Absinthe Voyage. With a guitar tone throughout that has a feel good factor to it and a chorus destined to be sung at shows big and small in years to come, The Absinthe Voyage may not have been heard as many people as it should be. We hope it's inclusion here means a lot more people listen to it, as it's quite frankly fucking great!
Decapitated - Blood Mantra
(As chosen by Jay)
For sheer pace and the impression of smashing an anvil over someones head, Decapitated's Blood Mantra is the song of choice. It attacks the listener with the force of an angry Pamplona bull with the bludgeoning vocals of Rafał Piotrowski coming over the top of some seriously heavy, yet grooved filled riffs. Drummer Michał Łysejko turns in one of the years' best behind the kit performances as the drums are literally pummelled into submission, and things are (somehow) turned up several notches for the final minute of the song. The best bit of any flavour of death metal you are likely to hear anywhere in 2014, with the exception of Behemoth's The Satanist.
The Ghost Inside - Avalanche
(As chosen by Emily)
A song that begins with a call to arms very much in the style of Hatebreed's Born To Bleed, The Ghost Inside are another band who've had a huge 2014 thanks to songs like Avalanche. After the commanding intro, Jonathan Vigil's vocals continue to sear across pummelling riffs and drums straight from the pits of hell with a level you might expect from a band who's album Dear Youth has regularly featured in the collection of end of year lists. Another band who continue to impress many, keep your eyes on The Ghost Inside in 2015.
Dead Harts - Pit Talk
(As chosen by Jamie K)
A downright nasty sounding piece of post-hardcore from Sheffield quintet Dead Harts from their breakthrough album Cult For The Haggard Youth. Pit Talk is, as one might expect from the title, a song to get bodies flying with it's harsh vocals courtesy of Matthew Baxendale and various drum sections that will have the listener in the palm of the band's hand before they even know it. Another promising band from the UK's ever burgeoning hardcore and post-hardcore scene, the band have big plans in 2015, and they want you to be a part of it.
Originally this was just the twenty songs, but when you realise you haven't included one of the forefathers of heavy metal, you make an exception. So here's the twenty first song on Scribes Of Metal's top metal songs of 2014!
Judas Priest - Halls Of Valhalla
(As chosen by Jamie)
As was written in the review of Judas Priest's newest album Redeemer Of Souls on this website a few weeks ago, Halls Of Valhalla is arguably the strongest Priest song since the Painkiller album almost twenty five years ago. Utterly mesmerising riff work from Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, including a blinding solo, brilliant work from Scott Travis behind the drumkit reminiscent of both Painkiller and some of his Racer X songs, Ian Hill's usual steadying influence on the bass and one of Rob Halford's best vocal turns in years. A quintessential heavy metal song delivered as only Judas Priest can.
So there we have it, choices made for another year! Stay tuned for the Scribes Of Metal 20 best rock songs of 2014 feature which will be coming your way very soon!