Skindred has never really changed their style from what you probably heard back in 2004. Yet they still evolved enough to not sound stale. Mixing dub beats, hard rock vocals, with metal riffs they really have something unique that isn't gimmicky. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it's definitely mine. Kill The Power is an explosive entry in their discography worthy of a listen.
2. Architects - Lost Forever//Lost Together
A lot of bands have that one album that was almost perfection, the one that all their fans use to judge all other work. You know that album "Oh this is good but it was no (insert album here), I wish they'd go back to that sound". Bands usually have 3 choices after an album like that; Either make the same album over and over again, try change the sound to get away from that album, or just completely ignore and make music. For the Architects that album was Hollow Crown. The album was everything, it combined mathcore and metalcore into something great. I feel they fell off with their last two albums, one being too leaning on hardcore and the other leaning too much on 'technical' work. This album however is the first time I feel that they've hit it again. It may not be as heavy as Hollow Crown which was just brutal, but it's heavy enough to satisfy anyone looking and yet it's technical enough to keep it interesting. If there's one flaw it's the overuse of the whole 'blegh' thing that metal-core bands are doing nowadays.
3. Chevelle - La Gargola
Another band from the 90's/early 2000's. Chevelle is highly under rated in my opinion, another band that got shoved under the rug. Their mix of grunge, metal, and sludge works perfectly. Front man Pete Loeffler's voice is drowning, raspy, and commanding all at the same time. This album is the first from them that has actually impressed me since 2004's This Type Of Thinking Could Do Us In. Particularly the track Take Out The Gunman which was the first track released and drew me in. The lyrics are just perfectly odd, the vocals are layered perfectly, the music goes loud and soft at the perfect times.
4. Say Anything - Hebrews
This will be controversial I know but I don't care because it's my opinion and I'm correct. Hebrews is amazing, it's the first time since ...Is A Real Boy that Max Bemis has really let go and looked inward to his own internal demons and issues instead of more outwardly issues. It's emotionally raw, it gives you a chance to enter into his mind and connect on a personal level. You feel his fears, his love, and his hope. All this set to a sound with no guitar work at all. Bursting with featured vocal talent like Keith Buckley and Brian Sella it's jam packed with things to love. Of course cynics will point out that it isn't IARB and there are some corny moments, but it's one of my favorite albums from the band so far, it's something I keep going back to.
5. Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is
Taking Back Sunday like Say Anything is a band that defined my high school years with their emotionally charged, humor filled, post-hardcore sound. However outside of their singles they never really caught my attention. However this years Happiness Is had me going back for more. It's amazing how mature the band has gotten since their early days. If you needed proof that this isn't the same 'emo' band you heard back in 05 this is the perfect album to do it. While still emotionally charged, it's a more thought out and mature sound. The dynamic between John Nolan's gravely lower voice and Adam Lazzarra's higher voice (with it's odd accent that definitely is not New Jersey) is shown off perfectly on songs like They Don't Have Any Friends. It's a rock album for former angsty teens who are now full fledged adults.
6. Melanie Martinez - Dollhouse EP
Some of you may know Melanie Martinez from The Voice. I actually discovered her from a cover she did of another one of my favorite artists, Marina And The Diamonds. This is her first EP of original songs and it's a great effort. Fairly dark lyrics are set in front of hip-hop and pop beats. Her voice conveys the emotion and pain of someone so much older. Her voice may be a bit raspy for some but I love it, it fits the dark lyrics perfectly. If you don't know her name you really should. I can't wait for a full album from her, and I really hope she doesn't fall into the pitfall a lot of other artists do where they start toning down the imagery for a more radio friendly sound.
7. Marmozets - The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets
Marmozets are a really young band that are starting to gain some serious momentum in the scene. They're not quite big in the US yet but definitely finding more and more people know them. Mixing unique math-core like riffs with pop-punk stylings they have something really no other band in the metal-core scene has. It's nice that they haven't compromised anything sound wise to make this album. It's just as off the wall as their earlier work just way more polished. Particularly the vocals have seen a huge jump in quality. Her voice may still be off putting to some but to me it fits perfectly with the sound.
8. Whitechapel - Our Endless War
Whitechapel's last album was a self-titled fresh start. However it alienated a lot of fans, it really pushed away from their death-core sound and into djent and pure death metal and hard rock even. To me it was severely held back by the lyrics which were a lot more straight forward than previous albums. Even cheap gory and shocking lyrics were previously wrapped in metaphors and satire. Our Endless War is still weak on the lyrics front however it brings back a lot of the old Whitechapel sound you're used to while still straying away from the core sound. They're still just this side of death metal in sound but it's a clear improvement.
9. Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown
Every Time I Die continuously outdo themselves with each album. FPU brings in a lot of the heaviness that they had in their early work while still maintaining that off the wall, party-core/math-core sound you've grown to love. I have a ton of respect for this band as you can see by the fact that they are a permanent part of me, and this album has some of their best songs. It has to be listened to, to actually be experienced fully.
10. Artifex Pereo
As I mentioned in my review I discovered this band on tour with Norma Jean, Night Verses, and Emery. I was not expecting the sound I heard. Something between Tub Ring and Chiodos and yet like neither all at the same time. They're heavy with a dash of show tune. Truly hard to describe as a band. This album isn't quite as heavy as the previous work but still mixes in just enough hardcore to keep my ears entertained. If you haven't heard them before you really should, they're like nothing else. Not to mention they are mind blowing live, even to a really terrible crowd (I mean come on they stood like 10 feet back from the stage in a dingy old venue where they could have basically been on the stage) it's something that needs to be seen.
So there's my list of 10 for now. I'll update it and post runners up and such later on in the year so keep checking back. What were your favorites this year so far? Has 2014 been a good year for music? Comment and let us know.