One of the highest privileges and most nerve-whittling duties in contributing to Metal Hammer is submitting your annual Albums of the Year list as the final weeks draw to a close. I begin compiling my list in January by creating a playlist in iTunes, so that whenever I come across a compelling new album, I drag my favorite track into my AOTY playlist. By the time Independence Day hits, I’ve almost always got fifteen or twenty albums listed and by Halloween it’s closer to forty. Then comes the often-agonizing task of eliminating those that have not stood the test of time or that have been elbowed out of contention by stronger new releases.
Not only do we contributors each have different generic criteria, but everybody has their own favorite genres, bands, styles, etc. Black metal guys turn in lists that can vary wildly from an old school NWOBHM guy or someone more into newer acts like Bring Me The Horizon. Ultimately, we each get 20 ranked votes, the results are collected, point totals tabulated and the winner announced, followed by acres and acres of bitching from the venomous trolls and outraged keyboard warriors on social media. Which is, of course, half the fun.
This year, Metal Hammer has published the results online to coincide with the release of the year-end issue. I’ll lay out my list later, discussing some of my choices, but for now, here are the top albums of 2014, as voted on by the 35 contributors to Metal Hammer. Click on the photo below to see the list.