Top 10 HXC Approved Albums of 2014

10 Best Albums of 2014

2014 was a huge year for music.  We saw the first time a band from the post-hardcore scene put on a music festival that was entirely in, of and for the scene with A Day To Remember’s Self Help Fest.  We watched the aftermath of My Chemical Romance’s breakup dissolve into glorified solo projects. The Bury The Hatchet Tour finally happened, marking a long awaited resolution between Escape the Fate and Falling in Reverse. And hell, even Taylor Swift gets a shout out since more hardcore-influenced bands covered her songs than ever before.   So the real question is: what were the best musical moments of the year?  Check out our editors’ picks for the Top Albums of 2014 in no particular order and let us know what some of your favorites were!

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The Ghost Inside – Dear Youth
(Epitaph Records)

Pure hardcore can quickly become repetitive, but LA-based The Ghost Inside know how to keep it fresh with masterful nuances on Dear Youth. Instrumentally, Dear Youth is a technically sound album, but it is heart that makes it a Top 10 HXC record. From the relentless spirit of “Move Me” to the unforgiving riffs on “The Other Half,” Dear Youth consistently builds upon itself, rendering it an emotional experience with much to explore. Not to mention, Hemingway has never sounded more brutal than on the jaw-dropping “Mercy.” –Taylor Markarian

Must Listen: “With The Wolves”

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PVRIS – White Noise
(Rise Records)

2014 seemed to be the year of Taylor Swift, but as much as I love 1989, the girl power album of the year hands down goes to Rise Records’ newcomers PVRIS. The trio’s debut full-length, White Noise, is a sophisticated rock-meets-electro-pop 10 track emotional journey.  With instantly relatable lyrics melodically cued on tracks like “St. Patrick” to some truly vicious and raw snark spit on my personal favorite, “Fire,” vocalist Lynn Gunn easily proves herself a wordsmith to be reckoned with. It’s a true punk attitude in a post-modern, EDM driven world and I can’t get enough. –Natasha Van Duser

Must Listen: “My House”

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Alesana – The Decade EP
(Artery Recordings)

One of the most unique of all the post-hardcore bands, Alesana mark their 10th year together with the celebratory The Decade EP. Prolific artists that have reached cult status over the years, Alesana is known for weaving lyrically and musically intricate tales with their songs. Yet The Decade EP, in its reflections on music, the scene, and the band members themselves, reveals a more personal side of the band. A mere six songs (seven, if you count the tear-inducing hidden bonus track), this EP accomplishes the impressive feat of summarizing ten years of records inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, Greek Mythology, Dante’s Inferno, and more. Exciting, complex, and profound are all words that can be used to describe Alesana, and this EP reminds us why. –TK

Must Listen: “Nevermore”

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Eskimo Callboy – We Are the Mess
(Redfield Records)

Eskimo Callboy came to party and they don’t give a flying fuck if it bothers you. With what I can only describe as refined party dubcore, this German metalcore band’s sophomore album pumps out track after track to get you up on your feet dancing and head banging with a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand. The campy nature of “Party At the Horror House”  to the metal-as-fuck intro that drives “Voodoo Circus” will keep you guessing where EC will go next every time. Lyrically, very little depth is offered, but the flawless combinations of poppy choruses, embellished dubstep, hardcore breakdowns, and a real old school rock ‘n’ roll attitude proves that Eskimo Callboy know what they are doing and that they WILL have a great time doing it. –NVD

Must Listen: “We Are the Mess”

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Chiodos – Devil
(Razor & Tie)

The resurgent album from post-hardcore champs Chiodos is a climactic return and an innovation. If you’re feeling wrathful, the poster boys of dissonance and wailing are definitely back with a vengeance on “Behvis Bullock” and “Expensive Conversations in Cheap Motels.” While there are plenty of songs on the album that sound like a more mature Bone Palace Ballet, nostalgia gives way to experimentation with melody and form in “Duct Tape.” All in all, an exhilarating combination of old and new. Welcome back! –TK

Must Listen: “Expensive Conversations in Cheap Motels”

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Beartooth – Disgusting
(Redbull Records)

2014 was a huge year for Beartooth as it marked the release of their debut record Disgusting, a spot on Warped Tour, and an A-market American headliner in the fall. As they proved with their first EP, Sick, Beartooth can make a gritty hardcore punk album, but it took the release of their first full-length to show that they can really make raw sound refined.  Blurring the lines between clean and unclean vocals, frontman Caleb Shomo stands tall above catchy choruses on tracks like “The Lines,” punching riffs as with “Beaten in Lips,” and lyrics so well thought out they transcend not only the album as a whole, but all of Beartooth’s discography to date. As this is the first Beartooth release with a full band backing Shomo, these guys prove they really do “have strength in numbers.” –NVD

Must Listen: “In Between”

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Ice Nine Kills – The Predator Becomes The Prey
(Outerloop Records)

A good amount of the records on this list are debut efforts, The Predator Becomes The Prey being the first of the year to prove startlingly impressive—and that’s because it doesn’t sound like a debut at all. What really makes this first Ice Nine Kills record a standout in a year with so many excellent releases is its high energy and vibrant guitar work. Each piece of the band is on point and the songs are all well orchestrated, but it is the exuberance of the guitars that give the record its distinctive personality. With their first official full-length, INK already establish themselves as a band with a recognizable signature and thrilling potential. –TK

Must Listen: “The Product of Hate”

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Vanna – Void
(Pure Noise Records)

Void is easily the best album Vanna has ever released.  Stepping even deeper into a true hardcore sound, the tracks are in your face, concise and everything you could ask for.  From the distraught echoing vocals that appear on the title track to the intimate setting created by the slowed down riffs of “Digging,” Vanna shows a more mature side that is both engaging and power-packed. Gone are the old days of the repetitive, generic struggle to get away from a base metalcore sound, and in is the organic, communal, straight-from-the-basement sound that has always made Vanna shows so engaging. They have finally found a way to fuse their live vibe and sonic aesthetic together into one tasty (and tasteful) s’more of an album. –NVD

Must Listen: “Yüth Decay”

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Stomachaches. by Frnkiero andthe Cellebration
(Staple Records)

My Chemical Romance’s break up was rough, but if it hadn’t happened, we might not have Stomachaches.  This debut record from Frnkiero andthe Cellebration was the side project former My Chem guitarist Frank Iero almost didn’t release to the public, but after writing and recording basically everything but the drums, he felt compelled enough to bring us thrashy numbers like “Neverenders,” post-goth kickers like my personal favorite “Guilt Tripping” and classic Jersey punk singles like “Weighted.” The local show vibe exudes from this record making every listen feel like you’re surrounded by your best friends in a dingy club watching the show that first got you into hardcore all over again. –NVD

Must Listen: “Joyriding”

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Of Mice & Men – Restoring Force
(Rise Records)

Let’s be real, you saw this one coming a mile away. Since this album has already been reviewed to death, we’ll skip over why it’s musically one of the best albums of 2014 and instead discuss it in terms of cultural significance. Restoring Force is a monumental release in both the band’s career and in the scene as a whole. Of Mice & Men went from being a band of standard hardcore breakdowns (admittedly, doing them better than most anyone in the scene), to a band of careful composition and thoughtful variety. They went from playing club venues and Warped Tour to touring arenas with Linkin Park. Despite the change, Of Mice & Men are far from selling out. The band now live comfortably within the hardcore subculture and the mainstream. A rare feat. –TK

Must Listen: “Identity Disorder”

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