Top 15 Metal Albums, July 2014
This month's roundup of new albums looks at the heavy metal pachyderm from several different vantage points, just like those famous blind men in the ancient Indian fable. Regardless, most of the selections can be paired off fairly easily: Two albums by U.K. bands who've been around since the '70s (Scotland's Nazareth and England's Judas Priest); two by Southern bands who straddle sundry borders between sludge, thrash, stoner rock and alt metal (North Carolina's Corrosion of Conformity and Georgia's Mastodon); two by theoretically experimental American bands quite fond of post-rock and shoegaze textures (Oregon's Agalloch and New York's Tombs); two more by American bands that have as much to do with hardcore punk as metal, plus they share the initials "T.T." (Kentucky's Trap Them and California's Trash Talk); two by rather more commercial American bands who've both had a bunch of rock-radio hits and have placed a couple albums each in Billboard's Top 30 but still get no respect from the taste-making intelligentsia (Massachusetts' Powerman 5000 and New York's Every Time I Die); two by Cruz Del Sur Records doom bands you've probably never heard of, though they're both better than their obscurity suggests (Connecticut's Vestal Claret and Ireland's Darkest Era).
That leaves just three outliers: Ice-T's long-running L.A. rap-thrash side project Body Count; female-fronted Swedish so-called melodic death metal crew Arch Enemy; and bicoastal-by-way-of-Ohio indie power-chord-pop sort-of-supergroup Sweet Apple. The latter admittedly might not fit most definitions of metal nowadays, but sometimes they sound kind of like Cheap Trick or the Sweet (who lots of people still considered metal back in the '70s), so they're included here anyway just to be historically complete and/or obstinate, and it doesn't hurt that they have one of the better albums of the batch. This roundup isn't just heavy as heck -- it's open-minded, too!