20: Slipknot - '.5: The Gray Chapter'After the death of Paul Gray, Slipknot’s future seemed unsure and when Joey Jordison, their talismanic and talented drummer, was fired, well the game seemed up. But '.5: The Gray Chapter' shows enormous resolve in the face of adversity and whilst it may lack some of the sheer bombast of previous albums it is undeniably a fine effort and a very fitting tribute to a fallen comrade. Buy only one track: 'The Devil In I'
19: Anthroprophh - 'Outside The Circle'The Heads are one of the most underrated British bands ever. Thankfully their members are emerging with a whole raft of new projects. Anthroprophh is lead guitarist Paul Allen’s solo enterprise turned band (together with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb of Big Naturals) and this, the second album, has some great psych rock songs and a refreshing sense of humour. Buy only one track: 'Returning'
18: Mark Lanegan Band - 'Phantom Radio'Mark Lanegan has been cranking out a lot of albums lately and this one is up there with the best. Overlaid with swirling synths and featuring recent successful collaborator Duke Garwood, it’s radio friendly in a Screaming Trees meets Duran Duran kind of way. That’s a good thing of course. Buy only one track: 'Harvest Home'
17: Feed The Rhino - 'The Sorrow And The Sound'Feed the Rhino are firm column favourites and this album has grown on us since we reviewed it earlier in the year. It lacks the rough edges of earlier albums but there’s no doubt it showcases FTR at the top of their game. Allied to their incendiary live shows, their back catalogue will surely catapult them to the top sometime soon. Buy only one track: 'Finish The Game'
16: Robert Plant - 'Lullaby And…The Ceaseless Roar'There’ll be no Led Zeppelin reformation but if Robert Plant continues in this form, why would he need to do that. I suspect most of the lyrics from Zepp days cause him some considerable embarrassment, whereas this is a truly great piece of work. A lovely blend of world music influence and hard rock savvy with neither Messrs Baggins nor Crowley in sight. Buy only one track: 'Turn It Up'
15: Sunn 0))) & Ulver - 'Terrestrials'Sunn 0)))’s collaboration with Scott Walker has grabbed lots of media attention and plaudits aplenty; but this collaboration, in gestation for 6 years and released early in 2014 is a magnificent album, having Sunn 0)))’s throbbing heaviness leavened with the narrative musical skills of Norwegian band Ulver. It could be a score for an imaginary film noir. Buy only one track: 'Eternal Return'
14: Karen O - 'Crush Songs'This is a curious collection of song sketches, raw and simple, telling stories from Karen O’s love life. But it’s curiously affecting and, since we feel the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have somewhat lost their way after their sensational beginnings, a great reminder of a singular talent. Buy only one track: 'Beast'
13: Shellac - 'Dude Incredible'Steve Albini is a tremendously accomplished producer and an original thinker about records and how to make them. His band, Shellac, isn’t bad either and although they’ve been around for a good while, they still make records with energy, intensity and originality that can truly be called alternative rock. Buy only one track: 'You Came In Me'
12: Down - 'Down IV Pt. 2'We reviewed this earlier in 2014 and said it marked a definitive return to form for a band with a unique take on heavy music with a groove. The songs are sharper than of late and an air of commitment sets the playing of these now veterans in a superior league. Phil Anselmo handles the vocals with relish and doesn’t put a foot wrong. Buy only one track: 'We Knew Him Well'
11. Orange Goblin - 'Back From The Abyss'Most definitely another column favourite, Orange Goblin have themselves come back from the brink of extinction and seemingly stronger than ever. Perhaps now recognised as the UK’s premier metal outfit, they’ve upped their game in every department over the last two albums and are now deservedly reaping the rewards, touring to acclaim right across the globe. Buy only one track: 'Into The Arms Of Morpheus'
Read the final countdown of Simon Opie's albums of 2014 here.