With the inaugural AP Music Awards taking place July 21, 2014, at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum at North Coast Harbor, we thought we would use the weeks leading up to the historic event to give you a category-by-category breakdown of the nominees so you can be an informed voter. We close it out today with our Artist Of The Year nominees. It's your last day to vote, so hurry to  altpress.com/apmas before 12 a.m. Pacific to make sure your voice is heard!


If you need any more proof that A Day To Remember have had a banger year, look no further than the cover of AP 310. There’s a reason we portrayed the Ocala, Florida, band as superheroes. A lesser group could have faded away after spending more than a year in label limbo thanks to a messy lawsuit with Victory Records. But A Day To Remember persevered and came out on the other side stronger than ever, with a new album to back it up and a fanbase that had only grown more passionate as time went on. If that’s not the true definition of a superhero, than I don’t know what is. —Brittany Moseley



Full disclosure: The following paragraph was written by a writer who, if not for that law requiring minors to get parental consent, would’ve had “A7X” tattooed on his leg in black lettering at age 15. That’s just the sort of devotion Avenged Sevenfold inspire, though. The band have moved from being the gods of SoCal metal to the gods of American rock radio. Along the way, they’ve released a catalog of ever-evolving albums, which have each been some of the most successful rock albums of the decade. (Their latest album, Hail To The King, debuted at No. 1—No. 1!—on the Billboard 200.) Even the death of original drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan hasn’t slowed these guys down. While understanding their need to evolve, A7X haven’t forgotten about the O.G. deathbat fanatics: They’re re-issuing fan-favorite album Waking The Fallen this year with tons of new tracks. —Matt Crane



Between making bold statements in defense of their theatricality (remember last year when in a bad-ass move, they one-upped drama-fishing bloggers by turning their dummy cabs, which they were “called out on” to the audience?), standing up for what they believe in and generally not caring one shred to fit in with what is popular in this world, Black Veil Brides are definitely in their own league, whether you like them or hate them. (Chances are, you’re not in-between on this polarizing collective.) We could call them the underdog of this category, but with the overwhelming power and dedication of the BVB Army behind them, that’s not true. Underdog? Not so much, anymore. A unique outlier? Most definitely. Cassie Whitt



Bring Me The Horizon have been at the top of the metalcore pyramid since they released their sophomore album Suicide Season. But instead of playing it safe, they decided to move outside their comfort zone with last year’s genre-bending album, Sempiternal. But it wasn’t an easy road. There was exhaustion from constant touring, self-doubt, heavy drinking, member changes and looming questions about BMTH’s future and whether they even had another album in them. “It got really dark before it got light, but I think it had to,” frontman Oli Sykes said in AP 299’s cover story on the band. But it did indeed get light, and Bring Me The Horizon proved that they weren’t ready to fade out, instead burning brighter than they have before. —Brittany Moseley



It’s hard to imagine a world without Fall Out Boy. Minus a brief hiatus before last year’s triumphant comeback album Save Rock And Roll, FOB have pretty much always been there, in terms of contemporary punk (and pop). For those who weren’t around this scene before 2003, though, it should be noted that FOB pretty much changed everything. They were the first band to shamelessly grab for that brass ring and capture it, from landing massive pop-radio hits to collaborating with everyone from Jay-Z to Sir Elton John (Sir Elton fucking John!). Clandestine Industries. Decaydance. Patrick Stump’s golden vocals. All of these things and more have inspired literally thousands of bands, none of whom have actually come close to the heights of Fall Out Boy. Not bad for a few hardcore kids from the Chicago suburbs. —Scott Heisel



Who would’ve thought Of Mice & Men would become one of the biggest bands in the scene? It doesn’t seem like that long ago that OM&M—still a new band then—had split with founding vocalist Austin Carlile, who would eventually, surprisingly return. Since then, they’ve released two more hugely successful albums, become a main draw on Warped Tour and have grown out of the traditional metalcore box, expanding their sound into one that’s more anthemic rock. On top of that, their latest album, Restoring Force, was universally favored by critics and became one of Rise Records’ biggest debuts of all time (No. 4 on the Billboard 200, 51,000 copies sold its first week). It has truly been a banner year for OM&M—and it’s not even over yet. —Matt Crane



Over the last 10 years, Brendon Urie came up through the ranks of Panic! At The Disco as a work-for-hire frontman taking orders from the (long departed) chief songwriters and then ended up being the CEO. How often does that happen? What's even more admirable and special about Urie's rise to the forefront of Panic! is that it didn't come out of desperation, like some sorry dude who owns the rights to a band name and gets his drinking buddies to help him hang his life on the only thing he's known. The vocalist grew up as a performer, player and conceptualist: Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! encapsulates everything Urie is as an artist, from smoov R&B grooves to kooky new-wave dance tracks to poignant love ballads, pushing Panic! forward in ways the band would never have arrived at with their original lineup. Yo, Timberlake: Watch yr feckin' back. Panic's next 10 years are looking brighter than a disaster at a fireworks factory. Jason Pettigrew



I’ve written so much about Paramore over the past year that it’s almost become a joke: “Oh, cool, Scott’s talking about how great Paramore are again.” It’s important to remember, though, that Paramore weren’t always this good—I famously gave Riot! a less-than-stellar review (which was good-naturedly thrown back in my face when the band sent AP a Platinum plaque for the record in question). The point I’m trying to make is I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of this band, mainly because it was clear from the start they had the raw talent, so I found myself expecting more of them than most other artists. I highly doubt anyone in Paramore gives a shit whether or not I like their band, but as a “professional critic” (how stupid does that sound, am I right?), it is so thrilling to see a band not only reach their full potential but exceed it, both proving the naysayers wrong and reminding loyal fans that, yes, Paramore are the best band ever. —Scott Heisel



It’s no secret that Pierce The Veil are a fan favorite with their touching lyrics, energetic performances and a distinct sound which draws on the band members’ Mexican heritage. The numbers that back them are huge.  Our acoustic video with Vic Fuentes performing “Hold On Till May” remains our most popular at 890,000-plus views; the band’s latest album, Collide With The Sky, is still selling strong at 200,000-plus copies, and they’ve played some of the most sought-after tours of the past couple years, which were so big, you will know them by name. (The House Party Tour, A Love Like Tour, anyone?) You guys have long demanded their acknowledgement—hard—which is precisely why they and their members ended up nominated in eight of our 12 votable APMAs categories. —Cassie Whitt



Some bands grow restless with their art and want to make drastic changes immediately, while others are unapologetically careerist, willing to churn out less-inspiring versions of their back catalog. Sleeping With Sirens know the score better than most bands, which is why they've been able to access new fans, explore other stylistic directions and maintain the character that drew people to them in the first place. On their last album, Feel, they recontextualized everything, creating widescreen anthems (the glorious title track), cranked-amp burners (“The Best There Ever Was” starring Atilla's head bro-dude, Fronz), modern-rock rave-ups (“Déjá Vu”) and planet-colliding collaborations (“Alone,” their teaming with punk-lovin' rapper Machine Gun Kelly). And while much has been said about guitarist Jesse Larson's departure last year, we're confident SWS will continue to evolve in ways fans and critics couldn't begin to drop conjecture upon. But don't take this writer's word for it: Google the lyrics for “Congratulations” and watch them take flight again. Jason Pettigrew