home | records | 2010s

The Best Records by Year: The 2010s


I've been running web pages since 1995 and my ears are still so thrilled to hear what's coming out. I can't get enough of this shit. It's hard to believe metal got so bad for a few years there, but music was great overseas. I just didn't know about it. Now, all those years later, it's been consistent ever since those dark years ended well over a decade ago.

2016


A pretty solid year with some stand-out records. Recapping a top-10 this year...

Noteworthy

Witchery - In His Infernal Majesty's Service
Exactly what I expected here.

October Tide - Winged Waltz
So much better than the boring last album. But I never find myself putting it on. It's heavy as hell at least!

Borknagar - Winter Thrice
So much weaker than the 2nd-best album of 2012. The disappointment is hard to swallow.

Good Shit

Dark Tranquillity - Atoma
In Flames - Battles

So, I moved to Gothenburg and within two months two of the most notable Gothenburg metal bands release albums? Both are good, DT has been solid the last few years and IF is catchy. Good albums.

Final - Live Reprocessed - Birmingham 2009
Justin Broadrick is prolific as ever and his diversity is his 2016 efforts. JK Flesh, Final and Council Estate Electronics all had strong albums, one making into my top-10.

Ghost - Popestar
A poppy new song and four covers? They may not be my favorite style of music but they are spectacular at what they do. I expect album #4 to be wonderful as well.

Now to my Top Ten!

10: JK Flesh - Rise Above (UK)
JKB conjured up a 2016 version of Techno Animal for a gritty entry into the top 10. It's heavy and bleak and is what I've been missing from his discography as of late. It's been 15 years since TA folded and even without K. Mart, Justin proves he still has what it takes to push the genre forward.

9: Abbath - Abbath (Norway)
After Abbath's well-publicized split from the mighty Immortal, he issued an impressive and blistering-fast 'debut'. The record feels a bit uneven, with some that I will often skip and others I'll listen to far more frequently. This is a memorable record worthy of the top 10 and some songs are staples of my "I need speed" playlist. I'm curious to see what Demonaz and Horgh can pull together to counter this.

8: Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct (USA)
It was the summer of '89 and I, a 13-year-old boy, had just gotten into Metallica. It was prime because that is the critical point where Metallica was the best band that had ever existed. I still stand behind this. The 1989 version of Metallica was the best any band has ever been. I think we can fast-forward 20 years with no real issue as we know that story.

Death Magnetic was probably the second-best album in 2008 and I knew there was no way this double-CD (why?) could live up. However, the twelve songs could be culled down to make a pretty kick-ass EP. The singles were about the best songs on the album, of course barring the epic finale. Spit Out The Bone is clearly the album's best. Just writing this makes me want to listen.

However, some of the songs on that second disc are just cringe-worthy. I respect the band. Essentially they can do whatever the fuck they want. Of anyone, they've earned that! OK, I'll say this album is ranked #6 in their 30+ year library. The classic four, DM and then this. We fast-forwarded past it, but oh how I loathe that black album. Just writing this makes me angry. Let's move on.

7: Einherjer - Dragons Of The North XX (Norway)
This isn't fair. Dragons Of The North was released 20 years ago and it remains a classic in the era of budding Scandinavian metal. Just after I got into Einherjer I got their 'new' album. Odin Owns Ye All was my first purchase and after hearing their awesome, trademark sound, I was left utterly disappointed. Sure, they came back later with maybe the second-best album of 2003, then broke up, then released the best album of 2014...but back then, I wrote them off.

And here we are, the twentieth anniversary complete re-recording issued as Dragons Of The North XX! It sounds better. Sections were tinkered with and overall it's a spectacular record. Does it belong on 2016's list? I don't care. This album is just as good as it was then and the outro of Conquerer is actually improved. So good.

6: Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (Sweden)
I was in radio when Once Sent From The Golden Hall came out and I've followed this band ever since. My interest waxes and wanes but they've yet to really put out a bad album. I listen to each and like each and then they get shelved. Perhaps due to 2016 being a very weak year for the first half (or 2/3rds!) I listened to this a lot. Perhaps it's due to it being a solid and fun album! The metal anthem Raise Your Horns is deliberately catchy but The Way Of Vikings is the album's best. It's altogether heavy and memorable and it ends on a high note. It's the first Amon Amarth record in a while that I've put on again after listening to it...always a sign of a solid entry.

5: Alcest - Kodama (France)
Alcest was done. You know how it goes. You love a band and then they change and well, that was fun. You know they'll never get back to the form that you loved. And after 2014's Shelter, that was where I was at. Nothing will live up to 2010's Écailles De Lune. While that's true, Kodama destroys the last album and when, on the third track, Neige lets loose, I lost it. They're back!!! I don't need a full album of raspy vocals. But when that contrast hits, it stands out all the more. This is the first victim of genre bias. At one point this album was my #2. But since my numbers 4, 3 and 2 are more of the style I'm into...Alcest dropped. Not fair, but what will I go back to and listen to in 5 years? Despite that unfairness, Kodama still made the top 5. Pretty solid for a band that was done, right?

4: Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake (USA)
I know their last two records were good and people quite liked them, but I never loved them. But, the band has not really made a bad album since the entirely-forgettable The Ritual album 25 years ago. And here we are, almost 30 years after The Legacy with a consistent, solid and spectacular 11th studio LP. It is a heavy and crushing record from start to finish with impeccable production. Hoglan's drumming is the relentless and mixed perfectly. Skolnick's solos are the most metal he's done in years (far less jazz influence IMO) and I welcome back DiGiorgio after a 15 year absence. I always felt he was better than Christian anyway. Peterson's writing is top-notch, riffy and catchy, heavy and melodic. And Chuck is in top form, doing everything right. His voice has that natural deep end and this is among his best efforts.

Brotherhood is a great album front-to-finish, with more fun, anthem songs breaking up the thrashy groove. To me, this album is right up there with the best in their catalogue. Not as good as 1999's The Gathering, but much better than anything since (well, only 2 LPs came out). This one will be a record I go back to and a reminder, it sounds fantastic. Just like they did in '99, there's no excuse for any album to sound less than this. Guitars, bass, vocals, drums...all sound perfect.

3: Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom (USA)
The only problem with The Apothic Gloom is that it's a mere four songs long. The twenty-minute listen is essentially perfect despite its brevity. While many people rue the loss of their original vocalist Chance, I was never really loyal. A new vocalist in tow, the band's new EP tinkers with some new concepts including a 7-minute epic (by Skeletonwitch standards). The four songs offer a more mature feel without losing anything that made me love the band on prior releases. Like the record, this review has little more to say. It feels as if it's over as soon as it begins. So, like the record, go back and re-read this review again. I promise it'll be just as good, if not better, each time!

2: Insomnium - Winter's Gate (Finland)
I never stopped liking Insomnium like I did with Alcest. I just figured they wouldn't recapture the magic that made me love them so much. My experience with "our new album is going to be one long song!" concepts always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Green Carnation's Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness comes to mind. Sometimes you just want to hear that one bit, but oh, damn, it's 40 minutes into the song and I'm not fast forwarding that much! (that was mostly a pre-digital complaint).

So, with the band's last really not impressing me and with the one-long-song concept, my expectations were low. But the long-song idea gives the band time and freedom to explore lengthy passages before returning to their best metal segments in a decade. The melodic parts are beautiful and the heavy parts crush. The album flows and feels like a journey through the frozen seas in search of a fabled island. The record has everything I love in music and it's why I placed it above Testament and Skeletonwitch. The clean sections are beautiful, Niilo's vocals are equally strong in singing and growling segments, and the production is spectacular. I'm fortunate enough to have the record split into seven tracks for easier digestion, but it wouldn't matter. This record doesn't suffer the issue that Green Carnation did. The whole thing is fucking awesome. Finland represents again as it has been in recent years, and if only it weren't for that pesky Moonsorrow, this would be #1.

1: Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika (Finland)
It took me about three days. My first listens resulted in, "This is good. Not as good as Varjoina, but good." By day #3 or so, it was Album Of The Year. I'll remind you that this LP came out on the 1st of April.

There was no question. The epic scope of a Moonsorrow song (the four main songs average 14 minutes in length) cannot be immediately appreciated. But if this was already deemed AotY on the 4th of April, imagine how much I loved it two weeks later. It was spun endlessly. Despite the so-so nature of Suden Tunti, the other four are just utter masterpieces. Let us not diminish the strength of that word. Masterpieces they are, embarking upon a musical trek of vast proportions. Additionally one of the two bonus tracks is among my favorite cover songs of all time.

I know of no band whose sound is like Moonsorrow's and I know of no way to perfectly convey what a glorious gem Jumalten Aika is. In the eight months since its release, I've gone back to it thinking, "Is it still *really* that good?" And after I listen to the entire thing, I somehow marvel, not only at its brilliance, but at how I could ever have doubted it. Pagan, folk, black metal? I don't care what genre it is. It is hands-down the Album Of The Year much as its predecessor was five years ago. As good as that one? I can't say, but since that was probably favorite album of the last 15 years, it could be forgiven if it were #2. This is the best of the year without question. Finland #1 and 2 this year. Impressive.

Top 10 of 2016
1. Moonsorrow Jumalten Aika
2. Insomnium Winter's Gate
3. Skeletonwitch The Apothic Gloom
4. Testament Brotherhood Of The Snake
5. Alcest Kodama
6. Amon Amarth Jomsviking
7. Einherjer Dragons Of The North XX
8. Metallica Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
9. Abbath Abbath/td>
10. JK Flesh Rise Above
Good Records
Witchery In His Infernal Majesty's Service
October Tide Winged Waltz
In Flames Battles
Dark Tranquillity Atoma
Final Live Reprocessed - Birmingham 2009
Ghost Popestar
Council Estate Electronics Artika
In The Woods... Pure
Korn The Serenity Of Suffering
Lamb Of God The Duke
Opeth Sorceress
*shrug*
Anthrax For All Kings
Denner/Shermann Masters Of Evil
Megadeth Dystopia
Soilwork Death Resonance
Katatonia The Fall Of Hearts

2015


2015 was a rather weak year with this list generally being a 'least-worst' list rather than a 'best of!' It's also very varied both in musical style and country of origin. Shall we?

8: Ghost: Meliora (Sweden)
I never really got into this band. Satanic, Beatles-inspired metal? Just weird. But with the release of the single Circe, I was sold. The album is pretty solid, catchy and the evil undertones are worthwhile. I don't know if it has the longevity of other great albums, but it's good enough to land at #8.

7: Lamb of God: VII: Sturm Und Drang (U.S.A.)
I like these guys, then I love 'em, then I don't...however this album is easily better than the last. There are some killer, catchy riffs and I haven't any real complaints. However, that's only enough to place it at #7 on this list. Good album.

6: Amorphis: Under The Red Cloud (Finland)
So, Tales is now 20+ yrs old. They went prog rock and arose back on the metal side years ago. I think this is their 6th album since 'coming back'. I find every second album is great and I quite liked their last. This is another solid album with some varied, worldly themes and the staple Amorphis sound. I like it, but like Lamb of God, I don't love it.

5: Sulphur Aeon: Gateway To The Antisphere (Germany)
OMG, this band is heavy. Their second album is the first I've heard by them and while it's a bit heavier than a lot of what I listen to, it absolutely crushes. This needs to be played loud. And repeatedly. Not an every-day listen for me, but one that impresses me every single time I give it a spin.

4: Korpiklaani: Noita (Finland)
I never really liked these guys but for some reason, months after this album came out, I gave it a try. And I dug it! It's catchy, cheesy, ridiculous and awesome! Its upbeat rhythm and sound are a complete opposite of Sulphur Aeon. But that's OK and Finland makes its second offering in my top 10.

3: Svartsot: Vældet (Denmark)
Another band I liked but never loved. There are some excellent tracks on this album, mostly in the second half. The last two are spectacular and capture what Svartsot does best. I only wish there were more just like these. Ultimately, it's an excellent record, but it wouldn't have landed in last year's top 5. Or 7. This year, it's my #3.

2: Tempel: The Moon Lit Our Path (U.S.A.)
Now the list goes from least-worst to BEST. These next two albums make me roar and press play again. Tempel is a band I only heard of in December and within one month it raced to the top of my list. This US duo's sophomore instrumental effort is a triumphant journey. This record is utterly amazing. The first tracks of my first spin left me indifferent but the soaring peaks of track 3 left me overwhelmed. By the end, it was another "I MUST LISTEN AGAIN" album and one that impressed more with each subsequent experience. Bits hearken to Opeth and entire segments call to Agalloch but this is an example of not even realizing I needed this in my life. As cliché as calling an album an 'experience' might be, this one as a whole is a remarkable voyage that grips and doesn't let go. American atmospheric doom, progressive, instrumental black metal? *Shrug* OK! Second-best album of 2015!!!

1: Soilwork: The Ride Majestic (Sweden)
The coveted AotY award goes to the same band who won all the way back in 2000 making the 15-year lapse the longest between AotY winners. This album is no Chainheart Machine, but it is more consistent than the surprisingly-excellent Panic Broadcast. Much like Amorphis, the awesome-then-dreadful band has come back with a more sporadic sequence of excellence but The Ride Majestic is a fun, fast and heavy outing. The pair of title tracks are the album's strongest, with Soilwork doing what they do best, melding speed, melody and catchy, chunky riffs into a pristinely-produced and hum-worthy tenth album. Dirk Verbeuren's drumming may be the best the band has ever seen and the new guitar duo of Coudret and Andersson proves to capture exactly what I love about classic Soilwork. While it sometimes descends into the band's common formula, it is still a consistently-solid record and one that trumps all others in a very weak 2015. AotY 2015 is Soilwork. I think I'm going to go listen to it again...if I can stop listening to Tempel, that is. And that's the only real downside. While las year's AotY went to Einherjer over At The Gates for offering something totally different, I don't think I can say the novelty of Tempel bests the consistency of Soilwork. Either way, #1 and #2 were incredible albums while the rest of the list is just good.

Noteworthy items:

Fastest Song: Marduk - Thousand-Fold Death
OMFG this song is fast. I never loved this band and think the album is a good record. But nothing is as good as this. It's fantastic.

Top 8 Of 2015
1. Soilwork The Ride Majestic
2. Tempel The Moon Lit Our Path
3. Svartsot Vældet
4. Korpiklaani Noita
5. Sulphur Aeon Gateway To The Antisphere
6. Amorphis Under The Red Cloud
7. Lamb Of God VII: Sturm Und Drang
8. Ghost Meliora
OK Records
Thulcandra Ascension Lost
Marduk Frontschwein
Blind Guardian Beyond The Mirror
My Dying Bride Feel The Misery
Final Black Dollars
Slayer Repentless
Children Of Bodom I Worship Chaos
Joe Satriani Shockwave Supernova
Iron Maiden Book Of Souls
Just Couldn't Get Into
Arcturus Arcturian
The Black Dahlia Murder Abysmal
Armageddon Captivity & Devourment
Cradle Of Filth Hammer Of The Witches
Faith No More Sol Invictus
Solefald World Metal Ð Kosmopolis Sud

2014


Gonna do something different this year. Here are my thirteen favorite records of 2014.

#13: Agalloch - The Serpent And The Sphere
I follow this band though my love will never match the passion I felt when I first heard them in 1999 or when The Mantle blew my mind. With each subsequent release the music is oh-so-familiar yet broadened into new territory. I like this album, though the first spin left me unimpressed and it isn't an every-day listen.

#12: The Haunted - Exit Wounds
When Eye Of The Storm was released I was pumped. That song is perfection and the whole album surely must be that good! Of course, it wasn't...maybe half was...but the bigger issue here is the god-awful production. Sure, it's heavy as hell, but it's muddy and there are no dynamics that can shine through that brickwalled mix. Go back and listen to the single (demo) version. It's perfect! The rest of the record has some shining moments, but they are brought down by mediocrity. Still...it's solid enough to get a spot on this list.

#11: Rodrigo Y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive
Once again before an album's release a band issues a remarkable single that is possibly the best song on the album. This album expands RodGab's possibilities by stepping into a more peaceful realm...but those are my least-favorite songs! The good is real good here but overall I'd probably sooner put on one of the first two LPs than this. Still, tracks 1 and 3-5 are killer.

#10: Godflesh - Decline & Fall / A World Lit Only By Fire
Nothing for a decade and then an EP and an LP in the same year? Crushing! These two give precisely what you want out of Godflesh: A pummeling, nihilistic experience. My love of the band is evident by the two-decade-long run of their site but perhaps my dedication is attributed as much to tradition as it is to passion. I like these records but I don't listen to the band as much as I once did.

#9: Vintersorg - Naturbål
I loved this band. Then I didn't. Then Jordpuls and Orkan gave me exactly what I wanted, the latter being my favorite record of the otherwise-weak 2012 year. My excitement for the third part of the four-part nature series Naturbål was massive and perhaps that contributed to my lack of enthusiasm as of release. It's not bad! Perhaps there are too many female vocals, perhaps it just can't live up to the last two, but a very good record didn't get the love it deserved.

#8: The Moon & The Nightspirit - Holdrejtek
I had only just gotten into this Hungarian folk band when the new album was set to come out. While their prior efforts were remarkable in their own right, the newest shows a matured band with an incredibly strong singer and unique sound. This release may stand out amongst the metal crowd but it's easy to appreciate their varied musicianship (each is credited with no fewer than four instrumentals) and Ágnes Tóth's soothing voice. This is a spectacular record if it's your cup of tea.

#7: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out
Much like Vintersorg, when a band consistently puts out amazing albums, it's hard to continue that trend. Eventually something falters, but it certainly doesn't mean the record is bad. Such is the fate of the new Exodus album. It could be the riffs, Souza's return, Gary's commitment to two bands, but this album wasn't as good as I had hoped. Some songs, like Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage shine while others fizzle. The record sounds incredible and has some killer riffage but it is eclipsed by the last and some other fantastic LPs of 2014.

#6: Ewan Dobson - 12-String Guitar
One of my favorite records of 2013 was this Canadian guitarist's acoustic offering. His 2014 sequel, Acoustic Metal 2 just didn't catch me the same way it did last year. On the other hand, his 12-String Guitar LP is a marvel in its own right. This guy is amazing and while I skip a few bluegrass-sounding tracks, I'm still left with almost a dozen technical masterpieces. Impressive particularly when you realize it's his fifth album in three years.

#5: Hoth - Oathbreaker
A Star Wars obsessed band putting out a top-five album? I would never have thought it possible. Towards the end of 2014, a friend sent me a link to a song from the duo's debut and impressed I was! Their second record ditched the incessant Star Wars banter for a concept album. Whatever the story is, this album has some sections that are totally Opeth (good Opeth) and some Skeletonwitch all while being more approachable and awfully melodic. I could listen to this type of music forever and envision their third effort to be another top-5 contender.

#4: Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls
The band's 17th LP is easily their best since their 12th and dare I say, better? I find Redeemer of Souls to be a fun album with melodic offerings, excellent Tipton solos and a very adept Richie Faulkner filling KK's shoes. Songs like March Of The Damned and Sword Of Damocles are catchy and heavy (for a 45-year-old band!) and even my little kids were singing Down In Flames this last summer. There are only a few songs I'll skip and the bonus disc may have one of the best as Tears Of Blood is as memorable as any rock anthem of the '80s. I love this album and the fact that Halford and Priest are still going strong.

#3: Arch Enemy - War Eternal
So, they recorded the whole album with a new singer without anyone even knowing? No Angela? No!! The news of a new, blue-haired chick singer really left me concerned. I liked the last two but didn't love them. How could this turn out? Listen to the LPs cover version of Breaking The Law and you'll know. The production on this album is impeccable. Listen to the bonus disc of instrumentals and you'll find a new appreciation for the magic Arch Enemy creates. Alissa is no Angela and in some songs I feel as if she's trying too hard. Regardless, this album is crazy heavy, Michael Amott's riffs seem rejuvenated and this is the band's best since Doomsday Machines IMO.

#2: At The Gates - At War With Reality
I remember getting Slaughter Of The Soul back in 1996 and its impression never waned. That album is a shining example of everything metal was doing right at the time (and in the U.S., no one was doing anything right in 1996). And the cruel punishment of perfection is a band breaking up due to it. Leave us wanting more...brilliant! Fast forward to the announcement of a new record...there's simply no way it could possibly live up. Critics would slam it if it were too similar or too different. The teaser sample released a month early only excited us more. The final product has every right to be #1 on this list. It's exactly what it's supposed to be. Heavy. Melodic. Fast. Riffy. Solos. Perfect awesomeness. Not too many bands can take 18 years off and come back with such a spectacular offering. This album rules.

#1: Einherjer - Av Oss, For Oss
While At The Gates was everything I expected it to be, Einherjer was nothing at all what I thought it'd be. The first single wasn't anything great and it remains a song I'll skip every time I play it. However, I've always loved this band and even if the last one was only pretty good, my expectations remained high. It's weird...70s Viking Metal. That genre doesn't exist but this album created something I never knew I wanted to hear. It's dynamic, it's catchy as shit, it's VIKINGY! What set this apart from At The Gates was that I have nothing in my catalog that sounds like this. It's retro, it's modern, it's melodic, it's metal and the title's translation, "By Us, For Us" tells me Frode and gang don't care if you liked Aurora Borealis or Dragons Of The North more. They don't care if you disliked Norrøn. They don't even seem to care if you want to listen to this album!!! And that's the most metal thing ever.

AOTY 2014 - Einherjer

Other Notes (i.e. The disappointments!)

#1: Lantlôs - Melting Sun
Oh Lantlôs...How I loved thee. I can't listen to your newest.

#2: Alcest - Shelter
Coincidence that Lantlôs and Alcest, the incestuous post-rock/shoegaze/whatever bands release disappointing albums the same year? I wish I cared....So sad...

#3: Opeth - Pale Communion
I just can't....I just.......

Top 14 Of 2014
1. Einherjer Av Oss, For Oss
2. At The Gates At War With Reality
3. Arch Enemy War Eternal
4. Judas Priest Redeemer Of Souls
5. Hoth Oathbreaker
6. Ewan Dobson 12 String Guitar
7. Exodus Blood In, Blood Out
8. The Moon & The Nightspirit Holdrejtek
9. Vintersorg Naturbål
10. Godflesh A World Lit Only By Fire / Decline & Fall
?. Godflesh Decline & Fall
11. Rodrigo Y Gabriela 9 Dead Alive
12. The Haunted Exit Wounds
13. Agalloch The Serpent And The Sphere
14. Burzum The Ways Of Yore
Disappointments
Lantlôs Melting Sun
Alcest Shelter
Agalloch The Serpent & The Sphere
Overkill White Devil Armory

2013


After a surprisingly weak 2012, 2013 had it easy. Topping that lackluster '12 year was a simple task, but '13 did so in crushing style. 1-2-3 is Kalmah, Skeletonwitch and Carcass, each giving a straightforward, kick-ass LP from front to finish. Kalmah may not have had an album of the year for a few years, but this is their best since The Black Waltz (which itself isn't so long ago!) and it solidifies the band as my favorite of the last 15 years. Skeletonwitch may not top their Beyond The Permafrost sophomore effort but it's a consistent beatdown worth playing again as soon as it finishes. It doesn't hurt that it clocks in at under 32 minutes! And we cannot forget the epic rebirth of Carcass, an offering which had much to live up to, and easily exceeded any expectations. I never thought they could pull this off. For a while it was my album of the year.

Unlike recent years, I tried to bang out a top 10 as you can see below. It's all iffy after #3 though so things may shift upon looking back on this list. I loved the Amorphis, though not as much as Skyforger a few years back. The My Dying Bride EP is fantastic and lives up to their better LPs of the last 15 years. Black Dahlia, Summoning and Amon Amarth are all somewhat predictable but each is an incredibly strong showing of why I love them; although none get as many spins as I think they deserve. Jesu's lengthy title is an equally-lengthy five-song LP which restores my faith in Justin's ability to use that project as a vehicle for the moody, drone rock I loved six years ago. And...what is this chiptune garbage? I don't give a fuck, Chipzel's LP is awesome. The fact that it was recorded on a GameBoy just makes it more impressive!

Beyond these, I've omitted some of the otherwise so-so entries I would've included in the past. However I did have to mention my disappointment in the new October Tide. The band's second LP of its second life is heavy as shit but only really caught me on a few occasions. And...we all knew the new Soilwork would end up just like it did. Sad too because I thought the last LP was incredible.

Top Ten Of 2013
1. Kalmah Seventh Swamphony
2. Skeletonwitch Serpents Unleashed
3. Carcass Surgical Steel
4. Amorphis Circle
5. My Dying Bride The Manuscript
6. The Black Dahlia Murder Everblack
7. Summoning Old Mornings Dawn
8. Amon Amarth Deceiver Of The Gods
9. Chipzel Spectra
10. Jesu Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came
Good Shit 'Tis...
Ewan Dobson Acoustic Metal
Insomnium Ephermal
Children Of Bodom Halo Of Blood
Final Infinite Guitar 4
Helloween Straight Out Of Hell
Good Enough To Mention
The Fall Of Every Season Amends
Testament Dark Roots Of Thrash
Hypocrisy End Of Disclosure
Suidakra Eternal Defiance
Witherscape The Inheritance
Korn The Paradigm Shift
Pale Sketcher Warm Sunday
Disappointments
October Tide Tunnel Of No Light
Soilwork The Living Infinite

2012


If you would have told me the year would have new albums from RodGab, Agalloch, Lamb Of God and Naglfar (!!!) I would expect a kick-ass year. Expectations aren't everything of course, and I'm sad to say that none lived up to anything I expected. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that 2012 was the weakest year for metal since the 90s.

However, this is a first: Vintersorg appears on his solo band's album and as a vocalist on the Borknagar and these are my two favorite records of the year. That's never happened before. I started getting into Alcest though 2012's offering isn't their strongest. Module, the creator of the Shatter soundtrack, put out a very cool solo album.

Sadly, beyond that, I was not wowed by anything. Testament and Anathema's LPs were OK. The new Burzum had a good first half. Rodrigo Y Gabriela put out reworked songs with a Cuban band...but I'd heard those songs before and I enjoy the quaint nature of the two-piece. Tenacious D has some good songs.

Everything else was either disappointing or just plain 'meh'. Quite certainly the weakest year in an age. Sad...really.

Album D'Année
1. Vintersorg Orkan
2. Borknagar Urd
FUCK YEAH!
Alcest Les Voyages De L'åme
Module Imagineering
Good
Anathema Weather Systems
Burzum Umskiptar
Rodrigo Y Gabriela Area 52
Tenacious D Rize Of The Fenix
Testament Dark Roots Of Earth
Just Couldn't Get Into
Naglfar Téras
Lamb Of God Resolution
The Blood Of Heroes The Waking Nightmare
Council Estate Electronics Longmeadow
Down The Purple EP
Agalloch Faustian Echoes
Worth Mentioning?
Final Burning Bridges Will Light Your Way
Katatonia Dead End Kings
Neurosis Honor Found In Decay
Christopher Amott Impulses
Cradle Of Filth Midnight In The Labyrinth
Citizen Cope One Lovely Day
JK Flesh Posthuman

2011


2011 was a year to be excited about. It was also a year of the epic horrible. There were some surprises, some delightful surprises. Let's see...

First off, I got into three new bands. Moonsorrow is the first, and their album was AotY back in spring when I first heard it. So good. So heavy, so fantastic. As for the other two, Skeletonwitch is perfect thrash/speed/riff/death/excellence. Sadly, their newest isn't their best, but it's so riffy I forgive them. Insomnium suffers the same fate. So good, but their prior albums were better. Still, I love their sound and am psyched to have been introduced to three new, awesome bands.

The long wait for Einherjer's reunion LP left me...unimpressed. However, after subsequent spins, I'm thrilled they're back. It's a great blend of viking and metal, just it's different from what I expected. I love it. Lantlôs is back with their 3rd release and I am in love. It's heavy, but it's mellow. It's just greatness...as is My Dying Bride's 30-minute, one-song EP. I love it. After being disappointed by their last, this was a welcome surprise.

Amon Amarth is solid, if not the same as everything else (forgiven).

Children Of Bodom is solid, if not the same as everything else (but I'll never listen to it...why is that so? Just not fair.)

Demonaz! Haha...that's a cool record. Sounds like what I used to write back in '98...just more Immortal-y. The new Arch Enemy has no flaws, but I find myself skipping it a lot. Same for Amorphis. The Anthrax, you know, the first in 20 years with Joey, well, I love it. It's got some really catchy songs and man, Joey's voice is still there! ROck on! I love the MDB 'classical' record, whatever you might call it. Not an every-day listen, but it's so perfect when you are in the mood.

Please don't make me talk about Megadeth. You were great, then SUCKED, then were awesome again and....THIS? I knew once Junior rejoined it would go to shit. I can't even make it through a whole song.

Speaking of unlistenable. Two words: Opeth and Heritage. Listen, they can do whatever they want, but this is just bad on every level. I don't want to talk any more...so bad.

Album D'Année
Moonsorrow Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
FUCK YEAH!
Einherjer Norrøn
Lantlôs Agape
My Dying Bride The Barghest O'Whitby
Oh Yeah
Amon Amarth Surtur Rising
Amorphis The Beginning Of Times
Anthrax Worship Music
Arch Enemy Khaos Legions
Children Of Bodom Relentless Reckless Forever
Demonaz March Of The Norse
Falkenbach Tiurida
Insomnium One For Sorrow
My Dying Bride Evinta
Pale Sketcher Seventh Heaven
Skeletonwitch Forever Abomination
Merely Good...If That...
Burzum Fallen
Jesu Ascension
Please Make The Pain Stop...
The Haunted Unseen
Megadeth Th1rt3en
Metallica & Lou Reed Lulu
Opeth Heritage

2010


A new decade perhaps, but nothing major is new. Just a solid year of metal records!

I think the Exodus is AOTY. It's just a riff & solo masterpiece. I read a complaint that the songs were too long, but I don't care. People still herald Justice as brilliant and those songs just go on and on and on! Exodus...OH YEAH.

Now, I've gone back (2 years later) to add Alcest whose Écailles de Lune is just spectacular.

Does Kalmah know how to put out a bad record? While the last wasn't as good as earlier efforts, 12 Gauge is better, returning to the riffy/doodle roots which I love. It's not as memorable, again, as older albums, but I never tire of Kalmah. Soilwork! That first song rocks and, sadly makes the rest of the album a bit weaker. They're not the only band to have done this, placed the best song of the bunch first (The Cure - Wild Mood Swings, too bad the rest of that album sucks). I love the CD though, SO MUCH better than recent ones.

Some albums just don't do much for me. The new Blind Guardian, for one, was a highly-anticipated CD that...well...I feel as if I've heard before (and better). Why listen to this when A Night At The Opera does it better? On the other hand, Belus, the long-awaited Burzum return sounds exactly like Filosofem...and I couldn't care less! I love it. I suppose that's not fair, is it?

Anathema. Man, I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Now it's here and...I don't listen much. I prefer the original versions of the 3 songs released, and I love the album but...don't know. Yeah, reviewing isn't fair.

Fear Factory, Witchery, Borknagar...all good, not great, and I won't likely listen much. Maiden's album is better than the last, but who cares? The record is selling like crazy in Europe. I like a few tracks that feel different. They'll never live up to Chemical Wedding. Oh, Overkill. Put track 6 on. Damn, that shit rules. That's metal right there.

Dimmu is good. Forbidden is good. Amorphis' re-recording is...yeah. Good. None are killer.

Did I say killer? October Tide is fantastic. The new Lantlôs is utterly phenomenal! Agalloch! They aren't powerful metal records, but they are all powerful.

Album D'Année
Exodus Exhibit B: The Human Condition
FUCK YEAH!
Alcest Écailles de Lune
Kalmah 12 Gauge
Lantlôs .neon
October Tide A Thin Shell
Soilwork The Panic Broadcast
Oh Yeah
Anathema We're Here Because We're Here
Iron Maiden The Final Frontier
Burzum Belus
The Blood Of Heroes The Blood Of Heroes
Dimmu Borgir Abrahadabra
Forbidden Omega Wave
Amorphis Magic & Mayhem
Pale Sketcher Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed
Borknagar Universal
Dark Tranquillity We Are The Void
Overkill Ironbound
Good
Blind Guardian At The Edge Of Time
Fear Factory Mechanize
Witchery Witchkrieg
Cradle Of Filth Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
Solefald Norrøn Livskunst
Obscurity Tenkterra
Live Records
Megadeth Rust In Peace - Live
Amorphis Forging The Land Of Thousand Lakes
Immortal The Seventh Date Of Blasrykh
Down Diary Of A Mad Band