All in all, I think this year was pretty weak, because looking back over my top 50, I can only wholeheartedly recommend the first 22 or so. Oh well, here's the countdown, ten at a time.
50. Kingdom of Sorrow- Kingdom of Sorrow
It is so bad. Seriously. Awful stuff. Kirk Windstein forgets what made his riffs in Crowbar and Down so awesome and gives Dimebag Darrell an hour long blowjob, while Jamey Jasta does his best to sound EXACTLY like Phil Anselmo circa The Great Southern Trendkill, when Phil Anselmo had already started sucking. The only attempt at sincerity, "Scream At the Sky", is a half-baked attempt at a, you guessed it, Dimebag tribute, and sucks horribly. Don't listen to this if you can at all avoid it.
49. Whitesnake- Good to Be Bad
I like Whitesnake sometimes. In fact, the self-titled album and Slip of the Tongue are two of the most fun albums in my collection, with some of the best vocals in rock music from the amazing David Coverdale. This album, however, is a tepid attempt at recapturing their long lost youth, and the result is quite embarrassing. Steer clear.
48. DragonForce- Ultra Beatdown
On their last album, DragonForce were still a power metal band whose music happened to fit Guitar Hero well enough to make them video game superstars. On this album, they intentionally made songs that they thought would fit Guitar Hero. It seriously sounds like a video game, and a parody of power metal in general. I will never spend another hour of my life listening to DragonForce.
47. Guns n' Roses- Chinese Democracy
I don't believe Axl Rose for one second when he says he's been writing this since the mid-1990s. I think he scrapped whatever he had and replaced it last year, because there is way too much modernity and too many computer-generated sounds for this to be anything but a tired rehash of the band's weakest moments with a slightly updated backbone. Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion discs made Guns n' Roses legends, and rightly so. The twelve-year debacle that led to this album's release and its ensuing horribleness threatens to knock them down a peg.
46. In Flames- A Sense of Purpose
Honestly, I don't know why I thought this was going to be any different. In Flames have burned me too many times. Reroute to Remain was terrible, Soundtrack to Your Escape was worse, and Come Clarity had four great songs, but the remaining songs were so awful that I barely remembered the good stuff. This album continues the streak of awfulness that they've been keeping up strong this decade, and there's really only a couple of listenable songs here ("The Mirror's Truth" and "Move Through Me" come to mind), which are only listenable because of their infectious grooves. I'd rather hear this than their pathetic metalcore, but it's still pretty lame.
45. Meshuggah- obZen
Jesus Christ, I can't believe this bland "progressive" metal band is headlining over Cynic. The detuned Meshuggah-chugga-chugga riffs belong on a Ministry album or some shit, but people still consider this to be progressive, forward-thinking music. Don't be fooled. This album is what would happen if Tool accidentally dropped their tuning another step, got really drunk, and traded Maynard for a chimp who was bad at growling. The only real redeeming qualities are the few times the music gets pretty: they're much better at atmosphere than at being heavy.
44. Flametal- Master of the Aire
I like "Battery". I like "Arc of Space". I even like the Mars Volta songs that dabble in flamenco. But an entire band whose shtick, right down to the ridiculously stupid name, is flamenco metal is a terrible idea. The songs are more like flamenco intros and solos pasted into bland 80s metal parodies. The effect is sickening. The guitarist of this album should put out a solo album, though, because the pure flamenco parts are actually quite beautiful.
43. Testament- The Formation of Damnation
I'm really not sure why Testament have felt obligated since 1999 or so to play way heavier music than they really should. They've been releasing "death thrash" albums for some time now, and none of them are really all that memorable. At least there are some catchy choruses on here, namely the ones to "More Than Meets the Eye" and the title track. Still, this album is difficult to recommend with a straight face when much better thrash, death, and death thrash exists, and the new Metallica album sounds much more youthful and fresh.
42. Tiamat- Amenethes
The 90s doom-gone-gothic rock thing that Anathema, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, and a dozen others are doing is actually pretty cool in my book, but Tiamat just make the entire thing one giant cliche. There is nothing interesting on this album. It is competent doom, through and through, but not one second of it will stick with you or demand a repeat listen. Leave it to the masters, guys.
41. The Sword- Gods of the Earth
Now, I'm the first to defend the Sword if so-called true metalheads call them out as hipster metal or question their sincerity. That doesn't automatically make their music any good, however, and this is kind of awful. It doesn't deviate from the standard 4/4 Sabbath-on-downers formula in any way, and accentuates the fact that there are much better bands doing the 70s worship thing right now. This just isn't that good.