Well, it is about time I got around to posting my list. This topic will just be for my favorite albums this year; I’m not going to do “Most Memorable Concerts” list or “Best Artwork” list for a couple reasons; one, I am too lazy to do that and two, even if I wasn’t too lazy, I still don’t care enough to do that. That may make it sound like I’m not very enthusiastic about music, but I assure you that is not the case. I attended some spectacular concerts this year – and saw some terrible bands too – but I would rather keep it simple and stick to albums, so I don’t bore you too much.
I would like to point out that the following list is only my most enjoyed albums, not the most technical and insane albums of the year. It’s more personal for me to share the albums I was impressed by on an emotional level instead of albums I thought were impressive, but didn’t truly enjoy. So, with that said, onward to the list!
Artist: Defeated Sanity
Album: Chapters of Repugnance
Label: Willowtip Records
Genre: Technical Brutal Death Metal
I can’t say I am a true fan of brutal death metal, although there are a handful of bands in the genre I enjoy; most of the artists just don’t catch my attention enough to make me want to listen to them more than a couple times, but upon hearing a new track from this album earlier in the year my attention was not just caught, it was clenched tightly in the fist of Defeated Sanity. Before 2010 I wouldn’t have cared if you told me there was an impressive brutal death metal band hailing from Germany. I tended to write off the entire genre as Devourment clones – which a lot of it is, unfortunately – but it should not be judged solely on that fact. Discovering this album helped me to realize I need to be open minded to every band, no matter what preconceived ideas I may have about them or their style of music. Defeated Sanity does have the signature “slams” the genre is known for, but they are enveloped in a continuous stream of winding technicality. The extremely incoherent, guttural vocals slide right along with the grotesque music, forming a sewer of death metal flowing into your ear canals. With constant changes of pace and great musicianship, this album will have you headbanging from the second it breathes life into your speakers to the very end.
Album: The Isolationist
Label: Candlelight Records
Genre: Black Metal
The American black metal beast, known as Krieg, has been silent for four years and now returns with an album that rivals The Black House
in its evil, yet depressive manner. Although carrying a very modern production, The Isolationist
has an unbelievably dark, desolate sound, bringing on similar emotions that the works of Xasthur might give off. With simplistic riffs and drum patterns, the album still manages to stand out among the hordes of black metal albums, since every song is noticeably different. In this album I have found that sometimes the least complex music is the most interesting and emotional.
Artist: As I Lay Dying
Album: The Powerless Rise
Label: Metal Blade Records
Before hearing this album I couldn’t have cared less about As I Lay Dying, but my friend strongly recommended I give it a chance, even though I found their earlier work unimpressive. My friend and I don’t agree very often on ideas of what good music is, but this was one of those times that I was happy I listened to him. The band has really stepped it up since their last album in 2007. While it is obvious that they are still a metalcore band, this album is much more intense and face paced. There’s plenty of solos and melodies to be discovered throughout the duration of the CD, with plenty of memorable songs. Hearing a band transform over the years from a mediocre group to such a driving force gives me hope for the generation of young bands we have in surplus all around America.
Album: Spiral Shadow
Label: Season of Mist Records
Genre: Sludge Metal
I read a lot of negative reviews about this album since its release (only a few said it was decent), but I feel it deserves more credit than that. I only discovered Kylesa this year and I can hear their change in direction from the last release, but as a standalone record, Spiral Shadow
is still quite impressive. While the band delves into a more mellowed out sound, there are still plenty of great surprises held within the tracks. The instrumental passages will bring you into a trance-like state and then snap back with heavy, distorted riffs. The overall atmosphere of the album is different from any other sludge CD I have heard, and it pulls you in like the undercurrent not far off a shoreline. With each listen I am taken a bit further out into a sea of soothing melodies, not wanting to return to sand at the beachfront.
Album: No Light For Mass
Label: Fysisk Format
Genre: Black Metal / Hardcore
With new generations of bands coming out of Norway, some have chosen to take influences from their 90s predecessors. Okkultokrati seamlessly melds hardcore and black metal together for their first album, No Light For Mass
, giving it the anger and emotions of hardcore with the darkness and demonic sounds of black metal. Most of the songs are short, resembling a typical hardcore album, but are rich in black metal influence. The most notable influence are the vocals, which are much like the hoarse screams of Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone. With a new twist on black metal, Okkultokrati is sure to become a favorite in the underground scene.