(Today we’re beginning begin our series of year-end album lists from NCS staff and guest writers. This guest post is from occasional NCS contributor and hard man to please KevinP. The understated title to this post was his idea.)
Like most people I could compile a list of 20 albums that are worthy of praise this year, but I won’t. This is a Top 10 List and the inclusion of 12 or 15 would just cheapen the rest. If you don’t make the Top 10, you simply don’t get mentioned. Heck, I’m listening to an album that just missed the cut, but I won’t even give it the “Honorable Mention” tag, since I’m only giving you 10. So without further ado, and with massive drumrolls……
10. Master’s Hammer – Vracejte konve na místo
I like my black metal weird. Ever since 1992 I’ve had a soft spot for Necrocock & Mr. Storm. Their brand of oddness just resonates with me. Wasn’t even aware this album was coming until it was (self) released. Even the term “experimental black metal” doesn’t do justice for those of you who have not experienced this band before.
9. Sear Bliss – Eternal Recurrence
This album marks the return of original guitarists Csaba Csejtey & János Barbarics, along with drummer Olivér Ziskó. Founding member Andras Nagy provides a bass-centric black metal jazz venture into another world filled with trumpets and trombones. Quite a spectacle indeed.
8. Cripper – The Antagonist
Britta & the boys really upped their game on this one. And to think I only listened to it by chance. I enjoyed their previous two efforts, but they didn’t exactly make me froth at the mouth. This new one is chock full of catchy riff after riff. And yes Testament, Kreator, and Tankard had new ones this year. The Antagonist is just head and shoulders superior.
7. Before the Dawn – Rise of the Phoenix
Remove the clean vocals (not the pants) and you get a fast, heavy, re-energized Before the Dawn. Non-pussified melodic Finnish death metal done the right way.
6. My Dying Bride – A Map of All Our Failures
My most anticipated album of the year. If it had a plethora of death metal moments added into the mix, it would have ranked either 1st or 2nd. But what they have given us here is still a damn fine piece of work. Haunting, depressing, and oddly uplifting at times. A band that never seems to repeat itself, yet finds new ways to entice the listener.
5. Gojia – L’Enfant Sauvage
Another non-stop assault on the senses by these snail eaters. If the spaghetti western twang at the end of “Explosia” or the frantic picking of the title track doesn’t grab ya, I’m not sure what will. Great to see a band evolve without making compromises to their sound.
4. Aeon – Aeons Black
Far and away the best pure death metal album this year. Heavier than an elephant sausage (that is the title of the Gojira album, right?) and everything you have come to expect from the band, with some added variety this time around. If you enjoy death metal, you simply must own this album!
3. Candlemass – Psalms of the Dead
The best album Rob Lowe has done with the band (ironically they booted him out before it was even released though. Thanks for the memories Rob). The keyboards are spoooky as all hell (what are the odds someone mentions the keyboards as a big deal on a Candlemass album?) . A fitting end for their final studio release.
2. Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I
NeO released a debut album to worldwide acclaim with over 1 hour of material that lived up to the pre-release hype. Part symphonic black metal and part beautiful rock. This is abolsutely stunning and sounds like a band on their 4th or 5th release reaching their creative peak. Where can they possibly go from here ?
1. The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis
One of the first albums I heard this year and it was still able to hold the #1 position. Impressive would be an understatement. Read my review of it here.