Dec 042019


(This is the third part of Andy Synn‘s five-part reflections on the year in metal that’s about to end.)

Today’s list collates those artists and albums which I felt represented the top tier of this year’s metallic output, drawn from a variety of styles and sub-genres, and a multitude of different countries.

Certainly there’s some variance in their quality too, from absolute game-changers to albums which some of you might argue belong more on yesterday’s list (and vice versa), but these records are honestly the ones which I think deserve the highest praise (for various reasons) this year.

Of course if you don’t see something here, and can’t find it on yesterday’s list, then that just means I didn’t get a chance to listen to it.

In fact, I can tell you now that, despite my best efforts and best intentions, I never got round to listening to the new albums from Mayhem, Spirit Adrift, Falls of Rauros, Wilderun, The Drowning, Devourment, or Ossuarium, so sadly you won’t be seeing any of them appearing in the list below. I do hope they were everything you wanted them to be though.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me, let’s get to it, shall we?





Whether it’s the blackened discordance and dissonant death-isms of Ceremony of Silence or the majestic Melodeath mastery of Eternal Storm, 2019 saw a bunch of new bands gatecrashing the scene with some truly stellar debut albums.

Hopefully a lot of you will already have checked out the massive, bone-crushing riffs of Towering and the take-no-prisoners ferocity of Fuming Mouth after my previous recommendation, or, if Black Metal is more your thing, maybe the foreboding De Val, by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Verwoed, or the crippling dread of Decoherence’s Ekpyrosis will be what you’re looking for?

And no discussion of “Devastating Debuts” would be complete without a mention for the face-ripping fury of Lament, from Blackened Hardcore crew Totaled, the ballistic brutality of Vitriol’s To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice, or the blistering blend of moody ambience and metallic malevolence provided by Bull of Apis, Bull of Bronze.





On the other end of the scale, several of the scene’s most prominent stars (rising or otherwise) brought out their biggest guns yet, with Cattle Decapitation delivering their most accessible record to date with Death Atlas (even if it isn’t quite as good as The Anthropocene Extinction).

Similarly, Employed to Serve’s latest album was undeniably catchier and more accessible than 2017’s breakthrough The Warmth of a Distant Sun, without weakening or lessening their intensity or idealism one iota.

Speaking of idealism, Misery Index continued to match pissed-off political polemic with punishing potency on Rituals of Power, their most purely Death Metal focussed record yet, while Fit For An Autopsy fully completed their transformation from “ones to watch” into “ones to beat” with the powerful (yet surprisingly poignant) The Sea of Tragic Beasts.





As we saw yesterday, Death Metal had a particularly busy and belligerent year, and things are just as busy at the very top, with both Bæst and Blood Incantation continuing to prove that they’re the future of the genre with Venenum and Hidden History…, while murkier, gnarlier releases from Vacivus and Krypts also finally brought both bands to the front of the pack where they belong.

I was also particularly impressed by Witch Vomit and their latest album, the evocatively titled Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave, and multiple re-listens have only confirmed how much it deserves to be featured here.

And, of course, a special mention is reserved for Tomb Mold and their new album, Planetary Clairvoyance, which I happen to think is the band’s best yet.





Not that the preceding albums weren’t brutal, of course, but these albums were extra brutal, providing some of the most extreme and crushing sounds of the last twelve months.

NCS-approved Death Metal duo Gomorrah upped their game to a whole new level on their third, self-titled album (bringing in uber-drummer Hannes Grossmann probably helped), while Italian battalion Hideous Divinity somehow became even more technical and twisted on Simulacrum.

Two of Britain’s most brutal exports, Venom Prison and Unfathomable Ruination, refused to let the rest of the world outshine us, with Samsara in particular picking up new fans, new accolades, and new victims wherever it was heard.

Talking of “brutal exports”, Disentomb demonstrated that the most dangerous thing in Australia isn’t the inhabitants or the environment, it’s the sound produced on The Decaying Light.





The harsher, grimier, end of the Death Metal spectrum was also rich with horrid delights this year, with Altarage kicking off hunting season early with the release of the utterly monstrous The Approaching Roar in January.

Underground legends Teitanblood returned from whatever hellish dimension they’d slithered off to with what is perhaps the best album of their career, while disso-death upstarts Apparatus did their very best to warp space and time with the angular, abrasive Yonder Yawns the Universe.

Then, of course, who could forget the proggy discordance of Haunter’s shockingly good sophomore album, Sacramental Death Qualia, or the latest piece of blackened, doom-laden deviance from Abyssal?





On the other end of the scale entirely, 2019 also delivered a wealth of introspected, introverted material which focussed more on mood and atmosphere, including the heart-rending new album from A Swarm of the Sun and the latest scintillating sonic soundscape from the ever-fascinating Ulver.

More people also need to know about, and listen to, the latest album from Catalonian magicians Foscor (fans of Katatonia in particular will absolutely love Els Sepulcres Blancs), while those of you into something more sweeping and cinematic, yet brimming with raw emotion, should check out the spellbinding Part Island from UK Post-Rock collective Latitudes.





Sticking with the theme of bands who wear their hearts out on their sleeve, the final record from Post-Metal/Post-Hardcore crew King Apathy was a visceral plea for empathy and action in the face of an uncaring world (set to some impressively meaty, moody riffs), while the unique sound of Belgian three-piece Brutus cut through a sea of imitators and false innovators to shine like a veritable beacon of hope.

The bold decision of Polish Post-Black Metal crew Rosk to go entirely minimalist and acoustic on their second album, Remnants was a risk that paid off big time, as few albums this year have been as raw and vulnerable and instantly affecting in my opinion, while the choice by Alcest to return to their roots (ever so slightly) on the electrifying Spiritual Instinct helped them craft one of the best albums of their career.





The more “Progressive” wing also showed a lot of life this year, with Klone delivering perhaps their deepest, most rewarding album to date, while multi-faceted, multi-national collective Archivist similarly stepped up their game on the intricate, immersive Triumvirate.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of bands stepping up their game, the massively underrated Prog-Metal maestros of Dreadnought produced one of THE best albums of the year too, and not enough people are talking about it/them!

On a more personal note, Arctic Sleep produced one of my favourite albums of 2019 in the form of the soul-stirring Kindred Spirits, as did the resurrected Disillusion, whose new album might even be better than Back to Times of Splendor (though I’m aware that’s a controversial suggestion).

You should also check out the Progressive Melodic Death Metal stylings of Lucidity, whose superb second album, Oceanum, has flown under a lot of radars, as well as the dramatic, dynamic stylings of Sunless by proggy UK Post-Metallers PSOTY, and the soaring, shining Melodeath magic of Iapetus (who I’ll be writing more about very soon).





Moving away from pure “Prog” into weirder, more technically tangled waters, underground heroes Car Bomb continued to prove themselves practically untouchable with the metamorphic madness of Mordial, while French phenoms Hypno5e gave us what may well be their best album yet in the form of A Distant (Dark) Source.

The cathartic complexity and propulsive, prog-tinged riffs of Dāmim and Vielikan (both of which made a significant impression on me personally) should appeal equally to fans of Carcass, Nevermore, Gojira, and Opeth, while ongoing NCS-faves Endolith continued to prove their mastery of post-Meshuggah proggery with the concept-driven Chicxulub.

And if you’re looking for something really weird and wonderful, then Waste of Space Orchestra (the collaborative project from members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising) should help scratch that itch… and then some!





Black Metal has become such a broad, unholy church these days that it’s no surprise to see such a visceral and vital variety of albums and artists represented on today’s list.

There’s the elemental blood and thunder of Vanum and Misþyrming on one hand, and the oppressive, ominous atmospherics of The Great Old Ones and The Negative Bias on the other.

There’s the abrasive assault of Yellow Eyes and the punishing power of Panzerfaust, and then there’s the grim grandeur of Mephorash and the melodic majesty of Imperium Dekadenz.

The pure viciousness of Consummation and Barshasketh is balanced by the epic ambitions and soaring songwriting of Saor and Orm, while the dissonant depravity of Deathspell Omega is matched in turn by the raw energy and irrepressible idealism of Dawn Ray’d.

The prowling menace of Kampfar and the strutting swagger of Wormwitch showcase both the old and the new at their very best, even as the latest albums from Abigail Williams, Krater, and Vukari found each of them reaching a new pinnacle and finally receiving the credit and acclaim they’ve always deserved.

The dense riffosity of Mardom by Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult serves as a killer companion to the fluid melodic malice of Sinmara’s Hvísl Stjarnanna, while the more “immersive” side of things was dominated in singular style by the hypnotic Under Pale Moon by Ringarë and the depressive darkness of The Grand Disillusionment from Aussie iconoclasts Deadspace.





On the outer fringes of Black Metal the psycho-active new album from legendary experimentalists Blut Aus Nord delivered some of the year’s biggest shocks and thrilling surprises, the band boldly going to some strange new places on the aptly named Hallucinogen, while the return of The Deathtrip allowed us to once more explore the most sinister and otherworldly corners of our reality in musical form.

The masterful, if flawed, new album from Schammasch was a glorious display of unbound vision and unrepentant ambition that thoroughly rejected common convention, even as it embraced and inverted it, and the phenomenal Love Exchange Failure from White Ward asked us all to explore and expose our inner spaces under the harsh scrutiny of lurid neon lights and leering urban eyes.





If slow and suffocating is more your jam, then may I recommend the crushing I by Epitaphe (which begins and ends with a pair of titanic, twenty-minute compositions) and the oh-so-appropriately named Slow and their latest (and greatest) record, Dantalion?

If you want something a little nastier then you should consider dosing yourself with the psychedelic Death/Doom of Astral Death Cult by , which I would argue is one of the most overlooked and underrated albums of 2019, whereas if you’re after something as epic as it is emotionally devastating then Carnal Confessions by Fvneral Fvkk could (and should) well be your new favourite album.

And, speaking of “epic” albums, Isole’s Dystopia is easily one of the most epic, and impressive, of their lengthy career… although at “just” forty-eight minutes long it has nothing on the sheer immensity of Esoteric’s gargantuan double-disc effort, A Pyrrhic Existence, an album which demands a lot from its listeners, but rewards their dedication several times over.





Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the line between monstrous Doom and monolithic Post-Metal is, particularly on an album like Carrion Mother’s despair-driven Nothing Remains, which has been dragging down my mp3 player with its dense, desolate weight since the start of the year.

Similarly the underappreciated Dead To A Dying World blur the lines between Doom and Sludge (with even a bit of Black Metal breaking through the crust now and then), while the stupendous second album from Cranial balances bruising Post-Metal dynamics and Sludge-y heaviness in equal measure.

Of course, no discussion of this particular corner of the Metal universe would be complete without mentioning the legendary Cult of Luna and their new album, A Dawn to Fear, which, even if it’s not quite a match for their previous two records, still stands head and shoulders above most of the scene.





If the albums mentioned immediately above blur the lines between Post-Metal and Sludge a lot of the time, then the albums in this section go a step further, annexing and amalgamating ideas and elements from multiple styles and sub-genres – Black Metal, Hardcore, Doom, Drone, Sludge, Prog, Grind, and more – to create some of the most dynamic and dizzyingly intense music of the year.

The most well-known name here, Inter Arma, have yet to put a foot wrong in their career, and Sulphur English, their grittiest, grimiest, release yet, only continues this long string of successes.

That being said, they’re not the only notable figures, or even the best, to be featured in this section, as German firebrands Downfall of Gaia arguably produced an even better album with the Blackened Post-Sludge brilliance of Ethic of Radical Finitude.

A little bit Death, a little bit Grind, a little bit Sludge, and brimming with progressive ambition, the fourth (and, sadly, final) album from Call of the Void was easily the band’s finest work, as is the concept-driven catharsis of Muladona by Rorcal, which saw the band becoming more intense, more ambitious, but also even more tightly focussed.

This Gift Is A Curse effectively perfected their proprietary formula for Blackened Sludgecore on the blistering A Throne of Ash, while Italian Black/Doom trio Naga finally achieved their true poisonous potential on the venomous Void Cult Rising.

And we can’t talk about “intensity” without raising a glass to the emotionally devastating output of one-man Blackened Doom machine Mizmor and his soul-crushing new record Cairn.





Of course, if you want to talk “intense” then you’ve got to talk “Grind”. And boy howdy, do these three albums grind with the very best of them.

Weeping Choir, by Full of Hell, is an obvious choice, I know, but that’s because it’s their most savage, spiteful, and sickeningly harsh album yet, the band seemingly only getting angrier and heavier with age.

Alienated Despair, by Implore, too richly deserves to be held up as one of the best examples of grisly grind and apoplectic fury which 2019 has produced.

The diamond in the rough, however, is the uncompromising slab of pure ugliness and aggression that is Harrowed’s new album, Chaotic Nonentity, which can easily go toe-to-toe with either of the bigger or more (in)famous names mentioned above.





Rammstein… ‘nuff said.


That’s it from me again, ladies and germs. I hope you’ve all enjoyed what you’ve read, what you’ve heard, and are going to follow this up by checking out a few new bands and albums you may not be familiar with.

I also hope you’re not too disappointed by certain omissions. After all, even someone as talented and handsome and debonair and… cough… what I meant to say was, even someone who spends as much time listening to, and searching for, new music as me can’t listen to everything, and hopefully you won’t hold that against me.

Tomorrow it’s time for the big show, my list of the “Critical Top Ten”, the ten albums I think represent the best and most varied picture of what 2019 has given us.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of my choices.

In the meantime, here’s the complete list (including links wherever possible) of the albums which made up this year’s “Great” list:

A Swarm of the Sun – The Woods

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark

Abyssal – A Beacon in the Husk

Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

Altarage – The Approaching Roar

Apparatus – Yonder Yawns the Universe

Archivist – Triumvirate

Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits

Bæst – Venenum

Barshasketh – Barshasketh

Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race

Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen

Brutus – Nest

Bull of Apis, Bull of Bronze – Offerings of Flesh and Gold

Call of the Void – Buried in Light

Car Bomb – Mordial

Carrion Mother – Nothing Remains

Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Ceremony of Silence – Oútis

Consummation – The Great Solar Hunter

Cranial – Alternate Endings

Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear

Dāmim – A Fine Game of Nil

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult – Mardom

Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong

Dead To A Dying World – Elegy

Deadspace – The Grand Disillusionment

Deathspell Omega – The Fires of Palingenesia

The Deathtrip – Demon Solar Totem

Decoherence – Ekpyrosis

Disentomb – The Decaying Light

Disillusion – The Liberation

Dö – Astral Death Cult

Downfall of Gaia – Ethic of Radical Finitude

Dreadnought – Emergence

Employed to Serve – Eternal Forward Motion

Endolith – Chicxulub: The Fossil Record

Epitaphe – I

Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence

Eternal Storm – Come the Tide

Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts

Foscor – Els Sepulcres Blancs

Full of Hell – Weeping Choir

Fuming Mouth – The Grand Descent

Fvneral Fvkk – Carnal Confessions

Gomorrah – Gomorrah

Harrowed – Chaotic Nonentity

Haunter – Sacramental Death Qualia

Hideous Divinity – Simulacrum

Hypno5e – A Distant (Dark) Source

Iapetus – The Body Cosmic

Imperium Dekadenz – When We Are Forgotten

Implore – Alienated Despair

Inter Arma – Sulphur English

Isole – Dystopia

Kampfar – Ofidians Manifest

King Apathy – Wounds

Klone – Le Grand Voyage

Krater – Venerare

Krypts – Cadaver Circulation

Latitudes – Part Island

Lucidity – Oceanum

Mephorash – Shem Ha Mephorash

Misery Index – Rituals of Power

Misþyrming – Algleymi

Mizmor – Cairn

Naga – Void Cult Rising

Orm – Ir

Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition, Chapter I: War, Horrid War

PSOTY – Sunless

Rammstein – Untitled

Ringarë – Under Pale Moon

Rorcal – Muladona

Rosk – Remnants

Saor – Forgotten Paths

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light

Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna

Slow – VI: Dantalion

Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir

The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism

The Negative Bias – Narcissus Rising

This Gift Is A Curse – A Throne of Ash

Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance

Totaled – Lament

Towering – Obscuring Manifestation

Ulver – Drone Activity

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged & Unbound

Vacivus – Annihilism

Vanum – Ageless Fire

Venom Prison – Samsara

Verwoed – De Val

Vielikan – Back to the Black Marsh

Vitriol – To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice

Vukari – Aevum

Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis

White Ward – Love Exchange Failure

Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave

Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within

Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling

  24 Responses to “2019 – A YEAR IN REVIEW(S): THE GREAT”

  1. Find some of my favorite 2019 album in both The Great & The Good lists (myspyrming, white ward to quote a few).
    I was wondering if Véhémence, Hope Drone or L’Acéphale last releases would be there. They really deserve it (though it’s my point of view but it’s your list ! ). Nice job once again and hours of discovery scheduled. Thanks !

    • Now this is the type of comment I like. Some recommendations of things I’d missed (I’d meant to get to Véhémence, but just didn’t have time, but had completely spaced on the new Hope Drone), plus a promise to check out lots of new music.

      Hoping that you find some new favourites in amongst those hours!

  2. Wow. The Number Twelve Looks Like Me hasn’t shown ANYWHERE yet. 🙁

    • Sadly you can chalk that one up to missed opportunities too. But, you know, 300-ish albums isn’t THAT bad an attempt, right?

      Anyway, hopefully you’ll still find something here to ease the pain.

      • Weeping Sores and Les Chants du Hasard are two glaring omissions.
        No one Knows what the Dead think and Fawn Limbs also should not be ignored
        Finally i don’t quite get how Warforged didn’t even make the list…
        I: Voice will still be revered when half of the albums if this list are forgotten…

        • Warforged were on my first list. The “disappointing” list”. Sorry buddy, but it’s a consistent EP’s worth of material stretched out over an album’s length of ambitious but disjointed material.

          I get that you like it, and you’re entirely entitled to your own opinion, but to say that it’s going to be “revered” is a bit out there, to say the least.

          Also, there are no “glaring omissions”. There are just the albums I had time to listen to, and the albums I didn’t. I think it’s quite likely you haven’t heard several of these records yourself (even though you’ve already decided that half of them are going to be forgotten) but I don’t think you’ve made any “omissions”, it’s just a fact that none of us can listen to everything.

          • Hi Andy. Thanks for taking the time to respond, even if in a slightly condescending way (but this may be in reaction to the way I phrased my own comment, so sorry if I triggered something). Anyway, it’s interesting how you see Warforged as “disappointing”. How can it be? What were you expecting? The band is basically creating a whole new template within the metal canon, extending tracks beyond the usual, introducing daring stylistic shifts and mindboggling juxtapositions. I have no particular interest in supporting them, I had no idea who they were before hitting play, and was therefore expecting nothing in particular, and yet, the flow just pulled me in, in a way very few albums have managed to do this year. Now that I saw that MetalSucks put them at the top of their list, I should be distancing myself, and yet here I am, fighting for what I feel is one of the best albums of the year, one of the most daring, creative, courageous and creative ones. I’m sick of the sea of sameness that is metal today. I crave the unusual, the creative, the disruptive. I fondly remember those exquisite moments of discovery when a sound simply opened up a brave new world for me, and i owe those moments to bands like Metallica, Morbid Angel, Voivod, Napalm Death, Godflesh, Gorguts, Sunn 0))), Gojira, Meshuggah, Discordance Axis, Botch… And what is happening today is interesting because there is creativity galore, only I feel it is covered up by bands who silmply rehash recipes of old, putti_ng together “a little bit of everything” to please as many people as possible. Gomorrah would be a nice example of that. I mean, theye are fine, but you cannot say their sound is unique. It is a composite, nicely done, well structured and all,but it definitely does not open up a whole new world. The same could be said for most bands today. Very few really come up with something that stick out. Cattle Decap does it. Yes. Unique vocal stylings. Unique drumming. Whether you like it or not they deliver. But Fallujah? Come on Andy. They are crushingly conventional and uninventive. Look, I have them in my earphones as I write this, and they barely register. They do offend for sure, but they hardly engage. Everything is perfectly executed but what exactly are they telling me ? What are they bringing to the table ? Is this what metal should be? Bands who churn out product like an assembly line, engineerd to specs? Same goes for Eternal Storm, a band that is getting rave reviews. I can understand it pleases, but you can understand that in the grand scheme of things, perfecting melodeath like they do is hardly something we really need. Oh, unless metal has now become as stuck up and contrived as classical and jazz (believe me, I know those worlds very well). I believe you were the one who dared put Hath back into its place in a way that made me chuckle in agreement. I can even give a nod to Slugdge, dspite my ton of reservations, as a band who at least was able to carve out a niche for themselves, with a distinctive enough sound. So, I trust that you Andy, are able to identify greatness in the sea of sameness, and this is why I keep coming back to NCS. Sorry to express my disappointment now and then. yes it irks me when true creativity remains ignored in favor of the formulaic. I dropped my comment here in the hope someone would understand. It’s OK Andy, I know you have a lot to listen to. But believe me, I try to listen to everything, despite the time it takes and the murk it ends up creating in my brain. But it is all that “noise” in my mind that makes stuff like the ones I pointed out stick out as strong signals of greatness.
            As a side note (if you are still with me, so sorry to be overlong like this), over at DMU, the album Emberdawn by Mephitis was praised as an absolute masterpiece. I found it OK but lacking in magic. Also, the one by Polemicist was highly praised by our favorite purists, and I liked it a little more, even if I do not think of it as EOY material. What is your take on both those albums?
            Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your work. Cheers, buddy.

            • Hey dude, it wasn’t meant to come across as condescending, just as me defending my corner, as it were. But then tone is always hard to get across online, so at least you (I think) parsed what I was trying to say.

              As for Warforged, I just don’t think we’re ever going to agree on this. You’re seeing something which I don’t think is there. The guys have a lot of good ideas, no doubt, but they’re not necessarily arranged in the best way. What you see as “daring, creative, courageous” I see as throwing a lot of ideas at the wall, but not quite knowing how to make them stick together or flow (not yet anyway).

              Also, I think you’re overstating how “daring” it is. Warforged really don’t sound that unique. There’s lots of bands out there throwing a bunch of crazy and unexpected ideas together, sometimes well, sometimes not so well. In fact there’s at least usually one band a year who does something similar to this… has a lot of ideas, but doesn’t quite know how to arrange them to maximise their effect/impact.

              Put it like this, the final product is, in my opinion, less than the sum of its parts.

              As for the other bands you’ve mentioned, Polemicist I did check out and thought was… ok? Well-constructed Black/Death that hasn’t quite found its own identity yet.

              Whereas, like them or not, I don’t think Fallujah sound like anyone else but themselves, and think they communicate a lot of emotion, both vocally and musically, in their songs.

              Also, you talk about us not “needing” Metal like Eternal Storm. I’d counter that we don’t “need” Metal like Warforged. Or Fallujah. Or Gojira. Or any of them. All we need is music that sets out to create an emotional connection, an honest expression of the artist in question, and which succeeds in doing so.

              Just being “new” or “daring” or “progressive” doesn’t make you any more “necessary” (particularly when lots of so-called “progressive” bands are just as much style over substance as others), and the idea that only music which sounds totally “unique” (and I would contend that NONE of those artists you mention, seminal though they are, are truly unique – what they have become is “definitive” in their sound, which is a very different thing) is worth truly loving seems misguided at best.

              Something which unexpectedly finds a new level, or a new layer, or perfects, an existing sound can be just as exciting and affecting as something which sets out to be different for the sake of being different.

  3. Interesting, but there are some very notable omissions here. Insomnium absolutely smashed it this year; there’s just so much to like about their new record. Evergrey put out a stellar album, and Swallow the Sun did as well. Also, where the FUCK is Hath, did I miss them on this list or another?!?! Amazing album.

    • Insomnium and Swallow the Sun were on the previous list, as was Hath.

      Insomnium had a LOT of filler, and was far from their best. StS was THIS close to making this list though. As for Hath… it’s solid, but it’s nowhere near as original as some people have made out. It’s basically a bunch of Slugdge b-sides (which is still pretty good, to be fair).

      Evergrey though… now that’s a painful omission. I’m a big fan of several of their previous albums, but had completely forgotten they’d put out a new one this year. Sad to say but there’s just too much music to stay on top of it all!

  4. Have to disagree with Saor releasing a great album. While Bron is an absolutely stellar song, that’s really where it begins and ends with that album. As a whole, it just doesn’t hold up like his previous releases

    • Ah, that’s a shame. I thought it was his best (or one of his best) yet.

      But, then, different strokes/folks, and all that.

      • For that style of material I thought that Ruadh – Sovereign was a better Scottish folk black metal album

        • Seriously underrated and now that you mention it, absolutely fits the bill where Guardians lacked.

          Last Saor was my favorite of his. This one I found a struggle to love and so it goes.

        • I shall give it a listen.

          Also, I love how we’re able to have a discussion about “Scottish Folk Black Metal”. What a time to be alive.

  5. I read all of these, Andy, but I always look forward to the “Personal” top 10, as that’s where I tend to find the most gems. Get on with it!

  6. Thanks for all the time you commit to metal. Both writing and musically.
    I also like that our tastes align to a decent degree, but also diverge to the same amount.
    Thus, Im often finding many paths to travel whenever you bring these lists to the table.

    Take Aways:

    Totaled.Wtf, insanity.
    Eternal Storm.
    Dö. This is gloriously and lysergically drenched death doom.

    Give back:

    Weeping Sores. I really really love this album and haven’t heard anyone talking about it much.
    Sempiternal Dusk. Guys from Aldebaran playing slithering death doom.
    Sulphuric Night. Mezmerizing blackness.

    Thanks again!

    • Dö was one of those bands/albums I was gutted not to get to write more about. Glad you connected with it so much.

      Weeping Sores are already on my list to listen to at some point, but the other two weren’t, so I’ll do my best to check them out.

  7. Ah, so many more releases I also had on my personal yearly list appear here. I’m glad you agree on Cattle Decapitation (I absolutely adore how much Travis Ryan has expanded his vocal prowess with that melodic scream-singing thing). Hideous Divinity I had no doubt whatsoever would rise above in the death metal scene. Yes, Misery Index continue to get better and better. I too thought the new Wormwood was impressive (I especially loved the guitar passage in the second half of “The Isolationist”, had a very classic rock undertone to it wrapped up in post-black metal covers). Vitriol… man. An unstoppable fucking steam roller!
    Yes, the Mayhem and Fall of Rauros releases are definitely worth your eventual listening opportunity.
    I’m guessing you didn’t get around to Hiss From The Mote or Ereb Altar either? Both stellar outputs.
    Others I’d recommend:
    The Odious – Vesica Piscis
    –Nice progressive metal/progressive death integration. A friend of mine and I both thought his vocals were reminiscent and partly inspired by Layne Staley. FFO: Between The Buried and Me, The Contortionist, Beyond Creation
    Sinners Bleed – Absolution
    –Solid modern death metal sound. FFO: Supreme Pain, Cannibal Corpse, Misery Index, Hour of Penance
    Victims Of Contagion – Lamentations Of The Flesh Bound
    –Very riff friendly, nice solos, brutality. FFO: Suffocation, Necrophagist, Haunter, Incantation
    Le Dernier Livre
    –Raw vocals, nice melodic rhythm sections, reminds me a lot of the last Korgonthorus release (as far as brutality in black metal goes). FFO: Marduk, Enthroned, Dark Funeral
    Horror God – Cursed Seeds
    –Black/death at its finest. The band that comes to mind most here is Hate.
    Pensées Nocturnes – Grand Guignol Orchestra
    –Circus black metal?
    Joyless Euphoria – Dreaming In Ultraviolet

    Appreciate the wide array of masterpieces in your list. I will now begin to dissect them. Anticipating reading your personal and critical top tens.

    • Oops, shame on me for not proof-reading before I posted this. The band associated with the album “Le Dernier Livre” is Ferriterium. I got distracted in the process of copy/pasting the album title and forgot to write the band’s name. Lol.

  8. Just finished systematically listening through the unfamiliar/neglected releases in your list. A significant percentage of your list is full of albums I also thoroughly enjoyed (as mentioned in my other comment before more comprehensively attacking the list).
    Thank you for the introductions to Bull of Apis, Bull of Bronze, Carion Mother, Iapetus, Isole, Klone, and Latitudes.
    Additionally, thank you for reminding me about Hypno5e–they inexplicably fell off my radar for an embarrassing length of time and their inclusion makes me ashamed of myself–and also Fvneral Fvkk, whom I saw released new material earlier in the year but failed to examine it further.
    I just cannot manage to get interested in Blut Aus Nord. I’ve tried several different occasions and just bring myself to liking their music. Same goes for Teitanblood.
    Now, onto the main events of this stellar show of yours.

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