Dec 262019


Pitchfork obviously qualifies for the part of our year-end LISTMANIA series devoted to re-publishing lists by “big platform” cross-genre music sites. Founded in 1995 by recent high school graduate Ryan Schreiber in Minneapolis, it has been based in Chicago since 1999 and has been owned by the Conde Nast conglomerate since 2015. From its humble beginnings, it now boasts an audience of more than 7 million monthly unique visitors.

It’s fair to say that most of those visitors aren’t metalheads. The site’s reputation historically was closely associated with independent underground music, and in the last 10 years their Album of the Year award has gone to Kendrick Lamar three times, as well as other hip-hop artists. This year it went to Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell!.  But as you see, Pitchfork also publishes a list of the year’s best metal.

This year’s Pitchfork metal list includes 14 albums, as compared to 21 on last year’s list. At Pitchfork’s site they’re arranged in alphabetical order rather than ranked numerically, and are preceded by album descriptions written by Sam Sodomsky, Grayson Haver Currin, and Kim Kelly — all of which you can read here.

Of those 14 albums, a grand total of one appeared on Pitchfork’s list of The 50 Best Albums of 2019 across all genres — Blood Incantation at No. 41.

The rest of the list of 14 is a mix of names we’ve seen in many other “big platform” lists and others that have appeared rarely, if at all. It includes a half-dozen albums I really enjoyed this year, a few others that haven’t thrilled me, and still others I guess I ought to make a renewed effort to check out (including that Moon Tooth album I first noticed on Rolling Stone‘s list).

And with that, here’s the list. Your Comments about it are welcome.


Blood Incantation: Hidden History of the Human Race

Candlemass: The Door to Doom

Cloud Rat: Pollinator

Crypt Sermon: The Ruins of Fading Light

Dawn Ray’d: Behold Sedition Plainsong

Inter Arma: Sulphur English

Moon Tooth: Crux

Obsequiae: The Palms of Sorrowed Kings

Pissgrave: Posthumous Humiliation

Profetus: The Sadness of Time Passing

Ragana: We Know That the Heavens Are Empty

Sunn O))): Life Metal

Teitanblood: The Baneful Choir

Tomb Mold: Planetary Clairvoyance


  1. That’s not too terrible a list, and it’s interesting to see that Kim Kelly has claw-ed her way back into writing about Metal.

  2. Stoked that the Moon Tooth has been getting so much love. It was my favorite album this year.

  3. Kim Kelly has terrible taste and doesn’t understand music, hence her referring to a band like teitanblood as being “virtuosic”. For the most part she just promotes whatever garbage checks her ideological boxes. I’m all for left wing metal but none of these anarcho antifascist bands have impressed me one bit. Usually grayson currin has good taste but that candlemass album definitely doesn’t belong there. I guess it’s a good thing the tastemakers have decided to try to make blood incantation their first big thing in DM. Long story short if mayhem isn’t on the list it’s a joke. Overall pitchfork sometimes gets it right but the problem is their narrative or critical arc always comes first. And coming second is their desire to hype some obscure irrelevant shit so hipsters can feel they’re ahead of the curve. 5 years later they’ve totally forgotten about it so they never realize half these bands were utterly irrelevant.

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