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Shit. Another year of turmoil and the world seems more divisive than ever. The good news is that metal was as strong as ever and kept us united with top notch releases from every genre and every type of band from new and unsigned to perennial heavyweights. One glance at the staff lists below show the quality and quantity of metal released, as you’d be hard pressed to find a common top album amid the bunch.

Here’s to 2020 (where the fuck are the flying cars and shit??) , and you can look forward to more reviews, and maybe even a fresh coat of paint on the site. Skol!!!!!!

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E. Thomas

One look at my list below and it was clear I was mainly in 2 frames of mind in 2019. Either bombastic and symphonic or flat out brutal slamming. With some contemplation thrown in here and there. What also struck me as I put this list together was a lack of HM 2 Swedish styled death metal. Despite a slew of solid releases from the likes of Gods Forsaken, Fleshcrawl, Revel In Flesh, In Pain, Wretched Fate, Paganizer, Sentient Horror and others, none from the genre, usually an annual mainstay, made my list. Has the genre worn itself out?  2020 will be key. Also, its clear that I’m a huge fan of Francesco Ferrini who did orchestral arrangements for three of the releases below. But, you can never have too much of a good thing, so here’s to more of him and more great metal in 2020. As usual, the list below is pretty fluid past the top 5 or so, so take with a grain of salt.

  1. NileVile Nilotic Rites (Nuclear Blast). Dallas Toler Who? Karl Sanders got a new group of guys and delivered the best Nile album of the decade.
  2. The Odious- Versica Piscis (Self Released). Who would have thought that progressive death metal and Alice In Chains mixed together would work so well?
  3. KullExile (Black Lion Records). Let’s face it. Its a Bal Sagoth album. And it fucking rules.
  4. ObsequiaeThe Palms of Sorrowed Kings. (20 Buck Spin). These guys have taken their kingly, blackened medieval chamber music to new heights. Gorgeous.
  5. DisentombThe Decaying Light. (Unique Leader). A hulking, pummeling monster of a record.
  6. Infant AnnihilatorThe Battle of Yaldabaoth (Self Released). Total and completely over the top, tech deathcore insanity.
  7. GomorrahGomorrah. (Willowtip). A confident, complex multifaceted Canadian death metal duo.
  8. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno (Nuclear Blast). Now the unquestionable standard for symphonic tech death.
  9. Despised IconPurgatory (Nuclear Blast). Rrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-core perfected,
  10. OrganectomyExistential Disconnect (Unique Leader). A fun yet still brutal, slamming death metal record.
  11. InsomniumHeart Like a Grave. (Century Media). If only for the brilliant song, “Twilight Trails”.
  12. Falls of RaurosPatterns in Mythology (Gilead Media). These guys have perfected the art of contemplative yet epic black mental.
  13. SingularityPlace of Chains (The Artisan Era). Surgical tech black/death with epic orchestration? Yes please.
  14. Immanifest –  Macrobial. (The Artisan Era). See Above.
  15. Shadow of IntentMalediction (Self Released). Deathcore meets Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Franceso Ferrini? Hell yes.
  16. ADERise of the Empire (Extreme Metal Music). A nice improvement over their third record. Hail Caesar.
  17. DistantTyrannotophia (Unique Leader). A uncompromising down tempo beat down.
  18. FalsePortent. (Gilead Media). Another great, contemplative but throwback black metal record from Gilead.
  19. StormlordFar (Scarlet Records). Yet another Italian model of symphonic consistency.
  20. BelzebubsPantheon of the Nightside Gods (Century Media). A symphonic black metal album based on a Finnish cartoon and (allegedly) featuring Insomium dudes and Cradle of Filth‘s Lindsey Schoolcraft? Yes fucking please.
  21. IstappThe Insidious Star. (Trollzorn Records). Frigid, frosty 90s styled black metal done perfectly.
  22. Twilight ForceDawn of the Dragonstar (Nuclear Blast). The best of power metal’s great 2019 (Sabaton, Gloryhammer, Windrose). So fucking cheesily epic. Behind Windrose’s “Diggy Diggy Hole”, “Long Live the King” is the second catchiest  power metal jaunt of the year.
  23. Downfall of Gaia – Ethic of Radical Finitude (Metal Blade). Germany’s answer to early Deafheaven deliver again.  That’s 3 of 4 to make this list.
  24. Bound in FearThe Hand of Violence (Unique Leader) . Yet another stupidly heavy down tempo beat down from Unique Leader.
  25. WarthroneCrown of the Apocalypse (Ghoststorm Records). US black metal’s best kept secret and husband wife duo.
  26. Knocked Loose A Different Shade of Blue (Pure Noise). Was originally my guilty pleasure for 2019, but that’s a disservice to a killer, death metal tinged hardcore record.
  27. VéhémencePar La Sang Verse (Antiq Records). If Obsequiae is the kingly chamber music, Véhémence is the blood and mud caked knight returning from battle.
  28. Rendered Helpless – Suffer, Seraphim (Inherited Suffering). Pure unadulterated Slam from Organectomy’s singer.
  29. ThormesisThe Sixth (MDD Records). A gorgeously melodic and somber black metal record.
  30. Bethledeign Iconography of Suffering (Edgewood Arsenal Records). 8 year old black death metal from Construct of Lethe dudes. Savage AF. Do a CD version please.

Best surprises: As I Lay Dying Shaped By Fire (Nuclear Blast). Lambesis drama be damned- a killer metalcore record in 2019. , WhitechapelThe Valley (Metal Blade). Phil Bozeman dug deep and exposed him self emotionally, but it paid off with a really mature record.

DisappointmentsEquilibriumRenegades (Metal Blade) Ugh. they were on this list back in 2016. On it again in 2019. Lets just hope they are not on this again and just call it quits. Also there were albums from usually stellar bands like Mgla, Schammasch, Dekadent, Deathspell Omega and Saor, but for some reason none of them resonated with me at all and seemed pretty average, considering all their past, elite offerings.

Best Reunion: DisillusionThe Liberation (Prophecy Productions). Didn’t miss a beat 13 years later. Borknagar True North (Century Media). Cheating I know, but ICS back in the fray full time again was glorious.

Best EPs: Ov LustraTempestas (Black Lion) Franceso Ferrini strikes again., Maladie..Still II… (Apostasy Records) A focus on more doomy atmospherics? Brilliant. Dold Vorde Ens Navn – Gjengangere i hjertets mørke (Soulseller Records). Watch out for this Norwegian black metal super group.

Best Label:– The Artisan Era. The big boys (Nuclear Blast, Century Media, Unique Leader) all had expected busy solid years, but The Artisan Era deserves some love for the releases that made the list above as well as a slew of other top notch releases from Warforged, The Odious Construct, Mordant Rapture and others.

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Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Man, nobody liked the new Devil Master?


  2. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    Surprised to see Planetary Clairvoyance on just a few lists. I really thought I’d be the only list without it. Same for Blood Incantation. In a way It’s nice to see.


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