Each year, I like to take a step back and look at the prior years releases in Metal music, to try and sort through them and find an album or two that I really enjoy. Last year was an amazing success, introducing me to a number of new bands that I very much enjoy. Lets take a look at what is in store for this year, and the first four albums!
This year, I’ve tapped into a deeper section of the best of metal lists because while last year was a great success in terms of the high notes, the bands I didn’t enjoy were also quite plentiful. While I still used the same site as last year, its not the exclusive method this time. I used the following sites/lists/videos.
1: Banger TV Staff Picks
2: Banger TV Viewers Choice (both Top 10 and Runners Up)
5: Friends from Facebook
I’ve included the lists unique selections below, but if the band and album are on a different list, I have eliminated the duplication. You can check out the links above if you want to full rundown.
At the Gates-To Drink from the Night Itself
Rivers of Nihil-Where Owls Know My name
Pan Opticon-The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness Pt 1 and 2
Frontierer-Unloved and Oxidized
Snowy Shaw-White is the New Black
Oceans of Slumber-The Banished Heart
Witch Hazel-II: Sojourn
Urfoust-The Constellatory Practice
Spectral Wound-Infernal Decadence
Tomb Mold-Manor of Infinite Forms
Gatekeeper-East of Sun
Idel Hands-Don't Waste Your Time
Dathula-Brethren of the Black Soil
|Banger Listener top 10|
Behemoth-I Loved You at Your Darkest
Immortal-Northern Chaos Gods
Revocation-The Outer Ones
Amorphis-Queen of Stars
High on Fire-Electric Messiah
Uada-Cult of a Dying Sun
Zeal & Ardor-Stranger Fruit
|Exclaim Top 10|
Outer Heaven-Cryptic Visions
Cult Leaders-A Patient Man
Imperial Triumphant-Vile Luxury
Turnstile-Time and Space
|Pitchfork top 20
The Armed-Only Love
Black Viper- Hellions of Fire
The Body-I Have Fought Against It, But I Can't Any Longer
Deafheaven-Ordinarry Corrupt Human Love
Mammoth Grinder-Cosmic Crypt
Pig Destroyer-Head Cage
Rebel Wizard-Voluptious Worship of Rapture and Response
Skeletonwitch-Devouring Radiant Light
Sumac-Love in Shadow
Thou/Ragana-Let Our Names be Forgotten
We’re going to be hitting between 4 and 5 albums a month all year, which is pretty impressive, and I’m going to have listened to them all, hopefully, before I have to review them, and then again in the month that I review them. Last year I learned that a second listen will often bring up points you hadn’t considered the first time, and may sometimes change you’re view all together.
Breaking it down a little further, this is what I have to look forward too. I don’t always like a lot of Black and Death Metal, so It doesn’t look like I have a great selection. I like Power, Speed, Thrash and Heavy metal much more.
12 Death Metal
11 Black Metal
7 Heavy Metal
5 Hardcore Punk
4 Prog Metal
3 Stoner/Doom Metal
3 Sludge Metal
2 Technical Death Metal
1 Speed Metal
1 Post-Black Metal
1 Gothic Metal
1 Doom Metal
Ok. Enough setup. Lets get to the first set of Albums!
This is the first time I’ve heard of At the Gates, and its likely the last time I’ll voluntarily go and dig them up. As a Melodic Death Metal band, Their melodic aspects shine extremely bright, I love the non-vocal portions of the band, as the music that they create is really, really cool. However, as we all know, the unclean, semi-screaching vocals just don’t do it for me here. The album is probably an extremely good example of the genre they represent, I just don’t enjoy it. That said, tracks 1 and 12 are amazing as they feature the lease screaming of the album. Finally, never let it be said that they lack for imagination. Their track names are top rate, as is the title of the album. Well done, guys!
Recomended Tracks: 1 – Der Widerstand and 12 – The Mirror Black are both excellent.
The album is solid musically, but man, those vocals. Its always the vocals with me, right?
Slugdge’s album starts off heavy, hard and completely in your face. Its a strong and grindy sound that really clicks with me. The vocals are just on the edge of what I consider acceptable, more grumbly and not screechy. Track 1, War Squids, is just a really cool way of starting off an album. Unlike many bands, Slugdge doesn’t seem to want to maintain a single style over the course of the album, which is just fine. Each song as the album progresses stands on its own merit, though with that core through line of Sludge metal.
Recommended Tracks: 7-Salt Thrower, 5-Transylvanian Fungus
Esoteric Malacology is a driving, heavy album that keeps changing your expectations as the album moves foward.
Rivers of Nihil puts together a really cool kinda progy, kinda techy album here with the sweet addition of a saxophone to the band. The vocals are a little more strained and Scratchy than I really prefer, but it lands on the good side of the spectrum. I love the transitions between heavy metal, prog, and Jazz. Its a really good album, but I don’t know that I’ll go back and listen to it over and over. It is an excellent ride, but maybe only once.
Recommended Tracks: 2- The Slient Life
Its a pretty solid album, and one that I enjoyed, but the novelty of it means that the replayability isn’t terribly high. Might give it another go later.
As pretentious and awesome names go, This album takes the cake. I get both its premise and its message, though. Its a concept album in a very interesting and specific way, including the vocals, what little there are, the ambience, and even the track names. There is little to really catch onto here, though. Its mostly mood music and instrumental without any hooks to bring you back to listen to it again. I compare it mentally to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but without the upbeat, attractive portions that grip you and make you rock out. Its a good album, but nothing I’d call spectacualr.
Recommended Tracks: 5- A Ridge Where The Tall Pines Once Stood, 8 – Snow Burdened Branches
I just don’t have the desire to listen to this album again. It was sold to me, though for people who dig Atmospheric Metal it should be great.