As the year is comes to a close, we will be taking you through the Best of 2010. Over the next couple of days, expect top 10 album lists from most of our writers, as well as the top stories & videos of the year. Don't forget, you can still submit your Top 10 album list to be included in the overall Top Albums As Decided by the Metal Injection Junkies list.
Wow. I never anticipated myself caring that much about High on Fire. Their older albums hadn't grabbed me as much as I would have liked, especially in comparison to Matt Pike's previous project, Sleep. Something changed with Snakes for the Divine, though. While the album is still balls-out in its loudness and intensity, everything seems to be presented in a much more streamlined fashion. The title track has some of the catchiest hooks of the year, while more plodding numbers like “Bastard Samurai” offer fans of HoF's older work something to latch onto. Snakes for the Divine is caught in a strange middle-ground between thrash and stoner metal, but it's better off for doing so.
The comeback/reunion record of the year. Jupiter is the band’s first release in 17 years, but it really paces itself nicely, and comes across sounding like a more than sensible addition to the band’s small but unquestionably classic catalog. Atheist’s newer members, Chris Baker and Jonathan Thompson, help offer some of the most energetic and schizophrenic riffs of the band’s career. “Faux King Christ” certainly harkens back to the days of Unquestionable Presence, while songs like “Second to Sun” and “Live and Live Again” presents some completely fresh ideas never really presented in an Atheist record before. A must have for tech-metal fans, or anyone looking to be completely dominated by Steve Flynn's unrelenting drum performance.
Ben Sharp’s work with Cloudkicker shouldn’t be pinned down with the “djent” category people seem to throw at it; for Cloudkicker is far more than that. Beacons is a more mature and even more diverse expansion on the sounds developed on 2007’s The Discovery. Sharp’s knack for excellent mixing and intertwining complex melodies with sickeningly catchy drum grooves are in full form throughout. Sure, Cloudkicker might just be a hobby for Ben Sharp, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his music became much more than that in the upcoming years. Here’s hoping it does.
A black metal “supergroup” featuring members of Nachtmystium, Leviathan, Isis, and Krieg come together and create an album far superior than the sum of its parts. Monument is an incredibly dense, dark, and sludgy listen throughout its hour long run time, but offers a sufficient amount of melody and more ambient moments to keep things interesting the entire time. For fans of super necro-kvlt black metal and Neurosis/Cult of Luna alike.
The second release from Germany’s The Ocean in 2010, and easily the superior album. Heliocentric was simply an awkward album, whereas Anthropocentric seems just as focused as the band’s 2007 opus, Precambrian. The Ocean certainly remind previous fans of their older, hardcore inspired sound with tracks like “Anthropocentric” and “She Was the Universe”, though the second half of the album treads into uncharted waters, where The Ocean experiments with new instrumentation and genre-hopping, succeeding almost the entire time. A must have for fans of bands like Mastodon, Burst, Opeth, or even Unexpect.
And the award for “Heaviest Album of the Year” goes too…none other than Immolation. While many death metal purists cling to albums like Dawn of Possession and Close to a World Below as the defining Immolation albums, I’d be more than comfortable putting this album at the top of the list. Majesty and Decay in without a doubt the most “listenable” Immolation album to date, thanks to improved production quality, while never at the expense of heaviness. Immolation prove that they’re still a dominant force in the ever expanding death community, thanks to their seamless delivery of haunting melodies, crunching grooves, and blistering blast beats. The best “pure” death metal album of the year.
While I had been a fan of the later Enslaved releases (particularly Vertebrae), I had always felt that the band had perhaps strayed too far away from their black metal roots. Axioma Ethica Odini certainly proves to the entire metal community that Enslaved are still at the top of their game, releasing arguably their best album in their entire canon. The band seems much more rooted in a traditional black metal sound, though through multiple listens the true experimentation and daring nature of the album only becomes more apparent. Without a doubt the black metal album to get your hands on this year.
he most impressive debut album I’ve come across in 2010, bar none. Periphery’s approach to modern, Sumerian-esque metalcore and prog-metal is by far the most interesting sound to come out of the label’s roster of otherwise average bands. Misha Mansoor’s project has been five years in the making, and it certainly pays off with damn near 80 minutes of unabashed technical (and catchy) progressive metal. Most importantly, look out for “Racecar”, unquestionably my most-listened to song of this year. It’s got fifteen minutes of the band’s best riffs to date, and features a Jeff Loomis solo. What more could you want?
Ire Works was a really half-baked album. While it did feature some of the most daring moments in the band’s lengthy career, the overall feel of the album was far too scatterbrained and inconsistent. Option Paralysis is certainly playing off the experimentation on Ire Works with tracks like “Widower” and “Parasitic Twins”, but the band find themselves more than often revisiting their roots (“Farewell, Mona Lisa” certainly sounds an awful lot like “Sunshine the Werewolf”). Look out for “Good Neighbor” and “I Wouldn't If You Didn't” for some of the most intense Dillinger riffage ever. Dangerously close to being the best album of the year.
At the end of 2010, I just can’t think of an album as consistently great as Diamond Eyes. Sacramento’s alt-metal titans essentially took the B-sessions to their still unreleased album Eros, only to come out with the most consistent album of their careers. Chino’s vocals have never sounded more adventurous, and are just as versatile as they were in the White Pony days. The addition of 8-string guitars also adds a nice chunk to the mix, and flows seamlessly with Abe Cunningham’s gooviest performance to date. Should you have gotten any album in the past year, it probably should have been this one. Honestly, who hasn't bobbed their head to “You've Seen the Butcher” yet?