Another year, another list of my favorites. I want to make it clear this is in no way a definitative list, this is MY list of the albums that were MY favorite this year. Sure, we might disagree, but that's music for you.
Before I start my countdown, I guess I should get the honorable mentions out of the way. Here are albums that were just shy of making my list, perhaps if there were two more months in the year, they would've made the cut:
Stomach Earth – Stomach Earth
The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack
Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light
Weekend Nachos – Still
Deicide – In the Minds of Evil
Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
Protest the Hero – Volition
10) Black Sabbath – 13
Say what you will about the botched reunion with drummer Bill Ward, but if you ignore all the drama and just listen to the music, it's great. Tony Iommi is the riffmaster and he delivers in full force with riffs that can stand next to anything from the seminal albums. The one critique is it seems they are too inspired by their past-selves. "End of the Beginning" sounds like "Black Sabbath," "Zeitgeist" sounds like "Planet Caravan." But there are some great moments, the opening to "Age of Reason," the track "Loner."
Stand-out track: "Loner"
9) Kvelertak – Meir
This album was a bit of a dissapointment for me only because I loved their debut album so much. But it still makes my list because I still listened to this album A LOT this year, and enjoyed a lot of tracks. I feel I'm not alone in feeling this one is a step down, when I saw the band live earlier this year, songs off the first album got a much better response than the new songs. There are some real high-energy "bangers" on this one including "Spring Fra Livet," "Månelyst," and "Bruane Brenn."
Stand-out track: "Bruane Brenn"
8) Revocation – Revocation
I believe in my heart-of-hearts that Revocation is the future of heavy metal. I feel in 10 years they will reach the status that a band like Meshuggah and Machine Head have today. They are great dudes, great musicians and they know how to write a killer thrash song. I have yet to listen to a Revocation release that I did not love, and this fits perfectly into their cannon.
Spotlight track: "Scattering The Flock"
7) Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Oh my god, this album is sofa king heavy. I remember the first time I listened to this album, it was during a commute and it was very very rainy outside. I remember thinking this weather is the perfect backdrop for this insane Italian death metal. It's as if the band's purpose is to write the soundtrack for the apocalypse, and with Labyrinth they have succeeded.
Stand-out track: Warpledge
6) Nails – Abandon All Life
If the year ended in June, this would've, no doubt, been my album of the year. This is better than any morning jolt of coffee and I listened to this album for weeks on end as a wake up call. Nails nail it. They are the perfect blend of aggressive, pummeling riffs and Entombed-worship this side of Black Breath. I'm bummed I wasn't able to see them live this year.
Stand-out track: "Tyrant"
5) Carcass – Surgical Steel
It was with reservered optimism that I hit the play button on the new Carcass album, Surgical Steel. Thankfully, my heros did not let me down. Coming from somebody who loved their oft-criticized Swansong, I was glad to hear NEW MUSIC FROM CARCASS. This wasn't a Carcass cover band, this was 100% grade A Jeff Walker lyrics and immaculate Bill Steer guitar parts. There are so many great songs on this album, I don't even know where to start.
Stand-out track: "Unfit For Human Consumption"
4) Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
Okay, I guess Nine Inch Nails is barely metal, but shut the hell up, Nine Inch Nails is amazing, and if you do not recognize that, you are wrong. This was a great evolution for NIN, a band who I think have yet to make a bad record, which is not to say that I actually go out of my way to listen to later material, but still, Trent Reznor knows what he's doing, and I love this modern twist on the NIN-formula. I would have songs from this album stuck in my head weeks on end, especially the stand-out track.
Stand-out track: "Copy of A"
3) Gorguts – Colored Sands
This new album is so varied, I remember in a stoned stupor having to constantly check my phone to make sure that the same Gorguts album was playing mid-way through. There are parts in this album that sound nothing like what I assumed Gorguts would sound, and I mean that as the highest compliment. The band, led by founder Luc Lemay, created fantastic atmospheric ambience one moment and then pummeling death metal the next. An absolute must-listen.
Stand-out track: Colored Sands
2) Ghost – Infestissumam
Another album I completely forgot about in the later half of the year. A lot of people have soured on Ghost this year, going as far as to say they aren't even a metal band anymore. To me, Ghost is all about having fun. Seeing them live was a theatrical experience, something I feel not enough bands take advantage of. To me, Ghost makes metal fun again.
Stand-out track: Ghuleh/Zombie Queen (especially the satanic surfer-rock Zombie Queen section)
1) The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is The Killer
I was introduced to Dillinger during their debut album, Calculating Infinity, which is a chaotic math-metal masterpiece. Through their follow up releases like Miss Machine, I was getting a bit disappointed that the band chose to tone down the chaos for more melody and softer songs. A few albums later, I actually feel the opposite. My favorite tracks on this album are the mellow ones, because it's something new and different for the band. Don't get me wrong, spaz-tracks like opening one-two punch "Prancer" and "When I Lost My Bet" are great, but the songs I went back to were the title track and the incredibly infectious "Nothing's Funny."
Stand-out track: "Nothing's Funny"
Best Non-Metal Albums of the Year:
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Lady Gaga – Artpop
Wintergatan – Wintergarten
Night Club – Love Casualty EP
The Where-The-Hell-Have-I-Been Album of the Year:
The Velvet Underground & Nico – Remastered
Album That I Don't Mind At All, But Is Far Too Overhyped:
Deafheaven – Sunbather
Those are my albums, deal with it!