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Best of 2019

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

Chris Luedtke best of 2019

This was the best year for metal music since I started writing for this site back in 2013. This year was probably one of the best years in music I can remember in the last 34 years of my life. And I’ve been an audiophile my entire life. And what a way to close out the decade too. Doom came and drenched the 2010s in gloom early on, and we leave on a death metal revival note. Fitting indeed.

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It’s weird because usually, I’m not trying too hard to assemble a list. It all just kinda falls into place. Had I the time, I think a top 40 would suffice. But I don’t. C’est la vie. Something that should be noted though, and I try to remind people of this every year, is that had this list been assembled in, say, April 2020, I’d feel more confident in it. It’s hard to give a fair shake to something I’ve been listening to since February versus something that came out a month ago.

On a final note, it’s important to remember (for some people) that lists aren’t subjective until one starts polling. Even then, things can get debatable. I know that most people don’t need to hear that but sadly some people don’t actively understand the difference between subjective and objective. I hope you all had a wonderful year and hopefully, you discover something below.

OTHER GREAT METAL/HARDCORE RECORDS OF 2019 (no order)

Witch Vomit Buried Deep in A Bottomless Grave
Altarage The Approaching Roar
Cattle Decapitation Death Atlas
Teitanblood The Baneful Choir
Gatecreeper Deserted
Occelensbrigg Glacial Conjuring
.gif from god approximation_of_a_human
Departure Chandelier Antichrist Rise to Power
Gomorrah Gomorrah
Abigail Williams Walk Beyond The Dark
Dawn Ray’d Behold Sedition Plainsong
Makkmat Beina Brenner
dai-ichi dai-ichi
Freighter The Den
Sadisme Festering in Telepathic Communication
Casket Huffer Filth Ouroboros
Mesarthim Ghost Condensate
Exhumed Horror
Gets Worse Snubbed
Black Matter Device Hostile Architecture
Malevich Our Hollow
Misery Index Rituals of Power
Devil Master Satan Spits on Children of Light
Yellow Eyes Rare Field Ceiling
Musmahhu Reign of the Odious
State Faults Clairvoyant
SeeYouSpaceCowboy The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds
Funereal Presence Achatius
The Calous Daoboys Die On Mars

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FAVORITE METAL/HARDCORE EPS OF 2019

Carved Cross Sapped of Strength, Left To Wither and Fade
Slund Lean Mean Slunding Machine
Weak Flesh A Bird In Hand
Deaf Club Contemporary Sickness
portrayal of guilt Suffering Is A Gift

FAVORITE NON-METAL ALBUMS OF 2019 (no order)

Better Oblivion Community Center Better Oblivion Community Center
The Caretaker Everywhere, An Empty Bliss
Tyler Childers Country Squire
Danny Brown uknowhatimsaying¿
Cigarettes After Sex Cry
William Basinski On Time Out of Time
Have A Nice Life Sea of Worry
Goreshit AP1 – Nineties Rave Retrospective Volume 7
Hot Lunch Seconds
Ian Noe Between the Country

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Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

20. SUTEKH HEXEN Sutekh Hexen
(Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Well, this list is off to a carnivorous start. Sutekh Hexen aren’t a typical black metal band by any stretch of the imagination. Songs are usually suffocating, meditative and building. Up until now, I’d say Larvae was their best record, but now they’ve at least met with its gaze once more. Their self-titled full-length debut has no patience for you if you have none for it. And that’s what has always made Sutekh Hexen interesting. Every meditative second is one step closer towards being consumed.

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

19. KOMMODUS An Imperial Sun Rises
(Self Released)

Raw black metal owes no one anything. It some of the most distorted music on the planet that also commands some of the most outrageous vinyl prices. And it’s not all bad, in fact, plenty of it is listenable. There are bands in the genre though that have made some impressive works. Enter: Kommodus, an Australian one-man unit that writes some of the most intricate music in the genre. An Imperial Sun Rises is the latest installment, an ode to Yukio Mishima. It’s rough sounding but contains some incredible passages, catchy riffs, and amazing progressions.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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18. AKASHA Canticles Of The Sepulchral Deity
(La Fleurs du Mal Productions, Grey Matter Productions)

Hmm… a lot of black metal so far. Well, nothing wrong with that. Black metal had a pretty good year this year and Akasha was the first record that really blew me away in terms of releases. Highly aggressive and pulverizing, Akasha draws their claws and immediately sinks them in. Sole member Leech’s shrieks and riffs are catchy enough on their own, but it helps that the album is so well constructed. For something that runs at about 50 minutes, it goes by quickly.

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

17. STORM{O} Finnis Terrae
(Moment of Collapse)

The mathcore/post-hardcore Italians are back with their third full-length. If this band has alluded you, that’s okay. I stumbled upon them late last year after Ere had released. And like other bands on this list, apparently, they decided they weren’t done with the decade and went into this album as aggressively as possible. Still melodic like their previous records but much more fevered and urgent in their approach, Finnis Terrae (or “The End of the Earth”, as translated by Google) moves and twists quickly. A shorter album but nevertheless a solid slab of math/post-hardcore.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

16. CLOUD RAT Pollinator
(Artoffact Records)

Cloud Rat has always had an ace output. Every one of their full lengths since Moksha has ended up on one of my best of the year lists. Pollinator is the band approaching grind from a new angle though. The writing is much more frenzied, the band is even faster than before, and they’ve taken on a strong melodic nature. They’ve never been a group to slouch and they’ve never been afraid to stray outside the realm of grind, but here is where they have really hit their stride. Pollinator is pulverizing.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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15. THE SOUND THAT ENDS CREATION Music To Give You Ideas… Incase You Should Run Out of Ideas
(Self-Released)

A jazzed-out, experimental deathgrind album inspired by The Twilight Zone. Sold. The Sound That Ends Creation is the result of the tireless efforts of Chris Dearing, the sole creator, mixer, and masterer. Previous records have always been inventive and unconventional. Music To Give You Ideas… is the most insane and personal the project has gotten yet. The tracks are tightly written, and the sound is so massive it sounds like its exploding at times. No one else in the grind genre is writing music like this.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

14. TEETH The Curse of Entropy
(Translation Loss Records)

I’ll take a piece of relentlessly pissed of death metal any day. I always have time for that. Teeth’s latest album is so fucking angry I thought I had accidentally hit play on a Vermin Womb record. When “Enlever” opens, the album comes bursting out at the listener like its wilding swinging a jagged piece of metal and screaming incoherently. The record is pretty straightforward death metal sometimes dipping into deathgrind, sometimes moving in a doomier direction. No matter where it goes, it’s always crushing.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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13. DEATHSPELL OMEGA The Furnaces of Palingenesia
(NoEvDia)

The last Deathspell Omega album was something I almost forgot about. Were it not for the band’s incredible previous records, I probably would have. I approached this one with some trepidation, hoping that it wouldn’t be a repeat. And it very much wasn’t. The Furnaces of Palingenesia is yet another new direction for Deathspell Omega. Instead of getting more technical or dialing it back into the realm of more black metal, they keep things strange. Still layered in plenty technicality and plenty of black metal, the band simply push their sound forward, opting for odd shifts in mood and a general unsettling feeling.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

12. MYLINGAR Döda Själar
(20 Buck Spin, Vigor Deconstruct)

Mylingar’s Döda Drömmar would have been on my list last year had I heard it in time. Obviously, I did not, so I’ve been careful to keep an eye out for the band’s follow up. And wouldn’t you know it, Mylingar was far from finished with this decade, choosing to close off their trilogy of records with Döda Själar (Dead Souls). The record is an unstoppable, undead beast that leaves none live in its savage run. The album is the most suffocating death metal release of the year. Monstrous and massive sounding as it claws out of its tomb. A quote from The Walking Dead quickly summarizes the record in the first three minutes: “There is no hope for any of us.”

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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11. TAKAFUMI MATSUBARA Strange, Beautiful and Fast
(Gurkha Commando Blast Team)

Takafumi Matsubara has been in and still is in a plethora of bands. Perhaps his most well-known one was the mighty Gridlink. He has been a key player in the grindcore scene for years now and is one of the most talented guitarists in the game. Strange Beautiful and Fast is a culmination of his love for grindcore and the people he has played with. Having conquered a brain fever that nearly left him paralyzed, he has come back stronger than ever and has written some truly brain wracking grind. A more in-depth look at this album can be read in my Monday Grind article. This record is massive and an incredible achievement for Matsubara and all involved.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

10. ITHACA The Language of Injury
(Holy Roar Records)

Here’s a band I’ve missed out on for a few years now. Ithaca is bringing back the sound of metalcore/screamo along with others like SeeYouSpaceCowboy and Minors. The Language of Injury is the band’s debut full-length and a furious one at that. Plenty technical and incredibly heavy, Ithaca play like they’re out for revenge. Every chord strike, every scream, every drumbeat hit like a crowbar to the teeth. A lot of people still shit on old metalcore, and a lot of people have a fondness for it. Ithaca play it like they own the damn thing.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

  1. FAWN LIMBS Harm Remissions

For a year, Fawn Limbs felt like a best-kept secret in grindcore. The band was releasing EP after EP of stunning work. Technical as hell, loud as hell and uncompromising, Fawn Limbs went to fucking town with Harm Remissions. It’s techgrind soaked in brutality with plenty of noise. The breakdowns peel, the blasts are relentless, and the album is heavy throughout. Fawn Limbs have been quickly evolving their sound and craft throughout their short year of existence. And Harm Remissions is just the beginning.

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Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

8. METH. Mother of Red Light
(Prosthetic Records)

The dynamic of darkness is possibly the best way to describe Mother of Red Light. On their debut release Meth leave no moment uncorrupted or easy. The band is less grindcore than when they started, and have traded that out for harrowing dissonance, ambiance, and heaviness. It’s an album that’s like being caught by a cult under a blood moon. Tracks are often going mad, and if they’re not, they’re mediating until they’re ready to. A culmination of madness, eerie stillness and an exorcism of genres. Meth belongs to nothing beyond what they serve.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

7. LINGUA IGNOTA Caligula
(Sargent House, Profound Lore Records)

It’s not meant to be an easy album. And for a lot of people, this kind of music just isn’t something they can stomach. Lingua Ignota (Kristin Hayter) is nevertheless one of the most forward-thinking musicians in the music world right now. Caligula is an album of pain, sorrow, horror, cruelty, and abuse. It’s not a quick album, rather things move along slowly like Hayter is draining the life from Caligula himself. Industrial at times, noisy at others, and yet often quiet and somber. It’s maybe the most menacing and draining album of the year. And damn is it good at what it does.

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Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

6. DIE CHOKING IV
(DCIVE)

Grindcore is a genre that just isn’t for most people. Snobby as that sounds, there are entry points into the genre, though not many. Die Choking for example, might just strangle one with their gnarled, time signature splitting riffs before one has a chance to enjoy the album proper. Clocking in under twenty-minutes but never wasting a single second, Die Choking have taken their already technical grindcore sound and shoved it into a food processer. IV blasts track after track some of the tightest writing the genre has seen in recent years. Hell, Joshua Cohen’s octopus drumming itself its possibly the best performance in metal this year.

Listen to our premiere here.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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5. BLUT AUS NORD Hallucinogen
(Debemur Morti Productions)

Blut Aus Nord inspire a lot of mixed reactions. Their discography is incredibly varied and experimental, to the point of seeming daunting or alienating to some. They are often a rewarding listen though. Hallucinogen is yet another new direction for the band. Black metal meets prog meets psychedelic isn’t something we haven’t already heard with other bands like Orannsi Pazuzu, but damn does Blut Aus Nord kill it here. The album is as colorful in its composition as it is meditative. Gorgeous passages, wailing guitars, haunting vocals, progressive structures all culminate to create an incredibly engrossing album. Something to really get lost in.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

4. FULL OF HELL Weeping Choir
(Relapse Records)

Full of Hell are one of the hardest working bands in metal and prove time and time again that not only do they never run out of steam, they never run out of creativity. Weeping Choir see the band clawing their way further and further into the death metal realm, but while maintaining their grinding, noisy, hardcore approach. It’s their darkest sounding record yet and one of their most encompassing. The trailblazers will probably never fully fit into one genre and that’s one of the best things about them. May their choir reign eternal.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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3. TOMB MOLD Planetary Clairvoyance
(20 Buck Spin)

Speaking of bands that never run out of steam or creativity, Tomb Mold has blasted out their third full-length in three years. Planetary Clairvoyance is their tightest written record to date. The moment “Beg For Life” picks up the pace, it’s like the band jettison the listener into space and crush them under riff after riff after riff. Plenty technical, plenty brutal. One of the best death metal records of the last decade.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

2. KNOCKED LOOSE A Different Shade of Blue
(Pure Noise Records)

Hardcore has been a mainstay genre for my ears since about 2000. Over the years the genre has seen iterations and minor tweaks, but for the most part, never much evolves. Knocked Loose isn’t the first band to incorporate a lot of metal influence into their sound (that shit dates back to the 80s), but not a lot of bands have the writing talents they do. 2016’s Laugh Tracks was an incredible record for the band, and it was hard to imagine them topping it. Until now. A Different Shade of Blue is the hardest, most pissed record from the band to date. Death metal riffs, heavy hardcore breakdowns, and some of the best lyrical writing of the year. Vocalist Bryan Garris goes so hard I’m surprised his vocal chords aren’t shredded cabbage yet. Also, mad respect to June for her interview.

 

Chris Luedtke's Top 20 Albums of 2019

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1. BLOOD INCANTATION Hidden History of the Human Race
(Dark Descent Records)

Blood Incantation returned this year with an album that was way beyond expectations. Their 2016 debut Starspawn was an amazing slab of otherworldly death metal that was rightfully hailed. However, Hidden History of the Human Race is an album that is far, far beyond where they began. The album is everything great about death metal taken beyond its galaxy. Spacey sounding, yet plenty brutal and technical to a coldly calculating degree. Hidden History of the Human Race is moment after moment engrossing, absorbing and sounding like it is beyond time and space. The final is where the album truly shines, taking the listener on an incredibly epic journey. Hidden History of the Human Race is the best album of the year and one of the best of the decade. Of course, time well tell on that latter part.

Thanks for reading. See you next year.

I'm here, here and here.

View all of our best of 2019 coverage here and make sure to vote for your favorite album of the year.

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