What a year! I've heard hundreds, I loved dozens, I want to talk about 29, so let's get to it!
Mgla – Age of Excuse
The masters of ethereal black metal returned in 2019 with another mind blowing, and heart swelling masterpiece titled Age Of Excuse. It shines on all the reasons why I believe they’re one of the most important bands of the past decade. Like their work before it, Age of Excuse is music fit for the deepest of thoughts that change the fabric of your understanding, one note at a time.
Vltimas – Something Wicked Marches In
What happens when you get three of the most creative names in death and black metal history together in one supergroup? You get Something Wicked Marches In, an album so unrelenting in its catchiness, unwavering in its heaviness, so steadfast in the sum of its parts that it wouldn’t have been possible to make without David Vincent, Flo Mounier, and Rune Eriksen behind it. Talk about the perfect storm. This was easily one of the most listened to albums of the year for me!
Darkthrone – Old Star
Darkthrone’s newest offering is the answer to the question “What if a wizard offered you the gift of writing all the best damn riffs in the world on one album?’ That band would be Darkthrone, and that album, Old Star. Combining elements of old-school metal, black metal, thrash, and so much more, this album really packs it all in one amazing package you never want to end.
Hexvessel – All Tree
Hexvessel has been a favorite since their debut Dawnbearer, and watching them flourish has been nothing short of a brilliant ride that accumulates with their latest, All Tree. Such a powerful and unique experience, the album embraces you like deep thoughts during a walk in the forest, and pushes you to come out the other side as a different being.
Hath – Of Rot and Ruin
In just under one hour of beating and battering mixed with melancholic progressive melodies, Hath manages to reach into your breast cavity to squeeze your life to halting stop with their latest, Of Rot and Ruin. I can’t wait for the world to catch on to this young band creating high caliber death metal fit for stages 30 times their size.
Johnny Booth – Firsthand Accounts
In-your-face metallic mathcore that will fill you with an angst you didn’t even know you had, what an experience! These guys have been one of the best kept secrets for years, and with an album like Firsthand Accounts I can’t wait for the world to finally catch on to their madness in aural form!
Rotting Christ – The Heretics
In my opinion, Rotting Christ is easily one of the most influential bands of the satanic metal scene, and it goes unnoticed FAR too much. After 32 years of churning out the most well produced, melodic, blackened death metal, the greek gods continue their path of ceremonial jams with The Heretics. Much like their work of the last decade, it’s filled to the brim with songs fit for head banging legions at open air festivals, the best possible place to see them!
King 810 – Suicide King
King 810’s third album sees the band once again venturing into heavy subject matters, the furthest reaches of sonic territories, and a fluid track listing that is impossible to stop once you’ve started. Despite a few turbulent hiccups, they clearly haven’t missed a beat in the last couple years, pouring their struggle and perseverance into what really matters, the craft of song. Suicide King is nothing short of another amazing cross-genre gem in an already immaculate discography, and confirms my belief that they are one of the most important bands to emerge on the scene this past decade.
Tempel – Tempel
Norway’s Tempel might be one of the best kept secrets this year. Comprised of Kvelertak’s drummer, Kjetil Gjermundrod, along with his brothers and childhood friend, this album is a perfect amalgamation of melody, impressive chops, and great vibes I could not put down all year. What more can you really ask for from a Kvelertak member, but to provides the good times!
Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove
Novembers Doom really set the stage for autumn with their captivatingly eerie opus, Nephilim Grove, and changes the landscape for the doom genre. Dripping with sorrow and melancholy, the band delivers a punch to the gut and the heart on this one, and completely caught me by surprise. If you’re a fan of sad, like I am, you owe it to yourself to give this album a real feel.
Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
I might have known these UK lads for years, but their latest and greatest, Eternal Forward Motion took me completely by surprise and packs a massive punch that will prove to launch them far beyond their peers. Open minded metallic hardcore with elements flying in from all areas of music, without giving up on being raw and in your face the entire time… it’s really one of the hard core highlights of the year for me.
Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
Cattle Decapitation soars to an all new high with the release of their eighth studio album, Death Atlas, taking what they’ve built over the last few albums and pushing beyond their own creative boundaries, we’re left with a pivotal album in the band’s already amazing career. The only downside is that the album came out so late in the year, but it only means 2020 will be the year of the Cattle!
Gaahls WYRD – Gastir – Ghosts Invited
The iconic black metal frontman has returned in a huge way this year, with the debut release of his long awaited band, Gaahls WYRD, and it did not disappoint! Creating a full mixture of unearthly ambiance from the heavy to unsettling, the album is one hell of a ride that can only be summed up as Gaahls Wyrd, a complex sonic adventure from a complex man.
Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave
The kings of sad metal are back with their melancholic melodic ways, and made me fall in love with notes all over again. They’re not changing their script, but merely defining it, getting better and better at what they do.
Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts
FFAA incorporated some new tricks in their bag this time around, and it’s easily my favorite work of theirs yet! They still offer their signature kick to the teeth, but backed with even more catchy hooks, melodic vocals and Morbid Angel-esque rhythms, and these guys went from scene to unstoppable in no time.
Cloud Rat – Pollinator
The rawest of vocals, the most unhinged bat shit crazy drums, and purest of melodic guitar madness, and you’re left with this amazing three piece grind band that’ll fuck up your world. The album is so beast I even asked them to play the Metal Injection 15 year anniversary party, it should be the only endorsement you need!
Leprous – Pitfalls
Leprous is a band that constantly makes me fall in love with music over the years, and their latest opus, Pit Falls, has been the album I cite as “The Mary J Blige of metal”. Seriously, you won’t find more soul in another metal album this year, possibly ever! ALL THE FEELS!!
Idle Hands – Mana
With the upbeat grave rock stylings a kin to bands like Grave Pleasures and In Solitude, these lads broke onto the scene this year with a passion to captivate you with their unforgettable tunes and romanticism of the night. They’re the perfect band to sway any fan of rock or metal, proving they have a bright future ahead of them!
Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
Slipknot is such a powerhouse they can basically do anything, but I couldn’t be happier they chose to return to form, making We Are Not Your Kind the perfect album to round out their 20th anniversary. It’s truly mind blowing to think what this band has done with their time, and what a great album to reflect on all of it in one package.
Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
It’s been a minute since I truly enjoyed an Opeth album all the way through, but I was so pleasantly surprised to hear them return back to their progressive heavy form with a mix of classic touches. The end result is an amazing piece of work that to me, picks up where Ghost Reveries left off. All hail the return if Opeth!
Immortal Bird – Thrive On Neglect
Immortal Bird may be my favorite dissonant ethereal blackened death crust grind thrash core band I know of! Point being, they somehow manage to incorporate everything plus the kitchen sink into a blistering album worth your ear in full attention!
Sadistic Ritual – Visionaire Of Death
Blistering blackened thrash is just what the doctor ordered, and Sadistic Ritual is your drug of choice! This album is too damn good. Go ahead, I dare you not to head bang.
Cult of Luna – A Dawn To Fear
Following up their masterpiece collab with Julie Christmas, COL continues forward with creating some of the best work in their career with another powerhouse album that reflects on life.
3 Teeth – METAWAR
Industrial metal is alive and well in 2019, and one doesn’t need to go much further than 3 Teeth to witness the experience. Constantly outdoing themselves, they once again push their craft of catchy song writing even further on Metawar, and somehow also do it heavier than ever!
Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
I’ve been a fan of this tragic wave band for years, and none more so than their latest opus of dance melancholy, Modern Mirror. If you’re into something sad while simultaneously upbeat, a departure from all the metal, I highly recommend this album in your mix!
Car Bomb – Mordial
The aliens have returned!! When a band is so out there, bat shit unique, that even someone like Tomas Haake scratches his head and says “WTF, Mate?” You know you’re in for something entirely different. I really have no idea how these guys continue to write the strangest shit ever, but I can’t get enough of it!
Cloudkicker – Unending
Ben Sharp returned in 2019 with a powerful album that has proven to become a favorite of mine among his discography. Focused, heavy, and moving, he creates a landscape of moods through the pleasure of an aural experience you won’t forget on Unending. Truly a great record in an already amazing collection!
Gost – Valediction
Part 80’s darkened dance album, part pulverizing black metal, Valedication is anything BUT compromising, which is what this unique artist is all about. You may never really know what to expect with each Gost release, but I love the constant movement in what he does!
Ultra Silvam – The Spearwound Salvation
From the opening notes of The Spearwound Salvation you’re already nestled into the world of Ultra Silvam’s fast-paced energetic blacked thrill ride that won’t stop! Completely unhinged and unapologetic, they conjure some of the aesthetics you might hear in bands like Watain and Tribulation, but take a sharp left turn in the most grotesque and raw way. It fucking rules!