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Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So Far

top albums of 2019

Jordan Blum

Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So FarArtificial Language Now We Sleep

Read Jordan's review of Now We Sleep here.

The second LP from progressive metal newcomers Artificial Language, Now We Sleep, upholds everything that made 2017’s The Observer so promising and rewarding. True, comparisons to acts like Native Construct, Between the Buried and Me, Karnivool, and Leprous are definitely warranted, yet Artificial Language do enough on their own to feel individualized, too. In particular, vocalist Shay Lewis packs quite an operatic and passionate punch on standouts like “The Back of My Mind” and “The Wild Haunt”, while tracks such as “Pulses” and “There’s No Bottom to This” reveal how technical, adventurous, and varied the band’s arrangements can be. Without a doubt, Now We Sleep solidifies their place among the most favorable up-and-comers in the genre.

Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So FarPeriphery Periphery IV: HAIL STAN

Periphery have long since been one of the most interesting and consistent acts in modern progressive metal; while this latest outing doesn’t quite measure up to Periphery III: Select Difficulty or the Juggernaut duo, it nonetheless still houses all of the complex madness, beautiful respites, and bizarre antics that make their experimental/ambient djent formula so special. As the lengthiest and most many-sided track in their catalogue, opener “Reptile” is a tour-de-force of captivating themes and stellar playing. Afterward, “Garden in the Bones” manages light and dark temperaments well, “Crush” brings some commercially viable electronic/industrial appeal, and closer “Satellites” is a stunning culmination to conclude the latest in a long line of exceptional records.

Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So FarThe Mute Gods Atheists and Believers

Bassist/vocalist Nick Beggs, keyboardist/guitarist Roger King, and drummer Marco Minnemann are often known for their supportive roles in others’ projects, but they’ve also proven to be quite a distinctive progressive rock trio as The Mute Gods. Their third LP, Atheists and Believers, is quite possibly their best yet due to its more immediately memorable songwriting and colorful instrumentation. Although it’s filled with Beggs’ typical social commentaries, the title track oozes poppy allure and vibrantly psychedelic music. Later, “The House Where Love Once Lived” is a touchingly bittersweet acoustic ballad, whereas songs like “Envy the Dead” and “Iridium Heart” satisfy the need for a more metallic and feverish persona. From start to finish, it’s an unforgettable time.

Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So FarThe Neal Morse Band The Great Adventure

A direct and worthy continuation of 2016’s The Similitude of a Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure is another masterful sequence by the king of American progressive rock—who’s also known for Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic, among other outlets—and company. While the double album relies a bit too much on reprising motifs from its predecessor, there’s enough new material to satisfy. For instance, “Hey Ho Let’s Go” is among the catchiest songs guitarist Eric Gillette ever sung, while “Welcome to the World 2” lets iconic drummer Mike Portnoy use his gruff vocals to good effect. Around them, “Vanity Fair” is endearingly quirky, “The Great Despair” is heavy and morose, and of course, “Overture” is a celebratory overview filled with hypnotic passages and hyperactive playing. As with its predecessors, The Great Adventure is a monumental work.

Our Picks For The Top Metal Albums Of 2019… So FarDevin Townsend Empath

Read Jordan's review of Empath here.

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Aptly billed in part as the singular synthesis of his multiple styles – as well as an immensely introspective and life-affirming journey – Empath is Devin Townsend at his best. Hell, “Genesis” alone is an incredibly multifaceted and ambitious survey of several compositional personas, while the behemoth suite “Singularity” is like the more contemplative and polarized sibling of “The Mighty Masturbator.” In-between, “Spirits Will Collide” is overwhelmingly empowering and angelic, “Hear Me” is as relentlessly brutal as anything on Deconstruction or Physicist, and “Borderlands” channels the country/blues rock ease of Causalities of Cool. Although it’s tough to call Empath Townsend’s best LP (since he has so many different types), it’s a clear contender for his most representative, therapeutic, and ingenious sequence yet.

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