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The best of 2006 - 2014

GD's verdicts - Best of 2010

31/12/10  ||  Global Domination

On this day, the very last one of the year, we bring you another one of our respected Best Of lists. Here are all the answers you’ll ever need when it comes to the most superior albums launched upon mankind in 2010. Let’s get down to business, bitches.

Yngwie J. Malmsteen: Relentless 1. Yngwie J. Malmsteen: Relentless

Lord K. Philipson (In Fucken Charge):

2010 was a very weak year when it comes to great bands releasing even greater albums. We got nothing new from Vanessa Carlton, nothing from Vomitory and nothing from Naglfar or The Prodigy. Vomitory just finished up their coming blasterpiece, but since it’s not going to be released until April 2011 it’ll have to wait until next year’s list before getting its well-deserved spot here. Anyways, good thing Sweden is productive when it comes to music, coz it took a long time before I could settle on a winner for 2010. Thank fuck we have one rockstar besides me in this godforsaken country. Yeah, you know who I am talking about. His first name starts with a “Y”. Why? Becoz he’s Yngve, that’s why.

By the end of 2010 Yngwie Fucken Malmsteen saves the day and shits out the best album of this year, just moments before the final bell rang and welcomed 2011. Not only does he have the looks of a thousand Greek gods, he’s got the skills to match. It took me but a nanosecond to hear that this would be the winner. This is the album that should have been named “Unleash the fury” coz “Relentless” shows a version of Yngwie who is furious and completely on fire. I am giving the fucken guy a standing ovation and hereby (again) express my eternal bromance and affection to him and his guitar wizardry.

Thank you.

2: The Vision Bleak: Set sail to mystery

These Germans sure got their own style with some of the coolest vocals in quite a while. The music goes from being doomy with the best of them to being incredibly catchy and infectiously groovy. Every now and then I get huge Solitude Aeturnus vibes, just to be completely floored with unexpected twists and turns in the midst of it all. Another huge aspect to the greatness is the killer orchestral arrangements that really add to the mix instead of being the focus of it (aka later Dimmu Borgir). The warm and somewhat muddy production is also perfect. Great, great band, this one. Go check’em out, fuckos.

3: Facebreaker: Infected

I think Facebreaker’s destiny is to be one of the most over-looked bands in the history of death metal. The same goes for another band on this list (hello, Aeon!). These fella(tio)s mix up the finest ingredients of what makes death metal the best genre around and walk away in the top 3 of 2010. “Infected” is another proof that Sweden rules the universe when it comes to death metal. This piece of sheer brutality’n‘groove (the Bolt Thrower influences have never been this clear) holds a killer production, great tunes and the absolutely insanely awesome vocals of Roberth Karlsson. “Infected” is not as awesome as “Dead, rotten and hungry” with the first few listens, but still it crushes balls (the heavy-as-shit production adds to the domination) and hopefully it will grow on me immensely with time. Either way, Facebreaker takes the bronze medal for 2010.

4: Hail Of Bullets: On divine winds

With some of the finest death metal legends ever (Ed Warby and Martin van Drunen, drums and vocals respectively) in the line-up, Hail Of Bullets can’t fail. “On divine winds” is a death metal journey thru and thru with heaps of more memorable material than their debut, which also was a great addition to the genre, make no mistake about that. The production (courtesy of Dan Swanö) is heavy as elephant shit on a mountain of concrete. “On divine winds” is also sporting one of the most beautiful covers in a long time. Hail Of Bullets are on the road to greater success. With some luck they might get the chance to support Torture Division at some gigs one of these days. War, my little HOBbits!

5: Aeon: Path of fire

Aeon’s got everything going for them. Except a decent fucken break. Drummer problems and shit luck with getting good tours keep them firmly and unjustly rooted in the outskirts of Stardomville. It’s fucken sad. Let’s hope for a better 2011. They deserve it. One of the most talented death metal bands around.

Major disappointment of 2010:

As I pointed out in the beginning of this coverage, 2010 wasn’t the best year for “big” releases, simply put. This also means nothing really came about that disappointed me since I didn’t have any real expectations. I guess Iron Maiden could have made this list, but then again – it’s not like I thought they would release anything even remotely decent, so…

Close but no facial:

Apocalyptica: 7th symphony
Immolation: Majesty and decay
Soreption: Deterioration of minds
Witchery: Witchkrieg

Immolation: Majesty and decay 1. Immolation: Majesty and decay

Habakuk (writer):

First of all, let me say that I did buy quite a bit of newly released stuff in 2010, compared to the years before at least. Still, not everything I wanted eventually made it into my shopping cart. The new Misery Index comes to mind here. Among the albums that did make it in time, however, there was quite a bit of quality. Which is why almost everything in here has actually been reviewed by me already – because I enjoyed it. And here we go:

Never having been your easily digestible run-of-the-mill death metal band, Immolation further improved their perfect mixture of infectious groove and twisted disharmonic melody. This year’s “Majesty and decay” showcased a band at the height of their game. Which was completely unsurprising, since these guys have been among the most consistent forces in death metal in recent times. The only change that came with 2010 was that they finally found a production punchy enough to back up their undisputed songwriting skills. A fantastic album. Do you want to know more?

2: Black Breath: heavy breathing

For a band that literally came outta nowhere with their debut, this is some serious quality. More than that, it actually smokes most seasoned other bands’ output this year. Dirty, gritty, crusty thrashdeath with absolutely frantic vocals. Made me pick up my bass guitar for the first time in years. So simple, yet so awesome.
Complete only with the respective review.

3: The Sword: Warp riders

Hopelessly backwardish Sci-Fi heavy/stoner metal with instant hits as well as more elaborate, semi-epic material. Just recently reviewed by yours truly, so check that out. I don’t like repeating myself, I don’t like that too much. Repeating myself, I mean. Don’t like it.

4: Japanische Kampfhörspiele: Bilder fressen strom

Shit, I can’t listen to this anymore before I write about it, because I accidentally didn’t put it on my laptop before I went to Malaysia. Revisiting my review though, I’m pretty sure this ranks among the best stuff of the year. No really. And it’s certainly the best stuff JaKa have released in quite some time. Heavy, intelligent, sarcastic and awesome.

5: Kerasphorus: Cloven hooves at the holocaust dawn

Wow, I actually reviewed all of these albums myself except for this one. Thanks to es-staffer Wooderson for the eye-opener. The Kerasphorus project already disbanded again, but “Cloven hooves…” is a true feast for everyone into Pete Helmkamp’s work in Angel Corpse. The tempo change in “Swarm Intelligentsia” takes the cake for most awesomestest song part of the year. Blackened death metal done by the masters, as enjoyed by all.

Major disappointment of 2010

Malevolent Creation: Invidious dominion

This is not complete shit, obviously – it might actually rank among the better releases of the year, when put into proper perspective. Still, I’m too big of a fanboy of almost everything else in their back catalogue to let Malevolent Creation pass with merely-above-average material. There were no expectations for Iron Maiden, so there can’t be any disappointment either, in case you’re wondering why “The final frontier” didn’t make it here.

Close to glory:

Lautstürmer: Depopulator
Sick of it all: Based on a true story

Misery Index/Heirs to thievery 1. Misery Index: Heirs to thievery

InquisitorGeneralis (writer):

Another year brings yet another deluge of metal, which album reigned supreme in 2010? This was an interesting year here for Mean IGene. Three of my absolute top bands released solid, if not excellent, records. Those three’s presence on this list will surprise no one around here who knows me and my likes. Still, I stand by my views on the quality of the records done by those established favorites. However, after that things went real south, real quick this year for me and it was tough to decide the rest. You will not find much grind or black metal on this list, my dislikes there are no secret.

I hate to admit it, but my hometown homies from Misery Index take down the competition yet again with “Heirs to Thievery”, a grind-infused death metal masterpiece that sees the band finally reaching their potential. It is a shame that founding member Sparky Voyles is no long on board because Misery Index has finally reached their full potential. Tracks like “The carrion call” and “Illuminaught” are perfect combinations of death metal heaviness and grind speed. If you do not like the riff that opens “The carrion call” you are a fucking cuntmuffin. “The 7th cavalry” proves that Misery Index can slow it down and do mid-paced death metal as good as anyone. The only bad thing about “Heirs…” is that I do not think they could do any fucking better on whatever is to come in the future. The riffs are razor sharp and brutal, Adam Jarvis’ drumming is fucking incredible, and the anti-imperialism, history-is-rotten lyrics get cooler and cooler with each record. This is grind and death metal combined and perfected. Listen to “Spectator” and tell me I’m wrong.

Want to hear me suck this album’s dick a bit more? Check out my full coverage here.

2: Dew-Scented: Invocation

This is exactly the kind of record the Dew-Drops needed to make after the mild letdown “Incinerate”. The production is near perfect, the songs are aggressive, and the band is as tight as your prom date’s vagina. While repetition is a minor issue here, the power and relentless assault of Dew-Scented’s death/thrash is undeniable. This is how death and thrash should be mixed and Dew-Scented has been bringing the (new found) pain better than anyone else since the mid 90’s. Lief and the boys need to clear up their immigration issues and get here to U.S.A pronto because I need to hear “Artificial life”, “The invocation”, and “Global hysteria” live right motherfuckin’ now.

Want to hear me suck this album’s dick a bit more? Check out my full coverage here.

3: Black Breath: Heavy Breathing

I have the Maryland Deathfest and Pestilence to thank for introducing me to the crusty thash’n‘roll awesomeness that is Black Breath. See, I saw Black Breasts due to not liking Pestilence and moving to the inside stage. “Heavy Breathing” is a raw, gritty, crustastic goodness that is a breath of rotten, un-bathed air in the over-teched, over-produced world of modern thrash metal. If Black Breath can follow this baby up with any quality record there is certain success in their future. And by success (for a crust/punk/trash band) I mean not having to use a mangy dog to help you snag some extra change from tourists and commuters. Listen to “Unholy virgin” and “I am beyond” and see how gritty metal is done right.

Want to hear someone else me suck this album’s dick a bit more? Check out Habakuk’s coverage here.

4: The Absence: Enemy Unbound

This was the late-inning game changer for me. I like The Absence but I certainly was not expecting a record this fucking good. The Absence delivers no frills, melodic death metal but managed to keep things interesting by not getting to technical, progressive, or emotional. The Absence keep it simple and focus on teh riff and big-time solo rock outs. These guys are doing Arch Enemy much better than Arch Enemy is these days. Check out “Wartorn” for an example of how to perfectly mix death metal heaviness with melodic guitars. Also, there are zero clean vocals and no keyboards. I’m sold.

5. Arsis: Starve for the Devil

Virginia’s finest thrash/black/death export certainly did not disappoint with “Starve for the Devil”. Even though it is a bit tame compared to earlier releases, the band aces a more melodic style with greats tracks like “Beyond forlorn” and “Escape artist”. If they can keep that vibe going but bring back some of the gritty aspects from their debut masterpiece “A celebration of guilt” Arsis should be right back in the top tier of extreme metal bands.

Want to hear me suck this album’s dick a bit more? Check out my full coverage here.

Major disappointment of 2010.

I know Iron Maiden will get beat down in this category but “The Final Frontier” just was not what I wanted it to be. It is good and certainly listenable but I was expecting much, much more. So, file it under “disappointment” I guess. But “The Final Frontier” is not a shit album at all. Hell, it almost made my Top 5 because this year sucked so bad. It is a disappointment because I expected it to be numero uno with no questions asked.

Full coverage of “The Final Frontier” can be found here.

Sahg: III 1. Sahg: III

Revenant (writer):

Picking my best of 2010 turned out to be a no brainer: Sahg’s “III” is it. How do you pronounce Sahg anyway? Is it pronounced “sag”, as in when I step out of a hot bath my balls sag down to my knees? Fuck if I know. What I do know is this mix of 70s rock worship crossed with doom is the finest record of 2010. From the first moment I heard this band, blood began rushing to my penis. No other album in 2010 made my underwear seem as tight as this one did. “III” is as majestic as metal gets, cracking riffs, epic choruses… metal doesn’t get much better than this. A clear winner in my book.

2: Shellfin: Secondhand Family

My favourite Australian album of 2010, “Secondhand Family” seduced me with its wicked grooves, winding songs and piss funny lyrics. It’s pretty hard to fault this album, and one that is a must have if your into stoner music. Another band, like Sahg, that’s not a household name, but for me to have found both of these bands and enjoyed them both immensely does show me the internet is useful for more than just porn.

3: Overkill: Ironbound

“Ironbound”: The album that made me look to the rest of the world like I had Tourette’s Syndrome. Talk about tremendous hooks, how could I not want to scream out random lines to strangers such as “give a little confidence” or “I am the dead, you are the heart” or “you and me” or any of the other dozens of lines that stick like dried semen. This is a fantastic thrash album, the best of 2010, and one that’s still high on my listening rotation. For a band that always sat on the periphery, Overkill has made a pretty good claim to be top of the thrash scene with this release.

4: Unleashed: As Yggdrasil Trembles

Galloping riffs, epic choruses, insane melody… no it’s not the new Iron Maiden, but Unleashed’s “As Yggdrasil Trembles”. A fantastic album, but one I almost didn’t get. I’m not sure who to aim this rant at (either the retailer or the record label), but why in the fuck was this album’s retail price $12 higher than every other new release for 2010? Please fucken explain. Yes, I know it’s a great album, but I almost didn’t buy this (in the end I got it with some vouchers I had won) because of the price.

Alas, the album is great, I just hope others weren’t put off by the price, because “As Yggdrasil Trembles” is an excellent viking death metal album.

5: Forbidden: Omega Wave

With the thrash revival came the rebirth of one of the great thrash bands of the 80s in Forbidden. Though “Omega Wave” fails to hit the highs that were Forbidden’s first two albums, it still remains a damn satisfying album and one of the best in 2010. A great return that proves that those who were there back in the day do it better. Young thrash revival bands take note.

Major disappointment of 2010:

It would be so easy for me to nominate Iron Maiden for this, but in a way “The Final Frontier” was about what I expected. Though I had hoped playing their 80’s material on tour would bring them back to their glory days, deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen.

So instead, I nominate Soulfly as my disappointment of 2010. I expected something better from Max and the boys, “Conquer” was a definite step in the right direction. But “Omen”… I listened to it streaming a couple of times, thought nothing of it and never ended up buying it. It was just such a nothing record.

Close but no vaginal penetration:

Barn Burner: Bangers

Upbeat stoner rock that has more hooks than a tackle box (boom boom… and probably the oldest hook joke in the book, but still a good ‘un).

Shrapnel: Hellbound

Raw, blackened thrash that when played at full throttle really hits the spot. When not at full throttle… meh. A+ for attitude, but not quite there in terms of quality.

DsO-Paracletus 1. Deathspell Omega: Paracletus

Khlysty (staffer)

With this record, DsO finish their trilogy about Satan, God and Man. Also, they prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they belong to a very small elite of bands that exist above and beyond any genre restrictions and/or rules, scathing their own brilliant path through the generally predictable and compromised body of black metal.

This time around, DsO abandon the sickly chaos of their previous works, moving towards more structured and progressive song forms, and making me want to compare them –as far as musical philosophy’s concerned- with the darkest works of Van der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd or King Crimson. “Paracletus” is not only the best record of the year, but a benchmark album by which every future black metal record shall be measured.

Incredibly deep, unabashedly aggressive, progressive to the point of pretension, painfully original, “Paracletus” is more than anything else a kick in the balls of black metal complacency. Fuck tr00, fuck grvmm, fuck kvlt, this is the dark future of the genre. Look here for more.

2. Twilight: Monument to time end

If it wasn’t for “Paracletus”, this woulda been my best record of the year. Twilight, a honest-to-goodness super-group, wreaks havoc with one of the best pieces of reformist black metal EVER. I refer you to my review for more details, adding only that if one has even a passing interest in extreme forms of music and doesn’t have this, he clearly misses a great fucking eye-opener.

3. Ludicra: The tenant

Constant evolution. That’s what stamps the work of Ludicra and with “The Tenant” the Frisco quintet of extremely talented dudes and dudettes reach a high point. The music contained here is smart, passionate and, above all, creative, to the point that one has to ask himself “why in fuck’s name aren’t these guys selling jillions of records?”. Ludicra’s “grey metal”, as I’ve already pointed out is one of the best things that’s ever happened to metal and rightly demands admiration and adoration.

4. Nachtmystium: Addicts – black meddle pt. 2

Nachtmystium’s black pop album, “Addicts” is a mightily polarizing work, as Blake Judd and cohorts almost abandon black metal’s trad forms and experiment with outside influences, creating a genre-bender of a record. Some might hate the direction that the band decided to follow, but not me, as I make clear. This is one hell of a record, any way you wanna tag it.

5. The Ocean: Heliocentric/Anthropocentric

The Ocean continue their trend of creating double concept albums, this time around dealing with man’s emancipation from religion with the help of science and humanist philosophy. “Heliocentric” is a lush album, influenced mainly by post rock and ambient metal, while “Anthropocentric” is a more aggressive piece of work, but, together, both albums work as a brilliant whole.

6. Unearthly Trance: V

The fifth record by Unearthly Trance is a scarily intense piece of doom metal, full of sick riffs, terrifying vocals and hatred-fueled ugliness. I refer you to my review and I just hope that there’s gonna be more appreciation for this band in the future.

7. Sigh: Scenes from Hell

The craziness continues. Razor-sharp blackened thrash with orchestral arrangements and OTT performances by them Japanese maniacs. “Scenes From Hell”, besides confirming Sigh’s return to form is an ambitious and fun record. Go buy!

8. Hooded Menace: Never cross the dead

Death/doom from Finland that brings all kinds of pain to the listener. Them crazy-ass Finns continue to pay respects to the “Blind Dead” movie series and create a thoroughly enjoyable and supa-heavy record that clearly demands attention. Here you can learn more about the proper way of dealing with such monstrous music.

9. Black Breath: Heavy breathing

Death metal, done the right way. Habayaba’s review tells you anything that you might wanna know about them guys, so read it and off me back, already.

10. Alcest: Écailles de lune

Alcest is one of them bands that are difficult to pigeonhole. Coming from a black metal background, they continue to throw curveballs to the listeners by making some of the most beautiful music ever to afflict metaldom. Euthanatos has a lot to say ‘bout ‘em, so I’ll leave you to him.

Major disappointment of 2009:

Iron Maiden: The final frontier

Admittedly, I have more or less abandoned the Irons since “Powerslave”. My decision is proven to be the right one, since their continuing existence is becoming an insult to their glorious past. “The Final Frontier” received a very lukewarm review by GD, which I think was pretty lenient. Please, guys, stop pissing on your legacy and disband.

Almost made it:

Krieg: The isolationist
Black Boned Angel: The witch must be killed
Encoffination: Ritual ascension beyond flesh
Jack Slater: Extinction aftermath
Killing Joke: Absolute dissent

Nevermore: The obsidian conspiracy 1. Nevermore: The obsidian conspiracy

Altmer (writer)

Ok, so a disclaimer: this list is going to be pretty bad. Wanna know why? Not too many bands released something I care about in 2010. Nevermore are one of my all time favourite bands, so it’s no surprise they are on top this year – but that’s a) only because Porcupine Tree did not release an album and b) because the competition is close non-existent. Another disclaimer for this list: you won’t find the most brutal records on here. I know you didn’t expect that, but there’s some stuff on here that’s barely even metal as it is. Just goes to show we need to look beyond our borders sometimes.

I’ve always been a fan of Warrel Dane’s gloomtastic voice. Part of what I love about Nevermore is how they combine a thrashy sound with a more moody, melodic undertone. It’s the groove, however, that raises this album a notch. The super-duper lead guitar pyrotechnics have taken a slight bit of a back seat, and allowed some more room for good riffing, which was taken full advantage of. Loomis and Dane are a golden duo and I have yet to dislike anything these fuckos have ever released. Nevermore are easily one of the top bands around today and it’s a fucken shame they aren’t bigger than they are. Fantastic band.

There are some genuine hits on this album such as “Without morals” and “Moonrise”, but pretty much all the material on this album is solid gold. The songs are all top of the line, catchy, awesome, powerful, thunking, and well written. This is, quite clearly, the album I enjoyed most this year and a deserved gold medalist for 2010.

2. Anathema: We’re here because we’re here

This is barely metal. I really don’t care fucken donkey dicks though. This originally was my number one, but the last three songs are a bit weaker, so it couldn’t get number one spot. Anathema are probably my second favourite band of all time though (the first being Pink Floyd, naturally), so any of their records is bound to make it on here anyways. However, this atmospheric rock record is so good I need to include it here. It was a soundtrack to my spring and summer. I fucken love this record and this criminally underrated band should get top 40 accolades for the unabashed Sigur Ros worship in “Dreaming Light”. Lovely, lovely stuff.

3. Pendulum: Immersion

This is drum and bass, I know that. However, I had to include this album because a) there wasn’t that much good that was released in 2010 and b) this album features collaborations with In Flames, The Prodigy and Steven Wilson (of…Porcupine Tree and many other bands’ fame). This is so stonking, so good, so strong, so rhythmic, so melodically pulsing, and so rocking. It’s like drum and bass in a rock format. I love it to death. Electronics don’t get better than this. In fact I would take this over many, many metal albums released this year, or in fact, any year.

4. Orphaned Land: The never ending way of ORWarriOR

This grew on me immensely, and seeing them live changed everything. A unique Israeli outfit, their Opeth-meets-middle East kind of sound is really enticing to me. Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists unite! It’s intellectual metal for everyone. And let’s face it, Steven Wilson produced it. That means it has my seal of approval by definition. But here’s the thing: they don’t really sound like anything I’ve ever heard. And that’s the biggest compliment in an age full of bands that are clones of one of the progenitors of a certain style.

5. Apocalyptica: 7th symphony

There are cellos playing metal. Now that’s cool. Cool as fuck. This album has Joe of Gojira on it too as a guest vocalist, which makes it even more awesome. Basically, this album is what you get if you play a good metal album through cellos instead of guitars and bass. So it’s excellent, it’s original, and it’s got amazing songwriting for the most part (some of the songs with vocals are crap, sadly). This is a winner of an album. This is a winner of a band.

Disappointment of the year:

Kamelot: Poetry for the poisoned

“The Black Halo” set the bar incredibly high. This album sets the bar incredibly low. You can tell the band are tired and burnt out. This album is nowhere near their high peak. What an absolute atrocity for a band that, with “The black halo” made one of my top whatever albums of all time. This is so crap I didn’t even bother with listening to it more than a few times. Holy shit this is some motherfucking dull music.

Close but not quite there:

There were many albums that could fit this bill. In fact, pretty much all of them down here are interchangeable with the last two on my top 5 list – that’s a testament to how weak 2010 was for releases. If you’re wondering why stuff like Agalloch isn’t on this list – it’s because I didn’t listen to it before the deadline.

Eluveitie: Everything remains as it never was
Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini
The Birthday Massacre: Pins and needles
Dark Tranquillity: We are the void

The Ocean: Heliocentric/Anthropocentric 1. The Ocean: Heliocentric/Anthropocentric

Love Lagerkvist (writer):

The first time I heard about The Ocean was when Metal Blade posted one of frontman Stapp’s song breakdowns from Heliocentric. I hated it. Not that I know why, but it all seemed like something for pretentious asshats. Then I read Khlysty’s review, gave the album a change and got my mind blown away. The music was intelligent, emotinal, incredibly dynamic and, most of all, amazing. So when it’s other, harsher, half Anthropocentric came out this fall it was decided; The Ocean had created not only this years but one of all times finest albums. Flawless fucken victory.

2: Triptykon: Eparistera diamones

When Celtic Frost broke up for the second time, so did my left testicle. Hot of the glorious “Monotheist”, Tom and pals seemed to be unstoppable. There where even some rumors of them already working on a new album. In hindsight however, the hateful tension between Tommy and his ex-bandmates probably helped him in pushing his music into even darker territory. On “Eparistera diamones” the blacks are blacker, dooms are doomier, goths gothier and just overall awesomeier. Don’t listen to Altmer, for he is wrong.

3: Kvelertak: S/T

I spent this last summer doing two things: Complaining over how fucken hot it was outside and rocking out to Norwegian Kvelertaks debut masterpiece. I can remember some dude calling this the metal equivalent of a light beach record, a description that’s pretty spot on – if you visit beaches with mosh pits, that is. This unique blend of (hold on tight) sann norsk svartmetall, punk, folk inspired riffs, Jimi Hendrix soloing and some pure rock ‘n’ roll not only get you rolling in those hot mornings, but it’s also genuinely fun and uplifting to listen to. Heck, even Dave dicksmudging Grohl likes this shit, so any argument against it is invalid.

4: Agalloch: Marrow of the spirit

Being the polar opposite of Kvelartaks summery madness, these American magicians latest disc is for those long forest walks deep into the winter. Agalloch are certainly not re-inventing the wheel “ Marrow of the spirit”, but instead focuses on perfecting it to a degree that’s flatout silly. Every track here could in some ways be considered the best they’ve ever done – “Into the Painted Grey” is for example the best “black metal” song the band’s ever put out while “Black Lake Nidstång” is just unbelievably depressing – and as an album it all just gets even better.

5: Les Discrets: Septembre et ses dernieres pensees

First things first, Les Discrets are not weird french black metal, as at least one of you probably assumed. In fact it’s not metal at all, but a incredibly french post-rock/shoegaze kind of affair. Think the acoustic parts of Agalloch or Alcest (a band that Les Discrets fronman dudedude has strong ties to), but with some amazing – and 100% french – dreamy male and female clean vocals that simply flow and blend together with the music rather than try to overtake it. The soundscapes here are bleak yet beautiful with it’s shimmering guitars and mystical melodies, making it the perfect soundtrack for one of those gray days where you just want to dream yourself away to a magical land where capitalism and wars are nothing but a faint memory.

Major disappointment of 2010

1349: Demonoir

Just to clarify, I don’t really dislike Demonoir. While it’s certainly not as close the bands magnum opus (fuck you) “Revelations of the black flame”, it got this spot because it was the only album I actually had expectations for that where not met. Really, it’s just as simple as that.

Close, but stuck in the löpe:

Atheist: Jupiter
Enslaved: Axioma ethica odini
Deathspell Omega: Paracletus
Twillight: Monument to time end

Ghost: Opus eponymous 1. Ghost: Opus eponymous

CadenZ (writer):

Occult atmosphere. Satan. Catchy grooves. Satan. Satanic lyrics. Satan. And a few more Satans to boot. This genial mix of NWOBHM, psychedelic rock and satanic imagery is beyond awesome. With song-writing skills to die for, Ghost are the new rulers of the metal scene.

Additional coverage here.

2: Watain: Lawless darkness

A few inches behind Ghost, Watain still managed to create one of the best albums of the decade. Seldom have the black shades of existence, such as darkness, death and destruction, been portrayed in such a superb way. Haunting melancholy, bestial savagery and total conviction lift Watain head and shoulders above the rest in the black metal scene.

Additional coverage here.

3: Dark Fortress: Ylem

Sporting one of the greatest productions in black metal history, “Ylem” delivers the best album a German outfit has created, ever. Grandiose and potent songs fill you with black energy, while the ominous atmosphere makes you spin it again and again and again…

Additional coverage here.

4: Stam1na: Viimeinen Atlantis

Finland’s finest have done it again. A modern apocalypse tale takes you on a wild journey through intense thrashing, groovy breakdowns and well-penned lyrics.

Additional coverage here.

5. Ihsahn: After

“After” is without a doubt the best stuff master Tveitan has created since the monumental “IX Equilibrium”, and it’s a pleasure hearing the wizard return to form. On this, his third solo record, he’s found the perfect balance between proggy innovativism, catchy hooks and intense delivery. If Emperor is coming back no more, I’ll happily accept more solo efforts of this high a quality standard.

Major disappointment of 2010.

Therion: Sitra Ahra.

Any moderately talented monkey could have squeezed better songs out of his or her rectum, any day. If this is the best you can come up with, Christofer, it’s time to close shop.

Close but no facial:

Anathema: We’re here because we’re here
Darkthrone: Circle the wagons
Grand Magus: Hammer of the north
Pain of Salvation: Road salt – Part one

Darkthrone: Circle the wagons 1. Darkthrone: Circle the wagons

Sly (writer):

1: Darkthrone: Circle the wagons

Norway’s black metal tag team duo have done it again. Mix one third Norwegian black metal, one third obscure 80’s heavy metal, one third eighties old school crusty punk, and voila! You’ve got one of 2010’s most enjoyable releases. The playing is stripped down to a minimum; Nocturno Culto and Fenriz trade off vocals (even gracing us with a duet). The production is dirty and the riffs are catchy as hell. Who knows how long Darkthrone’s current incarnation will last, but as long as they keep their albums on par with “Circle the wagons”, all should be just swell.

2: Immolation: Majesty and decay

Decisively forever in a league of their own, Immolation continue to hone their own delicious brand of death metal. The riffs still have that elasticity and cyclical quality that no other death metal band has. Add Ross Dolan’s astute anti-christian lyrics and unique voice, coupled with Steve Shalaty’s thunderous drumming, and you have one of the darkest releases of the year. Many bands try to be evil but end up looking rather foolish and meek. Immolation is truly majestically menacing.

3: Electric Wizard: Black masses

“Black masses” is the perfect companion piece to “Witchcult today”. In fact they’re practically the same, only this one may be slightly more upbeat. Electric Wizard have finally found their stride again. This is the modern soundtrack to those grainy obscure 70’s b-movies about satanic cults, dope fiends, bikers with ritual sacrifices, and topless foxy women. A heavy-as-shit doom band that actually creates a mysteriously taunting ambiance.

4: Vektor: Black future

Most modern thrash bands are a self-content rehashed pastiche of the glorious 80’s scene. Not Vektor. Here’s a band that is really writing their personal modern day thrash book. Of course they have their influences, but they also have their own sound. Disanto’s outlandish raptor rasp and the band’s creative, intelligent use of musical abilities work together to produce a dark, phantasmagoric, mechanical aura. Bay Area thwash this ain’t! Though released in the U.S. at the end of 2009, “Black future” didn’t hit French shelves till 2010. So bite me.

5: White Wizzard: Over the top

This is true heavy metal: cheesy misspelled name; awesomely goofy cover depicting said name; a vocalist called Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson; a song named “Iron goddess of vengeance”. Is this a dream? Regardless whether this is for real or not, the songs are some of the most memorable I have heard in long time. And that’s what heavy metal is about. White Wizzard has delivered to us perfectly executed vocals, playing, and songwriting. And all of it is certainly over the top!

Major disappointment of 2010

Scorpions: Sting on the tail

Granted I wasn’t expecting much from Scorpions’ supposedly last release; I innocently thought maybe they still had a little bit of magic left in them. But to go out on such a putrid pile of unlistenable diarrhea is definitely a feat… of shit. Checkout my full review for a more detailed account.

Close but no banana:

DeathSpell Omega: Paracletus
Titan: Sweet dreams
Decrepit Birth: Polarity
Armour: Armour

Defeated Sanity: Chapters of repugnance 1. Defeated Sanity: Chapters of repugnance

The Duff (writer):

Sweet, beautiful slamz, tech death, brutal, dark and German. Frenzied enough to still have me guessing some half-year on down the line, I’m hoping this is the band finding their mark only to better a style that needs an heir to the throne since Disgorge’s departure. If their follow-up is of this caliber, I’ll have a brutal death metal band in my list of favourite artists – crazy how life goes.

2: Deathspell Omega: Paracletus

I was expecting this to win hands down upon its announcement, but unfortunately I’m a touch disappointed by the follow-up to the glorious “Fas”; it’s like the entire middle-section deflates the power of the beginning and end, but as a farewell to the trilogy that inspired their veneration in the eyes of many metal heads, “Paracletus” is a success. I still can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for this final installment’s not achieving the top-spot, probably due to the downbeat nature prevailing over the once fearsome chaos of previous offerings – it’s almost as if the band regrets having descended into such Satanic depravity, a feeling of loss at its most apparent.

3: Intronaut: Valley of smoke

Not quite the Isis-worship I was hoping for going from sample track “Elegy”, but then to fault them for such would be denying their creativity and individuality in a sub-genre screaming for that little extra something. A fantastic post-rock/jazz album with just enough heavy, the flow is slightly disjointed but more influences to the table become all the more endearing, risks taken providing dividends with familiarity.

4: Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini

I “Pssshhed” many reviews stating this to be the band’s masterpiece, but in time I grew to agree in many ways; leveling and at times bettering classic efforts “Isa” and “Ruun”, the band has once more proven that they are beyond comparison.

5: Nightbringer: Apocalypse sun

Fifth place was a tough choice, being that I’ve found the four aforementioned albums excellent and Nightbringer being the first in many good albums of 2010. Well, any number of efforts could belong here, but I sided with this slick, evil black metal band hailing from the United States.

Major disappointment of 2010

Hour of Penance: Paradogma

My album of the year of 2008 was “The Vile Misconception”, “Paradogma” two years on the opposite to what I’d come to anticipate; lazy death metal with an outstanding drummer and vocalist, the former of which has now departed, makes the follow-up to a stellar peak of the sub-genre formulaic, quite stale and very disappointing.