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The best of 2006 - 2014

GD's verdicts - Best of 2008

31/12/08  ||  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 2008. Let’s get down to business, bitches.

Facebreaker: Dead, rotten and hungry 1. Facebreaker: Dead, rotten and hungry

Lord K. Philipson (In Fucken Charge):

I actually had to look it up, did this fantastic album come out in early 2008, or was it late 2007? Considering the weak year when it comes to excellent albums, I’m so fucken happy Facebreaker launched this monster in January, 2008. That made the winner of this list so much easier. Facebreaker’s got something that few other death metal bands got; a muthafucken insane groove and a vocalist to fucken die for. Robban’s throat all by itself could make this a fantastic album, but the fact that he’s backed up by some insane fucken tunes and incredibly memorable songwriting really set Facebreaker apart from the majority of bands trying to write death metal. I would even go as far as saying that Facebreaker is, without a doubt, one of the finest bands on the planet in this genre. They should be happy that Torture Division don’t release albums though, or they’d have to settle for second best.

2: In Flames: A sense of purpose

They are big now. And I’m happy for them, as I have pointed out a million times. They took their rather bland semi death metal from the first albums and turned it into a well-oiled machine that really hit home with the masses. It’s not like this is a “new” In Flames, this has been their sound for quite some fucken time now, you know. And I dig it. Alot, even. Nope, everything on this album is not excellent (as with every other IF release), but when they are on the top of their game – In Flames are very hard to beat at their profession. And that profession is to deliver memorable metal. Something they did with this one, earning them the spot for second best album of 2008. Congrats guys.

3: Amon Amarth: Twilight of the thunder god

Seems like everything finally fell into place on this one. The signature guitar harmonies, the kindergarten riffs, the cheese and Johan’s grunts are better than ever. I can understand why Germans dig this, they aren’t exactly known for being rocket scientists, but I have a hard time figuring out why I like this album as much as I do. I guess that means Amon Amarth really did some excellent work this time around. Don’t tell anyone, but I certainly don’t mind. I’m looking forward to see how the hell they are going to beat this with their next recording.

4: Bloodbath: The fathomless mastery

1: They pretty much distanced themselves from what made them so awesome on the first 2 full-lengths with this album.

2: They did a 180 and discovered that new school death metal is cooler than old school death metal.

3: They got rid of Dan Swanö, lost what made them great in the process, brought in 62 new guys in the band and managed to cook up this album somewhere in between.

It sounds like I am going to bash the fucken cocklight out of Bloodbath, but I’m not. This is a mighty fine display of modern death metal – but it wouldn’t have been a mistake to change the bandname after Dan was booted. The sound and the spirit of old Bloodbath obviously died with his departure. Nonetheless, “The fathomless mastery” is a great death metal album – let’s just pretend it says something else in the logo and we will be able to appreciate it even more.

5: Coldworker: Rotting paradise

The main problem with blasting death/grind bands is that they focus on (duh) blasting death/grind. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some blasts, but usually there’s like 10 songs too many of the same style when it comes to this specific genre and any given album in question. It all becomes a mess as it’s grind and speed all over the place, all the time. In 1-3 minute songs. You could say that I get bored with it. Coz I do. Coldworker’s worked around this problem a little with their second album. By adding more melody, depth and heaviness to the material they are making it more memorable in the end. Smart thinking. They still sport a shit moniker though. But what it some down to is that Coldpenis definitely did the fifth best album of 2008.

Last off I wanna give an honorable mention to Hail Of Bullets’ “…Of frost and war”, which missed this list just by a cock hair.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Illdisposed: The prestige

Everything released after “1-800 Vindication” proves it; Illdisposed’s lost what they once had and now release nothing but incredibly fucken weak albums. It’s a shame to see a band go down the shitter this fast.

Ufomammut: Idolum 1. Ufomammut: Idolum

Kampfar (Somewhat in charge):

Hellectric and fucking heavy to the max, be sure I love this album.

2: Aura Noir: Hades rise

Darkthrone is preoccupied sounding like shit, Aura Noir, on the other hand, rips you up and then infect your wounds with shit. That’s a huge fucking difference, folks, and one that makes “Hades rise” mandatory for every last idiot into proper black thrash. Just like “Dark thrones and black flags” isn’t.

3: Phazm: Cornerstone of the macabre

In my review I claimed this to be the album of the year, so why isn’t it at the top then? Well, the dudes from Phazm happened to answer an interview I sent their way in such a lazy-ass manner, I had no other option than to delete and forget all about it. This made me pissed, hence why I’m taking out one of the meekest revenges in the history of man. Fuck you guys, but yer album is still fucking it. And by it, I mean: an excellent ride of exciting extreme metal. Excited yet?

4: Moho: Chotacabra

Why I haven’t done a review on this band, got it recommended by a forumer months ago, is far beyond me. It could have something to do with all shit albums sent in the general direction of GD, hadn’t it been for the fact that yours truly haven’t reviewed the lot, not even close. So, fuck me. In fact, fuck me prostate-exploding Chuck Norris hard, Moho is namely an excellent Spanish band. And that hasn’t happened before. Seriously, prior to Moho, I hadn’t heard a fantastic band hailing said shores. Good ones, sure, but not this good. Not even close. Oh, Moho performs stoner/sludge wrapped in a exquisite sound. Warm and fuzzy, packing a punch at it. I love “Chotacabra”, but in it’s place I could just have well put Herem’s “Pulsa diNura”, another excellent band and album I have yet to do a review on. Pathetic.

5: Hebosagil: Colossal

Where the fuck is Hail Of Bullets you might wonder. And I do too. Anyway, “Colossal” is an immense album, one rapidly spurting sparks and fumes into your face whilst molesting your body. Yep, a proper exaggeration there, but get hold of it and crank the volume if you are up for a rumble with lots and lots of groove added. Heaviest album speaking 2008? I think so.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Total war didn’t break out, nor were there any new, exciting diseases, aka pandemics, on the menu. Let’s hope 2009 changes all that! And Metallica released a new album.

Opeth: Watershed 1. Opeth: Watershed

The Abyss (writer):

There’s no doubt about it, Opeth has done a brilliant, vibrant album that lovingly nurtures all those special traits that make the band’s sound unique. At the same time Mike and Co. infuses some new elements and ideas into the mix to keep Opeth from going stale. While “Ghost reveries” was ok but kinda limping, “Watershed” shows a band that has rid itself of all doubts and questions and are firmly confident at their craft, and why not? They’ve made the best album of the year, haven’t they?

2: Grand Magus: Iron will

Close on the heels of the top spot are Sweden’s Grand Magus. A band that from their doom-origins has added the power and drive of classic heavy metal into something that could very well be the love-child of Accept and Cathedral that probably wasn’t meant to be. Nonetheless, “Iron will” doesn’t have a dead second and if you don’t dig this you’re probably not worthy as a fan anyway.

3: Cult of Luna: Eternal kingdom

By now the band are veterans and know how to chisel out metallic post-hardcore monoliths in their sleep. What really makes “Eternal kingdom” one of Cult of Luna’s best albums is the perfect balance between all the instruments and vocals. Nothing is glaringly out of place and every instrument is allowed to take the place it needs, depending on the moment. Rydberg’s screaming is still a bit monotonous but I’m starting to regard him like Jens Kidman of Meshuggah, who mainly use his voice as a percussion instrument. They’ll never be Sinatra, and bless ‘em for it.

4: Meshuggah: ObZen

After seemingly having drifted off-course since “Chaosphere”, Meshuggah have surely but slowly done their best to remember how to write interesting songs with a beginning, a middle and an end. After realizing they simply lost the ability they apparently settled for second best; namely making sure the hypnotic, sledgehammer-deluxe sound that they’ve patented is as well-written and filled with good riffs as possible. Fuck song-structures. “ObZen” might not sound that different from any other Meshuggah-stuff but take a close listen, there’s a lot of details and time invested in it.

5: Moloken: We all face the dark alone

On a fifth but honorable place on my Best Of 2008 list is a small doomcore band from Umeå with a measly 15 min EP. But what a fucking EP! The bass line that starts the song has been going around in my head more times than I can count, and I’m ashamed to say it – but I still haven’t gotten the hang of how to play it. While a 15 min long song might not be what you typically associate with the word “catchy”, it’s how I best describe Moloken’s debut. That and “abrasive”. There’s both acid and honey to be found here, as well as desperate screaming and a heaviness that would be devastating, even without the awesome, gritty production. Definitely the biggest surprise of 2008, but also the most welcome.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Ayreon: 01011001

I could say that Metallica’s “Death magnetic” was this year’s biggest disappointment – but that would imply that I had any hope for the old geezers to begin with. No, the biggest letdown of 2008 is probably Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon-project. Granted, after the incredible “The Human Equation” you could say that the expectations were higher than a Cephalic Carnage member, but I don’t think anyone was expecting quite such a boring album as “01011001”. I don’t know why it doesn’t work. All the elements of classic Ayreon are there. The spacey, pretentious storyline, the mix of folky melodies woven into progressive metal, the stunning array of guest-musicians/singers. But for some reason there’s not really the rock-solid songwriting and memorable tunes I’ve come to expect from Arjen. A shame since I’ve loved everything else by Ayreon.

Ayreon: 01011001 1. Ayreon: 01011001

Banesupper (ex-writer):

I’ve heard a lot of criticism hauled at this album. A general sense of disappointment seems to be working its rounds among the Ayreonauts. I don’t get that at all. As far as I’m concerned, this is Ayreon’s finest album to date, besting the great-but-overrated “The Human Equation”. The assembly of singers on “01011001” is impressive, but it’s Arjen Lukassen’s songwriting that makes this album what it is. Standout upon standout is this album’s nature, and that makes it the best metal release of 2008.

2: Hollenthon: Opus magnum

Hollenthon took their sweet time getting this album out, but the wait’s been worth it. “Opus Magnum” is Hollenthon’s most epic album to date, and while I can’t say if it is their best, I can certainly say that it is great. “Opus Magnum” sounds more focused than its predecessors; it’s more streamlined, and the orchestral elements have never been better integrated. And as always when they go for the ethnic approach, Hollenthon score big time: “Misterium Babel” is one badass Sumerian epic.

3: The Monolith Deathcult: Trivmvirate

I’ll be damned if these flying Dutchmen didn’t take me by surprise. Industrial and death united in unholy matrimony, “Trivmvirate” is crushing, melodious, bestial and haunting. Michiel Dekker said in an interview with the esteemed metal site Global Domination that “We are the missing link between the industrial and the brutal side of metal”. It’s a bold statement, but it may not be that far off. Also, writing a song about the Baath party scores them bonus points.

4: Pharaoh: Be gone

When I reviewed this album earlier this year I found it inferior to predecessor “The Longest Night”. I’m no longer so sure. “Be Gone” is a different record, but it is a damn fine one. The songs have progressive undertones without reverting to redundant technicality. The riffs are intelligent, and the drum patterns inventive. If guess if you’re allergic to power metal this will provoke a reaction, but as far as the genre goes, few bands have the balls of Pharaoh.

5: Crocell: The god we drowned

As one or two on GD will know, my brother is in this band. If you think that makes me biased, you’re damn right. I hate the bastard. But nonetheless, this is one fine record that Crocell have made for themselves; angry, catchy, and with enough misplaced solos to make Grave look like virtuosos. A few songs approach the cheesy, but a riff as mean as the one in “Behind the Veil” have them excused. Well done, lads.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Bloodbath: The fathomless mastery

Bloodbath, dear Bloodbath, what the hell happened? From “Resurrection Through Carnage” and “Nightmares Made Flesh” to “Unblessing the Purity” to this? That’s one of the fastest, most radical downward slopes in metal history. Bloodbath used to write old-fashioned, mean-as-hell, catchy-as-Satan death metal, now they’re all modern and bland. Not even the vocals do it for me. Fathomless it is, mastery it is not.

Hour Of Penance: The vile conception 1. Hour Of Penance: The vile conception

The Duff (writer):

Hour of Penance were quite run-of-the-mill before this release, and so for this album to take top-spot for 2008 means that it truly kicks ass considering tech death is something I worship to no end and over which I am thusly very meticulously critical; to think they’ve added the often ruinous brutal element to the music only to better the product (in no small part due to the killer vocals) means that we have a true gem on our hands here – nothing is breaking the mould, but you just don’t find bands that can write ten tracks of this style of music and not have a dull moment or something that appears repetitive, making “The Vile Misconception” one of the greats in my book and something I’ll be spinning for years to come.

2: Ayreon: 01011001

I wasn’t expecting something to better “The Human Equation”, but in darkening the music, musical prodigy Arjen Lucassen has at the very least produced something that measures up handsomely alongside two of prog’s most outstanding achievements, namely “The Electric Castle” and the aforementioned, shattering all doubts of the man’s abilities. The vocal performances on “01011001” are astounding, filled with an emotion you can’t find easily; to think these exceptionally gifted individuals would be fools to turn down a guest-appearance on one of Arjen’s works speaks volumes of the man, yet the respect seems most definitely mutual, something I believe responsible in getting the most out of those performing – this is proven when someone as downcast as Jonas Renkse not only holds his own against the all-powerful chords of vocalists such as Daniel Gildenlöw, Jorn Lande and an array of female talent, but even surpasses them.

3: Cult Of Luna: Eternal kingdom

The post-rock legends return with yet another breathtaking affair, a concept album revolving around a very morbid tale of a mental patient (whose grimoires were discovered by the band) and the murdering of his wife by his own hands. This isn’t a return to form as such, because the gain is turned pretty low throughout most of it, but the riffs nonetheless speak for themselves. A great album by a band that has yet to do wrong.

4: Rotten Sound: Cycles

This band has released its grind masterpiece with “Exit”, now it’s just a case of honing their sound; the smoothening of the production sure does miracles for this band, making “Cycles” just as potent as its immediate predecessor by making up for the slight dip in songwriting and diminishing hardcore metal ugly spirit and punk grind rottenness. Rotten Sound are now one of the most consistent bands out there, as the quality of the last three releases has been exceptional – definitely music that’ll broaden the range of scowls you can throw at the average, guiltless passer-by on the way to work.

5: Opeth: Watershed

Some people can’t stand this record, others adore it; I’m in the latter camp, even if some of the death metal sections can seem a little trite – they at the very least deliver and complement the proggy leanings consituting the majority of the disc. I don’t have any qualms with the almost entirely mellow approach, even if some of the cleaner tracks don’t measure up too well against the band’s classic period, named as such for a reason, so bitching ceases here; with “Watershed”, Opeth have evolved into something very remarkable, and released an album that is as complete as the greats “Still Life” and “Morningrise” – the best album since the former, most definitely.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Enslaved: Vertebrae

I was going to put up Averse Sefira’s latest just to get (and rape) Seker’s goat, but in all seriousness, the greatest Viking/black metal band to have ever existed just didn’t cut the mustard on this effort. An alternative would have been Origin’s “Antithesis” for the most lackluster death metal “return to form” I’ve heard, but in truth, this album here is replete with greatness, only too… grey? The production was a very odd choice to have taken, as the music hits me in the face with the force of a two-inch flaccid cock; also to be found are bits and pieces where it sounds like the band is losing its momentum and needed to fill space with hackneyed riffing. Still a good album, but nothing comparable to what I’m used to given the last three absolutely stellar outputs.

Flobots: Fight with tools 1. Flobots: Fight with tools

Angry Mutant Penguin (ex-writer):

No, this isn’t a metal album, but it is the best album I’ve heard all year so you poor dears are gonna have to live with it taking the top spot. Politically charged hip-hop with a backing of funk, jazz and classical violin kinda seems an unlikely formula, but against-the-odds music often turns out victorious, and this is a great success of innovation. Catchy and yet inspiring, hard-hitting and yet considered, energetic and yet smooth – Flobots have everything I want in a band and a spectacular debut album in this one. I know not all of you are pure die hard metalheads, so at least humour me and out the band beyond their vaguely well known single, “Handlebars”.

2. Torture Division: With endless wrath we bring upon thee…

At the time of writing, the third demo isn’t yet finished – hopefully by the time you read this it will be – nevertheless, the eighteen and a half minutes of old school death metal we have had from J and K and Tobias (who should change his name to L) shits all over Bloodbath’s latest, so there’s a clear winner in the “old folks pretending itis still 1991” genre. The opening seconds of “Ejaculation of the Wicked” are enough to have the doubters eating their words, but any one of these tracks is face stompingly brutal enough to earn Torture Division the title of “second best album of the year”, even though they didn’t actually release an album… Also, just to restore my metal-cred: the first demo is better.

3. Enslaved: Vertebrae

God damn why haven’t I been listening to this more? Mayhem are all dead, the Count is in prison, Emperor got lost in symphonic death metal and split up, Immortal have been releasing the same album since “At the Heart of Winter”, Darkthrone sound more like teenagers than when they were teenagers and Gaahl is designing women’s clothing – Enslaved are the only members of the black metal old-guard left making decent music. It’s not entirely black metal; in fact it’s barely metal at all for the most part, but the Pink Floyd formula really suits them and “Vertebrae” takes the developments of “Ruun” to a new and stunningly beautiful level.

4. The King Blues: Save the world, get the girl

Lets face it, metal today pretty much fails. I mean, I didn’t mind “The Formation of Damnation” but there’s no way I’m lowering myself to calling it one of the best albums of the year, and while Cynic’s album may have been better than the first and even (possibly) enjoyable, it’s still jazz wank. So it looks like the King Blues’ second album will have to stay – even if it is full to the tits with ska and folk. The band starts with a raw, mostly acoustic reggae sound, adds some dub, and then gathers influences from bands like Flogging Molly and Gogol Bordello ending up with a neat mix that comes close to sounding like Billy Joel at times and the Clash at others. This is one of the bands I follow when I’m not ranting on about death metal faggotry on this site – so now you all know.

5. Psykup: We love you all

A recent addition, just clawing its way past AC/DC, I only heard Psykup’s third album a couple of weeks ago but this psychotic French circus of Dillinger Escape Plan riffs, mismatched harmonies and epic songs is already proving (again) that garlic-land is where shit’s at. This is the third album from a band that are pretty much totally unknown, and I think Season of Mist are sort of selling it as an international debut – even though in respect of the band’s other work its somewhat of a turning point. Any band who lists Primus and Strapping Young Lad as their top influences deserves some attention, anyway. I’m tired of aimlessly filling space with shit I gleaned from the press release though, just fucking listen to the album already. Probably the prettiest cover of the year, too.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Arsis: We are the nightmare

Arsis’s debut ranks amongst my favourite albums of all time, and their second effort left promise for a great career. “We Are the Nightmare” pissed on that promise – annoyingly messy, uninspiringly performed, awkward riffs… James Malone is a truly talented guitarist, an impressive composer (he wrote most of the stuff on the band’s first album aged 16) and an awesome vocalist, but whether it’s a loss of originality or a set of rubbish musicians gathered around him, something went wrong here and produced a shit album. (Dis)Honorable mention for this award goes to Sabaton’s third album, but I kinda expected that to suck.

Opeth: Watershed 1. Opeth: Watershed

Euthanatos (writer):

It would be inevitable to have an Opeth album released in a year and me picking it to be among my favorites. Not that Opeth is always perfect with their albums, but this one sure hit the mark for me, and has every element that I hold dear in this one-of-a-kind band. I just hope I’m not becoming one of those Metallica fanboys that will eat up anything their favorite artists have to offer.

2. Enslaved: Vertebrae

Pretty much the epitome of extreme metal goodness, Enslaved have reached such an absurd level of quality with their blend of aggressive and progressive heavy music, it’s almost funny. Probably the best thing since sliced bread, cake and contraceptives.

3. Cynic: Traced in air

Cynic’s first, and for the longest time only album, made me piss my pants when I first heard it, and throughout the years I have never gotten enough of it. When their long overdue sophomore came around, I guess it was only natural that, particularly now in my geriatric state, I would piss myself even more. Sure, it doesn’t hold the same punch to the balls, because the novelty factor is no more, but it’s still a beauty of a record.

4. Amon Amarth: Twilight of the thunder god

To be completely honest, I didn’t think this album was as good as the previous one. Maybe I haven’t listened to it carefully enough, or maybe I’m just turning queer. Alas, no matter what, these guys will always be my favorite Viking metal act, even though the type of metal they perform is much closer to some sort of death metal hybrid. But no one sounds as genuine as them when singing about Norse mythology, and, at least to me, it’s impossible to listen to Amon Amarth and not think of a glacial atmosphere, great drakkars cutting through the frozen sea, and drunken warriors ready to pillage and rape Christians. Ah, the days of old.

5. Testament: The formation of damnation

Although I have always been swinging gaily from Slayer’s nuts, no band has ever had a greater comeback than Testament. First of all, they destroyed the world with “The Gathering”, and to anyone who thought it was just a one-off thing, “The formation of damnation” proves that lightning does strike twice. Brutal thrash metal with killer riffs and Chuck being the vocal god he has always been. Sign me up any day.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Volbeat: Guitar gangsters & Cadillac blood

I know you were expecting something like Metallica or The Haunted here. The thing is, I never expected those bands to astound me with their new albums. I was pretty sure they were going to release crap, and lo and behold, they indulged me. Volbeat, on the other hand, I’ve only know from very recent years (the band is fairly new itself), but I had already become a fan, listening tirelessly to “Rock the rebel, metal the devil”. So what the hell happened here? I’ll tell you what; Volbeat lost their balls, decided to cash in on the little success they had, and released a stale, uninspired, boring piece of shit album. I was truly distraught at how the mighty had fallen. Oh, well, shit happens.

Hebosagil: Collosal 1. Hebosagil: Collosal

The Prophet (writer):

Do you know what you get if you’d put two fucking millstones on your turntable whilst playing a scratchy old Black Sabbath LP? You’d get the best album of 2008, motherfucker. “Colossal” is the kind of album that affects the Richter scale. The kind of album that makes the wrinkles disappear from Granny’s face if she sits sufficiently close to the speakers. The kind of album that convinces Al-Qaida that the job is already done. The kind of album that simply walks into Mordor. In conclusion, the kind of fucking album that pulverizes all competition in the race for album of the year.

2: Facebreaker: Dead, rotten and hungry

In the absence of a really good black metal release, death metal really got its time to shine this year. And shine it did, or perhaps not shine, shiny is gay… No, do you know what death metal did in 2008? It ate your fucking brains, is what! Facebreaker’s rotting corpse extravaganza is a monument of pungent flesh and clotted blood, mixed with regurgitated brain substance. If you can imagine what that sounds like, “Dead, Rotten and Hungry” is definitely for you.

3: Gojira: The way of all flesh

Finally, Gojira released the masterpiece we all knew they had in them. Their earlier albums have been good, at times terrific, but it seemed like there were always a couple of fillers to drag down the overall impression. Not this time though, “The Way of All Flesh” is top-notch quality through and through, and now I finally understand why the Japanese are so fucking afraid of these guys…

4: Lifelover: Konkurs

Lifelover manages to improve on every single point with “Konkurs”, we got better vocals, better songwriting, better riffs and better lyrics. If you want to make this year your last and end your miserable existence, this is your soundtrack. “Mentral central dialog” is the best song of 2008!

5: Earth: And the bees made honey in the lions’ skull

Earth do not have lyrics in their songs. I wish I could describe this without text as well… Duuuuuuuun-duuuuuun-dun-duuuuuuuuuuuuuun, da-da-da duuun-duuuuuuuuun…

Major disappointment of 2008:

Slipknot: All hope is gone

Not really a disappointment, because I didn’t have that high expectations to start with. Instead, “All Hope is Gone” get to be the symbol of Slipknot’s decline finally hitting rock bottom. Gone is not only all hope, but also everything that made the band interesting and in the first place; the deranged, nihilistically surrealistic lyrics, the uncompromising yet catchy riffage, the intense energy of the songs and finally, Corey Taylor sounds nothing like what he used to. Instead of roaring like a skewered rhinoceros, we now get just another angsty young man lamenting the unfairness of life and sometimes switching to generic metalcore screaming.

Misery Index: Traitors 1. Misery Index: Traitors

InquisitorGeneralis (writer):

Absolutely brutal but a solid progression from earlier efforts. These guys are at the top of their grind/death game and this album is quality from beginning to end. Not one single weak track on here. “Thrown into the sun” and “Occupation” are killer fucking songs.

2: Psycroptic: (ob)Servant

This album’s technicality is tuned down just enough to make it perfect. The best Psycroptic release yet. Only “The Scepter of Jaar-Gilon” tops “Horde in divulution” from this as the top ‘croptic track.

3: Gojira: The way of all flesh

A quality release from beginning to end. Gojira hold up to high expectations. The production is awesome, the songs are catchy, and the lyrics are interesting. A solid package.

4: Vader: XXV

I dissed this a little in my review but as far as this year’s output it still beats the shit out of alot of other crap from 2008. Vader does rule and besides the cover tunes at the end this is chock full of good songs.

5: Slipknot: All hope is gone

Slipknot stick to thier guns in the wake of thier most popular release and deliver and constitent and suprisingly heavy album.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Metallica: Death magnetic

No matter how hard they try they just can not capture the old sound. No need for any more new albums.

Facebreaker: Dead, rotten and hungry 1. Facebreaker: Dead, rotten and hungry

Bobby Peru (ex-writer):

Facebreaker, which by the way is a great moniker, burned my soul to a crisp with “Dead Rotten and Hungry”. I actually liked their previous effort “Bloodred Hell” a lot, and I listened to it daily for quite some time. I haven’t heard it once since I got this fucker, which should give you an idea of just how fucken great this one actually is. What the fuck growler Robban ever did in Devian, or what the fuck he’s doing in Scar Symmetry, is an enigma since Facebreaker pisses on them both. Not only do they piss on them, they piss on all. At least this year.

2: Grand Magus: Iron will

Grand Magus took me by storm with “Iron Will”, a storm that blew me back to that time when heavy metal was something precious and untarnished. A great production, terrific songwriting and a voice that anyone, with even the slightest interest in heavy metal, envies earns “Iron Will” a spot at my number two.

3: Hail Of Bullets: …Of frost and war

To sound dead is what growling should be all about. Nobody sounds more so than Martin van Drunen and when singing about the millions who died in World War II nothing could be more soothing (Nice rhyme there Bobby, keep it up). Great lyrics perfectly fitted along quality songwriting, gives Hail of Bullets´”…of Frost and War” a truly chilling and unique atmosphere. One of the best concept albums in years, and by far the best of 2008.

4: Bloodbath: The fathomless mastery

I’ve never cared much for Bloodbath. I have done the MySpace and YouTube thing without getting impressed. Then a friend of mine told me to do it once more, and I heard “Mock the Cross”. To record as song like that is a statement, stating that Morbid Angel probably is the best death metal band ever, and that “Where the Slime Live” probably is the best death metal song ever. I don’t agree and I seriously doubt that Morbid Angel’s next release will be as good as this one. This album just oozes of quality and blasphemy. Åkerfeldts top notch articulate growling is the perfect icing, on this perhaps too perfect cake.

5: Coldworker: Rotting paradise

Coldworker, which by the way is a shitty moniker, wrote/stole one of the worst and misplaced riffs of 2008. That they still managed to make my top five should tell you something about the rest of them. What almost pushed them out is that fucken chorus in “Citizens of the Cyclopean Maze”. That one is as misplaced as a Ralph Santolla solo in Deicide, which should tell you something about how horrendous it is. Not only is it misplaced and bloody awful, it’s dishonest. The fact that that song was the first tune they previewed upon this release makes that even clearer. I could go on and on about that fucker, but I’ll leave it for now. All and all “Rotting Paradise” is a fine album that displays speed and intensity without ever losing that important groove. But if they ever again even come near a riff like that I’ll never listen to them again, and that’s a promise.

Major disappointment of 2008:

Deicide: Till death do us part

Surprise, surprise – Deicide’s “Till Death Do Us Part” is the major disappointment of 2008. Read my review “; add a bunch of negative adjectives and adverbs. Knock three points off and you know why.

Gojira: The way of all flesh 1. Gojira: The way of all flesh

Baalzamon666 (writer):

Love at first listen, “The Way of All Flesh” is the latest outburst of French frog groove metal of death with a conscience, simply a juggernaut of an album crushing everything on its path. The production is monstrous, the songs catchy, violent and thought-provoking, the lyrics fucken awesome, and the amalgamation of influences, ideas and experimentation that they manage to squeeze into it are fucken staggering. Gojira have become the flag-bearers of an increasingly healthy French metal scene, a band possessing the technique, the aggression and the excellent songwriting skills required to make their particular style work wonderfully. From now on, they will have to be considered one of the best bands in the metal world of today.

2. Septic Flesh: Communion

I’m glad these talented Greek demons decided, as they put it, that the path of the flesh was not completely explored. “Communion” is one hell of a comeback, the best I’ve witnessed in the last few years. This is how any band intending to reunite should return: all guns fucken blazing, making a statement of intent to destroy! This record has the best elements that made Septic Flesh such an enigmatic and powerful band in the past, linking to perfection with fresh ideas that seem to be the mark of their present. “Communion” has infernal aggression and intensity, intelligent songwriting and finesse, and I can’t ask for more when choosing my blackened death metal. Hopefully this is a sign of even greater things to come.

3. Moonspell: Night eternal

As they get older, Fernando and his band of evil doers seem to get wiser, meaner and stronger than ever. “Night Eternal” is another great album in their long career that powerfully showcases their ability to create atmospheric and sinister tracks where beauty collides with violence in the most chilling manner. I’m listening to this record and I can’t help but feel immersed in the sometimes subtle, sometimes raging darkness that Moonspell calls home. This is another highly inspired and malevolent ode to the surreal, elegant, crafty and sharp, sporting quite a few brilliant songs. I’m fucken impressed, and happy to see Moonspell continues to be top of their dark metal genre.

4. Amon Amarth: Twilight of the thunder god

I didn’t think Amon Amarth would be able to get anywhere near “With Oden on Our Side”. I was fucken wrong, and I’m OK with that, you know? This is just as good, yet another slab of the most EPIC motherfucken Viking death metal ever done. Raise yer swords and axes, unfurl the bloody banners, oil yer penises and pack some Viagra, jump onto the mighty dragon-ships, ready to inflict some extreme murder, rape, pony-rape and pillaging into the unsuspecting Christian weaklings! This album is just fucken huge in every aspect: a great many fiery songs with plenty of speed, brutality and horns-up, pump-yer-fist-in-the-air moments, larger-than-life riffs, vociferous growls and precise drumming, and their best cover art in fucken ages to boot. Ice, fire, dragons, blood and fucken death!!!

5. Testament: The formation of damnation

After waiting 8 long fucken years for a follow up to “The Gathering”, this was better good. Good news is it actually kicks all sorts of midget ass! Testament proves with “The Formation of Damnation” that they’re still masters of their craft, and are yet able to thrash with the same passion and ability of their golden years. I had really missed those blazing solos from guitar god Skolnick; his return to metal is much welcomed and I’m glad to hear he hasn’t lost his knack for playing intelligent guitar lines. Billy roars in great style, Patterson’s riffs are as sharp as ever, while Christian and Bostaph display great dynamics on the rhythm section. Hell, I’ve had that “Dangers of the Faithless” song stuck in my head for the longest time! All in all, a great return from one of thrash’s forefathers, a sure sign of future chaos to come!

Major disappointment of 2008:

Iced Earth: The crucible of man

I was afraid this could happen, and seeing my fears confirmed is certainly sad. One of my favorite bands is in decline, or to be more precise, has been on a steady downward spiral for the last few years, and it looks like their inspiration is not returning any time soon. Matt Barlow, one of the best heavy metal vocalists ever, has returned to the band, but not even he can save these songs from mediocrity. The chief creative force, a clearly deluded Jon Schaeffer, has almost completely lost the plot now, and I’m seriously starting to wonder if there’s a way back for Iced Earth or not. The album is lacking sorely on speed and aggression, and could have definitely used some variation. Despite having some decent songs and ideas from time to time, the overall feeling of disappointment is unavoidable.