3) Astronoid, Air (Blood)
Just when you think you’ve heard everything in metal, along comes a band like Astronoid to change things up. Like Deafheaven with clean harmonic vocals, it’s hard to listen to this record and not be happy. The combination of black metal, shoegaze and straight up pop definitely doesn’t sound like anything you’ve heard before.
Key Track: “Up and Atom”
2) Black Mountain, IV (Jagjaguwar)
This is less a metal band than a heavy rock collective that flirts with prog and psych as much as they do retro heaviness. However, when they lock into a groove, it’s impossible to deny them, and the Sabbath-ian grooves of “Mothers of the Sun” and Pink Floyd-meets-Spiritualized drone of “Space to Bakersfield” lend themselves to repeated listens. It reminded me what I liked so much about them on their first album, In the Future.
Key Tracks: “Mothers of the Sun,” “Space to Bakersfield”
1) Gojira, Magma (Roadrunner)
By now, just about everyone’s aware what a technical band Gojira is. I’d always thought of them as Meshuggah with songs, as opposed to just rhythms, which is probably blasphemy to Meshuggah fans. But this is their most mainstream album yet, but it’s still very uniquely them. The quartet continues to evolve with each albums, and while there riffs aplenty, it’s the most clean singing they’ve done on an album, more akin to the weird experimentation of Voivod. It’s an exciting album, and I can’t wait to see where they take it next.
Key Tracks: “Silvera,” “Low Lands”
Runners up and/or stuff that isn’t metal:
The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dissociation (Party Smasher)
Devin Townsend, Transcendence (InsideOut)
Alcest, Kodama (Prophecy)
Nails, You Will Never Be One of Us (Nuclear Blast)
Black Wail, All You Can Eat (if I don’t put my own band in, who will?)
Childish Gambino, Awaken My Love (Glassnote)
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
Opeth, Sorceress (Nuclear Blast)
Cobalt, Slow Forever (Profound Lore)
Best video of the year: