It’s December, which means that for the most part, the year in music is over. Almost everything that’s going to come out has already, as the music industry focuses on the holiday shopping rush by pushing everything that’s come out in the first 11 months of the year. It’s also a good time to take stock of what has come out so far this year, and while you’ll be getting our picks in due time, we wanted to first turn things over to some of the people making that music. To that end, Torche’s Andrew Elstner, Andrew Mikhai, touring guitarist of Defiler and founder Serpents, and Hand of Doom from Vampire have shared their favorite music of the year. Stay tuned throughout the week as we continue to bring you more artists, as well as our own, picks for the year.
Andrew Elstner of Torche
Ashes & Iron, Wind Takes A Side
Roma 79, Cardinal Star
Horse Lords, Hidden Cities
Tilts, Cuatro Hombres
Big Business, Battlefields Forever
Helms Alee, Sleepwalking Sailors
Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Flower Power
Trans Am, Volume X
Andrew Mikhai of Serpents, touring guitarist with Defiler
1) Goat, Commune
I stumbled onto this band on YouTube one night and i’ve been hooked ever since. As a big fan of bands like The Devil’s Blood and The Doors, I feel as if this band blends both styles together in the vein of a female-fronted time warp to the sixties.
2) Behemoth, The Satanist
It is almost public knowledge by now that Behemoth is one of my favorite death metal bands to date. When I heard the storyline behind The Satanist I could not wait to hear this album and in no way was I disappointed. Such a brutal offering musically and lyrically.
3) Emma Ruth Rundle, Some Heavy Ocean
Emma Ruth Rundle is another great artist I stumbled upon whilst browsing the Audiotree TV sessions. As a fan of Chelsea Wolfe and almost everything Sargent House puts out (including her other band Marriages), I was immediately hooked. Definitely one of my favorite records of the year.
4) The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer
Great record from a great band, accompanied by great artwork. The Atlas Moth is one of my favorite emerging Chicago bands at the moment and as a Chicagoan, I support them fully.
5) The Contortionist, Language
I’m not too into “prog” these days but this band is one of my favorites. After sharing the road with these guys in the past, I came to have a huge respect for their: musicianship, songwriting abilities, and chemistry as a band. I’ve said in the past that this band will be the next big thing in “deathcore” but with this being their third album, they’ve already come so much further than deathcore and transformed into something amazing. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.
6) This Will Destroy You, Another Language
If you are a fan of instrumental rock, LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM.
7) Epica, The Quantum Enigma
Such a huge sounding power metal album filled with beautiful-yet-anthemic songs to bang your head to. Genius. Pure genius yet so underrated. Not to mention I’m a sucker for female vocalists in metal and Simone Simons’ voice is out of this world. She’s got real talent unlike the crap you see on American Idol.
8) Copeland, Ixora
Another amazing album by Copeland, great for any cloudy day.
9) Evergrey, Hymns for the Broken
If you like great guitar licks, catchy choruses, and melody in your metal, this is your album. Evergrey has always been one of my favorites and it pains me that not many people have heard this album or any of their past works. Incredibly underrated.
10) The Devin Townsend Project, Z2
Heavy Devy does it again with the long awaited Z2! Pop this double-disc in and just sit down. That’s all I’m going to say.
Septic Flesh, Titan
Another one of those incredibly underrated bands that I’ve held onto for years, and Titan is definitely an album I added to my collection with great respect. Beautiful, dark, and chaotic. I love it, definitely an influence for my work in Serpents.
Emmure, Eternal Enemies
Love ’em or hate ’em, they have a formula and they stick to it well. Each album gets more and more brutally insane and that goes in compliments to Joey Sturgis as well. There’s moments where this album makes me want to smash someone’s skull with a toaster and there’s moments where Frankie’s vocals inflicts an anxiety attack due to how frantic it gets. For most people, they don’t care for that kind of stuff but I love it and I love these guys as people. It’s a win-win. Recommended setting: Gym.
Those Who Fear, Death Sentence
Disclaimer: Christian Metal/Hardcore. Why the disclaimer? Because as far as beliefs go, as a LaVeyan Satanist, I don’t see eye to eye with the band’s lyrical content BUT as far as everything else goes, I am a big fan of this band. Granted, other people are not as forgiving in the metal world, so I figured I’d give you all a heads up. Otherwise, this album just pummels you into concrete and I love it. Recommended setting: Gym or a Gym in a Church, whichever fits your fancy.
Casualties of Cool, Casualties of Cool
Devin Townsend. Space Country. Respect.
Pink Floyd, The Endless River
After many years, the long awaited follow-up to The Division Bell has finally come and it sounds like Pink Floyd hasn’t missed a beat. The Endless River is the band’s final album and it also serves as an almost-ambient tribute to the late keyboardist Richard Wright. As a huge fan of Pink Floyd, hearing Richard’s final works and how the band wrote around the “lost tracks” was surely a treat. But you may be asking yourself, “why so low on the list then, fan boy?” My answer? I simply would have liked to have more vocals on this album, but I understood their vision and respected it accordingly. Still an amazing album to just sit down and be taken away with.
Imogen Heap, Sparks
Whether it be Frou Frou or her solo albums, I have been a fan of Imogen Heap for years now and have been waiting for Sparks for a while. With that being said, I thought this album was genius. Her voice, songwriting and production skills are all out of this world and this album was proper tribute. As a musician or even as a normal listener, this album is simply refreshing and well done.
Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence
It’s no secret that the Defiler boys love Lana (see: our cover of “National Anthem“), so with the arrival of Ultraviolence we all immediately fell under her spell. Her voice, her image, and the production of her albums are always so reflective of each other and even as a metal musician I must say…that’s impressive coming from a pop star. This album isn’t my favorite of her albums, but it is still just as tasty as the others. Flaunting an almost vintage rock vibe this time around, Lana nailed it as usual.
Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies, Earth Air Spirit Water Fire
As a fan of his writing in The Devil’s Blood and also his solo work, the late Selim managed to put this album out before his untimely death earlier this year. With that being said, I will miss his genius but I at least had the chance to hear this album before his passing. RIP Selim.
Die Antwoord, Donker Mag
Been a fan of DA since $O$ and cannot get enough. Something about this duo just rules. Yo-landi’s sex appeal and voice mixed with Ninja’s “raw-ness” is unstoppable. Sometimes goofy, sometimes scary, sometimes tough; you never know what you’re going to get when you go track-to-track on this album. Not to mention, this album was a huge middle finger to their previous label and it was a self-made huge success, and that alone is something you should give them mad respect for.
Baby Metal, Baby Metal
I like Baby Metal, so sue me. The songs are high energy yet catchy, the riffs are punishing, and the girls have vocal range. What’s not to like?
Hand of Doom of Vampire
1.) Funereal Presence, The Archer Takes Aim
2) Morbus Chron, Sweven
3) At The Gates, At War with Reality
4) The Funeral And The Twilight, Falling Corpse
5) Revororum Ib Malacht, De Mysteriis dom Christi
6) Swans, To Be Kind
7) Execration, Morbid Dimensions
8) Vanhelgd, Relics of Sulphur Salvation
9) Abigor, Leytmotif Luzifer
10) Ofdrykkja, A Life Worth Losing