I went through something of a musical depression this year. There was a lot of great music that came out, music that I recognized was good but for some reason just didn’t connect with me. For a long time, mostly in the middle of the year, there just wasn’t anything that grew on me with each listen or that I heard and immediately went “Oh I love this!” as in previous years. That being said, these ten album listed here are all killer in their own way and enjoyed heavy rotation during my commute to work.
10) Behemoth, I Loved You At Your Darkest (Metal Blade)
I Loved You At Your Darkest offers a touch of experimentation to the band’s sound, but when you click play on that sucker you’ll still have no doubt that you’re listening to a Behemoth album.
Key Track: “Bartzabel”
9) Judas Priest, Firepower (Columbia)
I honestly didn’t expect this to end up on my year end list, but I’ve gone back and listened to Firepower enough times that I feel like it merits a spot. More than anything, this album shows that Priest still has sharp songwriting chops from the instant classic “Lightning Strike” to the blusier number “Lone Wolf”. And I’m still not over how good Halford sounds after doing this for however many decades.
Key Track: “Lone Wolf”
8) Zeal & Ardor, Stranger Fruit (MKVA)
While it’s not as raw or as out of left field as its predecessor, Zeal & Ardor’s new album still packs a punch and proves that the brilliant combination of black metal, blues, and gospel wasn’t a fluke the first time around.
Key Track: “Servants”
7) Amorphis, Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast)
I always wanted to get into Amorphis, but like any highly-regarded band with a large discography, I wasn’t sure where to start. So when Queen of Time came out, I figured now was as good a time as any. It only took a minute or two of hearing “The Bee” to wonder what took me so long. Amorphis have mastered the ability to blend many elements into their songwriting that gives their music its own unique flavor and I’m looking forward to delving into the rest of their catalogue.
Key Track: “Amongst Stars”
6) Sojourner, The Shadowed Road (Avantegarde)
I’m a sucker for tin flute in my metal, but that’s just one reason why I believe the second album from Sojourner is a triumphant, atmospherical journey. The melding of harsh black metal with serene folk paints a picture of a lonely wilderness so vividly you’ll swear you can see your breath fogging right in front of you.
Key Track: “Winter’s Slumber”