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Our Contributors’ Year End Lists

Posted by on December 17, 2010

Y’know, this blog doesn’t run itself, and without the contributions made by the people that write for us and support us, there’s be even less content than the “not enough content” that there already is. With that in mind, we’ve asked the people that write for us, both weekly and occasionally, to contribute their favorite albums of the year, along with a few label friends as well. Without further ado:

Chris Colgan, New and Noteworthy author

1. Mutiny Within, Mutiny Within (Roadrunner)
For a band to resuscitate a dying genre and give it a completely new life, it takes quite a lot of talent, innovation, and luck. Mutiny Within had all three of those factors working in their favor with their self-titled debut. Because of this album, metalcore now has a new face, a new life, and a new direction that could turn legions of haters into fans. The influence is already showing, as technical and progressive metalcore bands are now appearing all over the place. Not only is this my favorite overall album of the year and my top compositional album, the album also opens with my top song of the year, the flawless “Awake”. The sky is the limit for this group, literally…if you’re discussing Chris Clancy’s vocal range, at least.

2. Heaven Shall Burn, Invictus (Iconoclast III) (Century Media)
Based on a lot of the reviews I read, most metal albums are usually judged by the quality of the music, often only taking lyrics into account when they are bad. I’m taking the opposite approach here, because Invictus is the best lyrical album I have EVER heard, hands down. Marcus Bischoff is poetic, uncompromising, vicious, and succinct – in short, a true lyrical genius. With historical calamities, current atrocities, and deeply personal struggles all laid bare, Invictus is obviously my choice as top lyrical album of the year. It also gets my picks for having the best cover of the year, with a beastly rendition of “Nowhere” by Therapy?, and the best guest appearance of the year, with Sabine Weniger of Deadlock performing a heart-stoppingly beautiful duet with Bischoff on “Given in Death”.

3. Demon Hunter, The World is a Thorn (Solid State)
I view Demon Hunter is one of the most underrated bands in all of modern metal. For me, they are one of the rare groups that simply gets better with every album. The World is a Thorn is no exception, featuring absolutely phenomenal songwriting from Ryan Clark and highlighted by exceptional guest appearances from Strid, Älvestam, and Throwdown’s Dave Peters. I’ve said it after every other Demon Hunter album, and I’ll say it again here – I don’t know how Demon Hunter can get any better than this. But I still hope they prove me wrong yet again on their next album.

4. Solution .45, For Aeons Past (AFM)
Two years ago, Christian Älvestam parted ways with Scar Symmetry. This year, Älvestam has returned with a band that sounds a lot like Scar Symmetry, except that Solution .45 is even better. Utilizing some of the most subtle nuances that make huge differences, while highlighting the best parts of Älvestam’s vocals, For Aeons Past is a breathtaking album in every possible way.

5. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
Celtic what? Tom Warrior still has it, this album proves that. One of the greatest minds in metal history has once again raised the bar for every extreme and avant-garde metal band to follow in his footsteps. Combined with the essential Shatter EP as a companion piece,Eparistera Daimones is a mind-warping trip through musical ingenuity.

6. Overkill, Ironbound (eOne Music)
In my opinion, the Big Four have been getting outclassed by many of their supposedly “lesser” peers for many years now. In 2008, it was Testament. Last year, it was Kreator. This year, Overkill delivers a simply monumental thrash album that is the best of their thirty-year history. From the first notes of “The Green and Black” to the final riffs of “The SRC”, Ironbound is the purest essence of thrash quality.

7. Soilwork, The Panic Broadcast (Nuclear Blast)
What Clint Lowery is to Sevendust, Peter Wichers is to Soilwork. 2007’s Sworn to a Great Divide was a pretty good album, but The Panic Broadcast absolutely blows it out of the water. Wichers is one of the best songwriters in all of modern metal, as evidenced by this diverse album. Combined with the stunning vocal talents of Björn “Speed” Strid, Soilwork is virtually unstoppable.

8. Stigmata, Psalms of Conscious Martyrdom (M Entertainment)
Most of you probably haven’t heard of this power-prog group from Sri Lanka (not one of the many other Stigmatas out there), but they’re one of the most interesting groups I’ve discovered in recent years. Much of Stigmata’s material makes some of the biggest prog bands sound like their songs were composed on a Casio children’s keyboard. If you want to hear something fresh and exciting from the power-prog underground, then Stigmata is what you’re looking for.

9. Sevendust, Cold Day Memory (7 Bros./Asylum)
I enjoyed Sevendust’s albums with Sonny Mayo on guitar, but one listen to this album is all it took to convince me that Clint Lowery is the true brain of Sevendust, just as much as Lajon Witherspoon is the heart. Cold Day Memory is Sevendust’s best album since 2001’s stellarAnimosity, putting them back at the top of the heap of alt-metal bands that have persisted through the past decade.

10. Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns (Warner Bros.)
This isn’t exactly close to metal, but DAMN, this album is mind-blowingly good. There are more than enough detractors about Linkin Park’s sound changes, but I will stand by this album and its progressive tone. I admire risk-takers, and this album is the riskiest composition I’ve heard in a long time.

Honorable Mentions: Mnemic – Sons of the System (Nuclear Blast), Borknagar – Universal (Indie Recordings), Dommin – Love is Gone (Roadrunner), Periphery – Periphery (Sumerian), Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (UMe), Kalmah – 12 Gauge (Spinefarm), Cradle of Filth – Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa (Nuclear Blast), Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy (Century Media), Wretched – Beyond the Gate (Victory), Sabaton – Coat of Arms (Nuclear Blast)

Stabitha Christie, occasional contributor

Metal only:
  1. Nachtmystium, Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2 (Century Media)
    Black Meddle part the second seemed like it came out of nowhere a little bit. Though it’s not like this is the first time a synthesizer has made an appearance on a Nachtmystium record, it’s definitely the first time a Nachtmystium song gets dropped into my dance party iTunes playlist. I’m a little upset that “No Funeral” never made it into their setlists this year, but there’s always next, right? By the way, Blake, if you need a touring lady synth player, call me.
  2. Ihsahn, After (Candlelight)
    It’s pretty rare that I like someone’s solo album better than any of their band’s output, but Ihsahn is, well, Ihsahn. This was the first album of the year to go on all-day repeat. And goddamn do I love a saxophone.
  3. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
    It’s pretty rare that I like someone’s solo album better than any of their band’s output, but Ihsahn is, well, Ihsahn. This was the first album of the year to go on all-day repeat. And goddamn do I love a saxophone.
  4. Kvelertak, S/T (Indie)
    God bless the internet — this is the first band I’ve ‘discovered’ thanks to email lists and blogs in a long time. It might not be the most original idea ever to bear more than a passing resemblence to Motorhead (with their own distinguishing features, of course, such as clearly having absorbed black metal by osmosis in their native Norway), but who cares. They’ve toured Europe with Kylesa and Converge (note: Kurt Ballou produced this. Two great tastes that taste great together!). Hoping for that party to come stateside in 2011.
  5. Torche, Songs for Singles (Hydra Head)
    I’ve always liked Torche, especially when driving through deserts, but the first time I ever felt like I hadn’t been paying as much attention as I should have was during their set between Kylesa and headliners High on Fire in late October. While they were taking their music seriously, they weren’t taking themselves too seriously judging by the smiles on the guys themselves and chubby mud-flap dude on Steve Brooks’ guitar. The cover design seems to be an homage to the Afghan Whigs’ “What Jail Is Like” EP, which makes me wish I was Brooks’ type.
  6. Intronaut, Valley of Smoke (Century Media)
    I was impressed with Intronaut when I saw them open for Mastodon last year, but felt like they still had some growing up to do. This album sounds like they heard my psychic advice and ran with it. They’re growing and evolving exactly how a band on their third full-length (second for Century Media) should be. I hope they keep challenging themselves while hanging on to the trademarks of their sound.
  7. Mar de Grises, Streams Inwards (Season of Mist)
    Want to guarantee I’m going to love your record? Make it melodic and doomy. I love Insomnium. Of course I love this album, too
  8. Kylesa, Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
    The true test of a band isn’t the quality of its lead singer(s) and guitarists, but in its rhythm section. The front of the band might think they’re in control, but it’s the drums and bass controlling the puppet strings. Kylesa understands how to maximize having two drummers. From now on, I decree that any band who insists on having two full kits onstage but having them play the exact same thing will be executed immediately.
  9. The Dillinger Escape Plan, Option Paralysis (Season of Mist)
    I like it when bands I like try something very ambitious and succeed wildly at it.
  10. Electric Wizard, Black Masses (Rise Above)
    Clearly I like my metal doomy and stonery. Clearly I would need to volunteer for euthanasia if I left this one off my list.
Companion piece: Top 5 non-metal albums
  1. Robyn, Body Talk Pts. 1-3 (Konichiwa)
    My actual #1 album of the year. Robyn proves you can write a serious dance song and make it sad as hell. Hitting up her Webster Hall show this year with the same people with whom I saw Faith No More, Shrinebuilder, and Devin Townsend just felt so right.
  2. Zola Jesus, Stridulum EP (Sacred Bones)
    Mainly because “Night” is the best goth song this side of Siouxsie Sioux.
  3. Grinderman, Grinderman 2 (Anti-)
    Though I don’t quite understand the ‘why’ of Grinderman now that Mick Harvey is out of The Bad Seeds, I need them to keep making albums like this for a long, long time.
  4. Mike Patton, Mondo Cane (Ipecac)
    Part of being a genius is taking risks. Though part of me wishes he’d do something similar with the music of France Gall rather than 60s Italian pop, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it when Patton rolls his Rs.
  5. Aloe Blacc, Good Things (Stones Throw)
    Not enough people seem to understand how fucking good this album is. If you claim to like soul at all, you should drop everything and listen to this immediately.
All-inclusive top 10:
  1. Robyn, Body Talk Pts. 1-3 (Konichiwa)
  2. Nachtmystium, Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2 (Century Media)
  3. Ihsahn, After (Candlelight)
  4. Zola Jesus, Stridulum EP (Sacred Bones)
  5. Grinderman, Grinderman 2 (Anti-)
  6. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
  7. Mike Patton, Mondo Cane (Ipecac)
  8. Aloe Blacc, Good Things (Stones Throw)
  9. Sharon Van Etten, Epic (Ba Da Bing)
  10. Diamond Rings, Special Affections (Secret City)

Shows

  • Immortal at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 3/30
  • The National at the Bell House, 3/12
  • Nada Surf at the Bell House (playing The Weight is a Gift), 3/26
  • Alcest at the Studio at Webster Hall, 5/29
  • New Pornographers at the Bell House, 6/20
  • Faith No More at the Williamsburg Waterfront, 7/2 and 7/5
  • Robyn at Webster Hall, 8/4
  • Lady Gaga at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, 8/13
  • Triptykon at the Gramercy Theater, 10/6
  • Greg Dulli at the Bowery Ballroom, 10/19
  • Devin Townsend at the Gramercy Theater, 10/28
  • Grinderman at the Best Buy Theater, 11/14

Mike Gitter, important guy at Century Media

1. letlive, Fake History (Tragic Hero)
2. Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
3. Dillinger Escape Plan, Option Paralysis (Season of Mist)
4.  Watain,  Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist)
5.  Dimmu Borgir, Abdrahadabra (Nuclear Blast)
6. Fear Factory, Mechanize (Candlelight)
7. Shining, Blackjazz (The End/Indie Recordings)
8.  Bad Religion, The Dissent of Man (Epitaph)
9. Tryptikon, Esparistera Daimones (Prowling Death/Century Media)
10. Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)

Runners Up: Underoath-Disambiguation,  Impending Doom – There Will Be Violence, Cradle of Filth-Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa, Black Breath-Heavy Breathing, Black Anvil –Triumvirate, Demiurg – Slakethus Gamelby, William Control-Noir, As I Lay Dying-The Powerless Rise, Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition,  All That Remains – For We Are Many,  Ihsan – After

Bill Meis, eOne Publicity Guy That’s Not Afraid To Pimp His Own Act

Most Anticipated Metal Records Of 2011

Crowbar Sever The Wicked Hand (eOne Music) – Out February 8

It’s been six long years since we had new material from the lords of NOLA sludge and the timing couldn’t be better. To front man Kirk Windstein’s credit, he has been busy with his other bands Down and Kingdom Of Sorrow (along with recent getting sober) so it’s fair to say  he’s been more than preoccupied.

Between The Buried And Me – TBA on TBA

Hands down the most underrated band in their genre, BTBAM have always been known to deliver their unique style while other bands of the genre have flip-flopped and changed to fit commercial needs. A recent Facebook update from Between The Buried And Me has revealed that the band are currently in Toronto, ON for the next ten days recording a new EP with producer David Bottrill (Tool, Mudvayne). The effort is expected to feature around a half hours worth of new music and will arrive in stores next year.

Tool – TBA on Tool Dissectional/Volcano

It’s almost hard to believe it’s been four and a half years since we’ve had a new record. In recent reports, Tool had begun the writing process for their next album inn late April and May of 2010, Tool announced a series of tour dates across the U.S. and Canada for June and July. Recently it was revealed that they would be headed to New Zealand and Australia for some festival appearances. Now if Manyard would break away from making wine and teasing all of us with a APC reunions, maybe we’ll hear something before next year.

Metallica – TBA TBA TBA

If Metallica keeps progressing from the rock bottom release of St. Anger, to the not-so-bad Death Magnetic, we MIGHT be getting a solid release from them in 2011.  In a November 2010 interview with The Pulse of Radio, Lars “I hate Napster” Ulrich said that Metallica wants to get back to writing again for 2011. Ulrich stated: “There’s a bunch of balls (hehe) in the air for 2011, but I think the main one is we really want to get back to writing again. We haven’t really written since, what, ’06, ’07, and we want to get back to kind of just being creative again. Right now we are going to just chill out and then probably start up again in, I’d say, March or April, and start probably putting the creative cap back on and start writing some songs.” Something tells me we won’t see anything until 2012, but we’ll see!

Bob Lugowe, Relapse Publicity Dude, Proud Juggalo

1. Nekromantheon,  Divinity of Death (High Roller)
2. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
3. Agalloch,  Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
4. Electric Wizard, Black Masses (Rise Above)
5. White Wizzard, Over The Top (Earache Records)
6. Howl, Full of Hell (Relapse)
7. Les Discrets, Septembre et ses dernieres pensees (Prophecy Productions)
8. Cephalic Carnage, Misled By Certainty (Relapse)
9. Ghost, Opus Eponymous (import)
10. Misery Index, Heirs to Theivery (Relapse)

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