After K.K. Downing left, it was up in the air whether or not Priest would still have it in them to tour, and write, but with the addition of Richie Faulkner, this came out as a seamless musical transition. With the fresh blood in the writing process, Judas Priest put out one of the most solid releases of their career, and all signs point to a follow-up in the coming few years.
Key track: “March of the Damned”
I’ve known and seen Dev in the past, but never has his music caught me like it did with Z2. I really liked Ziltoid the Omniscient, so I knew that Dark Matters was going to be interesting, but it’s really Sky Blue that put this album on this list, especially as high as it is. This double album is the culmination of what Devin Townsend has been doing for the last decade, and more than shows off the diversity of his songwriting abilities.
Key Track: “Silent Militia”
Mastodon is absolutely great at changing up the dynamics of their music with every subsequent release, while maintaining that distinct sound that makes them who they are. Once More ‘Round the Sun is equal parts terrifying and fascinating, and easily has the best album art on this list. While I was skeptical when the first single, High Road, was released, I was pleasantly surprised by absolutely every other song on the album.
Key Track: “Aunt Lisa”