It’s that time of the year to show off what we enjoyed the most this year. Everyone’s lists are different, but these lists are essentially a celebration of the hard working musicians who need to be recognized for doing what they do. Be sure to go give each band some love, and tell them how much their music means to you. Here are my Top 20 picks!
#20 Pallbearer – Heartless Profound Lore
This was a huge hitter in this year’s greatest releases. I really enjoyed Heartless, and I think it’s definitely tamer than previous efforts. The fan base is sort of divided, but I ultimately think they did a fantastic job.
#19 The Raven Age – Darkness Will Rise BMG
I’m not a particular fan of the vocalist’s voice, but his singing played the parts well. If that makes any sense in any way. This is a solid melodic metal album, and I really enjoyed it. They have catchy melodies and the guitar work is pretty impressive. Plus, one of the guitarist is Steve Harris’s son. The Metal is strong in this one.
#18 Fireball Ministry – Remember the Story Cleopatra Records
Seven years…It’s been that long since their last album. Needless to say, it’s awesome! The sheer fact that they are back shoehorned them a spot on my list. Yeah, Yeah, be mad. I’m not mad. If you know Fireball Ministry’s previous works then you pretty much know what to expect. Pure Greatness!
#17 Ayreon – The Source Mascot Label Group
The Source is a weird one, but in an awesome manner! This operatic experience is impressive and the cameos are undeniably insane. There were so many things going on that I forgot it was music for a moment, and I personally think that is a great sign for any musician to achieve. Genre bending space something crazy…now excuse me while I go to the local theater to cast The Source live!
#16 The Contortionist – Clairvoyant Good Fight
One of the top contenders of Progressive Metal made their triumphant return with Clairvoyant. Atmosphere dominated the vibe of the record, and metal sort of took the backburner in an Opeth type of way, and I think this train is going one direction from here. That isn’t a bad thing though, because unlike Opeth these guys have figured out how to still be them and get softer. Just listen to it.
#15 Shattered Sun – The Evolution of Anger LABEL Victory Records
If Darkest Hour was a bit more metalcore then that would best describe Shattered Sun’s brand new album. They have perfected the art of sounding mean and blending thoughtful melodies. This album is for riff lovers, and that’s exactly how metal is supposed to be.
#14 Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity Metal Blade
(Insert Guitar Whammy Here) They’re back! I’m pretty much one of the only people using this in my top 20, but I think they deserve some love. I mean..come on. They covered a Death track and it left me speechless, and they actually branched out a bit further than past records. Give it a shot. Herman Li wills you to like this album…well, me too.
#12 Trivium – The Sin and The Sentence Roadrunner Records
Mixed reactions is the best way to describe of what people thought about this new offering from Florida Metal Giants Trivium. The Sin and the Sentence displayed the best moments of past albums such as Ascendancy and Shogun, and that made most of their loyal fans happy and even won some back.
#11 Thorr-Axe | Archarus –The Hobbit Independent
Who doesn’t like The Hobbit? I guess people who hate life. That’s beside the point, because you should’ve heard about the split between the Kings of Asgard and the Kings of the Waffle House. The Hobbit is a new way to consume the story of what took place in the Legendary Middle Earth. All of the best parts of both bands were on display, and that’s all that needs to be said.
#10 Hypergiant –Father Sky Independent
November releases are very risky in terms of competing for the glory of being included in the “end of the year” lists, but Hypergiant managed to appear in my radar. I was very surprised by this new band and they left a great impression on me. This album is very different but familiar, and it’s for anyone who enjoys prog mixed with various subgenres of Doom.
#9 Novelists – Noir Nuclear Blast
Just when you thought metalcore can’t be interesting anymore, a band like the Novelist appears and they release a crazy good album. The song structures are impressive and even the most seasoned musicians would find difficulty in replicating it. I love this band!
#8 Destroyer of Light – Chamber of Horrors Heavy Friends Records
Step into the Chamber and be transported to the land of smoke. Chamber of Horrors is a dark and heavy monster that can barely be tamed. This album showcased the perfect balance of Doom and Stoner genres, and it left me feeling empty inside. That’s how I’m supposed to feel…right?
#7 War Cloud – War Cloud Ripple Music/a>
War Time Rock and Roll. That’s only a blurb compared to the true sonic power of War Cloud’s debut album on Ripple Music. This album is filled to the rim with soul crushing riffs and melodies that would make the truest rocker soar above the clouds(See what I did there?).
#6 Converge – The Dusk in Us Deathwish/Epitaph
It’s a new Converge album. Enough said. Really…I don’t think they will put out a bad album from here forward. The Dusk had moments of chaos, but it showed a little sign of melodic elements poking through as well. Diversifying their sound was key to making their release a success.
#5 The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl Ripple Music
Servants of the Salem Girl is another one of those albums that made this year great in the heavy community. They are a relatively new band, but their debut release absolutely rocked! The cleanness was almost similar to Elder, and I believe they proved that you can be heavy and clean at the same time!
#4 Mutoid Man – War Moans Sargent House
Energy was the key to this rager. War Moans caught my attention, because they decided to dive a little deeper into their unique take on heavy music. They had fast and unforgiving moments, but they also knew when to slow down. I will be listening to this years from now!
#3Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets and The Migrant Flora Southern Lord
This album punches you in the face from the very git-go. What makes this album special is the initial thoughts on whether it was going to be good or not. Their self-titled album left people feeling lost, but this release re-assured their fan base that not only are they still badass, but they doubled down on the ass-kicking.
#2 Elder – Reflections of a Floating World Stickman Records
Experimental Ambient Prog Doom. Never thought I would ever say that. This album was impressive on every level, and I was honestly surprised when I listened to it for the first time. Reflections of a Floating World is one of those albums that you know is a top ten release from the moment everything kicks in. It’s all about those melodies!
#1The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers Metal Blade Records
It’s without question that Nightbringers is the album we all needed this year. Relentless tales of darkness and despair is what you will find in this monster of an album, and that comes with no surprise as The Black Dahlia Murder continue to prove they are more relevant now than they have ever been.