Happy holidays, boys and girls. I finally got internet back at my apartment after ten days of living off the grid, and I’m running a fever, so I’m gonna keep this intro short and hopefully lucid. It’s been a great year for music in general, and especially for metal, and I’m thankful to be able to contribute my opinions alongside the great writing and photography staff here at Indy Metal Vault. Thanks for reading, and look forward to more reviews and stuff in the future.
Check me out on Instagram @IanLovdahl for non-metal music posts and other great 2019 albums. Alright, back to bed.
Top 10 Metal Albums of 2019
- King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Infest the Rats Nest
Leave it to this prolific pseudo-psych outfit to release the best thrash metal album all year. King Gizz is about as mercurial as they come, don’t miss out on this quality metal experiment.
- Orthostat: Monoliths of Time
This spot on the list was the hardest to plug, but after giving it some thought, I realized that the Brazilian trad death metal band Orthostat’s debut album stuck with me since January. With memorable riffs, quality songwriting, and engaging lyrical material, Monoliths of Time is certainly worth your time.
- Dreadnought: Emergence
Embracing a duality of grace and chaos, the progressive doom Dreadnought hit their stride with Emergence. Hugely recommended.
- Cattle Decapitation: Death Atlas
A late-2019 album that snuck into this list, Death Atlas showcases the natural evolution of Cattle Decapitation’s overwhelming deathgrind, and further reinforces my belief that Travis Ryan is the greatest vocalist in metal. The din of misanthropy.
- Flesh of our Stars: Mercy
Mercy is a big favorite of mine since the summer solstice, mostly due to the uniqueness of Flesh of our Stars’ brand of doom. Melancholy over nadir, Mercy is doom with proggy visions of the pastoral Midwest. You won’t hear any other doom metal like it.
- Troll: Legend Master
Looking back at my April review of Troll’s sophomore LP, I may have slightly underrated it: in hindsight, the epic and slightly-grungy Legend Master is the best doom metal album of the year. It’s a progressive stoner landmark that stands out from the generic Pink Floyd-worshippers and Candlemass clones, and with tracks like the peerless “Building My Temple”, Troll will have a place on my playlists for years to come.
- Tomb Mold: Planetary Clairvoyance
Easily my favorite death metal album of the year, Planetary Clairvoyance is an imaginative sonic treat. Tomb Mold has a knack for crafting cosmic solos and guttural earworms, and every knuckle-twisting riff sounds like a trademark. A no-brainer for any death metal head.
- SUNN O))): Pyroclasts
The first mention of SUNN on this list, Pyroclasts is the second album released by the band in 2019. The music for this project was recorded during the same session as its sister album, and therefore the two records share musical similarities, as well as musical contributors; however, Pyroclasts is noticeably more meditative and grounded than its companion piece (more on that later). I wrote a lengthy review last month where I get into more detail, but more on SUNN in just a moment.
- Epectase: Astres
One of the more adventurous labels found on Bandcamp.com, I, Voidhanger pumped out high-quality avant-garde metal all year long. The finest record among the bunch is most definitely Astres, the debut album by French progressive black metal duo Epectase. These guys ‘get’ what makes 70s progressive rock great: from the songwriting to the guitar tone, all the way down to the fantastical concept, I hear as much influence from Emerson, Lake & Palmer as I do Emperor. Eminently addicting and listenable, I’m a big fan of Astres, and it would’ve easily been my favorite metal album of the year. But the sun also rises.
- SUNN O))): Life Metal
Outside of strictly metal, I write another “Best Of 2019” music list that encompasses all genres that I listen to throughout the year. So far, I’ve listened to 356 different albums this year, and I narrowed down a list of the “Top 50”, which includes a range of genres spanning hip hop, microhouse, spiritual jazz, 21st Century Classical, and others. I know it’s been said of metal, but 2019 has been an incredible year for all sorts of music. It’s such a blast discovering new artists producing albums all over the world, and searching for music in 2019 has been a distinct pleasure.
And SUNN O)))’s album Life Metal is the best music released this year. In fact, I think it’s one of the best albums released this decade. There’s another list I’ve got going of the Top 10 albums of the decade, and among the Aphex Twin, Theo Parrish, and Superchunk, there may be a spot for SUNN to fill. This one’s special, and I encourage everyone out there to give it at least a try. Who knows, you might like it, too.