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2019 Extravaganza

Top 20 Albums of 2019: The Nigel Edition

It’s list season once more! Who can resist? After a slow start to the year, and with a few barren spots here and there, 2019 was still a very good year for metal, with some great albums seeing the light of day. I have nothing really further to add, other than to say I hope you find something you like on my collection of the best metal of 2019.

What’s your favourite out of these stellar albums below?

20

Haunt
If Icarus Could Fly

Haunt - If Icarus Could Fly

We may as well start out with some proper heavy metal, right? Chock full of classic choruses, riffs, and melodies, If Icarus Could Fly is simple and easy to enjoy, and is extremely moreish. A killer release from a reliable and fun band. Get ready to bang that head of yours.

19

Mortem
Ravnsvart

Mortem - Ravnsvart

Despite being a new record, this is a glimpse into the days of pre-Arcturus, boasting core members of that superlative band. Mortem’s style is old-school black metal with just enough of the personality and style of what would become Arcturus in its delivery to entice while having enough of its own flavor to entrance.

18

Idle Hands
Mana

Idle Hands - Mana

Gothic rock normally doesn’t do it for me, but this is something special. Rising from the ashes of Spellcaster, and featuring members of the delectable Silver Talon, Mana is packed with infectious songs and massive hooks. Play this at full volume and get ready to rock out hard.

17

Creeping Flesh
Into the Meat Grinder

Creeping Flesh - Into the Meat Grinder

A lot of really good old-school death metal came out in 2019, but I can’t help but particularly like Creeping Flesh’s work. This album grabbed me as soon as I heard it and hasn’t let go since. Steamrolling the opposition with its massive riffs and gritty presence, Into the Meat Grinder is a top listen.

16

Vltimas
Something Wicked Marches In

Vltimas - Something Wicked Marches In

A dark death metal band made of current and ex-members of Mayhem, Morbid Angel, and Cryptopsy? Where do I sign up?! Of course, it could have been a dud, but that was always going to be unlikely. Instead, we get razor-sharp death metal peppered with characterful quirks and THAT voice — very satisfying stuff.

15

Vimur
Triumphant Master of Fates

Vimur - Triumphant Master of Fates

Both vicious and atmospheric, with scathing screamed vocals that sound like liquid venom, Vimur’s second album is a magnificent piece of blackened art. The songs are well-written and seep into your brain almost without you realizing it, and before you know it, you’re playing it over again. Highly immersive.

14

Isole
Dystopia

Isole - Dystopia

Now here’s an album that’s confident and not afraid to put its best foot forward. Bold and powerful, these traditional doom metal songs will have you wrapped up in hooks and quality songwriting before you even truly appreciate the great performances. Those vocals are pretty tasty too.

13

High Fighter
Champain

High Fighter - Champain

High Fighter balance belligerent harshness with stunning beauty very, very well on Champain. Whether you’re getting crushed by the huge riffs or lost in the singer’s clean vocals, this is not your standard sludge/doom/stoner release, and all the better for it. High Fighter mean business, and business is good.

12

Waste of Space Orchestra
Waste of Space Orchestra

Waste of Space Orchestra - Waste of Space Orchestra

If unusual, atypical, epic music is your thing, then try out Waste of Space Orchestra. Psychedelic post-metal is the simplistic label and works, but the reality is even stranger. Made up of all members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising, this album is engrossing as it takes you on its strange, unsettling journey.

11

Déhà
Cruel Words

Deha - Cruel Words

Déhà is a man of many projects and great ambition, but on  Cruel Words, he has surely produced his magnum opus. Full of emotive grandeur and affecting power, these songs soar to great heights and descend to equally great depths. Doom, post-rock, whatever; this has it, and wields it with alarming proficiency.

10

Ancient Moon
Benedictus Diabolica, Gloria Patri

Ancient Moon - Benedictus Diabolica, Gloria Patri

Consisting of only two colossal tracks, the second album from Ancient Moon builds on the considerable strengths of the first to produce some of the highest quality black metal unleashed this year. Scathing in places, and atmospheric in others, this is a nuanced and textured exploration of fine blackened art.

9

Cattle Decapitation
Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation - Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation have come a long way over the years, from relatively humble deathgrind beginnings to epic progressive melodically-charged death metal. There’s more than enough brutality here to satisfy, but this is definitely the band’s most ambitious and wide-ranging release.

8

Glare of the Sun
Theia

Glare of the Sun - Theia

Theia is an album that I wasn’t too sure of on first listen, but it ended up growing on me like a disease. A few spins later, and I was in its thrall. The band’s brand of sludgy melodic doom metal hooked me slowly, but the hooks ran deep. This album is exquisite, and its songs first class.

7

Kalt || Weiss
Serotonin

Kalt Weiss - Serotonin

Serotonin is an avant-garde black metal album that was a late entrant into my world, but a very welcome one. Mixing contemporary/alternative metal influences into its atmospheric and intense post-blackened style, this is an emotive collection of music that’s individual and extremely enjoyable.

6

Somn
The All-Devouring

Somn - The All-Devouring

Somn’s debut album was an early highlight of 2019 and has stuck with me throughout the year, never really loosening its grip. The band’s post-black metal is sharp and visceral, shot through with modern bite and expressive blackgaze atmosphere. Ones to watch for sure.

5

Paladin
Ascension

Paladin - Ascension

Blackened power metal? Damn! Something like this is basically irresistible. Thrashing with gnarled melodic intensity and soaring with classic metallic might, the songs on Ascension are moreish, easy to digest, and the type of quality tunes that you find yourself singing along to without thinking. So goooood!

4

Employed to Serve
Eternal Forward Motion

Employed to Serve - Eternal Forward Motion

Employed to Serve deal in scathing modern ferocity, and they are exemplars of their art. Their metallic hardcore assault is focused and angry, channeling an authentic rage into songs that kick the door down and demand you pay attention to the world’s hardships. This band will move you in more ways than one.

3

The Drowning
The Radiant Dark

The Drowning - The Radiant Dark

This is my first exposure to The Drowning’s death/doom world, but it seems I’ve been missing out, as The Radiant Dark is a monster of an album. Packed with the type of engaging songwriting that you rarely encounter these days, The Drowning’s music delivers everything you’d want from the style, and much more.

2

Ataraxie
Résignés

Ataraxie - Résignés

Easily the longest album on this list, and also the most crushing, this is funeral doom at its bleakest and most emotive. Everything about this album is huge, and throughout its imposing duration, the band never fail to hold attention or entrance with their vision of harsh musical negativity — a masterpiece of doom.

1

Wilderun
Veil of Imagination

Wilderun - Veil of Imagination

So here we are, the much-coveted top slot on any list. This year, it’s deservedly taken by Wilderun, with their sterling third album. The Veil of Imagination really is shockingly good. Every aspect of it is superbly crafted and judged, full of emotive power and endless hidden depths. Each song is a continent of its own, and they fit together into such a compelling whole that you’re left with an entire world to explore. Rich and textured, and epic in scope and delivery, Wilderun have produced an album that will surely be recognized as a real, undeniable classic. If you only take the time to explore one album on this list, make sure it’s this one — a flawless beauty.

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