Monday, December 21, 2009

Seth's top 10 Metal albums of 2009

In no particular order but with commentary.....

Kreator - Hordes of Chaos
I still listen to this record constantly. If any record was the soundtrack to my year it is this. The production is perfect and some of the best songs of their career.

Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
Bands are not supposed to get better 20+ years into their career. This is completely unintuitive. Yet here we are in 2009 and Napalm Death puts out their best record. Aside from simply being awesome, they reconcile their fast grindcore side with their extended riffage in the 90s, and add an amazing Killing Joke-esque post punk groove.

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame
A controversial record that I think has been made even more controversial by the era we live in. This is first and foremost an ALBUM, not a collection of songs. It demands and rewards repeat listens. I disagree that the ambiance is filler amongst the three fast and brutal songs. They wanted to take a completely different approach to Black Metal than their contemporaries and stripped it completely down to atmosphere and mood. This record is terrifying, and if you dismissed it in our iPod culture I recommend giving it another shot.

Voivod - Infini
To be honest I have not enjoyed any of the records they've put out after Piggy's death. They sounded lifeless and uninspired and I was very concerned that the band was tarnishing their legacy and Piggy's by making those records at all. It seems they were saving the best for last because Infini may be the best record they've made since Nothingface. It is so driving and weird and dissonant and complex. Everything you want Voivod to be and more. A very fulfilling end to the Piggy era.

Goatwhore - Carving out the Eyes of God
Everything I like about Morbid Tales era Celtic Frost filtered through a thick layer of NOLA swamp sludge. The band who wins the price for most money I spent on merch for a single band in 2009.

Absu - s/t
Seeing how mediocre and silly their stage show was made me lose a little love for this band but nothing can take away how enraptured I was the first time I heard Amy. The album also gets weirder and a bit more psychedelic as it progresses, which is something I love. It gives you a feeling that the drugs are "kicking in."

Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Enough has been said about how amazing this album is. I have nothing more to add. Anyone who doesn't have this on their best of list is just being a contrarian ass. I wouldn't be surprised in one or two albums from now if they are headlining Giant's Stadium.

Arch Enemy - The Root of All Evil
Sure it is just re-recordings of stuff they did before Angela, but I didn't really like their first singer. It is nice to be able to visit studio versions of songs I have grown to love live, such as Silverwing. I still wish Maiden would do this for songs from X Factor and Virtual XI.

Slayer - World Painted Red
An album which I am surprised has been a bit controversial. Maybe it has just been perception. I think Slayer fell into a rut years ago and have the same issue Sonic Youth has. All their albums are good, all their records sound like them, but I never jones to hear them. To follow this analogy through, this is Slayer's "Rather Ripped." A genuinely amazing and inspired album. The production is stripped down and brutal, and they aren't just barreling through with classic Slayer speed. In spirit this album reminds me of Seasons in the Abyss, and for songwriting it sounds fresh and new. If they were a new band this would be my #1 record.

King Diamond - Metal Blade reissues
For the purposes of this list I am putting all four reissues as my last "best of" album. When I heard Andy LaRoque was remastering the four 90s era King Diamond records I was suspicious at best, and cynical at worst. The horrible "enhanced" album covers which are the worst examples of novice Photoshop use didn't help either. But they SOUND so good. They are both louder than the originals AND less compressed. Four albums I already loved became a revelation. I need to get into this more, but that will be a separate "As The Palaces Burned" post on this blog.

Just missed the cut:
Behemoth - Evangelion
Baroness - Blue Record
Them Crooked Vultures
Tyr - By the Light of the Northern Star

Never had a chance (biggest let downs of the year):
Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Megadeth - Endgame
Alestorm - Black Sails at Midnight
Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2009

In no particular order:
  1. Kreator - Hordes of Chaos
  2. Absu - Absu
  3. Mastodon - Crack the Skye
  4. Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
  5. Týr - By the Light of the Northern Star
  6. Goatwhore - Carving Out the Eyes of God
  7. Megadeth - Endgame
  8. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue
  9. Skeletonwitch - Breathing the Fire
  10. Swallow the Sun - New Moon
For the life of me, I couldn't remember what came out this year (like American Soldier - I had blocked that abomination out of my mind), so I cheated, looked up this year's releases on Wikipedia, and wrote down eighteen possibilities before culling the list. Here are the runners up, again in no particular order:
  1. Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
  2. Suidakra - Crógacht
  3. Anaal Nathrakh - In the Constellation of the Black Widow
  4. 3 Inches of Blood - Here Waits Thy Doom
  5. Immortal - All Shall Fall
  6. Baroness - Blue Record
  7. Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Actually, that "no particular order" thing is a lie: Black Clouds and Silver Linings is on there because I feel guilty that I haven't given that album enough of a chance after my initial rejection of a third of the material and Dream Theater gets a pass for past service. Let's just say that Black Clouds is the kid with the average grades who gets into the Ivy League school because his siblings are successful (and generous) alumni.