Arch/Matheos "Sympathetic Resonance" - what's in a name? A *lot* apparently. This album should have been released as a Fate's Warning record. The record is a reunion of the original lineup and if they would have more aggressively promoted this album as such it would be on many more top 10 lists. If you like progressive metal this is the sleeper hit of the year. Simultaneously classic sounding and forward thinking, these long winding songs are all layered with incredible production.
All Pigs Must Die "God is War" - Something about the gigantic noisy production, sheer brutality and black metal flourishes really hits the spot. This is a perfect marriage of hardcore and metal which doesn't pander to "crossover" sensibilities.
Opeth "Heritage" - I love that Akerfeldt and company had the courage to jump straight down the rabbit hole and indulge all of the progressive tendencies they've been hinting at on their previous records. I love even more that the songs are so strong.
Metallica/Lou Reed "Lulu" - I'm curious as to how people will see this record in a few years from now. Too base and brutish for the art heads and too arty for the metal heads it lives in a weird rock and roll limbo. I listen to this record on a regular basis and it gets better every time. If we didn't live in the type of
gut reaction culture where people had made up their minds from a 30 second sample more people would have probably come to this with an open mind. I don't like it because I'm a contrarian, I like it because it is good and has musical value.
Future of the Left "Polymers are Forever" - It is unacceptable how much better this band gets with every release. Moving away from the documentary recording style of Steve Albini and into more "produced" territory FoTL have gotten bigger and more ambitious. Synths? Sure! Black Sabbath riffing? Why not? This EP has given me more joy than any other release this year.
Anthrax "Worship Music" - The energy and excitement may have been because of the addition of Dan Nelson and not Joey Belladonna, but the fact remains this is an inspired kick-ass Anthrax record no matter who is singing. The layering and more "rock" elements of the Bush era remain while the band made an effort to go
back to the thrashy chugging of the early days.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - the stronger of the two Gallagher brother releases this year, it is a more subdued effort than Oasis but these songs are always sticking in my head.
Amebix "Sonic Mass" - They're doing Killing Joke better than Killing Joke themselves right now. This is the best kind of bleak.
Trap Them "Darker Handcraft" - The sound of demons grabbing at you as you are being pulled into hell. After this record you will feel compelled to wash your hands. The music is so crusty and so technical it sounds like Voivod was living in a squat.
Wild Flag "s/t' - Good old fashioned kick ass music by female rock royalty. This band is truly deserving of all of their praise. It is too weird to be mainstream, too slick to be indie, and too catchy to be ignored.