Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 20 Of 2010

So 2010 has been a relatively good year as far as metal music is concerned. Lots of good metal worth checking out. Plenty of great debuts, awesome returns and tear jerking breakups. The underground continues to blossom as metal becomes a mainstream sensation. I can only foresee bad things from that though. All truly legendary metal has been released, perhaps not so much as an underground entity, but as an unknown entity. Carcass? Nile? Testament? The list could very well span a few miles...and I suppose this is the evolution of metal, and no matter how much I wish it would fix itself, I can't see it happening.

Even with this foray into popularity, this year has produced some great headlines, some sad headlines and of course, some what the fuck ones.With it, we've bore witness to such events as... 

the Dream Theater vs.
Mike Portnoy saga...

The Fear Factory legal scuffle...

...and the now blossoming
Max Cavalera vs.
Bobby Burns feud.

Shit, the grandfather of metal passed on.
Dio, age 67, was carried to the mountaintop
 to be returned to the gods by a dragon.
Or something.

A few others checked out. The Rev, Peter Steele, and Paul Gray (Of Slipknot fame, of which I hate) all decided to kick the bucket.
But when Nergal figured he would do likewise,
he Charlie Brown-ed it. Sort of?
So it doesn't count. Still.
Where is your god now?
Not in that hospital room.
A lot of other things happened this year worth mentioning as well.

One of my favorite bands, Red Harvest, decided to call it quits. What the fuck guys? this had better be only a step to a great return where I will be singed to ashes with some more ultra-industrial metal.

Also, Blackened death metal titans Zyklon are also throwing in the towel. Oh shit, why do all the good bands have to quit, and all the shitty ones keep pouring out horrifically awful music like The Autumn Offering and The Number Twelve Looks Like You. Oh yeah, they shit the bed too. Well, I suppose every cloud has a silver lining.

Deathcore overlords Despised Icon decided to end their run as well.

I was going to call them deathcore icons but...I couldn't bring myself to it. 

Melodeath powerhouse Luna Mortis also ended their run with two albums to their name. Seems a bit like they cut out before they really got into the shit to begin with.

But with these departures, we can welcome back such bands as...
                         Death look-a-likes Autopsy...                            ...Voivod...                                                      ...and Godflesh

We also got to see a cool tour. The big four. It's been long enough, they decided to man up and devastate some cities. I see this happening again soon. Only after Araya fixes up that pretzel he calls a spine.

The original guitarist for Swedish Melodeath GODS In Flames, Jesper Stromblad also backs out of the band in order to pursue rehabilitation for severe alcoholism. Did anyone watch the "A Sense of Purpose DVD? Shit. Daniel is worse off. Naked Wednesday??

Technical Metal band Textures loses a singer. Damn.

Anthrax takes in Belladonna. Again. Are they starting up a posse? MYPOSSE...MYPOSSE...

Sickeningly talented technical death metal band Arsis acquires a new bassist. Who would be interested when Malone cuts your face off with a harvester on "Forced To Rock"? No one.

Metal grab-bag band Kvelertak debut
with an album that I actually like a lot.

Dark Funeral explodes like an anti-christian bomb,
leaving only Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol to wade through
the black metal rubble. Three out of five members bail?
Someone's got herp.

With all of this being said, I think it's time I pick my top twenty albums of this year. It was hard to pick who made it to the list and who fell short into the 'honorable mentions' category.

20. Tristwood - Dystopia et Disturbia 

Goddamn. I remember when I heard Napalm Death's "Barney" singing, I was slightly frightened. That guys voice is beyond intimidating. It's indescribable and inimitable (believe me, I've tried.) Tristwood is a close second as far as intimidating voiced go. Not only that, but the atmosphere in this album is just downright vile. So much aura, it's overwhelming when the first track finally kicks in and you're enveloped in this blackened death-groove of hate and fear. Tristwood are the last bad I found that made it to this list. I'm glad they did too. That album makes me shiver with pleasant contempt.

19. Obsidian - Point of Infinity 

I have no idea who these guys are, where they came from, but this album really impressed me. I've been listening to the first 4 or 5 tracks for a while. They could really turn out to be a great, popular band in 2011.

18. Ungrace - Hostile Revival 

An, more unknowns, again. This is definitely a band that has set up their tent in "Fear Factory Camp". Great heavy riffs, great choruses, plenty of headbanging. The singer has an odd voice. I like it though.

17. Aeon - Path of Fire 

Ahh yes. Good death metal that dislikes religion.Well what did you expect? Again, nothing groundbreaking here, just overall good metal. "Of Fire" should be enough of an explanation.

16. Trauma - Archetype of Chaos

Just a great album. I hadn't known about these guys until this album. Upon hearing "The Slime", I immediately purchased all of their albums. No regret.

15. Soreption - Deterioration of Minds

Often compared to Decapitated, Soreption are a very kick-drum oriented band. That drummer is really dealing out some damage on this one. Even though it's by definition, technical death metal, it's still got this unreal groove to it. The first track, sixth track, and eighth track are fine examples of this.

14. Immolation - Majesty and Decay 

Legends. Icons. Titans. By name alone, they belong here. But even if this were their debut, it'd be right where it is. Nothing groundbreaking, just an exemplary release by very metal veterans.

13. Fleshgod Apocalypse - Mafia 

No explanation here. Brutal Italian Technical Death Metal. Listen to 'Abyssal' and you'll know why it's on here.

12. Son of Aurelius - Myocardial Infarction

Another band who would be ridiculously awesome if they changed their singer. He just does not sit well with me. Even with this disadvantage, the musicianship brings them back on the list. It's quite the technically

11. Crionics - Noir 

That first track is superb. Crionics threw a curveball on that one. Aside from it being different from what they normally do, it's essentially nothing I haven't heard before. Crionics just executed it extremely well.

10. Synthetic Breed - Perpetual Motion Machine 

This album almost didn't make it. The music, spectacular. Technically speaking, it's perfect. Those Australians really bring the shit. (The Amenta, anyone?) The only problem I have with it is the anyeurism they call a singer. I really don't like him, and would rather have the guy they had on "Catatonic" on this album. I'll reveal something to you. In the metal world, I divide singers up into two different categories. Cats, and dogs. Cats have a shrieking, grinding shrill screech to their voice. This singer is a cat. So is the singer for Chimaira and, at times, Lamb of God. Now dogs, on the other hand, are rough, deep, and bellowing. A voice that carries. Examples would be Amon Amarth, Skinless, and another band on the list, Tristwood. Now, onto number 9.

9. The Acacia Strain - Wormwood 

This is about as far down the 'Deathcore scale" I can go before I back off. There's just enough intensity here to keep me interested. 'Beast' is, well, a beast. It really brings to light the anger and hate that The Acacia Strain seem to have. Songs like "Bay of Pigs", "BTM FDR", and "The Impaler" are highlights of the album.

8. Arsis - Starve For The Devil 

Ahhh. Sweeps and solos abound. Spastic rhythm changes. Powerful songs. Metal that never repeats a verse. Well, a lot of the time, anyway. This album is just well rounded. Lots of examples of great abilities by all members. "Forced To Rock" is one of the best opening tracks to an album EVER. It just gets me pumped.

7. Cloudkicker - Beacons

Noticing the trend yet? A lot of these bands have already made recent posts on AMR. And this is no exception. The guy is a brilliant musician and songwriter. That's right. The GUY. one dude, and he exemplifies talent. Some of the catchiest, djent-iest metal I've ever heard has been labeled "Cloudkicker". Beacons delivers in groove in technicality. And with that, no singing. Oddly enough.

6. Illidiance - Damage Theory

More unknowns. Ultra Cyber Metal. Catchy choruses, powerful drumming techniques and enough peripheral sound effects to spin your hat and fuck your anus. Fans of Fear Factory and Machinae Supremacy would like this album.

5. Misery Index - Heirs to Thievery

God this album kicks the shit out of me every time I listen. Adam Jarvis is a sickening drummer. Everyone in this album knows how to beat your head about, and this album is perfect for any sort of violent activities you may participate in.

4. Levi/Westler - Avalanche of Worms

I normally hate solo albums such as this. No vocals, and a self serving guitarist who wants to show everyone what he's got. (Yngwie? Yeah.) But in this case, I was wrong. It took me about four months to actually listen to it once I got it. And I wish I hadn't waited. This is such a melodic and catchy solo album. I don't even consider it a solo album. It's just...a sonic rollercoaster. Daath gets two places on my list. Deserved places, of course.

3. Noctiferia - Death Culture 

No one knows these guys. And that is a sin. Noctiferia know how to destroy. And with this album, they do so. They definitely have aspects reminiscent of Fear Factory, as shown with such tracks as "Demoncracy" and "Slavedriver". This is definitely an impressive album, even though this is the bands...fifth? They've got a few under their belt. They used to do black metal. I dunno. Whatever happened, I like it.

2. Daath - Daath

These guys get it. Fast, unrelenting, and they've managed to capture a more than eerie tone with their music, specifically the ambient background sounds. If anyone has ever seen Salad Fingers, the ambient noise in those animations remind me heavily of Daath. This is all around beautifully executed metal music.

Now...number one...

1. Fear Factory - Mechanize

Hate all you want. It's number one. It's got everything metal needs. Intense drumming, enormously heavy guitar riffs, pounding effects, and of course, enough groove to make any head crushing you may partake in, a little more rhythmic. This album signifies an enormous comeback from that abortion they called "Transgression". This is how Fear Factory should always be. Make all the fat jokes you want. They are the best and absolutely deserve this spot. The title track alone has more than seven times more plays on my media player than the next BAND that follows up. Which was Daath.

And now with the honorable no particular order.

Bloodspawn - Bring The Suffering
Underground death metal. Just quality. Good tunes.

Dawn of Ashes - Genocide Chapters
Took me a few tries to like this, but by god, I got into them. The singer has a very recognizable voice.

Inherit Disease - Visceral Transcendance
Fucking lunacy.

Dawn of Demise - A Force Unstoppable
Traditional death metal in the vein of Cannibal Corpse.

Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra
Symphonic chaos. I at first hated Gateways, but then it grew on me. That girl singer in the video looks like a 3rd grade teacher.

The Body - All The Waters of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood
Ever hear of Sun0)))? Ever hear of Khylst? Not that far off. This band is creepy. Lots of ambient stuff to pick up on multiple listens.

Anno Domini - Atrocities
As generic as this band is, they still pull of listenable music that doesn't seem to copy too much bands of it's generation.

System Divide - The Conscious Sedation
I was taken aback when I heard the extremely-extremely ultra hot girl singer take over on the chorus. The musicianship is also awe inspiring. I want that drummer in my band.

So I guess that's it for now. I'm sure we can look forward to plenty of new metal in the coming year. To name a few, Morbid Angel, In Flames, Testament, Carnal Forge, Machine Head, Devildriver. Have a drink to the new year. Get slammed.