THE BEST METAL ALBUMS OF 2010, AS CHOSEN BY METAL MUSICIANS THEMSELVES — PART VI
FEATURING MEMBERS OF GOD FORBID, AT THE GATES, DISFEAR, MACHINE HEAD, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, THE OCEAN, JUCIFER, THE BINARY CODE, HULL, DYSRHYTHMIA, INDIAN, AND DARKEST ERA
For 2010, we decided to do something special as part of our regular end-of-year festivities here at MetalSucks — namely, ask musicians from across the vast spectrum of the metalsphere (or, in a few cases, the almost-metalsphere) what their favorite albums of the year were. Death metallers, thrash metallers, black metallers, stoners, grinders, and djenters alike graciously contributed lists to MS, and we’ll be running them in groups of ten to eleven musicians at a time twice a day for the rest of the week.
After the jump, check out the sixth group… we hope you enjoy seeing what some of metal’s heaviest hitters were into this year as much as we have!
(And please note that these are musicians and that they, um, have a lot on their minds. So some of ’em named albums that actually came out last year. Please don’t freak out.)
DOC COYLE, GOD FORBID
2010 was an interesting year in the world of music, but to be truthful, I’ve been so busy working on new music myself that I really didn’t listen to as many new albums and new bands as I would have liked to to. I’m sure there are some killer new bands that I haven’t been exposed to. I will have to scour everyone else’s top 10’s to find the hidden gems out there. Overall, I can say that there were some disappointments from some old favorites, a handful of lukewarm passable records I heard, and maybe just the fact I’m getting a little older that some of the newer genres aren’t really hitting me. Sumeriancore and crabcore is all the rage these days, but I still have hope. These were the best of the bunch I heard for heavy music.
1. Deftones, Diamond Eyes — In a year where good songs outnumbered good albums, the opening title track said it all as it mowed down all the competition in its imminent perfection. I realized how much I loved the Deftones this year. Between hearing this album and seeing them live twice, it dawned how important they are to me and many others. Like Opeth, they keep trucking along at the top of their field with no signs of slowing down. A brilliant album by a brilliant band.
2. Periphery, Periphery — I probably listened to this album the most in terms of quantity. I was really looking forward this and they really delivered. In my opinion, Periphery are the current leaders of this whole djent scene in terms of originality, musicianship and ambition. I love that they have a real singer in an era that doesn’t seem to favor vocal melody as far as younger bands are concerned. I can’t wait to hear what they do next!
3. Soilwork, Panic Broadcast — Soilwork is back! Peter Wichers really brought something back to this band that is irreplaceable. This is the best Soilwork album since Natural Born Chaos. It so well written, performed, and recorded. You really can’t go wrong if you enjoy this style of metal. I love this album. I don’t have much to say, just listen to Soilwork rip!
4. As I Lay Dying, The Powerless Rise — This band surprises me with every new release. They seem to consistently get better, and The Powerless Rise is no exception. You can tell that these guys are students of metal, and they put a lot of work into crafting their songs and honing their chops. The days of lumping As I Lay Dying in with the rest of metalcore garbage heap are over.
5. Slash, Slash — Slash is my favorite guitar player. He is pretty much the reason I play. This is a little biased, but with that said, I have to really give him credit for this album. I’m not sure which songs he wrote or not, but it smokes both Velvet Revolver records, and it’s his best tone and lead playing since Use Your Illusion. There are a few rock radio snoozers on here, but more hits than misses. Especially the Miles Kennedy songs and the M. Shadows jam.
6. Sevendust, Cold Day Memory — The MetalSucks crew hit the nail on the head when comparing the Soilwork/Peter Wichers situation and the Sevendust/Clint Lowery deal. These guys are just too important to the chemistry of their bands to not be there. This is the best Sevendust record since Animosity. Clin’ts riffs and voice are just amazing. He actually does some killer guitar solos as well. I love this band, and I’m glad they are still kicking ass.
7. Nevermore, The Obsidian Conspiracy — We had to wait five years for this one, but better late than never. Nevermore is another one of my favorite bands. Their talent is off the charts, and although I don’t think Obsidian Conspiracy is on the level of The Godless Endeavor or Dead Heart in a Dead World, it still crushes most of what else is out there. Jeff is on fire as usual, and Van Williams may just be the most underrated drummer in metal. Motherfucker got groove!
8. Daath, Daath –vI’ve been absorbing this record for about a month now and it’s really blown me away. This album has a very dark vibe, and although its fast and intense, there’s something kind of doomy always lurking. I have so much respect for Eyal and Emil’s playing and writing. The more natural drum production really benefits Kevin Talley’s playing. He really shines on this album.
9. Death Angel, Relentless Retribution — I just got this album a week ago so I haven’t listened to it a whole bunch, but it hooked me immediately. God Forbid did a tour with these guys a couple years back, and I really enjoyed watching them every night. They sound extremely vibrant, energized, and that type of pure enthusiasm is very difficult to fake in metal. It’s awesome when bands can keep it going at such a high level in a long career. It gives me hope.
10. Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare — In all honesty, in comparison to 2007’s self-titled album, I was a little disappointed. But Nightmare’s high points are really great, and I just enjoy this band. Go to the 4:57 mark of “Buried Alive,” and if you aren’t feeling that, we aren’t getting along. They write big, epic, ambitious songs that are right up my alley. In light of the Rev passing, I’m just happy they are still doing it and really flourishing. Here’s to 2011!
Honorable Mention – TessaracT’s Concealing Fate, Volbeat’s entire catalog, all fifty records Devin Townsend put out this year, Demon Hunter’s The World is a Thorn, Sade’s Soldier of Love
Best Live Show – (TIED) BlackDiamondSkye Tour w/Alice In Chains, Deftones, and Mastodon and Faith No More Reunion @ Williamsburg Waterfront
Most Anticipated Albums –The Human Abstract, A Life Once Lost, Opeth, In Flames, A Perfect Circle, Soundgarden (???), The Haunted, DevilDriver, anything I put out (Come on Doc, you lazy bitch!).
TOMAS LINDBERG, AT THE GATES, DISFEAR
In no particular order…
Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones
Autopsy, The Tomb Within
Ghost, Opus Epynomous
Misery Index, Heirs To Thievery
Watain, Lawless Darkness
Holy Fuck, Latin
Torche, Songs for Singles
Dax Riggs, Say Goodnight to the World
ROBB FLYNN, MACHINE HEAD
Top ten albums I rocked in 2010 (not necessarily released in 2010):
1. Deftones, Diamond Eyes — From the first time I heard the song “Diamond Eyes” I was floored. Deftones managed to do what is the most exhilarating, and yet most difficult, thing for any band to do: keep the foundation of your sound, but infuse it with something modern or fresh. In their case, this was accomplished with guitarist Stephan Carpenter’s introduction of an 8 string guitar, and some serious Meshuggah-worshipping riffs. Chino fully explores his range and harmonizing skills, Frank Delgado’s keyboards/DJ-ing add some incredible mind-bending depth and ambiance, while drummer Abe Cunningham and new bassist Sergio Vega’s poly-rhythmic foundation somehow glues it all together. That the band was able to pull it from the depths of such a horrible situation is an even greater testament to how good this band truly is. Crushingly heavy, beautiful, passionate, and real, Diamond Eyes is my album of the year. Check out “Diamond Eyes.”
2. Eminem, Recovery — The venom and anger are back, and he got rid of the weird ragamuffin flow from Relapse. He also thankfully changed the musical landscape of hip-hop by introducing a different level of production with stoner guitar jams, sampling Sabbath and New Wave, and adding classic rock elements. Most importantly, he’s pissed again. Check out “Almost Famous.”
3. Protest The Hero, Fortress — This band literally saved me this year. So fresh, different, heavy, beautiful, challenging, weird, musical, talented. Inspired beyond belief by them. Check out “Bloodmeat.”
4. Flyleaf, Flyleaf & Memento Mori — My personal views are pretty much the polar opposite of what this band stands for, and yet, Lacey’s voice absolutely mesmerizes me, it hypnotizes me. The guitar melodies, the Robert Smith-guitar tones… wow. Saw them live for the first time this year and had a non-religeous-religious experience. Check out “Circle” and “So I Thought.”
5. Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare — I’ve hated everything this band has done post-Waking the Fallen, but this album floored me. Heavy, melodic, huge. A band going for it, doing their own thing, and getting massive results. Every one of these dudes is extremely talented. They should probably being paying Metallica and GN’ R royalties, but who cares when it’s done this good, and they’re are turning a whole new generation onto the originators of metal? Thank you A7X for finally getting us a legit metal record in at number one instead of some country bullshit, Justin Bieber, or lame rap record. Check out “Nightmare.”
6. Karnivool, Sound Awake — Music Choice’s metal station played this a lot ,and I have it on for background noise when I put my son down for a nap. Really impressive band, great sense of melody, progressive, and the fact that the singer can sing almost entirely clean yet still sound heavy is a testament to how good this band can become. Check out “Set Fire to the Hive.”
7. Shinedown, The Sound Of Madness — Waaaay late to the Shinedown party, but the best straight-up-rock record of the last five years. Check out “Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide.”
8. Jay Z, The Blueprint 3 — As a long time hip-hop head who’s somewhat disillusioned with how bad rap has gotten lately, I still always check out a new Hov record. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s lame, but in this case he has delivered maybe his best album since The Blueprint ten years ago. Pissed, cocky, ballsy, reflective… dude’s flow is incredible. He’s doing something that was nearly impossible before in hip-hop… growing up gracefully, and getting better with age. Check out “On to the Next One.”
9. Sevendust, Cold Day Memory — I can’t say I really ever got the whole Sevendust thing. Great dudes, talented players, but it never clicked for me. This record, I finally got it. Insane vocal harmonies, great metallic/melodic rock riffs, tasteful keyboard parts, interesting structures. Kudos to the 24/7 dust. Check out “Karma.”
10. Exodus, Exhibit B: The Human Condition — I feel incredibly blessed to have grown up as a teenager in the golden era of Bay Area thrash, and to have been able to witness that scene. For a good three years, Exodus were the only band that mattered to me, I was obsessed with them. It is amazing and inspiring that they have been able to persevere on through years of bad luck to nail down a stable line-up, and find the gem that is Rob Dukes as a singer. He has the skills of Zetro, but has that “Whoa-that-dude-has-problems” persona of of former singer Paul Baloff that I so gravitate towards in music. I other words, he’s pissed. If the song “Burn Hollywood Burn” doesn’t make you want to stab posers in the arm with a fork, there’s is something wrong with you. Check out “Burn Hollywood Burn.”
TOMMY ROGERS, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME
1. Pendulum, Immersion
2. Mike Patton, Mondo Cane
3. Pain of Salvation, Road Salt One
4. Johnny Cash, Ain’t No Grave
5. Braveyoung, We Are The Lonely Animals
6. 1349, Demonoir
7. Brandon Flowers, Flamingo
8. Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer
9. Rufus Wainwright, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
10. Deathspell Omega, Paracletus
ROBIN STAPS, THE OCEAN
In this particular order:
1. The Dillinger Escape Plan, Option Paralysis
2. Deftones, Diamond Eyes
3. Abraham, An Eye on the Universe
4. Kruger, For Death, Glory and the End of the World
5. Knut, Wonder
6. Khoma, A Final Storm
7. Efterklang, Magic Chairs
8. Misery Index, Heirs To Thievery
9. The Black Atlantic, Reverence for Fallen Trees (OK this came out in 2009 but I discovered it only this year)
10. At Our Heels, Misanthropy and Godlessness
AMBER VALENTINE, JUCIFER
1. Jucifer, Throned In Blood — Yes. It might be considered lame to choose your own album. But it’s more lame to put the album out if you don’t stand behind it to the nth. After a succession of long, production feast-y records, we made this one short and raw. And unlike our other full-lengths we (mostly) excluded songs beyond the spectrum of what we’d play live. It’s bleak, black, doomed, and nihilistic. But in a weird way could be the most ‘fun’ album we’ve done.
2. Watain, Lawless Darkness — As a vegan I’m disgusted (those of you who’ve been to their shows know why). As a black metal fan, I’m rapturously inebriated on Watain’s poison. Infinitely sinister, they sheathe technicality in emotion so it all just washes into you… like the stench of rotting blood, but cleaner.
3. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones — Saw some of this in concert at a festival we both played. It was epic — I couldn’t stop grinning, headbanging, punching my own leg and stomping the ground. Which was appropriate, since Triptykon seems hellbent to the center of the earth on this one. Warrior forever!
4. Immolation, Majesty And Decay — I love death metal. Even more, I love death metal that surprises me. Immolation keeps it brutal and shows, like most of my favorite music, the massive difference between technicality for its own sake and technicality that lends itself to good songs.
5. Pantera, Cowboys From Hell (re-issue) — Yeah I know, it’s an old record. But I have great memories of getting wasted on 40’s of St.Ides with Edgar and dancing by ourselves to the whole album — twice over! — at a house party way back when. It took malt-liquor-drunk idiots to couple dance to Pantera, and it took Pantera to bring groove metal (for better or worse).to the 90’s.
6. Salome, Terminal — I’m totally biased because I’ve known these guys for awhile. They’re great people and I love their band. Rich, raw, anguished, and leaden in the best sense of the word.
7. Sigh, Scenes From Hell — A friend turned me on to this. Along with black metal I’m a sucker for strings and brass, and crazy noise… all of which are present here.
8. High On Fire, Snakes For The Divine — I’m biased with these guys too, knowing Matt and Des since we toured together a few years back. Even so I slept on this record for awhile. Glad I finally woke up! Matt Pike and HOF have been awesome at what they do for so long that we really expect nothing less, but ‘Snakes’ has turned it up a notch. It feels taut, wired, and furious, even through the slicker-than-usual production.
9. Brutal Truth, Need To Control (re-issue) — Another re-issue, but damn, a classic is a classic. Plus you get bonus tracks and an interview.
10. Ufomammut, Eve — Originally met these guys because of their utterly fantastic art collective, Malleus, which is responsible for some of the most jaw-dropping gorgeous poster art in the world. Snagged a copy of ‘Eve’ when we played together in the spring and, impressed as I was with their magnificent show, was equally impressed with the new album. Psychedelic passages trip you out and lull you… then when you’re getting cozy they come at you with a mega-riff from hell. Not to mention the concept rules. And I’m always down for some tastefully-employed Theremin.
11. Random Non-Metal Shout Outs — I just need to get these off my chest. Much as I’ve never paid attention to Rihanna (to the extent that I had to Google to learn she did this song) I’ve been disturbingly unable to change radio stations whenever “Only Girl (In The World)” comes on. Ditto for that “Like a G6″number by Far East Movement. (Had to Google that one too.) I can’t speak for the albums, but the singles make me almost want to get them. Almost.
12. One Last Thing — Google pwns Bing, and Bing is exactly what their ads accuse Google of being: a purveyor of crap you never asked it to find.
JESSE ZURETTI, THE BINARY CODE
1. Jaga Jazzist, One Armed Bandit
2. Pat Metheny, Orchestrion
3. Les Discrets, Septembre et ses dernières Pensée
4. Kruger, For Death, Glory and the End of the World
5. Deathspell Omega, Paracletus
6. Mantric, The Descent
7. Castevet, Mounds of Ash
8. Envy, Recitation
9. Ghost, Opus Eponymous
10. As We Draw, Lines Breaking Circles
NICK PALMIROTTO, HULL
1. Defeatist, Sixth Extinction (Willowtip) — If you are into fast, loud, pissed-off music, even the least bit, you will immediately have respect for these three “grandfathers of grindcore.” Drew Mack (HULL) and myself had the fortunate opportunity to create some blistering brutality together with drummer Joel “The Hummingbird” Stallings in our former band, Reservoir, and let me just tell you… the man is a fucking machine! If the sound of two tanks fighting in a mass grave of dying volcanoes and earthquakes is what you’re looking for, Defeatist is the band for you!
2. Salome. Terminal (Profound Lore) — In the past, I used to snarl at bands without bassists. I just need that heavy low end to ruminate through my bones. Fortunately for Salome, Rob Moore’s ridiculously massive guitar tone mixed with Aaron Deal’s thundering drums and Katherine Katz’ excruciatingly barbarous vocals means that there is definitely no need for any more bass. What makes this band even more exciting is the fact that Kat is the voice of Satan hidden inside the shell of a petite blond… it’s like a present day wolf in sheep’s clothing! After having the pleasure to tour with Salome and Batillus on 2009’s Beard Destroyer Tour, I can say that I am proud to call them my friends.
3. Wormrot, Abuse (Earache) — I am so stoked to have gotten to see this band at all, being that they are from Singapore… but to have seen them at The Acheron (Best DIY venue in NYC, run by local thrashers, Atakke (RIP)) was absolutely phenomenal! Again, no bassist, and no bassist needed. My mind has been opened. Flex your head. Grind your face.
4. The Ascent of Everest, From This Vantage (Shels Music) — I went to 538 Johnson to see these guys, as a good portion of the members came from Nashville’s Evil Bebos, and due to the fact that the Bebos fucking own, and they are some of the best people around (they always put us up, hook up shows and party with us whenever we are in Tennessee), I decided that the least I could do was to check them out in my own hood. I had to work early in the morning, and they were scheduled last, so I was very hesitant to stay… physical labor + lack of sleep = shit, but Fuckin’ A was I happy I did! This orchestral, shoegazey, experimentally ambient phenomenon absolutely blew me away. If you are looking for a soundtrack to sleep while dreaming about having sex on a lunar flight while tripping on mushrooms to, this is the album for you.
5. Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra, Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation) — The first time I had the pleasant experience of witnessing this prodigious orchestral assemblage at the former North 6 in Brooklyn, I was barely able to hold back my tears. Members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor plus Equal parts symphonic ensemble and punk rock ideals, TSMZMO is one band that should never be missed if ever the opportunity presents itself. One of my most memorable experiences is sharing the stage with them at The Impetus Festival in Lausanne, Switzerland while playing bass for Jarboe in April 2010.
6. Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore) — Unfortunately, we can no longer call Agalloch label mates, as they have since moved on from The End Records to Profound Lore. Nonetheless, Marrow of the Spirit is a folk/black metal opus that is deserving of a proper blasphemous act. Bibles beware.
7. Nachtmystium, Addicts: Black Meddle Part II (Century Media) — I had the advantageous opportunity to tour with these partying heathens around Europe and heard a lot of these songs live before the actual release of the album. One of the best nights I had was attempting to sing karaoke in Finnish with drummer Charlie Fell in Jyväskylä. This album reminds me of prom, only with an impaled animal heads, mock crucifixions, and medieval weaponry theme.
8. Bison B.C., Dark Ages (Metal Blade) — This band rips. Hands down. They are amazing live. Full of energy and riffs bonanza. Dark Ages shows Bison’s continuing progression and mountainous behemothity. If that is not a term already, Dark Ages officially makes it one. Bring it.
9. Man’s Gin, Smiling Dogs (Profound Lore) — Along with the partying antics of Nachtmystium, I also shared the stage with Erik Wunder (Cobalt, Man’s Gin), Josh Lozano (Man’s Gin, Inswarm) and Fade Kainer (Batillus, Inswarm), backing Jarboe. We had some pretty momentous evenings sitting around random hostels with an acoustic guitar and singing some of the songs off Smiling Dogs. The only thing missing was a campfire and s’mores. My dudes.
10. High on Fire, Snakes for the Divine (eOne) — I felt that High on Fire deserved to be on this list. They consistently release quality metal albums, and I like this regardless of the fact that this one is definitely the most produced albums released by them thus far. Shit, if anything, I had to add HOF due to the FUCKING INCREDIBLE SLEEP reunion shows thrown by Osiris and Brooklyn Vegan at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple back in September! Considering OM and SLEEP did not release albums this year, I had to tie the room together somehow!
KEVIN HUFNAGEL, DYSRHYTHMIA
1. Deathspell Omega, Paracletus — My most anticipated record of the year, and it does not disappoint. The new standard for metal.
2. Fielded, Terrageist — This one caught me by surprise. An awesome collection of songs based on complex vocal arrangements, set against dark, minimalist electronics. The solo project of Lindsay Powell, also of Chicago proggers Ga’an (look ’em up!).
3. Sailors With Wax Wings, S/T — Who would’ve ever thought members of Unwound and My Dying Bride would be on the same album?
4. Starkweather, This Sheltering Night— Further twisting their already unique sound into new, dark, and disturbing territories.
5. Kayo Dot, Coyote — When “goth-jazz fusion” is huge in fifteen years, KD can say they were the first to do it.
6. Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini — They lost me with the last couple of albums, but got me back on track with this one.
7. Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky — Not the album I was hoping for, but seeing these songs live gave me a new appreciation for this record.
8. Immolation, Majesty and Decay — Catchiest death metal album of the year, without dumbing down their style.
9. Killing Joke, Absolute Dissent — Still relevant, and killing, after 30+ years.
10. Atheist, Jupiter — Picks up right where Unquestionable Presence left off. Welcome back, guys.
Honorable mentions: Les Discrets, Yakuza, Triptykon, Intronaut, Blut Aus Nord, Agalloch… too much to choose from this year!
WILL LINDSAY, INDIAN
1. Kris Kristofferson, Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72 — Excellent liner notes, the first recording of “Me and Bobbie McGee,” an excellent rendition of “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams,” and the inclusion of “Getting By, High and Strange” make this release essential.
2. Bloodyminded, Magnetism (reissue) — Power Electronics at its finest. Harsh, disturbing, and brilliant. Plus, it makes your stupid fucking kvlt/pagan/whatever black metal record sound like a nursery rhyme.
3. Autopsy, Awakened by Gore — It’s Autopsy. What the fuck else needs to be said?
4. Johnny Cash, American VI: Ain’t No Grave — You just can’t go wrong with Johnny Cash.
5. Merle Haggard, I Am What I Am — The Hag just gets better with age. Easily his best album of the millennium.
6. Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky — Reunions, or whatever term Micheal Gira used in lieu of reunions, always make me skeptical. This album, however, far surpassed my expectations. Furthermore, their live show was absolutely stunning.
7. Twilight, Monument To Time End — Great people making great music. Also provided great internet reading via “true” black metal fans that were obsessed with facial hair, length of hair, and clothing choices of the people in the band, once again proving themselves to be the petty, banal, and worthless assholes they’ve always been.
8. Locrian, Territories — Very dense and interesting record. Excellent contributions from Mark Solotroff, Blake Judd and Bruce LaMont, as well.
9. Earth, A Bureaucratic Desire For Extra-Capsular Extraction — Yes, it’s a reissue of material that is years old. There is a reason it was reissued. No one gave a fuck about it then and not enough people give a fuck about it now.
10. Christian Mistress, Agony and Opium — Oscar and Ryan are an amazing guitar duo. The rhythm section and vocals are also top-notch. 20 Buck Spin always delivers the goods.
ADE MULGREW, DARKEST ERA
1. Enforcer, Diamonds — Totally ripping NWOBHM from start to end. Shared a stage with them in Germany. Messy.
2. Iron Maiden, The Final Frontier — Another solid album from the greatest band of all time
3. Various Artists, Whom the Moon a Night Song Sings — Really interesting compilation of acoustic songs from Ulver, Tenhi, and many others.
4. Primordial, Spirit the Earth Aflame — The reissue of the 2000 classic, a totally essential record dripping with melancholic atmosphere!
5. Alcest, Ecailles de Lune — Neige continues his reign of wetness with this soggy sounding metal masterpiece.
6. Atlantean Kodex, The Golden Bough —
7. Woven Hand, The Threshing Floor
8. Swallow the Sun, New Moon
9. Slough Feg, The Animal Spirits
10. Anathema, We’re here because we’re here.