• Anso DF

Fletch w.Frank


20. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse (Relapse)

On the strength of history’s greatest band name, Scott Hull’s Agoraphobic Nosebleed doesn’t even have to be good. But ANb is awesome anyway and Agorapocalypse is an eerily accurate soundtrack to my brain’s default setting. I mean if you ever see me, say, testily waiting in line at the movies, I’m actually imagining punky grindcore about drugs and porno-violence played at ludicrous speed and packed with squealing guitar solos. But I think that’s only common sense.

The track that will hook you (click to listen): “First National Stem Cell and Clone”


19. Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes of God (Metal Blade)

This album makes me feel guilty. I only spent the year with it because The Crown wasn’t around. And now that The Crown is back, COTEoG’s gonna be tossed aside for my true love. But, with a name like Goatwhore it’s not like Sammy Duet and crew will take offense. Hell, they’d probably just as soon be rid of me. I’m kinda needy.

The track that will hook you: “In Legion, I Am Wars of Wrath”


18. Hypocrisy – A Taste of Extreme Divinity (Nuclear Blast)

Judging from this lean, mean ninth Hypocrisy record, main man Peter Tagtgren might be more stung by the reaction to his aberrant Catch-22 album than he let on to me back in November. Luckily, his cure for that bummer is a new load of slashing, pillaging death metal so big that arenas couldn’t contain it. Of course, I have no way of proving that firsthand, since my freedom is in such grave peril this year that Hypocrisy concerts couldn’t be allowed in my country of residence.

The ambiguously fascist track that will hook you: “Weed Out The Weak”


17. Mantic Ritual – Executioner (Nuclear Blast)

As an early teen, I derided high-energy, anti-cerebral thrash metal. In my desperate search for excitement, I was attracted by the modestly intricate mid-era thrash of Practice What You Preach and Rust In Peace. But now that life itself is noisy and complicated, the streamlined smile-thrash of Mantic Ritual goes down like ten tallboys at a hesher-packed picnic table in June.

The track that will hook you: “By The Cemetary”


16. Heaven and Hell — The Devil You Know (Rhino)

I approached TDYK as I did Iron Maiden’s Brave New World on the reasoning that new convergences of these musicians couldn’t fail to produce anything short of enjoyable. In both cases, the bands overshot that meager goal by light years. Oh and here’s a newsflash: Dio. Is. So. Fucking. Good.

The track that will hook you: “Turn of the Screw”


15. YOB – The Great Cessation (Profound Lore)

The first time I heard The Great Cessation, it was like I’d been handed some fancy, complicated beer. It seemed awesome, but I’m a Corona drinker so YOB’s subtleties and strengths are something I wouldn’t detect, let alone appreciate. The second time, it was obvious that my pitiful lack of fluency in the language of doom metal would condemn me to gawking tourist status in YOB-land. In short, I have nothing to which I could compare it, so how could I understand it? The third time, I just got waaay baked and headbanged on my balcony for the duration of this hour-long thunderclap. Thanks for being patient with me, YOB.

The track that will hook you: “Silence of Heaven”


14. Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive (Earache)

If you were alive to witness the decline of thrash metal and are unmoved by Massive Aggressive, repent now because you’re already dead; you just haven’t stopped moving yet. Conversely, if by accident of birth you didn’t suffer through Blaze-era Maiden and Flotsam and Jetsam’s Cuatro, you don’t even deserve Municipal Waste.

The track that will hook you: “Wolves of Chernobyl”


13. Lamb of God – Wrath (Epic)

It wouldn’t bother me if LoG assumed the role of post-thrash’s AC/DC, biannually cranking out a slab of cocksure, joyously elemental rock music that’s impossible to play at low volume. So if Wrath is their Powerage, in whom will they find their Mutt Lange, the producer to expand their too-honest sonic palette and unlock their latent commercial potential, resulting in their Highway To Hell? Wait — how about the actual Mutt Lange? Seriously!

The track that will hook you: “Broken Hands”


12. He Is Legend – It Hates You (Tragic Hero)

I’ve given up my attempts at relating to the breathless melodrama of bearded twenty-somethings, so it’s a testament to HiL’s prowess that this album still matters despite tons of that most tiresome strain of narcissism. Indeed, It Hates You succeeds mostly when singer Schuylar Croom discards the impenetrable hipster cleverness that wounded or sunk their previous outings – though in fairness 2005’s Suck Out The Poison was a clunky mess on its own. But fans can move on now that HiL is again a propulsive and sleekly catchy outfit – not to mention proud authors of 2009’s awesomest, hugest, bombastic-est, most titanically slamming song: “That’s Nasty”. Yes, it really is.


11. Behemoth – Evangelion (Metal Blade)

I’d give anything for a copy of security camera footage that shows the aisles of Rite-Aid on the day I first listened to Evangelion. The pharmacists must’ve wondered what was so interesting about the shampoo bottle in my hand as I stared through it for the album’s last fifteen minutes. I guess some dudes think Behemoth is predictable after so many records. By that they must mean predictably awesome.

The track that will hook you: “Alas, The Lord is Upon Me”


10. Cobalt – Gin (Profound Lore)

Undoubtedly the realest album of 2009, Gin distills horror and confused homicidal suffering with gravity at which other extreme bands only hint. The record is riveting almost to distraction, and indeed, more than one listener has given equal time to the fascinating circumstances of its creation and to its composition. To me, the former is reserved for bonus DVDs. Like last year’s left-field black metal triumph by Nachtmystium, Gin trades in the kind of songs that are far more telling than biography anyway. So isn’t it counterproductive to focus on the realities behind Gin when its two creators so expertly go beyond angles and into the desolate, emotional abstractions of a man-made doomsday? Well? Isn’t it? Answer me!

The track that will hook you: “Stomach”


9. Lacuna Coil – Shallow Life (Century Media)

2009’s other huge melody records manage to retain shreds of self-awareness, yet the Don Gilmore-produced Shallow Life is as serious as a wine-drunk poet, its makers the lonely denizens of a world where dreams are murdered (“Underdog”) and even love at first sight is rife with sexy danger (“Spellbound”). It’s shrill and superficial, predictable and cloying – and rescued at every turn by loud rock’s most compelling voice, Cristina Scabbia. In other words, Shallow Life is a cigarette pack containing a dozen harmless-looking Scabbia delivery devices that also silently poison your health and self-respect. I went through about forty cartons of the damn things.

The track that will hook you: “Not Enough”


8. Nightstalker – Superfreak (Meteor City)

For years, the hurt of The Crown’s break-up was so deep that I couldn’t really be with any band in the same way. In time, Goatwhore became my rebound relationship, but it was Greece’s Nightstalker who made it okay to love again. And for that, and the magnificently druggy and satanic Superfreak (think Possessed 13 remade by young Monster Magnet), I thank them.

The track that will hook you: “Baby, God is Dead”


7. Between The Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect (Victory)

The year’s most aptly titled album, BTBAM’s fifth is totally great thanks to an infusion of warm spontaneity in place of the hyper precision of Colors. Surprisingly, it also features a low-visibility performance from singer Tommy Rogers; it’s as though Rogers hasn’t identified the necessity for an equally versatile foil to dominating guitarist Paul Waggoner, and instead goes absent for seeming eternities throughout The Great Misdirect. And so BTBAM’s masterpiece is yet to be written.

The track that will hook you: “Fossil Genera — A Feed From Cloud Mountain”

200px-Night_Is_the_New_Day_cover6. Katatonia – Night Is The New Day (Peaceville)

It likely was not intentional of Katatonia to record a heavy, sedate sequel to Levitation’s lost space rock classic, the blindingly gorgeous Need For Not. I think X-rays were discovered on accident, and that worked out awesome too.

The track that will hook you: “Onward Into Battle” and while we’re at it Levitation’s “Resist”


5. Marduk – Wormwood (Regain)

If it ever seems that a car jacking is imminent, I’m going to boldly roll down my windows and crank Wormwood. Should its pants-shitting intensity fail to repel my would-be attackers, at least it’d pump me full of the temporary bravery needed for a counter-attack. Yes, it’s the supreme soundtrack to a painful shooting; to a black metal band, is there any higher compliment?

The track that will hook you: “Into Utter Madness”

200px-Cracktheskye4. Mastodon – Crack The Skye (Warner Bros)

Like the second Mars Volta record, Crack The Skye plays like only half an album despite its length. But by the end of closer “The Last Baron,” my appetite for Mastodon hooks is only half-sated. Which is to say that there’s a gargantuan mega-album trapped in the merely awesome seven-song epic Crack The Skye. Set it free, Hinds!

The track that will hook you: “The Czar”


3. Warbringer – Waking Into Nightmares (Century Media)

Listening to Waking Into Nightmares, one would struggle to believe that even thrash metal suffered from the public ban on fun imposed by big-budget mope fiends in ratty sweaters. Those dark, humorless times may have never existed if the Warbringers of that era stuck to a steady diet of raging metal and hairball antics. Though belatedly, Warbringer succeeds not in turning back the clock, but only un-acknowledging that long decade of macho, post-Pantera flailing and wayward mainstream wannabes. 100% win.

The track that will hook you: “Living In A Whirlwind”


2. Devin Townsend – Addicted (Hevy Devy/Inside Out)

Mark Twain once wrote “The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated.” Likewise, too much print may have been devoted to Devin Townsend’s transformation from pothead rageaholic in Strapping Young Lad to clean-shaven art-rocker and occasional author of puppet opera. In verbose explanations of his post-drugs lifestyle, Townsend himself seemed to attribute ownership of his many masterpieces of fury to the caterpillar; the butterfly’s works were yet to come – and it records in bulk. And sure enough, the first volume of his excessively explained quadrilogy as the Devin Townsend Project sounded uh different. But it was a mere six-month wait for the pure pop thunder of Addicted, an album which plays like any mortal artist’s greatest hits collection. It’s wall-to-wall singles, each held together by pure exhilaration — including the Devy song most likely to be heard in a waiting room (“In-Ah!”). And yet, there are still moments of uncertainty: In addition to the obvious scarcity of guitar solos, Addicted finds Townsend judicious in his use of guest vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. Her duties should’ve included at least one chorus or verse per song – plus myriad layers of backing vocals a la Vapor Trails. Maybe next four-album cycle.

The track so awesome that I wouldn’t mind Townsend marched straight into my apartment to wipe his ass with my pajamas: “Supercrush!”


1. Steel Panther – Feel The Steel (Universal/Republic)

I think it was David Lee Roth who observed that The Jerk, a classic movie about one really dumb guy, was created by really smart guys. Likewise, the men of Steel Panther may play dim, but only brilliance can be responsible for an ageless instant classic like Feel The Steel. Yeah, everybody blah-blah-blahs about how S’Panther deflates the pretensions of hair rock at its most indulgent while celebrating the same, though in a ribald and honest manner. To me, that sounds like a lot of justifications for guilty enjoyment. The simple fact behind F The S is that to realize human potential in the individual and societal sense, we each must set about the task of fucking all night and partying all day; we must ensure that the unsightly must be both scorned without pity and doused with ejaculate; each of us must gobble drugs and be a supportive companion to our society’s emotionally-damaged strippers. Truly, there must be two in the pink and one in the stink for all. Steel Panther knows all this, so in their world, blowjobs are legal currency. In Steel Panther World, a trip to the STD clinic is a benchmark of free living. In Steel Panther World, Tiger Woods is a Van Halen t-shirt away from honorary citizenship. Feel The Steel might be hilarious, but is no joke. It’s our constitution.

The track that will hook you: “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)”

Post YOUR top twenty Metal Records of 2009 in the comments you pussy!


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