Br00tal-lists

DAVE MUSTEIN’S TOP FIFTEEN METAL ALBUMS OF 2010

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Because I enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering. Yup. Uber nerd status.

1. Ihsahn, After (Candlelight)

What an album. It combines many of my favorite musical elements: unusual and epic orchestrations (sax solos), catchy melodies and riffs, fast-paced, brutal guitar work, and awesome vocals. You know this a phenomenal album because I don’t even like Emperor, but this is far and away my favorite release of 2010. I could listen to “Frozen Lakes on Mars” or “On the Shores” again and again and again.

2. The Ocean, Anthropocentric (Metal Blade)

the ocean - anthropocentricFortunately, this more than made up for the disappointment of Heliocentric. I don’t know if it compares to the greatness of Precambrian or Fluxion, but it’s up there, even with less symphonic orchestrations. The vocals fit in much better than on Heliocentric, and the riffs and songs are just better written. Excellent.

3. Gru, Cosmogenesis (self-released)

I can’t believe we haven’t written about him here on MetalSucks. He’s djenty, he’s technical, his music is catchy and never boring, and it’s awesome. Everyone listen to Gru. Despite the generic proggy album title, his music is wonderful and delightfully happy. Maybe that’s not the right word, but it sure isn’t a brutal downer – just a glorious revelation of music.

4. As I Lay Dying, The Powerless Rise (Metal Blade)

Is it metalcore? Yes. Does it sound a lot like previous AILD stuff? Yes! Is it actually refreshing to hear something that’s not endless breakdowns in drop e, with melodies and choruses? Fuck yes. The Powerless Rise is fun, entertaining, and heavy as fuck.

5. Cephalic Carnage, Misled by Certainty (Relapse)

I reviewed this when it came out, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Technical, heavy, unorthodox, and just damn awesome.

6. Pendulum, Immersion (WMG)

This is probably a WTF moment for most of you. If you’ve heard of Pendulum, you know that they’re not remotely metal. Except that actually, they kind of are. While most of the time they play techno, they also did a dual song with In Flames titled “Self vs. Self” which is actually good. And overall, it’s a fun album. “Crush” has some awesome guitar work, and the drops in “Set Me on Fire” are pretty rad.

7. This or the Apocalypse, Haunt What’s Left (Good Fight)

Yes, there are multiple metalcore albums on my top fifteen list. But this one is different. This Or the Apocalypse are just a unique specimen in the metalcore world, as some of you may have noticed when we wrote about them earlier this year. Check out “Subverse” for my personal favorite song from this album.

8. Ichor, Benthic Horizon (Bastardized)

Strange how nobody has heard of these Germans. But their brutal death metal is a standout from the majority of releases I’ve heard this year; it’s pretty similar to Fleshgod Apocalypse both in terms of style and quality. In addition to being ferociously technical, it has fantastic hooks. Unfortunately, the production isn’t that great, but hopefully they’ll manage to get a bit more promotion and release a really well-made album.

9. Son of Aurelius, The Farthest Reaches (Good Fight)

It does seem like MetalSucks sucks (haha) Son of Aurelius’s collective penis. But there’s a reason — their music is a breath of fresh air in this sea of fragrant shit. I haven’t heard melodies and brutality combined this tastefully since, well, ever. I probably like this so much since it’s a combination of Animosity and metalcore, one of my favorite bands and a genre I always liked.

10. Shining, Blackjazz (Indie)

Why isn’t this higher? I’m not sure. For some reason, a couple of the pieces just didn’t grab me the way I wanted them to. Two copies each of “The Madness and the Damage Done” and “Exit Sun” didn’t help boost them upwards. Nevertheless, it’s a solid and innovative release whose presence on this list isn’t very disputable.

11. Fleshwrought, Dementia/Dyslexia (Metal Blade)

A death metal collaboration from two of my favorite artists has to go on to my top fifteen list. This was a standout in the death metal genre.

12. Hate, Erebos (Listenable)

Another death metal band who I feel have been severely under-covered this year. They’re not just generic Behemoth-style blackened death. Songs like “Trinity Moons” and “Quintessence of Hunger Suffering” display their experimental nature, making them stand out from the horde of brutal death releases this year.

13. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)

Of course. This one is lower down because it took me a little bit longer to get into. It’s a little too drawn-out, in my opinion. But it’s still a fantastic release.

14. Cloudkicker, Beacons (self-released)

To say that Ben Sharp is a talented guy would be an understatement. He melds melody and metal, technicality and taste seemlessly. His music, like that of Insomnium, is something you can always throw on and be satisfied with.

ion dissonance - cursed15. Ion Dissonance, Cursed (Century Media)

I actually just added this last minute, having not really listened to it much until… uh, now. But it’s really, really good. I usually don’t like mathcore but this isn’t frenetic dissonant mathcore — it’s  death-metal-mathcore that blends killer grooves and beats with the dissonance.

I didn’t feel that it was right to put an EP up with a full release, seeing as it would compare a few songs to an entire album’s worth of length. But I found a few EPs this year truly exceptional:

Cloudkicker, [[[]]] (self-released) — I liked this EP at least as much as, if not more than, Beacons. But I wanted to get Cloudkicker onto my top fifteen, since his work is so amazing. Download both, but I feel that his songwriting skill really shines on the EP, as he mixes the styles of artists ranging from Jesu to Animals as Leaders effortlessly.

Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mafia (Willowtip)This undoubtedly would have been on my top fifteen had it been a full length. Brutal, beautiful, technical, operatic — this is how tech death should be played. Bravo!

Katatonia, The Longest Year — Ok, this wasn’t that good. This is just an excuse for me to essentially throw Night is the New Day onto my list for this year since I didn’t have a list last year.

TesseracT, Concealing Fate (Century Media) — As with Fleshgod, had it been a full-length, it would have been in my top fift. Djent that doesn’t get boring and breakdown laden. One of my personal favorites.

Honorable Mentions:

Sigh, Scenes From Hell (The End) — Yet another case of “January albums get shunned,” which I remember happening last year with Cattle Decapitation’s The Harvest Floor. This is a good album, but doesn’t approach the tremendous success of Imaginary Sonicscape or Hangman’s Hymn for me.

Kalmah, 12 Gauge (Spinefarm) It’s Kalmah doing what they do best: making awesome melodic death metal. I didn’t feel that this one broke the mold enough to make it onto the final list, but it was very good.

Deathspell Omega, Paracletus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) I thought this one was a bit overrated by its fans, but was good nonetheless. A solid release.

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events (Black Market Activities) — Not really my thing, but they get an honorable mention for their live show. WOW. I have never seen so many kids going so nuts. Even with ONE 8-string guitar (which was malfunctioning) and only three other members (at this show, the bass had lost a string), they put on a far better live show than most of the other bands.

Disappointments:

The Ocean, Heliocentric (Metal Blade)Precambrian is my favorite album of all time. So I guess I expected too much from The Ocean. Heliocentric was a severe disappointment to me, because it just didn’t have the same amount of musical innovation and activity as Precambrian. In short, it bored me. I couldn’t find new things again and again with every listen. It wasn’t the clean vocals, I swear! Well…  it was kind of like how I viewed Traced in Air. The clean vocals themselves didn’t piss me off in their execution, but the fact that there were so many simply to have that many did.

Cynic, Re-Traced (Candlelight) — Speaking of Cynic… I didn’t like Traced in Air. I thought it was a boring rehash of Focus, an attempt to get in with the prog movement of now, and a painful reminder of how good Cynic used to be. I didn’t have high hopes for Re-Traced, and Cynic fulfilled my expectations exactly: Re-Traced is an even more stripped down and boring version of Traced in Air, which I thought was a stripped down version of Focus. One of my least favorite of 2010.

Periphery, Periphery (Sumerian) — I’ve listened to Bulb’s solo work since maybe 2007, so I was pumped to finally hear a production version of Periphery. Man, was I wrong. The mix is ok, I guess, but it doesn’t sound nearly as tight as it used to — now it’s too djenty, if anything. But the real killer is the vocals. I LIKED PERIPHERY AS INSTRUMENTAL BAND. The vocals themselves aren’t bad; it’s the fact that there are vocals present on the album at all that bothers me.

-DM

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