Perhaps right before the deluge of fall releases hammers us with “PUT ME ON YOUR YEAR END LIST!” demands, it’d be a good idea to take stock of what’s come out thus far. It’s been a good year for metal– as, admittedly, are most years — despite the absences of new Neurosis or Pig Destroyer albums (which, once again, could apply to any year). And even though there are a few albums I haven’t gotten around to hearing just yet (Altar of Plagues, Vastum, Disma, Origin, Shining), haven’t been lucky enough to hear (Revocation) and haven’t spent nearly enough time with yet (Wolves in the Throne Room), there’s been quite a bit to marinate on thus far. So allow me to jump on the ship Axl, Vince, Corey, Gary, Anso, and Leyla are already on and name a few I deem noteworthy. In no particular order, of course.

Tombs – Paths of Totality
I’ve already said quite a bit about that album, so I’ll just go on record again as saying… it’s quite good.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony
Imagine if a band heard Behemoth and said, “Oh no no no. This is in no way ridiculous enough. We’ve gotta top that.” Simultaneously one of the most absurd and one of the most astounding albums I’ve heard this year.

Ulcerate – Destroyers of All
Technical death metal for grown-ups who like things like “atmosphere,” “dynamics,” and “memorable riffs that don’t all bleed together” along with their master class guitar theatrics. This would be on, if not topping, many year-end lists had it not come out in fucking January. It makes me think that we should reconsider the whole concept of release schedules and year-end lists, but… no. They’re still way too much fun to write.

Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
It sounds exactly like you think it would, and if it didn’t, well, no one would care. As is the beauty of Amon Amarth.

Decapitated – Carnival is Forever
Like Tombs, I’ve already said my piece in detail. It is, indeed, great.

Autopsy – Macabre Eternal/ Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
Giving metal comebacks a good name, until some fat old guys come back, play some sloppy, reheated riffs, and ruin it for everyone again.

Anaal Nathrakh – Passion
Metal’s angriest motherfuckers remember how to get righteously pissed off.

Krallice – Diatoma
USBM’s noodliest motherfuckers focus a little bit more, but still manage to make an album full of multi-headed beasts of dense, rambling black metal. Even in a brief yet astounding career, it may be their best to date.

Mogwa i- Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will/Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Alright, neither of these are metal, but they are of great interest to metalheads for various reasons (Mogwai being the post-rock band all the metal folks are allowed to like, and Fucked Up being gruff enough to be in the hardcore/metal conversation and too fucking good to ignore). The former is a quiet and concise masterpiece, the latter a sprawling epic with a convoluted concept that doesn’t manage to top their last album (the phenomenal Chemistry of Common Life) but comes waaaaaay closer than most bands could hope for. And as long as we’re discussing the year’s best non-metal, could I mention how great Raekwon’s Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang is? No? Alright, back to business, then.

Hate Eternal – Phoenix Amongst the Ashes
Proof that speed and texture don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus
As an Andy Kaufman-esque meta-commentary on the nature of the internet and the metal media, it’s fucking genius. Please tell us that’s the case, Trey. Please.


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