Phil Boozeman’s Top Five Metal Albums of 2019
2019 is over already? Holy shit, man. This year was a strange one for me. I moved across the state from Kansas City to St. Louis when I got a killer job offer, and now I’m a licensed stockbroker. Seriously! Now I’m professionally qualified to turn everyone’s money in cocaine.
Although I absolutely love my job and what I do, it has meant that most of my metal extra-curricular activities had to take a back seat in order to get the rest of my shit in order. I moved to St. Louis piss ass broke with almost nothing to my name at the beginning of the year, and now I have a stable job, a savings account and I’ve even finally gotten a handle on this fucking depression that’s been trying to kill me since I was 14. But the biggest surprise of all? I don’t even drink much anymore. Whack, I tell ya. I didn’t have time to really dig into as many albums as I wanted due to said life changes, but things are slowing down finally and December will be spent catching up. My list is short this year, but all of these records will put your dick in the dirt or your money back. THAT is the Phil Boozeman guarantee.
5. Flub – Flub (The Artisan Era)
There are many things the don’t come to mind when you think about things that are metal. On that list are bright colors, and also the word “Flub.” But preconceptions are stupid, because Flub’s debut full-length has both of those things, and it quickly found its way up the ranks as one of my favorite albums this year. The record starts off with the vibe of a fairy tale acid trip and sticks to its own unique blend of both technical death and progressive metal along with keyboards that don’t find themselves limited to just the standard chanting or e-board range. In fact, it goes as far as including elements of cumbia, jazz and classical music as well. Flub tells a loose-fitting story of a man who gets possessed and the slowly taken over by a demon while overcoming various trials himself, almost like an auditory homage to The Legend of Zelda. If that weren’t enough, the band also features Michael Alvarez (ex-Alterbeast) on vocals and Jared Klein (Rivers of Nihil) on drums. Flub’s full-length debut was written over the span of six years, and during that time the band came up with plenty of risky ideas, but every single one of them lands, making this a record that you owe it to yourself to check out.
4. Whitechapel – The Valley (Metal Blade)
Whitechapel’s new releases have been somehwat controversial among their longstanding fan base due to the one thing that every deathcore nerd seems to explode over: clean vocals. It’s unfortunate really, because although Phil Bozeman’s cleans aren’t the vocal point of the album (other than “Hickory Creek”), the dude has one hell of a singing voice. So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about why this is Whitechapel’s best album since they changed their logo, which was right after their self-titled record. For fan’s of Whitechapel, the subject matter of Bozeman’s childhood trauma is not new, but it had never been explored beyond surface level in the music. That changed with The Valley, which tells the story of Bozeman’s childhood, where the concept is just as compelling as the Tennessee seven-piece putting the edge back on their buzzsaw. The Valley is angry, heavy and relentless and even brings back some of the deathcore elements found in their earlier albums, like This Is Exile. Without question, this is the best Whitechapel have been since the self-titled album. If you need further convincing, you can read this extended essay about why you’re wrong if you disagree.
3. Fit for an Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts (Nuclear Blast)
At this point, I just assume that Fit for an Autopsy are allergic to writing bad albums. Everything this band does is awesome and it doesn’t appear to matter how much music they put out because there isn’t a single bad song on this record, or really any of their other records either. The Sea of Tragic Beasts marks FFAA’s fifth full-length effort, and it sees vocalist Joe Badolato experiment with his clean vocals much more, to great success I might add, while retaining the deathcore-Gojira vibes we have come to love. From the second the title track starts playing, we’re treated to nearly a minute of straight ignorant breakdowns before the chorus hooks you with said cleans right after the first verse. From there, Beasts has you cornered, and the only thing left to do is enjoy the ride. If you’re still someone holding out because “they’re a core band, man,” then I implore you to remove your head from your ass and give them a listen. They get better with every release, and they’re just as good live. I love Fit for an Autopsy to death and I will never stop getting excited for their music, especially if they keep putting out records as good as The Sea of Tragic Beasts.
2. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas (Metal Blade)
The holiday season is the worst. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas. Fuck it. All of it. Especially Thanksgiving. Although the holiday will have passed by the time this list runs, the one thing I am thankful for this year is that Cattle Decapitation graced us with what I will officially name the soundtrack of the apocalypse. Sure, plenty of bands have tried to claim this title before, but the problem here is that those bands aren’t Cattle Decapitation. Death Atlas is a monstrous album that shows us what it will be like when the teeth of man finally tear out the throat of our planet. I will admit that I am still digesting this album a bit myself, but it’s without a doubt that Cattle Decapitation are not even close to being done laying waste to your ear drums. We expect nothing but sheer aggression, skull-fucking riffs and blast beats from these guys. They always deliver and that hasn’t changed here. Every single time I listed to the title track of this record I get chills. Every fucking time, and that’s not including the short film (below) that they made for it as well. This album is an absolute fucking monster and might just be Cattle Decapitation’s best to date.
1. Shadow of Intent – Melancholy (Self-Released)
If you’ve read anything I’ve written this year, it was probably the review I wrote for Shadow of Intent’s Melancholy. I’m not sure what more I can say about this absolute monstrosity of a record that I haven’t said already, other than the fact that even three months after release, I am still just as obsessed with how good it is. (It’s also worth noting that time frame doesn’t include the month I had the press copy before it was released.) From the blackened symphonies of a demon spinning a plague of suicide on the world, through our character’s journey through the underworld and his doomed fate at the end, Melancholy is hauntingly beautiful. Ben’s vocals are the best in the game, Chris Wiseman’s guitar work is as intricate as it is crushing, and the symphonies pull every element of this record together like subatomic fusion. At this point, I have ran out elaborate metaphors to describe how good Shadow of Intent are. There isn’t any doubt that Melancholy is not only the best record of 2019, but also one of the finest pieces of metal ever forged.