Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 20 Metal Albums I Never Got Around To

Note to self: Buy these records!!

Okay, not as much metal this year as maybe I'd hoped or expected. So here's a list of those albums that I thought about, but always kept finding something else... instead. Where possible, I've linked to (and quoted from) the user reviews at Encyclopaedia Metallum - and included their average scores. Check out the linked videos - since I don't have these, I just went with anything official, outstandingly popular, title tracks or whatever.

#1. Eve - Ufomammut

"Pt. 1" from Eve (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (98%):
Eve is definitely the most atmospheric Ufomammut's album, where the oppressive heaviness has been pushed to the background. At the same time, one can find the skillfully combined elements distinguishing each of all previous records. So, there's a lot of outer space that sucks listeners back in like a black hole... The work as a whole is very hypnotic, loops great, the album can keep on turning in the player continuously with no weariness effect...

#2. The Wörld Is Yours - Motörhead

The Wörld Is Yours
"Devils In My Hand" from The Wörld Is Yours (2010)

Danger Dog review (3.5):
Lemmy and Motorhead continue to blend punk rock with the edge of heavy metal and the fun of pure rock n roll. Expecting drastic measures or some divergence from the tried and true would be a fool's quest. Born to Lose, Rock N Roll Music, Get Back in Line, and Outlaw are unashamedly Motorhead sans pretense.

#3. Belus - Burzum

"Glemselens Elv" from Belus (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (78%):
After an odd but fitting intro, the attack of true Norwegian black metal begins in the second track "Belus' Død." The song is appropriately reminiscent of the popular "Jesus' Død" both in riffs and in meaning. The production is what you'd expect: grainy, muted yet listenable goodness that only a pioneer of the aesthetic could capture. The musicianship is better than ever; structures have been mixed up, catchy finger-moving riffs have been added, bass and drums are highlighted in a few parts, and spoken word from Vikernes has been respawned in a few songs...

#4. Paracletus - Deathspell Omega

"Wings of Predation" from Paracletus (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (99%):
You can still expect the raving lunatic compositions, scaling up and down the fretboard with an infusion of discordant, rampant chord work that will both stun and fascinate as you work out their belligerence... each channel their respective whirlwind manifestations into intriguing, Escher-like suppositions, anchored by the sickening, almost jazzy drumming that rides alongside each of the myriad riffs. But there's something more to the album than mere chaos, a certain degree of calm that claims not only a portion of the album to itself..., but also creeps its way into the more intense compositions. Fear not that Deathspell Omega have abandoned the flighty furies that possessed them through the past decade, because this album still spits razors far and wide, but there is a certain curtain of mastery that has been lifted, a dust of spun silk and melancholy that has alighted upon the creators.

#5. Marrow of the Spirit - Agalloch

Marrow of the Spirit
"The Watcher's Monolith" from Marrow of the Spirit (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (79%):
There are elements of folk metal and black metal in here, and it's all depressing music... It's also clearly a sound derived from spending time in a lonely forest: They've incorporated nature into the music (including night insects and stream sounds), which sounds like a corny idea until you hear how convincingly it's done... Marrow of the Spirit provides the rare marriage of atmosphere and memorable music. Every track is emotionally powerful, and makes you feel as if you're the one sitting in the woods, dealing with unbearable grief. But the melodies will stick with you just as much as the mood, giving it a lasting impact.

#6. Eparistera Daimones - Triptykon

Eparistera Daimones
"Goetia" from Eparistera Daimones (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (90%):
The most prominent aspect of Eparistera Daimones is the overwhelming heaviness of every element in the sound. The guitars are always at the forefront of the sound, dominating the pace and direction of the music in every aspect. Fischer mixes up his vocals, using a raspy singing voice, aggressive spoken word, and his signature growls, all with great effect. There is a pervasive sense of vicious anger to his voice throughout the album, as if he is trying to contain some simmering rage within himself. With the addition of a throbbing bass track and meticulous, polished drumming...

#7. V - Unearthly Trance

"The Horsemen Arrive in the Night" from V (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (75%):
In which Brooklyn's veteran filth hounds Unearthly Trance continue in their efforts to provide a soundtrack for the inevitable collapsing of worlds into shrieking pyres of dust and static. Where the band's two previous records... largely shook off the drone of their early work in favor of a snarling, stomping Celtic-Frosty death groove, V is somewhat of a retrenchment, a retreat to sparser landscapes and fuzzed howls reeling their way to an unreachable horizon. The album's first track drops in out of nowhere, as though the song had been playing since ages before time, and someone just now thought to kick the shit out of some 'record' button. It feels a bit like stumbling into the middle of a perpetually-occurring ritual. A dreaded incantation sounds; the hooded assembly kneels, supplicant. Throughout the album's hour-long invocation, the band leans heavily on the trudging, drone-inflected doom featured in songs like “Submerged Metropolis,” largely forsaking the righteous hate-gallop of the previous two outings.

#8. Lawless Darkness - Watain

Lawless Darkness
"Total Funeral" from Lawless Darkness (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (80%):
If you want black metal, and I mean BLACK FUCKING METAL, then this here new WATAIN album should satisfy your hunger for all that is Satanic and violent, where the combination of slashing, chaotic guitar riffs, punishing percussive abuse and death march commanding vocals push the music into realms of endless damnation and insanity. They may be from Sweden, but there is a decidedly Norwegian twinge to the musical approach, kicking any preconceived notions on how a Swedish black metal band should sound right to the curb. And when it comes to said music you get brutality, wickedly slow drawls, nary a ray of light, and an eerie vibe that reminds this listener of hordes of bloodthirsty spirits storming from the fiery planes to lay waste to all that is worthless and weak...

#9. The Final Frontier - Iron Maiden

The Final Frontier
"The Final Frontier" from The Final Frontier (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (75%):
At times, one would swear he's listening to the soundtrack of some quirky piece of sci-fi cinema, particularly when considering the rather jarring intro and title song "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier". Essentially the first half of this song consists of an oddity drenched drone that sounds like it was lifted out of the early stages of thrash metal antiquity and painted with a progressive flavor right out of early progressive USPM pioneers such as Crimson Glory and Queensryche. The atmosphere is so reverb steeped that it almost seems to phase in and out of reality, and Bruce's vocal character follows suit like a distant voice of some radio transmission fading in and out of some sort of pool of cosmic waves.

#10. The Epigenesis - Melechesh

The Epigenesis
"The Epigenesis" from The Epigenesis (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (90%):
The music is clearly the Israeli expats' unique brand of thrashy, Middle Eastern-inspired black metal from the get-go. Every single track has riffs inspired by the unusual combination, and it's still just as compelling as ever. There's also a great deal of traditional instrumentation, including two instrumentals which are all-traditional and several places where it's worked into metal songs.

#11. Black Masses - Electric Wizard

Black Masses
"Black Mass" from Black Masses (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (74%):
And here you have it, folks, after the usual extended silence treatment, Electric Wizard comes pounding back to the scene like a huge Ent shaking the soil with every step. In this, their seventh full-length, they explore new sounds and reach new horizons but not without losing some weight. But we'll get on that later. The first thing that strikes me as the first song starts is the change in sound. Electric Wizard's thick and abrasive sound has evolved a lot... Mainly, it has been getting more and more refined, perhaps more professional or simply cleaner. Well, forget about that stuff old bean because this album is as filthy as it gets... The closer, "Crypt of Drugula" is a long winded funeral procession of cacophonies, droning crunchy, stormy electric noises subjugated by minimalistic, tribal drumming and distant, bleak bass notes... The song and album concludes with the sounds of a debilitated heartbeat over a sound that I guess is vinyl popping.

#12. Spiral Shadow - Kylesa

Spiral Shadow
"Tired Climb" from Spiral Shadow (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (79%):
Kylesa are, along with such other psychadelic sludgy metal counterparts as Mastodon, Baroness, Black Tusk and Zoroaster are part of the Georgian scene, which at this rate will probably go down as legendary as the early 80's Bay Area thrash or the late 80's Floridian death metal scene. The record is brilliant - no filler, packed with an equal weight of heavy trademark grooves and celestial instrumental passages. The production is excellent, and the two drummers are given enough space in the mix to distinguish their amazing interplay. The album owes as much to metal as it does to rock in general...

#13. Écailles de lune - Alcest

Ecailles de lune
"Part 1" from Écailles de lune (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (90%):
As somebody who's been looking forward to this album since Souvenirs, I cannot possibly stress enough how essential this is. From start to finish, this album echoes nostalgic despondency without the disposition of the stuff most people are used to. This isn't another depressive black metal project from some has-been guru - this is an experience. Unparalleled even by its predecessor and a titan from its creator. Alcest deliver. Get this now.

#14. Snakes for the Divine - High on Fire

Snakes for the Divine
"Frost Hammer" from Snakes for the Divine (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (79%):
High on Fire are the perfect definition of a power trio in the metal world of today, full of bad ass riffs and bad ass song titles and with the gravelly vocal spite of mainman Matt Pike an aura that would be destined to supersede Lemmy and his band of Motörheads should that particular warhorse ever call it a day. High on Fire straddle the line between doom, classic and thrash metal but as the aforementioned Mr. Lemmy would say, it's all goddamn rock'n'roll, and it is that spirit which seeps out of every crevice of High on Fire.

#15. Circle the Wagons - Darkthrone

Circle the Wagons
"I Am the Graves of the 80's" from Circle the Wagons (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (78%):
Circle the Wagons is filled with elegant yet uncomplicated riffage that's rooted in a bygone era, but is ultimately timeless. The tracks feel like they rolled out of bed in 1983, threw on their denim jackets and delivered a case of beer directly to my ears. You'll find everything from traditional heavy metal chugging to punk inflected pre-thrashification to darker, proto-black metal.

#16. Dark Ages - Bison B.C.

Dark Ages
"Two-Day Booze" from Dark Ages (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (88%):
The core of the band's sound is crushing, sludgy riffs, charging rhythms, and loud barks akin to early Mastodon. In fact, there are many musical references to Leviathan present throughout the album, from the pounding drums to the transposed guitar harmonies to the ever-shifting song structures. Their name also channels the same preshistoric feel of Mastodon's moniker.

#17. Demonoir - 1349

"The Devil of the Desert" from Demonoir (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (74%):
Thankfully, the production doesn't sound fuzzy (i.e. bedroom-made black metal). Also, the songs had the drums and the vocals being the most heard instrument, although the riffs still are audible throughout the album. The riffs are black metal riffs, only a little bit experimental. The vocals are a tad too deep for a rasp, but I think its deepness made it very interesting. The drum beats are usually super fast, and it always fits the music's mood. Meanwhile, the music and its atmosphere are generally very dark, though not very pummeling, with a sinister feeling throughout the album.

#18. Majesty and Decay - Immolation

Majesty and Decay
"Majesty and Decay" from Majesty and Decay (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (85%):
As with any Immolation release, Majesty and Decay hits hard, like an open skull surgery in which the neurosurgeons have all gone batshine insane and started to tap on your various soft bits with whatever steel implements are available to them. The riffs swerve and cascade from blunt intensity to moments of slicing, graceful leadwork and scintillating, vorpal chords that bristle at the edge of perception. It's both murky and glorious, with Stave Shalaty serving as a human tornado which lifts up the hard hitting guitar rhythms to toss them about like loose furniture or cattle.

#19. A Rage of Rapture Against the Dying of Light EP - Terzij de Horde

A Rage of Rapture
"The Roots of Doomsday Anxiety" from A Rage of Rapture... EP (2010)

Metal Review review (9.0):
So as black metal continues to welcome other genres into its previously satanic, church-burning fold, many of the results have been positive and, at times, brilliant, if not genre-defining - Wolves in the Throne Room, Krallice, Altar of Plagues, Nachtmystium, Alcest, Cobalt, just to name a few. And while some purists may be resistant to such experimentation, tampering and cross-breeding, I for one am glad for many of the outcomes. Enter The Netherlands' Terzij De Horde (thankfully changing their name from Liar Liar Cross on Fire) and their post-rock-, shoegaze-, ambient- and even screamo-littered take on black metal.

#20. Paradogma - Hour of Penance

"Paradogma" from Paradogma (2010)

Encyclopaedia Metallum user review(s) (92%)
Unrelenting sonic punch to the gut of Christianity


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