1. Warp Riders – The Sword
For the third time in a row, The Sword has released and absolutely awesome album. Contrasing from its predecessors—Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth—Warp Riders tells a science-fiction tale of a ravaged planet in the farthest reaches of outer space. This new concept turned off a lot of fans because of the lack of “sword and sorcery” type themes they had grown used to. However, I believe this release is their best, and shows off their ability to break from the norm and make an original piece that conforms to no one.
2. Dementia/Dyslexia – Fleshwrought
This album simply slays. It is technical, proggy death metal at its finest. Anyone who doubts the capabilities of Johnny Davy and Navene Koperweis are nothing more than jealous. Many people have a hard time respecting musicians who got their start in the deathcore scene. Well, it’s time to shut your mouth and open your ears because this shit is blistering.
*Note: I would also like to give another end of year award for The Most Accomplished Performer In Metal to the man behind Fleshwrought: Navene Koperweis. From composing and performing all the instruments on the phenomenal Dementia/Dyslexia to taking the seat behind the drumset in Tosin Abasi’s Animals As Leaders, Koperweis has shown that he has immeasurable talent and creativity and he should be recognized as one of the top young performers in the business.
3. For Aeon’s Past – Solution .45
Let’s be clear: THIS is the fourth Scar Symmetry CD (not Dark Matter Dimensions) because there is no Scar Symmetry without Christian Alvestam—he is irreplaceable. This CD packs everything you loved about SS and more. His vocals are on point and every single song is as catchy as can be. I know that his clean vocals are a turn-off to many, but for me, his vocals combined with this kind of Scandinavian melodeath are a perfect match.
4. Axioma Ethica Odini – Enslaved
The top 4 of my list could be jumbled up in any order and I would still agree with the outcome because they are all phenomenal. Enslaved‘s catalog really needed a stand-out and this is it. Axioma Ethica Odini packs in all of the best parts of their music in to one fantastic body, and is as good as ANY that were released this year.
5. Curse Of The Red River – Barren Earth
If you’ve ever wondered what Opeth would sound like had they been Finnish and a little more folky, Barren Earth is the answer. The first release from this supergroup is a gem that should be in everyone’s collection.
6. Over The Top – White Wizzard
Usually, metal like this isn’t really my style but every so often I’ll find some power metal/cock rock that speaks to me (i.e., Manowar) and this is one of those times. Over The Top is great from front to back, without a single mediocre song. I would say I’m looking forward to their next album, but with the exit of the singer and lead guitarist, I don’t expect much.
7. Snakes for the Divine – High on Fire
This album is the first HoF release that I have ever really gotten into. Their previous releases have been good but nothing has ever really grabbed me. Snakes For The Divine brings more aggression and classic rock songwriting style to the mix and its awesome.
8. Enemy Unbound – The Absence
It sure is nice to know that someone still wants to make melodic death metal like the Swedes did in the late 90s. This is another strong effort for The Absence, and check out my interview with Patrick Pintaville HERE.
9. Polarity – Decrepit Birth
This third album from Decrepit Birth makes me excited to see what they have in store for us down the road. This band also puts on a fantastic show and released a really good album in Polarity.
10. Wave Of Babies – Animals as Leaders
That’s correct. I am giving the 10th best album of the year to a digital sale only SINGLE, but that’s just how good this song is. “Wave Of Babies” is a Meshuggah-influenced explosion of technical skill and creativity. It’s the best thing Tosin Abasi has created, and had he released an EP that had a few more songs on par with this one, it would be at the top of my list.