The best of the albums that missed my Top 10, these are another set of excellent releases. Here's the third installment of the year's best metal records, numbers 11-20.
This full-length debut from Estonia/Germany is perhaps the most accurate recreation of Bathory's classic era black/Viking metal sound that I've ever heard. The record makes no attempt at ingenuity or originality, but it sounds so good that I really don't care.
One of the most anticipated metal releases in years, Time I predictably elicited highly mixed reactions. For my part, I think it was a very good album with one massive standout track that was totally brilliant, but the remainder of the record didn't quite live up to the hype. It annoys me that many people have called this basically an EP, since it's 40 minutes long, but that's a total aside. Ultimately it was almost impossible for this record to meet the fantastically overblown expectations built up around it, but it was still beautifully executed.
This is carnal, balls-to-the-wall death metal that brings an unrelenting assault. It's got a bit of a modern flavor, and there are a few places where it veers close to deathcore, but it never quite crosses over into that territory. This British trio isn't terribly varied or creative in their approach. Rather, they basically just grab a hammer and bludgeon their listeners for the duration. The pure force of this album makes quite an impression.
This is the only EP on this list. I hadn't intended to include EPs at all, but this was so good I couldn't help myself. The Frenchmen have established a name for themselves in recent years as possibly the best and most creative black metal band on the market today. This release, in that tradition, was brilliant and inventive and just stunningly impressive. If it had been a full-length release, it would probably be in my top 5 or 6 albums of the year.
This was my favorite power metal album of the year. The French band has all the presicion and skill you'd expect, but they add in a good deal of grit and a lurking sense of darkness that is pretty rare in extreme metal's most flowery sub-genre. The vocalist kind of reminds me of Dio, which is a big selling point all by itself. Additionally, this record had one of my favorite tracks of the year, "Crimson Empire".
A Russian blackened death metal band, Pseudogod finally released their first full album this year after several years of splits and demos. This thing sounds evil as all hell. It's big, loud, ugly, and sinister. It captures the feel of an occult death-doom group like Incantation, then it fuses that with the cold hatred of black metal.
I've seen this death/thrash/crust release from Seattle at the top of more than one end-of-year list. It's an extremely tough, gritty, and hostile release. For those who love their metal mean and ugly, this is a great record. Rather than tying themselves down to any one style, they employ a hybrid with all the nastiest bits of each. It's a pretty effective formula, and it certainly left an impression.
This is another one of those albums that makes no pretense of originality. Even the band's name makes it obvious who they're imitating. Basically add the hateful snarls of a sludge vocalist to Electric Wizard, and this is what you get. It may not be new, but it sounds incredible. I honestly enjoyed this more than just about anything else I heard this year, and to any fans of sludge or stoner doom I'd absolutely recommend getting this.
When I first heard this, I was really surprised. Gojira have never been particular favorites of mine, but with the inclusion of a little early Gothenburg sound in their formula, they created an album that I really enjoyed. To be honest, it's fallen a bit as time has passed, since at one point I had this in my top 5 for the year. Even so, it's a very strong and very enjoyable album that should please fans and may win over some people like me who were on the fence.
This blackened death metal debut from Australia was a marvelous surprise. It's well written, well executed, and just varied enough to keep it interesting without ever really veering off course. In ways it reminds me of Dissection, just further on the death metal side of the spectrum by a bit. It really is an excellent album, and in most years it would be a definite top 10 entry.