While I was compiling my top albums, I found that the natural place to stop seemed to be around 40, so this year I have a top 40 list. I'll post it in 4 segments of 10 with short write-ups about each record, and I'll start that tomorrow. At the end I'll give a quickly collected summary with just the titles and band names for convenience.
Before I dive into that, though, I'll open the listing times with this collection of my top 10 metal songs of the year. These, unlike the albums list, are not in any particular order.
Here we go:
Sword of the Ocean -by- Grand Magus
This entire album is just phenomenally catchy, and my clear go-to song from the record is "Sword of the Ocean". It's not overly heavy, it's not extreme or face-melting, it's just a great, catchy, wonderfully enjoyable song that I find myself playing again and again.
I, Caligvla -by- Ex Deo
Personally I take a great deal of pleasure in this Kataklysm-playing-Romans side project, and I really liked their new album. The title track does a brilliant job of capturing the Romanesque feel the band was after, and it makes for some wonderfully crunchy ear candy in the process. As death metal goes it's not especially heavy, but it's very good.
Crimson Empire -by- Nightmare
Nightmare's dark, gritty approach to a generally flowery sub-genre produced easily my favorite power metal album of the year. My favorite song off that record, and one which I think encapsulates all that is best about the band's sound, is "Crimson Empire".
The Three Brothers -by- Põhjast
This just might be my favorite song of the year. A pure Bathory throwback, this entire album is extremely enjoyable to somebody like me who wants more of the same from that particular sound. The album closer is a wonderful, beautiful, perfectly executed Viking metal epic. Sadly it is not on YouTube, but the album can be streamed here.
Alpha Noir -by- Moonspell
This is one of those songs I just can't seem to get out of my head, but I enjoy it enough that I'm not really trying to expel it. Normally I don't go for Gothic-flavored stuff, but the title track of Moonspell's newest album is a definite exception.
Hooked -by- Dopethrone
Dopethrone's new album was everything I wish Electric Wizard's most recent effort had been. Add in the harsher vocals of a sludge band and this entire record made for great listening. The opener, "Hooked", starts things off right with a great crunchy, catchy, heavy, infectious slab of pure doomy goodness.
Death is Not an Exit -by- Woods of Ypres
A sentimental pick to be sure, David Gold (aka Peter Steele 2.0) had died by the time this album hit the shelves. The bitter irony of that fact made my first time listening to this song surprisingly emotional, and I've found myself coming back to it again and again over the course of the year.
Sons of Winter and Stars -by- Wintersun
Possibly the most anticipated album of the year, Wintersun's Time I faced impossible expectations of grandeur. Predictably it did not fully meet those expectations, but the grand epic at the heart of the album did. This sweeping, complex, stunningly beautiful track essentially carried the album and provided thirteen minutes of what Wintersun fans had been dreaming of for all these years.
A Thousand Eyes -by- Varg
A standout track of an extremely uneven record, this song offers a catchy, enjoyable blend of folk metal and melodeath with guest vocals from Korpiklaani's Janne, and it works really well. I don't have much else to say about it, but I feel sure I'll keep listening to it for a long time.
The Transfiguration Fear -by- Sigh
I loved the new Sigh album, and the song that I keep finding myself returning to from it is "The Transfiguration Fear". The wild combinations of instrumentation and styles blend together seamlessly, and the crazy bongos in particular really help to set it off wonderfully. Full disclosure, this song was not on my initial draft of this list, but I lost that and after days of trying I just can't recall what one I had on here instead. I'll probably jump awake in the middle of the night some time next week and shout the song title, but for the time being I'm going to assume it must not have been that great or I'd remember it.