Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Year in Review

Top 10 Albums:
1. Destroyer 666: Defiance
They finally released a new album this last year. Their first since 2003, and their first recording since 2005. It was everything I hoped for and more. Destroyer 666 is one of the best bands currently going. They keep getting better and better.

2. Razor of Occam: Homage to Martyrs
Razor of Occam is a side project for one of the members of D666 and this band is every bit as powerful and aggressive as the main band. More Australian blackened thrash metal to keep listeners happy. This was a very good year for the "war metal" scene.

3. God Dethroned: Passiondale
I never really got into God Dethroned until this year. Previously I believed them to be too similar to Behemoth's recent stuff, but this album absolutely blew me away. It's a concept album about a particularly brutal battle during World War I in Belgium. The songs were all incredible, with a sense of urgency and sorrow running throughout.

4. Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God
Goatwhore continues to improve as well, becoming one of the U.S.'s greatest metal bands. They successfully blend death, black, thrash, and sludge metal into a toxic brew that is raw and aggressive and brutal as fuck.

5. Cauldron: Chained to the Nite
Every year it seems like, I find a great traditional metal album to fall in love with. Last year it was Grand Magus, this year it's Cauldron. The Canadian castoffs from Goat Horn formed a new band using traditional metal riffs and song structures and put out a fantastic album that blends the old and the new.

6. Seance: Awakening of the Gods
One of the early, and most brutal, Swedish death metal bands returned this year with a primal, frightening slab of old school death metal. Seance has been missing in action for years, but came back with a vengeance, just two years after Evocation did the same. It was a pretty good year for old school Swedish death metal as well.

7. Dawn of Azazel: Relentless
Several of my favorite bands released new albums this year that definitely did not disappoint. Dawn of Azazel is another of these. While the band streamlined their sound a little bit, they also strengthened their few weaknesses. This band could go really far if the underground would take more notice of them.

8. Amorphis: Skyforger
Another of my favorite bands. Amorphis was revitalized two albums ago when they brought in a fresh lead singer. The band has been incredible since and this album, while not as good as the preceding album, is still amazing. The band has a knack for putting together heartwrenching prog metal classics.

9. Heaven and Hell: The Devil You Know
The only real mainstream album on my list. This was a disappointment to a lot of people, but it kept growing on me. A great traditional doom metal album from the second incarnation of Black Sabbath, this album has riffs galore and Ronnie James Dio has not missed a step. Great to have the masters back in action.

10. Thanatos: Justified Genocide
There were a lot of bands that had worthy albums that could have been in my Top 10. Thanatos just barely edges them out with this rock-solid, powerful piece of death/thrash from the Dutch masters of the genre. If only the band were a little better known, the world would be a much better place.

5 Disappointments: It doesn't mean I don't like the albums, they just weren't what I was expecting.
God Forbid: Earthsblood
This one has grown a little on me lately but when I first heard it, I was definitely disappointed. The band grew from their last album, but they seemed to lose a lot of their aggression. Most of the songs, while much more progressive, just sound a little stale.

Saxon: Into the Labyrinth
It's probably getting close to time to hang it up for these guys. There are some great songs on this album, but there is way too much filler as well. The NWOBHM band has been around since the late 1970's and still sound decent, but are fading fast.

Leif Edling: Songs of Joy, Songs of Torment
The Candlemass principal songwriter has been at it for a long time too. This is his solo debut and while it has its moments, they are not nearly often enough to make this a particularly good album. The vocals are not very good, the organs are overused, and it's pretty slow. All these traits are normal for a traditional doom metal album, but there's not enough here to keep things interesting.

The Black Dahlia Murder: Deflorate
TBDM took a step backwards here, or a step to the side or something. It's too similar to Nocturnal. It's just not as interesting.

Obituary: Darkest Day
What happened? Their last album was great and reinvigorated the band. This album is just bland, grooving death metal. It could have been so much better. Maybe the Tardy brothers were too busy writing for their other band that they forgot to put good songs in this. I have no idea, I didn't hear the Tardy Brothers album.

3 Surprises: Albums Better than I Expected
Megadeth: Endgame
Holy shit, they're back. Finally. This album was great, just not great enough to make my Top 10. It puts last year's Metallica album to shame. It's great to have Dave back.

Bloodsoaked: Sadistic Deeds...Grotesque Memories
I had no idea what to expect out of a one man death metal band, but wow, this was really incredible. Bloodsoaked combines old school death metal influences with modern death metal styles such as brutal death and slam into a brutal, pounding album, that pummels away for 30 minutes.

Dreaming Dead: Within One
Initially, I thought they would be an Arch Enemy clone. Boy was I wrong. Dreaming Dead combine death, black, and thrash metal influences and put out one of the best debuts of the year. Elizabeth Schall is a great guitarist.

Reissue of the Year
Nirvana 2002: Recordings '89-'91:
This reissue of the demos from the early Swedish death metal band is a must have. It's amazing how fresh and vital these sound after all these years and countless copycat bands.

I only went to one this year as there have not been many decent ones near Nebraska. But it was a good one. I dragged my then-girlfriend, now-fiancee to see Opeth and Enslaved at Sokol Auditorium in Omaha. The progressive extreme metal bands put on an amazing show and cut back on some of the filler stuff to focus on keeping the audience involved. It was great to be there with my fiancee and share a part of my world with her. Surprisingly, she didn't run away and hide after that. That's how you know you have a keeper.

Top 5 Favorite Songs:
1. "Barker Ranch": Lion's Share
2. "No Survivors": God Dethroned
3. "A Thousand Plagues": Destroyer 666
4. "Fall With Me": My Dying Bride
5. "Silver Bride": Amorphis

Albums to Look Forward to in 2010:
Sigh: Scenes from Hell
Arsis: Starve for the Devil
Dark Fortress: Yiem
Orphaned Land: The Never Ending Way of the Warrior
Overkill: Ironbound
High on Fire: Snakes for the Divine
Dark Tranquillity: We are the Void
Eluveitie: Everything Remains as it Never Was
Immolation: Majesty and Decay
Armored Saint: La Raza


  1. Tardy Brothers' album is actually realy amazing and amusing.
    My favorite albums of 2009 are made by The Red Chord, Napalm Death, Despised Icon, Milking The Goatmachine etc.
    2010 will see some Fear Factory and Overkill, hope in a good way.

    Nice blog you got. Cheers!


  2. Sir, I'd like you to know how much I enjoyed your blog in 2009 and how much I'm looking forward to continuing to read it in 2010. You've really got an amazing grasp of metal history; I learn something every time I visit this site. I also think you're a fantastic reviewer. I've picked up a lot of albums because of you (my ears thank you, my wallet does not).

    I only ask that you re-explore the Nebraska metal scene a little bit. We really do have a fantastic scene, it's just spread a little thin across the state. I used to live in New Orleans, which as I'm sure you're aware has produced some pretty notable metal bands, and I've done a lot of traveling. However, since moving back here I've been amazed at how tightly-knit and diverse the metal scene is here, especially given how rural most of the state is.

    Don't be afraid to go to local shows in the city nearest you, or to head to Lincoln or Omaha and see some underground shows. Not every band in this state is good, but there are some definite jewels -- Ezra (death metal from Lincoln), Deadechoes (also death metal from Lincoln), To The Grave (technical death from Lincoln, amazing and very young lead guitarist), Mortal Dezire (from Kearney, sadly now broken up, great live band) and Leave None Alive (melodic, thrashy death from North Platte, one of the best live shows I've ever seen).