BEHEMOTH: ZOS KIA CULTUS (HERE AND BEYOND)
The sixth album from the Polish metal band represented a bit more of a departure in musical style from their previous albums. At this point, the band existed far more on the death metal side of the fence with some black metal influences. Behemoth has always had a very dark sound and this album took that to even more of an extreme. Of course, the twisted Morbid Angel-style riffs, the deep vocals of Nergal, and the mystical and occult lyrics are all present. This is one of my favorite albums by Behemoth.
IMMORTAL: SONS OF NORTHERN DARKNESS
Norwegian black metal goofballs Immortal released their seventh album, and at the time, their final album in 2002. The band would reunite years later, but at this time, this was to be it. This album was a bit more of a streamlined blackened thrash metal album and was a little on the slower side than their previous hyperfast material. Nevertheless it is one of the catchiest releases in Immortal's impressive discography.
LACUNA COIL: COMALIES
I have a bit of a soft spot for this release from Lacuna Coil. The music is fairly standard gothic metal/rock, but it is Cristina Scabbia's voice that makes this one worthwhile. Her sensual crooning is definitely the highlight of this album. This is much more of a romantic metal album than aggressive or angry. This album garnered the band quite a bit of attention and they were often compared to Evanescence, although their music was significantly better.
NIGHTWISH: CENTURY CHILD
I apologize about having two albums from groups with female lead singers that are more geared towards the mall-goth demographic this year, but this is my favorite album by Nightwish and one which my fiancee really enjoys as well. The symphonic power metal band's fourth album featured the first male vocals of the band's career which were delivered in more of a gruff style and some of the darkest music.
SYMPHONY X: THE ODYSSEY
Progressive metal band Symphony X released one hell of an epic album in this, their sixth album. This was the first time I had heard of the band though and was interested in checking them out due to the 24 minute take on the travels of Odysseus after the Trojan War. I have always been interested in Greek mythology and The Odyssey is one of my favorites. Musically, this album reminds me a lot of Kansas's progressive rock albums, with more of a metal bent.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: IN FLAMES: REROUTE TO REMAIN; KATAKLYSM: SHADOWS AND DUST; OPETH: DELIVERANCE; SHADOWS FALL: THE ART OF BALANCE.
BANDS THAT FORMED IN 2002: DevilDriver, Eluveitie.