2004 was a big year for me. It was the year I first started dating the girl who would years later become my fiancee. We had known each other for a little while prior to that, but not real well. We started dating in June. It was also the year my older brother got married and it was the year the Boston Red Sox, my favorite sports team, finally won the World Series after an 86 year drought.
3 INCHES OF BLOOD: ADVANCE AND VANQUISH
Probably an odd choice, but again, these are not necessarily my favorite albums from the year, just some that I feel like discussing. I was really impressed with this album though. 3IOB got lumped in with the metalcore genre for some reason. The music here is decent traditional-style metal with modern influences. There are two vocalists, one with a falsetto scream and the other more of a hardcore style. The songs are fast and aggressive. None of their subsequent albums have come close to matching this one.
AMON AMARTH: FATE OF NORNS
I keep forgetting Amon Amarth in this series even though they are one of my favorite bands. Any release could have been considered for this, since they do pretty much release the same album over and over again. This album has the classics "The Pursuit of Vikings" and "Valkyries Ride". Other than that, if you have heard anything by Amon Amarth, you know what to expect, heavy melodeath riffs and Johan Hegg's deep guttural growls, and of course, some damn catchy songs. Amon Amarth is NOT a viking metal band, just thought I would clear that up.
CRADLE OF FILTH: NYPHETAMINE
Similar to 2003's Dimmu Borgir in that this was an album I found at Target of all places, while I was working there. This was another album that served as a gateway into harsher black metal, not to say Cradle of Filth was really a black metal band at this time. Their dark, gothic sound and impressive horror-filled lyrics captivated me at the time. Dani Filth's vocals take some getting used to, but the music and everything else was so interesting that I kept picking up more and more releases by the band.
Metalsucks listed this as their Album of the Decade recently. I was somewhat familiar with Mastodon. The song "Blood and Thunder" was on some soundtrack that I got as well as being a featured video on the Target sampler video that was played in electronics for hours on end. I had to be back there quite a bit, that's where most of the shoplifters were. Anyway, this is my favorite Mastodon release, although I only have two, because they are not really a favorite of mine, but this one is quite good and is probably the best overall representation of their sound.
ORPHANED LAND: MABOOL
This is probably my favorite release from 2004. It is an absolutely beautiful and majestic album. It tells an amazing story as well. The progressive metal band from Israel blends elements of Middle Eastern folk music seemlessly into their metal foundation. At times, the music is definitely not metallic, but the music is so impressive and awe-inspiring that that does not matter in the least. The vocals are delivered in a variety of styles to symbolize different characters, going a long way toward helping the story along. This is a very impressive album and is the band's masterpiece.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: BEHEMOTH: DEMIGOD; DREAM EVIL: THE BOOK OF HEAVY METAL; ENSLAVED: ISA; LAMB OF GOD: ASHES OF THE WAKE; MEGADETH: THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED; NIGHTWISH: ONCE; SHADOWS FALL: THE WAR WITHIN; TAD MOROSE: MODUS VIVENDI.
BANDS THAT FORMED IN 2004: Scar Symmetry, Vreid, Wintersun