Once again, I ponder what a phenomenal year we had in the metal realms. It gets harder and harder each year to pick 10 top releases, as young, fresh talent seem to get hungrier every year, and the old guard continue to release albums that are not only vital, but fucking good! I had one hell of a time picking again this year, so I narrowed it down by not only what really stuck with me and by looking at my play count. It was hard, as some very vested bands like Testament, Revocation, Metal Church, Asphyx, Superjoint and Vader released awesome albums this year, and they certainly deserve mention.
10. Metallica: Hardwired to Self Destruct
I can already hear the collective sigh from the legions of readers here, but quite honestly, I haven’t enjoyed a Metallica album this much since …And Justice For All. Seriously, there is some killer material here, and “Atlas, Rise!” is one hell of a song! I dug deep into this album, and it only gets better with each listen. Buy it here!
9. Fistula: Longing For Infection/The Shape Of Doom to Cumm)))
These doom-laden fuckers know how to tear shit down! Their combination of doom, hardcore and humor is a diamond of metal this day and age. These two releases took up a lot of my play counts, and there isn’t a bad song on either. Buy them here!
8. Crowbar: The Serpent Only Lies
Crowbar returned to fine form with one of their best albums … ever. Honestly, I think I have listened to this more than any other Crowbar album, and I’ve been a fan from the beginning and own them all. The return of Todd Strange seems to have lit a fire under the ass of Kirk Windstein, and you can hear it! Buy it here!
7. Scour: Scour
Yes, I know this is only an EP. Yes, I know it’s black metal. It sounds like black metal, but, goddamn it is good! Phil Anselmo unleashes vocals like we’ve never heard from him. It’s dark and punishing. Buy it here!
6. Hatebreed: The Concrete Confessional
The Concrete Confessional is the most consistent album from Hatebreed since Perseverance. Every song here just fits, and the entire album crushes. I love these guys, and the energy they harness is rabid and contagious. “Something’s Off” and “The Apex Within” are among my favorite all time Hatebreed songs. Buy it here!
5. Neurosis: Fires Within Fires
Neurosis can do no wrong, and they have proven yet again that their place in the metal realm is always near the top with Fires Within Fires. Their ability to create impassioned music with so many different highs and lows is not seen very often in our genre. Buy it here!
4. Flotsam and Jetsam: Flotsam and Jetsam
Flotsam and Jetsam deserve more attention than they get. It seems like they are always at the short end of the stick, but with this album, they should be on everyone’s playlist. Every song here completely kicks ass, period. “Seventh Seal,” “Iron Maiden,” “Life is a Mess,” “Smoking Gun” and “LOTD” are complete thrash masterpieces! Buy it here!
3. Meshuggah: The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah changed things up a bit with this album, and it worked well for them. It certainly has more of a live, stripped-down feel to it. All Meshuggah albums require some time and many listens to get the intricacies of their impeccable songwriting, but this one just seems to ooze into you faster. Buy it here!
2. Knocked Loose: Laugh Tracks
The fury of the hardcore-laden metal from Knocked Loose is absolutely stunning. They retain their angst no matter the tempo of the song and really do have a unique sound. This is going to be a band to keep your eye on in the future! Buy it here!
1. Nails: You Will Never Be One Of Us
Few, if any, bands out there harness the energy and anger like Nails. Period. Every song on You Will Never Be One Of Us is a lesson in violence like it has never been spoken before. There are some comparisons to grind kings Napalm Death, but Nails takes it one step further. I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this album since it came out. The riffs are pummeling, and from the title track to the end of the album, the riffs are the focus. Nails are not for the faint of heart, but if this doesn’t get you moving, you are dead! Buy it here!