Author: Gay For Gary Oldman
- Gorgoroth – Instinctus Bestialis
Coming upon it more for curiosity about a band I used to like than anything else, I knew from the first listen that this would be my album of the year. Interesting and diverse riff construction, clear and evocative lyrics, concise songwriting and an oppressively malevolent atmosphere make this one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard in recent times, despite the fact that it has been largely disregarded by most other listeners. Fine, this is an album purely for my own appreciation, and it stands well above any other contenders for this year.
Standout tracks: Rage, Ad Omnipotens Aeterne Diabolus
- Kamelot – Haven
Had this album come out later in the year, it would likely have not made this list. After being initially impressed by only a few tracks, I had relegated the rest of the album to the elephant graveyard of decades-old power metal unable to recapture their former glory. However, it ended up being one of the only melodic albums on a playlist rotation I use, and as such became my go-to when I needed a melodic voice. One by one, each and every track of the album grew on me as I got to know the lyrics and the vocal melodies. Many of these tracks now inhabit my favourite power metal songs, from powerful ballads to breakneck rhythms.
Standout tracks: Fallen Star, Beautiful Apocalypse
- Mgla – Exercises in Futility
The underground has been buzzing with the swarming flies of hype around this band, and rightly so. Although this album has recieved much more praise, I have loved it for the same reasons as Gorgoroth’s release. Tight, creative guitar driven riffs, evocative lyrics and vocal patterns which achieve accessability without becoming any more soothing than a buzzsaw. What this album succeeds with over a myriad of others is the incredibly inventive drumwork of ‘Darkside’, which could succeed in making any length of music seem without a bar of repetition, with drum patterns that never cease being fun, despite their ferocity. This album should truly cement Mgla as leaders of trve black metal amongst the acres of amto- and post-black trendsetters.
Standout tracks: Exercises in Futility IV, Exercises in Futility VI
- Lik – Mass Funeral Evocation
Swedish death, and it’s partially hardcore and grind-infused nephews ‘Entombed-core’, is making a comeback recently, and Lik are one of the few newer bands I’ve heard to embrace the breadth of what is meant by ‘Swedish Death’. Rooting itself in the omnipresent sound of the BOSS HM-2 guitar pedal, combining old schood swedish death with traditional heavy metal leads, gothenburg melodies as a slight melo-black flair, this album is a definite keeper, and I look forward to more from these guys.
Standout tracks: Le Morte Homme, Death Orgasmic
- Sadist – Hyaena
Whilst the first three positions were easy to fill, several bands competed for the last two positions. I settled on Sadist due to the fact that I found myself returning to this album in a variety of moods, even when I had other stuff to listen to, even in preference over not only their own earlier catalogue, but over other progressive death metal bands from the 90s. Sadist truly wrote a brilliant album here, with great instrumentation, themes, a variety of sonic influences, concise song writing (especially for a prog album) and they sounded like they had fun doing it. Great album.
Standout tracks: African Devourers, Scavenger and Thief