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Every year I’m tempted to — and sometimes do — say “this has been a great year for metal.” It’s a toss-away idea: If you consume the genre obsessively, every year seems sort of great, the chaff turning fuzzy and falling into the background, the favorites cementing themselves in your brain and eardrums. Or maybe I’m just an optimist. Whatever the case, it was hard coming up with a Top 30 Of 2009: I liked a ton of stuff, though I didn’t love all of it. The last two years gave me clear No. 1s, albums I saw at the top spot before I even began tabulating. (In 2008 it was Nachtmystium’s Assassins and in 2007 Watain’s Sworn To The Dark.) This time there was no obvious forerunner: The albums I loved I loved for very different reasons. Which made it more exciting (and exhausting) for me. In fact, since we posted the Decibel Top 40 Albums Of 2009 and I claimed we shared four of the same top 10 records, one of my selections took a nosedive. The calculations seem endless this time around. As far as trends? At least according to my top 30, it was the year of the comeback, the old timer, and folks who like fucking around with black metal.

In addition to my top 30, I gathered lists from dozens of musicians (and some metal writers) including members of Converge, Celestia, Cobalt, Atlas Moth, Nachtmystium, Gates Of Slumber, Fuck The Facts, Krallice, Krieg, Ludicra, Saros, Magrudergrind, Khanate, Portal, Genghis Tron, Salome, Slough Feg, Tombs, Zoroaster, etc.

THE 30 BEST METAL ALBUMS OF 2009

30 Weapon – Drakonian Paradigm [Ajna]
29 Asphyx – Death…The Brutal Way [Century Media]
28 Marduk – Wordwood [Regain]
27 The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece Of Blue Sky [Candlelight]
26 Merrimack – Grey Rigorism [Moribund/Osmose]
25 Portal – Swarth [Profound Lore]
24 Coalesce – OX [Relapse]
23 Impetuous Ritual – Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence [Profound Lore]
22 Tombs – Winter Hours [Relapse]
21 Culted – Below The Thunders Of The Upper Deep [Relapse]
20 Arckanum – ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ [Debemur Morti]
19 Amesoeurs – Amesoeurs [Code 666/Profound Lore]
18 Katharsis – Fourth Reich [Norma Evangelium Diaboli]
17 Ruins Of Beverast – Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite [Ván]
16 Hiems – Worship Or Die [Moribund]
15 Mournful Congregation: The June Frost [Enucleation]
14 Baroness – Blue Album [Relapse]
13 Absu – Absu [Candlelight]
12 Krallice – Dimensional Bleedthrough [Profound Lore]
11 Katatonia – Night Is The New Day [Peaceville]

10 Beherit – Engram [Spinefarm]
The Finnish horde’s first album since 1995′s Electric Doom Synthesis, and their first non dark-ambient album since 1993, is an expansive slab of blackened filth. The collection opens with a statement of purpose in “Axiom Heroine” — one of my favorite songs of the year — that this document exists because, well, “I just fucking hate this world.” They clearly don’t hate Celtic Frost. Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance & Co. have located a heaviness and solidity to back up the anger. They also thread their dark ambient findings into the meditative endless riffing: You’ll find acoustic interludes, nature recordings, group chants, throaty gurgles, doom-like heaviness and sludge, and undeniably catchy and hypnotic grooves. (If I was into meditation…) It’s an extremely tight 45 minutes: They don’t waste a moment. Not even the 15-minute stroll out the door “Demon Advance.”

09 Paradise Lost – Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us [Century Media]
Another comeback of sorts. The 12th album from the doomy British institution is my favorite since their best salad days albums (Gothic, Lost Paradise, Draconian Times). Nick Holmes turns in a muscularly anthemic vocal performance: The other day while listening my lady came in and asked if I was listening to Metallica. It’s polished, yeah, but the guitar tone, the layers of keys, and those fucking hooks are pretty undeniable. I looked at my iTunes and was shocked how many times I listened to this fucking thing this year.

08 Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With The Stars [Candlelight]
On their seventh album the shape-shifting French trio unfurl the coiled angles of 2006′s MoRT and extend the more straight-up black metal of Odinist: The Destruction Of Reason By Illumination’s to venture into an expansive psychedelic reverie. Memoria Vetusta II does what it promises, creating an hour’s worth of sky-shooting epics (fluid guitar solos, repeating motifs, etc.) that move from fragile and meditative to blistering in a heartbeat and really do feel like they’re talking to the constellations. Endless boogie, for sure.

Blut Aus Nord – “The Meditant (Dialogue With The Stars)”

07 Funeral Mist – Maranatha [Ajna]

Jesus! After a six year pause, Sweden’s Funeral Mist, aka Arioch, aka Mortuus, aka aka Daniel Rosten, aka the current vocalist for Marduk, returned with a staggeringly intense, violent, eccentric, chaotic collection that features more gonzo riffs and hooks and truly unhinged vocal performances than you’ll find on a dozen records filed under the name “one-man black metal.” This is what is sounds like when someone finds a way to drip actual songs into a whirlpool. There’s so much going on here… I liked Marduk’s Wormwood, but came back to Maranatha and found more in it, more often in 2009. It’s one thing to talk about the Armageddon; it’s more impressive actually creating it.

06 YOB – The Great Cessation [Profound Lore]

Speaking of great vocal performances, YOB mainman Mike Scheidt intensely shapeshifts across The Great Cessation’s five slow-build tracks. The shortest track is almost 8 minutes. The longest tops 20. The heaviness of the guitar/bass/drum-setup is compelling on its own, but with the edition of Scheidt’s often blackened Wino-on-Deathspell Omega scowl, it’s totally mesmerizing. When I interviewed Scheidt about the updated Eugene blackened doom trio’s excellent fifth album The Great Cessation — the first under the YOB name since 2005′s The Unreal Never Lived — I suggested it had an angrier, more apocalyptic feel than past releases. His response:

I would say it is apocalyptic in feel in that the vibe of The Great Cessation might be a mirror for what is happening in this world we have created for ourselves, that a kind of critical mass is happening. Lots of art and music out there is also a reflection of this. Certainly some of the stress and grief from going through the lawsuit and losing Age Eternal came out in my songwriting. But I also find a very guilty pleasure in dark themes and vibes, and finding where the transcending nature of awareness meets this darkness.

But it’s not just the voice… it’s also the fucking riffs. To date it’s YOB’s heaviest release. In all senses.

05 Peste Noire – Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor [De Profundis]

Peste Noire’s brilliant François Villon-homaging Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor (“Ballad Against The Enemies Of France”) is the group’s strangest, most endlessly compelling collection to date. In one sense, they figured out how to literalize Folkfuck Folie via wobbling courtyard reveries (complete with bird sounds). On the other hand, you’ll find some of the year’s most satisfying guitar tones and solos. Think of La Sanie Des Siècles – Panégyrique De La Dégénerescence’s “Nous Sommes Fanés” extended, scuffed-up, and complicated by a zigzagging vocal presence and warping, off-kilter guitars. It’s like carousing hooligan black metal Pogues a dozen drinks past midnight. But there’s also the solmen female-fronted dark ambient moments, the progressive rock incantation, the clanging and clamoring DIY industrialism. Of course, they also remain incorrigible punk purists:

PESTE NOIRE has no official myspage page nor any website and will never have. They are totally against that “Funderground friend-seeking” side of the internet BM scene (myspace, youtube) and reject the exposure of their music to the unworthy masses through mp3s by so-called “fans” (myspace, lastfm, p2p).

You’re welcome.

04 Kylesa – Static Tensions [Prosthetic]

Anthem after anthem after anthem after anthem: The double-drumming, group-chanting crusty Savannah psych-sludge quintet took hold of their 2006 second album Time Will Fuse Its Worth and pushed things further. They cut back on the ultimately unnecessary squiggly atmospheric samples, honed the hooks and structures, deepened the sound, and gave us a literally nonstop fourth collection. I’ve caught myself singing any one of these tunes in the shower, but they work best in sweaty, overstuffed basements.

Speaking of catchy: When I caught up with with Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants back in March, I joked about them stealing the riff from “Iron Man” for “Running Red.” Their response? A laugh. An agreement. And a “so awesome.”

03 Drudkh – Microcosmos [Underground Activists/Season Of Mist]

Mysterious Ukrainian folk-inflected black metallers Drudkh remained as shadowy and seamless as ever on Microcosmo, a 6-song 42-minute collection that floats by like a chilly fully formed forest madrigal. It ranks with their classics Forgotten Legends, Autumn Aurura, and The Swan Road. The smallest details are accounted for… a deep weirdly seafaring bass sound (see “Distant Cries Of Cranes“), darkly cascading guitars (and masterfully patient solos), massive dynamic shifts, subtle keyboards, etc. Thematically, they incorporate lyrics from Ukrainian poets and according to folks who know more about the Ukraine than I do, the brief closer “Widow’s Grief” was clipped from the soundtrack for the 1995 film Atentat, as was the intro on 2007′s less interesting Estrangement. From stop to start it feels effortless, but remains as deeply thought as their best work. And, hey, speaking of hardcore, they still don’t do interviews or press shoots… That discipline works into my enjoyment of this, but it’s the mastery of their sound that makes me return to it so often. Perfect nighttime music.

02 Cobalt – Gin [Profound Lore]

I’ve been trumpeting American black metal for a few years for various reasons. Cobalt is one of them. I’ve enjoyed all of the Colorado (and now 1/2 Brooklyn) duo Cobalt’s releases, but their third full-length clicked in a way the others hadn’t. A young wartime Ernest Hemingway appears on the cover, echoing Phil McSorley’s current status as an American soldier freshly back from Iraq and stationed in Kansas. Of course, Hemingway also liked his disciplined sentences, his sometimes undisciplined life. The guys note in the liner notes: “This record is a springboard to fuck the universe. Let’s aim our arrows at the new sun.” They do that with a cathartic, poweful mix of sturdy nihilistic war metal, razor-sharp guitar riffs, emotive drumming (trust me), painstakingly bleak atmospherics, etc.. It’s primitive but progressive. Violent and intelligent. The front cover pictures a young Hem, but on the flipside we see a photo of the older, more-fleshed out writer holding a shotgun, the tool he used to kill himself in 1961. The different faces:


01 Converge – Axe To Fall [Epitaph]

When I posted “Dark Horse,” the acrobatic opening track form Converge’s seventh full-length Axe To Fall, I wrote that

[T]he band still sounds like Converge, but like a Converge that’s been around for 19 years and continues adding distinctively new details to their attack … ["Dark Horse"] has everything you could want from a Converge song — knotty guitars, deep hardcore breakdowns, gnarled howls, and a triumphant blast of a finish — along with an updated dark-progressive feel you’ll find threaded throughout.

To continue that idea, Axe has everything you could want from a Converge album. I’ve gone back and listened to the complete oeuvre a number of times in 2009: This is the Salem, Mass band’s crowning moment. It even has something on Jane Doe.

In our current excessive consume-with-a-click culture and increasingly non-political musical realm, it’s also oddly pleasing receiving such a violent sermon from some vegetarian straight edgers. Just like old times.


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Other albums I enjoyed this year: Liturgy – Renihilation [20 Buck Spin]; Teitanblood – Seven Chalices [NED/Ajna/Dauthus]; Ruins – Front The Final Foes [Debemur Morti]; Lifelover – Dekadens EP; Code – Resplendent Grotesque [Tabu]; Magrudergrind – Magrudergrind [Willowtip]; Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade [Southern Lord]; Superchrist – Defenders Of The Filth; Archgoat – The Light Devouring Darkness [Blasphemous Underground]; Nazxul – Iconoclast [Moribund Records/Eisenwald]; Gates Of Slumber – Hymns Of Blood And Thunder [Rise Above]; Saros – Acrid Plains [Profound Lore]; Burnt By The Sun – Heart Of Darkness; Amorphis – Skyforger [Nuclear Blast]; Slough Feg – Ape Uprising! [Cruz Del Sur]; Slayer – World Painted Blood [American]; Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes Of God [Metal Blade]; HOD – Serpent [Ibex Moon]; Nachtmystium – Doomsday Derelicts EP [Century Media]; Azarath – Praise The Beast [Agonia]; Altar Of Plagues – White Tomb [Profound Lore]; Candlemass: Death Magic Doom [Nuclear Blast]; GNAW – This Face [Conspiracy]; Destroyer 666 – Defiance [Season Of Mist]; Khanate - Clean Hands Go Foul [Southern Lord]; Funebrarum – The Sleep of Morbid Dreams [Cyclone Empire]; Infested Blood – Interplanar Decimation [Stygian Crypt]; 1349 – Revelations Of The Black Flame [Candelight], Secrets of the Moon – Privilegium [Prophecy], Gaza – He Is Never Coming Back [Black Market], Immortal – All Will Fall [Nuclear Blast], Coffinworm – Great Bringer Of Night [Self-Released], Burial Hordes – Devotion to Unholy Creed [Pulverised], The Beast of the Apocalypse – A Voice from the Four Horns of the Golden Altar [Transcendental Creations], Opium Warlords – Live At Colonia Dignidad [Cobra Records], etc.

Of course, looking forward to 2010. Love Ludicra’s The Tenant. Hope to get the Grinning Death’s Head in a couple weeks. High On Fire’s Snakes For The Divine is out 2/23. And will Varg follow Beherit’s lead or what with Belus? Etc.

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GUEST LISTS

Note: If the list isn’t numbered, you should assume the records aren’t in any order.

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Jacob Bannon, Converge

Jesu – Opiate Sun
Magnolia Electric Company – Josephine
Lewd Acts – Black Eye Blues
Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive
Rise And Fall – Our Circle Is Vicious
Blacklisted – No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me
The Hope Conspiracy – True Nihilist
Krallice – Dimensional Bleedthrough
Part Chimp – Thriller

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Phil McSorley, Cobalt

01 Beherit – Engram
02 Katharsis – Fourth Reich
03 Deathspell Omega – Chaining the Katechon
04 Secrets of the Moon – Privilegium
05 Archgoat – The Light Devouring Darkness
06 Impetuous Ritual – Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence
07 Nazxul – Iconoclast
08 Nachtmystium – Doomsday Derelicts
09 Portal – Swarth
10 Destroyer 666 – Defiance

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Mike Hill, Tombs

01 Merrimack – Grey Rigorism
02 Burnt by the Sun – Heart of Darkness
03 Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade
04 Isis – Wavering Radiant
05 Marduk – wormwood
06 1349 – Revelations of the Black Flame
07 Junius – The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist
08 Crowskin live – 12.05.2009 Headache Fest, Bielefled, Germany
09 The Secret live – 11.21.2009 Vicenza, Italy
10 Altar of Plagues – White Tomb

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Stavros, The Atlas Moth/Twilight

01 Converge – Axe To Fall
02 Coalesce – Ox
03 Ancestors – Of Sound Mind
04 The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
05 Zoroaster – Voice Of Saturn
06 Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes Of God
07 Doom – Born Like This
08 Cobalt – Gin
09 Yob – The Great Cessation
10 Saviours – Accelerated Living

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Ghaast, Celestia

No particular order.

Arckanum – PPPPPPPP
Cripta Oculta – Sangue Do Novo Amanhacer
Awen – The Bells Before Dawn
Ancestors – 2
Absu – Absu
Genocide Organ – Live in Japan 2007
Diamatregon – Crossroad
Black Majesty – Seventh King of Edom
Inade – Incarnation of Solar Architects
Villains – Lifecode of Decadence

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Alan Dubin, GNAW/Khanate

01 Gnaw album release and insane gigs at empty shit-holes and packed houses (live on WFMU killed!)

02 Roadburn Fest experience!!! I got to see Angel Fuxxin’ Witch, Zeni Geva (KK Null destroyed!!), Vitus!!! (saw them in Brooklyn too), Young Gods, Church of Misery, Black Sun w/ Eugene Oxbow and more! Hangin’ at the Grass Shop in Tilburg. Dosing my friend Andrew with psycho weed cookies and hearing reports of him drooling all over Roadburn. Meeting and hanging out with a bunch of Euro crazies who I haven’t seen in a few years.

03 Working from home editing films and TV spots in my underwear listening to noise and metal while rendering. Cvlt Underwear Edit!!!!!!!!!!

04 Repulsion playing all the songs off of Horrified in Brooklyn. (That gig was way too hot though!! The Masonic Temple felt like a Battle Of The Bands in a sauna).

05 Destruction gig at BB Kings. Lots of fat there though. I wanted to go “mad butcher” on them.

06 Seeing Lips of Anvil “mug out” shredding it live after the Anvil flick

07 Saxon at BB Kings. Somehow I missed them over the years but they delivered the goods.

08 OvO (Italy) at the Knitting Factory. Chicks who play their own dreadlocks with an electric bow are hot.

09 Pentagram in NYC (Liebling was like Mick Jagger on a coke binge! Amazing!!!)

10 Sharing the stage with “the” Iron Man in Brooklyn. They played Black Knight just for me!!! (That’s what I tell myself anyway). Earthen Grave killed that night too breaking out Witchfinder General & Trouble covers with intricate violin riffage.

11 My list goes to eleven. Bottom 11: Missing my chance to bang Farah Faucet (I just bought a new shovel though), happy people, not nearly enough magical dwarf fidget sightings (I know where you’re hiding), people who listen to music on their headphones and dance in public (die!), dog shit on the sidewalks of Hoboken, Budweiser, tons of bands that I had high hopes for that were “meh” or sucked (I won’t list any because I hate drama), drama, the new Starbucks instant coffee bullshit, chicks who are in love with their dogs and waking up (only sleep is trve).

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Matt Heyner, Malkuth

Ten best things for 2009:

01-07 birth of my daughter, Momiji
08 Akitsa show at Fontana’s
09 Art of the Samurai – Japanese Arms and Armor at the Metroplitan Museum
10 Reading Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwin And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell

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Umesh, Brown Jenkins

Impetuous Ritual – Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence
Avenger – Feast of Anger/Joy of Despair
Kladovest – Escape in Melancholy
Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds, selected discs
Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars
The Chasm – Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm
Xasthur – All Reflections Drained
Portal – Swarth
Grunt – Petturien Rooli
Ulcerate – Everything Is Fire

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Salome

Note: We all made separate lists. I assigned points based on position and then compiled it into one.  It’s funny, Crack The Skye was the only album on each of our lists and we all had it in our top three.

01 Mastodon – Crack The Skye
02 YOB – The Great Cessation
03 Dark Castle – Spirited Migration
04 Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
05 Converge – Axe To Fall
06 Wino – Punctuated Equilibrium
07 Cobalt – Gin
08 OM – God Is Good
09 Coalesce – Ox
10 Amesoeurs – Self-Titled

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Blake Judd, Nachtmystium

01 Funeral Mist – Maranatha
02 Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
03 Beherit – Engram
04 Mastodon – Crack The Skye
05 Shrinebuilder – Shrinebuilder
06 Zoroaster – Voice of Saturn
07 The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
08 Absu – Absu
09 Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
10 Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta Pt. II: Dialogue With The Stars

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Mike Armine, Rosetta

Top 10 #1s of the year:

#1 Dumbest band his students pointed out to him this year: Attack Attack
#1 Artist of the year: Mike Wohlberg
#1 Best discography downloaded this year: Slowdive
#1 Show played this year: Wroclaw Poland
#1 Web site discovered this year: explodingdog.com
#1 album of 2009: The New Junius LP
#1 Dumbest thing watched on YouTube: An Attack Attack Video
#1 Show attended: Mogwai
#1 Skate Video seen: Habitat
#1 Inside joke of 2009: “The Dirtmerchant sells out the Guerrilla Coffee girl in a British accent”

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Curran Reynolds, Wetnurse

Devourment is No .1. The rest are in no order.

Devourment – Unleash The Carnivore
Graf Orlock – Destination Time Today
Bloody Panda – Summon
Liturgy – Renihilation
Gaza – He Is Never Coming Back
Millions – Gather Scatter
the_Network – Bishop Kent Manning
Lord Mantis – Spawning The Nephilim
Dark Castle – Spirited Migration
Burnt By The Sun – Heart Of Darkness
Gwynbleidd – Nostalgia

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Grim Kim’s Top Ten Slabs of Amplifier Worship

01 Coffinworm – Great Bringer Of Night (self-released)
02 Argentinum Astrum – Argentinum Astrum (Failed Recordings)
03 Pombagira – Black Axis Abraxis (Withered Hand)
04 Sunn 0))) – Monoliths and Dimensions (Southern Lord)
05 Khanate – Clean Hands Go Foul (Hydra Head)
06 Church of Misery – Houses of the Unholy (Rise Above)
07 Shrinebuilder – Shrinebuilder (Neurot Recordings)
08 The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky (Candlelight)
09 YOB – The Great Cessation (Profound Lore)
10 Zoroaster – Voices of Saturn (Terminal Doom)

Honorable Mentions:

Culted – Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep (Relapse)
Tombs – Winter Hours (Relapse)
Process Of Guilt – Erosion (Major Label Industries)

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Andrew Hernandez, Tombs

01 Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
I just heard this album, it came out in 2007, I don’t care.  This is the best Modest Mouse album EVER, Johnny Marr (x-smiths) joined, the old drummer came back (two drummers done right! sorry GA) and a production that will have “old school” MM fans choking on their tear soaked vomit.  I don’t care that this came out in 07′, I’ve listened to this album for the last 40 days straight.

02 Obscura – Cosmogenesis
I just found out that every member in this band (sans the Pestilence guy) are in their early 20′s… THAT IS SO FUCKED!

03 Burnt By the Sun – Heart Of Darkness
Best BBTS album? hands down, YES! The riffs are unstoppable, Witte’s drumming is top notch and I’ve gone as far as saying that it is his best work ever (yes, better than his young days in Human Remains)… Yeah, I just said his drumming on this is better than Human Remains. Deal with it.

04 Isis – The Wavering Radient
Guess what… Best ISIS album ever? maybe.  I actually grew to enjoy this by seeing them live for three weeks, I heard the album on our drive out to CA from NYC and thought it was good, but live… the experience was phenomenal.

04 Big Business – Mind the Drift
This Album is amazing, another great album from a great band, another (in my opinion) best album of their career, when bands make their best album so early into their lives I get really excited for what is next (hopefully not the Black Album).

05 Baroness – Blue Record
I never liked Baroness before and this album blew my mind away! totally awesome, I can’t wait to see this shit live!

PS- Truthfully Thin Lizzy- China Town is the #1 album every year, because it is the greatest album ever written.

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Justin Maranga, Ancestors

In no particular order…

Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Three Mile Pilot – Planets / Grey Clouds 7″
REM – Live at the Olympia
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly
Converge – Axe to Fall
Black Math Horseman – Wyllt
Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Tom Waits – Glitter & Doom Live
A.A. Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose

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Ian Jacyszyn, Castevet/Copremesis

Metal Musings for 2009

Pigsty live … 7 times in a row.
Aluk Todolo – Finsternis
Absu – Absu
Diocletian – Doom Cult
Ashdautas/Akitsa live
Impetuous Ritual  – Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence
Parlamentarisk Sodomi – De Anarkistiske An(n)aler
Arizmenda – Within The Vacuum of Infinity
Tenebrae in Perpetuum – L’Eterno Maligno Silenzio
Woburn House – Monstrous Manoeuvres In The Mushroom Maze

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Will Fiore, Zoroaster

Om – God is Good
Mastodon – Crack the Skye
YOB – The Great Cessation
Dark Castle – Spirited Migration
Baroness – Blue Record
Adam Franklin – Spent Bullets
The Gates of Slumber – Hymns of Blood and Thunder
Shrinebuilder – Shrinebuilder
Big Business – Mind the Drift
Kylesa – Static Tensions

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N. Imperial, Krieg

01 Beherit – Engram
02 Volahn – Dimensiónes del Trance Kósmico
03 Nachtmystium – Doomsday Derelicts
05 Dead Times – s/t cassette
06 The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
07 Sewer Goddess – s/t
08 Antaeus/Katharsis split
09 Irvine Welsh – Reheated Cabbage
10 Jim Beam Black

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Olly Pearson, MOSS

01 Saint Vitus (live times 3)
02 Unemployment
03 Holland
04 The madness of the Electric Wizard/Blood Ceremony tour
05 Getting tattooed
06 The Pretty Things
07 The Death SS shirt Liz made me
08 Hellfest, Roadburn, ATP and the other festivals where I had an insane time and only saw two bands
09 Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement
10 Sleeping

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Geoff Summers, Batillus/Cruskcake

Top 10 Songs of 2009, in alphabetical order by artist:

Amesoeurs – “Heurt”
Blut Aus Nord – “Antithesis Of The Flesh (And Then Arises A New Essence)”
Goes Cube – “Grinding the Knife Blade”
Isis – “Hall of the Dead”
Junius – “The Antediluvian Fires”
Liturgy – “Beyond the Magic Forest”
Sunn O))) – “Alice”
Tombs – “Merrimack”
Wolves in the Throne Room – “Ex Cathedra”
YOB – “Burning the Altar”

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Lev Weinstein, Krallice/Bloody Panda

In no order.

Destroyer 666 – Defiance
Absu – Absu
Griftegard – Solemn, Sacred, Severe
Pestilence – Resurrection Macabre
Drudkh – Microcosmos
Kreator – Hordes of Chaos
Azarath – Praise the Beast
Ulcerate – Everything is Fire
Immortal – All Shall Fall
Ruins of Beverast – Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite

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Ryan Lipynsky, Unearthly Trance/Thralldrom/The Howling Wind

Top 10 shows for the year of 2009

01 Rorschach at Santos Party House NYC. No I didn’t go to the Charleston afterwards, but Charles and the boys played their innovative brand of noisy metallic hardcore to perfection! I never got to see them live when they were first around, so this show just brought back memories and made me realize how creative a small segment of the 90′s underground was. Here is my video evidence!

02 EYEHATEGOD at Europa Brooklyn. I’ve been obsessed with Eyehategod for many years now and this was easily the best and longest I’ve ever seen them play. Good to see them playing out up north and getting good shows they deserve! Now for a new album!

03 Volahn NYC. Forgot exactly where this was but it doesn’t matter. REAL black metal with a great lead guitarist. Made me immediately track down their album after hearing a song on a comp. Some one else put it best- “like the Dick Dale of Black Metal”. Might not make sense, but when you see this guy with the strat, cowboy boots and cave reverb  live, it makes sense! I left right after Volahn played because I knew no other band would be better!

04 Harvey Milk at Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn. They brought the thunder! Great sound for them and the played tight as shit! My band pollution opened up this show and we got to finish up and enjoy and precise and loud set by HM. Every player destroys at their respective instrument like a proper fucking three piece should!

05 Inferno Fest Oslo Norway We just hung out and took it all in. We played well and had a great time at the Circus! We were greeted by some guys from Obliteration and walked around smoking joints [not recommended in Norway] looking at the amazing architecture!

06 Maryland Death Fest Just for the fact that we played sandwiched in between tons of grindcore bands. Everyone stared at us and looked like they waiting for it to get fast! I like confusion in the eyes of many sometimes! Fun fest with tons of great bands. Glad to see the US have a new fest with killer line ups!

07 Double Negative at Terrordome house show in Philly and The Charleston BK.
Played a weekend thang with these guys with Pollution and at both shows they exuded pure hardcore energy. DoubleNeg is modern hardcore played creatively and with passion by older dudes! New kids takes note! The house show ruled and reminded me that usually the best shows are at venues that don’t have Budweiser signs and pool tables.

08 The Endless Blockade at the Charleston BK. Short set. Noise. Chaos. Loud. Fast. Impressive band with a huge sound to back it up.

09 Unearthly Trance and Ramesses Arnhem, the Netherlands There is nothing better for us than to walk near a venue and purchase high grade marijuana and smoke it LEGALLY, then play a show! Sound was crushing and we were smoking in preparation all day! Sadly we had to ditch WAY too much at the border. Weep…

10 Switchblade in Stockholm. Got to see them play their new album in its entirety. One of the best bands doing this slow motion drone metal. Destroy most of the wannabes  that Ive seen.

11 All the shows I missed! I went to way less shows this year and I missed some of my favorite bands.

///

Dominick Fernow, Prurient/Cold Cave/Ash Pool

Akitsa live
Kevin Drumm – Impish Tyrant
Realicide – Resisting The Viral Self
Glass Candy live
Desire – II
Burning Star Core live No Fun Sweden
Wolf Eyes live No Fun Sweden
Vetalla 7″
Circle Of Ouroborus
Celestia live

///

A.J.S., Velnias

Top 21 albums of 2009

Converge – Axe To Fall
Diamatregon – Crossroad
Afterlives – A Ticking Clock I Couldn’t Stop
Black Vomit – Jungle Death
Peste Noire – Ballade Cuntre lo Anemi Francor
Stabat Mater – s/t
Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem
Have A Nice Life – Voids
Ithdabquth Qliphoth – Funeral Spirit of Holy, Holy and Holy Tranceformation
Marduk – Wormwood
A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
Pyramids with Nadja – s/t
Blank Dogs – The Field
Grave Miasma – Exalted Emanation
The Catalyst – Swallow Your Teeth
Hallowed Butchery – Funeral Rites for the Living
Yoga – Megafauna
Sleepwalker – s/t
Ride for Revenge – Wisdom of the Few
Circle of Ouroborus – Tree of Knowledge
Hail – Cascadian Blackened Folk

///

Karl Simon, Gates Of Slumber

A pretty random sampling of things that have been in my cd player this year:

Spiritus Mortis – The God Behind God (actually released in ’09!)
Scorpions – In Trance
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
Black Sabbath – Seventh Star
Black Sabbath – Born Again
Cirith Ungol – King of The Dead (two years running!)
Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny
Thin Lizzy – Night Life
Thin Lizzy – Vagabonds of the Western World
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
The Stooges – Raw Power

///

Mookie Singerman, Genghis Tron/Lovepump

Note: I’m afraid a handful of these are on a label I run — so forgive me in advance for any shameless self-promotion. Swear I’m just being honest though … these were my favorite jams of ’09.

Top 10 songs of 2009 (in no particular order):

“Goth Star” – Pictureplane
–it’s rare that an electronic song has such emotional heft, but this mid-tempo Fleetwood Mac-sampling banger tugs at my heartstrings like whoa.  It gives me really weird visions of Stevie Nicks as my mom placing a band-aid on a knee boo-boo. 2009 clearly involved a very active imagination.

“Remade Horizon” – Dirty Projectors
–Watching DPs perform this song at SXSW for the first time was pretty mind-blowing.  I’ll go ahead and say these guys + gals are more technically impressive than Meshuggah. Bring on the metal lynch mobs!

“Shame Canal” – Pygmy Shrews
–2010 is gonna be the Year of the Shrew. Their record “The Egyptian” came out a few months ago on Wantage and it’s pretty unreal. They remind me of a super obnoxious X … with HUGE riffs.

“Despicable Dogs” – Small Black
–I think this song is about hunting rabbits or something? That’s pretty ballsy I guess for a bunch of dudes from Brooklyn. Palin Rock!

“In Violet” – HEALTH
–When I mentioned to John from HEALTH that this song kind of sounds like Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane,” he got all pissed and was like “I don’t want our shit to sound like anyone else.” I thought that was awesome and hilarious.  Those dudes are hard on themselves.

“Dark Horse” – Converge
–Not much to say for this one besides Jesus Fucking Christ: I don’t think it’s possible for Converge to make a not-totally-fucking-awesome record at this point.

“Feel It All Around” – Washed Out
–I swear this song was playing in my head when I first got to second base at Kutsher’s Sports Academy in 1996.  Honestly, I’m kind of disturbed that some dude in Georgia got inside my pubescent inner-dialogue.  Bummer.

“Scapegoat” – Kylesa
–Total, absolute, 1000% ripper.

“I’m Not Done” – Fever Ray
–She’s from Scandinavia and kind of dresses like Atilla Csihar live.  Totally metal.
- Show quoted text -

///

Leila Rauf, Saros/Amber Asylum

In alphabetical order

Acephalix – Self Titled 7″
Evila – Hexes
Laudanum – The Coronation
Morne – Twilight Burns EP
Negative Plane – Live at Thee Parkside
Portal – Swarth
Secret Chiefs 3 – Live at Great American Music Hall
Six Organs of Admittance – Luminous Night
Subarachnoid Space – Eight Bells
Yob – The Great Cessation

///

Avi Kulawy, Magrudergrind

Top 10 ways to stagedive

10 Traditional jump
09 Jump off holding hands with someone
08 Jump off the speakers
07 Running start into a jumping off the kick drum, meanwhile pissing off the drummer
06 Like a European — wait five minutes on stage trying to get people to catch you before you slowly ’fall’ lightly into the crowd like a schmuck
05 Jump off like a wastoid and trip before you leave the stage
04 Bump into the band members, unplug the guitarists pedals, knock over the mic stand than jump off
03 Headwalk
02 Attempt to jump off but have a head on collision with another stage-diver
01 Jump around on stage than dive into no one catching you, wearing a Gumby suit, while holding a beer

///

Topon Das, Fuck The Facts

2009 Top Ten Things That Will Kill You

10 MICROWAVES: Remember when microwaves were making everyone’s life nice and easy? Well not anymore. Now they fucking kill you. Just heating up your soup in a plastic bowl or eating microwave popcorn will make your hair fall out and give you cancer. Six months later, you’re dead.

09 ANIMALS: We’ve all had family pets we played with in a carefree way, never once thinking that if they wanted to they could fuck us up real bad. Well, 2009 is the year man’s best friend became the 9th most likely thing to kill them. Maybe a pissed off chimp will eat your face and hands off or a group of cougars will rip you apart for playing “Crazy Train” all shitty on an acoustic guitar. Regardless, they will get you. If you’re parents don’t first.

08 PARENTS: They give us life, raise us as best they can and release us into the world with a few words of wisdom and a pat on the back. At least that’s the way it used to be. Now they fucking kill you. Or worse, they lock you up in a basement, rape you repeatedly, eat the inbred children you give birth to and then kill you. Lock your doors kids, if 2010 is anything like 2009 mommy and daddy are more likely to disembowel you in your sleep than read you a bedtime story.

07 TOUCHING STUFF: Did you touch that? Oh, you’re fucking dead. The days of carefree door handle touching and $20 bill licking are over. Everything we touch now is covered in disease spreading germs. Perhaps you used your friend’s laptop which is covered in SARS or you’re reading a swine flu infected copy of Metal Maniacs, just one touch and BAM! It’s ER into OR ending with DEADUR. It’s not even just the diseases; it might even be as innocent as grabbing onto an electrical wire while trying to dance on a train. Either way, in 2009 you touched, you died.

06 BEING FUNNY: People have been pushing the boundaries of what is funny and what’s dangerous closer and closer together over the years, and we finally found out that there was no more time for jokes. Over 36 million people died in 2009 trying to be funny. From abortions to planes crashes, human piñatas to suicide. Next time you think of doing something “funny,” realize it might be the last thing you ever do.

05 TRYING NOT TO DIE: You probably never would have thought it. But in 2009 taking precautions to not die was the 5th most likely thing to fucking kill you. From lethal side effects you got from a vaccine, to life saving surgery turned life taking surgery. People were dropping like flies trying to stay alive.

04 FOOD: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. Food!  That is until it kills you. You would be considered lucky if you got fat enough that you had to ask a talk show to tear down one of the walls of your house to get you out in 2009. Kids are eating bad burgers, dudes are barbecuing in doors, and angry chimps are eating your face & hands.  All these things and more made food 2009′s #4 top killer.

03 GOING OUTSIDE: Remember those parents that took away their kids Xbox or Nintendo PS2 or whatever, so the kid went outside to play and froze to death. What those parents didn’t realize was how smart their kid actually was. He knows there’s shit outside that can fucking kill you and it’s called “The World”. You take your girlfriend out for brunch to break up with her and a piece of a building comes loose and she’s crushed, literally. People should be buying their kids more video games and helmets for their girlfriends, cause in 2009 going outside killed more than 10 times the amount of people staying inside did (2008′s # 6 killer).

02 THINGS THAT SHOULDN’T KILL YOU: Back in the day simple things like bumping your head and pissing blood were just annoying. They didn’t actually kill you. Nowadays even things like airbags that were made to protect your family, are more likely to decapitate your kids then end a car accident in a snuggle fest. Bump your head, your brain swells up and you’re dead, piss some blood and your girlfriends a whore, you’re making toast and shit your internal organs. What the fuck 2009?

01 HAVING FUN: If you had fun in 2009 and are still alive, count yourself lucky. Everything from playing Frisbee to just being Michael Jackson was this years #1 killer.

///

P. Delaney, Black Anvil

01 The Devils Blood – The Time Of No Time Evermore
02 Funeral Mist – Maranatha
03 Kiss – Sonic Boom
04 Marduk – Wormwood
05 Arckanum – ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ
06 Ace Frehley – Anomaly
07 Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know
08 Fluisterwoud – Laat Alle Hoop Varen
09 Immortal – All Shall Fall
10 Merauder – God Is I

///

Matt Moore, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder

01 Absu – Absu
02 Nile – Those Whom the Gods Detest
03 16 – Bridges to Burn
04 Tombs – Winter Hours
05 Razor of Occam – Homage to Martyrs
06 Pantheon I – Worlds I Create
07 Zoroaster –  Voice of Saturn
08 Obscura – Cosmogenesis
09 Brutal Truth – Evolution Through Revolution
10 Goreaphobia – Mortal Repulsion

///

Coalesce

Mew – No More Stories…
Mars Volta – Octahedron
Kylesa – Static Tensions
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Ramona Falls – Intuit
Keelhaul – Triumphant Return to Obscurity
Mastodon – Crack the Skye
The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
Welcome Wagon – Welcome to the Welcome Wagon

Welcome Wagon was a 2008 release, but it was December 2008. Sorry, we couldn’t get it down to 10; 11 will have to do.

///

Harry Cantwell, Slough Feg

In alphabetical order.

Argus – s/t (Shadow Kingdom Records)
Bible Of The Devil – Freedom Metal (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Bleak House – Suspended Animation (Buried By Time And Dust)
Funeral Circle – Sinister Sacrifice (The Miskatonic Foundation)
Gaskin – Beyond World’s End 80-81 (Buried By Time And Dust)
Helvetets Port – Exodus To Hell (High Roller Records)
The Lamp Of Thoth – Sing As You Slay EP (The Miskatonic Foundation)
Procession – The Cult Of Disease (Iron Kodex)
Scarab – A Soul For A Soul EP (The Miskatonic Foundation)
While Heaven Wept – Vast Oceans Lachrymose (Cruz Del Sur Music)

Two of those are reissues… hope that ain’t breakin’ the rules!

///

Paulo Paguntalan, Copremesis

Ulcerate – Everything Is Fire
Pigsty – Planet Of The Pigs
Deiphago – Filipino Antichrist
Mono – Hymn To The Immortal Wind
Tiesto – Kaleidoscope
Infernal Revulsion – Dead But Breathing
Afgrund – Vid Helvetets Grindar
Portal – Swarth
Buckshot Facelift – Anchors Of The Armless Gods
Pus Vomit – Degrade The Worthless

///

Nick McMaster, Krallice

01 Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta II – Dialogue with the Stars
02 Ruins of Beverast – Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite
03 The Chasm – Farseeing the Paranormal Abyss
04 Drudkh – Microcosmos
05 Azarath – Praise the Beast
06 Devourment – Unleash the Carnivore
07 Ahab – The Divinity of Oceans
08 Impetuous Ritual – Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence
09 Horna – Musta Kaipuu
10 Infested Blood – Interplanar Decimation

///

Justina Villanueva, metal photographer/writer
Top Ten Unsigned Bands I’ve Seen in 2009

01 Tiger Flowers
02 Castevet
03 Sea of Bones
04 Meek Is Murder
05 Malkuth
06 Attake
07 Wizardry
08 Seasick
09 Negative Plane
10 Halux

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Aesop Dekker, Ludicra/Agalloch

01 Yob – The Great Cessation
02 Absu – Absu
03 Master’s Hammer – Mantras
04 Amesouers – Amesouers
05 Cross Stitched Eyes – Coronach
06 Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
07 Giant Squid – The Ichthyologist
08 Circle of Ouroborus – Tree of Knowledge
09 Peste Noire – Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
10 Sixx- Sister Devil (reissue of 1991 cassette)

///

Horror Illogium, Portal

Beherit – Engram
Grave Miasma – Exalted Emmanation
Diocletian – Doom Cult
Impetuous Ritual – Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence
Mournful Congregation – The June Frost
Bloody Panda – Summon
Teitanblood – Seven Chalices
Yob – The Great Cessation
Katharsis – The Fourth Reich
Archgoat – The Light Devouring Darkness

///

Lord Sxuperion, Valdur

01 Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta II
02 Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta II
03 Azarath – Praise the Beast
04 Bahimiron – Last of the Confederates
05 Gorlock – Dwell in Darkness
06 Enoid – Ataraxiis
07 Behemoth – Evangelium
08 Urgehal – Ikonoklast
09 Hiems- Worship or Die
10 Blut Aus Nord- Memoria Vetusta II

///

Fred, BrooklynVegan

Nine slabs of heavy from ’09 that probably shouldn’t be available for free.

Graf OrlockDestination Time Today
CelesteMisanthropes
CoffinwormGreat Bringer of Night
Complete Failure’s Heal No Evil
HeirsAlchera
Fall of EfrafaInle
Kowloon Walled CityGambling On The Richter Scale
Sea of BonesThe Harvest
Planks – S/T

///

NAAM

Band Top 5

Immortal – All Shall Fall
Imaad Wasif – The Voidist
Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
Converge – Axe to Fall
Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly

///

Jason McCash, Gates Of Slumber

01 Lord Vicar – Fear No Pain
Well, some would say this came out in 2008 but if it did it was late in December and so, I didn’t even get it until Feb or so of 2009 and YES it will top my list for this year. This record has truly been a pleasure to hear. It has some of the best moments I have heard this year in music. Namely The Funeral Pyre. Featuring Peter Vicar from Reverend Bizarre and Lord Christus from Saint Vitus/Terra Firma/Count Raven how could this album be anything more than total destruction. A++ all the way. It was amazing to tour with these guys this past year and see them perform their songs live. Truly a treat.

02 Astra – The Weirding
When I got this record, I didn’t expect anything because I knew nothing about them and it blew me away from start to finish. It is the perfect blend of ’70s prog with a modern feel. There is a lot of strong catchy moments through out this album, with songs like the title track, are reason enough to pick this one up. What was really great about this band was when I got to see them live at Planet Caravan, they were able to pull it all off live. They didn’t hide behind the studio with over lays and what have you have were able to match what they recorded and I thought that was truly wonderful.

03 Spiritus Mortis – The God Behind The God
This album was really amazing as well. Hearing Albert Witchfinder back at what he does best singing pure doom is what pushes Spiritus Mortis over the edge. I have always been a long fan of this band and all their other albums are amazing however this one, is light years above their previous releases. Albert has taken their music to another dimension. Again seeing them twice this year only cemented how much I enjoy hearing Albert sing and seeing these songs plus their past catalog with him on vocals. He is probably the best singer in all of doom metal hands down.

04 Satyricon – The Age Of Nero
Again this might have came out in Europe at the end of 2008 but it was only released here in the US in the late winter of ’09 and yes this record was worth the wait. Though not as quite catchy as Now… Diabolical, there is still a lot of great moments on this album. I think that yes, they aren’t true black metal any more, I do think that what they are now is far greater and better and they have left that tired ole stale scene. Kudos to them and I hope to see them live soon enough.

05 AFI – Crush Love
Yes this isn’t Metal, Doom, Black or whatever however to me, this is still a really great album. I think the song structures and fantastic and the singing and melodies is extremely memorable. I think the layout of the album is shit though…

06 Megadeth – End Game
A friend of mine had some emails back and forth about this album. We both felt that this album is the record that should have came before Rust In Piece and after So Far So Good… but we both admitted that how we thought when we were younger that Dave was so smart and political only to realize now that he just copies what he hears on Fox news and at times sound like an idiot. Haha. Musically though this record is top notch. It has a lot of the best playing I think that has graced any metal album that has come out in years and Dave astounds me with is ability to play and sing over stuff that is extremely complicated. He also has toned down the whole talking over music crap on this one as well, which ever since that Hello Me, Meet the real Me crap has been something I never could get into.

07 Voivod – Infini
This record was really good. The Last of Piggy’s Material, it was a testament of what kind of guitar player he was. There are some really awesome moments on this one. Unfortunately there were a couple of duds on this one as well which saddened me. I love this band so much so I have a tattoo of them. This band was the reason I started to play bass when I was really young and after hearing Killing Technology so they will forever hold a place in my heart. I wish his death wouldn’t have happened because I would have loved to see what they would have created next. I’m sure that between this album and Katorz that all these songs weren’t meant to be released as they were just demos so I would have liked to see what was meant to come out and what would have been created now. Voivod has been one of those bands that over the years, they have always been able to recreate themselves and in each instance, they created something that was truly amazing. It’s sad to think that this monster is now put to sleep for good.

08. Heaven And Hell – The Devil You Know
This album for me was the album I was looking forward to all year upon its release. I think that is why in part, it was so hard for me to be blown away by it. I have built it up so much in my head that in some respects there was no way it could have lived up to the hype that made for it. There are some really solid classic tried and true Sabbath/Dio moments on this album. But there are a couple of songs that left me wanting for something different. In a lot of ways its more like Dehumanizer rather than Mob Rules which makes sense however to me it seems that the whole of the three songs on the Sabbath best of, the Dio years were better as a whole than the whole of this album. All in all, I’m glad it was done and with rumors that a new album might happen, I’ll build it up just the same in my head until it is released.

09 The Lamp Of Thoth – Sing As You Slay
The new rage of the underground helped greatly by Rich Walker’s constant babbling where ever he can to hype them up. Several years ago they played their first show with my band and Reverend Bizarre in England and I thought that there was a lot of promise in what they were creating and I’m glad they stuck it through and continued to grow as a band, players and song writers. I truly enjoyed this CD alot upon getting it and I look forward to seeing them and playing live with them again over the coming years. This band still has a lot of promise and I’m sure will create many solid albums in the years to come.

///

Finally, in what I hope continues to be a yearly tradition, here are some haiku from Cosmo Lee at Invisible Oranges:

10 Culted – Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep [Relapse]

The title is apt
Deepest, darkest doom metal
No life vest in sight

09 Dreaming Dead – Within One [Ibex Moon]

“Liz”: Young lady shreds
And growls and writes better songs
Than most dudes out there

08 Revocation – Existence Is Futile [Relapse]

“David”: Young man shreds
And growls and writes better songs
Than most dudes out there

07 Saros – Acrid Plains [Profound Lore]

Hard to describe, this
Prog? Black? Death? Does not matter
When it rules this hard

06 Sinister Realm – Sinister Realm [Shadow Kingdom]

True metal’s not dead
Does not have the ring of “punk’s”
Me: no care [headbangs]

05 Burnt by the Sun – Heart of Darkness [Relapse]

Holy cow, old guys
Must have taken HGH
Don’t sound old at all

04 Suffocation – Blood Oath [Nuclear Blast]

Holy cow, old guys
Must have been lifting also
Pump you up metal

03 Kylesa – Static Tensions [Prosthetic/20 Buck Spin]

Drummers and singers
Guitarists and nonstop hits
Plural everything

02 Horseback – The Invisible Mountain [Utech]

Tom Waits takes new shape
Psychedelic metal man
Smoky and soothing

01 Converge – Axe to Fall [Epitaph]

Mo’ punk, mo’ metal
Mo’ better is mo’ better
Is mo’ fucking best

///

If you made it this far, Happy Holidays. Here’s “Þyrpas Ulfar” (aka “The Wolves Gather…”) from my 20th favorite album of the year, Arckanum’s ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ, to get you ready to meet the family:

And, for the extended drive home, here’s an excellent American black metal podcast put together by my friends Adam and Joshua. It’s called Primitive North America. The details are at that link, but you can also listen right here.

Comments (48)
  1. Cory  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

    WTF? Wavves got snubbed again? lol

  2. Chris  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

    Liturgy’s Renihilation should’ve gotten more respect.

    • Liturgy were one of my favorite live bands of 2009. Totally amazing. And Renihilation is at the top of my ‘honorable mentions’ (or whatever!) for a reason.

  3. toto  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

    best list ever. thanks for posting on twitter too.

  4. WHERE IN THE HELL IS BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME’S THE GREAT MISDIRECT?!?!?!

    blasphemy.

    • Dusty  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

      You mean the overdone, stupidly dramatic stinkfest known as The Great Misdirect? There’s wicked joke to be played on the title, but suffice to say they duped plenty of people.

    • signed in to upvote you and downvote the naysayer. my favorite album of the year.

  5. I’m not even a fan of metal, but I cannot deny the greatness of Sunn O))) and Converge.

  6. lo, Peste Noire is full of little b*****s. I send their CD online to all my friends for FREE.

  7. OP needs less black metal

  8. Brandon, what are your thoughts on Big Business? Too pop? Truth is, as much as they’re not the most “artistic” metal band out there, they’re the most fun band to listen to in the car.

  9. badtattoo  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

    A little surprised that Code’s Resplendent Grotesque didn’t make your top 30 considering your earlier praise of that outstanding album.

    • I was surprised, too. As I sat down over the last few weeks and honestly listened and re-listened and analyzed and tried figuring out what I went back to the most, Code fell out of the top 30. It’s a great record, no doubt, but for some reason I lost track of it day-to-day. I wanted the list to reflect what remained strong for the entire year — what I came back to most often — and not just what I loved in theory.

      • Note: I’m deep in the woods commenting from an old old computer with dial-up… the page took a while to load, so I forgot to log-in by the time it did, but the above comment was, in fact, by me. (dial-up is the great streamliner.)

  10. Do you guys classify Sunn O))) as metal? Because if you do, why isn’t Monoliths & Dimensions #1?
    I haven’t listened to metal for ages, but that shit is epic.

  11. Ian  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    should have got john darnielle to guest list.

  12. mk  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    a big YES on converge being #1. i was wondering where they would end up on here…

  13. Farmer Ted  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    It’s funny how some of these dudes put like Wilco or Tom Waits or REM on their list to show that they are like something or something.
    Don’t they know that Wilco, new Tom waits, and new REM are awful.
    Be true to yourself dudes.
    Wilco is so wack.

    -Farmer Ted

  14. awesome list, though it reminds me of how much I still need to hear…I was surprised to see Black Cascade so low, its definitely in my top 5, along with Cobalt, Drudkh, Sunn O))), and Amesouers…still listening to the new Krallice and Ruins of Beverast albums and having some trouble really getting into them, though time may give some new appreciation…if only the production from the new Ruins could be transposed to “Rain Upon the Impure”, what could have been…anyway, once again, glad to see the column still going strong!

  15. Angus  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    “Black Cascade” might win if it was a list of laziest albums of the year. Piecing together Blut Aus Nord and Burzum riffs does not a great record make.

  16. joetron2030  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    Brandon, thanks again for providing more for me to search out and listen to.

    Epic as always.

  17. Diseased Cloak of Bloody Gumdrops  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    black metal is cool but have you guys tried white metal? it’s a lot like black metal but you can actually read the bands’ names…

  18. Agree with Converge at #1 but move Baroness up!

  19. brandon, few albums I thought where ignored on this list,
    Arizmenda – Within the Vacuum of Infinity…
    I jsut got this from a friend a week ago but its already one of my favs from the whole year.

    Volahn – Dimensiónes del Trance Kósmico
    I think the album was recorded and maybe released on tape last year or the year before but it just got put on LP this year, by far one of my favs of the year.

  20. I actually have two of the LPs found in the top ten!! Thanks for posting the rest of the lists but all these lists lately are making me dizzy as hell.

  21. dropkick  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2009 0

    this post is awesome! i really hope stereogum keeps doing more posts like this

    the only metal albums i didn’t see mentioned here that i thought kicked ass were
    Black Dahlia Murder’s Deflorate & Satyricon’s Age of Nero.

    otherwise this post covered metal better than most best of lists i’ve seen this year.

  22. Allan  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2009 0

    This list is spot on, the only thing I’m not that sure is kylesa’s spot, they deserve more of a number one in my opinion

  23. Fuck Famine's Asshole  |   Posted on Dec 29th, 2009 0

    Really? Peste Noire? I think it’s sort of irresponsible to hype such a band without AT LEAST mentioning it’s horrid self-proclaimed “racialist” and “nationalist” beliefs. I know many people believe Neige of Alcest/Mortifera/Amesouers fame is somehow stiill associated with this project and it is probably what led them to the band, but he has no ties to this band ideologically or musically. It is the sole vision of Famine who has said ridiculous things like…

    “I used swastikas or other Nazi symbols, it was exactly for the purpose of symbolism : the symbol for the final and decisive battle against all that is prevalent in today’s modern world : the irreversible victory of cross-bred jewmerican liberalism and everything it stands for, i.e. stupidity and the absence of values.”

    and….

    “I have never heard of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, but if they praise cultural blending, common ownership and equality of all human beings, then no, they have absolutely no right to play BM. They just have the right to make me laugh.”

    read the rest of his wonderful ranting here:
    http://diabolicalconquest.com/interviews/peste_noire_english.htm

    I fucking love french metal like Amesouers, Nuit Noire and Alcest but Famine and his Peste Noir can fuck off regardless of how “amazing” that album is.

    You guys should really give your regular readers a head up on this kind of stuff, it’s just plain responsible journalism. Let them then decide if it’s something they should spend their dough on.

  24. Yeah  |   Posted on Feb 3rd, 2010 0

    Lonesome Crowded West was, is, and always will be the best Modest Mouse album, and the best album of all time (except for Appetite for Destruction).

    Very disappointed that S-gum’s own list hasn’t Cosmogenesis or Blood Oath or very much DM at all.

  25. It’s a great record, no doubt, but for some reason I lost track of it day-to-day. I wanted the list to reflect what remained strong for the entire year — what I came back to most often — and not just what I loved in theory
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