Agalloch - Marrow Of The Spirit

Clichés be damned — this really was a good year for metal. I had a harder time organizing a Top 10 in 2010 than ever before. Ditto the Top 20. It was such a good year that I went overboard and shifted my usual Top 30 to a Top 50. (Sure, the different between No. 1 and No. 49 is a big one, but even No. 50′s notable.) I’m not sure why these past 12 months managed to birth so much great stuff. I don’t want to say “Renaissance,” because it’s always been there, but it does seem like more people are pushing themselves into increasingly ambitious territories, especially in the realms of black metal, doom, crust, grind, etc. (Ditto death, but I tend to like it best when folks go backwards and mash the past with the present a la Dead Congregation or other bands with a ton of atmosphere and no click tracks.) I definitely have plenty of love for the orthodox and vintage, but this seemed to be the year of bands like the Body, Kylesa, Sailors With Wax Wings, Alcest, and Kvelertak, groups who weren’t afraid to fuck with genre definitions in different ways. (Of course, others kept it admirably old-school, managing to add their own angle to the classics.) I’ve been yowling about American black metal for years — this past year birthed some of my favorite examples of the stuff. (Since I started championing USBM, or whatever you want to call it, it no longer feels like a scruffy underdog in need of championing.) It’s interesting to me, too, how many old favorites pop up annually.

If you’ve read Haunting The Chapel consistently (or even inconsistently) this past year, you might not be all that surprised at my No. 1. The position’s held by a group who put out another amazing album in 2006, one that ended as my No. 2 that year. This time nobody came too close. Actually, the Top 5 did, but I No. 1 was really the only position I didn’t have to hem and haw about too much. Otherwise, lots of remembering and re-listening. I’ve already spent a lot of time talking about the band and albums: I wrote new blurbs for the Top 10; otherwise, clicking on band names with hyperlinks will take you to past writings on that album and group. Because of all the material, I decided to go away with Guest Lists. I was hoping you would post yours instead. Check out what I liked then let me know what I missed.

50 woeQuietly, Undramatically
49 Negură BungetMaiestrit
48 Black TuskTaste The Sin
47 WinterfyllethThe Mercian Sphere
46 AbscessDawn Of Inhumanity
45 WitheredDualities
44 Year Of No Light – Ausserwelt
43 KRIEGThe Isolationist
42 SorgeldomInner Receivings
41 Bastard Priest – Under The Hammer of Destruction
40 SalomeTerminal
39 ProfanaticaDisgusting Blasphemies Against God
38 YakuzaOf Seismic Consequence
37 Melechesh – The Epigenesis
36 Immolation – Majesty & Decay
35 Akitsa – Au crépuscule de l’espérance
34 Urfaust – Der freiwillige Bettler
33 AlcestÉcailles De Lune
32 CathedralThe Guessing Game
31 EnslavedAxioma Ethica Odini
30 Ash PoolFor Which He Plies the Lash
29 KvelertakKvelertak
28 High On FireSnakes For The Divine
27 Electric Wizard – Black Masses
26 Christian MistressAgony & Opium
25 AtheistJupiter
24 ColiseumHouse With A Curse
23 The Secret – Solve Et Coagula
22 NachtmystiumAddicts: Black Meddle Part II
21 Sailors With Wax WingsSailors With Wax Wings

Unearthly Trance - V

20 Unearthly TranceV (Relapse)

The Body - All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood

19 The BodyAll The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood (At A Loss)

Locrian - The Crystal World

18 LocrianThe Crystal World (Utech)

Castevet - Mounds Of Ash

17 CastevetMounds Of Ash (Profound Lore)

Ghost - Opus Eponymous

16 GhostOpus Eponymous (Rise Above)

Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons

15 DarkthroneCircle The Wagons (Peaceville)

Lantlos - neon

14 Lantlôs.neon (Prophecy Productions)

Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones

13 TriptykonEparistera Daimones (Century Media)

Harvey Milk - A Small Turn Of Human Kindness

12 Harvey MilkA Small Turn Of Human Kindness (Hydrahead)

Watain - Lawless Darkness

11 WatainLawless Darkness (Season Of Mist)

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Burzum - Belus

10 BurzumBelus (Byelobog Productions)

Varg Vikernes’ first album in 11 years is one of his strongest (his post-Filosofem return to form). Across eight tracks Vikernes offers an updated take on the raw one-man Norwegian black metal he pioneered in 1991 (aka “The Year Punk Broke”). As far as the “update,” there’s a new approach to his vocals (some spoken, chanted), different layers in his guitars (a deeper sense of melody), and a new (but still raw) catchiness. I wouldn’t say it’s a “pop” 
album, but for all the brutality, it’s a smooth, entrancing collection. Maybe it’s all that New Order, Cure, and Dead Can Dance + balalaika he mentioned listening to in our interview. Speaking of Varg, the person: People who discounted Belus as rehash, outmoded, or unimportant let the outside, non-song politics clog their ears.

Horseback - The Invisible Mountain

09 HorsebackThe Invisible Mountain (Relapse)

Horseback’s second album offers ambient, minimal, patiently repetitious Southern black metal drunk on imagined emotional and masculine Cormac McCarthy landscapes, the Blue Ridge, those dark Americana elements of Coalesce’s Ox, and main-man Jenks Miller’s unique vision for original American music: From “Invokation” to the 16-minute closer “Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing,” muscular psych rock, blues chords, OM-like trances, dusty drone, and harsh howling vocals unfurling over a Deep West soundtrack spinning like a tumbleweed. The Invisible Mountain was initially released in a limited-edition of 500 by Utech in 2009 and then as a limited vinyl version by Aurora Borealis in early 2010 before Relapse gave it an unlimited CD release, but you could release it again in 2011 and it’d still sound like nothing else. (Miller and I started an ongoing, appropriately epic interview via email in August. Look for us to finish in time for The Invisible Mountain’s companion album Half Blood.)

Drudkh - Handful Of Stars

08 DrudkhHandful Of Stars (Season Of Mist)

Ukranian black metal quartet Drudkh’s Microcosmos landed at number three on my 30 Best Metal Albums Of 2009. As I said then, and as you can always expect from the band: “The smallest details are accounted for … deep weirdly seafaring bass sound, darkly cascading guitars (and masterfully patient solos), massive dynamic shifts, subtle keyboards … It feels effortless, but remains deeply thought.” Eighth album Handful Of Stars is especially masterful, patient, even painterly. As expected, the experimental, melancholic piano/keyboard, and gauzy “shoegaze” elements pissed off purists, but Drudkh continually squeeze more emotion, ideas, and icy melodies into certain tracks than lesser cardboard-cutout black metallers eke into entire oeuvres. Handful Of Stars is a decent title, but the name of the opening intro, “Cold Landscapes,” better suits what Drudkh constructs across these 42 seamless minutes. (Really, you won’t hear progressive black metal done better than the collection’s four core tracks.) Also of note: Drudkh, whose politics have come under fire, are one of two largely “anonymous” bands in my top 10 who still refuse to do press photos, interviews, etc.

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow

07 KylesaSpiral Shadow (Season Of Mist)

Perennial year-end favorites Kylesa’s fifth full length weaves layered Doug Martsch-like guitars into the Savannah band’s crusty, anthemic double-drumming psychedelic sludge. You don’t get the full effect with individual tracks: Spiral Shadow works best within its own snowballing context, each song adding to an overall, escalating anthem. It’s amazing how natural all of it sounds, too. It’s not often a longstanding band can continually pull off minor genre-shifting miracles — stuffing extracurricular angles into a template without blowing out their stuffing — but the move from 2002′s Kylesa to 2005′s To Walk a Middle Course and my other favorites Time Will Fuse Its Worth and last year’s No. 4 Static Tensions to the present is a path of pure exhilaration. Nothing ponderous or silly or over-though here — it’s smart ambition rendered with punk breathlessness.

Dawnbringer - Nucleus

06 DawnbringerNucleus (Profound Lore)

Four years ago I suggested Dawnbringer’s third album In Sickness and In Dreams had the best sounding guitars of 2006. With Nucleus he has nine of 2010′s best all-around songs. In that older piece I mentioned In Sickness and In Dreams was one of the most overlooked record of the year: Chicago multi-instrumentalist Chris Black, aka Professor Black, aka the man behind Dawnbringer, Superchrist, High Spirits, Nachtmystium lyrics, etc., remains a largely unsung American metal hero, but I’m glad folks are finally taking notice. Especially now: His fourth album is his best example of smart, straight-up classic heavy metal. Metal my older, stuck-in-the-’80s sister would love. Metal you’ll be singing along to after one listen. Metal worth the effort of digging up a lighter. That, and the guitar solos should make just about everybody weep. As I told the Chicago Reader when they asked, “Virtuosic traditionalists like Chris Black and Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi … are our contemporary Priests and Maidens.” This year Black was sorta both.

Inquisition - Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm

05 InquisitionOminous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (Hells Headbangers)

After a three-year pause, Seattle satanic black metal duo — one of the most essential, idiosyncratic USBM groups — Inquisition’s fifth album appeared at the 11th hour and blew me away. Dagon — keeper of that claustrophobic, oddly mannered post-Immortal frog-croak chant — churns out some of the best, elegant, bent, star-melting guitar riffs over Incubus’s mesmerizing, chaotic “war drums.” As always, it’s a weird mix of cult black metal atmosphere and stadium-sized heavy metal hooks that pushes them over the top. Inquisition have already released a couple BM classics — Ominous is their most far-reaching, frantic, ambitious, all-consuming, and inspired to date. (It helps knowing that there are songs called “Cosmic Invocation Rites,” “Upon The Fire Winged Demon,” “Crepuscular Battle Hymn,” and “Hymn For A Dead Star.”) If you’ve seen them live, you also know the twosome pulls off this dense sound without helpers. I booked them in 2008 — their performance remains one of the best shows I’ve seen this decade.

Ludicra - The Tenant

04 LudicraThe Tenant (Profound Lore)

Female-fronted San Francisco crusty black metal quintet Ludicra’s excellent followup to 2007’s Fex Urbis Lex Orbus is their most complete, captivating, and genre-blending album to date. It’s tr00 American black metal, if you want to go that route: The group, featuring members of Hammers Of Misfortune, Agalloch, Impaled, etc., fold-in shaggy non-black metal grooves, acoustic guitars layered beneath the electric, complex harmonies, punk (and prog) elements and energy, etc. (Is it possible to listen to “Clean White Void” without wanting to rip something apart?) It’s also the first black metal album I know written from the “perspective of a person living in a city, in a room” and looking at homelessness, un-tenancy, evictions, tenants’ rights. Drummer Aseop Dekker told me in an interview, “We hold opinions and political views but Ludicra is not a forum for them, we tend to keep it very insular and personal.” The personal’s a large part of what makes this so powerful, but the brilliance lies in its execution.

Thou - Summit

03 ThouSummit (Gilead Media)

Baton Rouge sludge crew’s Summit is sweaty and humid — I put it on repeat once the weather got colder. The 51-minute Summit’s filled with crusty, funereal doom shot through with a DIY political bent that grounds even the airiest passages. At almost an hour, and within a strict frame, it never lags. It’s some of the most beautifully constructed and heavy (in all senses) shit I heard all year. I joked via Twitter that if you went to a 2010 funeral and they didn’t play Summit from opener “By Endurance We Conquer” through closer “Voices In The Wilderness” you should ask for a better way to mark your loved one’s death. Not because Summit’s depressing. Not at all. There’s something so gorgeously positive about the way this album never backs down, how the waves continue building without crashing: Basically (and immensely), Thou’s found a way to make their sludge invigorating, ecstatic, and life affirming. Cue the subtle piano and horns.

Deathspell Omega - Paracletus

02 Deathspell OmegaParacletus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

I reviewed this a couple weeks ago (click on the link above), but to reiterate: French avant black metal group Deathspell Omega’s fifth full-length Paracletus is their most rabid — 49 minutes of layered, technical, violent black metal that doesn’t let you catch your breath. They’ve re-focused the post-rock elements — it’s not so much about moments of spacious Slint-esque fathoms (or even Lustmord ambiance); instead, we get unrelenting, sharp, overlapping angles, the 10 songs working as one, an overall, interlocking collage that ups the intensity. It’s a slippery listen, one that has real teeth, though, as well as hooks that slowly find their way into your head — motifs are repeated, threads twist in on themselves. It’s one of their slickest sounding albums, but maybe their most challenging musically: Excise the choirs, clip the ambient breaks, remove silence by creating coils, and end the “metaphysical trilogy” with an asphyxiating climax.

Agalloch - Marrow Of The Spirit

01 AgallochMarrow Of The Spirit (Profound Lore)

I’ve already gone on (and on) about this one as well (click on the above link), but it’s worth repeating: After forming in Portland 15 years ago, Agalloch went and created their strongest, most moving collection of nature-inspired dark metal to date with fourth album Marrow Of The Spirit. It’s a sprawling, endlessly epic, daringly progressive, flat-out gorgeous example of where you can go with “black metal” when you decide (and have the ability) to shatter the template. Inspired by Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies, it has a cinematic feel as well as a traceable, felt narrative arc, complete with climax and resolution. As airy, vast, and romantic as it gets, though, new drummer, Ludicra’s Aesop Dekker, brings a heavier, more aggressively punk feel that keeps things scruffy and pushing the guys beyond 2006′s also incredible Ashes Against The Grain. Really, from the transition of the bird songs, water, and strings of instrumental opener “They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness” to the furious opening of “Into The Painted Grey” and onward to patches of naked piano with cricket accompaniment (the end of “The Watcher’s Monolith”), Moog surfacing amid backwoods electro-acoustics, Haughm’s most haunting vocals to date (especially on the 17-minute “Black Lake Nidstång”), and the spiraling bursts of fuzzy, off-kilter/elegant noise (and ebbing bodies of water) on instrumental closer “To Drown,” Marrow Of The Spirit is as close to perfect as anyone got this year. After countless listens, as familiar as it gets, it still surprises.

///

Six EPs (and one mini-LP) I liked a lot:

06 FistulaGoat EP
05 Autopsy – The Tomb Within EP
04 WRNLRDDeath Drive EP
03 The Austerity Program – Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn EP
02 Altar of Plagues – Tides EP
01 NailsUnsilent Death

I also really liked Dispirit’s Rehearsal At Oboroten demo.

Believe it or not, some Honorable Mentions: Father Befouled – Morbid Destitution Of Covenant, Cough – Ritual Abuse, Locrian – Territories, Vasaeleth – Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin, Celestiial – Where Life Springs Eternal, Årabrot – Revenge, Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier, Ocrilim – Absolve, Black Anvil – Triumverate, Coffinworm – When All Became None, Raspberry Bulbs – Lone Gunman, Twilight – Monument To The End, Weapon – From The Devil’s Tomb, Valdur – Raven God Amongst Us, Ocean – Anthropocentric, Wolvserpent – Blood Seed, Torche – Songs For Singles, Howl – Full Of Hell, Shining – Blackjazz, Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits, U.S. Christmas – Run Thick In The Night, Ramesses – Take the Curse, Satanic Warmaster – Nachzehrer, Wolfshade – When Above…, Zoroaster – Matador, Blood Of The Black Owl – A Banishing Ritual, Black Breath – Heavy Breathing, Danzig’s Deth Red Sabaoth (yes). Update: Somehow I forgot WOLD’s Working Together For Our Privacy came out in 2010. It feels like I’ve had it for years. Definitely worth a mention.

I didn’t include My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, which was No. 1 on my non-metal list, because it landed on the metal-free Stereogum Top 50 of 2010.

As far as other “non-metal,” I listened to (in some kind of order) Zola Jesus’ Stridulum EP, Salem’s King Night, Crystal Castles’ II, Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor, Sun City Girls’ Funeral Mariachi, Tamaryn’s The Waves, Blessure Grave’s Judged By Twelve, Carried By Six, Daniel Higgs’ Say God, OoOO’s self-titled EP (and split with White Ring), Joanna Newsome’s Have One On Me, Oneohtrix Point Never’s Returnal, M.I.A.’s /\/\/\Y/\, Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here?, Antony & The Johnsons’ Swanlights, Gatekeeper’s Giza EP, the Dead C’s Patience, Frank (Just Frank)’s The Brutal Wave, jj’s jj no 3, Perfume Genius’ Learning, Glasser’s Ring, Chelsea Wolfe’s The Grime And The Glow, Killing Joke’s Absolute Dissent, and a bunch of loose MP3s from White Ring, etc. I liked the idea of Xasthur’s collaboration with Marissa Nadler, Portal Of Sorrow, more than I did the album, though parts are beautiful.

If you want to go backward in time, here are my lists from 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 (scroll) and lots of 2006 rambling here, too. Or, dig through the 2010 archives.

2010 is also a year I’ll remember via some shows I attended and put together. It’d get tedious to list the former, so as far as the one’s I put my own back into, favorites included WOLD’s first ever performance, Swans first show in NYC in over a decade, Watain at Santos, Alcest and Altars Of Plagues’ first in NYC, sponsoring Triptykon’s first US tour, Nachtmystium’s first US headlining tour, etc. There were also the random DJ events with good friends, the difficult, but ongoing MIRROR ME project, some soon-to-be-announced (and noisy) projects with MoMA/PS1, etc.

On a personal level, 2010 was an intense year, a dozen up-and-down months crystallized by the death of my mother on June 13th and the birth of my son five weeks later on July 16th. (It was profoundly weird how losing my mom changed my listening habits, how things took on different shades and details, how the once-grim seemed like a joke and things that I would’ve missed earlier fucked with me in new ways.) I wanted to offer up my love to her here, a great woman who went through an unimaginable amount of pain bravely, without flinching. She taught me, among a million other things, how to live and then die with dignity. That, and a mighty raise of the glass (and horns) to many many healthy and amazing years ahead to the youngest black metal fan I know, Henry Lea Stosuy. Love as well, of course, to his excellent mom, my wife Jane, even when she’s calling Watain “geeky pandas” or asking if Immortal are on their way to a D&D convention (they probably are). Her favorite metal album of the year? Ride for Revenge’s The King Of Snakes, third year running.

Looking forward to 2011.

Comments (64)
  1. Obviously I don’t agree with everthing (like, Ausserwelt and Immolation so looooow???), but that’s still a hell of a list.

    Some stuff that I think might/should have made it or at least got an honorable mention
    Celeste – Morte(s) Née(s)
    Ufomammut – Eve
    The Sword – Warp Riders
    Shining – Blackjazz
    Imperium Dekadenz – Procella Vadens
    Maniac Butcher – Masakr
    Blasphemophagher – For Chaos, Obscurity and Desolation
    Black September – The Forbidden Gates Beyond

    • Thanks. I knew I’d get shit for Immolation, but that’s where it fell. Ausserwelt, too. Lots of good stuff this year! (Shining did make the Honorable Mentions — otherwise, some good suggestions. [Though I really can't stand the Sword.])

    • Seconding:

      Celeste – Morte(s) Née(s)
      Ufomammut – Eve

  2. as expected, best list i’ve seen. You actually posted stuff i haven’t heard yet which is something i haven’t seen on any other lists. and of course, AGALLOCH RULES ALL. great list brandon keep up the good work.

    • oh and holy crap way to include ALL of the best metal of the year, fifteen or twenty album lists piss me off, fifty (plus honorable mentions!) is the way to go. hard to complain about your favorite not being on the list this way haha

  3. Great list! Triptykon and Immolation should have been higher. Darkthrone was too uneven to be as high as it was. Haven’t heard Drudkh cause I was never able to really absorb their previous record. I can’t imagine this was any better. After being introduced to them through Blood in our Wells I was super excited about more Drudkh. I should have delved into pre-Blood rather than post. I’m glad you put Burzum in your top ten. The backlash was completely unfounded. Great album! Kylesa… yawn. Haven’t heard the new Harvey Milk because I’m still too obsessed with their previous record. Maybe this year. I can’t imagine Agalloch being better than DsO, but then again, I haven’t heard any Agalloch other than Pale Folklore. Should I go for Ashes or Marrow first? Thou, Ludicra, Inquisition, Locrian, Salome and Dawnbringer are all high on my list to check out next. Stickin’ with Nachtmystium?

    If the Tomb Within had three more songs, it could’ve been #1. Next year.

    • I know Marrow is like #1 on every single list ever made this year so I guess I’m gonna get shit for that, but I think Ashes is miles ahead. I’ve just played it again today and it just never fails to blow me away. Objectively, I’d say it depends on whether you prefer the slow, sort of doomy atmospheres (in this case, it’s Ashes all the way) or if you want a little more fast-paced, frenzier album.

      • Well, I’m crazy about both slow and fast. So, I think I’ll just go in order of release. Ashes has been hyped for so long I don’t think I can wait any longer. Thanks for the input.

  4. One EP that I think deserved some praise this year was Gallowbraid’s debut Ashen Eidolon. Seriously awesome stuff, I put it in my top ten.

  5. I mentioned this on Twitter, but I was surprised to see Les Discrets go pretty much completely ignored in every year-end list. Also on Prophecy, Nattsol’s Stemning was a really good record that came out in 2010 (and wasn’t on any list I saw). And I’m not sure if they qualify as “metal,” but I loved the new records from Ihsahn and Man’s Gin. And I don’t know if it came out in 2010 (think it may have been late 2009?) but Nokturnal Mortum’s Voice of Steel was one of my highlights of the year.

    Not complaining, mind you — this is an amazing list, with a lot of stuff I now have to go check out.

  6. I never really took to the Les Discrets. I like the Man’s Gin, for sure. That falls into a weird space genre-wise. (I kept Swans separate, for instance.) I guess its “metal-ness” would shift list-by-list? I agree re: Winterfylleth and Ash Pool, of course. I was surprised more people haven’t mentioned those albums.

  7. I preferred Crystal World over Territories on the Locrian front as well. I’m also pretty late to the party on Thou, but that record rules. More NOLA metal that I didn’t see: haarp. That album kills.

  8. Brandon, this list is really great and complete. I totally agree that Agalloch album being number one. It’s got depth and every listen revels a new layer or sound that I hadn’t heard before. As an electronic artist and a newbie to black metal I find it so much more dense and layered and exciting than anything else I am listening too, aiming to post in a wee bit. Thanks for helping me get into these bands, it’s been blowing my head off for the last year.

  9. Not much to argue with here, awesome list as always! I will make an argument for Morne’s “Untold Wait” as the most underrated metal album of the year.

  10. Great list. I’m glad Dawnbringer made it up there. Love that one. I wish Slough Feg was a little higher. Anyways…
    I didn’t know about your sad news some months ago, only about your warm sack of sugar (what i call babies) you got just recently. Life is epic. I SHALL RAISE A MIGHTY TOAST!

    Best in the new year to you, Jane and Henry.

  11. I think my only other thoughts on this list are that, personally, I would have had Alcest a lot higher (like top 3, I think that’s just a gorgeous album). Also, since Morne is from 2009, I now must declare the most underrated metal album of the year to be Clair Cassis’ self titled effort. Did you ever hear that one Brandon? Its the folks from Velvet Cacoon up to similar druggy black metal wackiness, maybe a little poppier than VC.

  12. Glad to see a Ramesses mention, even though it’s not on the main list (Coffinworm too, but wheres the Howling Wind?). Lots of people seemed to ignore A Small Turn of Human Kindness, so it’s good to see that as well. Loved these records: V, The Tenant, Marrow…, Summit, Invisible Mountain, All the Waters…., and Nucleus. Getting the Inquisition album in the mail next week; from what I’ve head so far I’m very excited. As far as next year goes, hopefully the new Pollution album will further put them on the map.

    • Update: Inquisition album finally came in the mail yesterday (thanks snow). Alas, this album is un-fucking-believable. Cannot stop listening. Lovin’ those bends…

  13. nice list. game some a try and I like the new atheist.
    Is Pitchfork run by The RIAA? lol

  14. I’d add these to your honorable mentions:

    Wolfsmond
    Decrepit Birth
    Salome
    Electric Wizard
    Suma
    Ea
    Hooded Menace
    Menace Ruine
    Rose Kemp

    And thanks for not including any of the following:

    Ratt
    Dillinger Escape Plan
    Nachtmystium

  15. Alcest is better than Agalloch. Agalloch is very much overrated.

    • I put Alcest way high on my list too. I thought in terms of shoegazing metal, Alcest was the band to beat this year. I know I will consume anything those guys and Isis put out, so I’m a little biased.

  16. and where the fuck is DISPIRIT. They’re much better then the “black metal” you post about every bloody week

    • DISPIRIT is right there between the EPs and the Honorable Mentions, and it IS black metal, dum dum.

      • i like how you’re calling him a dum dum for missing that dispirit was there even though you said there was no nachtmystium on the list when there was, and electric wizard should have been in the honorable mentions when they were number 27 on the list… just sayin

  17. Okay, so I bought Dawnbringer’s Nucleus and had an error where “All I See” cuts short. I guess anyone who bought this CD has the same issue? I tried downloading the missing track and got the same problem. Is the track supposed to cut off abruptly or what?

  18. Nice list…and yr non-metal list is probably the best one I’ve seen from just about anyone, other than Titus Andronicus who I just can’t stand.

  19. Coffinworm and Ufomammut really deserve spots. They are my top 2 for this year.

  20. This is a great list. I’d say one EP that I personally enjoyed was Beneath the Massacre’s Maree Noire. One tech death djent band that continually progresses, they managed to write some actual songs for this one!

  21. I agree with all of the above who mentioned Ufomammut’s “EVE”, such a great album should not have been overlooked. Also, did anybody check out the new Nechochwen album? I seriously think it is one of the best this year. Still, this list is GREAT, really not much to argue about!

  22. Brandon, thanks for the list and for another great year of metal coverage. I still feel like a neophyte but your columns have exposed me to some great stuff.

    Though I didn’t see Watain at Santos’, I would have to say seeing them live was probably one of the most memorable experiences I had this year.

  23. Thanks for another interesting list Brandon. Although I’ve been getting bored with most of the music blogs I read, it seems I can go back to interviews you have written and read them again without distraction. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your mother, but want to congratulate you on your son. Thanks for having a helping hand in bringing great bands like Alcest and Altar of Plagues to the states in a live setting, and thanks for continuing to be an original writer.

  24. wow, so Horseback was ranked number 9 and sounded awesome…checked them out a bit online and it turns out they are from my town! Can’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before, but I’ll definitely be picking that one up.

  25. Killer list!
    The top 10 is bullet proof.
    I would like to have seen Black Breath a lot higher than an HM, but at least you mentioned them. Also, I’m not a huge fan, but I thought the Filth Rations ep from Trap Them was worth mentioning.
    Thanks!

  26. Lots of great stuff here. I really like how you cover so much. For each album I already own and love, there’s easily one or two more I have yet to discover.

  27. Danzig — DETH RED SABAOTH

    GREAT ALBUM — SHOULD BE ON EVERY METAL LIST FOR 2010

  28. What the (fill in the blank)! Where the hell is (fill in the blank)!

    I can’t believe you (fill in the blanks) put together a list without the greatest (fill in the blanking) band in the history of the universe, you (fill in the blank)!

  29. I would have mentioned Earthride and Intronaut somewhere. Probably both Honorable Mentions, really…but they still warrant some mention.

    I haven’t heard most of these; the ones I have heard either didn’t make an impact on me (Unearthly Trance) or I flat out disliked them (Kylesa). Nothing really stuck out as being “brilliant” in the same way that Burnt By The Sun was last year. They didn’t exactly reinvent anything with “Heart of Darkness”, but it was awesome from front to back and played better than their previous release (no mean feat there).

  30. Best list I’ve read this year. I was eagerly awaiting it and, alas, it didn’t disappoint. Perhaps because it overlapped with mine so much! I’ll check out the bands that we didn’t share.

  31. I’m not sure about most on that list. Metal has sort of fallen by the wayside for me lately. Nothing too inspiring coming out in general. I would have to say though that the newest from Hell Militia, Szron, Angantyr, Diaboli, and Ondskapt should have been on there and a great German band, Todfeind, is something to look for. (all political connotations aside)

    • Also, Nachtmystium…really? Did you actually listen to Black Meddle? horrible, Blake should go back to ripping off Judas Iscariot while taking acid.

  32. sweet, all my favs!! (cough)

  33. I’ve heard most of the top 20 (everything except Darkthrone and Harvey Milk, both of whom I can’t stand). It’s pretty solid, for the most part.

    I don’t disagree with 20-16…though I don’t really “get” The Body or Locrian. Castevet seems solid, but Ghost should be much higher, if one assumes it really is metal. Whatever genre that band inhabits, the music is good (despite the very poppy leanings on pretty much every track besides “Con Clavi Con Dio” and the two instrumentals).

    15-11…already noted my dislike for a couple of these…Lantlos and Watain are solid. Triptykon, to me, is worthy of being in the top five.

    I have more bones to pick with the top ten, I think. I like Burzum. Horseback, on the other hand, bores the hell out of me. And Kylesa’s “Spiral Shadow” is one of the most disappointing albums of 2010, not one of the best. Drudkh and Inquisition are good, and Dawnbringer is pretty solid. Not sure I’d have “Nucleus” in my top 10, but it’d be in my top 20 (if I could find 20 good releases).

    Ludicra is the best release of 2010. Nothing against Deathspell Omega; “Paracletus” is solid. But Ludicra absolutely slays Thou and Agalloch. Heck, I’d put “In Stable” and “Clean White Void” up against any track from any other release on here, and I’m betting Ludicra’s tracks kill the competition.

    If I was going to make a top 10…I’d have some trouble. I know I’d start out with Ludicra, Triptykon, and Yakuza. After that, it gets sticky.

  34. Just remembered…Striborg’s “Southwest Passage” probably deserves a mention somewhere on this thread as well.

    • never mind, that’s ’09….I can’t believe old Sin Nanna went a whole year without putting out a record! Usually he’s good for two annually…

  35. Brandon, thanks for the list. I’m not posting to criticise any of it really. I’m actually discovering stuff here…
    But if you haven’t already, you might want to check out Keep of Kalessin. They’re one of my favourite bands.

  36. Hi Brandon,

    Not debating your rankings themselves, I’m curious how you well you know each of the 50 albums in question. Especially between the death and birth of family members (condolences and congratulations!). Like, how much of any of those albums could you hum to yourself? Did you meditate deeply on them (like DsO, which came out in November)?

    • …humming them all at once, as we speak. I’m not, but I am very familiar w/ the 50 — I listen to music a lot, listened to these a bunch. Death and birth both resulted in modified schedules (more time sorting and figuring). Surprisingly, I listened to more music in 2010 than in any year past: I visited fewer bars, had more control over the stereo/what I heard. (Also, I often wake up at 6AM w/ the kid to give Jane a break … lots of time for meditating on DsO.)

  37. A fantastic list. We share pretty much the same taste in metal (but I knew that last year when Gin and Axe to Fall topped your list, even if I would have switched them around) so you’re my favorite critic on the stuff. I would have put Horseback at 3 and pushed Inquisition way back the list. I guess I’m the minority by hating that album. Those fucking vocals, man. Like someone strangling kirmit the frog. And not in a good way. I also think A forest of Stars “Opportunistic Thieves of Spring” deserves at least a mention even though it wasn’t as good as “The Corpse of Rebirth”

  38. Awesome selections, I would like to say that Torche’s EP should have been on there. Maybe thats just me. Also, glad the Twilight album got at least an honorable mention for all the shit its been getting I think it shreds. Man that Deathspell Omega album destroys, great to see it up so high. Alright I’ll stop inputting my suggestions and remarks but one last thing, great choice on Agalloch for number one, I’m super pumped to see that ending up so high on a bunch of the end of the year lists because it is just so damn good.

  39. i really loved most of the albums that you have on here and the comments list a lot of great ones, but one album i feel is missing that i haven’t seen anyone mention yet is
    Eluveitie – Everything Remains (As It Never Was)…that album is genius and i feel like either everyone forgot that it was a 2010 release (feb 19) or i’m missing some reason why it’s not amazing

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