Best Of: Metal Albums 2010-2015

Usually in our Best Of columns we try to tackle either something genre-specific or something conveying a very specific idea. Today we’re doing something a little different though. Given that we’re now officially more than halfway through the 2010s, it seems fitting to take a hard look at some of the albums that have defined the current generation of metal. Since this site was formed in 2009, this list encompasses the vast majority of the music we’ve had the pleasure to experience and review in real time. And as a site who strongly believes we’re currently in the throes of a new Golden Age of Metal, what better way to prove that than with this brief shortlist of phenomenal music we believe best encapsulates that notion.

*prognotes – Uneven Structure’s Februus

Have you seen/read The Fountain? If not, you really should. The movie (and the comic book) depict a greyscaled story of consciousness, birth, death and spirituality. It’s a sub-genre that’s existed on the fringes of science fiction ever since Philip K. Dick wrote Valis and perhaps even before, with the darkly eerie works of H.G. Wells. In any case, these tales draw on the concepts of self-realization, actualization and psychological distress while casting all of these onto a darkly astral landscape. The aesthetic is usually austere, with the colors being utilized to stress extreme moments of passion, realization and growth. From out of the blackness rise spires of color across fantastical palettes, symbolizing inner explosions and revelations.

This is exactly the type of aesthetic that informs, creates and makes possible Uneven Structure’s 2011 masterpiece, Februus. It’s an album which follows the birth and psychodrama of some sort of unspecified entity, from its first steps through adversity and, finally, to freedom and grace through power.

Fake It Until You Make It? Musical Authenticity and the Metal Musician

When in the studio, musicians always use some “tricks” to get a sound that isn’t necessarily as achievable in a live setting. This is a pretty commonly known fact. It’s not even a new thing. Since the 60s, bands have made music in the studio that doesn’t reflect the process of how they actually play in person. As technology develops, more methods become available to the artists to achieve a more “perfect” sound, if they choose to use them. In the 50s and before, bands recorded performances together, in a single run through. Then they started recording each instrument separately, then split up songs into parts, then replaced some instruments with digital substitutes, used corrective techniques (both for pitch and timing) and recently, started performing at a slower tempo then speeding it up. These are the realities of recording. Whether they’re acceptable or not is a hotly debated topic, and a recent even in the metal spheres brought the question to the forefront yet again. The 2016 Guitar Solo Contest, where guitarists were asked to perform over a track by John Browne of Monuments and submit a video of their recording, recently announced their winners. The prizes ranged from a Mayones guitar, Mesa amps, Bare Knuckle Pickups and more. Here’s where it gets complicated. One of the winners was a performance that was clearly heavily edited.

PHOTOS: TesseracT, The Contortionist, ERRA, Skyharbor—December 6th, 2015 @ Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD

On December 6th, 2015, the Polaris North American Tour 2015 hit Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, MD with a powerful assault of modern progressive metal. Skyharbor, ERRA, The Contortionist, and TesseracT were all on top of their game despite this being the penultimate stop of the tour. This time around, I…

Hey! Listen to Bisbâyé!

Polyrhythmics. Some would say the foundations of djent, a genre which lately turned away from this primal and complex material in favour of a sleeker, simpler, and ultimately cheaper one. The meticulously crafted works of King Crimson and Meshuggah eventually were dumbed down and made more easily digestible to the…