2010 has been a year with many great records from all across the metal spectrum, as is apparent when you see that pretty much all the albums on my list come from different sub-genres of heavy music. Of course, there’s also been a steady and much larger stream of crap being released all year long, but thankfully it hasn’t been too hard to sift through. I actually had some trouble picking only ten albums; there’s plenty of great music that came out this year that isn’t on this list. I’m sure all the good stuff will get at least some amount of coverage between all of us here at Heavy Blog Is Heavy though. Anyways, here’s my top 10:
10. I Am Abomination – To Our Forefathers
A rrelatively young band, I Am Abomination released their sophomore album this past summer. Although I’m not a big fan of the autotuned vocals and synth [Which these guys don’t actually have on this album – ed.], these guys make the stuff bearable, and even enjoyable, which is saying a lot for me. The highlight of this album for me is the technical and melodic guitar playing, which I’m a sucker for, being the guitarist that I am. There’s also quite a bit of a catchy element here too. Good stuff.
9. Beneath The Massacre – Marée Noire
Oh man, this is the stuff right here. There is so much adrenaline and substance packed into this short little EP. I really don’t know how these guys play this stuff and keep it all tight and together, because it’s just insane. The biggest complaint I have about their previous releases is the monotony, but I believe they’ve gotten rid of that with this EP. Some might complain about the production, saying that it’s too robotic and crisp or that the drums are too triggered, but the production is perfect for this type of music.
8. Haste The Day – Attack Of The Wolf King
Haste The Day just recently announced that they are breaking up, making this their final release. It’s without a doubt their best album though, so at least they are bowing out on a high note. With this album the band have mixed in some progressive elements with their metalcore, upping the technicality and throwing in plenty of odd time signatures to boot. The choruses are catchy as ever too, which is to be expected from them. The biggest blemish the album has is the awful cover song that is the final track, but let us not speak of that. I’ve seen this band live a few times and they always put on a good show, they will be missed.
7. Norma Jean – Meridional
Arguably their best release to date, it seems Norma Jean have finally found the perfect balance between their various styles of music with this album. From crazy mathcore chaos that makes up much of The Anthem Of The Angry Brides, to the catchy choruses found on many of the tracks, this album grooves and flows all the way through. I honestly didn’t even like this band until listening through this album, but it changed my mind pretty quickly.
6. Tides Of Man – Dreamhouse
Okay, so this isn’t really a heavy/metal album. Tides Of Man classify themselves as math rock, the majority of the vocals on this album are sung, and most of the songs follow traditional song structure. This album takes number 6 on my list though because it is simply amazing. When I first heard these guys, they made me think of a more technical Coheed And Cambria, which is a very good thing in my book. The album is stuffed full of melodic and mathy tunes accompanied by catchy vocal melodies, and I had the privilege of seeing the band play them live recently. They did so flawlessly, making me love them even more.
5. Son Of Aurelius – The Farthest Reaches
Ahhhh…What’s better than Greek Mythology-themed melodic tech-death? Not much. Not much at all. Son Of Aurelius seemed to come out of nowhere this year, and as if releasing a full-length wasn’t enough, they soon after released a deluxe edition including even more fantastic songs to accompany the originals. I love mythology, I love odd time signatures, I love technical music, I love melodic music, and I love heavy music. What more could I ask for?
4. Periphery – Periphery
Djent. Now that new bands are constantly sprouting up every day and trying to reproduce the sound of Meshuggah, Djent is a genre that I’m quickly growing tired of hearing. There is the occasional exception though, when a band is actually doing something a little different. Periphery has been doing it right, and they’ve been doing it for a while too. They finally settled on a vocalist, and while many people have complaints about Spencer Sotelo, I quite enjoy all of his various vocal styles and I think that he compliments the rest of the band perfectly. The album is great all the way through, but “Zyglrox” has got to be my favorite track, and the epic 15-minute long “Racecar” is a perfect way to end the album. Gotta love some Jeff Loomis.
3. East Of The Wall – Ressentiment
I still don’t think I’ve gotten anywhere close to fully wrapping my puny head around the musical masterpiece that is this album. I love post-rock, and East Of The Wall have their roots in the genre, but through merging with Biclops, they’ve grown into the crazy progressive machine that they are today. Amidst all of the heaviness on this lengthy album, there are a few perfectly spaced instrumental tracks that keep the album flowing at a perfect pace. The clean vocals are superb also, and the all-around musicianship is spectacular. As I said before, this album is a masterpiece. The band are already planning on releasing another album soon, so keep an eye out for that!
2. My Epic – Yet
Of all the bands on this list, post-rock/indie outfit My Epic are probably the least well known. Here’s another album that isn’t exactly metal, but the record does have it’s heavy moments, and good metal and good post-rock have a surprising amount of similarities, not to mention that the genres blend quite well. Normally when I listen to music, the vocals are the aspect that I’m least tuned into. It’s surprising then that the vocals and lyrics are my favorite part of Yet. Whether you agree with the religious opinions that the band holds or not, you have to admit that the graphic and straight-to-the-point lyrics can be moving, and the emotional vocal delivery makes them even more so. There’s also a good chunk of instrumental sections spaced throughout the album, and these are nothing short of amazing. This is a great album, and My Epic are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands.
Well, here we are at #1. I think many people will agree with me that Exoplanet easily takes the cake. Flawlessly fusing the brutality of deathcore with the vast soundscapes of post-rock and throwing in quite a bit of Between The Buried And Me-esque riffing, The Contortionist have crafted a nearly perfect album here. My sole complaint with the record is that there are a few too many breakdowns, but the pure genius of everything else here more than makes up for it. One of my favorite aspects of this album is the occasional presence of polyrhythms and polymeters. Of course, the technicality and odd time signatures are great too. I’ve personally seen the band play about half of the album live and they did it perfectly, so they’ve got that going for them too. The album is great all the way through and I can’t really say I have any favorite tracks just because they are all so good and fit together perfectly. If you haven’t actively listened through this album yet, do so immediately.
Well there we have it, my personal favorite from the past year. Here’s to hoping that 2011 is even better!