TOP 10 DISCLAIMER: This list is not even slightly objective. I don’t roll like that. Also, I’m not as verbose in needing to justify my opinions as Kyle. Deal with it.
10. Ana Kefr, The Burial Tree (II) – This album was a grower for me for a couple reasons. On the first spin it was just a well written progressive metal album, but on further listens as the songs start to unfold there is so much more going on from track to track, and within the tracks themselves, that such a simple label doesn’t do them any justice. Every repeat listen to this album reveals new elements and details in this bands unique craftsmanship.
9. Hammers Of Misfortune, 17th Street – I loved this band and album before we were given the eye opening opportunity to speak with founder John Cobbett (in Ep. 7), but my appreciation for the writing and process that goes into their releases grew 10 fold after our chat. 17th Street sees Hammers taking their organic, classic feeling approach to metal that would be more at home amongst the 1970’s, and upping their game to a whole new level on the Metal Blade debut.
8. Tombs, Winter Hours – In the absence of a new Narrows release, Winter Hours filled the vacancy this year with an oppressive weight and grit that I always seek out. There is something about the tone and atmosphere of this album that makes the songs feel fun and enjoyable to rock out too, while simultaneously being some of the darkest shit released this year. That balance and blend was awesome
7. Dead Letter Circus, This Is The Warning – Speaking of atmosphere! Wow. Dead Letter Circus won my Best Debut award in Ep. 9 for this brilliantly written beautiful spacey release. While Kyle’s argument that they are not really a metal band is certainly a valid one, it’s worth overlooking and giving them a well deserved spot on this list – as well as a listen if you haven’t already.
6. Junius, Reports from the Threshold of Death – Another entry for the atmospheric (seems to be trending this year), this sophomore release by French progressive rockers Junius was another grower for me. The first few listens reminded me a little bit too much of the more spacey Deftones albums. Once I looked past some vocal similarities between the two and stopped trying to force parallels, this album blew me away. The concept behind it is fantastic and the musicianship of the band totally conveys the deep, bleak, portrait that is painted on Reports from the Threshold of Death.
5. TesseracT, One – In a year that seemed to be heavily influenced by the djent sound these guys are at the forefront of the movement with this brilliantly crafted album. As we mentioned on the show, there are only 5 new songs on One and is it was still impressive enough to earn a very solid placement on our list.
4. Glassjaw, Coloring Book – I got this EP in late February or early March (it was a long time ago, gimmie a break!) and knew at that time that this would be on my list at the end of the year. I placed it at number one on the list expecting it to get bumped down a fair amount with releases from Maylene, Fair To Midland, Machine Head, Protest The Hero, and Textures. As it would turn out, only a few of those proved to be better albums. This EP shows the return of a much more mature Glassjaw, coming back onto the scene with a new sound a focus that plays to every members strengths absolutely perfectly. I’ve been a GJ fan for a quiet some time now – I can easily say this is their best release.
3. Kvelertak, Kvelertak – This album came out of left field. I don’t normally get behind bands that I can’t even at least pretend to be able to sing along with. This album is such a brilliant blend of punk, death, and general party/bouncy riffs that I had to keep coming back to it. If you haven’t checked it out yet – do it! If you don’t live in the frozen tundra of New England – hop in your car, roll the windows down, dime the stereo, and rock the fuck out.
2. Machine Head, Unto The Locust – I don’t need to cover this one do I? If you care enough to be reading our personal lists than you have heard us discuss this release ad nausem on the show already. It is fantastic, an equal (at least) to The Blackening, and sure to go down in the books as such.
1. Fair To Midland, Arrows & Anchors – Guys, seriously, go buy this. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot on this list…but hey, it’s only 10 albums. Fair To Midland are such a unique band that it is hard to put an accurate description of their music into a concise little review. This was the most anticipated album of the year for me, which usually ends in crushing disappointment (see: Protest The Hero, Maylene, Textures, etc.) but Arrows & Anchors is an absolutely masterful work full of both elegant simplicity and chaotic aggression. Perhaps the way the whole band manages to weave between the two in such a dynamic and unexpected way is why I love them so much. If they come to wherever you are – see a show. There is no better way to be introduced to this band than to experience their frenetic energy and ravenous fans. They won’t disappoint you.
So, that’s the “big” writeup. Below is just a copy of my list of best/worst/etc. Thanks for listening so far everybody. We’d love to hear about your favorite albums, shows, biggest disappointments and all the others! Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
1 Fair To Midland – Arrows & Anchors
2 Machine Head – Unto The Locust
3 Kvelertak – Kvelertak
4 Glassjaw – Coloring Book EP
5 TesseracT – One
6 Junius – One For Sorrow
7 Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning
8 Tombs – Winter Hours
9 Hammers Of Misfortune – 17th Street
10 Ana Kefr – The Burial Tree
11 Memfis – Vertigo
12 Last Chance To Reason – Level 2
13 Unexpect – Fables Of The Sleepless Empire
14 Textures – Dualism
15 Uneven Structure – Februus
16 Black Tusk – Set The Dial
17 Goes Cube – In Tides and Drifts
18 Krisiun – The Great Execution
19 Century – Red Giant
20 August Burns Red – Leveler
Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning
BEST ALBUM ARTWORK
Kvelertak – Kvelertak
Ana Kefr – The Burial Tree
August Burns Red – Leveler
Centruy – Red Giant
Black Tusk – Set The Dial
The Famine – Architects of Guilt
Fair To Midland
Children Of Bodom – Relentless Reckless Forever
Trivium – In Waves
Protest the Hero – Scurrilous
Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster- 4
Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Emprire
Redemption – This Mortal Coil
Structures – Divided By
Haunted – UnseenWORST DEBUT
Structures – Divded By
WORST ALBUM ARTWORK
Havok – Time Is Up
Machine Head – Unto The Locust
Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster