Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

Music
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA

It seems every year I say it, but this year it’s truer than ever: this was one hell of a year for metal. Sure, we had our share of high profile duds come our way (Heaven and Hell, Ensiferum, Pelican, Killswitch Engage) and more than enough popular records that had many of us wondering if this was the end of not only metal, but music in general (Suicide Silence, Five Finger Death Punch, Winds of Plague), but when we got good albums, a very surprising number of them turned out to be great ones. In fact, not only was this year’s list of 20 the most difficult to compile in a long time, but I could easily take the next 20 that didn’t make the cut and make a formidable list out of those discs (come to think of it, that’s just what I’ll do). There was an embarrassment of metal riches in 2009, so much so that the rankings below don’t mean anything whatsoever; you cannot go wrong with any of the titles I mention. That said, if you merely dabble in heavy music and think the Mastodon record is good (which it most certainly is), just wait until you hear this list’s top three.


Honorable mentions, in alphabetical order: Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Agorocalypse; Anaal Nathrakh: In the Constellation of the Black Widow; Augury: Fragmentary Evidence; Behemoth: Evangelion; Bloody Panda: Summon; The Gates of Slumber: Songs of Blood and Thunder; Ghost Brigade: Isolation Songs; God Forbid: Earthsblood; Greymachine: Disconnected; Hacride: Lazarus; Immortal: All Shall Fall; Megadeth: Endgame; Napalm Death: Time Waits for No Slave; Portal: Swarth; Saviours: Accelerated Living; Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire; Slough Feg: Ape Uprising!; Suffocation: Blood Oath; Wolves in the Throne Room: Black Cascade; Voivod: Infini



cover art

Revocation

Existence Is Futile

(Relapse; US: 29 Sep 2009; UK: 5 Oct 2009)

20


As much as it pains me to exclude Megadeth’s exuberant Endgame from 2009’s top 20, Revocation’s Relapse debut fully deserves the nod. In fact, the young Boston trio is cut from the same cloth as MegaDave’s band, their hyper-technical brand of thrash metal augmented by the shredding prowess of David Davidson, who finds a comfortable middle ground between the contagious aggression of Lamb of God and the progressive death metal strains of Neuraxis. If packaged and promoted properly, Revocation could have a huge 2010.


 


 

 



cover art

Cannibal Corpse

Evisceration Plague

(Metal Blade; US: 3 Feb 2009; UK: 3 Feb 2009)

Review [12.Feb.2009]

19


The death veterans have experienced a creative rebirth ever since hooking up with producer Erik Rutan, and not only does their eleventh album continue the forward momentum that 2006’s Kill set into motion, but Evisceration Plague ranks among the best records they’ve ever put out. Not much has changed stylistically, as they’re as punishing as ever, but unlike bands half their age, songwriting takes precedence over pure brutality, the end result being the kind of confident work that only master craftsmen could pull off.


 


 

 



cover art

Krallice

Dimensional Bleedthrough

(Profound Lore; US: 10 Nov 2009; UK: 16 Nov 2009)

18


The Brooklyn band wasted no time following up last year’s debut, and although it might seem that guitarists Mick Barr and Colin Marston haven’t deviated too much on Dimensional Bleedthrough, there are plenty of subtle differences on this 75-minute beast. The production is considerably more muscular in tone and the compositions focus on riff melodies as opposed to extended solos, while the increased roles of bassist Nick McMaster and drummer Lev Weinstein make this record feel much more like a complete band effort than before.


 


 

 



cover art

Marduk

Wormwood

(Regain; US: 13 Oct 2009; UK: 5 Oct 2009)

17


Who says you can’ teach an old dog new tricks? Having churned out plenty of good, reliable Satanic, anti-Christian, war-obsessed black metal since the early ‘90s, the Swedish mainstays started to evolve subtly ever since taking on Daniel “Mortuus” Rosten as their front man in 2004, but their 11th effort is especially stunning. A blend of pure, old-fashioned speed, pulverizing slower passages, well-timed atmospherics, eloquent lyrics, and good production, it’s the perfect backdrop for Mortuus to deliver his most charismatic vocal performance with Marduk to date.


 



 

 



cover art

Liturgy

Renihilation

(20 Buck Spin; US: 25 Aug 2009; UK: Import)

16


At first listen, Liturgy might sound like an absolute mess of indecipherable screams, distortion, and some of the most manic, blindingly fast blastbeats you’ll ever hear, but let it settle and you’ll realize Greg Fox’s loose drumming lends the songs an undeniable groove, while Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s guitar work evokes both the swirling, standing-in-a-blizzard atmospherics of Weakling and the stately melodies of early Ulver. Yes, they live in Brooklyn, and yes, they distance themselves from underground black metal scene police. But don’t think of calling these talented upstarts hipsters.


 


 

 



cover art

Nile

Those Whom the Gods Detest

(Nuclear Blast; US: 3 Nov 2009; UK: 2 Nov 2009)

15


Two years after the disappointing Ithyphallic, everyone’s favorite Egyptology-obsessed death metal band is back in a gigantic way with a record that returns to the form of 2002’s In Their Darkened Shrines and 2005’s Annihilation of the Wicked. Mastermind Karl Sanders and collaborator Dallas Toler-Wade waste no time in pleasing their fans: truly brutal riffing, chilling ambient touches, and some of the most beastly growls you’ll ever hear, but unlike Ithyphallic, songs like “Kafir!” and “Permitting the Noble Dead to Descend to the Underworld” are wickedly, unexpectedly catchy.


 


 

Adrien Begrand has been writing for PopMatters since 2002, and has been writing his monthly metal column Blood & Thunder since 2005. His writing has also appeared in Metal Edge, Sick Sounds, Metallian, graphic novelist Joel Orff's Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock 'n' Roll, Knoxville Voice, The Kerouac Quarterly, JackMagazine.com, StylusMagazine.com, and StaticMultimedia.com. A contributing writer for Decibel, Terrorizer, and Dominion magazines and senior writer for Hellbound, he resides, blogs, and does the Twitter thing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Blood and Thunder
1 Aug 2011
Critically panned 28 years ago, Black Sabbath's bizarre 11th album, Born Again, has gone on to earn a cult following of its own.
12 Jun 2011
Obscure New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Hell has made the unlikeliest of comebacks thanks to its biggest fan, who just so happens to be one of the most famous metal producers in the world.
4 May 2011
Sabaton's strange combination of metal style (power), subject matter (depictions of real war events), image (everyone clad in snow camouflage), and stage presence (goofily jumping around like they're Kiss without make-up), was just too much to bear.
22 Mar 2011
Warlock was never a musically innovative band, but thanks to legendary singer Doro Pesch, their impact on metal history is indelible.
Related Articles
23 Jun 2014
Mastodon's Once More 'Round the Sun condenses the prog of Crack the Skye into the structures and trademarks of hard rock.
16 Jan 2014
This is a well-made concert film of Mastodon at their best. And the 23-song setlist covers their whole catalog.
14 Nov 2013
When faced with the task of restoring one's credibility, cranking out the old stuff always works.
5 Aug 2013
Boston metal quartet return with their best effort yet.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.