I’m not sure I have too much to actually say here, so I’ll explain why I do these a little. I like to do both a halfway and an end of the year list, because it has been a few months since I’ve listened to some of these albums (and at the end of the year many, many more months). The list of metal albums I’ve listened to this year consists of exactly the albums reviewed here (that’s why I did those mini-reviews to get all caught up). I have listened to a lot of jazz, earlier metal, and classical as well, but those aren’t in the running. So now you know what I’m choosing from.
When I do these lists, I don’t just glance through what I reviewed. I actually re-listen to everything. If I didn’t, I’m not sure there would be much point to doing this. It gives me the chance to hear albums that might be forever lost two more times. I want to try to really drill into my brain what happens on them. It’s like studying for tests. You’ll have much better long term recall if you don’t cram, but instead periodically review. Without the halfway and end of year re-listenings I’ll only have crammed.
I’ll do a top three:
1. Leprous’ Coal
2. Hybrid’s Angst
3. The Zygoma Disposal’s The Forgotten
I’m going to chalk my top 2 up to just being new and exciting. I honestly don’t foresee them dropping much in the end of the year rankings, because they are both so good. But I’m super biased right now. They haven’t had time to get old yet. I’ve written recently about both, so I won’t recap that here.
My biggest surprise was The Zygoma Disposal. I remembered really liking it, but I had forgotten just how vast and varied stylistically it is. They really seamlessly pull together from tons of genres. I could see some people not liking it if you don’t want your death metal to occasionally drop out into a light piano interlude. This probably kills the mood and feel for some people, but to me it is amazing. It is a wonderful way to keep things interesting. Honestly, straight up death metal for 45 minutes with no variance can be quite monotonous and boring.
Anyway. I must say good job to them. I was pleasantly surprised to re-listen to it, and it will make its way into rotation for a little bit again.
My honorable mention has to go to Mombu’s Niger. That album just blows my mind with originality. How is it even possible for bari-sax and drums to rip out hardcore traditional African/metal fusion? It’s so visceral. It’s so technical. Sometimes it’s like mathcore. Sometimes it just chills out with some African rhythms. Others still it just totally unhinges into free jazz soloing. This one will definitely be back in rotation as well. This might not be my favorite overall from the year so far, but it is my highest recommendation as something you have to at least try because of its innovation.
Since I didn’t leave you with a full sample back when I reviewed it, listen to this (all the way through before judging):
Edit: Oops. I hit publish too early. I forgot I was going to list Combat Astronomy, Altar of Plagues, The Ocean, and Scale the Summit as things on my list to get around to at some point, but just haven’t gotten there yet. So if one of those is your favorite, that’s why it isn’t on there yet. I’m looking forward in the next few months to Exivious, Evan Brewer, and iwrestledabearonce. I’m definitely open to recommendations!